Newsgeeker.com news site RSS Email Alerts

Search:obama


   
[Right Column] Science group rips new fed climate report: ‘Based on speculation, not hard evidence’ – ‘Vague and unsubstantiated’

Dr. Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP): The Fourth National Climate Assessment offers no hard evidence, just vague assertions and claims that past climate change is no evidence about future climate change. It earns the distinction that it does not meet the standards of the Information Quality Act, and each page should be stamped: “Based on speculation, not hard evidence.”

Much of the latest USGCRP report is vague and unsubstantiated. 

Trump v. Trump: The global warming chorus immediately seized on the new USGCRP report claiming the Trump administration is contradicting President Trump’s claims about global warming. Amusingly, some of the chorus interviewed people who worked on the USGCRP, who were political appointees under the Obama Administration. Part of the problem stems from the disorganization of the Trump administration after his election. The administration was not prepared.

The USGCRP created an illusory climate using complex climate models without a physical basis. As such, the entire 1100-page report can be viewed as an assembly of prophecies that may or may not occur in the next 25 to 100 years – no contradictory evidence needed.

Published:11/26/2018 11:10:58 AM
[Politics] 44% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

Forty-four percent (44%) 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 November 21.

This week’s finding is up three points from last week and is the highest level of optimism since early September. 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 1,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from November 19-21, 2018. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:11/26/2018 9:58:34 AM
[World] [David Post] The Case that Started All the Fuss

Judge Tigar's (ND CA) asylum decision is an especially inappropriate target for Trump's ranting, given the weakness of the Administration's position on the legal issues raised by the case.

Given the furor sparked by President Trump's disgraceful "Obama judges" tweet, and Justice Roberts' extraordinary (and most welcome) stern rebuke [see here], it is easy to lose sight of the legal issues involved in the case, and in the opinion by Judge Tigar [available here] that so enraged the President.

It's actually not all that complicated. On November 9, the President issued a Presidential Proclamation [available here], and DHS announced a series of new rules, that had the combined effect of making "any alien who enters the United States across the southern border" categorically ineligible to bring a claim for asylum, unless they entered the country at a "port of entry" - i.e., a US Border and Customs Patrol-operated facility - on the US-Mexico border.

The Immigration and Naturalization Act provides:

Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien's status, may apply for asylum in accordance with [the procedures set forth elsewhere]." 28 U.S.C. § 1158(a) (emphasis added)

That's pretty much it. You be the judge. I'm no expert in Immigration law, and I suspect you're not either. But it doesn't look that complex. Congress has clearly said, in the statute, that "any alien" arriving at the border is eligible to apply for asylum, whether or not he/she enters at a "point of entry." The Executive Branch has declared that for certain aliens - those entering across the US-Mexico border - that will no longer be the case.

This what Trump is so outraged about? This is Separation of Powers 101. Congress (with, of course, Presidential approval) makes immigration law; the President is charged with "faithfully executing" that law. Here, he has overriden an express Congressional directive regarding the eligibility of aliens for asylum. He can't do that, on his own.

It's beyond ironic that Trump has chosen this case for a rant about how badly he is treated by all those "Obama judges" there on (or in) the 9th Circuit. He loses this case before a "Bush judge" or a "Trump judge" or a "Reagan judge" - i.e., before any judge who takes the Constitution at all seriously. Trump doesn't much like the Separation of Powers, I get that - and he's surely going to be liking it a lot less now that the Democrats control the House. But he better learn to live with it, for all of our sakes.

Published:11/26/2018 9:10:30 AM
[Markets] Trump Threatens To Permanently Close Southern Border If Mexico Doesn't Deport "Criminal" Migrants

Migrant caravan drama returned to the headlines over the weekend after several violent clashes broke out at the US-Mexico border, prompting US troops to fire tear gas at migrants who tried to rush the border, while one migrant who attacked border agents with stones after crossing into Arizona was taken into custody. After the incoming Mexican government denied reports that it had agreed to hold asylum applicants from Central American while they awaited their asylum hearings, Mexico said it would deport some 500 migrants who tried to rush the US border on Sunday.

Given all that is happening, it's hardly surprising that President Trump, who just returned from a holiday weekend at Mar-a-Lago, escalated his threats to close the US-Mexico border after a series of angry tweets about a 60 Minutes story about his administration's controversial "child separation" policy where he (correctly) pointed out that the Trump administration's policy was merely a continuation of policies from the Bush and Obama administrations. Trump said that he tried to keep families together, but that "when you do that, vast numbers of additional people storm the border."

Trump closed his rant by demanding that Mexico move "stone-cold criminal" migrants back to their home countries "do it by plane, do it by bus, do it any way you want but they are NOT coming into the U.S.A!" Failing this, Trump added "we will close the border permanently if need be" before demanding that Congress "fund the WALL."

Of course, Trump will have a chance to do just that next month, where he will have the opportunity to threaten a shutdown if Congress doesn't agree to funding for his border-strengthening initiatives like the wall.

Published:11/26/2018 6:13:07 AM
[Markets] Congressionally Mandated New Report Urges Massive US Military Increases

Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The Commission on National Defense Strategy for the US has just released to Congress its report "Providing for the Common Defense”, and it opens:

“In the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017, Congress charged this Commission with providing an independent, nonpartisan review of the 2018 National Defense Strategy and issues of US defense strategy and policy more broadly.

The report’s co-chairs, Eric S. Edelman and Gary Roughead, say in their accompanying letter to Congress, that “the United States will soon face a national security emergency.”

It doesn’t describe that “emergency,” but uses it to argue that ‘defense’ spending needs to soar and all other spending by the Government — especially for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other “entitlements” — needs to shrink, and/or recipient beneficiaries of those programs need to pay more, and taxes need to increase, so that this “emergency” can be dealt with. They say that the weapons-manufacturers and soldiers need more money, and that this military requirement is an “emergency” but other federal spending is not.

The Executive Summary says:

Rivals and adversaries are challenging the United States on many fronts and in many domains. America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt. If the nation does not act promptly to remedy these circumstances, the consequences will be grave and lasting.

The document strongly urges expansion of the US regime’s policing of the world, in the interests of America’s international corporations. 

(EDITORIAL COMMENTARY: Neither the U.N. nor any other international body, has appointed the US regime to police the world. Furthermore, the US regime is the most frequent invader of foreign nations; and always, at least since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, is invading on the basis of lies and in violation of international law. But, the US regime nonetheless — as in "Providing for the Common Defense” — anoints itself the ‘authority’ to be police, judge, jury, and executioner, over this entire planet. This US-Government intention is a well-recognized fact recognized by peoples around the world. Hitler’s Government likewise viewed itself in this way. US President Obama stated this self-anointed global authority for the US, by asserting that “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation”, which means that every other nation is dispensable. Hitler agreed with that viewpoint for Germany, and frequently expressed it.) 

On page 63 (80 of the pdf), "Providing for the Common Defense” states:

Embracing a Whole-of-Government

Approach to Strategic Competition

This Commission was charged with making recommendations regarding US defense strategy. Yet even if America were to fund the Department of Defense lavishly, and even if all the other recommendations in this report were to be implemented, that would not be sufficient to address the threats and challenges facing the country today. America’s two most powerful competitors — China and Russia — have developed national strategies for enhancing their influence and undermining key US interests that extend far beyond military competition.

It therefore urges placing the US Government on a war-footing, in virtually every governmental department.

On that same page, it states:

Looking ahead, policymakers must address rising government spending and decreasing tax revenues as unsustainable trends that compel hard fiscal choices… Congress should look to the entire federal budget, especially entitlements and taxes, to set the nation on a more stable financial footing. In the near-term, such adjustments will undoubtedly be quite painful. Yet over time — and probably much sooner than we expect — failing to make those adjustments and fully fund America’s defense strategy will undoubtedly be worse.

In other words, according to this congressionally mandated report: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, public health, safety-regulations, civilian infrastructure, and all other non-‘defense’ programs, must be severely slashed in order for the United States to be able to buy more of the machinery of mass-murder from Lockheed Martin and the other American manufacturers of the machinery of mass murder, which now form the basis for the American economy, of foreign conquests and coups, which must now be greatly escalated in order to keep America ’safe’ and those weapons-makers’ investors and executives happy. Similarly, America’s soldiers need more money. Furthermore:

Comprehensive solutions to these comprehensive challenges will require whole-of-government and even whole-of-nation cooperation extending far beyond DOD. Trade policy; science, technology, engineering, and math education; diplomatic statecraft; and other non-military tools will be critical — so will adequate support and funding for those elements of American power.

Their top (#1) “Recommendation” is:

The United States urgently requires rapid and substantial improvements to its military capabilities, built on a foundation of compelling and relevant warfighting concepts at the operational level of war.

“Recommendation” #9 states:

Deterring aggression in the Western Pacific will require using focused investments to establish a forward-deployed defense-in-depth posture. To deter a revanchist Russia, the United States and its NATO allies must rebuild military force capacity and capability in Europe.

#11 states:

The Air Force, Navy, and Army will all need capacity enhancements.

#24 urges:

Budget caps were — and still are — harmful to American defense.

In other words: If eliminating, or at least slashing, non-‘defense’ spending can’t be done, then the Government must go yet further into debt now, in order to be “Providing for the Common Defense.” If necessary in order to address the ‘defense’ ‘emergency’, everything else now must be sacrificed.

#31 is:

Congress should look to the entire federal budget, especially entitlements, as well as taxes, to set the nation on a more stable financial footing.

So: in case not enough money can be extracted from non-‘defense’, and from increasing the debt, then taxes — including taxes on the non-recipients of “entitlements” —  must be increased, in order to be “Providing for the Common Defense.” That’s what an “emergency” is. Only the expenditures for soldiers and for the manufacturers of the machinery of mass murder are to be served, if sufficient extractions fail to materialize from those other sources.

The two chairmen, and the ten other members of the Commission, are all longstanding neoconservatives, supporters of all US invasions and coups and conquests. The first co-chair, the Republican Eric S. Edelman, for example, is so neoconservative that he condemns even neocon Democrats (such as Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden) who pretend not to be neoconservative in order for them to be able to campaign effectively for the votes of Democrats in Presidential primaries. For example, here’s from Wikipedia’s article on Edelman:

In July 2007, Edelman attracted media attention for criticizing Senator Hillary Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.[10] In a private letter to Senator Clinton in response to a request made to the Pentagon in May 2007 for an outline [of] plans for withdrawing troops from combat in Iraq, Edelman rebuffed her request and wrote:[11][12]

“Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia.”

The Associated Press described his criticisms as "stinging".[10] According to the Associated Press, Edelman's comments were: "unusual, particularly because it was directed at a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee".[10] The Associated Press pointed out that fellow committee member Republican Senator Richard Lugar had also called for discussions of withdrawing US troops from Iraq, but had escaped Edelman's criticism. Clinton has said she is "shocked by the timeworn tactic of once again impugning the patriotism of any of us who raise serious questions" about the Iraq war.[13] 

Senator Clinton needed that anti-neocon pretense in order for her to be able to campaign effectively for the votes of Democrats during the then-upcoming 2008 Democratic Party Presidential primaries. Edelman was that extreme a neocon: he demanded it even of a Democratic Party politician who would soon be running for that Party’s Presidential nomination and needing to fool her Party’s primary voters in order to have any realistic possibility to receive her Party’s nomination.

Edelman was nonetheless appointed by the US Senate on 12 August 2011 to be a Director of the Orwellianly (“Newspeak”) named US Institute of Peace, and he still is a Director of that pro-US-aggression propaganda-organization.

The other co-chair of this Commission, and of its report, Admiral Roughead, is a Director of Northrop Grumman, which is America's fifth-largest manufacturer of mass-murdering machines, and he also is a writer for the neoconservative Brookings Institution, where, in February 2013, prior to the post-2014 soaring US ‘defense’ budgets, he co-authored a report, "National Defense in a Time of Change” saying:

Our spending [on ‘defense’] now constitutes 46 percent of the entire world’s allotment (IISS 2012, 31). The next highest is China, with a reported budget of $89 billion, although this figure is surely underreported and does not account for disparities in compensation, procurement, and infrastructure costs. A remarkable chasm of commitment to strong military forces exists between the United States and most other countries. Comparisons of defense spending as a percentage of gross domestic product do not capture the magnitude of US spending nearly as well as do per capita expenditures, which give a snapshot weighted by population but absolute in terms of input. Our country spends $2,250 per person on our military forces every year; Russia spends $301 per person, Iran $137, and China $57 (IISS 2012, 467–473).

So, now that this Grumman Director is working under a President (Trump) who is even more neoconservative than was Obama (or maybe even than Senator Clinton), he’s screaming for yet more money for himself and his investors, in the form of increasing ‘defense’-contracts. 

CONCLUSION

That’s whom America’s troops are actually fighting for — the owners, and their executives — people who want more money and don’t care about the millions of people around the world that they help to kill and the millions of others whose continuing lives they make hellish (including even some destitute Americans who need the social services that will be cut in order to fund purchases of yet more bombs and missiles).

America’s masters today are such psychopaths as this. Even 46% of the entire world’s military budget isn’t enough to satisfy them. Most individuals who become convicted and executed aren’t nearly as harmful as these people are, who ride so high the American nation, and (they demand) the entire world. They’re like Hitler’s Nazis, but on nuclear steroids. And the US Congress appointed this Commission.

Published:11/25/2018 9:35:51 PM
[Markets] After Giving $15 Million To Soros Orgs, USAID Fires Half Of Its West Bank Staff

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that half of its West Bank and Gaza employees will be let go over the next few weeks, and that operations will completely cease by early 2019, according to Haaretz

The humanitarian agency has been a longstanding presence in the region for nearly 25 years.

The Trump State Department notified USAID last week that they would need to present a list of 60 percent of its employees to be dismissed immediately - with a full shutdown to ensue shortly thereafter. 

The U.S. federal government agency handles civilian assistance to various countries around the world. The USAID chapter in the West Bank and Gaza began operating in 1994, focusing mainly on economic issues including water, infrastructure, education and health. USAID has invested about $5.5 billion in the West Bank and Gaza in the construction of roads, schools, clinics and community centers. -Haaretz

The shutdown is thought to be linked to President Trump's funding freeze for various Palestinian relief organizations, as dozens of USAID projects in the West Bank and Gaza were suspended - even those which were partially completed. 

In the current budgetary year, the United States was projected to have transferred a total of $250 million in aid to various Palestinian organizations. $35 million of which was supposed to be allocated to the Palestinian Authority security forces and $215 million to economic development, humanitarian assistance and coexistence projects, some through USAID. Last August, the United States announced that the money would be diverted to matters were deemed higher priority to U.S. interests. -Haaretz

Meanwhile, approximately 180 employees operating out of the US Embassy in Israel have yet to receive budgeting for their 2018 and 2019 operations - while leftover funds have been diverted from projects to paying salaries and maintaining the organization. US Ambassador David Friedman has given USAID the cold shoulder over the past few months, according to Haaretz, citing officials involved in the matter, adding that Friedman has not held meetings with USAID officials on various projects. 

In March, Fox News reported that USAID gave nearly $15 million to George Soros' Open Society Foundation over Obama's last four years in office alone, which conducts extensive work in the West Bank / Palestine region - however the funding was primarily for Soros operations in Albania and Macedonia. 

According to the USAID website, the agency gave over $18 million to an Open Society Institute (OSI) program from 2005 - 2012 operating in the West Bank, which sought to place prospective Palestinian PhD students in United States partner universities with waived or reduced tuition. 

These types of programs are coming to an end, however, at least at the US Taxpayer's expense. 

Published:11/25/2018 8:03:09 PM
[Uncategorized] For some reason, Alyssa Milano is very, very mad that the Trump administration treated rock-throwing migrants swarming the border the EXACT SAME WAY as the Obama administration did

As we told you earlier, Border Patrol agents during the Obama administration we forced to deploy pepper spray and other types of non-lethal munitions against rock-throwing migrants swarming the border, just like what happened earlier today: FLASHBACK: Border Patrol agents used pepper spray on rock-throwing migrants rushing the border in 2013 https://t.co/cFybCvvx6t — Twitchy Team […]

The post For some reason, Alyssa Milano is very, very mad that the Trump administration treated rock-throwing migrants swarming the border the EXACT SAME WAY as the Obama administration did appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/25/2018 7:37:43 PM
[US News] FLASHBACK: Border Patrol agents used pepper spray on rock-throwing migrants rushing the border in 2013

As libs lose their collective cookies over Border Patrol agents using tear gas today to thwart rock-throwing migrants from entering the United States illegally, here’s a reminder that the exact same thing happened during the Obama administration and for some reason it wasn’t covered the same way as today: 2013: "A group of about 100 […]

The post FLASHBACK: Border Patrol agents used pepper spray on rock-throwing migrants rushing the border in 2013 appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/25/2018 7:04:07 PM
[Markets] Forget Jim Acosta, Matt Taibbi Explains Why You Should Care About Julian Assange

Authored by Matt Taibbi via RollingStone.com,

Forget Jim Acosta. If you’re worried about Trump’s assault on the press, news of a Wikileaks indictment is the real scare story...

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has been inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London since the summer of 2012, is back in the news. Last week, word of a sealed federal indictment involving him leaked out.

The news came out in a strange way, via an unrelated case in Virginia. In arguing to seal a federal child endangerment charge (against someone with no connection to Wikileaks), the government, ironically, mentioned Assange as an example of why sealing is the only surefire way to keep an indictment under wraps.

“Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case,” prosecutors wrote, “no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.”

Assange’s lawyer Barry Pollack told Rolling Stone he had “not been informed that Mr. Assange has been charged, or the nature of any charges.”

Pollock and other sources could not be sure, but within the Wikileaks camp it’s believed that this charge, if it exists, is not connected to the last election.

“I would think it is not related to the 2016 election since that would seem to fall within the purview of the Office of Special Counsel,” Pollack said.

If you hate Assange because of his role in the 2016 race, please take a deep breath and consider what a criminal charge that does not involve the 2016 election might mean. An Assange prosecution could give the Trump presidency broad new powers to put Trump’s media “enemies” in jail, instead of just yanking a credential or two. The Jim Acosta business is a minor flap in comparison.

Although Assange may not be a traditional journalist in terms of motive, what he does is essentially indistinguishable from what news agencies do, and what happens to him will profoundly impact journalism.

Reporters regularly publish stolen, hacked and illegally-obtained material. A case that defined such behavior as criminal conspiracy would be devastating. It would have every reporter in the country ripping national security sources out of their rolodexes and tossing them in the trash.

A lot of anti-Trump reporting has involved high-level leaks. Investigation of such leaks has reportedly tripled under Trump even compared to the administration of Barack Obama, who himself prosecuted a record number of leakers. Although this may seem light years from the behavior of Wikileaks, the legal issues are similar.

Although it’s technically true that an Assange indictment could be about anything, we do have some hints about its likely direction. Back in 2014, search warrants were served to Google in connection with Wikileaks that listed causes of criminal action then being considered. Google informed Wikileaks of the warrants. You can see all of this correspondence here.

The government back then - again, this pre-dated 2016, Roger Stone, Guccifer 2.0, etc. - was looking at espionage, conspiracy to commit espionage, theft or conversion of property belonging to the United States government, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and conspiracy.

The investigation probably goes as far back as 2010, in connection with the release of ex-army private Chelsea Manning’s “Collateral Murder” video. That footage showed American forces in Iraq firing on a Reuters journalist and laughing about civilian casualties.

While much of the progressive media world applauded this exposure of George W. Bush’s Iraq war, the government immediately began looking for ways to prosecute. The Sydney Herald reported that the FBI opened its investigation of Assange “after Private Manning’s arrest in May of 2010.”

Ironically, one of the first public figures to call for Assange to be punished was Donald Trump, who in 2010 suggested the “death penalty” on Fox Radio’s Kilmeade and Friends.

While Trump complained, Wikileaks became an international sensation and a darling of the progressive set. It won a host of journalism prizes, including the Amnesty International New Media Award for 2009.

But a lot of press people seemed to approve of Wikileaks only insofar as its “radical transparency” ideas coincided with traditional standards of newsworthiness.

The “Collateral Murder” video, for instance, was celebrated as a modern take on Sy Hersh’s My Lai Massacre revelations, or the Pentagon Papers.

From there, the relationship between Assange and the press deteriorated quickly. A lot of this clearly had to do with Assange’s personality. Repeat attempts by (ostensibly sympathetic) reporters to work with Assange ended in fiascoes, with the infamous “Unauthorized Autobiography” — in which Assange abandoned the anticipated Canongate books project mid-stream, saying “all memoir is prostitution” — being one of many projects to gain him a reputation for egomania and grandiosity.

Partners like the Committee to Protect Journalists, who had been sifting through Wikileaks material to prevent truly harmful information from getting out, began to be frustrated by what they described as a frantic pace of releases.

In one episode, an Ethiopian journalist was questioned by authorities after a Wikileaks cable revealed he had a source in government; the CPJ wanted to redact the name. “We’ve been struggling to get through” the material, the CPJ wrote.

Eventually, for a variety of reasons, the partnerships with media organizations like the New York Times and The Guardian collapsed. Add to this the strange and ugly affair involving now-dismissed rape inquiry in Sweden, and Assange’s name almost overnight became radioactive with the same people who had feted him initially.

It seemed to me from the start the “reputable” press misunderstood Wikileaks. Newspapers always seemed to want the site’s scoops, without having to deal with the larger implications of its leaks.

It’s easy to forget that Wikileaks arrived in the post-9/11 era, just as vast areas of public policy were being nudged under the umbrella of classification and secrecy, often pointlessly so.

Ronald Reagan’s executive secretary for the National Security Council, Rodney McDaniel, estimated that 90 percent of what was classified didn’t need to be. The head of the 9/11 commission put the number at 75 percent.

This created a huge amount of tension between so-called “real secrets” — things that really should never be made public, like military positions and the designs of mass-destruction weapons — and things that are merely extremely embarrassing to people in power and should come out. The bombing of civilian targets in Iraq was one example. The mistreatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay was another.

A lack of any kind of real oversight system on this score is what led to situations like the Edward Snowden case. In 2013, Americans learned the NSA launched a vast extralegal data-collection program not just targeting its own people, but foreign leaders like Angela Merkel.

Snowden ended up in exile for exposing this program. Meanwhile, the government official who under oath denied its existence to congress, former Director Of National Intelligence James Clapper, remains free and is a regular TV contributor, despite numerous Senators having called for his prosecution. This says a lot about the deep-seated, institutional nature of secrecy in this country.

It always seemed that Assange viewed his primary role as being a pain in the ass to this increasingly illegitimate system of secrets, a pure iconoclast who took satisfaction in sticking it to the very powerful. I didn’t always agree with its decisions, but Wikileaks was an understandable human response to an increasingly arbitrary, intractable, bureaucratic political system.

That it even had to exist spoke to a fundamental flaw in modern Western democracies — i.e. that our world is now so complex and choked with secrets that even releasing hundreds of thousands of documents at a time, we can never be truly informed about the nature of our own societies.

Moreover, as the Snowden episode showed, it isn’t clear that knowing unpleasant secrets is the same as being able to change them.

In any case, the institutions Wikileaks perhaps naively took on once upon a time are getting ready to hit back. Frankly it’s surprising it’s taken this long. I’m surprised Assange is still alive, to be honest.

If Assange ends up on trial, he’ll be villainized by most of the press, which stopped seeing the “lulz” in his behavior for good once Donald Trump was elected. The perception that Assange worked with Vladimir Putin to achieve his ends has further hardened responses among his former media allies.

As to the latter, Assange denies cooperating with the Russians, insisting his source for the DNC leak was not a “state actor.” It doesn’t matter. That PR battle has already been decided.

Frankly, none of that entire story matters, in terms of what an Assange prosecution would mean for journalism in general. Hate him or not, the potential legal consequences are the same.

Courts have held reporters cannot be held liable for illegal behavior of sources. The 2001 Supreme Court case Bartnicki v. Vopper involved an illegal wiretap of Pennsylvania teachers’ union officials, who were having an unsavory conversation about collective bargaining tactics. The tape was passed to a local radio jock, Frederick Vopper, who put it on the air.

The Court ruled Vopper couldn’t be liable for the behavior of the wiretapper.

It’s always been the source’s responsibility to deal with that civil or criminal risk. The press traditionally had to decide whether or not leaked material was newsworthy, and make sure it was true.

The government has been searching for a way to change that equation. The Holy Grail would be a precedent that forces reporters to share risk of jail with sources.

Separate from Assange, prosecutions of leakers have sharply escalated in the last decade. The government has steadily tiptoed toward describing publishers as criminal conspirators.

Through the end of the Obama years, presidents had only prosecuted leakers twelve times. Nine of those came under Obama’s tenure. Many of those cases involved the Espionage Act.

In one case, a Fox reporter was an unindicted co-conspirator in a leak case involving a story about North Korea planning a nuclear test in response to sanctions.

In another incident, then-New York Times reporter James Risen spent seven years fighting an attempt by the Obama government to force him to compel his sources in a story about Iran’s nuke program.

A more recent case, from the Trump years, involved NSA leaker Reality Winner, who was given a draconian five-year prison sentence for leaking to The Intercept.

Despite Trump’s more recent cheery campaign-year comments about Wikileaks, and his son’s now-infamous email correspondence with Assange, Trump’s career-government appointees have not deviated much from the old party line on Wikileaks.

Trump’s security chiefs repeatedly called for a prosecution of Assange, with then-Justice head Jeff Sessions saying it was a “priority.”

Current Secretary of State and then-CIA director Mike Pompeo called Wikileaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” and added, “Julian Assange has no First Amendment freedoms… He is not a U.S. citizen.”

It’s impossible to know exactly what recent news about an indictment means until we see it (the Reporters’ Committee for the Freedom of the Press has already filed a motion to unseal the charges). If there is a case, it could be anything in the federal criminal code, perhaps even unrelated to leaks. Who knows?

But the more likely eventuality is a prosecution that uses the unpopularity of Assange to shut one of the last loopholes in our expanding secrecy bureaucracy. Americans seem not to grasp what might be at stake. Wikileaks briefly opened a window into the uglier side of our society, and if publication of such leaks is criminalized, it probably won’t open again.

There’s already a lot we don’t know about our government’s unsavory clandestine activities on fronts like surveillance and assassination, and such a case would guarantee we’d know even less going forward. Long-term questions are hard to focus on in the age of Trump. But we may look back years from now and realize what a crucial moment this was.

Published:11/25/2018 4:32:41 PM
[Uncategorized] Spartacus Booker on 2020: “I will consider running for president” Met with key Obama and Clinton strategists in Iowa Published:11/25/2018 1:32:05 PM
[Left Column] Scientists trash new federal climate report as ‘tripe’ – ’embarrassing’ – ‘400-page pile of crap’ – Report’s key claim based on ‘study funded by Tom Steyer’
Climate expert Dr. Roger Pielke Jr.: The claim of economic damage from climate change is based on a 15 degree F temperature increase that is double the "most extreme value reported elsewhere in the report." The "sole editor" of this claim in the report was an alumni of the Center for American Progress, which is also funded by Tom Styer."
Greenpeace co-founder Dr. Patrick Moore: "The science must be addressed head-on. If POTUS has his reasons for letting this Obama-era committee continue to peddle tripe I wish he would tell us what they are."
Dr. John Dunn: "Two years into the Trump administration it is sad to see this 400-page pile of crap."
Climate Depot's Morano: "It is a political report masquerading as science. We knew what it was going to say before it was issued. The media is hyping a rehash of frightening climate change claims by Obama administration holdover activist government scientists. The new report is once again pre-determined science.  The National Climate Assessment report reads like a press release from environmental pressure groups — because it is! Two key authors are longtime Union of Concerned Scientist activists, Donald Wuebbles and Katharine Hayhoe.

The new book, The Politically Incorrect Guide To Climate Change: MIT climate scientist Richard Lindzen wrote of the National Academy of Sciences: "Regardless of evidence the answer is predetermined. If the government wants carbon control, that is the answer that the Academies will provide." 

Published:11/25/2018 11:01:42 AM
[Markets] Zuesse: All US Gov't Accusations Against Russia's Gov't Are Lies

Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Saker blog,

THE FIRST ACCUSATION, which is the source of the Magnitsky Act sanctions against Russia, was in 2012 under U.S. President Barack Obama, and it alleged that Sergei Magnitsky had been a whistleblower in Russia who was a lawyer who uncovered corruption in Russia’s Government and was imprisoned for that and beaten to death there for that.

Magnitsky was, in fact, no whistleblower, and no lawyer, but the accountant of American billionaire Bill Browder, who had been charged by the Russian Government (and who then fled Russia) as having tax-defrauded the Russian Government of $230 million. And, Magnitsky’s death in prison was due to inadequate medical care of his pancreatitis by the medical personnel there, not (as Browder alleged) to any “beating.”

THE SECOND ACCUSATION, in 2014, is that “Russia stole Crimea.” This charge is the source of additional (and more severe) sanctions against Russis, and also of NATO’s massing of troops and weapons on and near Russia’s border, which are massed there allegedly to ‘protect’ European nations against ‘Russian aggression’ (such as ‘seizing Crimea’). It’s all founded on basic lies regarding Crimea and Ukraine. A fuller presentation of that case is here. But what constitutes the most remarkable evidence of all in this entire matter are two crucial phone-conversations. The first is the 27 January 2014 phone-conversation whereby the chief agent, Victoria Nuland, whom Obama had assigned to organize the coup to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected President Victor Yanukovych, gave the order as to whom Yanukovych’s replacement would be. This call is grossly misrepresented if not entirely ignored by the U.S. regime’s ‘journalists’ and ‘historians’. Nuland famously said there “Fuck the EU” (for the EU’s wanting a more moderate and less-nazi alternative to be selected). That much of the call was reported in the Western press (though with virtually no context as to what it meant and why she had said it), but the rest — the historically crucial part of it — wasn’t. This historically mega-important phone-call, which was posted to the internet a week later, on February 4th — three weeks before the man whom she named there received (just as she had instructed) the appointment to lead the post-coup Ukraine — isn’t even being denied by Washington. Instead, it’s either ignored by them, or else totally misrepresented, in the ‘historical’ accounts by the agents of the U.S. regime.

Especially remarkable about this phone-conversation, to select Ukraine’s new leader, is that it wasn’t between Ukrainians, but was instead between two Americans, selecting the person who would soon be appointed by the U.S. regime to rule Ukrainians; it actually obliterated Ukrainian national sovereignty. Nuland told Pyatt not to appoint the moderate Vitally Klitschko, the EU’s favorite, to become Ukraine’s new leader, but instead to appoint the rabidly anti-Russian Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Here, then, is the most crucial part of this historically crucial phone-conversation, the instruction she gave there that set “the New Cold War” — the movement toward World War III — overtly into motion (after its covert start on the night of 24 February 1990):

Nuland: … Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience the governing experience; he’s the… what he needs is Klitsch [the leading moderate] and Tiahnybok [an admirer of Hitler] on the outside; he [Yats] needs to be talking to them four times a week you know. I just think Klitch going in, he’s going to be, at that level, working for Yatsenyuk; it’s just not going to work.

Pyatt: Yeah [you’re right], no [I was wrong to think that Klitschko should become the new ruler], I think that’s right. Ok. Good.

Then, she referred, in the call, to her agent (just like she was Obama’s agent), Jeff Feltman, who had been assigned to persuade the U.N.’s Ban ki-Moon and his envoy handling Ukraine — who was Holland’s former Ambassador to Ukraine, the anti-Russian and pro-American Robert Serry — to go along with the U.S., in this context:

I talked to Jeff Feltman this morning; he had a new name for the UN guy Robert Serry; did I write you that this morning?

Pyatt: Yeah I saw that.

Nuland: Ok. He’s now gotten both Serry and Ban ki-Moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. That would be great, I think, to help glue this thing, and to have the UN help glue it, and, you know, fuck the EU.

Feltman chose Serry to become officially appointed on 5 March 2014 by Ban ki-Moon to “mediate the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.” (Whether Russia’s President Vladimir Putin ever knew that the U.N.’s  ‘mediator’ had been chosen by Obama’s people, is unknown; presumably, he knew of the Nuland-Pyatt phone-conversation; but certainly Russia’s U.N. Ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, wasn’t comfortable about Serry’s representing the U.N. on this matter; and Crimeans also were outright hostile toward Serry.)

In other words: this was a set-up deal, set up in Washington, to create — and with the U.N.’s acceptance — a rabidly anti-Russian government, right on Russia’s doorstep, in adjoining Ukraine. Would the U.N. have accepted Russia’s replacing Mexico’s Government in a bloody coup and installing a rabidly anti-U.S. regime there? Did the U.S. in 1962 accept Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba, which is 100 miles away from the U.S.? Of course not. Why should Russia do that, in 2014 — or ever?

Then, in a phone-call on February 26th, occurred the second important item of evidence. The foreign-affairs chief of the European Union, Catherine Ashton, was confidentially informed by her investigator, Urmas Paet, that the new Government in Ukraine was not actually the result of what the democratically elected Government had done, but was instead a coup by “the new coalition” government that had just succeeded at overthrowing the elected Government. This is from the transcript:

What was quite disturbing, the same oligarch [Poroshenko — and so when he then became Ukraine’s President three months later, he already knew this] told that well, all the evidence shows that the people who were killed by snipers, from both sides, among policemen and people from the streets, [this will shock Ashton, who thought that Yanukovych had masterminded the killings] that they were the same snipers, killing people from both sides [so, Poroshenko himself knows that his regime is based on a false-flag U.S.-controlled coup d’etat against his predecessor, Yanukovych — and he even said as much]

Well, that’s yes, …

So that and then she [Dr. Olga Bolgomets] also showed me some photos, she said that as medical doctor, she can, you know, say that it’s the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition that they don’t want to investigate, what exactly happened; so that now there is stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition. 

Notice here that Paet had tactfully avoided saying that Ashton’s assumption that it had been Yanukovych was false; instead, he totally ignored her having suggested that, and he here simply said that the evidence went totally in the opposite direction, the direction that Poroshenko himself knew to be true, that the guilty party was “the new coalition,” which Paet said nothing about, and Ashton asked him no questions about it or about what country had actually organized it. Ashton responded:

I think that we do want to investigate. 

That sentiment on her part lasted, however, only about one second.

I mean I didn’t pick that up, that’s interesting. Gosh? 

Ashton here seemed to have felt outright embarrassed, and she thus ended in a “Gosh” that was almost inaudible, as if a question, and then she immediately proceeded simply to ignore this crucial matter entirely. All of the evidence suggests that she was exceedingly reluctant to believe that in the overthrow, the bad guys had actually been on the anti-Yanukovych side. The overthrow of Yanukovych has since been called “the most blatant coup in history”.

On the day when the coup peaked, 20 February 2014, there was an event which turned the residents of Crimea even more against the overthrow-Yanukovych demonstrators than Crimeans already were (and Crimea had voted over 75% for Yanukovych, so they were strongly against this overthrow): it was “The Anti-Crimean Pogrom that Sparked Crimea’s Breakaway”.

Almost immediately after Yatsenyuk became the leader of Ukraine, he sacked the existing three Deputy Defense Ministers, on March 5th, and replaced them with three rabidly anti-Russian neo-Nazis, who were committed to his bombing-policy, to eliminate enough Yanukovych-voters so that the new Government, in future elections, would be able to be a continuation of Yatsenyuk’s instead of a restoration of the one that had preceded Yatsenyuk’s. The person who was made the Minister of Defense, Mikhail Koval, announced his intention to ethnically cleanse from southeastern Ukraine the “subhumans” who voted for Yanukovych, who will “be resettled in other regions,” meaning either Russia (if Russia accepts these Ukrainian refugees) or else concentration-camps inside Ukraine (and then perhaps death). “There will be a thorough filtration of people.” (That English translation has since been taken down; so, instead, try this and this.) Their property will be confiscated, and “Land parcels will be given out for free to the servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and other military formations, as well as to the employees of Interior Ministry and the Security Service of Ukraine that are defending territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country in eastern and southeastern regions of Ukraine.” That’s the euphemism for the ethnic cleansing, and mass-theft, which followed. And here is more of that, and more, and more, of this U.S.-imposed nazism. In other words, Obama’s rulers of Ukraine were rewarding ethnic-cleansing, and were offering their soldiers the opportunity to grab legally the property of their victims.

On 15 November 2017, two of the foreign mercenaries who had served as snipers in the Ukrainian coup confessed on Italian television and described how they had come to be hired for the job, by Mikheil Saakashvili (who is a U.S. Deep State asset).

The result of the U.S. regime’s takeover of Ukraine’s Government is this. And a generation of young Ukrainians are now being taught nazism, right on the border of Russia — Russia being the one country that in World War II had done the most to conquer the Nazis. The U.S. Government has flipped to pro-nazi. And time after time after time, the U.S. leads the three-or-fewer nations that vote at the U.N. against condemning nazism. That’s right: America, which under President FDR had fought against the Nazis and the other fascist regimes, now was and is itself the world’s leading racist-fascist, or ideologically nazi (but this time mainly against Russians, instead of mainly against Jews), regime, itself. (In fact, today’s America is allied with the ideologically racist-fascist, or nazi, anti-Palestinian, Israeli regime. And, it’s allied also with the nazi — but anti-Shiite — Saud regime, which was founded in 1744 on the basis of hating Shiites.)

Ukraine’s economy was destroyed by the U.S.-imposed Ukrainian regime. Until around 2013, Ukraine’s economy was fairly stable, but then the coup-operation, which had begun in Washington in 2011, for regime-change in both Ukraine and Syria, culminated successfully in Ukraine in February 2014. Ukraine’s national debt then nearly quadrupled, between 2013 and 2017, while Ukraine’s GDP simultaneously declined 39%:

Ukraine: National debt from 2012 to 2017 (in billion U.S. dollars)

2012=20.14

2013=22.67

2014=42.61

2015=60.24

2016=73.94

2017=83.96

Ukraine: GDP from 2012 to 2017

2012=175.71

2013=179.57

2014=132.34

2015=90.94

2016=93.26

2017=109.32

https://www.statista.com/

Because of what the U.S. regime did to Ukraine, Ukraine now has vastly higher debt, and also significantly reduced GDP from which to pay it. Nothing about this operation was at all democratic. The opposition to this operation was democratic. That’s not to say the crowd who had campaigned at the Maidan Square against Ukraine’s endemic corruption were anti-democratic, but that their leaders were — and so Ukraine is even more corrupt now than it was under Yanukovych. Four days before the Nuland-anointed Yatsenyuk left Ukraine’s Government, he tweeted on 10 April 2016, “I thank the colleagues who’ve acted honestly and selflessly. The last 2 Govs [his and Poroshenkos] were unique. They were the first manifestations of New Ukraine.” Look at the heap of contempt which his former followersheaped there upon that tweet. The pro-U.S.-regime site Euractive noted on that same day, that “his party’s approval rating has slumped to just two percent” and blamed it not on his ethnic-cleansing campaign and his sinking his country into hock to foreign investors in order to fund that war against the regions that had voted 90% for Yanukovych, but instead mainly “because of the painful transition away from a state-sustained economy” — not enough privatization, not enough graft for insider-investors to have been able to suck Ukrainians even drier than they’ve done.

All indications are that, right after the February 2014 coup, over 90% of Crimeans wanted to become Russians again, and that over 90% are happy today to be Russians again (which Crimea had been until 1954 when the Soviet dictator arbitrarily transferred Crimea from Russia to Ukraine). But the U.S. regime and its allies demand that Crimeans be taken over by the nazi racist anti-Russian and anti-Crimean regime the U.S. installed in Ukraine. The right of self-determination of peoples is honored (at least verbally) in The West for Spain’s Catalonians and for UK’s Scotts, but not at all for Crimeans, whom The West is instead determined to, essentially, destroy, by diktat (which is what the U.S.-imposed Ukrainian regime wants to do to Crimeans).

Instead of “Putin seized Crimea,” the reality is: Obama seized Ukraine. Crimeans rejected his seizure. “Putin seized Crimea” is lie #2.

THE THIRD ACCUSATION is that Russia’s Government, if not Putin himself, surreptitiously disclosed through “hacks” supplied to Wikileaks, Hillary Clinton’s and her campaign’s emails, and that Russia otherwise also campaigned, via Facebook ads, to make Donald Trump win against Hillary Clinton. Wikileaks said that the emails actually arrived via leaks not hacks, and that the leaks were from inside the Democratic Party, not from anyone outside the United States. Regarding the Facebook ads, the New York Times on 20 September 2018, bannered a 9,700-word article, “The Plot to Subvert an Election: Unraveling the Russia Story So Far”, and buried 92% of the way through it, as merely a clause in a sentence, the crucial fact that “no public evidence has emerged showing that his [Trump’s] campaign conspired with Russia in the election interference or accepted Russian money.”  This startlingly anomalous declaration by their reporters was publicly noted to be anomalous, on the very same day as the article was published, when the “Moon of Alabama” blogger headlined “NYT Admits That Its ‘Mountain of Evidence’ For Russian Collusion Is Smaller Than A Molehill”. Then, on October 1st appeared, from the “Alternative Insight” blogger, “The New York Times Plots the 2016 Election”, opening:

The article starts with

ON AN OCTOBER AFTERNOON BEFORE THE 2016 ELECTION, a huge banner was unfurled from the Manhattan Bridge in New York City: Vladimir V. Putin against a Russian-flag background…”

The paragraph ends with

In November, shortly after Donald J. Trump eked out a victory that Moscow had worked to assist, an even bigger banner appeared.”

Note that before any facts are presented, the reader is confronted with a conclusion “Moscow had worked to assist” in Trump’s victory.

Police never identified who had hung the banners, but there were clues. The earliest promoters of the images on Twitter were American-sounding accounts, including @LeroyLovesUSA, later exposed as Russian fakes operated from St. Petersburg to influence American voters.”

Although described “as Russian fakes operated from St. Petersburg to influence American voters,” the banners had nothing to do with the election, and the second banner was unfurled after the election. Why conclude they are Russian fakes? Could not these individuals be operating similar to many persons who have Facebook accounts, hiding their real names when commenting on controversial issues?
These lines are followed by leaps into fantasy.
“The Kremlin, it appeared, had reached onto United States soil in New York and Washington. The banners may well have been intended as visual victory laps for the most effective foreign interference in an American election in history.”

How do a few unknown persons, supposedly living in St. Petersburg, suddenly morph into “The Kremlin?” How could, “The banners be intended as visual victory laps?” How is this, “the most effective foreign interference in an American election in history?” A succeeding paragraph proves the article is a bundle of unproven statements. Before presenting any facts, and using conjecture, other conclusions are impressed into the readers’ minds.

But to travel back to 2016 and trace the major plotlines of the Russian attack is to underscore what we now know with certainty: The Russians carried out a landmark intervention that will be examined for decades to come Acting on the personal animus of Mr. Putin, public and private instruments of Russian power moved with daring and skill to harness the currents of American politics. Well-connected Russians worked aggressively to recruit or influence people inside the Trump campaign.”

What are “the major plotlines,” of what “Russian attack,” that makes it certain that “The Russians carried out a landmark (ED: Why landmark?) intervention?”
Where has there been any evidence of “Acting on the personal animus of Mr. Putin?”

And, then, on November 2nd, appeared, from Gareth Porter, at Consortium News, a total mathematical disproof of the Times’s central allegation — of “The Times‘ claim last month that Russian Facebook posts reached nearly as many Americans as actually voted in the 2016 election.” He headlined “33 Trillion More Reasons Why The New York Times Gets it Wrong on Russia-gate” and displayed the mathematical impossibility of what the Facebook-ads hypothesis (which was accepted unquestioningly by the Times) asserts. He also exposed that the Facebook-ads hypothesis is based on misrepresenting what Facebook had actually asserted:

The newspaper said: “Even by the vertiginous standards of social media, the reach of their effort was impressive: 2,700 fake Facebook accounts, 80,000 posts, many of them elaborate images with catchy slogans, and an eventual audience of 126 million Americans on Facebook alone.” The paper argued that 126 million was “not far short of the 137 million people who would vote in the 2016 presidential election.” …

The newspaper failed to tell their readers that Facebook account holders in the United States had been “served” 33 trillion Facebook posts during that same period — 413 million times more than the 80,000 posts from the Russian company.

What Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 31, 2017 is a far cry from what the Times claims. “Our best estimate is that approximately 126,000 million people may have been served one of these [private Russian company, Internet Research Agency, ‘IRA’-generated] stories at some time during the two year period,” Stretch said.

Stretch was expressing a theoretical possibility rather than an established fact. He said an estimated 126 million Facebook members might have gotten at least one story from the IRA –- not over the ten week election period, but over 194 weeks during the two years 2015 through 2017—including a full year after the election.

That means only an estimated 29 million FB users may have gotten at least one story in their feed in two years. The 126 million figure is based only on an assumption that they shared it with others, according to Stretch.

Facebook didn’t even claim most of those 80,000 IRA posts were election–related. It offered no data on what proportion of the feeds to those 29 million people were.

In addition, Facebook’s Vice President for News Feed, Adam Moseri, acknowledged in 2016 that FB subscribers actually read only about 10 percent of the stories Facebook puts in their News Feed every day. The means that very few of the IRA stories that actually make it into a subscriber’s news feed on any given day are actually read.

And now, according to the further research, the odds that Americans saw any of these IRA ads—let alone were influenced by them—are even more astronomical. In his Oct. 2017 testimony, Stretch said that from 2015 to 2017, “Americans using Facebook were exposed to, or ‘served,’ a total of over 33 trillion stories in their News Feeds.”

To put the 33 trillion figure over two years in perspective, the 80,000 Russian-origin Facebook posts represented just .0000000024 of total Facebook content in that time.

Shane and Mazzetti did not report the 33 trillion number even though The New York Times’ own coverage of that 2017 Stretch testimony explicitly stated, “Facebook cautioned that the Russia-linked posts represented a minuscule amount of content compared with the billions of posts that flow through users’ News Feeds everyday.”

The Times‘ touting of the bogus 126 million out 137 million voters, while not reporting the 33 trillion figure, should vie in the annals of journalism as one of the most spectacularly misleading uses of statistics of all time.

The U.S. Government routinely interferes in elections all over the world, but builds mountains out of molehills of ‘evidence’ to charge that Russia’s Government is the global threat to democracy, and especially to America’s (fake) ‘democracy’. And that’s lie #3.

And, of course, the U.S. regime also had lied its way into invading Iraq in 2003, and lies today to allege that “Iran is the top state-sponsor of terrorism” and so much else; so that anyone who still trusts what the U.S. regime says, would have to be a fool. The New York Times (which participated so prominently in stenographically spreading the U.S. regime’s lies about Iraq in 2002 and 2003) is, no less now than it was then, an ongoing insult to the intelligence of its subscribers, but this time spreading lies especially against Russia. The newspaper’s subscribers didn’t cancel their subscriptions in revolt; that newspaper remains very successful, as if routinely lying to ‘justify’ invasion is okay.

The U.S. public believe the same ‘news’-media which had lied America into earlier invasions and mass-murders — wars and coups. it’s all of the U.S. major ‘news’-media, and most even of the ‘alternative’ ones (but certainly not the one you’re reading here). That’s why, when Trump’s U.N. Ambassador, Nikki Haley, on 5 April 2018, addressed students at Duke University, and said (at 46:50 in the video) “Russia’s never going to be our friend,” she wasn’t booed by anybody. And she continued, “You haven’t seen the end of what this administration will do to Russia.” In other words: she preached that hostility toward “Russia” is ‘good’. The students and the faculty seemed totally supportive of her nationalistic holier-than-thou lying pontifications. All of the questions, which were asked of her, presumed to be true all of the lies that she had stated against Russia, and against Bashar al-Assad and so much else. She easily fooled these people, because all of the major media already had fooled them, just like had been done about Iraq in 2002 and 2003. Fools never really learn, because they always already ‘know’ (the lies).

*  *  *

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Published:11/24/2018 10:31:32 PM
[Crime] Worried About Mass Shootings? Be Glad You’re An American (John Hinderaker) Liberals constantly assert, without citing any data, that the U.S. is alone among civilized nations in suffering the phenomenon of mass shootings. Like so many claims, it suits the Left’s narrative while being entirely untrue. John Lott explains: People have been acting for a long time like the United States is the world’s hotbed of mass public shootings. Following a 2015 mass shooting during his administration, President Barack Obama declared: Published:11/24/2018 7:57:07 PM
[Media] Jesse Kelly says this move by Trump would see him ‘re-elected with the biggest landslide since Reagan’

Maybe Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama could lend President Trump a hand.

The post Jesse Kelly says this move by Trump would see him ‘re-elected with the biggest landslide since Reagan’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/24/2018 2:00:35 PM
[Markets] Trump Strikes Deal With Mexico To End "Catch And Release"

With border crossings skyrocketing to the highest levels of the Trump presidency (they hit 60,000 last month) and federal judges once again stymieing the president's plans to crack down on border crossings, the Trump Administration has quietly negotiated an agreement with Mexico that effectively circumvents US courts to implement one of Trump's biggest immigration-policy wins so far: A plan that will keep Central American applicants for asylum in the US on the Mexican side of the border while their claims are processed.

The Washington Post, which broke the news about the agreement Saturday afternoon (the news came as a complete surprise to many, as the Trump Administration and representatives of incoming Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador successfully negotiated it in secret), said that the new plan - tentatively titled "Remain in Mexico" - will end the practice of "catch and release": When asylum applicants are released into the US to await their hearings before an asylum judge. Under the new rules, after being screened at a US port of entry, asylum seekers would wait until their scheduled court appearance  before an immigration judge. On the day of their hearing, they would be escorted to a US courthouse by US officers - but if their asylum isn't granted they would be released into Mexico to await a final decision or, if their application is denied, they would be deported by the US back to their country of origin.

Mexico

Already, asylum officers and other immigration officials are heading to a border checkpoint in San Diego to start rolling out the policy before the widely publicized caravans of Central American immigrants that became one of the dominating issues of the pre-midterm election cycle continue to approach the border.

US officials said that freeing up the detention space would allow them to process claims more quickly. The ultimate hope by Mexico and the US is that the policy will encourage more migrants to remain in Mexico, where many jobs at factories and assembly plants remain unfilled (likely because wages are only a small fraction of what they are in the US).

U.S. officials describing the system on the condition of anonymity said they will be able to process at least twice as many asylum claims as they do now because they would not be limited by detention space constraints at U.S. ports of entry. The San Ysidro port of entry in the San Diego area accepts about 60 to 100 asylum claims per day.

Just over the border, nearly 5,000 Central Americans have arrived in Tijuana this month as part of caravan groups, and several thousand others are en route to the city, where a baseball field has been turned into a swelling tent camp. The city’s mayor declared a "humanitarian crisis" Friday and said the city’s taxpayers would not foot the bill for the migrants’ care.

A group of business leaders in the city said they have thousands of job openings at the city’s assembly plants, or maquiladoras, inviting Central American migrants to work in the factories. Though wages there are a small fraction of U.S. pay, Mexican officials said the work offer was one reason they believe the Remain in Mexico plan will succeed. Across the country, there are 100,000 jobs available to Central American asylum seekers, officials said.

The deal was finalized with the help of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, which earned her a rare morsel of praise from her boss, who has reportedly been trying to fire her due to her perceived weakness on immigration.

The deal took shape last week in Houston during a meeting between Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s incoming foreign minister, and top U.S. officials such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, according to U.S. and Mexican officials.

Nielsen has been fighting to keep her job since the midterms, and while Trump has told aides he plans to replace her, the president praised her this week for "trying."

While the deal is intended to be a "short term" solution, the "medium-to-long" term plan, according to Mexican officials, is that Central American migrants "remain in Mexico."

"For now, we have agreed to this policy of Remain in Mexico," said Olga Sánchez Cordero, Mexico’s incoming interior minister, the top domestic policy official for López Obrador, who takes office Dec. 1. In an interview with The Washington Post, she called it a "short-term solution."

"The medium- and long-term solution is that people don’t migrate," Sánchez Cordero said. "Mexico has open arms and everything, but imagine, one caravan after another after another, that would also be a problem for us."

The deal is the clearest indication yet that Trump and AMLO are enjoying a more cordial relationship than many had expected. And while a court challenge to the plan could still materialize, US courts don't have jurisdiction in Mexico. With this in mind, it appears Trump has finally found a way to circumvent the "Obama judges" who have been the biggest obstacles to his immigration policy.

Published:11/24/2018 1:33:36 PM
[Markets] MI6 Scrambling To Stop Trump From Releasing Classified Docs In Russia Probe

The UK's Secret Intelligence Service, otherwise known as MI6, has been scrambling to prevent President Trump from publishing classified materials linked to the Russian election meddling investigation, according to The Telegraph, stating that any disclosure would "undermine intelligence gathering if he releases pages of an FBI application to wiretap one of his former campaign advisers." 

Trump's allies, however, are fighting back - demanding transparency and suggesting that the UK wouldn't want the documents withheld unless it had something to hide. 

The Telegraph has talked to more than a dozen UK and US officials, including in American intelligence, who have revealed details about the row. 

British spy chiefs have “genuine concern” about sources being exposed if classified parts of the wiretap request were made public, according to figures familiar with discussions.

It boils down to the exposure of people”, said one US intelligence official, adding: “We don’t want to reveal sources and methods.” US intelligence shares the concerns of the UK. 

Another said Britain feared setting a dangerous “precedent” which could make people less likely to share information, knowing that it could one day become public. -The Telegraph

The Telegraph adds that the UK's dispute with the Trump administration is so politically sensitive that staff within the British Embassy in D.C. haver been barred from discussing it with journalists. Theresa May has also "been kept at arms-length and is understood to have not raised the issue directly with the US president." 

In September, we reported that the British government "expressed grave concerns" over the material in question after President Trump issued an order to the DOJ to release a wide swath of materials, "immediately" and "without redaction." 

Trump walked that order back days later after the UK begged him not to release them

Mr Trump wants to declassify 21 pages from one of the applications. He announced the move in September, then backtracked, then this month said he was "very seriously" considering it again. Both Britain and Australia are understood to be opposing the move. 

Memos detailing alleged ties between Mr Trump and Russia compiled by Christopher Steele, a former MI6 officer, were cited in the application, which could explain some of the British concern. -The Telegraph

The New York Times reported at the time that the UK's concern was over material which "includes direct references to conversations between American law enforcement officials and Christopher Steele,the former MI6 agent who compiled the infamous "Steele Dossier." The UK's objection, according to former US and British officials, was over revealing Steele's identity in an official document, "regardless of whether he had been named in press reports." 

We noted in September, however, that Steele's name was contained within the Nunes Memo - the House Intelligence Committee's majority opinion in the Trump-Russia case.

Steele also had extensive contacts with DOJ official Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie, who - along with Steele - was paid by opposition research firm Fusion GPS in the anti-Trump campaign. Trump called for the declassification of FBI notes of interviews with Ohr, which would ostensibly reveal more about his relationship with Steele. Ohr was demoted twice within the Department of Justice for lying about his contacts with Fusion GPS. 

Perhaps the Brits are also concerned since much of the espionage performed on the Trump campaign was conducted on UK soil throughout 2016. Recall that Trump aid George Papadopoulos was lured to London in March, 2016, where Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud fed him the rumor that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton. It was later at a London bar that Papadopoulos would drunkenly pass the rumor to Australian diplomat Alexander Downer (who Strzok flew to London to meet with). 

Also recall that CIA/FBI "informant" (spy) Stefan Halper met with both Carter Page and Papadopoulos in London. 

Halper, a veteran of four Republican administrations, reached out to Trump aide George Papadopoulos in September 2016 with an offer to fly to London to write an academic paper on energy exploration in the Mediterranean Sea.

Papadopoulos accepted a flight to London and a $3,000 honorarium. He claims that during a meeting in London, Halper asked him whether he knew anything about Russian hacking of Democrats’ emails.

Papadopoulos had other contacts on British soil that he now believes were part of a government-sanctioned surveillance operation. -Daily Caller

In total, Halper received over $1 million from the Obama Pentagon for "research," over $400,000 of which was granted before and during the 2016 election season. 

Papadopoulos, who was sentenced to 14 days in prison for lying about his conversations with a shadowy Maltese professor and self-professed member of the Clinton Foundation, has publicly claimed he was targeted by UK spies, and told The Telegraph that he demands transparency. Trump's allies in Washington, meanwhile, have suggested that the facts laid out before us mean that the ongoing Russia investigation was invalid from the start

In short, it's understandable that the UK would prefer to hide their involvement in the "witch hunt" of Donald Trump since much of the counterintelligence investigation was conducted on UK soil. And if the Brits had knowledge of the operation, it will bolster claims that they meddled in the 2016 US election by assisting what appears to have been a set-up from the start.

Steele's ham-handed dossier is a mere embarrassment, as virtually none of the claims asserted by the former MI6 agent have been proven true. 

Steele, a former MI6 agent, is the author of the infamous and unverified anti-Trump dossier. He worked as a confidential human source for the FBI for years before the relationship was severed just before the election because of Steele’s unauthorized contacts with the press.

He shared results of his investigation into Trump’s links to Russia with the FBI beginning in early July 2016.

The FBI relied heavily on the unverified Steele dossier to fill out applications for four FISA warrants against Page. Page has denied the dossier’s claims, which include that he was the Trump campaign’s back channel to the Kremlin. -Daily Caller

That said, Steele hasn't worked for the British government since 2009, so for their excuse focusing on the former MI6 agent while ignoring the multitude of events which occurred on UK soil, is curious. 

Published:11/24/2018 7:25:04 AM
[Supreme Court] Why Roberts responded to Trump (Paul Mirengoff) Some conservatives are criticizing Chief Justice Roberts for responding to President Trump’s attack on “Obama judges.” They note that Roberts did not respond when President Obama criticized the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United during a state of the union address. But there’s an obvious difference between the two situations. Obama was saying that the Supreme Court got one case wrong. Trump was attacking a large number of federal judges Published:11/23/2018 11:27:04 PM
[Markets] Paul Craig Roberts On Assange: "Justice Has Disappeared In The West"

Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

Revenge Is Mine Saith Washington

Justice has disappeared in the West. In Justice’s place stands Revenge. This fact is conclusively illustrated by Julian Assange’s ongoing eight year ordeal.

For eight years Julian Assange’s life has been lived in a Kafka Police State. He has been incarcerated first under British house arrest and then in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, despite the absence of any charges filed against him.

Meanwhile, the entirety of the Western world, with the exception of former Educadoran President Rafael Correa and a UN agency that examined the case and ruled Assange was being illegally detained by the UK government’s refusal to honor his grant of political asylum, has turned its back to the injustice.

Assange is locked away in the Ecuadoran Embassy, because to protect him from false arrest, former Ecuadoran President Correa gave him political asylum. However, the corrupt and servile UK government that serves Washington, and not justice or law, refused to honor Assange’s asylum. The US vassal known as the UK stands ready to arrest Assange on Washington’s orders if he steps outside the embassy and to hand him over to Washington, where a large number of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have said he should be executed. The Trump regime, carrying on the illegal practices of its forebears, has a secret indictment waiting to be revealed once they have their hands on Assange.

The current president of Ecuador a servant of Washington, Lenin Moreno - a person so lacking in character that his name is an insult to Lenin - is working a deal with Washington to rescind Assange’s grant of asylum so that the Ecuadoran Embassy in London has to expel Assange into the hands of Washington.

What has Assange done? He has done nothing but to tell the truth. He is a journalist who heads Wikileaks, a news organization that publishes leaked documents - exactly as the New York Times published the leaked Pentagon Papers from Daniel Ellsberg. Just as the publication of the Pentagon Papers embarrassed the US government and helped to bring about the end of the senseless Vietnam War, the documents leaked to Wikileaks embarrassed the US government by revealing Washington’s war crimes, lies, and deception of the American people and US allies.

The allies, of course, were bought off by Washington and remained silent, but Washington intends to crucify Assange for the embarrassment and payoff expense he caused the criminal government in Washington.

In order to assert authority over Assange, Washington is using the extra-territoriality of US law, a claim that Washington bases not on law but on might alone and uses to violate the sovereignty of independent countries. Assange is a citizen of Australia and Ecuador. He is not subject to US law. Even if he were, he has committed no espionage. The false equivalence Washington is trying to establish between the exercise of the First Amendment and treason shows how totally lost are the American people. The silence of the US media demonstrates that the presstitutes don’t mind losing the First Amendment’s protection as they have no intention of telling any truths.

Washington’s secret indictment - it is secret so that two-bit punks such as James Ball can write in the Guardian that Assange faces no threat of arrest - most likely accuses Assange of espionage. But it is not legally possible to accuse a non-citizen operating outside the country of espionage. All countries engage in espionage. Every country on earth could accuse Washington of espionage and arrest the CIA. The CIA could, as it often has, accuse Israel of espionage. Of course, any Israeli, such as Jonathan Pollard, who is convicted of espionage in the US becomes a point of contention between Washington and Israel and Israel always wins. The corrupt Obama regime released Pollard from his life sentence on orders and, no doubt, generous bribes, from Israel.

If Assange were Israeli, he would be home free, but he is a citizen of two countries whose governments place high value on being Washington’s vassals.

There was a time in America, many decades ago, when the Democrats stood for justice and the Republicans stood for greed.

There was a time in America, prior to 9/11, when the media would have rushed to the defense of the freedom of the press and defended Assange from his mistreatment and false charges. To be sure that the reader understands the mistreatment of Assange, it is identical to the mistreatment of Cardinal Josef Mindszenty of Hungary whose asylum in the US Embassy in Budapest was not acknowledged by the Soviet government, forcing Mindszenty to live out all but three years of his remaining life in the US embassy.

President Nixon negotiated his release in 1971, but the Nixon haters give Nixon no credit for his attention to one man locked away in an injustice part of the earth.

Today there is no such attention to injustice except for the “victim” groups in Identity Politics. Where is the champion of Assange now that Rafael Correa has to live abroad to avoid persecution by Washington’s puppet Moreno?

The weakness of the intellect in the West is scary. Caitlin Johnstone tells us about it:

“Trump’s despicable prosecution of Assange, and corporate liberalism’s full-throated support for it, has fully discredited all of mainstream US politics on both sides of the aisle. Nobody in that hot mess stands for anything. If you’re still looking to Trump or the Democrats to protect you from the rising tide of fascism, the time to make your exit is now.

The entirety of the Western print and TV media—even Russia’s RT—serves as a propaganda ministry for Washington against Assange. For example, we read over and over that Assange is hiding out in the London Ecuadoran Embassy to avoid rape charges in Sweden. That the presstitutes and the feminists can keep this bogus claim alive despite all the official repudiation of it shows the Matrix in which Western peoples are corralled.

Assange has never been charged with rape. The two Swedish women who seduced him and brought him into their beds in their homes never said he raped them. Assange’s tribulations began when one of the women who seduced him worried that he did not use a condom and that he might have HIV or Aids. She asked Assange to take a test to see if he was sex disease free, and Assange, offended, refused. This was his mistake. He should have said, “of course, I understand your concern” and taken the test.

The woman went to the police to see if Assange could be forced to take the test. It was the police who turned this into a rape investigation. Charges were brought, and the Swedish prosecutorial office investigated and dropped all charges as the sex was consensual.

Assange left Sweden legally, not in flight as the story that Washington has planted has it. He went to England, another mistake as England is Washington’s playground. Washington and/or lesbian feminists lusting for the conviction of a heterosexual male convinced a female Swedish prosecutor to reopen the closed case.

In an unprecedented act, the Swedish prosecutor issued an order to the UK for Assange to be handed over for questioning. Extradition orders are only valid for filed charges, and there were no filed charges, only dismissed charges. Never before had even the corrupt UK government granted an extradition order for questioning. The UK government, Washington’s puppet, agreed to hand over Assange to Sweden. It was completely clear as there was no case in Sweden against Assange that the Swedish prosecutor, probably for a large sum, would turn Assange over to Washington, a place in which no legal protections exist for anyone, not even for those, such as whistleblowers, who are protected by US law, but, despite the protection of law, nevertheless go to prison.

Seeing what was coming, Assange was granted political asylum by President Correa and escaped house detention in the UK to make it to the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, where he has been ever since, despite the Swedish government’s dropping of all charges against Assange and again closing the investigation.

In the meantime a US attorney, corrupt as they all are - never believe any federal indictment as they are created out of whole cloth without any need of evidence - managed to convince an incompetent American grand jury to indict Assange for what we do not yet know, but most likely for espionage.

The US grand jury that approved the secret indictment has no comprehension that they indicted a person for telling the truth precisely as protected - and required if government is to be controlled by the people—by the US Constitution. All Assange did was to publish documents sent to Wikileaks by a person with a moral conscience who was disturbed at the blatant criminality and inhumanity of the US government.

There is no legal difference whatsoever between Wikileaks publishing the documents leaked to Wikileaks, and the New York Times publishing the Pentagon Papers leaked to the New York Times.

The difference is the difference in time. When Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, the media had not been concentrated into a few hands by the corrupt Clinton regime, and 9/11, which was used by Dick Cheney to criminalize truth-telling, had not occurred. Therefore in the 1970s it was still possible that some important part of the media might tell the truth. Nevertheless, the only reason that the NYTimes published the Pentagon Papers is that the newspaper hated Richard Nixon, who the Democratic media blamed for the Vietnam War even though it was Democratic President Johnson’s war and Nixon wanted to end it.

When the insouciant American and Western peoples accept their governments’ lies, they accept their own demise and servitude. The willingness and abandon with which the Western peoples submit makes one conclude that they prefer servitude. They don’t want to be free, because freedom has too many responsibilities, and they don’t want the responsibilities. They want go watch a movie, or a TV program, or play video games, or have sex, go shopping, get drunk, have a drug high, or whatever form of amusement that they value far more than they value liberty, or truth, or justice.

To a person of my disappearing generation, it is inexplicable that the nations of the world, much less Americans, would stand moot while the world’s best, most trusted and most honest journalist is set up by a totally corrupt US government for destruction. The result of Assange’s persecution will be to criminalize embarrassing the US government.

When I contemplate this massive injustice to which the peoples of the world reply with silence, I wonder if those trying to save Western Civilization are not misguided. What is the point of saving a totally corrupt civilization?

Those who attack Assange are despicable. If you have a chance to push one or more of those who are members of the lynch mob in front of a truck, think of the act as a cleansing opportunity.

Published:11/23/2018 10:56:21 PM
[Donald Trump] President Trump Strikes Back At Justice Roberts

“Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country,” President Trump tweeted Wednesday afternoon. The President’s criticism of an “Obama judge” follows a ruling by U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar on Monday. Tigar, ...

The post President Trump Strikes Back At Justice Roberts appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:11/22/2018 6:16:03 PM
[Donald Trump] President Trump Strikes Back At Justice Roberts

“Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country,” President Trump tweeted Wednesday afternoon. The President’s criticism of an “Obama judge” follows a ruling by U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar on Monday. Tigar, ...

The post President Trump Strikes Back At Justice Roberts appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:11/22/2018 6:16:03 PM
[Markets] Trump Doubles Down: Accuses "Obama Judge" Of Risking "Bedlam, Chaos And Death" At Southern Border

While most Americans (aside from soldiers serving on military bases and overseas) were preparing for an afternoon of friends, family and football on Thanksgiving, President Trump decided to double down on his response to SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts after an ongoing spat between the two broke out this week when Roberts criticized Trump for calling Judge Jon Tigar of the Ninth Circuit an "Obama Judge". Trump initially lashed out at Tigar after he became the latest Ninth Circuit judge to stymie Trump's immigration policies by ruling against Trump's order to crack down on asylum seekers.

Justice Roberts issued a short statement to the Associated Press on Wednesday after Trump told reporters outside the White House that he would file a "major complaint" against an "Obama judge" (Tigar) who temporarily blocked his administration's order to not honor any asylum claims made outside designed US border crossings.

Roberts said Wednesday the U.S. doesn’t have "Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges." He commented in a statement released by the Supreme Court after a query by The Associated Press.

Roberts said on the day before Thanksgiving that an "independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for."

Trump made another crack about the Ninth Circuit during the White House's traditional pardoning of a Thanksgiving turkey. "Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that your pardon won’t be enjoined by the 9th Circuit. Always happens," Trump quipped. He also blasted Roberts for his comments in a series of tweets sent Wednesday.

And on Thursday, he followed those up with another set of tweets saying that the Ninth Circuit was "out of control" and a "complete & total disaster", adding that it has a "horrible reputation" and that its rulings are "overturned more than any Circuit in the country." He then accused Tigar & Co. of not knowing anything about border security and of "making our Country unsafe. "

If US law enforcement officials aren't allowed to do their jobs, there will only be "bedlam, chaos, injury and death." Those are some aggressive - and possibly ill-considered - words, considering that, if the Democrats succeed with any of their investigations into Trump and his family, Roberts might hold the crucial vote that could spare the president. 

Published:11/22/2018 10:46:19 AM
[Markets] Comey Subpoenaed, Demands Public Testimony

Former FBI Director James Comey announced over Twitter on Thursday that he has been subpoeaned by House Republicans. 

He has demanded a public testimony (during which legislators would be unable to ask him questions pertaining to classified or sensitive information), saying that he doesn't trust the committee not to leak and distort what he says. 

"Happy Thanksgiving. Got a subpoena from House Republicans," he tweeted "I’m still happy to sit in the light and answer all questions. But I will resist a “closed door” thing because I’ve seen enough of their selective leaking and distortion.  Let’s have a hearing and invite everyone to see."

In October Comey rejected a request by the House Judiciary Committee to appear at a closed hearing as part of the GOP probe into allegations of political bias at the FBI and Department of Justice, according to Politico

"Mr. Comey respectfully declines your request for a private interview," said Comey's attorney, David Kelly, in a repsonse to the request. 

The Judiciary Committee, chaired by Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) didn't appreciate Comey's response. 

"We have invited Mr. Comey to come in for a transcribed interview and we are prepared to issue a subpoena to compel his appearance," said a committee aide. 

Goodlatte invited Comey to testify as part of a last-minute flurry of requests for high-profile Obama administration FBI and Justice Department leaders, including former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. He threatened to subpoena them if they didn’t come in voluntarily. -Politico

The House committee has been investigating whether overwhelming anti-Trump bias with in the FBI and Department of Justice translated to their investigations of the President during and after the 2016 US election. 

Published:11/22/2018 9:41:33 AM
[Barack Obama] How can we miss him when he won’t go away? (Scott Johnson) John wrote about Barack Obama’s comments at his conference in Chicago on Monday in “Barack melts down.” I added the video below to John’s post, but I want to take the liberty of bringing it to your attention here. In the video we can observe the hauteur and condescension that we came to loathe about Obama. He combines unearned technocratic arrogance with the will to power. He thinks we didn’t Published:11/22/2018 8:41:52 AM
[World] Chief Justice John Roberts shows how high the height of absurdity can actually reach

The top jurist of the world's leading democracy has issued an absurdity of monumental proportions.

"We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges," U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said on Wednesday. His words were meant as a rebuke to President ... Published:11/22/2018 4:41:05 AM

[Markets] Politicians & Police Set Tyranny's Perfect Example: Gun Confiscation

Authored by Jeremiah Johnson (nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces) via SHTFplan.com,

As a review of some of the current events that have been taking place in the U.S. recently, on 11/5/18, Anne Arundel County Police in Maryland shot and killed a man as they attempted to exercise a “red flag” gun removal order.

Those “red flag” orders went into effect on October 1 of this year. Let’s take the definition of this new “game” directly from Wikipedia and examine it:

A red flag law is a “gun violence protection” law that permits police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves. A judge makes the determination to issue the order based on statements and actions made by the gun owner in question. After a set time, the guns are returned to the person from whom they were seized unless another court hearing extends the period of confiscation.  Such orders are known as “Extreme Risk Protection Orders” (ERPO) in Oregon, Washington, Maryland, and Vermont, as “Risk Protection Orders” in Florida as “Gun Violence Restraining Orders” in California; as “risk warrants” in Connecticut; and as “Proceedings for the Seizure and Retention of a Firearm” in Indiana.

Returning to the incident in Maryland, take a look at this excerpt from CBS News from 11/6/18:

Neither of the officers were injured. Their names weren’t released.

It wasn’t clear why the “red flag” order was issued. A spokeswoman for the Maryland Judiciary denied a request from the Baltimore Sun to release protection order requests associated with the home, citing the law which states the orders are confidential unless a court rules otherwise.  Michele Willis, the man’s niece, told the Baltimore Sun that one of her aunts requested the protective order against Willis, but she declined to say why.

Maryland’s law, which went into effect Oct. 1, is more broad in that it allows certain health care providers to seek an order, in addition to family members and law enforcement.

LOOK HOW THINGS WORK IN THE TOTALITARIAN HEIR TO THE SOVIET UNION THAT THE UNITED STATES HAS BECOME!

Sounds as if it’s something right out of Solzhenitsyn, but here it is:

  • The names of the cops were not released. [Secretive Policing]

  • The Baltimore Sun could not report on associated case actions. [Muzzling of the Press]

  • Maryland Judiciary using a law to prevent the public’s knowledge without court approval. [Press & Public Censorship]

  • An aunt reported him…but no reasons given by family or police.  [“Finger-Pointing” initiated]

  • Health Care reporters and family members can “blow the whistle and enable these “red flag” orders to be set in motion. [State Powers of Arrest and complete abrogation of rights under the Constitution of the United States with no recourse]

That’s it. Everyone with the “300 Spartans” patch and the “µ???? ?aß?” or ???O? ????” written on their sleeves? [ Translation: “Come and Take it!” ]

Yes, they will. They are. For now, they’re attempting to do it without a fight…passing the legislation (or circumventing it, rather) and forcing the compliance of the citizenry. They are in the process of doing far more, and another episode really summarizes the key concept: the Totalitarian mindset of elected officials. This piece is entitled, “California Democrat threatens “Nukes” if Americans don’t hand over their guns.”

This threat is not figurative: it is literal.

I strongly recommend reading the whole article. Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell (D, CA) is proposing that the government offer up to $1,000 for semi-automatic weapons, and a “buy-back” to place those firearms in the hands of the government…for an estimated cost of $15 billion.

Here’s a photo of Eric Swalwell for you:

Just think: this is probably the pose he will strike when he’s evacuated to Cheyenne Mountain, or Denver, CO to escape nuclear war when it comes…on your taxpayer dollar…fully supplied with provisions, protection, and with his family by his side. An elected official…one of your “representatives.” Eric Swalwell: menacing a U.S. citizen with the threat of the U.S. government’s nuclear weapons. And to “frost the cake,” here is a direct quote from Wikipedia that you’ll just love, emboldened to the max so you can keep him in mind. He’s been in office since 2013. Remember Obama? Well, here’s the fresh, clean-cut guy with Northern European heritage to attract the women voters and who can seem as “one of the people” to the gullible….here’s the quote, with punch-line underlined:

“Swalwell has been mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2020, and has publicly expressed interest in such a prospect.”

President of the United States. Mind you, this guy is trying to “one up” a citizen, blustering and menacing with an allusion to the U.S. nuclear arsenal being used on the citizens.

Remember that scene out of “The Dead Zone” where Martin Sheen shields himself from Christopher Walken’s bullet by using the baby as a shield? Yeah. Here’s that kind of thing all over again.

This next quotation is a variance from one reported by Peterson in “The Daily Oklahoman” in 1951, as first attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler (although many think it’s De Tocqueville’s):

“The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money.”

In this case we have a (Mis)Representative of the U.S. Congress who wants to use public funds with the threat of force behind them to engineer social change (in this case, the purchase equals the removal of semiautomatic weapons from the hands of the citizens). Legislation toward that effect is being crafted: Legislation is a tool in the hands of the globalists to institute social change.

Social engineering is accomplished in this manner: 1) the Politician is elected, 2) the Politician is then Titled, 3) the Representative/Senator/Official then uses his position to circumvent or ignore the will of the people and institute social form not generally agreed upon by his/her constituents.

The laws are emplaced, the courts uphold the laws, the police will kill you if you do not obey the laws, and the Media-Hollywood complex shapes the public’s awareness and perceptions, pushing the paradigm toward Communism with the mantra of “community.” The shift is duplicitous to help ensure obedience, compliance, and conformity…and by creating such “believers,” they marginalize everyone outside of their construct.

This wretched piece of garbage masquerading as a “Representative” actually used the literal threat of nuking…with nuclear weapons…those who will not comply with such an order. Another “Marbury vs. Madison” affront to the people and onerous to the Constitution that does not hold the true effect of law.

Nevertheless, you can hold up your copy of the Constitution when a squad of jackboots kicks in your front door with masks and MP-5’s…hold it up and tell them about your rights. “Molon Labe?” Yes, they will.

Here is the Tweet Swalwell sent back in response to someone who stated he will refuse such a confiscatory order (in graphic terms) and that it would amount to citizens declaring war against the government. Pay attention. This is Swalwell’s reponse:

The infant in his arms is a nice touch. This man should be removed from office immediately, no questions asked…placed upon administrative leave and then brought to bear for his statement.

The mindset is the danger: this is not the exception among politicians, but the norm. In these “neo-feudal” times, you the citizen are expected to wear your “uniform,” the tan (called “khakis” erroneously…a fabric composition substituted for a “color”) pants, and the red shirt of Target or the navy blue shirt of Wal-Mart. Wear them, and the little name tag, and give half of what you make to the government…and allow them to craft your lives…as you obey.

Once again, the “Benjamin Martin” character in “The Patriot” portrayed by Mel Gibson…that character’s lines were correct:

“An elected legislature can trample a man’s rights as easily as a king.”

They are coming for the guns. They are marching forward with their legislation, to provide “legitimacy” for their actions “under the color of law.” Their doorkickers are “ass-kickers,” in good shape and sharp reflexes with good mental acumen. They are “psychologically protected” to allow them to act with full force without restraint: protected with direct deposit of their check, protected with life insurance, and protected with healthcare for their families…all of their basics taken care of, plus a badge: they’re covered, when they come for the citizens.

The last step for a full-blown tyranny before the actual collapse (political, military, economic, or a combination thereof) is evident in the tyrannical measures and inflictions they foster against their own populace. These two examples cited here? They are no longer the exceptions. They are the norm, the normative behavior of a police state…a “soft” socialist society that is just a tiptoe away from a full-blown dictatorship, complete with death camps and firing squads without trials. To deny such a thing is a form of intentional blindness toward the current events, and the recurring theme of the history of man. We are seeing it unfold, and when it opens completely, it will not be a flower, but a hydra that will devour any of those who are unprepared for the long and protracted struggle to come and who are unprepared to show resolve and reclaim the rights earned for us by the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Published:11/21/2018 9:10:00 PM
[Politics] Grassley Defends Trump: Why Didn't Roberts Rebuke Obama Remark? Some conservatives are coming to the defense of President Donald Trump after Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts scolded him, with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, even bringing former President Barack Obama... Published:11/21/2018 8:40:34 PM
[The Blog] John Roberts to Trump: There’s no such thing as a “Trump judge” or an “Obama judge”

"[An] independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for."

The post John Roberts to Trump: There’s no such thing as a “Trump judge” or an “Obama judge” appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:11/21/2018 8:40:33 PM
[Barack Obama] Barack Melts Down (John Hinderaker) Barack Obama is in the news again. On Monday evening, he gave a talk in Chicago at the Obama Foundation Summit, whatever that is. I haven’t tried to track down a video, but NBC News reports on the event: Obama, speaking at the Obama Foundation Summit on Monday night, said the answers already exist to solve many of the problems facing both the U.S. and the world, but that the Published:11/21/2018 8:08:01 PM
[Media] Jon Favreau remembers Obama being MUCH more respectful to SCOTUS, stumbles over a notorious SOTU speech

Roll tape!

The post Jon Favreau remembers Obama being MUCH more respectful to SCOTUS, stumbles over a notorious SOTU speech appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/21/2018 5:06:51 PM
[Entertainment] James Woods invites you to watch Obama ‘dismiss every political figure he’s dealt with in the entire world’

From community organizer to the president, Barack Obama just had to keep dealing with jamokes.

The post James Woods invites you to watch Obama ‘dismiss every political figure he’s dealt with in the entire world’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/21/2018 4:11:18 PM
[Markets] Trump Fires Back At Chief Justice Roberts Over "Obama Judges" In Ongoing Spat

President Trump fired back at US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts over whether or not there are "Obama judges" who "have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country." 

Trump added that US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit - which also blocked his executive order banning immigration from a list of Muslim-majority countries which he said were state sponsors of terror, was a "disgrace," and that the San Francisco-based appeals court is "making our country unsafe!" Trump asked Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee,  to "Please study the numbers, they are shocking."  

Roberts issued a short statement to the Associated Press on Wednesday after Trump told reporters outside the White House that he would file a "major complaint" against an "Obama judge" who temporarily blocked his administration from temporarily denying asylum to a migrants gathered at the southern US border, reports MarketWatch

Roberts said Wednesday the U.S. doesn’t have “Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges.” He commented in a statement released by the Supreme Court after a query by The Associated Press.

Roberts said on the day before Thanksgiving that an “independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.” -AP

On Tuesday, President Trump took a shot a tthe 9th circuit during the annual presidential turkey pardon - telling the two pardoned birds that they would spend the rest of their lives at "Gobbler's Rest" on the Virginia tech campus, adding "Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that your pardon won’t be enjoined by the 9th Circuit. Always happens.

Published:11/21/2018 3:37:38 PM
[] Chief Justice Roberts, Who Swindled Bush Into Nominating Him Before Becoming Obama's Chief Judge, Says There's No Such Thing as a Bush Judge or an Obama Judge Well, Chief Justice Obamacare would say that, wouldn't he? Fuck yourself. Rebuke to Trump from Chief Justice Roberts on independent judiciary: ?We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an... Published:11/21/2018 3:37:38 PM
[Politics] WOW: Supreme Court Justice John Roberts REBUKES Trump over judicial criticism… Yesterday Trump blasted the 9th circuit after Judge Jon S. Tigar, nominated by Obama, blocked his migrant mob proclamation that said people illegally crossing the border wouldn’t be able to apply for . . . Published:11/21/2018 1:16:51 PM
[Politics] WOW: Supreme Court Justice John Roberts REBUKES Trump over judicial criticism… Yesterday Trump blasted the 9th circuit after Judge Jon S. Tigar, nominated by Obama, blocked his migrant mob proclamation that said people illegally crossing the border wouldn’t be able to apply for . . . Published:11/21/2018 1:16:51 PM
[World] Justice John Roberts Rips Trump Calling Judges Obama and Bush Judges on Asylum

Congressman Sean Duffy wondered aloud why Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. decided to criticize President Trump publicly Wednesday over his comments about the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but did not do so when President Obama questioned a key court decision to his face.

Published:11/21/2018 12:16:07 PM
[World] Mommy Issues: Barack Obama Jabs Donald Trump in Chicago Speech

Former President Barack Obama said the country's progress is being hindered by "mommy issues" and racism in an apparent reference to President Trump and his supporters.

Published:11/21/2018 10:35:36 AM
[2018 News] Illegal Immigrant Involved in Shootout with Police is DACA Recipient Illegal Immigrant Involved in Shootout with Police is DACA Recipient. For some strange reason Barack Obama was not available for comment. Published:11/21/2018 10:35:35 AM
[Markets] House GOP 'Working With Whistleblowers' In Clinton Foundation Probe

House Republicans will hear testimony on December 5 from the prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation, according to Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC).

Meadows - chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, told The Hill that it's time to "circle back" to former Utah Attorney General John Huber's probe with the Justice Department into whether the Clinton Foundation engaged in improper activities, reports The Hill

"Mr. [John] Huber with the Department of Justice and the FBI has been having an investigation – at least part of his task was to look at the Clinton Foundation and what may or may not have happened as it relates to improper activity with that charitable foundation, so we’ve set a hearing date for December the 5th.," Meadows told Hill.TV on Wednesday. 

Meadows says the questions will include whether any tax-exempt proceeds were used for personal gain and whether the Foundation adhered to IRS laws. 

Sessions appointed Huber last year to work in tandem with the Justice Department to look into conservative claims of misconduct at the FBI and review several issues surrounding the Clintons. This includes Hillary Clinton’s ties to a Russian nuclear agency and concerns about the Clinton Foundation.

Huber’s work has remained shrouded in mystery. The White House has released little information about Huber’s assignment other than Session’s address to Congress saying his appointed should address concerns raised by Republicans. -The Hill

According to a report by the Dallas Observer last November,  the Clinton Foundation has been under investigation by the IRS since July, 2016.

Meadows says that it's time for Huber to update Congress concerning his findings, and "expects him to be one of the witnesses at the hearing," per The Hill. Additionally Meadows said that his committee is trying to secure testimonies from whistleblowers who can provide more information about potential wrongdoing surrounding the Clinton Foundation

"We’re just now starting to work with a couple of whistleblowers that would indicate that there is a great probability, of significant improper activity that’s happening in and around the Clinton Foundation," he added. 

The Clinton Foundation - also under FBI investigation out of the Arkansas field office, has denied any wrongdoing.

Launched in January, the Arkansas FBI probe, is focused on pay-for-play schemes and tax code violations, according to The Hill at the time, citing law enforcement officials and a witness who wishes to remain anonymous. 

The officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the probe is examining whether the Clintons promised or performed any policy favors in return for largesse to their charitable efforts or whether donors made commitments of donations in hopes of securing government outcomes.

The probe may also examine whether any tax-exempt assets were converted for personal or political use and whether the Foundation complied with applicable tax laws, the officials said. -The Hill

The witness who was interviewed by Little Rock FBI agents said that questions focused on "government decisions and discussions of donations to Clinton entities during the time Hillary Clinton led President Obama's State Department," and that the agents were "extremely professional and unquestionably thorough."

Published:11/21/2018 9:07:38 AM
[Climate Change] Obama: Americans Oppose Climate Initiatives Because They’re ‘Confused, Blind, Shrouded With Hate, Racism, Mommy Issues’

Obama said “racism” and “mommy issues,” among other contributors, were limiting the country’s ability to make progress on everything from education to climate change. Obama said the answers already exist to solve many of the problems facing both the U.S. and the world, but that the nation was not making progress “because we are still ...

The post Obama: Americans Oppose Climate Initiatives Because They’re ‘Confused, Blind, Shrouded With Hate, Racism, Mommy Issues’ appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:11/21/2018 7:42:08 AM
[Climate Change] Obama: Americans Oppose Climate Initiatives Because They’re ‘Confused, Blind, Shrouded With Hate, Racism, Mommy Issues’

Obama said “racism” and “mommy issues,” among other contributors, were limiting the country’s ability to make progress on everything from education to climate change. Obama said the answers already exist to solve many of the problems facing both the U.S. and the world, but that the nation was not making progress “because we are still ...

The post Obama: Americans Oppose Climate Initiatives Because They’re ‘Confused, Blind, Shrouded With Hate, Racism, Mommy Issues’ appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:11/21/2018 7:06:28 AM
[] The Morning Report - 11/21/18 Good morning kids. End of the abbreviated workweek as Thanksgiving arrives tomorrow. Let's get into it, shall we? The President yesterday blasted the Obama appointed hack-in-black judge who ordered him to grant asylum to the migrant caravan invaders. This... Published:11/21/2018 6:41:39 AM
[Markets] US Army Major On America's Global War 'To Infinity & Beyond'

Authored by Danny Sjursen via TomDispatch.com,

Planet of War

Still Trapped in a Greater Middle Eastern Quagmire, the U.S. Military Prepares for Global Combat

Source

American militarism has gone off the rails - and this middling career officer should have seen it coming. Earlier in this century, the U.S. military not surprisingly focused on counterinsurgency as it faced various indecisive and seemingly unending wars across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa. Back in 2008, when I was still a captain newly returned from Iraq and studying at Fort Knox, Kentucky, our training scenarios generally focused on urban combat and what were called security and stabilization missions. We’d plan to assault some notional city center, destroy the enemy fighters there, and then transition to pacification and “humanitarian” operations.

Of course, no one then asked about the dubious efficacy of “regime change” and “nation building,” the two activities in which our country had been so regularly engaged. That would have been frowned upon. Still, however bloody and wasteful those wars were, they now look like relics from a remarkably simpler time. The U.S. Army knew its mission then (even if it couldn’t accomplish it) and could predict what each of us young officers was about to take another crack at: counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fast forward eight years -- during which this author fruitlessly toiled away in Afghanistan and taught at West Point -- and the U.S. military ground presence has significantly decreased in the Greater Middle East, even if its wars there remain “infinite.” The U.S. was still bombing, raiding, and “advising” away in several of those old haunts as I entered the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Nonetheless, when I first became involved in the primary staff officer training course for mid-level careerists there in 2016, it soon became apparent to me that something was indeed changing.

Our training scenarios were no longer limited to counterinsurgency operations. Now, we were planning for possible deployments to -- and high-intensity conventional warfare in -- the Caucasus, the Baltic Sea region, and the South China Sea (think: Russia and China). We were also planning for conflicts against an Iranian-style “rogue” regime (think: well, Iran). The missions became all about projecting U.S. Army divisions into distant regions to fight major wars to “liberate” territories and bolster allies.

One thing soon became clear to me in my new digs: much had changed. The U.S. military had, in fact, gone global in a big way. Frustrated by its inability to close the deal on any of the indecisive counterterror wars of this century, Washington had decided it was time to prepare for “real” war with a host of imagined enemies. This process had, in fact, been developing right under our noses for quite a while. You remember in 2013 when President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began talking about a “pivot” to Asia -- an obvious attempt to contain China. Obama also sanctioned Moscow and further militarized Europe in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine and the Crimea. President Trump, whose “instincts,” on the campaign trail, were to pull out of America’s Middle Eastern quagmires, turned out to be ready to escalate tensions with China, Russia, Iran, and even (for a while) North Korea.

With Pentagon budgets reaching record levels -- some $717 billion for 2019 -- Washington has stayed the course, while beginning to plan for more expansive future conflicts across the globe. Today, not a single square inch of this ever-warming planet of ours escapes the reach of U.S. militarization.

Think of these developments as establishing a potential formula for perpetual conflict that just might lead the United States into a truly cataclysmic war it neither needs nor can meaningfully win. With that in mind, here’s a little tour of Planet Earth as the U.S. military now imagines it.

Our Old Stomping Grounds: Forever War in the Middle East and Africa

Never apt to quit, even after 17 years of failure, Washington’s bipartisan military machine still churns along in the Greater Middle East. Some 14,500 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan (along with much U.S. air power) though that war is failing by just about any measurable metric you care to choose -- and Americans are still dying there, even if in diminished numbers.

In Syria, U.S. forces remain trapped between hostile powers, one mistake away from a possible outbreak of hostilities with Russia, Iran, Syrian President Assad, or even NATO ally Turkey. While American troops (and air power) in Iraq helped destroy ISIS’s physical “caliphate,” they remain entangled there in a low-level guerrilla struggle in a country seemingly incapable of forming a stable political consensus. In other words, as yet there’s no end in sight for that now 15-year-old war. Add in the drone strikes, conventional air attacks, and special forces raids that Washington regularly unleashes in Somalia, Libya, Yemen, and Pakistan, and it’s clear that the U.S. military’s hands remain more than full in the region.

If anything, the tensions -- and potential for escalation -- in the Greater Middle East and North Africa are only worsening. President Trump ditchedPresident Obama’s Iran nuclear deal and, despite the recent drama over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has gleefully backed the Saudi royals in their arms race and cold war with Iran. While the other major players in that nuclear pact remained on board, President Trump has appointed unreformed Iranophobe neocons like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo to key foreign policy positions and his administration still threatens regime change in Tehran.

In Africa, despite talk about downsizing the U.S. presence there, the military advisory mission has only increased its various commitments, backing questionably legitimate governments against local opposition forces and destabilizing further an already unstable continent. You might think that waging war for two decades on two continents would at least keep the Pentagon busy and temper Washington’s desire for further confrontations. As it happens, the opposite is proving to be the case.

Poking the Bear: Encircling Russia and Kicking Off a New Cold War

Vladimir Putin’s Russia is increasingly autocratic and has shown a propensity for localized aggression in its sphere of influence. Still, it would be better not to exaggerate the threat. Russia did annex the Crimea, but the people of that province were Russians and desired such a reunification. It intervened in a Ukrainian civil war, but Washington was also complicit in the coup that kicked off that drama. Besides, all of this unfolded in Russia’s neighborhood as the U.S. military increasingly deploys its forces up to the very borders of the Russian Federation. Imagine the hysteria in Washington if Russia were deploying troops and advisers in Mexico or the Caribbean.

To put all of this in perspective, Washington and its military machine actually prefer facing off against Russia. It’s a fight the armed forces still remain comfortable with. After all, that’s what its top commanders were trained for during the tail end of an almost half-century-long Cold War. Counterinsurgency is frustrating and indecisive. The prospect of preparing for “real war” against the good old Russians with tanks, planes, and artillery -- now, that’s what the military was built for!

And despite all the over-hyped talk about Donald Trump’s complicity with Russia, under him, the Obama-era military escalation in Europe has only expanded. Back when I was toiling hopelessly in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army was actually removing combat brigades from Germany and stationing them back on U.S. soil (when, of course, they weren’t off fighting somewhere in the Greater Middle East). Then, in the late Obama years, the military began returning those forces to Europe and stationing them in the Baltic, Poland, Romania, and other countries increasingly near to Russia. That’s never ended and, this year, the U.S. Air Force has delivered its largest shipment of ordnance to Europe since the Cold War.

Make no mistake: war with Russia would be an unnecessary disaster -- and it could go nuclear. Is Latvia really worth that risk?

From a Russian perspective, of course, it’s Washington and its expansion of the (by definition) anti-Russian NATO alliance into Eastern Europe that constitutes the real aggression in the region -- and Putin may have a point there. What’s more, an honest assessment of the situation suggests that Russia, a country whose economy is about the size of Spain’s, has neither the will nor the capacity to invade Central Europe. Even in the bad old days of the Cold War, as we now know from Soviet archives, European conquest was never on Moscow’s agenda. It still isn’t.

Nonetheless, the U.S. military goes on preparing for what Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller, addressing some of his forces in Norway, claimed was a “big fight” to come. If it isn’t careful, Washington just might get the war it seems to want and the one that no one in Europe or the rest of this planet needs.

Challenging the Dragon: The Futile Quest for Hegemony in Asia

The United States Navy has long treated the world’s oceans as if they were American lakes. Washington extends no such courtesy to other great powers or nation-states. Only now, the U.S. Navy finally faces some challenges abroad -- especially in the Western Pacific. A rising China, with a swiftly growing economy and carrying grievances from a long history of European imperial domination, has had the audacity to assert itself in the South China Sea. In response, Washington has reacted with panic and bellicosity.

Never mind that the South China Sea is Beijing’s Caribbean (a place where Washington long felt it had the right to do anything it wanted militarily). Heck, the South China Sea has China in its name! The U.S. military now claims -- with just enough truth to convince the uninformed -- that China’s growing navy is out for Pacific, if not global, dominance. Sure, at the moment China has only two aircraft carriers, one an old rehab (though it is building more) compared to the U.S. Navy’s 11 full-sized and nine smaller carriers. And yes, China hasn't actually attacked any of its neighbors yet. Still, the American people are told that their military must prepare for possible future war with the most populous nation on the planet.

In that spirit, it has been forward deploying yet more ships, Marines, and troops to the Pacific Rim surrounding China. Thousands of Marines are now stationed in Northern Australia; U.S. warships cruise the South Pacific; and Washington has sent mixed signals regarding its military commitments to Taiwan. Even the Indian Ocean has recently come to be seen as a possible future battleground with China, as the U.S. Navy increases its regional patrols there and Washington negotiates stronger military ties with China’s rising neighbor, India. In a symbolic gesture, the military recently renamedits former Pacific Command (PACOM) the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM).

Unsurprisingly, China’s military high command has escalated accordingly. They’ve advised their South China Sea Command to prepare for war, made their own set of provocative gestures in the South China Sea, and also threatened to invade Taiwan should the Trump administration change America’s longstanding “One China” policy.

From the Chinese point of view, all of this couldn’t be more logical, given that President Trump has also unleashed a “trade war” on Beijing’s markets and intensified his anti-China rhetoric. And all of this is, in turn, consistent with the Pentagon’s increasing militarization of the entire globe.

No Land Too Distant

Would that it were only Africa, Asia, and Europe that Washington had chosen to militarize. But as Dr. Seuss might have said: that is not all, oh no, that is not all. In fact, more or less every square inch of our spinning planet not already occupied by a rival state has been deemed a militarized space to be contested. The U.S. has long been unique in the way it divided the entire surface of the globe into geographical (combatant) commands presided over by generals and admirals who functionally serve as regional Roman-style proconsuls.

And the Trump years are only accentuating this phenomenon. Take Latin America, which might normally be considered a non-threatening space for the U.S., though it is already under the gaze of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). Recently, however, having already threatened to “invade” Venezuela, President Trump spent the election campaign rousing his base on the claim that a desperate caravan of Central American refugees -- hailing from countries the U.S. had a significant responsibility for destabilizing in the first place -- was a literal “invasion” and so yet another military problem. As such, he ordered more than 5,000 troops (more than currently serve in Syria or Iraq) to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Though he is not the first to try to do so, he has also sought to militarizespace and so create a possible fifth branch of the U.S. military, tentatively known as the Space Force. It makes sense. War has long been three dimensional, so why not bring U.S. militarism into the stratosphere, even as the U.S. Army is evidently training and preparing for a new cold war (no pun intended) with that ever-ready adversary, Russia, around the Arctic Circle.

If the world as we know it is going to end, it will either be thanks to the long-term threat of climate change or an absurd nuclear war. In both cases, Washington has been upping the ante and doubling down. On climate change, of course, the Trump administration seems intent on loading the atmosphere with ever more greenhouse gases. When it comes to nukes, rather than admit that they are unusable and seek to further downsize the bloated U.S. and Russian arsenals, that administration, like Obama’s, has committed itself to the investment of what could, in the end, be at least $1.6 trillion over three decades for the full-scale “modernization” of that arsenal. Any faintly rational set of actors would long ago have accepted that nuclear war is unwinnable and a formula for mass human extinction. As it happens, though, we’re not dealing with rational actors but with a defense establishment that considers it a prudent move to withdraw from the Cold War era Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia.

And that ends our tour of the U.S. military’s version of Planet Earth.

It is often said that, in an Orwellian sense, every nation needs an enemy to unite and discipline its population. Still, the U.S. must stand alone in history as the only country to militarize the whole globe (with space thrown in) in preparation for taking on just about anyone. Now, that’s exceptional.

*  *  *

Danny Sjursen is a U.S. Army major and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. He lives with his wife and four sons in Lawrence, Kansas. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his podcast “Fortress on a Hill,” co-hosted with fellow vet Chris Henriksen.

Published:11/20/2018 10:32:49 PM
[Open Threads] Bookworm Beat 11/20/18 — some quick links

You’ll find it all in this Bookworm Beat: Airbnb, antisemitism, Women’s March madness, Obama madness, gender madness, climate madness, and so much more. My children are grown and off to college, but some days they still need their mother. I’ve spent quite some time on the phone today with both of them, which limited blogging. […]

The post Bookworm Beat 11/20/18 — some quick links appeared first on Bookworm Room.

Published:11/20/2018 8:31:04 PM
[The Blog] Obama digs at Trump(?): We’re failing on climate change because of racism and “mommy issues”

Dreams from my mommy.

The post Obama digs at Trump(?): We’re failing on climate change because of racism and “mommy issues” appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:11/20/2018 7:42:45 PM
[Immigration] Obama-Appointed Judge Bars US From Enforcing Trump Asylum Rule

A federal judge in San Francisco stalls the enforcement of Trump asylum restrictions… “Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” said U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar, a nominee of former President Obama. This is a clear case of ...

The post Obama-Appointed Judge Bars US From Enforcing Trump Asylum Rule appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:11/20/2018 6:30:48 PM
[Immigration] Obama-Appointed Judge Bars US From Enforcing Trump Asylum Rule

A federal judge in San Francisco stalls the enforcement of Trump asylum restrictions… “Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” said U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar, a nominee of former President Obama. This is a clear case of ...

The post Obama-Appointed Judge Bars US From Enforcing Trump Asylum Rule appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:11/20/2018 6:30:48 PM
[US News] Barack Obama wonders if racism and mommy issues are keeping us from saving the climate (video)

We don’t miss Barack Obama any more than you do, but a video from RNC Research is making the rounds on Twitter today that’s reminding a lot of people why they’re glad he’s finally out of office and relatively quiet. When he does speak, though, he always reminds us how America and the world let […]

The post Barack Obama wonders if racism and mommy issues are keeping us from saving the climate (video) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/20/2018 5:37:20 PM
[Middle Column] Obama Blames Slow ‘Climate Change’ Progress On ‘Confused, Blind, Racist, Shrouded With Hate’ Americans

Obama begins his somewhat off-the-rails comments at around 29:00 in, proclaiming: "...the reason we don't [invest in climate change policies] is because we are still confused, blind, shrouded with hate, anger, racism - mommy issues..."

“I mean, we — we are we are fraught with stuff,” he continued, “And — and so if that’s the case then the single most important thing that we have to invest in is not all — and look I’m a huge supporter of science and technological research and social science and, you know, evidence-based learning and all that good stuff.

Published:11/20/2018 5:00:52 PM
[Markets] US Sanctions Russian, Iranian Companies To Disrupt Oil Shipments To Syria

The US announced new sanctions against what a "network of petroleum shipments" to Syria, including Russian and Iranian companies and individuals, in what Washington said was an attempt to disrupt shipments to Syrian-owned ports. Six individuals and three institutions were sanctioned in what the Treasury said was an illicit plot involving officials in Iran working with Russian companies to send millions of barrels of oil to the Assad government in exchange for funds that Tehran then used to fund Islamic militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

Those sanctioned include two officials working with the Central Bank of Iran, a Syrian national and his Russia-based company Global Vision Group, and Russia’s state-owned Promsyrioimport, a subsidiary of the Kremlin’s energy ministry, as well as its first deputy director. The administration is also sanctioning an Iranian entity that purports to be a medical and pharmaceutical company that U.S. officials say has been repeatedly used to facilitate illicit money transfers in the scheme.

“Today we are acting against a complex scheme Iran and Russia have used to bolster the Assad regime and generate funds for Iranian malign activity,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “Central Bank of Iran officials continue to exploit the international financial system, and in this case even used a company whose name suggests a trade in humanitarian goods as a tool to facilitate financial transfers supporting this oil scheme."

As detailed in the Treasury statement, Russian companies would act as middlemen, taking money from Iran to move the oil to Syria. In one case detailed in a Treasury Department press release, the Iranian central bank transferred money to an Iranian pharmaceutical company, hoping that its humanitarian name would throw US observers off the trail. That money was then allegedly wired to a Russian bank, then to a Russian company that shipped the oil from Iran to Syria. Along the way, the Treasury Department claims that Russian ships would switch off their GPS tracking systems to conceal the origin of their cargo.

Once the cash is stashed in the Central Bank of Syria, it is then allegedly sent to Hezbollah and Hamas units operating in Lebanon and on Palestinian territory.

Trump administration officials said Syria sent hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force in return for the oil shipments, money that was then used to fund Hamas and Hezbollah.

Officials described the action as the latest effort to ratchet up pressure on Iran for its “destructive and destabilizing behavior” beyond the reimposition of sanctions lifted under the Obama administration as part of the Iranian nuclear deal. Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the deal in May and reinstated sanctions on Tehran earlier this month.

The latest sanctions build on an ongoing campaign against Iran and its allies, which target the country’s banking, shipping, and oil sectors. Banks that provided services to Hamas and Hezbollah were slapped with sanctions, as were shipping companies that moved Iranian troops and supplies around the Middle East.

As reported previously, facing the threat of US penalties, the SWIFT financial messaging system cut the Iranian central bank off from its network a week later, making it even more difficult for the country to settle its import and export bills.

The administration also issued a global maritime advisory warning those in the shipping industry that they run the risk of U.S. sanctions if they are involved in shipping oil to Syria. The US has promised that it will "disrupt" any attempted shipments to government-owned ports in Syria

Keeping up the Trump administration’s tough rhetoric on Iran, Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Sigal Mandelker, warned on Tuesday that “shipping companies, insurers, vessel owners, managers, and operators should all be aware of the grave consequences of engaging in sanctionable conduct involving Iranian oil shipments.”

Published:11/20/2018 2:31:47 PM
[Markets] Can Mohammed Bin Salman Hold Power While Juggling Trump, Putin And Oil All At Once

Increasingly, it appears that in a rerun of late 2014, OPEC has lost control of the oil market.

According to a Bloomberg Op-Ed, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, President Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin are the three people that will steer the outcome of oil prices in the coming year, whether higher or lower. The problem is, of course, that they all want different things.

While OPEC spins its wheels, Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States have control over the vast majority of global oil supply. In fact, when combined, these three countries produce more than the 15 members of OPEC put together. Right now, all are cranking out supply at record rates and it is not unfathomable to think that all three could be pushing out even more supply next year.

As a reminder, it was Russia together with Saudi Arabia, that recently helped lead the push for the OPEC+ group to curb output restraints that had been put into place since the end of 2017. Ironically, both countries raised production to near record levels at the same time that US output soared as a result of companies in the Permian Basin finally being able to transport oil to the Gulf Coast (if not nearly all of it as many more pipelines are needed).

These combined increases have changed the market sentiment from worries about a supply shortage to very real concerns about a glut. The sentiment changes happened over the course of the last three months, as oil prices have tumbled from almost $90 a barrel to now under $70 a barrel in short order.

And as the scramble to offset declining prices with higher oil has re-emerged, with Saudi Arabia last week abandoning OPEC production curbs for the first time since the 2016 Vienna deal, developed nations oil stockpiles have resumed rising again and are expected to rise above their five-year average level once October data is finalized and released.

At the same time as prices have moved lower, Saudi Arabia stated it would cut exports by 500,000 barrels a day. They also warned producers that they need to cut about 1 million barrels a day from October levels. The response from Putin and Trump to the suggestion was lukewarm at best and unceremonious at worst. Bin Salman – at least for the time being – needs revenue from oil to help continue his "transformation" of Saudi Arabia: the IMF has forecasted that Saudi Arabia needs an oil price of $73.30 a barrel next year in order to hit its budget but right now Brent is trading about $5 below that level. Output cuts seem to be the only way MBS can realize the price that he needs. 

On top of that, he will face challenges from both Trump and Putin. Neither leader is excited about restricting their respective countries' production. Because Moscow’s budget is far less dependent on oil prices now than it was in 2016, Putin may decide that his relationship with MBS could be worth the sacrifice. However, it is anything but a guarantee at this point. Putin has publicly said that he would like oil prices around $70 a barrel also.

President Trump is likely to be more vocal in his opposition to production cuts. It'll come at a time when he and MBS are trying to hang onto what’s left of their political relationship in the midst of considering sanctions on Saudi Arabia as a result of the war in Yemen and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi; meanwhile US consumers demand cheap gas.

But like in 2014, the biggest threat to Saudi Arabia is the Texas oil patch. Producers in America have added significant volume over the last 12 months. In fact, just the added output this year is equivalent to the entire output of OPEC‘s Nigeria.

The production from American producers could reach 12 million barrels a day by April, according to the Department of Energy. That is six months sooner than it was forecasting a month ago, and 1.2 million barrels a day more than estimated back in January.

And then there is the political risk.

President Trump stated in his Sunday morning interview with Chris Wallace that he has been briefed on an audio recording of the Jamal Khashoggi slaying, but that he was advised not to listen to the "suffering tape." 

"Because it’s a suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape. I’ve been fully briefed on it, there’s no reason for me to hear it," adding "I know everything that went on in the tape without having to hear it."

"You saw we put on very heavy sanctions, massive sanctions on a large group of people from Saudi Arabia," Trump said. "But at the same time we do have an ally and I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good." Trump added that it "takes two to tango" to resolve the conflict in Yemen between Iranian-backed insurgents and Saudi-backed forces, stating "I want Saudi to stop, but I want Iran to stop also."

And with Trump, arguably MbS' biggest ally in the west, under growing pressure to take retaliate against the young Saudi king-in-waiting, the crown prince's executive decision making may soon be severely curbed.

Needless to say, MBS has a tall task ahead of him in trying to maintain power, keep Putin and Trump as allies, and juggle the entire oil market in the process.

Published:11/20/2018 10:28:31 AM
[2018 News] Federal judge halts Trump asylum ban Federal judge halts Trump asylum ban. Of course the left went putz judge shopping for an Obama appointee on the 9th Circuit. Soon to be stayed by SCOTUS? Published:11/20/2018 9:39:35 AM
[Politics] Judge BLOCKS Trump proclamation on migrant mob A judge appointed by Obama has blocked Trump’s proclamation on the migrant mob that said if they cross illegally they won’t be eligible for asylum. Of course: FOX NEWS – A federal . . . Published:11/20/2018 9:02:51 AM
[Politics] Judge BLOCKS Trump proclamation on migrant mob A judge appointed by Obama has blocked Trump’s proclamation on the migrant mob that said if they cross illegally they won’t be eligible for asylum. Of course: FOX NEWS – A federal . . . Published:11/20/2018 8:32:22 AM
[Markets] San Francisco Judge Blocks Trump's Asylum Crackdown

As was widely expected, a federal judge in San Francisco (the same court that stymied the administration's travel ban) has temporarily blocked the Trump Administration's executive order that would have temporarily restricted migrants' ability to claim asylum anywhere other than a designated border checkpoint.

BF

According to Buzzfeed, Judge Jon Tigar ruled Monday that the administration’s decision "irreconcilably conflicts with" the Immigration and Nationality Act, which stipulates that anyone entering the US can apply for asylum regardless of where they entered. Trump's order demanded that, for the time being, migrants present themselves as a border checkpoint for "orderly processing". Anybody who didn't comply would be denied entry at other points along the border, according to CNN. The order directed administration officials to determine within 90 days whether the order should be made permanent.

"Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden," said Tigar in a ruling that blocked the policy for one month.

Tigar’s ruling comes just 12 hours after he heard arguments from the American Civil Liberties Union, which requested the order, and the Department of Justice, which maintained that the policy was necessary because a crush of asylum-seekers on the southern border had created a crisis. Tigar, who was appointed by former president Barack Obama, explained in his ruling that asylum-seekers would be at an “increased risk of violence and other harms at the border, and many will be deprived of meritorious asylum claims.”

The government’s claims in support of the expansive policy, he said, did not outweigh "the need to avoid these harms."

The judge asked several questions about the policy during the brief hearing on Monday, including whether evidence supported the need for such a policy.

Tigar raised a number of questions during Monday’s hearing about the reasons the administration has offered for the new policy. He asked whether the new restriction on where asylum-seekers must cross the border undermined the Immigration and Nationality Act, which sets the conditions for asylum. He also questioned whether the underlying evidence supported the need for such a policy, and wondered whether the policy would affect negotiations with Mexico over allowing individuals to gain asylum there.

The parties involved the challenge (which includes civil rights groups like the ACLU, which sued to block the order) will meet again in San Francisco on Dec. 19 as the judge weighs whether to make his block of the injunction permanent. Trump said he was restricting asylum to protect the US from caravans of migrants heading toward the southern border from Central America. But already, some of the troops Trump sent to the border to help reinforce the border patrol are beginning to head home.

Published:11/20/2018 7:36:48 AM
[Podcasts] Podcast: The White House vs. CNN’s Acosta

President Barack Obama was no fan of Fox News—and he didn’t hide that fact. And there’s no requirement for the White House to call on... Read More

The post Podcast: The White House vs. CNN’s Acosta appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:11/20/2018 2:28:53 AM
[Markets] The "Resistance" Struggles To Justify Support For Trump's Prosecution Of Assange

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

Ever since suspicions were confirmed that the Trump administration is indeed working to prosecute and imprison WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing authentic documents, the so-called “Resistance” has been struggling to explain exactly why it is so enthusiastically supportive of that agenda. And when I say struggling, I am being very, very generous.

When news broke that a court document copy-paste error had inadvertently exposed the fact that the Trump administration is pursuing an agenda which experts of diverse political persuasions agree would have devastating effects on the freedom of the press, #Resistance pundit and DC think tank operativeNeera Tanden responded by tweeting, “Never mess with karma”. As of this writing if you do a Twitter search for the words “Assange” and “karma” together, you will come up with countless Democratic Party loyalists using that concept to justify their support for a Trump administration assault on the press that is infinitely more dangerous than the president being mean to Jim Acosta.

The trouble with that of course is that “karma”, as far as observable reality is concerned, is not an actual thing. It’s a Hindu religious concept that is supported by no more factual evidence than the Roman Catholic claim that a priest literally turns bread and wine into the body and blood of a Nazarene carpenter who died thousands of years ago. A Democratic pundit using the concept of “karma” to justify enthusiastic support for Trump’s fascistic attack on press freedoms is exactly the same as a Republican pundit using “God wills it” to justify the existence of poverty, and it is just as intellectually honest.

But it’s also the best argument these people have got.

I mean, think about it. There’s really no other way you can justify supporting a Trump administration agenda?—?an administration you claim to oppose?—?in a prosecution with legal implications that are severely detrimental to the free press, which you claim to support.

The only way to justify it is with some vague, abstract notion that Assange is just “getting what he deserves” since the 2016 WikiLeaks publications of Democratic Party likely contributed to Trump’s electoral victory over Hillary Clinton, and the only way to reify that vague, abstract notion is with an appeal to some imaginary metaphysical principle, i.e. karma.

But, again, that is not a thing. There is no invisible eight-armed deity floating around behind the scenes arbitrating and distributing the consequences of WikiLeaks drops, and there is no rational argument that the Trump administration prosecuting Assange is desirable because Assange “deserves” it. The fact of the matter is that these people are supporting Trump’s fascism in the most toxic ways possible, they are utterly incapable of defending that support with any intellectual honesty, and the self-proclaimed “Resistance” would be more aptly named “the Assistance”.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald described this phenomenon as follows:

But the grand irony is that many Democrats will side with the Trump DOJ over the Obama DOJ. Their emotional, personal contempt for Assange? - due to their belief that he helped defeat Hillary Clinton: the gravest crime? - ?easily outweighs any concerns about the threats posed to press freedoms by the Trump administration’s attempts to criminalize the publication of documents.

This reflects the broader irony of the Trump era for Democrats. While they claim out of one side of their mouth to find the Trump administration’s authoritarianism and press freedom attacks so repellent, they use the other side of their mouth to parrot the authoritarian mentality of Jeff Sessions and Mike Pompeo that anyone who published documents harmful to Hillary or which have been deemed “classified” by the U.S. Government ought to go to prison.

…It is this utterly craven and authoritarian mentality that is about to put Democrats of all sorts in bed with the most extremist and dangerous of the Trump faction as they unite to create precedents under which the publication of information?—?long held sacrosanct by anyone caring about press freedoms?—?can now be legally punished.

And indeed this is exactly what has been happening. Check out the joyous celebrations in online comments sections from when the news broke that the Trump administration has brought sealed charges upon Assange (herehere, or here for example) for a taste of where the “blue wave” zeitgeist is at right now. Their hatred for Assange has overpowered not only their hatred for Trump, but the most important ways in which they are meant to be resisting him.

When you find yourself supporting conflicting principles, it’s a sure sign that you were never guided by principle to begin with.

And this is really the lesson we can take from all this. The noxious strain of American liberalism which promotes Russia conspiracy theories, supports the prosecution of government transparency advocates, and only attacks Trump as an idea rather than actually resisting his actual policies was never about any principle of any kind. There were preexisting agendas against Russia, alternative media, WikiLeaks, and government transparency long before Trump took office, and all of those agendas have been systematically advanced by the powerful using the “us vs them” herd mentality of the McResistance. These people aren’t supporting the prosecution of a leak publisher because of their ideological values, they are supporting it because that’s what powerful manipulators want them to do.

Trump’s despicable prosecution of Assange, and corporate liberalism’s full-throated support for it, has fully discredited all of mainstream US politics on both sides of the aisle. Nobody in that hot mess stands for anything. If you’re still looking to Trump or the Democrats to protect you from the rising tide of fascism, the time to make your exit is now.

*  *  *

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out mypodcast, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal,buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Published:11/19/2018 8:30:27 PM
[Media] ‘I don’t think so!!’ Ex-Obama spox Jen Psaki seriously thinks THIS played a role in Georgia gubernatorial race? [video]

Oh man.

The post ‘I don’t think so!!’ Ex-Obama spox Jen Psaki seriously thinks THIS played a role in Georgia gubernatorial race? [video] appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/19/2018 4:32:09 PM
[Politics] Democrats’ Redistricting Effort Touts Wins Where Steyer and Soros Invested

The National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), an effort spearheaded by former Obama-era Attorney General Eric Holder, is claiming victory in several states targeted for a barrage of outside spending by a 527 group led by billionaire activists George Soros and Tom Steyer.

The post Democrats’ Redistricting Effort Touts Wins Where Steyer and Soros Invested appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:11/19/2018 3:02:54 PM
[Politics] 41% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

Forty-one percent (41%) 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 November 15.

This week’s finding is down two points from the previous six weeks. 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 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from November 11-15, 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:11/19/2018 12:26:38 PM
[] The Morning Rant "So, Jimmy Acosta got a judge to give him his WH press pass back, at least temporarily. Does anyone else remember the old days when President Obama banned Fox News *entirely* from his press conferences, and nobody said boo? Good... Published:11/19/2018 10:54:01 AM
[Markets] The End Of The Tax Cut Boost

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

Last week, I touched on the issue of corporate profits and tax cuts. While the promise was that tax cuts were going to a massive boost to economic growth, the reality has been quite different. To wit:

“The benefit of a reduction in tax rates is extremely short-lived since we compare earnings and profit growth on a year-over-year basis.

In the U.S., the story remains much the same as near-term economic growth has been driven by artificial stimulus, government spending, and fiscal policy which provides an illusion of prosperity. For example, the chart below shows raw corporate profits (NIPA) both before, and after, tax.”

“Importantly, note that corporate profits, pre-tax, are at the same level as in 2012.  In other words, corporate profits have not grown over the last 6-years, yet it was the decline in the effective tax rate which pushed after-tax corporate profits to a record in the second quarter. Since consumption makes up roughly 70% of the economy, then corporate profits pre-tax profits should be growing if the economy was indeed growing substantially above 2%.”

The reality is that what earnings growth there has actually been, as shown above, was indeed derived from tax cuts but also through the extensive use of share buybacks. While the mainstream media, and the Administration, initially rushed to claim that tax cuts would lead to surging economic growth, wages, and employment, such has yet to be the case. Instead, companies have used their tax windfall to repurchase shares instead.

The lack of corporate profit since 2012 is just another version of the same story we have previously discussed when analyzing quarterly earnings. As noted in our recent report following the end of the Q2-2018 reporting period:

“Since the recessionary lows, much of the rise in ‘profitability’ has come from a variety of cost-cutting measures and accounting gimmicks rather than actual increases in top-line revenue. While tax cuts certainly provided the capital for a surge in buybacks; revenue growth, which is directly connected to a consumption-based economy, has remained muted.”

Here is the real kicker. Since 2009, the reported earnings per share of corporations has increased by a total of 391%. This is the sharpest post-recession rise in reported EPS in history. However, the increase in earnings did not come from a commensurate increase in revenue which has only grown by a marginal 44% during the same period. This is an important point when you realize only 11% of total reported EPS growth actually came from increased revenues.

While stock buybacks, corporate tax cuts, and debt-issuance can create an illusion of profitability in the short-term, the lack of revenue growth the top line of the income statement suggests a much weaker economic environment over the long-term.

More importantly, as stated, the benefit of tax cuts lasts just one year before it is absorbed by annual comparisons. As shown below, when the effective tax rate dropped during the Bush administration from 31.48% to 19.87%, an 11.61% decline,  the surge in corporate profits faded after the first year. During the Obama Administration, the effective tax rate fell again from 24.01% to just 13.73%, a reduction of 7.28%, providing a short-term profit surge as the economy began to recover from the “Financial Crisis.”

Interestingly, the most recent tax cut from the Trump Administration has had very little impact on the effective tax rate only reducing it from 19.32% to 16.17%, or just a decline of 3.15%. While profits did increase, the very low adjustment to the effective tax rate is likely why the effect of the tax cut boost has faded so quickly this time.

Going forward increasing margins will become tougher as steadily increasing labor costs, weaker global economies, higher interest costs, tariffs, and a stronger dollar weigh on bottom line profitability.

Earnings Set To Decline

With share buyback activity already beginning to slow, the Federal Reserve extracting liquidity from the financial markets, and the Administration continuing their “trade war,” the risk to extremely elevated forward earnings estimates remains high. We are already seeing the early stages of these actions through falling home prices, automobile sales, and increased negative guidance for corporations.

If history, and logic, is any guide, we will likely see the U.S. economy pushing into a recession in 2019 particularly as the global economy continues to weaken. This is something both domestic and global yield curves are already screaming is an issue, but few are listening. As noted last week, we can already see this in the MSCI World Market Index as well.

“While it has been believed the U.S. can ‘decouple’ from the rest of the world, such is not likely the case. The pressure on global markets is a reflection of a slowing global economy which will ultimately find its way back to the U.S.”

As stated, forward earnings estimates are still way too lofty going into 2019. As I noted in the recent missive on rising headwinds to the market, earnings expectations have already started to get markedly ratcheted down for the end of 2019. In just the last 30-days the estimates for the end of 2019 have fallen by more than $10/share. The downside risk remains roughly $14/share lower than that.

As stated, beginning in 2019, the estimated quarterly rate of change in earnings will drop markedly and head back towards the expected rate of real economic growth. (Note: these estimates are as of 11/1/18 from S&P and are still too high relative to expected future growth. Expect estimates to continue to decline which allow for continued high levels of estimate “beat” rates.)

The issue to focus on will be the ongoing impact of rising interest rates on major drivers of debt-driven consumption such as housing and auto sales. Combine that with a late stage economic cycle colliding with a Central Bank bent on removing accommodation and you have a potentially toxic brew for a much weaker outcome than currently expected.

The end of the boost from tax cuts has arrived.

But such was always going to be the case. As noted in a 2014 study by William Gale and Andrew Samwick:

“The argument that income tax cuts raise growth is repeated so often that it is sometimes taken as gospel. However, theory, evidence, and simulation studies tell a different and more complicated story. Tax cuts offer the potential to raise economic growth by improving incentives to work, save, and invest. But they also create income effects that reduce the need to engage in productive economic activity, and they may subsidize old capital, which provides windfall gains to asset holders that undermine incentives for new activity.

In addition, tax cuts as a stand-alone policy (that is, not accompanied by spending cuts) will typically raise the federal budget deficit. The increase in the deficit will reduce national saving — and with it, the capital stock owned by Americans and future national income — and raise interest rates, which will negatively affect investment. The net effect of the tax cuts on growth is thus theoretically uncertain and depends on both the structure of the tax cut itself and the timing and structure of its financing.”

Since the tax cut plan was poorly designed, to begin with, it did not flow into productive investments to boost economic growth. As we now know, it flowed almost entirely into share buybacks to boost executive compensation. This has had very little impact on domestic growth. The “sugar high” of economic growth seen in the first two quarters of 2018 has been from a massive surge in deficit spending and the rush by companies to stockpile goods ahead of tariffs. These activities simply pull forward “future” consumption and have a very limited impact but leaves a void which must be filled in the future.

Nearly a full year after the passage of tax cuts, we face a nearly $1 Trillion deficit, a near-record trade deficit, and empty promises of surging economic activity.

It is all just as we predicted.

So, while many of the mainstream punditry continue to take victory laps touting the success of the Trump agenda, the reality is that the pro-growth policies were launched too late within this economic cycle. Since the administration chose to utilize both fiscal and monetary policy tools during the economic boom, it will only ensure the next recessionary drag will likely be larger, and last longer, than most expect.

Published:11/19/2018 7:26:31 AM
[Markets] Deception In North Korea? Nope, But A New Flavor Of Neocon

Authored by Peter Van Buren via Medium.com,

What is the state of diplomacy on the Korean peninsula? Are we again heading toward the lip of war, or is progress being made at an expected pace? Are there Asian Neocons fanning the flames for conflict in Pyongyang much as others did with Baghdad?

A year ago, in November 2017, John Brennan estimated the chance of a war with North Korea at 20 to 25 percent. Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said the odds were 50/50. The New York Times claimed we were “slouching toward war” with the North, on a “collision course.” National security adviser HR McMaster said North Korea represented “the greatest immediate threat to the United States” and that the potential for war with the communist nation grew each day. The U.S. lacked an ambassador in Seoul; Victor Cha was rejected by Trump because, according to “sources and reports,” he didn’t support a preemptive strike on Pyongyang. It was reported the U.S. was “imminently preparing for an attack on North Korea,” driven in part by hawks like Mike Pompeo and John Bolton.

All that was wrong.

Cha, it appears, didn’t in fact support what Trump actually was planning: not a preemptive strike, but a summit meeting with Kim Jong Un, held some five months ago in Singapore following a first try at courtship aside the Seoul Olympics in January 2018. World leaders meeting to talk peace is historically seen as a good thing. Yet the American media consensus was a president they believe is roundly despised globally conveyed “legitimacy” on Kim Jong Un, no matter that his family has ruled North Korea for some seven decades, and his country already holds a seat at the United Nations. No shortage of experts from South Korea universities and American think tanks were found to support those claims.

The media generally ignored (in return for the U.S. postponing a handful of military exercises) “concessions,” which were deeply criticized by an American media which has failed to note the U.S. has actually resumed some exercises, the North unilaterally stopped ICBM testing (the missiles which might someday be able to reach the U.S.) and nuclear detonations. It released American hostages, and took steps to close down two nuclear missile facilities. Kim Jong-un fired top military leaders who dissented over his approaches to South Korea and the United States.

Officials from North and South now meet regularly, and U.S. diplomats engage with both sides on an ongoing basis; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been to Pyongyang. Numerous practical steps have been taken along the DMZ to reduce the chance of accidents. South Korea’s unification minister in charge of North Korea issues Cho Myoung-gyon will visit the United States this week, where he is expected to meet Pompeo. This is the first time in four years for South Korea’s unification minister to visit Washington. On the last visit, in 2014, then-Secretary of State John Kerry refused to meet with his predecessor in line with the Obama (and Bush) administrations’ policy of ignoring North Korea in hopes the problem would go away.

Yet the headlines this week in the New York Times and other major U.S. outlets scream of a “great deception” by the North Koreans, evidenced by a hardline think tank?—?helmed in part by Victor Cha?—?“discovering” North Korean missile facilities already long known to U.S. intelligence (Cha’s lo-rez commercial satellite photos are dated March, months before the Trump-Kim summit, so everyone who mattered already knew.)

In a matter of a few paragraphs, Cha and the Times blow this “discovery” up to announce, without any evidence, “What everybody is worried about is that Trump is going to accept a bad deal?—?they give us a single test site and dismantle a few other things, and in return they get a peace agreement” that formally ends the Korean War. Mr. Trump, he said, “would then declare victory, say he got more than any other American president ever got, and the threat would still be there.”

What is the real state of diplomacy on the Korean peninsula? Are we again heading toward the lip of war?

Of course not. South Korea’s presidential spokesperson put those “new” missile facilities into the perspective Trump’s critics lack, saying “North Korea has never promised to shut down this missile base. It has never signed any agreement, any negotiation that makes shutting down missile bases mandatory… There is no agreement, no negotiation that makes it necessary for it to be declared.” In other words, there can be no deception where there was no agreement.

To call what the Times discovered a “deception” is deeply misleading. The Singapore declaration and the inter-Korean summit declarations of April 27 and September 19 this year do not commit Pyongyang to disclose the sites. What is new to the Times is actually old news; Kim Jong Un in his January 2018 New Year’s Day guidance stated North Korea would shift to the mass producing nuclear weapons in such facilities. “The nuclear weapons research sector and the rocket industry should mass-produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles, the power and reliability of which have already been proved to the full, to give a spur to the efforts for deploying them for action,” Kim said. The Times in fact more or less acknowledged all this in September, before being suprised by it in November.

And the Times’ big scary takeaway, that the old/new facilities are in caves, confuses tactical concealment with some sort of nefarious political “deception.” Did they expect the missiles to be worked on in the parking lot outside Kim’s villa?

One issue only lightly touched by a western media obsessed with parsing tweets as their stab at journalism is the ongoing rush forward driven by the two Koreas themselves, what under any other media climate would be hailed as a huge series of successes but which falls in 2018 under the Trump Is Always Wrong Shadow. In a short time the two states established psuedo-embassies just north of the DMZ, where representatives from the two Koreas have met more than 60 times. The office has become a clearinghouse for over a dozen projects launched during the summit. There are plans for a massive binational project to link roads and railroads severed during the Korean War.

North and South Korea have begun removing landmines from the border, drawn back some troops, and most recently held a third leaders’ summit in September in Pyongyang North Korean leader Kim offered to permanently dismantle two key ICBM facilities under the observation of outside experts. He also offered to negotiate further on the permanent shut down of the nuclear facility at Yongbyon. South Korean President Moon Jae-In, for his part, better than the U.S. understands the future is ultimately about economics, not nukes. Moon seeks sanctions relief as negotiations move forward (little is ever accomplished without some give and take.) “I believe the international community needs to provide assurances that North Korea has made the right choice to denuclearize and encourage North Korea to speed up the process,” he said this week in Paris during a visit with French President Emmanuel Macron. If the western media is correct that Trump is being duped, played, deceived, and cheated by the North, what must they think about the faster pace set by the South? After all, a U.S. miscalculation means we all switch from Samsung to Apple phones made in China, while South Korea risks being turned into a wasteland dotted only with signs for Nuka Cola.

Left off to the side is that it has been only five months since the historic summit in Singapore. Obama’s agreement with Iran, which did not even involve actual working nukes, took almost two years to conclude. Cold War negotiations with the Soviet Union ran across administrations, extending the broader process into decades of talks, and were aimed at goals much shorter than full denuclearization. Five months is barely enough time to grow a decent garden, never mind resolve multinational problems that reach back to 1945.

With North Korea, there is no history of trust, no basis of goodwill to build on. That all has to be created, built from scratch, as part of the heavy lifting of diplomacy. The ultimate goal?—?denuclearization?—?may or may not someday come to pass, but if it does it will be the result of years of more small steps forward than small steps back. Diplomacy is about moving the goalposts and embracing the long game, not playing chicken. It will require the North’s nuclear weapons to become unnecessary, as the North agrees to and is allowed to become so engaged with the global system that it finds itself no longer in need of such a powerful deterrence to attacks by its neighbors. Diplomacy requires one to at least understand the opponent’s goals and motivations, even if you don’t agree with them.

There exists an industry of sorts devoted to portraying North Korea as an eviler than evil empire, with Kim as a parody of the movie Dr. Evil. These hardliners, ensconced mostly in universities in South Korea and think tanks in the U.S., have been around since the Cold War to make sure the case for the militarization of South Korea and American support for various South Korean military dictators never lacked public advocates. They act as mouthpieces for North Korean defectors with horror stories, and are quick to seize on anything to amplify the threat. Older readers will remember similar mostly defunct “industries” set up to do the same over the actions of Cuba, China, and the Soviet Union once (though the Red Threat gang is trying to make a comeback over Bond villian wanna-be Putin.)

Victor Cha himself is a kind of one man gloom machine, writing regularly of the impossibility of denuclearization. His old articles focus fearfully on meetings canceled them (but since successfully concluded; fatalism ignores the future) he in fact represents a kind of Asian neocon, an industry dedicated to the impossibility of peace on the peninsula as long as the Kim dynasty remains in power. Cha’s home organization, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, for example, features multiple former Secretaries of Defense on its board and as trustees, and is well-funded by elements of the military industrial complex. Of the plan to link railroads across the DMZ, what any sane person would see as progress, the organization grumbled the “move is expected to increase friction with its traditional ally Washington over the pace of inter-Korean engagement.”

So shame on those hardline groups?—?let’s call them Asian Neocons, for they want regime change in the North in the same way as Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al, wanted it in the Middle East?—?and shame on the New York Times for morphing its Trump-is-always-wrong editorial policy into presenting something long-known to U.S. intelligence as something new enough to declare deception has overtaken the diplomatic long game on the Korean Peninsula.

As they did during the run up to the Iraq War, the Times is once again serving as a platform for those who cannot see or will not wait for a peaceful way forward.

Deception? The deception, it is clear, is all (again) on the side of the neocons. They seek to destroy any chance of lasting peace with unrealistic expectations and by announcing failure at goals never actually set. Because if not diplomacy, then what is the alternative? Theirs is not pessimism, it is fatalism. Success instead should be measured by the continued absence of war and the continued sense that war is increasingly unlikely. Anyone demanding more than that wants things to fail.

Published:11/18/2018 9:50:12 PM
[Markets] The Empire Keeps Proving Assange Right About Everything

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been charged under seal by the Trump administration. This has been revealed by a purportedly accidental copy-paste error in an unrelated court document which used Assange’s name, interestingly not long after it was reported to the Wall Street Journal that federal prosecutors “have considered publicly indicting Mr. Assange to try to trigger his removal from the embassy because a detailed explanation of the evidence could give Ecuadorean authorities reason to turn Assange over."

Insider sources have reportedly confirmed to the Washington Post that Assange has been charged. Because those charges are sealed, it’s impossible to know what they are or how they’re being justified. If you ask #Resistance Twitter, it’s because it’s #MuellerTime and Assange is about to be arrested under some mysterious charges involving WikiLeaks’ publication of non-government, non-classified emails in 2016. If you ask QAnon cultists, it’s because Donald Trump is planning to extradite Assange so as to rescue him and deal a fatal blow to the Deep State.

If you ask people who actually know what they’re talking about, however, it’s most likely for WikiLeaks’ Afghanistan and Iraq war logs and/or last year’s CIA leak publications, and most likely using the Espionage Act. 

This would constitute a deadly blow to press freedoms, and arguably a greater leap in the direction of Orwellian dystopia than the Patriot Act.

It also proves once again that Julian Assange was completely right.

I’ve had so, so many arguments with people this year about Assange’s publicly stated rationale for remaining in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he was granted political asylum by Ecuador’s previous government on the basis that the US was seeking his extradition. The refrain that he can “leave whenever he wants” is extremely common, with Assange’s detractors insisting that he’d never be arrested and extradited to the United States, and that he is instead hiding from (non-existent) Swedish rape charges. The narrative that Assange couldn’t possibly be hiding from the same government which tortured Chelsea Manning has been aggressively promulgated by mainstream outlets like the The Guardian, as in this article by James Ball from earlier this year titled “The only barrier to Julian Assange leaving Ecuador’s embassy is pride”, claiming that “The WikiLeaks founder is unlikely to face prosecution in the US."

Ball’s article includes the following galaxy-brained excerpts:

“Visitors, like fish, stink in three days.

“The problem for both sides is that neither wants to lose face: Assange wants to be a symbol of resistance against an overreaching US state, and does not want to admit his asylum was about his personal actions and not those of WikiLeaks. Ecuador does not want to suggest it made a mistake in granting Assange asylum.

Ball was at best completely wrong, and at worst knowingly lying about the very real possibility of secret US charges. We know that the charges are from the US government, so they’ve got nothing to do with any rape or bail violation allegations. But the narrative that Assange is a stinky, stinky weirdo hiding in a cupboard has been so aggressively promulgated by imperial propagandists like Ball it’s (for me at least) literally impossible to talk about Assange’s plight on social media without some stranger coming up and spewing it all over the conversation.

And it’s no mystery why that is. The alternative to making Assange the creepy rapist hiding from justice would be to acknowledge the possibility of what we now know for certain: that a vast, sprawling superpower, with so many extremely tight alliances that it is effectively the center of a globe-spanning empire, is working to extradite an Australian journalist from an Ecuadorian embassy in the United Kingdom so that it can punish him for publishing facts.

Much, much easier to have him be the stinky cupboard man than the center of an assault on speech with implications stretching to all future generations and every corner of the globe.

Julian Assange founded an innovative leak outlet on the premise that corrupt power can be fought with truth and transparency. Corrupt power responded by silencing, persecuting and smearing him. In so doing they succeeded in slowing down the leaks, minimizing the impact of publications, and nullifying Assange’s ability to defend himself, and in exchange they have publicly proved that his thesis was, and is, absolutely correct. There is a power establishment which uses lies and secrecy to manipulate and deceive us, and it hates having the light of truth shone upon it more than anything.We know that for certain now. There is no doubt whatsoever.

Julian Assange was never hiding from justice. Julian Assange is, and always has been, hiding from injustice. He has been proven right about his reasons for seeking political asylum from Ecuador, as he has been proven right about so very much before.

*  *  *

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out mypodcast, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal,buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Published:11/18/2018 7:20:47 PM
[Markets] Cleveland Browns Interested In Interviewing Condoleezza Rice For Head Coaching Job

Browns general manager John Dorsey said last week that he might be interested in hiring a woman to become the new head coach of the struggling Cleveland Browns, who, after their abysmal 2017 season, are currently ranked dead last in the AFC North. And according to ESPN, Dorsey has a name in mind: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

An interview with Rice would set a historic precedent, allowing Condi to add another "first" to her resume: In addition to being the first black female secretary of state, she would become the first woman to ever interview for an NFL head coaching job.

The Browns would like to interview former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for their head-coaching job, a league source tells ESPN.

If the Browns follow through on it, Rice would become the first woman to interview for an NFL head-coaching job.

[...]

A potential interview hardly means the Browns will hire Rice, but they are interested in talking to her about the job and seeing what she could bring to the position and the organization.

"She's an amazing person," one Browns source told ESPN.

The interview process could even lead to Rice becoming more involved in the organization in an official capacity or as a consultant.

Rice has been featured in a Browns jersey in NFL ads. There has also been speculation that she could be a candidate for NFL commissioner following the departure of Roger Goodell. Rice has also been involved in collegiate athletics, including a commission on college basketball that recommended major changes to the sport this year.

As ESPN reminds us, Cleveland's interest in Condi follows several other high-profile hires of female coaching staff, including the San Antonio Spurs' hiring of Becky Hammon as an assistant coach, the Buffalo Bills hiring of Kathryn Smith as a quality control assistant, the Oakland Raiders hiring of Kelsey Martinez to their strength staff, and the San Francisco 49ers hiring of Katie Sowers as an offensive assistant.

The news was understandably met with a mix of shock and amazement on twitter...

...along with a few humorous suggestions...

...and Mike Francesca shared a few thoughts on his show.

Interviewing Condi is probably a publicity stunt. But the Browns are a desperate franchise, particularly after their spectacularly awful 0-17 season.

As President Trump would say: What do they have to lose?

Published:11/18/2018 6:48:33 PM
[Entertainment] Barack Obama Compares Himself to Jay-Z After Surprising Wife Michelle at Book Event Barack Obama, Jay-ZYes he can make quite the entrance. On Saturday, former President Barack Obama surprised his wife Michelle Obama in Washington, D.C. at her book tour event for her new memoir, Becoming....
Published:11/18/2018 4:18:21 PM
[Entertainment] Barack Obama compares himself to Jay-Z during a surprise stop at Michelle's book tour "This is like, you know when Jay-Z comes out during the Beyonce concert?" Barack Obama said, stunning the crowd at Michelle's Washington book stop.
     
 
 
Published:11/18/2018 12:47:06 PM
[Markets] Trump Gives Himself An "A+" In Wide-Ranging Interview

President Trump sat down with Fox News's Chris Wallace on Friday for a wide-ranging interview which aired Sunday, in which he discussed a variety of topics from border security, to acting Attorney General Whitaker and the Mueller probe, to renewed rumors of discontent within the White House, and of course - his thoughts on CNN's Jim Acosta whose press pass was pulled and then restored after a contentious altercation over the Central American migrant caravan making its way north. 

While a Trump-appointed judge ruled that the White House had to restore Acosta's credentials on Fifth Amendment grounds - noting that Trump could just ignore Acosta, Trump had another idea:  

"I think one of the things we’ll do is maybe turn the camera off that faces them because then they don’t have any air time, although I’ll probably be sued for that and maybe, you know, win or lose it, who knows," said Trump. "I mean, with this stuff you never know what’s going to happen."

Calling Acosta "unbelievably rude to [White House press secretary] Sarah Huckabee, who’s a wonderful woman," Trump said his administration is currently formulating "rules and regulations" for White House reporters. "And if he misbehaves, we’ll throw him out or we’ll stop the news conference," the president added. -Fox News

Addressing calls for Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to recuse himself from the Mueller probe over past comments which were critical of its scope and legality, Trump said "I did not know he took views on the Mueller investigation as such," adding that he "would not get involved" in whether Whitaker curtails the special counsel. 

"Look he -- it’s going to be up to him," Trump said. "I think he’s very well aware politically.  I think he’s astute politically.  He’s a very smart person.  A very respected person.  He’s going to do what’s right.  I really believe he’s going to do what’s right."

The President added that he had answered several questions from Mueller's team, and that they would be submitted "very soon." Trump added that his lawyers are "writing what I tell them to write" in response to the questions. 

Midterms

Trump then appeared to gloat a little over the fact that some of the top candidates Obama had backed during the midterm elections had lost. 

"I won against President Obama and Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama in a great state called Georgia for the governor," said Trump - discussing defeated Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams (who has refused to technically concede to Republican Brian Kemp, though admits that he will be the next governor). "And it was all stacked against Brian [Kemp], and I was the one that went for Brian, and Brian won," said Trump. 

"Look at Florida," Trump then said. "I went down to Florida. [GOP Senate candidate] Rick Scott won, and he won by a lotI don’t know what happened to all those votes that disappeared at the very end.  And if I didn’t put a spotlight on that election before it got down to the 12,500 votes, he would have lost that election, OK?  In my opinion he would have lost.  They would have taken that election away from him. Rick Scott won Florida." 

The results of a manual recount in the Florida Senate will be reported on Sunday, and Scott is expected to prevail over Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, following a series of lawsuits and snafus that exposed long-running issues with ballot counting in the state. In the gubernatorial race, Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded this weekend in his close fight with Republican Ron DeSantis. -Fox News

Obama's advice

Trump told Fox's Chris Wallace that former President Obama offered him some important guidance shortly after the 2016 election. 

"I think North Korea’s been very tough because you know we were very close. When I took that over -- President Obama right in those two chairs, we sat and talked and he said that’s by far the biggest problem that this country has," said Trump. "And I think we had real decision as to which way to go on North Korea and certainly at least so far I’m very happy with the way we went."

Khashoggi

Turning to the apparent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey, Trump said that he has been briefed on an audio recording of the slaying, but that he was advised not to listen to the "suffering tape." 

"Because it’s a suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape. I’ve been fully briefed on it, there’s no reason for me to hear it," adding "I know everything that went on in the tape without having to hear it."

"You saw we put on very heavy sanctions, massive sanctions on a large group of people from Saudi Arabia," Trump said. "But at the same time we do have an ally and I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good." Trump added that it "takes two to tango" to resolve the conflict in Yemen between Iranian-backed insurgents and Saudi-backed forces, stating "I want Saudi to stop, but I want Iran to stop also."

As Trump toured fire damage in California on Saturday, reporters asked about Khashoggi's death - to which the President replied: "We’ll be having a very full report over the next two days, probably Monday or Tuesday," adding that it will include "who did it." 

Pakistan

Trump then defended his administration's decision to rescind hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan, which doesn't "do a damn thing for us," and helped to hide Osama Bin Lade, according to Trump. 

"You know, living – think of this – living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer," said Trump, referring to Bin Laden's compound. 

But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there... And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year . ... [bin Laden] lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year --which we don’t give them anymore, by the way, I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us. -Donald Trump

Bad weather

Trump told Wallace that he regretted not visiting Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. on Veterans Day, something President Obama did every year while in office. 

"I should have done that," said Trump. "I was extremely busy on calls for the country, we did a lot of calling, as you know. ...  I probably, you know, in retrospect I should have and I did last year and I will virtually every year.  But we had come in very late at night and I had just left, literally, the American cemetery in Paris and I really probably assumed that was fine and I was extremely busy because of affairs of state doing other things."

Explaining why he canceled a trip to visit a World War I memorial in Paris - a move widely criticized in the media, Trump said that the MSM was making a "big deal" out of the situation. 

"They said, 'Sir,' the Secret Service said, 'Sir, you cannot go. We are not prepared. You cannot go,'" Trump said. "Because it was supposed to be helicopter, but the helicopter couldn’t fly because of zero visibility." 

Kirstjen Nielsen

The President had some measured words for Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen - suggesting that he would like to see improvement on border security. 

"Well, I like her a lot. I respect her a lot," Trump said. "She’s very smart.  I want her to get much tougher and we’ll see what happens there. But I want to be extremely tough. ...  I like her very much, I respect her very much, I’d like her to be much tougher on the border -- much tougher, period." Trump added that there's a "chance" she will continue in her role.

John Kelly

Trump seemed to acknowledge reports that he and his Chief of Staff John Kelly don't get along, adding that Kelly will "move on" at some point. 

"There are certain things I love what he does," the president said. "And there are certain things that I don’t like that he does -- that aren’t his strength. It’s not that he doesn’t do -- you know he works so hard. He’s doing an excellent job in many ways. There are a couple of things where it’s just not his strength. It’s not his fault, it’s not his strength. ... But John, at some point, is going to want to move on. John will move on."

Finally, Trump gave himself high marks on his progress as president two years in.  

"I think I’m doing a great job.  We have the best economy we’ve ever had," said Trump. We’re doing really well. We would have been at war with North Korea if, let’s say, that administration continued forward."

"I would give myself, I would – look, I hate to do it, but I will do it, I would give myself an A+, is that enough?" said Trump. "Can I go higher than that?"

Watch the full interview below: 

Published:11/18/2018 10:18:03 AM
[Markets] Greenwald: DOJ Prosecution Of Assange Poses "Grave Threats To Press Freedom"

The "accidental" disclosure that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been secretly charged by Department of Justice in the Eastern District of Virginia has ignited a firestorm over the freedom of the press, and protections offered to journalists under the First Amendment. 

Beginning in 2010, the Department of Justice under Obama began to draw a distinction between WikiLeaks and other news organizations. Former Attorney General Eric Holder insisting that Assange's organization does not deserve the same first amendment protections during the Chelsea Manning case, in which the former Army intelligence analyst was found guilty at a court-martial of leaking thousands of classified Afghan War Reports. 

Ultimately, the previous administration concluded that it could not criminally charge Assange and WikiLeaks due to First Amendment protections. 

It appears, however, that the Trump Justice Department has now found a way, possibly under the Espionage Act, to indict Assange - a move which would have wide-ranging implications for journalists and news outlets alike. 

Opining on the Assange news is The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald - the journalist and author who published a series of reports while at The Guardian from whistleblower Edward Snowden, who leaked information on global surveillance programs based on classified documents. 

***

Via The Intercept

Glenn Greenwald | November 16 2018

As the Obama DOJ Concluded, Prosecution of Julian Assange for Publishing Documents Poses Grave Threats to Press Freedom

THE TRUMP JUSTICE DEPARTMENT inadvertently revealedin a court filing that it has charged Julian Assange in a sealed indictment. The disclosure occurred through a remarkably amateurish cutting-and-pasting error in which prosecutors unintentionally used secret language from Assange’s sealed charges in a document filed in an unrelated case. Although the document does not specify which charges have been filed against Assange, the Wall Street Journal reported that “they may involve the Espionage Act, which criminalizes the disclosure of national defense-related information.”

Over the last two years, journalists and others have melodramatically claimed that press freedoms were being assaulted by the Trump administration due to trivial acts such as the President spouting adolescent insults on Twitter at Chuck Todd and Wolf Blitzer or banning Jim Acosta from White House press conferences due to his refusal to stop preening for a few minutes so as to allow other journalists to ask questions. Meanwhile, actual and real threats to press freedoms that began with the Obama DOJ and have escalated with the Trump DOJ – such as aggressive attempts to unearth and prosecute sources – have gone largely ignored if not applauded.

But prosecuting Assange and/or WikiLeaks for publishing classified documents would be in an entirely different universe of press freedom threats. Reporting on the secret acts of government officials or powerful financial actors – including by publishing documents taken without authorization – is at the core of investigative journalism. From the Pentagon Papers to the Panama Papers to the Snowden disclosures to publication of Trump’s tax returns to the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, some of the most important journalism over the last several decades has occurred because it is legal and constitutional to publish secret documents even if the sources of those documents obtained them through illicit or even illegal means.

The Obama DOJ – despite launching notoriously aggressive attacks on press freedoms – recognized this critical principle when it came to WikiLeaks. It spent years exploring whether it could criminally charge Assange and WikiLeaks for publishing classified information. It ultimately decided it would not do so, and could not do so, consistent with the press freedom guarantee of the First Amendment. After all, the Obama DOJ concluded, such a prosecution would pose a severe threat to press freedom because there would be no way to prosecute Assange for publishing classified documents without also prosecuting the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian and others for doing exactly the same thing.

As the Washington Post put it in 2013 when it explained the Obama DOJ’s decision not to prosecute Assange:

Justice officials said they looked hard at Assange but realized that they have what they described as a “New York Times problem.” If the Justice Department indicted Assange, it would also have to prosecute the New York Times and other news organizations and writers who published classified material, including The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

Last year, the Trump DOJ under Jeff Sessions, and the CIA under Mike Pompeo, began aggressively vowing to do what the Obama DOJ refused to do – namely, prosecute Assange for publishing classified documents. Pompeo, as CIA Director, delivered one of the creepiest and most anti-press-freedom speeches heard in years, vowing that “we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us,” adding that WikiLeaks has “pretended that America’s First Amendment freedoms shield them from justice,” but: “they may have believed that, but they are wrong.”

Remarkably, the speech by Donald Trump’s hand-picked CIA chief and long-time right-wing Congressman sounded like (and still sounds like) the standard Democratic view when they urge the Trump administration to prosecute Assange. But at the time of Pompeo’s speech, Obama DOJ spokesman Matt Miller insisted to me that such promises to prosecute Assange were “hollow,” because the First Amendment would bar such prosecutions:

 

But the grand irony is that many Democrats will side with the Trump DOJ over the Obama DOJ. Their emotional, personal contempt for Assange – due to their belief that he helped defeat Hillary Clinton: the gravest crime – easily outweighs any concerns about the threats posed to press freedoms by the Trump administration’s attempts to criminalize the publication of documents.

This reflects the broader irony of the Trump era for Democrats. While they claim out of one side of their mouth to find the Trump administration’s authoritarianism and press freedom attacks so repellent, they use the other side of their mouth to parrot the authoritarian mentality of Jeff Sessions and Mike Pompeo that anyone who published documents harmful to Hillary or which have been deemed “classified” by the U.S. Government ought to go to prison.

During the Obama years, the notion that Assange could be prosecuted for publishing documents was regarded as so extreme and dangerous that even centrist media outlets that despised him sounded the alarm for how dangerous such a prosecution would be. The pro-national-security-state Washington Post editorial page in 2010, writing under the headline “Don’t Charge WikiLeaks,” warned:

Such prosecutions are a bad idea. The government has no business indicting someone who is not a spy and who is not legally bound to keep its secrets. Doing so would criminalize the exchange of information and put at risk responsible media organizations that vet and verify material and take seriously the protection of sources and methods when lives or national security are endangered.

In contrast to Democrats, Republicans have been quite consistent about their desire to see WikiLeaks prosecuted. As Newsweek noted in 2011: “Sarah Palin urged that Assange be ‘pursued with the same urgency we pursue Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders,’ and The Weekly Standard’s William Kristol wants the U.S. to ‘use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralize Julian Assange and his collaborators.’” Some Democratic hawks, such as Joe Lieberman and Dianne Feinstein, joined the likes of Palin and Kristol in urging WikiLeaks prosecution, but the broad consensus in Democratica and liberal circles was that doing so was far too dangerous for press freedoms.

In the wake of the 2010 disclosures of the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, Donald Trump himself told Fox and Friends’ Brian Kilmade that he believed Assange deserved “the death penalty” for having published those documents (a punishment Trump also advocated for Edward Snowden in 2013):

What has changed since that Obama-era consensus? Only one thing: in 2016, WikiLeaks published documents that reflected poorly on Democrats and the Clinton campaign rather than the Bush-era wars, rendering Democrats perfectly willing, indeed eager, to prioritize their personal contempt for Assange over any precepts of basic press freedoms, civil liberties, or Constitutional principles. It’s really just as simple – and as ignoble – as that.

It is this utterly craven and authoritarian mentality that is about to put Democrats of all sorts in bed with the most extremist and dangerous of the Trump faction as they unite to create precedents under which the publication of information – long held sacrosanct by anyone caring about press freedoms – can now be legally punished.

Recall that the DNC itself is currently suing WikiLeaks and Assange for publishing the DNC and Podesta emails they received: emails deemed newsworthy by literally every major media outlet, which relentlessly reported on them. Until this current Trump DOJ criminal prosecution of Assange, that DNC lawsuit had been the greatest Trump-era threat to press freedoms – because it seeks to make the publication of documents, which is the core of journalism, legally punishable. The Trump DOJ’s attempts to criminalize those actions is merely the next logical step in this descent into a full-scale attack on basic press rights.

THE ARGUMENTS JUSTIFYING the Trump administration’s prosecution of Assange are grounded in a combination of legal ignorance, factual falsehoods, and dangerous authoritarianism.

The most common misconception is that unlike the New York Times and the Washington Post, WikiLeaks can be legitimately prosecuted for publishing classified information because it’s not a “legitimate news outlet.” Democrats who make this argument don’t seem to care that this is exactly the view rejected as untenable by the Obama DOJ.

To begin with, the press freedom guarantee of the First Amendment isn’t confined to “legitimate news outlets” – whatever that might mean. The First Amendment isn’t available only to a certain class of people licensed as “journalists.” It protects not a privileged group of people called “professional journalists” but rather an activity: namely, using the press (which at the time of the First Amendment’s enactment meant the literal printing press) to inform the public about what the government was doing. Everyone is entitled to that constitutional protection equally: there is no cogent way to justify why the Guardian, ex-DOJ-officials-turned-bloggers, or Marcy Wheeler are free to publish classified information but Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are not.

Beyond that, WikiLeaks has long been recognized around the world as a critical journalistic outlet. They have won prestigious journalism awards including the Martha Gellhorn Prize for excellence in journalism as well as Australia’s top journalism award. Beyond that, it has partnered withthe planet’s leading newspapers, including the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais and others, to publish some of the most consequential stories of the last several decades One does not need to be a “legitimate journalism outlet” to enjoy the press freedom protections of the First Amendment, but even if that were the case, WikiLeaks has long possessed all indicia of a news outlet.

Then there’s the claim that WikiLeaks does more than publish documents: it helps its sources steal them. This was the claim made last night by former CIA agent John Sipher when trying to justify the Trump DOJ’s actions in response to concerns from a journalist about the threats to press freedom this would pose:

What Sipher said there is a complete fabrication. When the Obama DOJ explored the possibility of prosecuting Assange, that was the theory it tested: that perhaps it could prove that WikiLeaks did not merely passively receive the documents from Chelsea Manning but collaborated with her on how to steal them.

But the Obama DOJ concluded that this theory would not justify prosecution because – contrary to the lie told by Sipher – there was absolutely no evidence that Assange worked with Manning to steal the documents. As the Post put it: “officials said that although Assange published classified documents, he did not leak them, something they said significantly affects their legal analysis.”

The same is true of WikiLeaks’ publication of the DNC and Podesta emails. Nobody has ever presented evidence of any kind that WikiLeaks worked on the hacking of those emails. There is no evidence that WikiLeaks ever did anything other than passively receive pilfered documents from a source and then publish them – exactly as the New York Times did when it received the stolen Pentagon Papers, and exactly as the Guardian and the Washington Post did when it received the Snowden documents.

Moreover, journalists often do more than passively receive information, but instead frequently work with sources before publication of articles: encouraging, cajoling, and persuading them to provide more information. Accepting the theory that a journalist can be prosecuted for doing more than merely passively receiving information – something that nobody has even proved Assange did – would itself gravely threaten to criminalize core aspects of journalism.

Then there’s the claim that WikiLeaks somehow stopped being a real journalism outlet because it acted to help one of the presidential campaigns at the expense of of the other. This is just another version of the false argument that only “Real Journalists” – whatever that might mean, whoever gets to decide that – enjoy the right to use a free press to disseminate information. That claim is pure legal ignorance.

But let’s assume for the sake of argument that it’s true that WikiLeaks acted to help the Trump campaign and therefore should be disqualified from the protections of the First Amendment. To see how pernicious this argument is, look at how it was recently expressed by former Pentagon official Ryan Goodman and Obama WH Counsel Bob Bauer in justifying the prosecution of WikiLeaks:

It is clear from disclosures by an internal WikiLeaks critic and other materials that Julian Assange targeted Hillary Clinton and sought to work with the Trump campaign and the Russians to secure her defeat. This is not a “legitimate press function.” And the conflation of Wikileaks’ plan of campaign attack with standard journalistic activity undermines important distinctions critical to the protection of the free press.

Just ponder the implications of this incredibly restrictive definition of journalism. It would mean that any outlets that favor one candidate over another, or one political party over another, are not engaged in “legitimate press functions” and therefore have no entitlement to First Amendment protections.

Does anyone on the planet doubt that outlets such as MSNBC and Vox favor the Democratic Party over the Republican Party, and the people they employ as journalists spent the last year doing everything they can to help the Democrats win and the Republicans lose? Does anyone doubt that MSNBC and Vox journalists spent 2016 doing everything in their power to help Hillary Clinton win and Donald Trump lose? No person with even the most minimal amount of intellectual honesty could deny that they did so.

Does this mean that Rachel Maddow and Ezra Klein – by virtue of favoring one political party over the other – are not real journalists, that they are not engaged in “legitimate press functions,” and thus do not enjoy the protections of the First Amendment, meaning they can be prosecuted by the Trump DOJ without the ability to claim the rights of a free press? To state that proposition is to illustrate the tyrannical impulses underlying it. As Marcy Wheeler, otherwise sympathetic to the arguments made by the Goodman/Bauer article, put it:

 

As Dan Froomkin wrote in response to that article, he finds some of Assange’s actions “despicable” and “abhorred the heedless, unedited publication of the non-newsworthy and personally hurtful” emails that were released (I have expressed similar highly critical views about WikiLeaks’ publication decisions). But Froomkin nonetheless recognizes that “Assange remains a journalist” and that “In the Trump era, when the president of the United States is using his office to attack journalists and journalism itself, the First Amendment is a key bulwark of liberty.” That’s how people who actually care about press freedom – rather than pretend to care about it when doing so suits their political interests of the moment – will reason.

But that’s exactly the point. Neither the most authoritarian factions of the Trump administration behind this prosecution, nor their bizarre and equally tyrannical allies in the Democratic Party, care the slightest about press freedoms. They only care about one thing: putting Julian Assange behind bars, because (in the case of Trump officials) he revealed U.S. war crimes and because (in the case of Democrats) he revealed corruption at the highest levels of the DNC that forced the resignation of the top 5 officials of the Democratic Party and harmed the Democrats’ political reputation.

They’re willing to create a precedent that will criminalize the core function of investigative journalism because – even as they spent two years shrilly denouncing that most trivial “attacks on press freedom” – they don’t actually care about that value at all. They want to protect only the journalism that advances their political interests, while putting people behind bars who publish information that undermines their political interests. It is this authoritarian, noxious mentality that has united the worst elements of the Trump administration and the Democratic Party that pretends to find tyrannical actions objectionable but is often the leaders in defending them.

 

We depend on the support of readers like you to help keep our nonprofit newsroom strong and independent. Join Us 

Published:11/17/2018 5:09:46 PM
[Markets] Is The Gaza Ceasefire The End For Netanyahu?

Authored by Tom Luongo,

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” 
H. L. Mencken

The resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman over the terms of the ceasefire with Palestinians in Gaza has thrown Israeli politics into real turmoil.  

Depending on whose analysis of this situation you read you may be tempted to see this as a good thing or a bad thing. 

Bernard at Moon of Alabama sees a weakened Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu being forced to sue of peace after the upgraded response from Gaza.  From MoA:

The short conflict demonstrated that:

  • Israel is deterred. It does not want to launch another war on Gaza.

  • The siege of Gaza, by Israel, Egypt and by the Palestinian authority under Mahmoud Abbas, failed. The reputational cost of the siege became too high after Israel killed some 160 Palestinians during weekly protests along the demarcation fence. It had to allow diesel fuel and money from Qatar to reach Gaza.

  • The siege failed to prevent that Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other groups acquired a larger number of missiles and other new capabilities.

  • The Palestinians in Gaza are united. The resistance against the occupation is alive and well.

This leaves Netanyahu scrambling to fend off snap elections and the rise of the even more hard-line Naftali Bennett who has threatened Bibi’s coalition outright unless he is made Defense Minister, replacing Lieberman.

MoA sees Netanyahu in a very precarious position, which he is, and will be forced to placate Bennett or risk a snap election that could see his government fall.

And it is on this point that Mintpressnews’s Whitney Webb takes another view, namely, that this is not the political victory for Gaza the Palestinians think it is.  Since Bennett will step up the brutality to include all Gazans, including children.

With Lieberman’s party already withdrawing from Israel’s far-right coalition, Netanyahu will likely capitulate to Bennett’s demands in order to stabilize the current government and avoid dissolving the Knesset and subsequent snap elections. Thus, the current instability facing the Likud-led coalition now seems fated to result in a rightward surge, whether it’s through snap elections or through Netanyahu-led efforts to placate other right-wing parties and prevent them from defecting.

Other powerful politicians within Jewish Home, such as Uri Ariel, have also pushed for Bennett to be appointed. Ariel told Israeli media outlet Arutz Sheva:

Prime Minister Netanyahu should appoint Minister Bennett as defense minister and this government can continue to function. I think there is an advantage in stability, of course assuming that Bennett will bring security policy to a much better place.

Naturally, there is a desire of more than one person to be defense minister, but the most appropriate one is Minister Bennett, who was promised the portfolio by the prime minister in the past, and the promise was not honored.”

Over the past year, Bennett has repeatedly accused Lieberman of showing “restraint and weakness” as defense minister, especially in relation to his approach to Gaza’s Great Return March. Accusing Lieberman of “weakness” is particularly shocking given that the Israeli military under Lieberman repeatedly used lethal force to quell protests in Gaza, killing over 200 unarmed Palestinians – including children, medics and journalists – and wounding over 22,000.

As bad as Bibi and Lieberman are/were Bennett makes them look like Quakers.  

So, the situation in Israel is similar to that in Russia for U.S. anti-Russian types.  If you think Vladimir Putin is a dictator and a dangerous right-wing fanatic (which he isn’t) then you don’t understand what stands behind him.

In other words, be careful what you wish for — regime change — because you just might get it … good and hard, to quote Mencken. 

In effect, weakening figures like them empowers the hyper-nationalists who are 1) eager to prove the other guy was a wimp and 2) untested in actual confrontation.  So, they are unpredictable and likely to go off half-cocked.

For all of his faults, Netanyahu is at least battle-tested and can be reasoned with to some extent.

I think, however, Webb overstates the danger for the Palestinians here.  Israel is in the precarious position.  Too much of the world has turned against them and their handling of this situation.  

And that reputational loss is putting Netanyahu in the bind he’s currently in.  He knows what will happen if Bennett is in charge of Israel’s defense forces.  It will be the best recruitment drive for anti-Israeli sentiment the world over, but most especially here in the U.S.

And that is something he can’t have.

Broadly speaking, the height of Israel’s influence over U.S. politics has already occurred with the peak of the Baby Boomers’ political power.  As the generational shift happens more Gen-X’ers and Millennials who have had their fill of subordinating U.S. foreign policy to the whims of Israel will gain influence over U.S. policy.

This isn’t a judgment, it’s a sober observation.

So if Bennett takes over the IDF and takes things to eleven versus the Palestinians in Gaza, then it will cost Donald Trump politically at home and the best ally Israel has had in two decades in the White House will be lost.  

They, along with the Saudis, are now having to truly deal with international criticism of their behavior and can no longer rely on a compliant (and paid for) western media to spin the narrative in their favor.  

And Trump & Kushner’s Project Netanyahu, as Alistair Crooke recently described it, has been nothing but a disaster for all involved, especially the people it was supposed to help — The Saudis and the Israelis.  

And all of Trump’s enemies, even the ones who are also pro-Israel, will turn up the heat on him over our relationship with these two countries if 

They both overplayed their hands thinking that Trump would back whatever play they made.  

It has played right into the hands of Iran, Russia and Hezbollah by continuing to think the insurgency against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could be successful.  What Obama thought would be a quagmire for the Russians turned out to be one for the U.S./Israel/Saudi coalition.

This is why Trump and his advisors have pushed all-in on regime change in Iran.  Netanyahu is right that Iran can and will continue to supply the arms needed to grind out a win versus Israel in the long run.  

If Russia’s S-300s and air defense systems are as good as advertised then Bennett will end the myth of Israeli air superiority after Israel loses a few F-16i’s when he inevitably needs to show strength.

Unfortunately for Israel, that myth is one of the few things keeping things relatively quiet.

Iran will find it’s way through the sanctions.  Netanyahu didn’t have many other options and the neocons in D.C. really believe that this time it’ll be different.  But it won’t be.

In fact, if you don’t think Iran and Russia haven’t game-planned this very scenario then you are as clueless as those that think getting rid of Putin would make Russia more pliable.

Oh right, those are the same people.

The silver lining to all of this is now that Bibi is on thinner ice in the Knesset the best path forward for Israel and Trump is to come to the bargaining table as honest brokers to end the conflict in Syria, something to this point hasn’t occurred.

That will get Iran to stand down, because otherwise Israel’s position in the region will continue to erode.  

Putin was forced by his hard-liners to finally protect both Russian and Syrian interests directly from Israeli harassment.  And that set us on the path we’re on today.  The best deal Trump and Netanyahu are going to get from Putin and Assad is on the table today, not next year or 2020.  

Provided, of course, that either one or the both of them survive.

Published:11/16/2018 10:35:03 PM
[Markets] American Politics' Unmistakable Odor Of Perfidy

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

I suspect there’s a hidden agenda behind the announcement in The Wall Street Journal op-ed by former Hillary Clinton aide Mark Penn that the Ole Gray Mare is actually eyeing another run for the White House in 2020. No, it’s not just that she would like to be president, as she averred on video last week in a weak moment, or that she has decided late in life to go full Bolshevik policy-wise. It is to establish her in the public mind as a serious candidate so that when she is indicted a hue-and-cry will arise that the move is a purely political act of revenge by the wicked Trump.

Of course, she’s not a serious candidate because too many people recognize her naked corruption, and she’s carrying so much noisome baggage that her entourage looks like one of those garbage truck convoys hauling New York’s trash to flyover country. Prosecutors don’t even have to search very hard for evidence of her misdeeds. It’s smeared all over the swamp-scape in the established facts about the Steele Dossier and its engineered journey through the highest levels of the FBI and Department of Justice, and the wild machinations that ensued when the cast of characters in those places scrambled to cover their asses following the debacle of Hillary’s election loss.

Little is known about what is going on inside the Mueller commission. But if, as it appears, the Special Counsel is still stalking Russian Facebook trolls and ignoring the slime-trail of  huggermugger left behind by Hillary & Company, then we are seeing one of the most fantastic failures of law enforcement in history. Still, there’s a possibility — low-percentage in my view — that Mr. Mueller might disclose a raft of charges against the Clinton gang and her errand boys.

The trouble is that such charges may lead to the some of the highest former officials in the land, including former CIA director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and perhaps even the sacred former President Obama. Even Mr. Mueller himself is suspect in the 2009 Uranium One deal that conveyed over $150-million dollars from Russian banks into the Clinton Foundation coffers.

If it turns out to be the case that Mr. Mueller’s report completely overlooks all that, then there is going to be a mighty collision between his office and the new management of the Justice Department, Mr. Whitaker, the Acting Attorney General, and whomever is finally confirmed as the new regular AG. Personally, I don’t see how Mr. Mueller can evade the questions over these matters. Too many wheels have been set in motion, and some of these wheels are coming loose — such as the mischief promulgated by the international man-of-mystery Joseph Misfud, who was likely working for US intel via the British MI6 to game George Papadopoulos into a Russian collusion set-up that he demurred from. The set-up failed spectacularly, and now that the facts are becoming known about it, Mr. Mifsud has come out of hiding, and his lawyers are preparing to serve him up to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Won’t that be fun?

Many of the other characters involved in these perfidious schemes — Comey, Strzok, Page, Ohr, McCabe, et al — have been keeping remarkably low profiles lately (except for the reckless and feckless John Brennan, who apparently can’t keep his pie-hole shut on MSNBC). Hillary has been making the rounds, too, on some kind of phony-baloney “listening” tour. But she looks sore-beset and worried on stage, slumped in her easy chair, and I’m persuaded she’s simply going through motions to pretend that she’s still a credible political figure so that when the hammer comes down on her she can issue the war whoops that will start Civil War 2 in earnest.

Meanwhile, a giant archive of documents in these matters is awaiting declassification.

The buzz is that Mr. Trump delayed this before the midterm elections due to threats from our “intel community” that the documents would compromise our relations with foreign intel outfits in friendly lands - namely the aforementioned MI6 of the UK.  The collusion was apparently done to avoid legal questions about using US intel to spy on members of the Trump election campaign.

But Theresa May’s government is imploding now, and that nation will be preoccupied with other problems going forward, so it is more likely that the garbage barge of unredacted emails, texts, and agency transcripts will sail right into public domain in the days ahead, whether Mr. Mueller likes it or not.

Published:11/16/2018 1:26:35 PM
[Society] Podcast: The Consequences of the Sexual Revolution Continue

On this week’s “Problematic Women” edition of The Daily Signal podcast, we cover the “sex recession,” the fanfare surrounding former first lady Michelle Obama’s new... Read More

The post Podcast: The Consequences of the Sexual Revolution Continue appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:11/16/2018 9:01:52 AM
[Economy] Gov. Cuomo’s Shameless War on the NRA

Recently released documents from a lawsuit involving the Obama administration’s “Operation Choke Point” are casting more light on federal financial regulators’ unlawful shakedown of disfavored... Read More

The post Gov. Cuomo’s Shameless War on the NRA appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:11/15/2018 1:44:59 PM
[Markets] Unwrapping Armageddon: The Erosion of Nuclear Arms Control

Authored by Conn Hallinan via Dispatches From The Edge blog,

The decision by the Trump administration to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement (INF) appears to be part of a broader strategy aimed at unwinding over 50 years of agreements to control and limit nuclear weapons, returning to an era characterized by the unbridled development weapons of mass destruction.

Terminating the INF treaty - which bans land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of between 300 and 3400 miles - is not, in and of itself, a fatal blow to the network of treaties and agreements dating back to the 1963 treaty that ended atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. But coupled with other actions - George W. Bush’s decision to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) in 2002 and the Obama administration’s program to upgrade the nuclear weapons infrastructure - the tapestry of agreements that has, at least in part, limited these terrifying creations, is looking increasingly frayed.

“Leaving the INF,” says Sergey Rogov of the Institute of U.S. and Canadian Studies, “could bring the whole structure of arms control crashing down.”

Lynn Rusten, the former senior director for arms control in the National Security Agency Council warns, “This is opening the door to an all-out arms race.”

Washington’s rationale for exiting the INF Treaty is that the Russians deployed the 9M729 cruise missile that the US claims violates the agreement, although Moscow denies it and the evidence has not been made public. Russia countercharges that the US ABM system—Aegis Ashore—deployed in Romania and planned for Poland could be used to launch similar medium range missiles.

If this were a disagreement over weapon capability, inspections would settle the matter. But the White House—in particular National Security Advisor John Bolton—is less concerned with inspections than extracting the US from agreements that in any way restrain the use of American power, be it military or economic. Thus, Trump dumped the Iran nuclear agreement, not because Iran is building nuclear weapons or violating the agreement, but because the administration wants to use economic sanctions to pursue regime change in Teheran.

In some ways, the INF agreement is low hanging fruit. The 1987 treaty banned only land-based medium range missiles, not those launched by sea or air —where the Americans hold a strong edge—and it only covered the U.S. and Russia. Other nuclear-armed countries, particularly China, India, North Korea, Israel and Pakistan have deployed a number of medium range nuclear-armed missiles. One of the arguments Bolton makes for exiting the INF is that it would allow the US to counter China’s medium range missiles.

But if the concern was controlling intermediate range missiles, the obvious path would be to expand the treaty to other nations and include air and sea launched weapons. Not that that would be easy. China has lots of intermediate range missiles, because most its potential antagonists, like Japan or US bases in Asia, are within the range of such missiles. The same goes for Pakistan, India, and Israel.

Intermediate range weapons—sometimes called “theater” missiles—do not threaten the US mainland the way that similar US missiles threaten China and Russia. Beijing and Moscow can be destroyed by long-range intercontinental missiles, but also by theater missiles launched from ships or aircraft. One of the reasons that Europeans are so opposed to withdrawing from the INF is that, in the advent of nuclear war, medium-range missiles on their soil will make them a target.

But supposed violations of the treaty is not why Bolton and the people around him oppose the agreement. Bolton called for withdrawing from the INF Treaty three years before the Obama administration charged the Russians with cheating. Indeed, Bolton has opposed every effort to constrain nuclear weapons and has already announced that the Trump administration will not extend the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) when it expires in 2021.

START caps the number of US and Russian deployed nuclear weapons at 1550, no small number.

The Bush administration’s withdrawal from the 1972 ABM treaty in 2002 was the first major blow to the treaty framework. Anti-ballistic missiles are inherently destabilizing, because the easiest way to defeat such systems is to overwhelm them by expanding the number of launchers and warheads. Bolton—a longtime foe of the ABM agreement—recently bragged that dumping the treaty had no effect on arms control.

But the treaty’s demise has shelved START talks, and it was the ABM’s deployment in Eastern Europe—along with NATO’s expansion up to the Russian borders—that led to Moscow deploying the cruise missile now in dispute.

While Bolton and Trump are more aggressive about terminating agreements, it was the Obama administration’s decision to spend $1.6 trillion to upgrade and modernize US nuclear weapons that now endangers one of the central pillars of the nuclear treaty framework, the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

That agreement ended the testing of nuclear weapons, slowing the development of new weapons, particularly miniaturization and warheads with minimal yields. The former would allow more warheads on each missile, the latter could increase the possibility of using nuclear weapons without setting off a full-scale nuclear exchange.

Nukes are tricky to design, so you don’t want to deploy one without testing it. The Americans have bypassed some of the obstacles created by the CTBT by using computers like the National Ignition Facility. The B-61 Mod 11 warhead, soon-to-be-deployed in Europe, was originally a city killer, but labs at Livermore, CA and Los Alamos and Sandia, NM turned it into a bunker buster, capable of taking out command and control centers buried deep in the ground.

Nevertheless, the military and the nuclear establishment—ranging from companies such as Lockheed Martin and Honeywell International to university research centers—have long felt hindered by the CTBT. Add the Trump administration’s hostility to anything that constrains US power and the CTBT may be next on the list.

Restarting nuclear testing will end any controls on weapons of mass destruction. And since Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) requires nuclear-armed powers to eventually disarm their weapons of mass destruction, that agreement may go as well. In a very short time countries like South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia will join the nuclear club, with South Africa and Brazil in the wings. The latter two countries researched producing nuclear weapons in the 1980s, and South Africa actually tested one.

The demise of the INF agreement will edge the world closer to nuclear war. Since medium range missiles shorten the warning time for a nuclear attack from 30 minutes to 10 minutes or less, countries will keep their weapons on a hair trigger. “Use them or lose them” is the philosophy that impels the tactics of nuclear war.

In the past year, Russia and NATO held very large military exercises on one another’s borders. Russian, US and Chinese fighter planes routinely play games of chicken. What happens when one of those “games” goes wrong?

The US and the Soviet Union came within minutes of an accidental war on at least two occasions, and, with so many actors and so many weapons, it will be only a matter of time before some country interprets a radar image incorrectly and goes to DEFCON 1—imminent nuclear war.

The INF Treaty came about because of strong opposition and huge demonstrations in Europe and the United States. That kind of pressure, coupled with a pledge by countries not to deploy such weapons, will be required again, lest the entire tapestry of agreements that kept the horror of nuclear war at bay vanish.

Published:11/14/2018 1:10:21 AM
[Markets] Maryland Sues To Remove Whitaker As Acting Attorney General

Will the real attorney general please stand up?

As was widely expected following the publication of a New York Times story outlining the state's case, Maryland has challenged President Trump's appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker in federal court, arguing that Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein should instead be elevated to replace Sessions.

In effect, the state is using an unusual legal maneuver to force federal judge Ellen L. Hollander of the Federal District Court for the District of Maryland - a 2010 Obama appointee - to decide who is the legitimate attorney general. Two months ago, the state's attorney general sued Jeff Sessions in his official capacity as AG, seeking a declaration from the court that ObamaCare is, in fact, constitutional, even without the tax penalty component, which was repealed by Congress. The lawsuit was an attempt to stop a federal judge in Texas from throwing out the law in its entirety.

Whitaker

Now, the state is asking Hollander to clarify who is the real attorney general so this person can stand in for Sessions as the object of Maryland's ObamaCare lawsuit. Because the government's enforcement of ObamaCare is set to change on Jan. 1 to reflect the removal of the tax penalty, the state is demanding that Hollander make this crucial ruling immediately to stop Whitaker from making illegitimate policy decisions as head of the DOJ.

This will force Hollander to rule on whether Trump's invocation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, a 1998 law which stipulates that a president may temporarily fill a vacant position that normally requires Senate confirmation with any senior official who has been in the department for at least 90 days. By appointing Whitaker, Trump overruled the natural line of succession at the DOJ, which would have installed Rosenstein as the acting AG until another AG candidate could win approval from the Senate.

Democrats have slammed Trump's decision to invoke the Vacancies Reform Act, which he previously used to successfully replace outgoing CFPB Director (and failed gubernatorial candidate) Richard Cordray with OMB head Mick Mulvaney. Chuck Schumer, the leader of Senate Democrats, has demanded that Trump explain why he installed Whitaker instead of handing the reins to Rosenstein.

Meanwhile, Dianne Feinstein is calling for the Senate Judiciary Committee to demand Sessions and Whitaker testify about the circumstances surrounding Sessions' ouster and Whitaker's ascension, according to the Hill.

The hearing is needed, Feinstein said, to "ensure that he will take no action to restrict or otherwise interfere with the Special Counsel’s work."

Whitaker has so far ignored Democrats' demands that he recuse himself from the Mueller probe, though he has said he wouldn't act to terminate it. GOP Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he would block any bills aimed at preserving the Mueller probe.

So, as the next round of Mueller indictments reportedly looms, all eyes will be on Maryland to see if a federal judge could upend the DOJ depth chart, unleashing line-of-succession chaos that could persist until Trump secures a replacement.

Published:11/13/2018 4:38:51 PM
[Markets] Pat Buchanan Blasts Macron: "What Country Do You Put First?"

Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism; nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism.”

As for Trump’s policy of “America first,” Macron trashed such atavistic thinking in this new age:

“By saying we put ourselves first and the others don’t matter, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values.”

Though he is being hailed as Europe’s new anti-Trump leader who will stand up for transnationalism and globalism, Macron reveals his ignorance of America.

Trump’s ideas are not ideological but rooted in our country’s history.

America was born between the end of the French and Indian War, the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the ratification of the Constitution in 1788. Both the general who led us in the Revolution and the author of that declaration became president. Both put America first. And both counseled their countrymen to avoid “entangling” or “permanent” alliances with any other nation, as we did for 160 years.

Were George Washington and Thomas Jefferson lacking in patriotism?

When Woodrow Wilson, after being re-elected in 1916 on the slogan “He Kept Us Out of War,” took us into World War I, he did so as an “associate,” not as an Allied power. U.S. troops fought under U.S. command.

After that war, the U.S. Senate rejected an alliance with France. Under Franklin Roosevelt, Congress formally voted for neutrality in any future European war.

The U.S. emerged from World War II as the least bloodied and least damaged nation because we remained out of the war for more than two years after it had begun.

We did not invade France until four years after France was occupied, the British had been thrown off the Continent, and Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union had been fighting and dying for three years.

The leaders who kept us out of the two world wars as long as they did — did they not serve our nation well, when America’s total losses were just over 500,000 dead, compared with the millions other nations lost?

At the Armistice Day ceremony, Macron declared, “By saying we put ourselves first and the others don’t matter, we erase what a nation holds dearest … its moral values.”

But Trump did not say that other countries don’t matter. He only said we should put our own country first.

What country does Emmanuel Macron put first?

Or does the president of France see himself as a citizen of the world with responsibility for all of Europe and all of mankind?

Charles de Gaulle was perhaps the greatest French patriot in the 20th century. Yet he spoke of a Europe of nation-states, built a national nuclear arsenal, ordered NATO out of France in 1966, and, in Montreal in 1967, declared, “Long live a free Quebec” — inciting French Canadians to rise up against “les Anglo-Saxons” and create their own nation.

Was de Gaulle lacking in patriotism?

By declaring American nationalists anti-patriotic, Macron has asserted a claim to the soon-to-be-vacant chair of Angela Merkel.

But is Macron really addressing the realities of the new Europe and world in which we now live, or is he simply assuming a heroic liberal posture to win the applause of Western corporate and media elites?

The realities:

In Britain, Scots are seeking secession, and the English have voted to get out of the European Union. Many Basques and Catalans wish to secede from Spain. Czechs and Slovaks have split the blanket and parted ways.

Anti-EU sentiment is rampant in populist-dominated Italy.

A nationalism their peoples regard as deeply patriotic has triumphed in Poland and Hungary and is making gains even in Germany.

The leaders of the world’s three greatest military powers — Trump in the U.S., Vladimir Putin in Russia and Xi Jinping in China — are all nationalists.

Turkish nationalist Recep Tayyip Erdogan rules in Ankara, Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi in India. Jair Bolsonaro, a Trumpian nationalist, is the incoming president of Brazil. Is not Benjamin Netanyahu an Israeli nationalist?

In France, a poll of voters last week showed that Marine Le Pen’s renamed party, Rassemblement National, has moved ahead of Macron’s party for the May 2019 European Parliament elections.

If there is a valid criticism of Trump’s foreign policy, it is not that he has failed to recognize the new realities of the 21st century but that he has not moved expeditiously to dissolve old alliances that put America at risk of war in faraway lands where no vital U.S. interests exist.

Why are we still committed to fight for a South Korea far richer and more populous than a nuclear-armed North? Why are U.S. planes and ships still bumping into Russian planes and ships in the Baltic and Black seas?

Why are we still involved in the half-dozen wars into which Bush II and Barack Obama got us in the Middle East?

Why do we not have the “America first” foreign policy we voted for?

Published:11/13/2018 3:39:07 PM
[Media] WOMP WOMP: Media admits there was no real ‘Blue Wave’ and ‘Obama Bro’ Ben Rhodes just can’t DEAL

A week has passed since the midterm elections and we think it’s safe to say, so much for that whole ‘Blue Wave’. Hey, Lefties won some races but they’ve been over-promising and threatening the Right with this giant TSUNAMI of progressive garbage and they just didn’t produce. Even the media has admitted there was no real […]

The post WOMP WOMP: Media admits there was no real ‘Blue Wave’ and ‘Obama Bro’ Ben Rhodes just can’t DEAL appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/13/2018 10:42:32 AM
[ed3e55ac-cc00-5c9a-af69-b0b3ff74a702] Michelle Obama claims ‘everybody is qualified’ to run for president in 2020 Former First Lady Michelle Obama appeared to take a subtle jab at President Trump when asked who should represent the Democrats in the 2020 presidential election during a sit-down with “Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts on Tuesday. Published:11/13/2018 9:09:31 AM
[d57f547d-7df7-5c7b-a510-708d81304438] Laura Ingraham: Michelle Obama's book launch is just another example of someone cashing in on trashing Trump Michelle Obama is rolling out her new memoir titled "Becoming" with exactly the sort of fanfare we've come to expect from the Obama's 13-city book tour and touchy-feeling arena interviews by celebrity moderators. Published:11/13/2018 6:44:03 AM
[World] Michelle Obama, still hating, after all these years

Michelle Obama has a new book out where she vows she will "never forgive" President Donald Trump for spreading the birther talk about former President Barack Obama because — her words — it was "dangerous" and "deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks."

Never forgive? That seems a ... Published:11/13/2018 4:10:05 AM

[Markets] Midterm Elections: A Disaster Denied, And What Is Coming

Authored by Jeremiah Johnson (nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces ) via SHTFplan.com,

Before the 2016 Presidential Election, and both before and after the inauguration, I wrote specifically about how important the midterm election would be, and the results if the President should lose even one House of Congress.  That happened: the Republicans just lost the House of Representatives. Now that the Democrats control it, not one piece of legislation will pass that is on the President’s agenda. In the supreme act of denial, the Republican party claims the “Blue Wave” was not successful; the President even declared a “victory” with the midterms.

Nothing could be further from the truth, on either count.

The Democrats intend to mount a non-stopping offensive against the President. First, they are going to demand that Mueller go on the attack again. They are already demanding the President’s tax returns. On Thursday, 11-8-18, thousands of people marched in Times Square in New York City in protest of Jeff Sessions’ departure from the White House…although Sessions was the one who tendered a letter of resignation. The mob of protesters carried mass-produced “No one is above the law” placards and signs.

Not one of those Marxists carried those signs when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton resigned after Benghazi, where a U.S. Consular Outpost of the United States was destroyed, and the U.S. Ambassador and four of his staff murdered.

“Happy Veterans’ Day” is coming up, with the cliché eternal: “Thank you for your service.”

Nobody really cares about it, except the vets. Those who have to work receive time and a half for their pay, and Hallmark makes about another $50 million or so on the cards and gifts…about $10 million of that for the Government to “re-ingest” with the taxes….another day on the endless cycle:

The cycle of spending of disposable income, an indispensable part of the economy and all of the governmental employees on paid federal holiday, solemnly dispensed of at the expense of (to paraphrase Metallica) the government’s “disposable heroes.”

Where were the protests in the streets after Benghazi? Everybody was hidden, because at the time we were under Obama. When Donald Trump was elected President, a “hiatus” was granted from the nonstop march toward socialism/communism that reached a zenith as never before. Now that hiatus is shrinking, as the Communists and Marxists begin new offensives under their playbook “Rules for Radicals,” offensives targeting every area of the society.

Their plan should be obvious: to keep the President “backpedaling” and the economy faltering, in order to set the stage for the 2020 election. All of this I have written about before, and it came to pass with the Midterm elections. If they keep the President on the defense and keep pushing the “social issues,” it will render his administration ineffective…not delivering the change back toward the right that the voters wanted to see in 2016.

The Wall Street Journal published a piece on November 9 entitled Democrats plan to pursue most aggressive gun-control legislation in decades.” They have been receiving plenty of help on this one, with the Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, and the recent murders by a former Marine last week. Here they come again! All of the legislators…with armed protectors paid for by you, mind you…clamoring for the guns. Here’s a piece of it for you:

Democrats say they will pass the most aggressive gun-control legislation in decades when they become the House majority in January, plans they renewed this week in the aftermath of a mass killing in a California bar. Their efforts will be spurred by an incoming class of pro-gun-control lawmakers who scored big in Tuesday’s midterm elections, although any measure would likely meet stiff resistance in the GOP-controlled Senate. Democrats ousted at least 15 House Republicans with “A” National Rifle Association ratings, while the candidates elected to replace them all scored an “F” NRA rating. “This new majority is not going to be afraid of our shadow,” said Mike Thompson, a California Democrat who is chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. “We know that we’ve been elected to do a job, and we’re going to do it.”

Now of course the argument to this rationale will be that the Senate is needed before a law passes. Yes, we all watched “Schoolhouse Rock” and learned about the three-party system of checks and balances. The problem?  Nothing was accomplished when the Republicans held both houses of Congress, and the Reds and Blues counter one another, and more:

The Democrats’ strategy is not to pass any laws: it is to stir up public controversy, win support of the “Zero” generation, and either force actions through the “tyranny of the majority,” or make it so horrible an arena that it detracts from or prevents any positive efforts and actions from the administration…setting the stage for the 2020 election.

Ocasio-Cortez just entered the House of Representatives at the “sage/sagacious” age of 29, and she is a self-described “democratic socialist” who favors single-payer healthcare, gun control, abolishing border controls, and declared that she would support the impeachment of the President. She was also part of Bernie Sanders’ campaign movement in 2016.

Lenin espoused some “gems” that should be considered. Here is one that falls in line with the “newly discovered wonderful possibility of socialism” the Zero-generation and twenty-somethings have fallen in love with hook, line, and sinker:

“The goal of socialism is communism.”

New York just placed a “democratic socialist” in Washington... a declared socialist, among all of the hidden Marxists camouflaged under the “progressive” or “democratic” monikers.

Gun control, coming at us once again, and once more, a quote from Lenin for you:

“Disarmament is the ideal of socialism. There will be no wars in socialist society; consequently, disarmament will be achieved. But whoever expects that socialism will be achieved without a social revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat is not a socialist. Dictatorship is state power based directly on violence. And in the twentieth century – as in the age of civilization generally – violence means neither a fist nor a club, but troops. To put “disarmament” in the program is tantamount to making the general declaration: “We are opposed to the use of arms.” There is as little Marxism in this as there would be if we were to say: “We are opposed to violence!” – Lenin, “The Disarmament Slogan,” from October of 1916

The next two years should be interesting, to say the least. Keep in mind: the President is not throwing in the towel, however, he has one more year to turn the tide...before he has to campaign. There is still another way, though: I mentioned it in the last article that I wrote. Bush Jr. used this technique successfully when he was trailing Kerry in the polls. Margaret Thatcher used this technique when she was about to be shown the door, and turned it around, remaining in office.

The “technique” is a war, whether a “quickie” (such as the Falklands War…Malvinas, if you prefer), or a protracted one (Iraq “II” where victory was declared within months of started, and it was achieved…with the decades and a half of Military Industrial Complex contracts…and the transition of the United States into a Surveillance and Police State).

The technique is a war, and if you keep abreast of what is going on, you will see that Russia and China are gearing up for a war, the nations are “decoupling” themselves incrementally from the dying fiat-backed Petrodollar, and North Korea is once again raising itself as a nuclear threat (on its own, or encouraged by one or more nations). A war could either suspend elections, or propel the incumbent into a victory based on the populace’s perception of what they need. Remember this last quote from Lenin, and let it sink in good:

“A standing army and police are the chief instruments of state power.” – Lenin, State and Revolution, 1917

The ultimate truth: the elections are akin to the Stock Market, the Dow-Jones Industrial Average. It doesn’t matter how many shares are bought or sold, as long as there are fluctuations and flux. The winners are the brokers, who pocket their commissions on every trade…a sell or a buy. The same exists here. The blue donkeys versus the red elephants. The “tribalism” of men, and their needs of a social order…a cohesive social grouping that reflects what they believe in…is exploited to its maximum advantage. All the while, the paradigm shifts almost imperceptibly, until before you know it….twenty years have elapsed, and you are not looking at the same country anymore.

The “art” is to make the people think they will be getting what they want…dupe them into believing it is something good, when it’s not. It took the blood of heroes to form and defend this nation.  The downfall is precipitated by traitors from within…bleeding the nation white by circumventing existing laws and replacing them with the greatest injustice and threat to personal liberty of all. What is that greatest threat? A foreign enemy? A spontaneous collapse of everything?

No. The greatest threat is the acceptance of the people of the illusion of “social justice,” that really translates into something for nothing by taking from those who have earned, and giving it to those who live within the entitlement cesspool of their own sloth. Such a mentality pervades our society today. In order to save the United States, we have to return to our fundamental values and become an ass-kicking, straight-shooting people who fear God and care for their families, neighbors, and nation once more. If we do this, we may emerge from the coming night as a nation once more. Ready your NVGs, and steel your hearts for the challenge before it arrives…now…at the twilight’s last gleaming.

May Veterans’ Day bring remembrance to your mind, may your heart find peace, and may any who serve in your family be safe and sound.

Published:11/12/2018 11:05:42 PM
[Politics] 43% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

For the sixth week in a row, 43% of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, this time according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending November 8.

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 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from November 4-8, 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:11/12/2018 1:33:40 PM
[Markets] Tempted By Whataburger, Troops Deployed To Southern Border Scrape By On MREs, No Electricity

A new report by the New York Times suggests that the 5,600 US troops "rushed to the brown, dry scrub along the southwest border" to deal with the approaching Central American migrant caravans are "going through the motions of an elaborate mission that appeared to be set into action by a commander in chief determined to get his supporters to the polls.

The Times notes that the soldiers are subsisting on basic provisions in tents without electricity.

There is no mess hall, just the brown, prepackaged M.R.E.’s. Military police officers patrol the perimeter at night, armed with handguns. The tents sleep 20 soldiers and have no electricity or air-conditioning. Phone charging is relegated to a few generators that power the spotlights around the living area. -NYT

The worst part, according to the Times? US troops at Base Camp Donna are being tempted by a local Whataburger just 8 miles away while being forced to settle for military rations known as M.R.E.s (or "Meal, Ready-to-Eat"). 

from the cot outside his platoon’s tent at the Army’s latest forward operating base, Sergeant Micek could almost see the bright orange and white roof of Whataburger, a fast-food utopia eight miles away but off limits under current Army rules. The desert tan flatbed trucks at the base are for hauling concertina wire, not food runs. Such is life on the latest front where American soldiers are deployed. -NYT

While the Times is eager to compare living conditions at Camp Donna to those in Afghanistan, we somehow missed their coverage panning the same MREs and living conditions during Obama's protracted opium-guarding mission - ostensibly not a direct threat to the US. In fact, The Times suggested in 2010 that US MREs in Afghanistan were "fun" and sought after. Then again, there wasn't a Whataburger 8 miles away.

Morale at the border, meanwhile, is apparently low despite The Times admitting that "The soldiers, by and large, shy away from talking about the political winds that sent them to the border." And since no soldiers actually indicated their opposition to the mission, one can only assume The Times is presenting its opinion as fact.

Instead of football with their families on this Veterans Day weekend, soldiers with the 19th Engineer Battalion, fresh from Fort Knox, Ky., were painstakingly webbing concertina wire on the banks of the Rio Grande, just beneath the McAllen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge.

Nearby, troops from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State were making sure a sick call tent was properly set up next to their aid station. And a few miles away, Staff Sgt. Juan Mendoza was directing traffic as his engineer support company from Fort Bragg, N.C., unloaded military vehicles.

Come Thanksgiving, they most likely will still be here. -NYT

"When you give a soldier a real mission, you have less of a morale problem, even if it’s Christmas or Thanksgiving," said Representative Anthony G. Brown, Democrat of Maryland and a former Army helicopter pilot who served in the Iraq war. "But when you send a soldier on a dubious mission, with no military value, over Thanksgiving, it doesn’t help morale at all."

The Pentagon, meanwhile, apparently views the deployment as an "expensive waste of time and resources, and a morale killer to boot." While there has been no announcement on cost, estimates as high as $200 million have been floated if the deployment expands to 15,000 troops, as President Trump has suggested it may. 

The Times would also like us to know that "There has been no money set aside to combat the men, women and children who are bound for the American border, many of them fleeing violence or corruption, nearly all seeking better lives." 

In short; Trump has sent troops to combat men, women and children who simply want better lives (and are unwilling to accept asylum from Mexico or seek entry into the United States through the proper legal process). 

In late October, the Department of Homeland Security sent a memo to the Pentagon with a series of formal requests for support in handling immigrants at the southern border, including the caravan on its way from Central America, according to two senior administration officials.

Among the requests, issued at the White House’s behest, were that troops deployed to the border be armed, prepared for direct contact with the migrants and ready to operate under rules for the use of force to be set by the Defense Department.

When Defense Department officials replied the same day, on Mr. Mattis’s orders, they rejected those requests and referred the Department of Homeland Security to the White House, the officials said. The Defense Department viewed the requests as inappropriate and legally treacherous, potentially setting up soldiers for violent encounters with migrants. -NYT

"A wasteful deployment of overstretched Soldiers and Marines would be made much worse if they use force disproportional to the threat they face," tweeted Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff between 2011 and 2015. 

Dempsey, of course, participated in the death of thousands of civilians in Iraq as the commander of the 1st Armored Division, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment and a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division between 2003 - 2005. One imagines that the use of force was also disproportional to that of the now-dead Iraqi civilians in that very necessary regime change based on dubious US intel.

 

Published:11/12/2018 11:32:03 AM
[Entertainment] Michelle Obama Dispels #RelationshipGoals Myth: "Marriage Is Hard!" Michelle Obama, ELLEAfter 26 years of marriage, Michelle Obama has learned a lot about what it means to be someone's partner, in every sense of the word. As the former First Lady reveals to Oprah Winfrey in ELLE...
Published:11/12/2018 10:01:35 AM
[Entertainment] 'Becoming Michelle Obama': What we learned from the former first lady's ABC News interview In her interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts, the former first lady discussed everything from experimenting with pot to what she learned from the campaign trail.
     
 
 
Published:11/12/2018 7:01:36 AM
[Markets] Former CIA Officer: Brennan And Clapper Should Not Escape Prosecution

Authored by John Kiriakou via ConsortiumNews.com,

Recently declassified documents show that the former CIA director and former director of national intelligence approved illegal spying on Congress and then classified their crime. They need to face punishment...

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa made a dramatic announcement this month that almost nobody in America paid any attention to. Grassley released a statement saying that four years ago, he asked the Intelligence Community Inspector General to release two “Congressional Notifications” written by former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Grassley had had his requests to declassify the documents ignored repeatedly throughout the last two years of the Obama administration. He decided to try again because all of the Obama people at the CIA and DNI are gone now. This time, his request was approved.

So what was the information that was finally declassified? It was written confirmation that John Brennan ordered CIA hackers to intercept the emails of all potential or possible intelligence community whistleblowers who may have been trying to contact the Congressional oversight committees, specifically to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Simply put, Brennan ordered his people to hack into the Senate email system—again. Grassley is the longtime chairman of Judiciary Committee, and he was understandably appalled.

First, let me explain what a Congressional Notification is. The CIA is required by law to inform the Congressional oversight committees whenever one of its officers, agents, or administrators breaks the law, when an operation requires Congressional approval because it is a “covert action” program, or whenever something happens at the CIA that’s potentially controversial and the Agency wants to save itself the embarrassment of explaining itself to Congress later. 

Brennan apparently ordered his officers to spy on the Senate. Remember, back in 2014 his officers spied on Intelligence Community investigators while they were writing the Senate Torture Report. This time, he decided to inform Congress. 

But Brennan and Clapper classified the notification. It was like a taunt. “Sure, I’m spying on Congress, which is illegal. But it’s classified, so what are you going to do about it?”

Grassley went through the proper channels. And even though Brennan and Clapper essentially gave him the middle finger, he didn’t say anything until the documents were finally declassified. He’s a bigger man than I.

John Brennan, left, and James Clapper. (LBJ Library / Flickr)

I think Grassley missed an opportunity here, though.

First, it’s my own opinion that John Brennan belongs in prison. He has flouted U.S. national security laws with impunity for years. That’s unacceptable. In these declassified notifications, he’s confessing to hacking into the Senate’s computer system. That’s a violation of a whole host of laws, from illegal use of a government computer to wire fraud to espionage. There ought to be a price to pay for it, especially in light of the fact that Brennan was the leading force behind the prosecutions of eight national security whistleblowers during the Obama administration, almost three times the number of whistleblowers charged under the Espionage Act by all previous presidents combined.

Second, it’s a crime, a felony, to overclassify government information. Most Americans have no idea that that’s the case. Of course, nobody has ever been charged with it. But it’s a serious problem, and it’s antithetical to transparency.  The CIA Inspector General said of the notifications, “I could see no reason to withhold declassification of these documents. They contained no information that could be construed as sources and methods.” That’s an admission that the notifications were improperly classified in the first place.

Grassley added,

“There is a strong public interest in (the notifications’s) content.  I do not believe they need to be classified at all, and they should be released in their entirety.”

Grassley went so far as to call out Brennan and Clapper by name.

“What sources or methods would be jeopardized by the declassification of these notifications? After four-and-a-half years of bureaucratic foot-dragging, led by Brennan and Clapper, we finally have the answer: None.”

So why weren’t they declassified four years ago? Remember, it’s illegal to classify a crime. And it’s illegal to classify something solely for the purpose of preventing embarrassment to the CIA. Yet those were the very reasons for classifying the documents in the first place. It was because Brennan and Clapper think they’re somehow special cases. (Recall that it was Clapper who lied directly to the Senate Intelligence Committee about intercepting the communications of American citizens. He also did that with impunity.) 

Brennan and Clapper think the law doesn’t apply to them. But it does. Without the rule of law, we have chaos in our country. The law has to apply equally to all Americans. Brennan and Clapper need to learn that lesson the hard way. They broke the law. They ought to be prosecuted for it. 

Published:11/11/2018 8:34:34 PM
[Politics] Former Obama UN amb. Samantha Power EMBARRASSES herself while trying to mock Trump! Do you remember Samantha Power? She was Obama’s embarrassing ambassador to the United Nations, and she continues embarrassing herself despite being out of the gig for years now. What a trooper: Oooh . . . Published:11/11/2018 7:30:10 PM
[Politics] Former Obama UN amb. Samantha Power EMBARRASSES herself while trying to mock Trump! Do you remember Samantha Power? She was Obama’s embarrassing ambassador to the United Nations, and she continues embarrassing herself despite being out of the gig for years now. What a trooper: Oooh . . . Published:11/11/2018 6:58:00 PM
[Media] THANKS for playing! Lefties come UN-GLITTER-GLUED over Sean Spicier’s tweets about Dem voter fraud and Florida

You knew our favorite parody account, Sean Spicier (@sean_spicier), would be BUSY after the midterms this past week. Between Obama being the kiss of death for some Democrats and the ridiculous and shady shenanigans in Florida, Sean had his pick of topics to tweet about. And of course, the usual suspects showed up to shake their […]

The post THANKS for playing! Lefties come UN-GLITTER-GLUED over Sean Spicier’s tweets about Dem voter fraud and Florida appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/11/2018 10:58:19 AM
[Media] They NEVER learn: Writer for The Atlantic takes cheap swipe at Trump over vets, BLASTS Obama instead

Awww, it’s sort of adorable how hard Conor tried to make a dig at Trump about the vets and get Laura Ingraham’s attention. And by adorable we mean sad, predictable, and all fail. Today I am thinking about what conservative media would publish and broadcast for the next week if Barack Obama had blown off […]

The post They NEVER learn: Writer for The Atlantic takes cheap swipe at Trump over vets, BLASTS Obama instead appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/11/2018 9:34:05 AM
[Media] CLASSIC! Samantha Power, desperate to dunk on Trump and OWN THE CONS, retweets parody account and LOL

What can we say, Twitter is hard. Ok, so that’s not entirely true. Twitter isn’t hard unless you’re a sanctimonious, self-centered, virtue-signaling waste of space who used to work for Obama. Samantha Power saw a tweet from the popular and well-known parody account of the North Korean government, DPRK, and thought it was real. Real […]

The post CLASSIC! Samantha Power, desperate to dunk on Trump and OWN THE CONS, retweets parody account and LOL appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/11/2018 8:28:26 AM
[Markets] The 'War Party' Wins The Midterm Elections, Accelerating Transition To A Multipolar World Order

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The outcome of the American midterm elections gives us an even more divided country, confirming that the United States is in the midst of a deep crisis within its establishment.

The midterm elections represented a substantial draw for Democrats and Republicans, a defeat for the Trump administration and a clear victory for the “war party” in Washington. The House of Representatives ended up in the hands of the Democrats, who managed to overturn the results of 2016 by winning 26 seats and bringing their majority to 219, with the Republicans with 193 seats. The Republicans, despite the feared “blue wave”, have increased their representation in the Senate, with 51 senators against the 45 of the Democrats. In terms of governors, Republicans remain ahead, with 25 red states against 21 blue. After two years of fake investigations on Russiagate, continuous attacks by the US media (except for the few pro-Trump channels like Fox News), the blue Democratic wave seemed inevitable. Instead, we witnessed a minor repetition of the 2016 elections, with Trump managing to perform above expectations.

The House of Representatives performs functions mainly related to domestic politics, while the Senate is responsible for confirming important appointments such as those to the Supreme Court. The Democrats holding the majority in the House makes Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign an uphill battle. Trump will need to be able to present to his constituents from 2019 with a series of 2016 promises fulfilled. Getting one’s legislative agenda passed with the House in the hands of one’s opponents is difficult at the best of times. For Trump the task becomes almost impossible.

For this reason, we are faced with a scenario that delivers the country to the war party, that faction composed of Republicans and Democrats who respond to the interests of specific conglomerates of power and not to the citizens who elected them. The real winners of the midterms appear to be the intelligence agencies, Wall Street and the banks, the ratings agencies, the Fed, the mainstream media, think-tanks, policy-makers, and the military-industrial complex. Donald Trump has come to discover, in his first two years as president, how little autonomy he has in foreign policy, thanks to the warmongering of the US establishment.

The realist view of foreign policy on which Trump based his election campaign was swept away just a few days after his victory. Hoping to bribe the hawks in Washington, Trump surrounded himself with neoconservatives, who only ended up trying to box him into something that resembles the Washington Consensus, where every attempt at dialogue with opponents is seen as a surrender or sign of weakness.

Washington and its elites live trapped in a unipolar bubble, still convinced that the United States is the only world power left on the geopolitical chessboard. Even the Pentagon's military planners have confirmed in two official documents (the Nuclear Posture Review and National Defence Review) how international relations have shifted into a multipolar reality where the United States will have to deal with peer competitors like Russia and China.

Washington’s neoliberal inner circle views international relations in a very unrealistic and ideologically spoiled manner. This was masterfully explained by Mearsheimer in his latest book, suitably entitled The Great Delusion, where he compares the three most important “isms” of nationalism, liberalism and realism. Those who make up the overwhelming majority of the foreign-policy establishment are convinced that the United States is a benign hegemon that has a moral duty to remake the world in its own image and likeness.

In the process, bombing a country, destroying its social fabric and killing hundreds of thousands of innocents is justified by this supposedly noble end. This end-justifies-means mentality is behind the overwhelming majority of Washington’s foreign-policy actions. Of course only people who are victims of their own propaganda can really believe that they are acting in the greater good by bringing about so much chaos and destruction. On the contrary, the rest of the world has for decades observed with disgust and dismay the imperialism of a warmongering country committed to consuming the resources of others, vainly hoping, especially since 1990s, that the unipolar moment would be cut short through the counterbalancing effect of other powers. Ultimately, it is not only Russia and China that awaits a multipolar world, but all those countries that do not intend to submit to American diktats over how they conduct their own foreign or domestic policies.

The outcome of the midterm elections could speed up this process. With the House of Representatives in the hands of the Democrats, Trump will have to abandon his realist foreign policy even more so than he has done over the last two years. The accumulation of foreign-policy concessions is starting to become disturbing. Just think of the enmity towards Iran, fomented by Israel and Saudi Arabia, the main partners of the Trump administration. The same goes for China, with the antagonism fomented by Trump himself to justify the impoverishment of the US middle class who voted in force for him to change this situation. And of course there remains the endemic hatred of Russia, a sworn enemy of the Washington establishment.

Trump still seems to possess a bit of Mearsheimerian realism in foreign policy. But following his defeat in the House, if he wants to get anything passed, he will need to grant much more of a free hand in foreign policy to the neoliberals, who are chomping at the bit to revive the Bush and Obama foreign policy. Without any concessions from the House, all of Trump's domestic promises to his constituents will be hobbled.

The permanent political civil war in the United States seems destined to intensify over the next two years, and the prospect of an even less independent administration in foreign policy will impel the rest of the world to rely less and less on Washington and begin to look elsewhere. Even European countries like France, Germany and Italy seem to have understood that an exclusive alliance with Washington is not beneficial and is in fact destined to fail as a result of of the chaos in US politics. In this context, the events of the past few days are particularly important and certainly worthy of elaboration in a future article. While many Eurasian countries like India, Japan, Turkey, Iran, Russia, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan try to overcome their differences by creating international cooperation frameworks, Washington pushes unnecessarily on the accelerator of disorder. A shining example of what Washington's decline means can be clearly seen in Korea. Without the direct involvement of the United States, Seoul and Pyongyang seem to be heading towards peaceful reconciliation. Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un interact every day, and the progress made on the DMZ speaks for itself, such as with renewed railway connections. Such an example, reflecting the global model that tends towards resolving problems, represents the basis on which to build bilateral, direct and negotiated solutions between relevant parties.

Such examples are numerous and concern, for example, the disagreements between India and China, as well as the territorial disputes between Japan and China and Japan and Russia. The goal is always the same: to overcome obstacles that stand in the way of mutual gain. It is a way of approaching international relations that differs from the bipolar past, but above all from the unipolar one where the attention of all international actors has been focused on the interests of Washington above even one’s own.

The continuing division within the American political class will only accelerate the loss of America’s pre-eminence in the existing the world order. The United States finds itself in the middle of an evident decline, without even a united and compact political front as was the case during the days of Bush and Obama. But with Trump in office, the House in the hands of the Democrats, and the Senate in the hands of Republicans, we are facing a situation that is set to downsize Washington's role in international affairs.

There is still an even crazier and more devastating scenario for America’s role in the world. Trump's impeachment, which can be initiated by the House of Representatives, would significantly add to the chaos in the United States and risk bringing the country to the brink of socio-political collapse. While this scenario is very unlikely, it cannot be totally excluded, especially given the ideological folly of the Washington establishment.

A Pence presidency would best represent the interests of evangelical conservatives, who are closely linked to Israeli Zionism. For this reason, the impeachment of Trump could find allies in the Republican minority, not to mention the fact that such a move by the Democrats would open the way for the Republicans to win in 2020, stamping the Democrats as spoilers only able to oppose and unable to build anything. Such a possibility cannot be excluded, and with the victory of the war party in the midterms, a President Pence would represent the greatest effort of the American establishment to impose its will on the rest of the world on the basis of “American exceptionalism”.

Prolonging the unipolar dream seems to be the new goal of the war party, and the reconquest of the House is the first step in this endeavour. Trump can adapt or give battle, but observing how he immediately came to terms after his victory in 2016, it is no surprise that if he stays in charge and tries to win the 2020 election, he will cede foreign policy to the neocons, neoliberals, Zionists and Wahhabis.

Allies and enemies alike must prepare to withstand the shock waves emanating from the struggle between the elites in Washington, understanding that it is not possible to rely on Trump, let alone the war party, especially when the damage produced by both has negative effects on even allies. Europe, for example, suffers from the blowback of a Middle East and Africa sunk into chaos by the war party, and also suffers economically from the sanctions placed on Russia and Iran.

What is more, Trump’s economic warfare, using tariffs and sanctions, has only worsened the international financial economic arrangement, accelerating the complete de-dollarization of world economies.

The midterms were what Washington's allies and enemies had been waiting for in order to understand the direction of US foreign policy in the next few years. The election results present allies and enemies with an even more divided and chaotic United States, suggesting that it is time for them to stop waiting for Washington. Given that Trump does not control his foreign policy, any attempt to engage in dialogue with him is pointless. The sooner allies and enemies realize this, and act accordingly, the better off they will be.

Washington and her elite seem too caught up in domestic dynamics to notice that their behaviour is only accelerating the transition to a multipolar world order

The next two years will settle the question over whether our present reality is already multipolar, or whether the unipolar order remains, with Washington the indispensable nation for friends and enemies alike.

Published:11/10/2018 10:28:02 PM
[Markets] Doug Casey: How To Survive The Deep State

Authored by Doug Casey via InternationalMan.com,

Almost everyone looks for a political solution to problems. However, once a Deep State situation has taken over, only a revolution or a dictatorship can turn it around, and probably only in a small country.

Maybe you’re thinking you should get behind somebody like Ron Paul (I didn’t say Rand Paul), should such a person materialize. That would be futile.

Here’s what would happen in the totally impossible scenario that this person was elected and tried to act like a Lee Kuan Yew or an Augusto Pinochet against the Deep State:

  • First, there would be a “sit-down” with the top dogs of the Praetorian agencies and a bunch of Pentagon officers to explain the way things work.

  • Then, should he survive, he would be impeached by the running dogs of Congress.

  • Then, should he survive, whipped dog Americans would revolt at the prospect of having their doggy dishes broken.

Remember, your fellow Americans not only elected Obama, but re-elected him. Do you expect they’ll be more rational as the Greater Depression deepens? Maybe you think the police and the military will somehow help. Forget it…they’re part of the problem. They’re here to protect and serve their colleagues first, then their employer (the State), and only then the public. But the whipped dog likes to parrot: “Thank you for your service.” Which is further proof that there’s no hope.

So what should you do, based on all this? For one thing, don’t waste your time and money trying to change the course of history. Trying to stop the little snowball rolling down the mountainside might have worked many decades ago, but now it’s turned into a gigantic avalanche that’s going to smash the village at the bottom of the valley. I suggest you get out of the way.

What, you may ask, would I do if I were dictator of the U.S. and had absolutely no regard for my personal safety? Here’s a seven-part program, for entertainment purposes only:

  1. Allow the collapse of all zombie corporations – banks, brokers, insurers, and government contractors. The real wealth they supposedly own will still exist.

  2. Abolish all regulatory agencies. Although Boobus americanus believes they exist to protect him, and that may have been an intention when they were created, they, at best, serve the industries they regulate. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for instance, kills more Americans every year than does the Department of Defense in a typical decade. The SEC, the Swindlers Encouragement Consortium, lulls the average investor into thinking he’s protected. They, and other agencies, extract scores of billions out of the economy to feed useless mouths in return for throwing sand in the gears of the economy.

  3. Abolish the Fed…you need a strong currency to encourage saving. Actually, you don’t need a currency at all. Gold is vastly better as money.

  4. Cut the size of the military by 90% and abolish the Praetorian agencies. In addition to bankrupting the U.S., the military is now a huge domestic danger, even while it’s mainly an instrument for creating enemies abroad.

  5. Sell essentially all U.S. government assets. Although some actually have value, they are all a drain on the economy. For instance, the U.S. Postal Service loses $5 billion a year; Amtrak loses another billion or so per year. The Interstate Highway System, airports and the air-traffic-control system, the 650 million acres of U.S. government land, and many thousands of other assets should all be distributed in shares or sold. This would liberate an immense amount of dead capital. The proceeds could be used to partially satisfy some government obligations.

  6. Eliminate the income tax, as a start, which will be possible if the other six things are done. The economy would boom.

  7. Default on the national debt and contingent liabilities. That’s somewhere between $21 trillion and $200 trillion. There are at least three reasons for that. First is to avoid turning future generations into serfs. Second is to punish those who have enabled the State by lending it money. Third is to make it impossible for the State to borrow in the future, at least for a while.

I like this program from a practical point of view, because when a structure is about to collapse, it’s much wiser to conduct a controlled demolition than to just let it fall when no one expects it.

But I also like it from a philosophical point of view because, as Nietzsche observed, that which is falling deserves to be pushed.

There are, however, two very important reasons for optimism: science and savings.

Science: Science and technology are the mainsprings of progress, and there are more scientists and engineers alive today than have lived in all previous history put together. Unfortunately for Western civilization however, most of them are Asians. Most American PhDs aren’t in Rocket Science but Political Science, or maybe Gender Studies. Nonetheless, the advancement of science offers some reason to believe that not only is all this gloom and doom poppycock, but that the future will not only be better than you imagine, but, hopefully, better than you canimagine.

Savings: Things can recover quickly because technology and skills don’t vanish overnight. Everybody but university economists knows that if you want to avoid starving to death, you have to produce more than you consume and save the difference. The problem is twofold, however. Most Americans have no savings. To the contrary, they have lots of debt. And debt means you’re either consuming someone else’s savings or mortgaging your own future.

Worse, science today is capital intensive. With no capital, you’ve got no science. Worse yet, if the U.S. actually destroys the dollar, it will wipe out the capital of prudent savers and reward society’s grasshoppers. Until they starve.

Of course, as Adam Smith said, there’s a lot of ruin in a nation. It took Rome several centuries to collapse. And look at how quickly China recovered from decades of truly criminal mismanagement.

On the other hand, Americans love their military, and this heavily armed version of the post office seems like the only part of the government that works, kind of. So maybe the U.S. will start something like World War III. Then, the whole world can see a real-life zombie apocalypse. Talk about free entertainment…

Action

But let’s return to the real world. What should you do? And how will this all end?

From a personal standpoint, you should preserve capital by owning significant assets outside your native country, because as severe as market risks are, your political risks are much greater.

  1. I suggest foreign real estate in a country where you’re viewed as an investor to be courted, rather than a milk cow. Or maybe a beef cow.

  2. Gold. It’s no longer at giveaway prices, but remains the only financial asset that’s not someone else’s liability.

  3. Look for depressed speculations. At the moment, my favorites are resource companies, which are down more than 90% as a group. And look to go long on commodities in general. Soybeans, wheat, corn, sugar, coffee, copper, and silver are historically undervalued.

  4. Short bubbles that are about to burst, like bonds in general, and Japanese bonds denominated in yen, in particular. If you have a collectible car from the ‘60s that you hold as a financial asset, hit the bid tomorrow morning. Same if you have expensive property in London, New York, Sydney, Auckland, Hong Kong, or Shanghai, among other places.

The Second Law to the Rescue

From a macro standpoint, don’t worry too much. The planet has been here for 4.5 billion years and it has a life of its own. You don’t have to do anything to save the world. Instead, rely on the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

There are very few laws I believe in, but this is one of them. There are many ways of stating the law, and its corollaries, but this isn’t an essay on physics. In essence, it states that all systems wind down over time. Entropy conquers all. That all systems collapse without constant new inputs of energy. And that the larger and more complex a system becomes, the more energy it requires. The Second Law is why nothing lasts forever.

In human affairs, you can say stupidity is a corollary to the Second Law, in that it throws sand in the gears of society and accelerates the tendency of things to collapse. But stupidity doesn’t always mean low intelligence…most of the destructive sociopaths acting as top dogs have very high IQs. I want to draw your attention to more useful definitions of stupidity.

One definition of stupidity is an inability to predict not just the immediate and direct consequences of an action (which a typical six-year-old can do) but also to fail to predict the indirect and delayed consequences.

An even more helpful definition is: Stupidity is an unwitting tendency towards self-destruction. It’s why operations run by bad people always go bad. And why, since the Deep State is run by bad people – the sociopaths who are actively drawn to it – it will necessarily collapse.

The Second Law not only assures that the Deep State will collapse but, given enough time, that all “End of the World” predictions will eventually be right, up to the heat death of the universe itself. It applies to all things at all levels…including, unfortunately, Western civilization and the idea of America. As for Western civilization, it’s had a fantastic run. Claims of the politically correct and multiculturalists aside, it’s really the only civilization that amounts to a hill of beans.

Now, it’s even riskier calling a top in a civilization than the top of a stock or bond market. But I’d say Western civilization peaked just before World War I. In the future, it will be a prestige item for Chinese families to have European maids and houseboys.

As for America, it was an idea – and a very good one – but it’s already vanished, replaced by the United States, which is just one of 200 other nation-states covering the face of the Earth like a skin disease. That said, the U.S. peaked in the mid ’50s and has gone down decisively since 1971. It’s living on stored momentum, memories, and borrowed Chinese money.

Let me bring this gloomy Spenglerian view of the world to a close with some happy thoughts. You want to leave them laughing. Not everybody went down with the Titanic.

Looking further at the bright side: Just being born in America in the 20th century amounted to winning the cosmic lottery…an accident of birth could have placed us in Guinea or Zimbabwe. On the other hand, if I wanted to make a fortune in today’s world, I’d definitely head to Africa.

But just as the Second Law dictates that all good things, like America, must come to an end, so must all bad things, like the Deep State in particular. That’s a cosmic certainty. We all love the idea of justice, even if most people neither understand what it is, nor like its reality.

Finally, it occurs to me that, while I hope I’ve explained why the Second Law will vanquish the Deep State, I’ve neglected to explain how whipped dogs can profit from the collapse of Western civilization.

The answer is that they can’t.

Fortunately, parasites can only exist as long as their host. Which is actually a final piece of good news I want to leave you with...

The socialists are rising in the US, and they are hungry to take the product of your labor and use it to augment their stupidity (the unwitting tendency to self-destruction). Now would be a great time to start looking for a bolt hole - a place that you own that is elsewhere. To learn more, read our free PDF on foreign real estate.

Published:11/10/2018 8:25:58 PM
[Markets] Two Huge Events For The Pot Industry Happened Last Week: Here's What They Mean For Pot Stocks

Two huge bullish events for the marijuana industry happened in just the last several days: 3 out of 4 US states passed marijuana legalization & cannabis opponent Jeff Sessions resigned as AG.

What does this mean for the marijuana market and stocks ahead? DataTrek's Jessica Rabe explains:

Three out of four ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana in some form passed in the US midterms this week. Michigan approved recreational marijuana, while Utah and Missouri voted in favor of medical marijuana; each proposal received +53-66% of voter support. Sixty percent of residents in North Dakota voted against legalizing retail cannabis use, however. Here’s where they all stand:

  • Recreational marijuana: Michigan residents voted in favor of legalizing retail cannabis use and sales, making it the first Midwestern state and tenth US state to do so. Now one in five states allow recreational marijuana use, and a quarter of Americans (nearly 80 million people) live in a state where they can smoke or consume the drug if they’re of age.
    • How this will work: Recreational marijuana will be legal in Michigan ten days after the election results are certified, which could take a few weeks. That said, adults aged 21 and older living in Michigan will eventually be able buy, possess and use marijuana for recreational purposes. They will also be allowed to grow up to 12 plants in their home for personal use.
    • Sales won’t likely happen for a year as the state government needs to establish regulations and issue recreational licenses, although it has a head start since medical cannabis is already legal there. Once all that happens, retail sales of marijuana and edibles will be subject to a 10% excise tax that will go towards implementation costs, clinical trials, roads, schools, and general municipal expenses where marijuana businesses are located.
    • Lastly, although North Dakota rejected recreational use of marijuana, it still allows medical cannabis.
  • Medical marijuana: 33 states now allow medical cannabis after Utah and Missouri approved their measures to do so yesterday. Utah will let patients with certain conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, cancer and HIV get medical marijuana cards.
    • Out of 3 ballot initiatives that would legalize medical marijuana use in Missouri, voters chose Amendment 2. This measure will impose a 4% tax on sales of medical marijuana, which will pay for the program as well as help fund the state’s veterans commission.
  • Other election progress for marijuana: Chairman of the House Rules Committee Pete Sessions (Republican congressman from Texas) was defeated by Democrat Colin Allred. Sessions has blocked many federal amendments to protect legal marijuana at the state level, even those meant to allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans in states where it is legal. Allred, by contrast, criticized Sessions for this stance over the summer.
    • In addition, earlier this year Vermont’s legislature passed recreational use and residents in Oklahoma approved medical use. There are also other states going forward that could pass recreational use through the legislature, such as New Jersey and New York.
    • In New Jersey, the State Senate President and State Assembly Speaker said the legislature will vote on legalizing recreational marijuana by the end of this year. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo put together a workgroup to draft legislation for a regulated adult-use marijuana program in August. Given that the state legislature would need to pass the proposal, it should help that Democrats just won a majority in the New York State Senate. Especially since Governor Cuomo was re-elected and Democrats also have a majority in the state Assembly.

Arguably the biggest news of all on the marijuana front actually came with Attorney General Jeff Sessions submitting his resignation. He is a staunch opponent of marijuana and rescinded important memos put in place under the Obama administration to not interfere with legal states so that marijuana businesses could have banking access if they followed certain rules. This move caused a lot of concern and uncertainty for an already cautious industry. While pot stocks gave up their early gains from the election results, they rallied right after this news into the close on the Sessions news: Canopy Growth (+8.17%), Tilray (+30.64%), Cronos Group (+8.40%), Aurora Cannabis (+9.19%) and Aphria (+3.93%). Who knows who will permanently replace Jeff Sessions, but few are more against the drug than him.

Bottom line, momentum on marijuana legalization continues to strengthen, especially with support from two-thirds of Americans which is the highest ever recorded according to Gallup. Every state that legalizes adult use of marijuana is one more step towards national legalization, something many investors have been waiting for given their caution as the drug is still illegal federally. Jeff Sessions out is another cherry on top of the sundae.

Published:11/10/2018 7:23:08 PM
[Markets] NYTimes Op-Ed Recognizes "The Other America" - Midterms Are A Warning To Democrats

Authored by Bret Stephens, op-ed via The New York Times,

Stop manning imaginary barricades, and start building real bridges to the other America.

For months we’ve heard from sundry media apocalypticians that this year’s midterms were the last exit off the road to autocracy. On Tuesday, the American people delivered a less dramatic verdict about the significance of the occasion.

In a word: meh.

Are you interested in seeing Donald Trump voted out of office in two years? I hope so - which is why you should think hard about that “meh.” This week’s elections were, at most, a very modest rebuke of a president reviled by many of his opponents, this columnist included, as an unprecedented danger to the health of liberal democracy at home and abroad. The American people don’t entirely agree.

We might consider listening to them a bit more - and to ourselves somewhat less.

The 28-seat swing that gave Democrats control of the House wasn’t even half the 63 seats Republicans won in 2010. Yet even that shellacking (to use Barack Obama’s word) did nothing to help Mitt Romney’s chances two years later. The Republican gain in the Senate (the result in Arizona isn’t clear at this writing) was more predictable in a year when so many red-state Democrats were up for re-election. But it underscores what a non-wave election this was.

It also underscores that while “the Resistance” is good at generating lots of votes, it hasn’t figured out how to turn the votes into seats. Liberals are free to bellyache all they want that they have repeatedly won the overall popular vote for the presidency and Congress while still losing elections, and that the system is therefore “rigged.”

But that’s the system in which everyone’s playing — and one they had no trouble winning in until just a few years ago. To complain about it makes them sound like whiners in a manner reminiscent of Trump in 2016, when he thought he was going to lose. It’s also a reminder that, in politics, intensity is not strategy. You have to be able to convert.

The Resistance didn’t convert.

It didn’t convert when it nominated left-wing candidates in right-leaning states like Florida and Georgia. It didn’t convert when it poured its moneyinto where its heart was — a lithesome Texas hopeful with scant chance of victory — rather than where the dollars were most needed. It didn’t convert when it grew more concerned with the question of how much Trump did not pay in taxes than with the question of how much you pay in taxes.

It didn’t convert when Chuck Schumer chose to make Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court the decisive political test of the year. It didn’t convert when it turned his initial confirmation hearing into a circus. It didn’t convert when media liberals repeatedly violated ordinary journalistic standards by reporting the uncorroborated accusations against Kavanaugh that followed Christine Blasey Ford’s.

Above all, it didn’t convert the unconverted.

It doesn’t take a lot to get the average voter to tell you what he doesn’t like about Donald Trump: the nastiness, the divisiveness, the lying, the tweeting, the chaos, the epic boastfulness matched by bottomless self-pity. As my colleague Frank Bruni has astutely observed, Trump is as transparent as they come: You don’t need a Ph.D. in psychology to know that the president is an insecure narcissist with daddy issues.

Then again, what does the average voter think about the people who pompously style themselves “the Resistance”? I don’t just mean the antifa thugs and restaurant hecklers and the Farrakhan Fan Club wing of the women’s movement, though that’s a part of it.

I mean the rest of the Trump despisers, the people who detest not only the man but also contemn his voters (and constantly let them know it); the ones who heard the words “basket of deplorables” and said to themselves: Bingo. They measure their moral worth not through an effort at understanding but by the intensity of their disdain. They are — so they think — always right, yet often surprised by events.

I was a charter member of this camp. Intellectual honesty ought to compel us to admit that we achieved precisely the opposite of what we intended. Trumpism is more entrenched today than ever. The result of the midterms means, if nothing else, that the president survived his first major political test more than adequately. And unless Democrats change, he should be seen as the odds-on favorite to win in 2020.

To repeat: I’d hate to see that happen. I want Trump, and Trumpism, to lose. But if the Resistance party doesn’t find a way to become a shrewder, humbler opposition party, that’s not going to happen. The day Democrats take charge in the House would be a good opportunity to stop manning imaginary barricades, and start building real bridges to the other America.

Published:11/8/2018 10:09:19 AM
[The Blog] The Midas touch: Obama goes 0 for 4 on the trail in tight races this week

Gold.

The post The Midas touch: Obama goes 0 for 4 on the trail in tight races this week appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:11/7/2018 7:37:00 PM
[Markets] Jim Rickards: The United States Is Going Broke

Authored by James Rickards via The Daily Reckoning,

Those who focus on the U.S. national debt (and I’m one of them) keep wondering how long this debt levitation act can go on...

The U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio is at the highest level in history (106%), with the exception of the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. At least in 1945, the U.S. had won the war and our economy dominated world output and production. Today, we have the debt without the global dominance.

The U.S. has always been willing to increase debt to fight and win a war, but the debt was promptly scaled down and contained once the war was over. Today, there is no war comparable to the great wars of American history, and yet the debt keeps growing.

In a new Weekly Standard article, the celebrated James Grant of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer reviews not only the current debt and deficit situation but provides an overview of the U.S. national debt since George Washington and Alexander Hamilton.

Grant makes the point that the debt has been increased and decreased on a regular basis but never until today was there a view that the deficit didn’t matter and could be increased indefinitely.

He points out that it took the United States 193 years to accumulate its first trillion dollars of federal debt. And amazingly, that it will add that much in the current fiscal year alone.

Grant also describes how these historic debt management efforts have been bipartisan.

Republicans Harding and Coolidge reduced the debt; the Democrat Andrew Jackson actually eliminated the debt in 1836. Today there is bipartisan profligacy. The article lays out the big picture and the likelihood of a U.S. debt crisis sooner rather than later.

The U.S. budget deficit under Trump is approaching $1 trillion per year, similar to what we saw in 2010 and 2011 under Obama. This is the result of tax cuts (that don’t “pay for themselves”), removal of spending caps, snowballing student loan defaults and defective growth estimates by the Office of Management and Budget, or OMB.

And it looks like annual deficits will exceed the trillion dollar level as soon as next year when projected spending is factored in.

With growth now fading after the Trump tax cut boost (there will be no tax cuts in 2019), the debt-to-GDP ratio is now up to 106%, since debt is growing faster than GDP.

As Grant points out, the national debt has registered compound annual growth of 8.8%, but only 6.3% for GDP. That’s not a sustainable situation. And it’s not at all clear that GDP will close the gap.

Basically, the United States is going broke.

I don’t say that to be hyperbolic. I’m not looking to scare people. It’s just an honest assessment, based on the numbers.

Right now, the United States is roughly $21.6 trillion in debt. Now, a $21.6 trillion debt would be fine if we had a $50 trillion economy. The debt-to-GDP ratio in that example would be about 40%. But we don’t have a $50 trillion economy. We have about a $20 trillion economy, which means our debt is bigger than our economy.

When is the debt-to-GDP ratio too high? When does a country reach the point that it either turns things around or ends up like Greece?

Economists Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart carried out a long historical survey going back 800 years, looking at individual countries, or empires in some cases, that have gone broke or defaulted on their debt.

They put the danger zone at a debt-to-GDP ratio of 90%. Once it reaches 90%, they found, a turning point arrives…

At that point, a dollar of debt yields less than a dollar of output. Debt becomes an actual drag on growth.

Again the current U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio is 106%.

We are deep into the red zone, that is. And we’re only going deeper. The U.S. has a 106% debt to GDP ratio, trillion dollar deficits on the way, more spending on the way.

We’re getting more and more like Greece. We’re heading for a sovereign debt crisis. That’s not an opinion; it’s based on the numbers.

How do we get out of it?

For elites, there is really only one way out at this point is, and that’s inflation. And they’re right on one point. Tax cuts won’t do it, structural changes to the economy wouldn’t do it. Both would help if done properly, but the problem is simply far too large. Growth would have to greatly exceed current levels, and that’s just not in the cards.

There’s only one solution left, inflation.

Now, the Fed printed about $4 trillion over the past several years and we barely have had any inflation at all, even though it does appear to be percolating lately. Not enough to satisfy the Fed, but some inflation measures have been on the uptick.

The reason we didn’t have inflation all that time is because most of the new money was given by the Fed to the banks, who turned around and parked it on deposit at the Fed to gain interest. The money never made it out into the economy, where it would produce inflation.

The bottom line is that not even money printing really worked to get inflation moving. Is there anything left in the bag of tricks?

There is actually. The Fed could actually cause inflation in about 15 minutes if it used it. How?

The Fed can call a board meeting, vote on a new policy, walk outside and announce to the world that effective immediately, the price of gold is $5,000 per ounce.

They could make that new price stick by using the Treasury’s gold in Fort Knox and the major U.S. bank gold dealers to conduct “open market operations” in gold.

They will be a buyer if the price hits $4,950 per ounce or less and a seller if the price hits $5,050 per ounce or higher. They will print money when they buy and reduce the money supply when they sell via the banks.

The Fed would target the gold price rather than interest rates.

The point is to cause a generalized increase in the price level. A rise in the price of gold from today’s roughly $1,230 per ounce to $5,000 per ounce is a massive devaluation of the dollar when measured in the quantity of gold that one dollar can buy.

There it is — massive inflation in 15 minutes: the time it takes to vote on the new policy.

Don’t think this is possible? It’s happened in the U.S. twice in the past 80 years. The first time was in 1933 when President Franklin Roosevelt ordered an increase in the gold price from $20.67 per ounce to $35.00 per ounce, nearly a 75% rise in the dollar price of gold.

He did this to break the deflation of the Great Depression, and it worked. The economy grew strongly from 1934-36.

The second time was in the 1970s when Nixon ended the conversion of dollars into gold by U.S. trading partners. Nixon did not want inflation, but he got it.

Gold went from $35 per ounce to $800 per ounce in less than nine years, a 2,200% increase. U.S. dollar inflation was over 50% from 1977-1981. The value of the dollar was cut in half in those five years.

History shows that raising the dollar price of gold is the quickest way to cause general inflation. If the markets don’t do it, the government can. It works every time.

I’m not saying it’s going to happen anytime soon, especially with inflation beginning to show up here and there.

But if it doesn’t prove sustainable and if we enter a deep recession at some point— which is very likely — the Fed could reach deep into its bag of tricks for the golden inflation cure.

Published:11/7/2018 6:03:33 PM
[Markets] What the midterm election results could mean for net neutrality There could be a renewed push to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality rules.
Published:11/7/2018 4:33:00 PM
[Politics] Bakari Sellers on GOP Keeping Control of Senate: Trump Did Something ‘Obama Could Not Do’

The post Bakari Sellers on GOP Keeping Control of Senate: Trump Did Something ‘Obama Could Not Do’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:11/7/2018 12:35:06 PM
[2018 News] Biggest loser yesterday is Barack Obama Biggest loser yesterday: Barack Obama. The four candidates he campaigned the hardest for, in the process totally abandoning the tradition of ex-presidents staying out of politics, were Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Bill Nelson of Florida, Andrew Gillum of Florida, and Stacey Abrams of Georgia. They all lost. Published:11/7/2018 12:35:06 PM
[Markets] Watch Live: Trump To Discuss GOP's "Tremendous Success" In Midterm Vote

Riding high after Tuesday night's midterms - which saw his Republican party widen their lead in the Senate while averting a "blue wave" Democratic sweep of the House - President Trump has wasted no time spinning the results as an umitigated win for his "America First" agenda (even as more than two dozen Congressional races have yet to be called).

And as he braces for two years of struggling with Democrats in Congress, President Trump said early Wednesday that he will hold a White House press conference to discuss "our success in the midterms."

Of course, now that the midterms have ushered in a new era of divided government in Washington, Trump knows he will need to find a way to work with the Democrats. And the Democrats also know that they will need to work with him "for the good of the country," as his senior advisory Kellyanne Conway put it during comments to the press last night.

The conference comes after Trump threatened to fight back against any Democratic investigations in the House into his taxes or alleged Russia ties, declaring that "two can play that game."

Republicans have, so far, lost 27 seats in the House. But compared with his immediate predecessors, Trump has good reason to tout that number as a success. Clinton's Democrats lost 52 seats in his first midterm vote, while George W Bush lost 30 Republican seats and President Obama lost 63 Democratic seats in 2010 (before losing 13 more in the 2014 midterms).

Trump

While last night's election will undoubtedly be the main focus, Trump could choose to pivot to any number of issues. Though he has said drug prices won't be discussed, an expected reshuffling of his cabinet, his plans for infrastructure reform and demands for Democrats to authorize funding for his promised border wall could all be on the table. Goldman Sachs explored some of these issues in a guide to what gridlock means for our economy published on Wednesday.

The press conference is expected to begin at 11:30 am ET. Watch it live here:

Published:11/7/2018 10:41:28 AM
[] The Morning Rant "Yeah, I know last night was a mixed bag at best, but look at it this way: the average President loses 37 seats in his first midterm. Obama lost 63, Clinton lost 53, Trump lost 26. That's pretty damn good.... Published:11/7/2018 10:05:46 AM
[Markets] Trump Declares Victory As He Faces Two-Year Struggle With House Democrats

Despite record voter turnout and a staggering $5 billion political spend between both parties, Democrats' hoped-for 'blue wave' failed to materialize on Tuesday. Instead, the reality was closer to a purple wash.

Democrats won a slight majority in the House - they were up 26 seats at last count, three more than the 23 needed to flip control, with more races expected to be called in their favor on Wednesday - but Republicans picked up seats in the Senate, solidifying what had been a razor-thin majority. Almost all of those seats were won by staunch conservatives who are expected to back the Trump agenda. Meanwhile, it's unlikely that the Democrats will come anywhere close to the 40 seats they would have needed to signify a "tsunami-like" victory. However, at least one Democratic narrative was validated as 18 of the 29 Republican districts that flipped to the Democrats were won by women, cementing the 'year of the woman' narrative.

Trump

Both parties can claim important victories in gubernatorial races. Republican Mike DeWine bested Richard Cordray in Ohio, and Ron DeSantis defeated Democratic challenger Andrew Gillum in Florida, solidifying Republican control over two key swing states. But Democrats wrested control of governors' mansions in Wisconsin, Michigan and Kansas.

Republican won several important victories in the Senate and ousted a handful of Democratic incumbents, per the FT:

In the Senate, the Democrats lost ground after its incumbents were defeated in North Dakota, Indiana and Missouri. At last count, Democrats were also trailing in Montana and Florida, with the latter race possibly set to go to a recount. The only real upset for Democrats in the upper chamber was the defeat of Nevada's Dean Heller, who lost to Democrat Jacky Rosen. But the Senate victories were strong enough to vindicate President Trump's controversial campaign strategy, which saw the president hold a blitz of campaign rallies across the US, while elevating immigration to the race's defining issue.

Still, the Democrats' takeover of the House suggests that they will almost certainly use their subpoena power to investigate everything from Trump's tax returns to his financial ties in Eastern Europe to his purported "relationship" with the Kremlin. It also signals that Trump is in for a two-year struggle as partisan gridlock will almost certainly hamstring parts of his agenda.

Guardian

Here's a summary of the night's big wins and losses, courtesy of the Guardian.

  • In the House, Democrats secured the 218 seats needed to regain control.
  • Democrats won Republican-held seats in Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
  • In the Senate, Republicans have expanded their majority, and Trump declared the night a “tremendous success”.
  • Missouri Democratic senator Claire McCaskill lost to a Republican challenger.
  • A Republican also ousted senator Joe Donnelly, Indiana’s only Democratic statewide officeholder.
  • Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, who became a Democratic superstar this election, narrowly lost in his race to unseat Ted Cruz.
  • Republican senator Dean Heller also lost his seat in Nevada to a Democratic challenger.
  • In the governor’s races, Democrats gained seven new seats.
  • Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, an influential Republican, lost his seat to a Democratic challenger.
  • Andrew Gillum, Democratic candidate for governor in Florida, lost to Republican Ron DeSantis.
  • The governor’s race in Georgia was too close to call, with Democrat Stacey Abrams saying she would not concede to Republican Brian Kemp, the state’s secretary of state. It could result in a runoff.
  • A record number of women won races across the country, and candidates of color and LGBT people have also broken barriers.
  • Voters passed ballot measures across the country with new laws on voting rights, marijuana, taxes and more.

And as the FT pointed out, for Trump, there might be a silver lining. The paper noted that many of those ousted were moderates who had resisted the Trump agenda. By flushing these lawmakers out of the party, Trump may have just solidified his dominance of the Republican Party.

While many mainstream political pundits refused to acknowledge it, this fact wasn't lost on Trump.

Seeing President Trump's Wednesday morning "victory" tweet, and hearing reports about his jubilant White House reception, some Democratic pundits were inclined to accuse the president of embracing an unrealistically positive take on the night's events. But even as their "blue wave" fizzled, Democrats were inclined to do some wishful thinking of their own.

If the Senate didn’t exist you would think this is a massive blue wave,” Brendan Boyle, a Pennsylvania Democrat who won re-election to a third term told the Financial Times. "In the House, governor, and state legislative races, we’re seeing big Democratic wins. But in the Senate, against that deep red map, not at all."

Nancy Pelosi, who will almost certainly reclaim the title of speaker of the house now that Democrats have taken back the chamber, tried her hardest to play down the disappointment Democrats probably felt as Trump's party expanded its majority in the Senate while staving off a Democratic super-majority.

"Today is more than about Democrats and Republicans," said Ms Pelosi. "It’s about restoring the constitutions’ checks and balances to the Trump administration."

Trump will retain the ability to appoint conservative judges (and replace several cabinet members including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is widely believed to be on his way out) thanks to Republicans' expanded Senate majority (Republicans picked up two Senate seats, though ten races remain undecided), but with Democrats reigning in the House, there's no question that life for Trump is about to get a lot more difficult.

"Life is going to get far tougher for President Trump," said James Knightley, chief international economist at ING Bank NV. "The split Congress means that there is more likely to be gridlock, which will significantly curtail his legislative agenda. Bi-partisan action may be possible in areas such as infrastructure spending, but for the most part divisions between and within the parties mean that progress will be difficult."

In summary, voters are about to become reacquainted with one of the defining features of the Obama era - that is, intractable gridlock in Washington (profiled here) as partisan warfare becomes the defining theme. While analysts believe there might be room for cooperation on infrastructure spending, Trump will now need to focus on what he can accomplish out of the executive (and, when it comes to appointing judges, the judiciary) branch. Passing major legislative priorities, which was already hard enough with his fractious Republican majority in the Senate, will be nearly impossible.

But investors didn't seem to mind, as US stock futures surged Wednesday morning as the market celebrated the triumph of its "base case".

But legislative priorities aside, Washington will now turn its attention to the 2020 campaign, which has already unofficially begun. 

Published:11/7/2018 7:00:59 AM
[Markets] What Gridlock Means For The US Economy: Goldman Sachs Explains

For once the pollsters were - generally - right, and while there was no blue wave, Democrats did win the House majority as most predicted, as Republicans not only kept the Senate majority but gained a few additional seats. The outcome, which had been extensively analyzed in advance, can be summarized in one word: gridlock.

Here, as explained by Goldman's political economist Alec Phillips, is what the US divided congress, i.e., gridlock, means for the US economy, and for US policies for the next several years.

  • A consensus outcome. With many races not yet called, most major media outlets have called the overall midterm election results: the House majority has flipped to the Democrats (many results are still outstanding but most projections suggest a split of roughly 230 Democrats and 195 Republicans in the House) and the Republicans will keep their majority in the Senate (most projections show 53-54 Republicans and 46-47 Democrats, including independents). The overall outcome was the widely held consensus view going into Election Day, though the Republican gain in the Senate is larger than expectations.
  • No major changes on taxes: We expect no major tax legislation to become law under a divided Congress. Democratic House leaders might attempt to pass tax legislation that redistributes the 2017 tax cut toward lower income households while also reversing the limitation on the state and local tax deduction. A proposal to partly reverse the corporate tax cuts is also a possibility. However, a proposal making substantial revisions to the 2017 tax reform legislation is very unlikely to attain the 60 votes needed in the Senate, if it even came up for a vote. Our projections of the growth impulse from fiscal policy assume no substantial tax changes will be enacted over the next few years, and the election result should not change this assumption.
  • Spending is likely to be extended around current levels: Under a divided Congress, we expect Congress to approve discretionary caps for defense and non-defense spending for FY2020 and FY2021 that are roughly flat in real terms with the spending caps for 2019 that Congress approved earlier this year. While President Trump has called for a 5% cut in discretionary spending—this would work out to around a $65bn (0.3% of GDP) reduction—we expect that Democratic House leaders will insist on a higher level closer to the current level. Note that whatever is decided is unlikely to influence spending trends until 2020, as the spending caps for FY2019 were already agreed to earlier this year. This legislative scenario is consistent with the assumptions underlying our current government spending forecasts.
  • An infrastructure deal seems unlikely: A divided Congress is unlikely to enact a major infrastructure program, in our view. While President Trump and congressional Democrats have both supported infrastructure programs, the details differ substantially and, more importantly, Democrats might not be motivated to reach an agreement with the White House prior to the 2020 presidential election.
  • Healthcare will be a major issue: Healthcare was listed as a top issue for more voters than any other in exit polling, with 42% listing it as the top issue. The Democratic-majority House is likely to pass drug pricing legislation, but it could be blocked in the Senate. That said, with President Trump also publicly supportive of drug pricing changes, Senate Republicans could come under pressure to reach a compromise on the issue.
  • Trade policy should not be directly affected: A Democratic House poses some risk to passage of the implementing legislation for the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), but we expect that the deal would eventually be approved. However, potential opposition could prompt President Trump to initiate the withdrawal process from the current NAFTA, forcing the House to choose between the new deal or none at all. We do not expect the midterm election outcome to change the Administration’s direction on US-China trade policy, where we think additional tariffs in 2019 are more likely than not.
  • Little impact on the regulatory agenda: Control of the House has little direct impact on the regulatory agenda, since (1) most House-passed legislation would likely be blocked in the Senate, and (2) most regulatory changes under the Trump Administration have been carried out with existing authority and have not needed congressional approval. That said, it is likely that regulatory scrutiny of some regulated industries (health care, financial services) could increase through House committees.
  • Fiscal deadlines become riskier: Fiscal deadlines will become somewhat riskier under a divided Congress, in our view. The next spending deadline is December 7, 2018 (before election results take effect) but this is likely to be pushed to either Q1 2019 or September 30, depending on what Congress decides after the election. Under a divided Congress, there will be a substantial risk of shutdown at the next spending deadline in 2019, though whether it happens will depend on the political environment at that point. The debt limit will be reinstated March 1, 2019 and we expect Congress will need to raise it by August. We note that the two most disruptive debt limit debates in recent memory, in 2011 and 2013, both occurred in a divided Congress.
  • No major signal regarding 2020: We do not believe that the midterm election result sends much of a signal regarding the outlook for the 2020 presidential contest. While there are examples of a party winning the White House two years after flipping the House majority (President Obama in 2008 followed a Democratic win in the House in 2006), there are examples of the opposite as well (the 1994 and 2010 Republican midterm wins were followed by Democratic wins in 1996 and 2012). Perhaps more tangible is the potential Republican gain of 2-3 seats in the Senate, which, if the result holds, would make it more difficult for Democrats to win control of the Senate in the 2020 election, all other things equal.

Source: Goldman Sachs

Published:11/7/2018 6:30:35 AM
[Bits and Pieces] Midterms 2018: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly — & The Silver Lining

The 2018 midterms are in the history books.  Republicans will pick up somewhere between +2 and +4 Senate Seats while Democrats are expected to pick up approx. 33 seats in the House.  To put this into perspective, “since 1862, the president’s party has lost an average of 32 House seats during the midterms.”  Obama’s first […]

The post Midterms 2018: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly — & The Silver Lining appeared first on Bookworm Room.

Published:11/7/2018 4:31:21 AM
[US News] OUCH! So how did the Dems Obama campaigned for do on #ElectionNight?

He's STILL got it.

The post OUCH! So how did the Dems Obama campaigned for do on #ElectionNight? appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/7/2018 1:59:51 AM
[Markets] MarketWatch First Take: Obama lost on Tuesday night — and Obamacare won Most of the candidates Barack Obama stumped for lost on Tuesday night. But the legislation which unofficially bears his name had a terrific night.
Published:11/7/2018 12:32:39 AM
[Markets] CIA's 'Surveillance State' Is Operating Against Us All

Authored by Sharyl Attkisson, op-ed via The Hill,

Maybe you once thought the CIA wasn’t supposed to spy on Americans here in the United States.

That concept is so yesteryear...

Over time, the CIA upper echelon has secretly developed all kinds of policy statements and legal rationales to justify routine, widespread surveillance on U.S. soil of citizens who aren’t suspected of terrorism or being a spy.

The latest outrage is found in newly declassified documents from 2014. They reveal the CIA not only intercepted emails of U.S. citizens but they were emails of the most sensitive kind — written to Congress and involving whistleblowers reporting alleged wrongdoing within the Intelligence Community.

The disclosures, kept secret until now, are two letters of “congressional notification” from the Intelligence Community inspector general at the time, Charles McCullough. He stated that during “routine counterintelligence monitoring of government computer systems,” the CIA collected emails between congressional staff and the CIA’s head of whistleblowing and source protection.

McCullough added that he was concerned about the CIA’s “potential compromise to whistleblower confidentiality and the consequent ‘chilling effect’ that the present [counterintelligence] monitoring system might have on Intelligence Community whistleblowing.”

“Most of these emails concerned pending and developing whistleblower complaints,” McCullough stated in the letters to lead Democrats and Republicans at the time on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees — Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), and Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.).

The March 2014 intercepts, conducted under the leadership of CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, happened amid what’s widely referred to as the Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers and mass surveillance scandals.

Is that legal?

According to the CIA, the spy agency has been limited since the 1970s to collecting intelligence “only for an authorized intelligence purpose; for example, if there is a reason to believe that an individual is involved in espionage or international terrorist activities” and “procedures require senior approval for any such collection that is allowed.”

But here’s where it gets slippery. It turns out the CIA claims it must engage in “routine counterintelligence monitoring of government computers” to make sure certain employees aren’t doing bad things. Poof! Now, all kinds of U.S. citizens and their communications can be swept into the dragnet — and it’s deemed perfectly legal. It’s just an accident or “incidental,” after all, if the CIA happens to pick up whistleblower communications with the legislative branch.

Or maybe it’s a lucky break for certain CIA officials.

The only reason we know any of this now is thanks to Sen. Chuck Grassley(R-Iowa), whose staffers were among those spied on. Grassley says it took four years for him to get the shocking “congressional notifications” declassified so they could be made public. First, Grassley says, Clapper and Brennan dragged their feet, blocking their release. Their successors in the Trump administration were no more responsive. Only when Grassley recently appealed to current Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who was sworn in on May 17, was the material finally declassified.

“The fact that the CIA under the Obama administration was reading congressional staff’s emails about Intelligence Community whistleblowers raises serious policy concerns, as well as potential constitutional separation-of-powers issues that must be discussed publicly,” wrote Grassley in a statement.

Legal or not, there was a time when this news would have so shocked our sensibilities — and would have been considered so antithetical to our Constitution by so many — that it would have prompted a swift, national outcry.

But today, we’ve grown numb. Outrage has been replaced by a cynical, “Who’s surprised about that?” or the persistent belief that “Nothing’s really going to be done about it,” and, worst of all, “What’s so bad about it, anyway?”

Some see the intel community’s alleged abuses during campaign 2016 as its own major scandal. But I see it as a crucial piece of a puzzle.

The evidence points to bad actors targeting candidate Donald Trump and his associates in part to keep them — and us — from learning about and digging into an even bigger scandal: our Intelligence Community increasingly spying on its own citizens, journalists, members of Congress and political enemies for the better part of two decades, if not longer.

Published:11/6/2018 7:30:21 PM
[Markets] What The Midterms Really Mean

Authored by Jeff Deist via The Mises Institute,

The Most Important Election of our Lifetime™ may be a referendum on Trump, Kavanaugh, #metoo, migrant caravans, or any number of manufactured outrages since the 2016 presidential election.

It will not be a referendum on foreign policy, the Federal Reserve, debt, spending entitlements, spying, civil liberties, or anything important with regard to state power.

By any objective measure, the ideological and policy disagreements between the national Democratic and Republican parties are not significant. Both accept the central tenets of domestic and foreign interventionism, both accept the federal government as the chief organizing principle for American society, and both view politics simply as a fight for control of state apparatus.

Similarly, differences between policies actually enacted by Mr. Trump and the existing Congress and those likely to have been enacted by Mrs. Clinton and the same Congress are fairly small. While Mr. Trump alarms the Left with his tone and tenor, his actual views on taxes, spending, debt, trade, guns, immigration (the "Muslim ban" was neither) and war (unfortunately his good campaign rhetoric is largely abandoned) plainly comport with the general thrust of Clinton's neo-liberalism. 

Today's ugly midterm elections are about style rather than substance, party rather than principle, and power rather than ideas. Americans do not much argue about whether we are governed by DC, and only slightly over how we are governed by DC. But we argue viciously about who governs us from DC. 

Voting is a tribal exercise, and how could it be otherwise in a country of 320 million people?

It is important to understand the 2016 presidential election, which sent roughly 40% of Americans into a state of gloating or despair, was decided by a very small percentage of the US population.

Donald Trump prevailed in six swing states won by Mr. Obama in 2012: Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Trump's swing votes were cast overwhelmingly by older Americans, many of whom had voted for Obama at least once. The vaunted "alt-Right," a barely-extant tiny group with a noisy social media presence, had little to do with Trump's election: he won because of economic insecurity among Rust Belt voters and Florida retirees, and because the ferocious culture wars being pushed by the Left alarmed more moderate and affluent voters. 

Still, he didn't win by much. Here are the margin numbers for those six states:

Fewer than 1 million voters, in a country of 320 million people, changed the narrative from: "It's Hillary's time, the progressive arc was inevitable, Americans were too smart to fall for a real estate huckster" to "Dangerous rightwing populism is on the rise, Trump and his Supreme Court are illegitimate, the Russians hacked the election." This is absurd.

In fact a mere 77,744 votes, in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, were enough to swing the difference to Trump. Why are so many Americans having collective mental breakdowns over such insignificant numbers of voters?   

Today's midterm election likewise will be decided by small margins. Assuming this Cook Political Report analysis is accurate, only about 75 "most competitive" US House races are truly in play to switch parties (the Senate appears likely to remain majority Republican).

Although US congressional districts (on average) are home to 711,000 people, even in somewhat contested or hotly contested general elections--rare due to gerrymandering-- fewer than 300,000 votes usually are cast. Assuming the competitive House races in the Cook Report end up with 2% margins between the winner and loser, only 6,000 votes will make the difference in each (assuming high turnouts with fully 300,000 people voting).

6,000 difference-making votes, multiplied across 75 (predicted) close US House elections, yields only 450,000 votes. So again, fewer than 1 million people in a country of 320 million will cause one of two breathless (and false) narratives to prevail.  

This is not a prescription for peace and flourishing.

America is barely a country at this point, defined only by its federal state. It is not a nation, lacking cohesion or commonality: we fight over history, the Constitution, the Electoral College and other constitutional mechanisms, immigration and birthright citizenship, not to mention sex, race, class, and sexuality. This utter politicization of American society-- a Progressive triumph-- is unsustainable over time.

In this environment, democratic voting and elections become an exercise of brute force-- vanquishing the other side without resorting to outright violence and warfare. Voting doesn't heal divisions or produce compromise, witness the 2016 election. Politically vanquished people don't just go away; this is precisely why Progressives were blindsided by Brexit and Trump in the first place. There are more Deplorables than imagined, and they're stubbornly hanging around longer than expected.

We should acknowledge this, sooner rather than later, to avoid a catastrophe. Federalism and subsidiarity, applied with increasing intensity, are the non-violent path forward. Insistence on universalism, decided by a slight majority and applied top-down from DC, will fail here at home in the same way-- and for the same reason-- nation-building fails abroad.

Published:11/6/2018 5:29:18 PM
[Markets] Army Major: "Not On The Agenda" – America’s Wars Are A Non-Factor In The Midterms

Authored by Major Danny Sjursen via AntiWar.com,

The United States military is actively fighting in seven Muslim-majority countries; and no one cares. As Americans go to the polls today in a ritual pretense of democracy, they will vote for one of the two major political parties on issues ranging from healthcare to immigration to the basic personality of President Donald Trump. The three mainstream networks – from "liberal" MSNBC to "conservative" Fox News – have reported on little else for the last several months. The whole charade is little more than politics-as-entertainment, like some popular sporting event in which the opposing sides wave the flag for the blue team or the red team.

For weeks now, my television, and yours, has been saturated with political commercials for and against local legislative candidates. Some are attack ads focused on corruption and the supposed left or right-wing extremism of the opposing candidate. Others center on taxes, healthcare, and the ostensible "hordes" of immigrants approaching the U.S. in a troublesome caravan. But none, I repeat, none, say a thing about American foreign policy, the nation’s ongoing wars, or the exploding, record defense budget.

You see, in 2018, despite being engrossed in the longest war in US history, the citizenry – both on Main Street and Wall Street – display nothing but apathy on the subject of America’s clearly faltering foreign policy.

The reasons are fairly simple: while the populace reflexively (over) adulates our "heroes" in uniform, it has been programmed to ignore the actual travails of our troopers. So long as there is no conscription of Americans’ sons and daughters, and so long as taxes don’t rise (we simply put our wars on the national credit card), the people are quite content to allow less than 1% of the population fight the nation’s failing wars – with no questions asked. Both mainstream wings of the Republicans and Democrats like it that way.

They practice the politics of distraction and go on tacitly supporting one indecisive intervention after another, all the while basking in the embarrassment of riches bestowed upon them by the corporate military industrial complex. Everyone wins, except, that is, the soldiers doing multiple tours of combat duty, and – dare I say – the people of the Greater Middle East, who live in an utterly destabilized nightmare of a region.

Why should we be surprised? The de facto "leaders" of both parties – the Chuck Schumers, Joe Bidens, Hillary Clintons and Mitch McConnells of the world – all voted for the 2002 Iraq War resolution, one of the worst foreign policy adventures in American History. Sure, on domestic issues – taxes, healthcare, immigration – there may be some distinction between Republican and Democratic policies; but on the profound issues of war and peace, there is precious little daylight between the two partiesThat, right there, is a formula for perpetual war.

To find the few brave voices willing to dissent against the foreign policy consensus, one must look to the political margins of the libertarian right (i.e. Rand Paul) and the democratic socialist left (i.e. Bernie Sanders). This is a sad state of affairs on an election day that both Donald Trump and Barack Obama have assured us is the "most consequential" of our lifetimes. You see on this point I actually agree with these two polar political opposites. This is a vital election, only not for the reasons we’re told. This November 6th is profound because it demonstrates, once and for all, the utter vacuousness of American politics.

So where does the U.S. currently stand on foreign policy today? Well, it is actively bombing seven countries, has up to 800 military bases in 80 countries, has combat troops, special forces, drones and/or advisors on the ground in (or in the skies above) Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, West Africa, Libya and Pakistan, among others. Occasionally, American service-members are still dying across the Middle East – often in treacherous insider attacks, in which they very people we "advise and assist" turn their weapons on our troops.

Furthermore, it is unclear that the US is either "winning" – whatever that means anymore – or accomplishing anything of note in any of these locales. For example, in the longest conflict of the lot, Afghanistan, all the key metrics indicate that the US is losing, both politically and militarily. As for the other ongoing wars in the region, no one – not the generals or the civilian policymakers – seems capable of articulating an exit strategy. Maybe there just isn’t any.

Still, none of that will be on the ballot today, when Americans queue up to vote for their favorite teams. They’ll be casting ballots based on the illusion of differentiation between two highly corporate political entities that are squarely in the pocket of the weapons’ industry and their Wall Street financiers. And, tonight, when the media outlets dazzle their viewers with holograms, charts, and other neat toys depicting the day’s winners and losers – not one station will even utter that naughty word: Afghanistan.

What all this illustrates, in sum, is that the citizenry doesn’t really care about the troops, and neither do their elected leaders. Soldiers are political props and little else – meant to be "thanked," paraded at sporting events, and then effectively ignored – the new American way.

The republic, or, more accurately, the empire, is in real trouble when – in the midst of its longest conflicts ever – war is not even on the agenda at the polls today.

Pity the nation…

Published:11/6/2018 4:31:27 PM
[Politics] RNC: Trump Focused on Turning His Base Into GOP Voters RNC spokeswoman says President Donald Trump has effectively migrated his supporters to vote for Republicans, and will turn out voters unlike former President Barack Obama. Published:11/6/2018 11:25:44 AM
[World] Former Obama Adviser Expects Democratic House, But No 'Blue Wave' in Midterm Elections

A former economic adviser to former President Obama thinks Democrats will retake the House in the midterm elections, but he does not expect a full-fledged "blue wave."

Published:11/6/2018 9:57:17 AM
[Politics] Eric Trump: Obama Has 'Personal Problem' With My Father President Donald Trump's son Eric Tuesday accused former President Barack Obama of having a "personal problem" with his father. Published:11/6/2018 9:25:46 AM
[US News] BRO, self-aware MUCH?! Obama lectures Trump about American citizenship, TRIPS over his pen and phone (watch)

You know Democrats are getting desperate when they start dragging out Obama at the last minute to campaign for them … especially when he starts rambling about American citizenship. We found this particular tidbit where Obama started lecturing Trump about how a president doesn’t get to decide who is and isn’t an American citizen especially […]

The post BRO, self-aware MUCH?! Obama lectures Trump about American citizenship, TRIPS over his pen and phone (watch) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/6/2018 8:26:32 AM
[Markets] Paul Craig Roberts: What This Election Is Really About

Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

I never cease to be amazed at the insouciance of Americans. Readers send me emails asking why I ever supported Trump when he was the Establishment’s candidate. If Trump was the Establishment’s candidate, why has the Establishment spent two years trying to destroy him?

The failure to put two and two together is extraordinary. Trump declared war on the Establishment throughout the presidential campaign and in his inaugural address.

As I wrote at the time, Trump vastly over-estimates the power of the president. He expected the Establishment, like his employees, to jump to his will, and he did not know Washington or who to appoint to support his goals. He has been totally defeated in his intention to normalize relations with Russia. Instead, we are faced with both Russia and China preparing for war.

In other words, the same outcome that Hillary would have achieved.

Trump has been so harassed by the Establishment that he is having trouble thinking straight. He was elected by “the deplorables” as the first non-Establishment candidate since when? You have to go back in history to find one. Perhaps Andrew Jackson. Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan were not the choice of the Democratic and Republican establishments, and the ruling establishments moved quickly to constrain both presidencies. The Democratic Establishment framed and removed both Carter’s budget director and chief of staff, depriving Carter of the kind of commitment he needed for his agenda. The Bush people that the Republican Establishment insisted be put in positions of power in the Reagan administration succeeded in blunting his reformist economic program and his determination to end the cold war. I fought both battles for Reagan, and I still have the bruises.

Trump is an outsider elected by “the deplorables” whose middle class jobs were offshored by America’s global corporations for the benefit only of the executives and large shareholders. A few people sold out the American middle class, which is shrinking away.

In the rest of the world, Trump’s true allies are the presidents of Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, the former president of Ecuador, and the former president of Honduras, who was overthrown by “America’s First Black President,” the consequences of which are the caravan moving toward the US border. The Establishment has succeeded in so confusing Trump that he has declared the Establishment’s war against the non-establishment leaders in Latin America.

So what is this midterm US election about?

It is about whether “the deplorables” have been brainwashed by the Establishment’s media whores and fail to support Trump in the House and Senate elections. If the Democrats, whose politics is Identity Politics, get the House and/or Senate, Trump will be completely impotent. The Establishment hopes to drive the lesson home to every future presidential candidate to never again appeal to the people over the vested interests of the Establishment.

In America democracy is a scam. The oligarchy rules, and the people, no matter how they suffer under the oligarch’s rule, must submit and accept. No more presidential candidates, please, who represent the people. This is the lesson that the Establishment hopes to teach the rabble in the midterm elections.

What should this election be about?

If America had an independent media, the election would be about the dangerous situation created by Washington that has caused two militarily powerful countries to prepare for war with the US. This is the most serious development of my lifetime. Everything President Reagan worked for has been overthrown for the material interests of the power and profit of the military/security complex.

If America had an independent media, the election would be about the American police state that, based on the 9/11 lie, the weapons of mass destruction lie, the use of chemical weapons lie, the Iranian nukes lie, the Russian invasion of Ukraine lie, was accepted by the insouciant Americans. Those responsible for these lies, which have caused massive war crimes, for which US administrations should be indicted, are feted and rich. The rest of us have experienced the loss of civil liberty and privacy. Any individual in the way of the police state is mowed down.

If America had an independent media, the election would be about the de-industrialization of the United States. Today, as this article makes clear - the offshoring of American manufacturing and industry has reduced the US military to dependence on Chinese suppliers.

And the Trump administration starts trouble with China!

If America had an independent media, the election would be about the 20 years of US and NATO/EU war crimes against Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen, and US and NATO support for Israel’s war crimes against the remnants of the Palestinian people, and US and NATO/EU support for the neo-nazi regime established by the Obama regime in Ukraine to commit war crimes against the breakaway Russian provinces, the populations of which refuse to become victims of Washington’s overthrow of the democratic elected Ukrainian government and installation by “America’s first black president” of a neo-nazi regime.

If America had an independent media, the election would be about the orchastrated demonization of Iran. The completely stupid dope that Trump appointed Secretary of State just declared (the utter fool should not be permitted to open his mouth) that Washington was going to drive Iran into the ground unless the government agreed to behave like a normal state.

What does Pompeo mean by a “normal state.” He means a state that takes its marching orders from Washington. Iran has not invaded any country. The government in power is the continuation of the government that overthrew the Shah, a dictator imposed on Iran by Washington when Washington and London overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran.

What the despicable Pompeo is really saying is that Iran has to go, because Iran, like Syria, is in the way of Israel’s expansion into southern Lebanon, because Iran and Syria supply the Hezbollah militia, which has twice defeated Israeli invasions of southern Lebanon. The vaunted Israeli army is only good for murdering women and children in the disarmed Gaza ghetto.

If America had an independent media, someone would ask Pompeo precisely what Iran is doing that warrants Washington unilaterally, in the face of opposition of the European, Russian, and Chinese signatures to the Iran Nuclear Agreement, pulling out of the agreement and imposing sanctions that no other country on the planet, except Israel, supports?

But, of course, America has no independent media. It has a collection of whores known as NPR, Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, MSCBS, Fox News, etc.

Without an honest and independent media, there is no accountability of government. America has no honest and independent media. Therefore, in America there is no accountability of government.

“The deplorables” are faced with a dilemma. The president they elected has been overcome by the establishment and cannot represent them. Instead, Trump gives his supporters warmonger John Bolton as National Security Advisor and warmonger Pompeo as US Secretary of State. He might as well have appointed Adolf Hitler. In fact, Hitler was a more reasonable person.

So again, America is having an election in which nothing of any importance is discussed.

Unless the American people rise up in armed rebellion, they are finished as a free people, and, of course, they cannot rise up in armed rebellion. Not so much because the police and every agency of the government has been militarized as because Jewish cultural Marxism and the Democratic Party’s Identity Policics have the American people disorganized and at one another’s throats. Cultural Marxism and Identity Politics have divided the American population into victims and victimizers. The true victimizers and true victims are not part of the picture, which is a construction that serves ideological agendas. It is not the oligarchy that is the victimizer, but the Trump-voting white male. It is not the multi-billionaires, but the marginalized former manufacturing and industrial work force that is the source of oppression. This former work force is black and white, but the Democratic Party’s Identity Politics has blacks and whites at each other’s throats.

My conclusion is that America is doomed. The people, with few exceptions, are not smart enough to continue to exist. Perhaps the outcome of the elections today will change my mind. If the vote goes to the Establishment, all is lost.

Published:11/6/2018 7:58:33 AM
[In The News] Trump Administration Returns To Supreme Court, Seeking End To DACA

By DCNF -

US Supreme Court

The Trump administration returned to the U.S. Supreme Court Monday night seeking to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era amnesty initiative that extends protected status to illegal aliens brought to the U.S. as children.

Trump Administration Returns To Supreme Court, Seeking End To DACA is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:11/5/2018 7:53:10 PM
[General] CEO having nightmares over #Midterms2018, needs you to vote blue and save the planet

Conservatives seem to have survived the nightmare of 8 years of Barack Obama; it'll be OK.

The post CEO having nightmares over #Midterms2018, needs you to vote blue and save the planet appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/5/2018 7:53:10 PM
[] CNN Maybe Missed a Few Key Details About the Synagogue Vandal Strange how CNN was Johnny On the Spot linking the Not-A-Bomb Sender to Trump but forgot to mention the synagogue vandal/threatener was an Obama volunteer. CNN reports that police have arrested James Polite for allegedly vandalizing a synagogue in NYC.CNN... Published:11/5/2018 6:52:02 PM
[Markets] Johnstone: Midterms Would Be A Walkover If Dems Had Not Wasted 2 Years On 'Russiagate'

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

I haven’t been writing about the US midterms much, because I don’t care about that nonsense anymore. The whole thing’s a fake pro wrestling performance staged every couple of years to give a heavily armed populace the illusory sense that they have some degree of control over the things their government does.

By this I do not mean that the votes aren’t real or that the outcomes are predetermined, I simply mean that both mainstream parties are controlled by plutocrats who benefit from the status quo and are only interested in their own power and profit. No matter who wins on Tuesday, the wars are guaranteed to continue, the oligarchs are guaranteed to keep siphoning more and more money out of the pockets of ordinary Americans, opaque and unaccountable intelligence agencies are guaranteed to continue expanding intrusive surveillance practices and narrative control psyops in collaboration with powerful Silicon Valley corporations, and we’re guaranteed to keep hurtling toward climate catastrophe on the back of an economic system which requires infinite growth on a finite planet. The only thing that might change a tiny bit is America maybe temporarily having a government which pretends to care about oppressed minorities sometimes.

But there’s a sharp tension in the air about this performance. Whenever I mention how it’s all an act staged to profit nobody but Vince McMahon, I get a bunch of people yelling and cursing at me, with even those those who kind of know it’s fake saying “Okay, but you still gotta cheer for The Undertaker though, come on!”

That tension is there because on paper the outcome of the 2018 midterms is still uncertain. The slight lead Democrats held in polls has narrowed furthertoday, with some analysts going so far as to predict Republicans retaining control of both houses.

Which is, on its surface, bizarre. It is bizarre not only because a new president almost always takes congressional losses at this point in their administration (the only exceptions being the historically significant years of 1934 and 2002), but also because the Republican Party is under the leadership of the most despised presidential candidate of all time.

If US politics were real, this would not be happening. If the Democratic Party were a real political party, a party which advances popular agendas in order to get its members elected to the government the way kids are taught in school, it would be on the cusp of a massive landslide of victories in both the House and the Senate, instead praying Hail Marys that they at least gain a slight advantage in the House. The last two years would have been spent promoting the virally popular agendas of the Bernie Sanders movement like single payer healthcare and getting money out of politics, after a thorough and radically honest autopsy of everything that went so catastrophically wrong in 2016.

Instead, what did Democrats do? They spent the last two years babbling about Russiagate conspiracy theories, and then in a tacit admission that they’ve never believed a word of that nonsense suddenly went completely silent on the issue before midterms and switched to the “We’re not Trump” platform. Oh yeah, and they’re telling Green Party candidates to drop out.

Democrats have done almost nothing in the last two years to fight the Republicans in any way that will ensure victory. Using his personal Twitter account, conservative media lackeys and an army of sycophants, Trump has completely dominated the narrative that his presidency has been a godsend for the economy. Fighting this narrative should have been Democrats’ first and foremost priority from day one, which would have been extremely easy to do since the narrative is entirely false. Job growth has continued on the trajectory it’s been on since 2012 and ordinary Americans don’t have any more money in their pockets than before; the wealth has stayed at the top no matter how much the economy has grown. An entirely factual counter-narrative about money being siphoned upward to the dollar-hoarding billionaire class with the help of Republican tax cuts would have been an extremely easy sell, but hardly anybody has attempted to do this.

Or war. It’s simply taken for granted that Democrats aren’t going to campaign against war, but how easy would it be for them to win elections if they did? There is no shortage of footage and statistics which could be used to attack this administration’s unforgivable rate of civilian casualties from airstrikes, its expansion of military presence in Syria, Afghanistan and Africa, its horrifying escalations against a nuclear superpower in Russia, its continued facilitation of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world in Yemen, and its depraved implementation of starvation sanctions against Iran. Democrats could have been shoving these horrors into the public eye since January 2017 and it would have not only galvanized liberals and leftists against Trump but also crippled his appeal with the anti-interventionist paleocons, libertarians and nationalists on the right. But, of course, they did not, because that would have alienated their war profiteer sponsors.

Instead of advancing popular positions to win the votes of the majority as kids are taught happens in school, all Democrats are doing currently is attacking the Republicans over Trump’s obnoxious tweets and generally successful anti-immigrant fearmongering. Since both parties support all oligarchic agendas in essentially the same ways, the only wiggle room Democrats have left is on issues the billionaire class doesn’t care about, like racism and other forms of bigotry. Plutocrats don’t care if gay people get married or if the president says racist things, they only care about power and profit, so civil rights and opposition to racism are the only means by which Democrats can significantly distinguish themselves from Republicans in a way that helps them get elected. The fact that both parties support the same oligarchic agendas which hurt disadvantaged groups first and worst goes unmentioned by either side.

It was telling when the Democrats lost to the single most beatable presidential candidate of all time in 2016. It was even more telling that they chose to spend two years spouting gibberish about Russia instead of building an actual platform with actual positions that actual people care about. The fact that there is any doubt whatsoever about the donkey party making gains in 2018 proves conclusively that they have been making zero effort to help advance the interests of Americans.

They do not care. It should be as clear as day to everyone by now. And why don’t they care? Because a pro wrestler gets paid the same whether his character wins the match or loses it.

US politics work nothing remotely like how kids are taught in school. The difference is night and day. If the American education system really wanted kids to learn about the way their electoral system actually functions, teachers would bribe student government candidates with Monopoly money to betray the interests of their classmates, and whichever candidate accepted the most bribes would get advertised on the school PA system as the clear and obvious choice to vote for.

By all means go ahead and vote on Tuesday, my American readers, in whatever way you feel might make some difference. But please also remember that you are ultimately participating in a game rigged for your oppressors, and that you deserve a much better system than this.

That’s where the real fight is.

*  *  *

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out mypodcast, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal,buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Published:11/5/2018 3:51:20 PM
[Politics] Trump slaps tough sanctions on Iran, explains WHY oil sanctions aren’t as tough yet… The Trump administration has restored tough sanctions on Iran that were taken off by the Obama administration because of the phony and treasonous nuclear deal: FOX NEWS – The Trump administration said . . . Published:11/5/2018 1:51:53 PM
[Politics] Trump slaps tough sanctions on Iran, explains WHY oil sanctions aren’t as tough yet… The Trump administration has restored tough sanctions on Iran that were taken off by the Obama administration because of the phony and treasonous nuclear deal: FOX NEWS – The Trump administration said . . . Published:11/5/2018 1:20:45 PM
[Politics] 43% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

For the fifth week in a row, 43% of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, this time according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending November 1.

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 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from October 28-November 1, 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:11/5/2018 12:24:41 PM
[Politics] Daily Presidential Tracking Poll

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 50% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Forty-nine percent (49%) disapprove. 

On this day in 2010, President Obama’s second year in office, 45% of voters approved of the job he was doing; 54% disapproved.

The latest figures include 36% who Strongly Approve of the job Trump is doing and 41% who Strongly Disapprove. This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -5. (see trends)

Regular updates are posted Monday through Friday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily email update).

Now that Gallup has quit the field, Rasmussen Reports is the only nationally recognized public opinion firm that still tracks President Trump's job approval ratings on a daily basis. If your organization is interested in a weekly or longer sponsorship of Rasmussen Reports' Daily Presidential Tracking Poll, please send e-mail to  beth@rasmussenreports.com .

Published:11/5/2018 8:49:59 AM
[Iran] Iran sanctions revisited (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. There was no bridge too far for Obama in seeking to align the United States with the mullahs of Iran. Published:11/5/2018 6:48:15 AM
[Markets] New Iran Sanctions Risk Long-Term US Isolation

Authored by Patrick Lawrence via ConsortiumNews.com,

The U.S. is going for the jugular with new Iran sanctions intended to punish those who trade with Teheran. But the U.S. may have a fight on its hands in a possible post- WWII turning-point...

The next step in the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran has begun, with the most severe sanctions being re-imposed on the Islamic Republic. Crucially, they apply not only to Iran but to anyone who continues to do business with it.

It’s not yet clear how disruptive this move will be. While the U.S. intention is to isolate Iran, it is the U.S. that could wind up being more isolated. It depends on the rest of the world’s reaction, and especially Europe’s.

The issue is so fraught that disputes over how to apply the new sanctions have even divided Trump administration officials.

The administration is going for the jugular this time. It wants to force Iranian exports of oil and petrochemical products down to as close to zero as possible. As the measures are now written, they also exclude Iran from the global interbank system known as SWIFT.

It is hard to say which of these sanctions is more severe. Iran’s oil exports have already started falling. They peaked at 2.7 million barrels a day last May—just before Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the six-nation accord governing Iran’s nuclear programs. By early September oil exports were averaging a million barrels a day less.

In August the U.S. barred Iran’s purchases of U.S.-dollar denominated American and foreign company aircraft and auto parts. Since then the Iranian rial has crashed to record lows and inflation has risen above 30 percent.

Revoking Iran’s SWIFT privileges will effectively cut the nation out of the dollar-denominated global economy. But there are moves afoot, especially by China and Russia, to move away from a dollar-based economy.

The SWIFT issue has caused infighting in the administration between Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser who is among the most vigorous Iran hawks in the White House. Mnuchin might win a temporary delay or exclusions for a few Iranian financial institutions, but probably not much more.

On Sunday, the second round of sanctions kicked in since Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Obama administration-backed, nuclear agreement, which lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for stringent controls on its nuclear program. The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly certified that the deal is working and the other signatories—Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia have not pulled out and have resumed trading with Iran. China and Russia have already said they will ignore American threats to sanction it for continuing economic relations with Iran. The key question is what will America’s European allies do?

Europeans React

Europe has been unsettled since Trump withdrew in May from the nuclear accord. The European Union is developing a trading mechanism to get around U.S. sanctions. Known as a Special Purpose Vehicle, it would allow European companies to use a barter system similar to how Western Europe traded with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Juncker: Wants Euro-denominated trading

EU officials have also been lobbying to preserve Iran’s access to global interbank operations by excluding the revocation of SWIFT privileges from Trump’s list of sanctions. They count Mnuchin,who is eager to preserve U.S. influence in the global trading system, among their allies. Some European officials, including Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, propose making the euro a global trading currency to compete with the dollar.

Except for Charles de Gaulle briefly pulling France out of NATO in 1967 and Germany and France voting on the UN Security Council against the U.S. invading Iraq in 2003, European nations have been subordinate to the U.S. since the end of the Second World War.

The big European oil companies, unwilling to risk the threat of U.S. sanctions, have already signaled they intend to ignore the EU’s new trade mechanism. Total SA, the French petroleum company and one of Europe’s biggest, pulled out of its Iran operations several months ago.

Earlier this month a U.S. official confidently predicted there would be little demand among European corporations for the proposed barter mechanism.

Whether Europe succeeds in efforts to defy the U.S. on Iran is nearly beside the point from a long-term perspective. Trans-Atlantic damage has already been done. A rift that began to widen during the Obama administration seems about to get wider still.

Asia Reacts

Asian nations are also exhibiting resistance to the impending U.S. sanctions. It is unlikely they could absorb all the exports Iran will lose after Nov. 4, but they could make a significant difference. China, India, and South Korea are the first, second, and third-largest importers of Iranian crude; Japan is sixth. Asian nations may also try to work around the U.S. sanctions regime after Nov. 4.

India is considering purchases of Iranian crude via a barter system or denominating transactions in rupees. China, having already said it would ignore the U.S. threat, would like nothing better than to expand yuan-denominated oil trading, and this is not a hard call: It is in a protracted trade war with the U.S., and an oil-futures market launched in Shanghai last spring already claims roughly 14 percent of the global market for “front-month” futures—contracts covering shipments closest to delivery.

Trump: Unwittingly playing with U.S. long-term future

As with most of the Trump administration’s foreign policies, we won’t know how the new sanctions will work until they are introduced. There could be waivers for nations such as India; Japan is on record asking for one. The E.U.’s Special Purpose Vehicle could prove at least a modest success at best, but this remains uncertain. Nobody is sure who will win the administration’s internal argument over SWIFT.

Long-term Consequences for the U.S.

The de-dollarization of the global economy is gradually gathering momentum. The orthodox wisdom in the markets has long been that competition with the dollar from other currencies will eventually prove a reality, but it will not be one to arrive in our lifetimes. But with European and Asian reactions to the imminent sanctions against Iran it could come sooner than previously thought.

The coalescing of emerging powers into a non-Western alliance —most significantly China, Russia, India, and Iran—starts to look like another medium-term reality. This is driven by practical rather than ideological considerations, and the U.S. could not do more to encourage this if it tried. When Washington withdrew from the Iran accord, Moscow and Beijing immediately pledged to support Tehran by staying with its terms.If the U.S. meets significant resistance, especially from its allies, it could be a turning-point in post-Word War II U.S. dominance.

Supposedly Intended for New Talks

All this is intended to force Iran back to the negotiating table for a rewrite of what Trump often calls “the worst deal ever.” Tehran has made it clear countless times it has no intention of reopening the pact, given that it has consistently adhered to its terms and that the other signatories to the deal are still abiding by it.

The U.S. may be drastically overplaying its hand and could pay the price with additional international isolation that has worsened since Trump took office.

Washington has been on a sanctions binge for years. Those about to take effect seem recklessly broad. This time, the U.S. risks lasting alienation even from those allies that have traditionally been its closest.

Published:11/5/2018 1:17:49 AM
[Markets] Army Major Exposes The US Military's Empire Of Secrecy

Authored by Army Major Danny Sjruden via TruthDig.com,

“Democracy dies in darkness.” That’s an old saying that The Washington Post recycled as its motto at the dawn of the Trump era.

Truth is, the journalists at the Post don’t know the half of it; nor do they bother to report on the genuine secrecy and increasing lack of transparency in the Department of Defense. Nothing against the Post - neither do any of the other mainstream media outlets.

But it’s true: Right under most Americans’ noses, the military has become more opaque over the last several years. Now, few outlets cover foreign policy with any particular gusto - after all, there’s so much to say about Stormy Daniels or the Brett Kavanaugh drama. But this trend should concern all citizens.

Thing is, what the U.S. military is up to on any given day is done in your name. If civilians are killed, locals alienated or civil liberties restricted, then the global populace, including concerned U.S. citizens, aren’t going to fix blame solely on the armed forces … they’re going to blame you! If for no other reason than this, citizens of an - ostensible - democracy ought to be paying attention. The military is a fierce, potentially brutal instrument, and anyone who cares about liberty ought to watch it closely.

Only that’s getting harder and harder to do in today’s political climate. On one issue after another the U.S. military has recently intensified its secrecy, has classified previously open information and has suppressed any remaining sense of transparency. Don’t just take my word for it: This week a relatively mainstream congressional Democrat, Adam Smith - a ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee—wrote at length on this very topic.

Make no mistake, these trends are long-standing and gradual. So, what follows is not some vacuous liberal attack on President Trump, who remains, for legal purposes, and so long as I remain in uniform, my commander in chief. Still, the time is long past when someone needs to scream from the proverbial mountaintop about America’s expanding empire of secrecy.

Though there are plenty of examples to review, there’s something else to keep in mind: The military isn’t some monolithic monster. It’s far more discreet than that, and so are these trends, so watch closely. Evidence abounds.

Soon after the inauguration, the military—which had long recognized and planned for the existential threat of climate change—received guidance to all but purge the term from its reports. It was to be replaced with more nebulous (and inaccurate) phrases, such as “extreme weather.”

Then there’s the minor matter of the war in Afghanistan and its progress—after, you know, 17-plus years. One of the key benchmarks or metrics for progress has been the success or failure of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Well, for years the DOD released annual casualty figures for the ANSF, and the trends were alarming. Afghan Security Force casualties are frankly unsustainable—the Taliban are killing more than the government can recruit. The death rates are staggering, numbering 5,500 fatalities in 2015, 6,700 in 2016, and an estimate of “about 10,000” in 2017. The reason we’re not sure about the exact count last year is because that data—admittedly at the request of the Afghan government—has been newly classified. This seems absurd. How can the legislature or the public determine the viability or prognosis of America’s longest war without such key statistics? The short answer is, it can’t. And so, the war drags on. …

What’s more, the military’s historically uneasy relationship with the press has also further chilled. As Rep. Smith reported, and complained about, the DOD had issued edicts to curtail or discourage officers from providing candid assessments on readiness challenges, the control of nuclear weapons and other key appraisals. Only after a prolonged public outcry were these once-common press interactions partially reinstated. Nevertheless, this all points to an alarming trend of apparent furtiveness.

There are other examples to add into the disturbing mix.

The Navy has stopped publicly posting accident reports. Also, at a time of exploding, record defense budgets, once routine public reports on the cost, schedule and performance of expensive weapons systems have, since 2017, been labeled as “For Official Use Only”—which keeps the data from the public through an ever-expanding regime of “over-classification.” Without such public releases, the populace and their elected representatives cannot effectively scrutinize what President (and five-star General) Eisenhower aptly labeled the “dangerous” military-industrial complex. Is that the point? Let’s hope not.

Then there is the internal censorship within the military’s computer networks. Recently, credible, left-leaning websites such as Tom Dispatch and The Intercept have reportedly been blocked on many government computers. The reason provided in the firewall warning message is the existence of “hate and racism” on the two sites. Now, many readers, and even more American citizens, may not like the content of these publications—which is fine—but anyone who has even briefly read anything on these sites can vouch for one salient truth: There is absolutely nothing hateful or racist at Tom Dispatch or The Intercept. These publications are professionally edited and reviewed, and, indeed, are unique in that they focus on long-form analytical essays.

It appears that the only crime of these sites is that they are, indeed, left-leaning. Need proof? Well, guess which genuinely racist, conspiracy-theory-peddling websites are not blocked? You guessed it: Breitbart and InfoWars. Heck, even Facebook and Twitter have taken steps to ban Alex Jones’ InfoWars from their social media sites. So, there’s only one major conclusion to draw: Genuinely shocking and offensive right-leaning publications are just fine; meanwhile, even credible, respected left-leaning sites are apparently a threat. This sort of rank partisanship is disturbing from a purportedly apolitical organization like the DOD.

Now, there are no doubt times when tactical necessity requires secrecy in military operations. I’ve lived at the sharp end of that spear, and do not discount its occasional inexorability. That said, much of the move away from transparency has little to do with combat, so to speak, and more to do with politics. We, the citizenry, trust our military with immense responsibility, but as a supposed democracy, that same military ought to be accountable to Congress and to the public. These days, that seems ever more like a distant fantasy.

This all matters. America has a choice. It can be an empire—or it can be a genuine republic. It may not be both.

Published:11/4/2018 8:46:05 PM
[Markets] Papadopoulos Details Alleged Entrapment Scheme By Undercover Deep State Agents

George Papadopoulos - a central figure and self-admitted dupe in the Obama administration's targeted spying on the Trump campaign, gave a wide-ranging interview to Dan Bongino on Friday, detailing what he claims to have been a setup by deep state operatives across the world in order to ultimately infiltrate the Trump campaign.

 

Reviewing events

In March 2016, Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud told Papadopoulos - an energy consultant who had recently joined the Trump campaign - that Russia had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton, a claim which Papadopoulos repeated in May 2016 to Australian diplomat Alexander Downer in a London bar. Of note, former FBI Assistant Director of counterintelligence, Bill Priestap, reportedly traveled to London directly before Downer met with Papadopoulos, while a few months later former FBI agent Peter Strzok met with Downer in London directly before the DOJ officially launched their investigation into the Trump campaign. 

The alleged admission about Clinton's emails officially sparked the Obama administration's counterintelligence operation on Trump on July 31, 2016 - dubbed Operation Crossfire Hurricane. In September 2016, the FBI would send spy Stefan Halper to further probe Papadopoulos on the Clinton email allegation, and - according to his interview with Dan Bongino, Papadoplous says Halper angrily accused him of working with Russia before storming out of a meeting. 

Halper essentially began interrogating Papadopoulos, saying that it’s “obviously in your interest to be working with the Russians” and to “hack emails.” “You’re complicit with Russia in this, isn’t that right George” Halper told him. Halper also inquired about Hillary’s hacked emails, insinuating that Papadopoulos possessed them. Papadopoulos denied knowing anything about this and asked to be left alone. -Bongino.com

There are two schools of thought on Papadopoulos and his relationship with Mifsud - the first link in the chain regarding the Clinton email rumor. Notably, Mifsud claimed last November to be a member of the Clinton Foundation, and has donated to the charity.

The first theory is that Mifsud and Papadopoulos are Russian agents, and that Papadopoulos was used to try and establish a backchannel to Putin. Papadopoulos admits he tried to set up a Trump-Putin meeting - which was flatly rejected by the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos, however, claims the Putin connection was a woman Mifsud introduced him to claiming to be Putin's niece, who was present at a March 24, 2016 meeting.

The second theory regarding Mifsud is that he was a deep state plant working with the FBI; convincing Papadopoulos that he could arrange a meeting with members of the Russian government and then seeding Papadopoulos with the Clinton email rumor. From there, as the theory goes, the "deep state" attempted to pump Papadopoulos for information and set up a case against him - beginning with Alexander Downer and the "drunken" confession in London. 

Papadopoulos told Bongino that he wasn't drunk during his meeting with Downer, and that he was being recorded. Papadopoulos noted during the Bongino interview that transcripts of his meetings with Mifsud and Dower reportedly exist - which he says proves that he was set up. According to Papadopoulos, Mifsud's lawyer said that he's not a Russian asset and was instead working for Western intelligence. 

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying the FBI about his interactions with Mifsud, and was sentenced to 14 days in federal prison and a $9,500 fine. 

$10,000 cash

Papadopoulos also told Bongino about $10,000 in cash that he was given in an Israel hotel room in July 2017 - which he claims was another attempt to set him up. He says that he believes the bills were marked, and is looking for a way to bring the cash into the United States for Congressional investigators to analyze. The cash is currently with his attorney in Greece. 

"I’m actually trying to bring that money back somehow so that Congress can investigate it because I am 100 percent sure those are marked bills, and to see who was actually running this operation against me," Papadopoulos gold Bongino.

"I am more than happy to deliver the $10,000 in cash I received, as part of what I believe was a sting operation to frame me in summer 2017, to your committee to examine for marked bills. This is in the interest of me being fully transparent," he wrote last week on Twitter to  North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows and Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe. 

The two Republicans are members of a congressional task force investigating the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The task force interviewed Papadopoulos on Oct. 25.

Papadopoulos acknowledged in his interview with Bongino that his claims about his encounters with an Israeli-American businessman named Charles Tawil were “an incredible, insane story.”

“But it’s true,” he asserted.

Papadopoulos told Bongino the he believes that Tawil “was working on behalf of Western intelligence to entrap me.”

Papadopoulos does not have direct evidence that Tawil was working on behalf of a Western government when they met in March and July 2017. Instead, Papadopoulos is speculating based on what he says is the peculiar circumstances of his encounters with Tawil as well as his meetings with at least one known FBI informant. -Daily Caller

Afraid he might be killed if he didn't accept the money, Papadopoulos took the funds and later contacted Tawil - who allegedly told Papadopoulos he didn't want it back. From there, Papadopoulos gave the cash to his attorney in Greece. Upon his return to the United States several days later, Papadopoulos was arrested on July 28, 2017 at Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C., by agents who he believes were looking for the cash. 

And then when Papadopoulos landed back in America, he was arrested at Dulles International Airport on July 27th. Strangely, he wasn’t shown the warrant for his arrest when arrested, and didn’t know the reason why until the next day. The $10,000 that Tawil paid Papadopoulos in cash is interesting in this context, as it would be the exact amount of money one would be required to declare at customs. Papadopoulos didn’t recall if he was arrested before or after he filled out a customs slip (but didn’t have the money on him). -Bongino.com

At minimum, one should set aside an hour for the Bongino-Papadopoulos interview if only to hear his version of events. 

Perhaps the biggest mystery of all is how George was able to end up with such a hot Italian (not Russian) wife: 

Published:11/4/2018 7:48:56 PM
[Politics] Obama, Trump Offer Dueling Final Pitches to Midterm Voters No longer reluctant to speak out, former President Barack Obama delivered a closing argument for Democrats that seeks a firm check on President Donald Trump's policies in Tuesday's midterm elections. Published:11/4/2018 6:18:24 PM
[b809a51d-d60a-56df-ac74-d599fee11b32] Midterm elections and Trump: Tuesday's vote is a referendum on the president's economic vision The American people elected President Trump because they were tired of the manifest failures of President Obama’s administration and congressional Democrats: slow economic growth, slow job growth and slow wage growth. Clinton was promising more of the same. Voters wanted a change. Published:11/4/2018 3:45:13 PM
[Politics] Kellyanne Conway: 'Trump Economy Is Winning Formula' The Democrats' move further left to oppose President Donald Trump and the "booming economy" will be the Republicans midterms' "winning formula for Tuesday," according to White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway."President Obama: Published:11/4/2018 11:47:19 AM
[World] Lara Trump: Obama Campaigning for Midterms Shows Dems 'Must Be Pretty Scared'

Lara Trump said Saturday on Justice with Judge Jeanine that Democrats must be fearful ahead of the midterms to have Barack Obama campaigning for them.

Published:11/4/2018 10:15:35 AM
[Media] Brian Stelter retweets Matthew Yglesias’ hot take on Barack Obama’s ‘Lie of the Year’ for 2013

So what exactly was Brian Stelter's "interpretation" of Matthew Yglesias' tweet?

The post Brian Stelter retweets Matthew Yglesias’ hot take on Barack Obama’s ‘Lie of the Year’ for 2013 appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/3/2018 9:11:25 PM
[Markets] Kyle Bass Interviews Steve Bannon About China's "Grand Strategy" For Global Domination

On a day when the yuan and the A-shares market rallied on reports of a possible breakthrough in deadlocked US-China trade negotiations (a report that was eventually rebutted by none other than Trump chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow), Real Vision demonstrated an ironic sense of timing by releasing a discussion between two of the most notorious China bears in the West: Hayman Capital founder Kyle Bass, who has staked his reputation on a massive short-yuan position, and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

Filmed more than a month ago in an undisclosed airplane hanger, the interview involved Bass quizzing Bannon about the former Trump campaign chief's hostility toward China and why President Trump is justified in taking a hard line against the Middle Kingdom not just in his trade policy, but in the strategy of military containment that Trump has propagated, and how that contrasts with his predecessors "pivot to Asia." Bass started to the interview by asking Bannon about China's "grand strategy" and how it cuts against US interests.

Bannon

The "grand strategy" isn't a difficult concept to grasp, Bannon explained. Through it, China is leveraging its economic resources to wage a concentrated war of influence against the US. It's the most ambitious geopolitical strategy that we've ever seen, Bannon said. And right, now China is winning.

Their grand strategy is very simple. It's to be a hegemonic world power. You can see it through One Belt One Road. You can it see through Made In China 2025. You can see through everything they're doing like their strategy of being the East India Company in Sub-Saharan Africa, what they're doing to the Caribbean, now what they're doing in Latin America. What we call all forces of government-- all areas of government focus on the economic war against the United States and their military build up.

For some bewildering reason, Wall Street and the Davos set have managed to wilfully ignore the threat posed by China by telling themselves that China isn't territorially ambitious. But on this, they're wrong - and China's continued development of the South China Sea is all the proof one needs to understand that China is a geopolitical threat.

A lot of the Wall Street, City of London, and Frankfurt crowd have kind of said, oh, well, they're not territorially ambitious. They've never been an expansionist power. Well, they're a geopolitically, expansionist power. And it's quite extraordinary what they're doing. And they're doing it at the same time.

But perhaps the most galling aspect of the West's preference for appeasement over confrontation when it comes to China was the Obama administration's willingness to accept China's claim that its development in the South China Sea was for strictly peaceful purposes.

Three years later, what were uninhabitable reefs only recently have been transformed into 10,000 "stationary aircraft carriers."

They call them reefs. These are stationary aircraft carriers-- Mischeif, Scarborough Reef. All these-- these reefs are basically aircraft carriers. And what they've done is they've put fire control, radar, search radars, and combat planes on them. These things can go.

The problem with Americans' perception of China, as Bannon explained, is that most people don't understand the significance of the South China Sea. In terms of trade, it's a superhighway. And whoever can exercise unilateral control of that region can exert amazing influence on world trade. One-third of world trade - some $5 trillion annually - flows through the region.

My point. When people say the South China Sea, what you have to understand is it's a superhighway of commerce. They have the biggest ships in the world 24/7, 365 days a year.

That's why Bannon believes that the South China Sea is one of three flashpoints that could trigger the start of World War III.

You asked me what's going to happen. I said on my radio show five years ago they would be in a shooting war. The situation in Qatar, and the Persian Gulf, and the South China Sea are the two greatest hotspots of the world for global conflict to start. OK? It's not Korea. Korea's a vassal state of China. The whole Korean thing is nothing but a Chinese drama. OK?

And while China prefers to spin the South China Sea as a purely domestic issue - since, in their view, it is unquestionably Chinese territory - the US has everything to lose if it allows itself to be pushed out.

And they will tell you, no, it's a vital thing. We need America. We need America here because if we lose the South China Sea, we will lose any type of commerce. China would control the whole place. And the Chinese understand that. That's where they're trying to push us out. And they're starting to already have the psychological warfare of exactly that. Hey, it's 12,000 miles away. It's really Asia. What are we involved here for? This is another debacle.

China was able to cover its ambitions from Western scrutiny by leveraging its powerful checkbook. It didn't cultivate allies in the American and UK business communities by force. Instead, it suborned them with investments that Bannon essentially views as bribes.

This is a direct confrontation with China to say, we're not going to take it anymore. You've been in economic war with us. And we're going to reassert us. Your question about how they ingratiate themself. They're the guys wrote the biggest checks. They wrote checks to the universities. They've essentially bought off the city of London, Wall Street, and the corporations. I say this in a sense of kind of anger. The great investment banks in London and in New York became the investor relations department for this regime.

That's why, when Wang Qishan visited the US in August to meet with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, he demanded some face time with US captains of industry. And when they demurred, fearful of finding themselves in the middle of the trade war debacle, Wang reminded them that he wasn't asking.

Being on their back foot by the Trump strategy, they kind of said, hey, we need a financial advisory panel to help us understand what the United States wants and what the United States needs. And it was Paulson, and Schwarzman, and all these characters. And it's interesting. When they need somebody to come over and help intermediate with the United States, they go to the same guys who have been profiting on this. My understanding is that people came back and said, hey, the UN General Assembly is happening. It's opera season in New York. My schedule is full. And Wang Qishan said, hey, boys, I don't think you're listening. We're having a meeting. I want everybody to show up.

When people look back on this period, Bannon said, they're going to be stunned by how easily everyone went along with China's wishes. But the economic threats emanating from China aren't solely related to its "grand strategy". There are also significant risks, as Bass would no doubt agree, in China's financial sector, which Bannon likened to a house built on sand. And just like with China's aggressive military posture in the pacific, Western institutions have enabled this as well. And when the reckoning comes in the form of a brutal debt crisis, the fallout will be even worse than what we saw in 2008. And what's worse, the exact same culprits - the global investment banks and their bosses - will be to blame.

What we've seen, and I happen to believe, is that the Chinese economic system is built on a house of sand. And I think it's going to lead us to a greater financial debacle than 2008 ever was in the exact same culprits that led to the financial crisis in 2008-- the investment banks, the commercial banks, the hedge funds, and the government entities. It was the same elites that led to that financial crisis and got bailed out. They had no responsibility and no accountability. They've been the same exact actors that have exacerbated the situation in China.

And so yes, the reason the world's elites - the Party of Davos, the people on Wall Street, what I call the IR departments of China, which are the investment banks, particularly Goldman Sachs and some commercial banks, the lobbyists for China, which is basically the 25 or 30 largest corporations that deal in China today - their lobbyists in Washington, DC. And the big private equity guys like Schwarzman and these guys are all going to have to be held accountable for what went on in China.

Regardless of what happens with the trade war, Bannon believes Trump is doing the necessary, if difficult, work to hold China accountable and to try and slow the global widening of its sphere of influence. China has already infiltrated our intelligence services and our military, they've infiltrated our financial system, and now they're seeking to break apart unquestioned US hegemony over Latin America. 

Unless dramatic action is taken, it won't be much longer until America has been completely boxed in.

Published:11/3/2018 6:40:22 PM
[Politics] WATCH: Trump SLAPS DOWN Obama after he calls him a LIAR during rally! El Presidente Trumpo issued an epic slapdown to Obama after the former president called him out for his lies – you gotta check it out. Watch below: BOOM!! I have to admit, . . . Published:11/3/2018 4:41:14 PM
[Politics] WATCH: Trump SLAPS DOWN Obama after he calls him a LIAR during rally! El Presidente Trumpo issued an epic slapdown to Obama after the former president called him out for his lies – you gotta check it out. Watch below: BOOM!! I have to admit, . . . Published:11/3/2018 4:41:14 PM
[Markets] If You Think Trump And Powell Aren't Getting Along...

Authored by Jeffrey Snider via Alhambra Investment Partners,

If you think President Trump is upset with Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell, you should see what’s going on in India. Central bankers had been every government’s close friend for years; a decade even. The relationships were beyond chummy, particularly as many governments celebrated their central bank heroes for heroically heroic actions saving the world from something like a repeat of 1929.

While conventional perceptions were shaped by things like QE and low rates, reality, of course, has been much different. Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson recently said people like Ben Bernanke saved us all from that other disastrous fate. Except the US economy is about to complete an entire decade where it has underperformed the Great Depression.

It’s the one headline you won’t see anywhere, especially not on a perfect Payroll Friday.

What that has meant for more than the US economy is often massive distance between broad categorized perception and experience. Central bankers say one thing and most of the time people believe them even if it doesn’t seem consistence with their own experience; even former President Obama is desperate to claim credit for this economic boom current President Trump is constantly talking about.

And yet, Trump is acting up about Jay Powell. It doesn’t follow, unless you realize the danger of a boom that never boomed.

It’s that way in India, too, only things have already descended to the extreme. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), that country’s central bank, has been operating a relatively constant monetary policy. Up until recently, however, that caused no disturbance nor disagreement. In other words, something has really changed.

India’s Finance Ministry has threatened just this week to invoke banking law if RBI doesn’t give in to demands from the Modi government. Unlike Western central banks, India’s is independent only by tradition. In statute, the RBI operates at the pleasure of the government. Section 7 of the central bank act hands authorities broad powers should central bankers act outside of established policy agreements.

These had been mostly informal up until the last two months. Again, the central bank was largely left alone because neither the Modi government nor Manmohan Singh’s regime before saw anything wrong with it. Any disagreements were minor and kept inhouse.

Not so any longer. There were media reports RBI Governor Urjit Patel had offered to resign earlier this week.

Modi’s complaints about “his” central bank run both to the familiar as well as the far more devastating. The Prime Minister has, like US President Trump, taken to criticizing “high” interest rates – even though RBI has raised its benchmark policy rate only twice in recent months and refrained from doing so at its most recent meeting. This comes after the central bank had been reducing them for two and a half years.

RBI’s rate which had been 8% was trimmed to 6% by the end of 2017. On October 5, the central bank abstained on a third rate hike which would have pushed it back up to 6.75%. It remains at 6.5% instead, hardly a serious measure for disruption and political turmoil.

This is scapegoating, pure and simple. Rate hikes are not what has changed the landscape in India. This is (thanks T. Tatteo):

The government wants the RBI to provide more liquidity to the shadow banking sector, which has been hurt by the defaults of major financing company, Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS). Those defaults triggered sell-off in bonds and stocks of non-banking financial companies. The government has been asking the RBI for a dedicated liquidity window for these lenders similar to one allowed during the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

Modi wants the RBI to repeat its 2008 measures. It sounds sort of serious, right? Enough to trigger a government/central bank crisis. 

These shadow troubles aren’t starting from rupee markets, a key distinction (like in 2008). I wrote on October 2, the day before the WTI curve shipped off toward contango:

For one, IL&FS is being characterized as a shadow bank and that’s the right way to think about them. As is the company’s very heavy dependence upon, you guessed it, Eurobond financing. Things started to go south even before India’s currency plunged along with all the rest. The rupee’s descent is merely the wrong side of “dollar” tightening.

The mechanics of oil are related to the eurodollar conditions for India and beyond. If India has gotten itself into a world of hurt, where is oil demand going to come from? That country was one of the last remaining places on earth, EM or not, where fast growth wasn’t just fairy tale talk. India has been, hands down, the best performing of the EM group.

Textbook deflationary disruption.

In other words, if the world economy loses India, too, placing that place alongside China in the eurodollar destructive column, WTI contango makes perfect sense having nothing to do with a supply glut. Eurodollar consistency in each market, foreign and domestic.

Modi’s sudden change of heart about Patel really has nothing to do with interest rate hikes. Makes you wonder about Trump’s similar reassessment of Powell.

Published:11/3/2018 3:39:52 PM
[Markets] White House Says US "Remains Open" To New Iran Deal As Sanctions Loom

After horrifying the executives at HBO by tweeting a meme about the impending reinstatement of sanctions against Iran on Friday (the image was a play on HBO's "Winter is Coming" advertising campaign for its hit series "Game of Thrones"), President Trump clarified that the White House remained open to working out a "more comprehensive" agreement with Iran that would ideally help curb the regime's "malign activities" in the Middle East and "forever block" Iran from building nuclear weapons.

Ayatollah

This isn't the first time that Trump has said he is open to a "new deal" with Iran. But the mildly less threatening rhetoric was, we imagine, designed to encourage the pullback in oil prices seen in recent weeks. Earlier in the day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US would grant sanctions waivers to eight countries (but not the European Union as a whole). The US has also decided not to encourage SWIFT to disconnect Iranian banks from the global financial system.

Trump said in a statement released Friday afternoon that "powerful sanctions" against Iranian "energy, shipping, ship building...and sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran and other sanctioned Iranian banks" would take effect for the first time since shortly after President Obama agreed to the 2015 Iran deal with the other permanent members of the UN Security Council along with Germany. He also pointed out that the Iranian real has lost 70% of its value since Trump officially pulled out of the deal in May, and that Iranian defense spending has only continued to climb.

Our objective is to force the regime into a clear choice: either abandon its destructive behavior or continue down the path toward economic disaster.

The sanctions will target revenues the Iranian regime uses to fund its nuclear program and its development and proliferation of ballistic missiles, fuel regional conflict, support terrorism, and enrich its leaders.

These measures, along with 19 rounds of sanctions designations since January 2017, represent the toughest sanctions the United States has ever levied against Iran—and they are already having devastating effect on the Iranian economy.

Over the past year, the Iranian rial has lost about 70 percent of its value, and Iran’s economy is sliding into recession.  Iran’s inflation rate has nearly quadrupled since May of this year, reaching almost 37 percent in October.  More than 100 companies have decided to cease doing business with Iran, and we expect that number to grow.  Governments and businesses should ask themselves whether continuing to deal with Iran is worth the risk.

Trump insisted that the sanctions were intended to harm the Iranian regime, not the country's "long suffering" people (though, in truth, it's widely expected that the Iranian people will bear the brunt of the economic fallout).

Finally, I want to be clear that United States actions are aimed at the regime and its threatening behavior—not at the long-suffering Iranian people.   For this reason, we reiterate today that the sale of food, medicine, medical devices, and agricultural commodities to Iran has long been, and remains, exempt from the sanctions.

We call on the regime to abandon its nuclear ambitions, change its destructive behavior, respect the rights of its people, and return in good faith to the negotiating table.  We seek cooperation from our allies and partners in this effort.

The United States remains open to reaching a new, more comprehensive deal with Iran that forever blocks its path to a nuclear weapon, addresses the entire range of its malign actions, and is worthy of the Iranian people.

But while oil traders were likely relieved to learn that the Trump Administration has at least refrained from adopting the most extreme hard-line stance against Iran (a position that would have been further complicated by the backlash to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi), Iranian leaders have, unsurprisingly, remained defiant.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, voiced defiance of the US president and said "the world opposes every decision made by Trump."

"America's goal has been to re-establish the domination it had [before 1979] but it has failed. America has been defeated by the Islamic Republic over the past 40 years," the ayatollah said.

The leader of Iran's Quds force took the condemnations of Trump one step further, tweeting a "Game of Thrones"-inspired image of his own promising "I will stand against you."

While a deal with Iran remains unlikely (barring a dramatic deterioration in the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia), we look forward to the next round of the US-Iran meme war.

Published:11/3/2018 2:08:45 PM
[bfe75fc1-14f7-5e3b-9976-36cdc265e6bd] Hypocritical Obama and liberal media's efforts to condemn Trump have backfired Former President Obama, in a last-minute stump speech for Democratic candidates in Florida before Tuesday’s midterm elections, joined the liberal media chorus in casting President Trump and his supporters as angry and divisive. Published:11/3/2018 11:44:14 AM
[Markets] Was Anti-Semitic New York Graffiti Attacker A Liberal-Media-Darling Obama Volunteer?

Just days after the awful events of Pittsburgh, disgusting neo-Nazi graffiti was found Thursday inside a Brooklyn synagogue.

NYPD officials told Breaking911 that the suspect entered Brooklyn’s Union Temple around 8:30 p.m. Thursday night and used a black marker to deface three different locations with the messages, “die Jew rats we are here,” “Jews better be ready,” and “Hitler.”

As one would expect, New York's officials were extremely quick to decry the disgusting actions, with NY Governor Cuomo releasing the following statement - with a clear intent to pin the blame on one side:

“I am disgusted by the discovery of anti-Semitic graffiti at a house of worship in Brooklyn. At a time when the nation is still reeling from the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, New Yorkers stand united with the Jewish community and against hate in all its forms.

In New York, we have zero tolerance for discrimination in our laws or in our spirit. I have directed the State’s Hate Crimes Task Force to investigate this hideous act and hold those responsible accountable to the full extent of the law.

“As Governor, I am also doing everything in my power to ensure our religious institutions are free from violence and intolerance. This week, we announced the launch of an additional $10 million grant program to help protect New York’s non-public schools and cultural centers, including religious-based institutions.

The disgusting rhetoric and heinous violence in this nation has reached a fever pitch and is ripping at the fabric of America, and it must stop. In New York, we have forged community through chords of commonality and we will always stand together against hate and discrimination.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio called the hateful messages “tremendously upsetting.”

“Coming at a time when Jewish New Yorkers are feeling a profound sense of loss and sadness because of what happened at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue and all those who were killed there because of their faith.”

But, in an interesting twist, according to Breaking911, surveillance footage released by authorities captured a photo of the suspect, "described as a male Black, approximately 20-years-old, 5’8?, 140 lbs, with black hair and last seen wearing a red suit jacket."

And yesterday morning, the local CBS station confirms a man is in custody for the 'hate crime'.

26-year-old James Polite, of Brooklyn, allegedly wrote the graffiti, according to police.

The suspect also drew a picture of the Puerto Rican flag and wrote “Free P.R.”

Additionally, sources tell CBS2, Polite could be behind a series of fires at other shuls and yeshivas in the area. He was charged with criminal mischief, hate crime, and making graffiti in connection to the messages scrawled at Union Temple.

So not quite the white-supremacist, Trump-supporting, racist, bigot everyone was expecting?

But, in an even more potentially shocking twist, it is possible that the alleged serial anti-semitic graffiti artist is a former Barack Obama volunteer and liberal media darling...

In  2017, The New York Times wrote a lavish lovefest of a story:

James Polite spent much of his childhood in foster care.

In high school alone, Mr. Polite estimates, he was placed in 10 different homes. And he received little encouragement from social workers to go to college.

But Mr. Polite, now 25, still believed that college was the best next step. He found encouragement as a volunteer in his teens, registering voters and canvassing neighborhoods in New York City during Barack Obama’s first presidential bid.

...

Manhattan Democrat Christine Quinn still remembers their introduction on the steps of City Hall. “James was telling me his story,” she recalled recently in an interview. “And I said, ‘Do you have an internship?’ And he said ‘No.’ And I said, ‘Well, you do now.’”

“James was the adopted child of the Quinn administration,” she said. “And it wasn’t just me. It was the entire City Council staff.”

Of course, there could be another 26-year-old (25 in 2017) black male, living in Manhattan with the same name as James Polite, but we suspect that is a little unlikely.

As The New York Times reports, towards the bottom of their puff-piece:

Despite the assistance, Mr. Polite struggled at Brandeis. Smoking marijuana, he said, became a coping mechanism to manage his stress. He had first tried the drug at a foster home in his early teens, but in college his habit grew to three times a day. He was placed on a health leave of absence in late 2015 and required to enter a rehabilitation program. During treatment, he learned he had bipolar disorder, for which he is now medicated.

More likely is the young man with a bright future, heralded by the liberal media and politicians as a success story waiting to happen, has seen his life take a much darker route.

Published:11/3/2018 11:08:38 AM
[Media] OUCH! Buck Sexton turns Obama’s lecture against ‘power & privilege’ into the self-own of the YEAR

Former president gets help locating self-awareness.

The post OUCH! Buck Sexton turns Obama’s lecture against ‘power & privilege’ into the self-own of the YEAR appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/3/2018 10:41:32 AM
[The Blog] You can’t alter citizenship laws by Executive Order says… Obama?

You're kidding, right? Wait... he's not kidding.

The post You can’t alter citizenship laws by Executive Order says… Obama? appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:11/3/2018 10:41:32 AM
[World] Dan Bongino Rips Barack Obama for Saying Sending Troops to Border Is a 'Stunt'

Former President Obama's remark that deploying troops to the southern border is a "political stunt" was "an act of political malpractice," Dan Bongino said on Saturday.

Published:11/3/2018 8:37:14 AM
[Media] ‘Pulitzer!’ Jim Acosta has BIG scoop about ‘not very subtle’ way Trump referred to Obama at rally

"Dear diary..."

The post ‘Pulitzer!’ Jim Acosta has BIG scoop about ‘not very subtle’ way Trump referred to Obama at rally appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/3/2018 8:37:13 AM
[Media] Weird. The ‘random’ person interviewed after the Gillum-Obama rally just happened to be Andrew Gillum’s mom

CNN interviewed some “random” woman who told the network that former President Barack Obama’s campaigning for Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum had influenced her vote, but there’s a catch… The woman, it turned out, was actually Andrew Gillum’s mom: LOL @CNN just interviewed a “random” person at the Gillum rally who said Obama’s presence helped influence […]

The post Weird. The ‘random’ person interviewed after the Gillum-Obama rally just happened to be Andrew Gillum’s mom appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/3/2018 8:07:59 AM
[Markets] The Danger In Media Telling Only Half The Story On Political Violence

Authored by Sean Malone via The Foundation for Economic Education,

When mass media displays such a clear bias, then the people who are on the losing end of that bias are not going to be happy...

In the last few months, we've seen numerous acts of politically motivated or targeted violence. Some of these cases have been plastered all over the news for days or weeks. Some others have been met with deafening silence. And which is which hasn't exactly been random.

There is clear bias in the reporting of political violence and I believe this has had some serious consequences for people's ability to trust the media and bridge a divided culture.

To understand why, we need to look at what's actually happened recently, so while what follows is far from a complete list of all the politically-motivated violence, it encompasses many of the most recent and highest-profile examples:

  • October 2018Trump-supporting lunatic Cesar Sayoc, Jr. attempted (but completely failed to) to deliver (non-functional) bombs to over a dozen Democratic leaders including Obama, Clinton, Maxine Waters, and Eric Holder among others. As we learn more about this story, it becomes increasingly clear that Sayoc has a long history of threats and violence going back to at least the mid-90s.

  • October 2018: Anti-semite Robert Bowers shot and killed 11 people and injured 6 others at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and although he seems to have been anti-Trump, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has already blamed Trump for creating the environment that encouraged Bowers' actions.

  • October 2018: Another man with a substantial history of mental illness and violence, Gregory Bush, entered a Kroger grocery store in Jefferstown, Kentucky and essentially executed a 67-year old  man named Maurice Stallard with a handgun for no apparent reason, after which he exited the store and shot and killed another woman, Vickie Lee Jones (67) before he was challenged by another shopper who drew a legally concealed weapon and shot back at him. Bush apparently attempted to enter a church nearby before he went to the Kroger, presumably with the intent to kill. Although there is currently no motive known, many people assume Bush was motivated by racism because he is white while his two victims were black and one witness recounts hearing him say "Don't shoot me and I won't shoot you. Whites don't kill whites," to the man who confronted him. 

  • October 2018Envelopes testing positive for Ricin (an incredibly dangerous poison for which 22 micrograms/kilogram of body weight constitutes a lethal dosage) were sent to Secretary of Defense, Gen. James Mattis.

  • April 2018Self-described "Incel" Alek Minassian drove a van into a crowd in Toronto and killed 10 people. Incels are considered "right-wing" although "Involuntary Celibacy" is mainly a reaction to feminism and has no inherent connection to right/left politics.

And of course, all this is in the context of the awful Charlottesville Riot from last year, where in...

  • August 2017: Neo-Nazi James Fields killed Heather Heyer and injured 19 others with his car at the Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally after he drove through a crowd of protesters. What you probably don't know is that his trial is set for November, and he was recently assaulted in prison.

Also, while this isn't actually a known example of political violence, you'll certainly recall:

  • October 2017: Stephen Paddock opens fire on a crowd of country music fans in Las Vegas from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, killing 58 people and causing injury to 851 others either directly or via the resulting panic. This was the deadliest mass shooting in US history, and yet no motive is known, little information has been released to the public, and the press coverage died out relatively quickly.

I'm including the Las Vegas shooting in this list because it sparked another national gun control debate, this time over whether or not it should be legal to own bump stocks.

You'll probably also have heard about a number of cases of street violence involving the "Proud Boys", and perhaps you might have recently learned that Facebook shut down that group's main page.

And you'll have probably heard of various racist/anti-Semitic threats and acts of vandalism against Jewish community centers, churches, and other political targets, which are often assumed to be a product of Trump's rhetoric.

  • October 2018: Ricin envelopes were not just sent to James Mattis, but also to President Trump, along with Senator Ted Cruz and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson. The FBI arrested a suspect in Utah, William Clyde Allen, believed to have sent all the packages in a coordinated effort. Allen confessed to sending all four letters, but we also learned that—similar to the inoperable bombs allegedly sent by Cesar Sayoc, Jr.—none seemed to contain actual Ricin, but rather castor seed from which Ricin is made.

  • October 2018: In Las Vegas, a Democratic activist working for American Bridge 21st Century named Wilfred Michael Stark assaulted Kristin Davidson, campaign manager for Nevada's Republican gubernatorial candidate, Adam Laxalt. Stark had previously been arrested for similar activity at a GOP rally in Virginia.

  • October 2018: In Minnesota, Republican state-representative Sarah Anderson was chased and punched by a man ripping up GOP campaign signs, and two days earlier, Republican candidate Shane Mekeland suffered a concussion after being punched in the back of the head while having dinner at a local restaurant.

  • October 2018: The Republican Party Headquarters in Manhattan, New York was vandalized with spray-paint, smashed windows, and a threatening notethat read: "Our attack is merely a beginning. We are not passive, we are not civil, and we will not apologize."

  • October 2018: Jackson Cosko, an intern working for Democratic Senator Sheila Jackson Lee was charged by the United States Capitol Police with "doxxing" Republican Senators Mike Lee, Orrin Hatch, and Lindsey Graham. While doxxing itself isn't violence, it has frequently led to serious harassment and violence as people have access to personal information such as the home addresses, phone numbers, and email address of the victims.

  • October 2018: Florida man, Jame Royal Patrick, Jr., was arrested for making death threats to people who supported Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.

  • October 2018Shots were fired at the Republican party campaign office in Daytona Florida, breaking the windows. Fortunately, no one was in the office.

  • October 2018: A hairdresser Jordan Hunt starts an argument with a female pro-life demonstrator in Ontario, and after a few minutes of conversation roundhouse-kicks her in the face on camera.

  • September 2018: GOP campaign offices in Laramie, Wyoming, were set on fire by arsonists. The same thing happened in Hillsborough, North Carolina, back in 2016, so this is nothing especially new.

  • September 2018: In San Francisco, a man named Farzad Fazeli attempted to stab Republican campaign worker Rudy Peters with a switchblade while he was working at an election booth at a Castro Valley town festival.

  • July 2018Martin Astrof was arrested for threatening to kill GOP campaign staffers and President Trump.

  • July 2018: Someone vandalized the Lincoln, Nebraska (my hometown) GOP headquarters by smashing its windows with a brick and spray-painting "ABOLISH ICE" on the sidewalk.

  • August 2017: Missouri lawmaker, Maria Chappelle-Nadal, said on social media that she hoped President Trump would be assassinated. She later was formally censured by the Missouri State Senate.

And of course, I'd hope you remember...

  • October 2017: In Alexandria, Virginia, James T. Hodgkinson (a Bernie Sanders fanatic angry with the results of the 2016) died with a list of Republican targets in his pocket in a shootout with police after he shot four people: lobbyist Matt Mika, legislative aid Zack Barth, Capitol Police officer Crystal Griner, and Republican Congressman Steve Scalise who nearly died. The shooting took place at a baseball diamond where several Republican Senators and Congressmen were practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity.

Another thing you might not realize is that many of the skirmishes involving the Proud Boys group were actually caused by Antifa and Democratic Socialists of America activists—though you'd hardly know it from the way most reporters frame these events—and Antifa social media pages have not been shut down.

Comparing media coverage between Antifa and conservative groups is, I believe, particularly instructive.

Almost a year ago, YouTube commentator Matt Christiansen called attention to the differences in a video he made about Dartmouth professor, Mark Bray (talk at UC Berkeley).

Bray is the author of Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook. 

Christiansen points out that although most news media routinely and uncritically report the claim that nearly all examples of modern political violence are instigated by groups like the Proud Boys, alt-right ideologues, or actual neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups like the KKK, there have been numerous examples of Antifa violence which have not had anything whatsoever to do with protesting "fascists" or any kind of right-wing activity at all. For example, the recent takeover of multiple streets in downtown Portland, Oregon, or any of numerous examples of Antifa members attacking journalists.

What's more, over the past 4-5 years there have been dozens of examples of left-wing protesters using violence to shut down mainstream conservative (or simply non-progressive) speakers like Charles Murray, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Shapiro, Dave Rubin, Milo Yiannopoulos and others.

Yet no organized conservative group attempted to prevent Mark Bray from speaking.

His talk—which explicitly defended Antifa's use of violence in the face of right-wing speech on the basis that allowing such speech could lead to fascism—was not silenced anywhere in the United States. Meanwhile, many people who have never called for or defended any kind of violence have been subject to aggressive "no platforming" protests which have included substantial property damage, death threats, and physical assaults.

Somehow the supposed "fascists" are generally allowing other perspectives to be heard while the "anti-fascists" are not only attempting to violently silence the most abhorrent voices but also thoughtful academics, journalists, and non-political commuters.

We rarely hear this discussed in major media, and Antifa is frequently presented as not only well-intended, but actually heroic.

It's fairly clear that this is tremendously one-sided.

I'm mainly talking about this because the way this stuff is reported drives me insane, and it affects us all in really important ways. Mass media essentially determines which of these examples of politically-motivated violence are important and worth talking about, and which are not.

If the news that gets reported doesn't bother to tell readers and viewers about angry left-wing lunatics who assault Republican campaign workers, set fire to GOP offices, or shoot Republican congressmen, and if reporters and pundits don't care to spend much time writing about a series of threatening letters testing positive for ricin poison or threats of and/or the actual attempted murder of Republicans over their political views, then the people who consume news will not know about those kinds of things.

And of course, this would be fine if reporters and pundits did the same thing whenever a right-wing lunatic did something insane. But that's not what happens.

Most of the mainstream media (arguably with the support of all of the major social networks and even Google) devote tremendous attention to every instance of right-wing violence while utterly ignoring comparable cases coming from left-wing perpetrators. As a result, it's difficult for the average person to know what's actually happening in the world, and they end up with a completely one-sided understanding of the current state of political violence.

We can see what people are hearing and talking about illustrated clearly by looking at Google Trends, and as you can see below, vastly more people heard about Cesar Sayoc and the pipe-bomb scare than they did William Clyde Allen's ricin letters - although, again, both were targeted towards major political figures and both should have been treated as deadly assassination attempts until the ineffectiveness was confirmed.

This bias also makes it easy for political partisans to split themselves into bubbles that each have entirely different sets of facts.

Liberals/Progressives will hear of every instance of someone who could even remotely be considered "right-wing" doing anything wrong yet remain entirely isolated from the slightest hint that people who share their ideology have ever done anything wrong at all. Conservatives are in a slightly better position—in that it's nearly impossible to avoid hearing about right-wing political violence—but the more social media dominates people's information streams, the easier it is for them to similarly wall themselves off from information that makes them uncomfortable.

Point is, there are legitimate reasons for everyone to be seriously concerned with the quality of reporting that we normally see with respect to this kind of activity.

Part of being well-informed is being able to put things into context and gain a meaningful perspective, and that can only happen when you have all the information, not just half of it as we so often get.

Only getting half the story makes it easy to blame your political opponents for everything that's going wrong in the world, but it's also a mistake. If Trump—for example—is to blame for people like Cesar Sayoc, Jr.'s failed bombing spree, is Bernie Sanders to blame for James Hodgkinson? Is Maxine Waters responsible for Farzad Fazeli? Is Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine, or Eric Holder the cause of arson and vandalism in Wyoming?

If you think that Trump's rhetoric is causing right-wing violence, surely it stands to reason that the similarly heated rhetoric coming from the other side is to blame for the left-wing variants of these kinds of crimes?

Of course, if you only ever saw one side or the other, it would be extremely easy to think that the only people who are out there doing terrible things are your political opponents, and from there you can concoct a grand theory as to why based on how evil the other party is without much challenge when another possibility is simply that it's the individual criminal who is responsible for their own actions.

There's another problem here, as well.

When mass media displays such a clear bias—and please make no mistake, whether fully intentional or not, that's exactly what this is—then the people who are on the losing end of that bias are not going to be happy. And since they're actually justified in their complaints, it's very easy for them to convince people who have less skin in the game that media isn't trustworthy as well.

All this does is push people further to the extremes, which makes it easier for the biggest lunatics to find reasons to believe even crazier conspiracy theories and find reinforcement for their belief that violence is the appropriate response.

I want this to stop, and while there's no magic bullet, I don't think that can happen until the reporting on these kinds of subjects gets a lot better and more people are more fully-informed about everything that is going on in our world—not just the parts that confirm partisan biases.

Published:11/2/2018 10:46:45 PM
[Markets] Three Events That Could Change The Face Of America

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

The past year in general has been a firestorm of news events, many of them misrepresented by the mainstream media but nevertheless important signals that the economic, social and geopolitical systems we are familiar with are changing or destabilizing rapidly.  It is important to understand, however, that the implications of these events have been building for YEARS, not for mere weeks or months.  They are not sudden and inexplicable consequences of “linchpin theory”, the outcome of these events was pre-planned and engineered far in advance.

This does not mean that establishment interests including globalists will necessarily get what they want.  Which is why I believe they intend to produce multiple crises at once, hoping that at least a few will produce the effects they desire in the population.  I call it the “scattershot strategy”; by creating a swarm of manipulated “bullets” of social/psychological leverage each with the same intended target, the result becomes more certain and predictable.  Much like smashing troops into the same point in a line of defense over and over again – eventually it is more likely to break where you expect it to break.

Some of these scattershot events are a little more obvious than others, at least in terms of how they are handled.  Not all of them are started by the globalists, but all of them are certainly seen as opportunities for exploitation.  Here are three of the latest events that I believe represent a dire end-game if the public is not made aware that their reactions to the events are just as important if not more important as the events themselves.

1. The Murder Of Jamal Khashoggi

Few of us had ever heard of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi a month ago, and most in the public still have no clue as to the implications of his death.  I’m not going to theorize much on the reasons why the Saudi government apparently trapped Kashoggi in their consulate in Istanbul, Turkey and then allegedly tortured him to death.  The mainstream theory is that this was punishment for the journalist’s escape from Saudi Arabia and subsequent criticisms of Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the rising dictator within the Saudi regime.

Why did Khashoggi willingly and stupidly enter a Saudi consulate, considered sovereign Saudi soil, when he knew he was a potential target for the government?  Why would Saudi agents murder the journalist in such an obvious way and in such an obvious place?  If he was such a threat, why not kill him away from a Saudi facility?  Why not make it look like a robbery or an accident?

It seems to me that normal procedures for assassination were not followed in the slightest when it came to Jamal Kashoggi.  And, as Turkish authorities released information on Saudi involvement, the normal attempts at cover-up by multiple governments were missing.  This story could have been muddled in a fog of disinformation leading away from Saudi Arabia, but it wasn’t.

The consequences are immense.  The end of diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia could result on the part of Western nations.  There is even talk of Prince Salman being removed from power and his “Vision for 2030” economic plan going the way of the dodo.  I see this as highly unlikely, though.

While the mainstream misrepresents Salman’s economic plan as a means to make Saudi Arabia less dependent on oil, the Vision for 2030 was primarily about distancing Saudi Arabian oil from dependency on U.S. and Western markets.

The decoupling of the U.S. from Saudi Arabia has been in the making for years.  This is not something new, or something that would be decided by the killing of a single Saudi journalist.  From the passage of a bill by Congress to make the Saudi government liable for damages during the 9/11 attacks, to Saudi threats to dump $750 billion in U.S. assets (under the Obama Administration), to the Saudi atrocities in Yemen, to the rise of Mohammad bin Salman through extortion, there is no shortage of reasons why the U.S. and Saudi Arabia might end relations.

I am of course talking about mainstream narrative, here.  The deeper issue at hand is that globalists are seeking an end to the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency and the petro-currency, and Saudi Arabia is a key catalyst to breaking the dollar’s back in a way that makes it appear as though global banks had nothing to do with the situation.

As I have been pointing out for quite some time, Mohammad bin Salman’s Vision for 2030 is not his vision; it is part of a larger globalist dynamic for a completely centralized world monetary system and economy.  Salman’s Vision for 2030 is bankrolled through his Public Investment Fund (PIF) by well know n globalist institutions like the Carlyle Group, Goldman Sachs, Blackstone and Blackrock.

Saudi separation from the U.S. has been ongoing, including far reaching oil trade deals with China and Russia , two countries seeking to remove the dollar in bilateral trade.  The moral question of trade relations with a tyranny like Saudi Arabia is not what I am questioning here.  I am simply pointing out the US dollar's dependency on petro-status, which is tied inexorably to Saudi oil.

The path has already been set.  The murder of Khashoggi and its exposure does not hurt globalist intentions, it actually HELPS them by creating a narrative in which the Saudi move away from the U.S. becomes a product of “random chaos” rather than part of a “vision” funded by globalists.  If Prince Salman is removed from the equation (an action I am doubtful will take place), the "Vision for 2030" will continue.

Even with Donald Trump’s apparent apprehension to break aggressively from the Saudis over the issue, Congress has already suggested they will move ahead with actions against the vital oil nation without the White House.

Is this to say that Khashoggi was killed in order to create a geopolitical linchpin to aid globalist schemes for de-dollerization?  No.  Khashoggi is not that important.  But this is certainly an event that the globalists and the media they control seem intent on exploiting, adding weight to a long running plan to divide the US from its key oil partner and thus ending the petro-dollar without any links back to them.

2, The Immigrant Caravan

Illegal immigration is a pillar issue within U.S. politics, at least in terms of conservatives and their support far any particular piece of legislation or government action.  My position is the conservative one because it is the logical one – I am not against immigration as long as it is done legally.  Open border policies are a travesty that create an influx of people who do not necessarily share the values set forth in the American Constitution.  We have already seen the economic and social disasters that have befallen Europe due to their open border policies, and it would be foolish to repeat that process here.  No foreign person has a “right” to access to the U.S., just as no American has a right to access to any other country.

Now comes the part of this issue that conservatives might not want to hear.

Is illegal immigration a form of invasion?  I would say yes, especially if it is being encouraged or funded by globalist interests. That said, we must be careful not to respond to this invasion as if it is a military one.  It isn’t.

Why?  Because military invasions require military responses, and military responses invariably lead to more power for governments.  Troops on the southern border of the U.S. might sound rational given the circumstances, but I would remind liberty movement activists of a little program they should all be familiar with:  Rex 84 and Operation Garden Plot.

As I warned in my article ‘How A Collapse In South America Could Trigger Martial Law In The U.S.‘, published in 2016, the globalists have long been planning a potential trigger for martial law measures in America using a southern border “invasion” as a rationale.  The exposure of Rex 84 came unexpectedly during the Iran/Contra hearings, and the documents are available to read here.

Rex 84 mentions the use of facilities, or detention camps, as a means to control the hypothetical border invasion.  This led to the long running “conspiracy theory” of so-called FEMA camps.  The pre-existence of FEMA camps is not an issue I delve into (as we saw during Katrina, a sports stadium could easily be turned into a FEMA camp in a matter of days).  That said, the posture of the Trump Administration at this time due to the coming migrant caravan reminds me in a disturbing way to the script outlined in Rex 84.

How far will Trump go to secure the border?  Will he declare martial law on the border as he seems ready to do?  Would it stop at the border, or would it spread like a cancer?  After all, once martial law is used to deal with unruly migrants, why not use it to deal with unruly leftists?  Will conservatives go against their constitutional principles and support such a policy?

There is a good reason why the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 was passed.  Originally, it prevented the use of military as law enforcement within the US unless an act of Congress bid otherwise.  Of course, George W. Bush and the Neo-cons changed all that with the John Warner Defense Authorization Act, an act that was barely covered by the mainstream media at the time, and which gives the President full power to declare martial law unilaterally.

Some people may argue that Posse Comitatus is an outdated concept and that other protections are in place to prevent a totalitarian outcome.  But are there really any protections?

As Gen. Wesley Clark once publicly proclaimed in an MSNBC interview, internment camps could be used in the U.S. for anyone considered “disloyal to the U.S.”  Trump has recently announced a plan for "tent cities" for incoming migrants, which, again, sounds a lot like the plan described in Rex 84.

Where would the dominoes stop once they start to fall?  I suggest that they will not stop.  I suggest that if we support martial law measures on the southern border rather than revamping existing border patrol agencies and building that wall that Trump was so fond of promising, the end result will be martial law measures applied to the rest of us as outlined in Rex 84.

3. Trump’s War With The Federal Reserve

I predicted Trump’s eventual war with the Fed over a year ago, and I have written on the dangers if such a war recently, so I will not go into as much detail on this event.  I will say that like the immigrant caravan, this is another issue in which conservatives could be tricked into reactingwithout thinking of the long game.

In my article ‘The Economic End Game Explained‘, I outline the strategy being used by globalists to diminish the U.S. economy as a means to open the door to mass support for a global monetary system controlled by the IMF and possibly the BIS.  This is a strategy they have openly discussed in their own publications.

To be clear, the Fed has indeed acted as a destructive force within the U.S. economy.  Fed officials have openly admitted on numerous occasions to creating and then bursting financial bubbles that have led to disastrous results for the American public.  Jerome Powell, the current Fed chairman, warned in 2012 of the eventual and pervasive market crash that would occur if the Fed raised interest and cut balance sheet assets while markets were still addicted to easy credit.  Now, he is enacting those exact policies knowing what will happen.

While I fully support the dismantling of the Federal Reserve as a saboteur of the U.S. economy, what I am concerned about is who will rebuild the U.S. system afterwards?  A White House war on the Fed will help cause the death of the dollar’s world reserve status.  This is a guarantee.  Our economy is utterly dependent on this status for it’s continued stability.

You see, the globalists have created a Catch-22; if conservatives do not shut down the Fed, the Fed will continue raising rates and cutting its balance sheet into economic weakness just as they historically always have.  The “everything bubble” will burst and a collapse will result.  If we shut down the Fed our currency will lose reserve status and dollars held overseas will come flooding back into the U.S. through various channels causing hyperinflation (among other things).  A collapse is unavoidable.

Again, who will be in charge of the rebuilding?  Will it be the American public, or will it be the globalists?  Given the fact that Trump retains banking elites and globalists within his own cabinet, we cannot rely on him to do the work in favor of a free citizenry.  Conservatives should be very careful in the coming months as to who they support and why.  Most narratives are NOT what they seem.

*  *  *

If you would like to support the publishing of articles like the one you have just read, visit our donations page here.  We greatly appreciate your patronage.

Published:11/2/2018 9:33:59 PM
[Markets] "An Information Apocalypse" Looms - Deepfakes And Political Manipulation

Authored by Leonid Savin via Oriental Review,

Not a day seems to go by without the American media writing about Russia’s Internet meddling in the US elections. Major international and specialist publications headquartered in the US are routinely regurgitating the myth about “Russian trolls” and “GRU hackers” without a single shred of evidence besides unsubstantiated accusations. Actually, evidence has been provided by a private company, but this evidence points to the contrary.

As one Google project so convincingly shows, for example, for just $100 you can create the illusion that a Russian company is trying to influence public opinion within America. All you need to do is buy a mobile phone and a few SIM cards in Panama, choose a common Russian name and surname and use it to set up a Yandex account, then indicate your IP address is in Saint Petersburg using NordVPN. You can then set up an account with AdWords, pay for advertising using the details of a legally registered company, and place political content on the Internet that could be regarded as inflammatory.

This was what was done by US citizens from Google and they didn’t hesitate to report on it. So what is stopping the NSA, the CIA, or some Russophobe fanatics familiar with hacking techniques from doing exactly the same thing, regardless of whether they belong to a political party or not?

Common sense suggests that this is exactly what is being done to create the appearance of Russian interference, but no one is able to provide any real evidence, of course.

Another example of how the US can influence public opinion is the creation of fake propaganda, a technique that was developed by the US military in Iraq in the early 2000s.

According to the British non-governmental organisation The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the Pentagon paid the British PR company Bell Pottinger more than $500 million to create fake videos showing various militant and terrorist activities. A group of Bell Pottinger employees was stationed alongside the US military in its Baghdad Camp Victory headquarters almost as soon as the American occupation began in 2003. A series of contracts was also issued between 2007 and 2011. The company’s former chairman, Lord Tim Bell, confirmed to journalists that Bell Pottinger did in fact carry out covert work for the Americans, the details of which cannot be disclosed for reasons of confidentiality.

It is worth mentioning that Bell Pottinger was once responsible for shaping Margaret Thatcher’s image and helped the Conservative Party win three elections.

Martin Wells, a former video editor with the company, said that his time in Camp Victory had opened his eyes and changed his life. On the US side, the project was supervised by former General David Petraeus. If he was unable to decide on a matter, then it was sent to the very highest levels in Washington for approval.

The most scandalous part of the story is the propaganda videos produced by the UK company in the name of the terrorist group Al-Qaeda. Once the material was ready and in the required format, the videos were copied onto CDs and given to US marines, who would then leave them in Iraqi homes during searches and raids. A code was embedded into the CDs that made it possible to track where they were played. It was subsequently discovered that the fake Al-Qaeda videos were not just being watched in Iraq, but also Iran, Syria, and even the United States. It is possible that this tracking also helped US security agencies trace the distribution of fake propaganda videos, but how many people became extremists thanks to the Pentagon’s secret project?

And since technology has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, there is now talk of possibly using artificial intelligence for projects like these – whether it is the political manipulation of elections or the spread of disinformation.

In fact, AI-based technology has already been associated with several recent scandals. One of these was Cambridge Analytica’s use of information from Facebook profiles to target voters during the US presidential elections.

Commenting on the scandal, The Washington Post noted that:

“Future campaigns will pick not just the issues and slogans a candidate should support, but also the candidate who should champion those issues. Dating apps, the aggregate output of thousands of swipes, provide the perfect physical composite, educational pedigree and professional background for recruiting attractive candidates appealing to specific voting segments across a range of demographics and regions. Even further in the future, temporal trends for different voter blocks might be compared to ancestry, genetic and medical data to understand generational and regional shifts in political leanings, thereby illuminating methods for slicing and dicing audiences in favor of or against a specified agenda.”

Artificial intelligence can also be used as a bot to substitute for a person and even to simulate a conversation. Algorithms like Quill, Wordsmith and Heliograf are used to convert tables of data into a text document and even write news articles on various subjects – Heliograf is used by The Washington Post, in fact – but bots can be used for both good and bad.

According to the US military, AI-based information operations tools can empathise with people, say something if needed, and alter the perception that controls these physical weapons. Future information operations systems will be able to individually control and influence tens of thousands of people simultaneously.

In the summer of 2018, DARPA launched a project to determine the possibilities of identifying fake video and audio generated by artificial intelligence. The analysis of such files is also done using artificial intelligence.

Videos typically have more impact on an audience because it is believed that they are harder to fake than photographs. They also look more convincing than a text read out on behalf of a politician. This is no problem for modern technologies, however. In April 2018, a video was made public called ObamaPeele after the people involved.

The video showed Barack Obama giving a rather strange speech, but the text was actually being read by an unseen actor. A special programme had processed what the actor was saying in such a way that Obama’s facial gestures were fully consistent with what was being said. Computer technology experts at Washington University conducted a similar experiment with a Barack Obama speech in 2017 and made the results publicly available with a detailed description of how it works.

YouTuber ‘derpfakes‘ trained the AI image swap tool to create a composite of Trump’s face, over Baldwin’s speech and mannerisms.

The DARPA project used so-called “deepfakes” – videos in which the face of one person has been superimposed onto the body of another. Experts note that technology like this has already been used to create several fake celebrity porno videos, but the method could also be used to create videos of politicians talking or doing something outrageous and unacceptable.

Technologists at DARPA are particularly concerned that new AI techniques for creating fake videos make it almost impossible for them to be recognised automatically. Using so-called generative adversarial networks or GAN, it is possible to create realistic artificial images. Experts at DARPA are evidently concerned that this technology may be used by someone else, since, if the US loses its monopoly on the creation, verification and distribution of fake material, it will find itself facing the same problems it has been preparing for other countries.

And while scientists in military uniforms are racking their brains over how to get ahead of other countries in such a specific information arms race, their civilian colleagues are already calling the trend “an information apocalypse” and “disinformation on steroids”.

Published:11/2/2018 9:03:42 PM
[Media] Journos call out ‘schmuck’ Donald Trump for using the letter ‘H’ at Indiana rally

We may have reached peak-TDS with this one. Trump is a racist because he used the “H” in Barack H. Obama: Trump just called Obama at rally in Indiana “Barack H. Obama.” (Not very subtle) — Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 3, 2018 Trump noted Donnelly will campaign with "Barack H. Obama" this weekend — writing […]

The post Journos call out ‘schmuck’ Donald Trump for using the letter ‘H’ at Indiana rally appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:11/2/2018 8:05:19 PM
[Markets] Obama's CIA Secretly Intercepted Congressional Communications About Whistleblowers

Authored by Sharyl Attkisson,

  • CIA intercepted Congressional emails about whistleblowers in 2014

  • The Inspector General expressed concern about “potential compromise to whistleblower confidentiality” and “chilling effect”

Newly-declassified documents show the CIA intercepted sensitive Congressional communications about intelligence community whistleblowers.

The intercepts occurred under CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The new disclosures are contained in two letters of “Congressional notification” originally written to key members of Congress in March 2014, but kept secret until now.

In the letters, then-Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough tells four key members of Congress that during “routing counterintelligence monitoring of Government computer systems,” the CIA collected emails between Congressional staff and the CIA’s head of whistleblowing and source protection. McCullough states that he’s concerned “about the potential compromise to whistleblower confidentiality and the consequent ‘chilling effect’ that the present [counterintelligence] monitoring system might have on Intelligence Community whistleblowing.”

The idea that the CIA would monitor communications of U.S. government officials, including those in the legislative branch, is itself controversial. But in this case, the CIA picked up some of the most sensitive emails between Congress and intelligence agency workers blowing the whistle on alleged wrongdoing.

John Brennan, former Obama CIA Director and Homeland Security Adviser

“Most of these emails concerned pending and developing whistleblower complaints,” McCullough states in his letters to lead Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees at the time: Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia); and Representatives Michael Rogers (R-Michigan) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Maryland). McCullough adds that the type of monitoring that occurred was “lawful and justified for [counterintelligence] purposes” but

“I am not confident that Congressional staff fully understood that their whistleblower-related communications with my Executive Director of whistleblowing might be reviewed as a result of routine [CIA counterintelligence] monitoring.”–Intelligence Community Inspector General 2014

The disclosures from 2014 were released late Thursday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). “The fact that the CIA under the Obama administration was reading Congressional staff’s emails about intelligence community whistleblowers raises serious policy concerns as well as potential Constitutional separation-of-powers issues that must be discussed publicly,” wrote Grassley in a statement.

According to Grassley, he originally began trying to have the letters declassified more than four years ago but was met with “bureaucratic foot-dragging, led by Brennan and Clapper.”

James Clapper, former Obama Director of National Intelligence

Grassley adds that he repeated his request to declassify the letters under the Trump administration, but that Trump intelligence officials failed to respond. The documents were finally declassified this week after Grassley appealed to the new Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

History of alleged surveillance abuses

Back in 2014, Senators Grassley and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) had asked then-Director of National Intelligence Clapper about the possibility of the CIA monitoring Congressional communications. A Congressional staffer involved at the time says Clapper’s response seemed to imply that if Congressional communications were “incidentally” collected by the CIA, the material would not be saved or reported up to CIA management.

“In the event of a protected disclosure by a whistleblower somehow comes to the attention of personnel responsible for monitoring user activity,” Clapper wrote to Grassley and Wyden on July 25, 2014, “there is no intention for such disclosure to be reported to agency leadership under an insider threat program.”

However, the newly-declassified letters indicate the opposite happened in reality with the whistleblower-related emails: 

“CIA security compiled a report that include excerpts of… whistleblower-related communications and this reports was eventually shared with… the Director of the Office of Security and the Chief of the Counterintelligence Center” who “briefed the CIA Deputy Director, Deputy Executive Director, and the Chiefs of Staff for both the CIA Director and the Deputy Director.”

Clapper has previously come under fire for his 2013 testimony to Congress in which he denied that the national Security Agency (NSA) collects data on millions of Americans. Weeks later, Clapper’s statement was proven false by material leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

“During Director Clapper’s tenure, senior intelligence officials engaged in a deception spree regarding mass surveillance,” said Wyden upon Clapper’s retirement in 2016.

“Top officials, officials who reported to Director Clapper, repeatedly misled the American people and even lied to them.”

Clapper has repeatedly denied lying, and said that any incorrect information he provided was due to misunderstandings or mistakes.

Clapper and Brennan have also acknowledged taking part in the controversial practice of “unmasking” the protected names of U.S. citizens - including people connected to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump - whose communications were “incidentally” captured in US counterintelligence operations. Unmaskings within the U.S intelligence community are supposed to be extremely rare and only allowed under carefully justified circumstances. This is to protect the privacy rights of American citizens. But it’s been revealed that Obama officials requested unmaskings on a near daily basis during the election year of 2016.

Clapper and Brennan have said their activities were lawful and not politically motivated. Both men have become vocal critics of President Trump.

*  *  *

Order the New York Times bestseller “The Smear” today online or borrow from your library

Published:11/2/2018 7:04:47 PM
[The Blog] Obama: “Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?”

"When I won the presidency, at least my side felt pretty good."

The post Obama: “Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?” appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:11/2/2018 6:04:38 PM
[Markets] The Color Of The 'Wave' Will Be Determined By Those Most Afraid

Authored by Doug 'Uncola' Lynn via TheBurningPlatform.com,

Regarding the upcoming election on Tuesday November 6, 2018, there can only be one of three possible outcomes:

1.) Blue Wave

2.) Red Wave

3.) No Wave

The third result would, of course, be manifested as dramatic wins and losses for both Republicans and Democrats with either party coming out slightly ahead overall.

But given the perceived high stakes of this particular election as a referendum on President Donald Trump, the winners will be determined by those voters who fear the most. Certainly, there is much anger in this election, and that’s what happens:  When people become scared, they get angry.

Trump supporters fear losing their nation to globalism, open borders, offshoring, and politically-correct fascism; which is just another name for Cultural Marxism. 

Liberal Democrats on the other hand, don’t fear for America, per se, but rather their collective existence which requires everything mentioned heretofore that Trump supporters will vote against.

In other words, on Tuesday, some Americans will be voting for national sovereignty and to uphold the U.S. Constitution, whereas others will vote for a new world order, globalist orthodoxies, and economic redistribution by means of a powerful centralized government.

Regardless of who wins, however, there remains the possibility that the allegorical train has already left the proverbial station. Or stated another way, it may be America is already gone.

Consider the fact that U.S. Corporations are now fascist.

Four months after Donald Trump was elected, The Washington Post adopted its slogan “Democracy Dies in the Darkness” That is, in fact, downright Orwellian because the Amazon.com titan, Jeff Bezos, attended the Bilderberg conference in Watford, Hertfordshire, England in June of 2013 and purchased the Washington Post four months later, in October 2013.  Within six months, even the liberal Huffington Post reported concerns over Bezos’ collusion with the United States Central Intelligence Agency:

The Post is supposed to expose CIA secrets. But Amazon is under contract to keep them. Amazon has a new $600 million “cloud” computing deal with the CIA. The situation is unprecedented….

American journalism has entered highly dangerous terrain.

Of course, the Washington Post had been a CIA Mockingbird publication for some time, under the stewardship of its previous owner Katharine Graham.  And, today, internet social media companies like Twitter and Facebook have also aligned with the Democrats, on behalf of the powerful, centralized state.

Even the world’s largest online search engine company, Google, uses the tagline “Don’t be evil”.  It’s just another Orwellian mind-trick because the CIA made Google:

In reality, Google is a smokescreen behind which lurks the US military-industrial complex.

Therefore, it is no surprise that Republican candidates have had their ads censored by the online behemoth during this election season.  As of this writing, the most recent example of the “Don’t be evil” company’s digital warfare on a GOP candidate took place on Tuesday October 30, 2018 when the following ad for Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn) was obviously deemed too effective for Google’s liking:

Hopefully, the reader will be able to view the 30 second video before Google’s YouTube platform takes it down.

In a free nation, when corporations like Nike go full Kaepernick, we don’t have to buy their shoes. And since Google really IS evil, we can just use another search engine.  Even better, in a free country, entrepreneurs can start up competitive companies and let the free-market sort it all out, right?

Wrong.

The online platform Gab was an alternative to Twitter and now it’s gone.  The excuse? A psycho shooting up a synagogue in Pittsburgh – although  those who politicized that event obviously cared more for negating American’s First and Second Amendment rights than for those murdered. Gab says they’ll be back soon.  We’ll see. In any case, in a free nation, their viability should never have been questioned, let alone challenged, over unrelated circumstances.

During Brett Kavanuagh’s Supreme Court nomination process, the Democrats also completely bared their collective asses and looked like rats and fools to common sense Americans. When polls began to show an energized Republican base about to neutralize any hope for a Blue Wave, the Orwellian Media quickly switched channels to show the slow-motion Latin American invasion.  When that backfired as well, what happened next?  Shock and awe anarchy committed by a Cuban-Caucasian Native American Deplorable and an Anti-semitic Caucasian Never Trumper.

Do you believe in coincidences?

Next, the Orwellian Media reported the mail-bomber, and synagogue shooter, as exemplifying the decline of America under Trump’s incendiary rhetoric and divisive politics.

In response, Trump doubled down on the Orwellian Media as the “enemy of the people”:

There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame…

….of Anger and Outrage and we will then be able to bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony. Fake News Must End!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2018

Whether or not the white Native-American mail-bomber was a patsy, or leftist operative, and even if the anti-Semitic synagogue shooter was a MK Ultra asset who answered his phone at just the right time – it doesn’t matter.  What matters most is how these types of events are always politicized by the Political Left and morphed into mind-control by the Orwellian Media. They are, in fact, the enemy.

Undoubtedly, the puppetmasters manipulate their puppets by perception. But it only works for so long because reality is inevitable.

The science-fiction author, Philip K. Dick, once said:

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

Therefore, it’s always a mere matter of time before the puppetmasters are seen as lying manipulators. Or, at the very least, the luckiest bastards ever to have published photos of a pristine white van, plastered with strangely unfaded pro-Trump stickers, owned by a whiter than average homeless Indian who just sent pipe-bombs to all of the modern-day heroes of the American Democratic Party.

Immediately, cell phone news applications like “Flipboard” were sending out all of the right information to all of the left people:  That the perp was a registered Republican, white-van-owner, and that…

A White Van Laden With Stickers Is at Center of Bombing Investigation…. One sticker has a Photoshopped image of President Trump standing on a tank, haloed by fireworks with an American flag behind him. “Dishonest Media,” and “CNN Sucks,” reads another one, the cable network’s logo affixed to it. And then there are the memes expressing support for the president and animosity toward his critics.

At the same time, CNN was calling the bomb recipients “Trump Targets” as the Orwellian Media breathlessly reported on how the incident had curtailed Republican enthusiasm in the midterms.  Also that the mail bomb story had successfully diverted attention from the Kavanaugh fiasco and the Honduran Caravan coverage; both of which we’re perceived as galvanizing Republicans.

By way of Tweet, Trump agreed:

Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this “Bomb” stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows – news not talking politics. Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 26, 2018

Call this blogger a paranoid tin-foil-hatter, but the whole Cesar Sayok Deplorable Mail-Bomber movie of the week seemed reminiscent of the Kavanaugh debacle. It was a classic in-your-face operation that screamed:

“Look what we can do whenever we want”.

At the same time, the failed bomb plot was perfect fodder to play as propaganda to the loony left who bought it all like they do Chinese junk on Black Friday.

When the conservative internet personality, Alex Jones, was banned from social media last summer, both he and the internet activist, Mike Adams, predicted false flags were coming prior to the midterms.   Adams exclaimed:

For the last two months, I’ve been warning about the rising risk of a major false flag attack taking place before the mid-term elections. The aggressive, unprecedented PURGE of Alex Jones / InfoWars underscores the desperation of the totalitarian deep state that’s about to make a move to eliminate President Trump and / or steal the elections…..

The radical Left is escalating its violence across America, and the tech giants are dramatically escalating their censorship actions to silence all independent voices that might question any “official” narrative. It all points to something big about to come down — something so big that only the official narrative can be allowed to be heard or spoken.

Adams has since identified the process as first the “vilification” of Jones, then the “censorship”, and then the operation as transitioned into the “kinetic phase”. We were also warned how the media shock and awe would be blamed on Donald Trump.  Without fail, all of it happened over the last several days and, conveniently, just prior to the midterms.

Adams’ prediction is also very chilling regarding the Honduran Caravan being turned into a kill zone in the days before the election. Remember, Trump said he would send in the military and the mob would NOT be allowed into the U.S.  There are now reports of 15,000 troops  gathering on America’s southern border.  If Trump keeps the caravan out by force, the Orwellian Media will have a field day portraying Trump as Hitler and the illegal invaders as Jews queued up before the oven doors.  At the same time, no questions will be raised as to how well-timedcoordinated, and sufficiently funded, was the caravan.  And if Trump allows the mob to cross the border, then his word will be shown as no good to his base.

Tricky business, indeed.

Regardless, on any other week, NBC burying information that would have discredited Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers, and attorney Michael Avenatti being referred to the Department of Justice for investigation – would have been YUGE stories.  But that’s exactly how the Orwellian Media works.  They emphasize various propagandic narratives while simultaneously tossing any contravening reporting right down the memory hole.

It is nothing less than the electronic programming of the masses. Combine this with the censorship and memory-holed jettisoning of truth-tellers from online platforms, along with Google’s biased search engine reporting – and if there is a Blue Wave in a few days, these will be the reasons.

It seems heritage Americans, with their guns, now remain as the allegorical last man standing between the U.S. Constitution and all-out globalism.

Drive down any city street, in any neighborhood, prior to the vote on November 6, 2018, and you’ll see neighbors right next door to each other, and just across the street from one another, with opposing candidate signs in their windows and yards. This means these Americans are, literally, living and sleeping just yards away from their ideological enemies.

We are now in the soap box phase. On Tuesday comes the ballot box phase. Then, regardless of outcome, we will very possibly enter into the bullet box phase. Of course, that’s why the Orwellian Media requires endless news stories starring explosive projectile dispensers: To generate the necessary urgency to corner any criminals quickly followed by their immediate electronic prosecutionjudgment, and sentencing.

The Democrats are afraid of guns, so they only want a powerful centralized state to have them. They also fear not being able to abort their babies, the weather (i.e. Climate Change), and transgenders losing their Obama-ordained bathroom privileges with your wives and daughters.

The Republicans fear the insanity of Democrats, the New World Order, and outcomes far more sinister than even Orwell imagined:

The pulp fiction horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft, once said:

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.

And Donald Trump has stated:

My whole life is about winning. I don’t lose often. I almost never lose.

The deck is stacked and the stage is set. Here’s what losing might look like:   Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker, Adam Schiff as Intelligence Committee Chairman, and Maxine Waters as head of the House Committee on Financial Services.

Frightening prospects, indeed.

But even if Trump and the Republicans hold the line, it will have been just another battle in the long war.

Published:11/2/2018 5:35:46 PM
[Markets] In California, Home Sales Are Plunging Like It Is 2008 All Over Again

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

What goes up must eventually come down... 

For years, the California housing market was on the cutting edge of “Housing Bubble 2” as we witnessed home prices in the state soar to absolutely absurd levels. 

In fact, it got so bad that a burned down house in Silicon Valley sold for $900,000 earlier this year, and a condemned home in Fremont sold for $1.2 million.  But now things have changed in a major way.  The hottest real estate markets in the entire country led the way down during the collapse of “Housing Bubble 1”, and now it looks like the same thing is going to be true for the sequel.

According to CNBC, the number of new and existing homes sold in southern California was down 18 percent in September compared to a year ago…

The number of new and existing houses and condominiums sold during the month plummeted nearly 18 percent compared with September 2017, according to CoreLogic. That was the slowest September pace since 2007, when the national housing and mortgage crisis was hitting.

Sales have been falling on an annual basis for much of this year, but this was the biggest annual drop for any month in almost eight years. It was also more than twice the annual drop seen in August.

Those numbers are staggering.

And it is interesting to note that sales of new homes are being hit even harder than sales of existing homes…

Sales of newly built homes are suffering more than sales of existing homes, likely because fewer are being built compared with historical production levels. Newly built homes also come at a price premium. Sales of newly built homes were 47 percent below the September average dating back to 1988, while sales of existing homes were 22 percent below their long-term average.

At one time, San Diego County was a blazing hot real estate market, but now the market has turned completely around.

In fact, the county just registered the fewest number of home sales in a month since the last financial crisis

A combination of rapid mortgage rate increases and decreased affordability, San Diego County home sales collapsed 17.5% to the lowest level in 11 years last month, in the first meaningful sign that one of the country’s hottest real estate markets could be at a turning point, real estate tracker CoreLogic reported Tuesday.

In September, 2,942 homes were sold in the county, down from 3,568 sales last year. This was the lowest number of sales for the month since the start of the financial crisis when 2,152 sold in September 2007.

And it can be argued that things are plunging even more rapidly in northern California.

In the San Francisco Bay area, sales of new and existing homes were down 19 percent in September on a year over year basis…

Home sales in the San Francisco Bay area have been falling for months, but in September buyers pulled back in an even bigger way.

Sales of both new and existing homes plunged nearly 19 percent compared with September 2017, according to CoreLogic. It marked the slowest September sales pace since 2007 and twice the annual drop seen in August.

If a new real estate crisis is really happening, these are precisely the kinds of numbers that we would expect to see.  If you still need some more convincing, here are even more distressing numbers from the California real estate market that Mish Shedlock recently shared

  • The California housing market posted its largest year-over-year sales decline since March 2014 and remained below the 400,000-level sales benchmark for the second consecutive month in September, indicating that the market is slowing as many potential buyers put their homeownership plans on hold.

  • Existing, single-family home sales totaled 382,550 in September on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, down 4.3 percent from August and down 12.4 percent from September 2017.

  • September’s statewide median home price was $578,850, down 2.9 percent from August but up 4.2 percent from September 2017.

  • Statewide active listings rose for the sixth consecutive month, increasing 20.4 percent from the previous year.

  • Inventory reached the highest level in 31 months, with the Unsold Inventory Index reaching 4.2 months in September.

  • September year-to-date sales were down 3.3 percent.

Of course a similar thing is happening on the east coast as well.  At this point, things have cooled off so much in New York City that it is being called “a buyer’s market”

New York City’s pricey real estate has become a “buyers market,” new data suggests, characterized by lowball offers and a rise in the number of properties staying on the market for longer.

The latest figures from Warburg Realty show that among higher-priced homes, New York City is in the throes of a “major shift” that reflects a cooling market, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in almost a decade.

“Offers 20 percent and 25 percent below asking prices began to flow in, a phenomenon last seen in 2009,” wrote Warburg Realty founder and CEO Frederick W. Peters in the report, which surveys real estate conditions around the city.

In the final analysis, it is no mystery how we got to this point.

During the Obama era, the Federal Reserve pushed interest rates all the way to the floor for years, and this caused “Housing Bubble 2” to become even larger than the original housing bubble.

Now the Federal Reserve has been aggressively raising interest rates, and this is now busting the bubble that they created in the first place.

So if you want to blame someone for this mess, blame the Federal Reserve.  The Federal Reserve has created huge “booms” and “busts” ever since it was created in 1913, and hopefully the American people will be outraged enough following this next “bust” to start calling for real change.

I have been calling for the abolition of the Federal Reserve for years, and there are many others out there that also want to return to a free market financial system.

History has shown that free markets work exceedingly well once you take the shackles off, and as a nation we desperately need to return to the values and principles that this nation was founded upon.

Published:11/2/2018 5:06:25 PM
[World] Obama: Trump & Republicans Are Lying Ahead of Midterm Elections to 'Terrify Folks'

Former President Barack Obama on Friday accused Republicans of trying to "terrify folks" ahead of next week's critical midterm elections.

Published:11/2/2018 4:02:41 PM
[World] Protesters Interrupt Obama as He Stumps for Gillum, Nelson in Florida Before Midterms

Former President Barack Obama was interrupted by protesters as he rallied for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Democratic Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum in Miami on Friday.

Published:11/2/2018 2:33:57 PM
[Markets] Buchanan: Mass Migration Is A Mortal Threat To Red State America

Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

Among the reasons Donald Trump is president is that his natural political instincts are superior to those of any other current figure.

As campaign 2018 entered its final week, Trump seized upon and elevated the single issue that most energizes his populist base and most convulses our media elite.

Warning of an “invasion,” he pointed to the migrant caravan that had come out of Honduras and was wending its way through Mexico. He then threatened to issue an executive order ending birthright citizenship.

As other caravans began to assemble in Central America, Trump said he would send, first 5,200 and then 15,000, troops to the border.

This ignited the predictable hysteria of the media elite who decried his “racism,” his “lying” and his “attack on the 14th Amendment.” Trump, they railed, is sending more troops to the Mexican border than we have in Syria or Iraq.

True. But to most Americans, the fate and future of the republic is more likely to be determined on the U.S.-Mexican border than on the border between Syria and Iraq.

Moreover, in challenging birthright citizenship, Trump has some constitutional history on his side.

The 14th Amendment, approved in 1868, was crafted to overturn the Dred Scott decision of 1857 and to guarantee citizenship and equal rights under law to freed slaves and their children.

Did it guarantee that everyone born on U.S. soil is a U.S. citizen?

No. In the 1884 Elk v. Wilkins decision, the Supreme Court ruled that John Elk, a Winnebago Indian born on a reservation, had not denied his constitutional right to vote, as he was not a U.S. citizen.

Not for 56 years, when Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, did Native Americans become U.S. citizens.

Also, the 14th Amendment confers citizenship on those born in the U.S. and “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” Children of foreign diplomats, though born here, are not citizens.

Most legal scholars do not think Trump can, by executive order, determine who is or is not a citizen under the 14th Amendment.

Yet should Trump issue an executive order and lose in the Supreme Court, the controversy could raise public consciousness and force Congress to enact legislation to clarify what the 14th Amendment precisely means.

Only Canada and the United States, among advanced nations, have birthright citizenship. No European country does. And the Conservative Party in Canada is moving to end it. Does it make sense to grant all the honor, privileges and rights of lifetime U.S. citizenship to anyone who can fly to the U.S. or evade the Border Patrol and have a baby?

Nor is this a small matter. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 6 percent of U.S. births (250,000 per year) are to undocumented immigrants.

Yet that 250,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to the total number of immigrants now coming. In 2016, President Obama’s last full year, 1.75 million legal and illegal immigrants arrived, a record.

With two months to go in 2017, the estimated arrivals of legal and illegal immigrants is 1.61 million.

Thus, in two years, 2016 and 2017, the United States will have absorbed more migrants, legal and illegal, than all the people of the 13 states when we became a nation.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, there are 44.5 million immigrants in the U.S. today, legal and illegal, a number that far exceeds the total U.S. population, North and South, at the time of the Civil War.

While almost all of our immigration before 1965 was from Europe, only 1 in 10 immigrants now comes from the Old Continent.

Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean provide a plurality of migrants, legal and illegal. They have displaced East Asia and South Asia - China, Korea, the Philippines, India - as the primary contributors to the burgeoning U.S. population.

We are assured that the greater the racial, ethnic, religious and cultural diversity we have, the stronger a nation we shall become. Whether true or not, we are going to find out.

For the European population of America, 90 percent of the country in 1965, will have fallen to about 60 percent by 2020, and whites are headed for minority status about 20 years after that.

Of America’s most populous states - California, Texas, Florida and New York - the first two are already minority-majority and the latter two are not far behind.

Yet the gaps between Asian and white Americans, and Hispanic and African-Americans - in income and wealth, crime rates and incarceration rates, test scores and academic achievements - are dramatic and are seemingly enduring.

To the frustration of egalitarians, the meritocracy of free and fair competition in this most diverse of great nations is producing an inequality of rewards and a visible hierarchy of achievement.

Politically, continued mass migration to the USA by peoples of color, who vote 70-90 percent Democratic, is going to change our country another way. Red state America will inevitably turn blue.

Published:11/2/2018 12:31:58 PM
[Uncategorized] Austria Won’t Sign UN Migration Pact, Vows to ‘Defend National Sovereignty’ Follows the U.S. and Hungary in rejecting the Obama-era UN plan Published:11/2/2018 6:29:19 AM
[Markets] US Approves Waivers On Iranian Oil Imports As Supply Panic Fades

With oil prices already extending the drop from their highs as the trader "panic attack" identified by celebrated energy analyst Art Berman abates, and approaching a bear market from recent highs, a Friday morning report from Bloomberg will likely ensure that prices continue to move lower.

According to an anonymous "senior administration official", the US will soon approve waivers for eight countries, including Japan, India and South Korea, that will allow them to continue buying Iranian crude oil even after sanctions are reimposed on Monday. China is also believed to be in talks to secure a waiver, while the other four countries weren't identified. The waivers are part of a bargain for continued import cuts, which the administration hopes will lead to lower oil prices.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to announce the exemptions on Friday.

Speculation that waivers could be forthcoming had been brewing for some time, and has been one of the factors driving oil prices lower in recent weeks. Pompeo has acknowledged that waivers were being considered for countries who insist that they depend on Iranian supplies, while adding that "it is our expectation that the purchases of Iranian crude oil will go to zero from every country or sanctions will be imposed." Assuming the US does follow through with the waivers, it's expected that they would be temporary, and the US would expect that the recipients would continue to wean themselves off Iranian crude. The administration will also reportedly ask that these countries reduce their trade in non-energy goods.

It's believed that Turkey, another major importer of Iranian crude, may be one of the four working on an exemption, according to Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez told reporters in Ankara on Friday. Iran was Ankara’s biggest source of oil last year, accounting for more than 25% of Turkey’s daily average imports of around 830,000 barrels. The identities of the recipients are expected to be released on Monday as sanctions take effect.

Oil

Despite the international outcry over Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran deal, the administration believes the sanctions are working. According to internal estimates, exports of Iranian crude have fallen to 1.6 million barrels a month, from 2.7 million barrels. That compares favorably to the 1.2 million barrels a month removed from the market under President Obama and the EU during the negotiations for the deal. Obama also extended waivers to 20 countries. 

The administration’s decision to issue waivers to eight countries also marked a significant reduction from the Obama administration, which issued such exemptions to 20 countries over three years. During the previous round of sanctions, nations were expected to cut imports by about 20 percent during each 180-day review period to get another exemption.

And in order to ensure that oil money isn't used by Iran to finance terrorism, the US is reportedly developing an escrow system that will ensure that Iran can only spend its oil money on food, medicine and other crucial supplies.

Countries that get waivers under the revived sanctions must pay for the oil into escrow accounts in their local currency. That means the money won’t directly go to Iran, which can only use it to buy food, medicine or other non-sanctioned goods from its crude customers. The administration sees those accounts as an important way of limiting Iranian revenue and further constraining its economy.

"It’s a virtual certainty that Western banks are not going to violate the escrow restrictions," said Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies who has advised Pompeo. "The message they’re sending is don’t screw around with these escrow accounts and try to get cute."

Oil prices were little-changed following reports of the waivers, though it's possible the reaction could be delayed until Pompeo releases more details about the countries that will be granted the waivers, and the details of what the waivers will look like.

It's also possible that, since the killing of Jamal Khashoggi has thrown a wrench in the US's plans to enlist Saudi help to further pressure the Iranian energy industry, that the likelihood of waivers had already been priced in.

Published:11/2/2018 5:59:43 AM
[Markets] Did Jamal Khashoggi Die For Nothing?

Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Unz Review,

Let the cover-up begin...

The angst over the Jamal Khashoggi murder in the Saudi Arabian Consulate General building in Istanbul is already somewhat fading as the media has moved on in search of fresh meat, recently focusing on the series of attempted mail bombings, and currently on the mass shooting in Pittsburgh. But the affaire Khashoggi is still important as it potentially brings with it possible political realignments in the Middle East as well as in Europe as countries feel emboldened to redefine their relationship with Saudi Arabia.

The Turks know exactly what occurred in the Consulate General building and are now putting the squeeze on the Saudis, requiring them to fess up and no doubt demanding compensation. Some sources in Turkey believe that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will actually demand recreation of the Caliphate, which the Kemal Ataturk led Turkish Republic’s government abolished in 1924. That would diminish Saudi Arabia’s ability to regard itself as the pre-eminent Islamic state due to its guardianship over the holy sites in Mecca and Medina. It would be a major realignment of the Islamic umma and would be akin to a restoration of some semblance of Ottoman supremacy over the region.

To be sure, the brutally effective Turkish intelligence service, known by its acronym MIT, is very active when it comes to monitoring the activities of both friendly and unfriendly foreign embassies and their employees throughout Turkey. It uses electronic surveillance and, if the foreign mission has local Turks as employees, many of those individuals will be agents reporting to MIT. As a result, it should be presumed that MIT had the Consulate General building covered with both cameras and microphones, possibly inside the building as well as outside, meaning that the audio of the actual killing that has been reported in the media is no doubt authentic and might even be supplemented with video.

One recent report, on BBC, indicates that CIA Director Gina Haspel has traveled to Turkey and has been allowed to hear the recordings of Khashoggi being tortured and killed. It’s a good thing the Trump White House sent Haspel as she would know exactly what that sort of thing sounds like based on her own personal experience in Thailand. She will presumably be able to explain the operation of a bone saw to the president.

So the Saudis seem to be in a hopeless situation, but they have several cards to play. They have many lobbyists of their own in Washington that have bought their way into think tanks and onto editorial pages. They are also in bed with Israel in opposition to Iran, which means that the Israel Lobby and its many friends in the U.S. Congress will complain about killing Khashoggi but ultimately will not do anything about it. The White House will also discourage America’s close allies from adopting measures that would do serious damage to the Saudis. In regional terms, Saudi Arabia is also key to Trump’s anticipated Middle East peace plan. If it pulls out from the expected financial guarantees aspect, the plan will fall apart, so Washington will be pressing hard on Ankara in particular to not overdo its bid for compensation.

All of which leads to some consideration of the hypocrisy of the outrage over Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia murdered a citizen in a diplomatic facility located in Turkey, apparently because they believed that individual to be a dissident who was a threat to national security. They then seriously botched the cover-up. In spite of all that, it would seem that the issue involves only two parties directly, the Saudis and the Turks, though there have been calls from a number of countries to punish the Saudis for what was clearly a particularly gruesome murder carried out in contravention of all existing rules for behavior of diplomatic missions in foreign countries.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular missions grants to Diplomats a certain level of immunity in foreign posts, but that does not include murder. In consular posts, like Istanbul, consular immunity only extends to officials who are actually performing consular duties when an alleged infraction occurs. I know from personal experience how subjective that process can be as I was arrested by Turkish police when I was the U.S. Consulate duty officer in Istanbul while looking for a missing American who turned out to be a drug dealer. The Turks weren’t sure what to do with me as I was Consular so I spent 24 hours playing cards with the prison governor before I was released.

The hypocrisy comes in when the U.S. Congress and media become enraged and demand that there be “consequences,” in part because Khashoggi was a U.S. legal resident and therefore under law a “U.S. person.” Saudi Arabia is, to be sure, a country that most would consider to be an undesirable destination if one is seeking to eat, drink and be merry. Or just about anything else having to do with personal liberty. An absolute dictatorship run by one family, it has long both relied on and been the exporter of the most backward looking and unpleasant form of Islam, Wahabbism. But for the fact that the Saudis are the world’s leading exporter of oil, and, for Muslims, guardian of the religion’s holy sites, the country would long ago have been regarded as a pariah.

But that said, Congress and the White House might well consider how the rest of the world views the United States when it comes to killing indiscriminately without fear of consequences. President Barack Obama, who has practically been beatified by the U.S. mainstream media, was the first American head of state to openly target and kill American citizens overseas. He and his intelligence advisor John Brennan would sit down for a Tuesday morning meeting to revise the list of Americans living outside the U.S. who could be assassinated. To cite only one example, the executions of Yemeni dissident Anwar al-Awlaki and his son were carried out by drone after being ordered from the White House without any due process apart from claimed presidential authority. Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also attacked Libya, a nation with which America was not at war, destroyed its government, and reduced the country to its current state of anarchy. When its former ruler Moammar Gaddafi was captured and killed by having a bayonet inserted up his anus, Hillary giggled and said “We came, we saw, he died.”

The United States is also supporting the ongoing war in Syria and also enables the Saudis to continue their brutal attacks on Yemen, which have produced cholera, starvation and the deaths of an estimated 60,000 Yemenis plus millions more threatened by disease and the deliberate cutting off of food supplies. And the White House looks the other way as its other best friend in the Middle East, Israel, shoots thousands of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators. Overall one might argue that if there is a smell in the room it is coming from Washington and one death in Istanbul, no matter how heinous, pales in comparison to what the U.S. itself, Israel and Saudi Arabia have been doing without any pushback whatsoever.

And then there is the small matter of actual American interests. If Washington persists in going after the Saudis, which it will not do, it will presumably jeopardize future weapons sales worth tens of billions of dollars. The Saudis also support the system of petrodollars, which basically requires nearly all international purchases of petroleum to be paid in dollars. Petrodollars in turn enable the United States to print money for which there is no backing knowing that there will always be international demand for dollars to buy oil. The Saudis, who also use their own petrodollars to buy U.S. treasury bonds, could pull the plug on that arrangement. Those are actual American interests. If one pulls them all together it means that the United States will be looking for an outcome to Khashoggi’s slaying that will not do too much damage to Saudi Arabia.

So, what do I think will happen as a result of the Khashoggi killing? Nothing that means anything. There are too many bilateral interests that bind the Saudis to Europe and America’s movers and shakers. Too much money is on the table. In two more weeks mentioning the name Khashoggi in Washington’s political circles will produce a tepid response and a shake of the head. “Khashoggi who?” one might ask.

Published:11/1/2018 11:00:15 PM
[Markets] The Putin-Nazi-Terrorist-O-Matic

Authored by CJ Hopkins via The Unz Review,

I suppose it was always just a matter of time until the global capitalist ruling classes and their mouthpieces in the corporate media combined their two main official narratives into a Ronco-type 2-in-1 kind of deal. That’s right, folks, your days of switching between the War on Terror official narrative and the Putin-Nazi official narrative are over, because now, for just $19.99, the Putin-Nazi-Terrorist-O-Matic® takes care of all your official narrative needs with just the press of one button!

Here’s how it works.

First, you take your classic mentally-disturbed individual, someone like, say, John Hinkley, Jr., Mark David Chapman, or Travis Bickle, or a total wack job like Cesar Sayoc, and you paint whichever clearly psychotic crimes he’s committed as acts of “terrorism.” Don’t worry about the definition of “terrorism” or how it has become a virtually meaningless label the capitalist ruling classes and corporate media can slap onto anyone. Just keep saying “terrorist,” “terrorism,” and any other lexical derivatives of “terror,” over and over, like some kind of mantra … you know, like the Hare Krishnas do.

Next, you take whatever obsession your disturbed individual is maniacally obsessed with, and you paint that obsession as an “ideology,” or some kind of organized political movement, as if your wack job was actually a rational person and not just a totally paranoid geek who decided to attempt to assassinate Reagan because he couldn’t get a date with Jodie Foster, or to murder John Lennon because God had ordered him to do so in a J. D. Salinger novel.

Now, this works much better if your disturbed individual is actually obsessed with something political, like, say, if he’s a Donald Trump fanatic who has plastered the windows of the van he’s living in with all sorts of blatantly psychotic artwork deifying Donald Trump and demonizing Donald Trump’s political opponents, but you’ll have to work with what your lunatic gives you. In any event, whatever his pathology, you will need to de-pathologize your psycho, so you can misrepresent him as a “domestic terrorist,” and then associate whatever “ideology” you’ve just painted onto him with “terrorism.”

If that sounds a little complicated, don’t worry, folks, it’s really not!

The ruling classes and the corporate media just provided us with a demonstration of the Putin-Nazi-Terrorist-O-Matic in action, which proves how easy-to-use it is. In the span of just a single week, they whipped up so much mass paranoia that, by the weekend, millions of hysterical liberals were calling for a Deep State coup, and the arrest and internment of all registered Republicans, because a right-wing loon had sent a bunch of non-exploding bomblike devices to prominent members of the neoliberal “Resistance,” or rather, to their respective mail-screening services.

These Putin-Nazi Terrorist “bomb-like devices” were “intercepted” throughout last week. Their targets were a roll call of Resistance heroes, Soros, Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, the offices of CNN, Eric Holder, Maxine Waters, Joe Biden, and, yes, even Robert De Niro! Putin-Nazi panic paralyzed the nation! The neoliberal corporate media (who, remember, are serious, respected professionals, not conspiracist nuts like Alex Jones) began pouring out pieces informing the world that Donald Trump was behind these attacks, or had encouraged, “emboldened,” or “inspired” whoever was with his violent, neo-Hitlerian rhetoric.

The Washington Post went full Shakespearean with Dana Milbank’s What Hath Trump Wrought? The New York Times explained how Trump was employing a strategy called “stochastic terrorism,” i.e., inspiring random acts of violence that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable! “Trump’s words have consequences,” The Guardian lectured. “Words matter,” CNN concurred. John Brennan, who courageously continued to appear on television, despite the ongoing terrorist threat, affirmed that Trump’s “un-American” rhetoric had “emboldened individuals to take matters into their own hands.” Even “alternative” Resistance outlets like Truthout joined the chorus of voices reporting that “Trump’s Rhetoric Emboldens Violence!”

By Thursday morning, #MAGAbomber, #MAGATerrorist, and other such hashtags were circulating widely on Twitter. Which meant it was only a matter of time until the Resistance linked these stochastically-terrorist MAGA bomber attacks to Russia. On Thursday evening, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd did exactly that, speculating that “this could be a Russian operation!” (Washington Post propagandist Craig Timberg, author of the infamous McCarthyite smear piece on “peddlers of Russian propaganda” that got the whole “fake news” hysteria going back in December 2016, would soon follow up with this ridiculous attempt to connect the “MAGA Terrorist” to Russia … but I’m getting a little ahead of myself.)

By Friday, after anti-Terrorism specialists (or the kids that work in the mail screening room) “intercepted” more “bomb-like devices” addressed to Senator Cory Booker and ex-National Intelligence Director James Clapper, the neoliberal punditocracy were soiling themselves on national television. This was it! The long-awaited Putin-Nazi Apocalypse had finally begun! And just as Paul Krugman had prophesied it would … or, OK, not exactly like that, but still, Trump was, once again, about to suspend the Constitution, declare martial law, and appoint himself dictator! Clearly, Putin had ordered Trump to launch the destruction of Western democracy by deploying the dreaded Totally Incompetent Domestic Terrorist Mail Bomber Strategy … and just in time for the midterm elections!

And then, just like that, they caught him … Cesar “the Jackal” Sayoc, Jr., the terrorist mastermind that had nearly perpetrated another 9-11-type event, and who was sleeping in his van behind an auto parts store! As is standard procedure for terrorist sleeper agents, Sayoc, until he was “activated,” had been maintaining a totally low-profile cover as juiced-up, body-building, racist male stripper with an extensive criminal record and an obsession with Trump. Like the “Skripal assassins” and other Putin-Nazi operatives, he had made a point of getting himself photographed and noticed by witnesses in various public places, and otherwise drawing attention to himself, which is one of the first things they teach you at the Kremlin. Sayoc hasn’t yet divulged the names and ranks of his handlers in the GRU, but, presumably, Eliot Higgins and Bellingcat are hard at work googling that right this minute.

In the meantime, the liberal corporate media have been working the Putin-Nazi-Terrorist-O-Matic on a more or less 24/7 basis. It is crucial at a time like this, when mass hysteria is reaching peak levels, that the public not be allowed to believe that this “MAGA Terrorist” is merely one more pathetic, attention-seeking geek who decided to vent his impotent rage on those he perceived as his mortal enemies. Same goes for the Pittsburgh synagogue attacker, who struck as I was writing this piece. Never mind that this homicidal idiot did not like Trump, who he condemned as a “Jew-lover.” In order to maintain the official narrative, the ruling classes need us to believe that he was not just another anti-Semite with a gun collection and a gab.com account, but, rather, an official “domestic terrorist,” who was probably “radicalized” by Donald Trump’s rhetoric!

Look, I’m no fan of Donald Trump, or racism, or anti-Semitism, or any other type of bigotry (despite what my smear-happy former editors at CounterPunch would like you to believe). What I am is a student of the production of ideology. I lived through the deployment of the official “War on Terror” narrative after 9-11, and then watched in frustration as millions of Americans mindlessly supported a war of aggression, the abrogation of many of their civil liberties, torture, and various other atrocities, based on nothing but propaganda and media-generated mass hysteria.

We are experiencing a similarly historic ideological readjustment at the moment, which I’ve been trying to capture (satirically and more seriously) since it began in the summer of 2016. The official “War on Terror” narrative (and people’s understanding of what “terrorism” is) is being gradually redefined and expanded to encompass any and all forms of “extremism” (i.e., whatever the ruling classes decide is “extremism”).

Mass murder, battery, racist graffiti, opposing the spread of global capitalism, saying nasty things about Soros, tattooing your forehead with a giant Swastika, using the words “globalism,” “sovereignty,” and so on … the distinctions are rapidly disappearing. The media-generated mass hysteria over Islamic terrorism during the War on Terror is being replaced with media-generated mass hysteria over Nazis and Russians (unless you’re a die-hard Trump supporter, in which case, you’ve got your immigration hysteria, but my focus is on ruling class ideology, which, despite the existence of Donald Trump, remains neoliberal, supranational, and, yes, God help me, globalist in nature). Any and all forms of opposition to global capitalist ideology, regardless of whether they come from the Left or the Right, are being stigmatized as “extremism,” and thus inextricably linked to “terrorism.”

I described this, back in January, as a global capitalist “War on Dissent,” and I think events over the last ten months have largely confirmed my diagnosis.

I’d love to go on, but this essay is already way too long for people’s phones, and the midterm elections are fast approaching, so this is no time for critical thinking … and plus, news is just coming in from Guardian columnist Christina Patterson that Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are also responsible for the Pittsburgh attack, and for “emboldening” all these “extremists” and “terrorists,” and for “normalizing” anti-Semitism and fascism, and mass murder, and who knows what other atrocities, and I don’t want to miss a chance to catch the Putin-Nazi-Terrorist-O-Matic in action!

Published:11/1/2018 10:27:15 PM
[Markets] The New Global Tinderbox - It's Not Your Mother's Cold War

Authored by Michael Klare via The Unz Review,

When it comes to relations between Donald Trump’s America, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and Xi Jinping’s China, observers everywhere are starting to talk about a return to an all-too-familiar past. “Now we have a new Cold War,” commented Russia expert Peter Felgenhauer in Moscow after President Trump recently announced plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The Trump administration is “launching a new Cold War,” said historian Walter Russell Mead in the Wall Street Journal, following a series of anti-Chinese measures approved by the president in October. And many others are already chiming in.

Recent steps by leaders in Washington, Moscow, and Beijing may seem to lend credence to such a “new Cold War” narrative, but in this case history is no guide. Almost two decades into the twenty-first century, what we face is not some mildly updated replica of last century’s Cold War, but a new and potentially even more dangerous global predicament.

The original Cold War, which lasted from the late 1940s until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, posed a colossal risk of thermonuclear annihilation. At least after the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, however, it also proved a remarkably stable situation in which, despite local conflicts of many sorts, the United States and the Soviet Union both sought to avoid the kinds of direct confrontations that might have triggered a mutual catastrophe. In fact, after confronting the abyss in 1962, the leaders of both superpowers engaged in a complex series of negotiations leading to substantial reductions in their nuclear arsenals and agreements intended to reduce the risk of a future Armageddon.

What others are now calling the New Cold War — but I prefer to think of as a new global tinderbox — bears only the most minimal resemblance to that earlier period. As before, the United States and its rivals are engaged in an accelerating arms race, focused on nuclear and “conventional” weaponry of ever-increasing range, precision, and lethality. All three countries, in characteristic Cold War fashion, are also lining up allies in what increasingly looks like a global power struggle.

But the similarities end there. Among the differences, the first couldn’t be more obvious: the U.S. now faces two determined adversaries, not one, and a far more complex global conflict map (with a corresponding increase in potential nuclear flashpoints). At the same time, the old boundaries between “peace” and “war” are rapidly disappearing as all three rivals engage in what could be thought of as combat by other means, including trade wars and cyberattacks that might set the stage for far greater violence to follow. To compound the danger, all three big powers are now engaging in provocative acts aimed at “demonstrating resolve” or intimidating rivals, including menacing U.S. and Chinese naval maneuvers off Chinese-occupied islands in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, rather than pursue the sort of arms-control agreements that tempered Cold War hostilities, the U.S. and Russia appear intent on tearing up existing accords and launching a new nuclear arms race.

These factors could already be steering the world ever closer to a new Cuban Missile Crisis, when the world came within a hairsbreadth of nuclear incineration. This one, however, could start in the South China Sea or even in the Baltic region, where U.S. and Russian planes and ships are similarly engaged in regular near-collisions.

Why are such dangers so rapidly ramping up? To answer this, it’s worth exploring the factors that distinguish this moment from the original Cold War era.

It’s a Tripolar World, Baby

In the original Cold War, the bipolar struggle between Moscow and Washington — the last two superpowers left on planet Earth after centuries of imperial rivalry — seemed to determine everything that occurred on the world stage. This, of course, entailed great danger, but also enabled leaders on each side to adopt a common understanding of the need for nuclear restraint in the interest of mutual survival.

The bipolar world of the Cold War was followed by what many observers saw as a “unipolar moment,” in which the United States, the “last superpower,” dominated the world stage. During this period, which lasted from the collapse of the Soviet Union to the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, Washington largely set the global agenda and, when minor challengers arose — think Iraq’s Saddam Hussein — employed overwhelming military power to crush them. Those foreign engagements, however, consumed huge sums of money and tied down American forces in remarkably unsuccessful wars across a vast arc of the planet, while Moscow and Beijing — neither so wealthy nor so encumbered — were able to begin their own investment in military modernization and geopolitical outreach.

Today, the “unipolar moment” has vanished and we are in what can only be described as a tripolar world. All three rivals possess outsized military establishments with vast arrays of conventional and nuclear weapons. China and Russia have now joined the United States (even if on a more modest scale) in extending their influence beyond their borders diplomatically, economically, and militarily. More importantly, all three rivals are led by highly nationalistic leaders, each determined to advance his country’s interests.

A tripolar world, almost by definition, will be markedly different from either a bipolar or a unipolar one and conceivably far more discordant, with Donald Trump’s Washington potentially provoking crises with Moscow at one moment and Beijing the next, without apparent reason. In addition, a tripolar world is likely to encompass more potential flash points. During the whole Cold War era, there was one crucial line of confrontation between the two major powers: the boundary between NATO and the Warsaw Pact nations in Europe. Any flare-up along that line could indeed have triggered a major commitment of force on both sides and, in all likelihood, the use of so-called tactical or theater atomic weapons, leading almost inevitably to full-scale thermonuclear combat. Thanks to such a risk, the leaders of those superpowers eventually agreed to various de-escalatory measures, including the about-to-be-cancelled INF Treaty of 1987 that banned the deployment of medium-range ground-launched missiles capable of triggering just such a spiral of ultimate destruction.

Today, that line of confrontation between Russia and NATO in Europe has been fully restored (and actually reinforced) along a perimeter considerably closer to Russian territory, thanks to NATO’s eastward expansion into the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and the Baltic republics in the era of unipolarity. Along this repositioned line, as during the Cold War years, hundreds of thousands of well-armed soldiers are now poised for full-scale hostilities on very short notice.

At the same time, a similar line of confrontation has been established in Asia, ranging from Russia’s far-eastern territories to the East and South China Seas and into the Indian Ocean. In May, the Pentagon’s Pacific Command, based in Hawaii, was renamed the Indo-Pacific Command, highlighting the expansion of this frontier of confrontation. At points along this line, too, U.S. planes and ships are encountering Chinese or Russian ones on a regular basis, often coming within shooting range. The mere fact that three major nuclear powers are now constantly jostling for position and advantage over significant parts of the planet only increases the possibility of clashes that could trigger a catastrophic escalatory spiral.

The War Has Already Begun

During the Cold War, the U.S. and the USSR engaged in hostile activities vis-à-vis each other that fell short of armed combat, including propaganda and disinformation warfare, as well as extensive spying. Both also sought to expand their global reach by engaging in proxy wars — localized conflicts in what was then called the Third World aimed at bolstering or eliminating regimes loyal to one side or the other. Such conflicts would produce millions of casualties but never lead to direct combat between the militaries of the two superpowers (although each would commit its forces to key contests, the U.S. in Vietnam, the USSR in Afghanistan), nor were they allowed to become the kindling for a nuclear clash between them. At the time, both countries made a sharp distinction between such operations and the outbreak of a global “hot war.”

In the twenty-first century, the distinction between “peace” and “war” is already blurring, as the powers in this tripolar contest engage in operations that fall short of armed combat but possess some of the characteristics of interstate conflict. When President Trump, for example, first announced tough import tariffs and other economic penalties against China, his stated intent was to overcome an unfair advantage that country, he claimed, had gained in trade relations. “For months, we have urged China to change these unfair practices, and give fair and reciprocal treatment to American companies,” he asserted in mid-September while announcing tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. It’s clear, however, that his escalating trade “war” is also meant to hobble the Chinese economy and so frustrate Beijing’s drive to achieve parity with the United States as a major world actor. The Trump administration seeks, as the New York Times’s Neil Irwin observed, to “isolate China and compel major changes to Chinese business and trade practices. The ultimate goal… is to reset the economic relationship between China and the rest of the world.”

In doing so, the president is said to be particularly keen on disrupting and crippling Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” plan, an ambitious scheme to achieve mastery in key technological sectors of the global economy, including artificial intelligence and robotics, something that would indeed bring China closer to that goal of parity, which Trump and his associates are determined to sabotage. In other words, for China, this is no mere competitive challenge but a potentially existential threat to its future status as a great power. As a result, expect counter-measures that are likely to further erode the borders between peace and war.

And if there is any place where such borders are particularly at risk of erosion, it’s in cyberspace, an increasingly significant arena for combat in the post-Cold War world. While an incredible source of wealth to companies that rely on the Internet for commerce and communications, cyberspace is also a largely unpatrolled jungle where bad actors can spread misinformation, steal secrets, or endanger critical economic and other operations. Its obvious penetrability has proven a bonanza for criminals and political provocateurs of every stripe, including aggressive groups sponsored by governments eager to engage in offensive operations that, while again falling short of armed combat, pose significant dangers to a targeted country. As Americans have discovered to our horror, Russian government agents exploited the Internet’s many vulnerabilities to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and are reportedly continuing to meddle in America’s electoral politics two years later. China, for its part, is believed to have exploited the Internet to steal American technological secrets, including data for the design and development of advanced weapons systems.

The United States, too, has engaged in offensive cyber operations, including the groundbreaking 2010 “Stuxnet” attack that temporarily crippled Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities. It reportedly also used such methods to try to impair North Korean missile launches. To what degree U.S. cyberattacks have been directed against China or Russia is unknown, but under a new “National Cyber Strategy” unveiled by the Trump administration in August, such a strategy will become far more likely. Claiming that those countries have imperiled American national security through relentless cyberattacks, it authorizes secret retaliatory strikes.

The question is: Could trade war and cyberwar lead one day to regular armed conflict?

Muscle-Flexing in Perilous Times

Such dangers are compounded by another distinctive feature of the new global tinderbox: the unrestrained impulse of top officials of the three powers to advertise their global assertiveness through conspicuous displays of military power, including encroaching on the perimeters, defensive or otherwise, of their rivals. These can take various forms, including overly aggressive military “exercises” and the deployment of warships in contested waters.

Increasingly massive and menacing military exercises have become a distinctive feature of this new era. Such operations typically involve the mobilization of vast air, sea, and land forces for simulated combat maneuvers, often conducted adjacent to a rival’s territory.

This summer, for example, the alarm bells in NATO went off when Russia conducted Vostok 2018, its largest military exercise since World War II. Involving as many as 300,000 troops, 36,000 armored vehicles, and more than 1,000 planes, it was intended to prepare Russian forces for a possible confrontation with the U.S. and NATO, while signaling Moscow’s readiness to engage in just such an encounter. Not to be outdone, NATO recently completed its largest exercise since the Cold War’s end. Called Trident Venture, it fielded some 40,000 troops, 70 ships, 150 aircraft, and 10,000 ground combat vehicles in maneuvers also intended to simulate a major East-West clash in Europe.

Such periodic troop mobilizations can lead to dangerous and provocative moves on all sides, as ships and planes of the contending forces maneuver in contested areas like the Baltic and Black Seas. In one incident in 2016, Russian combat jets flewprovocatively within a few hundred feet of a U.S. destroyer while it was sailing in the Baltic Sea, nearly leading to a shooting incident. More recently, Russian aircraft reportedly came within five feet of an American surveillance plane flying over the Black Sea. No one has yet been wounded or killed in any of these encounters, but it’s only a matter of time before something goes terribly wrong.

The same is true of Chinese and American naval encounters in the South China Sea. China has converted some low-lying islets and atolls it claims in those waters into miniature military installations, complete with airstrips, radar, and missile batteries — steps that have been condemned by neighboring countries with similar claims to those islands. The United States, supposedly acting on behalf of its allies in the region, as well as to protect its “freedom of navigation” in the area, has sought to counter China’s provocative buildup with aggressive acts of its own. It has dispatched its warships to waters right off those fortified islands. The Chinese, in response, have sent vessels to harass the American ones and only recently one of them almost collided with a U.S. destroyer. Vice President Pence, in an October 4th speech on China at the Hudson Institute, referred to that incident, saying, “We will not be intimidated, and we will not stand down.”

What comes next is anyone’s guess, since “not standing down” roughly translates into increasingly aggressive maneuvers.

On the Road to World War III?

Combine all of this — economic attacks, cyber attacks, and ever more aggressive muscle-flexing military operations — and you have a situation in which a modern version of the Cuban Missile Crisis between the U.S. and China or the U.S. and Russia or even involving all three could happen at any time. Add the apparent intent of the leaders of all three countries to abandon the remaining restraints on the acquisition of nuclear weapons in order to seek significant additions to their existing arsenals and you have the definition of an extremely dangerous situation. In February, for instance, President Trump gave the green light to what may prove to be a $1.6 trillion overhaul of the American nuclear arsenal initially contemplated in the Obama years, intended to “modernize” existing delivery systems, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and long-range strategic bombers. Russia has embarked on a similar overhaul of its nuclear stockpile, while China, with a much smaller arsenal, is undertaking modernization projects of its own.

Equally worrisome, all three powers appear to be pursuing the development of theater nuclear weapons intended for use against conventional forces in the event of a major military conflagration. Russia, for example, has developed several short- and medium-range missiles capable of delivering both nuclear and conventional warheads, including the 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile that, American officials claim, already violates the INF Treaty. The United States, which has long relied on aircraft-delivered nuclear weapons for use against massive conventional enemy threats, is now seeking additional attack options of its own. Under the administration’s Nuclear Policy Review of February 2018, the Pentagon will undertake the development of a “low-yield” nuclear warhead for its existing submarine-launched ballistic missiles and later procure a nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missile.

While developing such new weapons and enhancing the capability of older ones, the major powers are also tearing down the remaining arms control edifice. President Trump’s October 20th announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from the 1987 INF treaty to develop new missiles of its own represents a devastating step in that direction. “We’ll have to develop those weapons,” he told reporters in Nevada after a rally. “We’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out.”

How do the rest of us respond to such a distressing prospect in an increasingly imperiled world? How do we slow the pace of the race to World War III?

There is much that could, in fact, be done to resist a new nuclear arms confrontation. After all, it was massive public pressure in the 1980s that led the U.S. and USSR to sign the INF Treaty in the first place. But in order to do so, a new world war would have to be seen as a central danger of our time, potentially even more dangerous than the Cold War era, given the three nuclear-armed great powers now involved. Only by positioning that risk front and center and showing how many other trends are leading us, pell-mell, in such a direction, can the attention of a global public already distracted by so many other concerns and worries be refocused.

Is a nuclear World War III preventable? Yes, but only if preventing it becomes a central, common objective of our moment. And time is already running out.

Published:11/1/2018 8:58:55 PM
[Markets] A Tale Of Two Elections

Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Some political observers in the United States are saying that next week’s midterm voting for seats in the Senate and House of Representatives as well as a number of governorships is the most important national election since those in 1968 and 1980.

The 1968 voting saw a “law and order” Richard Nixon win the presidency in a rebuke to Lyndon Johnson’s “soft” handling of the civil rights and anti-Vietnam war movements while Ronald Reagan won in 1980 at a time of economic turmoil, in part running on a similar “get-tough” platform to replace the seemingly hapless and indecisive Jimmy Carter.

In both 1968 and 1980 the election produced a decisive turn in direction by government, leading eventually to an end of the Vietnam War by Nixon and a more assertive foreign policy by Reagan. Though the upcoming election is midterm rather than a presidential, those who are seeing it as important hope that flipping control of the two houses of congress will check President Donald Trump and force him to change course in a number of areas.

The election is, in fact, an accountability moment for Trump’s policies as seen by the American public. If there is a blue wave in congress and in the governorships, Trump will inevitably have to take notice and his impeachment becomes a real possibility.

But will that happen? The lead-up to the 2018 midterm election is playing out very much like the 2016 presidential election. In both cases the punditry and media have been promising an easy win for the Democrats, but winning will require selling something to voters that is more than just hatred of Trump.

Unfortunately for them, the Democrats are largely clueless on issues that matter to voters and continue to be a party that reactively “blames the Russians” while preaching “diversity” as if it were a solution to what ails the country.

They studiously ignore the fact that opinion polling suggests that there are two issues that really concern Americans.

Top of the list is health care. Anyone who actually pays for health insurance out of his or her own pocket will no doubt observe how healthcare costs have skyrocketed under Obamacare to the point where insurance is available but unaffordable, with premiums that in many cases have trebled per month over the past four years. The real damage to affordable health care in America has been done by the Democrats and those who are personally paying for insurance know that.

Since the Republicans do not have a health care plan but are resolved to repeal Obamacare, they win on the issue with voters.

The second most important issue is immigration, both legal exploitation of existing loopholes in the system and illegals. The legal immigration problem includes birthright citizenship, when foreigners come to the U.S. to deliver babies who automatically become American citizens. Trump has indicated he will ban the practice by executive order.

Legal immigration problems also include those who are allowed to get green cards legally and then proceed to bring their entire families over including cousins and relatives by marriage. That was not the intent of the 1965 legislation. In fact, chain immigration was dismissed as a possible consequence of the law, with President Lyndon Johnson and Democratic congressmen including Senator Ted Kennedy assuring the public that it would not occur. Of course, they were wrong. Or they were lying. They were also Democrats.

The Democratic solution to the problem of illegal immigration is, apparently, to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), giving the United States open borders. Even given the fact that the horrible mess in Central America is the result of Washington’s meddling in its countries for the past 100 years, that does not necessarily mean the solution is an open doors policy that will drastically change America. Bringing in thousands or even millions of uneducated and unskilled migrants who do not speak English and then requiring local governments to educate, house and feed them is a recipe for disaster. Indeed, it has already proven to be just that for many communities, with standards declining and neighborhoods in decay.

There is considerable suspicion that the current mass migration from Central America is being organized and funded by Democrat George Soros to coincide with the election, and it only angers the voters who remember a time when local communities were safe places where everyone knew their neighbors and worked hard to get along. Today the social justice warriors, like Soros and other leading Democrats, have made a sense of community a crime because it does not invite enough diversity.

If one compares how the two parties stand on immigration, the Republicans win easily as they are pledged to stop the illegals and reduce the number of currently legal immigrants. It is a major issue for voters and the Democrats are predictably on the wrong side of it, just as they are with health care.

And the Democrats are also tactically inept. Having the widely despised Clintons and Obama out campaigning for Democratic candidates will surely encourage nervous Republicans to get out to vote. So, on balance, the GOP could do very well next week with issues-focused voters and might retain its advantage in both houses of congress.

If that is so, the complaining from the Democrats will start immediately. Will their failure be blamed on the Russians again this time? 

Published:11/1/2018 8:27:15 PM
[Trending Commentary] White House: ‘This is the blue-collar, middle-class Trump Economy’

By R. Mitchell -

The White House released a video Thursday touting the amazing revitalization of blue-collar jobs due entirely to President Donald Trump’s pro-growth policies. Former President Obama said during his term that these jobs were never coming back and now that they are, he’s telling anyone that will listen that he made ...

White House: ‘This is the blue-collar, middle-class Trump Economy’ is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:11/1/2018 5:34:40 PM
[Markets] Just-In-Time Stimulus: Fed Proposes Looser Rules For Large U.S. Banks

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk,

The Fed's proposal marks one of the most significant rollbacks of bank regulations since Trump took office...

The Wall Street Journal reports Fed Proposes Looser Rules for Large U.S. Banks

The Federal Reserve announced one of the most significant rollbacks of bank rules since President Trump took office with a proposal for looser capital and liquidity requirements for large U.S. lenders.

The changes would affect large U.S. lenders including U.S. Bancorp , Capital One Financial Corp. , and more than a dozen others. The largest U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., wouldn’t see any significant rule changes, and some in the industry thought the proposal didn’t go far enough.

The draft proposal, approved by a 3-1 vote at a Wednesday meeting of the Fed’s governing board, would divide big banks into four categories based on their size and other risk factors. Regional lenders would be either entirely released from certain capital and liquidity requirements, or see those requirements reduced. They could also, in some cases, be subject to less frequent stress tests.

The proposals received a mixed reaction from banks. While some trade groups praised it, Greg Baer—president of the Bank Policy Institute, which represents large banks—said the proposal “does not do enough to tailor regulations.” He said, for instance, the plan doesn’t include changes to the Fed’s primary stress tests for big banks or to rules affecting foreign-owned banks with U.S. footprints. Fed officials said they were planning future proposal in those areas.

The plan divided the Fed, with Trump-appointed regulators and the Fed’s lone Obama-appointed official taking opposite sides. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the proposal would cut the regulatory burden “while maintaining the most stringent requirements for firms that pose the greatest risks.”

Fed governor Lael Brainard dissented. The Obama appointee said the policy changes “weaken the buffers that are core to the resilience of our system” and raise “the risk that American taxpayers again will be on the hook.”

Less Regulation Needed

My "Just in Time Stimulus" headline was meant as sarcasm, in case anyone missed it.

Yet, I am all in favor of less regulation. This is what we need.

  1. End the Fed

  2. End fractional reserve lending

  3. End the bailouts

  4. End deposit insurance

  5. Let the free market select what is money

Failure of Regulation

All five points above are failures of regulation, not failures to regulate.

If we are to enact my plan, by all means let banks lend however the hell they want. The free market will take care of what's needed.

If banks make poor lending choices, they will fail. And that's a good thing.

As it sits, looser lending standards coupled with the current credit bubble, housing bubble, equity bubbles, and a junk bond bubble is not the best thing to do right now.

Lowering capital standards is downright idiotic in light of the need for point number two above.

Published:11/1/2018 2:25:51 PM
[Markets] Roseanne Reboot Flops Without Roseanne; "The Conners" Dead Last In Ratings

ABC's reboot of the Roseanne show is a total flop - coming in dead last in ratings this week, according to Showbiz 411which adds that just one more episode has been ordered

In the nightly ratings battle. the “Roseanne” spin off continues to trend downward.

Last night, “The Conners” was beaten by everything- “NCIS,” “The Voice,” etc. This was their first really objective run, no World Series, nothing to distract potential viewers.

But the key demo sank, which isn’t a good sign. And the total viewers were down by 180K, which is a lot, frankly. People are leaving and they’re not coming back

ABC has ordered 1 extra episode to the original order of 10. Sounds to me like a finale. Someone wakes up and says they dreamt Roseanne died. There’s a cackle from the next room. Fade to black. -Showbiz 411

In an addendum, Showbiz 411 notes that Variety reported the salaries of John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf and Sara Gilbert at $375,000 per episode, while the other cast members can't be cheap either. "The Conners’ has to be added to “Roseanne”‘s syndication package eventually– it will never reach 100 episodes and have its own package. So Werner TV is in trouble, with millions going out and not enough coming back. “The Conners” is doomed,Showbiz 411 added. 

The Roseanne reboot - which quickly grew to become ABC's #1 top-rated series in April, was canceled after the network suddenly fired star Roseanne Barr after she compared former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to if the "Muslim brotherhood & Planet of the Apes had a baby." Her comments were condemned as "abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values." 

Barr, 65, was fired before a single advertiser pulled out, just three months into the show's return. Her co-stars immediately turned on her, publicly shunning Roseanne, while ABC initially cancelled the show - before bringing it back as The Conners

Roseanne issued an immediate apology:

And yet, MSNBC host Joy Reid was allowed to keep her job despite making anti-gay, anti-Muslim blog posts several years ago over a sustained period - and then lying about it. 

CNN's Don Lemon, meanwhile, just called white people the "biggest terror threat" to America, with nary a peep from his network. 

We wonder if ABC still feels their kneejerk reaction was worth the tens of millions in lost revenue? According to anonymous ABC executives earlier in October, the network has had serious regrets, according to the Daily Mail

"We didn't think it through properly. What Roseanne did was wrong but we shouldn't have rushed to fire her. It was almost a knee-jerk reaction by Ben [Sherwood] and Channing [Dungey] who should have launched an investigation," said one insider, who added "This would have given them more time to listen to the public, advertisers and cast members to determine the best decision.

Published:11/1/2018 7:25:22 AM
[Comedy] Chronic Flex

A condition in which someone feels compelled to constantly bring things that make them look good in casual conversation. It can be the same thing every time or a variety of things; as long as the subtle or obvious aim is to make themselves sound or look cool, it's a flex, and if it happens all the time, it's chronic. It's most obvious when a detail is tossed in that is really unnecessary for any other purpose than flexing.

Example 1
"Man it's hot out. I haven't been in weather this warm since the day I met Barak Obama in high school."
"Still suffering from Chronic Flex, huh?"

Example 2
"I'm vegan."

Example 3
"I'm a size medium... I haven't been able to wear a small since I started lifting."
"Hey Chronic Flex, good to see you too."

Published:11/1/2018 2:27:02 AM
[Markets] A Rules-Based Global Order Or Rule-less US Global 'Order'?

Authored by Alastair Crooke via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

“It has taken the US military/security complex 31 years to get rid of President Reagan’s last nuclear disarmament achievement – the INF Treaty, that President Reagan and Soviet President Gorbachev achieved in 1987”, writes Reagan’s former Assistant Treasury Secretary:

“Behind the scenes, I had some role in this, and as I remember, what the treaty achieved was to make Europe safe from nuclear attack by Soviet short and intermediate range missiles [the SS20s], and to make the Soviet Union safe from US [Pershing missiles deployed in Europe]. By restricting nuclear weapons to ICBMs, which allowed some warning time, thus guaranteeing retaliation and non-use of nuclear weapons, the INF Treaty was regarded as reducing the risk of an American first-strike on Russia and a [Soviet] first-strike on Europe … Reagan, unlike the crazed neoconservatives, who he fired and prosecuted, saw no point in nuclear war that would destroy all life on earth. The INF Treaty was the beginning, in Reagan’s mind, of the elimination of nuclear weapons from military arsenals. The INF Treaty was chosen as the first start, because it did not substantially threaten the budget of the US military/security complex”.

The Trump Administration however now wants to unilaterally exit the INF. Speaking to reporters in Nevada, Trump said:

“Russia has violated the agreement. They’ve been violating it for many years and I don’t know why President Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out … We’re going to pull out … We’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and do weapons, and we’re not allowed to”.

Asked to clarify, the President said: “Unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us, and they say, ‘Let’s all of us get smart and let’s none of us develop those weapons,’ but if Russia’s doing it and if China’s doing it and we’re adhering to the agreement, that’s unacceptable. So we have a tremendous amount of money to play with our military.”

The tell-tale markers are plain: Russia and China are ‘doing’ new weapons (and the US is behind the curve); China’s ‘doing it’ (and is not party to the INF treaty), and ‘we’ have a tremendous amount of money to play with our military (we can win an arms race and the military-industrial complex will be ecstatic).

A (US) diplomat has told the Washington Post that, “the planning [for the withdrawal] is the brainchild of Trump’s hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton, [a career opponent of all arms control treaties on the principle that they potentially might limit America’s options to take unilateral action], has told US allies he believes the INF puts Washington in an “excessively weak position” against Russia “and more importantly China”.

Trump is not a strategist by nature. He prides himself rather, as a negotiator, who knows how to go after, and to seize, US leverage. A wily Bolton has played here into Trump’s obsession with leveraging US strength to do two things: To return the US to having potentially a first strike capability over Russia (i.e. more leverage), through being able to install intermediate missiles (such as Aegis) in Europe, over and up against Russia’s frontiers. And, secondly, because were some military conflict between the US and China to become inevitable, as tensions escalate, the US has concluded that it needs medium range missiles to strike at China’s mainland. And it’s not China only. As Eric Sayers, a CSIS expert, put it: “Deploying conventionally-armed ground-launched intermediate-range missiles may be key to reasserting US military superiority in East Asia.” (i.e. leverage again).

Indeed, last year’s US Nuclear Posture Review already noted that “China likely already has the largest medium and intermediate-range missile force in Asia, and probably the world.” And the US is in the process of encircling China with intermediate missiles initially with Japan’s decision to buy the Aegis system, with Taiwan possibly next. (Bolton is known to support stationing US troops on Taiwanese soil, as further leverage over China).

President Putin sees this plainly:

“The Americans keep on indulging in these games as the actual goal of such games is not to catch Russia in violations, and compel it to abide by the treaty; but to invent a pretext to ruin that treaty – part of its belligerent imperial strategy”.

Or, in short, to impose a ‘rule-less, US, global order’.

What is happening is that Bolton and Pompeo seem to be precisely taking Trump back to the old 1992 Defence Policy Guidance document, authored by Paul Wolfowitz, which established the doctrine that the US would not allow any competition to its hegemony to emerge. Indeed, Assistant Secretary of State, Wess Mitchell, made this return to Bush era policy, absolutely clear, when in a statement to the US Senate he said:

The starting point of the National Security Strategy is the recognition that America has entered a period of big-power competition, and that past US policies have neither sufficiently grasped the scope of this emerging trend nor adequately equipped our nation to succeed in it. Contrary to the hopeful assumptions of previous administrations, Russia and China are serious competitors that are building up the material and ideological wherewithal to contest US primacy and leadership in the 21st Century. It continues to be among the foremost national security interests of the United States to prevent the domination of the Eurasian landmass by hostile powers.

And at the Atlantic Council on 18 October, the Secretary made it very plain that Europe will be whipped into line on this neo-Wolfowitz doctrine:

“European and American officials have allowed the growing Russian and Chinese influence in that region to “sneak up on us.” “Western Europeans cannot continue to deepen energy dependence on the same Russia that America defends it against. Or enrich themselves from the same Iran that is building ballistic missiles that threaten Europe,” the assistant secretary emphasized. Adding, “It is not acceptable for US allies in central Europe to support projects like Turkstream 2 and maintain cozy energy deals that make the region more vulnerable to the very Russia that these states joined NATO to protect themselves against.”

Also addressing the Atlantic Council’s October 18 conference, US Special Representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, revealed that Washington plans to stiffen the sanctions regime against Moscow “every month or two” to make it ‘more amenable over Ukraine’.

Plainly, Europe will be expected too, to welcome America’s missiles deployed back into Europe. Some states may welcome this (Poland and the Baltic States), but Europe as a whole will not. It will serve as another powerful reason to rethink European relations with Washington.

The influence of Bolton poses the question of what is Trump’s foreign policy now. Is it still about getting a good deal for America on a case-by-case basis, or is it a Bolton-style make-over for the Middle East (regime change in Iran), and a long cold war fought against Russia and China? US markets have until now thought it is about trade deals and jobs, but perhaps it no longer is.

We have written before about the incremental neocon-isation of Trump’s foreign policy. That is not new. But, the principal difficulty with a neo-Wolfowitzian imperialism, lashed to Trump’s radical, transactional, leveraging of the dollar jurisdiction, of US energy and of the US hold on technology standards and norms, is that by its very nature, it precludes any ‘grand strategic bargain’ from emerging – except in the unlikely event of a wholesale capitulation to the US. And as the US bludgeons non-compliant states, one-by-one, they do react collectively, and asymmetrically, to counter these pressures. The counter current presently is advancing rapidly.

Bolton may have sold Trump on the advantages of exiting the INF as giving him bargaining leverage over Russia and China, but did he also warn him of the dangers? Probably not. Bolton has always perceived treaty limitations to US action simply to be disadvantageous. Yet President Putin has warned that Russia will use its nuclear weapons – if its existence is threatened – and even if it is threatened through conventionally armed missiles. The dangers are clear.

As for an arms race, this is not the Reagan era (of low Federal debt to GDP). As one commentator notes, “no entity on earth (not currently engaged in QE), has as much government debt vulnerable to short-term interest shifts, than the US government. The US Federal Reserves’ "5 more [interest rate] hikes by end 2019", roughly translates into: "The Fed [interest payments due on US debt may become so large, as to] impose cuts on the US military in 2019".

Trump loves the leverage Bolton seems to magic out of his NSC ‘black box’, but does the US President appreciate how ephemeral leverage can be? How quickly it can invert? He cannot – Canute like – simply stand on the sea-shore and command the rising tide of US bond interest rates to recede like the tide, or the US stock market, just to levitate, in order to multiply his leverage over China.

Published:10/31/2018 10:51:20 PM
[Politics] Poll: More Registered Voters Credit Trump With Improved Economy President Donald Trump deserves credit for the United States' booming economy over former President Barack Obama, 47 percent of registered voters say in a Harvard-Harris poll released Wednesday. Published:10/31/2018 10:24:47 PM
[The Blog] Trump: If Obama could start DACA via executive order, I can end birthright citizenship via executive order

Okay.

The post Trump: If Obama could start DACA via executive order, I can end birthright citizenship via executive order appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:10/31/2018 8:51:56 PM
[ae10410f-2fdf-5c16-a73d-b2694f554058] Trump’s reversal of failed Obama policies has created a booming economy America's economy is booming because President Trump has reversed failed Obama policies. Published:10/31/2018 7:51:44 PM
[Politics] Citizenship's Penumbras What in the world was the Editor of the Sun thinking? That seems to be the sentiment of our readers in the wake of the editor's column on the 14th Amendment. The column suggested that President Trump was making a blunder with his vow to end birthright citizenship and would compound the error by trying to do so with an executive order. Just look at the trouble President Obama got into, etc. etc. No sooner had the Editor penned that screed than he decamped to his club to, no doubt, canoodle hi... Published:10/31/2018 4:18:47 PM
[Politics] Oprah, Trump, Obama: Georgia's Star-Studded Closing Act In the final days in one of the nation's hottest governor's races, Oprah Winfrey and President Donald Trump, as well as former Presidents Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter and Vice President Mike Pence, are trying to put their imprint on the Georgia election.Winfrey joins... Published:10/31/2018 3:20:01 PM
[Markets] Rickards: Be Prepared For A Cheaper Dollar

Authored by James Rickards via The Daily Reckoning,

When will the strong dollar weaken? Ultimately, the answer is whenever the Treasury wants.

When the Treasury is not overly concerned with the dollar, market forces can prevail to raise or lower the exchange rate compared with euros, Swiss francs, yen or any other currency.

Sometimes, other central banks intervene to raise or lower their currencies relative to the dollar and the U.S. does not seem to care. China is notorious for this. Japan and Switzerland are other practiced currency manipulators.

The last fully coordinated currency market intervention was conducted by the G-7 in March 2011 at the time of the Fukushima, Japan, earthquake and tsunami that caused the collapse of a nuclear power plant and ultimately a crash of the Tokyo stock exchange.

The Japanese economy was weakened by the natural disaster. A weaker yen would have helped the economy with cheaper exports and more inflation. But insurance companies had to sell dollar-denominated assets and buy yen in order to pay yen-denominated claims for the disaster losses. The result was a stronger yen.

The G-7 intervention, organized by then French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, successfully sold yen and bought euros, dollars and sterling to weaken the yen despite insurance companies buying it. Lagarde’s success in this intervention was instrumental in her elevation to head of the IMF shortly thereafter.

In short, except in extraordinary circumstances, the U.S. Treasury does not directly intervene in currency markets to target U.S. dollar exchange rates. If such targeting is needed, the Treasury will work with the Fed to raise interest rates or take a pause in rate hikes to affect the dollar’s value.

All of this may be about to change.

Both President Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin have publicly expressed dismay at the dollar’s persistent strength in the second half of 2018. A strong dollar has adverse effects relative to Trump’s economic plans.

It makes imports less expensive, which has a deflationary impact on the U.S. domestic economy. This is at a time when both the Fed and the White House would like to see more inflation.

A strong dollar also hurts U.S. exports from major companies such as Boeing and GE. That hurts U.S. competitiveness and U.S. jobs. Finally, a strong dollar hurts corporate profits of U.S. global companies because their overseas profits are translated back into fewer U.S. dollars. This is a head wind to U.S. stock market performance.

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and his wife hold a sheet of freshly printed dollar bills during a visit to the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving. The dollar has been strong during most of the Trump administration since early 2017. However, the strong dollar causes deflation and reduced exports. Trump and Mnuchin will soon weaken the dollar to boost growth.

While the White House and Fed may be united in their desire to see a weaker dollar and more inflation, the Fed is doing nothing to achieve that. The Fed has been on a path of raising interest rates for almost three years, beginning with the “liftoff” rate hike in December 2015.

Since October 2017, the Fed has also been tightening money supply by not reinvesting in Treasury securities when existing securities in their portfolio mature. This “quantitative tightening,” or QT, is the opposite of quantitative easing, QE.

The combination of rate hikes and QT has caused a significant increase in U.S. interest rates in all maturities and, in turn, a stronger dollar as capital flows to the U.S. in search of higher yields. The result is a persistent strong dollar.

This means that if the White House and Treasury want a weaker dollar, they may have to achieve it on their own with no help from the Fed. The Treasury is well-equipped to do this kind of intervention by using their Exchange Stabilization Fund, or ESF.

The ESF was created under the Gold Reserve Act of 1934, which provided legal ratification for FDR’s confiscation of private gold from U.S. citizens in 1933. FDR paid $20.67 in paper money for the gold in 1933, knowing he intended to raise the price of gold.

His plan was to capture the “gold profits” for the government instead of allowing citizens to realize the profits. Those profits were the original source of funding for the ESF.

Importantly, the ESF exists completely outside of congressional control or oversight. It is tantamount to a Treasury slush fund that the Treasury can use as it sees fit to intervene in foreign exchange markets. No legislation or congressional appropriation is required.

Former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin used the ESF to bail out Mexico in 1994 after Congress had refused to provide bailout money through other channels.

Today, the ESF has net assets of about $40 billion. The gross assets include about $50 billion in SDRs, but the Treasury can issue SDR certificates to the Fed in exchange for dollars if needed to conduct currency market operations. You can find the ESF financial statements here.

The biggest offender in the currency wars today is China, which has devalued the yuan 10% in the past six months to offset the impact of higher tariffs imposed by Trump. China’s cheap-yuan policy is undermining Trump’s trade war policies.

After biding their time, Trump and Mnuchin are ready to lower the boom on China with a cheap-dollar policy after the U.S. midterm elections. Of course, China will not be alone in feeling the impact of the new cheap dollar. Europe and the euro are also in the line of fire.

With this background in mind, what is the outlook for U.S. dollar exchange rates?

The single most important factor in the analysis is that two currencies cannot devalue against each other at the same time. It’s a mathematical impossibility. If one currency is going down against another, then the other must be going up. There’s no other way.

From January 2010 (when Obama launched the currency war) to August 2011 (when the dollar hit an all-time low), the currency wars benefited the U.S. at the expense of Europe, emerging markets and China. This was considered necessary by the participants at the G-20 leaders summit in Pittsburgh in September 2009.

The U.S. was and is the world’s largest economy. If the U.S. could not escape the impact of the 2008 financial panic, no one else would, either. In effect, the world would suffer stronger currencies while the U.S. devalued to jump-start the global recovery.

After August 2011, the dollar was allowed to revalue upward while the rest of the world, especially Europe and China, was allowed to devalue so they could claim some benefit from a weaker currency. This worked in the short run, but the problem was that the U.S. never returned to sustained growth at the prior trend of 3.25% growth per year.

The U.S. endured a long depression from 2007 until today with annual growth of about 2.3%. Europe and China got a boost, but the U.S. never pulled away from the pack.

Since then, it has been a matter of taking turns. The euro is allowed to depreciate to help growth and the banking system as the dollar gets stronger based on a slightly stronger U.S. economy. But no major economy has solved the problem of achieving self-sustaining trend growth.

China has been free-riding the entire time. There have been periods of a soft peg of the yuan to the dollar, but there are intermittent periods of a weaker yuan. China executed shock devaluations in August 2015 and December 2015.

Both times, U.S. stocks fell 11% in a matter of weeks. China has just executed a 10% slow-motion devaluation over the past six months. U.S. stocks have started to sink again.

Now Trump and Mnuchin are saying, “Enough!” The Europeans will have to take their turn with a stronger currency and China will be penalized for their currency manipulation. A weaker dollar is coming.

Whether this will be achieved with cooperation by the Fed or direct intervention by the Treasury remains to be seen, but a weaker dollar is the only way out of the U.S. growth conundrum and debt debacle.

The chart below shows that the euro has settled into a trading range since April after coming down from the $1.25 range in February.

Chart 1:

The euro will break out of that trading range toward the upside ($1.20–1.30) over the next few months. This will be the result of a possible Fed pause in rate hikes as the U.S. economy weakens, continued determination by the ECB to tighten policy and possible intervention by the U.S. Treasury.

Meanwhile, a weaker dollar will give the U.S. another growth spurt after the 2018 tax cuts to help propel Trump’s reelection prospects for 2020.

Published:10/31/2018 2:19:54 PM
[Terrorism] All Five of the Terrorists Obama Exchanged for Traitor Bowe Bergdahl Have Returned to Terror

All five of the terrorists Barack Obama traded for deserted U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdhal have retuned to terrorism, a new report finds.

The post All Five of the Terrorists Obama Exchanged for Traitor Bowe Bergdahl Have Returned to Terror appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:10/31/2018 12:22:03 PM
[Terrorism] All Five of the Terrorists Obama Exchanged for Traitor Bowe Bergdahl Have Returned to Terror

All five of the terrorists Barack Obama traded for deserted U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdhal have retuned to terrorism, a new report finds.

The post All Five of the Terrorists Obama Exchanged for Traitor Bowe Bergdahl Have Returned to Terror appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:10/31/2018 12:22:03 PM
[Markets] America's Nuclear Death Wish – Europe Must Rebel

Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The Trump administration’s declared scrapping of a crucial arms control treaty is putting the world on notice of a nuclear war, sooner or later.

Any such war is not winnable. It is mutually assured destruction. Yet the arrogant American rulers – some of them at least – seem to be deluded in thinking they can win such a war.

What makes the American position even more execrable is that it is being pushed by people who have never fought a war. Indeed, by people like President Donald Trump and his hawkish national security advisor John Bolton who both dodged military service to their country during the Vietnam War. How’s that for macabre mockery? The world is being pushed to war by a bunch of effete cowards who are clueless about war.

Trump announced last this week that the US was finally pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a move confirmed by Bolton on a follow-up trip to Moscow. That treaty was signed in 1987 by former President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It was a landmark achievement of cooperation and trust between the nuclear superpowers. Both sides removed short and medium-range nuclear missiles from Europe.

With Trump intending to rip up the INF Treaty, as his predecessor GW Bush had done with the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002, Europe is now facing the disastrous prospect of American missiles being reinstalled across its territory as they were in the 1980s. However, a big distinction between then and now is that after years of expansion by NATO, European territory is at an even sharper interface with Russia’s heartland.

When the INF Treaty was implemented three decades ago, the US and Russian nuclear arsenals were seriously dialed back to the strategic level of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) confined on respective landmasses separated by thousands of kilometers. As Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of Natsionalnaya Oborona, told Russia’s Vesti news channel, the ICBMs typically have a flight time of 30 minutes from launch. That time gap would give Russian defense systems time to respond effectively to an incoming strike from the US, and vice versa.

But, as Korotchenko noted, the impending installation of intermediate-range missiles by the Americans in European states will reduce the flight time of a possible US nuclear strike on Russia to a couple of minutes, even seconds. That would seriously challenge Russian anti-missile defenses, as well as greatly increasing the margin of error in detecting a strike, possibly leading to mistaken escalation. In other words, the strategic balance has been thrown into disarray by the US over the INF, just as it was again thrown into disarray back in 2002 when Bush trashed the ABM.

It also presents the Americans with the temptation to exercise their “first-strike doctrine”. In US military planning, it reserves the “right” to use a pre-emptive attack. By contrast, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated again last week that Russia will never use a first-strike option, that it would only use nuclear weapons as a defensive action.

Recall that earlier this month, the US envoy to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, said that American forces would “take out” Russian missiles if they are deemed to be violating the INF. It was an appalling expression of the pre-emptive prerogative that Washington grants itself, even though the information upon which it would base its action is highly questionable.

Putting the American logic together one can say that the US rulers have a death wish on the planet. With criminal recklessness, they are moving to loosen the international controls over deploying nuclear weapons and are creating a situation in Europe that puts nuclear war on a hair-trigger.

Moscow vowed last week that it will respond “militarily” if Washington goes ahead with scrapping the INF Treaty. Russia can be expected to counter by deploying shorter-range missiles that will put NATO-allied Europe in the firing line.

Surely, the European states must be asking themselves what kind of ally they supposedly have in the US. What kind of ally puts its supposed friends in the firing line, under the name of “protecting them”, while it remains at relatively safer distance?

The European Union has reacted to Trump’s announced withdrawal from the INF Treaty with horror. The EU is calling on the US to adhere to the treaty and to negotiate with Russia over purported complaints. French President Emmanuel Macron telephoned Trump, appealing that the treaty has been a vital element of Europe’s peace for the past 30 years.

Washington has been claiming for the past four years, since the Obama administration, that Russia is violating the INF by allegedly developing medium-range, ground-launched cruise missiles. Moscow has repeatedly denied the claims, pointing out that the Americans have not presented evidence to back up their accusations. Washington says its information is classified, and so can’t be publicly revealed. That’s hardly convincing given past American deceptions over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Iran and Syria.

In any case, it is the Americans who are making a big deal about the alleged Russian violations of the INF. If the Europeans were really concerned, why haven’t they kicked up a fuss? The fact that the Europeans are pleading with Washington to adhere to the INF suggests that they are not convinced by allegations of Russia posing a missile threat.

Moreover, if there are disputes and complaints from the American side, then let them iron these problems out through diplomacy and negotiation.

It is telling that the US wants to instead escalate the tensions and the risks of war in such a reckless manner. That betrays its real agenda of seeking to militarize problems, rather than exploring political solutions. The difference it seems comes down to the US not actually having a valid political argument, so it must exercise its power through militarism as a way to conceal its lack of rational validity.

The root problem of INF Treaty tensions and alleged violations stems from the US-led configuration of military forces encroaching ever-closer on Russian territory. If the US were genuinely interested in ensuring security and peace in Europe then it would listen to Russia’s concern over the provocative expansion of US-led NATO forces towards its Western border. When Reagan signed the INF with Gorbachev it was on the understanding and commitment from the US side not to advance its military towards Russia “by one inch”. In 30 years, US forces have pushed all the way from Germany to the Baltic and Black Seas on Russia’s doorstep. Washington is trying to enlist Ukraine and Georgia into the NATO alliance, indeed is carrying out war drills with these two former Soviet Union states which share borders with Russia.

If the US now re-installs medium-range nuclear missiles with flight times to Moscow down to a matter of seconds then we can lament that the abandonment of the INF is a grave watershed move towards nuclear war.

The way out of this heinous dilemma is not only maintaining the INF Treaty. Furthermore, there should a wholesale scaling back of NATO forces in Europe on Russia’s Western, Northern and Southern flanks. Just this month, NATO is holding its biggest-ever war maneuvers since the Cold War in the Arctic region on Russia’s border with 50,000 troops, accompanied by a flurry of surveillance flights over Russia’s coast.

The insanity of America’s death wish for nuclear war has to stop. The American ruling class won’t stop it because their death wish mentality is so suffused with blind arrogance and ignorance and it is so integral with the “normal” functioning of their capitalist military-industrial complex.

Russia is holding the line with its undoubted military capability and its principled diplomatic prudence. But it is time for the Europeans to step up to the plate and to exert some sense on the Americans.

  • For a start, the EU states should tell Trump that any plan to re-install medium-range nuclear weapons on their soil is impermissible.

  • Secondly, the Europeans need to scale back the NATO expansion towards Russian territory.

  • Thirdly, they need to tell Washington that Russia is a partner, not a pariah to be abused for the benefit of American militarism and hegemonic ambitions.

Will the Europeans do that? Their leaders may not have the backbone, but the citizens of Europe will have to, if they want to prevent their American “ally” inciting a nuclear cataclysm. American arrogance is fomenting a European rebellion against its death-wish criminal leaders.

Published:10/31/2018 1:15:10 AM
[Markets] Paul Craig Roberts Asks "Is America Finished?"

Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

The refusal of the Democratic Party and the military/security complex to accept the results of the 2016 US presidential election and the misuse of their positions of power to prevent Donald Trump from exercising presidential powers is a revolutionary step, well described by Angelo Codevilla here:

In 2010, Claremont Institute Senior Fellow Angelo Codevilla reintroduced the notion of "the ruling class" back into American popular discourse. In 2017, he described contemporary American politics as a "cold civil war." Now he applies the "logic of revolution" to our current political scene.

...

It has unfolded faster than foreseen. Its sentiments’ spiraling volume and intensity have eliminated any possibility of “stepping back.”

...

The Democratic Party and the millions it represents having refused to accept 2016’s results; having used their positions of power in government and society to prevent the winners from exercising the powers earned by election; declaring in vehement words and violent deeds the illegitimacy, morbidity, even criminality, of persons and ideas contrary to themselves; bet that this “resistance” would so energize their constituencies, and so depress their opponents’, that subsequent elections would prove 2016 to have been an anomaly and further confirm their primacy in America. The 2018 Congressional elections are that strategy’s first major test. Regardless of these elections’ outcome, however, this “resistance” has strengthened and accelerated the existing revolutionary spiral.

Read more here...

Americans are now so polarized that they “no longer share basic sympathies and trust, because they no longer regard each other as worthy of equal consideration.” Codevilla blames the progressives and their attitude of moral superiority, but his explanation is independent of who is to blame. I blame both sides. The Constitution and our civil liberties took a major hit from the “conservative” Republican regime of George W. Bush.

The consequence has been to weaponize government for use against the domestic adversary. In other words, unity has departed us. The absence of unity makes it easy for the ruling oligarchy to achieve its material interests at the expense of the welfare of the American people. Indeed, it is amazing to find progressives aligned with the military/security complex to block Trump from normalizing relations with Russia.

The provocations of Russia, which have been ongoing since the Clinton regime, have reached unprecedented levels under the neoconservative regimes of Obama and Trump. The conflict that has been orchestrated is good for the $1,000 billion annual budget of the military/security complex at the cost of maximizing the chance of nuclear war. The demonizations of Russia, Putin, China, and Iran are so extreme as to have convinced Russia and China that Washington intends war.

For Russia, Trump’s withdrawal from the intermediate range missile treaty (INF) confirms that an attack on Russia is being prepared. Intermediate range missiles cannot reach the US. The treaty gave safety to Russia and Europe, which is why Washington’s claim that Russia is violating the treaty is absurd. The only reason for Washington to withdraw from the treaty is to be able to place intermediate range nuclear missiles on Russia’s borders that would substantially increase the likelihood of success of a US first strike against Russia.

This apparently is not clear to the American people, media, and Congress, but it is clear to the Russians.

Mikhail Gorbachev, who negotiated the INF Treaty with President Reagan, stated the war threat succintly:

“It looks as if the world is preparing for war.”

It is also very clear to the Russian government. A top official, Andrei Belousov, declared:

“Yes, Russia is preparing for war, I have confirmed it. We are preparing to defend our homeland, our territorial integrity, our principles, our values, our people – we are preparing for such a war.”

Putin himself finally found tough words. A country that attacks Russia will be obliterated, “will die like dogs,” and “go to Hell.”

As demonization of Russia is part of the Democrats’ demonization of Trump - “Putin stooge,” “Putin agent,” or, in the words of former CIA Director John Brennan, “traitor” - the American people are too disunited to take a stand against conflict with Russia that serves the agendas of the military/security complex and the neoconservatives’ ideology of US world hegemony.

As it is impossible for Russia to accept US intermediate range nuclear missiles on Russia’s border, war is close at hand.

China also sees war on the horizon. China’s president has ordered the military to “prepare for war.”

The recklessly irresponsible policy of the US government toward Russia and China is leading to nuclear war.

Perhaps the European governments, Washington’s compliant stooges, will finally wake up and refuse to participate in Washington’s orchestrated conflict. If not, the Doomsday Clock will have to be moved to one second before doom.

Published:10/30/2018 9:45:58 PM
[Politics] Remember the 5 GITMO terrorists Obama traded for Bergdahl? They’re back… Remember the five GITMO terrorists that Obama traded to get Bergdahl back from the Taliban? Just as predicted, they are back with the Taliban: MILITARY TIMES – Five members of the Afghan . . . Published:10/30/2018 7:16:33 PM
[Politics] Remember the 5 GITMO terrorists Obama traded for Bergdahl? They’re back… Remember the five GITMO terrorists that Obama traded to get Bergdahl back from the Taliban? Just as predicted, they are back with the Taliban: MILITARY TIMES – Five members of the Afghan . . . Published:10/30/2018 7:16:33 PM
[] Thanks, Obama! The Five Taliban Prisoners We Traded to Get Back the Deserter and Traitor Bowe Bergdahl Have, Get This, Re-Joined the Taliban You built that, you stuttering clusterfuck of a miserable failure. Of course, Obama didn't really fail; he did exactly what he set out to do. Undermine, subvert, destroy. Five members of the Afghan Taliban who were freed from the U.S.... Published:10/30/2018 5:55:17 PM
[US News] Hey, remember those prisoners President Obama freed from Gitmo in exchange for deserter Bowe Bergdahl?

Shocker: The prisoners President Obama traded for Bowe Bergdahl have rejoined the Taliban.

The post Hey, remember those prisoners President Obama freed from Gitmo in exchange for deserter Bowe Bergdahl? appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:10/30/2018 3:50:51 PM
[Markets] Trump's Plan For The Caravan; "We're Going To Put Tents Up All Over The Place" 

The Trump administration will "build tent cities" for thousands of Central American migrants currently making their way north through Mexico to the Southern US border, reports The Hill

In an interview with Fox News's Laura Ingraham, Trump said that his administration would "hold" the migrants seeking asylum instead of releasing them pending court dates as prior administrations have done, also known as "catch and release."

"If they applied for asylum, we’re going to hold them until such time as their trial takes place," Trump told the Fox News host. 

"Where? We have the facilities?" she asked.

"We’re going to put up - we’re going to build tent cities," Trump responded. "We’re going to put tents up all over the place. We’re not going to build structures and spend all of this, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars -- we’re going to have tents."

"They're going to be very nice," he added.

Trump has called the migrant caravan a "national emergency," and threatened to cut financial aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, tweeting last week: "We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them."

Meanwhile, on Monday the Wall Street Journal reported that the US military will deploy 5,000 troops to the Southern border to reinforce the roughly 2,000 National Guard forces already in place. 

On Monday, President Trump warned the caravan, tweeting: "Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!"

Democrats and pro-illegal immigrant activists have accused Trump of invoking xenophobic and racist themes in an effort to scare Republicans into voting during next week's midterm elections. 

Former President Obama denounced Trump's rhetoric at a recent campaign event in Florida, saying: "Now the latest, they’re trying to convince everybody to be afraid of a bunch of impoverished, malnourished refugees a thousand miles away -- that’s the thing, it’s the most important in this election? ... We’re scare-mongering people on the border." 

When Ingraham asked him to comment, Trump replied that there were "gangs" within the caravan. 

And they will be living in a tent should the choose to cross the southern US border. 

Published:10/30/2018 1:15:45 PM
[Obama] Did Years Of Obama’s Anti-Semitic Words and Actions Incite Pittsburgh Shooting?

Shabbos is supposed to be a day of peace and family. But this Shabbos at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh it was a day of hate and murder. According to officials, eleven people were killed, and six people were wounded. Four of the injured were police officers who rushed to the scene to stop ...

The post Did Years Of Obama’s Anti-Semitic Words and Actions Incite Pittsburgh Shooting? appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:10/30/2018 10:13:10 AM
[Obama] Did Years Of Obama’s Anti-Semitic Words and Actions Incite Pittsburgh Shooting?

Shabbos is supposed to be a day of peace and family. But this Shabbos at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh it was a day of hate and murder. According to officials, eleven people were killed, and six people were wounded. Four of the injured were police officers who rushed to the scene to stop ...

The post Did Years Of Obama’s Anti-Semitic Words and Actions Incite Pittsburgh Shooting? appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:10/30/2018 10:13:10 AM
[Markets] Is This Worse Than '68?

Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

Saturday, in Pittsburgh, a Sabbath celebration at the Tree of Life synagogue became the site of the largest mass murder of Jews in U.S. history. Eleven worshipers were killed by a racist gunman.

Friday, we learned the identity of the crazed criminal who mailed pipe bombs to a dozen leaders of the Democratic Party, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

From restaurants to Capitol corridors, this campaign season we have seen ugly face-offs between leftist radicals and Republican senators.

Are we more divided than we have ever been? Are our politics more poisoned? Are we living in what Charles Dickens called “the worst of times” in America? Is today worse than 1968?

Certainly, the hatred and hostility, the bile and bitterness of our discourse, seem greater now than 50 years ago. But are the times really worse?

1968 began with one of the greatest humiliations in the history of the American Navy. The U.S. spy ship Pueblo was hijacked in international waters and its crew interned by North Korea.

A week later came the Tet Offensive, where every provincial capital in South Vietnam was attacked. A thousand U.S. troops died in February, 10,000 more through 1968.

On March 14, anti-war Senator Gene McCarthy captured 42 percent of the vote in New Hampshire against President Johnson.

With LBJ wounded, Robert Kennedy leapt into the race, accusing the president who had enacted civil rights of “dividing the country” and removing himself from “the enduring and generous impulses that are the soul of this nation.” Lyndon Johnson, said Kennedy, is “calling upon the darker impulses of the American spirit.”

Today, RFK is remembered as a “uniter.”

With Gov. George Wallace tearing at Johnson from the right and Kennedy and McCarthy attacking from the left — and Nixon having cleared the Republican field with a landslide in New Hampshire — LBJ announced on March 31 he would not run again.

Four days later, Martin Luther King, leading a strike of garbage workers, was assassinated in Memphis. One hundred U.S. cities exploded in looting, arson and riots. The National Guard was called up everywhere and federal troops rushed to protect Washington, D.C., long corridors of which were gutted, not to be rebuilt for a generation.

Before April’s end, Columbia University had exploded in the worst student uprising of the decade. It was put down only after the NYPD was unleashed on the campus.

Nixon called the Columbia takeover by black and white radicals “the first major skirmish in a revolutionary struggle to seize the universities of this country and transform them into sanctuaries for radicals and vehicles for revolutionary political and social goals.” Which many have since become.

In June, Kennedy, after defeating McCarthy in the crucial primary of California, was mortally wounded in the kitchen of the hotel where he had declared victory. He was buried in Arlington beside JFK.

Nixon, who had swept every primary, was nominated on the first ballot in Miami Beach, and the Democratic Convention was set for late August.

Between the conventions, Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev sent his Warsaw Pact armies and hundreds of tanks into Czechoslovakia to crush the peaceful uprising known as “Prague Spring.”

With this bloodiest of military crackdowns since the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Moscow sent a message to the West: There will be no going back in Europe. Once a Communist state, always a Communist state!

At the Democratic convention in Chicago, the thousands of radicals who had come to raise hell congregated nightly in Grant Park, across from the Hilton where the candidates and this writer were staying.

Baited day and night, the Chicago cops defending the hotel, by late in the week, had had enough. Early one evening, platoons of fresh police arrived and charged into the park clubbing and arresting scores of radicals as the TV cameras rolled. It would be called a “police riot.”

When Sen. Abe Ribicoff took the podium that night, he directed his glare at Mayor Richard J. Daley, accusing him of using “Gestapo tactics in the streets of Chicago.” Daley’s reply from the floor was unprintable.

Through September, Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey could not speak at a rally without being cursed and shouted down.

Describing the radicals disrupting his every event, Humphrey said, these people “aren’t just hecklers,” but “highly disciplined, well-organized agitators. … Some are anarchists and some of these groups are dedicated to destroying the Democratic Party and destroying the country.”

After his slim victory, Nixon declared that his government would take as its theme the words on a girl’s placard that he had seen in the Ohio town of Deshler: “Bring us together.”

Nixon tried in his first months, but it was not to be.

According to Bryan Burrough, author of “Days of Rage, America’s Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence,” “During an eighteen month period in 1971 and 1972, the FBI reported more than 2,500 bombings on U.S. soil, nearly 5 a day.”

No, 2018 is not 1968, at least not yet.

Published:10/30/2018 9:51:48 AM
[Politics] Is This Worse Than '68? By Patrick J. Buchanan

Saturday, in Pittsburgh, a Sabbath celebration at the Tree of Life synagogue became the site of the largest mass murder of Jews in U.S. history. Eleven worshippers were killed by a racist gunman.

Friday, we learned the identity of the crazed criminal who mailed pipe bombs to a dozen leaders of the Democratic Party, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

Published:10/29/2018 3:03:28 PM
[Politics] 43% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

For the fourth week in a row, 43% of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, this time according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending October 25.

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.

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

(Want a free daily 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 October 21-25, 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:10/29/2018 12:01:58 PM
[In The News] Obama, Trump Headed To Florida To Campaign In Tight Races

By DCNF -

Former President Barack Obama will continue on the campaign trail Friday when he heads to Florida to campaign for the state’s Democratic Senate and gubernatorial candidates in Miami at Ice Palace Films Studios.

Obama, Trump Headed To Florida To Campaign In Tight Races is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:10/29/2018 11:02:17 AM
[US News] OMG did he REALLY say that?! ONLY Obama could make this big of a jacka*s of himself in Michigan (watch)

Democrats. Awesome job bringing Obama out to campaign for you during the 2018 midterms. Seriously, keep that shiznit up … it’s awesome. For Republicans. Look at this: Obama tells Michigan Democratic voters to get out and vote early. Michigan doesn’t have early voting. pic.twitter.com/B6f3EdKmJb — Jack Murphy (@RealJack) October 28, 2018 Hey Michigan Democrats! Get […]

The post OMG did he REALLY say that?! ONLY Obama could make this big of a jacka*s of himself in Michigan (watch) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:10/29/2018 8:01:35 AM
[2018 Election] Obama’s Cretan paradox (Scott Johnson) The semi-mythical Cretan philosopher Epimenides famously propounded the paradoxical assertion that all Cretans are liars. Campaigning for Barack Obama in 2012, the cretin former president Bill Clinton propounded his own version of the paradox in his capacity as Barack Obama’s foremost campaign surrogate. Clinton regaled a Philadelphia crowd with his critique of the Romney campaign. Clinton asked: “You’re laughing, but who wants a president who will knowingly, repeatedly tell you Published:10/29/2018 7:30:11 AM
[Markets] EU Court Upholds Prosecution Of Woman For Comparing Muhammad's Marriage To A Six-Year-Old Girl To Pedophilia

Authord by Jonathan Turley via JonathanTurley.org,

A new decision from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) confirms the all-out assault on free speech that has taken hold of Europe.  In a chilling decision, the ECHR upheld a fine levied against an Austrian woman who called Muhammad a pedophile for his arranged marriage with a young girl while in his 50s.   The court ruled that such views are not protected by free speech because they violate “the right of others to have their religious feelings protected.” The decision confirms the near complete subjugation of free speech to religious and other views in society.  

In 2009, the defendant held two seminars entitled “Basic Information on Islam,” in which she compared Muhammad’s marriage to a six-year-old girl, Aisha, to pedophilia.

Most accounts put Aisha’s birth around  late 613 or early 614.  She was six or seven years old when she was married to Muhammad in Mecca and he consummated the marriage when she was reportedly ten. Muhammad was around 50 at the time.

For most of us in the free speech community, the differing views of this marriage is immaterial to the right of both sides to be free to state their views.  However, complainants have sought to silence critics like this woman by seeking criminal fines.

Moreover, I am not particularly interested in how the woman expressed her views since they raise core religious and political values.  The court said that she stated that Muhammad “liked to do it with children” and “… A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? … What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?”  That was found to be “disparaging religion” and lower courts upheld the conviction.

The Strasbourg-based ECHR ruled that the woman’s “right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected, and served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria.”

The ECHR engaged in what is now an all-too-familiar effort to deny its obvious denial of free speech by saying that freedom of religion did not protect religions from criticism but they upheld the punishment of someone for doing precisely that.  It simply declared that the woman’s comments “could only be understood as having been aimed at demonstrating that Muhammad was not worthy of worship.”

The opinion is perfectly Orwellian in saying that you cannot get away with using free speech by simply claiming the right of free speech.  The court rejected that people are entitled to free speech by simply “pack[ing] incriminating statements into the wrapping of an otherwise acceptable expression of opinion and claim that this rendered passable those statements exceeding the permissible limits of freedom of expression.”

That type of circular logic would be laughable if it were not so chilling.

We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws.  These prosecutions are part of a new and dangerous attack on free speech. We previously discussed the rise of anti-blasphemy laws around the world, including the increase in prosecutions in the West and the support of the Obama Administration for the prosecution of some anti-religious speech under the controversial Brandenburg standard.  The effort by Muslim countries to establish an international blasphemy standard ran into opposition in the West so a new effort to launched to use hate crimes and discrimination law to achieve the purpose.

This new ruling shows the rapid abandonment of the European courts of fundamental values of free speech.  The ECHR has now established itself as legitimizing the criminalization of speech in Europe.

Published:10/29/2018 2:59:28 AM
[World News] Trump Instructs FBI To Arrest Obama For Returning Bomb President Donald Trump has given orders for his predecessor, Barack Obama, to be arrested and brought in for questioning amid allegations that, after he received a suspicious package through the post, he tried to return it to its sender via the US Po... Published:10/28/2018 7:29:05 PM
[Markets] Hedge Fund CIO: "Today, The Chinese Are Trapped... And The Box Keeps Shrinking"

Submitted by Eric Peters, CIO Of One River Asset Management

V-Day

“America built the global trading system, but we don’t really need it,” said the strategist. “We defend it, but we don’t require it.” For all the free-trade talk, the US is the most closed of all major economies. “When you include Canada and Mexico – basically vassal states – you could cut off trade with every other country and America would run just fine.” Plus we haven’t even started fracking south of the border. “We built the trading system to support our allies during the Cold War. We subsidized them for so long we forgot why we were doing it. But the war is over.”

“The US pays for the security that underpins world trade,” continued the strategist. “And we provide the excess demand that allows the world’s mercantilists to function.” No large nation/block is willing to run a current account deficit like we do. “The Bushes and Clintons kept it going. Obama too. They kept the Cold War alive. And it was great for Wall Street, multi-nationals, their executives.” But it wasn’t great for most workers. “The rearrangement we see today was inevitable. It just needed a leader strong-willed enough to defy the establishment.”

“Neither Democrats nor Republican leaders wanted this change,” explained the strategist. “But almost overnight, voters have woken to the notion that China is not our friend. It’s a strategic rival.” This genie will not return to the bottle. “Neoliberalists assured us that welcoming China in the WTO would yield a win-win.” It certainly helped them get rich. “A strong China is not really a win for the US. It’s not a win for Vietnam either.” Or anyone within 1,000 miles of Beijing. “This change is generational. And the impact on China will be terminal.”

Dead Presidents

“Read McKinley’s speeches, they were very interesting,” said our President. So I did. “He talked about how we won’t allow the outsider to come in and take our wealth from us without having to pay,” continued Trump. The 38%-50% McKinley Tariff passed in 1890, before William became President in 1897. McKinley introduced the term “reciprocal trade” and as President, threatened additional tariffs to lower foreign barriers. The economy flourished in his 1st term. He won a 2nd, warmed up to more open trade, then got shot. Teddy came next.

Anecdote: 

"There are two types of macro traders,” said the macro trader.

“The first makes money when what’s supposed to happen actually happens,” he continued. “They tend to own emerging markets, the S&P 500. They buy high yield and anything that rolls down a curve.” These strategies are implicitly short volatility; usually a winning proposition.

“The second type of macro trader looks for situations where policy makers have found themselves trapped in a box. And to escape, they need to pay you.” These opportunities are less frequent.  “The more acute the policy dilemma and the more advanced the corresponding stress or euphoria, the better. As the box gets smaller and the exits narrow it becomes easier to game out how they’ll ultimately act.” The most famous example was Soros’s bet against the Bank of England in 1992; the BOE’s only viable escape was a sterling devaluation.

“I made a lot of money in 2014 as the European economy struggled and the Euro soared. The ECB was boxed. They either needed to ease and devalue the currency, or their banking system was going to implode.” Draghi made the ‘whatever it takes’ speech in 2012 but had not yet adopted QE. “There was no other way out of the box. So you could short European stocks against the S&P 500 and short the Euro versus the dollar.” In every plausible outcome, you were going to win.

“Today, the Chinese are trapped. They need to keep policy easy to prevent implosion of their crazy-levered economy, but easing pressures their currency, which induces capital flight. So far, they’ve sidestepped this dilemma through capital controls and portfolio inflows (the latter a result of co-opting global asset managers and bureaucrats by getting included into global benchmarks and the SDR basket). But these are just delaying tactics.” As the box keeps shrinking.

Published:10/28/2018 6:05:02 PM
[Markets] Morgan Stanley: There's A Good Chance Everyone Is Wrong About The Midterms

From Michael Zezas, Morgan Stanley's Chief US Public Policy & Municipal Strategist

Here’s a tip for election night, from my left brain to yours: There’s a better chance than you think that the elections, and the market reaction, won’t go the way you expect.

If you’re like me, you’ve been thinking about the US midterm elections for months...at least. And if you’re like me, you’ve noticed that polls, betting markets, and model-based probabilities have been stable in pointing to a single outcome as most likely: Democrats take the House, Republicans keep the Senate. And if you’re like me, you’ve probably translated that stability into overconfidence that this will be the outcome.

So let’s engage our left brains for a minute and think this through, with the help of some statistics. I’m not arguing that the polls could be wrong. Rather, I’m reminding you that polls have a margin of error. Keeping that in mind, you’re less likely to think the 2016 polls were ‘wrong’. After all, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2%, less than expected but well within the margin of error. Furthermore, the error does not have partisan bias – while Trump outperformed polls in key states in 2016, remember that in 2012 Obama outperformed the polls.

The point is, when polls indicate relatively close races, of which there are many in this Congressional cycle, uncertainty is high. For that reason and many more that we’ve discussed, we think the poll-based models, rather than polls alone, do a good job of assigning probabilities to different outcomes. Sadly, we humans don’t do as good a job of interpreting them.

This brings us to the problem for investors. The most likely outcome – Democrat House, Republican Senate – has been carrying a probability of about 60-65% and results in legislative gridlock, hence status quo on policies that influence markets (fiscal stimulus, regulation, and trade). The results that take these policies in meaningfully different directions make up the other 35-40% – with meaningful chances that either Republicans hold both houses or that Democrats sweep. Said differently, there’s a significant chance that voters choose an outcome that shifts US policy from the status quo.

Hence, investors should anticipate market reactions to these alternate outcomes. Here’s how we think about it:

  • Trade risk is a constant. On election night, focus on other variables. While much is made of election outcomes influencing markets by shifting trade policy, we think this is overstated. Even if Democrats take control, they have their fair share of trade hawks. Hence we see trade enduring as a risk market pressure regardless, and for election night would focus our attention on how other variables are influenced.
  • Fiscal outcomes influence today’s key market variable (rates), driving volatility. Our equity team sees margin pressure from rising costs (namely wages, trade, and interest) as key to stocks. Here, election outcomes could drive very different perceptions, at least in the near term, of the direction of cost pressures by influencing the direction of interest rates. If Republicans hold both houses, the main expected effect is more fiscal stimulus through tax cut extensions. That could drive expectations of higher rates and a more hawkish Fed, applying near-term pressure to stocks. If Democrats sweep, they won’t be able to change fiscal policy before 2020, but it would change expectations of the trajectory beyond it. Winning Senate control means Democrats would have won more than 11 seats in states that voted Republican just two years ago despite polling deficits in some of those areas. That would imply Americans are more supportive of progressive policy than many believe. All of a sudden, it’s reasonable to think about fiscal contraction (i.e., rolling back some tax cuts), albeit after 2020. This shifts the narrative away from rising rates and, in the near term, alleviates the pressure stocks have felt in recent weeks from risks of higher input costs.
  • Consider alternative hedges. Given the case above for volatility, our cross-asset strategists have ideas for you heading into election night. Being long equity vol makes sense, but even more so they like going long DM FX volatility to reflect idiosyncratic political risk of various stripes.
  • Stay cautious in corporate credit. As a relative outperformer, the market hasn’t onboarded many of the nonpolicy concerns that have been key this year’s ‘rolling bear market’ across asset classes. Hence, even if election night drives a constructive near-term narrative for credit, perhaps on tax policy, we would use any rally to continue moving up in quality.

Maybe this wouldn’t be your playbook, but in any case we want you to embrace the uncertainty rather than plan for the expected.

Published:10/28/2018 5:01:02 PM
[US Headlines] Trump is Mad the Fake News Media Pay So Much Attention to the Democrat Bomber and So Little on His Evil Immigration Caravan Mar-a-lago, FL Although Trump never heard about the bomber who was mailing bombs to Democratic leaders, including the Obama and Clinton families until today (Fox News hadn't mentioned it), Melania saw it on the View and told him about it. Trump sa... Published:10/28/2018 4:27:43 PM
[US News] Notice a difference? Here is how Trump and Obama responded to the Pittsburgh shooting

Which one is more presidential?

The post Notice a difference? Here is how Trump and Obama responded to the Pittsburgh shooting appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:10/28/2018 4:27:43 PM
[Markets] Trump Allies Go To Bat As Critics Slam President For Synagogue Shooting

President Trump's allies are vigorously pushing back against critics attempting to link his rhetoric to a rise of violence in the United States in the aftermath of Saturday's mass murder at a Pittsburgh synagogue, and a spate of attempted pipe bombings, reports Bloomberg

"Our president has the largest microphone, he has the largest bullhorn,” said President Obama's homeland security chief, Jeh Johnson on ABC’s "This Week" on Sunday. "This particular president has a particularly large voice and a large microphone, and Americans should demand that their leaders insist on change, a more civil discourse and a more civil environment generally."

Others were less diplomatic, such as GQ's Julia Ioffe and Newsweek's Nina Burleigh and others: 

We must have missed their condemnation of the more than 600 acts of violence against Trump supporters, while Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, Maxine Waters and more have openly called for uncivil behavior against conservatives. 

Meanwhile, mourners at a vigil for Saturday's victims in Squirrel Hill were chanting "vote, vote, vote" 

Coming to Trump's defense

Vice President Mike Pence condemned Trump's detractors in a NBC News interview which aired Sunday, dismissing suggestions that the president's rhetoric contributed to recent violence. 

"Everyone has their own style and frankly people on both sides of the aisle use strong language about our political differences but I just don't think you can connect it to threats or acts of violence," Pence said, adding "The president and I have different styles but the president connected to the American people because he spoke plainly and he spoke the way he speaks about the issues of the day in politics." 

Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, said that Trump "has made it extraordinarily clear that we will never allow political violence to take root in this country." 

The Hill's rising conservative voice, Buck Sexton, weighed in as well: 

Mollie Hemmingway of The Federalist slammed the Washington Post over blaming Trump:

Considering that yesterday's Synagogue attacker hated Trump - who is demonstrably pro-Israel and received the "Tree of Life Award" for his support of Israel, the left's kneejerk reaction is not only misplaced, but serves no purpose but to stoke tension during what should be a time of coming together. 

Published:10/28/2018 2:56:10 PM
[US News] DUDE: Is Obama SERIOUSLY making THIS attack on President Trump, given HIS OWN policies?

"He's mocking us."

The post DUDE: Is Obama SERIOUSLY making THIS attack on President Trump, given HIS OWN policies? appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:10/28/2018 1:25:56 PM
[US Headlines] Obamaâ??s Mother-In-Law Accuses Him Of Stealing Her Sosha Shurity Checks BILLINGSGATE POST: President Obama's mother-in-law lived her entire life in Chicago, so when she was invited to move into the White House, she was somewhat apprehensive. Try it for a few months, her son-in-law suggested. For the first two years,... Published:10/28/2018 4:23:20 AM
[Markets] Facebook Censorship Of Alternative Media "Just The Beginning," Warns Top Neocon Insider

Authored by Max Blumenthal and Jeb Sprague via GrayZoneProject.com,

At a Berlin security conference, hardline neocon Jamie Fly appeared to claim some credit for the recent coordinated purge of alternative media...

This October, Facebook and Twitter deleted the accounts of hundreds of users, including many alternative media outlets maintained by American users. Among those wiped out in the coordinated purge were popular sites that scrutinized police brutality and U.S. interventionism, like The Free Thought Project, Anti-Media, and Cop Block, along with the pages of journalists like Rachel Blevins.

Facebook claimed that these pages had “broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.” However, sites like The Free Thought Project were verified by Facebook and widely recognized as legitimate sources of news and opinion. John Vibes, an independent reporter who contributed to Free Thought, accused Facebook of “favoring mainstream sources and silencing alternative voices.”

In comments published here for the first time, a neoconservative Washington insider has apparently claimed a degree of credit for the recent purge — and promised more takedowns in the near future.

“Russia, China, and other foreign states take advantage of our open political system,” remarked Jamie Fly, a senior fellow and director of the Asia program at the influential think tank the German Marshall Fund, which is funded by the U.S. government and NATO.

“They can invent stories that get repeated and spread through different sites. So we are just starting to push back. Just this last week Facebook began starting to take down sites. So this is just the beginning.”

Fly went on to complain that “all you need is an email” to set up a Facebook or Twitter account, lamenting the sites’ accessibility to members of the general public. He predicted a long struggle on a global scale to fix the situation, and pointed out that to do so would require constant vigilance.

Fly made these stunning comments to Jeb Sprague, who is a visiting faculty member in sociology at the University of California-Santa Barbara and co-author of this article. The two spoke during a lunch break at a conference on Asian security organized by the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Berlin, Germany.

In the tweet below, Fly is the third person from the left who appears seated at the table.

The remarks by Fly — “we are just starting to push back” — seemed to confirm the worst fears of the alternative online media community. If he was to be believed, the latest purge was motivated by politics, not spam prevention, and was driven by powerful interests hostile to dissident views, particularly where American state violence is concerned.

Jamie Fly, rise of a neocon cadre

Jamie Fly is an influential foreign policy hardliner who has spent the last year lobbying for the censorship of “fringe views” on social media. Over the years, he has advocated for a military assault on Iran, a regime change war on Syria, and hiking military spending to unprecedented levels. He is the embodiment of a neoconservative cadre.

Like so many second-generation neocons, Fly entered government by burrowing into mid-level positions in George W. Bush’s National Security Council and Department of Defense.

In 2009, he was appointed director of the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), a rebranded version of Bill Kristol’s Project for a New American Century, or PNAC. The latter outfit was an umbrella group of neoconservative activists that first made the case for an invasion of Iraq as part of a wider project of regime change in countries that resisted Washington’s sphere of influence.

By 2011, Fly was advancing the next phase in PNAC’s blueprint by clamoring for military strikes on Iran. “More diplomacy is not an adequate response,” he argued. A year later, Fly urged the US to “expand its list of targets beyond the [Iranian] nuclear program to key command and control elements of the Republican Guard and the intelligence ministry, and facilities associated with other key government officials.”

Fly soon found his way into the senate office of Marco Rubio, a neoconservative pet project, assuming a role as his top foreign policy advisor. Amongst other interventionist initiatives, Rubio has taken the lead in promoting harsh economic sanctions targeting Venezuela, even advocating for a U.S. military assault on the country. When Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign floundered amid a mass revolt of the Republican Party’s middle American base against the party establishment, Fly was forced to cast about for new opportunities.

He found them in the paranoid atmosphere of Russiagate that formed soon after Donald Trump’s shock election victory.

PropOrNot sparks the alternative media panic

A journalistic insider’s account of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, Shattered, revealed that “in the days after the election, Hillary declined to take responsibility for her own loss.” Her top advisers were summoned the following day, according to the book, “to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up … Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.”

Less than three weeks after Clinton’s defeat, the Washington Post’s Craig Timberg published a dubiously sourced report headlined, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news.'” The article hyped up a McCarthyite effort by a shadowy, anonymously run organization called PropOrNot to blacklist some 200 American media outlets as Russian “online propaganda.”

The alternative media outfits on the PropOrNot blacklist included some of those recently purged by Facebook and Twitter, such as The Free Thought Project and Anti-Media. Among the criteria PropOrNot identified as signs of Russian propaganda were “Support for policies like Brexit, and the breakup of the EU and Eurozone” and “Opposition to Ukrainian resistance to Russia and Syrian resistance to Assad.” PropOrNot called for “formal investigations by the U.S. government” into the outlets it had blacklisted.

According to Craig Timberg, the Washington Post correspondent who uncritically promoted the media suppression initiative, Propornot was established by “a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds.” Timberg quoted a figure associated with the George Washington University Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, Andrew Weisburd, and cited a report he wrote with his colleague, Clint Watts, on Russian meddling.

Timberg’s piece on PropOrNot was promoted widely by former top Clinton staffers and celebrated by ex-Obama White House aide Dan Pfeiffer as “the biggest story in the world.” But after a wave of stinging criticism, including in the pages of the New Yorker, the article was amended with an editor’s note stating, “The [Washington] Post… does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet.”

PropOrNot had been seemingly exposed as a McCarthyite sham, but the concept behind it — exposing online American media outlets as vehicles for Kremlin “active measures” — continued to flourish.

The birth of the Russian bot tracker — with U.S. government money

By August, a new, and seemingly related initiative appeared out of the blue, this time with backing from a bipartisan coalition of Democratic foreign policy hands and neocon Never Trumpers in Washington. Called the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), the outfit aimed to expose how supposed Russian Twitter bots were infecting American political discourse with divisive narratives. It featured a daily “Hamilton 68” online dashboard that highlighted the supposed bot activity with easily digestible charts. Conveniently, the site avoided naming any of the digital Kremlin influence accounts it claimed to be tracking.

The initiative was immediately endorsed by John Podesta, the founder of the Democratic Party think tank the Center for American Progress, and former chief of staff of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Julia Ioffe, the Atlantic’s chief Russiagate correspondent, promoted the bot tracker as “a very cool tool.”

Unlike PropOrNot, the ASD was sponsored by one of the most respected think tanks in Washington, the German Marshall Fund, which had been founded in 1972 to nurture the special relationship between the US and what was then West Germany.

The German Marshall Fund is substantially funded by Western governments, and largely reflects their foreign-policy interests. Its top two financial sponsors, at more than $1 million per year each, are the U.S. government’s soft-power arm the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the German Foreign Office (known in German as the Auswärtiges Amt). The U.S. State Department also provides more than half a million dollars per year, as do the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and the foreign affairs ministries of Sweden and Norway. It likewise receives at least a quarter of a million dollars per year from NATO.

The US government and NATO are top donors to the German Marshall Fund

Though the German Marshall Fund did not name the donors that specifically sponsored its Alliance for Securing Democracy initiative, it hosts a who’s who of bipartisan national-security hardliners on the ASD’s advisory council, providing the endeavor with the patina of credibility. They range from neocon movement icon Bill Kristol to former Clinton foreign policy advisor Jake Sullivan and ex-CIA director Michael Morell.

Jamie Fly, a German Marshall Fund fellow and Asia specialist, emerged as one of the most prolific promoters of the new Russian bot tracker in the media. Together with Laura Rosenberger, a former foreign policy aide to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, Fly appeared in a series of interviews and co-authored several op-eds emphasizing the need for a massive social media crackdown.

During a March 2018 interview on C-Span, Fly complained that “Russian accounts” were “trying to promote certain messages, amplify certain content, raise fringe views, pit Americans against each other, and we need to deal with this ongoing problem and find ways through the government, through tech companies, through broader society to tackle this issue.”

Yet few of the sites on PropOrNot’s blacklist, and none of the alternative sites that were erased in the recent Facebook purge that Fly and his colleagues take apparent credit for, were Russian accounts. Perhaps the only infraction they could have been accused of was publishing views that Fly and his cohorts saw as “fringe.”

What’s more, the ASD has been forced to admit that the mass of Twitter accounts it initially identified as “Russian bots” were not necessarily bots — and may not have been Russian either.

“I’m not convinced on this bot thing”

A November 2017 investigation by Max Blumenthal, a co-author of this article, found that the ASD’s Hamilton 68 dashboard was the creation of “a collection of cranks, counterterror retreads, online harassers and paranoiacs operating with support from some of the most prominent figures operating within the American national security apparatus.”

These figures included the same George Washington University Center for Cyber and Homeland Security fellows — Andrew Weisburd and Clint Watts — that were cited as experts in the Washington Post’s article promoting PropOrNot.

Weisburd, who has been described as one of the brains behind the Hamilton 68 dashboard, once maintained a one-man, anti-Palestinian web monitoring initiative that specialized in doxxing left-wing activists, Muslims and anyone he considered “anti-American.” More recently, he has taken to Twitter to spout off murderous and homophobic fantasies about Glenn Greenwald, the editor of the Intercept — a publication the ASD flagged without explanation as a vehicle for Russian influence operations.

Watts, for his part, has testified before Congress on several occasions to call on the government to “quell information rebellions” with censorious measures including “nutritional labels” for online media. He has received fawning publicity from corporate media and been rewarded with a contributor role for NBC on the basis of his supposed expertise in ferreting out Russian disinformation.

Clint Watts has urged Congress to “quell information rebellions”

However, under questioning during a public event by Grayzone contributor Ilias Stathatos, Watts admitted that substantial parts of his testimony were false, and refused to provide evidence to support some of his most colorful claims about malicious Russian bot activity.

In a separate interview with Buzzfeed, Watts appeared to completely disown the Hamilton 68 bot tracker as a legitimate tool. “I’m not convinced on this bot thing,” Watts confessed. He even called the narrative that he helped manufacture “overdone,” and admitted that the accounts Hamilton 68 tracked were not necessarily directed by Russian intelligence actors.

“We don’t even think they’re all commanded in Russia — at all. We think some of them are legitimately passionate people that are just really into promoting Russia,” Watts conceded.

But these stunning admissions did little to slow the momentum of the coming purge.

Enter the Atlantic Council

In his conversation with Sprague, the German Marshall Fund’s Fly stated that he was working with the Atlantic Council in the campaign to purge alternative media from social media platforms like Facebook.

The Atlantic Council is another Washington-based think tank that serves as a gathering point for neoconservatives and liberal interventionists pushing military aggression around the globe. It is funded by NATO and repressive, US-allied governments including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Turkey, as well as by Ukrainian oligarchs like Victor Pynchuk.

This May, Facebook announced a partnership with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) to “identify, expose, and explain disinformation during elections around the world.”

The Atlantic Council’s DFRLab is notorious for its zealous conflation of legitimate online dissent with illicit Russian activity, embracing the same tactics as PropOrNot and the ASD.

Ben Nimmo, a DFRLab fellow who has built his reputation on flushing out online Kremlin influence networks, embarked on an embarrassing witch hunt this year that saw him misidentify several living, breathing individuals as Russian bots or Kremlin “influence accounts.” Nimmo’s victims included Mariam Susli, a well-known Syrian-Australian social media personality, the famed Ukrainian concert pianist Valentina Lisitsa, and a British pensioner named Ian Shilling.

In an interview with Sky News, Shilling delivered a memorable tirade against his accusers.

“I have no Kremlin contacts whatsoever; I do not know any Russians, I have no contact with the Russian government or anything to do with them,” he exclaimed.

“I am an ordinary British citizen who happens to do research on the current neocon wars which are going on in Syria at this very moment.”

With the latest Facebook and Twitter purges, ordinary citizens like Shilling are being targeted in the open, and without apology. The mass deletions of alternative media accounts illustrate how national security hardliners from the German Marshall Fund and Atlantic Council (and whoever was behind PropOrNot) have instrumentalized the manufactured panic around Russian interference to generate public support for a wider campaign of media censorship.

In his conversation in Berlin with Sprague, Fly noted with apparent approval that, “Trump is now pointing to Chinese interference in the 2018 election.” As the mantra of foreign interference expands to a new adversarial power, the clampdown on voices of dissent in online media is almost certain to intensify.

As Fly promised, “This is just the beginning.”

Published:10/27/2018 8:24:44 PM
[The Blog] Obama on the campaign trail, bashes GOP and Trump

'The character of our country is on the ballot.'

The post Obama on the campaign trail, bashes GOP and Trump appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:10/27/2018 7:54:06 PM
[In The News] Colleges: It’s offensive to dress up as Obama for Halloween, but not Trump

By R. Mitchell -

According to a news report, one college has gone so far down the “cultural appropriation” rabbit hole that they are even telling students which presidents are off-limits for Halloween. You can wear an orange President Trump wig or dress as one of our first 43 presidents, but one president is off-limits: ...

Colleges: It’s offensive to dress up as Obama for Halloween, but not Trump is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust.

Published:10/27/2018 4:50:07 PM
Top Searches:
books
-1'
FBI
obama
obamacare
NASA
books1111111111111' UNION SELECT CHAR(45,120,49,45,81,45),CHAR(45,120,50,45,81,45),CHAR(45,120,51,45,81,45),CHAR(45,120,52,45,81,45),CHAR(45,120,53,45,81,45),CHAR(45,120,54,45,81,45),CHAR(45,120,55,45
dow
Casey
dow1111111111111' UNION SELECT CHAR(45,120,49,45,81,45),CHAR(45,120,50,45,81,45),CHAR(45,120,51,45,81,45),CHAR(45,120,52,45,81,45),CHAR(45,120,53,45,81,45),CHAR(45,120,54,45,81,45),CHAR(45,120,55,45,8

Jobs from Indeed

comments powered by Disqus