Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Embarrassed Enough Yet? It Was a Good Plan  (Calling Roger Stone!)  Please, Drink the Koolaid (Really. It's Not Soma)  There Is No Such Thing As Cyber Security  (Pig Poop Fills the Sinuses)



First off, in self defense, seriously consider this:

Truth Has Become Un-American


That peace with Russia and China would undermine the justification of the $1,000 billion military/security budget, and that the military/security complex is the American government, is too much truth for most writers to state.

Truth is the most rare element in the Western world, and we will not be permitted to have much of it much longer. Increasingly, truth is difficult to find. Soak it up while it is still available.

Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert explain all the rest of the confusing MSM (mainstream media) news to helpless bystanders in order to aid us in getting our wobbly feet back on solid ground.

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If China Can Fund infrastructure with Its Own Credit, So Can We

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The deep state's decision in ancient Rome — dominated by a bloated military and a corrupt oligarchy, much like the United States of 2017 — to strangle the vain and idiotic Emperor Commodus in his bath in the year 192 did not halt the growing chaos and precipitous decline of the Roman Empire.
Commodus, like a number of other late Roman emperors, and like President Trump, was incompetent and consumed by his own vanity. He commissioned innumerable statues of himself as Hercules and had little interest in governance.

He used his position as head of state to make himself the star of his own ongoing public show. He fought victoriously as a gladiator in the arena in fixed bouts. Power for Commodus, as it is for Trump, was primarily about catering to his bottomless narcissism, hedonism and lust for wealth. He sold public offices so the ancient equivalents of Betsy DeVos and Steve Mnuchin could orchestrate a vast kleptocracy.

Commodus was replaced by the reformer Pertinax, the Bernie Sanders of his day, who attempted in vain to curb the power of the Praetorian Guards, the ancient version of the military-industrial complex. This effort saw the Praetorian Guards assassinate Pertinax after he was in power only three months. The Guards then auctioned off the office of emperor to the highest bidder. The next emperor, Didius Julianus, lasted 66 days. There would be five emperors in A.D. 193, the year after the assassination of Commodus. Trump and our decaying empire have ominous historical precedents. If the deep state replaces Trump, whose ineptitude and imbecility are embarrassing to the empire, that action will not restore our democracy any more than replacing Commodus restored democracy in Rome. Our republic is dead.

Societies that once were open and had democratic traditions are easy prey for the enemies of democracy. These demagogues pay deference to the patriotic ideals, rituals, practices and forms of the old democratic political system while dismantling it. When the Roman Emperor Augustus — he referred to himself as the “first citizen” — neutered the republic, he was careful to maintain the form of the old republic. Lenin and the Bolsheviks did the same when they seized and crushed the autonomous soviets. Even the Nazis and the Stalinists insisted they ruled democratic states. Thomas Paine wrote that despotic government is a fungus that grows out of a corrupt civil society. This is what happened to these older democracies. It is what happened to us.

Our constitutional rights — due process, habeas corpus, privacy, a fair trial, freedom from exploitation, fair elections and dissent — have been taken from us by judicial fiat. These rights exist only in name. The vast disconnect between the purported values of the state and reality renders political discourse absurd.

Corporations, cannibalizing the federal budget, legally empower themselves to exploit and pillage. It is impossible to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs or ExxonMobil. The pharmaceutical and insurance industries can hold sick children hostage while their parents bankrupt themselves trying to save their sons or daughters. Those burdened by student loans can never wipe out the debt by declaring bankruptcy. In many states, those who attempt to publicize the conditions in the vast factory farms where diseased animals are warehoused for slaughter can be charged with a criminal offense. Corporations legally carry out tax boycotts.

Companies have orchestrated free trade deals that destroy small farmers and businesses and deindustrialize the country. Labor unions and government agencies designed to protect the public from contaminated air, water and food and from usurious creditors and lenders have been defanged. The Supreme Court, in an inversion of rights worthy of George Orwell, defines unlimited corporate contributions to electoral campaigns as a right to petition the government or a form of free speech. Much of the press, owned by large corporations, is an echo chamber for the elites. State and city enterprises and utilities are sold to corporations that hike rates and deny services to the poor. The educational system is being slowly privatized and turned into a species of vocational training.

Wages are stagnant or have declined. Unemployment and underemployment — masked by falsified statistics — have thrust half the country into chronic poverty. Social services are abolished in the name of austerity. Culture and the arts have been replaced by sexual commodification, banal entertainment and graphic depictions of violence. The infrastructure, neglected and underfunded, is collapsing. Bankruptcies, foreclosures, arrests, food shortages and untreated illnesses that lead to early death plague a harried underclass. The desperate flee into an underground economy dominated by drugs, crime and human trafficking. The state, rather than address the economic misery, militarizes police departments and empowers them to use lethal force against unarmed civilians. It fills the prisons with 2.3 million citizens, only a tiny percentage of whom had a trial. One million prisoners work for corporations inside prisons as modern-day slaves.

The amendments of the Constitution, designed to protect the citizen from tyranny, are meaningless. The Fourth Amendment, for example, reads:  “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” The reality is that our telephone calls, emails, texts and financial, judicial and medical records, along with every website we visit and our physical travels, are tracked, recorded and stored in perpetuity in government computer banks.

The state tortures, not only in black sites such as those at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan or at Guantanamo Bay, but also in supermax ADX [administrative maximum] facilities such as the one at Florence, Colo., where inmates suffer psychological breakdowns from prolonged solitary confinement. Prisoners, although they are citizens, endure around-the-clock electronic monitoring and 23-hour-a-day lockdowns. They undergo extreme sensory deprivation. They endure beatings. They must shower and go to the bathroom on camera. They can write only one letter a week to one relative and cannot use more than three pieces of paper. They often have no access to fresh air and take their one hour of daily recreation in a huge cage that resembles a treadmill for hamsters.

The state uses “special administrative measures,” known as SAMs, to strip prisoners of their judicial rights. SAMs restrict prisoners’ communication with the outside world. They end calls, letters and visits with anyone except attorneys and sharply limit contact with family members. Prisoners under SAMs are not permitted to see most of the evidence against them because of a legal provision called the Classified Information Procedures Act, or CIPA. CIPA, begun under the Reagan administration, allows evidence in a trial to be classified and withheld from those being prosecuted. You can be tried and convicted, like Joseph K. in Franz Kafka’s “The Trial,” without ever seeing the evidence used to find you guilty. Under SAMs, it is against the law for those who have contact with an inmate — including attorneys — to speak about his or her physical and psychological conditions.

And when prisoners are released, they have lost the right to vote and receive public assistance and are burdened with fines that, if unpaid, will put them back behind bars. They are subject to arbitrary searches and arrests. They spend the rest of their lives marginalized as members of a vast criminal caste.

The executive branch of government has empowered itself to assassinate U.S. citizens. It can call the Army into the streets to quell civil unrest under Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which ended a prohibition on the military acting as a domestic police force. The executive branch can order the military to seize U.S. citizens deemed to be terrorists or associated with terrorists. This is called “extraordinary rendition.” Those taken into custody by the military can be denied due process and habeas corpus rights and held indefinitely in military facilities. Activists and dissidents, whose rights were once protected under the First Amendment, can face indefinite incarceration.

Constitutionally protected statements, beliefs and associations are criminalized. The state assumed the power to detain and prosecute people not for what they have done, or even for what they are planning to do, but for holding religious or political beliefs that the state deems seditious. The first of those targeted have been observant Muslims, but they will not be the last.

What could the word from on high be?

Steal early, often and make them sue you to get the money back?

Bill Gates has a message for every college grad who wants to change the world
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. . . the “soft coup” would have to be carried out under the guise of a serious investigation into something grave enough to justify the President’s removal, a removal that could be accomplished by congressional impeachment, his forced resignation, or the application of Twenty-fifth Amendment, which allows the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet to judge a President incapable of continuing in office (although that could require two-thirds votes by both houses of Congress if the President fights the maneuver).

A Big Enough ‘Scandal’

That is where Russia-gate comes in. The gauzy allegation that Trump and/or his advisers somehow colluded with Russian intelligence officials to rig the 2016 election would probably clear the threshold for an extreme action like removing a President.

And, given the determination of many key figures in the Establishment to get rid of Trump, it should come as no surprise that no one seems to care that no actual government-verified evidence has been revealed publicly to support any of the Russia-gate allegations.


There’s not even any public evidence from U.S. government agencies that Russia did “meddle” in the 2016 election or – even if Russia did slip Democratic emails to WikiLeaks (which WikiLeaks denies) – there has been zero evidence that the scheme resulted from collusion with Trump’s campaign.

The FBI has been investigating these suspicions for at least nine months, even reportedly securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant against Carter Page, an American whom Trump briefly claimed as a foreign policy adviser when Trump was under fire for not having any foreign policy advisers.

One of Page’s alleged offenses was that he gave a speech to an academic conference in Moscow in July 2016 that was mildly critical of how the U.S. treated countries from the former Soviet Union. He also once lived in Russia and apparently met with a Russian diplomat who – apparently unbeknownst to Page – had been identified by the U.S. government as a Russian intelligence officer.

It appears that is enough, in these days of our New McCarthyism, to get an American put under a powerful counter-intelligence investigation.

The FBI and the Department of Justice also reportedly are including as part of the Russia-gate investigation Trump’s stupid campaign joke calling on the Russians to help find the tens of thousands of emails that Clinton erased from the home server that she used while Secretary of State.

On July 27, 2016, Trump said, apparently in jest, “I will tell you this, Russia: if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

The comment fit with Trump’s puckish, provocative and often tasteless sense of humor, but was seized on by Democrats as if it were a serious suggestion – as if anyone would use a press conference to seriously urge something like that. But it now appears that the FBI is grabbing at any straw that might support its investigation.

The (U.K.) Guardian reported this week that “Senior DoJ officials have declined to release the documents [about Trump’s comment] on grounds that such disclosure could ‘interfere with enforcement proceedings’. In a filing to a federal court in Washington DC, the DoJ states that ‘because of the existence of an active, ongoing investigation, the FBI anticipates that it will … withhold all records’.

“The statement suggests that Trump’s provocative comment last July is being seen by the FBI as relevant to its own ongoing investigation.”

The NYT’s Accusations

On Friday, in the wake of Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey and the President’s characterization of Russia-gate as “a total hoax,” The New York Times reprised what it called “The Trump-Russia Nexus” in a lead editorial trying to make the case of some fire behind the smoke.

Though the Times acknowledges that there are “many unknowns” in Russia-gate and the Times can’t seem to find any evidence of collusion, such as slipping a Russian data stick to WikiLeaks, the Times nevertheless treats a host of Trump advisers and family members as traitors because they’ve had some association with Russian officials, Russian businesses or Russian allies.

Regarding Carter Page, the Times wrote:  “American officials believe that Mr. Page, a foreign policy adviser, had contacts with Russian intelligence officials during the campaign. He also gave a pro-Russia speech in Moscow in July 2016. Mr. Page was once employed by Merrill Lynch’s Moscow office, where he worked with Gazprom, a government-owned giant.”

You might want to let some of those words sink in, especially the part about Page giving “a pro-Russia speech in Moscow,” which has been cited as one of the principal reasons for Page and his communications being targeted under a FISA warrant.

I’ve actually read Page’s speech and to call it “pro-Russia” is a wild exaggeration. It was a largely academic treatise that faulted the West’s post-Cold War treatment of the nations formed from the old Soviet Union, saying the rush to a free-market system led to some negative consequences, such as the spread of corruption.

But even if the speech were “pro-Russia,” doesn’t The New York Times respect the quaint American notion of free speech? Apparently not. If your carefully crafted words can be twisted into something called “pro-Russia,” the Times seems to think it’s okay to have the National Security Agency bug your phones and read your emails.

The Ukraine Case

Another Times’ target was veteran political adviser Paul Manafort, who is accused of working as “a consultant for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine and for Ukraine’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was backed by the Kremlin.”

Left out of that Times formulation is the fact that the Ukrainian political party, which had strong backing from ethnic Russian Ukrainians — not just Russia – competed in a democratic process and that Yanukovych won an election that was recognized by international observers as free and fair.

Yanukovych was then ousted in February 2014 in a violent putsch that was backed by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt. The putsch, which was spearheaded by right-wing nationalists and even neo-Nazis, touched off Ukraine’s civil war and the secession of Crimea, the key events in the escalation of today’s New Cold War between NATO and Russia.

Though I’m no fan of U.S. political hired-guns selling their services in foreign elections, there was nothing illegal or even unusual about Manafort advising a Ukrainian political party. What arguably was much more offensive was the U.S. support for an unconstitutional coup that removed Yanukovych even after he agreed to a European plan for early elections so he could be voted out of office peacefully.

But the Times, the Post and virtually the entire Western mainstream media sided with the Ukrainian coup-makers and hailed Yanukovych’s overthrow. That attitude has become such a groupthink that the Times has banished the thought that there was a coup.

Still, the larger political problem confronting the United States is that the neoconservatives and their junior partners, the liberal interventionists, now control nearly all the levers of U.S. foreign policy. That means they can essentially dictate how events around the world will be perceived by most Americans.

The neocons and the liberal hawks also want to continue their open-ended wars in the Middle East by arranging the commitment of additional U.S. military forces to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria – and perhaps a new confrontation with Iran.

Early in Obama’s second term, it became clear to the neocons that Russia was becoming the chief obstacles to their plans because President Barack Obama was working closely with President Vladimir Putin on a variety of projects that undermined neocon hopes for more war.

Particularly, Putin helped Obama secure an agreement from Syria to surrender its chemical weapons stockpiles in 2013 and to get Iran to accept tight constraints on its nuclear program in 2014. In both cases, the neocons and their liberal-hawk sidekicks were lusting for war.

Immediately after the Syria chemical-weapons deal in September 2013, key U.S. neocons began focusing on Ukraine as what National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman called “the biggest prize” and a first step toward unseating Putin in Moscow.

Gershman’s grant-giving NED stepped up its operations inside Ukraine while Assistant Secretary Nuland, the wife of arch-neocon Robert Kagan, began pushing for regime change in Kiev (along with other neocons, including Sen. John McCain).

The Ukraine coup in 2014 drove a geopolitical wedge between Obama and Putin, since the Russian president couldn’t just stand by when a virulently anti-Russian regime took power violently in Ukraine, which was the well-worn route for invasions into Russia and housed Russia’s Black Sea fleet at Sevastopol in Crimea.

Rather than defend the valuable cooperation provided by Putin, Obama went with the political flow and joined in the Russia-bashing as key neocons raised their sights and put Putin in the crosshairs.

An Unexpected Obstacle

For the neocons in 2016, there also was the excited expectation of a Hillary Clinton presidency to give more momentum to the expensive New Cold War. But then Trump, who had argued for a new détente with Russia, managed to eke out an Electoral College win.

Perhaps Trump could have diffused some of the hostility toward him but his narcissistic personality stopped him from extending an olive branch to the tens of millions of Americans who opposed him. He further demonstrated his political incompetence by wasting his first days in office making ridiculous claims about the size of his inaugural crowds and disputing the fact that he had lost the popular vote.

Widespread public disgust over his behavior contributed to the determination of many Americans to “resist” his presidency at all junctures and at all costs.

Russia-gate, the hazy suggestion that Putin put Trump in the White House and that Trump is a Putin “puppet” (as Clinton claimed), became the principal weapon to use in destroying Trump’s presidency.

However, besides the risks to U.S. stability that would come from an Establishment-driven “soft coup,” there is the additional danger of ratcheting up tensions so high with nuclear-armed Russia that this extreme Russia-bashing takes on a life – or arguably many, many deaths – of its own.

Which is why America now might need a piercing satire of today’s Russia-phobia or at least a revival of the Cold War classic, “Dr. Strangelove,” subtitled “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”

[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Watergate Redux or ‘Deep State’ Coup.”

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from barnesandnoble.com
).]
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Even if Stone wasn’t sat at the centre of what is potentially the biggest political scandal in American history, he would still be deserving of a documentary profile. This, after all, is the man who journalist Jeffrey Toobin describes as “the sinister Forrest Gump of American politics”. Stone has had a perma-tanned hand in just about every nefarious deed carried out by the forces of the American conservative movement in the past half century, from Watergate right up to the election of perhaps the least qualified man in history to hold the office of US president. He also practically invented the modern political attack ad and engaged in the dirtiest of dirty tricks. There’s a reason Stone has the acquired the eye-opening nickname, “Ratfucker”.
Even more remarkable than that soubriquet is the fact that Stone has carried out this reign of terror not in the manner of a shadowy Koch-brothers-style figure, but as someone who gleefully courts press, positive or otherwise. A “bodybuilding dandy” (another excellent Toobin description) with a taste for loud suits and even louder media appearances – not to mention a tattoo of Nixon’s disembodied head on the square of his back – Stone is the sort of extrovert figure that documentarians pray to their altar of Errol Morris DVDs to one day get to make a film about.
Stone and his notorious Richard Nixon tattoo.

The danger then for directors Dylan Bank and Daniel DiMauro is that they treat Stone as a docu-curiosity rather than subjecting him, and the craven political culture he has brought about, to proper scrutiny. The engrossing "Get Me Roger Stone" avoids this pitfall, just about. Certainly there are plenty of scenes of Stone pontificating to camera – and far too many shots of him shirtless – but there’s also a thorough history of Stone’s many misdeeds, from encouraging a riot at a polling station central to Al Gore’s chances of winning a recount vote in the contested 2000 election, to his lobbying group Black, Manafort and Stone’s representation of genocidal dictators across the globe. (Yes, the Manafort there is Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager and another individual whose links with Russia are being thoroughly pored over at present.)
Providing context to this sea of misdemeanours is an impressive range of talking heads from across the political spectrum. One one side there’s lifelong Stone sceptics like Toobin and investigative reporter Wayne Barrett, who did more than most to expose Stone’s wrongdoings and who passed away earlier this year. (Stone marked Barrett’s passing with a tweet urging him to “rot in hell,” proof if any were needed that he was that rare figure who truly got Stone worked up.) On the other, conservative commentators like Tucker Carlson, plus Stone acolytes like Manafort, and in a rather impressive get – though perhaps not, given his addiction to self-publicity – the current president of the United States.
It’s fair to say that without Roger Stone, you don’t get President Trump. Stone boarded the Trump train as early as the 1980s and encouraged the business mogul to run for political office several times before last year’s presidential bid. It’s that campaign that makes up the final third of this documentary, providing an extended look at just how central Stone was to Trump’s eventual success.

Officially Stone left the campaign in 2015, after a falling-out with then-campaign manager Cory Lewandowski. In reality though, he remained a not-so silent partner all the way through to Trump’s eventual victory, denouncing the Donald’s opponents on live TV, spreading wild conspiracy theories about Hillary and Bill Clinton on Alex Jones’s grotesque Infowars network and generally making as much of a nuisance of himself as possible. It all culminates here in the grim spectacle of election night, and Trump’s final triumph, toasted by Stone and Jones in the Infowars studio.
The . . . problem with "Get Me Roger Stone" is the queasy realisation at the end of it that Stone himself would revel in the fact that so many people will be watching and seething silently at this documentary. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, after all.

Inside dope on that unfortunate NSA whoopsie?

There is no such thing as cyber security. The only choice is more security or less security, as the recent hack of the National Security Agency demonstrates.

Hackers stole from NSA a cyber weapon, which has been used in attacks (at time of writing) on 150 countries, shutting down elements of the British National Health Service, the Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica, automakers Renault and Nissan, Russia’s Interior Ministry, Federal Express, the energy company PetroChina, and many more.

The news spin is to not blame NSA for its carelessness, but to blame Microsoft users for not updating their systems with a patch issued two months ago. But the important questions have not been asked:  What was the NSA doing with such malware and why did NSA not inform Microsoft of the malware?

Clearly, NSA intended to use the cyber weapon against some country or countries. Why else have it and keep it a secret from Microsoft?

Was it to be used to shut down Russian and Chinese systems prior to launching a nuclear first strike against the countries? Congress should be asking this question as it is certain that the Russian and Chinese governments are. As I previously reported, the Russian High Command has already concluded that Washington is preparing a nuclear first strike against Russia, and so has China.

It is extremely dangerous that two nuclear powers have this expectation. This danger has received no attention from Washington and its NATO vassals.

Microsoft president Brad Smith likened the theft of the NSA’s cyber weapon to “the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen.” In other words, with cyber weapons, as with nuclear weapons and short warning times, things can go wrong in a big way. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-39915440

What if the hackers had successfully attacked the Russian Ministry of Defense or radar warning systems, would the Russian High Command have concluded that the cyber attack was Washington’s prelude to incoming ICBMs?

The fact that no one in Washington or any Western government has stepped forward to reassure the Russian government and demand the removal of the US missile bases surrounding Russia indicates a level of hubris or denial that is beyond comprehension.

In my May 12 posting I wrote:  “The costs of the digital revolution exceed its benefits by many times. The digital revolution rivals nuclear weapons as the most catastrophic technology of our time.” In response, Robert Henderson wrote to me from England that he had addressed the enormous costs of the digital revolution in 2010. Here is the link to his article, “Men and Machines:  Which is Master Which is Slave?” https://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2010/09/08/men-and-machines-which-is-master-which-is-slave/

Reading his article will raise your awareness. When you add up the vast financial costs, the depersonalization of human relationships, and the complete loss of individual privacy and security, the benefit of being connected is vastly outweighed by the costs.

Paper files are far more secure. Malware cannot be introduced into them. To steal a person’s information required knowing the location of the information, breaking into the building, searching file cabinets for the information, and copying the information. To intercept a voice communication required a warrant to wiretap a specific telephone line
People born into a world where the ease of communication comes at the price of the loss of autonomy never experience privacy. They are unaware that a foundation of liberty has been lost.

In our era of controlled print and TV media, the digital revolution serves for now as a check on the ruling elite’s ability to control explanations. However, the same technology that currently permits alternative explanations can be used to prevent them
Indeed, efforts to discredit and to limit non-approved explanations are already underway.

The enemies of truth have a powerful weapon in the digital revolution and can use it to herd humanity into a tyrannical distopia.
The digital revolution even has its own Memory Hole. Files stored electronically by older technology can no longer be accessed as they exist in an outdated electronic format that cannot be opened by current systems in use.

Humans are proving to be the most stupid of the life forms. They create weapons that cannot be used without destroying themselves. They create robots and free trade myths that take away their jobs. They create information technology that destroys their liberty.

Dystopias tend to be permanent. The generations born into them never know any different, and the control mechanisms are total
And the digital screen serves as Soma.

So, drink up?




Monday, May 15, 2017

(Intimidation Watch?)  Fibrillating in Fear and Bankrupting By False Security  (How the U.S. Electorate Has Been Denied Its True Voice for Over 40 Years)  John Dean Sees Trouble?  (The Real New Climate)  Self-Interest or Values Voting?  (Violence Our Most Important Product)  Lee Camp on No More Net Neutrality  (Max and Stacy on Fake Health Care Tax-Payer Insurance Scam and Education Freight Train of Fraud)  Comey Cooped?



Bullshit works.

And I'm quoting Fareed Zakaria (believe it or not):





They're calling it "impeachment watch," but it seems more like bare-knuckled intimidation.

Trump Threatens Comey With Secretly Recorded “Tapes” of Their Conversations


Trump’s attempt to intimidate Comey appeared to be in response to reports from the Wall Street Journal and NBC News that the former director had let it be known, through associates, that the president had lied in the termination letter he had his bodyguard deliver to FBI headquarters on Tuesday. The letter included a bizarre aside in which Trump claimed that he was grateful to the director for assuring him, in three conversations, that the president himself was not under investigation. Trump’s claim, one associate of Comey’s told the Journal, “is literally farcical.”

“I actually asked him, yes,” Trump said of his conversation with Comey, at a dinner requested by the president the day after the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, had informed the White House that the FBI had proof that the national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had lied about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. (Perhaps not coincidentally, Trump reportedly asked Comey, that night, if he would be “loyal” to him. Comey refused to make such a pledge, his associates told The New York Times.)
. . . Moments later, Trump admitted that ending the federal investigation into his own campaign was central to his thinking when he made the final decision to fire the FBI director leading the probe.
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“Misunderstanding Terrorism”:  How the Us Vs. Them Mentality Will Never Stop Attacks

Finding and stopping terrorists before they strike is often compared to looking for a needle in a haystack, a cliché that speaks to the difficulty of preventing a crime that, while deadly, is uncommon. Counterterrorism officials still suggest that the task would become easier if they could use profiling to target Muslim communities. In other words, if they could shrink the size of the haystack.
But a new book by Dr. Marc Sageman, a veteran counterterrorism researcher and former CIA operations officer, argues that this approach, even if carried to its fullest extension in a nightmare scenario for civil liberties, would still be ineffective, because jihadist terrorism is such a statistically rare phenomenon.
In his book “Misunderstanding Terrorism,” Sageman counts 66 Islamic jihadist terrorist plots in Western countries between 2002 and 2012, involving a total of 220 perpetrators. This figure works out to an average of 22 terrorists per year, across a population of roughly 700 million people. Even narrowed to just the Muslim population in Western countries, estimated at roughly 25 million people, that’s less than one in 1 million Muslims a year who could be considered terrorists.
Describing a hypothetical dragnet conducted by Western countries that correctly identified terrorists 99 percent of the time, but accused innocent people 1 percent of the time, Sageman asks us to imagine the following:

If all the various police departments operating in the West collaborate and carry out a gigantic sweep by applying this profile to their respective Muslim populations in order to catch terrorists hiding in their respective societies, they would arrest all 22 terrorists that emerge in a given year. However, they would make a mistake 1 percent of the time for 25 million people, which comes to 250,000 people. Therefore, in order to catch all 22 global neo-jihadi terrorists, they would put 250,000 Muslims in jail by mistake.

Because terrorism is so uncommon, he writes, any strategy for combating it that involves policing entire communities is likely to end up harming huge numbers of innocent people — thus feeding the same climate of alienation and hostility that fosters political violence in the first place.
In the 1980s, Sageman helped organize Afghan resistance fighters against the Soviet Union. Over the decades since, he has interviewed hundreds of individuals accused of involvement in jihadist terrorism, documenting the circumstances of their cases and their personal motivations.
“Misunderstanding Terrorism” analyzes every jihadist terrorist plot that occurred in the United States and Europe over a 10-year period ending in 2012.
The study excludes nonviolent terror-related cases, such as those involving financial donations or other material support charges, as well as sting operations in which plots were developed by agent provocateurs — a tactic favored by U.S. law enforcement agencies but viewed with skepticism in many European countries. His research comes to two broad conclusions. The first is that violent terrorist plots in Western countries are a statistically tiny phenomenon, which makes blanket counterterrorism approaches an ill-suited response. The second takeaway is that “social identity theory” — that is, how people self-identify in a crisis — is the primary motivating factor behind terrorist attacks.
Despite efforts to protect civil liberties, Sageman writes that profiling-based approaches have led the United States to “grossly overestimate the violent terrorist threat and commit a very large number of assessment errors.” The politically driven manipulation of the threat of terrorism has led Americans to “fibrillate in fear and bankrupt [themselves] with security” in response to a threat that is much smaller than they have been led to believe.
. . . Sixteen years after 9/11, the war on terror still appears to have no end in sight, driven on by a circular logic of violence and retribution. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. government tried to frame its counterterrorism programs as not specifically targeting Muslims, while still carrying out airstrikes overseas and launching controversial “countering violent extremism” programs in Muslim communities. Although in recent years some national security experts like Sageman have begun to point out the self-defeating nature of American counterterrorism policies, Donald Trump’s approach – focusing explicitly on Muslim communities, implementing discriminatory immigration policies, expanding military action abroad, and declaring an open-ended war against the amorphous concept of “radical Islam” – isn’t a course correction.
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Just what we said was really coming (and may have been the raison d'etre of) after 9/11.

NYU Accidentally Exposed Military Code-breaking Computer Project to Entire Internet

In early December 2016, Adam was doing what he’s always doing, somewhere between hobby and profession:  looking for things that are on the internet that shouldn’t be. That week, he came across a server inside New York University’s famed Institute for Mathematics and Advanced Supercomputing, headed by the brilliant Chudnovsky brothers, David and Gregory. The server appeared to be an internet-connected backup drive. But instead of being filled with family photos and spreadsheets, this drive held confidential information on an advanced code-breaking machine that had never before been described in public. Dozens of documents spanning hundreds of pages detailed the project, a joint supercomputing initiative administered by NYU, the Department of Defense, and IBM. And they were available for the entire world to download.
The supercomputer described in the trove, “WindsorGreen,” was a system designed to excel at the sort of complex mathematics that underlies encryption, the technology that keeps data private, and almost certainly intended for use by the Defense Department’s signals intelligence wing, the National Security Agency. WindsorGreen was the successor to another password-cracking machine used by the NSA, “WindsorBlue,” which was also documented in the material leaked from NYU and which had been previously described in the Norwegian press thanks to a document provided by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Both systems were intended for use by the Pentagon and a select few other Western governments, including Canada and Norway.

Adam, an American digital security researcher, requested that his real name not be published out of fear of losing his day job. Although he deals constantly with digital carelessness, Adam was nonetheless stunned by what NYU had made available to the world. “The fact that this software, these spec sheets, and all the manuals to go with it were sitting out in the open for anyone to copy is just simply mind blowing,” he said.


. . . All of this leaky data is courtesy of what I can only assume are misconfigurations in the IMAS (Institute for Mathematics and Advanced Supercomputing) department at NYU. Not even a single username or password separates these files from the public internet right now. It’s absolute insanity.
The files were taken down after Adam notified NYU.
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And it now comes down to this:

John Dean on Trump:  I Can't Imagine It Ending Real Well for Him

14 May 2017 
hite House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had just refused to confirm or deny that President Donald Trump is secretly recording people in the Oval Office when I reached John Dean by phone on Friday afternoon. The former White House counsel to President Richard Nixon has become, in the 42 years since the Watergate scandal, a historian of that moment in American history of which he was a crucial figure. With Trump acting more Nixonian than ever — even firing the man who was investigating his campaign, FBI director James Comey — Dean’s astute political analysis is especially relevant. Dean spoke to me about Trump, Nixon, and taping systems as he drove home from a television appearance in Los Angeles. Our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.
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The New Climate

Ever since the American elections of November 2016 things have become clearer. Europe is being dismembered:  it counts less than a hazelnut in a nutcracker. And this time around, it can no longer rely on the United States to fix anything.
. . . By far the most significant event is not Brexit or the election of Donald Trump but the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, where on December 12, 2015, delegates finally came to an agreement. The significant thing is not what the delegates decided; it is not even that this agreement will take effect. (The climate-change deniers in the White House and the Senate will do everything they can to hamstring it.) No, the significant thing is that all the countries that signed the accord realized that if they were to go ahead and follow their individual modernization plans, this planet simply would not be big enough.
. . . If there is no planet, no earth, no soil, no territory for the globalization to which all countries at COP21 claim to be heading, what should we do? Either we deny the existence of the problem or we seek to come down to earth. This choice is what now divides people, much more than being politically on the right or the left.
The United States had two options after the election. It could recognize the extent of the change in global circumstances, and the enormousness of its responsibility, and finally become realistic, leading the free world out of the abyss; or it could sink into denial. Trump seems to have decided to let America dream on for a few more years, and to drag other countries into the abyss along the way.
We Europeans cannot allow ourselves to dream. Even as we are becoming aware of many different threats, we will need to take into our continent millions of people — people who, thanks to the combined impact of war, the failure of globalization, and climate change, will be thrown (like us, against us, or with us) into the search for a land where they and their children can live. We are going to have to live together with people who have not hitherto shared our traditions, our way of life, or our ideals, who are close to us and foreign to us — terribly close and terribly foreign.
The thing we share with these migrating peoples is that we are all deprived of land. We, the old Europeans, are deprived because there is no planet for globalization and we must now change the entire way we live; they, the future Europeans, are deprived because they have had to leave their old, devastated lands and will need to learn to change the entire way they live.
This is the new universe. The only alternative is to pretend that nothing has changed, to withdraw behind a wall, and to continue to promote, with eyes wide open, the dream of the “American way of life,” all the while knowing that billions of human beings will never benefit from it.
Most of our fellow citizens deny what is happening to the earth but understand perfectly well that the immigrant question will put all their desires for identity to the test. For now, encouraged by the so-called populist parties, they have grasped only one aspect of the reality of ecological change:  it is sending huge numbers of unwanted people across their borders. Hence their response:  “We must erect firm borders so we won’t be swamped.”
But there is another aspect of this same change, which they haven’t properly realized:  for a long time, the new climate has been sweeping away all borders, exposing us to every storm. Against such an invasion, we can build no walls. Migration and climate are one and the same threat.
If we wish to defend our identities, we are also going to have to identify those shapeless, stateless migrants known as erosion, pollution, resource depletion, and habitat destruction. You may seal your borders against human refugees, but you will never be able to stop the others getting by.
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A recent study shows that oceanic oxygen levels began to drop in the 1980s as temperatures began to rise. Melting polar ice, air pollution, and changes in ocean circulation all contribute to the problem. Not good:  falling oxygen levels kill fish, crabs and many other organisms. 
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Nearly half of the US school districts use shaming tactics to get kids' parents to pay their lunch bills, according to a 2014 report. Sometimes lunches are thrown into the trash, attracting attention and ridicule from fellow students. One Alabama child was given a stamp on the arm that said "I need lunch money." A new law in New Mexico directs schools to work with parents to end the humiliating practice.
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Voters Vote for Their Values, Not Their Self Interests


Berkeley author George Lakoff, who predicted Trump's 2016 win, says progressive candidates just don't get it and continue to stick to facts. But "what happens when you hear facts that don’t fit in your worldview is that you can’t process them:  you might ignore them, or reject or attack them, or literally not hear them."
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Violence is our most important product. We have been spending nearly $80 billion a year on the military, which is more than the profits of all American business, or, to make another comparison, is almost as much as the total spending of the federal, state, and local governments for health, education, old age and retirement benefits, housing, and agriculture.

These millions of Americans who have a vested interest in the expensive weapons systems spawned by our global military involvements are as much a part of the military-industrial complex as the generals and the corporation heads." - Sen J. William Fulbright - Pentagon Propaganda Machine, p11 - Vintage Books, 1971.
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Tasked with overseeing an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, the now-fired FBI director earned the chagrin of both parties.

FBI directors are given 10-year terms in office, precisely to insulate them from politics. It is very rare to fire them. The last time it happened was 24 years ago, when Bill Clinton sacked William Sessions, who had clung to office despite a damning internal ethics report detailing abuse of office, including the use of an FBI plane for family trips.

Comey’s sacking has taken place in very different circumstances. It came on a night when CNN reported that a grand jury had issued subpoenas in the investigation of the Trump camp’s contacts with Russian officials, and after had confirmed to Congress that more than one person connected to the Trump campaign was the subject of an FBI counter-intelligence investigation. He had also indicated that he was investigating leaks from inside the FBI to the Trump campaign in the course of the election.
The New York Times has reported that Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, was “charged with coming up with reasons to fire him”. The official reason offered was Comey’s handling of the enquiry into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for classified information. Comey’s announcement in July 2016 that there would no be prosecution, while criticising the Democratic presidential candidate and her aides for being “extremely careless” in their handling of classified material, is singled out in a memo by the newly appointed deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.
In one of the first acts in his new job, Rosenstein said Comey had exceeded his authority with that announcement.
Comey was castigated from both sides for his handling of the Clinton emails. But Democrats were adamant on Tuesday that was not the real reason for his dismissal. It was pointed out that during the campaign, Trump and his team warmly praised Comey’s decision to speak up. 
. . . Matthew Miller, a former justice department spokesman in the Obama administration, said:  “Trump came up with the most convenient excuse possible to fire the person investigating him, but it’s just that:  an excuse. This is legitimately terrifying.”
Several commentators compared Comey’s sudden sacking with the 1973 “Saturday night massacre” when President Richard Nixon dismissed Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor appointed to look into the Watergate affair.
“This really is astonishing,” said Scott Horton, a New York attorney and expert in international law. “The most immediate comparison is the Saturday Night Massacre … by firing Comey, Trump is asserting his control over the FBI on the political level.”
Malcolm Nance, a former navy cryptographer and author of a book on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, said:  “This is a Nixonian move clearly designed to take out the man who was investigating collusion with a foreign power. 
“We are in a completely new space. It will blow past Watergate. Nixon was being investigated for crimes. This is when the FBI is in the middle of a counter-espionage investigation. This is a spy hunt. We have never had that in the White House. This is third world dictator stuff.”
Jeffrey Toobin, a lawyer and legal commentator, called the move “a grotesque abuse of power by the president of the United States”.
“This is the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies,” Toobin said.
On Monday a former acting attorney general, Sally Yates, had given an account of her warnings to the White House, less than a week into the Trump presidency, that his national security adviser Michael Flynn had been compromised by Russia and was vulnerable to blackmail.
It took 18 days before Trump fired Flynn – and he only did so after the details of undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador to Washington were leaked to the press. The White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, said Yates’s warnings had not been acted on immediately because the administration had seen her as “a political opponent”. Trump, of course, also fired Yates.
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Jill Stein, for example, attempted recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. She fought corrupt officials in all three states (Pennsylvania has a Democratic governor) and hit nothing but brick walls.
Clinton sent “legal observers” but no financial or other meaningful help. Liberal pundits continually attacked Jill for her efforts. Despite the horrors of Trump fascism, the Democrats have said and done nothing about the total fraud that put him in the White House.
Al Gore essentially disappeared immediately after losing 5-4 in the US Supreme Court. So did Kerry and Clinton immediately after their own losses. Not one of them is working to abolish the Electoral College, or for a reliable election system. But the corporate Democrats and liberal pundits have plenty of energy to scream at the grassroots left.
Of course, in 2008 and 2012, that’s precisely who put Barack Obama in the White House. We have reported widespread electoral fraud in both years. But a powerful and diligent grassroots upheaval curbed enough abuses to save Obama from what doomed Gore, Kerry and Clinton.
Obama also used that grassroots energy to build a popular vote margin too big to steal.
In 2016, Bernie Sanders again unleashed that grassroots power. As an avowed socialist, he inspired millions of precisely the activists a legitimate Democratic Party should have welcomed — young, committed, energetic, idealistic, ready to work for a social democratic future.
. . . In these dark days we must recall that in the spring of 2016 we enjoyed the HUGEST social democratic movement in a century, with tens of millions of optimistic Americans ready to work and win a bright and fair future. 
Instead we face the grim realities of tangible fascism. It doesn’t help when liberal pundits and corporate Democats attack the grassroots activists who are on the frontline of the resistance.
The Democrats will stay out of power until they can convince the American public (even us “deplorables”) they can deliver on civil liberties, social justice, ecological sanity, and more. And that they can construct an electoral system that actually reflects the popular will.
Clinton, Kerry, Gore and the liberal punditocracy must finally deal with how they lost these three presidencies. And then DO something about it, so it doesn’t happen again.
They could start by demanding universal automatic voter registration; transparent registration rolls immune to Jim Crow stripping by programs like ChoicePoint and Crosscheck; universal hand-counted paper ballots; a four-day natonal holiday for voting; an end to gerrymandering, the Electoral College, and the corporate purchase of campaigns.
They might also THANK rather than scapegoat what was once the Democratic Party’s energetic base, including activists like Nader, Stein, Bernie and the rest of the grassroots movements that form our last and strongest barrier against the harsh realities of Trump Fascism.

And if this group of committed activists does not somehow coalesce (again) to save the United States electorate from whatever far-fetched conspiracy of the hidden forces that are extremely powerful (or unbelievably corruptly inept) that seems to have been ongoing since the 1980s . . . the country's claim to being a democracy is terminal.

Although this may be soon proved a redundancy.
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Lee Camp educates us/US about net neutrality.

No, it's not a highly technical matter that won't affect your internet usage.

And the Trumped Troops are ready to deny it to the masses immediately (a Verizon attorney is in charge!).



Max and Stacy are just about the most courageous video journalists on the scene today.

Here is the best discussion of fake health care you will hear for a while probably. Yes, it's a Medicare/Medicaid tax-payer insurance scam, not real health care.

Ready for a freight train of fraud? Try not to look too closely at the new U.S. education system. (You can thank me later.)










And some further insight into Comey being shown the door.

The coup has been cooped?








Enjoying that discussion of more multi-dimensional chess?



Monday, May 8, 2017

War Against Taxpayers and Whistleblowers  (Trump Picks All Part of the Problem)  Trump Threatens WikiLeaks "Nuclear Option" Against the First Amendment  (Why So Easily Manipulated)   Global Neoliberalism Coming to All



Damn it. "Billions" is over.

Damn. It.









 

Just catching up after the furor.

Wanker of the Day - Rep. Chris Collins of Upstate New York wins today's all-pro wanking award. What kind of prize should he get? Discuss.
Total of 4.2Mln of French Voters Cast Empty Ballots - Millions of French voters cast empty ballots in the presidential run-off on Sunday, a survey revealed.
Macron Wins In France - Le Pen’s result is actually somewhat worse than the polling, at 35%. . . . Macron, who ran Hollande’s disastrous economic policy, will be a Trudeau style leader, very shiny and so on, good on talking about social issues, but his policies are neoliberal norm: take away worker rights, grind them down, in the name of labor market flexibility. They won’t improve the economy. . . . It remains a pity that we have to grind this out, in great misery, rather than simply leaping to candidates like Corbyn, Melenchon or (to a lesser extent) Sanders, but the electorate is still not willing to actually embrace positive change.  Even when they want change, they want it done by assholes (Cameron/May/Trump) or by people whose track records indicate servile subservience to NeoLiberal norms (Trudeau, Obama, Macron). . . . So be it, we will simply have to wait for death and time to make changes.  That will cost us much misery and many deaths, but it is unavoidable.

X22 Report, “Central Banks Injected Trillions Into The Market To Prop It Up & It's Not Enough”

Messing Up Badly In Korea - In many areas where many were worried that President Trump would do this that or the other crazy thing he has held back for one reason or another.  But one very serious location where he has recently made a total botch of things has been in Korea, a series of unforced errors.  Of course before he got into it in Korea it looked like he might get in a shooting war with China, but then he decided that Xi Jinping is a great guy after the Chinese paid his family gobs of money and Trump realized that he needed to make nicey nice with Xi in order to deal with unquestionably serious problem of the North Korean nuclear weapons program, possibly the most dangerous situation in the world right now. . . . Curiously this resembles in some ways a former messup there made by then President George W. Bush in March, 2001, which I have posted about here.


The Burdened Sourpusses of the Ruling Class - It was the guffaw heard round the world. Code Pink protester Desiree Fairooz snorted in disbelief when she heard Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III lauded as a champion of racial justice at his Senate confirmation hearing on January 10th. She and her group were duly escorted out of the building for daring to poke fun at Sessions and his whole crowd of withered old racist reprobates. . . . Hillary Clinton must be grimly cackling all the way to her new SuperPac as she hilariously tries to refashion herself as the elite face of the Trump Resistance. Therefore, it is all the more vital that we resist her brand of Resistance - Elitivism - with all the persistence we can muster. Our continuing existence as the free laughtivists of the Counter-Resistance depends upon it.
In case you're feeling depleted and powerless in the face of all this daunting resistant elitism, take a break from mocking the withered racist corpus of Jeff Sessions, and remember another monumentally tasteless joke. It was back in 2011, at the beginning of the Arab Spring, that then-Madame Secretary Hillary quipped: "Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable. I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family."

As Crawshaw writes in his book, millions of ordinary Egyptians then began to laugh so heartily that they took to Tahrir Square in a fit of peaceful protest, and Mubarek soon shuffled his dour way out the door to several years in the slammer. But that was a dictatorship, and we Americans still enjoy a modicum of constitutional rights. If only Mubarek had installed a private server and pretended to be holding a free and fair electoral primary. If only he'd cracked a scripted joke or two. If only WikiLeaks had not become the face of public interest journalism, then the fortunes of the Mubareks and the Clintons might be very different today.

The joke was on the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party when WikiLeaks emails revealed that Citigroup had literally appointed Barack Obama's cabinet for him. The treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, was able to deadpan his way through his own Senate confirmation hearing, insisting that his failure to pay his personal income taxes was just an oversight. He later cracked the sick joke that foreclosing on victimized homeowners would be stretched out so as to "foam the runway" for unprosecuted banksters. He and his cronies laughed all the way to the bank in one big fat big circle of fun.

In case you're still not getting the neoliberal, insiderish brand of dry elitivist counter-humor, try this, because Hillary Clinton had her audience absolutely shaking. How could any one political standup routine be so creatively zany?

Man Trump Named to Fix Mortgage Markets Figured in Infamous Financial Crisis Episode

Former Morgan Stanley banker once dumped "shitbag" CDOs on clients
n early 2007, a group of Morgan Stanley bankers bundled a group of subprime mortgage instruments into a package they hoped to sell to investors. The only problem was, they couldn't come up with a name for the package of mortgage-backed derivatives, which they all knew were doomed.

The bankers decided to play around with potential names. In a series of emails back and forth, they suggested possibilities. "Jon is voting for 'Hitman,'" wrote one. "How about 'Nuclear Holocaust 2007-1?'" wrote another, adding a few more possible names: Shitbag, Mike Tyson's Punchout and Fludderfish.
Eventually they stopped with the comedy jokes, gave the pile of "nuclear" assets a more respectable name – "Stack" – and sold the $500 million Collateralized Debt Obligation with a straight face to the China Development Industrial Bank. Within three years, the bank was suing a series of parties, including Morgan Stanley, to recover losses from the toxic fund.
The name on the original registration document for Stack? Craig S. Phillips, then president of Morgan Stanley's ABS (Asset-Backed Securities) division. Phillips may not have written the emails in question, but he was the boss of this sordid episode, and it was his name on the comedy-free document that was presented to Chinese investors.
This is just another detail in the emerging absurd narrative that is Donald Trump naming Phillips, of all people, to head up the effort to reform the Government-Sponsored Entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
As ace investigative reporter Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times noted in a piece back on April 7th, Phillips headed a division that sold billions of dollars of mortgage-backed investments to Fannie and Freddie. Many of those investments were as bad as the ones his unit sold to the Chinese. In fact, as Morgenson noted, Phillips became a named defendant in a lawsuit filed by the Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA), which essentially charged, as the Chinese did, that Morgan Stanley knowingly sold Fannie and Freddie a pile of crap.
Morgan Stanley ended up having to pay $625 million apiece to Fannie and Freddie to settle securities fraud charges in that case.
Phillips worked in an area of investment banking that was highly lucrative and highly predatory. The basic scam in the subprime world in particular was buying up mortgages from people who couldn't possibly afford them, making those bad mortgages into securities, and then turning around and hawking those same mortgages to unsuspecting institutional dopes like the Chinese and Fannie and Freddie.
Phillips had a critical role in this activity. As Morgan Stanley's ABS chief, he was among other things responsible for liaising with fly-by-night subprime mortgage lenders like New Century, who fanned into low-income neighborhoods and handed out subprime mortgages to anyone with a pulse.
. . . Of those bad actors, there is a subset of still-worse actors, who not only sold these toxic investments to institutional investors like pension funds and Fannie and Freddie, but helped get a generation of home borrowers – often minorities and the poor – into deadly mortgages that ended up wiping out their equity.
Phillips, who helped Fannie and Freddie into substantial losses and worked with predatory firms like New Century, belongs in this second category. As Beavis and Butthead would put it, Phillips comes from the "ass of the ass."

Donald Trump, then, has essentially picked one of the last people on earth who should be allowed to help reshape the mortgage markets. This is like putting a guy who sold thousand-dollar magazine subscriptions to your grandmother on the telephone in charge of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or the A.A.R.P.

More foxes for more henhouses. Welcome to the Trump era.

Yep.

Those hundred days have really changed this country.

Trump Threats to WikiLeaks "Nuclear Option" Against the First Amendment


By

"Obama having opened the legal campaign against the press by going after the roots of investigative reporting on national security - the sources - Trump is going to go after the gatherers/gardeners themselves (and their bosses, publishers). To switch the metaphor, an indictment of Assange is a 'first use' of 'the nuclear option' against the First Amendment protection of a free press. (By the way, the charges they're reportedly considering against him - conspiracy, theft, and violation of the Espionage Act - are exactly the charges I faced in 1971.)

"If journalists and publishers fail to call this out, denounce and resist it - on the spurious grounds that Julian is 'not a real journalist' like themselves - they're offering themselves up to Trump and Sessions for indictments and prosecutions, which will eventually silence all but the heroes and heroines among them."

The statement by Ellsberg was read by Army veteran and retired diplomat Ann Wright at a news conference Friday morning outside the Department of Justice organized by ExposeFacts, a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy.




Friday, April 28, 2017

Napkin Voodoo Economics Redux  (Deep State Captures Trump?)  Looting Was the Point of Neoliberalism  (ISIS Friend or Foe?)  Off-Shoring Deep-Sixes Unexceptional America  (New Old Dems Still Blame Stealthy Russia)  Nobody's GOT To Use the Internet!)  Boring 500-Pound Bombs Hit Passersby  (America's Regressing Into Developing Nation But Where's President Trump?)  ISIS Benefits from Assad's Downfall







One napkin was shown to Ronald Reagan who, foreshadowing Trump, was too thick to understand it. Like Trump, the Gipper thought that it proved that, 'the lower the tax, the more tax revenue collected.' George Bush Sr. called that "voodoo economics."
Not voodoo, no; but here’s the key — pay attention, A students! — it’s a CURVE. When "marginal" tax rates are ABOVE 90%, cutting to, say, 85%, will actually produce more tax revenue from increased business activity. But at the lower end of the curve, with taxes below 40% as they are now, there’s no tax gain — just the opposite, the Laffer Curve shows tax collections will collapse.
Cutting the corporate rate to 15% from 40% will cause a $4 trillion-dollar tax loss — which non-corporations, that is, working class schmucks who voted for Trump, will have to make up.
. . . And that ain’t the bottom of the stupid and venal oozing from the Oval Office. The Donald’s tax plan includes opening new loophole called, "territoriality." To translate from the pigs’-Latin, this means that the US can no longer collect taxes on profits of US corporations on their foreign operations.
In other words, THIS IS A MASSIVE TAX BREAK FOR MOVING A FACTORY OVERSEAS. Shifting your plastics factory from Midland, Michigan to Monterey, Mexico means you no longer pay taxes on it. Hey, wasn’t this the guy who said he’d TAX companies that leave the USA?
Well, it looks like he’ll make Mexico great again.
But maybe Trump is no tax dunce — but one very brilliant business man who knows how to dupe his troops. After all, he’s a casino magnate who makes his money by fleecing those suckers in the red trucker hats. Trump knows: the house always wins.
- Greg Palast

Didn't want to ignore current events before moving into the historical ones  . . .

When Obama inherited the Deep State’s agenda from George W. Bush, he set up Syria’s Assad for regime change by repeating for many months that if Assad used chemical weapons in the “civil war” that Washington had sent ISIS to conduct, Assad would have crossed the “Red Line” that Obama had drawn and would, as the consequence, face an invasion by the US military, just as Iraq had been invaded based on Washington’s lie about “weapons of mass destruction.”

Not to put too fine a point on this insight, but:

Trump Now a Captive of the Deep State

When the gullible and insouciant American public and the presstitutes who participate in the deceptions permitted the Deep State to get away with the fairy tale that a few Saudi Arabians under the direction of Osama bin Laden, but without the support of any government or intelligence agency, were able to outwit the entirety of the Western Alliance and Israel’s Mossad and deliver the greatest humiliation in history to “the world’s only superpower” by making the entirety of the US government dysfunctional on September 11, 2001, Washington learned that it could get away with anything, any illegal and treasonous act, any lie. The gullible Western populations would believe anything that they were told.

Not only insouciant Americans, but much of the world accepts any statement out of Washington as the truth despite the evidence. If Washington said it, Washington’s vassals in Germany, France, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Belgium, and Japan assent to the obvious lie as if it were the obvious truth. So do the CIA purchased media of these vassal states, a collection of whores who prefer CIA subsidies to truth.

When Obama inherited the Deep State’s agenda from George W. Bush, he set up Syria’s Assad for regime change by repeating for many months that if Assad used chemical weapons in the “civil war” that Washington had sent ISIS to conduct, Assad would have crossed the “Red Line” that Obama had drawn and would, as the consequence, face an invasion by the US military, just as Iraq had been invaded based on Washington’s lie about “weapons of mass destruction.”

Having burnt this idea into the feeble minds of the Western populations, Obama then arranged for a chemical weapon to be exploded in Syria and blamed it on Assad. Thus, the Red Line had been crossed, the insouciant West was told, and America would now invade.

The UK prime minister, the usual piece of Washington-owned garbage, rushed to the support of the American invasion, promising British support. But the British Parliament voted NO. The MPs said that the UK was not going to support another American war crime justified by obvious lies. Only in Britain does democracy still have any teeth, as we saw a second time with the Brexit vote. All the rest of the West lives in vassalage and slavery.

The Russian government also took a firm stand, admitting that Russia stupidly trusted America in Libya, but no more. We, said the Russians, will ourselves remove any and all chemical weapons from Syria and turn them over to Western “civilization” to be destroyed, which the Russians did.

What did Western “civilization” do with the weapons? They gave some of them to ISIS. This gave Washington a second chance to accuse Assad of using chemical weapons “against his own people.”

And so Washington has rolled out this hoax a second time. During a Syrian air force attack on an ISIS position, a chemical weapon exploded, or so it is alleged. Instantly Washington said that Assad had used “Sarin gas against his own people.” Trump was shown photos of dead babies and stupidly ordered a US military strike against Syria.

But don't worry Trumpists, you won't feel a thing.

Or notice any different pain in your life.

The unambigious fact is that US capitalism is a mechanism for looting the many for the benefit of the few. Neoliberal economics was constructed in order to support this looting. In other words, neoliberal economists are whores just like the Western print and TV media.
. . . So far we have barely scratched the surface of the external costs that capitalism imposes. Now consider the pollution of the air, soil, waterways, and oceans that result from profit-making activities. Consider the radioactive wastes pouring out of Fukushima since March 2011 into the Pacific Ocean. Consider the dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico from agricultural chemical fertilizer run-off. Consider the destruction of the Apalachicola, Florida, oyster beds from the restricted river water that feeds the bay due to overdevelopment upstream. Examples such as these are endless. The corporations responsible for this destruction bear none of the costs.
If it turns out that global warming and ocean acidification are consequences of capitalism’s carbon-based energy system, the entire world could end up dead from the external costs of capitalism.

Anyone else finally noticing how easily one now sees the end of capitalism raising its ugly head from the swamp?

If developers had to pay these costs instead of passing them on to taxpayers, would their projects still be profitable?
Now consider the external costs of offshoring the production of goods and services that US corporations, such as Apple and Nike, market to Americans. When production facilities in the US are closed and the jobs are moved to China, for example, the American workers lose their jobs, medical coverage, careers, pension provision, and often their self-respect when they are unable to find comparable employment or any employment. Some fall behind in their mortgage and car payments and lose their homes and cars. The cities, states, and federal governments lose the tax base as personal income and sales taxes decline and as depressed housing and commercial real estate prices in the abandoned communities depress property taxes.

Social security and Medicare funding is harmed as payroll tax deposits fall. State and local infrastructure declines. Possibly crime rises. Safety net needs rise, but expenditures are cut as tax revenues decline. Municipal and state workers find their pensions at risk. Education suffers. All of these costs greatly exceed Apple’s and Nike’s profits from substituting cheaper foreign labor for American labor. Contradicting the neoliberal claims, Apple’s and Nike’s prices do not drop despite the collapse in labor costs that the corporations experience.
A country that was intelligently governed would not permit this. As the US is so poorly governed, the executives and shareholders of global corporations are greatly enriched because they can impose the costs associated with their profits on external third parties.
We cannot survive an unregulated capitalism with a system of primitive property rights. Ecological economists such as Herman Daly understand this, but neoliberal economists are apologists for capitalist looting. In days gone by when mankind’s footprint on the planet was light, what Daly calls an “empty world,” productive activities did not produce more wastes than the planet could cleanse. But the heavy foot of our time, what Daly calls a “full world,” requires extensive regulation.

The Trump administration’s program of rolling back environmental protection, for example, will multiply external costs. To claim that this will increase economic growth is idiotic. As Daly (and Michael Hudson) emphasize, the measure known as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is so flawed that we do not know whether the increased output costs more to produce than it is worth. GDP is really a measure of what has been looted without reference to the cost of the looting. Environmental deregulation means that capitalists can treat the environment as a garbage dump. The planet can become so toxic that it cannot recover.
In the United States and generally across the Western world, property rights exist only in a narrow, truncated form. A developer can steal your view forever and your solitude for the period his construction requires. If the Japanese can have property rights in views, in quiet which requires noise abatement, and in sun fall on their property, why can’t Americans? After all, we are alleged to be the “exceptional people.”
But in actual fact, Americans are the least exceptional people in human history. Americans have no rights at all. We hapless insignificant beings have to accept whatever capitalists and their puppet government impose on us. And we are so stupid we call it “Freedom and Democracy America.”
____________

You'd know that Tommy Freed Man would have something comfortably neolib con-encouraging to offer in order to secure his necessary placement in the national conversation (er, newspapers and pop novels), but few others would.


The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has written in his latest piece:  “Why should our goal right now be to defeat the Islamic State in Syria? This is a time for Trump to be Trump — utterly cynical and unpredictable. ISIS right now is the biggest threat to Iran, Hezbollah, Russia and pro-Shiite Iranian militias — because ISIS is a Sunni terrorist group that plays as dirty as Iran and Russia… Trump should let ISIS be Assad’s, Iran’s, Hezbollah’s and Russia’s headache — the same way we encouraged the mujahedeen fighters to bleed Russia in Afghanistan…”
The daily and the columnist enjoy reputations as old warhorses empathising with Israeli interests. The probability is that Friedman is advancing Israel’s project to refuel the US’ stalled project of ‘regime change’ in Syria. Israel is pulling out all the stops to ensure that the swathe of Syrian territory bordering its ‘occupied territories’ in the Golan Heights remain in the hands of Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Israel nurtured these groups to create a buffer zone between the Syrian territory it illegally occupies and where Damascus’ writ ends.
The Israeli attacks on Syrian forces operating near Golan Heights are becoming more frequent. Another major attack took place two days ago. Every time Israel attacks Syrian government assets, it provides an alibi, but in reality these attacks coincide with Syrian government operations against al-Qaeda and ISIS groups. Clearly, Israel intervenes to protect its al-Qaeda and ISIS proxies.
Friedman’s piece falls into perspective. On two occasions in recent weeks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov voiced unease that the US may rekindle the regime change agenda in Syria and give it precedence over the fight against the ISIS. . . .

Well, the plan does seem to be getting clearer.

But the end results seem to end with the launching of the even bigger bombs.

______________

The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia

April 22, 2017
Norman Solomon

After Hillary Clinton’s devastating loss nearly six months ago, her most powerful Democratic allies feared losing control of the party. Efforts to lip-synch economic populism while remaining closely tied to Wall Street had led to a catastrophic defeat. In the aftermath, the party’s progressive base — personified by Bernie Sanders — was in position to start flipping over the corporate game board.
Aligned with Clinton, the elites of the Democratic Party needed to change the subject. Clear assessments of the national ticket’s failures were hazardous to the status quo within the party. So were the groundswells of opposition to unfair economic privilege. So were the grassroots pressures for the party to become a genuine force for challenging big banks, Wall Street and overall corporate power.
In short, the Democratic Party’s anti-Bernie establishment needed to reframe the discourse in a hurry. And — in tandem with mass media — it did.
The reframing could be summed up in two words:  Blame Russia.
By early winter, the public discourse was going sideways — much to the benefit of party elites. The meme of blaming Russia and Vladimir Putin for the election of Donald Trump effectively functioned to let the Wall Street-friendly leadership of the national Democratic Party off the hook. Meanwhile, serious attempts to focus on the ways that wounds to democracy in the United States have been self-inflicted — whether via the campaign finance system or the purging of minorities from voter rolls or any number of other systemic injustices — were largely set aside.
Fading from scrutiny was the establishment that continued to dominate the Democratic Party’s superstructure. At the same time, its devotion to economic elites was undiminished. As Bernie told a reporter on the last day of February:  “Certainly there are some people in the Democratic Party who want to maintain the status quo. They would rather go down with the Titanic so long as they have first-class seats.”
Amid great luxury and looming catastrophe, the party’s current hierarchy has invested enormous political capital in depicting Vladimir Putin as an unmitigated arch villain. Relevant history was irrelevant, to be ignored or denied.
With dutiful conformity from most Democrats in Congress, the party elites doubled, tripled and quadrupled down on the emphatic claim that Moscow is the capital of, by any other name, an evil empire. Rather than just calling for what’s needed — a truly independent investigation into allegations that the Russian government interfered with the U.S. election — the party line became hyperbolic and unmoored from the available evidence.
Given their vehement political investment in demonizing Russia’s President Putin, Democratic leaders are oriented to seeing the potential of detente with Russia as counterproductive in terms of their electoral strategy for 2018 and 2020. It’s a calculus that boosts the risks of nuclear annihilation, given the very real dangers of escalating tensions between Washington and Moscow.
Along the way, top party officials seem bent on returning to a kind of pre-Bernie-campaign doldrums. The new chair of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez, can’t bring himself to say that the power of Wall Street is antithetical to the interests of working people. That reality came to painful light this week during a live appearance on national television.
During a 10-minute joint interview along with Bernie Sanders on Tuesday night, Perez was a font of exactly the kind of trite empty slogans and worn-out platitudes that oiled the engines of the dismal Clinton campaign.
While Sanders was forthright, Perez was evasive. While Sanders talked about systemic injustice, Perez fixated on Trump. While Sanders pointed to a way forward for realistic and far-reaching progressive change, Perez hung onto a rhetorical formula that expressed support for victims of the economic order without acknowledging the existence of victimizers.
In an incisive article published by "The Nation" magazine, Robert Borosage wrote last week:  “For all the urgent pleas for unity in the face of Trump, the party establishment has always made it clear that they mean unity under their banner. That’s why they mobilized to keep the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Representative Keith Ellison, from becoming head of the DNC. It’s why the knives are still out for Sanders and those who supported him.”
While Bernie is hardly a reliable opponent of U.S. war policies, he is significantly more critical of military intervention than the Democratic Party leaders who often champion it. Borosage noted that the party establishment is locked into militaristic orthodoxies that favor continuing to inflict the kind of disasters that the United States has brought to Iraq, Libya and other countries:  “Democrats are in the midst of a major struggle to decide what they stand for and who they represent. Part of that is the debate over a bipartisan interventionist foreign policy that has so abjectly failed.”
For the Democratic Party’s most hawkish wing — dominant from the top down and allied with Clinton’s de facto neocon approach to foreign policy — the U.S. government’s April 6 cruise missile attack on a Syrian airfield was an indication of real leverage for more war. That attack on a close ally of Russia showed that incessant Russia-baiting of Trump can get gratifying military results for the Democratic elites who are undaunted in their advocacy of regime change in Syria and elsewhere.
The politically motivated missile attack on Syria showed just how dangerous it is to keep Russia-baiting Trump, giving him political incentive to prove how tough he is on Russia after all. What’s at stake includes the imperative of preventing a military clash between the world’s two nuclear superpowers. But the corporate hawks at the top of the national Democratic Party have other priorities.

Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where he coordinates ExposeFacts. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

Instead of complaining constantly about the Koch brothers’ zillions pouring into the political system, the Democrats need to start asking what their billionaire supporters are willing to do in the era of the authoritarian Trumpsters. Democrats have their fair share of affluent supporters, such as George Soros. Besides their routine campaign contributions, and expressing among themselves a sense of dread over the fate of our democracy, why aren’t the pro-Democratic super-rich harnessing their resources to address the impending crisis they foresee, a crisis all the more likely to be provoked by the power-concentrating Trump regime?
It is not difficult to see what they could be doing. The first step is a strategy session to determine what civic and political resources could lead to the creation of new action institutions and thousands of energetic organizers toiling at the grassroots level in preparation for the 2018 elections.
A few billion dollars astutely distributed to achieve several long-overdue reforms, and replace lawmakers beholden to unsavory corporate interests and rampant militarism with legislators who will serve the people, could readily dispel the depression and discouragement that that is felt by liberal and conservative Americans alike. Policy precedes action, says political writer Bill Curry. You have to have something to fight for before you begin organizing.

As I’ve pointed out in my book, Unstoppable:  The Emerging Left/Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State, many major policy reforms have long enjoyed substantial left/right support, and organizing such consensus could spark an unstoppable political movement. Millions of Americans of all political stripes back such causes as full Medicare for all, living wages, cracking down on corporate crime, eliminating crony capitalism, action on climate change and other critical environmental degradations, protecting the commons, developing robust civic skills in primary and secondary education, rationalizing the tax systems, expanding access to justice, protecting consumers and reforming criminal justice (to name just a few).
. . . Making the civil society stronger by expanding the good work of existing organizations, and starting new ones to tackle unaddressed challenges, is essential. From that heightened level of advocacy can spring a new politics with a fresh perspective and honest candidates for public office.
. . . This difference in fervor can be overcome by an elevated sense of urgency, now and for posterity. Just reflect on the greatest advances in US history when people organized to beat back and overcome the forces of darkness.

It's been enlightening to have the Republicans on the side of ordinary Americans, hasn't it?

Author of USA Freedom Act Says “Nobody’s Got to Use the Internet”


As a number of outlets have reported, at a town hall last week, Wisconsin’s Jim Sensenbrenner told a constituent, asking about her congressman’s vote to overturn Obama’s broadband privacy rules, said, “Nobody’s got to use the Internet.”
. . . It’s of course an absurd comment. It is difficult to get a job in this day and age without Internet access; it’s hard to find a place to live. It’s not a matter of convenience, at this point it is necessary to be on the Internet to be a fully integrated citizen.
But note why Sensenbrenner said this:  he pitched it in terms of the beneficent ISP providers who have kindly provided us all gateways to the Internet.
What no report I’ve seen has noted is that Sensenbrenner also happens to be the author of the USA Freedom Act as passed. In spite of his key role in defeating prior efforts to shut down the PATRIOT Act dragnets, Sensenbrenner managed to pose as a privacy advocate (making horseshit claims about knowing about the dragnet) so as to push through a bill that took the heat off telecoms, all while making more innocent Americans’ data available to NSA’s analytical maw.
Here, he reveals his true colors, a completely unrealistic view of the importance of the Internet on actual human beings.
Comments:
earlofhuntingdon (

I suppose it’s possible that Sensenbrenner is not an ignorant ass, and that he knows that an e-mail address and ready internet access are required for the most mundane tasks: keeping in touch with family, friends and co-workers; applying for all but the most menial jobs; dealing with employers, insurance companies, and government tax authorities; and communicating with public officials.
It’s possible that he’s selling to the anti-intellectual, anti-corporate, anti-establishment crowd – as if he were not now a charter member of the establishment. More likely, he wants us to accept the “Nothing to see here, now move along” passivity that makes his job as a public employee – although one heavily subsidized by private industry lobbying and “fund raising” – so much easier. Mr. Sensenbrenner seems to be a caricature of an alternative congresscritter.

Rayne (April 17, 2017) says:

You’re very generous. The man hasn’t had a job outside the public sector, going directly from law school to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1969. He really has little idea what the rest of the world requires of individuals to be employable in private sector. I’m only surprised he hasn’t referred to the internet as a series of tubes nobody needs. Thank goodness he hasn’t been involved with the House Committee on Science and Technology since 2001. He couldn’t keep up with the pace of change. Hope Wisconsin retires him in 2018.
______________

Speaking of being led by ordinary Americans:

The election was a choice between fetor and a lunatic. We chose the lunatic. Whether this was better than the alternative, we will never know, but Trump is going from bad to worse, or as the Mexicans say, de Guatemala a Guatepeor.
Does he believe this stuff? Is he naive enough to think that there was something unusually horrible about the attack? Horrible, yes, but not in the least unusual. Do you know what everyday, boring artillery does to children? Five-hundred-pound bombs? Hellfire rockets? Daily Mr. Trump’s military and his allies daily drop shrapnel-producing explosives on people, cities, towns, adults, children, weddings and goatherds in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Good draft-dodger that he was, he probably has never seen any of this. Good psychopath that he may be, he may not care.
This whole gas-attack business smells to high heaven. It looks nicely calculated to force him to attack Assad. Gas was important: Killing babies, little babies with explosives is so routine that no one cares, but we have been programmed to shudder at the thought of Gas! 
Actually artillery has killed several orders of magnitude more people, but never mind.

Targeting children was a nice touch. Definitely a PR bonus. So Donald goes into his Poor-widdle-fings weep, while Americans weekly kill more children in three to seven countries, depending on the date.

Is the man consciously a liar? Hasn’t got sense enough to think before operating his mouth? Actually believes what he says when he says it? Glance at a small part of the record and focus on his changing his tune, not on whether you agree with a particular policy. Erratic, erratic, erratic. He was going to run out the illegals within two years, absurd but he said it. Going to put high tariffs on Mexican goods. Didn’t. On Chinese goods. Isn’t. Tear up the Iran treaty. Didn’t. Declare China a currency-manipulator. Isn’t. Ban Muslims. Hasn’t. Promote good relations with Russia. Isn’t. Get the US out of Syria. Ha. Make NATO pay for itself. Isn’t. The man has the steely determination one associates with bean curd. You cannot trust anything the man says.

Having been reprogrammed as a good neocon, bombing places he promised to get out of, looking for a fight with Russia, he is now butting heads with Fat Thing in North Korea. He his said things closely resembling, “We have run out of strategic patience with the North. If nobody else will take care of it, we will.” Grrrr. Bowwow. Woof.

The problem with growly ultimata made for television is that somebody has to back down–that is, lose face and credibility. If Trump had quietly told Fat Thing, “If you crazy bastards scrap your nuke program, we will drop the sanctions,” it might have worked. But no. Negotiations would imply weakness. Thus an ultimatum.

So now either (a) Fat Thing knuckles under, humiliating himself and possibly endangering his grasp on power or (b) Trump blinks in a humiliating display of the Empire’s impotence, possibly endangering his grasp on power. Kim Jong Il, or Il Sung Jong, or whatever the the hell the latest one of them is called, shows not the slightest sign of backing down. So does the Donald start an utterly unpredictable war, as usual in somebody else’s country, or does he weasel off, muttering, and hope nobody notices?

Fred’s Third Law of International Relations:  Never butt heads with a country that has a missile named the No Dong.

Many of us favored Trump, slightly daft though he was, because he wasn’t yet Hillary, wasn’t yet a neocon robot, and didn’t want war with every country he had heard of, apparently meaning a good half dozen. At least he said he didn’t, not yet having been told that he did. In particular, he didn’t want war with Russia. But when the neocons control the media and Congress, they can convince a naive public of anything and, apparently, the President.

Why is the Hillarification of Trump important? The necessary prior question:  What is the greatest threat to the neocons’ American Empire? Answer:  The ongoing integration of Eurasia under Chinese hegemony. The key countries in this are China, Iran, and Russia. (Isn’t it curious that, apart from the momentary distraction of North Korea, these countries have been the focus of New York’s hostility?) In particular if Russia and, through it, China develop large and very profitable trade with Europe, there goes NATO and with it the Empire.

Oops. Thus the eeeeeeeeeeek! furor about Russia as existential threat and so on. Thus sending a few troops to Baltic countries to “deter” Russia. This was theater. The idea that a thousand garrison troops can stop the Russian army, which hasn’t gone silly as ours has, on its doorstep is loony.

Hillary was on board with the Russia hysteria and the globalization and the immigration and so on. Trump could have screwed the whole pooch by getting along with Russia, so he had to be reconfigured. And was. A work in progress, but going well.

Too much is being asked of him. One man cannot overcome the combined hostility of the media, the political establishment, the neocons, the myriad other special interests that he has threatened. Mass immigration is a done deal. China develops and America, already developed, cannot keep up. The country disintegrates socially. Washington, always depending on war and its threat, faces a new world in which trade is the weapon, and doesn’t know what to do. The culture courses. The world changes.

Yet if only Trump showed some sign of knowing what he is doing, and could remember from day to day, if only he realized that wars are more easily started than predicted, if only he were not becoming an unbalanced Hillary. Yet, apparently, he is.”
_________________

A new book reveals that the U.S. is becoming two distinct countries, with separate economies, politics and opportunities.

Read the entire essay here.
__________________

President Trump’s Disappearance

April 20, 2017
Paul Craig Roberts
In my long experience in Washington, vice presidents did not make major foreign policy announcements or threaten other countries with war. Not even Dick Cheney stole this role from the weak president George W. Bush.

But yesterday the world witnessed VP Pence threaten North Korea with war. “The sword stands ready,” said Pence as if he is the commander in chief.

Perhaps he is.

Where is Trump? As far as I can tell from the numerous emails I receive from him, he is at work marketing his presidency. Once Trump won the election, I began receiving endless offers to purchase Trump baseball caps, T-shirts, cuff-links, coffee mugs, and to donate $3 to be entered into a raffle to win some memorabilia. The latest offer is a chance to win one of “personally signed five incredible photographs of our historic and massive inauguration.”

For Trump, the presidency is a fund-raising device. If his VP, National Security Advisor, Secretary of Defense, UN Ambassador, CIA Director, whoever, want to start wars wherever, that’s just more memorabilia to raffle off for a $3 donation.

As a result of Trump’s failure to govern his own government, we have VP Pence telling Russia and China that there could be a nuclear exchange on their borders between the US and North Korea. Although Pence is not smart enough to know, this is not something Russia and China will accept.

Washington worries about North Korea having nuclear weapons, but the entire world worries that Washington has nuclear weapons. And so many of them. World polls have shown that the majority of the world’s population are far more concerned about the threat to peace posed by Washington and Israel than by Iran, North Korea, Russia and China.

Pence prefaced his “the sword stands ready” remark with “the United States of America will always seek peace,” which after Serbia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, and Syria is as false a statement as it is possible to make. From Washington’s perspective it is always Washington’s victims that are “reckless and provocative,” never Washington.

The US stands for war. If the world is driven to Armegeddon, it will be Washington, not North Korea, Iran, Russia, or China, that brings life on earth to an end.
_____________

On an emotional and political level, I can understand why any president (and especially a Democrat who is also the first African American president of the United States) would be incredibly reluctant to even hint at the truth about the Republican party, because the truth about the Republican party is so goddamn grim.
You see, the overwhelming majority of the rank-and-file of the GOP are unsalvageably fucked-in-the-head.  They are happily brainwashed nitwits and racists who would gladly belly-flop their entire family into a live volcano if Fox News told them to and would spent their last moments on this Earth before being incinerated into iconoclastic ash cursing Obama or Clinton or Nancy Pelosi or Susan Rice for the ouch ouch burning.

After watching Republicans for 30 years marching down and down and down this long and horrifying road to smug, snarling, mindless political bestiality, it is about goddamn time that we started treating this grim fact as a fact.  Just as factoring in wind-speed and fuel consumption and the laws of gravity are critical to safely piloting an aircraft from A to B, this grim but immutable fact needs to be factored into our resistance to the Right.  

At this late date it absurd to believe that we will find any potential converts on the Right, primed and ready for a Road to Damascus moment if only Trump fucks them over enough.  Just as it is absurd to believe that we have any hidden allies in the corporate media who would be willing to put their position an paychecks at risk to help our cause once Trump fucks up enough.  

Of course President Obama was never going to say this out loud, or apparently every let himself think such terrible thoughts at all.  To him, every Republican pile of horseshit was taken as proof that a pony could not be far away, if only we clapped a little louder, bent over a bit further and were never so crass as to mention that the GOP was run by amoral thugs and hobgoblins.

But just because President Obama could never speak such truths out loud, doesn't mean that New York Times columnists shouldn't.  Because our country is now fully Half Fox and Half Free.  And as I wrote seven years ago...

In order to avoid wasting his presidency, squandering the opportunity we have given him, and letting the country spiral into a permanent corporate feudal pest-hole, Barack Obama must do the hardest thing of all: he must exceed his design specifications. This is not unprecedented, but like Franklin Roosevelt the capitalist-turned-social-Democrat or Abraham Lincoln the compromiser-turned-Emancipator, Obama must let go of a central pillar of his identity and embrace the brutal fact that our modern house divided against itself cannot stand.

That we cannot endure permanently Half Fox and Half free.

That we will become all one thing, or all the other.

And that this is your fight, President Obama.

This burden has fallen to you:  it cannot be shirked and cannot be delegated.
Well President Obama did not rise to that challenge.  He failed.  And if we on the Left keep on chasing the ensorcelling fantasy that these fuckers on the Right will eventually wake up if only ... if only ... if only ...


Read the entire essay at Driftglass.

Also, please read:

Do I think Mr. John Ossoff will take this seat?
I have no idea.
On the one hand, as I said after the 2016 election, I have never gone wrong betting on the racism and arrogant ignorance of the Right: I've only erred occasionally on the point spread.  And six months later my faith in the suicidal stupidity of the average Republican voter remains deep and abiding.
On the other hand, every election between now and 2020 is a referendum on President Stupid and his just-fucking-sack-the-place agenda.
_____________

Sardonicky notes that the sillier distraction always wins:

There's nothing worse than a silly distraction from a serious distraction. This silliness distracts the tired, the hungry, the jobless from what really counts:  Russia, and voting for a Democratic Party whose sole remaining purpose is to serve its pathologically rich cadre of donors. It's a distraction from fighting a terrorist group which itself was manufactured by the same "intelligence community" which is now pretending to do battle with it. But pointing this out would be a huge distraction from Ryan Lizza's convoluted little propaganda piece.

Keeping in mind Sean Spicer's "destabilization" slip in two separate speeches:

Report Sees ISIS Benefiting From Assad Downfall

Thursday, April 20, 2017
And of course US/Israel would want nothing more then to benefit their ISIS proxies.. In order to also benefit their (US/Israel/ISIS) mutual partner in crime, the PKK.
Newsweek
With many in the U.S. foreign policy community backing both the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the defeat of the Islamic State group (ISIS), a new report could raise some cause for concern. The report says Assad's military has been the most engaged faction against ISIS over the past year of Syria's conflict, making it an extremely risky target for a U.S. foreign policy that is intended to stop the jihadists' advances.
"The report says Assad's military has been the most engaged faction against ISIS over the past year of Syria's conflict" Well that's a statement of the obvious!

The report published Wednesday by the London-based IHS Jane Terrorism and Insurgency Centre, one of the world's leading security analysis agencies, says 43 percent of ISIS's battles between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 were fought against the Syrian military and its allies, which include Russia, Iran and pro-government militias. Meanwhile, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a majority-Kurd coalition of Arabs and ethnic minorities, accounted for 17 percent of the action against ISIS.
I'm going to requote two very crucial facts from the above paragraph!

"The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a majority-Kurd coalition of Arabs and ethnic minorities, accounted for (ONLY)  17 percent of the action against ISIS"

That's because ISIS conveniently melts away as has been stated here repeatedly. "43 percent of ISIS's battles between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 were fought against the Syrian military and its allies, which include Russia, Iran and pro-government militias."

So the US backed Kurds account for only 17 percent of the action waged against ISIS while SAA and allies have fought 43% of ISIS battles in the same period of time.

Making the SAA and it's allies the best, most effective fighters on the ground against ISIS-  No matter how often the big lie has been repeated by the 5 eyes main stream & alternative media.

Keeping in mind you've never read the "Kurds most effective fighters against ISIS" lie stated here!  No sirreeeee.... Because it was always the BIG LIE . I've stated very plainly, on several occasions, if the fight was REALLY against ISIS OBVIOUSLY the US could have allied with SAA. Supported them in their real fight against ISIS! But the US didn't do that because their goal was not to truly fight ISIS.

The actual goal under the guise of "fighting ISIS" served multiple purposes:
  1. Allow for destabilizing the region
  2. Destroying existing nations
  3.  Ethnically cleanse the populace & create a massive weaponized refugee surge targeting Europe, extending to the US and Canada
  4.  Ethnic cleansing allowed for the clearing of existing multiple state territories for annexation by the PKK  Kurds  in order to create Kurdistan aka Israel 2.0
  5. This destabilization extends into North Africa as well.

    Kurds..............ISIS

    The fact of Syria being the main opponent of ISIS has always been obvious.

    The Kurds as an effective fighting force has never been obvious or true.




Get your soft wood here?

And hop on that mandatory congressional bus for a Trump photo opportunity before he drops the big one.

He's only attending briefly, though, before he disappears again.

So, good luck with that!



And here comes North Korea? Be afraid. Be very afraid!

Why? Because of what they might do in the future?

. . . Stumpage.




You gotta admire Lee's courage.

After the rest of the war coverage, it almost feels like Walter Cronkite is back.