Thursday, April 20, 2017

(Bill O'Gone) Rebranding Universal Basic Income As Money-Maker for Hedge Funds  (President Pussy)  Trump Tilt Back to Goldman Sachs  (Soul Stagnation Strikes)  Pundits Syrian Swoon:  Good Soldiers All  (Billions Missing)  Twitter Governance Strategy  (A Year of Blind Rats? Or Mice?) Lee & Max & Stacy & Lee!


Consider the reality of O'Reilly's career. ... He worked for Fox News for about 20 years, spewing the most vicious pack of hatred and lies he possibly could.  For this he was paid millions; his salary at the end being about $18 million a year. So let's be cautious here and guess that, over the years this scum was paid about $200 million for his contribution to the country's well-being.  Just before leaving, he signed a new contract with Fox News, which they are apparently going to honor, perhaps netting him another $60 or $80 million.  And now that he is gone, he will just be replaced by one of ten thousand essentially identical right wing robots who are willing to sell their souls to the devil.

Not a bad deal for O'Reilly, who must have known his dirty deal couldn't last forever; Fox has made him rich beyond anything he could have ever imagined, and he doesn't need to do a thing he doesn't want to do for the rest of his life.

And, really, not much of a victory for the rest of us.

Speaking of another non-victory for the "insouciant" American taxpayer....

April 19, 2017, is the 22nd anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing. The bombing of the federal Murrah office building was blamed by federal authorities on a bomb made from fertilizer inside a truck parked in front of the building by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.

There are many anomalies associated with the official explanation, including mysterious deaths of some, including a police officer, who understood that the actual facts did not accord with the explanation. Investigators who report the actual facts are branded “conspiracy theorists” and dismissed. This has been the Deep State’s way of controlling explanations since the 1940s.

Americans, being the insouciant people that they are, never noticed that the Murrah building blew up from the inside out, not from the outside in.

However, Air Force General Benton K. Partin, the US Air Force’s top explosive expert, did notice. ...

Finally.

A surefire way to sneak coverage for the lowly serfs into the in-crowd's budget? Convince them it's a money-maker.

Rebrand Universal Basic Income As The World’s Largest Sovereign Wealth Fund - Why Millionaires and Billionaires Should Support A Universal Basic Income

Who would have guessed that President Pussy wouldn't have been a woman?

Or even someone who doesn't respect it?

Early Sunday morning, The Atlantic published a Ron Brownstein piece, Donald Trump's Tilt Toward Convention, going through not just the campaign promises he's reneging on but the very premises for his entire presidency. "Trump’s march to the GOP nomination last spring," he wrote, "demonstrated there’s a substantial audience within the party’s rank and file - particularly among older and blue-collar Republicans - for the nationalist movement’s insular themes of resistance to trade, immigration, and foreign alliances, and embrace of government spending that benefits economically strained workers and retirees.

But Trump’s tumultuous first months in office have shown with equal clarity that such an agenda has extremely little institutional support inside the GOP beyond a constellation of sympathetic media outlets (like Breitbart News) and talk-radio and cable-television hosts (such as Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity). Lacking many champions in Congress, think tanks, conservative interest groups, or the business community, many of the movement’s most distinctive ideas - say, confronting China over trade or protecting the mostly white older population from budget cuts - have been rapidly losing ground to more conventional GOP interests and priorities."
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Both GOP wings agree on several fronts, from reducing federal regulation to cutting taxes to advancing conservative social priorities, like expanding gun-owners’ rights. But where the two camps diverge, Trump in recent weeks has consistently tilted away from his nationalist campaign rhetoric and toward more conventional GOP positions on a stunning list of issues. As Wehner put it, Trump in just weeks has hurtled “from Bannon-esque, apocalyptic, racial nationalism to Goldman Sachs, conventional, elite liberalism with nothing in between.”

Were you singing along with Barry Gibb and John Legend as Stevie Wonder played the harmonica at the "Bee Gees Tribute". . .

"How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?"

But as much as he was encumbered by the diseased state of his body, Chekhov was repulsed by the diseased state around him — by the sickness of the body politic. “To a certain extent,” his biographer Ernest Simmons writes, “his anxieties mirrored those of all thinking people of the Eighties, this ‘epoch of social stagnation.’ “ Tsarist Russia in the eighteen-eighties was suffused with moral and economic depravity. It was a society overrun by corruption, bribery, and nepotism. Censorship abounded. The news was frequently manipulated and false. Political dissidents were kidnapped, assassinated, or packed off to prison. The élites ensconced themselves in grotesquely opulent homes while poverty, violence, illness, and incipient famine haunted parts of the land.
It wasn’t just disease or death that Chekhov was trying to escape; it was deadliness. “There is a sort of stagnation in my soul,” he wrote to a friend. Chekhov, then, was looking to resensitize himself — to un-numb the numbness. He sought a place where he might inoculate himself against the ennui that was slowly destroying his soul.
Sakhalin Island, to put it mildly, was not a place for the faint-hearted. What Chekhov found there was a community even more depraved than the one he had left behind — an island society on the edge of sanity, law, and self-discipline. The men on this island hunted each other for sport. Women were routinely sold into prostitution. The children were malnourished and enslaved by adults. The prisoners bribed the guards, and the guards beat the convicts nearly to death.
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After he unleashed missiles on a Syrian airfield, members of Washington’s national security establishment and elite pundits swooned. Top Democrats and Republicans led the way. Good soldiers all in the military-industrial-political complex, they stood smartly at attention and saluted the commander-in-chief for sending a message to the world, although exactly what the message meant remains far from clear.

The headline above Glenn Greenwald’s story at "The Intercept" summed up the  response:  “The Spoils of War — Trump Lavished with Media and Bipartisan Praise for Bombing Syria.” The hawkish Hillary Clinton, who long had been critical of Barack Obama for not bringing Bashar Assad to heel, “appeared at an event” — and this was before the bombing even happened! — “and offered her categorical support for what Trump was planning.”

Up in the choir loft, the media and pundits sang as one from the official hymnal, praising Trump’s “presidential moment” and transforming him from a pathetic dunderhead suffering from narcissistic personality disorder into the Lord of Hosts. It was CNN’s Fareed Zakaria who pronounced the decision to fire away as the “big moment” when “Donald Trump became president of the United States.”

The theatrics were perfect. The Pentagon shopped to the media a video of the missiles as they were lofted up and away. MSNBC’s Brian Williams was among those moved by the aesthetics of violence:  “We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two Navy vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean. I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen:  ‘I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons.’”

When I heard those words, I thought back to that night in 2003 when another president lit up the skies over Baghdad with the “shock and awe” of his air attack on Iraq. Suddenly the press was talking about George W. Bush as if he were George Washington, George Marshall and George Patton rolled into one. A touch of George III came later, as our newly refurbished president donned a flight suit and strutted aboard the aircraft carrier with the banner behind him that read:  “Mission Accomplished.” Not quite.

Then a more recent scene and another miraculous moment came to mind, from six weeks ago — Feb. 28, to be exact. Donald Trump spoke to a joint session of Congress. He paused, pointed to the balcony and recognized the widow of the Navy SEAL who was killed during a raid on an alleged terrorist compound in Yemen, the very first military mission dispatched into harm’s way by the brand-new commander-in-chief himself.

As we march along to the media beat with the new war drums it might serve us well to review our past endeavors in this arena.

Lucky for us, Lee Camp has done the ground work.

If only we have the conscience (conscientiousness?) to listen with empathy.


But back to today's real-time warfare . . .

The Spoils of War:  Trump Lavished With Media and Bipartisan Praise For Bombing Syria


April 7, 2017

In every type of government, nothing unites people behind the leader more quickly, reflexively or reliably than war. Donald Trump now sees how true that is, as the same establishment leaders in U.S. politics and media who have spent months denouncing him as a mentally unstable and inept authoritarian and unprecedented threat to democracy are standing and applauding him as he launches bombs at Syrian government targets.

Trump, on Thursday night, ordered an attack that the Pentagon said included the launching of 59 Tomahawk missiles which “targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars.” The governor of Homs, the Syrian province where the attack occurred, said early this morning that the bombs killed seven civilians and wounded nine.

The Pentagon’s statement said the attack was “in retaliation for the regime of Bashar Assad using nerve agents to attack his own people.” Both Syria and Russia vehemently deny that the Syrian military used chemical weapons.

When asked about this yesterday by the "Globe and Mail"’s Joanna Slater, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged an investigation to determine what actually happened before any action was contemplated, citing what he called “continuing questions about who is responsible:”
(Click to enlarge.)

But U.S. war fever waits for nothing. Once the tidal wave of American war frenzy is unleashed, questioning the casus belli is impermissible. Wanting conclusive evidence before bombing commences is vilified as sympathy with and support for the foreign villain (the same way that asking for evidence of claims against Russia instantly converts one into a “Kremlin agent” or “stooge”).

That the Syrian government deliberately used chemical weapons to bomb civilians became absolute truth in U.S. discourse within less than 24 hours – even though Trudeau urged an investigation, even though it was denied in multiple capitals around the world, and even though Susan Rice just two months ago boasted to NPR:  “We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile.”

Whatever happened with this event, the Syrian government has killed hundreds of thousands of people over the past five years in what began as a citizen uprising in the spirit of the Arab Spring, and then morphed into a complex proxy war involving foreign fighters, multiple regional powers, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Russia.

The CIA has spent more than a billion dollars a year to arm anti-Assad rebels for years, and the U.S. began bombing Syria in 2014 – the 7th predominantly Muslim country bombed by Obama – and never stopped. Trump had already escalated that bombing campaign, culminating in a strike last month that Syrians say destroyed a mosque and killed dozens. What makes this latest attack new is that rather than allegedly targeting terrorist sites of ISIS and Al Qaeda, it targets the Syrian government – something Obama threatened to do in 2013 but never did.

Leading Congressional Democrats – including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – quickly praised Trump’s bombing while raising concerns about process. Hours before the bombing commenced, as it was known Trump was planning it, Hillary Clinton – who has been critical of Obama for years for not attacking Assad – appeared at an event and offered her categorical support for what Trump was planning:

The Trump White House is preliminarily indicating that this was a limited strike, designed to punish Assad for his use of chemical weapons, rather than a new war to remove him. But such aggression, once unleashed, is often difficult to contain. The Russian and Iranian governments, both supportive of Assad, have bitterly denounced Trump for the attack, with a Putin spokesman calling it a “significant blow” for U.S.-Russian relations. Russia already announced retaliation in the form of suspending cooperation agreements.

Even if it is contained, there are endless implications from Trump’s initiation of military force against the Syrian Government. For now, here are ten critical points highlighted by all of this:

1. New wars will always strengthen Trump:  as they do for every leader.

The instant elevation of Trump into a serious and respected war leader was palpable. Already, the New York Times is gushing that “in launching a military strike just 77 days into his administration, President Trump has the opportunity, but hardly a guarantee, to change the perception of disarray in his administration.”

Political leaders across the spectrum rushed to praise Trump and support his bombing campaign. Media coverage was overwhelmingly positive. One consummate establishment spokesman accurately observed:

New wars trigger the worst in people:  their jingoism, their tribal loyalties, their instinct to submit to authority and leaders. The incentive scheme here is as obvious as it is frightening:  great rewards await political leaders who start new wars. In Federalist 4, John Jay warned of all the personal benefits a leader obtains from starting a new war – which is the reason it was supposed to be difficult for U.S. Presidents to do it:


It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it; nay, absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal, such as thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans. These and a variety of other motives, which affect only the mind of the sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctified by justice or the voice and interests of his people.
Trump is going to see – and feel – the establishment and media respect he craves, the sensations of strength he most lacks, by dropping bombs. Every person, let alone Trump, would be tempted to keep pursuing war as a result of this warped incentive framework. Indeed, Trump himself has long been aware of this motivation as he accused Obama in 2012 of preparing to start a new war in response to falling poll numbers:

Those who instantly fall in line behind Trump as he bombs people are ensuring that he will keep doing it. As the instantly popular post-9/11 George W. Bush showed, those praising Trump for bombing Syria are also building him up in general so that he becomes stronger with everything else he wants to do.

2. Democrats’ jingoistic rhetoric has left them no ability – or desire – to oppose Trump’s wars.

Democrats have spent months wrapping themselves in extremely nationalistic and militaristic rhetoric. They have constantly accused Trump of being a traitor to the U.S., a puppet of Putin, and unwilling to defend U.S. interests. They have specifically tried to exploit Assad’s crimes by tying the Syrian leader to Trump, insisting that Trump would never confront Assad because doing so would anger his Kremlin masters. They have embraced a framework whereby anyone who refuses to confront Putin or Assad is deemed a sympathizer of, or a servant to, foreign enemies.

Having pushed those tactics and themes, Democrats have painted themselves into a corner. How could they possibly do anything but cheer as Trump bombs Syria? They can’t. And cheering is thus exactly what they’re doing.

For months, those of us who have urged skepticism and restraint on the Russia rhetoric have highlighted the risk that this fixation on depicting him as a tool of the Kremlin could goad Trump – dare him or even force him – to seek confrontation with Moscow. Some Democrats reacted with rage yesterday at the suggestion that their political tactics were now bearing this fruit, but that’s how politics works.

Much as George H.W. Bush was motivated to shed his “wimp” image by invading Panama, of course Trump will be motivated to prove he’s not controlled by Putin via blackmail by seeking confrontation with the Russian leader. And that’s exactly what he just did. War is the classic weapon U.S. Presidents use to show they are strong, patriotic and deserving of respect;  the more those attributes are called in question, the greater that compulsion becomes:
(Click to enlarge.)

Trump is the prime author of his wars, and of this bombing in Syria. He, and he alone, bears primary responsibility for it. But Trump is not an island of agency; he operates in the climate of Washington. A major reason why it’s so dangerous to ratchet up rhetorical tension between two major nuclear-armed powers is because of the ease with which those tensions can translate into actual conflict, and the motivation it can create for Trump to use war to prove he’s a patriot after all.

Whatever else is true, Democrats – with very few exceptions such as Rep. Ted Lieu and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard – have refrained from criticizing Trump’s bombing campaign on the merits (as opposed to process issues). Indeed, Democratic Party leaders have explicitly praised Trump’s bombing. They will have to continue to do so even if Trump expands this war. That’s what the Democratic Party has turned itself into to; indeed, it’s what it has been for a long time.

3. In wartime, US television instantly converts into state media.

As it always does, the U.S. media last night was an almost equal mix of excitement and reverence as the bombs fell. People who dissent from this bombing campaign – who opposed it on the merits – were almost entirely disappeared, as they always are in such moments of high patriotism (MSNBC’s Chris Hayes had two guests on after midnight who opposed it, but they were rare). Claims from the U.S. government and military are immediately vested with unquestioned truth and accuracy, while claims from foreign adversaries such as Russia and Syria are reflexively scorned as lies and propaganda.

For all the recent hysteria over RT being a propaganda outlet for the state, U.S. media coverage is barely distinguishable in times of war (which is, for the U.S., the permanent state of affairs). More systematic analysis will surely be forthcoming of last night’s coverage, but for now, here is Brian Williams – in all of his military-revering majesty – showing how state TV functions in the United States:

And here’s Fareed Zakaria declaring on CNN that Donald Trump has now been instantly transformed into the President of the United States in all of the loftiest and most regal senses of the term:

4. Trump’s bombing is illegal, but presidents are now omnipotent.

It should be startling and infuriating that Trump is able to order a new attack on the Syrian Government without any democratic debate, let alone Congressional approval. At least when Obama started bombing Syria without Congress, he had the excuse that it was authorized by the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, since his ostensible targets were terrorist groups (even though ISIS did not exist until years after that was enacted and is hardly “affiliated” with Al Qaeda). But since there’s no self-defense pretext to what Trump just did, what possible legal rationale exists for this? None.

But nobody in Washington really cares about such legalities. Indeed, we have purposely created an omnipotent presidency. Recall that in 2011, Obama went to war in Libya not just without Congressional approval, but even after Congress rejected such authorization.

What happened to Obama as a result of involving the U.S in a war that Congress had rejected? Absolutely nothing, because Congress, due to political cowardice, wants to abdicate war-making powers to the President. As a country, we have decided we want an all-powerful president – one who can bomb, and spy, and detain, and invade with virtually no limits. That’s the machinery of the imperial presidency that both parties have jointly built and have now handed to President Trump.

Indeed, in 2013, Obama explicitly argued that he had the right to bomb Assad without Congressional approval – a precedent the Trump White House will now use.

5. How can those who view Trump as an Inept Fascist now trust him to wage war?

Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of the last 24 hours has been watching those who have vilified Trump as an Evil Fascist and Bumbling Clown and Unstable Sociopath suddenly decide that they want him to bomb Syria. Even if you’re someone who in the abstract wanted the U.S. to attack Assad, shouldn’t your view that Trump is a completely unstable and incompetent monster prevent you from endorsing this war, with Trump as the Commander-in-Chief?

What happened to all the warnings about Trump’s towering incompetence and core evil? Where are all the grave predictions that he’s leading the world on a path of authoritarianism, fascism and blood and soil nationalism? They all gave way to War Fever:

During the campaign, Trump explicitly vowed to commit war crimes:  to torture detainees and purposely murder the families of terrorists. Back in April of last year, I summarized Trump’s mindset this way:  “he favors fewer wars, but advocates more monstrous, war-criminal tactics for the ones US does fight.”

Given everything that has been claimed about Trump by his critics, how can any of them justify cheering for a bombing campaign led by him? Do they experience no cognitive dissonance at all in having spent months depicting Trump as a lying, deceitful fascist, only to now turn around and trust him to bomb other countries with care, humanitarianism and efficacy?

6. Like all good conspiracy theories, no evidence can kill the Kremlin-controls-Trump tale.

Central to the conspiracy theories woven for months by Democrats is the claim that Putin wields power over Trump in the form of blackmail, debts or other leverage. As a result, this conspiracy theory goes, the Kremlin has now infiltrated American institutions of power and controls the U.S. Government, because Trump is unwilling – indeed, unable – to defy Putin’s orders.

Yet here is Trump – less than three months after being inaugurated – bombing one of the Kremlin’s closest allies, in a country where Russia has spent more than a year fighting to preserve his government. Will any of this undermine or dilute the conspiracy theory that the Kremlin controls the White House? Of course not. Warped conspiracy theorists are not only immune to evidence that disproves their theories but, worse, find ways to convert such evidence into further proof of their conspiracies.

Already, the most obsessive Democratic conspiracists have cited the fact that the U.S. military advised Russia in advance of the strikes – something they would have been incredibly reckless not to do – as innuendo showing that Trump serves Putin. If Trump tomorrow bombed Red Square, Democrats – after cheering him – would quickly announce that he only did so to throw everyone off the trail of his collusion with Putin.

7. The fraud of humanitarianism works every time for (and on) American elites.

In the last two months, Trump has ordered a commando raid in Yemen that has massacred children and dozens of innocent people, bombed Mosul and killed scores of civilians, and bombed a mosque near Aleppo that killed dozens. During the campaign, he vowed to murder the family members of alleged terrorists. He shut America’s doors to Syrian refugees, and is deporting people who have lived in the U.S. since childhood despite committing no crimes.

Given all that, could American elites possibly believe him when he says that he is motivated by humanitarianism – deep-seated anger over seeing Syrian children harmed – in bombing Syria? Yes, they could, and they are. That’s because American elites always want to believe – or at least want others to believe – that the U.S. bombs countries over and over not out of aggression or dominance but out of love, freedom, democracy and humanitarian concern.

The U.S. Government does not wage war, and the U.S. military does not blow things up, out of humanitarianism. It does so when it believes there is some benefit to be obtained for itself. Again, Federalist 4 warned us:  “nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it.” If humanitarianism is what motivated the U.S. in Syria, it would take in massive numbers of refugees, but it hasn’t. If humanitarianism is what motivated the U.S. bombing of Libya, it would have given large amounts of aid to that country in the aftermath to help it deal with the ensuing anarchy and misery, but it didn’t. That’s because humanitarianism is the pretext for U.S. wars, not the actual motive.

But the psychological comfort of believing that the only reason your government bombs more countries by far than any other is because your country is just so uniquely devoted to humanitarian love is so powerful that it overrides all rational faculties. That’s why all wars – even the most malicious and aggressive – are wrapped in humanitarian packaging. And no matter how many times we see that this packaging is a lie – in Vietnam, in Iraq, in Libya – we keep wanting to believe that, this time, our bombs will be filled with love, help and freedom.

8. Support for Trump’s Bombing Shows Two Toxic U.S. Conceits:  “Do Something” and “Look Strong.”

Those who oppose Trump’s new bombing campaign – or any U.S. bombing campaign – are instantly met with the predictable objection:  we must “Do Something” about Syria. This mentality is predicated on a terribly false, and terribly dangerous, premise:  that the U.S. military can and should solve every world evil.

But sometimes, the U.S. lacks the ability to solve other problems. Often, having the U.S. drop bombs exacerbates suffering, rather than alleviates it. As upsetting as it is to accept, sometimes doing nothing is the least bad of all the options. Again, if humanitarianism really were the motive, there are many things the U.S. could do besides bombing Syria and killing civilians, such as giving refuge and humanitarian aid. But the idea that a war can be justified by appealing to the vague imperative that we must “do something” is incredibly irrational and immoral.

The same is true – indeed even more so – of this horribly toxic premise long endorsed by the world of U.S think tanks that a President must go to war to preserve “credibility” – meaning that he must drop bombs and kill people to show the world that he, and the country he leads, is “strong.” To see that hideous premise in action, look at how the New York Times gloriously depicted Bush 41’s senseless invasion of Panama in the above article, or how the NYT yesterday described the view of “experts” about Trump’s need to bomb Syria:
(Click to enlarge.)

There may be some things more evil and immoral than starting a new war based on the desire to avoid “looking weak,” but it’s hard to think of many things that qualify. And yet this belief continues to be gospel among America’s war-loving think tank and Foreign Policy Community.

9. Obama’s refusal to bomb Assad hovers over everything.

Despite insisting that he had the power to do so without Congress, Obama resisted bipartisan demands to use military force against Assad. I personally view this as one of Obama’s smartest and best decisions and, according to today’s New York Times, so does he:  “Mr. Obama said he was ‘very proud of that moment’ because he had stepped back from the Washington establishment’s warnings. Few of his top foreign policy advisers agreed.” Indeed, by the end of his presidency, the U.S. stopped claiming it was even seeking regime change.

But those who insist that the U.S. has a moral obligation to remove Assad or at least bomb him become tongue-tied when it comes to assessing Obama. If, as many claim, Assad is our generation’s Hitlerian figure – and recall how many recent foreign leaders were depicted as The New Hitler when some wanted them attacked –  does that make Obama this generation’s Neville Chamberlain for his refusal to attack Assad? And does it mean that Trump has acted more morally than Obama by doing what Obama refused to do?

Again, I side with Obama in this dispute because I never believed that U.S. military had any positive role to play in Syria. But those who have long insisted that U.S. military action against Assad is morally imperative should follow those premises through to their conclusions when it comes to Obama and Trump.

10. None of this disproves, obviously, that Hillary Clinton was also a dangerous hawk.

Every time Trump drops another bomb, Democratic pundits declare vindication over those always-unnamed people who they claim argued during the campaign that Trump was more anti-war than Clinton:

Who are the people who argued that Trump would be more anti-war than Clinton? Their numbers were tiny; Maureen Dowd is one of the very people with a prominent platform to claim this. Trump expressly vowed to bomb more frequently and more aggressively, as was often pointed out.

It’s certainly true that any attempt by Trump to remove Assad would violate his oft-stated campaign vows. But whatever else is true, this specific bombing campaign is a bizarre instance to try to defend Clinton given that Clinton, for years – and again yesterday – endorsed this military action. Indeed, Clinton has long endorsed far more extensive military action in Syria than what Trump yesterday ordered, often advocating a no-fly-zone over parts of Syriawhich would be a massive and incredibly dangerous military undertaking – and even yesterday calling for the destruction of Assad’s air force.

It’s certainly true that Trump vowed to involve the U.S. in fewer wars than Clinton wanted, and for a narrower range of reasons. And that may still end up happening. Indeed, many of Trump’s most vocal supporters yesterday were expressing anger even over this limited bombing campaign in Syria. But to take a military action that Clinton herself favored and try to use it to suggest that Clinton would have been less hawkish is just bizarre and deceitful beyond belief.

Ultimately, what is perhaps most depressing about all of this is how, yet again, we see the paucity of choice offered by American democracy. The leadership of both parties can barely contain themselves joining together to cheer the latest war. One candidate – the losing one – ran on a platform of launching this new war, while the other – the victor – repeatedly vowed to avoid it, only to launch it after being in office fewer than 100 days.

The one constant of American political life is that the U.S. loves war. Martin Luther King’s 1967 denunciation of the U.S. as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” is more accurate than ever.

UPDATE:  While Prime Minister Trudeau yesterday urged an investigation before any action is taken, once Trump’s bombs fell, he issued a statement expressing full support, directly contradicting his earlier statements:  “President Assad’s use of chemical weapons and the crimes the Syrian regime has committed against its own people cannot be ignored.”
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As is becoming increasingly clear to everyone but Donald Trump, yelling at people (or businesses or countries) over Twitter is not a wholly effective strategy for governance. Despite Trump’s threats, American jobs are continuing to pour across the border into Mexico, with Illinois Tool Works Inc. leaving Mazon, Illinois, this month for Cuidad Juarez; Triumph Group reducing its presence in Spokane, Washington, and shifting production to Zacatecas and Baja California; and T.E. Connectivity closing its plant in Pennsauken, New Jersey, for warmer climes in Hermosillo. Now, the owner of Fast Retailing Co., which owns the wildly popular Uniqlo, has said it will pack up its things and move to Japan if Trump doesn’t drop his protectionist racket. Per "Fortune":

Tadashi Yanai doesn't like being given an ultimatum by Trump. “If I was directly told to [make all of our clothes in the U.S.], I will withdraw from the United States,” Yanai told Japanese newspaper "The Asahi Shimbuni" this week when he was asked about Trump's Made in the U.S.A push.

Uniqlo currently has 51 stores in the U.S. Yanai said the company plans to open at least 20 more stores this year, although it's watching what Trump and Congress do on trade. Yanai doesn't want to see a tax on foreign imports to the U.S. He argues any sort of tariff would raise costs and be bad for shoppers.


Uniqlo is the latest foreign company to warn that there will be consequences from any moves to curb foreign trade. And some experts worry that if Uniqlo and other companies pull out of America, that could make life even tougher for many struggling shopping malls. Uniqlo and other fast-fashion chains like Forever 21, Zara, and H&M are actually doing reasonably well while many traditional retailers such as Macy's, Kohl's, and Sears struggle. “Not only is Uniqlo a major retailer and employer in the U.S., it is also a major tenant of landlords in a landscape of retail distress,“ noted Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group in Virginia in his morning note on Friday.
The C.E.O.-in-chief, ladies and gentlemen!

Ex-Jefferies banker fined in world’s saddest insider-trading case.

Typically, when a person passes material non-public information he or she learned at work to a friend, there's a pretty good reason. Not a legal reason, but one in which a reasonable person could say, “O.K., I understand what the rationale is here, in the context of committing a crime.” Generally, that reason is to make money. But Christopher Niehaus, a former managing director at Jefferies, is not your typical insider trader. Bloomberg reports that Niehaus was recently fined 37,198 pounds ($46,000) by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority for sharing information about two of his clients with a friend and personal acquaintance “on a number of occasions in early 2016” and that “in one instance he sent his friend, who was also a Jefferies client, confidential information about a deal involving the friend’s competitor.” Neither Niehaus nor the acquaintance or friend “dealt in any securities in relation to the information Niehaus shared.” So he’s out $46,000 without even having consummated the insider trade, which is sad enough, but wait, it gets so much worse.


Niehaus told the F.C.A. he “didn’t know” why he disclosed the information other than he wanted to impress his friends.
Incidentally, Niehaus was caught when he had to hand over his phone to his employer in an unrelated matter and his WhatsApp messages with his friends were discovered. WhatsApp, Bloomberg also reports today, is the messaging app of choice for bankers and traders looking to evade compliance (WhatsApp and the equally popular Signal encrypt their messages). That’s not a great plan for two reasons, one of which is that if you are in a situation wherein your employer gets ahold of your actual phone, and the messages haven’t been deleted, all the evidence is there for them to see. Also, it’s been specifically banned by a number of banks and if it hasn’t, in general employees are required to “sign agreements prohibiting unmonitored communications for work.”

Swiss bank under fire for being a Swiss bank

We kid the Swiss but really:  no matter how much regulators try to crack down on tax evasion, i.e., the thing Swiss banks were put on this earth to do, the fact of the matter remains that the heart wants what the heart wants. Per Reuters:

Credit Suisse has been dragged into yet more tax evasion and money-laundering investigations, after a tip off to Dutch prosecutors about tens of thousands of suspect accounts triggered raids in five countries. Coordinated raids began on Thursday in the Netherlands, Britain, Germany, France and Australia, the Dutch office for financial crimes prosecution (F..IO.D.) said on Friday, with two arrests confirmed so far. The Dutch are “investigating dozens of people who are suspected of tax fraud and money laundering,” the prosecutors said, adding that suspects had deposited money in a Swiss bank without disclosing that to authorities.
Credit Suisse has responded by launching its own internal investigation, telling Reuters:  “If any individuals are implicated or have violated against these processes or procedures or policies that are in place then we will identify that very quickly.”

Area pastor allegedly did a bad thing

Larry Holley is in trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission and probably also God. Here’s the regulator’s thoughts on the matter (via Matt Levine):

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges and an emergency asset freeze obtained against a Michigan-based pastor accused of exploiting church members, retirees, and laid-off auto workers who were misled to believe they were investing in a successful real-estate business.

The S.E.C. alleges that Larry Holley, the pastor of Abundant Life Ministries in Flint, Michigan, cloaked his solicitations in faith-based rhetoric, replete with references to scripture and biblical figures. Holley allegedly told prospective investors that as a person who “prayed for your children,” he was more trustworthy than a “banker” with their money. According to the S.E.C.’s complaint, Holley held financial presentations masked as “Blessed Life Conferences” at churches nationwide during which he asked congregants to fill out cards detailing their financial holdings, and he promised to pray over the cards and invited attendees to have one-on-one consultations with his team. He allegedly called his investors “millionaires in the making.”

According to the S.E.C., Holley scammed his flock out of approximately $6.7 million by “guaranteeing high returns” in a “profitable real-estate company with hundreds of residential and commercial properties.” The S.E.C. also claims Holley’s business associate, Patricia Enright Gray, “advertised on a religious radio station based in Flint and singled out recently laid-off auto workers with severance packages to consult her for a financial increase.”
Steven Mnuchin is Sorry

Not for making people deeply uncomfortable when he described Donald Trump as having “perfect genes” but for saying everyone should take their kids to see Lego Batman, a movie he executive produced, in a past life, and whose ticket sales he stands to benefit from financially.

“It was not my intention to make a product endorsement,” Mnuchin said in a letter to the Office of Government Ethics. “I should not have made that statement.” Nearly immediately following Mnuchin’s apparently unintentional product endorsement, Senator Ron Wyden called for the ethics office to look into the new treasury secretary’s comments, which Wyden said showed a “blatant disregard and disrespect to the office he serves.”

Yeah!

Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker abruptly left the U.S. central bank on Tuesday after admitting that a conversation he had with a Wall Street analyst in 2012 may have disclosed confidential information about Fed policy options.

The 2012 leak had triggered a criminal investigation after research firm Medley Global Advisors told its clients the details of a key Fed meeting a day before the Fed released its own record of the discussion.

At the Fed's September 2012 policy meeting, officials laid the groundwork for the massive bond-buying stimulus they were to roll out later that year. Early knowledge of that discussion could have given some traders an unfair edge.

Lacker who had previously announced he would retire in October, on Tuesday said he decided to make his departure effective immediately because of his role in the leak.

It was not clear if Lacker was pushed out of his post. The Richmond Fed said in a statement that it took "appropriate actions" after learning the outcome of government investigations into the leak.

Lacker's lawyer said he would not be facing charges. The Fed's inspector general, Mark Bialek, said in a separate statement that he was closing an investigation into the leak.

"I crossed the line," Lacker said in a statement, saying he never intended "to reveal confidential information" and that he may have broken rules against giving people an edge in business.

Lacker admitted to talking to an analyst from Medley in October 2012, but did not say he provided her with details about the Fed's policy options, which aimed to boost the economy following the 2007-09 financial crisis.

Lacker said it was the Medley analyst who brought up confidential Fed information.

"I should have declined to comment and perhaps have ended the phone call. Instead, I did not refuse or express my inability to comment and the interview continued," Lacker said.

In addition, Lacker said he had not fully disclosed details about his discussion with the Medley analyst when he was interviewed by a Fed lawyer later in 2012. But he said he did disclose further details in a 2015 interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Lacker gave no reason for the time gap between the 2015 interview and his statement on Tuesday.

The Medley report triggered furor in the U.S. Congress and became a source of friction between the Fed and lawmakers, leading to a criminal investigation.

"This development could hurt the Fed politically," said Roberto Perli, an economist at Cornerstone Macro. . . .

CRIMINAL INQUIRY

Lacker, one of the U.S. central bank's most reliable proponents of interest rate increases, had led the Richmond Fed since 2004.

During his tenure, he became known for his dissenting votes on policy. He voted against several Fed policy decisions in 2006 because he favored interest rate increases, while in 2009 he opposed Fed purchases of mortgage-backed securities, which were part of its bond-buying stimulus program.

Days before his conversation with the Medley analyst, Lacker voted against increasing asset purchases at the Fed's September 2012 meeting.

Lacker said his interview in 2015 with the FBI also involved the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the Office of the Inspector General of the Federal Reserve Board and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The Richmond Fed is one of 12 regional reserve banks that are part of the U.S. central bank. They process payments and help regulate banks, while their presidents take turns as members of the Fed committee that sets interest rates.

Read the entire essay here.

U.S. Regulator Fines Credit Suisse Unit, Adviser Over Improper Investments
__________

The film is set in Santiago in 1948, at the outset of the cold war. The facts are these:  already renowned for his Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, Neruda stood up in the senate (where he represented the Communist Party) and condemned Chile’s then-president, Gabriel González Videla, for turning against the party that had helped bring him to power and for behaving as thuggishly as Franco in Spain. (Neruda had witnessed Franco’s brutality – and the murder of his friend and fellow poet, Federico García Lorca – while Chilean consul in Madrid in 1936.)

Then began what Neruda himself called “a year of blind rats”. For his courageous outspokenness, Neruda was deprived of his parliamentary immunity and forced into hiding, rushed from one safe house to another, sometimes in the middle of the night, to avoid being captured. Had he been, he might well have been taken to the concentration camp at Pisagua, in the northern Atacama desert (where the commandant was a certain Augusto Pinochet – 25 years before he led the military coup against president Salvador Allende). Although we do not see this in the film, Neruda eventually escaped across the Andes on horseback into Argentina and made his way to Europe using the passport of his fellow writer, the Guatemalan novelist, Miguel Ángel Asturias.

In Neruda, Larraín tells much of the story from the perspective of the fedora-wearing police inspector, Óscar Peluchonneau (Gael García Bernal), who is leading the manhunt. After it is decided that Neruda must flee Chile, the poet (Luis Gnecco) exclaims:  “I’m not going to hide under the bed. This has to become a wild hunt!” And wild it certainly becomes. Both he and his pursuer crave fame. Both want to be remembered – one as a poet, the other for capturing a poet. But both come reluctantly to realise, especially in the film’s increasingly elegiac second half, that they are, in some way, validating each other.

Larraín has read the books about Neruda. He is an admirer of realistic film-makers such as Mike Leigh, but says he is incapable of making such movies himself:  “For me, cinema is related to the old magicians, the illusionists.” Instead, he sought a structure more akin to a story by Jorge Luis Borges:  “I realised it could work as a meta-fictional labyrinth. All these characters – Neruda, Óscar the detective, the narrator who narrates himself into the story – are creating each other because they need each other to tell the story. The film is about storytelling and how we need to tell stories in order to survive life.”

. . . The movie is complex and multilayered. Larraín maintains it has elements of film noir, cat-and-mouse chase thriller, road movie, western and black comedy. Neruda, himself a lifelong lover of detective novels, would have enjoyed the suspense. However, it also indulges in Buñuelesque surrealism, which the poet had rejected at this time in his life. In the opening scene Neruda is seen pissing in the chamber of the Santiago senate, which mysteriously doubles as an opulent urinal, a scene that could have come straight from Buñuel. Elsewhere, Larraín injects Hitchcockian artifice:  for example, the use of an obvious back projection as Peluchonneau is driving his car.

Gabriel García Márquez called Neruda “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language”. Carlos Fuentes said he was “the King Midas of poetry:  everything he touched turned to gold.” Larraín, however, is not interested in reverentially reinforcing such reputations, but rather in capturing a bigger picture. As he told one interviewer:  “I’m Chilean. Neruda is in the water, in the earth, in the trees … This is a movie about the Neruda cosmos.”

. . . Larraín does allow genuine details from the poet’s life to slip in. Neruda requests textbooks, especially on natural history, to help him in writing his epic work, Canto General (with its twin themes of betrayal:  the personal betrayal by President Videla and the savage betrayal of pre-Columbian civilisation by the Spanish conquistadors). Many of the people who harboured Neruda in hiding assured me that he frequently made requests for such books at this time. He did disguise himself as a heavily bearded ornithologist to escape the clutches of the authorities. (It was a wonderfully apt choice – Neruda was exceptionally knowledgeable about Chile’s birdlife and would go on to write a delightful collection, The Art of Birds, in 1966.) And Neruda’s close friend, Pablo Picasso, did give his one and only public address in support of the fugitive poet.

Ah!

Both poetry and artistic visions rule.

Who'd a thunk it?













Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Restoring the Greatness of Civilizations in Decline?  (Four Corners of American Politics:  Delusional Dems, Feckless Repubs, Deep State Handmaidens & the Golem-King)  The Dick Dr. Speaks:  Let's Make War On Everyone for the Good of US  (And Shut Up About It or We'll Send in the Troops) Neoliberalism Brings On Civilization-Ending Disaster or Just Self-Serving Nihilism? (Green New Deal? NO WAY!)



Well, it's okay.

No one else knew about it.

Except for everyone.

Look at the election results (not just the large-state results).

It was no mystery in North Carolina.

With the decline of manufacturing jobs in the rust belt having become a significant issue in this turbulent election year, the arrival of the play in New York, where it opened on Thursday at the Public Theater after originating at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, could hardly be more timely. But the issues it explores have been making headlines for years.

Much of the play takes place in 2000, with a prologue and other scenes that are set eight years later. In the prologue, we meet two men, still young, in encounters with their parole officer. One is the truculent, uncooperative Jason (Will Pullen), who’s white and doesn’t seem interested in resuming a fruitful life; the other, the black Chris (Khris Davis), is doing his best to get back on track. Both Jason and Chris, we gather, were convicted of the same crime, although its details remain unmentioned, stoking suspense.

The play then moves back in time. The setting is mostly a bar in Reading, Pa., where workers at a local steel-tubing factory — by this point, one of the few functioning local industries, it’s implied — regularly gather, to celebrate or just ease the burden of another long shift on the factory floor. (To research the play, Ms. Nottage and Ms. Whoriskey interviewed inhabitants of the city, which was cited as the most economically depressed in the country in 2011.)

Tonight, Jason’s mother, Tracey (Johanna Day), is celebrating her birthday with her co-workers Cynthia (Michelle Wilson), who is Chris’s mother, and Jessie (Miriam Shor, convincingly a mess), who’s not much fun, slumped over the table, dead drunk. The bartender, Stan (a gruffly sympathetic James Colby), who worked at the same plant for 28 years before he was injured on the job, joins in the party. Grim gossip going around concerns an acquaintance who snapped when his wife left, feared he’d lose his job, and tried to burn his house down.

Tracey jokingly asks the bar-back and general handyman, the younger Oscar (Carlo Albán), if he might know a fellow Puerto Rican she could hire to burn her house down, should the urge arise. “Well, I’m Colombian,” Oscar replies, with just a hint of offense, “and I don’t know.” (Mr. Albán gives a tender, sensitive performance in this comparatively quiet role.)

The more serious subject is the murky news about changes at the plant where Chris and Jason — who we soon learn are close friends — also work. Stan recalls that another local plant shut down with little warning. “You could wake up tomorrow, and all your jobs are in Mexico, wherever,” he says. (Although they are all drawn with nuance, Stan, and a few others, can be sententious:  “They squeeze us like a sponge, drain every last drop of blood out and then throw us away.”)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

The graveyard of world empires — Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Mayan, Khmer, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian — followed the same trajectory of moral and physical collapse. Those who rule at the end of empire are psychopaths, imbeciles, narcissists and deviants, the equivalents of the depraved Roman emperors Caligula, Nero, Tiberius and Commodus.

The ecosystem that sustains the empire is degraded and exhausted. Economic growth, concentrated in the hands of corrupt elites, is dependent on a crippling debt peonage imposed on the population. The bloated ruling class of oligarchs, priests, courtiers, mandarins, eunuchs, professional warriors, financial speculators and corporate managers sucks the marrow out of society.
The elites’ myopic response to the looming collapse of the natural world and the civilization is to make subservient populations work harder for less, squander capital in grandiose projects such as pyramids, palaces, border walls and fracking, and wage war. President Trump’s decision to increase military spending by $54 billion and take the needed funds out of the flesh of domestic programs typifies the behavior of terminally ill civilizations. When the Roman Empire fell, it was trying to sustain an army of half a million soldiers that had become a parasitic drain on state resources.
The complex bureaucratic mechanisms that are created by all civilizations ultimately doom them. The difference now, as Joseph Tainter points out in “The Collapse of Complex Societies,” is that “collapse, if and when it comes again, will this time be global. No longer can any individual nation collapse. World civilization will disintegrate as a whole.”
Civilizations in decline, despite the palpable signs of decay around them, remain fixated on restoring their “greatness.” Their illusions condemn them. They cannot see that the forces that gave rise to modern civilization, namely technology, industrial violence and fossil fuels, are the same forces that are extinguishing it. Their leaders are trained only to serve the system, slavishly worshipping the old gods long after these gods begin to demand millions of sacrificial victims.
___________

Wondered much about what that latest WikiLeaks exposed?

And who?

From our valuable source at Chasing the Squirrel:

Reading the Vault 7:  documents I see Linux is not secure. But I did not think it ever was. My contention is that when they are out to make your flash memory vanish or ruin your hard drive. Windows does it better! A bit finer control. Yet upon reflection I was losing hard drives under both systems when I was under heavy attack. Three in a couple of months. Cylindrical read errors on all of them. All that from sniffing around and watching them work the net. The thing is, rigging my Windows machine so it would turn on when I walked into the room was really creepy. It took a while to figure out how they were doing that. Windows can also eat USB devices very effectively. That gets expensive fast, but not as fast as hard drives do. They made me their bitch both ways, but Windows was the creepshow.
It saddens me that most Americans are apathetic about being spied on and manipulated. They are complacent and comfortable allowing this evil to flourish so long as they do not become a victim of it.
If nature had not sown evils enough in life, we are continually adding grief to grief and aggravating the common calamity by our cruel treatment of one another. - Joseph Addison
If humanity does not opt for integrity we are through completely. It is absolutely touch and go. Each one of us could make the difference. - Buckminster Fuller
It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. -- Harold Pinter
_____________

From my pal Coyote Prime, we find the latest insights on the current American nightmare from Kunstlerville. Almost reminds you of the end of the Vietnam catastrophe, doesn't it? (But where are the helicopters? Other than at Trump's places.)

“The Pause That Refreshes”

Thursday, March 16, 2017
James Howard Kunstler
“Let’s take a breather from more consequential money matters at hand midweek to consider the tending moods of our time and place. It is clear by now that we have four corners of American politics these days:  the utterly lost and delusional Democratic party; the feckless Republicans; the permanent Deep State of bureaucratic foot-soldiers and errand boys; and Trump, the Golem-King of the Coming Greatness. Wherefore, and what the f**k, you might ask.
The Democrats reduced themselves to a gang of sadistic neo-Maoists seeking to eradicate anything that resembles free expression across the land in the name of social justice. Coercion has been their coin of the realm, and especially in the realm of ideas where “diversity” means stepping on your opponent’s neck until he pretends to agree with your Newspeak brand of grad school neologisms, and “inclusion” means welcome if you’re just like us. I say Maoists because just like Mao’s “Red Guard” of rampaging students in 1966, their mission is to “correct” the thinking of those who might dare to oppose the established leader. Only in this case, that established leader happened to lose the sure-thing election and the party finds itself unbelievably out-of-power and suddenly purposeless, like a termite mound without a queen, the workers and soldiers fleeing the power center in an hysteria of lost identity.
They regrouped briefly after the election debacle to fight an imaginary adversary, Russia, the phantom ghost-bear, who supposedly stepped on their termite mound and killed the queen, but, strangely, no actual evidence was ever found of the ghost-bear’s paw-print. And ever since that fact was starkly revealed by former NSA chief James Clapper on NBC’s "Meet the Press," the Russia hallucination has vanished from page one of the party’s media outlets — though, in an interesting last gasp of striving correctitude, Monday’s "New York Times" features a front page story detailing Georgetown University’s hateful traffic in the slave trade two centuries ago. That should suffice to shut the wicked place down for once and for all!
The Republican Party, to avoid going full-Whig and sliding down the laundry chute of history, made a bad deal for a new figurehead who is liable to make the party look way worse than it could ever accomplish on its own. This golden boy has dragged the party poobahs to the put-up-or-shut-up room of our nation’s capital - the place that Senator Rand Paul was searching high and low for last week - where they are charged with reforming the country’s health care racket.
It looks for now like they will cook up a toxic farrago of new giveaways to their patrons in the hospital cartel, the insurance companies, and pharma. The voting public already detects the odor of 30-day-old carp in the first tastings of the dish. There’s a fair chance that the recipe will end up getting tossed in the Capitol dumpster, and that in itself could finish the party because there’s little question that the current system known as ObamaCare or the Affordable Care Act (not) is something like a fatal tumor in the nation’s craw. If the effort to fix that fails, the Republicans complete their transformation from the Party of No to the Party of Just Go.
The Deep State seems eager to sever its connections to both putrifying parties and attempt to run the groaning colossus of government ad hoc if necessary. The military and intel chains of command remain intact, along with their “assets,” and one can easily imagine anxious meetings of scenario-running in the back rooms of the Pentagon and the Langley frat house. What if…? “What if we just smoke the dude?” an old Agency warrior remarks offhand, and the roomful of colleagues pause in their cogitations to weigh the notion. Some of them nod and make a moue (Moue, noun:  a pouting expression used to convey annoyance or distaste - CP) and others just cough into their sleeves. One young striver in the back mentions “a little something” they’ve been working on that involves hairspray and a neurotoxin derived from the Gaboon viper

And then there is our President himself:  Donald J. Trump, in the awesome solitude of his Twitterverse dome. A strange destiny brought him to his place in history thus far, and many of us surveying the scene lo these many months kind of get it:  the festering disgust with the other three corners of American power; the dismal fall of the middle class into a purgatory of repossession, idleness, opiates, and tattoos; the accelerating purposelessness of the dwindling consumer economy; the matrix of racketeering that systematically drains everyone’s financial mojo while adding humiliation to the shoddy service it delivers; the pointless, costly wars in faraway places and their conversion into permanent sewers; the disgraceful disfigurement of a once grand national landscape into a wilderness of dying malls and freeway ramps.
So, onto the scene strides The Donald, a giant among the squalling midgets of our time, with his promise to bigly re-greatify this suffering land. I suppose he means well in his torturous way. So did a lot of other figures in history who found themselves at the top:  Idi Amin, Uncle Joe Stalin, Vlad the Impaler, King Leopold of Belgium, Adolf You-Know-Who, Pol Pot. The list of the well-meaning is very long.”
____________

They will blame James Comey and the FBI. They will blame voter suppression and racism. They will blame Bernie or bust and misogyny. They will blame third parties and independent candidates. They will blame the corporate media for giving him the platform, social media for being a bullhorn, and WikiLeaks for airing the laundry.
But this leaves out the force most responsible for creating the nightmare in which we now find ourselves wide awake:  neoliberalism. That worldview – fully embodied by Hillary Clinton and her machine – is no match for Trump-style extremism. The decision to run one against the other is what sealed our fate. If we learn nothing else, can we please learn from that mistake?

Here is what we need to understand:  a hell of a lot of people are in pain. Under neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatisation, austerity and corporate trade, their living standards have declined precipitously. They have lost jobs. They have lost pensions. They have lost much of the safety net that used to make these losses less frightening. They see a future for their kids even worse than their precarious present.

At the same time, they have witnessed the rise of the Davos class, a hyper-connected network of banking and tech billionaires, elected leaders who are awfully cosy with those interests, and Hollywood celebrities who make the whole thing seem unbearably glamorous. Success is a party to which they were not invited, and they know in their hearts that this rising wealth and power is somehow directly connected to their growing debts and powerlessness.

For the people who saw security and status as their birthright – and that means white men most of all – these losses are unbearable.

Donald Trump speaks directly to that pain. The Brexit campaign spoke to that pain. So do all of the rising far-right parties in Europe. They answer it with nostalgic nationalism and anger at remote economic bureaucracies – whether Washington, the North American free trade agreement the World Trade Organisation or the EU. And of course, they answer it by bashing immigrants and people of colour, vilifying Muslims, and degrading women. Elite neoliberalism has nothing to offer that pain, because neoliberalism unleashed the Davos class. People such as Hillary and Bill Clinton are the toast of the Davos party. In truth, they threw the party.

Trump’s message was:  “All is hell.” Clinton answered:  “All is well.” But it’s not well – far from it.

Neo-fascist responses to rampant insecurity and inequality are not going to go away. But what we know from the 1930s is that what it takes to do battle with fascism is a real left. A good chunk of Trump’s support could be peeled away if there were a genuine redistributive agenda on the table. An agenda to take on the billionaire class with more than rhetoric, and use the money for a green new deal. Such a plan could create a tidal wave of well-paying unionised jobs, bring badly needed resources and opportunities to communities of colour, and insist that polluters should pay for workers to be retrained and fully included in this future.

It could fashion policies that fight institutionalised racism, economic inequality and climate change at the same time. It could take on bad trade deals and police violence, and honour indigenous people as the original protectors of the land, water and air.

People have a right to be angry, and a powerful, intersectional left agenda can direct that anger where it belongs, while fighting for holistic solutions that will bring a frayed society together.

Such a coalition is possible. In Canada, we have begun to cobble it together under the banner of a people’s agenda called The Leap Manifesto, endorsed by more than 220 organisations from Greenpeace Canada to "Black Lives Matter" Toronto, and some of our largest trade unions.
____________


Ready to go to war?

For Russia?

Surely they are just kidding us.

Again.

And you thought their long-term planning skills were nonexistent.

According to their main man, senior General Wesley Clark, in his 2007 speech about seven wars in five years, they are right on schedule. (Okay, maybe a little bit late - but they had to run an election, so it held them up some.)

Even when they have to ride the wrong horse.

Funny how easily those horses change color.



In the above video, General Wesley Clark one of the most highly decorated 4 star generals of the US military openly admits that there has been ‘a policy coup’ in the US government. He explains that he was told, back in 1991, that the US would actively invade and destabilise countries across the Middle East to take control of the region. These are not the words of an outsider conspiracy theorist, but the man who did this job for the US government. . . .


Russia ‘Hack’ of US Elections an ‘Act of War’ — Dick Cheney

Russia’s “hack” of the 2016 US elections could be “considered an act of war,” says former Vice President and noted warhawk Dick Cheney, speaking at an event in New Delhi, India. He joins the chorus of US notables resorting to the groundless accusation.

"In some quarters, that would be considered an act of war. I think it’s a kind of conduct and activity we will see going forward," said Cheney, the neocon’s neocon. "There’s no question" that the Russian government tried to "interfere" with the US elections, Cheney added.

Despite his seemingly sadistic love of watching the US go to war, Cheney himself deferred being drafted by the US military five times during the Vietnam era.

Democrats have been equally quick to launch the "Russian hacking" attack for their own political gain. Rep. Jackie Speier of California said so-called Russian meddling "was an act of war, an act of hybrid warfare," according to a report by the "Independent Journal Review".

A letter written by dozens of former intelligence, diplomatic, and military officials addressed to President Barack Obama concluded that "DNC and HRC servers alleged to have been hacked were, in fact, not hacked."

For one, the FBI never accessed the compromised servers at the DNC, Sputnik reported.

Bill Binney, a 35-year NSA veteran and former technical director at the spy agency, said the publication of Hillary Clinton and John Podesta’s emails were the result of an insider leak rather than an external attack.

I keep wondering why no one has explained the definition of a "hack" to any of these hackers.

Other than the NSA/CIA fall guys.

Dangerous, sometimes rabid fall guys (whose leaders have a damning history of disappearance, strange death or suicide).

And they are our keepers.
____________

The Confederacy - and the slavery that spawned it - was also one big con job on the Southern, white, working class. A con job funded by some of the ante-bellum one-per-centers, that continues today in a similar form. 
You don’t have to be an economist to see that forcing blacks - a third of the South’s laborers - to work without pay drove down wages for everyone else. And not just in agriculture. A quarter of enslaved blacks worked in the construction, manufacturing and lumbering trades; cutting wages even for skilled white workers.

Thanks to the profitability of this no-wage/low-wage combination, a majority of American one-per-centers were southerners. Slavery made southern states the richest in the country. The South was richer than any other country except England. But that vast wealth was invisible outside the plantation ballrooms. With low wages and few schools, southern whites suffered a much lower land ownership rate and a far lower literacy rate than northern whites.

...[M]ost Southerners didn’t own slaves. But they were persuaded to risk their lives and limbs for the right of a few to get rich as Croesus from slavery. For their sacrifices and their votes, they earned two things before and after the Civil War. First, a very skinny slice of the immense Southern pie. And second, the thing that made those slim rations palatable then and now:  the shallow satisfaction of knowing that blacks had no slice at all.

How did the plantation owners mislead so many Southern whites?

They managed this con job partly with a propaganda technique that will be familiar to modern Americans, but hasn’t received the coverage it deserves in our sesquicentennial celebrations. Starting in the 1840s, wealthy Southerners supported more than 30 regional pro-slavery magazines, many pamphlets, newspapers and novels that falsely touted slave ownership as having benefits that would - in today’s lingo - trickle down to benefit non-slave owning whites and even blacks. The flip side of the coin of this old-is-new trickle-down propaganda is the mistaken notion that any gain by blacks in wages, schools or health care comes at the expense of the white working class.

Today’s version of this con job no longer supports slavery, but still works in the South and thrives in pro trickle-down think tanks, magazines, newspapers, talk radio and TV news shows such as the Cato Foundation, "Reason" magazine, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. These sources are underwritten by pro trickle-down one-per-centers like the Koch brothers (who didn't support Trump - Hillary was their preferred candidate) and Rupert Murdoch.

For example, a map of states that didn’t expand Medicaid - which would actually be a boon mostly to poor whites - resembles a map of the old Confederacy with a few other poor, rural states thrown in. Another indication that this divisive propaganda works on Southern whites came in 2012. Romney and Obama evenly split the white working class in the West, Midwest and Northeast. But in the South we went 2-1 for Romney.

Lowering the flag because of the harm done to blacks is the right thing to do. We also need to lower it because it symbolizes material harm the ideology of the Confederacy did to Southern whites that lasts even to this day.

One can love the South without flying the battle flag. But it won’t help to get rid of an old symbol if we can’t also rid ourselves of the self-destructive beliefs that go with it. Only by shedding those too, will Southern whites finally catch up to the rest of the country in wages, health and education.

There's been lots of progress in Virginia, some in Florida, some in Texas. And the Deep South? That's another signal Georgia voters in the Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb county 'burbs north of Atlanta may soon be sending the rest of the country when they turn out on April 18 and June 20 for Jon Ossoff. Replacing Mick Mulvaney in South Carolina (May 2 for the primaries and also June 20 for the runoff) with a non-Confederate will be a lot harder.

The Republicans are likely to run a backward-facing state Rep., Tommy Pope, and the DCCC is pimping for some Goldman Sachs guy, Archie Parnell.

As usual.

The best reason why a big (extremely large) broom is needed for sweeping out the reigning Dem oligopoly.

After which, a huuuge dose of DDT (which the right wingers are now touting as incorrectly targeted by Rachel Carson - "Thanks! Charles and David.") to air the place out.
____________


So who or what is the Deep State?

It’s the militarized police, which have joined forces with state and federal law enforcement agencies in order to establish themselves as a standing army. It’s the fusion centers and spy agencies that have created a surveillance state and turned all of us into suspects.

It’s the courthouses and prisons that have allowed corporate profits to take precedence over due process and justice. It’s the military empire with its private contractors and defense industry that is bankrupting the nation. It’s the private sector with its 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances, “a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government.”

It’s what former congressional staffer Mike Lofgren refers to as “a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies”:  the Department of Defense, the State Department, Homeland Security, the CIA, the Justice Department, the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a handful of vital federal trial courts, and members of the defense and intelligence committees.
It’s every facet of a government that is no longer friendly to freedom and is working overtime to trample the Constitution underfoot and render the citizenry powerless in the face of the government’s power grabs, corruption and abusive tactics.
These are the key players that drive the shadow government.
Lofgren, mentioned above, wrote a book titled, The Deep State, and says of the Deep State:
It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism and the militarization of foreign policy, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure that has given us the most unequal society in almost a century, and the political dysfunction that has paralyzed day-to-day governance.
That Deep State operatives would use the propaganda media to tell you at this point in history that the Deep State does not exist tells that this new scrutiny is unwelcome.
The Deep State is the spying apparatus that scarfs up data on everyone all around the world and meddles in supposed free and fair elections and overthrows regimes for its own purposes. It is the regulatory bureaucracy that writes laws and regulations on such a scope that every American commits multiple felonies through the normal course of a day so that the state can expropriate their land and their wealth.

It is the police state that enforces these and other regulations and laws passed legally and illegally and extraconstitutionally, and which steals the people’s liberty and livelihood through asset forfeiture (a practice just upheld by the Supreme Court).
It is the CFR which puts up presidential candidates in both parties and populates the government in the departments of State, Treasury and Defense regardless of the party of the president, and establishes policy which is rubber-stamped by the elected class. It is the military-industrial complex which recognizes no international borders and makes war on nations that have not attacked us and pose us no harm beyond idle threats.
It is the banksters who create money out of thin air to pay for the wars and use it to rape and pillage the resources of foreign countries as readily as America. It is the house of Rothschild and the house of Rockefeller and globalist elites who annually meet for Bilderberg.
It is the Federal Reserve — which is not federal (it is a private bank) and does not hold reserves – which prints money that is then used (often by being passed through extra-governmental agencies like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, etc.) by corporate jackals and hit men who bribe and, if necessary, threaten leaders of other nations into accepting deals to build or rebuild their countries’ infrastructure for the benefit of powerful multinational corporations.
This saddles those countries with burdensome debt and locks their populations into permanent poverty and deprivation. Those leaders who do not play along are assassinated or their countries invaded by U.S. troops under some created, high-minded justification.
The Fed produces nothing but more paper money, and it takes from the producers. Therefore, its only solution for the collapsing financial system is to steal wealth from the producers of goods and services through taxation and provide more and more fiat money and credit.
A fiat paper money regime always becomes autocratic or fascist toward the last days of its existence. This is the time when the state makes war on its own people. Most never know it because it is not announced, but hidden in propaganda within such terms as “for the common good.”
An unlimited supply of paper money buys sophisticated arms that create fear and the propaganda to manipulate the people against their personal freedom and best interest. Fiat paper money is tyranny or becomes tyranny. It guarantees criminal government.
Paper money, personal freedom and privacy are incompatible. Paper money centralizes power to the state and diminishes the individual. This is the first cause of all you see happening.
The Deep State retains its hold on power by creating chaos and causing destruction. Chaos around the globe is growing more rampant thanks to beating of war drums by the warmongering “D” people and the war-loving neocon false conservative “R” people and the machinations of the Deep State.
I would not be at all surprised to soon see the Deep State create or instigate a false flag event and blame it on Russia or North Korea or China or Iran. It could be a terror event, or an attack or even an “accidental” collision between a U.S. military plane or ship and one from Russia or China. Or, it could be a collapse of the electrical grid or the banking system.
Whatever the case, it is almost too late for preparedness. You should have cash (enough to cover a month of bills, if possible), gold and/or silver, guns and ammunition and stored food and water – enough to last at least 30 days in a crisis. More is better.
I believe a crisis event looms.

Another one?

Max and Stacy come to the rescue.



[KR1050] Keiser Report:  ‘The New Detroit

We discuss the cheap wages and crushed limbs of Alabama’s auto manufacturing boom. In the second half, Max interviews Professor John Mill Ackerman in Mexico City about what the NAFTA renegotiations might mean for Mexico and world trade and whether or not Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador could win the next elections with his anti-neoliberal economic message.



[KR1048] Keiser Report:  Heading for Global War

We discuss the racket that is war. In the second half, Max talks to JP Sottile of NewsVandal.com about trumping Trump and howling at the Moonves: how corporate media raked in the big bucks pushing a reality tv star as president.



[KR1049] Keiser Report:  Trail of ‘American carnage’

We discuss the trail of ‘American carnage’ and how it led to a Trump presidency. In the second half, we discuss the OxyCartel pushing millions of prescription pills on small towns across the USA.



Certainly some very hard choices coming up.




Lee Camp talks about how the mainstream media is tainted by corporate power, given the fact six companies control the bulk of what we watch and hear daily. Lee also reveals how Walmart and Lowes’ use of slave labor is getting swept under the rug by media companies that play their ads on repeat.

In the second half, correspondent John F. O’Donnell delves into the Dumpster fire that is Trump’s 2018 budget proposal and how it will scorch social services that provide basic needs for Americans. Finally, correspondent Naomi Karavani reveals the attempt by tax giants like H&R Block and Intuit to block access to services that allow Americans to file their taxes for free.




Lee Camp uses details from the CIA leaks to to tell us what remains of our privacy in the surveillance state. As technology advances we will have to be more vigilant of our rights in the weirdest ways ever imaginable. Then Lee reveals the more egregious parts of Trumpcare that no one is talking about. Why exactly are 20 million at risk of losing coverage?

Correspondent Naomi Karavani reveals new developments in climate change science that are being ignored by weather reporters, despite extreme weather that’s destroying people’s lives. Finally, correspondent Natalie McGill delves into the most important federal civil rights case since Brown v. Board of Ed in 1954. Historically Black Colleges and Universities are losing funding, as state university systems are overlooking their importance.