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[Markets] Belarus Hooker Arrested In Moscow After Thailand Detention; Claims To Be Trump-Russia "Missing Link"

A prostitute from Belarus and three associates were arrested at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on Thursday after being deported by Thailand following nearly a year in a Thai prison, according to Reuters. The four have been transferred to a police station, Interfax cited the Interior Ministry as reporting. 

Anastasia Vashukevich

27-year-old Anastasia Vashukevich - known better by the alias Nasta Rybka - was arrested in Thailand after a raid on her $600/head "sex training" seminar after claiming to be the "missing link" who can provide recorded evidence of a connection between President Trump and Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska - who the Trump administration slapped with harsh sanctions over Russian interference in the 2016 US election, along with three of his companies. 

Deripaska agreed to partially divest from his companies, bringing his ownership below 50% in an agreement with the Treasury department which would see sanctions lifted on those entities - while remaining in place on Deripaska himself. The move has been met with sharp opposition in Congress, as 136 Republicans joined House Democrats to oppose the plan. 

Oleg Deripaska

Deripaska, who had business dealings with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, was rumored to be Donald Trump's "back channel" to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian oligarch hit back in September - admitting to "collusion" when he served as an FBI asset during the Obama administration. He has denied that Vashukevich was his mistress and accused her of fabricating the claims. 

Throughout her detention in Thailand, Vashukevich somehow posted to her instagram account about her ordeal. In one post, she is said to have fallen ill, has no bed to sleep on, and has "frostbitten kidneys."

Now they are kept in worse conditions. Concrete floor. No beds available. Food is only what they bring. The doctor did not call for Nastya. She frostbitten her kidneys. The condition is very poor. According to our eyewitnesses, someone from the Russian consulate worked on the Thai police. -Instagram (translated)

Vashukevich claimed over Instagram that Moscow "will simply kill us if Thailand gives us to Russia.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I appeal to all media, journalists who work using my materials to spread all the information and investigate this strange situation which shed the light on some topic that led to a worldwide political scandal.Russia has already reached  the Thai kingdom where police volunteers are afraid of this affair and afraide to be involved with it. And Thai immigration is dancing to the tune of Russia and in fact will simply kill us if Thailand gives us to Russia. We have no more money - we spent everything  on bail. If there is anybody who can help - please write to those contacts that we indicated.  ______________________________________________ ? ???????? ??? ???, ???????????, ??????? ???????? ????????? ??? ????????? ??????? ?? ?? ???? ???? ??????? ???? ??????? ?????? ? ???????? ????????????? ???????? ?????????????? ??? ?????????? ? ???????????? ??? ???????? ????. ?????? ?????? ??? ? ??????? ??????????? ? ??????? ????????? ? ??????? ?????? ????? ???? ? ??????????? ? ???. ? ??????? ?????????? ???? ?? ?????? ? ?????? ? ?? ???? ?????? ????? ??? ???? ?????? ??????. ????? ? ??? ?????? ??? - ?? ??? ????????? ?? ?????. ???? ???? ??, ??? ????? ?????? - ?????? ?????????? ?? ??? ?????????, ??????? ?? ?????????

A post shared by ????? ????? (@nastya_rybka.ru) on

 

“I am the only witness and the missing link in the connection between Russia and the U.S. elections - the long chain of Oleg Deripaska, Prikhodko, Manafort, and Trump," Vashukevich said in a live Instagram broadcast on last year, apparently filmed while being driven through the Thai resort city of Pattaya in an open-air police van. “In exchange for help from U.S. intelligence services and a guarantee of my safety, I am prepared to provide the necessary information to America or to Europe or to the country which can buy me out of Thai prison.” 

In March, CNN flew to Bankgkok to interview Vashukevich - with the network's Ivan Watson reporting: "

She described herself as a seductress. This woman claims to have evidence of Russian meddling in the U.S. election. The question, is this a desperate ploy to get out of jail, or as her friend claims, is this young woman truly in danger because she knows too much?"

"For days several Russian friends have been held at this jail in the capital of Thailand where visitors are not allowed to bring cameras," Watson reports.

"I came out of this detention center. It was loud and hot and chaotic and talking through the bars she says she witnessed meetings between the Russian billionaire and three Americans who she refused to name. He claims they discussed plans to effect the U.S. elections but she wouldn't give any further information because she fears she could be deported back to Russia."

And now the "seductress" is sitting in a Moscow jail cell. 

Published:1/17/2019 3:56:00 PM
[Corruption] Texas Democrat Resigns as Mayor After Being Caught Using City Funds on Michelle Obama Tickets

A Texas mayor and her mayor pro tem have resigned from a small Texas town after being caught using city funds to pay for their expensive tickets to go see Michelle Obama at a book signing event. Forest Hill, Texas, Mayor Lyndia Thomas and Mayor Pro Tem Beckie Hayes both submitted their resignations after they ...

The post Texas Democrat Resigns as Mayor After Being Caught Using City Funds on Michelle Obama Tickets appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/17/2019 1:22:47 PM
[Corruption] Texas Democrat Resigns as Mayor After Being Caught Using City Funds on Michelle Obama Tickets

A Texas mayor and her mayor pro tem have resigned from a small Texas town after being caught using city funds to pay for their expensive tickets to go see Michelle Obama at a book signing event. Forest Hill, Texas, Mayor Lyndia Thomas and Mayor Pro Tem Beckie Hayes both submitted their resignations after they ...

The post Texas Democrat Resigns as Mayor After Being Caught Using City Funds on Michelle Obama Tickets appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/17/2019 1:22:47 PM
[Entertainment] Michelle Obama's Becoming Breaks a Record Set by Fifty Shades of Grey Becoming, Michelle Obama, BookBecoming is beloved by readers around the world. It's been two months since Michelle Obama released her memoir, and it's still on top of Amazon's best-selling books chart....
Published:1/17/2019 12:53:33 PM
[Entertainment] Happy birthday, Michelle Obama! Today we celebrate former first lady Michelle Obama. These are four reasons why we love her.
     
 
 
Published:1/17/2019 6:47:53 AM
[Asia] Trump’s pivot to Asia (Paul Mirengoff) Michael Auslin of the Hoover Institution commends President Trump for his pivot to Asia. He says it’s “shaping up to be more substantive and potentially transformative than the one the Obama Administration regularly touted.” That’s a low bar. However, there is, indeed, much to like about Trump’s pivot. As Auslin says: Trump. . .has begun by blowing up past practice, specifically in no longer pretending China is a fair trading Published:1/16/2019 5:15:26 PM
[cb53f31f-fb2a-5e26-8d2a-6cb0e7bb7ae2] Iran keeps testing Trump -- Why? Because it knows he's much tougher than Obama ever was President Trump's tough polices on Iran are a big change from President Obama's approach. Published:1/16/2019 4:43:43 PM
[Law] Don’t ask — that’s an order (Scott Johnson) Judge Jesse Furman went a fur piece — over a 277-page decision (embedded below) — in ruling yesterday that the Trump administration cannot lawfully add its proposed citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Judge Furman, by the way, is an Obama appointee to the busy bench of the Southern District of New York who presided over an eight-day trial of the case. I am tuning in to the case late Published:1/16/2019 3:20:32 PM
[Markets] The Number One: Sex sells, but maybe not as well as Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ memoir Michelle Obama’s “Becoming,” after more than two months on the market, is still flying off the shelves and has emerged as one of the hottest titles of the decade.
Published:1/16/2019 2:44:46 PM
[Media] ‘This makes NO sense!’ Trish Regan shreds Dems’ spin on Trump, Barr, Comey & Russia (Obama hardest hit) [video]

Bullseye!

The post ‘This makes NO sense!’ Trish Regan shreds Dems’ spin on Trump, Barr, Comey & Russia (Obama hardest hit) [video] appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:1/16/2019 11:12:31 AM
[Markets] Stockman Slams "Deep State Handmaid" NYTimes Over Trump Smear: "Are You F**king Kidding Me?"

Authored by David Stockman via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

The Donald has been on a red hot twitter rampage, and he's completely justified. Actually, we didn't think the Russian Collusion Hoax could get any stupider until we saw the New York Times' Friday evening bushwhack.

The trio of authors, apparently self-tortured victims of the Trump Derangement Syndrome, actually had the gall to print a story in the once and former Gray Lady of journalistic rectitude which was nothing more than an ugly smear on the sitting President of the United States - one that would have done Joe McCarthy proud:

In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as FBI director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.

The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.

It doesn't get lower than that. The only thing that they didn't mention was presidential Treason, but it's hard to say that "working in behalf of Russia against American interests" would constitute anything less.

So exactly what did the trio of wet behind the ears nincompoops at the New York Times—Adam Goldman, Michael Schmidt and Nicholas Fandos—dig up from the diarrhetic bowels of the FBI that warranted the above characterization?

Why, it is apparently the following, which is surely a red hot smoking gun. That is, one that condemns the FBI, not Trump; and shows that the NYT, which once courageously published the Pentagon Papers and had earned the above sobriquet for its journalistic stateliness, sense of responsibility and possession of high virtue, has degenerated into a War Party shill—not to say the journalistic equivalent of a comfort woman: Mr. Trump had caught the attention of FBI counterintelligence agents when...

...he called on Russia during a campaign news conference in July 2016 to hack into the emails of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump had refused to criticize Russia on the campaign trail, praising President Vladimir V. Putin. And investigators had watched with alarm as the Republican Party softened its convention platform on the Ukraine crisis in a way that seemed to benefit Russia.

Well, for crying out loud!

Any journalist worth his salt would know that Trump's July 2016 shout-out to the Russians was a campaign joke. At best, it was merely an attempt to cleverly state in one more way the running GOP theme about Hillary's missing 30,000 emails. How many times before that had Sean Hannity delivered his riff about Hillary's alleged hammer-smashing of 13 devices and acid-washing with BleachBit of the missing emails?

More importantly, how in the world of constitutional government, free speech, and contested elections does Trump's refusal to criticize a foreign leader that we we're not at war with constitute something worthy of a counter-intelligence investigation by the FBI?

Indeed, in the case of the Ukraine resolution at the GOP convention, the issue was about making the GOP's prior pro-Ukraine platform even more hawkish, which Trump thought was a bad idea on policy grounds.

Besides, the Democratic platform ended up more dovish than the GOP's final wording. And, no, the FBI didn't think to investigate the Dems for being squishy soft on support for the crypto-Nazi's who took control of Ukraine during an illegal, US funded/supported coup on the street of Kiev in 2014.

What we are saying is that the trio pictured  here—one of whom graduated from Harvard in 2015 and the other two not much older—don't seem to even know that foreign policy is a debatable issue. Or that the American people actually voted into office a candidate who took the other side of Imperial Washington's unwarranted demonization of Putin and made no bones about his desire for a rapprochement with Russia.

Actually, as to pursuing rapprochement, so did: 

  • JFK, after the near catastrophe of the Cuban Missile Crisis; 

  • Lyndon Johnson, after the Seven Days War during his meeting with Kosygin at Glassboro NJ; 

  • Richard Nixon, with the ABM Treaty, detente and his visit with Brezhnev in Moscow; 

  • Jimmy Carter, when he signed the SALT-II agreement; 

  • Ronald Reagan, when he went to Moscow to virtually end the Cold War; and 

  • Bill Clinton, when he sent a multi-billion IMF aid package to Yeltsin to help him get re-elected in 1996. 

The fact is, all of the above presidential policy initiatives were heatedly debated in Washington during a period when the US and Soviet Union each had roughly 9,000 nuclear warheads pointed at the other. But that did not lead to FBI counter-intelligence investigations of politicians—to say nothing of sitting Presidents—who took the "wrong" side of these thoroughly democratic debates.

And that includes the outright "peace" candidacies of Gene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy in 1968 and George McGovern in 1972. Indeed, shortly thereafter it was the Church Committee in the US Senate that aggressively investigated the CIA and FBI, not the incipient Deep State which investigated the elected politicians of that era.

Stated differently, Senator Lloyd Bentsen would have to said to the trio pictured below, "I knew Neil Sheehan, David Halberstam and Seymour Hersh—and you are no Sheehan/Halberstam/Hersh!"

In that regard, your editor did not know the latter three personally back in the day. But those of us on the anti-war barricades during the Vietnam era read them assiduously; and we did not mistake their honest journalistic coverage of that calamitous foreign policy episode for Robert McNamara's lie-filled talking points and genocidal "body counts".

Indeed, back in those days mainstream journalists tended to be the nemesis of the Deep State (yes, it has existed ever since WWII), not it's handmaid.

For instance, in the 1980s Congressman Ed Boland's amendment stopped the effort of neocons in the Reagan Administration to undermine the duly elected "Sandinista" government of Nicaragua. But back then, the press went after the meddlers and interventionists in the national security bureaucracy, not Congressman Boland and the Congressional majority which voted to shackle the Deep State.

In fact, several of the Reagan meddlers went to prison—not to sinecures at CNN or NBC.

Moreover, the alleged "communist" threat in those days was on America's doorstep in central America, not thousands of miles away on Russia's doorstep, as in the case of the Ukraine and Crimea.

Have the three knuckleheads ever read a history book?

Do they not know, for instance, that there are virtually no Ukrainians in Crimea (the population is mainly Russian, Tartar etc.); that the latter was a integral province of Mother Russia for 171 years after it was purchased from the Ottomans by Catherine the Great in 1783; and that Crimea only was added as a territorial appendage to the Socialist Republic of the Ukraine in 1954 by the order of the Soviet Presidium as a door prize to the comrades in Kiev who had supported their favorite son, Nikita Khrushchev, in the bloody battle for Stalin's succession?

Has it not occurred to them that when the scourge and historical anomaly of the Soviet Empire finally slithered off the pages of history that untangling the utterly artificial borders that had enslaved 350 million people might be a tad messy, and that the rump-state of Russia had a valid security interest in the manner in which it unfolded?

Likewise, did they perchance ever read the strident warnings of the father of Soviet containment and NATO, Professor George Kennan, about the foolishness of extending NATO to the very borders of Russia; and especially after Bush the Elder and his Secretary of State, James Baker, had promised Gorbachev in 1989 that in return for his acquiescence to unification of Germany that NATO would not be extended by "a single inch" to the east?

In fact, have they ever bothered to contemplate why NATO even exists any longer; or the anomaly of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization sending troops to the Hindu Kush to make war upon the Taliban tribesman who had actually defeated the Soviet Empire—and 27 years after the Soviet Union was no more?

That is to say, in the whole ragged to-and-fro of post-Soviet eastern Europe and Washington's arrogant claim to sole superpower status, is it really so hard to see that there are two sides to the debate; and that dissent from Washington's hegemonic claim to say what can and can't happen in Kiev, the Donbas and Crimea is actually the more rational course, and certainly not tantamount to treason?

Or consider what happened to Ronald Reagan's misbegotten infatuation with the Star Wars will-o-wisp of a nuclear shield. The latter had the military-industrial complex drooling over the implied trillions (in today's $) of funding, and the Deep State giddy
with the thought that the putative Star Wars shield would unleash it from the bonds of MAD (mutual assured destruction) and thereby open the path t0 US global hegemony.

Needless to say, the intrepid mainstream journalists of the 1980's still had the Sheehan/Halberstam/Hersh investigative spirit and courage about them. It did not take too many years for their exposes to make Star Wars the laughingstock it actually was, and for their rebukes to the Deep State narrative to embolden the bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill to essentially shut it down.

At the end of the day, there is no other way to say it. The Goldman/Schmidt/Fandos types of the present era are not journalists at all; they are lazy, intellectually corrupted, mendacious stenographers of Imperial Washington's oppressive group think.

After all, only a decade or two ago any journalist who typed the words "....whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or unwittingly fallen under Moscow's influence" would have suffered tremors and palpitations for the very phrasing of it.

Don't these kids know them thar words is McCarthyite code for unmasking commie traitors?

Here's the thing. Until the groupthink of the Imperial City congealed into what amounts to worship of the Warfare State after 9/11, any self-respecting journalist who discovered that the FBI had opened a counter-intelligence investigation of a sitting president for the preposterous reasons outlined in the NYT story would have been all over this insidious affront to constitutional government like a screaming banshee.

That is, under what imaginable constitutional scheme does a second tier law enforcement agency have the prerogative to investigate the duly elected President because he fired the FBI director for good cause; rejected the prevailing anti-Russia foreign policy for solid reasons of national interest; and knew that the Russian collusion meme was Democrat sour grapes for loosing the election and said so publicly, loudly and frequently, as is his prerogative?

In the old days, journalists often had the integrity and summoned the courage to speak truth to power. By contrast, the trio of sanctimonious brats pictured above were too lazy, stupid or mendacious to even connect the dots.

That is, this ballyhooed counter-intelligence investigation was launched the very next day after Comey was fired by two of the most compromised people in the entire Obama Administration posse of anti-Trump election meddlers--if not criminals—led by former CIA director John Brennan.

We are referring to the acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, later fired for leaking to the media and lying about it and his legal council, Lisa Page. After the release of literally tons of anti-Trump SMS messages with her lover-boy, the FBI agent Peter Strzok, over the past 12 months what kind of self-respecting journalists would not see the red flags flying in every direction?

By now any one who knows how to Google, also knows or should know that Strzok and Page sent text messages that suggest they were discussing opening up a counterintelligence investigation against Trump even before Comey’s firing. And when it happened, their exchanges left no doubt:

“And we need to open the case we’ve been waiting on now while Andy is acting,” Strzok wrote to Page on the day of Comey’s ouster.

So there you have it. McCabe, Strzok and Page are Deep Staters if the term has any meaning at all. Yet here is why Lisa Page thought Trump was such a threat to national security that she and her colleagues were justified in unilaterally suspending the constitution and prosecuting the elected President of the people because they disagreed with his foreign policy positions.

Indeed, by her own closed door testimony to the House committee (now leaked) it is obvious that Lisa Page is a light-weight numbskull when it comes to thinking about national security. For it turns out, she doesn't even claim that Russia is a military threat to America or that Putin has aggressive intents for territorial conquest.

No, it seems his sin is that he doesn't embrace Washington's self-conferred role as the Indispensable Nation and may even be in mind of thwarting Washington's noble effort to spread "our democratic ideals" and bring the blessings of Coca-Cola, long pants and the ballot box to the otherwise benighted peoples of the planet.

You only need a decent regard for the mayhem that the Washington War party has brought to the world—from the jungles of the Mekong Valley, to the Hindu Kush, to Mesopotamia, the Levant, North Africa and Latin America, too—to say are you f*cking kidding?

'In the Russian Federation and in President Putin himself, you have an individual whose aim is to disrupt the Western alliance and whose aim is to make Western democracy more fractious in order to weaken our ability, America’s ability and the West’s ability to spread our democratic ideals,' Lisa Page, a former bureau lawyer, told House investigators in private testimony reviewed by The Times..... 'That’s the goal, to make us less of a moral authority to spread democratic values,' she added. Parts of her testimony were first reported in the Epoch Times.

Many involved in the case viewed Russia as the chief threat to American democratic values.

'With respect to Western ideals and who it is and what it is we stand for as Americans, Russia poses the most dangerous threat to that way of life,' Ms. Page told investigators for a joint House Judiciary and Oversight Committee investigation into Moscow’s election interference.

As to the last bolded line, we will not bother to wonder how a pint-sized economy of $1.5 trillion compared to America's $20 trillion and all of NATO's $36 trillion, with a military budget of $61 billion compared to NATO $1.05 trillion, is going to do what Khrushchev failed to do—bury us!

So we fully appreciate why the Donald is on the rampage...

'Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!' the president tweeted.

'Funny thing about James Comey,' he continued. 'Everybody wanted him fired, Republican and Democrat alike. After the rigged & botched Crooked Hillary investigation, where she was interviewed on July 4th Weekend, not recorded or sworn in, and where she said she didn’t know anything (a lie).'

'the FBI was in complete turmoil (see N.Y. Post) because of Comey’s poor leadership and the way he handled the Clinton mess (not to mention his usurpation of powers from the Justice Department). My firing of James Comey was a great day for America.'

"He was a Crooked Cop,” Saturday’s tweetstorm concluded, “who is being totally protected by his best friend, Bob Mueller, & the 13 Angry Democrats – leaking machines who have NO interest in going after the Real Collusion (and much more) by Crooked Hillary Clinton, her Campaign, and the Democratic National Committee. Just Watch!” 

..., and in this instance, couldn't more wholeheartedly agree.

Published:1/16/2019 10:09:48 AM
[Markets] Federal Judge Orders Rhodes, Rice, & Other Obama Officials To Respond Over Clinton Benghazi/Email Scandal

In what Judicial Watch describes as a "major victory for accountability," a federal judge ruled Tuesday that former national security adviser Susan Rice and former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes must answer written questions about the State Department's response to the deadly 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, as part of an ongoing legal battle over whether Hillary Clinton sought to deliberately evade public record laws by using a private email server while secretary of state.

As Fox News' Samuel Chamberlain reports, the judge's order amounts to approval of a discovery plan he ordered last month. In that ruling, Lamberth wrote that Clinton's use of a private email account was "one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency" and said the response of the State and Justice Departments "smacks of outrageous misconduct."

Judicial Watch announced last night that United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that discovery can begin in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers, and Clinton aides will now be deposed under oath. Senior officials - including Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap - will now have to answer Judicial Watch’s written questions under oath. The court rejected the DOJ and State Department’s objections to Judicial Watch’s court-ordered discovery plan. (The court, in ordering a discovery plan last month, ruledthat the Clinton email system was “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.”)

Judicial Watch’s discovery will seek answers to:

  • Whether Clinton intentionally attempted to evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by using a non-government email system;

  • whether the State Department’s efforts to settle this case beginning in late 2014 amounted to bad faith; and

  • whether the State Department adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.

Discovery is scheduled to be completed within 120 days. The court will hold a post-discovery hearing to determine if Judicial Watch may also depose additional witnesses, including Clinton and her former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills.

Judge Lamberth ordered written responses under oath to Judicial Watch’s questions from Obama administration senior officials Rice, Rhodes and Sullivan, and former FBI official Priestap. Rice and Rhodes will answer interrogatories under oath on the Benghazi scandal. Rejecting the State and Justice Department objections to discovery on the infamous Benghazi talking points, Judge Lamberth reiterated:

Yet Rice’s talking points and State’s understanding of the attack play an unavoidably central role in this case: information about the points’ development and content, as well as their discussion and dissemination before and after Rice’s appearances could reveal unsearched, relevant records; State’s role in the points’ content and development could shed light on Clinton’s motives for shielding her emails from FOIA requesters or on State’s reluctance to search her emails.

Judicial Watch also may serve interrogatories on Monica Hanley, a former staff member in the State Department’s Office of the Secretary, and on Lauren Jiloty, Clinton’s former special assistant.

According to Lamberth’s order, regarding whether Clinton’s private email use while Secretary of State was an intentional attempt to evade FOIA, Judicial Watch may depose:

Eric Boswell, the former Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security.… Boswell’s March 2009 memo to Mills … discusses security risks Clinton’s Blackberry use posed more generally. And Boswell personally discussed the memo with Clinton. So, he plainly has relevant information about that conversation and about his general knowledge of Clinton’s email use. Judicial Watch may depose Boswell.

Justin Cooper. the Clinton Foundation employee who created the clintonemail.com server. In its proposal, Judicial Watch noted Cooper’s prior congressional testimony “appears to contradict portions of the testimony provided by Huma Abedin in the case before Judge Sullivan.” … Cooper repeatedly told Congress that Abedin helped set-up the Clintons’ private server, e.g., Examining Preservation of State Department Federal Records: [before a Congressional hearing] Abedin testified under oath she did not know about the server until six years later.… Judicial Watch may depose Cooper.

Clarence Finney, the former deputy director of State’s Executive Secretariat staff…. [T]his case’s questions hinge on what specific State employees knew and when they knew it. As the principal advisor and records management expert responsible for controlling Clinton’s official correspondence and records, Finney’s knowledge is particularly relevant. And especially given the concerns about government misconduct that prompted this discovery, Judicial Watch’s ability to take his direct testimony and ask follow-up questions is critical.

Additionally, Judicial Watch states that it seeks to go beyond cursory, second-hand testimony and directly ask Finney what he knew about Clinton’s email use. This includes asking about emails suggesting he knew about her private email use in 2014, and emails he received concerning a December 2012 FOIA request from Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington (CREW) regarding senior officials’ personal email use-topics State’s 30(b)(6) deposition in Judge Sullivan’s case never addressed. Judicial Watch may depose Finney.

4. Heather Samuelson. the former State Department senior advisor who helped facilitate State’s receipt of Hillary Clinton’s emails.… [T]his case turns on what specific government employees knew and when they knew it. Judicial Watch must be able to take their direct testimony and ask them follow-up questions. Judicial Watch may depose Samuelson.

5. Jacob Sullivan. Secretary Clinton’s former senior advisor and deputy Chief of Staff. The government does not oppose Sullivan’s deposition.

Regarding whether the State Department’s settlement attempts that began in late 2014 amounted to “bad faith,” Judicial Watch was granted depositions from the State Department under Rule 30(b)(6); Finney; John Hackett, the former deputy director of State’s Office of Information Programs & Services; Gene Smilansky, an attorney-advisor within State’s Office of the Legal Advisor; Samuelson; and others.

Judicial Watch was also granted interrogatories on whether the State Department adequately searched for responsive records, as well as several document requests.

“In a major victory for accountability, Judge Lamberth today authorized Judicial Watch to take discovery on whether the Clinton email system evaded FOIA and whether the Benghazi scandal was one reason for keeping Mrs. Clinton’s email secret,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

“Today, Judicial Watch issued document requests and other discovery to the State Department about the Clinton email scandal. Next up, we will begin questioning key witnesses under oath.

The court-ordered discovery is the latest development in Judicial Watch’s July 2014 FOIA lawsuit filed after the U.S. Department of State failed to respond to a May 13, 2014 FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)). Judicial Watch seeks:

  • Copies of any updates and/or talking points given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency concerning, regarding, or related to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

  • Any and all records or communications concerning, regarding, or relating to talking points or updates on the Benghazi attack given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency.

The Judicial Watch discovery plan was in response to a December 6, 2018, ruling by Judge Lamberth.

Incredibly, Justice Department attorneys admit in a filing opposing Judicial Watch’s limited discovery that “Counsel for State contacted the counsel of some third parties that Plaintiff originally included in its draft discovery proposal to obtain their client’s position on being deposed.” This collusion occurred despite criticism from the Court that the DOJ engaged in “chicanery” to cover up misconduct and that career employees in the State and Justice Departments may have “colluded to scuttle public scrutiny of Clinton, skirt FOIA, and hoodwink this Court.”

Judicial Watch countered that “[t]he government’s proposal, which is really nothing more than an opposition to [Judicial Watch’s] plan, demonstrates that it continues to reject any impropriety on its part and that it seeks to block any meaningful inquiry into its ‘outrageous misconduct.’”

As a reminder, this Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit led directly to the disclosure of the Clinton email system in 2015.

Published:1/16/2019 8:09:12 AM
[Markets] It's A Gas... Germany Outraged By US Colonial Arrogance

Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

This time the outspoken US ambassador in Berlin may have gone too far to be ignored. The German government has denounced as a “provocation” letters that the American envoy sent to companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 project warning them of possible US sanctions.

The German government reportedly told the project companies to “ignore” the missives dispatched by Ambassador Richard Grenell.

Nord Stream 2 is the 1,222-kilometer pipeline being laid in the Baltic seabed which will greatly increase delivery of natural gas from Russia to Germany. It will double Germany’s import of Russian gas when complete. But the Trump administration has repeatedly voiced its objection to the project, claiming that it will give Moscow undue political leverage over Europe. Trump has warned of sanctions on participating companies, which include German and Austrian firms.

The flagrant ulterior agenda is seen as the US trying to undermine German-Russian energy trade, for the purpose of selling more expensive American liquefied natural gas to Europe. So much for American free-market capitalism!

Grenell’s letters to the German firms – received at the weekend – are viewed as an unprecedented threat to the nation’s conduct of private business. The US embassy denied it was a threat, saying the letters were merely stating Washington’s policy of imposing sanctions.

It is but the latest furore involving the maverick envoy who has been accused in the past of violating diplomatic protocol by meddling in Germany’s domestic affairs. German media have previously blasted Grenell for seeking “regime change” in Berlin because of his open support for the anti-immigration party, Alternative for Germany (AfD).

When Grenell took up his diplomatic post in Berlin last May, he immediately provoked a political firestorm when he tweeted that German companies doing business with Iran “should wind down operations” or face punitive American sanctions. That was at the time President Trump pulled out of the international nuclear accord with Iran. “Never tell the host country what to do, if you want to stay out of trouble,” snapped Wolfgang Ischinger, Germany’s former ambassador to Washington.

Only a few weeks after that dubious debut, Grenell gave an interview to the pro-Trump Breibart News outlet, boasting that he wanted to “empower other conservatives throughout Europe”. That was taken as an endorsement of the AfD in Germany, which has emerged as a serious challenger to the political establishment in Berlin.

Martin Schulz, the former leader of the Social Democratic Party, was among several political figures who then demanded Grenell’s dismissal.

“What this man is doing is unheard of in international diplomacy… he’s behaving like a colonial officer of the far-right,” said Schulz.

He added a fair point by noting: “If a German ambassador were to say in Washington that he was there to boost the Democrats, he would have been kicked out immediately.”

Grenell’s high-profile media interventions concerning German politics and business do appear to constitute a brazen breach of the 1964 Vienna Convention which stipulates that diplomats must remain neutral on matters of policy concerning host nations. Officially, an ambassador’s role is to lobby discreetly on behalf of his government, and to always adopt a low-profile.

Of course, this would not be the first time that US embassies and envoys have violated the Vienna Convention in host countries. Washington habitually uses these outposts for fomenting regime change.

Richard Grenell, however, has openly flouted these norms and acted as an unabashed mouthpiece for Trump, echoing the president’s contempt for the German government of Chancellor Angela Merkel. The upshot, according to Der Spiegel, is that Grenell has become politically isolated in Berlin. Merkel “keeps him at a distance” and most politicians, except for the AfD, have shunned his contact.

After the latest controversy of writing warning letters to German companies, it may be the final straw for Berlin’s tolerance.

Already, the German media have been commenting on how the “trans-Atlantic partnership” is finished under Trump.

Business newspaper Handelsblatt commented previously: “Nothing in trans-Atlantic relations is normal any longer… Berlin has for too long clung to the illusion of trans-Atlantic normalcy… the era of close ties is now over”.

Moreover, there are increasing calls among German politicians and media for a “strategically autonomous Germany and Europe” unfettered by Washington’s policies.

Such a development is long overdue and its necessity long predates Trump. Since the end of the Second World War, Germany has resembled an occupied country for American military power and a subordinate to Washington’s political objectives. The primary objective has always been to prevent Germany from developing a natural partnership with Moscow, previously with the former Soviet Union, and subsequently the Russian Federation.

The absolute disregard for German sovereignty was perhaps best demonstrated not by the Trump administration, but during the presidency of Barack Obama when it emerged that American intelligence agencies were tapping the personal phone calls of Chancellor Merkel. If that’s not colonial arrogance, then what is?

Yet the German political and media establishment barely protested over that infringement by Washington on the country’s sovereignty and its leader.

What Trump and his cipher-envoy in Berlin have done is take the arrogance to an unbearably overt level. Trump has been kicking Germany for alleged “unfair trading practices”, denigrating Merkel over her refugee policy, browbeating Berlin to double its spend on NATO military budget, and lambasting German businesses for not complying with Washington’s hostile foreign policy towards Iran and Russia.

Trump in his boorish style is merely laying bare the long-presumed US hegemony over Germany. And it’s not a pretty sight. Berlin is being shamed into having to be seen to stand up to this American bullying.

The absurdity is that the US and its NATO acolytes have been foaming at the mouth for the last two years about alleged and unproven Russian interference in domestic politics of Western states. Whenever the glaring reality is it’s the Americans who are driving horses and coaches of interference through their supposed allies, who are evidently vassals.

Published:1/16/2019 1:07:24 AM
[World] Tucker Carlson Battled Obama Adviser Over Trump Bashing NATO, Russia

Tucker Carlson debated an Obama foreign policy adviser over whether it is a civic offense to consider withdrawing the United States from NATO or discussing whether the alliance should be altered.

Published:1/15/2019 8:35:24 PM
[Markets] Enemy Of The People?

Via The Zman blog,

There has never been a time when normal people did not know the media was biased and biased in a predictable direction. For every non-liberal in the media, there were at least ten liberals. The ratio was probably higher, but then, as now, some lefties liked to pretend they were independents or some third option.

The media used to invest a lot of time denying they had a bias and an agenda, but the only people who believed them were on the Left, which had the odd effect of confirming they had a bias and an agenda.

The thing is though, the media seemed like it was biased in a predictable way.

In the 1980’s, for example, the newspapers featured stories about the so-called homeless crisis on a weekly basis. That’s when we went from calling them bums to pretending their only problem was a lack of shelter. Once Clinton assumed power, the homeless stories disappeared. It was a running joke for a long time, because it was so obvious, but also because it was so predictable. Everyone got the joke, except Lefty.

As many have observed, the mask began to drop during the Clinton years when so many media members quit their jobs and went to work in the administration. It’s hard to maintain the illusion of independence when there is a revolving door between the media and left-wing political operations. That’s when CNN became known as the Clinton News Network, because they were so hilariously in the tank for them. Some tried to maintain the ruse, but any pretense of objectivity ended in the 1990’s.

Again, there was still a sense that it was just bias and that it was predictable and therefore you could adjust for it. Today, that does not appear to be the case. The mainstream media has become advocates, but not necessarily advocates for the Progressive base of the Democratic coalition. They seem to be serving the agendas, financed by private parties operating off-stage. For example, sites like the Huffington Post and Daily Beast are about moral enforcement than news and current events.

The recent harassment of Alex McNabb by Antifa member Christopher Mathias is a great example of the phenomenon. The Huffington Post provides him with a cover identity as a reporter, but in reality someone else is paying his way. His job is as a witch hunter, looking for anyone in violation of the blasphemy laws. This is a strange new phenomenon that does not have a corollary in the past. Even Woodward and Bernstein were legitimate reporters, even if Woodward had deep connections to the intelligence community.

There’s an argument that this sort of religious advocacy is the natural result of the narrative journalism that evolved in the 1960’s and 1970’s. If you are going to report stories, the point is to inform. If you are going to spin tales, then the first goal is to entertain and there is nothing quite as a gripping as a morality tale. These doxxing stories are just campfire stories for the hard thumping loons of the far Left. The point of them is to tell the reader that they must be vigilant as heretics are everywhere.

That’s probably true, but what about stories like this one, where it is clear the New York Times now has a whole department involved in explicit political advocacy. That is a highly organized effort to alter public policy. More important, it is a long term project, going back to the Obama years. The New York Times posted a database of gun owners, with an accompanying map, in a campaign to terrorize gun owners. This goes well beyond bias and even past the morality tales spun by the Huffington Post.

It does not stop there. This story about the death of Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi takes advocacy to another level. As an aside, the story is written by Lee Smith, who was fired from The Weekly Standard by Bill Kristol. His crime was having uncovered Kristol’s involvement in the fake dossier the FBI was using to subvert Trump. The story of Khashoggi’s life and death reads like a Hollywood spy thriller, but it was not a CIA caper. It was an operation apparently run by the the Washington Post.

We’ve come a long way from simple bias. The same media that can’t stop talking about Russian efforts to trick voters into voting the wrong way, was running a covert operation to trick the government into supporting Iran over Saudi Arabia. Unlike the Russians, the Washington Post actually killed someone or at least got someone killed. Unlike the Trump team, the Washington Post was actually working with a foreign country that is often viewed as hostile to American interests.

Trump started calling the media the “enemy of the American people” but he seems to have dropped it for some reason. Maybe the media threatened him. Given what we are seeing, how long before Washington Post reporters are planting car bombs and spiking drinks with polonium? Whether or not they see Americans as the enemy is hard to know, but they certainly don’t see themselves as on the same team as Americans. While they may not be the enemies of the people, they are a short bus ride to that position.

Published:1/15/2019 8:06:48 PM
[Politics] UH OH: Federal court orders DISCOVERY on Clinton Email and Benghazi Scandal of top Obama officials! Wow, this sounds like it could get interesting… Judicial Watch announced today that United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that discovery can begin in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Obama administration . . . Published:1/15/2019 7:05:40 PM
[Politics] UH OH: Federal court orders DISCOVERY on Clinton Email and Benghazi Scandal of top Obama officials! Wow, this sounds like it could get interesting… Judicial Watch announced today that United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that discovery can begin in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Obama administration . . . Published:1/15/2019 7:05:40 PM
[Education] “Restorative justice” in action (Paul Mirengoff) “Restorative justice” is a euphemism for trying to impose less punishment on disruptive students because these students are, as a group, disproportionately African-American. The motive for “restorative justice” is racial. The sociology/pedagogy brought to bear on its behalf is superstructure, to put it as kindly as I can. The Obama administration tried to impose “restorative justice” on schools by threatening to cut off federal funding. It did so through its Published:1/15/2019 5:35:38 PM
[World] Obamacare single-payer plan pushing insurers out of market

No matter what you think about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — whether you supported President Obama’s signature health care law or opposed it — the facts show that individual health insurance markets across the country have been struggling.

Health insurance premiums have more than doubled in states using HealthCare.gov ... Published:1/15/2019 4:05:16 PM

[Security] Walls Across America: Walls for Obama and George Soros, But Not for America?

The Daily Caller’s Benny Johnson has started a series of video investigations into “walls across America,” showing viewers just who has walls and who does not. Naturally, all those claiming that the country does not need a wall on the southern border have walls all around their own homes and communities. The question about Obama’s ...

The post Walls Across America: Walls for Obama and George Soros, But Not for America? appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/15/2019 1:04:03 PM
[Security] Walls Across America: Walls for Obama and George Soros, But Not for America?

The Daily Caller’s Benny Johnson has started a series of video investigations into “walls across America,” showing viewers just who has walls and who does not. Naturally, all those claiming that the country does not need a wall on the southern border have walls all around their own homes and communities. The question about Obama’s ...

The post Walls Across America: Walls for Obama and George Soros, But Not for America? appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/15/2019 1:04:03 PM
[Politics] Politico: 'Green New Deal' Not So New The 'Green New Deal' proposal being spearheaded by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., can be traced back to the Obama administration. Published:1/15/2019 10:36:50 AM
[Markets] Entering A Major Regional Reset: The Syria Outcome Will Haunt Those Who Started This War

Authored by Alastair Crooked via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The Middle East is metamorphosing. New fault-lines are emerging, yet Trump’s foreign policy ‘hawks’ still try to stage ‘old movies’ in a new ‘theatre’.

The ‘old movie’ is for the US to ‘stand up’ Sunni, Arab states, and lead them towards confronting ‘bad actor’ Iran. ‘Team Bolton’ is reverting back to the old 1996 Clean Break script – as if nothing has changed. State Department officials have been briefing that Secretary Pompeo’s address in Cairo on Thursday was “slated to tell his audience (although he may not name the former president), that Obama misled the people of the Middle East about the true source of terrorism, including what contributed to the rise of the Islamic State. Pompeo will insist that Iran, a country Obama tried to engage, is the real terrorist culprit. The speech’s drafts also have Pompeo suggesting that Iran could learn from the Saudis about human rights, and the rule of law.”

Well, at least that speech should raise a chuckle around the region. In practice however, the regional fault-line has moved on: It is no longer so much Iran. GCC States have a new agenda, and are now far more concerned to contain Turkey, and to put a halt to Turkish influence spreading throughout the Levant. GCC states fear that President Erdogan, given the emotional and psychological wave of antipathy unleashed by the Khashoggi murder, may be mobilising newly re-energised Muslim Brotherhood, Gulf networks. The aim being to leverage present Gulf economic woes, and the general hollowing out of any broader GCC ‘vision’, in order to undercut the rigid Gulf ‘Arab system’ (tribal monarchy). The Brotherhood favours a soft Islamist reform of the Gulf monarchies – along lines, such as that once advocated by Jamal Khashoggi .

Turkey’s leadership in any case is convinced that it was the UAE (MbZ specifically) that was the author behind the Kurdish buffer being constructed, and mini-state ‘plot’ against Turkey – in conjunction with Israel and the US. Understandably, Gulf states now fear possible Turkish retribution for their weaponising of Kurdish aspirations in this way.

And Turkey is seen (by GCC States) as already working in close co-ordination with fellow Muslim Brotherhood patron and GCC member, Qatar, to divide the collapsing Council. This prefigures a new round to the MB versus Saudi Wahhabism spat for the soul of Sunni Islam.

GGC states therefore, are hoping to stand-up a ‘front’ to balance Turkey in the Levant. And to this end, they are trying to recruit President Assad back into the Arab fold (which is to say, into the Arab League), and to have him act, jointly with them, as an Arab counter to Turkey. 

The point here is obvious: President Assad is closely allied to Iran – and so is Moscow and Turkey. To be fashionably Iranophobic – as Pompeo might wish the GCC to be – simply would spoil the GCC’s anti-Turkey ‘play’. Syria indeed may be (justly) skeptical of Turkey’s actions and intent in Syria, but from President Assad’s perspective, Iran and Russia are absolutely crucial to the managing of an erratic Turkey. Turkey does represent an existential Syrian concern. And trying to lever President Assad – or Lebanon or Turkey – away from Iran, would be absurd. It won’t happen. And the GCC states have enough nous to understand this now (after their stinging defeat in Syria). The Gulf anti-Iranian stance has had ‘the burner’ turned sharply down, (except when their need is to stroke US feathers). 

They can see clearly that the Master of Ceremonies in the Levant – putting together the new regional ‘order’ – is not Mr Bolton, but Moscow, with Tehran (and occasionally Ankara), playing their equal part ‘from behind the curtain’.

Presumably, America’s intelligence services know, (and Gulf states certainly are aware), that in any case, Iranian forces are almost all gone from Syria (though of course Syria’s ‘Iranian connection’ remains as firm, as ever) – even as Pompeo and Israel say the precisely the opposite: that they are pushing-back hard at the ‘threatening’ Iranian military ‘footprint’ in Syria. Few in the region will believe it.

The second notable emerging regional fault line then, evidently is the one that is opening between Turkey and the US and Israel. Turkey ‘gets it’: Erdogan ‘gets it’ very clearly: that Washington now deeply distrusts him, suspects that Turkey is accelerating into Moscow and Beijing’s orbit, and that DC would be happy to see him gone – and a more NATO-friendly leader installed in his stead. 

And it must be clear to Washington too ‘why’ Turkey would be heading ‘East’. Erdogan precisely needs Russia and Iran to act as MCs to moderate his difficult relations with Damascus for the future. Erdogan needs Russia and Iran even more, to broker a suitable political solution to the Kurds in Syria. He needs China too, to support his economy. 

And Erdogan is fully aware that Israel (more than Gulf States) still hankers after the old Ben Gurion ideal of an ethnic Kurdish state – allied with Israel, and sitting atop major oil resources – to be inserted at the very pivot to south-west and central Asia: And at Turkey’s vulnerable underbelly.

The Israeli’s articulated their support for a Kurdish state quite plainly at the time of Barzani’s failed independence initiative in Iraq. But Erdogan simply, unmistakably, has said to this ‘never’ (to Bolton, this week). Nonetheless, Ankara still needs Russian and Iranian collaboration to allow Bolton to ‘climb down his tree’ of a Kurdish mini-state in Syria. He needs Russia to broker a Syrian-led buffer, vice an American-Kurdish tourniquet, strapped around his southern border.

It is unlikely however, that despite the real threat that America’s arming of the Kurds poses to Turkey, that Erdogan really wants to invade Syria – though he threatens it – and though John Bolton’s ‘conditions’ may end by leaving Turkey no option, but to do it. Since, for sure, Erdogan understands that a messy Turkish invasion of Syria would send the delicately balanced Turkish Lire into free-fall.

Still … Turkey, Syria, Iran and Russia now all want America gone from Syria. And for a moment, it seemed it might proceed smoothly after Trump had acquiesced to Erdogan’s arguments, during their celebrated telephone call. But then – Senator Lindsay Graham demurred (against the backdrop of massed howls of anguish issuing from the Beltway foreign policy think-tanks). Bolton did the walk-back, by making US withdrawal from Syria contingent on conditions (ones seemingly designed not to be met) and not tied any specific timeline. President Erdogan was not amused.

It should be obvious now that we are entering a major regional re-set: The US is leaving Syria. Bolton’s attempted withdrawal-reversal has been rebuffed. And the US, in any event, forfeited the confidence of the Kurds in consequence to the original Trump statement. The Kurds now are orientated toward Damascus and Russia is mediating a settlement. 

It may take a while, but the US is going. Kurdish forces (other than those linked with the PKK) are likely to be assimilated into the Syrian army, and the ‘buffer’ will not be directed against Turkey, but will be a mix of Syrian army and Kurdish elements – under Syrian command – but whose overall conduct towards Turkey will be invigilated by Russia. And the Syrian army will, in due time, clear Idlib from a resurgent al-Qaida (HTS).

The Arab states are returning to their embassies in Damascus – partly out of fear that the whipsaw of American policy, its radical polarisation, and its proclivity to be wholly or partially ‘walked-back’ by the Deep State – might leave the Gulf unexpectedly ‘orphaned’ at any time. In effect, the GCC states are ‘hedging’ against this risk by trying to reconnect a bifurcated Arab sphere, and to give it a new ‘purpose’ and credibility – as a balance against Turkey, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood (Syria’s old nemesis).

And yet – there remains still another layer to this calculus, as described by veteran Middle East journalist, Elijah Magnier:

“Indeed the Levant is returning to the centre of Middle East and world attention in a stronger position than in 2011. Syria has advanced precision missiles that can hit any building in Israel. Assad also has an air defence system he would have never dreamed of before 2011 – thanks to Israel’s continuous violation of its airspace, and its defiance of Russian authority. Hezbollah has constructed bases for its long and medium range precision missiles in the mountains and has created a bond with Syria that it could never have established – if not for the war. Iran has established a strategic brotherhood with Syria, thanks to its role in defeating the regime change plan.

NATO’s support for the growth of ISIS has created a bond between Syria and Iraq that no Muslim or Baathist link could ever have created: Iraq has a “carte blanche” to bomb ISIS locations in Syria without the consent of the Syrian leadership, and the Iraqi security forces can walk into Syria anytime they see fit to fight ISIS. The anti-Israel axis has never been stronger than it is today. That is the result of 2011-2018 war imposed on Syria”.

Yes. This is the third of the newly emergent fault-lines: that of Israel on the one hand, and the emerging reality in the Syrian north, on the other – a shadow that has returned to haunt the original instigators of the ‘war’ to undermine Syria. PM Netanyahu since has put all the Israeli eggs into the Trump family ‘basket’. It was Netanyahu’s relationship with Trump which was presented in Israel as being the true ‘Deal of the Century’ (and not the Palestinian one). Yet when Bibi complained forcefully about US withdrawal from Syria (leaving Syria vulnerable, Netanyahu asserts, to an Iranian insertion of smart missiles), Trump nonchalantly replied that the US gives Israel $ 4.5 billion per year – “You’ll be all right”, Trump riposted. 

It was seen in Israel as an extraordinary slap to the PM’s face. But Israelis cannot avoid, but to acknowledge, some responsibility for creating precisely the circumstances of which they now loudly complain.

Bottom line: Things have not gone according to plan: America is not shaping the new Levantine ‘order’ – Moscow is. And Israel’s continual, blatant disregard of Russia’s own interests in the Levant, firstly infuriated, and finally has provoked the Russian high command into declaring the northern Middle East a putative no-fly zone for Israel. This represents a major strategic reversal for Netanyahu (and the US).

And finally, it is this repeating pattern of statements being made by the US President on foreign policy that are then almost casually contradicted, or ‘conditioned’, by some or other part of the US bureaucracy, that poses to the region (and beyond) the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question. The pattern clearly is one of an isolated President, with officials emptying his statements of executive authority (until subsequently endorsed, or denied, by the US bureaucracy). It is making Trump almost irrelevant (in terms of the setting of foreign policy). 

Is this then a stealth process – knowingly contrived – incrementally to remove Trump from power? A hollowing out of his Presidential prerogatives (leaving him only as a disruptive Twitterer) – achieved, without all the disruption and mess, of formally removing him from office? We shall see.

And what next? Well, as Simon Henderson observes, no one is sure – everyone is left wondering:

“What’s up with Secretary Pompeo’s extended tour of the Middle East? The short answer is that he is trying to sell/explain President Trump’s “we are leaving Syria” policy to America’s friends … Amman, Jordan; Cairo, Egypt; Manama, Bahrain; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE); Doha, Qatar; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Muscat, Oman; Kuwait City, Kuwait. Wow, even with his own jet and no immigration hassles, that’s an exhausting itinerary … The fact that there now are eight stops in eight days, probably reflects the amount of explaining that needs to be done.

Published:1/14/2019 11:01:05 PM
[Markets] Democrats Prepare Hearings On "Rightwing Extremism"

Authored by Kurt Nimmo,

Prior to the 2018 midterm election, I speculated a Democrat-controlled House would result in hearings targeting “hate groups,” that is to say anybody on the “right” who challenges official narratives, otherwise known as “conspiracy theories.” 

“Rep. Bennie Thompson, an African American lawmaker from Mississippi, is in charge of the House Homeland Security Committee,” reports McClatchy.

“Thompson intends to hold hearings to spotlight what experts say is a growth of deadly right wing extremism in America, even if the hearings could feature members of white supremacist groups.”

Thompson said his aim is to change the dialogue and find a balance in a U.S. domestic terrorism strategy that he believes has focused too heavily on the threat of homegrown Muslim terrorism and too little the rise of far right, white nationalist, and anti-Semitic groups.

The corporate propaganda media has done a fair job of conflating “white supremacy” and political thought the government wants to silence and shutdown.

The McClatchy article follows this line and links the “trend” of antigovernment activism to Timothy McVeigh and the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.  That event has served as a touchstone for over two decades, primarily thanks to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has made a cottage industry out of hyping “rightwing hate” (unacceptable political thought) and the threat of violence (for the state, the two are inseparable). 

McClatchy and the corporate media have attached “rightwing extremism” to a number of violent incidents that have more to do with disturbed individuals than ideology. 

A recent spate of deadly incidents—including the shooting deaths of 11 congregants at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October, the February 2018 shooting deaths of 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and the August 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia—have given Thompson and other congressional Democrats anecdotal evidence about the extreme right.

The Obama administration, continuing the work of the Bush administration, had the Department of Homeland Security produce a paper on the supposed threat posed by “rightwing extremists,” who are by the state’s definition terrorists on par (or worse than) al-Qaeda and its follow-up act, the Islamic State. Republicans, at the time a majority in the House, lambasted the paper and accused the Obama administration of overreach. Then DHS boss Janet Napolitano went into damage control mode. 

Napolitano apologized for the report. But the political backlash led DHS to halt work on tracking violent far right extremism, according to Daryl Johnson, the report’s author.

But now the House is in the hands of the Democrats and they want blood following the election of Donald Trump and the rise of the so-called Alt-right, or New Right. 

Under Republican control from 2011 until last week, the House Homeland Security Committee repeatedly rejected calls by Thompson and Democrats for specific probes of domestic far right activities. Some Republicans now are wary that Thompson’s probe would be conducted with a partisan eye.

“Congress and the White House has looked at terrorism through the lens of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. The House Homeland Security Committee, established after those attacks, largely has focused on the foreign threat or potential danger posed by U.S. residents becoming radicalized by foreign terrorist groups.

That emphasis will change under the Democrats. The new terrorists are “homegrown” and include nationalists (shorthand for racist), constitutionalists, and libertarians. There will be hearings and possible show trials in the months ahead. 

The DHS will finally arrive at its final destination—a national secret police focused on political activism challenging the ruling elite and their contrived political arrangement. 

Thompson said his aim is to change the dialogue and find a balance in a U.S. domestic terrorism strategy that he believes has focused too heavily on the threat of homegrown Muslim terrorism and too little the rise of far right, white nationalist, and anti-Semitic groups.

In order to be classified as antisemitic, a group or an individual only need criticize Israel and its incestuous relationship with the ruling elite and its political operatives, in particular the neocon faction. 

Thought-crime - opposition to the state and its policies - will not be tolerated by the political class. Democrats want to make sure another Donald Trump will not sit in the White House. In order to do this, they have to go after high profile individuals and groups, hold show trials, and continue the work of deplatforming “deplorables” and their “hate,” in other words, free speech. 

Finally, a word of warning to the “far-left.” If you wander outside the parameters set by Democrats and their “progressive” foundations, you will also be attacked and undermined by the state, especially if you oppose Bush’s wars, which became Obama’s wars and now Trump’s. 

Published:1/14/2019 9:00:16 PM
[Bits and Pieces] Women in combat and The Three Ps — peeing, periods, and pregnancy

Women in combat isn’t bad only because of physical stamina and unit cohesion issues. The Three Ps (peeing, periods, and pregnancy) also militate against it. Heather MacDonald, undoubtedly one of the most brilliant conservative writers and thinkers around, has written about the military’s decision, based upon Obama administration dictates, to water down physical standards to […]

The post Women in combat and The Three Ps — peeing, periods, and pregnancy appeared first on Bookworm Room.

Published:1/14/2019 8:30:55 PM
[2019 News] SOMEBODY Had To Say It For anyone who misses the weekly J.P. Travis columns at JPAttitude.com. Arranged into chapters by subject, they cover just over nine years of “interesting times” straight out of a Chinese curse (otherwise known as the Obama candidacy and presidency). Published:1/14/2019 7:32:19 PM
[Middle Column] Psychology Today mag: ‘Millions’ suffer from ‘phenomenon of climate denial’ – ‘Psychologists never faced denial on this scale before’ – Warns ‘human race faces extinction’

Scientific American: Obama Seeks â??Psychological Helpâ?? with Climate Change

Psychology Today claims: 'Except for a small number of outliers (scientists), none doubt that we are rapidly approaching climate catastrophe.

'Millions of people share the phenomenon of climate denial...we are the victims of a well-funded and sophisticated misinformation campaign that attempts to keep us in the dark about climate change.'

The authors write at Psychology Today: 'We can affirm without doubt that anthropogenic climate change is a real phenomenon that is already apparent and will, if not mitigated, cause terrible suffering and destruction before this century is over.'

'What the climate scientists are telling us is that if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels the human race faces extinction. The fact is that many people born this year will not survive global warming if it continues at the current pace and exceeds 3.50C by 2050.' 

'Despite the fact that psychologists know a lot about denial, they have never had to face denial on this scale before. Millions of people share the phenomenon of climate denial. This is clearly not something that is amenable to individual or even group psychotherapy.'

Published:1/14/2019 6:00:40 PM
[Markets] Pelosi Pummeled As Ocasio-Cortez Dominates Democratic Conversations On Social Media

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - freshman congresswoman who has held office for less than two weeks - is dominating the Democratic conversation on Twitter, generating more interactions - retweets plus likes - than the five most prolific news organizations combined over the last 30 days.

 Data: CrowdTangle; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

AOC remains far behind President Trump in the influence of her Twitter account, but he's the president - she's a 29-year-old new member of Congress who shot out of a cannon following the midterm elections. 

As Axios reports, among 2020 Democratic hopefuls, Sen. Kamala Harris (combining her Senate and personal accounts) had the highest Twitter engagement at 4.6 million interactions over the last 30 days - but that's still way behind Ocasio-Cortez - and even former President Barack Obama was lagging the socialist democrat, at 4.4 million interactions (but she's a lot more active on Twitter).

Ben Thompson, founder of Stratechery, points out that:

"In short, she is the first - but certainly not the last  of an entirely new archetype: a politician that is not only fueled by the Internet, but born of it."

But we thought that Trump using the internet and social media was unbecoming of a President?

However, not everyone is talking glowingly about AOC, as Doug Casey made clear yesterday, socialism is basically about the forceful control of other people’s lives and property.

I’m afraid Alexandria is evil on a basic level. I know that sounds silly. How can that be true of a cute young girl who says she wants just sunshine and unicorns for everybody? It’s too bad the word “evil” has been so compromised, so discredited, by the people who use it all the time – bible-thumpers, hysterics, and religious fanatics. Evil shouldn’t be associated with horned demons and eternal perdition. It just means something destructive, or recklessly injurious.

The world would be better off if she went back to waitressing and bartending...

 

When the economy collapses – likely in 2019 – everybody will blame capitalism, because Trump is somehow, incorrectly, associated with capitalism. The country – especially the young, the poor, and the non-white – will look to the government to do something. They see the government as a cornucopia, and socialism as a kind and gentle answer. Everyone will be able to drink lattes all day at Starbucks while they play with their iPhones.

The people that will control the government definitely won’t want to be seen as “do nothings.” Especially while the ship of state is sinking in The Greater Depression. They’ll want to be seen as forward thinkers and problem solvers.

So we’re going to see much higher taxes, among other things. There’s no other way to pay for these programs, except sell more debt to the Fed – which they’ll also do, by necessity.

The government is bankrupt. But like all living things from an amoeba to a person to a corporation, its prime directive is to survive. The only way a bankrupt government can survive is by higher tax revenue and money printing. Of course, don’t discount a war; these fools actually believe that would stimulate the economy – the way only turning lots of cities into smoking ruins can.

I don’t see any way out of this.

Published:1/14/2019 6:00:40 PM
[World] [Stewart Baker] Why the FBI's counterintelligence probe of President Trump should be investigated

If no President is above the law, does that mean no President is above the FBI?

Readers of this blog may be interested in my Lawfare post about the news that the FBI made President Trump the subject of a counterintelligence investigation after he fired their boss. My take:

The political and bureaucratic motives mixed into this incident are reminiscent of the motives mixed into the decision to launch an investigation of Russia and the Trump campaign, the decision to rely on Christopher Steele's research despite his partisan funding, and the decision to interrogate national security adviser Michael Flynn in the slipperiest of fashions. There are reasons why all of these things might have seemed necessary to honest, committed cops just doing their job. But they also offer a roadmap for how to abuse counterintelligence authority to serve partisan ends—a roadmap that more or less begins where the civil liberties protections of the 1970s end.

My concern is that we're not taking that risk seriously because so many former officials and commentators believe that President Trump deserves all this and more. Some of them still hope that the election of 2016 can be undone, or at least discredited. This leads to a perseverating focus on leaks and scraps from the investigation and a determined lack of concern about the investigation's sometimes tawdry origins. (Yes, I'm talking to you, #BabyCannon!)

If we're going to prevent future scandals, we need to look at both. We need to know the answers to a lot of questions that are not being seriously addressed today: To what extent was politics involved in the decision to open the Trump-Russia investigation; to what extent did politics drive its direction; to what extent was politics involved in the Obama administration's transition intelligence leaks; and, finally, to what extent was politics involved in adding the president to the counterintelligence probe?

The only independent review of any of these questions seems to be the investigation launched by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz. He's examining the FISA application for Carter Page. That's a good start, but it's only a start. It's a commonplace insight that President Trump's norm-defying conduct has triggered norm-defying payback by others. I'm sure we're going to learn about the first, but we can't ignore the second.

It's time to expand the Horowitz inquiry, or something like it, into all of these events.

Published:1/14/2019 5:29:50 PM
[Politics] And now the injunction on Trump’s Obamacare rule is NATIONWIDE You already know that the other day a judge in California blocked a Trump rule that allowed employers with religious or moral objections to opt out of Obamacare’s contraception coverage. That affected . . . Published:1/14/2019 5:29:50 PM
[Politics] And now the injunction on Trump’s Obamacare rule is NATIONWIDE You already know that the other day a judge in California blocked a Trump rule that allowed employers with religious or moral objections to opt out of Obamacare’s contraception coverage. That affected . . . Published:1/14/2019 5:29:50 PM
[Markets] Welcome To The 'Wile E Coyote' Phase Of American History

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

Hunting For Golem

As another president once remarked in a different context - LBJ speaking to a hanger full of gruntsin Vietnam - “go on out there, boys, and nail that coonskin to the wall!” That was around the time the war was looking like a lost cause, with 1000 soldiers a month coming home in a box and even the Rotarians of Keokuk, Iowa, starting to doubt the official story of what exactly we thought we were doing over there. It was also, arguably, around the time America stopped being, ahem, “great” and commenced the long, nauseating slide into idiocracy and collapse.

The news media has taken LBJ’s place in today’s Wile E. Coyote phase of our history, cheerleading the congressional hunt for the glittering golden scalp of You-Know-Who in the White House.

They got all revved up on Friday in a New York Times front-page salvo with the headline: F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia. The purpose of this blast was to establish the high and grave seriousness of Robert Mueller’s Russia Collusion investigation, because otherwise the yarn has completely shed its credibility. Note: it was around paragraph nine in the story that the team of three Times reporters inserted the sentence that said, “No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials.” The idea, you see, was to simply drag the teetering narrative back onstage to titillate the paper’s Creative Classnik readership who desperately want to nail that Golden Golem of Greatness to the wall, scalp, paunch, tiny hands, and all.

The CBS 60 Minutes Show took its turn last night with a puff piece on Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), incoming chairman of the House oversight Committee, which, CBS interlocutor Steve Kroft delighted in pointing out, “can investigate any [old] thing.” And so, Rep. Cummings will be the ringmaster of this new “Greatest Show on Earth,” aimed at climaxing in an orgasmic impeachment operation. Mr. Kroft could hardly contain his glee onscreen.

The facts say something a bit different about the actual reality-based Russia Collusion case, namely, that it’s been a two-year smokescreen to cover the collective ass of a rogue leadership in the Department of Justice and its step-child, the FBI, who deliberately and repeatedly broke the law in dishonestly pursuing a way to annul the 2016 election result. It also reflects darkly on the Obama White House and its participation in all this huggermugger. Wads of information around this matter also came out in the past week — which you can be sure the news media would not touch — including congressional testimony from last July with former FBI lawyer, Lisa Page, revealing that the traffic controller for the so-called Steele Dossier was one John Carlin, Assistant Attorney General at the time, and formerly then-FBI Director Robert Mueller’s chief-of-staff. Ms. Page herself characterized Mr. Carlin as “a political appointee.” Was he Mr. Mueller’s clean-up man?

What was there to clean up? For one thing, that the Steele Dossier was never properly verified when it was used as a predicate to commence spying operations against Mr. Trump and people who had worked for him in the campaign and afterwards. In fact, it was revealed last week that a file exists proving that the FBI didn’t follow verification procedures before the Dossier was submitted to the FISA courts for warrants to surveil the Trumpistas. Mr. Carlin’s role was also to coordinate the Hillary email investigation with then-AG Loretta Lynch and Barack Obama’s White House. He resigned shortly after then-NSA Director Michael S. Rogers was alerted that the FBI was abusing the NSA data-base to spy on Trump (as reported by Jeff Carlson at Themarketswork.com.)

The purpose of the Russia Collusion narrative was to buy time for Mr. Mueller to come up with an obstruction of justice case on Mr. Trump, which was becoming increasingly difficult to do, and still apparently hasn’t been accomplished. Meanwhile, the actual malfeasance evidence against Mr. Mueller, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, and a long cast of characters mounts steadily and raises the question of when the spotlight will be turned on them, and who will throw the switch.

Published:1/14/2019 3:32:08 PM
[Economy] Trump’s Shutdown Differs Greatly From Obama’s

Services typically suspended during government shutdowns have continued to operate under the Trump administration, with insiders pointing to acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell... Read More

The post Trump’s Shutdown Differs Greatly From Obama’s appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:1/14/2019 1:32:27 PM
[896db78e-7d76-56a0-ba46-9069eff8311a] The brazen plot against Trump by the Obama FBI and DOJ continues, enabled by a complicit media The brazen plot against President Trump by the Obama FBI and DOJ continues, enabled by a complicit media. The odor of corruption has long been noxious. But the Democrats and media hold their collective noses. Published:1/14/2019 12:34:12 PM
[Politics] 36% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

Thirty-six percent (36%) 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 January 10.

This week’s finding is down one point from last week  and the lowest in more than a year. This number has been on the decline week-over-week from 43% in early December. This finding ran in the 40s for most weeks last year after being 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 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from January 6-10, 2019. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 3 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:1/14/2019 11:59:21 AM
[US News] THUD: Hillary Clinton trips all over herself (AND Obama) in rush to join Resistance’s ‘Putin puppet’ narrative

Cavalcade of self-unawareness.

The post THUD: Hillary Clinton trips all over herself (AND Obama) in rush to join Resistance’s ‘Putin puppet’ narrative appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:1/14/2019 11:01:32 AM
[Markets] Turkey Dismisses Trump's Threat To Devastate Economy Over Kurds

Turkey has brushed off a Sunday threat by President Trump to "devastate" them economically if they attack the Kurdish militia (YPG) in northern Syria, which US forces have fought alongside against the Islamic State (IS). 

Turkey regards the YPG as terrorists. 

"You cannot get anywhere by threatening Turkey economically," said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu. 

Trump announced in December that the US would withdraw all troops from Syria as the Islamic State had been "defeated," a move which shocked allies and resulted in the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Concerns remain that Kurds from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are are under YPG leadership, would fall under attack by Turkey once the US withdraws. 

The warning to Turkey came as Ankara has mustered military forces, including tank regiments, along the Syrian border and deep in Afrin after last year's 'Operation Olive Branch' plunged pro-Turkish forces across the border inside Syrian Kurdish enclaves.

Last week Turkey's leaders, including the defense minister, described preparations underway for another major Turkish assault on US-backed Kurdish positions east of the Euphrates, following the exit of American advisers based on Trump's previously announced pullout. That said, Trump said on Sunday that he would thwart any Turkish invasion plans with a "20 mile safe zone," 

Presumably this "safe zone" will be towards protecting American forces while precise exit logistics take shape, and will occur simultaneously to the US pounding remnant ISIS positions; however the details remain uncertain. 

Trump followed his tweet with another repeat promise to "stop the endless wars!" — in what appears a further sign he's currently in a fight with the deep state and hawks within his own administration over Syria policy

Could the US really hurt Turkey's economy?

Ankara has rebuffed Trump's threats, with Çavusoglu saying: "We have said multiple times that we will not fear or be deterred by any threat," and that "Strategic alliances should not be discussed over Twitter or social media."

That said, previous US sanctions have hurt Turkey in the past. In August, the Trump administration slapped Turkey with sanctions and trade tariffs while a US pastor was detained, which caused the Lira to fall precipitously. Two months later, Pastor Andrew Brunson was released. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, said through a spokesman that he expected the US to "honor our strategic partnership," adding "Terrorists can't be your partners and allies." 

Over the weekend, before Mr Trump's latest tweets, Mr Pompeo said he had spoken to Mr Cavusoglu by phone and was "optimistic" that an agreement could be reached with Turkey to protect Kurdish fighters.

Mr Pompeo said the US recognised "the Turkish people's right and Mr Erdogan's right to defend their country from terrorists".

"We also know that those fighting alongside us for all this time deserve to be protected as well," he added.

Mr Erdogan has spoken angrily about American support for the Kurdish YPG militia, and vowed to crush it.

Mr Cavusoglu said Turkey was "not against" the idea of a secure zone - but was targeting "a terrorist organisation trying to divide Syria". -BBC

There are currently around 2,000 US military personnel deployed in northern Syria, which first arrived in autumn 2015 when former President Obama sent in small teams of special forces to train and advise YPG fighters. The move came after several failed attempts at arming and training Syrian Arab rebel groups to battle IS militants. In the ensuing years, the number of US troops in Syria sharply increased - while a network of airfields and bases have been established in an arc across the northeastern region of the country. 

Published:1/14/2019 8:57:30 AM
[Markets] Doug Casey On Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: "Evil On A Basic Level"

Via CaseyResearch.com,

Justin’s note: America can’t stop talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC).

AOC, if you haven’t heard, is a 29-year-old democratic socialist. Earlier this month, she became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

And that concerns me. I say this because her platform is every socialist’s dream. She wants Medicare to be free. She wants college education to be free. She wants to cancel student debt. She wants to hike the minimum wage to $15. And she wants to replace oil and gas with green energy by 2030.

Now, I realize these ideas might sound good to some people. But none of this would come free. It would require massive tax hikes and a lot more national debt.

In short, she’s advocating for policies that often destroy entire economies.

Yet, she’s one of today’s most popular political figures.

I wanted to see what Casey Research founder Doug Casey thinks of AOC and her policies. So I got him on the phone to discuss his thoughts for this week’s Conversations With Casey...

Justin: Doug, AOC has been getting a lot of press lately. What are your thoughts on her? Specifically, what do you think of her platform and her idea for a Green New Deal?

Doug: Most likely she’s the future of the Democratic Party – and of the U.S. Why? She’s cute, vivacious, charming, different, outspoken, and has a plan to Make America Great Again. And she’s shrewd. She realized she could win by ringing doorbells in her district, where voter turnout was very low, and about 70% are non-white. There was zero motivation for residents to turn out for the tired, corrupt, old hack of a white man she ran against.

She’s certainly politically astute – but doesn’t seem very intelligent. In fact, she’s probably quite stupid. But let’s define the word stupid, otherwise, it’s just a meaningless pejorative – name-calling.

But in fact it doesn’t seem like she has a very high IQ. I suspect that if she took a standardized IQ test, she’d be someplace in the low end of the normal range. But that’s just conjecture on my part, entirely apart from the fact a high IQ doesn’t necessarily correlate with success. Besides, there are many kinds of intelligence – athletic, aesthetic, emotional, situational…

A high IQ can actually be a disadvantage in getting elected. Remember it’s a bell-shaped curve; the “average” person isn’t terribly smart, compounded by the fact half the population has an IQ of less than 100. And they’re suspicious of anyone who’s more than, say, 15 points smarter than they are.

However, there are better ways to define stupid than “a low score on an IQ test,” that apply to Alexandria. Stupid is the inability to not just predict the immediate and direct consequences of actions, but especially the indirect and delayed consequences of your actions.

She’s clearly unable to do that. She can predict the immediate and direct consequences of the policies she’s promoting – everybody getting excited about liberating all other people’s wealth that just seems to be sitting around. Power to the People, and Alexandria! But she’s unable to see the indirect and delayed consequences of her policies – which I hope I don’t have to explain to anyone now reading this.

If you promise people unicorns, lollipops, and free everything, they’re going to say, “Gee, I like that, let’s do it.” She’s clever on about a third grade level.

But there’s an even better definition of stupid. Namely, “an unwitting tendency to self-destruction.” All the economic ideas that she’s proposing are going to wind up absolutely destroying the country.

It’s as if she thinks that what’s happened recently in Venezuela, Zimbabwe – not to mention Mao’s China, the Soviet Union, and a hundred other places – was a good thing.

That’s my argument for her being stupid. And ignorant as well. But perhaps I’m missing something. After all, Karl Marx was both highly intelligent, and extremely knowledgeable; he was actually a polymath. The same can be said of many academics, left-wing economists, and socialist theoreticians.

So perhaps a desire for “socialism” isn’t just an intellectual failing. It’s actually a moral failing.

Justin: What do you mean?

Doug: Socialism is basically about the forceful control of other people’s lives and property.

I’m afraid Alexandria is evil on a basic level. I know that sounds silly. How can that be true of a cute young girl who says she wants just sunshine and unicorns for everybody? It’s too bad the word “evil” has been so compromised, so discredited, by the people who use it all the time – bible-thumpers, hysterics, and religious fanatics. Evil shouldn’t be associated with horned demons and eternal perdition. It just means something destructive, or recklessly injurious.

The world would be better off if she went back to waitressing and bartending.

Justin: Why do you think she’s resonating with so many people then? Is it because she represents something different from status quo, or is it because people actually like her ideas?

Doug: It really helps to be young, good looking, and have a nice smile. But there are immense problems in the U.S., at least just under the surface. Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody had a job paying at least $15 an hour, free schooling, housing was a basic human right, free medical, free food, and 100% green energy? I know it doesn’t sound evil – it just sounds stupid. But it’s actually both.

The problem isn’t just that she got elected on this platform in a benighted – but increasingly typical – district. The problem is that most young people in the U.S. have her beliefs and values.

The free market, individualism, personal liberty, personal responsibility, hard work, free speech – the values of western civilization – are being washed away, everywhere. But it’s hard to defend them, because the argument for them is intellectual, economic, and historical. While the mob, the capita censi, the “head count” as the Romans called them, is swayed by emotions. They feel, they don’t think. Arguments are limited to Twitter feeds. Or 30-second TV sound bites.

Justin: Can you elaborate?

Doug: When somebody says, for instance, “Why can’t we have free school for everybody? The university buildings are already built. The professors are already there. So why can’t everybody just go to class, and learn about gender studies?” The same arguments are made for food, shelter, clothing, entertainment, communication – everything in fact.

To counter that, you have to come up with specific reasons for why not. You end up sounding like a Negative Nelly because you’re telling people they can’t have something.

I guess I’ve given too much credit to the goodwill and the common sense of the average American. The proof of that is the success of AOC. The psychological aberrations of the average human are being brought to the fore.

It’s exactly the type of thing the Founders tried to guard against by restricting the vote to property owners over 21, going through the Electoral College. Now, welfare recipients who are only 18 can vote, and the Electoral College is toothless. Some want to totally abolish the College, and have even 16-year-olds and illegal aliens voting.

Justin: What are the chances that the U.S. adopts her Green New Deal plan or something similar? It seems increasingly likely that America will head in that direction in the coming years.

Doug: The U.S. will absolutely adopt something like that once Trump is out of office. They’ll do it for a half dozen cockamamie reasons that aren’t germane to this conversation. For the last couple of generations, everybody who’s gone to college has been indoctrinated with leftist ideas. Almost all of the professors hold these ideas. They place an intellectual patina on top of nonsensical emotion and fantasy-driven ideas.

Nobody, except for a few libertarians and conservatives, are countering the ideas AOC represents. And they have a very limited audience. The spirit of the new century is overwhelming the values of the past.

When the economy collapses – likely in 2019 – everybody will blame capitalism, because Trump is somehow, incorrectly, associated with capitalism. The country – especially the young, the poor, and the non-white – will look to the government to do something. They see the government as a cornucopia, and socialism as a kind and gentle answer. Everyone will be able to drink lattes all day at Starbucks while they play with their iPhones.

The people that will control the government definitely won’t want to be seen as “do nothings.” Especially while the ship of state is sinking in The Greater Depression. They’ll want to be seen as forward thinkers and problem solvers.

So we’re going to see much higher taxes, among other things. There’s no other way to pay for these programs, except sell more debt to the Fed – which they’ll also do, by necessity.

The government is bankrupt. But like all living things from an amoeba to a person to a corporation, its prime directive is to survive. The only way a bankrupt government can survive is by higher tax revenue and money printing. Of course, don’t discount a war; these fools actually believe that would stimulate the economy – the way only turning lots of cities into smoking ruins can.

I don’t see any way out of this.

Justin: Doug, AOC is proposing a 70% marginal tax rate to finance the Green New Deal? Could something like that actually happen?

Doug: Of course, you’ve got to remember that as recently as the Eisenhower administration the top marginal tax rate was 91%. The average person didn’t pay that because it was a steeply progressive tax rate. Nobody did, frankly, because there were loads of tax shelters, which no longer exist, including hiding money offshore.

In Sweden during the 1970s, the marginal tax rate, including their wealth tax, was something like 102%. So, almost anything is possible in today’s world.

Of course they’ll raise taxes. It’s time to eat the rich. But, perversely, many of the rich will deserve it, since many made their money as cronies during the long inflationary boom.

But look at the bright side. Look at this from AOC’s point of view. She doesn’t just get $200,000 a year plus massive benefits. That’s chicken feed. But lucrative speaking fees, director’s fees, consulting fees, emoluments from the inevitable Ocasio-Cortez Foundation, multimillion-dollar book deals, and sweetheart investment deals. Not counting undisclosed bribes. She’ll be worth $100 million in no time, like Clinton and Obama.

That’s not even the best part. She’ll be idealized, lionized, and apotheosized by an adoring public. The media will hang on her every word. That’s pretty rich for a stupid, evil dingbat. Other young socialist idealists will try – and succeed – in replicating her success. Congress will increasingly be filled with her clones.

Frankly, at this point, resistance is futile.

Justin: Thanks for speaking with me today, Doug.

Doug: You’re welcome.

Published:1/13/2019 8:53:28 PM
[Markets] What Trump's Syrian Withdrawal Really Reveals

Authored by Stephen Cohen via The Nation,

A wise decision is greeted by denunciations, obstructionism, imperial thinking, and more Russia-bashing...

President Trump was wrong in asserting that the United States destroyed the Islamic State’s territorial statehood in a large part of Syria - Russia and its allies accomplished that - but he is right in proposing to withdraw some 2,000 American forces from that tragically war-ravaged country. The small American contingent serves no positive combat or strategic purpose unless it is to thwart the Russian-led peace negotiations now underway or to serve as a beachhead for a US war against Iran. Still worse, its presence represents a constant risk that American military personnel could be killed by Russian forces also operating in that relatively small area, thereby turning the new Cold War into a very hot conflict, even if inadvertently. Whether or not Trump understood this danger, his decision, if actually implemented - it is being fiercely resisted in Washington - will make US-Russian relations, and thus the world, somewhat safer.

Nonetheless, Trump’s decision on Syria, coupled with his order to reduce US forces in Afghanistan by half, has been “condemned,” as The New York Times approvingly reported, “across the ideological spectrum,” by “the left and right.” Analyzing these condemnations, particularly in the opinion-shaping New York Times and Washington Post and on interminable (and substantially uninformed) MSNBC and CNN segments, again reveals the alarming thinking that is deeply embedded in the US bipartisan policy-media establishment.

First, no foreign-policy initiative undertaken by President Trump, however wise it may be in regard to US national interests, will be accepted by that establishment. Any prominent political figure who does so will promptly and falsely be branded, in the malign spirit of Russiagate, as “pro-Putin,” or, as was Senator Rand Paul, arguably the only foreign-policy statesman in the senate today, “an isolationist.” This is unprecedented in modern American history. Not even Richard Nixon was subject to such establishment constraints on his ability to conduct national-security policy during the Watergate scandals.

Second, not surprisingly, the condemnations of Trump’s decision are infused with escalating, but still unproven, Russiagate allegations of the president’s “collusion” with the Kremlin. Thus, equally predictably, theTimes finds a Moscow source to say, of the withdrawals, “Trump is God’s gift that keeps on giving” to Putin. (In fact, it is not clear that the Kremlin is eager to see the United States withdraw from either Syria or Afghanistan, as this would leave Russia alone with what it regards as common terrorist enemies.) Closer to home, there is the newly reelected Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who, when asked about Trump’s policies and Russian President Putin, told MSNBC’s Joy Reid: “I think that the president’s relationship with thugs all over the world is appalling. Vladimir Putin, really? Really? I think it’s dangerous.” By this “leadership” reasoning, Trump should be the first US president since FDR to have no “relationship” whatsoever with a Kremlin leader. And to the extent that Pelosi speaks for the Democratic Party, it can no longer be considered a party of American national security.

But, third, something larger than even anti-Trumpism plays a major role in condemnations of the president’s withdrawal decisions: imperial thinking about America’s rightful role in the world. Euphemisms abound, but, if not an entreaty to American empire, what else could the New York Times’ David Sanger mean when he writes of a “world order that the United States has led for the 79 years since World War II,” and complains that Trump is reducing “the global footprint needed to keep that order together”? Or when President Obama’s national-security adviser Susan Rice bemoans Trump’s failures in “preserving American global leadership,” which a Timeslead editorial insists is an “imperative”? Or when General James Mattis in his letter of resignation echoes President Bill Clinton’s secretary of state Madeline Albright—and Obama himself—in asserting that “the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world”? We cannot be surprised. Such “global” imperial thinking has informed US foreign-policy decision-making for decades—it’s taught in our schools of international relations—and particularly the many disastrous, anti-“order” wars it has produced.

Fourth, and characteristic of empires and imperial thinking, there is the valorization of generals. Perhaps the most widespread and revealing criticism of Trump’s withdrawal decisions is that he did not heed the advice of his generals, the undistinguished, uninspired Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis in particular. The pseudo-martyrdom and heroizing of Mattis, especially by the Democratic Party and its media, remind us that the party had earlier, in its Russiagate allegations, valorized US intelligence agencies, and, having taken control of the House, evidently intends to continue to do so. Anti-Trumpism is creating political cults of US intelligence and military institutions. What does this tell us about today’s Democratic Party? More profoundly, what does this tell us about an American Republic purportedly based on civilian rule?

Finally, and potentially tragically, Trump’s announcement of the Syrian withdrawal was the moment for a discussion of the long imperative US alliance with Russia against international terrorism, a Russia whose intelligence capabilities are unmatched in this regard. (Recall, for example, Moscow’s disregarded warnings about one of the brothers who set off bombs during the Boston Marathon.) Such an alliance has been on offer by Putin since 9/11. President George W. Bush completely disregarded it. Obama flirted with the offer but backed (or was pushed) away. Trump opened the door for such a discussion, as indeed he has since his presidential candidacy, but now again, at this most opportune moment, there has not been a hint of it in our political-media establishment. Instead, a national security imperative has been treated as “treacherous.”

In this context, there is Trump’s remarkable, but little-noted or forgotten, tweet of December 3 calling on the presidents of Russia and China to join him in “talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race.”

If Trump acts on this essential overture, as we must hope he will, will it too be traduced as “treacherous” - also for the first time in American history? If so, it will again confirm my often-expressed thesis that powerful forces in America would prefer trying to impeach the president to avoiding a military catastrophe. And that those forces, not President Trump or Putin, are now the gravest threat to American national security.

Published:1/13/2019 5:24:54 PM
[US News] Pretty weird for Obama’s Bureau of Land Management to put this sign out for just a ‘manufactured crisis’

Oh THAT crisis.

The post Pretty weird for Obama’s Bureau of Land Management to put this sign out for just a ‘manufactured crisis’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:1/13/2019 3:25:14 PM
[Politics] Ouch! Obama STABS Biden 2020 in the BACK!! The Democrat in-fighting for 2020 is getting heated and Biden’s hopes just discovered a knife in their back – and the hand on the handle belongs to none other than Barack Hussein . . . Published:1/13/2019 1:51:45 PM
[Politics] Ouch! Obama STABS Biden 2020 in the BACK!! The Democrat in-fighting for 2020 is getting heated and Biden’s hopes just discovered a knife in their back – and the hand on the handle belongs to none other than Barack Hussein . . . Published:1/13/2019 1:23:43 PM
[Markets] Trump "Couldn't Care Less" If Putin Conversation Becomes Public; Slams "Most Insulting Article" By NYT

President Trump brushed off a report by the Washington Post stating that he "has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details" of his discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin - telling Fox News host Jeanine Pirro in a phone interview that he would be willing to release the details of a private conversation in Helsinki last summer. 

"I would. I don't care," Trump told Pirro, adding: "I’m not keeping anything under wraps. I couldn't care less."

"I mean, it’s so ridiculous, these people making up," Trump said of the WaPo report. 

The president referred to his roughly two-hour dialogue with Putin in Helsinki — at which only the leaders and their translators were present — as “a great conversation” that included discussions about “securing Israel and lots of other things.”

“I had a conversation like every president does,” Trump said Saturday. “You sit with the president of various countries. I do it with all countries.” -Politico 

In July an attempt by House Democrats to subpoena Trump's Helsinki interpreter was quashed by Republicans. 

"The Washington Post is almost as bad, or probably as bad, as the New York Times," Trump said.

When Pirro asked Trump about a Friday night New York Times report that the FBI had opened an inquiry into whether he was working for Putin, Pirro asked Trump "Are you now or have you ever worked for Russia, Mr. President?" 

"I think it's the most insulting thing I've ever been asked," Trump responded. "I think it's the most insulting article I've ever had written."

Trump went on an epic tweetstorm Saturday following the Times article, defending his 2017 firing of former FBI Director James Comey, and tweeting that he has been "FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton. Maybe tougher than any other President. At the same time, & as I have often said, getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. I fully expect that someday we will have good relations with Russia again!"

Trump slammed the recent reports as "all nonsense."  

Published:1/13/2019 9:53:42 AM
[Markets] Political Nightmares Multiply For Europe Ahead Of Davos

Authored by Tom Luongo,

Europe’s dreams of integration are slipping away as the people wake up from the nightmare erected for them...

As we approach Act IX of the Yellow Vest protests in France and the threats of creating bank runs we get the news that both Presidents Trump and Macron will not be attending the convocation of globalists known as the World Economic Forum at Davos.

Trump’s not attending because it’s clear he’s no longer a member of The Davos Crowd and Macron isn’t because any public appearance by him will double the number of people donning high visibility safety gear and taking to the streets.

It almost feels like we’ve reached Peak Davos, with these announcements. But, clearly neither of these men are invited because in the minds of The Davos Crowd they no longer figure in their long-term plans.

Macron not attending is also a sign his government will be sacrificed on the altar of the Yellow Vests in the near future.

The Yellow Vest protests will have to be dealt with in a substantive manner that goes far beyond a few temporary injunctions against higher taxes. They are now vandalizing another symbol of middle class oppression in France, speed cameras.

All of the governments of Europe are broke. And the speed camera is simply another in a long line of instances of them trying to squeeze blood from the now impoverished and shrinking middle class.

The symbology of them smashing speed cameras and demanding their money from the banks cannot be clearer. When you take everything from someone, when he has nothing left to lose, he becomes free.

Free to strike the root, as we libertarians like to say. Go after not just the immediate source of your anger, but the root cause of it. Macron and his Prime Minister Edouard Philippe don’t have any other answer than to crack down harder.

The Wrong Brexit

It will not work. And, at some point the police will side with the people and that will be that. Macron’s disinvitation to Davos should surprise no one then.

But, France isn’t the only problem facing the EU at the moment.

It is becoming clearer by the day that Theresa May has failed to secure a yes vote for her Brexit deal. And that the most likely outcome now is a no-deal, hard Brexit.

The kind of Brexit that is the stuff of nightmares for The Davos Crowd.

A hard Brexit will not be easy for anyone, but the alternatives are far worse in the long-run. May’s deal violates British sovereignty at a level that even EU membership doesn’t.

And that was the stated goal of the EU’s lack of negotiating all along, to scare any other uppity rabble in Italy, Spain, France, etc. that the EU is inevitable and eternal.

So, don’t even bother trying to beat us, because we are invincible.

But, they aren’t. From the beginning all the leverage was on the U.K.’s side in the Brexit talks. Theresa May, either through incompetence or complicity, refused to use that leverage. It was like watching Mitt Romney run for President against Obama and refusing to attack Obama for his horrific track record.

Why? Because Romney was working for the same team, in the end.

Davos-opoly

And that team is now staring at a full-scale revolt against the one parliamentary body that gives them legitimacy in the eyes of the world, that of the European Union’s.

It’s no secret that a large swatch of MEP’s are in the pay of George Soros. It’s no secret that they introduce legislation and formal rebukes to punish countries for not towing The Davos Crowd’s party line.

So, it is with great strategic and tactical acumen that Italy’s Matteo Salvini targeted May’s European Parliamentary elections as the rallying point for the Euroskeptic movement.

These three things — France, Brexit, May’s Elections — together represent a potential trifecta of suck for The Davos Crowd. Trump attending would add to their misery.

Given the situation do you think Trump would not delight in tweaking these fatuous oilgarchs mercilessly while there? It is one of the true pleasures of his presidency, even if the rest of it is a hot mess.

I’m truly sorry he’s not going.

But as I said the other day, the more these problems come into focus the higher the probability that these events will unnerve financial markets past the point of no return.

And given the fragile stability crafted by central banks over the last decade since Lehman Bros., it won’t take much in the current environment to tip that scale into full-blown panic.

That’s the lesson of the year-end weakness in stocks. We had a classic panic cycle out of risk-on assets (stocks) into risk-off assets (bonds and gold). The next phase of this will be a realignment of those categories as tangible assets become the preferred asset classes and debt is looked upon as worthless — because it is.

And those who truck in debt and endless financialization of everything will be the ones most exposed to the breakdown. And that’s what will be the hot topic of conversation this year at Davos.

Published:1/13/2019 6:25:02 AM
[Markets] Hypocrisy Without Bounds: US Army Major Slams The Tragedy Of "Liberal" Foreign Policy

Authored by Maj. Danny Sjrusen via AntiWar.com,

The president says he will bring the troops home from Syria and Afghanistan. Now, because of their pathological hatred of Trump, mainstream Democrats are hysterical in their opposition.

If anyone else were president, the "liberals" would be celebrating. After all, pulling American soldiers out of a couple of failing, endless wars seems like a "win" for progressives. Heck, if Obama did it there might be a ticker-tape parade down Broadway. And there should be. The intervention in Syria is increasingly aimless, dangerous and lacks an end state. Afghanistan is an unwinnable war – America’s longest – and about to end in outright militarydefeat. Getting out now and salvaging so much national blood and treasure ought to be a progressive dream. There’s only one problem: Donald Trump. Specifically, that it was Trump who gave the order to begin the troop withdrawals.

Lost in the haze of their pathological hatred of President Trump, the majority of mainstream liberal pundits and politicians can’t, for the life of them, see the good sense in extracting the troops from a couple Mideast quagmires. That or they can see the positives, but, in their obsessive compulsion to smear the president, choose politics over country. It’s probably a bit of both. That’s how tribally partisan American political discourse has become. And, how reflexively hawkish and interventionist today’s mainstream Democrats now are. Whither the left-wing antiwar movement? Well, except for a few diehards out there, the movement seems to have been buried long ago with George McGovern.

Make no mistake, the Democrats have been tacking to the right on foreign policy and burgeoning their tough-guy-interventionist credentials for decades now. Terrified of being painted as soft or dovish on martial matters, just about all the "serious" baby-boomer Dems proudly co-opted the militarist line and gladly accepted campaign cash from the corporate arms dealers. Think about it, any Democrat with serious future presidential aspirations back in 2002 voted for the Iraq War – Hillary, Joe Biden, even former peace activist John Kerry! And, in spite of the party base now moving to the left, all these big name hawks – along with current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer – are still Democratic stalwarts. Heck, some polls list Biden as the party’s 2020 presidential frontrunner.

More disturbing than the inconsistency of these political hacks is the vacuousness of the supposedly liberal media. After Trump’s announcement of troop withdrawals, just about every MSNBC host slammed the president and suddenly sounded more hawkish than the clowns over at Fox News. Take Rachel Maddow. Whatever you think of her politics, she is – undoubtedly – a brilliant woman. Furthermore, unlike most pundits, she knows a little something about foreign policy. Her 2012 book, Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power was a serious and well-researched critique of executive power and the ongoing failure of the wars on terror. Drift was well reviewed by regular readers and scholars alike.

Enter Donald Trump. Ever since the man won the 2016 election, Maddow’s nightly show has been dominated the hopeless dream of Russia-collusion and a desire for Trump’s subsequent impeachment. Admittedly, Maddow’s anti-Trump rhetoric isn’t completely unfounded – this author, after all, has spent the better part of two years criticizing most of his policies – but her zealousness has clouded her judgment, or worse. Indeed, that Maddow, and her fellow "liberals" at MSNBC have now criticized the troop withdrawals and even paraded a slew of disgraced neoconservatives – like Bill Kristol – on their shows seems final proof of their descent into opportunistic hawkishness.

One of the most disturbing aspects of this new "liberal" hawkishness is the pundits’ regular canonization of Jim Mattis and the other supposed “adults” in the room. For mainstream, Trump-loathing, liberals the only saving grace for this administration was its inclusion of a few trusted, "grown-up" generals in the cabinet. Yet it is a dangerous day, indeed, when the supposedly progressive journalists deify only the military men in the room. Besides, Mattis was no friend to the liberals. Their beloved President Obama previously canned "mad-dog" for his excessive bellicosity towards Iran. Furthermore, Mattis – so praised for both his judgment and ethics – chose an interesting issue for which to finally fall-on-his-sword and resign. U.S. support for the Saudi-led starvation of 85,000 kids in Yemen: Mattis could deal with that. But a modest disengagement from even one endless war in the Middle East: well, the former SECDEF just couldn’t countenance that. Thus, he seems a strange figure for a "progressive" network to deify.

Personally, I’d like to debate a few of the new "Cold Warriors" over at MSNBC or CNN and ask a simple series of questions: what on the ground changed in Syria or Afghanistan that has suddenly convinced you the US must stay put? And, what positivist steps should the military take in those locales, in order to achieve what purpose exactly? Oh, by the way, I’d ask my debate opponents to attempt their answers without uttering the word Trump. The safe money says they couldn’t do it – not by a long shot. Because, you see, these pundits live and die by their hatred of all things Trump and the more times they utter his name the higher go the ratings and the faster the cash piles up. It’s a business model not any sort of display of honest journalism.

There’s a tragic irony here. By the looks of things, so long as Mr. Trump is president, it seems that any real movement for less interventionism in the Greater Middle East may come from a part of the political right – libertarians like Rand Paul along with the president’s die hard base, which is willing to follow him on any policy pronouncement. Paradoxically, these folks may find some common cause with the far left likes of Bernie Sanders and the Ocasio-Cortez crowd, but it seems unlikely that the mainstream left is prepared to lead a new antiwar charge. What with Schumer/Pelosi still in charge, you can forget about it. Given the once powerful left-led Vietnam-era protest movement, today’s Dems seem deficient indeed on foreign policy substance. Odds are they’ll cede this territory, once again, to the GOP.

By taking a stronger interventionist, even militarist, stand than Trump on Syria and Afghanistan, the Democrats are wading into dangerous waters. Maybe, as some say, this president shoots from the hip and has no core policy process or beliefs. Perhaps. Then again, Trump did crush fifteen Republican mainstays in 2015 and shock Hillary – and the world – in 2016. Indeed, he may know just what he’s doing. While the Beltway, congressional-military-industrial complex continues to support ever more fighting and dying around the world, for the most part the American people do not. Trump, in fact, ran on a generally anti-interventionist platform, calling the Iraq War "dumb" and not to be repeated. The president’s sometimes earthy – if coarse – commonsense resonated with a lot of voters, and Hillary’s hawkish establishment record (including her vote for that very same Iraq War) didn’t win her many new supporters.

Liberals have long believed, at least since McGovern’s 1972 trouncing by Richard Nixon, that they could out-hawk the Republican hawks and win over some conservatives. It rarely worked. In fact, Dems have been playing right into bellicose Republican hands for decades. And, if they run a baby-boomer-era hawk in 2020 – say Joe Biden – they’ll be headed for another shocking defeat. The combination of a (mostly, so far) strong economy and practical policy of returning US troops from unpopular wars, could, once again, out weigh this president’s other liabilities.

Foreign policy won’t, by itself, tip a national election. But make no mistake, if the clowns at MSNBC and "liberal" hacks on Capitol Hill keep touting their newfound militarism, they’re likely to emerge from 2020 with not only smeared consciences, but four more years in the opposition.

*  *  *

Danny Sjursen is a US Army officer and regular contributor to Antiwar.com 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.

[Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.]

Published:1/12/2019 10:48:11 PM
[Markets] The War On Populism

Authored by CJ Hopkins via The Unz Review,

Remember when the War on Terror ended and the War on Populism began? That’s OK, no one else does.

It happened in the Summer of 2016, also known as “the Summer of Fear.” The War on Terror was going splendidly. There had been a series of “terrorist attacks,” in Orlando, Nice, Würzberg, Munich, Reutlingen, Ansbach, and Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, each of them perpetrated by suddenly “self-radicalized” “lone wolf terrorists” (or “non-terrorist terrorists“) who had absolutely no connection to any type of organized terrorist groups prior to suddenly “self- radicalizing” themselves by consuming “terrorist content” on the Internet. It seemed we were entering a new and even more terrifying phase of the Global War on Terror, a phase in which anyone could be a “terrorist” and “terrorism” could mean almost anything.

This broadening of the already virtually meaningless definition of “terrorism” was transpiring just in time for Obama to hand off the reins to Hillary Clinton, who everyone knew was going to be the next president, and who was going to have to bomb the crap out of Syria in response to the non-terrorist terrorist threat. The War on Terror (or, rather, “the series of persistent targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America,” as Obama rebranded it) was going to continue, probably forever. The Brexit referendum had just taken place, but no one had really digested that yet … and then Trump won the nomination.

Like that scene in Orwell’s 1984 where the Party switches official enemies right in the middle of the Hate Week rally, the War on Terror was officially canceled and replaced by the War on Populism. Or … all right, it wasn’t quite that abrupt. But seriously, go back and scan the news. Note how the “Islamic terrorist threat” we had been conditioned to live in fear of on a daily basis since 2001 seemed to just vanish into thin air. Suddenly, the “existential threat” we were facing was “neo-nationalism,” “illiberalism,” or the pejorative designator du jour, “populism.”

Here we are, two and a half years later, and “democracy” is under constant attack by a host of malevolent “populist” forces …. Russo-fascist Black vote suppressorsdebaucherous eau de Novichok assassinsBernie Sandersthe yellow-vested Frenchemboldened non-exploding mail bomb bombersJeremy Corbyn’s Nazi Death Cult, and brain-devouring Russian-Cubano crickets.

The President of the United States is apparently both a Russian intelligence operative and literally the resurrection of Hitler. NBC and MSNBC have been officially merged with the CIA. The Guardian has dispensed with any pretense of journalism and is just making stories up out of whole cloth. Anyone who has ever visited Russia, or met with a Russian, or read a Russian novel, is on an “Enemies of Democracy” watch list (as is anyone refusing to vacation in Israel, which the Senate is now in the process of making mandatory for all U.S. citizens). Meanwhile, the “terrorists” are nowhere to be found, except for the terrorists we’ve been usingto attempt to overthrow the government of Bashar al Assad, the sadistic nerve-gassing Monster of Syria, who illegally invaded and conquered his own country in defiance of the “international community.”

All this madness has something to do with “populism,” although it isn’t clear what. The leading theory is that the Russians are behind it. They’ve got some sort of hypno-technology (not to be confused with those brain-eating crickets) capable of manipulating the minds of … well, Black people, mostly, but not just Black people. Obviously, they are also controlling the French, who they have transformed into “racist, hate-filled liars” who are “attacking elected representatives, journalists, Jews, foreigners, and homosexuals,” according to French President Emmanuel Macron, the anointed “Golden Boy of Europe.” More terrifying still, Putin is now able to project words out of Trump’s mouth in real-time, literally using Trump’s head as a puppet, or like one of those Mission Impossible masks. (Rachel Maddow conclusively proved this by spending a couple of hours on Google comparing the words coming out of Trump’s mouth to words that had come out of Russian mouths, but had never come out of American mouths, which they turned out to be the exact same words, or pretty close to the exact same words!) Apparently, Putin’s master plan for Total Populist World Domination and Establishment of the Thousand Year Duginist Reich was to provoke the global capitalist ruling classes, the corporate media, and their credulous disciples into devolving into stark raving lunatics, or blithering idiots, or a combination of both.

But, seriously, all that actually happened back in the Summer of 2016 was the global capitalist ruling classes recognized that they had a problem. The problem that they recognized they had (and continue to have, and are now acutely aware of) is that no one is enjoying global capitalism … except the global capitalist ruling classes. The whole smiley-happy, supranational, neo-feudal corporate empire concept is not going over very well with the masses, or at least not with the unwashed masses. People started voting for right-wing parties, and Brexit, and other “populist” measures (not because they had suddenly transformed into Nazis, but because the Right was acknowledging and exploiting their anger with the advance of global neoliberalism, while liberals and the Identity Politics Left were slow jamming the TPP with Obama and babbling about transgender bathrooms, and such).

The global capitalist ruling classes needed to put a stop to that (i.e, the “populist” revolt, not the bathroom debate). So they suspended the Global War on Terror and launched the War on Populism. It was originally only meant to last until Hillary Clinton’s coronation, or the second Brexit referendum, then switch back to the War on Terror, but … well, weird things happen, and here we are.

We’ll get back to the War on Terror, eventually … as the War on Populism is essentially just a temporary rebranding of it. In the end, it’s all the same counter-insurgency. When a system is globally hegemonic, as our current model of capitalism is, every war is a counter-insurgency (i.e., a campaign waged against an internal enemy), as there are no external enemies to fight. The “character” of the internal enemies might change (e.g., “Islamic terrorism,” “extremism,” “fascism,” “populism,” “Trumpism,” “Corbynism,” et cetera) but they are all insurgencies against the hegemonic system … which, in our case, is global capitalism, not the United States of America.

The way I see it, the global capitalist ruling classes now have less than two years to put down this current “populist” insurgency. First and foremost, they need to get rid of Trump, who despite his bombastic nativist rhetoric is clearly no “hero of the common people,” nor any real threat to global capitalism, but who has become an anti-establishment symbol, like a walking, talking “fuck you” to both the American and global neoliberal elites. Then, they need to get a handle on Europe, which isn’t going to be particularly easy. What happens next in France will be telling, as will whatever becomes of Brexit … which I continue to believe will never actually happen, except perhaps in some purely nominal sense.

And then there’s the battle for hearts and minds, which they’ve been furiously waging for the last two years, and which is only going to intensify. If you think things are batshit crazy now (which, clearly, they are), strap yourself in. What is coming is going to make COINTELPRO look like the work of some amateur meme-freak. The neoliberal corporate media, psy-ops like Integrity Initiative, Internet-censoring apps like NewsGuard, ShareBlue and other David Brock outfits, and a legion of mass hysteria generators will be relentlessly barraging our brains with absurdity, disinformation, and just outright lies (as will their counterparts on the Right, of course, in case you thought that they were any alternative). It’s going to get extremely zany.

The good news is, by the time it’s all over and Trump has been dealt with, and normality restored, and the working classes put back in their places, we probably won’t remember that any of this happened. We’ll finally be able to sort out those bathrooms, and get back to paying the interest on our debts, and to living in more or less constant fear of an imminent devastating terrorist attack … and won’t that be an enormous relief?

Published:1/12/2019 7:48:31 PM
[Markets] US Military Occupations Now Supported By Far More Democrats Than Republicans

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll has found that there is much more support for ongoing military occupations among Democrats surveyed than Republicans.

To the question “As you may know, President Trump ordered an immediate withdrawal of more than 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria. Based on what you know, do you support or oppose President Trump’s decision?”, 29 percent of Democrats responded either “Somewhat support” or “Strongly support”, while 50 percent responded either “Somewhat oppose” or “Strongly oppose”. Republicans asked the same question responded with 73 percent either somewhat or strongly supporting and only 17 percent either somewhat or strongly opposing.

Those surveyed were also asked the question “As you may know, President Trump ordered the start of a reduction of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, with about half of the approximately 14,000 U.S. troops there set to begin returning home in the near future. Based on what you know, do you support or oppose President Trump’s decision?” Forty percent of Democrats responded as either “Somewhat support” or “strongly support”, with 41 percent either somewhat or strongly opposing. Seventy-six percent of Republicans, in contrast, responded as either somewhat or strongly supporting Trump’s decision, while only 15 percent oppose it to any extent.

These results will be truly shocking and astonishing to anyone who has been in a coma since the Bush administration. For anyone who has been paying attention since then, however, especially for the last two years, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

This didn’t happen by itself, and it didn’t happen by accident. American liberals didn’t just spontaneously start thinking endless military occupations of sovereign nations is a great idea yesterday, nor have they always been so unquestioningly supportive of the agendas of the US war machine. No, Democrats support the unconscionable bloodbaths that their government is inflicting around the world because they have been deliberately, methodically paced into that belief structure by an intensive mass media propaganda campaign.

The anti-war Democrat, after Barack Obama was elected on a pro-peace platform in 2008, went into an eight-year hibernation during which they gaslit themselves into ignoring or forgiving their president’s expansion of George W Bush’s wars, aided by a corporate media which marginalized, justified, and often outright ignored Obama’s horrifying military expansionism. Then in 2016 they were forced to gaslight themselves even further to justify their support for a fiendishly hawkish candidate who spearheaded the destruction of Libya, who facilitated the Iraq invasion, who was shockingly hawkish toward Russia, and who cited Henry Kissinger as a personal role model for foreign policy. I recall many online debates with Clinton fans in the lead up to the 2016 election who found themselves arguing that the Iraq invasion wasn’t that bad in order to justify their position.

After Clinton managed to botch the most winnable election of all time, mainstream liberal America was plunged into a panic that has been fueled at every turn by the plutocratic mass media, which have seized upon unthinking cultish anti-Trumpism to advance the cause of US military interventionism even further with campaigns like the sanctification of John McCain and the rehabilitation of George W Bush.

Trump is constantly attacked as being too soft on Moscow despite having already dangerously escalated a new cold war against Russia which some experts are saying is more dangerous than the one the world miraculously survived. Trump’s occasional positive impulses, like the agenda to withdraw US troops from Syria and Afghanistan, are painted as weakness and foolishness by the intelligence veterans who now comprise so much of corporate liberal media punditry. And their audience laps it up because by now mainstream liberals have been trained to have far more interest in opposing Trump than in opposing war.

And how sick is that? Obviously Trump has advanced a lot of toxic agendas which need to be ferociously opposed, but how warped does your mind have to be to make a religion out of that opposition which is so all-consuming that it eclipses even the natural impulse to avoid inflicting death and destruction upon your fellow man? How viciously has the psyche of American liberals been brutalized with mass media psyops to drive them into this psychotic, twisted reality tunnel?

There was one group in the aforementioned survey which was not nearly as affected by the propaganda as armchair liberals. To the statement “The U.S. has been engaged in too many military conflicts in places such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan for too long, and should prioritize getting Americans out of harm’s way,” military households responded 54 percent that this statement aligns with their view. Turns out when it’s your own family’s blood and limbs on the line, people are a lot less willing to commit to endless violence.

Sixty percent of Republicans agreed with this statement, while only 41 percent of Democrats did.

Could these statistics have something to do with the fact that younger veterans are statistically much more likely to be Republicans than Democrats? Is it possible that a major reason Trump beat Hillary Clinton, and a major reason Republicans are now far less bloodthirsty than Democrats, is because mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers are tired of flag-draped coffins being shipped home containing bodies which were ripped apart for no legitimate reason in senseless military entanglements on the other side of the world? Seems likely. And it also seems likely that the mass media propaganda machine is having a harder time steering people toward war once they’ve personally tasted its true cost.

*  *  *

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Published:1/12/2019 4:49:35 PM
[Markets] And The Verbal Part Of The Civil War Begins

Authored by John Rubino via DollarCollapse.com,

With the election of Donald Trump, the US right let its id off the leash. Now pretty much everything conservatives have thought but not said is finding its way to Facebook, Twitter, and the evening news.

So it’s no surprise that the left, wildly envious of conservatives’ newfound rhetorical freedom, have decided that what’s good for the misogynist pig is great for the crazed socialist. From today’s Wall Street Journal:

Democrats Contend With the ‘Anger Translator’

Nancy Pelosi will have a hard time keeping the ultraprogressives in her caucus quiet.

The White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2015 included an ingenious skit featuring President Obama and the comedian Keegan-Michael Key. As Mr. Obama stood at a lectern offering vapid pleasantries about White House press coverage, his “anger translator,” portrayed by Mr. Key, lurked behind him acting out what the president was really thinking.

Today, Democrats keep their “anger translators” in-house, among the progressive members of the 116th Congress sworn in last week. Already we’ve heard Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the freshman Democrat from Michigan, announce with an obscenity that her caucus is dead-set on impeaching President Trump. Next came Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, laying out the new House majority’s ambitious agenda—universal health care, free college tuition, a Green New Deal to combat climate change—in an interview with Anderson Cooper that aired Sunday on “60 Minutes.”

There have been some halfhearted attempts by Democratic leaders to distance themselves from Ms. Tlaib’s remarks and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s plans, but the reality is that both women are expressing views that fall well within the party mainstream. Dutifully, they’re trying to mollify the “resistance” while Democratic leaders appeal to more-moderate and independent voters.

Sure, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has insisted that Democrats are focused on health care and infrastructure, and not on running the president out of the Oval Office. She even spurned a request from Ms. Ocasio-Cortez to establish a House committee tasked specifically with advancing the freshman lawmaker’s green agenda. But these disagreements are over tactics, not objectives. The speaker and the freshmen remain united in their desire, among other things, to impose single-payer health care, increase environmental regulations and, yes, impeach Mr. Trump. There’s little difference between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s progressive cri de coeur and the campaign platforms of Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic presidential wannabes.

It was Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s response Sunday to a question about marginal income-tax rates that received the most attention. When Mr. Cooper asked her if she had a specific tax rate in mind, the congresswoman replied: “You look at our tax rates back in the ’60s, and when you have a progressive tax rate system . . . sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70%.”

The Wall Street Journal reporter continues for several more paragraphs pedantically explaining why lower tax rates actually generate more revenue for government - thus completely missing the point, which is that we’re finally going to see what both ends of the political spectrum really think.

For, well, forever, the major political parties have calculated that they’ll hold their rock solid 35% of the electorate no matter what, and to win they need to capture moderates numbering an additional 15.1%. So the relatively small cadre in each party who wanted to speak their minds even if it cost elections were muzzled by the somewhat larger group who wanted to win more than they wanted to tell their “truth.” The result was a (in retrospect) quaintly civil politics, with code words like “law and order” and “justice” serving to disguise the racist (in the first case) and collectivist (in the second) policies being sold to the unsuspecting middle with a knowing wink to the base.

Those days are over. It’s now okay to call immigrants “bad hombres” and “rapists,” and also to refer to the head of the Republican party as a “motherfucker” and propose a 70% marginal tax rate on the evil rich. The gloves are off. The dogs have slipped the leash. The verbal stage of the coming civil war has begun.

Why now? Well, it’s at least an interesting coincidence that the political system is spinning out of control at a time when the government’s official debt has doubled in two consecutive administrations and is now accelerating from there. And at a time when interest rates have been cut to levels that make it impossible for small savers to generate much of anything on their savings. And at a time when “jobs growth” has come to mean people taking on second and third minimum wage part-time “gigs” — and still not being able to support their families.

Sound money advocates might blame Richard Nixon’s 1971 decision to take the world off the gold standard and thus usher in history’s greatest debt binge. And they’d be right. Tech-skeptics might point to social media’s amplification of the darkest impulses of previously isolated crazies. They’re also right. Liberals might see increasing corporate control of banking and media alienating and confusing the masses. Right. And conservatives might see the ever-expanding welfare/entitlements state crushing the old civic society in which people instead of bureaucrats looked out for each other. True. All true.

Add these and a few other negative feedback loops together, and you get a societal breakdown that’s being reflected on big screens and small. The coming election will be unique in terms of invective (though probably not in terms of feasible policy ideas). What now looks like 20 or so mostly far-left Democrats will spend their primary being rewarded by their base for creatively insulting Trump, who will gleefully come back with “thoughts” on would-be opponents’ looks and sanity. Fun times!

And this is just the third or so inning of a game that will get a lot uglier before we come to our senses.

Published:1/12/2019 2:49:25 PM
[Markets] A Bang Or A Whimper: If Trump Is Overthrown What Comes Next?

Authored by James George Jatras via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

It’s a new year and the American cold civil war has shifted to its next phase with the Petrograd Soviet (formerly the Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens), a/k/a Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Democrat-controlled House of Representatives ensconced at one end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Pelosi leads the revolutionary “second pivot and rival center of authority to the embattled Provisional Government headed by President Donald Trump, headquartered 16 blocks to the northwest.

As of this writing Trump is fighting for his political life. If he loses the Mexican standoff over the government shutdown and his border wall, he’s essentially finished. At this juncture, it looks as though he is prepared to declare a state of emergency and use Pentagon or FEMA funds to order the emplacement of a barrier as a military construction project. This is something for which he has the clearest black-and-white statutory authority under 10 US Code § 2802.

Nonetheless, if he goes that route, any such effort will be gummed up in the courts, just like his use of his plenary authority under 18 US Code 1182(f) to exclude “any aliens or … any class of aliens” whose entry into the US would in his judgment “be detrimental to the interests of the United States” – the germ of his campaign’s promised “Muslim ban” – was wimped down into supposedly “extreme vetting” of aliens from a handful of countries without much indication of what the “vetting” is supposed to filter. It’s likely such litigation would delay the wall or prevent its being built at all.

As of now, Trump states his preference to let the Democrats stew. After all, those immediately inconvenienced, such as federal workers and beneficiaries of some federal programs, are primarily Democrat constituencies. Let’s see how many more hysterical bleeding hearts like Cher pressure Pelosi to throw in the towel: “NANCY YOU ARE A HERO LET HIM HAVE HIS FKNG MONEY?.”

In any case, as even Senator Lindsay Graham recognizes, if Trump loses this battle – one he should have fought a year and a half ago – “it’s probably the end of his presidency.” If Trump wins, or more properly he avoids losing, he only lives to fight another day.

And, fight he must, despite his defenders’ truthful and entirely irrelevant bleating that there was no Russian “collusion.” Notwithstanding Democrats’ tap-dancing during the 2018 campaign on whether or not they would seek to impeach Trump, right out of the box articles of impeachment were filed within days of the House’s changing hands. Trump’s disgraced lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen will testify before the House Government Oversight Committee in February. While the weight of opinion suggests that Grand Inquisitor Robert Mueller will wrap up his auto-da-fé in a few months if not weeks, that would seem to be throwing away a powerful synergy with a House that is just beginning to gear up for multiple investigations into every aspect of Trump’s private and professional life, as well as his kids’. Add to that New York State Attorney General Letitia James on the warpath against Trump and “anyone” associated with him. Given Trump’s years in the sharp-elbowed world of high-end New York real estate and numerous business enterprises, as well as the Trump Foundation, there’s no limit to the number of regulatory, tax, and other violations the putsch plotters will construe as federal and state crimes, the latter of which can’t be pardoned by the President.

In short, it’s now a question not if Trump will be impeached but when and on what accusations. Adding fuel to the Democrats’ determination to bring him down before he’s up for reelection is the fear that if Trump survives until then he might well win, something no other Republican is likely to be able to do given the GOP’s tin ear to working class concerns, especially in the Rust Belt states that were Trump’s margin of victory. If Trump is successfully removed before 2020, whomever the Democrats nominate will beat Mike Pence or any other Republican nominee in a romp. After that, especially if Trump’s wall hasn’t gotten built, a sufficient number of imported new voters, many of them illegal, will ensure a permanent Democratic lock hold on power.

When Trump is impeached there may not be enough GOP votes in the Senate to remove him – as things stand now. But never underestimate Republicans’ propensity to cut and run when the going gets tough. It is suggested that any Republican who votes against Trump would seal his own political fate. Don’t be so sure. Those not up for reelection until 2022 and 2024 (like Utah’s newly elected Senator Mitt Romney, who didn’t even wait to be sworn in to volunteer for the role of Brutus) will feel insulated. Besides, when the crunch comes establishment Republicans fear a harsh word from the Washington Post and New York Times editorial pages more than they do their own voters.

This is not to say that after impeachment Trump will be removed, just that it is well within the realm of possibility. But if it does happen, then what?

One anti-Trumper (who prides himself on “poking Trump’s meth-addled, under-educated fans with a pointy stick.” No elite contempt for the Deplorables there!) ponders whether there would be –

‘…a civil war if Trump is driven from office?—?e.g., conviction after impeachment, resignation, 25th Amendment -that depends on what happens after, and there is no denying there is a chance of it, but it is highly unlikely. Many?—?possibly a great many?—?would believe they were wronged by this outcome, but how many would take up arms, and start shooting? Very few, if any at all. Trump would leave, Pence would become President, and Pence would be given credit for calming and healing the nation.

‘There would be no civil war.

But what happens after? Suppose Trump is put on trial for criminal charges, and then convicted? Or suppose he is pardoned or let off the hook, and then begins a sore-loser populist campaign all over the country, complaining that the Presidency was “stolen” by the “deep state” and that Hillary and “fake news” are responsible? That is when we should reopen the question of civil war.’

Of course if Trump is forced out, it would be precisely a stolen election – in effect, a regime change operation of the sort the same US-UK Deep State has staged in so many other countries – abetted by the lying, fake news (no need for sarcasm quotes) worthy of the former USSR and the Democratic establishment, with the collusion of a substantial element of the GOP.

But the improbable suggestion of Trump’s leading a post-White House rebellion one raises a valid point: if Trump were removed, either politically or physically, what – or who – would be the Deplorables’ rallying point? What or who would constitute the second pivot in what would then aspire to leadership in a new revolutionary situation?

The answer is not obvious. Those threatening various degrees of violent or even “gruesome” responses if the ongoing, anti-constitutional soft coup were to succeed never seem to address the question of what, exactly, the revolt would intend to achieve. Reinstate Trump, assuming that’s even possible? If not him, who – Ivanka? Where and how would pathologically law-abiding middle class Americans, many of them older and in questionable health, vent their rage? March on Washington – and do what when they got there? Torch the local post office?

Sure, devotees of the Second Amendment own more private weapons, so Trump supporters are better armed. But that may change as the violent Left gears up its own paramilitary capabilities secure in the knowledge that authorities turn a blind eye to their violence while regarding even non-violent civic nationalism as subversive.

Unlike the circumstance when the Constitution was adopted and private firearms were as good or better than military ones, there is no comparison today in delivery of devastating, deadly force. Trump himself seems to anticipate that the military would come out on his side:

‘“These people, like the Antifa — they better hope that the opposition to Antifa decides not to mobilize,” Trump said recently. “Because if you look, the other side, it’s the military. It’s the police. It’s a lot of very strong, a lot of very tough people. Tougher than them. And smarter than them … Potentially much more violent. And Antifa’s going to be in big trouble.” [...]

‘Some on far-right social media sites are all excited about what they’re calling “Civil War 2.0.” As documented by Dave Neiwert, there are various “Proud Boys” and “Patriots” living a fantasy version of Hank Williams Jr.’s “Country Boys Can Survive” almost entirely online.

‘“If they succeed in impeaching President Trump, then we will back President Trump,” one Georgia militiaman told reporters. “With a use of force if need be.”’

Well, maybe. In a conflict that would look nothing like America’s organized and relatively polite War Between the States (1861-1865) and more like the brutal communal conflicts in Yugoslavia (1991-1995), Spain (1936-1939), or Russia (1917-1922) estimates vary widely on how the military would divide. The same can be said for police forces, some of them heavily militarized.

Or perhaps the historic American nation, whose last-chance champion Trump was elected to be, would give up without a fight and submit to a tyranny that would, eventually, result in some even more fundamental societal collapse.

Americans like to imagine ourselves as rough-hewn, freedom-loving, don't-tread-on-me rebels. But after decades of corruption and conditioning by politicians, judges, bureaucrats, educators, entertainers, media, advertising, pharmaceuticals, processed foods, etc., today’s Americans may well be among the most docile people on earth.

Maybe that’s how America ends: not with a bang but a whimper. Let’s hope we don’t have occasion to find out.

Published:1/12/2019 2:17:42 PM
[World] Obama-Era Border Chief Mark Morgan Hits Back at 'Absurd' Border Wall Arguments

Mark Morgan, who led the U.S. Border Patrol during Barack Obama's presidency, said Saturday that he's in total agreement with President Trump's proposed border wall.

Published:1/12/2019 1:47:14 PM
[Customs, Border and Immigration News] The Border Crisis is Not A Manufactured Crisis

By Jim Clayton -

Leftist loons like Pelosi, Schumer, MSNBC and CNN pundits and late-night hosts all are trying to say the current immigration crisis is manufactured and not a crisis when just a few years ago in 2014 they all said it was a crisis and Hilary, Obama, Schumer, Pelosi, etc. all called ...

The Border Crisis is Not A Manufactured Crisis 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:1/12/2019 10:16:26 AM
[Markets] Trump Goes On Epic Tweetstorm After NYT Reveals FBI "Witch Hunt" Escalation Following Comey Firing

President Trump on Saturday lashed out after a Friday evening report in the New York Times that US law enforcement officials "became so concerned by the president's behavior" in the days after Trump fired James Comey as FBI director, that "they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.

Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude. 

...

the president’s activities before and after Mr. Comey’s firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which Mr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry, the people said.

...

...some former law enforcement officials outside the investigation have questioned whether agents overstepped in opening it.

-NYT

The Washington Examiner's Byron York sums it up: 

Responding to the "bombshell" NYT report - which curiously resurrects the "Russian collusion" narrative right as Trump is set to test his Presidential authority over the border wall, the president lashed out over Twitter

Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!"

Funny thing about James Comey. Everybody wanted him fired, Republican and Democrat alike. After the rigged & botched Crooked Hillary investigation, where she was interviewed on July 4th Weekend, not recorded or sworn in, and where she said she didn’t know anything (a lie), the FBI was in complete turmoil (see N.Y. Post) because of Comey’s poor leadership and the way he handled the Clinton mess (not to mention his usurpation of powers from the Justice Department). My firing of James Comey was a great day for America. He was a Crooked Cop who is being totally protected by his best friend, Bob Mueller, & the 13 Angry Democrats - leaking machines who have NO interest in going after the Real Collusion (and much more) by Crooked Hillary Clinton, her Campaign, and the Democratic National Committee. Just Watch! 

I have been FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton. Maybe tougher than any other President. At the same time, & as I have often said, getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. I fully expect that someday we will have good relations with Russia again!

Lyin’ James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter S and his lover, agent Lisa Page, & more, all disgraced and/or fired and caught in the act. These are just some of the losers that tried to do a number on your President. Part of the Witch Hunt. Remember the “insurance policy?” This is it! -Donald Trump

As Byron York asks, is the New York Times story about Trump, or about FBI malfeasance? 

Published:1/12/2019 9:45:22 AM
[Markets] A New Neocon-Backed Narrative Control Firm Works To Destroy Alternative Media

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

The frenzied, hysterical Russia narrative being promoted day in and day out by western mass media has had two of its major stories ripped to shreds in the last three days...

report seeded throughout the mainstream media by anonymous intelligence officials back in September claimed that US government workers in Cuba had suffered concussion-like brain damage after hearing strange noises in homes and hotels with the most likely culprit being “sophisticated microwaves or another type of electromagnetic weapon” from Russia. A recording of one such highly sophisticated attack was analyzed by scientists and turned out to be the mating call of the male indies short-tailed cricket. Neurologists and other brain specialists have challenged the claim that any US government workers suffered any neurological damage of any kind, saying test results on the alleged victims were misinterpreted. The actual story, when stripped of hyperventilating Russia panic, is that some government workers heard some crickets in Cuba.

Another report which dominated news headlines all of yesterday claimed that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort (the same Paul Manafort who the Guardian falsely claimed met with Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy) had shared polling data with a Russian associate and asked him to pass it along to Oleg Deripaska, who is often labeled a “Russian oligarch” by western media. The polling data was mostly public already, and the rest was just more polling information shared in the spring of 2016, but Deripaska’s involvement had Russiagaters burning the midnight oil with breathless excitement. Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall went so far as to publish an article titled “The ‘Collusion’ Debate Ended Last Night”, substantiating his click-generating headline with the claim that “What’s crystal clear is that the transfer to Kilimnik came with explicit instructions to give the information to Deripaska. And that’s enough.”

Except Manafort didn’t give any explicit instructions to share the polling data with Deripaska, but with two Ukrainian oligarchs (who are denying it).

The New York Times was forced to print this embarrassing correction to the story it broke, adding in the process that Manafort’s motivation was likely not collusion, but money.

These are just the latest in a long, ongoing pattern of terrible mass media debacles as reporters eager to demonstrate their unquestioning fealty to the US-centralized empire fall all over themselves to report any story that makes Russia look bad without practicing due diligence. The only voices who have been questioning the establishment Russia narrative that is being fed to mass media outlets by secretive government agencies have been those which the mass media refuses to platform. Alternative media outlets are the only major platforms for dissent from the authorized narratives of the plutocrat-owned political/media class.

Imagine, then, how disastrous it would be if these last strongholds of skepticism and holding power to account were removed from the media landscape. Well, that’s exactly what a shady organization called NewsGuard is trying to do, with some success already.

new report by journalist Whitney Webb for MintPress News details how NewsGuard is working to hide and demonetize alternative media outlets like MintPress, marketing itself directly to tech companies, social media platforms, libraries and schools. NewsGuard is led by some of the most virulently pro-imperialist individuals in America, and its agenda to shore up narrative control for the ruling power establishment is clear.

The product which NewsGuard markets to the general public is a browser plugin which advises online media consumers whether a news media outlet is trustworthy or untrustworthy based on a formula with a very pro-establishment bias which sees outlets like Fox News and the US propaganda outlet Voice of America getting trustworthy ratings while outlets like RT get very low ratings for trustworthiness. This plugin dominates the bulk of what comes up when you start researching NewsGuard, but circulating a plugin which individual internet users can voluntarily download to help their rulers control their minds is not one of the more nefarious agendas being pursued by this company. The full MintPress article gives a thorough breakdown of the yucky things NewsGuard has its fingers in, but here’s a summary of five of its more disturbing revelations:

1. The company has created a service called BrandGuard, billed as a “brand safety tool aimed at helping advertisers keep their brands off of unreliable news and information sites while giving them the assurance they need to support thousands of Green-rated [i.e., Newsguard-approved] news and information sites, big and small.” Popularizing the use of this service will attack the advertising revenue of unapproved alternative media outlets which run ads. NewsGuard is aggressively marketing this service to “ad tech firms, leading agencies, and major advertisers”.

2. NewsGuard’s advisory board reads like the fellowships list of a neocon think tank, and indeed one of its CEOs, Louis Gordon Crovitz, is a Council on Foreign Relations member who has worked with the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation. Members of the advisory board include George W Bush’s Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, deep intelligence community insider Michael Hayden, and the Obama administration’s Richard Stengel, who once publicly supported the need for domestic propaganda in the US. All of these men have appeared in influential think tanks geared toward putting a public smiley face on sociopathic warmongering agendas.

3. Despite one of its criteria for trustworthy sources being whether or not they are transparent about their funding, the specifics of NewsGuard’s financing is kept secret.

4. NewsGuard is also planning to get its news-ranking system integrated into social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, pursuing a partnership which will make pro-establishment media consumption a part of your experience at those sites regardless of whether or not you download a NewsGuard app or plugin.

5. NewsGuard markets itself to state governments in order to get its plugin installed in all of that state’s public schools and libraries to keep internet users from consuming unauthorized narratives. It has already succeeded in accomplishing this in the state of Hawaii, with all of its library branches now running the NewsGuard plugin.

We may be absolutely certain that NewsGuard will continue giving a positive, trustworthy ranking to the New York Times no matter how many spectacular flubs it makes in its coverage of the establishment Russia narrative, because the agenda to popularize anti-Russia narratives lines up perfectly with the neoconservative, government agency-serving agendas of the powers behind NewsGuard. Any attempt to advance the hegemony of the US-centralized power establishment will be rewarded by its lackeys, and any skepticism of it will be punished.

Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. Ruling power’s desire to regulate people’s access to information is so desperate that it has become as clumsy and ham-fisted as a teenager pawing at his date in the back seat of a car, and it feels about as enjoyable. They’re barely even concealing their desire to control our minds anymore, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to wake everyone up to their manipulations. We need to use every inch of our ability to communicate with each other before it gets shut down for good.

*  *  *

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Published:1/12/2019 8:44:39 AM
[Markets] Orlov: Placing The USA On A Collapse Continuum

Authored by Dmitry Orlov via The Unz Review,

The West is rotting!
Yes, maybe, but what a nice smell…

Old Soviet joke

The word ‘catastrophe‘ has several meanings, but in its original meaning in Greek the word means a “sudden downturn” (in Greek katastrophe ‘overturning, sudden turn,’ from kata- ‘down’ + strophe ‘turning’). As for the word “superpower” it also has several possible definitions, but my preferred one is this one “Superpower is a term used to describe a state with a dominant position, which is characterized by its extensive ability to exert influence or project power on a global scale. This is done through the combined-means of economic, military, technological and cultural strength, as well as diplomatic and soft power influence. Traditionally, superpowers are preeminent among the great powers” this one, “an extremely powerful nation, especially one capable of influencing international events and the acts and policies of less powerful nations” or this one “an international governing body able to enforce its will upon the most powerful states“.

I have mentioned the very visible decline of the US and its associated Empire in many of my articles already, so I won’t repeat it here other than to say that the “ability to exert influence and impose its will” is probably the best criteria to measure the magnitude of the fall of the US since Trump came to power (the process was already started by Dubya and Obama, but it sure accelerated with The Donald). But I do want to use a metaphor to revisit the concept of catastrophe.

If you place an object in the middle of a table and then push it right to the edge, you will exert some amount of energy we can call “E1”. Then, if the edge of the table is smooth and you just push the object over the edge, you exercise a much smaller amount of energy we can call “E2”. And, in most cases (if the table is big enough), you will also find that E1 is much bigger than E2 yet E2, coming after E1 took place, triggered a much more dramatic event: instead of smoothly gliding over the table top, the object suddenly falls down and shatters. That sudden fall can also be called a “catastrophe”. This is also something which happens in history, take the example of the Soviet Union.

The fate of all empires…

Some readers might recall how Alexander Solzhenitsyn repeatedly declared in the 1980s that he was sure that the Soviet regime would collapse and that he would return to Russia. He was, of course, vitriolically ridiculed by all the “specialists” and “experts”. After all, why would anybody want to listen to some weird Russian exile with politically suspicious ideas (there were rumors of “monarchism” and “anti-Semitism”) when the Soviet Union was an immense superpower, armed to the teeth with weapons, with an immense security service, with political allies and supporters worldwide? Not only that, but all the “respectable” specialists and experts were unanimous that, while the Soviet regime had various problems, it was very far from collapse. The notion that NATO would soon replace the Soviet military not only in eastern Europe, but even in part of the Soviet Union was absolutely unthinkable. And yet it all happened, very, very fast. I would argue that the Soviet union completely collapsed in the span of less than 4 short years: 1990-1993. How and why this happened is beyond the scope of this article, but what is undeniable is that in 1989 the Soviet Union was still an apparently powerful entity, while by the end of 1993, it was gone (smashed into pieces by the very nomenklatura which used to rule over it). How did almost everybody miss that?

Because ideologically-poisoned analysis leads to intellectual complacence, a failure of imagination and, generally, an almost total inability to even hypothetically look at possible outcomes. This is how almost all the “Soviet specialists” got it wrong (the KGB, by the way, had predicted this outcome and warned the Politburo, but the Soviet gerontocrats were ideologically paralyzed and were both unable, and often unwilling, to take any preventative action). The Kerensky masonic regime in 1917 Russia, the monarchy in Iran or the Apartheid regime in South Africa also collapsed very fast once the self-destruction mechanism was in place and launched.

You can think of that “regime self-destruction mechanism” as our E1 phase in our metaphor above. As for E2, you can think of it as whatever small-push like event which precipitates the quick and final collapse, apparently with great ease and minimum energy spent.

At this point it is important to explain what exactly a “final collapse” looks like. Some people are under the very mistaken assumption that a collapsed society or country looks like a Mad Max world. This is not so. The Ukraine has been a failed state for several years already, but it still exists on the map. People live there, work, most people still have electricity (albeit not 24/7), a government exists, and, at least officially, law and order is maintained. This kind of collapsed society can go on for years, maybe decades, but it is in a state of collapse nonetheless, as it has reached all the 5 Stages of Collapse as defined by Dmitry Orlov in his seminal book “The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivors’ Toolkit” where he mentions the following 5 stages of collapse:

  • Stage 1: Financial collapse. Faith in “business as usual” is lost.

  • Stage 2: Commercial collapse. Faith that “the market shall provide” is lost.

  • Stage 3: Political collapse. Faith that “the government will take care of you” is lost.

  • Stage 4: Social collapse. Faith that “your people will take care of you” is lost.

  • Stage 5: Cultural collapse. Faith in “the goodness of humanity” is lost.

Having personally visited Argentina in the 1970s and 1980s, and seen the Russia of the early 1990s, I can attest that a society can completely collapse while maintaining a lot of the external appearances of a normal still functioning society. Unlike the Titanic, most collapsed regimes don’t fully sink. They remain about half under water, and half above, possibly with an orchestra still playing joyful music. And in the most expensive top deck cabins, a pretty luxurious lifestyle can be maintained by the elites. But for most of the passengers such a collapse results in poverty, insecurity, political instability and a huge loss in welfare. Furthermore, in terms of motion, a half-sunk ship is no ship at all.

Here is the crucial thing: as long as the ship’s PA systems keep announcing great weather and buffet brunches, and as long as most of the passengers remain in their cabins and watch TV instead of looking out of the window, the illusion of normalcy can be maintained for a fairly long while, even after a collapse. During the E1 phase outlined above, most passengers will be kept in total ignorance (lest they riot or protest) and only when E2 strikes (totally unexpectedly for most passengers) does reality eventually destroy the ignorance and illusions of the brainwashed passengers.

Obama was truly the beginning of the end

I have lived in the US from 1986-1991 and from 2002 to today and there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the country has undergone a huge decline over the past decades. In fact, I would argue that the US has been living under E1 condition since at least Dubya and that this process dramatically accelerated under Obama and Trump. I believe that we reached the E2 “edge of the table” moment in 2018 and that from now on even a relatively minor incident can result in a sudden downturn (i.e. a “catastrophe”). Still, I decided to check with the undisputed specialist of this issue and so I emailed Dmitry Orlov and asked him the following question:

In your recent article “The Year the Planet Flipped Over” you paint a devastating picture of the state of the Empire:

It is already safe to declare Trump’s plan to Make America Great Again (MAGA) a failure. Beneath the rosy statistics of US economic growth hides the hideous fact that it is the result of a tax holiday granted to transnational corporations to entice them to repatriate their profits. While this hasn’t helped them (their stocks are currently cratering) it has been a disaster for the US government as well as for the economic system as whole. Tax receipts have shrunk. The budget deficit for 2018 exceeds $779 billion.

Meanwhile, the trade wars which Trump initiated have caused the trade deficit to increase by 17% from the year before. Plans to repatriate industrial production from low-cost countries remain vaporous because the three key elements which China had as it industrialized (cheap energy, cheap labor and low cost of doing business) are altogether missing. Government debt is already beyond reasonable and its expansion is still accelerating, with just the interest payments set to exceed half a trillion a year within a decade.

This trajectory does not bode well for the continued existence of the United States as a going concern. Nobody, either in the United States or beyond, has the power to significantly alter this trajectory. Trump’s thrashing about may have moved things along faster than they otherwise would have, at least in the sense of helping convince the entire world that the US is selfish, feckless, ultimately self-destructive and generally unreliable as a partner. In the end it won’t matter who was president of the US—it never has. Among those the US president has succeeded in hurting most are his European allies. His attacks on Russian energy exports to Europe, on European car manufacturers and on Europe’s trade with Iran have caused a fair amount of damage, both political and economic, without compensating for it with any perceived or actual benefits.

Meanwhile, as the globalist world order, which much of Europe’s population appears ready to declare a failure, begins to unravel, the European Union is rapidly becoming ungovernable, with established political parties unable to form coalitions with ever-more-numerous populist upstarts. It is too early to say that the EU has already failed altogether, but it already seems safe to predict that within a decade it will no longer remain as a serious international factor.

Although the disastrous quality and the ruinous mistakes of Europe’s own leadership deserve a lot of the blame, some of it should rest with the erratic, destructive behavior of their transoceanic Big Brother. The EU has already morphed into a strictly regional affair, unable to project power or entertain any global geopolitical ambitions. Same goes for Washington, which is going to either depart voluntarily (due to lack of funds) or get chased out from much of the world.

The departure from Syria is inevitable whether Trump, under relentless pressure from his bipartisan warmongers, backtracks on this commitment or not. Now that Syria has been armed with Russia’s up-to-date air defense weapons the US no longer maintains air superiority there, and without air superiority the US military is unable to do anything. Afghanistan is next; there, it seems outlandish to think that the Washingtonians will be able to achieve any sort of reasonable accommodation with the Taliban.

Their departure will spell the end of Kabul as a center of corruption where foreigners steal humanitarian aid and other resources. Somewhere along the way the remaining US troops will also be pulled out of Iraq, where the parliament, angered by Trump’s impromptu visit to a US base, recently voted to expel them. And that will put paid to the entire US adventure in the Middle East since 9/11: $4,704,439,588,308 has been squandered, to be preciseor $14,444 for every man, woman and child in the US.

The biggest winners in all of this are, obviously, the people of the entire region, because they will no longer be subjected to indiscriminate US harassment and bombardment, followed by Russia, China and Iran, with Russia solidifying its position as the ultimate arbiter of international security arrangements thanks to its unmatched military capabilities and demonstrated knowhow for coercion to peace. Syria’s fate will be decided by Russia, Iran and Turkey, with the US not even invited to the talks. Afghanistan will fall into the sphere of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. And the biggest losers will be former US regional allies, first and foremost Israel, followed by Saudi Arabia.

My question for you is this: where would you place the US (or the Empire) on your 5 stages of decline and do you believe that the US (or the Empire) can reverse that trend?

Here is Dmitry’s reply:

Collapse, at each stage, is a historical process that takes time to run its course as the system adapts to changing circumstances, compensates for its weaknesses and finds ways to continue functioning at some level. But what changes rather suddenly is faith or, to put it in more businesslike terms, sentiment. A large segment of the population or an entire political class within a country or the entire world can function based on a certain set of assumptions for much longer than the situation warrants but then over a very short period of time switch to a different set of assumptions. All that sustains the status quo beyond that point is institutional inertia. It imposes limits on how fast systems can change without collapsing entirely. Beyond that point, people will tolerate the older practices only until replacements for them can be found.

Stage 1: Financial collapse. Faith in “business as usual” is lost.

Internationally, the major change in sentiment in the world has to do with the role of the US dollar (and, to a lesser extent, the Euro and the Yen—the other two reserve currencies of the three-legged globalist central banker stool). The world is transitioning to the use of local currencies, currency swaps and commodities markets backed by gold. The catalyst for this change of sentiment was provided by the US administration itself which sawed through its own perch by its use of unilateral sanctions. By using its control over dollar-based transactions to block international transactions it doesn’t happen to like it forced other countries to start looking for alternatives. Now a growing list of countries sees throwing off the shackles of the US dollar as a strategic goal. Russia and China use the ruble and the yuan for their expanding trade; Iran sells oil to India for rupees. Saudi Arabia has started to accept the yuan for its oil.

This change has many knock-on effects. If the dollar is no longer needed to conduct international trade, other nations no longer have hold large quantities of it in reserve. Consequently, there is no longer a need to buy up large quantities of US Treasury notes. Therefore, it becomes unnecessary to run large trade surpluses with the US, essentially conducting trade at a loss. Further, the attractiveness of the US as an export market drops and the cost of imports to the US rises, thereby driving up cost inflation. A vicious spiral ensues in which the ability of the US government to borrow internationally to finance the gaping chasm of its various deficits becomes impaired. Sovereign default of the US government and national bankruptcy then follow.

The US may still look mighty, but its dire fiscal predicament coupled with its denial of the inevitability of bankruptcy, makes it into something of a Blanche DuBois from the Tennessee Williams play “A Streetcar Named Desire.” She was “always dependent on the kindness of strangers” but was tragically unable to tell the difference between kindness and desire. In this case, the desire is for national advantage and security, and to minimize risk by getting rid of an unreliable trading partner.

How quickly or slowly this comes to pass is difficult to guess at and impossible to calculate. It is possible to think of the financial system in terms of a physical analogue, with masses of funds traveling at some velocity having a certain inertia (p = mv) and with forces acting on that mass to accelerate it along a different trajectory (F = ma). It is also possible to think of it in terms of hordes of stampeding animals who can change course abruptly when panicked. The recent abrupt moves in the financial markets, where trillions of dollars of notional, purely speculative value have been wiped out within weeks, are more in line with the latter model.

Stage 2: Commercial collapse. Faith that “the market shall provide” is lost.

Within the US there is really no other alternative than the market. There are a few rustic enclaves, mostly religious communities, that can feed themselves, but that’s a rarity. For everyone else there is no choice but to be a consumer. Consumers who are broke are called “bums,” but they are still consumers. To the extent that the US has a culture, it is a commercial culture in which the goodness of a person is based on the goodly sums of money in their possession. Such a culture can die by becoming irrelevant (when everyone is dead broke) but by then most of the carriers of this culture are likely to be dead too. Alternatively, it can be replaced by a more humane culture that isn’t entirely based on the cult of Mammon—perhaps, dare I think, through a return to a pre-Protestant, pre-Catholic Christian ethic that values people’s souls above objects of value?

Stage 3: Political collapse. Faith that “the government will take care of you” is lost.

All is very murky at the moment, but I would venture to guess that most people in the US are too distracted, too stressed and too preoccupied with their own vices and obsessions to pay much attention to the political realm. Of the ones they do pay attention, a fair number of them seem clued in to the fact that the US is not a democracy at all but an elites-only sandbox in which transnational corporate and oligarchic interests build and knock down each others’ sandcastles.

The extreme political polarization, where two virtually identical pro-capitalist, pro-war parties pretend to wage battle by virtue-signaling may be a symptom of the extremely decrepit state of the entire political arrangement: people are made to watch the billowing smoke and to listen to the deafening noise in the hopes that they won’t notice that the wheels are no longer turning.

The fact that what amounts to palace intrigue—the fracas between the White House, the two houses of Congress and a ghoulish grand inquisitor named Mueller—has taken center stage is uncannily reminiscent of various earlier political collapses, such as the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire or of the fall and the consequent beheading of Louis XVI. The fact that Trump, like the Ottoman worthies, stocks his harem with East European women, lends an eerie touch. That said, most people in the US seem blind to the nature of their overlords in a way that the French, with their Gilettes Jaunesmovement (just as an example) are definitely not.

Stage 4: Social collapse. Faith that “your people will take care of you” is lost.

I have been saying for some years now that within the US social collapse has largely run its course, although whether people actually believe that is an entire matter entirely. Defining “your people” is rather difficult. The symbols are still there—the flag, the Statue of Liberty and a predilection for iced drinks and heaping plates of greasy fried foods—but the melting pot seems to have suffered a meltdown and melted all the way to China. At present half the households within the US speak a language other than English at home, and a fair share of the rest speak dialects of English that are not mutually intelligible with the standard North American English dialect of broadcast television and university lecturers.

Throughout its history as a British colony and as a nation the US has been dominated by the Anglo ethnos. The designation “ethnos” is not an ethnic label. It is not strictly based on genealogy, language, culture, habitat, form of government or any other single factor or group of factors. These may all be important to one extent or another, but the viability of an ethnos is based solely on its cohesion and the mutual inclusivity and common purpose of its members. The Anglo ethnos reached its zenith in the wake of World War II, during which many social groups were intermixed in the military and their more intelligent members.

Fantastic potential was unleashed when privilege—the curse of the Anglo ethnos since its inception—was temporarily replaced with merit and the more talented demobilized men, of whatever extraction, were given a chance at education and social advancement by the GI Bill. Speaking a new sort of American English based on the Ohio dialect as a Lingua Franca, these Yanks—male, racist, sexist and chauvinistic and, at least in their own minds, victorious—were ready to remake the entire world in their own image.

They proceeded to flood the entire world with oil (US oil production was in full flush then) and with machines that burned it. Such passionate acts of ethnogenesis are rare but not unusual: the Romans who conquered the entire Mediterranean basin, the barbarians who then sacked Rome, the Mongols who later conquered most of Eurasia and the Germans who for a very brief moment possessed an outsized Lebensraum are other examples.

And now it is time to ask: what remains of this proud conquering Anglo ethnos today? We hear shrill feminist cries about “toxic masculinity” and minorities of every stripe railing against “whitesplaining” and in response we hear a few whimpers but mostly silence. Those proud, conquering, virile Yanks who met and fraternized with the Red Army at the River Elbe on April 25, 1945—where are they? Haven’t they devolved into a sad little subethnos of effeminate, porn-addicted overgrown boys who shave their pubic hair and need written permission to have sex without fear of being charged with rape?

Will the Anglo ethnos persist as a relict, similar to how the English have managed to hold onto their royals (who are technically no longer even aristocrats since they now practice exogamy with commoners)? Or will it get wiped out in a wave of depression, mental illness and opiate abuse, its glorious history of rapine, plunder and genocide erased and the statues of its war heros/criminals knocked down? Only time will tell.

Stage 5: Cultural collapse. Faith in “the goodness of humanity” is lost.

The term “culture” means many things to many people, but it is more productive to observe cultures than to argue about them. Cultures are expressed through people’s stereotypical behaviors that are readily observable in public. These are not the negative stereotypes often used to identify and reject outsiders but the positive stereotypes—cultural standards of behavior, really—that serve as requirements for social adequacy and inclusion. We can readily assess the viability of a culture by observing the stereotypical behaviors of its members.

  • Do people exist as a single continuous, inclusive sovereign realm or as a set of exclusive, potentially warring enclaves segregated by income, ethnicity, education level, political affiliation and so on? Do you see a lot of walls, gates, checkpoints, security cameras and “no trespassing” signs? Is the law of the land enforced uniformly or are there good neighborhoods, bad neighborhoods and no-go zones where even the police fear to tread?

  • Do random people thrown together in public spontaneously enter into conversation with each other and are comfortable with being crowded together, or are they aloof and fearful, and prefer to hide their face in the little glowing rectangle of their smartphone, jealously guarding their personal space and ready to regard any encroachment on it as an assault?

  • Do people remain good-natured and tolerant toward each other even when hard-pressed or do they hide behind a façade of tense, superficial politeness and fly into a rage at the slightest provocation? Is conversation soft in tone, gracious and respectful or is it loud, shrill, rude and polluted with foul language? Do people dress well out of respect for each other, or to show off, or are they all just déclassé slobs—even the ones with money?

  • Observe how their children behave: are they fearful of strangers and trapped in a tiny world of their own or are they open to the world and ready to treat any stranger as a surrogate brother or sister, aunt or uncle, grandmother or grandfather without requiring any special introduction? Do the adults studiously ignore each others’ children or do they spontaneously act as a single family?

  • If there is a wreck on the road, do they spontaneously rush to each others’ rescue and pull people out before the wreck explodes, or do they, in the immortal words of Frank Zappa, “get on the phone and call up some flakes” who “rush on over and wreck it some more”?

  • If there is a flood or a fire, do the neighbors take in the people who are rendered homeless, or do they allow them to wait for the authorities to show up and bus them to some makeshift government shelter?

It is possible to quote statistics or to provide anecdotal evidence to assess the state and the viability of a culture, but your own eyes and other senses can provide all the evidence you need to make that determination for yourself and to decide how much faith to put in “the goodness of humanity” that is evident in the people around you.

Dmity concluded his reply by summarizing his view like this:

Cultural and social collapse are very far along. Financial collapse is waiting for a trigger. Commercial collapse will happen in stages some of which—food deserts, for instance—have already happened in many places. Political collapse will only become visible once the political class gives up. It’s not as simple as saying which stage we are at. They are all happening in parallel, to one extent or another.

My own (totally subjective) opinion is that the US has already reached stages 1 through 4, and that there are signs that stage 5 has begun; mainly in big cities as US small towns and rural areas (Trump’s power base, by the way) are still struggling to maintain the norms and behaviors one could observe in the US of the 1980s. When I have visitors from Europe they always comment how friendly and welcoming US Americans are (true, I live in small-town in East-Central Florida, not in Miami…). These are the communities which voted for Trump because they said “we want our country back”. Alas, instead of giving them their country back, Trump gifted it to the Neocons…

Conclusion: connecting the dots; or not

Frankly, the dots are all over the place; it is really hard to miss them. However, for the doubleplusgoodthinkingideological drone” they remain largely invisible, and this is not due to any eyesight problem, but due to that drone’s total inability to connect the dots. These are the kind of folks who danced on the deck of the Titanic while it was sinking. For them, when the inevitable catastrophe comes, it will be a total, mind-blowing, surprise. But, until that moment, they will keep on denying the obvious, no matter how obvious that obvious has become.

Don’t expect these two losers to fix anything, they will only make things worse…

In the meantime, the US ruling elites are locked into an ugly internal struggle which only further weakens the US. What is so telling is that the Democrats are still stuck with their same clueless, incompetent and infinitely arrogant leadership, in spite of the fact that everybody knows that the Democratic Party is in deep crisis and that new faces are desperately needed. But no, they are still completely stuck in their old ways and the same gang of gerontocrats continues to rule the party apparatus.

That is another surefire sign of degeneracy: when a regime can only produce incompetent, often old, leaders who are completely out of touch with reality and who blame their own failures on internal (“deplorables”) and external (“the Russians”) factors. Again, think of the Soviet Union under Brezhnev, the Apartheid regime in South Africa under F. W. de Klerk, or the Kerensky regime in 1917 Russia.

As for the Republicans, they are basically a subsidiary of the Israeli Likud Party. Just take a look at the long list of losers the Likud produced at home, and you will get a sense of what they can do in its US colony.

Eventually the US will rebound; I have no doubts about that at all. This is a big country with millions of immensely talented people, immense natural resources and no credible threat to it’s territory. But that can only happen after a real regime change (as opposed to a change in Presidential Administration) which, itself, is only going to happen after an “E2 catastrophe” collapse.

Until then, we will all be waiting for Godot.

Published:1/11/2019 11:12:44 PM
[Markets] As Democratic Elites Reunite With Neocons, The Party's Voters Are Becoming Far More Militaristic And Pro-War Than Republicans

Via Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S December 18 announcement that he intends to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria produced some isolated support in the anti-war wings of both parties, but largely provoked bipartisan outrage among in Washington’s reflexively pro-war establishment.

Both GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the country’s most reliable war supporters, and Hillary Clinton, who repeatedly criticized former President Barack Obama for insufficient hawkishness, condemned Trump’s decision in very similar terms, invoking standard war on terror jargon.

But while official Washington united in opposition, new polling data from Morning Consult/Politico shows that a large plurality of Americans support Trump’s Syria withdrawal announcement: 49 percent support to 33 percent opposition.

That’s not surprising given that Americans by a similarly large plurality agree with the proposition that “the U.S. has been engaged in too many military conflicts in places such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan for too long and should prioritize getting Americans out of harm’s way” far more than they agree with the pro-war view that “the U.S. needs to keep troops in places such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan to help support our allies fight terrorism and maintain our foreign policy interests in the region.”

But what is remarkable about the new polling data on Syria is that the vast bulk of support for keeping troops there comes from Democratic Party voters, while Republicans and independents overwhelming favor their removal. The numbers are stark: Of people who voted for Clinton in 2016, only 26 percent support withdrawing troops from Syria, while 59 percent oppose it. Trump voters overwhelmingly support withdraw by 76 percent to 14 percent.

A similar gap is seen among those who voted Democrat in the 2018 midterm elections (28 percent support withdrawal while 54 percent oppose it), as opposed to the widespread support for withdrawal among 2018 GOP voters: 74 percent to 18 percent.

Identical trends can be seen on the question of Trump’s announced intention to withdraw half of the U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan, where Democrats are far more supportive of keeping troops there than Republicans and independents.

This case is even more stark since Obama ran in 2008 on a pledge to end the war in Afghanistan and bring all troops home. Throughout the Obama years, polling data consistently showed that huge majorities of Democrats favored a withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan:

With Trump rather than Obama now advocating troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, all of this has changed. The new polling data shows far more support for troop withdrawal among Republicans and independents, while Democrats are now split or even opposed. Among 2016 Trump voters, there is massive support for withdrawal: 81 percent to 11 percent; Clinton voters, however, oppose the removal of troops from Afghanistan by a margin of 37 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed.

This latest poll is far from aberrational. As the Huffington Post’s Ariel Edwards-Levy documented early this week, separate polling shows a similar reversal by Democrats on questions of war and militarism in the Trump era.

While Democrats were more or less evenly divided early last year on whether the U.S. should continue to intervene in Syria, all that changed once Trump announced his intention to withdraw, which provoked a huge surge in Democratic support for remaining. “Those who voted for Democrat Clinton now said by a 42-point margin that the U.S. had a responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria involving ISIS,” Edwards-Levy wrote, “while Trump voters said by a 16-point margin that the nation had no such responsibility.” (Similar trends can be seen among GOP voters, whose support for intervention in Syria has steadily declined as Trump has moved away from his posture of the last two years — escalating bombings in both Syria and Iraq and killing far more civilians, as he repeatedly vowed to do during the campaign — to his return to his other campaign pledge to remove troops from the region.)

This is, of course, not the first time that Democratic voters have wildly shifted their “beliefs” based on the party affiliation of the person occupying the Oval Office. The party’s base spent the Bush-Cheney years denouncing war on terror policies, such as assassinations, drones, and Guantánamo as moral atrocities and war crimes, only to suddenly support those policies once they became hallmarks of the Obama presidency.

But what’s happening here is far more insidious. A core ethos of the anti-Trump #Resistance has become militarism, jingoism, and neoconservatism. Trump is frequently attacked by Democrats using longstanding Cold War scripts wielded for decades against them by the far right: Trump is insufficiently belligerent with U.S. enemies; he’s willing to allow the Bad Countries to take over by bringing home U.S. soldiers; his efforts to establish less hostile relations with adversary countries is indicative of weakness or even treason.

At the same time, Democratic policy elites in Washington are once again formally aligning with neoconservatives, even to the point of creating joint foreign policy advocacy groups (a reunion that predated Trump). The leading Democratic Party think tank, the Center for American Progress, donated $200,000 to the neoconservative American Enterprise Instituteand has multilevel alliances with warmongering institutions. By far the most influential liberal media outlet, MSNBC, is stuffed full of former Bush-Cheney officials, security state operatives, and agents, while even the liberal stars are notably hawkish (a decade ago, long before she went as far down the pro-war and Cold Warrior rabbit hole that she now occupies, Rachel Maddow heralded herself as a “national security liberal” who was “all about counterterrorism”).

All of this has resulted in a new generation of Democrats, politically engaged for the first time as a result of fears over Trump, being inculcated with values of militarism and imperialism, trained to view once-discredited, war-loving neocons such as Bill Kristol, Max Boot, and David Frum, and former CIA and FBI leaders as noble experts and trusted voices of conscience. It’s inevitable that all of these trends would produce a party that is increasingly pro-war and militaristic, and polling data now leaves little doubt that this transformation — which will endure long after Trump is gone — is well under way.

Published:1/11/2019 9:42:15 PM
[Markets] The Age Of Trump Clearly Shows That Narrative Is Everything

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump tweeted the following:

“Endless Wars, especially those which are fought out of judgement mistakes that were made many years ago, & those where we are getting little financial or military help from the rich countries that so greatly benefit from what we are doing, will eventually come to a glorious end!”

The tweet was warmly received and celebrated by Trump’s supporters, despite the fact that it says essentially nothing since “eventually” could mean anything.

Indeed, it’s looking increasingly possible that nothing will come of the president’s stated agenda to withdraw troops from Syria other than a bunch of words which allow his anti-interventionist base to feel nice feelings inside. Yet everyone laps it up, on both ends of the political aisle, just like they always do:

  • Trump supporters are acting like he’s a swamp-draining, war-ending peacenik...

  • ...his enemies are acting like he’s feeding a bunch of Kurds on conveyor belts into Turkish meat grinders to be made into sausages for Vladimir Putin’s breakfast, when in reality nothing has changed and may not change at all.

How are such wildly different pictures being painted about the same non-event? By the fact that both sides of the Trump-Syria debate have thus far been reacting solely to narrative.

This has consistently been the story throughout Trump’s presidency: a heavy emphasis on words and narratives and a disinterest in facts and actions. A rude tweet can dominate headlines for days, while the actual behaviors of this administration can go almost completely ignored. Trump continues to more or less advance the same warmongering Orwellian globalist policies and agendas as his predecessors along more or less the same trajectory, but frantic mass media narratives are churned out every day painting him as some unprecedented deviation from the norm. Trump himself, seemingly aware that he’s interacting entirely with perceptions and narratives instead of facts and reality, routinely makes things up whole cloth and often claims he’s “never said” things he most certainly has said. And why not? Facts don’t matter in this media environment, only narrative does.

Look at Russiagate. An excellent recent article by Ray McGovern for Consortium News titled “A Look Back at Clapper’s Jan. 2017 ‘Assessment’ on Russia-gate” reminds us on the two-year anniversary of the infamous ODNI assessment that the entire establishment Russia narrative is built upon nothing but the say-so of a couple dozen intelligence analysts hand-picked and guided by a man who helped deceive the world into Iraq, a man who is so virulently Russophobic that he’s said on more than one occasion that Russians are genetically predisposed to subversive behavior.

That January 2017 intelligence assessment has formed the foundation underlying every breathless, conspiratorial Russia story you see in western news media to this very day, and it’s completely empty. The idea that Russia interfered in the US election in any meaningful way is based on an assessment crafted by a known liar, from which countless relevant analysts were excluded, which makes no claims of certainty, and contains no publicly available evidence. It’s pure narrative from top to bottom, and therefore the “collusion” story is as well since Trump could only have colluded with an actual thing that actually happened, and there’s no evidence that it did.

So now you’ve got Trump being painted as a Putin lackey based on a completely fabricated election interference story, despite the fact that Trump has actually been far more hawkish towards Russia than any administration since the fall of the Soviet Union. With the nuclear brinkmanship this administration has been playing with its only nuclear rival on the planet, it would be so incredibly easy for Trump’s opposition to attack him on his insanely hawkish escalation of a conflict which could easily end all life on earthif any little thing goes wrong, but they don’t. Because this is all about narrative and not facts, Democrats have been paced into supporting even more sanctioning, proxy conflicts and nuclear posturing while loudly objecting to any sign of communication between the two nuclear superpowers, while Republicans are happy to see Trump increase tensions with Moscow because it combats the collusion narrative. Now both parties are supporting an anti-Russia agenda which existed in secretive US government agencies long before the 2016 election.

And this to me is the most significant thing about Trump’s presidency. Not any of the things people tell me I’m supposed to care about, but the fact that the age of Trump has been highlighting in a very clear way how we’re all being manipulated by manufactured narratives all the time.

Humanity lives in a world of mental narrative. We have a deeply conditioned societal habit of heaping a massive overlay of mental labels and stories on top of the raw data we take in through our senses, and those labels and stories tend to consume far more interest and attention than the actual data itself. We use labels and stories for a reason: without them it would be impossible to share abstract ideas and information with each other about what’s going on in our world. But those labels and stories get imbued with an intense amount of belief and identification; we form tight, rigid belief structures about our world, our society, and our very selves that can generate a lot of fear, hatred and suffering. Which is why it feels so nice to go out into nature and relax in an environment that isn’t shaped by human mental narrative.

This problem is exponentially exacerbated by the fact that these stories and labels are wildly subjective and very easily manipulated. Powerful people have learned that they can control the way everyone else thinks, acts and votes by controlling the stories they tell themselves about what’s going on in the world using mass media control and financial political influence, allowing ostensible democracies to be conducted in a way which serves power far more efficiently than any dictatorship.

So now America has a president who is escalating a dangerous cold war against Russia, who is working to prosecute Julian Assange and shut down WikiLeaks, who is expanding the same war on whistleblowers and Orwellian surveillance network that was expanded by Bush and Obama before him, who has expanded existing wars and made no tangible move as yet to scale them back, who is advancing the longstanding neocon agenda of regime change in Iran with starvation sanctions and CIA covert ops, and yet the two prevailing narratives about him are that he’s either (A) a swamp-draining, establishment-fighting hero of peace or that he’s (B) a treasonous Putin lackey who isn’t nearly hawkish enough toward Russia.

See how both A and B herd the public away from opposing the dangerous pro-establishment agendas being advanced by this administration? The dominant narratives could not possibly be more different from what’s actually going on, and the only reason they’re the dominant narratives is because an alliance of plutocrats and secretive government agencies exerts an immense amount of influence over the stories that are told by the political/media class.

The narrative matrix of America’s political/media landscape is a confusing labyrinth of smoke and funhouse mirrors distorting and manipulating the public consciousness at every turn. It’s psychologically torturous, which is largely why people who are deeply immersed in politics are so on-edge all the time regardless of where they’re at on the political spectrum. The only potentially good thing I can see about this forceful brutalization of the public psyche is that it might push people over the edge and shatter the illusion altogether.

Trust in the mass media is already at an all-time low while our ability to network and share information that casts doubt on official narratives is at an all-time high, which is why the establishment propaganda machine is acting so weird as it scrambles to control the narrative, and why efforts to censor the internet are getting more and more severe. It is possible that this is what it looks like when a thinking species evolves into a sane and healthy relationship with thought. Perhaps the cracks that are appearing all over official narratives today are like the first cracks appearing in an eggshell as a bird begins to hatch into the world.

*  *  *

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Published:1/11/2019 9:12:45 PM
[Markets] Could This Be Donald Trump's Toughest Potential Opponent In 2020?

Authored by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream blog,

At this moment the race for the Democratic nomination in 2020 appears to be completely wide open, but there is one potential candidate lurking in the shadows that could change everything

For a moment, I would like you to imagine what a perfect presidential candidate for the Democrats in 2020 would look like.  In this politically correct era, it would help if the candidate was a woman, and it would definitely be a plus if she could appeal to key groups of minority voters.  Being a hero to the LGBT community would be important for any Democratic candidate, and it would also have to be someone that could bring together the “Sanders wing” and the “Clinton wing” of the party.  But none of those things would really matter without national name recognition, and so a dream candidate for the Democrats would be someone that everybody already knows and that much of the nation already loves.

Well, it just so happens that such a potential candidate actually exists.  She is the most admired woman in America by a wide margin, and she is married to the most admired man in America.  She released her latest book in November, and it is still in the number one position on Amazon.  Her national book tour has been packing out stadiums all over the country, and she has a net worth of more than 40 million dollars.  She is a highly educated professional, she is very charismatic, and she has already spent eight years in the White House.

Of course the woman that I am talking about is Michelle Obama.

The bad news for Democrats is that she has always said that she will never run for president.

But the good news for Democrats is that in recent months she has been acting like she is gearing up for a run in 2020.

No other potential Democratic candidate can draw crowds like Michelle Obama can.  She has been selling out her national book tour while charging “as much as $597.00 to $1,435 per ticket”.  A clear effort is being made to help her step out from the long shadow of her husband, and it looks like the stage is being set for her to become the “reluctant hero” that will “save the nation from Trump” in 2020.

Because at this point the Democrats do not have a frontrunner.  Instead, what they have is a giant mess.  The following comes from the New York Times

As the 2020 Democratic primary gets underway, the defining characteristic of this first stage of the race is the sheer uncertainty about who is even running. More than 30 Democrats are mulling presidential bids, but hardly any of them qualify as an instant front-runner or a gifted, tested campaigner, and some of the biggest names could pass in the end.

According to Vox, there are 34 Democrats that are currently “considering” running for president.  Of course not all of them will run, but it looks like it could be an extremely crowded race.

But all of that would change if Michelle Obama decides to run.

At this point Joe Biden is leading the early polls, but that is only because he is the closest thing to Barack Obama that Democratic voters currently have.  If they could have an actual Obama instead, they would abandon Biden in a heartbeat.

Beto O’Rourke is one of the other potential candidates that has been generating some enthusiasm, but his overly eager approach is falling flat with a lot of top Democrats.  For example, this week he posted a video of himself receiving a dental cleaning

“So I’m here at the dentist and we’re going to continue our series on the people of the border,” O’Rourke says in a video posted on Instagram as he receives a dental cleaning.

O’Rourke, who represented a district in El Paso, then flips the camera in the direction of his hygienist, Diana, who recounts her time growing up near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Look, I am all in favor of politicians using social media, but nobody wants to see that.

And this is one of the key factors that would separate Michelle Obama from the rest of the pack.  The Obamas understand how to campaign properly, and Michelle Obama’s national tour to promote her memoir entitled “Becoming” sure looks and feels like a presidential campaign tour.  The following comes from Clifford Nichols

Managed by the same company that promotes Beyoncé’s concert tours, the ten stops of the first leg of her national tour in November and December of 2018 were at arenas with seating capacities hovering around 20,000, not only in Washington, D.C., but also in states like New York, Massachusetts, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Tennessee, Illinois, California, and Georgia.

And then, to begin this New Year, a few days ago she announced that 14 additional speaking engagements have now been scheduled — so far — to allow even more sell-out crowds to attend her “A Conversation with Michelle Obama” tour in similarly huge venues located this time around in Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin,Ohio, and Florida.

She is being put center stage, and her husband has faded into the background.

This is being done for a reason.

And there is certainly precedent for this king of thing.  George W. Bush followed in the footsteps of his father George H.W. Bush, and Hillary Clinton followed in the footsteps of her husband Bill Clinton.

Some would argue that Michelle Obama is not qualified to be president, and that is true.

But the cold, hard reality of the matter is that almost every politician that the American people have sent to Washington is unqualified to be there.

Politics in America has not been about qualifications for a very long time.  Rather, politics in America is all about winning elections, and the Obamas know how to do that.

And if you are going to run for president, it certainly helps to be the most admired woman in America

Former first lady Michelle Obama has been named America’s most admired woman of 2018, according to a Gallup poll. This is the first time in 17 years that someone other than Hillary Clinton was at the top of the list, according to Gallup.  As for the most admired man, former President Barack Obama won for the 11th year in a row.

In fact, Michelle Obama had more support in that survey than Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey combined.

But we need to remember that she has always said that she will never run for president, and perhaps she never will.

In the end, this book tour and all of this promotion could simply be about making as much money as possible.

If that is the case, that sure will be good news for Donald Trump, because Michelle Obama would definitely be his toughest potential opponent in 2020.

Published:1/11/2019 7:10:43 PM
[Markets] The Final Act In A Terrible Play - Prologue To A New World Order

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you’ve been missing out on some good stuff. With the brith of our third child a couple of months ago, it’s been increasingly hard for me to find the time to sit down and write longer posts, so I’ve been putting more and more content on Twitter. Last Friday, Brent Johnson of Santiago Capital, asked me to provide additional thoughts on my recent turn to being far more bullish gold. Normally I would’ve written it in a piece, but being pressed for time I put together a Twitter thread.

There are 32 posts in there and I suggest you read the whole thing. More important than the thread itself; however, was the unprecedented and totally surprising response I received. As I explain in the tweets, I intentionally avoided talking about markets for nearly half a decade for a variety of reasons, and so I was blindsided by the enthusiastic and exceptionally positive response. It led me to do quite a bit of soul-searching, and ultimately convinced me that the time is ripe for me to start commenting about financial markets again. Not only because I think we’re at or very close to a major inflection point, but because people want to hear it.

For the record, I didn’t think central planners would be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again ten years ago for as long as they did. I was simply wrong about that, but that’s how big changes in world history typically go. They tend to take a lot longer to reach the final tipping point than you think despite abundant evidence and signs point to something dramatic happening imminently. I often think back to 1830s America. If you were alive during that decade you’d have expected civil war to break out any moment, yet it took another three decades.

So while the prevailing establishment was able to keep a dead system on life support for an extra ten years to enrich themselves with some more corruption, it was not without consequence. People have not forgotten the unconscionable manner in which Wall Street’s professional white collar criminals were rescued and reward by the Federal Reserve and politicians in D.C.

Just a few months before the 2016 election CNBC published a piece titled, The U.S. Is Still Angry at Wall Street, and It May Be Hurting Recruiting, in which we learned:

Americans still hold big banks in low regard, years removed from the financial crisis. A SurveyMonkey poll of more than 10,000 U.S. adults calls Wall Street ruthless, and when people were asked which of the biggest U.S. companies named in the Fortune 100 were worst for the country, three of the top five names that came to mind were banks.

Survey respondents assigned “most ruthless” status to four banks — Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Goldman did not respond to a request for comment, the others declined comment.

I believe such an attitude played a material role in Trump’s win given Clinton’s well known intimate financial and personal relationships with mega-banks and other financial industry scoundrels. Which brings me to the main point about where we are, and where we’re headed. When Obama was elected in 2008, the country’s overall political environment was largely the same old rancid neocon/neoliberal consensus. You either voted for a Bush or a Clinton, or someone similar enough.

This has changed, and a big reason is due to how Wall Street was bailed out, while main street was left holding the bag. In other words, while the stock market and financial assets in general have been in a gigantic boom, the standards of living and opportunities to purchase a home and start a family have become prohibitive for a large percentage of the nation’s younger generations. Importantly, millennials are now thelargest voting block as of 2018, an important distinction compared to the bailout period ten years ago. This will have enormous implications going forward.

While still very early days, the generational shift in Congress has already begun and will only accelerate from here.

Young people justifiably feel like they’ve been given the short end of the stick, and this is driving grassroots populism across the political spectrum. I expect this trend to continue.

As I noted in last year’s piece, Thoughts on the Leaked Google Video and Why Populism Is Just Getting Started:

The leaked Google video confirmed what many of us already knew, which is that these “don’t be evil” tech executives are a bunch of superficial phonies, cut from the same cloth as rapacious bankers or crooked politicians. The extremely powerful aren’t going to reform or fundamentally change the system that’s been so beneficial to them. It’s up to us to do that. This is why we’re in a populist period, and why populism won’t be going away anytime soon.

The only question is in what form will the next iteration of populism manifest. When it comes to U.S. politics, the actions of Donald Trump will be decisive. If he embroils the country in another war in the Middle East, or saves bankers from capitalism again, he will thoroughly discredit right-wing populism and open up a huge window of opportunity for leftist populism. On the other hand, Trump still has a chance to be the transformative president Obama refused to be, he just needs to avoid more war and make sure corporate crooks are held accountable in a future crisis. I continue to doubt he’s got the desire or disposition for all that, but you never know.

To summarize, I think the country will become even more populist in the years ahead (both left and right populism), and policy coming out Congress will ultimately reflect this reality on the ground. If it doesn’t, then we may see Yellow Vests style protests emerge here before too long.

Either way, business as usual is ending and I think we’ve already seen peak corporatism in American culture. The backlash has started and will accelerate from here.

It’s important to understand that while financial market volatility was squashed and hidden for so many years, building tensions on the ground always find some sort of escape, and that escape largely manifested in the political arena. Actions have consequences, you just never know exactly where and how they’ll make their presence felt.

Therefore, the backdrop and mood of the American public is nothing like it was back in 2008/09. People were upset back then about the Wall Street giveaway, but the public generally had more confidence in institutions, government and the status quo than it does now. If you’ve only been watching stock market ticks for the last ten years, you’ve missed the really big story. We’ve got a major generational cycle only now coming into full swing, coupled with a far more populist mood on the ground. Pull a stunt like you did in 2008, and the U.S. could very quickly look a lot like France.

I think we’re close to the inflection point, but the whole thing will take time to fully play out.

By 2025, the entire world will look completely different, and I think we’ll have a totally new global financial system, or possibly even a couple of competing financial systems (U.S. sphere and China sphere).

The chickens will be coming home to roost sooner rather than later.

Good luck.

*  *  *

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Published:1/11/2019 5:40:08 PM
[World] [Ilya Somin] Should Longtime Expats Have the Right to Vote in Elections?

A Canadian Supreme Court decision striking down a law denying the right to vote to expats who have resided abroad for over five years raises broader questions about democratic theory.

Earlier today, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a decision striking down a law that banned Canadian expatriates from voting if they had resided abroad for over five years. The decision raises some more general issues about expatriate voting that go beyond the specific legal questions under the Canadian Constitution. The Toronto Globe and Mail summarizes the ruling here:

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled voting restrictions on expatriate citizens are unconstitutional.

Two Canadians working in the United States, Gillian Frank and Jamie Duong, challenged federal voting restrictions after being unable to vote in the federal election of 2011. At the time, the law said non-resident citizens could not vote if they had lived more than five years abroad.

In December, a Liberal bill extending voting rights to long-term expatriates received royal assent. But at stake in the Supreme Court ruling was whether those voting rights could be taken away by a future government....

The court ruled 5-2 that the now-repealed law was unconstitutional. "The disenfranchisement of these citizens not only denies them a fundamental democratic right, but also comes at the expense of their sense of self-worth and their dignity," Chief Justice Richard Wagner wrote for four of the judges in the majority. (A fifth judge wrote concurring reasons.) "These deleterious effects far outweigh any speculative benefits that the measure might bring about."?

The two dissenting judges, Justice Suzanne Côté and Justice Russell Brown, said that the government had put a reasonable limit on the right to vote by linking it to Canadian residency.

The full text of the decision in Frank v. Canada is available here. The case raises more general issues about what is it that qualifies individuals for voting rights in a democracy, and how long-term expatriates fit into that framework. In part of its analysis, the majority opinion concludes that the government lacks any significant interest in excluding expatriates from the franchise:

Since voting is a fundamental political right, and the right to vote is a core tenet of Canadian democracy, any limit on the right to vote must be carefully scrutinized and cannot be tolerated without a compelling justification. Intrusions on this core democratic right are to be reviewed on a stringent justification standard. Reviewing courts must examine the proffered justification carefully and rigorously rather than adopting a deferential attitude...

In this case, it must be shown that the infringement of non-residents' voting rights is rationally connected to the legislative objective of ensuring electoral fairness to resident voters. Here, there is no evidence of the harm that these voting restrictions are meant to address. No complaint has been identified with respect to voting by non-residents, and no evidence has been presented to show how voting by non-residents might compromise the fairness of the electoral system. Furthermore, it has not been definitively shown that a limit of any duration would be rationally connected to the electoral fairness objective. Overall, however, it is not necessary to come to a firm conclusion on this point in view of the result at the minimal impairment stage.

By contrast, the dissenters contend that barring longterm expatriates is justified by the need to ensure that voters have sufficient ties to the community where they cast ballots, especially in a system - like that of Canada (and the US) where votes for legislators are cast in districts ("ridings" in Canadian parlance):

In this case, the restriction at issue is a residence requirement. Residence has been described as a fundamental requirement of the right to vote. While citizenship is a necessary requirement to vote, it is therefore not the only constitutionally permissible limit. Citizenship is a status. It does not itself indicate a relationship of any currency to a particular Canadian community. Parliament, not unreasonably, deemed residence or recent residence to be indicative of this relationship. The fact that the Act includes certain exceptions to the residence rule supports the notion that a relationship of currency is essential. Preserving a relationship of currency between electors and their communities by limiting long-term non-resident voting ensures reciprocity between exercising the right to vote and bearing the burden of Canadian laws. The reciprocity principle justifies limiting non-resident voting precisely because long-term non-residents are not generally subject to Canadian laws.

I don't have sufficient expertise to have a strong view on which side has the better interpretation of Canadian law. However, I did find persuasive these analyses (written at earlier stages of the Frank litigation) by Canadian legal commentators Marni Soupcoff and Leonid Sirota, who both concluded that the exclusion of longterm expatriates was unconstitutional, violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I discussed the broader issues raised by the Canadian law in a 2015 post. Those questions are significant not only for Canada, but for other democracies with large expatriate populations, including the United States and Israel, among others. Most American states make it relatively easy for expats to vote by absentee ballot. By contrast, Israel denies that option to most of its very large expatriate population, though the government may be trying to change that.

Although I think there are plausible arguments on both sides, ultimately I come down in favor of voting rights for expatriates, including those who have lived abroad for a long time:

[M]any expatriates plan to return to their countries of origin eventually. The fact that they continue to identify with the home country and retain their citizenship suggests a measure of emotional attachment. Even while abroad, they may still be heavily affected by their home governments' policies on many issues, most notably taxation and trade.

To these traditional arguments [for expatriate voting rights], I would add that expats from advanced democracies are often relatively highly educated professionals. While the two are not identical, virtually all studies show that there is a strong correlation between education and political knowledge. This may be particularly true of those expats who are interested enough in politics back home to take the trouble to vote by absentee ballot. At the margin, letting expats vote probably helps diminish one of the most serious flaws of modern democracy: the problem of widespread political ignorance.

Even if expats have less of an immediate self-interested stake in government policy than those who stay at home, that doesn't necessarily mean they will make worse decisions. Most of the time, there is relatively little correlation between narrow self-interest and political opinions. A person who truly cares only about his narrow self-interest probably would not choose to vote in the first place.

On balance, I think the considerations in favor of letting expatriates vote outweigh those on the other side, at least for relatively advanced democracies like the US and Canada. Whichever way you come down on the question, the issue is another example of how democracy cannot be democratic all the way down. Before "the people" can vote on anything at the ballot box, some other entity has to determine who has the right to go to the polls in the first place.

Published:1/11/2019 5:15:05 PM
[Markets] Peter Schiff: This Is The Beginning Of A Much Bigger Crisis

Via SchiffGold.com,

Wall Street has been on a roller coaster ride over the last few months. If you listen to the pundits on the financial networks, you’ll hear the word “volatile” used over and over again. That word certainly seems to describe the current state of US stock markets and in a broader sense the economy.

But during a recent interview on RT News with Rick Sanchez, Peter Schiff said it’s not that the economy is volatile. It’s actually a bubble. And we are on the verge of a bigger crisis than the one we went through in 2008.

It’s not a volatile economy, it’s a bubble economy. Thanks to the Federal Reserve, they inflated an even bigger bubble, on purpose, than the one they inflated by accident that popped in 2008. And so the economy is in much worse shape structurally today then it was before it fell apart the last time. So, this is the beginning of a much greater crisis, of a much greater recession than the one that we experienced back in 2008.”

Sanchez asked Peter what exactly the Federal Reserve did wrong. Peter said, basically, everything.

But the biggest things they did wrong were lowering interest rates down to zero, practically, and leaving them there for pretty much the entirety of the Obama presidency. And then they’ve barely raised them. They’re still at 2%, which is very low. They also did all the quantitative easing where they printed a bunch of money and bought US government bonds and mortgage bonds. That enabled the housing bubble to reflate, and that enabled the US government to go much deeper into debt. So, the government didn’t cut spending, which is what we needed. They increased spending. But it also enabled corporations to lever up and buy stocks. It enabled more Americans to go deeper into debt. So, it took a gigantic debt bubble and made it much bigger. And so now we’re on the precipice of a much worse crisis.”

As Sanchez put it, the fear is that if the Fed continues to raise rates, it will pop the bubbles and the economy will come crashing down. But Peter said that’s not what’s going to happen. In fact, the Fed isn’t going to keep raising rates. Ultimately, the central bank will push rates back to zero and launch another round of QE when it becomes clear that the economy has entered into a recession.

That is going to take a very bad situation and make it much worse because it’s not going to work like it did last time in that it blew up a bigger bubble. This is going to blow up in everybody’s face. It’s not going to cause real estate prices to go up or stock prices. It’s going to cause food prices to go up, gasoline prices. It’s the cost of living that’s going to rise, not the stock market. And so this is going to be an inflationary recession.”

Peter went on to say that when the Democrats take control of the White House and Congres in 2020, they will turn the inflationary recession into an inflationary depression.

The problem is Trump made the economy his political issue.

He put his brand on a bubble and when that bubble pops, it’s going to be very easy for the Democrats to blame all the problems on Trump and that’s what’s going to enable them to win in a landslide in 2020.”

As Peter put it, the people aren’t going to vote for four more years of Trump during a recession. They’re going to vote for socialism, “Which is going to give us four more years of hell.”

Published:1/11/2019 4:46:48 PM
[Alex Acosta] Alex Acosta preserves Chai Feldblum’s aggressive LGBT agenda (Paul Mirengoff) We have just entered the eleventh year of the Obama Department of Labor, Alex Acosta presiding. I wrote here about how Acosta has preserved the radical Obama administration agenda in employment discrimination law, especially when it comes to using bogus statistics to find pay discrimination where none exists. I have also documented Acosta’s refusal to disturb pro-illegal immigrant policies imposed by the Obama administration through the Department of Labor. President Published:1/11/2019 4:10:05 PM
[Entertainment] Barbra Streisand sings the Resistance blues, claims Trump’s only goal is ‘to erase Obama’s legacy’

"His vengeance runs deep!"

The post Barbra Streisand sings the Resistance blues, claims Trump’s only goal is ‘to erase Obama’s legacy’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:1/11/2019 12:11:31 PM
[Iran] The great undoing continues (Scott Johnson) In his great undoing of the “accomplishments” of the Obama administration, President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the humiliating and destructive Iran nuclear deal. The deal funded a terrorist regime that remains at war with the United States and that continues to avow its dedication to our destruction. The Trump administration has also reimposed sanctions on the Iranian regime. There was no bridge too far for Obama in Published:1/11/2019 7:39:25 AM
[Markets] "We Don't Take Orders From Bolton": US Withdrawal From Syria Begins

Contrary to assurances from Trump's National Security Advisor, neocon John Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who suggested earlier this week that US troops would remain in Syria for at least a little while longer, the Associated Press reported on Friday that the US has begun the process of removing the 2,000 soldiers based in northeastern Syria.

Citing information provided by activists with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the withdrawal officially began Thursday night local time. A convoy of about 10 armored vehicles and some trucks left the town of Rmeilan into drove into Iraq. Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for the coalition fighting the Islamic State group, later confirmed that the US has started "the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria."

Withdrawal

Trump's abrupt decision last month to order US troops out of Syria angered former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who resigned over the decision, and stoked fears that Trump was abandoning the Kurds to a massacre by Turkish forces, who have vowed to pick up the slack in Syria when it comes to fighting ISIS.

"These have been folks that have fought with us and it’s important that we do everything we can to ensure that those folks that fought with us are protected," Pompeo said of the Kurds while visiting Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, after talks in Baghdad.

After launching a campaign of airstrikes against ISIS in 2014, President Obama deployed troops on the ground the following year to combat ISIS, which at the time controlled large swaths of northeastern Syria. Since then, the group has been beaten back, and now control only 1% of their former territory.

Initially, Trump had said the pullout would be complete within a matter of weeks, but plans became murky after the Pentagon requested four months to complete the withdrawal. Last night, the Wall Street Journal reported that the withdrawal would begin immediately.

Scores of ground troops are headed toward Syria to help move troops out, and a group of naval vessels headed by the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge is headed to the region to back up troops at the vulnerable moment they are leaving the country, the officials said. The Kearsarge carries hundreds of Marines, helicopters and other aircraft.

"Nothing has changed," one defense official said. "We don’t take orders from Bolton."

To account for shifts in plans, the military will stage the personnel and equipment needed for a possible withdrawal, rather than move the U.S. forces out. Troops tasked to help with the eventual withdrawal already are in the area, in places like Kuwait and al-Asad air base in western Iraq.

After expressing his immense displeasure with the US's walk-back of its withdrawal plans, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - who recently resorted to threatening the US over their plans to linger in Syria - will no doubt be glad to hear about this.

Published:1/11/2019 7:08:19 AM
[Markets] Covert British Military-Smear Machine Moving Into US

Authored by Max Blumenthal and Mark Ames via ConsortiumNews.com,

After mobilizing a disinformation campaign across Europe, documents show that the Integrity Initiative is now infiltrating the US...

A bombshell domestic spy scandal has been unfolding in Britain, after hacked internal communications exposed a covert U.K. state military-intelligence psychological warfare operation targeting its own citizens and political figures in allied NATO countries under the cover of fighting “Russian disinformation.” 

The leaked documents revealed a secret network of spies, prominent journalists and think-tanks colluding under the umbrella of a group called “Integrity Initiative” to shape domestic opinion—and to smear political opponents of the right-wing Tory government, including the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbin.

Until now, this Integrity Initiative domestic spy scandal has been ignored in the American media, perhaps because it has mostly involved British names. But it is clear that the influence operation has already been activated in the U.S.. Hacked documents reveal that the Integrity Initiative is cultivating powerful allies inside the State Department, top D.C. think tanks, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, where it has gained access to Katharine Gorka and her husband, the fascist-linked cable news pundit Sebastian Gorka

The Integrity Initiative has spelled out plans to expand its network across the U.S., meddling in American politics and recruiting “a new generation of Russia watchers” behind the false guise of a non-partisan charity. Moreover, the group has hired one of the most notorious American “perception management” specialists, John Rendon, to train its clusters of pundits and cultivate relationships with the media. 

Back in the U.K., Member of Parliament Chris Williamson has clamored for an investigation into the Integrity Initiative’s abuse of public money.

In a recent editorial, Williamson drew a direct parallel between the group’s collaboration with journalists and surreptitious payments the CIA made to reporters during the Cold War.

“These tactics resemble those deployed by the CIA in Operation Mockingbird that was launched at the height of the cold war in the early 1950s. Its aims included using the mainstream news media as a propaganda tool,” Williamson wrote.

“They manipulated the news agenda by recruiting leading journalists to write stories with the express purpose of influencing public opinion in a particular way,” the Labour parliamentarian continued. “Now it seems the British Establishment have dusted off the CIA’s old playbook and is intent on giving it another outing on this side of the Atlantic.”

Unmasking a Smear Machine

The existence of the Integrity Initiative was virtually unknown until this November, when the email servers of a previously obscure British think tank called the Institute for Statecraft were hacked, prompting allegations of Russian intrusion. When the group’s internal documents appeared at a website hosted by Anonymous Europe, the public learned of a covert propaganda network seed-funded to the tune of over $2 million dollars by the Tory-controlled U.K. Foreign Office, and run largely by military-intelligence officers.

Through a series of cash inducements, off-the-record briefings and all-day conferences, the Integrity Initiative has sought to organize journalists across the West into an international echo chamber hyping up the supposed threat of Russian disinformation—and to defame politicians and journalists critical of this new Cold War campaign. 

bid for funding submitted by the Integrity Initiative in 2017 to the British Ministry of Defense promised to deliver a “tougher stance on Russia” by arranging for “more information published in the media on the threat of Russian active measures.”

The Integrity Initiative has also worked through its fronts in the media to smear political figures perceived as a threat to its militaristic agenda. Its targets have included a Spanish Department of Homeland Security appointee, Pedro Banos, whose nomination was scuttled thanks to a media blitz it secretly orchestrated; Jeremy Corbyn, whom the outfit and its media cutouts painted as a useful idiot of Russia; and a Scottish member of parliament, Neil Findlay, whom one of its closest media allies accused of adopting “Kremlin messaging” for daring to protest the official visit of the far-right Ukrainian politician Andriy Parubiy — the founder of two neo-Nazi parties and author of a white nationalist memoir, “View From The Right.”

These smear campaigns and many more surreptitiously orchestrated by the Integrity Initiative offer a disturbing preview of the reactionary politics it plans to inject into an already toxic American political environment. 

Aggressive Expansion

A newly released Integrity Initiative document reveals that the outfit plans an aggressive expansion across the U.S. 

The Integrity Initiative claims to have already established a “simple office” in Washington, D.C., though it does not say where. It also boasts of partnerships with top D.C. think tanks like the Atlantic Council, the Center for European Policy Analysis, Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) and its close relationships with U.S. officials. 

A major hub of Integrity Initiative influence is the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, a de facto U.S. government propaganda operation that was established by President Barack Obama to battle online ISIS recruitment, but which was rapidly repurposed to counter Russian disinformation following the election of Trump.

The Integrity Initiative has also recruited one of the most infamous American PR men to organize its clusters of journalists and political figures. 

He is John Rendon, best known as “The Man Who Sold The War”— several wars, in fact, but most notoriously the Iraq invasion. Rendon was the self-described “information warrior” who planted fake news in major U.S.-U.K. media about non-existent WMD threats. With deep ties to the CIA and other military-intelligence agencies, his PR firm was paid $100 million to organize and sell Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress. In 2002, The New York Times exposed a Pentagon program using Rendon to plant “disinformation” — including “false stories” and “the blackest of black PR” — in media outlets around the world, in order to shape public opinion and sell the Iraq invasion. 

John Rendon (left) with Maj. Gen. Michael Snodgrass, US Africa Command Chief of Staff (US Africom Public Affairs)

Journalist James Bamford outlined a catalogue of disinformation feats Rendon performed for the Pentagon, such as identifying “the biases of specific journalists and potentially obtain an understanding of their allegiances, including the possibility of specific relationships and sponsorships.” Bamford also found proposals and programs Rendon was involved in that aimed to “‘coerce’ foreign journalists and plant false information overseas… [and] find ways to ‘punish’ those who convey the ‘wrong message.’”

These tactics seem particularly relevant to his work with the Integrity Initiative, especially considering the internal documents that reveal further Rendon-style plans to produce reports and studies to be “fed anonymously into local media.” (Among the outlets listed as friendly hosts in Integrity Initiative internal memos are Buzzfeed and El Pais, the center-left Spanish daily.)

Keeping up With the Gorkas

Sebastian Gorka, in Vitezi Rend garb, with his wife, Katharine, on Election Night.

Internal documents also refer to interactions between Integrity Initiative Director Chris Donnelly and top Trump officials such as Katharine Gorka, a vehemently anti-Muslim Department of Homeland Security official, as well as her husband, Sebastian, who earned right-wing fame during his brief tenure in Trump’s White House. 

The latter Gorka is an open supporter of the Hungarian Vitezi Rend, a proto-fascist order that collaborated with Nazi Germany during its occupation of Hungary. Following Trump’s election victory in 2016, Gorka appeared for televised interviews in a black Vitezi Rend uniform. 

Gorka was among the first figures listed on an itinerary for Donnelly to Washington this Sept. 18 to 22. The itinerary indicates that the two had breakfast before Donnelly delivered a presentation on “Mapping Russian Influence Activities” at the federally funded military research center, CNA.

According to the itinerary, Donnelly was granted access to Pentagon officials such as Mara Karlin,an up-and-coming neoconservative cadre, and John McCain Institute Executive Director Kurt Volker, another neoconservative operative who also serves as the U.S. special representative for Ukraine. Numerous meetings with staffers inside the State Department’s Office of Global Engagement were also detailed. 

Foreign Agent in State?

Of all the State Department officials named in Integrity Initiative documents, the one who appeared most frequently was Todd Leventhal. Leventhal has been a staffer at the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, boasting of “20 years of countering disinformation, misinformation, conspiracy theories, and urban legends.” In an April 2018 Integrity Initiative memo, he is listed as a current team member:

Funded to the tune of $160 million this year to beat back Russian disinformation with “counter-propaganda,” the State Department’s Global Engagement Center has refused to deny targeting American citizens with information warfare of its own. “My old job at the State Department was as chief propagandist,” confessed former Global Engagement Center Director Richard Stengel. “I’m not against propaganda. Every country does it and they have to do it to their own population and I don’t necessarily think it’s that awful.”

Like so many of the media and political figures involved in the Integrity Initiative’s international network, the Global Engagement Center’s Leventhal has a penchant for deploying smear tactics against prominent voices that defy the foreign policy consensus. Leventhal appeared in an outtake of a recent NBC documentary on Russian disinformation smugly explaining how he would take down a 15-year-old book critical of American imperialism in the developing world. Rather than challenge the book’s substance and allegations, Leventhal boasted how he would marshal his resources to wage an ad hominem smear campaign to destroy the author’s reputation. His strategic vision was clear: when confronting a critic, ignore the message and destroy the messenger.

Integrity Initiative documents reveal that Leventhal has been paid $76,608 dollars (60,000 British pounds) for a 50 percent contract. 

While those same documents claim he has retired from the State Department, Leventhal’s own Linkedin page lists him as a current “Senior Disinformation Advisor” to the State Department. If that were true, it would mean that the State Department was employing a de facto foreign agent.

As a cut-out of the British Foreign Office and Defense Ministry, the Integrity Initiative’s work with current and former U.S. officials and members of the media raises certain legal questions. For one, there is no indication that the group has registered under the Justice Department’s Foreign Agent Registration Act, as most foreign agents of influence are required to do.

Grants from Neocon Foundation

An Integrity Initiative memo states that the right-wing Smith Richardson Foundation has also committed to ponying up funding for its U.S. network as soon as the group receives 501 c-3 non-profit status. The foundation has already provided it with about $56,000 for covert propaganda activities across Europe.

The Smith Richardson Foundation has old ties to the U.S. intelligence community and controversial cold war influence operations. According to reporter Russ Bellant, the foundation was secretly bankrolling radical right-wing “indoctrination campaigns for the American public on Cold War and foreign policy issues”— programs that got the attention of Senator William Fulbright, who warned then-President John F. Kennedy of their dangers. At one of these indoctrination seminars, a Smith Richardson Foundation director “told attendees that ‘it is within the capacity of the people in this room to literally turn the State of Georgia into a civil war college,’ in order to overcome their opponents.”

Smith Richardson has funded a who’s who of the neoconservative movement, from hyper-militaristic think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute to the Institute for the Study of War. “To say the [Smith Richardson] foundation was involved at every level in the lobbying for and crafting of the so-called global war on terror after 9/11 would be an understatement,” wrote journalist Kelley Vlahos.

Besides Smith Richardson, the Integrity Initiative has stated its intention to apply for grants from the State Department “to expand the Integrity Initiative activities both within and outside of the USA.” This is yet another indicator that the U.S. government is paying for propaganda targeting its own citizens. 

‘Main Event’ in Seattle

An Integrity Initiative internal document argues that because “DC is well served by existing US institutions, such as those with which the Institute [for Statecraft] already collaborates,” the organization should “concentrate on extending the work of the Integrity Initiative into major cities and key State capitals [sic] across the USA.”

This Dec. 10, the Integrity Initiative organized what it called its “main event” in the U.S. It was a conference on disinformation held in Seattle, under the auspices of a data firm called Adventium Labs. Together with the Technical Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota, the Integrity Initiative listed Adventium Labs as one of its “first partners outside DC.”

Adventium is a Minneapolis-based research and development firm that has reaped contracts from the U.S. military, including a recent $5.4 million cyber-security grant from the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. 

Inside a modest-sized hotel conference room, the Adventium/Integrity event began with a speech by the Integrity Initiative’s Simon Bracey-Lane. Two years prior, Bracey-Lane appeared on the American political scene as a field worker for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential primary run, earning media write-ups as the “Brit for Bernie.” Now, the young operator was back in the U.S. as the advance man for a military-intelligence cut-out that specialized in smearing left-wing political figures like Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader widely regarded as the British version of Sanders.

Bracey-Lane opened his address by explaining that Integrity Initiative director Chris Donnelly had been unable to appear at the event, possibly because he was bogged down in the scandal back home. He proceeded to read remarks prepared by Donnelly that offered a window into the frighteningly militaristic mindset the Integrity Initiative aims to impose on the public through their media and political allies.

According to Donnelly’s comments, the West was no longer in a “peace time, rules based environment.” From the halls of government to corporate boardrooms to even the U.K.’s National Health System, “the conclusion is that we have to look for people who suit a wartime environment rather than peacetime.”

During a Q&A, Bracey-Lane remarked that “we have to change the definition of war to encompass everything that war now encompasses,” referring vaguely to various forms of “hybrid warfare.” 

“There is a great deal to be done in communicating that to young people,” he continued. “When we mean being at war we don’t mean sending our boys off to fight. It’s right here in our homes.”

The emphasis on restructuring society along martial lines mirrored the disturbing thinking also on display in notes of a private meeting between Donnelly and Gen. Richard Barrons in 2016. During that chat, the two officers decided that the British military should be removed from democratic supervision and be able to operate as “an independent body outside politics.”

While Bracey-Lane’s presentation perfectly captured the military mindset of the Integrity Initiative, the speakers that followed him offered a diverse array of perspectives on the concept of disinformation, some more nuanced than others. But one talk stood out from the rest — not because of its quality, but because of its complete lack thereof.

Alexander Reid Ross (left) and Emmi Bevensee at the Integrity Initiative’s “main event” in Seattle.

Theorist of ‘Red-Brown’ Networks

The presentation was delivered by Alexander Reid Ross, a half-baked political researcher who peddles computer-generated spiderweb relationship charts to prove the existence of a vast hidden network of “red-brown” (or fascist-communist) alliances and “syncretic media” conspiracies controlled by puppeteers in Moscow. 

Ross is a lecturer on geography at Portland State University with no scholarly or journalistic credentials on Russia. But with a book, “Against the Fascist Creep,” distributed by the well-known anarchist publishing house, AK Press, the middling academic has tried to make his name as a maverick analyst. 

Before the Integrity Initiative was exposed as a military-intelligence front operation, Ross was among a small coterie of pundits and self-styled disinformation experts that followed the group’s Twitter account. The Integrity Initiative even retweeted his smear of War Nerd podcast co-host John Dolan.

In a series of articles for the Southern Poverty Law Center last year, Ross attempted to bring his warmed-over Cold War theories to the broader public. He wound up trashing everyone from the co-author of this piece, Max Blumenthal, to Nation magazine publisher Katrina Vanden Heuvel to Harvard University professor of international relations Stephen Walt as hidden shadow-fascists secretly controlled by the Kremlin. 

The articles ultimately generated an embarrassing scandal and a series of public retractions by the editor-in-chief of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Richard Cohen. And then, like some Dr. Frankenstein for discredited and buried journalism careers, the British Ministry of Defense-backed Integrity Initiative moved in to reanimate Ross as a sought-after public intellectual. 

Before the Integrity Initiative-organized crowd, Ross offered a rambling recitation of his theory of a syncretic fascist alliance puppeteered by Russians: “The alt right takes from both this ‘red-brown,’ it’s called, or like left-right syncretic highly international national of nationalisms, and from the United States’ own paleoconservative movement, and it’s sort of percolated down through college organizing, um, and anti-interventionism meets anti-imperialism. Right?”

In a strange twist, Ross appeared on stage at the Integrity Initiative’s Seattle event alongside Emmi Bevensee, a contributor to the left-libertarian Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) think tank, whose tagline, “a left market anarchist think-tank” expresses its core aim of uniting far-left anarchists with free-market right-libertarians. 

Bevensee, a PhD candidate at the University of Arizona and self-described “Borderlands anarcho into tech and crypto,” concluded her presentation by asserting a linkage between the alternative news site, Zero Hedge, and the “physical militarized presence in the borderlands” of anti-immigrant vigilantes.

 Like Bevensee, Ross has written for C4SS in the past. 

The irony of contributors to an anarchist group called the “Center for a Stateless Society” auditioning before The State – the most jackbooted element of it, in fact – for more opportunities to attack anti-war politicians and journalists, can hardly be overstated.

But closer examination of the history of C4SS veers from irony into something much darker and more unsettling.

White Nationalist Associates

C4SS was co-founded in 2006 by a confessed child rapist and libertarian activist, Brad Spangler, who set the group up to promote “Market anarchism” to “replace Marxism on the left.”

When Spangler’s child rape confessions emerged in 2015, the Center for Stateless Society founder was finally drummed out by his colleagues. 

There’s more: Spangler’s understudy and deputy in the C4SS, Kevin Carson — currently listed as the group’s “Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory” — turned out to be a longtime friend and defender of white nationalist Keith Preston. Preston’s name is prominently plastered on the back of Kevin Carson’s book, hailing the C4SS man as “the Proudhon of our time” — a loaded compliment, given the unhinged anti-Semitism of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the influential 19thCentury French anarchist.

Carson only disowned Preston in 2009, shortly before Preston helped white nationalist leader Richard Spencer launch his alt-right webzine, Alternative Right.

The C4SS group currently participates in the annual Koch-backed International Students For Liberty conference in Washington, D.C., LibertyCon, a who’s who of libertarian think-tank hacks and Republican Party semi-celebrities like Steve Forbes, FCC chairman Ajit Pai, and Alan Dershowitz.

In 2013, C4SS’s Kevin Carson tweeted out his dream fantasy that four Jewish leftists—Mark Ames, co-author of this article; Yasha Levine; Corey Robin, and Mark Potok — would die in a plane crash while struggling over a single parachute. Potok was an executive editor at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which last year retracted every one of the crank articles that Alexander Reid Ross published with them and formally apologized for having run them.

For some reason, the super-sleuth Ross conveniently failed to investigate the libertarian group, C4SS, that he has chosen to partner with and publish in. That ability to shamelessly smear and denounce leftists over the most crudely manufactured links to the far-right—while cozying up to groups as sleazy as C4SS and authoritarian as the Integrity Initiative —is the sort of adaptive trait that MI6 spies and the Rendon Group would find useful in a covert domestic influence operation.

Ross did not respond to our request for comment on his involvement with the Integrity Initiative and C4SS.

Disinformation for Democracy

As it spans out across the U.S., the Integrity Initiative has stated its desire to “build a younger generation of Russia watchers.” Toward this goal, it is supplementing its coterie of elite journalists, think tank hacks, spooks and State Department info-warriors with certifiable cranks like Ross. 

Less than 24 hours after Ross’s appearance at the Integrity Initiative event in Seattle, he sent a menacing email to the co-author of this article, Ames, announcing his intention to recycle an old and discredited smear against him and publish it in The Daily Beast — a publication that appears to enjoy a special relationship with Integrity Initiative personnel. 

Despite the threat of investigation in the U.K., the Integrity Initiative’s “network of networks” appears to be escalating its covert, government-funded influence operation, trashing the political left and assailing anyone that gets in its way; all in the name of fighting foreign disinformation. 

“We have to win this one,” Integrity Initiative founder Col. Chris Donnelly said“because if we don’t, democracy will be undermined.”

Published:1/11/2019 1:16:48 AM
[Markets] Beware The Emergency State: Imperial, Unaccountable, And Unconstitutional

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

For seven decades we have been yielding our most basic liberties to a secretive, unaccountable emergency state – a vast but increasingly misdirected complex of national security institutions, reflexes, and beliefs that so define our present world that we forget that there was ever a different America. ... Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have given way to permanent crisis management: to policing the planet and fighting preventative wars of ideological containment, usually on terrain chosen by, and favorable to, our enemies. Limited government and constitutional accountability have been shouldered aside by the kind of imperial presidency our constitutional system was explicitly designed to prevent.”

- David C. Unger, The Emergency State: America’s Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs

It's all happening according to schedule.

The civil unrest, the national emergencies, “unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters,” the government’s reliance on the armed forces to solve domestic political and social problems, the implicit declaration of martial law packaged as a well-meaning and overriding concern for the nation’s security…

The government has been planning and preparing for such a crisis for years now.

No matter that this crisis is of the government’s own making.

To those for whom power and profit are everything, the end always justifies the means.

This latest brouhaha over President Trump’s threat to declare a national emergency in order to build a border wall is more manufactured political theater, a Trojan Horse intended to camouflage the real threat to our freedoms: yet another expansion of presidential power exposing us to constitutional peril.

This is not about illegal immigration or porous borders or who will pay to build that wall.

This is about unadulterated power and the rise of an “emergency state” that justifies all manner of government tyranny in the so-called name of national security.

The seeds of this present madness were sown more than a decade ago when George W. Bush stealthily issued two presidential directives that granted the president the power to unilaterally declare a national emergency, which is loosely defined as "any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions."

Comprising the country's Continuity of Government (COG) plan, these directives (National Security Presidential Directive 51 and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 20), which do not need congressional approval, provide a skeletal outline of the actions the president will take in the event of a "national emergency."

Mind you, that national emergency can take any form, can be manipulated for any purpose and can be used to justify any end goal—all on the say so of the president.

This is exactly the kind of mischief that Thomas Jefferson warned against when he cautioned, “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”

Power corrupts.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Thus far, we have at least pretended that the government abides by the Constitution.

Despite the many attempts by government leaders to claim broader powers for themselves during wartime, the Constitution allows for only one emergency power: “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it” (Article 1, Section 9, Clause 2).

Those who wrote our Constitution sought to ensure our freedoms by creating a document that protects our God-given rights at all times, even when we are engaged in war, whether that is a so-called war on terrorism, a so-called war on drugs, or a so-called war on illegal immigration.

This threat by Trump to rule by fiat merely plays into the hands of those who would distort the government’s system of checks and balances and its constitutional separation of powers beyond all recognition.

Apart from the fact that this highly politicized, shamelessly contrived border crisis does not in any way constitute a national emergency, to allow such a manufactured emergency to override constitutional constraints and the rule of law will push the nation that much closer to outright totalitarianism.

To be clear, this is not a criticism of Trump or a disavowal of the need for better vigilance at the nation’s border.

Rather this is a word of warning.

Remember, these powers do not expire at the end of a president’s term. They remain on the books, just waiting to be used or abused by the next political demagogue.

So, too, every action taken by the Trump administration to weaken the system of checks and balances, sidestep the rule of law, and expand the power of the president makes us that much more vulnerable to those who would abuse those powers in the future.

No matter whether you consider Trump to be a demagogue or a die-hard patriot, there will come a day when Trump no longer occupies the White House, and then what?

We’ve been down this road before.

Although the Constitution invests the President with very specific, limited powers, in recent years, American presidents (Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, etc.) have claimed the power to completely and almost unilaterally alter the landscape of this country for good or for ill.

Should the Trump Administration act on its threat to build a border wall using the president’s emergency powers, it would constitute yet another gross perversion of what limited power the Constitution affords the executive branch.

The powers amassed by each successive president through the negligence of Congress and the courts—powers which add up to a toolbox of terror for an imperial ruler—empower whomever occupies the Oval Office to act as a dictator, above the law and beyond any real accountability.

As law professor William P. Marshall explains, “every extraordinary use of power by one President expands the availability of executive branch power for use by future Presidents.” Moreover, it doesn’t even matter whether other presidents have chosen not to take advantage of any particular power, because “it is a President’s action in using power, rather than forsaking its use, that has the precedential significance.”

In other words, each successive president continues to add to his office’s list of extraordinary orders and directives, expanding the reach and power of the presidency and granting him- or herself near dictatorial powers.

This abuse of presidential powers has been going on for so long that it has become the norm, the Constitution be damned.

We no longer have a system of checks and balances.

“The system of checks and balances that the Framers envisioned now lacks effective checks and is no longer in balance,” concludes Marshall. “The implications of this are serious. The Framers designed a system of separation of powers to combat government excess and abuse and to curb incompetence. They also believed that, in the absence of an effective separation-of-powers structure, such ills would inevitably follow. Unfortunately, however, power once taken is not easily surrendered.”

All of the imperial powers amassed by Barack Obama and George W. Bush—to kill American citizens without due process, to detain suspects indefinitely, to strip Americans of their citizenship rights, to carry out mass surveillance on Americans without probable cause, to suspend laws during wartime, to disregard laws with which he might disagree, to conduct secret wars and convene secret courts, to sanction torture, to sidestep the legislatures and courts with executive orders and signing statements, to direct the military to operate beyond the reach of the law, to operate a shadow government, and to act as a dictator and a tyrant, above the law and beyond any real accountability—have become a permanent part of the president’s toolbox of terror.

These presidential powers—acquired through the use of executive orders, decrees, memorandums, proclamations, national security directives and legislative signing statements and which can be activated by any sitting president—enable past, president and future presidents to operate above the law and beyond the reach of the Constitution.

America, meet your new dictator-in-chief: imperial, unaccountable and unconstitutional.

If we continue down this road, there can be no surprise about what awaits us at the end.

After all, it is a tale that has been told time and again throughout history.

For example, over 80 years ago, the citizens of another democratic world power elected a leader who promised to protect them from all dangers. In return for this protection, and under the auspice of fighting terrorism, he was given absolute power.

This leader went to great lengths to make his rise to power appear both legal and necessary, masterfully manipulating much of the citizenry and their government leaders.

Unnerved by threats of domestic terrorism and foreign invaders, the people had little idea that the domestic turmoil of the times—such as street rioting and the fear of Communism taking over the country—was staged by the leader in an effort to create fear and later capitalize on it. In the ensuing months, this charismatic leader ushered in a series of legislative measures that suspended civil liberties and habeas corpus rights and empowered him as a dictator.

On March 23, 1933, the nation's legislative body passed the Enabling Act, formally referred to as the "Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Nation," which appeared benign and allowed the leader to pass laws by decree in times of emergency.

What it succeeded in doing, however, was ensuring that the leader became a law unto himself.

The leader's name was Adolf Hitler.

The rest, as they say, is history. Yet history has a way of repeating itself.

Hitler's rise to power should serve as a stark lesson to always be leery of granting any government leader sweeping powers.

Clearly, we are not heeding that lesson.

Indeed, all of those dastardly seeds we have allowed the government to sow under the guise of national security are bearing demon fruit.

Brace yourself.

There is something being concocted in the dens of power, far beyond the public eye, and it doesn’t bode well for the future of this country.

Anytime you have an entire nation so mesmerized by the antics of the political ruling class that they are oblivious to all else, you’d better beware.

Anytime you have a government that operates in the shadows, speaks in a language of force, and rules by fiat, you’d better beware.

And anytime you have a government so far removed from its people as to ensure that they are never seen, heard or heeded by those elected to represent them, you’d better beware.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we are at our most vulnerable right now.

The gravest threat facing us as a nation is not extremism but despotism, exercised by a ruling class whose only allegiance is to power and money.

Published:1/10/2019 9:35:19 PM
[World] Tucker Carlson Debates Obama Aide on Illegal Immigration, Fertility Rate

Tucker Carlson debated former Obama aide Austan Goolsbee over illegal immigration and the rise of automation in the workplace.

Published:1/10/2019 8:06:22 PM
[World] Mike Pompeo Slams Obama in Egypt Speech

Gen. Jack Keane [Ret.] said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wanted to "clearly... draw the contrast" between the Trump administration and President Obama during his speech in Cairo this week.

Published:1/10/2019 7:05:30 PM
[Customs, Border and Immigration News] At Trump’s Request, The Supreme Court May Soon Decide On Dismantling DACA

By Kevin Daley -

US Supreme Court

The Supreme Court will consider the Trump administration’s request to intervene in the ongoing legal fight over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Friday. DACA is an Obama-era amnesty initiative that extends temporary legal status to 700,000 foreign nationals who arrived in the U.S. as children. The ...

At Trump’s Request, The Supreme Court May Soon Decide On Dismantling 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:1/10/2019 7:05:29 PM
[Markets] Nearly Half Of US Workers Earn Less Than $30,000

The U.S. economy is booming, right?

Republicans think President Trump deserves much of the credit for cutting business and individual tax rates combined with a deregulation agenda. And Democrats believe former President Obama deserves ownership for America’s recovery. Regardless of who gets credit, HowMuch.net's newest visualization of net compensation levels for American workers demonstrates that the economy is indeed delivering, but not for as many people as the headlines would have you believe...

Source: HowMuch.net

The Social Security Administration (SSA) tracks net income numbers after taxes through the Average Wage Index (AWI). We broke the AWI into a three-part hierarchy of $5K increments, letting you easily see the reality of income inequality in the U.S.. Astonishingly, 13% of workers make less than $5K, and nearly half, or 48%, take home $31,561 or less in net compensation (the dark red on our visual). If your mind isn’t spinning yet, consider the fact that these numbers are all after a multi-year economic recovery. The U.S. is allegedly at or near full employment but wages are barely growing, meaning these numbers are probably the best case scenario. Imagine what a recession would do to worker paychecks.

There is one important caveat to keep in mind when thinking about our dataset. The SSA numbers include any wage earners whatsoever, even part-time workers like students and teenagers. If the worker reports his or her income to the IRS on a W2 form, he or she is included in these stats. This drags down the aggregate wage numbers for full-time working adults, which reach $61,372 for households last year.

All that being said, the picture is still depressing. 1.4% of workers make between $250K - 50M, and another 8.2% bring home between $100K - 250K. Remember, these numbers reflect individual earners, meaning they don’t take into account household earnings. We mention this only because wealthy people tend to get married at higher rates than poor people. In other words, wage earners at the top of the income ladder are probably much wealthier than even these numbers would suggest since their spouses are generally highly educated and well-compensated too.

The visualization makes it plain to see that most people take home very little money from their jobs. The federal poverty level for a family of 4 is $25,100, which officials believe is the bare minimum needed to purchase subsistence food, clothing and shelter. To put this another way, the visualization indicates that enormous chunks of the workforce make a substandard wage, putting them at extreme risks if unpredictable financial problems occur.

Want to learn more about the true cost of living in your city? Check out HowMuch.net's dynamic tool.

Data: Table 1.1 

Published:1/10/2019 6:35:25 PM
[Markets] "Chaos, Repression, And Resentment": Iran Blasts Pompeo's US "Force For Good" Speech

Moments after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo proclaimed during his expansive Thursday speech in Cairo "America is a force for good in the Middle East," Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif took to twitter to blast his remarks, saying US interference abroad has only created "chaos, repression, and resentment".

Pompeo's speech has been cast as a repudiation of a similar US-Mideast relations speech Obama gave early in his presidency in 2009, also in Cairo, called "A New Beginning". Countering Obama's "humble Mideast policy" approach, Pompeo said confidently, "The age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering." 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made his remarks before students at the American University Cairo, via the AP.

Specifically referencing what many dubbed Obama's "retreat" from the region, Pompeo set forth a contrasting vision of a strong and confident American force for good and "progress" for the Middle East. Calling out Obama's "timidity" Pompeo explained

Remember, it was here, here in this city, that another American stood before you. He told you that radical Islamist terrorism doesn't stem from an ideology. He told you that 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals — particularly in the Middle East. He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed 'a new beginning.' The results of these misjudgments have been dire.

Following the Trump administration's scrapping the Obama-brokered 2015 Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), Pompeo specifically lashed out at Iran while casting US actions in the region as noble and bringing freedom: 

For those who fret about the use of American power, remember this: America has always been and always will be a liberating force, not an occupying power. We've never dreamed of domination in the Middle East. Can you say the same about Iran?

Pompeo asserted the US has never been "an empire-builder or an oppressor," and noted at one point that "when the mission is over, when the job is complete, America leaves."

"In less than 2 years, U.S under Pres. Trump has reasserted its traditional role as force for good in this region, because we've learned from our mistakes. We have rediscovered our voice. We have rebuilt our relationships. We have rejected false overtures from enemies," Pompeo confidently asserted. 

It appears that this is the language Iranian FM Zarif picked up on in his statement issued just after the speech. Zarif slammed Pomeo's remarks as follows:  

Whenever/wherever US interferes, chaos, repression & resentment follow. The day Iran mimics US clients and Secretary Pompeo's "human rights models”— be it the Shah or current butchers—to become a “normal" country is the day hell freezes over. Best for the US to just get over loss of Iran.

This also follows Iranian leaders and official media's consistent critique of US interventionist policies in the Middle East over the past two decades, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya to Syria. At least 3 of those countries, ironically enough, continue to have significant American troop presence. 

Pompeo is currently on an eight day tour of the Middle East, just after National Security Advisor John Bolton's trip to Israel and Turkey to hammer out the administrations confused Syria policy. The Thursday speech by Pompeo was promoted by the State Department as its most complete vision yet laying out US priorities in the Middle East. 

Regarding Syria, Pompeo said that while Washington keeps open the potential of military intervention in the war-torn country, he hoped that Trump "won't have to". He said that US priorities were such that forces could never fully abandon the region until a “complete dismantling of the ISIS threat” is achieved. “When America retreats, chaos follows,” Pompeo said. “America will not retreat until the terror fight is over.”

However, Pompeo lashed out at Iran again while discussing US policy in Syria, and presumably in a nod to Israel, saying, "America will use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot from Syria and bolster efforts to bring peace and stability to the long-suffering Syrian people".

In this context, "our partners" is no doubt first and foremost a reference to Israel, which has long urged the White House toward muscular military intervention against Iran and Hezbollah in Syria. 

Published:1/10/2019 6:04:52 PM
[Immigration] WATCH: Obama Border Patrol Chief Blows Liberal Claims, ‘Walls Absolutely Work’

This week a second former Obama official has come forward to say the Democrats are wrong when they claim that there is no crisis of criminal immigrants.

The post WATCH: Obama Border Patrol Chief Blows Liberal Claims, ‘Walls Absolutely Work’ appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/10/2019 2:34:25 PM
[Immigration] WATCH: Obama Border Patrol Chief Blows Liberal Claims, ‘Walls Absolutely Work’

This week a second former Obama official has come forward to say the Democrats are wrong when they claim that there is no crisis of criminal immigrants.

The post WATCH: Obama Border Patrol Chief Blows Liberal Claims, ‘Walls Absolutely Work’ appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/10/2019 2:03:48 PM
[Media] Liberal Vox in Obama Era: ‘TSA a Waste of Money.’ Vox on TSA in Trump Era: ‘It’s a Vital Service’

To show how liberals really have no principles at all, we have no better example than two assessments of the TSA from the same liberal website.

The post Liberal Vox in Obama Era: ‘TSA a Waste of Money.’ Vox on TSA in Trump Era: ‘It’s a Vital Service’ appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/10/2019 1:04:57 PM
[Media] Liberal Vox in Obama Era: ‘TSA a Waste of Money.’ Vox on TSA in Trump Era: ‘It’s a Vital Service’

To show how liberals really have no principles at all, we have no better example than two assessments of the TSA from the same liberal website.

The post Liberal Vox in Obama Era: ‘TSA a Waste of Money.’ Vox on TSA in Trump Era: ‘It’s a Vital Service’ appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/10/2019 1:04:57 PM
[worldNews] In Cairo, Pompeo blasts Obama's Middle East policies U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Barack Obama on Thursday of sowing chaos in the Middle East by failing to adequately confront Islamist militants in a blistering critique of the policies of President Donald Trump's predecessor.
Published:1/10/2019 12:34:51 PM
[worldNews] Pompeo delivers blistering critique of Obama's Middle East policies U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Barack Obama on Thursday of sowing chaos in the Middle East by failing to adequately confront Islamist militants in a blistering critique of the policies of President Donald Trump's predecessor.
Published:1/10/2019 10:37:21 AM
[Markets] "If It Walks Like A Canard..." - A Look Back At Clapper's Jan 2017 "Assessment" On Russia-Gate

Authored by Ray McGovern via ConsortiumNews.com,

On the 2nd anniversary of the 'assessment' blaming Russia for 'collusion' with Trump there is still no evidence other than showing the media 'colluded' with the spooks...

The banner headline atop page one of The New York Times two years ago today, on January 7, 2017, set the tone for two years of Dick Cheney-like chicanery: “Putin Led Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Says.”

Under a media drumbeat of anti-Russian hysteria, credulous Americans were led to believe that Donald Trump owed his election victory to the president of Russia, and that Trump, according to the Times, “colluded” in Putin’s “interference … to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton.”

Hard evidence supporting the media and political rhetoric has been as elusive as proof of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2002-2003. This time, though, an alarming increase in the possibility of war with nuclear-armed Russia has ensued — whether by design, hubris, or rank stupidity. The possible consequences for the world are even more dire than 16 years of war and destruction in the Middle East.

If It Walks Like a Canard…

The CIA-friendly New York Times two years ago led the media quacking in a campaign that wobbled like a duck, canard in French.

A glance at the title of the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) (which was not endorsed by the whole community) — “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections” — would suffice to show that the widely respected and independently-minded State Department intelligence bureau should have been included. State intelligence had demurred on several points made in the Oct. 2002 Estimate on Iraq, and even insisted on including a footnote of dissent. James Clapper, then director of national intelligence who put together the ICA, knew that all too well. So he evidently thought it would be better not to involve troublesome dissenters, or even inform them what was afoot.

Clapper: Showing handpicked evidence? (White House Photo)

Similarly, the Defense Intelligence Agency should have been included, particularly since it has considerable expertise on the G.R.U., the Russian military intelligence agency, which has been blamed for Russian hacking of the DNC emails. But DIA, too, has an independent streak and, in fact, is capable of reaching judgments Clapper would reject as anathema. Just one year before Clapper decided to do the rump “Intelligence Community Assessment,” DIA had formally blessed the following heterodox idea in its “December 2015 National Security Strategy”:

“The Kremlin is convinced the United States is laying the groundwork for regime change in Russia, a conviction further reinforced by the events in Ukraine. Moscow views the United States as the critical driver behind the crisis in Ukraine and believes that the overthrow of former Ukrainian President Yanukovych is the latest move in a long-established pattern of U.S.-orchestrated regime change efforts.”

Any further questions as to why the Defense Intelligence Agency was kept away from the ICA drafting table?

Handpicked Analysts

With help from the Times and other mainstream media, Clapper, mostly by his silence, was able to foster the charade that the ICA was actually a bonafide product of the entire intelligence community for as long as he could get away with it. After four months it came time to fess up that the ICA had not been prepared, as Secretary Clinton and the media kept claiming, by “all 17 intelligence agencies.”

In fact, Clapper went one better, proudly asserting — with striking naiveté — that the ICA writers were “handpicked analysts” from only the FBI, CIA, and NSA. He may have thought that this would enhance the ICA’s credibility. It is a no-brainer, however, that when you want handpicked answers, you better handpick the analysts. And so he did.

Why is no one interested in the identities of the handpicked analysts and the hand-pickers? After all, we have the names of the chief analysts/managers responsible for the fraudulent NIE of October 2002 that greased the skids for the war on Iraq. Listed in the NIE itself are the principal analyst Robert D. Walpole and his chief assistants Paul Pillar, Lawrence K. Gershwin and Maj. Gen. John R. Landry.

The Overlooked Disclaimer

Buried in an inside page of the Times‘ Jan. 7, 2017 report was a cautionary paragraph by reporter Scott Shane. It seems he had read the ICA all the way through, and had taken due note of the derriere-protecting caveats included in the strangely cobbled together report. Shane had to wade through nine pages of drivel about “Russia’s Propaganda Efforts” to reach Annex B with its curious disclaimer:

“Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents. … High confidence in a judgment does not imply that the assessment is a fact or a certainty; such judgments might be wrong.”

Small wonder, then, that Shane noted: “What is missing from the public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. This a significant omission.”

Scott Shane (Twitter)

Since then, Shane has evidently realized what side his bread is buttered on and has joined the ranks of Russia-gate aficionados. Decades ago, he did some good reporting on such issues, so it was sad to see him decide to blend in with the likes of David Sanger and promote the NYT official Russia-gate narrative. An embarrassing feature, “The Plot to Subvert an Election: Unraveling the Russia Story So Far,” that Shane wrote with NYT colleague Mark Mazzetti in September, is full of gaping holes, picked apart in two pieces by Consortium News.

Shades of WMD

Sanger is one of the intelligence community’s favorite go-to journalists. He was second only to the disgraced Judith Miller in promoting the canard of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the U.S. invasion in March 2003. For example, in a July 29, 2002 article, “U.S. Exploring Baghdad Strike As Iraq Option,” co-written by Sanger and Thom Shanker, the existence of WMD in Iraq was stated as flat fact no fewer than seven times.

The Sanger/Shanker article appeared just a week after then-CIA Director George Tenet confided to his British counterpart that President George W. Bush had decided “to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” At that critical juncture, Clapper was in charge of the analysis of satellite imagery and hid the fact that the number of confirmed WMD sites in Iraq was zero.

Despite that fact and that his “assessment” has never been proven, Clapper continues to receive praise.

During a “briefing” I attended at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington several weeks ago, Clapper displayed master circular reasoning, saying in effect, that the assessment had to be correct because that’s what he and other intelligence directors told President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump.

McGovern questions Clapper at Carnegie Endowment in Washington.(Alli McCracken)

I got a chance to question him at the event. His disingenuous answers brought a painful flashback to one of the most shameful episodes in the annals of U.S. intelligence analysis.

Ray McGovern: My name is Ray McGovern. Thanks for this book; it’s very interesting [Ray holds up his copy of Clapper’s memoir]. I’m part of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.  I’d like to refer to the Russia problem, but first there’s an analogy that I see here.  You were in charge of imagery analysis before Iraq.

James Clapper: Yes.

RM: You confess [in the book] to having been shocked that no weapons of mass destruction were found.  And then, to your credit, you admit, as you say here [quotes from the book], “the blame is due to intelligence officers, including me, who were so eager to help [the administration make war on Iraq] that we found what wasn’t really there.”

Now fast forward to two years ago.  Your superiors were hell bent on finding ways to blame Trump’s victory on the Russians.  Do you think that your efforts were guilty of the same sin here?  Do you think that you found a lot of things that weren’t really there?  Because that’s what our conclusion is, especially from the technical end.  There was no hacking of the DNC; it was leaked, and you know that because you talked to NSA.

JC: Well, I have talked with NSA a lot, and I also know what we briefed to then-President Elect Trump on the 6th of January.  And in my mind, uh, I spent a lot of time in the SIGINT [signals intelligence] business, the forensic evidence was overwhelming about what the Russians had done.  There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind whatsoever.  The Intelligence Community Assessment that we rendered that day, that was asked, tasked to us by President Obama — and uh — in early December, made no call whatsoever on whether, to what extent the Russians influenced the outcome of the election. Uh, the administration, uh, the team then, the President-Elect’s team, wanted to say that — that we said that the Russian interference had no impact whatsoever on the election.  And I attempted, we all did, to try to correct that misapprehension as they were writing a press release before we left the room.

However, as a private citizen, understanding the magnitude of what the Russians did and the number of citizens in our country they reached and the different mechanisms that, by which they reached them, to me it stretches credulity to think they didn’t have a profound impact on election on the outcome of the election.

RM: That’s what the New York Times says.  But let me say this: we have two former Technical Directors from NSA in our movement here, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity; we also have forensics, okay?

Now the President himself, your President, President Obama said two days before he left town: The conclusions of the intelligence community — this is ten days after you briefed him — with respect to how WikiLeaks got the DNC emails are “inconclusive” end quote.  Now why would he say that if you had said it was conclusive?

JC: I can’t explain what he said or why.  But I can tell you we’re, we’re pretty sure we know, or knew at the time, how WikiLeaks got those emails.  I’m not going to go into the technical details about why we believe that.

RM: We are too [pretty sure we know]; and it was a leak onto a thumb drive — gotten to Julian Assange — really simple.  If you knew it, and the NSA has that information, you have a duty, you have a duty to confess to that, as well as to [Iraq].

JC: Confess to what?

RM: Confess to the fact that you’ve been distorting the evidence.

JC: I don’t confess to that.

RM: The Intelligence Community Assessment was without evidence.

JC: I do not confess to that. I simply do not agree with your conclusions.

William J. Burns (Carnegie President): Hey, Ray, I appreciate your question.  I didn’t want this to look like Jim Acosta in the White House grabbing microphones away.  Thank you for the questioning though.  Yes ma’am [Burns recognizes the next questioner].

The above exchange can be seen starting at 28:45 in this video.

Not Worth His Salt

Having supervised intelligence analysis, including chairing National Intelligence Estimates, for three-quarters of my 27-year career at CIA, my antennae are fine-tuned for canards. And so, at Carnegie, when Clapper focused on the rump analysis masquerading as an “Intelligence Community Assessment,” the scent of the duck came back strongly.

Intelligence analysts worth their salt give very close scrutiny to sources, their possible agendas, and their records for truthfulness. Clapper flunks on his own record, including his performance before the Iraq war — not to mention his giving sworn testimony to Congress that he had to admit was “clearly erroneous,” when documents released by Edward Snowden proved him a perjurer. At Carnegie, the questioner who followed me brought that up and asked, “How on earth did you keep your job, Sir?”

The next questioner, a former manager of State Department intelligence, posed another salient question: Why, he asked, was State Department intelligence excluded from the “Intelligence Community Assessment”?

U.S. Marine patrols the streets of Al Faw, Iraq, 2003. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Ted Banks.)

Among the dubious reasons Clapper gave was the claim, “We only had a month, and so it wasn’t treated as a full-up National Intelligence Estimate where all 16 members of the intelligence community would pass judgment on it.” Clapper then tried to spread the blame around (“That was a deliberate decision that we made and that I agreed with”), but as director of national intelligence the decision was his.

Given the questioner’s experience in the State Department’s intelligence, he was painfully aware of how quickly a “full-up NIE” can be prepared. He knew all too well that the October 2002 NIE, “Iraq’s Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction,” was ginned up in less than a month, when Cheney and Bush wanted to get Congress to vote for war on Iraq. (As head of imagery analysis, Clapper signed off on that meretricious estimate, even though he knew no WMD sites had been confirmed in Iraq.)

It’s in the Russians’ DNA

The criteria Clapper used to handpick his own assistants are not hard to divine. An Air Force general in the mold of Curtis LeMay, Clapper knows all about “the Russians.” And he does not like them, not one bit. During an interview with NBC on May 28, 2017, Clapper referred to “the historical practices of the Russians, who typically, are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique.” And just before I questioned him at Carnegie, he muttered, “It’s in their DNA.”

Even those who may accept Clapper’s bizarre views about Russian genetics still lack credible proof that (as the ICA concludes “with high confidence”) Russia’s main military intelligence unit, the G.R.U., created a “persona” called Guccifer 2.0 to release the emails of the Democratic National Committee. When those disclosures received what was seen as insufficient attention, the G.R.U. “relayed material it acquired from the D.N.C. and senior Democratic officials to WikiLeaks,” the assessment said.

At Carnegie, Clapper cited “forensics.” But forensics from where? To his embarrassment, then-FBI Director James Comey, for reasons best known to him, chose not to do forensics on the “Russian hack” of the DNC computers, preferring to rely on a computer outfit of tawdry reputation hired by the DNC. Moreover, there is zero indication that the drafters of the ICA had any reliable forensics to work with.

In contrast, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, working with independent forensic investigators,examined metadata from a July 5, 2016 DNC intrusion that was alleged to be a “hack.” However, the metadata showed a transfer speed far exceeding the capacity of the Internet at the time. Actually, all the speed turned out to be precisely what a thumb drive could accommodate, indicating that what was involved was a copy onto an external storage device and not a hack — by Russia or anyone else.

WikiLeaks had obtained the DNC emails earlier. On June 12, 2016 Julian Assange announced he had “emails relating to Hillary Clinton.” NSA appears to lack any evidence that those emails — the embarrassing ones showing that the DNC cards were stacked against Bernie Sanders — were hacked.

Since NSA’s dragnet coverage scoops up everything on the Internet, NSA or its partners can, and do trace all hacks. In the absence of evidence that the DNC was hacked, all available factual evidence indicates that earlier in the spring of 2016, an external storage device like a thumb drive was used in copying the DNC emails given to WikiLeaks.

Additional investigation has proved Guccifer 2.0 to be an out-and-out fabrication — and a faulty basis for indictments.

A Gaping Gap

Clapper and the directors of the CIA, FBI, and NSA briefed President Obama on the ICA on Jan. 5, 2007, the day before they briefed President-elect Trump. At Carnegie, I asked Clapper to explain why President Obama still had serious doubts.  On Jan. 18, 2017, at his final press conference, Obama saw fit to use lawyerly language to cover his own derriere, saying:

“The conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to whether WikiLeaks was witting or not in being the conduit through which we heard about the DNC e-mails that were leaked.”

So we end up with “inconclusive conclusions” on that admittedly crucial point. In other words, U.S. intelligence does not know how the DNC emails got to WikiLeaks. In the absence of any evidence from NSA (or from its foreign partners) of an Internet hack of the DNC emails the claim that “the Russians gave the DNC emails to WikiLeaks” rests on thin gruel. After all, these agencies collect everything that goes over the Internet.

Clapper answered:

“I cannot explain what he [Obama] said or why. But I can tell you we’re, we’re pretty sure we know, or knew at the time, how WikiLeaks got those emails.”

Really?

Published:1/9/2019 10:33:50 PM
[Markets] A Record Number Of Americans No Longer Want To Live In The U.S.

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

Anyone still calling America “the land of the free” is delusional at best. Things continue to go from bad to worse in the United States, and people are feeling it.  So much so, that a record number of Americans no longer want to live in the United States at all.

Once known as the land of opportunity, the U.S. is now more like the land of tax slave and debt slave.  Unfortunately, it isn’t the enslavement to debt or the government that is disturbing those the most.  It’s dissatisfaction with the current ruling class.

According to Gallup, the recent poll they conducted showed that the 16% of Americans overall who said in 2017 and again in 2018 that they would like to permanently move to another country if they could is higher than the average levels during either the George W. Bush (11%) or the Barack Obama administration (10%).

While Gallup’s World Poll does not ask people about their political leanings, most of the recent surge in Americans’ desire to migrate has come among groups that typically lean Democratic and that have disapproved of Trump’s job performance so far in his presidency: women, young Americans and people in lower-income groups. –Gallup

Which means these people don’t wish to be free, they simply want a different master somewhere else. And women appear to be angrier than men that their desired master isn’t controlling them, and their fellow slaves chose subservience to someone else. What’s truly horrifying about this particular poll is that Americans, for all intents and purposes, have simply accepted the fact that they are required to be enslaved by the political elites.

The 30% of Americans younger than 30 who would like to move also represents a new high — and it is also the group in which the gender gap is the largest. Forty percent of women younger than 30 said they would like to move, compared with 20% of men in this age group. These gender gaps narrow with age and eventually disappear after age 50. –Gallup

The desired destination for these slaves appears to be the Canadian plantation. With much higher taxation (theft), they are under the delusion that the political masters in that particular area will give them better living conditions. But Gallup makes it perfectly clear that the desire to move is much higher than any intention to actually do so. It is highly unlikely that Americans will be flowing into Canada. In fact, since Trump’s election, Canadian statistics show only a modest uptick in the number of Americans who have actually moved to Canada.

This is simply more evidence of the ever-widening political divide in the United States.  Discontent will not go down when a different master is voted on.  It’ll amplify once again and people will constantly wonder why they are unhappy until they wake up and realize they were born onto a tax plantation and immediately into debt slavery.

Published:1/9/2019 6:59:19 PM
[Politics] Here’s The Democratic Operation To Suppress GOP Turnout In 2018 Elections

Democratic operatives that were led by a former Obama official, bought ads on misleading Facebook pages to suppress GOP turnout for the midterm elections. So where is the investigation into all this skullduggery? The most offensive thing to me is that they used our American flag as their backdrop, they are not Americans, nor do they ...

The post Here’s The Democratic Operation To Suppress GOP Turnout In 2018 Elections appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/9/2019 5:31:17 PM
[Politics] Here’s The Democratic Operation To Suppress GOP Turnout In 2018 Elections

Democratic operatives that were led by a former Obama official, bought ads on misleading Facebook pages to suppress GOP turnout for the midterm elections. So where is the investigation into all this skullduggery? The most offensive thing to me is that they used our American flag as their backdrop, they are not Americans, nor do they ...

The post Here’s The Democratic Operation To Suppress GOP Turnout In 2018 Elections appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/9/2019 5:31:17 PM
[Markets] The Top 5 Democrats Who Supported Border Security Before Trump Wanted It

Submitted by Rusty of The Political Insider,

Americans tuning into last night's addresses heard two diametrically opposed messages on border security: President Trump stands for the safety of our nation, while the Democrats in Washington do not.

The rebuttal address delivered by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer shows just how radical the Democrat Party has become.

The Democrat Party once cared about border security and cracking down on illegal immigration, but have swiftly morphed into a party that wants to abolish ICE, believes walls are "immoral," and seeks only to placate their radical open-borders base for political reasons.

During his address, President Trump noted the humanitarian aspect of securing the border for people on both sides, referring to the conflict at the southern border as a "crisis of the heart and the crisis of the soul."

Schumer countered that "we can secure our border without an expensive, ineffective wall," while Pelosi added that "President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage" and "must stop manufacturing a crisis."

My, how their views have changed...

Chuck Schumer

Video from 2009 shows Chuck Schumer advocating for a fence along the southern border because it will be a "far more secure" means to creating a "significant barrier to illegal immigration."

"The American people will never accept immigration reform unless they truly believe that their government is committed to ending future illegal immigration," he added.

Kirsten Gillibrand

On her campaign page in 2008, New York's virtual clone of Hillary Clinton, Kirsten Gillibrand, stated she is "a firm opponent of any proposal that would give amnesty to illegal aliens" and believed the "federal government must provide the necessary resources to secure our borders."

Hillary Clinton

Speaking of Hillary Clinton, she bragged in November of 2015 that, "I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in ... and I do think that you have to control your borders."

Elizabeth Warren

In May of 2013, a representative for Elizabeth Warren spoke at Boston City Hall regarding immigration reform, noting that the Senator supported legislation that "upholds our existing laws" and "maintains border security."

Barack Obama

President Obama praised legislation known as the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which included what he said would be "good":

*  *  *

"Americans saw their president fighting for a solution to fund our government while protecting American citizens, versus the approach of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer which is to resist, resist, resist at all costs," said RNC Chairwoman McDaniel.

"It wasn’t always this way. President Trump is simply asking Democrats to support border security policies they all supported just a few short years ago," she added. "It’s time for Democrats to put down their swords and work with President Trump."

 

Published:1/9/2019 5:31:17 PM
[US News] DAYUM! Sen. Bill Cassidy steamrolls Dems’ anti-ICE soapbox on #LawEnforcementAppreciationDay

Obama among those hardest hit.

The post DAYUM! Sen. Bill Cassidy steamrolls Dems’ anti-ICE soapbox on #LawEnforcementAppreciationDay appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:1/9/2019 5:31:17 PM
[Markets] The "Green New Deal" Debunked

Authored by Robert Murphy via The Institute for Energy Research,

There’s a growing buzz around a “Green New Deal,” spearheaded by newly-elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Although the details are in flux, currently the draft text calls for the creation of a 15-member “Select Committee for a Green New Deal” that would “have authority to develop a detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan” to make the U.S. economy “greenhouse gas emissions neutral.” As if that weren’t ambitious enough, the Select Committee’s detailed national plan would also have the goal “to promote economic and environmental justice and equality.” The draft specifically mentions spending $1 trillion over ten years, in addition to extensive taxes and regulations to steer the economy and society as the 15 committee members see fit. (To be clear, the draft text currently calls for the creation of the select committee, which in turn is then tasked with drafting legislation forming the “Green New Deal” itself.)

In this two-part series I will strongly critique both the spirit and substance of a proposed “Green New Deal.” In the second article, I will focus on the specific proposals in the draft legislation. But in this first piece I will give the historical context and explain why the very notion of a Green New Deal is misguided, because it relies on faulty history and bad economics.

The Original New Deal Was Implemented During the Great Depression

Perhaps the most obvious flaw with anyone proposing a modern-day New Deal—whether green or any other hue—is that we are not currently in the midst of an economic depression. Even textbook Keynesians, who think that (say) the incoming Obama Administration was justified in administering a large “stimulus package” because we were stuck in a so-called liquidity trap, now admit that there is no economic rationale for continuing to run large budget deficits. (As Paul Krugman notoriously and conveniently wrote soon after the election of Trump, “Deficits Matter Again.”)

The very term “New Deal” was chosen to appeal to the 20%+ of the unemployed in the workforce, who had ostensibly been left behind by the traditional U.S. economic system. Yes, Ocasio-Cortez and her supporters are touting the Green New Deal as (among other things) the solution to lingering economic inequities in the current system. But to call concern over a wage gap a “New Deal” is as inapt as christening a bullet train program a “Green Moon Shot.”

The New Deal Actually Hurt the U.S. Economy and Prolonged the Great Depression

To reiterate, even if you were a die-hard Keynesian who believed in the virtues of fiscal stimulus, right now—with official unemployment at 3.7% and price inflation rising above the Fed’s target—it makes no sense to launch another New Deal.

But things are worse, because the Keynesian fans of FDR are wrong. The New Deal actually hurt the U.S. economy and prolonged the Great Depression.

I’ve written an entire book on this topic, but here is one key table, comparing unemployment rates in the U.S. and Canada:

Source: Robert P. Murphy, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal, p. 103.

Roosevelt was elected in late 1932 and was inaugurated in early 1933. (Presidents were sworn in on March 4 back then.) As the table shows, unemployment in absolute terms remained awful for the next 8 years—it was not until 1941 that the annual average unemployment rate got back into the single digits (and just barely, at 9.9%).

Even worse, fans of FDR can’t simply blame the problem on the huge hole that FDR inherited from Herbert Hoover. In 1933, the U.S. unemployment was 5.6 percentage points higher than Canada’s. The next year, the gap widened to 7.2 percentage points. Jumping ahead to 1938—five years after Roosevelt is sworn in—the gap between the two countries’ unemployment rates is 7.6 percentage points.

In light of the above figures, why is it that people say of Roosevelt, “He got us out of the Depression”? As I ask in my book: What would the unemployment data have to look like, in order for conventional historians and the public to say FDR kept us mired in the Great Depression?

The “Green New Deal” Is a Power Grab for Progressives

Although it is of course cloaked in the mantle of peer-reviewed natural science, the Green New Deal is clearly a political program, designed to check every box on the progressive wish-list. For example, here is how Naomi Klein makes the case to left-wing activists to support Ocasio-Cortez against the establishment Democrats:

Pulling that [a 45-percent reduction in fossil fuel emissions in 12 years—RPM] off, the [IPCC] report’s summary states in its first sentence, is not possible with singular policies like carbon taxes. Rather, what is needed is “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” By giving the committee a mandate that connects the dots between energy, transportation, housing and construction, as well as health care, living wages, a jobs guarantee, and the urgent imperative to battle racial and gender injustice, the Green New Deal plan would be mapping precisely that kind of far-reaching change. This is not a piecemeal approach that trains a water gun on a blazing fire, but a comprehensive and holistic plan to actually put the fire out. [Naomi Klein, bold added.]

As Klein’s discussion makes perfectly clear, this really isn’t about climate change at all. That is simply the pretext to fundamentally transform every aspect of society and culture the way progressive leftists have wanted to do even before people talked about “global warming.”

Incidentally, the quixotic pundits and wonks who still plead with conservatives and libertarians to agree to a “carbon tax deal,” should see Naomi Klein in the quotation above spell it out just like so many of her colleagues before her: They are explicitly saying a carbon tax is not close to being enough to achieve their environmental goals.

An Inconvenient Omission

There’s one more clue to clinch it for the naïve reader, to realize that the “Green New Deal” really isn’t merely a technical solution to the problem of negative externalities: The word “nuclear” doesn’t appear once in the entire draft legislation for the Select Committee. Isn’t it odd that Ocasio-Cortez and Naomi Klein think we have 12 years to act, in order to save humanity from climate catastrophe, yet they have the time to talk about fixing gender imbalances while they don’t talk about a dispatchable, scalable energy source that is carbon-emission-free? (This source currently provides 20% of U.S. electricity.)

In fairness, some progressive outlets have grudgingly started talking about nuclear—but even the example of Grist only started in January 2018. The obvious explanation here is that these activist progressives don’t really believe their alarmist rhetoric. Imagine someone warning that a killer asteroid was hurtling toward Earth, and we had a mere decade to do something about it. And then these activists spent their time on funding medical clinics to treat society’s downtrodden when the asteroid smashed into the planet, killing billions of people.

Some puzzled onlookers might timidly ask, “Instead of worrying about demographics, shouldn’t we be building lasers or missiles to knock the asteroid off course?” But the activists would explain, “No, promoting heavy weaponry would interfere with our messaging on gun control.”

In that scenario, would you believe the activists who told you we had a decade to act before the asteroid hit? Would their actions lead you to think they believed their own rhetoric?

Conclusion

A “Green New Deal” makes no sense on economic grounds, either in spirit or in letter. Even if one endorsed a Keynesian economic framework in which the historical New Deal “worked,” it still would be nonsensical to implement such a program today, with very high (peacetime) debt loads and an economy at officially full employment. What’s more, the historical New Deal did not in fact work, but rather prolonged the Depression. When an economy is already on the ropes, the last thing it needs is for more resources to be allocated politically, or for more regulations to rain down from Washington.

Furthermore, the rhetoric of Ocasio-Cortez and her supporters shows that the Green New Deal is only distantly related to the ostensible scientific problem of greenhouse gas emissions.

The people pushing a Green New Deal are using it as a vehicle to advance the traditional potpourri of the left’s political agenda.

Published:1/9/2019 5:00:58 PM
[Markets] Will The Real Jay Powell Please Stand Up?

Authored by Kevin Muir via The Macro Tourist blog,

Can’t deny that it’s been a wild few weeks in the financial markets.

Although it seems like an eternity, it’s only been ten trading days since U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, called a special meeting of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets to ensure that banks had “ample liquidity”. It was Sunday night, a day before Christmas Eve, and the stock market had been falling precipitously for the previous few weeks. Mnuchin was under a lot of pressure from Trump to fix the problem and he figured he needed to do something.

So Mncuchin interrupted his Cabo San Lucas vacation to calm markets. After all, nothing exudes confidence more than making a few phone calls from your Mexican resort to the top six bank CEOs to confirm they don’t have a problem with liquidity. Especially when absolutely no one was ever claiming liquidity was an issue.

Now many blame Mnuchin’s brain-dead move for the massive sell-off on Christmas Eve. After all, the day before Christmas is usually a slow trading day with markets closing at 1pm as traders rush off to do their last-minute shopping.

Yet instead of a slow listless trading day, it was an absolute bloodbath reminiscent of a Game of Thrones episode. The S&P 500 future closed down 71 handles - almost 3%!

Was it Mnuchin’s fault? Who knows? I don’t think he helped.

But what many overlook is that stock market futures were initially up on his stunt. Sunday night after his announcement, spooz were trading up more than 20 points.

Granted, by the time the cash market opened at 930am the stock market had given up those gains, but if we look at the intraday chart, after an initial dip right after the open, the market looked like it might bottom. By 1030am we were approaching unchanged on the day, and then it happened.

There was a monster wave of selling that took the S&P 500 down a sickening 3% in the last three hours of trading. It was illiquid and made little sense for traders to demand liquidity on the day before Christmas, yet they were spooked and took a “shoot first ask questions later” attitude.

And what drove this panic?

Look at the timestamp on Donald Trump’s twitter post:

I don’t want to bother discussing whether Trump is correct in his assessment of the Federal Reserve’s policies. Who cares? It is what it is. I don’t want to end up one of those old men yelling at clouds.

I am only interested in what it means for the market, and it is my firm opinion that Trump’s ongoing feud with the Federal Reserve contributed to a collapse in confidence that caused the financial market sell-off of December.

Fed watchers anonymous

I was out for dinner with a good buddy last night and he remarked that I had become one of those Fed watchers that I used to make fun of. You know the type - desperately trying to explain every tick through slight nuanced changes in Fed officials’ language.

Yet my response was that the Fed was all that mattered lately. I would be foolish to ignore the 10%+ swings due to the comments from both the Federal Reserve and the President.

And I contend that predicting Powell’s moves in the upcoming quarters will mean more than trying to come up with a fundamental fair value for financial assets.

I will quote my favourite macro trader Stanley Druckenmiller when it comes to what moves stock markets (a Macro Ops post that’s actually from a 1988 Barron’s interview)

The major thing we look at is liquidity, meaning as a combination of an economic overview. Contrary to what a lot of the financial press has stated, looking at the great bull markets of this century, the best environment for stocks is a very dull, slow economy that the Federal Reserve is trying to get going. Once an economy reaches a certain level of acceleration. the Fed is no longer with you. The Fed, instead of trying to get the economy moving, reverts to acting like the central bankers they are and starts worrying about inflation and things getting too hot. So it tries to cool things off… shrinking liquidity… [While at the same time] The corporations start having to build inventory, which again takes money out of the financial assets… finally, if things get really heated, companies start engaging in capital spending… All three of these things, tend to shrink the overall money available for investing in stocks and stock prices go down.

Earnings don’t move the overall market; it’s the Federal Reserve Board… focus on the central banks and focus on the movement of liquidity… most people in the market are looking for earnings and conventional measures. It’s liquidity that moves markets.

Although I would love to ignore Jay Powell and his flip-flopping remarks, the reality is that after Trump’s “Fed has no touch and can’t putt” comment, Powell caved and caused the following rally:

So yeah, I have become a Fed-watcher as the market is trading more based on Powell’s comments than any sort of fundamental metric.

Stepping back

What changed that made the Federal Reserve so important? After all, Jay Powell has been the FOMC chair since November 2017 and you could argue that policy has not been altered.

Under Powell’s tenure, the Federal Reserve has consistently raised rates and wound down the balance sheet. Powell has been steadfast in his execution of this tightening campaign.

Yet even the most ardent hard-money advocates will admit that eventually, money will be too tight. At some point the Federal Reserve will have tightened too far.

Here is where the heart of the problem lies. What is that level? And to determine that level, should the Federal Reserve take into account market-based-signals or should they focus more on traditional economic indicators?

And to make matters even more complicated, is the Federal Reserve truly worried about inflation, or are they more concerned about a growing financial asset bubble?

Getting into Jay Powell and the rest of the FOMC Board’s heads to understand their reaction function as the economy evolves will be paramount to forecasting financial asset returns in the coming quarters and years.

So without further ado, here is my interpretation of what Powell is trying to accomplish and what that means for the markets.

Although the Federal Reserve mouths words about being concerned about inflation, the reality is that they have been consistently undershooting their target, and it’s been over a decade since Core PCE inflation has been above 2%.

Is the Federal Reserve worried about inflation? Do they really think that’s the biggest risk out there?

I call bullshit on that one. Don’t forget that Bernanke is “100% confident that he can control inflation”. I know Powell is a different kind of Fed chair, but the confidence within the Federal Reserve runs deep in regard to their ability to quash inflation if it rears its ugly head.

We haven’t had a real inflation problem in decades. The idea that Powell lies up at night worrying about inflation is laughable.

But I think Powell has a demon that haunts him. Jay was nominated to the FOMC Board by President Obama in December 2011. Since then, he has repeatedly cautioned about quantitative easing and other extraordinary monetary stimulus measures.

I believe Powell understands all too well the massive cost of the Great Financial Crisis in both economic and human terms, and his biggest worry is not inflation taking off, but instead the expansion of a massive financial asset bubble that, when eventually pricked, will have even greater repercussions.

My friend Chase Taylor at Pinecone Macro did some great analysis digging up Powell’s quotes over the past year which highlight this reality (give Chase a follow on twitter, or better yet - check out his website):

My favourite quote? “It is worth noting that the last two business cycles did not end with high inflation. They ended with financial instability…”

Powell is not worried about inflation anymore than Bernanke was worried about inflation.

Yet he is much different than Easy-Ben.

Whereas Bernanke was concerned about using monetary stimulus to encourage wealth-affect spending, Powell views these distortions as ultimately counterproductive.

So Ben wanted to provide a floor for financial assets - you know, the infamous Fed put, I think Powell is more interested in selling a call. He wants there to be a ceiling so that another bubble isn’t created that ultimately pops and causes more economic pain.

Trump has been haranguing the Fed for quite some time, yet until recently, Powell has been impervious to the comments. Many strategists have shouted about inflation not being a problem and wondered why the Fed seemed so intent on raising rates. Yet in a private moment, I am sure Powell would agree with them. He isn’t worried about inflation. But the possibility of another massive financial bubble scares the shit out of him.

When you think about his recent actions through this lens, it makes so much more sense.

Why did he make the October 3rd comment that rates “were a long way from neutral?” Have a look at this chart of the S&P 500 and CSI BarCap high-yield spread going into that day:

Financial conditions were loose and showing absolutely zero signs of being sensitive to his tightenings. Powell was probably rightfully scared that the bubble would take off. Therefore he leaned more hawkish than he probably should have if he was simply setting rates purely from economic indicators.

But then what happened? From there, the market decided that Powell had just tightened into a recession and quickly priced it all in within the space of a month.

Plus it was made worse by Trump nattering about rising rates. It made Powell’s job of acknowledging the market signals all the more difficult.

So it appeared the Fed was tone deaf and intent on raising rate regardless of what happened to the financial markets.

It all fed onto itself in a crazy self-reinforcing cycle culminating in the infamous Christmas Eve sell-off.

Going forward

I will not make any judgment about what Powell should do, but will assert that Friday’s statement where he caved to the market forces was unproductive. Assuming that I am correct about his biggest worry being market bubbles, he has now set himself back. Stocks are screaming higher. Investors are once again chasing high-yield and other risky forms of debt.

It won’t be long until he will be forced back into trying to talk the markets back down.

Inflation isn’t his worry - market bubbles are his over-riding concern.

Remember back a half-dozen years ago when all the hedgies were bearish and David Tepper came out and said something to the effect of; “if the economy weakens, then the Fed will ease and stocks go up. If the economy strengthens, then stocks will go up because earnings will be rising. Therefore I am buying.”

Well, I think it’s almost the exact opposite situation today. If the economy strengthens then Powell will hike and stocks will fall from the liquidity withdrawal. If the economy weakens, then Powell has shown he is loathe to come to the market’s rescue and he will be slow to lower rates.

I don’t think you need to overthink this. The Fed has tightened into either a slowdown, or a recession. The market sniffed it out, but the Fed ignored the signals for a bit and made the sell-off worse. Now the market is in the process of correcting that overreaction by rallying.

But don’t forget that Powell has absolutely no stomach for frothy financial markets, so beware getting too excited about the Fed’s recent dovish talk. This is not Yellen or Bernanke’s Fed. Powell has a different set of beliefs, and although he has succumbed to market pressures for the moment, it won’t take much for the old tone-deaf Powell to return.

I will leave you with a quote from Stephen Roach writing In defense of Jerome Powell’s courageous Fed. Although I am sure Stephen would most likely be disappointed by Powell’s recent change-of-heart, I think Powell’s waffling is only for the moment, and that Roach’s analysis is ultimately where Powell wants to head in the long run:

Predictably, the current equity market rout has left many aghast that the Fed would dare continue its current normalisation campaign. That criticism is ill-founded.

It’s not that the Fed is simply replenishing its arsenal for the next downturn. The subtext of normalisation is that economic fundamentals, not market-friendly monetary policy, will finally determine asset values.

The Fed, it is to be hoped, is finally coming clean on the perils of asset-dependent growth and the long string of financial bubbles that has done great damage to the US economy over the past 20 years.

Just as Paul Volcker had the courage to tackle the Great Inflation, Jerome Powell may well be remembered for taking an equally courageous stand against the insidious perils of the Asset Economy. It is great to be a fan of the Fed again.

Published:1/9/2019 2:28:32 PM
[] The Democrats Efforts to Attack Our Democracy Didn't Stop With the Jones-Moore Race in Alabama -- The False Flag Campaign of Deceit Continued Into the 2018 Midterms Adam Schiff will hop right on this. (Thanks, NeverTrump!) Democratic operatives, led by a former Obama official, bought ads on misleading Facebook pages to suppress GOP turnout in the midterm elections. The pages appear to be designed to give the... Published:1/9/2019 12:58:03 PM
[Politics] WAPO’s fact-check of Trump’s speech: Arrest stat is misleading because it includes ALL CRIME The liberal media was hell bent on fact-checking Trump’s speech last night even though they never gave a damn about fact-checking Obama. There were a few here and there, but they never . . . Published:1/9/2019 10:27:14 AM
[Politics] WAPO’s fact-check of Trump’s speech: Arrest stat is misleading because it includes ALL CRIME The liberal media was hell bent on fact-checking Trump’s speech last night even though they never gave a damn about fact-checking Obama. There were a few here and there, but they never . . . Published:1/9/2019 10:27:14 AM
[Politics] Obama's Border Patrol Chief: 'The Wall Works' Mark Morgan, who served as chief of the U.S. Border Patrol in the Obama administration, said he backs President Donald Trump's effort to secure funding for a wall. Published:1/9/2019 9:58:26 AM
[World] Campus Reform: Students Hate Trump Quotes on Border Wall, Surprised It Was Obama, Hillary, Schumer

College students hate the idea of increased border security when President Trump says it, but were shocked to learn Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer have said the same thing. 

Published:1/9/2019 8:59:23 AM
[Democrats] You Won’t Believe What Liberals Want to Do THIS Time in their Left-Wing Fantasy World

This latest bit of idiocy is just one more example of how loony liberals are. Here is what a left-wing writer from Barack Obama's Chicago is dreaming...

The post You Won’t Believe What Liberals Want to Do THIS Time in their Left-Wing Fantasy World appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/9/2019 8:26:41 AM
[Democrats] You Won’t Believe What Liberals Want to Do THIS Time in their Left-Wing Fantasy World

This latest bit of idiocy is just one more example of how loony liberals are. Here is what a left-wing writer from Barack Obama's Chicago is dreaming...

The post You Won’t Believe What Liberals Want to Do THIS Time in their Left-Wing Fantasy World appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/9/2019 8:26:41 AM
[Politics] NY Times Column: Trump Right to Extract US From Wars Two former Obama administration officials say President Donald Trump is right to seek an end to America's costly overseas conflicts. Published:1/9/2019 7:26:44 AM
[Markets] Fitch Threatens To Cut US Credit Rating As Debt-Ceiling Battle Looms

In what has become a perennial exercise before every debt-ceiling showdown since at least Obama's first term (when S&P did the unthinkable and cut the US's coveted AAA credit rating, exposing itself to extensive abuse by Tim Geithner), ratings agencies are starting to beat the credit-rating downgrade drum, with Fitch getting a jump on the competition Wednesday when its head of sovereign ratings warned that an enduring shutdown battle could negatively impact the negotiations over the debt ceiling, which could prompt Fitch to join S&P in eliminating its AAA rating for the US.

During an interview with CNBC and a separate appearance in London (where his comments were recorded by Reuters), Fitch’s global head of sovereign ratings James McCormack warned of a possible cut to its AAA rating for the U.S. sovereign should the shutdown continue to March, noting that the shutdown and debt ceiling battle are adding to anxieties triggered by President Trump's tax cuts and spending hikes, which have blown out the budget deficit and led to a "meaningful fiscal deterioration."

"I think people are looking at the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) numbers. If people take the time to look at that you can see debt levels moving higher, you can see the interest burden in the U.S. government moving decidedly higher over the next decade," James McCormack, Fitch's global head of sovereign ratings told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" on Wednesday.

"There needs to be some kind of fiscal adjustment to offset that or the deficit itself moves higher and you're essentially borrowing money to pay interest on the debt. So there is a meaningful fiscal deterioration there, going on the United States."

Watch his interview with CNBC below:

McCormack added later that Fitch would need to seriously consider a cut if the shutdown continues: "If this shutdown continues to March 1 and the debt ceiling becomes a problem several months later, we may need to start thinking about the policy framework, the inability to pass a budget...And whether all of that is consistent with triple-A."

"From a rating point of view it is the debt ceiling that is problematic."

A partial shutdown affecting roughly one-quarter of the federal government, and which has delayed paychecks for 400,000 workers while another 400,000 have been furloughed as Republicans and Democrats battle over funding for President Trump's border wall.

The last ratings agency to cut its credit rating for the US was S&P, which famously revoked the US's coveted long-term AAA credit rating back in 2011, citing political risks and a rising debt burden in the wake of the financial crisis. Here's what they said at the time:

We have lowered our long-term sovereign credit rating on the United States of America to 'AA+' from 'AAA' and affirmed the 'A-1+' short-term rating.

We have also removed both the short- and long-term ratings from CreditWatch negative.

The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government's medium-term debt dynamics.

More broadly, the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges to a degree more than we envisioned when we assigned a negative outlook to the rating on April 18, 2011.

The last ratings agency to warn of a sovereign credit rating cut was Moody's, which warned back in January 2018 that the Trump tax cuts were a "credit negative" because they would add $1.5 trillion to the federal budget deficit over 10 years.

Published:1/9/2019 6:58:21 AM
[Right Column] Follow the climate money! Skeptics are the David vs. the warmist Goliath

Billionaire and potential presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg gave the Sierra Club $110 million in a six-year period to fund its campaign against coal-generated electricity. Chesapeake Energy gave the Club $26 million in three years to promote natural gas and attack coal. Ten wealthy liberal foundations gave another $51 million over eight years to the Club and other environmentalist groups to battle coal.

Federal funding for climate change research, technology, international assistance, and adaptation has increased from $2.4 billion in 1993 to $11.6 billion in 2014, with an additional $26.1 billion for climate change programs and activities provided by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

* The Feds spent an estimated $150 billion on climate change and green energy subsidies during President Obama’s first term.

Published:1/8/2019 11:26:13 PM
[Markets] Students Hate 'Trump' Immigration, Border-Wall Quotes... Don't Realize They're From Dems

Authored by Cabot Phillips via Campus Reform,

This month, the federal government entered a partial shutdown after Congress was unable to reach a budget agreement, primarily on funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed wall along the southern border.

The wall, a key talking point for Trump throughout the campaign, has been decried by leaders in the Democrat party as anti-American and immoral, among other things.

But their opposition to the wall and embrace of looser immigration laws seems to be a new development. 

In recent years, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, President Barack Obama, and Secretary Hillary Clinton have all stated the danger in embracing illegal immigration and ignoring the laws we have on the books.

Such quotes include:

“Illegal Immigration is wrong, plain and simple. Until the American people are convinced we will stop future flows of illegal immigration, we will make no progress.” -Senator Chuck Schumer, 2009

“We simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented and unchecked” -Barack Obama, 2005

“I voted numerous times… to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in. And I do think you have to control your borders.” -Hillary Clinton, 2008

Wanting to know if opponents of Trump’s border wall had opinions on these past quotes from Democrat leaders, Campus Reform's Cabot Phillips headed to American University.

But there’s a catch… the students were told the quotes actually came from President Trump.

Upon hearing the quotes, students said Trump’s words were “dehumanizing,” “problematic,” and “jingoist.”

“I just really think it’s hateful speech,” one student said, while another added, “the way he’s referring to people across the wall is dehumanizing.”

One student said the comments held racist undertones, claiming “there are racial biases deeply embedded in there.”

But this was all before they knew these quotes were actually coming from political idols of theirs. 

Watch the full video to see their reactions to being told Democrats actually the statements. 

Published:1/8/2019 6:54:37 PM
[Markets] Debt, Dope, & Casinos: Chicago Is Circling The Drain

Authored by Simon Black via SovereignMan.com,

While the federal government is slowly careening toward permanent, fiscal disaster, many state governments (which don’t have the power of the printing press) are already staring into the abyss…

Take Illinois, for example. It’s the most broke state in the US with nearly $250 billion in debt. And it only brings in enough in taxes each year to cover 92% of its expenses… so the problem is getting worse.

Good thing Rahm “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste” Emmanuel is the current Mayor of Chicago. You may remember, the above quote was from Rahm’s days as Obama’s Chief of Staff, as told to the Wall Street Journalduring the depths of the Great Financial Crisis…

What followed was the greatest monetary experiment known to man.

Now Rahm has another crisis on his hands – Chicago’s woefully underfunded pensions. And he’s reaching into his old bag of tricks.

Governments can only kick the can down the road for so long. Eventually, they’ve got to make some tough decisions – like who they’re going to default on. Despite the promises made by certain political representatives, it’s impossible for everyone to have everything…

And today, Rahm must choose…

Either Chicago defaults on the pension promises it’s made to city workers or it defaults on its massive debt. It’s simple arithmetic.

Rahm, it seems, has chosen the latter.

Chicago’s pension funds are only 26% funded (meaning it only has enough cash to pay out a pathetic 26% of what’s promised). And with the city’s dismal fiscal situation, that hole isn’t getting plugged on its own.

So Rahm proposed issuing $10 billion of debt to shore up the city’s pensions. The only government solution for debt problems today, it seems, is still more debt…

But even with that extra $10 billion, the city’s pensions will only be 50% funded.

Let me be clear… when you’ve got to take on debt for a chance of paying 50% of your pension obligations… you’re in default.

It gets better...

Rahm is pressuring the city to act quickly before interest rates increase more, which would make it more expensive for the city to finance its new debt.

So he’s essentially admitting the city couldn’t afford this new debt if rates increase 50 or 100 basis points. This is desperation.

OK… If interest states stay low, and Rahm can afford to issue these bonds, now we’ve only got to worry about future pension returns.

And Rahm says they can afford to issue the debt because the city’s pension funds have never seen an annualized return of lower than 8% for any 30-year period.

Most pension funds are grasping to that “magic” 8% number based on the past. But as we’ve written before, making those returns today is no easy feat. We’re at the tail end of 40 years of falling interest rates, which caused an insane bull market in stocks. It’s not likely the next 40 years will be as generous.

Already, at a market peak, pension funds are investing in riskier assets in hopes of achieving their break even returns.

If every single, little thing goes just perfect for the next 30 years, Chicago’s pensions may squeak by for awhile. What’s the likelihood of that happening? About zero.

Remember, a massive, 10-year bull market in stocks is nearing its end.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. And Rahm is out the door in May… so he won’t be around when the city has to default on its debt.

The federal government can still conjure money out of thin air. Cities and states don’t have that luxury. And like Chicago is doing today, we’ll see more of these tough decisions being made in the near future – the decision of who to default on.

There is one bright spot.

When discussing the bonds, Rahm did mention he supports legalizing marijuana and bringing casinos back to Chicago.

So if the pensions don’t work out, we’ve always got pot and gambling to restore our country to the glory days.

Published:1/8/2019 4:54:10 PM
[] Hawaiian Judge Overruled on Trump's Transgender Ban in the Military Well, the original judge wasn't technically Hawaiian. But she was/is a Hawaiian judge in spirit. An appeals court has reversed xer. Halfway through Obama's last year in office, the military also began the process to end the ban on transgenders... Published:1/8/2019 4:54:10 PM
[Immigration] Obama Appointed ICE Operative Slams Pelosi Over Her ‘Hate’ for Border Wall

The former head of ICE appointed by Barack Obama and fired by Trump is slamming the Democrats for opposing President Donald Trump's border wall plans.

The post Obama Appointed ICE Operative Slams Pelosi Over Her ‘Hate’ for Border Wall appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/8/2019 11:48:03 AM
[Immigration] ICE Operative Celebrated by Obama Slams Pelosi Over Her ‘Hate’ for Border Wall

The former head of ICE appointed by Barack Obama and fired by Trump is slamming the Democrats for opposing President Donald Trump's border wall plans.

The post ICE Operative Celebrated by Obama Slams Pelosi Over Her ‘Hate’ for Border Wall appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/8/2019 11:48:03 AM
[Markets] Zuesse: Why One Should Distrust The News

Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

An article by the BBC on “The world’s most nutritious foods" ranks the healthfulness of foods on the basis of an article at the supposedly scientific PLOSone journal, titled "Uncovering the Nutritional Landscape of Food”. That study is based on a dataset that entirely ignores antioxidant-content of foods. Antioxidant-content has come to be recognized during recent decades as constituting perhaps the most important factor in nutrition. It’s probably even more important than vitamin-content and than mineral-content and than protein, carbohydrate, and fat content. So, the basis upon which the article’s ranking was done is the factors that were known about, in 1950, to be important, but that are now known to be far less determinative of a person’s health and longevity than are foods’ anti-oxidant contents. Neither the article nor its underlying dataset even so much as just mentions “oxidant” anywhere. The authors of the BBC and PLOSone articles and of the underlying dataset were apparently entirely ignorant of the findings in nutritional research during the past 60+ years — findings about antioxidants, which have transformed our understanding of nutrition. (Furthermore, there were many other important methodological flaws producing that PLOSone ranking, not only its ignoring antioxidants.)

This is not unusual.

(Incidentally, “ORAC Values: Antioxidant Values of Foods & Beverages" is a ranking of foods on the basis of antioxidant-contents, as measured by ORAC; and this is likely a far more accurate indicator of the relative healthfulness of foods than is the ridiculous BBC-PLOSone ranking — but far fewer people are being exposed to it.)

Here’s another example of the untrustworthiness of news-media and of other allegedly nonfiction presentations, even in many ‘scientific’ journals — but this one will be an example from what has become overwhelmingly the world’s leading encyclopedia: Wikipedia.

The CIA-edited and -written Wikipedia writes about the anti-CIA Michel Chossudovsky, by saying against his organization, the Centre for Research on Globalization, that it “promotes a variety of conspiracy theories and falsehoods.[7][19][8][20][21][22][23].” However (just to take one example there), the 22nd footnote “[22]” brings the reader to a lying 11 September 2013 article in the neoconservative The New Republic. This TNR article says against the progressive organization Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity(VIPS) that “The sources for VIPS' most sensational claims, it turns out, are Canadian eccentric Michel Chossudovsky’s conspiracy site Global Research and far-right shock-jock Alex Jones’s Infowars.”

Wikipedia’s linking to that lying TNR article is part of Wikipedia’s ‘proof’ that both of those ‘conspiracy’ sites (the leftist Chossudovsky’s and the rightist Jones’s) are false (in other words: Wikipedia there is blatantly deceiving its readers, and is even assuming they’re stupid enough to believe such a ridiculous thing as that and wouldn’t even bother to check out Wikipedia's sources to find whether Wikipedia is the liar there, and not Chosudovsky’s site that is the liar).

It’s also assuming that the Obama regime was truthful when saying that Bashar al-Assad was behind the 21 August 2013 sarin gas attack in Ghouta Syria. However, that second assumption is likewise demonstrably false. The TNR’s article and its allegation against Assad regarding Ghouta were, in fact, disproven, on 14 January 2014, when leading US weapons-scientists Theodore Postol and Richard Lloyd studied closely all the evidence on that event and the US Government’s evidence that Assad had been associated with causing it, and the Lloyd-Postol finding was unequivocal that “the US Government’s Interpretation of the Technical Intelligence It Gathered Prior to and After the August 21 Attack CANNOT POSSIBLY BE CORRECT.”

Furthermore, Obama actually knew that he was falsifying. Seymour Hersh’s 17 April 2014 article in the London Review of Books, proved this. Obama was lying. Neither Lloyd-Postol nor Hersh is even referred to in today’s Wikipedia’s article. It still trusts Obama’s and TNR's proven lie that Assad (instead of Obama’s ‘Syrian rebels’ — a.k.a.: jihadists) had done that sarin attack. Wikipedia smears Chossudovsky with that proven lie, by simply reasserting the lie, and by assuming that Chossudovsky’s site is less trustworthy than Wikipedia (which is yet another lie). But that’s merely one of many lies that are in the Wikipedia article against Chossudovsky. No intelligent reader trusts Wikipedia — or any source (except sources that the reader has repeatedly confirmed to be true and never to have asserted falsehoods — unlike Wikipedia, which is full of distortions, cover-ups, and lies).

Intelligent skeptics dig down like this (which can be done only online, which is why print and broadcast ‘news’ is even less trustworthy than online news), and routinely find that there’s a very selective use of ‘evidence’ that’s behind most claims, and that the reality is that the ‘news’ is often false, and, worse than that, the ‘news’ is usually false for a purpose or purposes — that the ’news' is often fraudulent, that it is propaganda, PR, often even of the lying sort, instead of being honest and carefully verified research and reporting, such as it claims to be.

Usually, it’s false because the intention is to deceive, not because Wikipedia (or whatever other news-and-public-affairs medium one happens to be considering) merely goofed. As was noted here, Wikipedia is edited, and even written, by the CIA. (Remember what a “slam-dunk” about “Saddam’s WMD” they delivered to the George W. Bush regime in 2002?) Only sources that are approved by the CIA are linked to there. Some of the sources are true, but many are not. The article on Chossudovsky was done for the CIA by an asset of the CIA, about a critic of the CIA. The CIA represents America’s billionaires, and Chossudovsky doesn’t.

Extremely wealthy people buy, advertise their corporations in, and/or donate to, public-affairs media, not in order to profit from them as owners of them, so much as in order to influence public affairs by means of them. This is one of the ways in which to grab hold not only of the government, but even of the people who vote for the government and who also buy those billionaires’ corporations’ products and services. 

Trust should never be given; it should only be earned. Regarding what is public, trust is earned only rarely — and is never earned when that trust is in the major ‘news’-media (all of which are owned and controlled by billionaires and centi-millionaires who actually have interests in many corporations, including some they don’t control but only serve or else invest in). The major ‘news’-media don’t always lie, but they often lie - especially about foreign affairs, which are the main focus and concern of international corporations.

For example: where do you ever see, in the major ‘news’-media in The West, such high quality news-reporting as this, at the obscure news-site 21st Century Wire, from the great investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley? What even comes close to such honesty, at CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, MSNBC, CNN, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, The Times, New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Nation, Mother Jones, The Public Interest, National Review, Rolling Stone, Truthout, Truthdig, Alternet, Salon, etc.? Obviously, nothing, ever.

So: that’s why one should always distrust the news. The system here is designed for deceit of the public.

Here are other recent articles from me, describing other instances of this phenomenon, the routine deceiving of the public:

“Chomsky’s Unearned Prestige”

“MH17 TURNABOUT: Ukraine’s Guilt Now PROVEN. Ukraine Downed MH17 Malaysian Airliner in 2014. Conclusive Evidence Suppressed by Western Media. Blatant Misrepresentations in Sanctions on Russia.”

And here is something that brings together both Wikipedia and the MH17: 

“Wikipedia As Propaganda Not History — Mh17 As An Example”

Published:1/7/2019 11:18:55 PM
[Media] As networks fret over Trump’s border speech, Michelle Malkin counts the times Obama spoke in prime time

If Obama could get prime time coverage for a speech on the stimulus, why not a speech about the border situation?

The post As networks fret over Trump’s border speech, Michelle Malkin counts the times Obama spoke in prime time appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:1/7/2019 8:47:51 PM
[World] Obama-Era Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan Says Border Walls Work

The chief of U.S. Border Patrol during Barack Obama's presidency said Monday that President Trump is right in his view that border walls are effective.

Published:1/7/2019 8:18:21 PM
[In The News] Here Are The Obama-Era Officials Allegedly Behind The Alabama False Flag Campaign

By Chris White -

Two Obama-era officials were instrumental in the false flag operation in Alabama ahead of the special election in 2017  One of the Obama-era officials behind the misinformation campaign in Alabama finally opens up about his group’s role in the caper  Two  of the people involved in the social media misinformation ...

Here Are The Obama-Era Officials Allegedly Behind The Alabama False Flag Campaign 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:1/7/2019 6:48:21 PM
[Politics] Report: Pompeo Speech Will Slam Obama on Mideast Vision During a speech in Cairo, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will take the opportunity to criticize former President Barack Obama's Middle East vision, according to Politico sources. Published:1/7/2019 4:48:15 PM
[World] [Ilya Somin] Eminent Domain, Emergency Powers, and Trump's Wall

Can Trump really exploit emergency powers to use eminent domain to build his wall without additional congressional authorization? If he succeeds, conservatives are likely to regret the precedent he sets.

President Donald Trump claims he can use an "emergency" declaration to secure funding to use eminent domain to acquire land for his border wall, even without any additional congressional authorization. The validity of this claim is dubious at best. It is far from clear that emergency powers can be used to build the wall. Even if they can, it is questionable whether that would authorize the use of eminent domain to seize private property. And if the president succeeds in using an emergency declaration for such dubious purposes, it would set a precedent that conservative Republicans are likely to have reason to regret the next time a liberal Democrat occupies the White House.

In a recent New York Times op ed, Yale Law School Prof. Bruce Ackerman outlines some reasons why it would be illegal for Trump to use an emergency declaration to build the wall:

President Trump on Friday said that he was considering the declaration of a "national emergency" along the border with Mexico, which he apparently believes would allow him to divert funds from the military budget to pay for a wall, and to use military personnel to build it...

Begin with the basics. From the founding onward, the American constitutional tradition has profoundly opposed the president's use of the military to enforce domestic law. A key provision, rooted in an 1878 statute and added to the law in 1956, declares that whoever "willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force" to execute a law domestically "shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years" — except when "expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress...."

In response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans, Congress created an express exception to the rules, and authorized the military to play a backup role in "major public emergencies." But in 2008 Congress and President Bush repealed this sweeping exception. Is President Trump aware of this express repudiation of the power which he is threatening to invoke?

The statute books do contain a series of carefully crafted exceptions to the general rule. Most relevantly, Congress has granted the Coast Guard broad powers to enforce the law within the domestic waters of the United States. But there is no similar provision granting the other military services a comparable power to "search, seize and arrest" along the Mexican border.

Gerald Dickinson of the University of Pittsburgh (probably the leading academic expert on legal issues related to eminent domain and the wall) makes similar points here. On the other hand, Ackerman's Yale colleague John Fabian Witt argues that the issues are not as clear as the former suggests:

The truth is that the White House's emergency gambit reveals the full extent of Congress's dangerous delegation of emergency powers to the executive branch of the federal government. Elizabeth Goitein of the Brennan Center has collected a daunting list of statutes authorizing emergency powers, which is super helpful on this point. (Liza summarizes the statutes in a recent article at The Atlantic.) The upshot? Declaring a national emergency to build the president's ridiculous wall would be a national embarrassment. It ought to be unlawful, too. But whether declaring a national emergency to build a wall actually is unlawful under current circumstances turns out to be much closer question than it should be. The key statutory provisions are 10 U.S.C. 2808 (authorizing emergency reallocation of certain military construction funds) and 33 U.S.C. 2293 (authorizing emergency reallocation of certain civil works project funds).

A closer look at the two laws cited by Witt suggests it is far from evident that they authorize the diversion of funds to build a border wall. Section 2808 states that, if the president declares a "national emergency" that "requires the use of the armed forces," he can use military construction funds to "undertake military construction projects, and may authorize the Secretaries of the military departments to undertake military construction projects, not otherwise authorized by law that are necessary to support such use of the armed forces." It is far from clear whether any supposed emergency caused by undocumented immigration really "requires the use of the armed forces" or that a wall would be "necessary to support such use" of them. Indeed, as Ackerman points out, federal law actually forbids the use of the armed forces for domestic law enforcement within the United States (and immigration enforcement qualifies as such). Section 2293 also only applies to a declared war or emergency that "requires or may require use of the Armed Forces." Even then, it only allows diversion of funds to build "authorized civil works, military construction, and civil defense projects that are essential to the national defense" (emphasis added). In this context, "authorized" likely means "authorized" by Congress, not just by the executive branch.

It is also worth noting that nothing remotely resembling a national security "emergency" is actually occurring at the southern border, and that a border wall would do virtually nothing to protect the US against any kind of terrorism or security risk. It may well not even do much to reduce undocumented immigration.

Thus, I would tentatively conclude that Trump cannot use these provisions to appropriate funds for the construction of a border wall - even if he does declare a "national emergency." However, courts often give presidents undue deference on national security and immigration issues, and that problem could recur here. I would be lying if I said I could confidently predict the outcome of a legal battle over this issue. I should also emphasize that I am far from being an expert on the full range of dubious emergency powers Congress has delegated to the president. So it's possible I am overlooking some other possible source of wall-building authority.

Even if Trump can otherwise use an emergency declaration to transfer funds to build a border wall, it does not follow that he can seize property through the use of eminent domain. As the Supreme Court has long held, the power to use eminent domain has to be "expressly authorized" under the law. Such authorization cannot simply be assumed or inferred. None of the emergency delegations of power for construction projects discussed above "expressly" authorize the use of eminent domain for purposes that are not otherwise authorized by Congress. If it is not clear whether eminent domain is authorized or not, courts are generally required to conclude that it isn't. Congress could, of course, solve that problem by giving Trump the authorization he needs. But the whole reason why Trump is considering using an emergency declaration is because Congress refuses to do that.

Finally, as Gerald Dickinson points out in an insightful Washington Post column, under the original meaning of the Constitution, it is likely that the federal government does not even have the power to use eminent domain within states (as opposed to on federal territories) in the first place. Dickinson relies on an important Yale Law Journal article on this subject by my Volokh Conspiracy co-blogger Will Baude (I discussed the implications of Will's work on this here). As Dickinson recognizes, it is highly unlikely that the Supreme Court will overturn longstanding precedent granting the federal government that power (even if wrongly). Still, it is ironic that conservative Republicans who claim to be originalists are willing to endorse what would be a massive constitutionally dubious use of eminent domain by the federal government - one of the largest federal takings in all of American history.

As Dickinson has emphasized in previous works on this subject (see here and here), the federal government owns less than one third of the land needed to build the wall. The rest would have to be seized from numerous private owners, Native American tribes, and state governments. That is likely to be both costly and time-consuming. It would also open the door to serious abuses of the kind we have seen in many previous eminent domain cases, including those undertaken for past, much smaller border barriers, in which the Department of Homeland Security compiled an awful record of violating procedural rules and undercompensating owners.

If Trump is able to overcome legal obstacles and use an emergency declaration to secure funds for the wall without congressional authorization and use eminent domain to seize the land he needs, conservatives are likely to have good reason to regret the precedent it would set. The same powers could easily be used by the next Democratic president for purposes that the right would hate.

Consider a scenario where Elizabeth Warren wins the presidency in 2020, but Republicans in Congress refuse to allocate funds she claims are necessary to combat climate change and institute the gigantic "Green New Deal" program many progressives advocate. President Warren could then declare climate change to be a "national emergency" and start reallocating various military and civilian funds to build all kinds of "green" construction projects. She could declare that climate change is a threat to national security, and use the Army Corps of Engineers and other military agencies to participate in the project.

Indeed, the claim that climate change is a menace to national security is at least as plausible as the claim that undocumented immigrants on the Mexican border are. The Obama Administration Department of Defense even published a report on the subject in 2014. And, of course, if President Warren decides she needs to seize some private property to carry out her plans, she could cite the Trump precedent to use eminent domain for that purpose.And this is just one of many ways in which liberal Democrats could exploit the sorts of powers Trump claims here.

Both Democrats and Republicans often fail to consider the long-term effects of presidential power-grabs they support when their party occupies the White House. Many conservatives seem intent on repeating that mistake here.

Published:1/7/2019 4:48:15 PM
[Corruption] From the first Bush Presidency, 9-11, Barack Obama, to Gender Confusion, Decades of Destruction of America from Within

The push for a New World Order where all nations lose their sovereignty and accept world laws began in 1990 with the George H W Bush presidency.

The post From the first Bush Presidency, 9-11, Barack Obama, to Gender Confusion, Decades of Destruction of America from Within appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/7/2019 4:19:08 PM
[Corruption] From the first Bush Presidency, 9-11, Barack Obama, to Gender Confusion, Decades of Destruction of America from Within

The push for a New World Order where all nations lose their sovereignty and accept world laws began in 1990 with the George H W Bush presidency.

The post From the first Bush Presidency, 9-11, Barack Obama, to Gender Confusion, Decades of Destruction of America from Within appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/7/2019 4:19:08 PM
[Politics] Hypocrite famous actor fully endorses Rashida Tlaib’s ‘motherf****er’ comment about Trump… A famous actor who once called Tea Party Republicans ‘racist’ in late 2011 for wanting to defeat Obama in the 2012 elections has just fully endorsed Rashida Tlaib’s ‘mother******’ comment from the . . . Published:1/7/2019 3:46:57 PM
[Politics] Hypocrite famous actor fully endorses Rashida Tlaib’s ‘motherf****er’ comment about Trump… A famous actor who once called Tea Party Republicans ‘racist’ in late 2011 for wanting to defeat Obama in the 2012 elections has just fully endorsed Rashida Tlaib’s ‘mother******’ comment from the . . . Published:1/7/2019 3:46:57 PM
[Politics] Obama: America Needs 'New Blood' in Leadership Former President Barack Obama said that political leaders must welcome “new blood,” and make a “commitment to human dignity,” in remarks at a private reception in Hawaii, the Honolulu Civil Beat reports. Published:1/7/2019 12:17:13 PM
[Politics] 37% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

Thirty-seven percent (37%) 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 January 3.

This week’s finding is down two points from last week  and the lowest since early March. This finding has been running in the 40s for most weeks this year after being 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 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from January 2-3, 2019. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 3 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:1/7/2019 12:17:13 PM
[2019 News] Space Abortion Is the Final Frontier Space Abortion Is the Final Frontier. Obama is probably kicking himself that he didn’t think of this while he was president. Published:1/7/2019 12:17:12 PM
[Media] OMG we agree! Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accidentally uses Obama administration in making her case for budget cuts

Like many people on the Left, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seems to think government only started when Trump became president. Seriously. Do these folks really not understand that the issues and problems we’re facing today have been in the making for DECADES? You know what, don’t answer that. For example, AOC seems to think child detention camps […]

The post OMG we agree! Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accidentally uses Obama administration in making her case for budget cuts appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:1/7/2019 11:48:17 AM
[Markets] New Studies Show Pundits Are Wrong About Russian Social-Media Involvement In US Politics

Authored by Aaron Mate via The Nation,

Far from being a sophisticated propaganda campaign, it was small, amateurish, and mostly unrelated to the 2016 election...

The release of two Senate-commissioned reports has sparked a new round of panic about Russia manipulating a vulnerable American public on social media. Headlines warn that Russian trolls have tried to suppress the African-American votepromote Green Party candidate Jill Steinrecruit “assets,” and “sow discord” or “hack the 2016 election” via sex-toy ads and Pokémon Go. “The studies,” writes David Ignatius of The Washington Post, “describe a sophisticated, multilevel Russian effort to use every available tool of our open society to create resentment, mistrust and social disorder,” demonstrating that the Russians, “thanks to the Internet…seem to be perfecting these dark arts.” According to Michelle Goldberg of The New York Times, “it looks increasingly as though” Russian disinformation “changed the direction of American history” in the narrowly decided 2016 election, when “Russian trolling easily could have made the difference.”

The reports, from the University of Oxford’s Computational Propaganda Research Project and the firm New Knowledge, do provide the most thorough look at Russian social-media activity to date. With an abundance of data, charts, graphs, and tables, coupled with extensive qualitative analysis, the authors scrutinize the output of the Internet Research Agency (IRA) the Russian clickbait firm indicted by special counsel Robert Muellerin February 2018. On every significant metric, it is difficult to square the data with the dramatic conclusions that have been drawn.

  • 2016 Election Content: The most glaring data point is how minimally Russian social-media activity pertained to the 2016 campaign. The New Knowledge report acknowledges that evaluating IRA content “purely based on whether it definitively swung the election is too narrow a focus,” as the “explicitly political content was a small percentage.” To be exact, just “11% of the total content” attributed to the IRA and 33 percent of user engagement with it “was related to the election.” The IRA’s posts “were minimally about the candidates,” with “roughly 6% of tweets, 18% of Instagram posts, and 7% of Facebook posts” having “mentioned Trump or Clinton by name.”

  • Scale: The researchers claim that “the scale of [the Russian] operation was unprecedented,” but they base that conclusion on dubious figures. They repeat the widespread claim that Russian posts “reached 126 million people on Facebook,” which is in fact a spin on Facebook’s own guess. “Our best estimate,” Facebook’s Colin Stretch testified to Congress in October 2017, “is that approximately 126 million people may have been served one of these [IRA] stories at some time during the two year period” between 2015 and 2017. According to Stretch, posts generated by suspected Russian accounts showing up in Facebook’s News Feed amounted to “approximately 1 out of 23,000 pieces of content.”

  • Spending: Also hurting the case that the Russians reached a large number of Americans is that they spent such a microscopic amount of money to do it. Oxford puts the IRA’s Facebook spending between 2015 and 2017 at just $73,711. As was previously known, about $46,000 was spent on Russian-linked Facebook ads before the 2016 election. That amounts to about 0.05 percent of the $81 million spent on Facebook ads by the Clinton and Trump campaigns combined. A recent disclosure by Google that Russian-linked accounts spent $4,700 on platforms in 2016 only underscores how minuscule that spending was. The researchers also claim that the IRA’s “manipulation of American political discourse had a budget that exceeded $25 million USD.” But that number is based on a widely repeated error that mistakes the IRA’s spending on US-related activities for its parent project’s overall global budget, including domestic social-media activity in Russia.

  • Sophistication: Another reason to question the operation’s sophistication can be found by simply looking at its offerings. The IRA’s most shared pre-election Facebook post was a cartoon of a gun-wielding Yosemite Sam. Over on Instagram, the best-received image urged users to give it a “Like” if they believe in Jesus. The top IRA post on Facebook before the election to mention Hillary Clinton was a conspiratorial screed about voter fraud. It’s telling that those who are so certain Russian social-media posts affected the 2016 election never cite the posts that they think actually helped achieve that end. The actual content of those posts might explain why.

  • Covert or Clickbait Operation? Far from exposing a sophisticated propaganda campaign, the reports provide more evidence that the Russians were actually engaging in clickbait capitalism: targeting unique demographics like African Americans or evangelicals in a bid to attract large audiences for commercial purposes. Reporters who have profiled the IRA have commonly described it as “a social media marketing campaign.” Mueller’s indictment of the IRA disclosed that it sold “promotions and advertisements” on its pages that generally sold in the $25-$50 range. “This strategy,” Oxford observes, “is not an invention for politics and foreign intrigue, it is consistent with techniques used in digital marketing.” New Knowledge notes that the IRA even sold merchandise that “perhaps provided the IRA with a source of revenue,” hawking goods such as T-shirts, “LGBT-positive sex toys and many variants of triptych and 5-panel artwork featuring traditionally conservative, patriotic themes.”

  • “Asset Development”: Lest one wonder how promoting sex toys might factor into a sophisticated influence campaign, the New Knowledge report claims that exploiting “sexual behavior” was a key component of the IRA’s “expansive” “human asset recruitment strategy” in the United States. “Recruiting an asset by exploiting a personal vulnerability,” the report explains, “is a timeless espionage practice.” The first example of this timeless espionage practice is of an ad featuring Jesusconsoling a dejected young man by telling him: “Struggling with the addiction to masturbation? Reach out to me and we will beat it together.” It is unknown if this particular tactic brought any assets into the fold. But New Knowledge reports that there was “some success with several of these human-activation attempts.” That is correct: The IRA’s online trolls apparently succeeded in sparking protests in 2016, like several in Florida where “it’s unclear if anyone attended”; “no people showed up to at least one,” and “ragtag groups” showed up at others, including one where video footage captured a crowd of eight people. The most successful effort appears to have been in Houston, where Russian trolls allegedly organized dueling rallies pitting a dozen white supremacists against several dozen counter-protesters outside an Islamic center.

Based on all of this data, we can draw this picture of Russian social-media activity: It was mostly unrelated to the 2016 election; microscopic in reach, engagement, and spending; and juvenile or absurd in its content. This leads to the inescapable conclusion, as the New Knowledge study acknowledges, that “the operation’s focus on elections was merely a small subset” of its activity. They qualify that “accurate” narrative by saying it “misses nuance and deserves more contextualization.” Alternatively, perhaps it deserves some minimal reflection that a juvenile social-media operation with such a small focus on elections is being widely portrayed as a seismic threat that may well have decided the 2016 contest.

Doing so leads us to conclusions that have nothing to do with Russian social-media activity, nor with the voters supposedly influenced by it. Take the widespread speculation that Russian social-media posts may have suppressed the black vote. That a Russian troll farm sought to deceive black audiences and other targeted demographics on social media is certainly contemptible. But in criticizing that effort there’s no reason to assume it was successful—and yet that’s exactly what the pundits did. “When you consider the narrow margins by which [Donald Trump] won [Michigan and Wisconsin], and poor minority turnout there, these Russian voter suppression efforts may have been decisive,” former Obama adviser David Axelrod commented. “Black voter turnout declined in 2016 for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election,” The New York Times conspicuously notes, “but it is impossible to determine whether that was the result of the Russian campaign.”

That it is even considered possible that the Russian campaign impacted the black vote displays a rather stunning paternalism and condescension. Would Axelrod, Times reporters, or any of the others floating a similarscenario accept a suggestion that their own votes might be susceptible to silly social-media posts mostly unrelated to the election? If not, what does that tell us about their attitudes toward the people that they presume could be so vulnerable?

Entertaining the possibility that Russian social-media posts impacted the election outcome requires more than just a contemptuous view of average voters. It also requires the abandonment of elementary standards of logic, probability, and arithmetic. We now have corroboration of this judgment from an unlikely source. Just days after the New Knowledge report was released, The New York Times reported that the company had carried out “a secret experiment” in the 2017 Alabama Senate race. According to an internal document, New Knowledge used “many of the [Russian] tactics now understood to have influenced the 2016 elections,” going so far as to stage an “elaborate ‘false flag’ operation” that promoted the idea that the Republican candidate, Roy Moore, was backed by Russian bots. The fallout from the operation has led Facebook to suspend the accounts of five people, including New Knowledge CEO Jonathon Morgan.

The Times discloses that the project had a budget of $100,000, but adds that it “was likely too small to have a significant effect on the race.” A Democratic operative concurs, telling the Times that “it was impossible that a $100,000 operation had an impact.”

The Alabama Senate race cost $51 million. If it was impossible for a $100,000 New Knowledge operation to affect a 2017 state election, then how could a comparable - perhaps even less expensive - Russian operation possibly impact a $2.4 billion US presidential election in 2016?

On top of straining credulity, fixating on barely detectable and trivial social-media content also downplays myriad serious issues. As the journalist Ari Berman has tirelessly pointed out, the 2016 election was “the first presidential contest in 50 years without the full protections of the [Voting Rights Act],” one that was conducted amid “the greatest rollback of voting rights since the act was passed” in 1965. Rather than ruminating over whether they were duped by Russian clickbait, reporters who have actually spoken to black Midwest voters have found that political disillusionment amid stagnant wages, high inequality, and pervasive police brutality led many to stay home.

And that leads us to perhaps a key reason why elites in particular are so fixated on the purported threat of Russian meddling: It deflects attention from their own failures, and the failings of the system that grants them status as elites. During the campaign, corporate media outlets handed Donald Trump billions of dollars worth of air time because, in the words of the now ousted CBS exec Les Moonves: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS…. The money’s rolling in and this is fun.” Not wanting to interrupt the fun, these outlets have every incentive to breathlessly cover Russiagate and amplify comparisons of stolen Democratic Party e-mails and Russian social-media posts to Pearl Harbor9/11Kristallnacht, and “cruise missiles.”

Having lost the presidential election to a reality-TV host, the Democratic Party leadership is arguably the most incentivized to capitalize on the Russia panic. They continue to oblige. Like clockwork, former Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook seized on the new Senate studies to warnthat “Russian operatives will try to divide Democrats again in the 2020 primary, making activists unwitting accomplices.” By “unwitting accomplices,” Mook is presumably referring to the progressive Democrats who have protested the DNC leadership’s collusion with the Clinton campaign and bias against Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary. Mook is following a now familiar Democratic playbook: blaming Russia for the consequences of the party elite’s own actions. When an uproar arose over Trump campaign data firm Cambridge Analytica in early 2018, Hillary Clinton was quoted posing what she dubbed the “real question”: “How did the Russians know how to target their messages so precisely to undecided voters in Wisconsin, or Michigan, or Pennsylvania?”

In fact, the Russians spent a grand total of $3,102 in these three states, with the majority of that paltry sum not even during the general election but during the primaries, and the majority of the ads were not even about candidates but about social issues. The total number of times ads were targeted at Wisconsin (54), Michigan (36), Pennsylvania (25) combined is less than the 152 times that ads were targeted at the blue state of New York. Wisconsin and Michigan also happen to be two states that Clinton infamously, and perilously, avoided visiting in the campaign’s final months.

The utility of Russia-baiting goes far beyond absolving elites of responsibility for their own failures. Hacked documents have recently revealed that a UK-government charity has waged a global propaganda operation in the name of “countering Russian disinformation.” The project, known as the Integrity Initiative, is run by military intelligence officials with funding from the British Foreign Office and other government sources, including the US State Department and NATO. It works closely with “clusters” of sympathetic journalists and academics across the West, and has already been outed for waging a social-media campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The group’s Twitter account promoted articles that painted Corbyn as a “useful idiot” in support of “the Kremlin cause”; criticized his communications director, Seumas Milne, for his alleged “work with the Kremlin agenda”; and said, “It’s time for the Corbyn left to confront its Putin problem.”

The Corbyn camp is far from the only progressive force to be targeted with this smear tactic. That it is revealed to be part of a Western government–backed operation is yet another reason to consider the fixation with Russian social-media activity in a new light. There is no indication that the disinformation spread by employees of a St. Petersburg troll farm has had a discernible impact on the US electorate. The barrage of claims to the contrary is but one element of an infinitely larger chorus from failed political elites, sketchy private firms, shadowy intelligence officials, and credulous media outlets that inculcates the Western public with fears of a Kremlin “sowing discord.” Given how divorced the prevailing alarm is from the actual facts—and the influence of those fueling it—we might ask ourselves whose disinformation is most worthy of concern.

Published:1/6/2019 11:14:29 PM
[Markets] Petition Calls To Rename Fifth Avenue In Front Of Trump Tower: "President Barack H. Obama Avenue"

Almost 17,000 people have signed a petition in New York City to rename the street in front of Trump Tower after former Barack Hussein Obama II.

 A MoveOn petition is gaining traction over the weekend would rename the stretch of Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th streets to be "President Barack H. Obama Avenue."

The petition would force President Trump to change the address of his Trump Tower building, where Donald Trump 2020 presidential campaign will be headquartered on the 15th floor, said The Hill

As of Sunday afternoon, the petition had approximately 16,878 signatures, a 390% jump in signatures since Friday morning. 

“We request the New York City Mayor and City Council do the same by renaming a block of Fifth Avenue after the former president who saved our nation from the Great Recession, achieved too many other accomplishments to list, and whose two terms in office were completely scandal-free,” the petition states.

A stretch of highway in  Los Angeles was recently renamed after the former commander in chief.

"The City of Los Angeles recently honored former President Barack Obama by renaming a stretch of the 134 Freeway near Downtown LA in his honor," the petition notes.

For the roadway to be renamed, the New York City Council would have to approve the bill and Mayor Bill de Blasio would have to sign off on it.

Last month, the council voted to name a city street after the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan.

According to NPR News, the council voted 48-0 during its last meeting of 2018 to co-name the street and several more after the group and other notable musicians, such as Notorious B.I.G. (born Christopher Wallace), Woody Guthrie and poet Audre Lorde.

The move to rename the street in front of Trump Tower seems very far-fetched, but with the council on a tear renaming streets after legendary hip-hop stars, it would not shock us if Trump Tower one day is sitting on "President Barack H. Obama Avenue."

Published:1/6/2019 8:11:44 PM
[Markets] Schumer Snubs Trump "Wall" Memes As White House Offers "Fence" Compromise

Like his relative Amy Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has never been widely regarded for his sense of humor. So it's hardly surprising that after another round of negotiations to end the government shutdown - now in its 15th day - ended with "little progress" on Saturday, a clearly frustrated Schumer lashed out at President Trump, demanding Trump stop with the memes and also stop "hurting people".

In a response to Trump's latest "Wall is Coming" tweet, which incorporated imagery from the popular HBO drama Game of Thrones. Schumer demanded "enough with the memes."

Of course, by refusing to compromise with Republicans, Democrats bear some of the responsibility for the shutdown that is leaving cash strapped government workers in an increasingly precarious financial position (though President Trump insisted on Friday that lenders and landlords should go easy on gov't employees, by guaranteeing that they would be "good for the money").

And while Schumer continues to reject anything with the word 'wall' in it...Trump's 'hand of the king', Mick Mulvaney, appeared to offer a semantics-based compromise during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press". During the interview, Mulvaney said that the president has shown a "willingness" to compromise with Democrats to reopen the government, which has remained partially closed for 15 days.

"[The president] was willing to agree, and he mentioned this at the Rose Garden press conference, to take a concrete wall off the table," Mulvaney said.

In a separate interview on CNN's State of the Union, Mulvaney said that the latest round of negotiations with Democrats had been "disappointing" and that they were there largely to stall on reopening the government. 

But instead of focusing on Trump's penchant for meme warfare, Schumer and his Democratic colleagues might want to instead focus on explaining what exactly has changed since the days when they, too, advocated for stricter immigration policies, including - you guessed it - a wall along the Southern border.

In case they had forgotten - or hoped that everybody else had - President Trump reminded them in a series of tweets on Sunday where he dredged up quotes about border security and the wall uttered by President Obama and Hillary Clinton.

This isn't the first time Trump has pointed to the Democrats' border-wall hypocrisy. And in case readers thought Schumer might have been an exception, allow us to confirm: He isn't. Here's a video from 2009 where Schumer declares "illegal immigration is wrong."

In fact, before Trump supported tighter border security, tougher scrutiny for illegal immigrants and building a wall across the Southern border, Democrats openly supported both measures.

In a press conference on Sunday before heading to Camp David where he planned to discuss border security with his aides, Trump boasted that he could solve the shutdown in 20 minutes during talks with Schumer and Pelosi. Given their past statements, it's somewhat surprising that they haven't already reached a compromise. Though, we can think of a few reasons why the Dems wouldn't want to be seen "caving" to the president so soon after retaking the House.

Published:1/6/2019 10:41:56 AM
[World] Marc Lotter Slams Ex-Obama Adviser Ben Rhodes' Response to Donald Trump Success

Marc Lotter, former press secretary to Vice President Mike Pence, blasted comments from former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes that compared the accomplishments of President Trump to his predecessor.

Published:1/6/2019 10:11:12 AM
[Markets] Clinton Crony Says Bernie Supporters Must Be Silenced For 2020 Primaries

Authored by Caitlin Johnsone via Medium.com

Well, like it or not the dust has barely settled from the November midterms and the 2020 presidential race is already underway. Campaigns are being launched, names are being floated, “Gosh look what an ordinary person I am!” videos are being live streamed from politicians’ kitchens, and we are already seeing many of the same toxic patterns from 2016 resurfacing from many of the same toxic people.

NBC News has published an op-ed by Republican political strategist-turned Clinton advisor and Dem strategist David Brock titled “Bernie Sanders’ fans can’t be allowed to poison another Democratic primary with personal attacks?—?Bashing Beto O’Rourke (and every other Democrat) doesn’t help liberals’ cause in 2020. It only helps Trump.” The article explicitly blames Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump on supporters of Bernie Sanders who criticized her during the primary, and makes it clear that such criticisms must be forcefully and aggressively fought against this time around.

“I’m hardly the only political observer who blames Hillary Clinton’s general election defeat to Donald Trump in part on personal attacks on Clinton first made by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and his backers,” Brock’s article begins. “Those attacks from her left laid the groundwork for copycat attacks lobbed by Donald Trump?—?and, in the process, helped hand the Supreme Court to the right-wing for a generation.”

Citing no evidence, Brock goes on to accuse journalists and social media users of staging a “coordinated effort” to “attack” Beto O’Rourke and other presidential hopefuls, as though coordination would be necessary for criticisms and questions to emerge about the voting records and campaign donations of public officials seeking the highest political office on the planet. The implication, of course, is that no criticisms of any kind should be leveled at Democratic presidential primary contestants, leaving narrative-shaping authority solely in the hands of the plutocratic media and beltway manipulators like David Brock.

Brock concludes his screed as follows:

In 2016, I ran a pro-Hillary SuperPAC which attempted to defend the candidate against false attacks, many of which came from or originated to her left. Though they were hardly in charge of our messaging, it was made very clear to us by our allies at her campaign headquarters that any efforts on our part to push back against the left-wing anti-Clinton brigades were unwelcome assistance; they feared alienating Sanders’ voters.

That head-in-the-sand posture was ultimately self-defeating.

Today, Democrats are rightly laser-focused on picking a winner in 2020, and the stakes are just too high to let bad faith actors?—?whose real aim is to smear Democrats as no different than Republicans?—?stage inter-party schisms. If Sanders decides to run again this time, he should focus on policy and eschew character attacks on Democrats?—?and admonish his supporters to do the same. Otherwise, they put the core values we all share at risk, yet again.

It is unclear what “character attacks” Brock is claiming Sanders made; the entirety of criticisms leveled by Sanders and the overwhelming majority of his supporters were directed at the policy decisions Clinton made in her political career and the shady places she took money from. What is clear is that the pro-Hillary SuperPAC he is referring to was the infamous “Correct the Record” troll operation, which employed literal shills to deceitfully pose as grassroots Hillary supporters online whose job was to attack anyone who criticized her. This despicable tactic was incalculably disruptive to online political discourse in 2016, and Brock clearly wants to implement a far more aggressive version of his operation in the 2020 primaries. 

 

“Let’s be clear about what’s going on here: this is a deliberate Dem Party effort to try to intimidate journalists and advocacy groups into not reporting on voting records and campaign donations,” tweeted progressive investigative journalist David Sirota in response to Brock’s article, adding, “Wanna know why I rejected working for this guy? That’s why.” Sirota had agreed to work with Brock on a new outlet billed as “The left’s answer to Breitbart” in early 2017, but later backed out of the project. Brock’s liberal Breitbart never materialized.

If you want a quality illustration of what a manipulative sociopath David Brock is, contrast his obnoxious, dishonest accusatory screed with his open letter to Sanders at the beginning of 2017 titled “Dear Senator Sanders: I’m with You in the Fight Ahead”. Brock apologized for his harsh attacks on Sanders, gushed about the way Bernie “electrified millions” with his campaign and pledged to work with him to harness that energy against Trump. Brock wanted something from Sanders (control of his base in this case), so he smothered him in flattery; now people are criticizing Beto “Like Obama, only white” O’Rourke, and all of a sudden Sanders is back to being a red commie menace whose “character attacks” are to blame for Hillary Clinton’s loss. Brock has no relationship with truth beyond his ability to twist it to get things he wants.

Hillary Clinton is to blame for Hillary Clinton’s loss, actually, as well as the strategists like David Brock who were behind her spectacular failure to defeat a historically unpopular reality TV star Republican. Establishment Democrats are trying to sell the narrative that “You progressives disobeyed us in 2016 and what happened was your fault; you will obey us this time,” while progressives are saying “No, you ignored us in 2016 and what happened was your fault; you will listen to us this time.” The early 2020 presidential race is repeating the same battle of official narrative manufactured by corporate elites versus the organic zeitgeist?—?the way ordinary people are feeling inside as a result of the conditions their government has put them in. I’m not sure how much coverage I’ll be giving to the US presidential election this time around, but it will be interesting to see how this dynamic plays out.

_________________________

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Published:1/6/2019 8:40:58 AM
[Donald Trump] Hello Walls (Scott Johnson) Because its mission is enlightenment, the Washington Post investigated President Trump’s assertion that Barack Obama’s upscale home in the District of Columbia is protected by a 10-foot wall. The Post’s story is accessible here via Outline. The Post’s story generated numerous follow-on stories regurgitating the Post’s investigation. You can see the roster here via Google. I would use the adjective “countless” rather than “numerous” to log the search results, though Published:1/6/2019 8:12:32 AM
[Markets] Record Numbers Of Women And Poor Americans Want To Leave The U.S.

While Donald Trump has spent much of his presidency focused on the number of people who want to get into the U.S., since he took office, record numbers of Americans have wanted to get out according to a recent Gallup poll.

Though relatively average by global standards, the 16% of Americans overall who said in 2017 and again in 2018 that they would like to permanently move to another country - if they could - is higher than the average levels during either the George W. Bush (11%) or Barack Obama administration (10%).

While Gallup's World Poll does not ask people about their political leanings, most of the recent surge in Americans' desire to migrate has come among groups that typically lean Democratic and that have disapproved of Trump's job performance so far in his presidency: women, young Americans and people in lower-income groups.

During the first two years of the Trump administration, a record-high one in five U.S. women (20%) said they would like to move to another country permanently if they could. This is twice the average for women during the Obama (10%) or Bush years (11%) and almost twice the level among men (13%) under Trump. Before the Trump years, there was no difference between men's and women's desires to move.

The 30% of Americans younger than 30 who would like to move also represents a new high - and it is also the group in which the gender gap is the largest. Forty percent of women younger than 30 said they would like to move, compared with 20% of men in this age group. These gender gaps narrow with age and eventually disappear after age 50.

Desire to migrate among the poorest 20% of Americans during Trump's first two years is also at record levels. It is more than twice as high as the average during Obama's two terms. So far under Trump, three in 10 Americans (30%) in the poorest 20% say they would like to migrate if they could, compared with an average of 13% under Obama.

But more than anything else, Trump himself may be the primary motivator. Regression analysis shows that regardless of differences by gender, age or income -- if Americans disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president, they are more likely to want to leave the U.S. Overall, 22% of Americans who disapproved of Trump's job performance during his first two years said they would like to move, compared with 7% who approved.

Destination Canada?

Before and after Trump's election, many Americans -- particularly Democrats -- threatened to move to Canada (as Republicans did after Obama was elected). Canada always has been one of the top desired destinations for Americans, but that desire has only increased since Trump's election. In 2018, more than one in four Americans (26%) who would like to move named Canada as the place they would like to go, up from 12% in 2016.

It's important to note that people's desire to migrate is typically much higher than their intention to do so -- as such, it is unlikely that Americans will be flocking to the Canadian border. In fact, since Trump's election, Canadian statistics show only a modest uptick in the number of Americans who have moved to Canada.

Bottom Line

After years of remaining flat, the number of Americans - particularly young women - who desire to leave the U.S. permanently is on the rise. This increase is concerning, but none of this suggests that the U.S. is going to suddenly see a mass migration in which it could lose as many as 40% of its young women.

However, the "Trump effect" on Americans' desire to migrate is a new manifestation of the increasing political polarization in the U.S. Before Trump took office, Americans' approval or disapproval of the president was not a push factor in their desire to migrate.

Published:1/5/2019 9:07:03 PM
[Markets] Egypt Demands That CBS Interview With President Sisi Not Air

Egypt has demanded that CBS not air an impending broadcast of a 60 Minutes interview with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who had willingly sat down with Scott Pelley in New York for the segment. 

According to CBS, "The 60 Minutes team was contacted by the Egyptian Ambassador shortly after and told the interview could not be aired," however the network was not swayed, but affirmed that "The interview will be broadcast on 60 Minutes, Sunday, January 6 at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT on CBS."

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, via Reuters

The rare interview with Sisi, who came to power as head of the military junta that unseated Muslim Bortherhood president Mohamed Morsi in a coup d'état after popular protests gripped the country, spends considerable time on Sisi's human rights record. It is likely this segment of the as yet unpublished full interview that most angered the Egyptians. 

A CBS preview of the 60 Minutes program highlights perhaps one of the controversial moments which may have led to the Egyptian government demand, wherein Sisi is pressed over political prisoners under an increasingly autocratic regime:

Human Rights Watch estimates el-Sisi, a former army general, is holding 60,000 political prisoners. "I don't know where they got that figure. I said there are no political prisoners in Egypt. Whenever there is a minority trying to impose their extremist ideology we have to intervene regardless of their numbers," he tells Pelley.

Related questions on his abysmal human rights record apparently led to the attempt at Egyptian government censorship, per the CBS statement:

But other questions, including jailing his opponents to maintain his regime and the massacre of 800 civilians by Egypt when he was Defense Minister were not the kind of news his government wanted broadcast

An intro teaser to the segment focuses on the plight of American citizen Mohamed Soltan, who spent nearly two years in an Egyptian prison after his arrest while taking pictures of a 2013 masscre of protesters at the hands of police. Soltan said, "I was targeted because I had a camera. I had a phone and I was tweeting."

Preview of the 60 Minutes interview, which CBS says it plans to air Sunday evening, despite Egypt's pressuring the network.

Soltan alleged he was tortured while held in Sisi's political prisons before the Obama administration secured his release. During the 60 Minutes interview, Sisi denied these and other allegations, blaming prior unrest and violence on the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. 

Another interesting series of statements pre-released ahead of Sunday's air date are related to Israel. President Sisi said his country is working with Israel against ISIS  — something sure to be deeply controversial among his conservative Muslim-majority domestic population

Asked if this cooperation with Israel was the closest ever between two enemies that once were at war, he responds, "That is correct…We have a wide range of cooperation with the Israelis." The Egyptians are battling an estimated 1,000 ISIS-affiliated terrorists on its Sinai peninsula that they have allowed the Israelis to attack by air. CBS

The United States has also long seen Egypt as central to both regional counter-terror efforts and in ensuring Arab peace with Israel, but in mid-2017 the Trump administration cut or delayed hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid to Egypt over citing human rights concerns.

Historically over the past number of years the US has transferred about $1.5 billion annually to the Egyptian government. The US-Egypt relationship has largely been forged around support for the country's powerful military and intelligence bureaucracy. 

Published:1/5/2019 5:36:49 PM
[World] [Ilya Somin] Trump's Terrible Record on Property Rights

The President's recent threat to use "the military version of eminent domain" to seize property for his border wall is just the tip of a larger iceberg of policies inimical to constitutional property rights.

President Trump's recent threat to use "the military version of eminent domain" to seize property for his border wall highlights the ways in which building the wall would harm the property rights of Americans. Less widely recognized is the fact that the wall policy is just part of a larger pattern of administration policy initiatives and legal positions that threaten property rights on multiple fronts.

Though federal law allows the federal government to use eminent domain for purposes of building military facilities, including "fortifications," there is no special "military version" of eminent domain, as such. But whether Trump tries to use this law or some other one to seize property for the wall, the fact remains that less than one third of the land he would need is currently owned by the federal government. The rest would have to be seized from private owners, Native American tribes, and state governments. That would require the forcible displacement of hundreds or even thousands of homes, businesses, and other private facilities. It would be the largest such use of eminent domain in many years. Moreover, the record of previous condemnations for border barriers shows that the Department of Homeland Security has a notorious history of violating procedural rights and shortchanging property owners on the compensation they are due under the Constitution. The same sorts of abuses are likely to recur on a larger scale if Trump gets the money to build his much more extensive wall.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump claimed that victims of takings have nothing to complain about because "when eminent domain is used on somebody's property, that person gets a fortune." The history of border takings - and many other condemnations - proves otherwise.

The wall is far from the only administration policy that threatens property rights, however. There are several other almost equally troubling examples.

In 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinstituted asset forfeiture policies under which the federal government colludes with state and local law enforcement to seize large amounts of property with little or nor due process, and often from people who have never been convicted of any crime or even charged with one. While Sessions is gone, the asset forfeiture policy remains, and Trump himself is a strong supporter of broad asset forfeiture authority, even threatening to "destroy" the political career of a GOP state legislator who sought to curb it.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the US Army Corps of Engineers flooded thousands of homes and businesses in Houston, arguing that this was necessary to prevent even worse flooding elsewhere. When affected property owners sued for compensation under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, the federal government argued that no compensation is due in cases where the government floods the property "only" once - even if the flooding was done deliberately and inflicted enormous damage. If accepted by the courts, the "one free flood" rule would give the government a near-blank check to flood property (and perhaps damage or destroy it in other ways), so long as it was "just" a one-time occurrence. I don't claim that the administration should have simply conceded liability in the Hurricane Harvey cases. In some cases, it is not clear whether the plaintiffs' property was damaged by the Corps' actions, or whether it would have suffered comparable damage regardless, from natural causes. But the "one free flood" argument is an extremely dangerous and reprehensible position that goes far beyond contesting liability in individual cases where the facts are arguable.

Since Trump took office, the Supreme Court has heard two important property rights cases, Murr v. Wisconsin and Knick v. Township of Scott. The administration intervened on the wrong side in both cases. In Murr, the Justice Department filed an amicus brief supporting a rule that will often allow government to deny compensation for takings merely because the owner of the property in question also owns another adjacent lot. While the brief was initially drafted late in the Obama administration, the Trump administration decided to proceed with it and defend it in oral argument before the Court, despite requests by conservative property rights advocates urging them to desist.

In Knick, the Justice Department's amicus brief offers a dubious and hypercomplex "Klingon forehead" argument that would preserve large parts of the 1985 Williamson County decision, a deeply problematic ruling that creates a constitutional Catch 22 for property owners seeking to file cases challenging state and local government takings in federal court.

The administration's decision to involve itself in these two cases is all the more telling because both involve state and local governments. The federal government could easily have stayed out of them. An administration committed to protecting property rights could, of course, have filed briefs supporting the property owners.

There is one notable exception to the administration's otherwise troubling record on property rights: the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch, it turns out, is a strong critic of Kelo v. City of New London, the dubious 2005 decision in which the Supreme Court ruled that the government can take private property and transfer it to another private party in order to promote "economic development." The appointment is especially notable, given that Trump himself is a longstanding enthusiastic defender of Kelo. I suspect that Gorsuch got through in part because Trump simply did not know about his views on Kelo at the time he was appointed, and in part because the president has largely outsourced judicial selection to more conventional conservatives, most of whom do not share the president's views on this issue.

It is also likely the case that property rights were not a central focus in the administration's calculations on judicial appointments (including lower court appointees, some of whom also have good records on these issues). Brett Kavanaugh, the administration's other Supreme Court appointee, has virtually no known record on constitutional property rights issues, so it is not yet clear where he stands on them. Where the administration has made decisions on issues where property rights are a central focus of dispute, property owners have usually gotten the short of end of the stick, as the examples discussed above illustrate.

Some of the Trump administration's policies on these issues are similar to those of the Obama administration, which also had an awful record on property rights, including adopting positions so extreme that they led to multiple lopsided unanimous or near-unanimous defeats in Supreme Court takings cases. On asset forfeiture, however, Trump actually reversed an Obama policy that had strengthened protection for property owners. In any event, here, as elsewhere, Obama's poor record in this field is no excuse for Trump. The Republicans, after all, are supposed to be the party that supports property rights.

The administration's attacks on property rights may in part be a result of Trump's history of benefiting from eminent domain abuse, which is the likely origin of his support for Kelo. But the problem goes beyond his personal proclivities. It is part of a broader pattern under which the Trump-era Republican Party has gradually shifted from conservatism to nationalism, as its dominant ideology. Nationalists, like the European far-right movements whom Trump and his most committed supporters admire, generally favor extensive government intervention and control of the economy so long as the perceived beneficiaries are members of the "right" racial and ethnic groups. Thus, they are happy to downgrade property rights (and economic liberties) that might be obstacles to government control of the economy in the interests of "the nation."

Nationalists also are traditionally hostile to procedural protections for individual rights that might inhibit law enforcement or government acquisition of property supposedly needed for "national" purposes. The administration's policies on asset forfeiture and the wall obviously fit that template. The administration's stances on Knick, Murr, and the Houston flooding cases do not immediately implicate nationalist priorities. But undercutting constitutional protections for property rights in these instances can make it easier to seize or destroy property for nationalist purposes in the future.

The extent to which Trumpian nationalism consolidates and extends its control of the Republican Party remains to be seen. But the longer it lasts and the further it goes, the more the party is likely to be at best indifferent and at worst actively hostile to property rights.

NOTE: I should perhaps mention that the account of the administration's decision to oppose property rights in Murr v. Wisconsin, despite requests to the contrary by conservative property rights advocates, is based on my personal knowledge of the development of the case, in which I authored an amicus brief on behalf of nine state governments that supported the property owners. However, the views expressed in this post are purely my own and don't necessarily reflect those of my clients in that matter.

Published:1/5/2019 4:35:05 PM
[Political Cartoons] The Sword In The Stone – Ben Garrison Cartoon

By Ben Garrison -

Before Barack Obama was elected, he promised to end the war in Afghanistan by 2014. He also promised to end the Iraq war. Never happened. We’re still in both countries. The war in Afghanistan has cost US taxpayers one trillion dollars and has dragged on for almost 18 years. The ...

The Sword In The Stone – Ben Garrison Cartoon 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:1/5/2019 10:34:31 AM
[Markets] Government Shutdown Shows Why We Need To Decentralize National Parks

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

The federal government is in the midst of a partial "shutdown." Don't worry, there's still plenty of money flowing to a great many government departments. And even those workers who experience deferred salaries during the shutdown will almost certainly get their back pay paid in full.

But as always occurs during these so-called shutdowns, many of the most popular amenities offered by the federal government are being shut down. This includes the national parks such as Yosemite and Rocky Mountain National Park.

Back during the 2013 shutdown, under the Obama administration, the federal government took an especially punitive position. The administration sent armed government agents to shut down the parks. It sent in extrastaff to erect barriers around some monuments — monuments funded by private trusts — such as the World War II memorial in Washington, DC.

This time, the feds are being a little bit more laissez-faire about it.

Rather than sending armed guards barking threats and orders at visiting taxpayers, the administration is simply closing down services. Most of these "services" of course, won't be missed by most people. But when the government closes off all the bathrooms and outhouses, things can start to get messy.

And this, apparently is what's happening at parks such as Joshua Tree National Park, where the land along the roads is in danger of becoming one big outdoor latrine.

Some volunteers have attempted to address the issues:

"Once those port-a-potties fill up there's no amount of cleaning that will save them," said Sabra Purdy, who along with her husband, Seth, owns the rock-climbing guide service Cliffhanger Guides in the town of Joshua Tree.

The 40-year-old Purdy is among dozens of volunteers who have been collecting garbage, cleaning bathrooms and generally keep an eye on the park. Local business owners and park supporters are donating toiletries and cleaning supplies.

"People are doing it because we love this place and we know how trashed it'll get if we don't," she said.

It doesn't have to be this way.

Contrary to the myth that public lands would immediately be sold to rapacious developers and oil drillers were the lands to fall into the hands of state or local governments, the reality is that public lands such as those in national parks are usually viewed very favorably by surrounding communities and by the voters in the states in which they are located.

As tourist attractions, and as giant recreational areas for locals, public lands are quite valuable as indirect sources of revenue for both private- and government-sector institutions in the area.

The federal government, on the other hand, has no skin in the game when it comes to shutting down monuments and national parks thousands of miles from Capitol Hill. For the feds, it's all a political game in Washington, DC. What happens in the communities bordering federal lands — many of them rural — is but a mere afterthought to people like Nancy Pelosi. But at the local level, access to local tourist attractions could mean a restaurant's ability to pay its staff with income from tourists.

In some cases, locals have even attempted to work around federal shutdowns by paying for the parks themselves. In 2013, for example, the State of Colorado paid the Department of the Interior more than $360,000 dollars to open up Rocky Mountain National Park during that shutdown. This was only possible after an arduous process of negotiations with federal bureaucrats, who could have easily vetoed the deal for any reason at all.

The whole thing illustrates the danger of allowing the federal government to exercise control over vast swaths of the American landscape, while minimizing the influence of those who are impacted most by federal decisions. Besides, there's certainly no justification for having an entire national system of parks dependent on Washington, DC. The very idea that access to an outhouse in rural California should depend on a backroom deal in Washington DC should strike every reasonable person as utterly absurd.

Maybe, just maybe, the use of a pit toilet in the middle-of-nowhere Arizona ought to be a decision of the people who live within 500 miles of it.

But how to pay for it?

Well, there's an easy way to deal with that too. If a "shutdown" is going to cut off the usual subsidies for a national park, then let the park collect a fee that covers the full cost of operation. After all, national parks already charge far too little for entry because they are subsidized by federal tax revenue. This means even people who have never set foot in a park pay so that the park's visitors can use the park's amenities at subsidized prices.

This also means that when things don't go as planned — i.e., when DC politicians don't rubber stamp all the usual paperwork in time — then everything closes down. Sometimes private businesses within the parks are forced to shut down, too.

Were the parks allowed to operate without subsidies, of course, we all know what would happen. Countless articles would be published at The Atlantic and Salon about how the national parks are now just for "the one percenters." When a fee increase was proposed in 2017, we were told an increase would "threaten access to nature." But at the same time, we're told to rend our garments over the fact that infrastructure in the parks is underfunded. In the end, it turns out, we're told that yet another tax increase and more government spending will fix everything. But don't you dare think about charging the actual users a fee that covers costs!

At the moment, though, all of this is moot since the feds can't get their act together enough to even empty a few dumpsters. Remember this the next time we're told that state or local governments — or even private conservation trusts — could never, ever be trusted with the delicate business of managing some rural lands.

Published:1/4/2019 6:59:34 PM
[] Elizabeth Warren's "Fact Check" Page Claims That Mockery of Her Claims of Indian Heritage are Akin to "Birtherism" Paleface speak with forked tongue. Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren?s website for her presidential exploratory committee attempts to link questions about her claims of Native American heritage to people who questioned whether former President Barack Obama was born in the... Published:1/4/2019 2:01:01 PM
[Media] THUD: Nancy Pelosi trips HARD over Michelle Obama in rush to excuse Rep. Tlaib’s profane impeachment rant

Guess who Pelosi blames for that kind of language.

The post THUD: Nancy Pelosi trips HARD over Michelle Obama in rush to excuse Rep. Tlaib’s profane impeachment rant appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:1/4/2019 12:27:38 PM
[Iran] Trump’s Sanctions Are Destroying Iran’s Economy-Liberal Critics Were Wrong

When President Trump pulled out of Obama's Iran deal and announced the U.S. will reimpose Iranian sanctions, liberals said they wouldn't hurt Iran-WRONG

The post Trump’s Sanctions Are Destroying Iran’s Economy-Liberal Critics Were Wrong appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/4/2019 9:28:40 AM
[Iran] Trump’s Sanctions Are Destroying Iran’s Economy-Liberal Critics Were Wrong

When President Trump pulled out of Obama's Iran deal and announced the U.S. will reimpose Iranian sanctions, liberals said they wouldn't hurt Iran-WRONG

The post Trump’s Sanctions Are Destroying Iran’s Economy-Liberal Critics Were Wrong appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/4/2019 9:28:40 AM
[Markets] Is The End Of The Brutal War In Yemen Finally At Hand?

Authored by Gareth Porter via TruthDig.com,

When the new Congress convenes Jan. 3, it is expected to pass a House resolution upholding congressional war powers and ending all direct U.S. involvement in the Saudi coalition’s war in Yemen. But hopes remain high that H. Con. Res. 138 will help to end the Yemen war itself. Congressional strategists and activists who have been working on the issue believe passage of the war powers measure will force Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the negotiating table.

Together, they are challenging the position of some former Obama administration officials who have warned the war powers resolution alone cannot bring the conflict to a close. Those former officials, led by Brookings Institution fellow Bruce Riedel, say that cutting off the Saudi pipeline of spare parts is the only way to prevent further airstrikes, which have been central to the Saudi war strategy.

Proponents of the war powers resolution, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California, argue the Saudis will not be able to continue the war without the political-diplomatic support of the United States, and the Yemen resolution will make dramatically clear the Saudis can no longer count on U.S. support. How the Senate came to pass a version of the Yemen resolution, co-sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and ratified in December by a vote of 56 to 41, would appear to lend support to their argument.

The Khashoggi Effect

Until 2018, the Obama and Trump administrations had successfully avoided any congressional move to block U.S. support of the Saudi-Emirati bombing of civilian targets in Yemen, or the country’s air and naval blockade. That success was possible, at least in part, because the U.S. media largely ignored the mass starvation of the Yemeni people and unprecedented cholera epidemic these acts of aggression had wrought.

The media also failed to report on the United States’ direct role in that conflict.  From mid-2017 to mid-2018, MSNBC ran only a single story that mentioned the United States’ in-flight refueling of Saudi planes and its provision of intelligence for Yemeni bombing targets.

Nevertheless, some key members of Congress were well informed about the United States’ complicity in the Saudi coalition’s crimes. As early as March 2018, when Sens. Sanders and Lee first introduced the Yemen war powers resolution, a head count by the office of co-sponsor Chris Murphy indicated it would pass the Senate with a narrow majority.

Several of those votes were lost in May to legislation by Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., which required the secretary of state to “certify” that Saudi Arabia was making efforts to end the war, increase access to humanitarian goods and “reduce harm to civilians.”

But this fall, a tragic event and dramatic revelations created new impetus for a Yemen war powers resolution: Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed and hard evidence emerged that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi government had ordered his murder and dismemberment over his critical coverage. The political impact of that story can hardly be exaggerated.  Whereas before the media had been reluctant to report on the war, they were suddenly eager to document its myriad atrocities, including the ongoing starvation of Yemeni children.

The pressure on President Donald Trump to abandon his unflinching support of the Saudi regime intensified. Administration officials knew full well the Saudi coalition was already planning to capture the key Yemeni port of Hodeida—the country’s lifeline for food imports and humanitarian goods. That assault was scheduled to begin on Nov. 3, and it would have further weakened the administration’s case against a war powers resolution if one were brought to the Senate floor. The administration also knew by late October that Democrats likely would be taking control of the House of Representatives, where Republican leadership had successfully employed legislative tactics to prevent even a congressional debate on the Saudi-led war efforts.

The Administration Adjusts Its Yemen Policy

Between Kushner’s personal ties to Crown Prince Mohammed and the lure of tens of billions of dollars in arms sales, the Trump administration remained wedded to the Saudi regime. But it was now forced to make adjustments in its policy to try to shore up the collapsing congressional support for the war. So Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a call on Oct.  30 for a cease-fire in Yemen and peace negotiations within 30 days.

A careful reading of Pompeo’s statement, however, reveals two key giveaways to the Saudi regime: It did not require the Saudis to halt their bombing until after the Houthis had halted missile strikes on Saudi and United Arab Emirates targets, and the Saudi coalition was only required to cease bombing “populated areas,” evidently leaving it free to hit targets outside urban concentrations.

There would be more to come. After discussions with the Trump administration, the Saudi government officially requested on Nov. 9 that the U.S. end the refueling of the coalition’s aircraft for its Yemen operations. The Saudi statement said the coalition had “increased its capability to independently conduct in-flight refueling in Yemen,” and had therefore requested, “in consultation with the United States,” the “cessation of in-flight refueling support.”

Experts maintained the Trump administration had compelled the Saudis and their UAE allies to accept less capability—especially as it pertained to longer-range strikes by UAE aircraft—for domestic U.S. political reasons.  Former National Security Council official Riedel, for one, commented that giving up U.S. refueling would make it harder for the Saudi coalition to “carry out strikes deep into Yemeni territory.”

All that elaborate maneuvering with the Saudis failed to influence the Senate, which voted, 63-37, in November to advance the Yemen war powers joint resolution. Prior to that vote, Pompeo and Mattis had briefed the Senate in an attempt to tamp down anger over the Khashoggi murder, attempting to sell the idea that American interests required U.S. support for the Saudi coalition’s war in Yemen. But senators who attended the briefing told reporters their arguments—especially regarding the crown prince and Khashoggi—had not been credible. If anything, Pompeo and Mattis had strengthened their determination to support the resolution.

In December, seven Republicans joined 49 Democrats in approving the Sanders-Lee resolution, 56-41, in a major rebuff to the entire foreign policy establishment. That vote was followed moments later with the unanimous approval of a separate resolution condemning the Saudi crown prince by name for Khashoggi’s grisly murder.

In a clear indication the Trump administration aimed to hold the line against a Yemen resolution, the Saudi coalition abruptly halted the Hodeida offensive it had begun 12 days earlier, almost certainly under U.S. pressure. The Saudis also agreed to participate in U.N.-brokered “consultation” that began in Sweden on Dec. 6 led by the United Nations special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths.

Even before the conference had officially begun, Griffiths negotiated a swap of  2,000 to 3,000 prisoners held by the two sides. And on Dec. 13, Saudi Arabia and Yemen agreed to a cease-fire in Hodeida, where the fighting had been concentrated, although it soon broke down with mutual recriminations.

The Key to Yemen Peace?

The Trump administration’s official position, based on the notion that “limited support to member countries of the Emirati and Saudi-led coalition, including intelligence sharing, logistics, and, until recently, aerial refueling” did not constitute being “engaged in hostilities,” was that the resolution had no legal effect. But the activists and congressional staff who worked on the resolution are convinced that the administration’s frantic efforts to prevent its passage reveal just how powerful it will prove.

One Democratic congressional strategist involved in promoting the resolution acknowledged as much in an interview with Truthdig. “At the same time the Pentagon and the Trump administration were saying it would have no impact, they were scrambling to change the facts on the ground by unilaterally suspending air refueling,” the strategist said.

The strategist also admitted this “first assertion of war authorities by Congress” would “force the administration to retreat, and when the U.S. is no longer the steadfast patron of the Saudi coalition campaign, the Saudi coalition will be compelled to seek an urgent and immediate peace settlement.”

Robert Naiman, policy director at Just Foreign Policy, an activist membership organization that has been working to support the eventual passage of the Yemen resolution in both houses of Congress, agrees the resolution is bound to push the Saudis toward ending the war.  “I’ve always believed any kind of congressional vote that says no in a toothy way like the war powers resolution would be enough to force the administration and the Saudis to change policy,” he told Truthdig.

Naiman called the administration’s gambit to head off passage of the resolution “a political signal the whole world sees.” He said he believes “the political-diplomatic signal is even more important than direct military participation.”

The war’s swift conclusion appears all but inevitable. While Crown Prince Mohammed may be committed to final victory, the Saudi regime remains heavily dependent on U.S. political-diplomatic cover, as it has since the beginning of the bombing campaign in Yemen. Ironically, that political reality could now tip the balance toward peace.

Published:1/4/2019 2:26:59 AM
[Markets] Alhambra: Nothing To See Here, It's Just Everything

Authored by Jeffrey Snider via Alhambra Investment Partners,

The politics of oil are complicated, to say the least. There’s any number of important players, from OPEC to North American shale to sanctions. Relating to that last one, the US government has sought to impose serious restrictions upon the Iranian regime. Choking off a major piece of that country’s revenue, and source for dollars, has been a stated US goal.

In May, the Trump administration formally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known otherwise as President Obama’s “Iran deal.” It was widely expected that pulling out would lead to harsh sanctions against any country continuing to trade using Iranian crude oil.

At the beginning of November, the US government formally re-instated those sanctions. In a surprising compromise, it did issue a number of waivers to countries like South Korea, Greece, Japan, and even China (among several others). That meant a good bit of Iran supply would remain available on global markets as a substitute source.

It is becoming 2018’s version of the 2014 “supply glut”, a benign or nearly so excuse for oil’s otherwise shocking crash. From Bloomberg only last week:

Just in late September, some traders were predicting that global oil prices would hit $100 a barrel over the following months. Their forecasts were based on the prospect of a supply crunch due to U.S. sanctions on Iran that went into effect in November. However, America’s surprise decision to grant waivers from its restrictions to some nations sparked a collapse in crude.

On the surface, the story does seem to check out; the US government did, in fact, keep Iran open for a little while longer. That additional future supply would have to have been factored into the ongoing oil price, further pressure to the downside.

But did it “spark a collapse in crude?” Nope, a demonstrable fallacy.

Oil prices peaked on October 3 and by the end of that month the curve was already weeks in contango. You could argue that global oil traders were counting on waivers and already factoring Iran into the equation, but again they were a “surprise decision.”

The drop in WTI and the chaos in oil markets (benchmark spreads) was more than a month old by then, and it’s been a straight line (almost) from the start of the crash.

In other words, Iran came along long after the market had viciously turned. Why is it so hard for people to accept that the problem could be rethinking demand worldwide?

It is, for many, impossible to believe that central bankers have it all wrong therefore the constant appeal of these sorts of ridiculous excuses. Mario Draghi says Europe is booming, or was, and if it isn’t now it’s only because of “transitory” factors to be cleared up soon enough. Jerome Powell can’t use the word “strong” frequently and emphatically enough in his commentary.

What do these guys know? A disorderly oil crash is uniformly associated with the opposite economic (and market) case. There is nothing benign about such open and obvious disorder.

It’s not just the oil warning, though; there has been a predictable proliferation of denial, in my estimation just a bit more intense than the last outbreak only a few years ago. This is related to 2017’s inflation hysteria, the very flipside to it.

The idea of “globally synchronized growth” was deeply emotional. So many just wanted to believe that the upturn was actual recovery, and that the global economy had finally hit a growth patch after a decade without any. People still cling to the idea that central bankers are the “best and brightest” and therefore all that was missing was sufficient time.

The technocracy could never be denied its success. One full decade seemed to be the max allowable, therefore 2018 just had to be the one.

Except, trading last year produced one big warning after another, these accelerating and growing noticeably in the last half particularly the last two months. Rather than take account for them all, the excuses are always limited to trying to discount each warning individually. That’s a big clue about what’s behind them; emotion not rational analysis.

These are pure rationalizations based on pure denial. The oil crash must be a supply glut, but what about that ungodly repo rate spike? Well that’s just 2a7 year-end window dressing (yes, thanks L. Bower, some are actually trying to dismiss a nearly 300 bps spread in GC repo as no big deal, mere technicals).

So, why does that repo spike oddly connect to exactly what eurodollar futures are saying?

Or inflation expectations?

Swap and credit spreads?

UST futures (above) and the “strong worldwide demand for safe assets” that has intensified despite every major media outlet on earth declaring for more than a year how UST’s and German bunds are poised right on the precipice for a BOND ROUT!!!! of biblical proportions?

This is very comprehensive parade of deep, crucial markets all saying the same thing together – they really don’t know what they are doing. The world turned the wrong way (again), a surprise only to central bankers and those who still somehow believe in them.

That’s what always gets left out. Even if the repo spike, for example, was actually a product of 2a7, it still doesn’t get you to 300 bps. That level is alarming even in isolation. But it’s not in isolation, is it? You can’t (honestly) look at a market, even stocks, without appreciating corroboration and consensus for only darker and darker interpretations – all starting with liquidity meaning global money (including collateral flow).

If it was one thing you might listen about supply gluts or 2a7; when it’s everything, you can only ask yourself what’s the point? An unbiased review of all these markets (and more) paints a very grim view of where things already stand today. From this perspective, repo and WTI contango make perfect sense, neither really needing much explanation.

An oil crash or repo rate spike is intuitively self-explanatory, especially to these levels.

But Jay Powell is unshakable in his confidence. Therefore, Iran and supply glut. Or 2a7. Mixed signals. Etc. etc. etc. Nothing bad can ever happen, even all the bad things that keep happening.

Published:1/4/2019 12:55:26 AM
[Markets] IRS Won't Issue Refunds During Shutdown: That Could Be A Problem

While most Americans thought they wouldn't be affected by the partial government shutdown, anyone with a federal tax refund coming to them will have to wait until the stalemate is over, according to the Wall Street Journal

As one of the agencies which now lacks funding, the IRS and the US tax collector are operating with roughly 1/8 of their usual staff under a shutdown plan it's operating under outside the tax-filing season. 

During a shutdown, the IRS can continue activities that protect government property, and the agency may bring in more workers soon to prepare for the income-tax filing season. Even during a shutdown, the agency still processes some tax returns that include payments, keeps computer systems running and continues criminal investigations. But the IRS generally doesn’t conduct audits, respond to taxpayer questions outside the filing season or—brace yourself—pay refunds.

A shutdown that gets resolved within a few weeks would have little ultimate effect on taxpayers, but lawmakers have made little or no movement toward a deal. That stalemate raises the prospect of an unprecedented extended closure during the individual income-tax filing season, which typically starts in mid-to-late January. The IRS hasn’t announced a start date yet for the 2019 filing season, the first under the tax law that Congress passed in 2017. -WSJ

"We’re in uncharted territory as each day gets longer," said Mark Steber, chief tax officer at Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. 

This means that early filers won't receive their expected refunds - which may put pressure on President Trump and congress to hammer out a deal. President Trump says he won't sign any legislation that doesn't include $5 billion for his border wall, while Congressional Democrats say that's not happening. 

If last year's tax refund figures are any indication, there are potentially hundreds of billions of dollars on the line for more than 55 percent of US households. 

By Feb. 2, 2018, the IRS had paid $12.6 billion in refunds to more than six million households. By Feb. 16, the IRS had paid $101.2 billion to nearly 32 million households. And by March 30, the IRS had paid $212 billion to 73 million households.

For many Americans, the tax refund is the single largest financial event of the year, and the people who tend to file early in the season are taxpayers who count on large refunds to pay down debt, catch up on bills or make major purchases. Those are disproportionately low-income households that benefit from the earned-income tax credit and other provisions that give them no income-tax liability or a net benefit from the income-tax system. -WSJ

Retailers, meanwhile, count on people to spend their tax refunds beginning in February - as people who will be getting money back typically file their taxes as soon as possible. 

"Wealthier filers generally have more sophisticated returns and file later so they should not be affected as much," said former IRS director of legislative affairs, Floyd Williams. 

Nobody's home

Taxpayers with questions about their returns, meanwhile, will have difficulty reaching the IRS - as the agency typically doesn't respond to questions outside the filing system. 

"The commissioner’s going to have to make a call: What does this mean for the beginning of the filing season?," said Obama administration Treasury tax-policy official Mark Mazur. 

During this first part of the shutdown, just 12.5% of the IRS’s nearly 80,000 employees were considered exempt from furloughs. In early 2018, in preparation for potential shutdowns during the filing season, the IRS contingency plan made 43.5% of the agency’s workforce exempt, suggesting many more staffers will return to work as filing season begins.

In addition, the agency received some two-year appropriations to implement the new tax law, so some activities related to the new law have been continuing, including updating technology and publications. -WSJ

Another factor which should make this year's tax season more complicated are several tax-law changes which will affect both forms and rules for individuals and businesses, which will undoubtedly require more help from IRS employees. 

"You worry about the filing season because of the tax-law changes anyway. So there’s no way that a shutdown is helpful," said former acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller. "The risk was already high as to whether the service could already get done what the service needed to get done with the paltry resources they already have." 

Published:1/3/2019 3:52:47 PM
[World] Mitt Romney Rips Donald Trump: Charlie Hurt Says Op-Ed Shows Why Utah Senator Lost 2012 Presidential Election

Columnist Charlie Hurt said Thursday on "Outnumbered" that with his January 1 op-ed, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) showed the nation why he lost his presidential bid in 2012 against Barack Obama.

Published:1/3/2019 3:26:33 PM
[Obama] Nobel Chief Finally Admits He Regrets Giving Obama the Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize Committee's former secretary is finally admitting that giving Barack Obama its award was a huge mistake.

The post Nobel Chief Finally Admits He Regrets Giving Obama the Peace Prize appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/3/2019 12:24:33 PM
[Obama] Nobel Chief Finally Admits He Regrets Giving Obama the Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize Committee's former secretary is finally admitting that giving Barack Obama its award was a huge mistake.

The post Nobel Chief Finally Admits He Regrets Giving Obama the Peace Prize appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:1/3/2019 12:24:33 PM
[Media Bias] Former NY Times executive editor: Sure, the Times’ reporting is anti-Trump (Paul Mirengoff) Jill Abramson is a former executive editor of the New York Times. She made her name in 1995 with a book, co-written with Jane Meyer, taking Anita Hill’s side in the matter of Clarence Thomas — a battle she’s still waging after all these years. The 1995 book was called “Strange Justice.” But Abramson seems a little strange herself. John ridiculed her for keeping a Barack Obama doll in her Published:1/3/2019 11:21:59 AM
[2016 Election] What we have learned so far (5) (Scott Johnson) Lee Smith’s Federalist essay “New Documents Suggest The Steele Dossier Was A Deliberate Setup For Trump” is only his most recent contribution to our understanding of the greatest scandal in our history — the one underlying the presidential election of 2016, from the Clinton campaign to the highest reaches of the Obama administration. Struggling to find a representative excerpt of this long essay, I am happy to glom onto this Published:1/3/2019 8:20:43 AM
[2016 Presidential Election] What we have learned so far (4) (Scott Johnson) In this series we have sought to recall what we have learned so far in the matter of the greatest scandal in our history — the one underlying the presidential election of 2016, from the Clinton campaign to the highest reaches of the Obama administration. Victor Davis Hanson provides a concise summary in the course of his ruminations on Romney: [F]or the first time in modern memory, during the 2016 Published:1/3/2019 7:54:34 AM
[Markets] Break The Cycle: In 2019, Say No To The Government's Cruelty, Brutality. And Abuse

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.—Edmund Burke

Folks, it’s time to break the cycle.

Let’s make 2019 the year we say no to the laundry list of abuses - cruel, brutal, immoral, unconstitutional and unacceptable - that have been heaped upon us by the government for way too long.

Let’s make 2019 the year we stop living in a state of utter denial, desensitized to the government’s acts of violence, accustomed to reports of government corruption, and anesthetized to the sights and sounds of Corporate America marching in lockstep with the police state.

Let’s make 2019 the year we refuse to allow the government’s abusive behavior to be our new normal. There is nothing normal about egregious surveillance, roadside strip searches, police shootings of unarmed citizens, censorship, retaliatory arrests, the criminalization of lawful activities, warmongering, indefinite detentions, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, police brutality, profit-driven prisons, or pay-to-play politicians.

Here’s just a small sampling of what we suffered through in 2018.

The government failed to protect our lives, liberty and happiness. The predators of the police state wreaked havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives. The government didn’t listen to the citizenry, refused to abide by the Constitution, and treated the citizenry as a source of funding and little else. Police officers shot unarmed citizens and their household pets. Government agents—including local police—were armed to the teeth and encouraged to act like soldiers on a battlefield. Bloated government agencies were allowed to fleece taxpayers. Government technicians spied on our emails and phone calls. And government contractors made a killing by waging endless wars abroad.

The president became more imperial. Although the Constitution invests the President with very specific, limited powers, in recent years, American presidents (Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, etc.) have claimed the power to completely and almost unilaterally alter the landscape of this country for good or for ill. The powers amassed by each successive president through the negligence of Congress and the courts—powers which add up to a toolbox of terror for an imperial ruler—empower whomever occupies the Oval Office to act as a dictator, above the law and beyond any real accountability. The presidency itself has become an imperial one with permanent powers.

Police became a power unto themselves. Lacking in transparency  and accountability,  protected by the courts and legislators, and rife with misconduct, America’s police forces were a growing menace to the citizenry and the rule of law.  Shootings of unarmed citizens,  police misconduct and the use of excessive force continued to claim lives and make headlines. One investigative report found that police shoot Americans more than twice as often as previously known, a number that is underreported and undercounted.  That doesn’t account for the alarming number of unarmed individuals who died from police using tasers on them.

911 calls turned deadly. Here’s another don’t to the add the growing list of things that could get you or a loved one tasered, shot or killed, especially if you are autistic, hearing impaired, mentally ill, elderly, suffer from dementia, disabled or have any other condition that might hinder your ability to understand, communicate or immediately comply with an order: don’t call the cops.

Traffic stops took a turn for the worse. Police officers have been given free range to pull anyone over for a variety of reasons and subject them to forced cavity searches, forced colonoscopies, forced blood draws, forced breath-alcohol tests, forced DNA extractions, forced eye scans, forced inclusion in biometric databases. This free-handed approach to traffic stops has resulted in drivers being stopped for windows that are too heavily tinted, for driving too fast, driving too slow, failing to maintain speed, following too closely, improper lane changes, distracted driving, screeching a car’s tires, and leaving a parked car door open for too long. Unfortunately, traffic stops aren’t just dangerous. They can be downright deadly at a time when police can do no wrong—at least in the eyes of the courts, police unions and politicians dependent on their votes—and a “fear” for officer safety is used to justify all manner of police misconduct.

The courts failed to uphold justice. A review of critical court rulings over the past decade or so, including some ominous ones by the U.S. Supreme Court, reveals a startling and steady trend towards pro-police state rulings by an institution concerned more with establishing order and protecting the ruling class and government agents than with upholding the rights enshrined in the Constitution. For example, despite the fact that a 26-year-old man was gunned down by police who banged on the wrong door at 1:30 am, failed to identify themselves as police, and then repeatedly shot and killed the innocent homeowner who answered the door while holding a gun in self-defense, the justices of the high court refused to intervene to address police misconduct. Despite the fact that police shot and killed nearly 1,000 people nationwide for the third year in a row (many of whom were unarmed, mentally ill, minors or were shot merely because militarized police who were armed to the hilt “feared” for their safety), the Supreme Court has failed to right the wrongs being meted out by the American police state.

The Surveillance State rendered Americans vulnerable to threats from government spies, police, hackers and power failures. Thanks to the government’s ongoing efforts to build massive databases using emerging surveillance, DNA and biometrics technologies, Americans have become sitting ducks for hackers and government spies alike. Billions of people were affected by data breaches and cyberattacks in 2018. On a daily basis, Americans are being made to relinquish the most intimate details of who we are—our biological makeup, our genetic blueprints, and our biometrics (facial characteristics and structure, fingerprints, iris scans, etc.)—in order to navigate an increasingly technologically-enabled world. The Department of Homeland, which has been leading the charge to create a Surveillance State, began deploying mandatory facial recognition scans at airports and improperly gathering biometric data on American travelers. Police were gifted with new surveillance gadgets that allows them to scan vehicles for valuable goods and contraband. Even churches got in on the game, installing “crime cameras” to monitor church property and churchgoers. The Corporate State tapped into our computer keyboards, cameras, cell phones and smart devices in order to better target us for advertising. Social media giants such as Facebook granted secret requests by the government and its agents for access to users’ accounts. Triggered by background noise, Google Assistant has been actively recording phone users’ conversations. And our private data—methodically collected and stored with or without our say-so—was repeatedly compromised and breached.

Mass shootings claimed more lives. Mass shootings have taken place at churches, in nightclubs, on college campuses, on military bases, in elementary schools, in government offices, and at concerts. In almost every instance, you can connect the dots back to the military-industrial complex, which continues to dominate, dictate and shape almost every aspect of our lives.

The rich got richer, and the poor went to jail. Not content to expand the police state’s power to search, strip, seize, raid, steal from, arrest and jail Americans for any infraction, no matter how insignificant, the Trump administration gave state courts the green light to resume their practice of jailing individuals who are unable to pay the hefty fines imposed by the American police state. These debtors’ prisons play right into the hands of those who make a profit by jailing Americans.  This is no longer a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” It is fast becoming a government “of the rich, by the elite, for the corporations,” and its rise to power is predicated on shackling the American taxpayer to a debtors’ prison guarded by a phalanx of politicians, bureaucrats and militarized police with no hope of parole and no chance for escape.

The cost of endless wars drove the nation deeper into debt. America’s war spending has already bankrupted the nation to the tune of more than $20 trillion dollars. Policing the globe and waging endless wars abroad hasn’t made America—or the rest of the world—any safer, but it has made the military industrial complex rich at taxpayer expense. Approximately 200,000 US troops are stationed in 177 countries throughout the world, including Africa, where troops reportedly carry out an average of 10 military exercises and engagements daily. Meanwhile, America’s infrastructure is falling apart. The interest on the money America has borrowed to wage its wars will cost an estimated $8 trillion.

“Show your papers” incidents skyrocketed. We are not supposed to be living in a “show me your papers” society. Despite this, the U.S. government has introduced measures allowing police and other law enforcement officials to stop individuals (citizens and noncitizens alike), demand they identify themselves, and subject them to patdowns, warrantless searches, and interrogations. These actions fly in the face of longstanding constitutional safeguards forbidding such police state tactics.

The plight of the nation’s homeless worsened. In communities across the country, legislators adopted a variety of methods (parking meters, zoning regulations, tickets, and even robots) to discourage the homeless from squatting, loitering and panhandling. One of the most common—and least discussed—practices: homeless relocation programs that bus the homeless outside city limits.

The government waged war on military veterans. The government has done a pitiful job of respecting the freedoms of military veterans and caring for their needs once out of uniform. Despite the fact that the U.S. boasts more than 20 million veterans who have served in World War II through the present day, the plight of veterans today is America’s badge of shame, with large numbers of veterans impoverished, unemployed, traumatized mentally and physically, struggling with depression, suicide, and marital stress, homeless, subjected to sub-par treatment at clinics and hospitals, left to molder while their paperwork piles up within Veterans Administration offices, and increasingly treated like criminals— targeted for surveillance, censorship, threatened with incarceration or involuntary commitment, labeled as extremists and/or mentally ill, and stripped of their Second Amendment rights—for daring to speak out against government misconduct.

Free speech was dealt one knock-out punch after another. Protest laws, free speech zones, bubble zones, trespass zones, anti-bullying legislation, zero tolerance policies, hate crime laws and a host of other legalistic maladies dreamed up by politicians and prosecutors (and championed by those who want to suppress speech with which they might disagree) have conspired to corrode our core freedoms, purportedly for our own good. On paper—at least according to the U.S. Constitution—we are technically free to speak. In reality, however, we are only as free to speak as a government official—or corporate entities such as Facebook, Google or YouTube—may allow. The reasons for such censorship varied widely from political correctness, safety concerns and bullying to national security and hate crimes but the end result remained the same: the complete eradication of free speech.

Police became even more militarized and weaponized. Despite concerns about the government’s steady transformation of local police into a standing military army, local police agencies continued to acquire weaponry, training and equipment suited for the battlefield—with full support from the Trump Administration. Even purely civilian government agencies are arming their employees to the hilt with guns, ammunition and military-style equipment, authorizing them to make arrests, and training them in military tactics. There are now reportedly more bureaucratic (non-military) government civilians armed with high-tech, deadly weapons than U.S. Marines. For instance, the IRS has 4,487 guns and 5,062,006 rounds of ammunition in its weapons inventory.

The government waged a renewed war on private property. The battle to protect our private property has become the final constitutional frontier, the last holdout against our freedoms being usurped. We no longer have any real property rights. That house you live in, the car you drive, the small (or not so small) acreage of land that has been passed down through your family or that you scrimped and saved to acquire, whatever money you manage to keep in your bank account after the government and its cronies have taken their first and second and third cut…none of it is safe from the government’s greedy grasp. At no point do you ever have any real ownership in anything other than the clothes on your back. Everything else can be seized by the government under one pretext or another (civil asset forfeiture, unpaid taxes, eminent domain, public interest, etc.).

Police waged a war on kids. So-called school “safety” policies, which run the gamut from zero tolerance policies that punish all infractions harshly to surveillance cameras, metal detectors, random searches, drug-sniffing dogs, school-wide lockdowns, active-shooter drills and militarized police officers, turned schools into prisons and young people into prisoners. The Justice Department announced that it will provide funding for schools that want to hire more resource officers, while President Trump indicated that he wants to “harden” the schools. What exactly does hardening the schools entail? More strident zero tolerance policiesgreater numbers of school cops, and all the trappings of a prison complex (unsurmountable fences, entrapment areas, no windows or trees, etc.). According to the Washington Postmore than 4 million children endured lockdowns last school year, leaving many traumatized.

The Deep State took over. The American system of representative government was overthrown by the Deep State—a.k.a. the police state a.k.a. the military industrial complex—a profit-driven, militaristic corporate state bent on total control and global domination through the imposition of martial law here at home and by fomenting wars abroad. When in doubt, follow the money trail. It always points the way.

The takeaway: Everything the founders of this country feared has come to dominate in modern America.

Yet as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, if freedom is to survive at all, “we the people” will need to stop thinking as Democrats and Republicans and start thinking like true patriots. As Edward Abbey warned, “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”

Let’s not take the mistakes, carnage, toxicity and abuse of this past year into 2019.

As long as we continue to allow callousness, cruelty, meanness, immorality, ignorance, hatred, intolerance, racism, militarism, materialism, meanness and injustice—magnified by an echo chamber of nasty tweets and government-sanctioned brutality—to trump justice, fairness and equality, there can be no hope of prevailing against the police state.

Published:1/2/2019 10:52:47 PM
[Markets] The Great Myth Of The Anti-War Left Exposed

Authored by Andrew Moran via Liberty Nation,

Otto von Bismarck once said, “People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election.” For decades, a common myth pervading the American political arena has been that the left is anti-war.

But they are as much opposed to war as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) – at least he is honest about his appetite for blood and desire for perpetual regime change, no matter who occupies the Oval Office. So, from where did this mendacity come?

In 2008, the United States was entrenched in an election battle and two major wars – Afghanistan and Iraq. The Democrats portrayed themselves as the anti-war party, promising to correct the foreign disasters of the incumbent administration. Since then, it’s as if former President George W. Bush never departed. The Democrats have championed military interventions, twiddled their thumbs under President Barack Obama, and nominated a hawk to lead the party in 2016.

Progressives, the same ones who, under Republican administrations, routinely held massive anti-war rallies on days that ended in “y,” have been eerily silent for the last ten years.

Today, the left has united with the neoconservatives in opposition to President Donald Trump’s decision to bring 2,000 troops home from Syria and potential plans to withdrawfrom Afghanistan. Because they loathe Trump so much and don’t want him to be portrayed as a more peaceful president than his predecessor, leftists demand that U.S. forces permanently stay in the region, facing death or serious injury.

Is this a case of Freaky Friday politics, or has the left always been pro-war?

Anti-War Democrats, Please Stand Up

Attempting to locate a handful of consistent anti-war Democrats is like trying to spot Vice President Mike Pence with a woman other than his wife at a restaurant: It’s never going to happen.

Even Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the man who switches from Independent to Democrat when it suits the occasion, has come out of the closet on occasion as a hawk. In addition to supporting the so-called Little War in Kosovo in the 1990s, Sanders revealed to ABC News in September 2015 that the U.S. could use its military forces when not attacked and apply sanctions on adversaries.

For the last century, virtually every war, invasion, and occupation have been given the stamp of approval by Democrats. President Woodrow Wilson dragged the U.S. into one of those wars-to-end-all- wars fiascos. President Harry Truman sent thousands of young men to their deaths in Korea, setting the stage for perpetual global interventionism. President Lyndon Baines Johnson escalated American involvement in Vietnam. The Democratic leadership approved of the Iraq War, and Obama destabilized an entire region, killed American citizens, and intensified the drone bombing campaign.

Outside of Capitol Hill, the predominantly left-leaning mainstream media have never seen a war it didn’t like. In the last two years alone, the vacuous TV commentators have employed the same two strategies: Demand action against Russia (eh, Paul Begala?) and oppose President Trump for using diplomacy and other tactics to institute peace.

So, how exactly is the left anti-war?

The Born-Again Right

When it comes to foreign policy, there are now three wings of the GOP: hawks, doves, and those who realize the doctrine of the last 20 years has failed.

One of the biggest surprises since Trump’s election is that the right has become increasingly more cautious about seeking dragons to slay and erecting Old Glory on every plot of land in the world. House Republicans have slashed foreign aid in the billions, Senate Republicans have voted to endAmerica’s role in Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, and prominent figures in the White House have asked one simple question: Why should the United States be the policeman of the world?

Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to the president, recently dismantled the hawkish Counterfeit News Network when he told Wolf Blitzer:

“What I’m talking about, Wolf, is the big picture of a country that through several administrations had an absolutely catastrophic foreign policy that cost trillions and trillions of dollars and thousands and thousands of lives and made the Middle East more unstable and more dangerous. And let’s talk about Syria. Let’s talk about the fact — ISIS is the enemy of Russia. ISIS is the enemy of Assad. ISIS is the enemy of Turkey. Are we supposed to stay in Syria generation after generation, spilling American blood to fight the enemies of all those countries?”

Had Obama uttered these fiery remarks in ’08, they would have been the headline for many outlets that covered the interview. Instead, The Washington Post reported, “Wolf Blitzer tells Stephen Miller to ‘calm down’ during heated interview.” The Huffington Post ran with this headline: “CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Tells Stephen Miller to ‘Calm Down.’

Comments that should draw praise from the left have been met with mockery and scorn.

US Foreign Policy

H.L. Mencken was right when he said that “every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.” There is no other area in government that should instill more shame in the population than foreign policy.

The political theater of sending young men and women overseas to fight in wars is a tragicomedy: a comedy for those who don’t have to wield a weapon and a tragedy for those who do. It is easy and comfortable for politicians and pundits, a paltry few of whom have ever done any of the fighting, to shout platitudes as if they were reincarnated John Waynes.

It’s clear that politicians of all stripes have blood on their hands. The only difference is that some policymakers showcase this human flesh with pride, while others pretend to be benevolent. Trump’s foreign policy has not been perfect, but it has been far superior to what has transpired over the years. To rebuke the president’s withdrawal of soldiers in an NPC-like manner makes you complicit to atrocity.

Published:1/2/2019 8:47:56 PM
[Afghanistan] Trump Kicks ‘Fired’ James Mattis Out the Door: ‘What’s He Done for Me?’ "President Obama fired him, and essentially so did I," Trump told reporters.   Published:1/2/2019 2:16:47 PM
[] "Severely Conservative" Mitt Romney: It's a Major Indictment of Trump's Character That European Countries Like Sweden Do Not Approve of His Foreign Policy Like They Approved of Obama's So let's implement Obama's foreign policy then, Mr. Severely Conservative? Romney's aides wrote -- for the Washington Post, not for a more conservative outlet (and by the way, he's giving a big interview to CNN today, with the severely conservative... Published:1/2/2019 1:52:20 PM
[Markets] Buchanan: How The War Party Lost The Middle East

Authored by Patrick Buchanan, op-ed via Townhall.com,

"Assad must go, Obama says."

So read the headline in The Washington Post, Aug. 18, 2011.

The story quoted President Barack Obama directly:

"The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way... the time has come for President Assad to step aside."

France's Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain's David Cameron signed on to the Obama ultimatum: Assad must go!

Seven years and 500,000 dead Syrians later, it is Obama, Sarkozy, and Cameron who are gone. Assad still rules in Damascus, and the 2,000 Americans in Syria are coming home. Soon, says President Donald Trump.

But we cannot "leave now," insists Sen. Lindsey Graham, or "the Kurds are going to get slaughtered."

Question: Who plunged us into a Syrian civil war, and so managed the intervention that were we to go home after seven years our enemies will be victorious and our allies will "get slaughtered"?

Seventeen years ago, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban for granting sanctuary to al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.

U.S. diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad is today negotiating for peace talks with that same Taliban. Yet, according to former CIA director Mike Morell, writing in The Washington Post today, the "remnants of al-Qaeda work closely" with today's Taliban.

It would appear that 17 years of fighting in Afghanistan has left us with these alternatives:

  • Stay there, and fight a forever war to keep the Taliban out of Kabul,

  • or withdraw and let the Taliban overrun the place.

Who got us into this debacle?

After Trump flew into Iraq over Christmas but failed to meet with its president, the Iraqi Parliament, calling this a "U.S. disregard for other nations' sovereignty" and a national insult, began debating whether to expel the 5,000 U.S. troops still in their country.

George W. Bush launched Operation Iraq Freedom to strip Saddam Hussein of WMD he did not have and to convert Iraq into a democracy and Western bastion in the Arab and Islamic world.

Fifteen years later, Iraqis are debating our expulsion.

Muqtada al-Sadr, the cleric with American blood on his hands from the fighting of a decade ago, is leading the charge to have us booted out. He heads the party with the largest number of members in the parliament.

Consider Yemen. For three years, the U.S. has supported with planes, precision-guided munitions, air-to-air refueling and targeting information, a Saudi war on Houthi rebels that degenerated into one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the 21st century.

Belatedly, Congress is moving to cut off U.S. support for this war. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, its architect, has been condemned by Congress for complicity in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate in Istanbul. And the U.S. is seeking a truce in the fighting.

Who got us into this war? And what have years of killing Yemenis, in which we have been collaborators, done to make Americans safer?

Consider Libya. In 2011, the U.S. attacked the forces of dictator Moammar Gadhafi and helped to effect his ouster, which led to his murder.

Told of news reports of Gadhafi's death, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joked, "We came, we saw, he died."

The Libyan conflict has since produced tens of thousands of dead. The output of Libya's crucial oil industry has collapsed to a fraction of what it was. In 2016, Obama said that not preparing for a post-Gadhafi Libya was probably the "worst mistake" of his presidency.

The price of all these interventions for the United States?

Some 7,000 dead, 40,000 wounded and trillions of dollars.

For the Arab and Muslim world, the cost has been far greater. Hundreds of thousands of dead in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya, civilian and soldier alike, pogroms against Christians, massacres, and millions uprooted and driven from their homes.

How has all this invading, bombing and killing made the Middle East a better place or Americans more secure? One May 2018 poll of young people in the Middle East and North Africa found that more of them felt that Russia was a closer partner than was the United States of America.

The fruits of American intervention?

We are told ISIS is not dead but alive in the hearts of tens of thousands of Muslims, that if we leave Syria and Afghanistan, our enemies will take over and our friends will be massacred, and that if we stop helping Saudis and Emiratis kill Houthis in Yemen, Iran will notch a victory.

In his decision to leave Syria and withdraw half of the 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, Trump enraged our foreign policy elites, though millions of Americans cannot get out of there soon enough.

In Monday's editorial celebrating major figures of foreign policy in the past half-century, The New York Times wrote,

"As these leaders pass from the scene, it will be left to a new generation to find a way forward from the wreckage Mr. Trump has already created."

Correction:

Make that "the wreckage Mr. Trump inherited."

Published:1/2/2019 7:14:44 AM
[Markets] 2019: It Is Going To Be Much Worse Than You Think...

Authored by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream blog,

The beginning of a new year is supposed to be all about hope, right?  And I would certainly like to tell you that 2019 is going to be America’s best year ever and that everybody is going to receive a double portion of blessing, prosperity and happiness, but that simply would not be true. 

Unfortunately, the truth is that the elements for a 'perfect storm' are rapidly coming together and 2019 is going to be an exceedingly challenging year.  Of course 2018 wasn’t exactly a wonderful year either.  I really like how Dave Barry made this point in his most recent article...

We can summarize 2018 in two words:

It boofed.

We’re not 100 percent sure what “boofing” is, despite the fact that this very issue was discussed in a hearing of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee. All we know for certain about boofing is that it is distasteful and stupid.

As was 2018.

But as bad as 2018 was, the year that has just started threatens to greatly surpass it.

Let’s start by talking about politics.  According to Axios, Donald Trump is currently the subject of 17 different investigations.

Yes, you read that correctly.

We have never seen anything like this in American history.  Even during the Nixon era there was some measure of restraint, but at this point they are trying to come up with any angle that they possibly can to get rid of Donald Trump.

And the left truly believes that this is the year that they are going to get rid of him.  In fact, the Hill just published an article containing 30 predictions for 2019, and these were the top three

  • Donald J. Trump’s presidency will not survive 2019;

  • The downward trajectory of every aspect of his tenure indicates we are headed for a spectacular political crash-and-burn — and fairly soon;

  • His increasingly erratic and angry behavior, his self-imposed isolation, his inability and refusal to listen to smart advisers that he hired, all are leading him to a precipice;

For a moment, let’s assume that the left is successful and they get rid of Trump.  Will everything go back to normal?

No, Mike Pence will become president and they will immediately start investigating him.  And then if a Democrat wins in 2020, revenge-seeking Republicans will investigate the living daylights out of whoever enters the White House.

Personally, I can’t understand why so many Democrats are lining up to run for president.  Are they absolutely insane?  After what has been done to Trump, his family, Brett Kavanaugh and countless others, why would anyone want to subject themselves to such endless public torture?

We are rapidly getting to the point where America will be ungovernable.  No matter who is in power, there is going to be anger, strife, discord and resentment.  Tens of millions of Americans hated Barack Obama and did not consider him to be their president, and now tens of millions of Americans hate Donald Trump and do not consider him to be their president.  Our political institutions are breaking down, and faith in the system is at an all-time low.

But at least economic conditions have been relatively stable, and this has done much to pacify most Americans in recent years.

Unfortunately, economic conditions are really starting to slow down, and big corporations are beginning to announce large scale layoffs.  Just like we saw during the last recession, eventually there will be millions of Americans that lose their jobs, and mortgage defaults will spike dramatically once again.

And just like in 2008, the stock market is starting to plunge in a major way.

2018 was the worst year for the stock market in a decade, we just witnessed the worst month of December for Wall Street since the Great Depression, and at this point approximately 12 trillion dollars of global stock market wealth has been wiped out.

And the really bad news is that things are likely to get even worse in 2019.

History has shown that tough economic conditions make military conflict more likely, and the world continues to teeter on the brink of war.

In the Middle East, Turkish tanks have been lining up along the Syrian border in anticipation of a possible invasion, and Syrian forces have been massing to defend against a potential attack.  Elsewhere, Hezbollah and Hamas seem to be in a race to see who can start a war with Israel first.  If war does break out, Israel may find themselves fighting both of them simultaneously.

As for the United States, our relationships with both Russia and China are rapidly deteriorating.  The Russians continue to prepare for a coming military conflict with the United States, and the Pentagon is officially freaked out by the new hypersonic missiles that the Russians have just developed.  Meanwhile, the trade war with China continues to escalate and one Chinese general just suggested that the Chinese military should not be afraid to “sink two U.S. aircraft carriers”.

And let us not forget Iran, North Korea and the potential for a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sadly, I have a feeling that there is going to be a whole lot less “peace on Earth” by this time next year.

On top of everything else, the crust of our planet appears to be getting increasingly unstable and climate conditions are changing at a very rapid pace.  Dozens of volcanoes are currently erupting, and one expert is warning that about 100 others could be on the brink of erupting.  Massive earthquakes have been striking along the Ring of Fire with increasing regularity, and major storms just keep getting larger and more intense.

We could keep going if you like.  I haven’t even mentioned the potential for a global pandemic, the impending collapse of the European Union, civil unrest, terrorism, the death of our oceans or the horrible drought in the western half of the country.

Yes, people desperately need hope, but giving them false hope by telling them that everything is going to be just wonderful in 2019 is not a good thing.

Our world is in turmoil, and it is going to get even worse in 2019.  So put on your seatbelts and get ready, because it is going to be a bumpy ride.

Published:1/2/2019 6:17:42 AM
[Markets] MH17 Turnabout: Ukraine's Guilt Now Proven

Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Finally, a clear and convincing - and unrefuted - case can now be presented to the public, as to precisely whom the guilty party was, that downed the MH17 Malaysian airliner over Ukraine on 17 July 2014, and why it was done. The complete case, which will be fully documented here, displays unequivocally who needed the MH17 murders (of 298 persons) to be perpetrated. This mass-murder was done for one leader’s very pressing obsession. For him, it simply had to be done, and done at that precise time. 

The full MH17 case will be presented here, to be judged by the public, because no court of law which possesses the power to bring this (or even any) case on the MH17 murders, is willing to do so, and because the evidence in this 17 July 2014 case has become overwhelming, and is unrefuted. This evidence is accepted by both sides. But it still remains effectively hidden from the publics in the United States and its allied countries. (The present news-report, which is the first ever to present this entire case, is submitted to all news-media in English-speaking countries, so that any of them that wishes to provide its audience access to this uncontested and conclusive evidence in the MH17 case can do so, by publishing this article. Any of them that won’t, don’t want their audience to have access to the conclusive evidence in this case, because this article is being made available to all of them to publish, free of charge; so, there is no other reason not to publish it.)

The complete evidence will be described, and all of the conclusive evidence is linked-to, proving who perpetrated, and who demanded, the shoot-down on 17 July 2014 of the Malaysian airliner MH17. 

This article will start by demonstrating the most important thing, and will demonstrate it by means of links to the most conclusive evidence of all. This is the evidence which absolutely proves that the official Netherlands-headed investigation into this matter is an intentional and utter fraud — a fraud which has already been conclusively answered and exposed by the Russian Government. (Netherlands headed the investigation because 196 of the 298 murder-victims were Dutch.) Russia’s response provided, in excruciating detail, not only clear disproofs of the Netherlands-headed investigation’s conclusions of Russian guilt, but also (and on the basis of the very same evidence that the official investigation had made public on 24 May 2018) provided the still-unrefuted (but nonetheless still effectively hidden) proofs of Ukraine’s actual and incontestable guilt, in this mass-murder. This evidence, of the Netherlands team’s fraudulence, carries the investigation a large part of the way toward its ultimate conclusion, regarding whom the person was who had demanded Ukraine to commit this crime. 

Incidentally, the Netherlands Government had partially funded the coup that in February 2014 overturned Ukraine’s Government and installed the new regime, which regime is allied with the United States Government and actually perpetrated the MH17 shoot-down. The Government of Netherlands is not a neutral in this case that it is judging. It had helped install the present regime in Ukraine. In fact, as you can see here, Netherlands’ Government had been the largest single contributor to Ukraine’s Hromadske TV, which was propagandizing to exterminate the residents in Ukraine’s former Donbass region, which breakaway region had voted over 90% for Ukraine’s Democratically elected President, whom Obama’s coup had just overthrown. This operation in Ukraine is an extension from the corrupt Nazi Prince Bernhard's having established in Netherlands in 1954 the secretive Bilderberg group to coordinate NATO’s efforts for the US and its allies to conquer ultimately the world. He got caught in 1976, for one of his skimming operations, a million-dollar kickback from Lockheed Corporation. Holland’s Deep State is anything but benign.

So, Russia’s response, on 17 September 2018, used that Netherlands-headed team’s own documentation, to disprove that team’s attribution of guilt to Russia, and to prove conclusively Ukraine’s guilt as having been the actual perpetrator of this mass-murder. Thus, the Netherlands-headed team includes the actual perpetrator, Ukraine, and not only the Netherlands Government, which had helped overthrow Ukraine’s prior and democratically elected Government and bring Ukraine’s current regime into power in February 2014, just months prior to the MH17 shoot-down, which resulted from that US coup

Most readers who click onto the links here will be shocked. What will shock them is the evidence, because it has not been published in The West (except summarized in less than a half-dozen obscure news-media — and, even there, generally not documented, such as it is here).

The links will document and fully prove this stunning turnabout, from Russia to Ukraine. The documentation that was cited by Ukraine and Ukraine’s fellow team-member (the team’s leader) Netherlands, against Russia, on May 24th of 2018, contained previously unrecognized details (which were first pointed out in the Russian presentation on September 17th of 2018) which irrefutably convict Ukraine. Consequently, Russia’s response was ignored in The West, despite that presentation’s having been based upon the very same items of evidence that had been introduced by the Netherlands-led team on May 24th. Thus, the items of evidence, there, are the same that the Netherlands-led team had themselves provided. The items of evidence here are not in dispute

The current article will be the first-ever to hone-in on the especially shocking key data in Russia’s data-packed September 17th response, the key evidence that Russia was calling attention to there, and which prove Ukraine’s guilt beyond any reasonable doubt — prove it on the basis of the very same evidence that had been introduced by Ukraine’s own team in their presentation four months earlier. Using the other side’s evidence to convict that other side is what makes this denouement the stunning turnabout that it is.

The Netherlands-headed Ukrainian team still refuses to answer the Russian presentation, which responds to the Ukrainian team’s May 24th presentation. Western ‘news’-media have likewise almost completely ignored Russia’s response. (One Dutch medium did report on it but dismissed it by focusing on a subordinate part: their report said and focused on “Russia now claims that the video images the investigators used to track the missile's transport to the Ukraine, were manipulated.” However, the part of Russia’s presentation that will be discussed in the present article was being entirely ignored in that Dutch news-report, which, as you will see here, has nothing to do with any claim of manipulated evidence. Britain’s BBC likewise focused-in on the “manipulated evidence” that Russia’s presentation had attacked. The Washington Post instead headlined “Who spread disinformation about the MH17 crash? We followed the Twitter trail”, and it focused-in on how polarized the public is over the MH17 case. The West’s ‘news’-coverage was virtually entirely misdirection and disinformation, as you will recognize from what follows here. And the evidence here is linked-to, so that you can see it for yourself.) 

Russia’s response documented beyond any question, at all, that this airliner was shot down by the Ukrainian Government, and that Western (i.e., US-allied) ‘news’media have been and are covering-up this crucial historical fact and The West’s still-ongoing lies about the downing of MH17.

Those lies are the basis of US and EU anti-Russia sanctions, which remain in effect despite the basis for those sanctions having been exposed unequivocally, on September 17th, to be based on lies. Thus, continuing to hide those lies is crucial to the liars. This is the reason why Russia’s blazingly detailed presentation on September 17th has been virtually ignored — to protect the actually guilty. The evidence here proves that those sanctions, themselves, are nothing but frauds against the public, and crimes against Russia — ongoing additional crimes, which have been, and remain, effectively hidden till now.

The reader can see and consider here all of the conclusive evidence in the MH17 case — it can be reached via the present article’s links. Unlike the ‘news’-reports in The West’s ‘news’-media, the presentation here is not presuming readers’ trust, but is instead providing to all readers access to the actual evidence — evidence that is accepted by both sides. That’s what the links here are for: examination by any skeptics

Skepticism in judging anything is not only good; it is essential to justice. Trust should never be given; it should only be earned. Otherwise, no democracy can function. Only dictatorship can function in a country that’s controlled by lies, and by liars. Liars are believed by people who have faith in them. Thus, faith in anything or anyone can poison judgment. The way to test the case that is presented here is to click onto a link wherever one wants to see and examine the evidence. Without examining (usually by spot-checking) the evidence, no reader can intelligently judge any case. Dictatorship is almost inevitable in a counry where spot-checking of the actual evidence isn’t the norm. Most ‘news’-media don’t even enable such spot-checking. This is why ‘news’-media are so often actually propaganda-media instead.

So, here’s the complete MH17 case, for any reader to judge:

The last announcement from the official investigation, the Netherlands-headed “Joint Investigative Team” (JIT), was on 24 May 2018, and it headlined “Update in criminal investigation MH17 disaster”. It said:

The JIT is convinced that the BUK-TELAR [missile and launcher] that was used to down MH17, originates from the 53rd Anti Aircraft Missile brigade (hereinafter 53rd brigade), a unit of the Russian army from Kursk in the Russian Federation. … This fingerprint has been compared with numerous images of BUK-TELARS, both Ukrainian and Russian ones. The only BUK-TELAR on which this combination of characteristics also was found, is a BUK-TELAR that was recorded several times when it joined a convoy of the 53rd brigade on 23 – 25 June 2014.

Consequently, the JIT presumes that within the 53rd brigade and within the circle around it, people have knowledge about the operation in which that particular BUK-TELAR was deployed. … Already in September 2016, the JIT disclosed that MH17 was downed with a BUK missile of the 9M38 series. …

The missile engine’s casing shows the number 9 ? 1318869032.

Typical of Western ‘news’-media’s coverage of that presentation, was CNN’s report the same day, May 24th of 2018. It was headlined "Missile that downed MH17 'owned by Russian brigade’". It stated: “‘At the time this area was under control of pro-Russian separatists,’ said Fred Westerbeke, chief prosecutor of the National Prosecutor’s Office of the Netherlands. The Buk launcher of the 9M38 series ‘was transported from the territory of the Russian Federation and was returned to that territory of the Russian Federation afterwards’.”

The Ukrainian side claimed they had finally found evidence which would enable them definitively to place the blame for the MH17 shoot-down on Russia. So, the very next day, May 25th, Britain’s Telegraph bannered "Netherlands and Australia call for compensation for MH17 victims as they accuse Russia of downing plane" and reported that “Australia and the Netherlands have said they hold Russia legally responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014 and will seek reparations for relatives of the 298 people killed.” This demand against Russia was coming “the day after the Dutch-led international investigation concluded that the Russian military had deployed the Buk surface-to-air missile that shot down the plane.”

Four months later, on 17 September 2018, the Russian Ministry of Defense youtubed its response, which is titled “Briefing on newly discovered evidence pertaining to the crash of the MH17 flight”. It presented the actual history of the Buk missile and launcher which Ukraine and the other Governments on the JIT said had brought down the MH17. (The JIT includes four countries, Netherlands, Ukraine, Belgium, and Australia, with a fifth, Malaysia, having been brought in only later, after it finally agreed to allow Ukraine a veto over any conclusions that the team will publish. Malaysia’s participation started on 4 December 2014; but whether Malaysia has actually been allowed to play a role in the ‘investigation’ isn’t clear.) Russia, during the intervening months after the JIT’s May 24th presentation, had tracked down all of those serial numbers, 8868720, and 1318869032, and 9M38, and found (as you can see there by clicking on each, especially onto the “Briefing” itself) that after the acquisition of the launcher and missile, by Ukraine in 1986, from Russia, that missile and its launcher had always, and constantly since their transfer to Ukraine in 1986, remained in Ukraine, and never again were located in Russia. So: if the JIT’s supplied evidence is authentic — which the Ukrainian team asserts it to be — then it outright convicts Ukraine. This is an evidentiary checkmate, against the Ukrainian side.

With the passage now of years, the precise cause of the shooting-down of the Malaysian passenger plane MH17 on 17 July 2014 has been becoming clearer and clearer, despite the rigorous continuing attempts by Western ‘news’ media to cover it up and to hide from the public the growing and by-now irrefutable evidence (presented here) that clearly shows what and who actually brought down this airliner.

In the years since I headlined on August 24th of 2014 the news, “MH-17 ‘Investigation’: Secret August 8th Agreement Seeps Out: Perpetrator of the Downing in Ukraine, of the Malaysian Airliner, Will Stay Hidden”, the key fact about the official ‘investigation’ has actually been that the Government of Ukraine was, on 8 August 2014, granted veto-power over any official finding which would be produced by the Joint Investigative Team. On 20 November 2014, Russian Television headlined “Dutch government refuses to reveal ‘secret deal’ into MH17 crash probe” and reported that Holland’s science-publishers Elsevier had filed for this information under that country’s Freedom of Information Act, and the Government simply refused to comply with that law. The leaders of Western nations apparently want the black-box and much other basic data in their possession to remain hidden, and the four nations had signed this secret agreement to allow the Government of Ukraine to block any report that incriminates Ukraine in the MH17 shoot-down. But additional evidence has nonetheless become public, and all of it confirms and adds yet further details to the explanation that was first put forth by the retired German Lufthansa pilot Peter Haisenko, whose independent investigation had concluded that Ukrainian Government fighter-jets intentionally shot down this civilian plane. He did not rule out the possibility that a Buk missile had simultaneously been used there, but he made clear that at least one fighter-jet had been used in this shoot-down.

However, if those parts of a Buk missile, which were the focus of the Netherlands team’s presentation on May 24th, were indeed retrieved from the crash-site as that team claims, then a Buk missile had also hit the MH17. Serious question would nonetheless exist as to whether that Buk was fired by troops who were working for Ukraine, or instead for Russia (or else for Donbas separatists who were working in conjunction with Russia, which was Ukraine’s and America’s original version of the event).

Precisely what the method was, by which the direct perpetrators brought down the MH17, has gradually become clearer, despite this continuation of Western secrecy (and Ukraine’s veto-power over the ‘findings’) regarding the contents of the black boxes, and of the US satellite images, and of the Ukrainian air-traffic-control radar recordings, and of other evidence-sources that are still being held secret by The West and not made available to their ‘news’ media nor to anyone outside a tight official circle of those Western nations’ intelligence agencies. 

But now, Russia has actually — on 17 September 2018 — exposed the outright fraudulence of the JIT’s 24 May 2018 presentation, and The West (the US Government’s allies) entirely ignored the conclusive evidence that that presentation by the JIT itself actually contained and to which Russia was pointing, so that there can no longer be reasonable doubt about The West’s intentional and still ongoing fraudulence regarding the entire MH17 matter.

Also entirely ignored in the Ukrainain team’s ‘explanation’ of the event is why Ukraine’s air-traffic control had guided the MH17’s pilot to fly over the conflict-zone where Ukraine’s civil war was being waged and where Ukraine’s war-planes were bombing. The MH17’s pilot was instructed by Ukraine’s air-traffic control to take that path instead of the one that the airline had planned and that had become normal during the civil war. This was highly abnormal, and it doomed the MH17. Clearly, only Ukraine’s Government could, and did, do that — change the route, and for only that one plane. Yet, still, the Netherlands-headed team blames Russia and is trusted in The West, but Russia is not. (Now, why would that be?)

Russia has constantly been releasing its own investigations regarding MH-17; and, in the process, Russia on September 17th not only provided further details as to how the downing actually happened (it wasn’t by mistake, as the West contends it was), but they have also, in prior presentations, exposed the absurd impossibility of the Ukrainian Government’s ‘explanation’ of this event (that only a Buk had been used), which is the ‘explanation’ that is still being parroted unquestioningly and unflinchingly by officials in Washington, Europe, and NATO, and also by Western ‘news’ media. (As my news-report on 24 August 2014 explained, that secret August 8th agreement was signed by the four governments which formed the JIT team and which had been handed by Malaysia the black boxes to study — Ukraine, Belgium, Australia, and Netherlands — and the JIT granted to the Ukrainian Government a veto over anything that the team’s official report would say. This is probably the reason why the subsequent officially released report on those black boxes said essentially nothing. It was a brazen insult to the 298 victims’ families. The presumption has been that all of them will have faith, not be skeptical, regarding the JIT team.) 

Though Russia doesn’t possess those black boxes (which, by chance, were handed by the pro-Russian separatists to the Malaysian Government’s representative, and yet that Government handed them to Netherland’s Government instead of to Russia’s — apparently trusting Netherlands more than trusting Russia or even themselves), Russia does possess, and publicly reveals, evidence that’s conclusive on its own; and it is 100% consistent with Haisenko’s reconstruction of the event, regardless whether a Buk was involved or not. Russian Television had issued in October 2014 a 25-minute documentary on the event, and it starts with people whom they interviewed in that region, who were describing their having seen at least one and perhaps two planes rising toward the airliner, and then the airliner coming down from the sky. Other witnesses told them that they saw an SU-25 fighter plane take off in that general area just minutes before the airliner came down. 

FIRST, THE MISSING BBC REPORT:

The BBC had previously posted to their website on 23 July 2014, just six days after the event itself, a news report in Russian via their Russian service (fortunately archived by Global Research), about the downing, but they quickly removed it without explanation. Fortunately, however, some Russian-speakers had managed to download it before it was yanked; and at least two of those downloads were posted to youtube, the first one having been posted there on 28 July 2014, with English subscripts, and with the headline, “UKRAINE Eyewitness Confirm Military Jet Flew Besides MH17 Airliner: BBC Censors Video 25Jul2014”. (It’s gone now, but, actually, several witnesses, and not just one, were interviewed there — there wasn’t just one “Eyewitness”.) Furthermore, Global Research posted on 10 September 2014 a transcript of it, headlining, “Deleted BBC Report. ‘Ukrainian Fighter Jet Shot Down MHI7’, Donetsk Eyewitnesses.” (The video itself is still at youtube and it will be linked-to just below here, so that you will be able to view it.)

The interviews by the BBC were done by their reporter Olga Ivshina. (Also see http://archive.is/vFoh9.) She had filmed local residents in the crash-debris area. In one passage of her 23 July 2014 news-report, there were two residents simultaneously who described what they had seen. One of them said, “And there was another aircraft.” The other continued immediately, in order to describe the other plane, “a military one, beside it [‘it’ being the airliner]. Everybody saw it. It was proceeding underneath below the civilian one.”

Here is the second, and clearer, version of that clip. (It’s the one that’s still live at youtube.) The key portion on it is at 0:38-042 in the video:

That was the 9 September 2014 repost of it, with the same subscript-translation into English, only the visual is sharper.

And here is an apology, dated 25 July 2014, by the BBC, for their having removed their original video of this interview — and yet they still didn’t repost it; they still continue to blockade it; even today the only versions available, of these, the earliest recorded interviews of people who said they witnessed the event, are the independently posted ones, but here is the BBC’s apology:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/russian/blogs/2014/07/140725_blog_editors_bbc_story_republished.shtml

Here, then, is that BBC apology google-translated into English: http://archive.is/kc291

So: clearly, BBC has done all that they could to remove evidence, which they had mistakenly broadcast, which had fit the retired Lufthansa pilot Peter Haisenko’s reconstruction of the event, and which contradicted the US-Ukrainian reconstruction of it — the reconstruction that Western ‘news’ media project, and on the basis of which US President Barack Obama won from the EU stiff increases in, and subsequent extensions of, the economic sanctions against Russia, all on the basis of lies.

(Subsequently, on 17 December 2018, South Front headlined “‘EDITORIAL BOARD DEMANDS BLOOD’: INSIDE LOOK AT HOW BBC TRIES TO FIND PROOF OF RUSSIAN INFLUENCE ON YELLOW VEST PROTESTS”, and they reported that Ivshina had texted to a BBC stringer, on the streets of Paris, instructions of what story-lines were wanted by BBC management regarding the “Yellow Vests” demonstrations against French President Emmanuel Macron, ”Yes, I’m searching for the angles))) The editorial board wants blood, yo)))”. “And if you find these ultra-rightists [at the protests], will they talk about Putin and Moscow? Well, at least the Russians go to the protests, right?” Ivshina was instructing her French stringer what to look for, in order for her to be able to report the type of ‘news’ that her bosses wanted to publish. Perhaps Ivshina had been chastised in 2014 and had learned to never again be caught reporting anything that challenges the UK Government’s anti-Russia propaganda-line.)

So, this valuable eyewitness-testimony to the MH17 event is available despite Western ‘news’ media (or, more-accurately, propaganda-media), and the reason for the news-suppression is clear to anyone who views that BBC 23 July 2014 report, which presents several eyewitnesses, interviewed separately as individuals, not as a group, and yet all of whose testimonies — perhaps despite Ivshina’s wish for them not to say this — report having observed the very same basic narrative, of at least one military jet rising toward the airliner just before it came down. 

In other words: it is clear that BBC had yanked this report because it didn’t confirm the West’s story-line, which says that Ukrainian pro-Russian separatists had fired a “Buk” ground-based missile at the airliner, thinking that the civilian plane was a Ukrainian Government war-plane about to bomb them and their families. But, first of all, the Ukrainian Government was virtually admitting there that they were bombing these villagers, which means that they were perpetrating an ethnic cleansing operation there, which indeed that Government was doing; but, secondly, the Ukrainian Government’s statement also acknowledged that if the event had happened in that way, it would have been unintentional, a tragic accident on the part of the rebels there. (The JIT’s line now is that it was instead an outright Russian attack against the MH17.)

So, then, why did “the international community” respond with massive economic sanctions against Russia on account of this downing — by, as it turns out, Ukraine? The whole Western propaganda position was designed for a public of sheer fools, if not of outright psychopathic ones, who cared not a bit about the plights of the victims of an ethnic-cleansing campaign. They cared only about victims in “The West.” The West’s basic story-line doesn’t make sense without recognizing that we were financing ethnic cleansing to clear the land in southeastern Ukraine, and that any support that Russia would be providing to those separatists would have been defensive in nature, not offensive. Yet Russia gets the blame when this passenger jet goes down? Even though Ukraine’s air-traffic control had guided the pilot there? In any case, that story-line of Russian guilt is false, from start to finish. And now (at least after 17 September 2018) it is finished. But Western ‘news’-media still continue to broadcast the lies, as if it weren’t.

Here is how outright ludicrous it actually is, and sound reason in itself that anyone in the military had to have known, from the very get-go, that the “Buk” ‘explanation’ was a line of pure malarkey:

THE RUSSIAN DOCUMENTARY:

The 22 October 2014 Russian documentary was titled, “MH-17: The Untold Story,” and it presents, among much else, videos of several “Buk” missiles being fired on other occasions, just to show how utterly ludicrous the initial Ukraine-US-and-allied ‘explanation of the MH17 event was. On 5 November 2014, I summarized that, with screen-shots from the Russian documentary.

So, when even the BBC’s reporter wasn’t able to find anyone in that entire region who recounts having seen anything of the sort, just how likely would the Ukrainian Government’s line on that matter — that not only was this done by a lone Buk but it was fired by (at first) pro-Russian separatists, and (then) by the Russian army — actually be? Obviously, any person with any military knowledge whatsoever had to have recognized virtually immediately that the Ukrainian Government’s story-line on the MH-17 downing was a pile of sheer malarkey, but did anyone in the Western ‘news’ media report that it was — that the Western line there was not just a lie, but an absurd one, one that requires an ignorant public in order for it to be able to be taken seriously at all by the public? One that requires an ignorant public, to remain ignorant? This is supposed to be the Western ‘news’ media, with a free press, and a democracy, a truthfully informed citizenry, who can vote based upon truths, not on mere lies?

Here is the way that the Russian TV documentary opens:

Several of the locals there told Russian TV’s reporter that they had seen a military jet rise toward the airliner; and not a one of these individuals were any of the same ones who had testified the exact same thing to the BBC’s reporter, whose news-piece had been squelched by her managers.

HERE IS HOW MH17 WAS SHOT DOWN:

Now, to the substance of the explanation of how this plane was actually brought down:

Earlier, I had summarized the evidence for Peter Haisenko’s reconstruction of the event, but I questioned his having accepted the eyewitness testimony to the effect that the planes that shot down the airliner were SU-25s. In Haisenko’s Russian TV interview, he stuck by his belief that it was probably SU-25s instead of SU-27s or Mig 29s, both of which are also in the Ukrainian Air Force, and all three of which use 30-millimeter machine-guns or “cannons.” But since the fact is that all three of those attack-plane models use machine-guns (“cannons”) with 30-caliber bullets (which is the size that clearly was used, especially on the cockpit), the effect would be identically-sized round 30-caliber entry-holes, no matter what. My last major report on that evidence, prior to the 8 August 2014 formation of the JIT and their mutual agreement to report nothing that would be incriminating to Ukraine’s Government regarding the MH17 incident, was “Systematically Reconstructing the Shoot-Down of the Malaysian Airliner: The Guilt Is Clear and Damning.” That basically fills in (and the links, in that report, document with pictures and videos that) the actual way that this plane was downed, and that why it was downed was “to get the EU to go along with stiffened sanctions against Russia”. Obama (via the regime that he had installed in a February 2014 coup in Kiev) succeeded there in getting the international sanctions against Russia that he had been wanting. Obama, and certainly not Putin — and now we know it wasn’t Russia at all (not even if a Buk was involved) — was the key person behind this. The 298 MH17 murder-victims on 17 July 2014 were murdered by Barack Obama (via his agents such as Victoria Nuland — she ran Obama’s Ukrainian operation), just as clearly as (if not even more clearly than) Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud (via his agents at the Sauds’ Istanbul Consulate) murdered Jamal Khashoggi on 2 October 2018.

International actions (such as economic sanctions) are based upon such fabrications, and ‘evidence’ taken out of its full context, as this from the far-right Forbes commentator Paul Roderick Gregory, but there are no such fakes, nor out-of-context items of evidence, in the case that has been presented here. That’s the difference between news-reporting versus propaganda; but, in the United States today, propaganda passes as if it were ‘news,’ and authentic news that doesn’t fit the regime’s cooked-up narrative is suppressed entirely. The scandal isn’t just Obama, and it’s not just Ukraine; it is also the propaganda-organs, and even (though to the least extent) their audiences who subscribe to such lying ‘news’-media.

Western governments, and their ‘news’ media, are treating their citizens, their own publics, not really as citizens, but as suckers. They are treating them as subjects, instead of as citizens. This is not authentic democracy. It is neo-feudal; it is, in fact, fascism.

The entire “Buk” ‘explanation’ of the downing of the Malaysian airliner (the idea that only a Buk missile caused the physical wreckage which was found) is for suckers only; and everyone in official circles, and in the press, who peddles it, is just as fake as the ridiculous story-line that he or she is peddling. To fall for it, after being provided all of the authentic evidence, which has been linked-to here, one would have to be a willing slave to psychopaths. In this case, the psychopath was Obama, who not only had perpetrated a bloody coup to overthrow the democratically elected President of Ukraine in February 2014 but who also was now struggling, and had a very pressing obsession, to get the EU to accept his sanctions against Russia for its having accepted the pleas of Crimeans (who had voted 75% for that President) to become restored again to Russia. The 14 July 2014 mass-murder that was set up to be blamed against Russia was Obama’s trick that enabled him to win his way on this.

CONCLUSIONS:

By no means do we know every detail about how the MH17 was shot down, but what we do now know for certain is that the narrative for that event which was supplied by Ukraine’s team on May 24th — the official account of how it happened — isn’t just false; it is outright fraudulent. Ukraine’s team supplied evidence which, if it is authentic, actually convicts Ukraine. And Western ‘news’-media hide this crucial fact.

So, now, we know why Western governments have hidden, instead of making available to the public, the black-box data and the other evidence that they still refuse to provide to the public. They are aiming to scam the public, not to inform it. Lying is their game. They might call it ‘patriotism.’ Traitors would likely do that. Traitors to any country could do it. And, so, they do. Their believers constitute their political base.

Unfortunately, anyone they fool becomes their tool, and everyone else is purely their victim — helpless to oust (much less, to replace) the tyrants who make things bad for everyone but themselves and their colleagues, the insiders at the very top.

Just the day before the MH17 shoot-down, Bloomberg News had headlined, on 16 July 2014, "EU Readies Russia Sanctions Amid US Pressure on Ukraine”, and reported that “the US urges the bloc to take a tougher stance against Moscow.” The day before that, on July 15th, Bloomberg’s headline had been “EU Leaders Weigh Sanctions Against Russia Over Ukraine”, and that report opened, “European Union leaders meeting in Brussels will consider expanded sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict, as the US urges the bloc to take a tougher stand against Moscow.” Was the July 17th event only coincidentally timed perfectly in order to achieve what Obama was determined to produce: the first Ukraine-based anti-Russia sanctions? The regime that Obama had installed in Ukraine in February 2014 needed not only his support, but also the support of the IMF (in order to obtain loans), and of the EU (which it was seeking to join). There was probably even more pressure placed upon the leaders in Ukraine than there was upon the leaders in the EU. But there was plenty upon them both. The EU was widely reported to be balking at increasing the sanctions against Russia. Obama needed the EU to approve quickly his increased sanctions, so as to keep the momentum going for his entire anti-Russian campaign, which had been the reason behind his February 2014 coup in Ukraine. Something dramatic now was needed, in order for Obama to win the EU’s full cooperation. After all, Obama had secretly started at least by 2011 his operation to take over Ukraine. This operation was, for him, one of the central objectives of his entire two-term Presidency. Ukraine — and Ukraine alone — now had within its power the capacity to deliver to him the EU’s participation. Ukraine delivered it, precisely when it was the most urgently needed. This was essential in order for Ukraine to be able to enter the EU. And entering the EU would be essential in order for Ukraine to be able to enter NATO — the next key step in the Bilderbergers’ plan. 

Continuing the sanctions is easier than originally imposing them was. On 22 December 2018, UAwire headlined “EU extends economic sanctions against Russia”, and reported that on December 14th, the EU’s sanctions against Russia, which are based upon alleged Russian aggressions in or against Ukraine, are being extended: UAwire noted “These measures were initially introduced on July 31, 2014 for one year in response to Russia's actions to destabilize the situation in Ukraine, and then strengthened in September 2014.” The EU supports, and participates in, the US regime’s lies and sanctions against Russia. These crimes and lies started as Obama’s, but continued under his successor Trump, and have been also the EU’s crimes throughout, by the EU’s joining, instead of condemning, not only those sanctions but also the lies upon which those sanctions are based. The EU thus indirectly shares the US Government’s guilt in the mass-murders that occurred on 17 July 2014. 

Perhaps the survivors’ families and Malaysia Airlines (which is owned by the Malaysian Government), and their Governments, will file both civil and criminal charges now initially against Ukraine and its President Petro Poroshenko, and ultimately against Victoria Nuland, Barack Obama, and the United States, but also against the Dutch Government, for its collusion with the United States Government in its fraudulent ‘investigation’ that had pre-established blame against Russia. (However, the secret agreement that Malaysia signed to join the JIT might prohibit Malaysia from joining such suits.) Netherlands pre-established Russian blame especially by means of its 8 August 2014 secret four-party agreement (joined later by Malaysia’s Government) to allow Ukraine, an actual suspect in this case, to hold veto power over the assignment of blame in this entire matter. However, not only the survivors of the 298 victims should be suing, but all of the victims should be represented in this case. There were also many violations of international laws. Obama’s coup against Ukraine was one such. The MH17 shoot-down resulted from that coup, couldn’t have occurred without it, and was an extension from it. That coup is thus an important part of the MH17 case.

On 20 September 2017, the now 5 countries in the JIT signed a joint “Memorandum of Understanding” saying “Arrangements for signatories and other grieving nations to make financial contributions to the national proceedings in the Netherlands will be laid down in a financial memorandum of understanding,” and that “This Memorandum will remain in effect for five years and will be automatically extended for successive five-year periods.” So, they intend to continue their ‘investigation’ into MH17 until they can present to the world evidence that Russia did it. Perhaps before that happens, however, all of the victims and their children will already have passed away and this fraud and farce will finally end, as secretly as it began, and only few people will even care, anymore, about it.

Or will victims and their families, instead, initiate whatever legal proceedings they can, right now, against all members of the JIT, for their cover-up, and against the ringleaders, in the US, who demanded this mass-murder to be done, and against the perpetrators in Ukraine, who actually ordered and did it?

Maybe they’ll even be able to get Barack Obama to return to the Nobel committee their 2009 Peace Prize.

The US regime masterminded this mass-murder in order to win the EU’s support for sanctions against Russia, and the EU knowingly complied, and continues to comply, with the American regime’s ongoing aggressions and lies against Russia. The 298 MH17 murder-victims are thus not only the US regime’s victims, but vicariously victims also of the EU — and not, at all, of Russia. Russia was instead the real intended target of the possible Ukrainian Buk missile, and of the Ukrainian fighter-jets, that brought down the MH17. The MH17 victims were merely “collateral damages” in the US regime’s secret decades-long and ongoing anti-Russia war. This is how today’s America competes in the world, by playing very dirty, and getting away with it, helped by its allies, which endorse, and join in, the US regime’s atrocities.

Now, which major news-media in The West will report these solidly documented facts? Isn’t it time, finally, that they should start doing that? Or, do they have no honor, at all?

Published:1/2/2019 1:15:19 AM
[Markets] America's Defeat In Syria Is A Crisis Of Empire

Authored by Tom Luongo,

The U.S. lost in Syria. Donald Trump finally had the courage to admit that to the world when he ordered the pull out of all U.S. troops there.

Syria was to be the sparkling jewel in the Empire of Chaos’ Crown. A masterstroke of realpolitik which would advance every major U.S., Israeli and Saudi objective while thoroughly destabilizing the Levant and setting the stage for wiping out Iran and eventually Russia.

If the Assad government fell, Syria would become something worse than Libya. It would become a source of abject chaos for decades to come. And the formation of greater Kurdistan would put advanced U.S. and Israeli military assets on Iran’s doorstep.

Carving up Syria, Iraq and possibly even Turkey, once Erdogan was removed from power, would put the U.S. and Israel in control of the oil assets to fund a jihadist-led insurgency across all of central Asia.

Moreover, the chaos would ensure a steady stream of refugees into Europe to destabilize it. That chaos would lead to further political integration of Europe under EU control.

You can see the remnants of this plan all around you today. In fact, a great deal of it is still on auto-pilot. Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron’s tag-team calls for ceding national sovereignty to the EU are a perfect example of this.

They can all feel the project slipping away from them. Despite their failing political power they are pushing their legislatures to ignore the people, calling them traitors.

Orwell would be proud of Macron for saying, “patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism [because] nationalism is treason.”

The generals Trump just fired over his decision are another example. They still believe they can win a balkanization of Syria and Iraq. They just need more assets and more time.

Israel’s childish and disgusting antics sending missiles at the Damascus airport using civilians as human shields is the most damning.

If you look around the game board right now all of the people who were the architects of the Syrian war are either out of power or losing it rapidly — Hillary Clinton, Obama, Merkel, Macron, Netanyahu, David Cameron.

Russian Rescue

This is why Russia’s entrance into Syria was so important. It was a moment the entire geopolitical narrative turned. Someone stood up to the U.S. successfully.

Institutional confidence is based on the perception of invulnerability. And Putin moving air assets into Syria to assist the Syrian Arab Army was a declaration that Russia had reached its limit, just like with Crimea, with U.S. meddling in its long-term goals.

Remember, in 2015 the narrative was ISIS just sprang up out of the desert. And they would need a full invasion to defeat.

Then the Russians send in some 30 planes and change everything about the conflict within six weeks.

All of a sudden ISIS was beatable. All the U.S. could do was attack Putin for going after Al-Qaeda, not ISIS.

But, why were we protecting Al-Qaeda? Didn’t they blow up the Twin Towers?

Trump will never admit this in public but in some ways he does owe his election to Putin. By forcing open the truth, Putin set the stage to blow up the Syria narrative in late 2015/early 2016.

Trump used that to catapult himself to the Presidency. And that is truly what has everyone in The Swamp angry; the reality that the rubes aren’t buying their lies anymore.

And the wars need to end.

As the losses for Al-Qaeda and ISIS mounted thanks to a Russian air campaign they will write military logistics textbooks about, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia all got cold feet.

The Russian intervention prompted the Saudi King to change the line of succession as it became obvious they would never get their spoils from Syria — a gas pipeline into Turkey.

Turkey quit the moment Erdogan realized he was being set up to take the blame for the entire mess. After all, he and his son were selling the oil ISIS was smuggling in plain sight across the Syrian desert to Turkey.

And somehow an all-powerful U.S. military and surveillance system which can read license plates from space couldn’t find convoys of Toyota pickup trucks ferrying tons of oil to Turkey.

Imperial Retreat

Once someone stands up to the Empire successfully once it creates the opportunity for someone to do it again. Putin’s interventions in Syria, both in 2013 diplomatically and in 2015 militarily, told the world Russia was no longer afraid of the U.S.’s ability to project power around the world.

And that’s what truly changed the narrative. And that’s why we’re where we are today with Trump rightly acknowledging the Empire is bankrupting not only the U.S. but, truly, the rest of the world.

His challenge will be surviving the backlash from the entrenched powers in D.C. and Europe. They will push for his head, literally and figuratively.

By declaring victory over ISIS and leaving Syria Trump puts a period on the end of a shameful period of U.S. history. And the loss to the empire will not be easily overcome.

Syria represented the worst kind of imperial over reach. And in some ways it was a quagmire the U.S. and its allies could never win because the assets needed to take it were never available.

And those assets were political. The appetite for endless war had been spent with Obama’s election, no less Trump’s. So, absent a casus belli which could make Americans feel good about intervening in Syria, we were never going to give either President the mandate for a full-blown NATO intervention.

The only question surrounding it in hindsight was whether those that stood to lose the most — Russia, Iran, Lebanon — would stand together and convince China to support them in saving Syria, and, by extension, themselves.

Once it became clear that they would, with Russia’s intervention and China’s tacit approval and financial support, the end was then written in the sand, as long as they would keep their eyes on the big prize.

Winning by surviving. Syria was a war of attrition in which the pro-Syria coalition, step-by-step, made U.S. occupation more untenable. Eventually, that plus deft diplomatic maneuvers to advance a political solution led to this point.

This loss will beget others. Unbridled U.S. aggression has successfully been countered with mostly passive resistance. Afghanistan and Ukraine are on deck.

*  *  *

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Published:1/1/2019 10:12:38 PM
[Markets] The Only Meddling "Russian Bots" Were Actually Democrat-Led "Experts"

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

Cybersecurity “experts” in the United States have long alleged that “Russian bots” were used to meddle in the 2016 elections.

But, as it turns out, the authors of a Senate report on “Russian election meddling” actually ran the false flag meddling operation themselves.

A week before Christmas, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report accusing Russia of depressing Democrat voter turnout by targeting African-Americans on social media. Its authors, New Knowledge, quickly became a household name. Described by the New York Times as a group of “tech specialists who lean Democratic,” New Knowledge has ties to both the U.S. military and the intelligence agencies.

The CEO and co-founder of New Knowledge, Jonathon Morgan, had previously worked for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the U.S. military’s advanced research agency known for horrific ideas on how to control humanity. Morgan’s partner, Ryan Fox, is a 15-year veteran of the NSA (National Security Agency) who also worked as a computer analyst for the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Their unique skill sets have managed to attract the eye of authoritarian investors, who pumped $11 million into the company in 2018 alone, according to a report by RT.

Morgan and Fox have both struck gold in the Russiagate scheme, which sprung into being after Hillary Clinton blamed Moscow for Donald Trump’s presidential victory in 2016. Morgan, for example, is one of the developers of the Hamilton 68 Dashboard, the online tool that purports to monitor and expose narratives being pushed by the Kremlin on Twitter. And also worth mentioning, that dashboard is bankrolled by the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy – a collection of Democrats and neoconservatives funded in part by NATO (North AtTreaty Tready Organization)and USAID (United States Agency for International Development).

It is worth noting that the 600 Russia-linked Twitter accounts monitored by the dashboard is not disclosed to the public either, making it impossible to verify these claims. This inconvenience has not stopped Hamilton 68 from becoming a go-to source for hysteria-hungry journalists, however. Yet on December 19, a New York Timesstory revealed that Morgan and his crew had created the fake army of Russian bots, as well as several fake Facebook groups, in order to discredit Republican candidate Roy Moore in Alabama’s 2017 special election for the U.S. Senate.

Working on behalf of the Democrats, Morgan and his crew created an estimated 1,000 fake Twitter accounts with Russian names, and had them follow Moore. They also operated several Facebook pages where they posed as Alabama conservatives who wanted like-minded voters to support a write-in candidate insteadIn an internal memo, New Knowledge boasted that it had orchestrated an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet.”RT

This scandal is being perpetrated by the United States media and has so far deceived millions, if not more. The botnet claim made a splash on social media and was further amplified by Mother Jones, which based its story on “expert opinion” from Morgan’s dubious creation, Hamilton 68.

Things got even weirder when it turned out that Scott Shane, the author of the Times piece, had known about the meddling for months because he spoke at an event where the organizers boasted about it!

Shane was one of the speakers at a meeting in September, organized by American Engagement Technologies, a group run by Mikey Dickerson, President Barack Obama’s former tech czar. Dickerson explained how AET spent $100,000 on New Knowledge’s campaign to suppress Republican votes, “enrage Democrats to boost turnout, and execute a false flag to hurt Moore. He dubbed it Project Birmingham.” -RT

There really was meddling in American democracy by Russian bots. Except those bots weren’t run from Moscow or St. Petersburg but from the offices of Democrat operatives chiefly responsible for creating and amplifying the Russiagate hysteria over the past two years in a textbook case of psychological projectionbrainwashing, and Nazi-style propaganda campaigns.

Published:1/1/2019 8:42:00 PM
[Markets] 2019 From A Fourth Turning Persepctive

Authored by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,

“An impasse over the federal budget reaches a stalemate. The president and Congress both refuse to back down, triggering a near-total government shutdown. The president declares emergency powers. Congress rescinds his authority. Dollar and bond prices plummet. The president threatens to stop Social Security checks. Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling. Default looms. Wall Street panics.”

– The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe

Strauss and Howe wrote their book in 1996. They were not trying to be prophets of doom, but observers of history able to connect events through human life cycles of 80 or so years. Using critical thinking skills and identifying the most likely triggers for crisis: debt, civic decay, and global disorder, they were able to anticipate scenarios which could drive the next crisis, which they warned would arrive in the mid-2000 decade. The scenario described above is fairly close to the current situation, driven by the showdown between Trump and the Democrats regarding the border wall.

It has not reached the stage where all hell breaks loose, but if it extends until the end of January and food stamp money is not distributed to 40 million people (mostly in urban ghettos) all bets are off. The likelihood of this scenario is small, but there are numerous potential triggers which could still make 2019 go down in history as a year to remember.

As we enter the eleventh year of this Fourth Turning, the fourth Crisis period in U.S. history, the mood of U.S. citizens and citizens around the globe continues to darken. Fourth Turnings are driven by generational configuration and the emotional reaction to events by the Prophet generation leaders, Nomad generation spearheads, and Hero generation cannon fodder.

As we close out this year, stock markets are gyrating wildly, central bankers are trying to reverse their nine years of interventionist strategies to sustain the establishment, civil chaos spreads across the European continent, saber rattling between the U.S., Russia and China increases, the animosity between political parties reaches new heights, the Deep State relentlessly pursues their Mueller led coup against Trump, mega-social media corporations tighten their grip on free speech by silencing conservatives, leftists push their socialist, open borders, normalizing degeneracy agenda, and global recession gains momentum as trade declines and global debt reaches unserviceable levels.

Examining the three prior Fourth Turnings may give us a window into where we stand and what may happen in the coming year. We are in the tenth year of this Crisis, with the eleven-year anniversary slated for September 2019. The American Revolution Crisis was catalyzed in 1773 when the Boston Tea Party forever changed the colonial mood towards revolution. After eight years of struggle and desperate measures, the climax was reached with the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781.

But there was still thirteen more years of crisis as the new states forged a Constitution, elected Washington its first president, and he withstood the Jacobins, put down the Whiskey Rebellion and finalized a treaty with England. In year ten of the crisis, two years past the climax, the Treaty of Paris was signed, British troops left the continent, and Washington resigned as commander of American troops. The Articles of Confederation had been ratified in 1781 and remained in place until succeeded by the U.S. Constitution in 1789.

There was no tenth or eleventh year of the Civil War Crisis. Lincoln’s election with only 40% of the popular vote, prompting the attack on Fort Sumpter, and subsequent secession of Southern states, triggered the bloodiest conflict in world history, with 8% of all white men aged 13 to 43 killed in the war, including 6% in the North and 18% in the South. The acceleration of this Fourth Turning into a five-year window from 1860 to 1865 was not a positive development.

The extreme intensity of the conflict resulted in 700,000 tragic deaths. The catalyst occurred five years too soon and the resolution a generation too soon. A more extended crisis may have allowed tempers to moderate and the conflict to end in a more constructive manner. Instead, with the surrender at Appomattox and assassination of Lincoln, the resolution felt more like a defeat than a victory. Turmoil continued for at least a decade after the resolution.

The Great Depression/World War II Crisis saw its tenth and eleventh years as the most ominous, dangerous and destructive for Great Britain, as they bore the brunt of the German onslaught. 1939 saw the Nazi invasion of Poland and the official start of World War II. In May of 1940 Germany launched its blitzkrieg offensive through Holland and Belgium, defeating the French and British forces in a matter of weeks. Chamberlain resigned as Prime Minister, replaced by Churchill, as France surrendered in late June.

The Battle of Britain raged from July through October as Hitler relentlessly bombed England, trying to force their surrender. Germany, Italy and Japan signed the Tripartite pact in September, setting the stage for the U.S. eventual participation in the war. Einstein informed FDR of the potential for an atomic bomb during 1939 and the Manhattan Project was born. The climax of the crisis occurred with the successful D-Day invasion. The dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan and successful demobilization of military forces marked the end of the crisis.

History may not repeat, but human nature never changes, so the 80-year cycles of manmade crisis will repeat. The length of time from the American Revolution climax in 1781 until the Civil War climax in 1863 was 82 years. The next climax in 1944 was 81 years after the Civil War climax. Therefore, we can expect a climax to this current Crisis sometime in the 2025 range. The question is what events will transpire between 2019 and 2025 before a climax is reached.

Based upon history, the resolution will not be based on compromise, civility, reason, or peaceful means. The combustible combination of unpayable debt, civic anarchy, and global chaos are set to detonate, creating an era of maximum darkness, death, destruction, and decisions. Making America Great Again will require personal sacrifice, dreadful choices, survival skills, intelligent decisions, and the courage to win at all costs.

The first ten years of this Crisis were the early Winter solstice period when public order began to pass its nadir. The coldest days of Winter beckon with the harshest years of the Crisis ahead. Many melancholy days lie ahead, as bitter winter winds and blizzard like conditions sweep the bleak landscape, testing the mettle of even the bravest souls. The catalyst for the Crisis was the Wall Street created global financial meltdown in 2008. The election of Trump marked the beginning of the regeneracy, with Trump as the Gray Champion.

The last two years have certainly marked a new more volatile phase of this Crisis, setting the stage for the fireworks to come. The regeneracy is less like FDR’s New Deal initiated unification of the country and more like the Lincoln regeneracy after the First Battle of Bull Run when he ordered the enlistment of a half million men to fight a like number of fellow American men. Both American factions were unified in their cause. The chain reaction of emergencies and unyielding responses will continue unabated until a final resolution is achieved.

“In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies.

The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. If foreign societies are also entering a Fourth Turning, this could accelerate the chain reaction. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe

Strauss and Howe foresaw the core elements which would surely propel the next Fourth Turning. They were plain to see for people who chose to see the world with eyes wide open. Debt, civic decay and global disorder are on center stage as we enter the fateful year of 2019. A madness seems to be gripping the nation, a melancholy realization all is not right. Everything has a chaotic feel, as financial markets are falling, politicians threaten and attack each other, government dysfunction is laid bare for all to see, Deep State snakes slither behind the scenes trying to bring down Trump, racial tensions grow, foreign governments topple, Russia and China challenge U.S. hegemony, and the global debt Ponzi scheme is entering its collapse phase.

There are no moderates, only pro-Trump and anti-Trump factions. Compromise and workable solutions to our deep-seated problems are off the table. The mood of the populace ranges from frustrated and angry to depressed and stressed. The aroma of conflict wafts through the air as battle lines are being drawn.

The initial spark of a global financial meltdown created by greedy Wall Street banks, the feckless Fed, and corrupt government officials was driven by bad debt, outright control fraud by the financial industry, captured rating agencies, easy money provided by the Wall Street owned Fed, and utter contempt for properly regulating the Wall Street cabal by the Fed and SEC.

This emergency was met by an unyielding response from the establishment, with the easiest money policies in world history, bailing out criminal bankers with taxpayer funds, increasing global debt by $80 trillion to $250 trillion (318% of global GDP), running fiscal deficits exceeding $1 trillion per year, and pretending all that debt will be repaid. Pretend and extend has been the solution.

The Deep State has taken extraordinary measures to try and retain their stranglehold on the wealth of the nation and control of the political, financial, social and media levers of society. They have utilized a combination of propaganda disguised as news, social media distractions, technological surveillance, misinformation campaigns, welfare to keep the poor sedated, and the continued issuance of debt to keep the masses satiated with consumer goods as their wealth dissipates. But the teetering edifice of debt, delusion and deception is poised to topple in 2019.

As we enter 2019, year eleven of this ongoing Crisis, you can sense the panic and distress permeating from the pores of the establishment figures and their rich shadowy benefactors trying to maintain their unseen presence behind the curtain as they pull the strings – operating as the invisible government running the show for their own benefit. It seems the unanticipated election of Trump has thrown a monkey wrench into their well- oiled pillage machine, forcing them to reveal themselves as they attempt a not so subtle coup against a sitting president.

Fourth Turnings always sweep away the existing social order in a torrent of violent upheaval and the blood of young men. But that doesn’t mean the existing establishment will give up their wealth, power and control without a fight. And the fight is underway. The volcano has erupted and the molten lava could flow in numerous pathways over the next six or so years.

“Imagine some national (and probably global) volcanic eruption, initially flowing along channels of distress that were created during the Unraveling era and further widened by the catalyst. Trying to foresee where the eruption will go once it bursts free of the channels is like trying to predict the exact fault line of an earthquake. All you know in advance is something about the molten ingredients of the climax, which could include the following:

  • Economic distress, with public debt in default, entitlement trust funds in bankruptcy, mounting poverty and unemployment, trade wars, collapsing financial markets, and hyperinflation (or deflation)

  • Social distress, with violence fueled by class, race, nativism, or religion and abetted by armed gangs, underground militias, and mercenaries hired by walled communities

  • Political distress, with institutional collapse, open tax revolts, one-party hegemony, major constitutional change, secessionism, authoritarianism, and altered national borders

  • Military distress, with war against terrorists or foreign regimes equipped with weapons of mass destruction” 

– The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe

The ingredients of distress in the next phase of this Crisis could include any or all of those pondered by Strauss and Howe twenty-two years ago. I can make the case for multiple levels of distress breaking free from their channels, making 2019 as historic a year as 1939 or 1940. My prognosis for 2019 follows:

Economic Distress

Economic distress is mounting, as the machinations of the Fed, Wall Street and the U.S. government prove to be nothing more than debt financed illusions. Once the easy money spigot is turned off and the tide of zero interest debt for Wall Street and mega-corporations recedes, you realize everyone was swimming naked. The national debt grew by $1.4 trillion in 2018 during “the best economy ever”, according to Trump.

We added $12 trillion to the national debt and have generated a historically weak recovery, especially for the working class. We’ve gone nine years without recession and the longest period in U.S. history between recessions was ten years. Without the tax cut stimulus, interest rates higher, corporate profits flagging, global trade waning, and central bankers withdrawing liquidity, recession is likely in 2019 – driving deficits towards $2 trillion.

The number of zombie companies (GE, Sears, JC Penney, Chesapeake, all fracking companies) propped up by cheap junk bond debt is astronomical. National debt default is still a ways off, but a tsunami of corporate debt defaults will inundate the economy once the recession knocks the legs out from beneath this faux recovery. Corporations and consumers have never been more indebted. Stock valuations have never been higher.

An economy that begins to self destruct when interest rates approach 3% proves the “solutions” implemented by those in power did nothing for the average American, while further enriching the parasitical class pulling the strings. At this point, a specific triggering event is unnecessary to provoke the economic conflagration. The unbearable weight of unpayable debt is going to cause the structure to collapse at free fall speed, like the Twin Towers pancaking everyone in the floors below.

With a recession inevitable in 2019, we know the stock market declines 30% to 40% during recessions, on average. When a stock market is this overvalued, based solely on Fed easy money and corporate buybacks (Apple has lost $9 billion on their buybacks this year), the withdrawal of liquidity combined with recession and declining profits will knock 50% to 60% off current prices. I wonder how many middle-class 401k contributors expect this to happen. Well this will be the third time in 18 years, so you would think they’d learn by now.

Recession means job losses, consumer debt defaults, less tax revenue for the government, more wasteful spending by politicians pretending to care, soaring deficits, currency gyrations, and the potential for rising interest rates as no one will be willing or able to buy the newly issued debt. Will we have massive deflation or hyperinflation? Anything is possible in a collapse scenario. What is certain will be millions of angry Americans looking for someone to blame and politicians seeking to distract them with some foreign “threat” to their safety and security. This is when trade wars morph into real wars.

Social Distress

The social distress sweeping the country gets the majority of attention on the left-wing corporate media propaganda machines as they purposely fan the flames of divisiveness. Keeping the sheeple angry at each other keeps them distracted from the continued pillaging of the national wealth by the Deep State scum operating in plain sight. The daily war against the normals has reached new heights of hypocrisy and idiocy.

The unceasing mantra of diversity, trying to normalize the lifestyles of the mentally ill, glorifying socialism as Venezuela implodes due to socialism, promoting the climate change agenda to abscond with more taxes, and trying to force left wing agendas down the throats of white traditional family-oriented people, is on the verge of starting civil violence as we are witnessing in France. The ruling class has gone too far in accumulating the wealth of the nation through the capture of regulatory, political, financial, and communication structures. Wealth inequality arisen through fraud, deception and corruption will lead to class warfare – likely after the next financial collapse.

The current government shutdown over funding for a border wall is essentially a showdown over the racial makeup of the country and allowing unfettered access to welfare benefits to illegal invaders who will loyally illegally vote for their Democrat benefactors for eternity. Racial politics is what has kept blacks enslaved on the welfare plantation in decaying urban ghettos run by Democrat politician plantation owners.

A black uprising led by Kanye West has struck fear into the hearts of Democrats, giving them further incentive to keeping the southern border open to new Democrat voters.  With gun grabbing liberal politicians attempting to disarm the deplorables in flyover country, while supporting antifa and black lives matter terrorists, and thwarting efforts to keep criminals and terrorists from illegally entering the country, a violent showdown is inevitable.

Political Distress

The political distress since the 2016 election has reached levels not seen since the Civil War Crisis period. The Deep State controllers’ next hand-picked figurehead president – Hillary Clinton – inexplicably lost the election to a NYC reality star real estate mogul who boasted about grabbing pussies and had a weakness for strippers and Playboy bunnies. Clinton’s arrogance and hubris were her downfall as the deplorables she ridiculed and a majority of white women in the country gave Trump a slim victory and drove millions of pussy-hat wearing feminazis into a rage.

College students across the land sobbed in their safe spaces and missed their Queer Theory or Pick your Gender classes. But not only were snowflakes across the land melting, but the surveillance state spooks who attempted to rig the election in Clinton’s favor went into a frenzy, as fear of their traitorous machinations being revealed forced them to begin a coup attempt against Trump. The Mueller, Comey, Clapper, Brennan, Obama, Clinton reactive coup attempt is ongoing and will come to a head in 2019.

The outcome of this epic struggle between the Deep State and the non-approved upstart president could create civil war like conditions. How will Trump supporters react if they believe their leader is removed through impeachment, based on false charges? Will they take to the streets in armed insurrection? Will the police and military fire on their fellow citizens? What if Trump refuses to step down, creating a Constitutional crisis? What if he is assassinated?

On the other hand, what if Trump’s allies within the DOJ and Military present evidence of collusion against the Obama administration, Clinton and top officials in the FBI, DOJ and CIA? How would the left wingers react to military tribunals with their beloved leaders in the docket? Even if these earth-shattering events don’t come to fruition, a Democrat controlled House will thwart everything Trump attempts to accomplish as they position themselves for the 2020 presidential election. The anger and disillusionment of the masses will deepen.

Military Distress

The potential for catastrophe on the military front hasn’t been higher in decades. The linear thinking lemmings dismiss the possibility of a global conflict because they are just as obtuse as “experts” before them throughout history. Since World War II we have only experienced proxy wars where the outcomes would not change the course of world history. There have been no “total wars”, where the loser is utterly shattered and complete victory is attained.

Those who practice revisionist history act as if the previous two Fourth Turning total wars were completely predictable before they began. In 1858 no one believed a Civil War taking the lives of 700,000 Americans was just over the horizon. Exactly 80 years later in 1938, few believed a global conflict which would kill 65 million people in six years was imminent. Here we are exactly 80 years later and anyone predicting a global conflagration killing millions is declared a loon.

Every previous Fourth Turning has ended in total war with victory of the “good guys” always in doubt. Every total war has ratcheted up the level of death and destruction, as technological “advancements” enhance our war making abilities. Human nature DOES NOT change. We are not smarter, less war-like, more humanitarian, or less arrogant than our predecessors throughout history. Hubris, power, and miscalculation by egomaniacal leaders leads to war.

We know the climax of this Fourth Turning is slated for around 2025. This infers a high likelihood of a major war involving the U.S. in the foreseeable future. Will it ignite in 2019? All the combustible elements are present. The onset of a global depression, trade wars, China & Russia feeling pushed into a corner and the volatile political situation in the U.S. and EU provide a potential pathway to global conflict.

Economic indicators from China show the slowest economic growth in a quarter century. Their natives are restless. Plunging oil prices will throw the Russian economy into recession. The EU economies, led by Germany, are seizing up with the slowdown in global trade. Japan has essentially been in recession since the 1990s. The U.S. is poised for a recession in 2019.

Immigration chaos in Europe, Brexit, Ukrainian nazis provoking Russia, South China Sea territorial disputes, the Syria, Turkey, Iran, Israel ticking time bomb, Saudi anarchy, socialist South American regimes imploding, and U.S. political pandemonium have created a perfect storm of domestic and international disasters. What do low-life politicians do when faced with terrible domestic issues? They seek to distract their citizens with a foreign threat. See “Blame Russia for Everything” as an example of this tried and true propaganda technique.

Desperate politicians do desperate things to retain power. Desperate Deep State actors care not one wit for their fellow countrymen. They are willing and able to sacrifice the youth of their nation to fight wars which will further enrich themselves and their fellow traitorous benefactors. We are nothing but cannon fodder to this psychopathic scum. Putin and Xi are essentially dictators who have no fear of elections every two years. They are serious men in possession of nuclear missiles, capable of destroying the world.

Blaming them for all the ills in your own country is a fool hardy tactic. The ever- increasing saber rattling, whether in the Ukraine, Syria, South China Sea, or during antagonistic trade negotiations can easily lead to unintended consequences. All leaders have enormous egos and are prone to over-confidence and miscalculation regarding how their opponent will react. Someone is going to do something stupid and then all hell is going to break loose.

No Escape

“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.

History offers no guarantees. Obviously, things could go horribly wrong – the possibilities ranging from a nuclear exchange to incurable plagues, from terrorist anarchy to high-tech dictatorship. We should not assume that Providence will always exempt our nation from the irreversible tragedies that have overtaken so many others: not just temporary hardship, but debasement and total ruin. Losing in the next Fourth Turning could mean something incomparably worse. It could mean a lasting defeat from which our national innocence – perhaps even our nation – might never recover.” – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

There is no escape from the Fourth Turning. We are midway through this crisis and the existing social order retains tenuous control over the levers of finance, government and the legacy media. History tells us our society will be reshaped and transformed before this crisis resolves itself sometime between now and 2029. It would be the utmost of arrogance to believe our nation will be protected from destruction by an all-powerful God. We’ve made bad choices, deferred hard decisions, squandered our financial resources, allowed our educational system to be corrupted and valued all the wrong things.

There will be consequences. The overt last- ditch financial debt schemes concocted by the entrenched establishment, to prolong their power and control, are unraveling and a death and rebirth of the social order through a chaotic cleansing is in the offing. I believe the real fireworks will begin during 2019.

I don’t eagerly await the terrible storms headed our way. I wish we didn’t have to withstand the brutal gales of this coming winter, but we have no choice. You have to survive Winter to experience the blossoming Spring. The coming decade will try our souls and force everyone to make choices that will make a difference. The specific events are unknowable, but how we react and who we support during the events will be the decisive factor in whether this Fourth Turning is resolved in a positive way. Having it resolved in negative way could be an unimaginable tragedy.

Patrick Henry made his famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech during the first American Fourth Turning. His words ring true today. We are already at war. Sides have been drawn. We are going to have to fight whether we like it or not. Our only other choice is chains and slavery. The time to choose has arrived. Welcome to 2019.

  “The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry – 1775

Published:1/1/2019 6:11:20 PM
[Trending Commentary] Elizabeth Warren Compares Scrutiny Of Native America Heritage Claim To Obama Birtherism

By Peter Hasson -

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s website for her new presidential exploratory committee attempts to link questions about her claims of Native American heritage to people who questioned whether former President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Warren launched the committee on Monday, including a website with a “fact ...

Elizabeth Warren Compares Scrutiny Of Native America Heritage Claim To Obama Birtherism 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:1/1/2019 5:11:39 PM
[World] [Ilya Somin] Trump's Syria Withdrawal Does Nothing to Restore Constitutional Limits on Presidential War Powers

While the Syria intervention lacked proper congressional authorization, constitutional considerations had nothing to do with Trump's withdrawal decision. Indeed, his administration has doubled down on Obama-era arguments asserting broad presidential authority to initiate military interventions.

Donald Trump's recent decision to withdraw US forces from Syria has drawn praise in some quarters - including Reason's Robby Soave - for supposedly helping to restore "the rule of law." Such praise is undeserved. Trump's decision does little, if anything, to curb presidential power to initiate war without congressional authorization. Far from respecting constitutional limits on presidential warmaking, the administration has in fact doubled down on Obama-era arguments justifying broad presidential power to initiate new conflicts.

Under both Obama (e.g. here and here) and Trump, I was among those who argued that the US war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq is unconstitutional, because President Obama initiated it without the required congressional authorization, and neither he nor Trump ever got such authorization even retrospectively, during what has now been over four years of fighting. The various legal rationales that the Obama administration put forward to justify the war range from the bad to the laughable, and all would set dangerous precedents if they become generally accepted. The same goes for outside experts' efforts to prove that the war is legal, such as those of controversial legal scholar and former George W. Bush administration official John Yoo.

If Trump had acknowledged that the war is illegal and justified his decision to withdraw on that basis, he might have struck a useful blow for constitutional limits on executive power. But there is zero evidence that constitutional considerations played any role in his decision, or that this administration has any desire to shore up Congress' position as the only branch of government with the power to to authorize the initiation of war.

To the contrary, the Trump administration has gone out of its way to emphasize that they believe the president has broad power to initiate a wide range of conflicts. In April 2018, Trump's Office of Legal Counsel put out a memo defending exactly that view. As Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith (a former Bush administration OLC head, and leading war powers expert) puts it, the memo builds on "Obama-era legal opinions" and "articulate[s] an extraordinarily broad conception of the president's authority to use military force abroad through air strikes without congressional authorization." Goldsmith also writes (correctly, in my view) that the Trump OLC opinion is "in no way surprising" - at least not to anyone familiar with the Obama administration's positions on this issue. But it should give pause to anyone who thinks Trump is somehow intent on reining in presidential war powers.

The administration's very broad interpretation of presidential power is also evident in Trump's notorious statements threatening to initiate wars with North Korea and Iran, neither of which includes even the slightest suggestion that congressional authorization might be necessary. No such recognition was evident in any follow-up statements by Trump and other administration officials, either. Finally, it's worth noting that Trump has continued the Obama-initiated intervention in Iraq and Syria for over two years (and still counting), without making any meaningful effort to secure congressional authorization for it. Indeed, he has made even less effort to get it than Obama did.

In sum, everything the administration has said and done on the subject of war powers is consistent with the view that the president has the right to start a wide range of conflicts without congressional authorization. He can also, if he wants, end them (as Trump now hopes to do with the intervention in Syria). But it's all up to him.

In this respect, Trump is continuing Obama's troubling legacy (and to some extent that of previous presidents), rather than making major innovations of his own. But we should not fool ourselves into thinking that he's making the situation any better.

The constitutional requirement that Congress must authorize the initation of war is more than just a technical legal formality. It helps ensure that no one man has the authority to take the nation to war, and increases the likelihood that any wars we do initiate will be backed by a broad political consensus, which in turn helps increase the odds of a successful outcome. The Founders wanted to deny the president the power to start wars on his own, and their reasons for doing so are, if anything, even more valid under modern conditions than they were in the eighteenth century.

If we are going to restore congressional control over war initiation, Congress itself needs to act. I suggested some possible ways to do so here, and Yale Law School Prof. Bruce Ackerman has outlined some others.

In the meantime, those who support withdrawing from Syria on policy grounds may have reason to cheer. For the reasons summarized by David French (who also recognizes the conflict is unconstitutional) here and here, I think withdrawing at this time is likely a mistake, and may well create a situation where a larger intervention will be needed in the future. Like French, I think it would have been better to secure congressional authorization for continued, but limited intervention. But whether or not Trump's Syria withdrawal is strategically wise, it does nothing to bolster constitutional limitations on presidential war powers. To the contrary, Trump and his administration have made their disrespect for such constraints abundantly clear.

Published:1/1/2019 4:43:58 PM
[Markets] Your Tax Dollars At Work: Govt Officially Forgiving Student Debt

Authored by Simon Black via SovereignMan.com,

When all the tribes of Israel still lived in their holy land, they practiced something called the Jubilee.

According to the Book of Leviticus, the Jubilee existed because the Israeli land actually belonged to their god Yahweh…. and the current owners were just borrowing it (sounds like land ownership today – try not paying your property taxes and see who really owns your land).

So every 49 years, the Israelites would celebrate by freeing slaves, redistributing property and forgiving debts.

Of course, a 49-year cycle where debt is forgiven and land is returned to previous owners is ridiculous… markets can’t function under this system. Imagine buying a piece of land and not knowing if you have to give it back down the road… or lending someone money with the possibility that those debts just disappear and you get nothing back for the risk you took.

The Jubilee originated sometime around 1406 BC, so you would think it’s ancient history.

Fast forward 3500 years…

The US government is a record $21 trillion in debt and running $1 trillion annual deficits.

US corporations have a record $9 trillion in debt – with nearly half of that debt maturing in the next five years (meaning the businesses either have to roll that debt into a new loan or pay it back).

Consumer debt – which includes credit card debt, auto loans and student debt – is already at a record high and should pass $4 trillion in 2019.

But the largest portion of consumer debt is student debt. Yes, Americans have borrowed $1.5 TRILLION to earn degrees of questionable use.

As I wrote in a previous Notes:

According to the latest stats, the average student loan debt in the US is nearly $40,000.

But that’s just average…

There are more than two million former students in the Land of the Free with more than $100,000 of debt… around 415,000 people have more than $200,000 of student debt.

And the US Department of Education guarantees 90% of that debt. Which means you, the taxpayer, guarantee that debt. If the borrower defaults, YOU’RE on the hook.

What are the chances millennials will make good on the debt? Not great…

According to a recent Fed study, millennials are much poorer and indebted than previous generations.

Even if they are financially able to repay student loans, you then have to question their will to do so when you can do so many other cool things with the money…

Like this  YouTube bro  who made a video bragging about using his financial aid money to take his girlfriend on a trip to Thailand.

Already we’re seeing student loan defaults creep up…

Loans issued in 2012 are defaulting at a faster rate than ever before. Interest rates are only rising.

Over 44 million Americans owe student loans, and according to the Federal Reserve, 11.2% of them are delinquent (at least 90 days late) or in default.

It’s hard enough to pay back your loans if you study medicine to become a doctor, or something else that could lead to a relatively high paying career.

But now 22-year olds are graduating with $200,000 of debt, and all they have to show for it is an undergraduate degree in underwater basket weaving.

No direction. No plan. Just a useless degree.

Then there’s the adults who are still swimming in student debt…

There are even almost 2 million Americans over the age of 62 who still owe a combined $62 billion in student loans. That’s over 32 grand per borrower over 62.

I don’t think Social Security is going to cover that… even if by some miracle it stays solvent.

Given these headwinds, we’ve been wondering how on earth this crushing student debt load will ever be paid back.

And I think we just got our answer.

This month, Secretary of Education Betsy Davos agreed to forgive $150 million worth of student debt.

It’s a mini Jubilee.

Here’s the thing... Betsy Davos did NOT want to forgive this debt. She fought to change the rules, but an Obama era forgiveness policy was enforced by the courts.

So if one of the meanest women in government can’t stop this debt from being forgiven... just imagine if we had someone like Bernie Sanders or Kamala Harris steering the ship.

And who do you think is going to come after Trump?

Trump was America’s response to Obama. And the next pendulum swing will be even greater to the left.

So we just saw the first $150 million… and there’s another $1.465 trillion to go in the debt jubilee.

If you ever wondered why I think it’s a moral obligation to pay as little taxes as possible, this is it.

If you want to give the government your dollars to fund YouTube bro to go to Thailand, go ahead.

I’ll be in Puerto Rico, paying a 4% corporate tax rate and 0% capital gains.

Maybe I’ll see you down here.

To continue learning how to legitimately reduce your taxes, I encourage you to download our free Perfect Plan B Guide.

Published:1/1/2019 12:41:40 PM
[Immigration] Republicans Float ‘Dreamer’ Extension In Exchange For Border Wall Funding

Shutdown compromise? There might be a possible deal on the table. If walls don’t work liberals please explain why does Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi have them around their homes? Enough already. The people do want the border wall, regardless of what the “polls” say. We do not need any more illegal aliens sucking on the government teet ...

The post Republicans Float ‘Dreamer’ Extension In Exchange For Border Wall Funding appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:12/31/2018 8:06:36 PM
[Immigration] Republicans Float ‘Dreamer’ Extension In Exchange For Border Wall Funding

Shutdown compromise? There might be a possible deal on the table. If walls don’t work liberals please explain why does Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi have them around their homes? Enough already. The people do want the border wall, regardless of what the “polls” say. We do not need any more illegal aliens sucking on the government teet ...

The post Republicans Float ‘Dreamer’ Extension In Exchange For Border Wall Funding appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:12/31/2018 8:06:36 PM
[Markets] Trump: Only Warren's Psychiatrist Knows Whether She Thinks She Can Win In 2020

In the first published excerpt from a telephone interview with Fox's Pete Hegseth that is set to air tonight during the cable news channel's New Year's Eve coverage, President Trump mocked Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who earlier today became the first Democratic contender to formally plan a run for the 2020 Democratic nomination. Asked by Hegseth whether Warren really thinks she can defeat him in the general election, Trump responded "well, that I don't know...you’d have to ask her psychiatrist."

Trump

After Hegseth brought up Warren's announcement, Trump reminded viewers of an embarrassing political misstep from earlier this year when Warren angered Native American tribes by releasing the results of a DNA test that showed she had almost no Native American heritage - inadvertently validating the president's doubts about her claims of Native American heritage. The test showed that Warren may have had a Native American ancestor between six and ten generations ago, meaning she could be as little as 1/1,024th Native.

"Elizabeth Warren will be the first," Trump told Hegseth in the phone interview. "She did very badly in proving that she was of Indian heritage. That didn't work out too well."

"I think you have more than she does, and maybe I do too, and I have nothing," Trump said, referring to tribal heritage. "So, we’ll see how she does. I wish her well, I hope she does well, I’d love to run against her."

Trump said earlier this year that he hoped Warren would run because she would be "very easy" to beat, and that if she were elected, she would turn the US into "Venezuela." Moving on from Warren, the excerpt noted that Trump said he was waiting for top Democrats to join him in Washington to cut a deal that would resolve the federal government shutdown - though he insisted that funding for a border wall would be an essential component of any deal.

"I’m in Washington, I'm ready, willing and able. I'm in the White House, I'm ready to go," Trump said. He added that Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer "can come over right now, they could've come over anytime."

Fox reported that several details of a possible deal have been floated - one of which would include $5.7 billion in funding for the wall in exchange for Congressional authorization of DACA - the Obama-era policy that allowed undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children to remain in the country.

Trump added that he had canceled his plans to travel to Mar-a-Lago during the holidays to try and work out a deal to end the shutdown.

"I spent Christmas in the White House, I spent New Year’s Eve now in the White House," Trump said. "And you know, I'm here, I’m ready to go. It's very important. A lot of people are looking to get their paycheck, so I'm ready to go whenever they want."

He added: "No, we are not giving up. We have to have border security and the wall is a big part of border security. The biggest part."

The full interview will air some time after 10 pm ET, which is when Fox's New Year's Eve coverage is set to begin.

Published:12/31/2018 7:07:10 PM
[The Blog] Trump takes a swipe at the Obamas as he keeps pushing for a border wall

"The Obamas also added guard booths."

The post Trump takes a swipe at the Obamas as he keeps pushing for a border wall appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:12/31/2018 12:34:55 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 December 27.

This week’s finding is down one point from last week  and the lowest since early July. This finding has been running in the 40s for most weeks this year after being in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016, President Obama's last full year in office.

For a limited time, Rasmussen Reports’ exclusive subscriber data level - Platinum - is open to everyone. See the detailed data behind all of our polls. Simply click on the Log In button in the upper right hand corner of the page with username: trialoffer@rasmussenreports.com and password: platinum

(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 December 23-27, 2018. 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:12/31/2018 9:03:34 AM
[US Headlines] Trumpâ??s Christmas In The White House BILLINGSGATE POST: A Heart Warming News Story: â??Twas the Christmas Season. And all through the White House where Obama once schemed, there was nary a mouse to be seen. With nothing to do because of his wall embargo, President Trump could only d... Published:12/31/2018 6:03:00 AM
[Markets] The Establishment Will Never Say No To A War

Authored by Andrew Sullivan via New York Mag's Intelligencer,

The question before us is a relatively simple one: What would be the criteria for removing our remaining troops from the Iraqi, Syrian, and more general Middle Eastern conflicts? Or, for that matter, from Afghanistan, where we have been trapped for more than 17 long years of still open-ended occupation?

If the answer to that question is that only when each of these countries is a healthy pro-American democracy, and Islamist terrorism has ceased to be an “enduring” threat to the West, then the answer, as the old Bob Mankoff joke has it, is “How about never — is never good for you?”

Or consider what a shocked Lieutenant General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. of the Marines, the incoming commander of Central Command opined after hearing the news of Trump’s withdrawal of 7,000 troops from Afghanistan yesterday:

“If we left precipitously right now, I do not believe [the Afghan forces] would be able to successfully defend their country. I don’t know how long it’s going to take. I think that one of the things that would actually provide the most damage to them would be if we put a timeline on it and we said we were going out at a certain point in time.”

Get that? After 17 years, we’ve gotten nowhere, like every single occupier before us. But for that reason, we have to stay. These commanders have been singing this tune year after year for 17 years of occupation, and secretaries of Defense have kept agreeing with them. Trump gave them one last surge of troops — violating his own campaign promise — and we got nowhere one more time. It is getting close to insane.

Neoconservatism, it seems, never dies. It just mutates constantly to find new ways to intervene, to perpetuate forever wars, to send more young Americans to die in countries that don’t want them amid populations that try to kill them. If you want the most recent proof of that, look at Yemen, where the Saudi policy of mass civilian deaths in a Sunni war on Shiites is backed by American arms and U.S. It’s also backed by American troops on the ground — in a secret war conducted by Green Berets that was concealed from Congress. There is no conceivable threat to the U.S. from the Houthi rebels in Yemen; and there was no prior congressional approval. Did you even know we had ground troops deployed there?

The same for liberal internationalism, which also never seems to die, however many catastrophes it spawns. There’s always an impending “massacre” somewhere to justify intervention, which is why we have been dutifully told that withdrawing from Syria would lead to a “slaughter” of the Kurds. Remember the massacre that gave Hillary Clinton a chance to launch another Middle Eastern war in Libya? How many more innocents were slaughtered after we toppled Qaddafi than those in danger before? And all because Clinton refused to learn a single thing from Iraq. (If Clinton had actually won in 2016, we would probably have far more troops occupying Syria today, and be digging in for the long haul, and we’d probably have even more troops in yet another doomed surge in Afghanistan. That goes some way to explaining why Clinton has a massive 31/62 negative approval rating in the latest, Democrat-friendly Quinnipiac poll, much worse than even Trump.)

So it was not surprising that the usual suspects — the people who brought you the Iraq War — blanketed the mainstream media these past couple of days with the usual threats and bluffs and bluster, and that the mainstream media amplified their message. Jake Tapper reported yesterday that “senior officials across the administration agree that the president’s decision-by-tweet will recklessly put American and allied lives in danger around the world, take the pressure off of ISIS allowing them to reconstitute, and hand a strategic victory to our Syrian, Iranian, and Russian adversaries … It’s a mistake of colossal proportions and the president fails to see how it will endanger our country.”

Sorry, but I also fail to see how it will endanger the United States. I’ve heard these arguments so many times before — and I used them myself, to my eternal shame, before the Iraq catastrophe. But unlike most of the authors of that catastrophe, I learned my lesson. I simply do not believe that the West has the knowledge, the will, or the ability to shape the extremely complicated and endlessly vicious politics of the Middle East. And I defy anyone to show otherwise. It’s an unwinnable game of whack-a-mole. If we haven’t learned that by now, after spending $6 trillion so far in this forever war on terror, and wreaking chaos and havoc across the region, we never will. Of course, there is a moral case for not destroying a country and then walking away. But ending a conflict that began in 2003? Isn’t 15 yearsenough? That’s three times as long as the war against Hitler.

And what if the Syrian nightmare does become owned by Russia? Getting another imperial power to live with that albatross seems to me rather shrewd, does it not? (I’d be happy to see Russian troops reoccupy Afghanistan for that matter. An occupation of that imperial graveyard might do to Putin’s regime what it did to the Soviet Union.) And why, oh why, do we care if Iran wants to champion Shiite forces in Syria and Iraq? The U.S. has no national interest in the outcome of a Sunni-Shiite war, as long as neither side wins. We did very well by staying out of the Iran-Iraq war all those years ago, did we not? And when we did get involved, via Iran-Contra, it was a disaster.

As for Israel — which is, of course, the real motivation for most neoconservative dreams of controlling the Middle East — it can surely defend itself at this point. Israel has massive military, technological, intelligence, and economic advantages over its neighbors, and, unlike Iran, also has nuclear weapons, refuses to admit it, and will not sign (again unlike Iran) the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. And the Israelis need U.S. troops to occupy the Middle East permanently as well? Why? It’s high time the U.S. called their bluff.

But Washington never learns this lesson, cannot relinquish the imperial temptation, even as it has bankrupted us, killed and maimed thousands of young Americans, and turned us into a country that commits war crimes. If you want to understand why we have a resurgence of populism and why a patently unfit person like Trump became president, it’s because most Americans know when their government refuses to do what its people want.

And it’s worth pointing out that in the last three consecutive presidential elections, the winners explicitly vowed to get us out of Iraq and/or Afghanistan — let alone Syria — and defeated their interventionist opponents. Obama was elected and reelected to end the Iraq occupation, and was then sucked back in by the exact same arguments we are hearing today. Trump was even more adamant in ending imperial overreach, but after two years, guess what? We are still in Syria and we have more troops in Afghanistan (and are currently conducting an air campaign there as ferocious as any in the past) and we have — more than ever before — jumped into the eternal Sunni-Shiite war by supporting the Saudi royal dictatorship. In the Syrian case, there is no constitutional defense at all: no congressional authorization whatever. And if there had been a congressional vote to start a new war in Syria, does anyone believe it would have passed?

But what’s astonishing this time is how the Democrats and much of the liberal Establishment now supports an unending occupation of yet another Middle Eastern country. David Sanger’s New York Times “analysis” is a perfect distillation of such thinking. It contains not a sentence about the costs of long-term occupation of the Middle East or the endless failures in Afghanistan. It reads as if the Iraq War never happened. It even regards non-interventionism as “a contrarian’s view of American military power.” That’s how impenetrable the Establishment bubble is! Then Sanger actually repackages the George W. Bush doctrine that “we fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here,” as if it were the key lessoned learned from the Iraq War! Here’s Sanger’s actual paraphrase:

“deployed forces are key to stopping terrorists before they reach American shores.”

Just let that sink in.

According to the New York Times, the lesson of the Iraq War is that we need to intervene more in the Middle East, not less. Seriously.

The Syrian occupation is not a minor thing. The Washington Post reported a week ago, long before Trump’s tweet, that “US troops will now stay in Syria indefinitely, controlling a third of the country, and facing peril on many fronts.” A third of an entire country! How many Americans knew or know this? Very, very few. I didn’t. And this was not designed to fight ISIS. It was explicitly defended as part of a long-term pushback on Iranian and Russian influence in the region. It seems to me that this kind of shift in rationale — again with no congressional approval — is almost a definition of mission creep. We should not be asking why Trump has decided to nip this in the bud, following his clear and popular mandate to get us out of the region. We should be asking how on earth did the Establishment find a way to occupy yet another Middle Eastern country without any democratic buy-in at all. At least there was a congressional debate before the Iraq War and a robust public discussion. This time, they have launched a new war, occupied a third of another country, changed the rationale so they stay for ever, and tried to hide it!

The resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is the icing on this blood-drenched cake. Yes, Mattis was a vital obstacle to some of Trump’s criminal and impulsive tendencies. In his resignation letter, he cited the need to sustain alliances across the world, and the need to constrain Russia. Fair enough. But it is telling, is it not, that he didn’t resign when Trump told NATO that Article 5 was effectively void; he didn’t resign when Trump launched his bizarre love-in with Kim Jong-un; he didn’t quit after the disastrous G7 meeting this year, or after the staggering Helsinki press conference; he didn’t quit when Trump openly tried to break up the European Union; he didn’t quit when Trump moved to change his plans on transgender troops by fiat; he didn’t resign when his Afghan surge failed yet again; and he didn’t resign when Trump ordered 5,000 troops to the Mexican border as a political stunt. He quit when he was told to end a failing, forever war and an indefinite occupation of yet another country. That’s the red line: any retrenchment of the ever-expanding American empire.

Yes, Trump’s foreign policy is a chaotic, incoherent, dangerous mess. Yes, he is clearly and manifestly unfit for office, and should have been removed a long time ago. Charting a new course in a war should never be done without proper consultation with allies and the top brass. (Trump did, of course, consult with Netanyahu and Erdogan.) U.S. troops, fighting these unwinnable wars, deserve to hear of a change in course from their commanders, not Twitter. There are always debates to be had over the specific timing and pace of withdrawal. I’m alarmed by the absence of any adviser who doesn’t want a war with Iran, and predicted that at some point, the wannabe tyrant would throw all the sane people out of the nest. There is no defense of this deranged form of decision-making from a clearly psychologically disturbed person.

But I find Trump’s persistence in following his electoral mandate against so much Establishment pressure in this particular respect to be rather admirable. There comes a point when a president has to say no to the neo-imperial blob, to cut bait in wars that have become ends in themselves, generating the very problems they were launched to resolve. There is never a good time to do this. There wasn’t in Vietnam and there isn’t in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Sometimes, you just have to do it. I wish Obama had been able to. But he got trapped in agonizing rationalizations of the indefensible, paid too much respect to the architects of failure (not to speak of torture), and thereby failed after eight long years to fulfill his core campaign promise to disengage from these quagmires. Maybe it takes an impulsive, dangerous nutjob like Trump to finally do it, to end the wars the American people want to end. And that, I think, is less an indictment of him than of those who let this madness go on for so long.

Published:12/31/2018 1:01:13 AM
[Markets] "The President Is Reconsidering": Syria Pullout On Thin Ice After Lunch With Lindsey Graham

President Trump is "reconsidering" his strategy to pull US forces out of Syria following an "eye-opening trip to Iraq" the day after Christmas, Bloomberg reports. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who sits on the Senate Armed Forces Committee - a harsh critic of Trump's announced pullout, said earlier Sunday that he would try to change Trump's mind during a private lunch since the Islamic state isn't quite defeated in the region as the President had previously stated. 

"I feel better about Syria than I felt before I had lunch," said Graham after he left the White House. "I think the president is taking this really seriously, and the trip to Iraq was well timed." Trump has apparently devised a strategy with his generals in the field that "makes sense" according to the Senator. 

On Sunday morning, Graham told CNN's "State of the Union" that Trump had spoken with General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

"I got a call from General Dunford," said Graham. "The president is reconsidering how we do this."

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Trump is considering reversing the decision, announced by tweet earlier this month, to pull U.S. troops from Syria. That move, which came against the advice of the president’s top national security advisers, triggered the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Trump has already has backed away from the notion of an immediate withdrawal, saying a week ago that the pullout of U.S. troops from the area would be “slow & highly coordinated.” -Bloomberg

Sort of like how Trump's "immediate" and full declassification of the Justice Department's Russiagate documents turned into a "slow & highly coordinated" handoff to the DOJ Inspector General. 

When asked whether President Trump would be to blame if ISIS became more powerful after US troops leave Syria, Graham responded that the blame belongs to former President Barack Obama due to his decision to withdraw from Iraq in 2011. 

"Everything we’re dealing with today falls on Obama’s watch. He’s the one who withdrew from Iraq," said Graham.

"But he did it because there was a Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq, right?" shot back CNN host Dana Bash. 

"Listen. No, that’s a bunch of bullshit. Pardon my French. That’s a complete lie. That’s a complete, absolute lie," said Graham, to which Bash asked "That didn't happen?" 

"ISIS came about as a result of our withdrawal from Iraq. The caliphate was established in Syria because Obama sat on the sidelines and watched the place be dismembered," said Graham, adding of Trump: "He was dealt a bad hand by Obama and he needs to play it better than he’s playing it. Keeping the troops in Iraq is great.

Published:12/30/2018 8:00:13 PM
[Markets] Trump Breaks Generals’ 50-Year War Record

By Gareth Porter

The mainstream media has attacked President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria as impulsive, blindsiding his own national security teamBut detailed, published accounts of the policy process over the course of the year tell a very different story. They show that senior national security officials and self-interested institutions have been playing a complicated political game for months aimed at keeping Trump from wavering on our indefinite presence on the ground in Syria.

The entire episode thus represents a new variant of a familiar pattern dating back to Vietnam in which national security advisors put pressure on reluctant presidents to go along with existing or proposed military deployments in a war zone. The difference here is that Trump, by publicly choosing a different policy, has blown up their transparent schemes and offered the country a new course, one that does not involve a permanent war state.

The relationship between Trump and his national security team has been tense since the beginning of his administration. By mid-summer 2017, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford had become so alarmed at Trump’s negative responses to their briefings justifying global U.S. military deployments that they decided to do a formal briefing in “the tank,” used by the Joint Chiefs for meetings at the Pentagon.  

But when Mattis and Dunford sang the praises of the “rules-based, international democratic order” that has “kept the peace for 70 years,” Trump simply shook his head in disbelief.

By the end of that year, however, Mattis, Dunford, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo believed they’d succeeded in getting Trump to use U.S. troops not only to defeat Islamic State but to “stabilize” the entire northeast sector of Syria and balance Russian and Iranian-sponsored forces. Yet they ignored warning signs of Trump’s continuing displeasure with their vision of a more or less permanent American military presence in Syria.  

In a March rally in Ohio ostensibly about health care reform, Trump suddenly blurted out, “We’re coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon—very soon we’re coming out.” 

Then in early April 2018, Trump’s impatience with his advisors on Syria boiled over into a major confrontation at a National Security Council meeting, where he ordered them unequivocally to accept a fundamentally different Syria deployment policy.  

Trump opened the meeting with his public stance that the United States must end its intervention in Syria and the Middle East more broadly. He argued repeatedly that the U.S. had gotten “nothing” for its efforts, according to an account published by the Associated Press based on interviews with administration officials who had been briefed on the meeting. When Dunford asked him to state exactly what he wanted, Trump answered that he favored an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces and an end to the “stabilization” program in Syria.

Mattis responded that an immediate withdrawal from Syria was impossible to carry out responsibly, would risk the return of Islamic State, and would play into the hands of Russia, Iran, and Turkey, whose interests ran counter to those of the United States.

Trump reportedly then relented and said they have could five or six months to destroy the Islamic State. But he also made it clear that he did not want them to come back to him in October and say that they had been unable to defeat ISIS and had to remain in Syria. When his advisors reiterated that they didn’t think America could withdraw responsibly, Trump told them to “just get it done.” 

Trump’s national security team had prepared carefully for the meeting in order to steer him away from an explicit timetable for withdrawal. They had brought papers that omitted any specific options for withdrawal timetables. Instead, as the detailed AP account shows, they framed the options as a binary choice—either an immediate pullout or an indefinite presence in order to ensure the complete and permanent defeat of Islamic State. The leave option was described as risking a return of ISIS and leaving a power vacuum for Russia and Iran to fill.

Such a binary strategy had worked in the past, according to administration sources. That would account for Trump’s long public silence on Syria during the early months of 2018 while then-secretary of state Rex Tillerson and Mattis were articulating detailed arguments for a long-term military commitment.

Another reason the approach had been so successful, however, was that Trump had made such a big issue out of Barack Obama giving the Pentagon a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan. As a result, he was hesitant to go public with a similar request for a Syria timetable. As CNN reported, a DoD official who had been briefed on the meeting “rejected that any sort of timeline was discussed.” Furthermore the official asserted that Mattis “was not asked to draw up withdrawal options….” Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Chiefs, also told reporters, “the president has actually been very good in not giving us a specific timeline.”

Nevertheless, without referring to a timeline, the White House issued a short statement saying that the U.S. role in Syria was coming to a “rapid end.”

Mattis and Dunford were consciously exploiting Trump’s defensiveness about a timeline to press ahead with their own strategy unless and until Trump publicly called them on it. That is what finally happened some weeks after Trump’s six month deadline had passed. The claim by Trump advisors that they were taken by surprise was indeed disingenuous. What happened last week was that Trump followed up on the clear policy he had laid down in April.

The Syria withdrawal affair is a dramatic illustration of the fundamental quandary of the Trump presidency in regard to ending the state of permanent war that previous administrations created. Although a solid majority of Americans want to rein in U.S. military deployments in the Middle East and Africa, Trump’s national security team is committed to doing the opposite.

Trump is now well aware that it is virtually impossible to carry out the foreign policy that he wants without advisors who are committed to the same objective. That means that he must find people who have remained outside the system during the permanent war years while being highly critical of its whole ideology and culture. If he can fill key positions with truly dissident figures, the last two years of this term in office could decisively clip the wings of the bureaucrats and generals who have created the permanent war state we find ourselves in today.

Gareth Porter is an investigative reporter and regular contributor to The American Conservative. He is also the author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

Published:12/30/2018 12:58:46 PM
[Markets] "Bone-Crushing Hard Job": John Kelly Gives Candid Interview On Being Trump's Chief Of Staff

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will be leaving the Trump administration on Wednesday after 18 months on the job wrangling President Trump and keeping the West Wing in order. 

In an exclusive two-hour interview with the LA Times, Kelly offers a peek behind the curtain as he presided over some of the Trump administration's most controversial immigration and geopolitical policies. 

"When I first took over, he was inclined to want to withdraw from Afghanistan," Kelly recalled. "He was frustrated. It was a huge decision to make ... and frankly there was no system at all for a lot of reasons — palace intrigue and the rest of it — when I got there."

Trump, who campaigned on non-interventionism and reducing troop counts wherever possible, announced the pullout of all US troops from Syria, and half of the 14,000 troops in Afghanistan - after Kelly's departure was confirmed December 8 - moves that Kelly opposed as Chief of Staff.

Kelly's supporters, meanwhile, have suggested that he was the only thing stopping Trump from making several ill-advised choices, such as not pulling US forces out of South Korea, and not withdrawing from NATO as Trump has threatened. 

That said, the outgoing Chief of Staff maintains that President Trump had access to multiple streams of detailed information before major decisions were made - despite Trump's reputation for relying on his gut instinct. 

"It’s never been: The president just wants to make a decision based on no knowledge and ignorance," said Kelly. "You may not like his decision, but at least he was fully informed on the impact."

Bone crushing

Kelly tells the Times that it was a "bone-crushing hard job" to have spent nearly every waking minute of 15-hour days with the President, "but you do it," he added. 

On most days, he said, he woke up at 4 a.m. and typically came home at 9 p.m. Then he often went straight into a secure area for classified reports and communications so he could keep working.

I’m guarded by the Secret Service. I can’t even go get a beer,” he quipped. -LA Times

Kelly also noted that while Trump pushed back on his advisors to test the limits of his authority under the law - often asking Kelly "Why can't we do it this way?" - that Trump never ordered him to do anything illegal "because we wouldn’t have."

"If he had said to me, ‘Do it, or you’re fired," Kelly said, he would have resigned. 

According to Kelly, Trump brought him in to bring structure and order to a chaotic White House racked with inter-agency rivalry, remarkably high staff turnover and nearly constant controversy - adding that he tried to remove politics from his decision-making. 

"I told the president the last thing in my view that you need in the chief of staff is someone that looks at every issue through a political lens," Kelly said. 

Kelly served 46 years in the Marines, from the Vietnam War to the rise of Islamic State, making him the U.S. military’s longest-serving general when he retired in January 2016.

When Trump picked him to head Homeland Security, and then serve as White House chief of staff, officials from the Pentagon to Capitol Hill expressed hope that Kelly would be one of the “adults in the room” to manage a mercurial president.

To critics, Kelly failed at that task, unable to rein in Trump’s angry tweets or bring order to executive decision-making.

Worse, they argue, he aggressively advocated and implemented harsh immigration measures, including separating migrant children from their parents on the border last summer, that quickly ran aground or were reversed in the courts. -LA Times

Kelly brushed off reports that Trump was put off by Kelly's iron grip on White House operations or the endless briefings, however his "anticlimactic exit," as the Times puts it, "reflects a tenure dogged from the outset by the indignities of constant speculation, fueled by the president's own public remarks, that he would be fired." 

Kelly said that the decision to leave was solidified after the November 6 midterm election, in which Republicans lost control of the House. Two days later, Trump announced Kelly's departure. 

"John Kelly will be leaving, I don’t know if I can say retiring," Trump said from the South Lawn of the White House before departing for the annual Army-Navy football game. "But he’s a great guy."

Unlike Kelly’s friend James N. Mattis, the retired Marine general who resigned as secretary of Defense with a public letter rebuking the president for abandoning allies and undermining alliances, Kelly kept his counsel.

But his impending departure from the eye of the storm created an embarrassing void at the White House as one candidate after another publicly pulled out or declined the chief of staff job. -LA Times

The departure of Kelly has many in Washington worried that nobody will be watching Trump - mostly among Democrats. 

"Now, it just seems to be a free-for-all," said Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI). "There’s no real consistent figure that’s going to stand there and just make sure literally the trains run on time. I think that was one of Kelly’s major contributions."

"It’s a loss, there’s no question," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). 

Kelly leaves amid a stalemate over $5 billion in funding for Trump's US-Mexico border wall, which has resulted in a government shutdown now entering week two. Trump has blamed Democrats, who have refused to provide more than $1.3 billion for border security. 

"To be honest, it’s not a wall," said Kelly - who embarked in early 2017 on seeking advice from those who "actually secure the border," on what to do. Speaking with Customs and Border Protection agents - referred to by Kelly as "salt-of-the-earth, Joe-Six-Pack folks," the outgoing Chief of Staff recounts "They said, ‘Well we need a physical barrier in certain places, we need technology across the board, and we need more people'." 

"The president still says ‘wall’ — oftentimes frankly he’ll say ‘barrier’ or ‘fencing,’ now he’s tended toward steel slats. But we left a solid concrete wall early on in the administration, when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it.

When pressed by the Times over whether there is a security crisis at the Southern border, or if Trump has simply stirred up fears of a migrant "invasion," Kelly said "We do have an immigrant problem." 

From the 1980s to the mid-2000s, apprehensions at the border — the most common measure of illegal immigration — routinely reached more than 1 million migrants a year.

Today, they are near historical lows. In the fiscal year that ended in September, border authorities apprehended 521,090 people.

But immigration officials are seeing a dramatic rise in families and unaccompanied minors at the border, mostly from Central America.

Kelly saw the corruption and violence that spurred migrations from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, first as head of the Pentagon’s Southern Command, which stretches from South America to Mexico’s southern border, then at Homeland Security.

He says that experience has given him a nuanced view on immigration and border security — one that at times appears at odds with Trump’s harsh anti-immigration messaging and policy.

“Illegal immigrants, overwhelmingly, are not bad people,” Kelly said, describing many migrants as victims misled by traffickers. “I have nothing but compassion for them, the young kids.” -LA Times

Kelly laid blame on immigrants and lawmakers, and not the Trump administration, for the tense situation at the border in which thousands of Central Americans remain stranded at the southern US border waiting for asylum claims to be processed at a snail's pace of less than 100 per day.  

"One of the reasons why it’s so difficult to keep people from coming — obviously it’d be preferable for them to stay in their own homeland but it’s difficult to do sometimes, where they live — is a crazy, oftentimes conflicting series of loopholes in the law in the United States that makes it extremely hard to turn people around and send them home," said Kelly. "If we don’t fix the laws, then they will keep coming," he continued. "They have known, and they do know, that if they can get here, they can, generally speaking, stay."

Kelly's advice to stop illegal immigration"? "stop U.S. demand for drugs, and expand economic opportunity" in Central America, he said. 

Kelly dinged the Trump administration for failing to appropriately predict the public outrage stemming from Steve Bannon's "travel ban" in January 2017, as well as the "zero tolerance" immigration policy and resultant spike in family separations this year. 

Shortly after taking office, Trump issued an executive order immediately suspending the entire U.S. refugee program for 120 days, indefinitely freezing the entry of refugees from Syria and barring travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Refugees already approved for resettlement, green card holders and others were turned away from flights, detained, and in some cases deported. Federal judges issued emergency stays, and several iterations of the travel ban have been challenged in court.

At the time, despite reports he’d been caught off-guard by the president’s order, Kelly gave a full-throated defense.

I had very little opportunity to look at them,” before the orders were announced, Kelly acknowledged in the Times interview. “Obviously, it brought down a greater deal of thunder on the president.

Blain Rethmeier, who helped shepherd Kelly and his replacement at Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, through their Senate confirmations, put it more colorfully: “He got handed a [crap] sandwich the first week on the job.” -LA Times

"There’s only so many things a chief of staff can do, particularly with a personality like Donald Trump," said former Kelly colleague David Lapan of the Bipartisan Policy Center. 

In May, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a zero-tolerance immigration policy which resulted in the high-profile separation of migrant children from their parents - a practice conducted under the Obama Administration (which the ACLU even sued them over). Kelly said Sessions' announcement surprised the White House. 

"What happened was Jeff Sessions, he was the one that instituted the zero-tolerance process on the border that resulted in both people being detained and the family separation," said Kelly. "He surprised us." 

The task of implementing the policy fell on the shoulders of Kelly's replacement at the Department of Homeland Security, Kristjen Nielsen, who came under fire for claiming that there was no official policy of separating families.

"She is a good soldier; she took the face shot," said an anonymous Senior White House official to the Times. "No one asked her to do it, but by the time we could put together a better strategy, she’d already owned it."

When asked why he stuck it out for 18 months in the chaotic Trump White House, "despite policy differences, personality clashes, the punishing schedule and a likely lasting association with some of Trump's controversies," Kelly said it was a matter of duty. 

"Military people," said Kelly "don't walk away." 

Published:12/30/2018 9:28:34 AM
[Markets] "Election Meddling" Enters Bizarro World As MSM Ignores Democrat-Linked "Russian Bot" Scheme

For over two years now, the concepts of "Russian collusion" and "Russian election meddling" have been shoved down our throats by the mainstream media (MSM) under the guise of legitimate concern that the Kremlin may have installed a puppet president in Donald Trump. 

Having no evidence of collusion aside from a largely unverified opposition-research dossier fabricated by a former British spy, the focus shifted from "collusion" to "meddling" and "influence." In other words, maybe Trump didn't actually collude with Putin, but the Kremlin used Russian tricks to influence the election in Trump's favor. 

To some, this looked like nothing more than an establishment scheme to cast a permanent spectre of doubt over the legitimacy of President Donald J. Trump. 

Election meddling "Russian bots" and "troll farms" became the central focus - as claims were levied of social media operations conducted by Kremlin-linked organizations which sought to influence and divide certain segments of America. 

And while scant evidence of a Russian influence operation exists outside of a handful of indictments connected to a St. Petersburg "Troll farm" (which a liberal journalist cast serious doubt over), the MSM - with all of their proselytizing over the "threat to democracy" that election meddling poses, has largely decided to ignore actual evidence of "Russian bots" created by Democrat IT experts, used against a GOP candidate in the Alabama special election, and amplified through the Russian bot-detecting "Hamilton 68" dashboard developed by the same IT experts. 

Democratic operative Jonathon Morgan - bankrolled by LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, pulled a Russian bot "false flag" operation against GOP candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama special election last year - creating thousands of fake social media accounts designed to influence voters. Hoffman has since apologized, while Morgan was suspended by Facebook for "coordinated inauthentic" behavior. 

Jonathon Morgan, Roy Moore, Reid Hoffman

As Russian state-owned RT puts it - and who could blame them for being a bit pissed over the whole thing, "it turns out there really was meddling in American democracy by “Russian bots.” Except they weren’t run from Moscow or St. Petersburg, but from the offices of Democrat operatives chiefly responsible for creating and amplifying the “Russiagate” hysteria over the past two years in a textbook case of psychological projection.

A week before Christmas, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report accusing Russia of depressing Democrat voter turnout by targeting African-Americans on social media. Its authors, New Knowledge, quickly became a household name.

Described by the New York Times as a group of “tech specialists who lean Democratic,” New Knowledge has ties to both the US military and intelligence agencies. Its CEO and co-founder Jonathon Morgan previously worked for DARPA, the US military's advanced research agency. His partner, Ryan Fox, is a 15-year veteran of the National Security Agency who also worked as a computer analyst for the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Their unique skill sets have managed to attract the eye of investors, who pumped $11 million into the company in 2018 alone.

...

On December 19, a New York Times story revealed that Morgan and his crew had created a fake army of Russian bots, as well as fake Facebook groups, in order to discredit Republican candidate Roy Moore in Alabama's 2017 special election for the US Senate.

Working on behalf of the Democrats, Morgan and his crew created an estimated 1,000 fake Twitter accounts with Russian names, and had them follow Moore. They also operated several Facebook pages where they posed as Alabama conservatives who wanted like-minded voters to support a write-in candidate instead.

In an internal memo, New Knowledge boasted that it had “orchestrated an elaborate 'false flag' operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet.”

It worked. The botnet claim made a splash on social media and was further amplified by Mother Jones, which based its story on expert opinion from Morgan's other dubious creation, Hamilton 68. -RT

Moore ended up losing the Alabama special election by a slim margin of just 

In other words: In November 2017 – when Moore and his Democratic opponent were in a bitter fight to win over voters – Morgan openly promoted the theory that Russian bots were supporting Moore’s campaign. A year later – after being caught red-handed orchestrating a self-described “false flag” operation – Morgan now says that his team never thought that the bots were Russian and have no idea what their purpose was. Did he think no one would notice? -RT

Even more strange is that Scott Shane - the journalist who wrote the New York Times piece exposing the Alabama "Russian bot" scheme, knew about it for months after speaking at an event where the organizers bragged about the false flag on Moore

Shane was one of the speakers at a meeting in September, organized by American Engagement Technologies, a group run by Mikey Dickerson, President Barack Obama’s former tech czar. Dickerson explained how AET spent $100,000 on New Knowledge’s campaign to suppress Republican votes, “enrage” Democrats to boost turnout, and execute a “false flag” to hrt Moore. He dubbed it “Project Birmingham." -RT

Shane told BuzzFeed that he was "shocked" by the revelations, though hid behind a nondisclosure agreement at the request of American Engagement Technologies (AET). He instead chose to spin the New Knowledge "false flag" operation on Moore as "limited Russian tactics" which were part of an "experiment" that had a budget of "only" $100,000 - and which had no effect on the election. 

New Knowledge suggested that the false flag operation was simply a "research project," which Morgan suggested was designed "to better understand and report on the tactics and effects of social media disinformation."  

While the New York Times seemed satisfied with his explanation, others pointed out that Morgan had used the Hamilton 68 dashboard to give his “false flag” more credibility – misleading the public about a “Russian” influence campaign that he knew was fake.

New Knowledge’s protestations apparently didn't convince Facebook, which announced last week that five accounts linked to New Knowledge – including Morgan's – had been suspended  for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” -RT

They knew exactly what they were doing

While Morgan and New Knowledge sought to frame the "Project Birmingham" as a simple research project, a leaked copy of the operation's after-action report reveals that they knew exactly what they were doing

"We targeted 650,000 like AL voters, with a combination of persona accounts, astroturfing, automated social media amplification and targeted advertising," reads the report published by entrepreneur and executive coach Jeff Giesea. 

The rhetorical question remains, why did the MSM drop this election meddling story like a hot rock after the initial headlines faded away?  

Published:12/29/2018 1:52:34 PM
[Immigration] Ten Years Ago Dem. Sen. Chuck Schumer Wanted a Wall, Now Hypocrite Opposes the Same Thing

Ten years ago when Barack Obama was president, Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer was all about pushing the border wall. Now, all of a sudden he oppose it

The post Ten Years Ago Dem. Sen. Chuck Schumer Wanted a Wall, Now Hypocrite Opposes the Same Thing appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:12/29/2018 11:22:30 AM
[Immigration] Ten Years Ago Dem. Sen. Chuck Schumer Wanted a Wall, Now Hypocrite Opposes the Same Thing

Ten years ago when Barack Obama was president, Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer was all about pushing the border wall. Now, all of a sudden he oppose it

The post Ten Years Ago Dem. Sen. Chuck Schumer Wanted a Wall, Now Hypocrite Opposes the Same Thing appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:12/29/2018 11:22:30 AM
[Uncategorized] Bernie Bros See Beto as Another Obama and That’s a Big Problem "Socialists generally regard Obama as a failure" Published:12/29/2018 11:22:30 AM
[Nikki Haley] Thanks for the memories, Nikki (Scott Johnson) As it turns out, Nikki Haley was one of President Trump’s most inspired appointments. Serving as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, she has performed admirably in the administration’s great undoing of toxic Obama administration policies. As she is leaves office, the Free Beacon’s David Rutz has compiled a supercuts video with glimpses of Ambassador Haley’s greatest hits. Rutz summarizes her tenure: “For two years, she faced down Published:12/29/2018 8:55:19 AM
[Issues] Franchise Anxiety

Franchise businesses and labor lawyers will have to wait until 2019 to see if the Trump administration overturns one of Obama's most controversial workplace policies. 

The post Franchise Anxiety appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:12/29/2018 5:51:05 AM
[Markets] The Biggest Critics Of Trump's Syria Withdrawal Fueled Rise Of ISIS

Authored by Max Blumenthal via ConsortiumNews.com,

Too many of those protesting the removal of U.S. forces are authors of the catastrophe that tore Syria to pieces...

President Donald Trump’s announcement of an imminent withdrawal of US troops from northeastern Syria summoned a predictable paroxysm of outrage from Washington’s foreign policy establishment. Former Secretary of State and self-described “hair icon” Hillary Clinton perfectly distilled the bipartisan freakout into a single tweet, accusing Trump of “isolationism” and “playing into Russia and Iran’s hands.”

Michelle Flournoy, the DC apparatchik who would have been Hillary’s Secretary of Defense, slammedthe pull-out as “foreign policy malpractice,” while Hillary’s successor at the State Department, John Kerry, threw bits of red meat to the Russiagate-crazed Democratic base by branding Trump’s decision “a Christmas gift to Putin.” From the halls of Congress to the K Street corridors of Gulf-funded think tanks, a chorus of protest proclaimed that removing US troops from Syria would simultaneously abet Iran and bring ISIS back from the grave.

Yet few of those thundering condemnations of the president’s move seemed able to explain just why a few thousand U.S. troops had been deployed to the Syrian hinterlands in the first place. If the mission was to destroy ISIS, then why did ISIS rise in the first place? And why was the jihadist organization still festering right in the midst of the U.S. military occupation?

Too many critics of withdrawal had played central roles in the Syrian crisis to answer these questions honestly. They had either served as media cheerleaders for intervention, or crafted the policies aimed at collapsing Syria’s government that fueled the rise of ISIS. The Syrian catastrophe was their legacy, and they were out to defend it at any cost.

Birthing ISIS From the Womb of Regime Change

During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Clinton, Kerry, and the rest of the Beltway blob lined up reflexively behind George W. Bush. The insurgency that followed the violent removal of Iraq’s Ba’athist government set the stage for the declaration of the first Islamic State by Abu Musab Zarqawi in 2006. Five years later, with near-total consent from Congress, Hillary enthusiastically presided over NATO’s assault on Libya, cackling with glee when she learned that the country’s longtime leader, Moammar Gaddafi, had been sodomized with a bayonet and shot to death by Islamist insurgents — “We came, we saw, he died!” It was not long before an Islamist Emirate was established in Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, while 31 flavors of jihadi militias festered in Tripoli and Benghazi. 

Architects of chaos in Syria.

While still defending her vote on Iraq, Hillary made the case for arming the anti-Assad opposition in Syria. “In a conflict like this,” she said, “the hard men with the guns are going to be the more likely actors in any political transition than those on the outside just talking.”

In 2012, the CIA initiated a one billion dollar arm-and-equip operation to fund the so-called “moderate rebels” united under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). A classified Defense Intelligence Agency memo distributed across Obama administration channels in August of that year warned that jihadist forces emanating from Iraq aimed to exploit the security vacuum opened up by the US-backed proxy war to establish a “Salafist principality in eastern Syria” — an “Islamic State,” in the exact words of the memo.  

Referring to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia’s Syrian affiliate by its name, Jabhat al-Nusra, before Western media ever had, the DIA emphasized the close ties the group had fostered with Syria’s “moderate rebels”: “AQI supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media. AQI declared its opposition to Assad’s regime from the beginning because it considered it a sectarian regime targeting Sunnis.”

The memo was authored under the watch of then-Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was convicted this year of failing to register as a foreign agent of Turkey — an extremely ironic development considering Turkey’s role in fueling the Syrian insurgency. Predictably, the document was ignored across the board by the Obama administration. Meanwhile, heavy weapons were flowing out of the U.S. Incirlik air base in Turkey and into the hands of anyone who could grab them across the Syrian border.

As early as February 2013, a United Nations independent inquiry report concluded, “The FSA has remained a brand name only.” The UN further issued a damning assessment of the role of the United States, UK and their Gulf allies in fueling extremism across Syria. “The intervention of external sponsors has contributed to the radicalization of the insurgency as it has favoured Salafi armed groups such as the al-Nusra Front, and even encouraged mainstream insurgents to join them owing to their superior logistical and operational capabilities,” the report stated.

US Arms, ISIS Caliphate

How ISIS overran large swaths of territory in northeastern Syria and established its de facto capital Raqqa is scarcely understood, let alone discussed by Western media. That is partly because the real story is so inconvenient to the established narrative of the Syrian conflict, which blames Assad for every atrocity that has ever occurred in his country, and for some horrors that may not have ever taken place. Echoing the Bush administration’s discredited attempts to link Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda, someneoconservative pundits hatched a conspiracy theory that accused Assad of covertly orchestrating the rise of ISIS in order to curry support from the West. But the documented evidence firmly established the success of ISIS as a byproduct of the semi-covert American program to arm Assad’s supposedly moderate opposition.

Opposition activists fly the flag of the US-backed Free Syrian Army alongside the flag of ISIS in the center of Raqqa, December 2013. (Raqqa Media Center)

Back in March 2013, a coalition of Syrian rebel forces representing the CIA-backed FSA, the Turkish and Qatari proxy, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Al Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra, overwhelmed the Syrian army in Raqqa. Opposition activists declared the city the “icon of the revolution”and celebrated in Raqqa’s town center, waving the tricolor flags of the FSAalongside the black banners of ISIS and al-Nusra, which set up its headquarters in the city’s town hall.

But disorder quickly spread throughout the city as its residents attempted to order their affairs through local councils. Meanwhile, the US-backed FSA had ceded the city to al-Nusra, taking the fight to the front lines against government forces further afield. The chaos stirred by the insurgents and their foreign backers had created the perfect petri dish for jihadism to fester.

A month after Raqqa was taken, the Iraqi zealot and ISIS commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi revealed that al-Nusra had been a Trojan horse for his organization, referring to its commander, Mohammed Jolani, as “our son.” Jolani, in turn, admitted that he had entered Syria from Iraq as a soldier of the Islamic State, declaring, “We accompanied the jihad in Iraq as military escorts from its beginning until our return [to Syria] after the Syrian revolution.”

By August, Baghdadi completed his coup, announcing control over the city. According to the anti-Assad website, Syria Untold, the U.S.-backed FSA had “balked in the face of ISIS and avoided any military confrontation with it.” Many of its fighters quickly jumped ship to either the Islamic State or al-Nusra.

“The [FSA] battalions are scared to become the weakest link, that they will be swallowed by ISIS,” a media activist named Ahmed al-Asmeh told the journalist Alison Meuse. “A number joined ISIS, and those who were with the people joined Jabhat al-Nusra.”

Backing “Territorial ISIS”

As the insurgency advanced towards Syria’s coast, leaving piles of corpses in its wake and propelling a refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions, the U.S. stepped up its arm-and-equip program. By 2015, the CIA was pouring anti-tank missiles into the ranks of Nourredine Al-Zinki, an extremist militia thateventually forged a coalition with bands of fanatics that made no attempt to disguise their ideology. Among the new opposition umbrella group was one outfit called, “The Bin Laden Front.”

Despite all its war on terror bluster, the U.S. was treating ISIS as an asset in its bid to topple Assad. Then Secretary of State Kerry copped to the strategy in a leaked private meeting with Syrian opposition activists in Sept. 2016: “We were watching,” Kerry revealed. “We saw that Daesh [ISIS] was growing in strength and we thought Assad was threatened. We thought, however, we could probably manage, you know, that Assad might negotiate and instead of negotiating, you got Assad, ah, you got Putin supporting him.”

When Russia directly intervened in Syria in 2015, the Obama administration’s most outspoken interventionists railed against its campaign to roll back the presence of Al Qaeda and its allies,comparing it to the Rwandan genocide. These same officials were curiously quiet, however, when Russia combined forces with the Syrian military to drive ISIS from the city of Palmyra, to save the home of the world’s most treasured antiquities from destruction.

At a March 24, 2016, press briefing, a reporter asked U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner, “Do you want to see the [Syrian] regime retake Palmyra, or would you prefer that it stays in Daesh’s [ISIS] hands?”

Toner strung together empty platitudes for a full minute.

“You’re not answering my question,” the reporter protested.

Toner emitted a nervous laugh and conceded, “I know I’m not.”

About a year later, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman openly called for the U.S. to use ISIS as a strategic tool, reiterating the cynical logic for the strategy that was already in place. “We could simply back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Assad,” Friedman proposed. “After all, they’re the ones overextended in Syria, not us. Make them fight a two-front war—the moderate rebels on one side and ISIS on the other.”

Giving ISIS ‘Breathing Space’

Palmyra saved twice from ISIS. (Wikimedia Commons)

When the U.S. finally decided to make a move against ISIS in 2017, it was gripped with anxiety about the Syrian government restoring control over the oil-rich areas ISIS controlled across the northeast.

With help from Russia, and against opposition from the U.S., Syria had alreadyliberated the city of Deir Ezzor from a years-long siege by the Islamic State. Fearing that ISIS-occupied Raqqa could be next to be returned to government hands, the U.S. unleashed a brutal bombing campaign while its allies in the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (a rebranded offshoot of the People’s Protection Units or YPG) assaulted the city by ground.

The U.S.-led campaign reduced much of Raqqa to rubble. In contrast to Aleppo, where rebuilding was underway and refugees were returning, Raqqa and outlying towns under U.S. control were cut off from basic government services and plunged into darkness.

The U.S. proceeded to occupy the city and its outlying areas, insisting that the Syrian government and its allies were too weak to prevent the resurgence of ISIS on their own. But almost as soon as U.S. boots hit the ground, ISIS began to gather strength. In fact, a report this August by the UN Security Council’s Sanctions Monitoring Team found that in areas under direct American control, ISIS had suddenly found “breathing space to prepare for the next phase of its evolution into a global covert network.”

This October, when Iran launched missile strikes against ISIS, nearly killing the ISIS emir, Baghdadi, the Pentagon complained that the missiles had struck only three kilometers from U.S. positions. The protest raised uncomfortable questions about what the top honchos of the Islamic State were doing in such close proximity to the American military, and why the U.S. was unwilling to do what Iran just had done and attack them. No answers from the Pentagon have arrived so far.

Target: Iran

With the appointment this August of James Jeffrey, a self-described “Never Trumper” from the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as Trump’s special representative for Syria engagement, it became clear that the mission to eradicate ISIS was of secondary importance. In testimony before Congress this December, Jeffrey laid out an agenda that focused heavily on what he called “Iran’s malign influence in the region,” “countering Iran in Syria,” and “remov[ing] all Iranian-commanded forces and proxy forces from the entirety of Syria.” In all, Jeffrey made 30 mentions of Iran, all of them hostile, while referring only 23 times to ISIS. It was clear he had regime change in Tehran on the brain.

Trump, for his part, had been mulling a removal of U.S. forces from northern Syria since at least last Spring, when he put forward a vision for an all-Arab military force funded by Saudi Arabia to replace them. But when Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was sawed apart inside his country’s embassy in Istanbul this October, Trump’s plan went to pieces as well. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoganexploited the Khashoggi saga to perfection, helping to transform Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman from the darling of America’s elite into persona non grata in Washington. As a result, he arranged a front line position for Turkey in the wake of any U.S. withdrawal.

There are now real reasons to fear that a Turkish advance will ignite a resurgence of ISIS. Turkey was not only a source of aid and oil sales to the jihadist group, it currently oversees a mercenary force of Salafi militiamen that includes droves of former Islamic State fighters. If the Turkish onslaught proves destabilizing, Iran and its allied Shia militias could ramp up their deployment in Syria, which would trigger a harsh reaction from Israel and its Beltway cut-outs.

Then again, the Kurdish YPG is in high level negotiations with Damascus and may team up with the Syrian military to fill the void. From an anti-ISIS standpoint, this is clearly the best option. It is  therefore the least popular one in Washington.

Whatever happens in Syria, those who presided over U.S. policy towards the country over the past seven years are in no position to criticize. They set the stage for the entire crisis, propelling the rise of ISIS in a bid to decapitate another insufficiently pliant state. And though they may never face the accountability they deserve, the impending withdrawal of American troops is a long overdue and richly satisfying rebuke.

*  *  *

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Published:12/28/2018 10:20:31 PM
[World] [John K. Ross] Short Circuit: A Roundup of Recent Federal Court Decisions

Tonal tightropes, regulatory time bombs, and a Southern soul music rivalry.

Please enjoy the latest edition of Short Circuit, a weekly feature from the Institute for Justice.

New on the Short Circuit podcast: Gov't agencies working at cross purposes, police using law enforcement databases for personal reasons, and a sentencing brouhaha. Click here for iTunes.

  • D.C. Circuit (2016): A lawsuit filed by Holocaust survivors against Hungary and its state-owned railway should not have been dismissed; a 1947 peace treaty requiring Hungary to compensate victims doesn't preclude other means of seeking compensation. District court on remand: Nevertheless, case dismissed. The evidence and witnesses are located in Hungary; the case should be tried in Hungarian courts. D.C. Circuit (2018, over a dissent): Reversed.
  • Inmate at Berlin, N.H. prison has his skull broken by other inmates, who then place him in bed, clean him up. An officer doing rounds fails to note the injured inmate is in the wrong cell, which ultimately delays medical treatment by about an hour and a half. Can he sue the officer? The First Circuit says no.
  • Supreme Court (2013): A federal law that requires U.S. nonprofits to adopt policies explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking in order to receive federal funds to combat HIV/AIDS abroad compels speech in violation of the First Amendment. Feds: Sure thing. But the foreign affiliates of those nonprofits must still adopt policies that explicitly oppose prostitution and sex trafficking. Second Circuit (over a dissent): Not so.
  • A suspect's invocation of his Miranda rights is an invocation of his Miranda rights—even if he invokes them in an angry tone, holds the Fourth Circuit, declining to require suspects to walk a "tonal tightrope" in their interactions with police.
  • Allegation: In response to a single incident of misbehavior, a pretrial detainee is placed in solitary confinement for three and a half years until his eventual trial (at which he is acquitted of the most serious charge and sentenced to time served). Which could maybe be a constitutional violation, holds the Fourth Circuit, finding that local officials are not entitled to qualified immunity.
  • In true crime news, the Fourth Circuit spends some 154 pages rejecting the latest request for postconviction relief in a murder case that went to trial in 1979 and whose procedural history requires a footnote stretched across two pages.
  • Various Iraqi nationals living in the United States are ordered removed back to Iraq, mostly because of criminal convictions. Those removals don't happen because Iraq won't take them—until 2017, when diplomacy changes Iraq's mind, meaning long-stalled removals are now imminent. Sixth Circuit, over a dissent: And the federal courts don't have jurisdiction to change that. Take your immigration issues to immigration court.
  • "If I did something wrong, why ain't I in copyright court?" asked recording artist Bishop Bullwinkle, shortly before a court held that he had done copyright wrong. Turns out his viral hit "Hell 2 Da Naw Naw" improperly sampled Bigg Robb's "Lookin for a Country Girl." Faced with a silly procedural objection, the Sixth Circuit affirmed. Come for a tale of Southern soul music rivalry; stay for the holding that "elect" means "choose" or "pick out."
  • Appleton, Wisc. man murders his estranged wife. His defense is that she provoked him, so it's second-degree murder rather than first. The trial judge has to decide if there's enough evidence to allow the defense, but the man doesn't want to disclose more strategy. So the judge listens to the man ramble about the murder privately in chambers; defense counsel is there but not allowed to talk. Judge then rules there's not enough evidence for the man to argue provocation, and he's convicted in the first degree. The man, on habeas: A silenced lawyer violates my right to counsel. The Seventh Circuit, en banc and over a dissent: It's dodgy, but not dodgy enough to give you a new trial.
  • Outgoing Obama administration officials leave "time bomb" for new USDA officials: proposed regulations that increase the agency's regulatory authority (to enforce a "per se" ban on deceptive practices in the meat packing industry absent a showing of potential harm to competition) in a way that courts have long rejected. The new administration cancels the change. Eighth Circuit: Which was not arbitrary and capricious.
  • California law permits police to impound vehicles for 30 days if the vehicle's driver has never been issued a license. Nevertheless, in two separate instances, police in Sonoma County impound vehicles driven by drivers who have been issued licenses (both Mexican, one expired). And both times the driver had a