The Hell on Earth Paved by Samantha Power’s Good Intentions
The Scourge of Africa and Her Savior Complex
by Dan Sanchez, April 26, 2016
The US Should Quit Coddling Badly-Behaving Saudi Arabia
by Ivan Eland, April 26, 2016
How Wartime Washington Lives in Luxury
Meet the new class profiting from the growth of the national-security state.
By KELLEY VLAHOS • April 25, 2016
In his latest book, The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government, Lofgren ponders this explosion of wealth, but goes well beyond the Beltway border into the exploding developments along the Dulles technology corridor, Tysons Corner, the newer “Mosaic District” supplanting a once desolate strip mall existence in Fairfax County, all the way out in the more rural, former Virginia Hunt country of Loudoun County. Here new “structures resemble the architecture of Loire Valley, Elizabethan England, or Renaissance Tuscany as imagined by Walt Disney, or Liberace.” He says even more than the strivers of Arlington, and the settled elite of the inner burbs, this metamorphosizing sprawl represents everything that is perverse about the last 15 years—the war machine, the big money politics, the hubris of the one-percent, and the brutality of losing, as professions that did not so easily escape the recession, left people unemployed, foreclosed, and priced out of an area they once called “home.”
Halfway through Malthus’ An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) as this appears:
The data analysis provided fresh evidence of suffering among white Americans. Recent research has highlighted the plight of less educated whites, showing surges in deaths from drug overdoses, suicides, liver disease and alcohol poisoning, particularly among those with a high school education or less. The new report did not break down suicide rates by education, but researchers who reviewed the analysis said the patterns in age and race were consistent with that recent research and painted a picture of desperation for many in American society.
“This is part of the larger emerging pattern of evidence of the links between poverty, hopelessness and health,” said Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard and the author of “Our Kids,” an investigation of new class divisions in America.
At the moment, there are a maximum of 3,870 U.S. military personnel (or 7,740 actual boots on the ground) in Iraq supporting the war against the Islamic State. That’s the “official cap” imposed by the Obama administration, because everyone knows that the president and his top officials are eager to end American wars in the Middle East, not expand them. Of course, that number doesn’t include the other 1,130 American military types (or 2,260 boots) — give or take we don’t know how many — who just happen to be there on what’s called… er, um… “temporary deployments,” or are the result of overlap from rotating deployments, but add up to perhaps 5,000 trainers and advisers, or maybe, for all we know, more, including 200 Special Operations forces whose numbers are officially acknowledged by no one but mentioned in press reports. And naturally that 5,000 figure doesn’t include the American private contractors also flowing into Iraq in growing numbers to support the U.S. military because everyone knows that they aren’t either troops or boots on the ground and so don’t get counted. Those are the rules.
Do keep in mind that this time around the whole American on-the-ground operation couldn’t be more limited. Though the numbers of U.S. trainers, advisers, and Special Ops types continue to creep up, they are, at least, helping the Iraqi military reconstitute itself on Iraqi bases. In other words, this round of Washington’s Iraq wars bears no relation to the last one (2003-2011), when the Pentagon had its private contractors build hundreds of U.S. bases, ranging in size from American towns to tiny combat outposts. This time, the U.S. military has no bases of its own, not a single one… er, um… at least it didn’t until recently when an American Marine, a specialist in firing field artillery, died in an Islamic State rocket attack on what turned out to be an all-American Marine outpost, Fire Base Bell, in the northern part of the country. The artillery operations he was involved in supporting the Iraqi army in its (stalled) drive on the country’s second largest city, Mosul, are not, however, “combat operations” because it’s well established that no American troops, Special Ops units possibly excepted, are in combat in that country (or Syria). In fact, U.S. officials point out that artillery doesn’t really count as combat. It’s more like U.S. air operations against the Islamic State except… er, um… it takes place on the ground.
The Maoist Social Justice Warrior students are enjoying the surprising power and thrills of coercion, especially as directed against their simpering professors and cringing college presidents anxious to sustain the illusion that something like learning takes place in the money laundering operations of higher ed.
Best War Movie of last decade since The Hurt Locker, best movie of 2016 so far:
Raises so many issues and questions. Beautiful thriller. Anti-war propaganda at its best that most people will never see. Unfortunate.
The Controversy About Stalin – a “basket” of Preliminary Considerations
THE SAKER • APRIL 11, 2016
Think of it this way: Stalin had inherited a Party which was full of rabid, treasonous and simply crazy elements and a party which was still full of Trotskyists (which makes sense, as more than anybody else Leon Trotsky should be “credited” with creating the Soviet military, winning the Civil War and crushing all internal opposition in a huge campaign of russophobic terror). Stalin turned this Party into a Party run by one man, himself, one which had purged itself from Trotskyists foreign agents and one which had the ideological flexibility to actually appeal to the Russian people to fight off and, eventually, defeat the Nazi invaders during WWII. I think that you don’t have to “like” Stalin to see that while his methods were, no doubt, ruthless, his results were rather impressive: not only did he win WWII, but in spite of the terrible cost in human lives and destruction he turned a bloodied and severely battered Soviet Union into a world power with a powerful economy, absolutely world-class scientific community and a remarkable high standard of living during the years of recovery.
Al Nusra armored assault from HD drone video – outstanding quality:
Ray Kurzweil apparently has no idea that he suffers from mental illness. I am trying to communicate this to him from the future using gravity like I learned in the movie ‘Interstellar.’
This is just gibberish. VDH refuses to mention America leading the way in “interventions” and invasions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria being responsible for Europe’s immigration issues.
The Art of National Suicide
by VICTOR DAVIS HANSON March 28, 2016
America can still avoid sharing Europe’s fate. But only if we take action.
It most certainly cannot ask of immigrants upon arrival that they either follow the laws of a society that originally made Europe attractive to them, or return home to live under a system that they apparently rejected. I omit for obvious reasons that few present-day Europeans believe that Christianity is much different from Islam, and apparently thus assume that terrorists might just as well be Christians.
Even worse is the European notion of medieval penance: Because one in the concrete present apparently wants little to do with a Moroccan second-generation ghetto dweller, he fabricates abstract leftist bromides to square the circle of hypocrisy and assuage his guilt — sort of like Hillary Clinton or Mark Zuckerberg calling for perennial open borders to justify their Wall Street–funded luxury and tony apartheid existence.
Hadi’s Propaganda and the War on Yemen
By DANIEL LARISON • March 29, 2016
The Ongoing Starvation of Yemen
By DANIEL LARISON • March 29, 2016
Russia’s Syrian Withdrawal – Why It Happened and Why Regime Change Remains Off the Agenda
Mar 17, 2016
Week Twenty-two of the Russian Military Intervention in Syria: Putin Announces a New Strategy
THE SAKER • MARCH 19, 2016
Betting on Gray Sludge: What Fun
FRED REED • MARCH 17, 2016
Here’s How You Know 2016 Is Already Decided
The most decisive phase of the election has passed; and it’s not looking good for the GOP.
By Doug Sosnik
March 22, 2016
“Economic trends continue to be largely positive, with 3.3 million jobs created in the past 12 months. In the past two years, we’ve seen the most job growth in the country since 1999. Unemployment has dropped to less than 5 percent—a rate that most economists would say indicates full employment. The demand for more labor has finally begun to increase incomes for American workers. While it’s not exactly Morning in America, it’s undeniable progress and helps make the case for keeping a Democrat in the White House.”
And three paragraphs later –
“He [Trump] has galvanized tens of thousands of supporters who have felt left behind by today’s economy, as well as tens of thousands of voters who find his political agenda anathema to American values. Trump has been underestimated by the media and his opponents since his announcement last June, despite leading in the national polls since last fall (as reported by Trump once or twice) and winning well over half of his party’s primaries.”
Meet the B-21, the newly unveiled Air Force bomber of the future
[The future is clearly mediocre, uninspiring, and over-rated]
Good but not Excellent
Could Russia Still Become an Ally of the West?
THE SAKER • MARCH 11, 2016
[This is one LONG paragraph]
Listening to Donald Trump speaking about his desire to turn Russia into an ally, I caught myself wondering if that was even still a possibility. After all, “the West” – and by that I mean every single western politician – has been lying to Russia ever since the fall of the Soviet Union. Not only has the West lied to Russia (for example on the promise to to expand NATO), but the West has also back-stabbed Russia and sided, fully, with the most vicious and evil enemies of Russia including the Wahabis in Chechnia or the Nazis in the Ukraine. The West assembled a huge air force to mercilessly and illegally bomb the Serbs, a historical ally of Russia and fellow Orthodox people, in Croatia, then in Bosnia, then in Kosovo and then even in Montenegro and Serbia proper. The West also illegally and brutally overthrew Gaddafi in direct violation of UNSC Resolutions and now, having laid waste to Libya (and Iraq!), the West is trying to repeat this performance with Syria. In the case of the Ukraine, the West stood by while the Ukronazis used every single weapon in their arsenal, including chemical weapons, ballistic missiles, heavy artillery, multiple rocket launchers, cluster munitions and bombers against the cities of the Donbass and then imposed sanctions, no, not on Kiev, but on Russia. And even when the Ukronazis burned over 100 civilians in Odessa, the West fully backed them again. Before the Olympic Games in Sochi, the West then unleashed its “homo lobby” and its “pussy rioters” to try to paint Russia as some kind of quasi-Saudi society while never even uttering a single word of criticism against what was really taking place in the real Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the “indispensable nation”. And when Turkey ambushed a Russian bomber which had given its full flight plan to the US and then shot it down, the West had no more to say about it then when the local al-Qaeda franchise in Egypt bombed a Russian airliner. In its latest manifestation of rabid russophobia, the West, lead by the US Secretary of State Kerry, is demanding the release by Russia of a rabid Nazi deathsquad member accused of murdering 2 Russian journalists, Nadezhda Savchenko. Most amazingly, Kerry is claiming that Russia is violating her obligations under the Minsk-2 Agreement by judging Savchenko even though Russia is not a party to this agreement which has nothing to say about Savchenko’s case anyway. We can be pretty sure that if the Devil himself decided to appear somewhere in the USA or Europe and declared that he wanted to fight Russia, the West would give Satan full support, money, training, recognition, etc.
Analysis of the Russian Military Pullout from Syria
THE SAKER • MARCH 14, 2016
The key issue here is what criteria to use to measure “success”. And that, in turns, begs the question of what the Russians had hoped to achieve with their intervention in the first place. It turns out that Putin clearly and officially spelled out what the purpose of the Russian intervention was. On October 11th, he declared the following in an interview with Vladimir Soloviev on the TV channel Russia 1:
Our objective is to stabilize the legitimate authority and create conditions for a political compromise
That’s it. He did not say that Russia would single-handedly change the course of the war, much less so win the war. And while some saw the Russian intervention as a total “game changer” which would mark the end of Daesh, I never believed that. Here is what I wrote exactly one day before Putin make the statement above:
Make no mistake here, the Russian force in Syria is a small one , at least for the time being, and it does not even remotely resemble what the rumors had predicted (…) There is no way that the very limited Russian intervention can really change the tide of the war, at least not by itself. Yes, I do insist that the Russian intervention is a very limited one. 12 SU-24M, 12 SU-25SM, 6 SU-34 and 4 SU-30SM are not a big force, not even backed by helicopters and cruise missiles. Yes, the Russian force has been very effective to relieve the pressure on the northwestern front and to allow for a Syrian Army counter-offensive, but that will not, by itself, end the war.
I was harshly criticized at that time for “minimizing” the scope and potential of the Russian operation, but I chose to ignore these criticisms since I knew that time would prove me right.
Putin and the Art of the Deal
What’s the Russian withdrawal from Syria all about?
by Justin Raimondo, March 16, 2016
It’s no wonder that Putin has expressed admiration for Donald Trump. The conventional wisdom is that the two are simpatico because they’re both tyrants, bad guys who would sooner waterboard you than look at you, but the reality is a bit more nuanced: like Trump, Putin seems to have mastered the art of the deal, and is ready to strike one rather than call out the troops. Oh, he may have to threaten to use military force, and even occasionally do so, but essentially he’s ready to sit down and bargain – because the alternative is a lose-lose situation.
This is just awesome. Make sure you let ISIS know. Because they are like right there.
March 8th, 2016
Super Tuesday (before the results are in)
Trump will get the Republican nomination. Barring an immediate recession that he can take advantage of or the FBI indicting Hillary Clinton for espionage – Clinton will be the next President of the United States based on our outdated winner-take-all electoral college system for the general election. We know in advance from polling and historical data that Hillary will win enough of the non-battleground states to make a Republican victory highly unlikely.
Your vote counts but it doesn’t change anything.
If you are part of the Hillary team, you can stay home, she will win regardless of what you do. If you like Trump, he doesn’t know you exist and he will get the nomination anyway. If you believe Bernie Sanders is our only hope for change, I feel your frustration, but your vote won’t change anything.
This isn’t being decided today. This was the case at least 3 weeks ago, possibly as early as last fall. Your vote won’t actually change any of this unless you band together with tens of thousands of others who are voting just like you in the sames states and switch your vote the same way. You still have a few hours to accomplish this.
Hillary Clinton is in for a tough four years, quite possibly battling an economic downturn, a situation in the Mid-east, a drug-epidemic and a health-care crisis that will all be partially-successfully blamed on the previous Democratic administration of which she was a part.
Both Cruz and Rubio are young enough to be in good position to challenge her in four years. They actually come out semi-winners in this travesty. Trump will have already lost to her once and be too old to challenge in four years. Sanders cannot challenge for eight years and will be way too old.
There has been a lot of talk about how the Republican Party has destroyed itself as evidenced by all the support for “outsiders” like Trump, Carson, Fiorina, and even Cruz. A bigger story might be the lackluster message and options of the Democratic Party.
Barack Obama was a genuinely decent leader for 8 years. No major crises on his watch. He made great progress stabilizing the disasters of the Bush years. We all lived. Gas prices came way down, We have electric cars now.
Not a lot of people seem to like Hillary Clinton. And Bernie Sanders as intelligent and like-able, as may be the case, is all the Democrats have to offer as an alternative for the job. There were a couple of other nobodies whose names I forget, but at least the Republicans put up, I think, 15 crazies at one point. Why is that?
The observation and the point, if there is one, is that we knew before the vast majority of the voting took place what the result would be. Is that a choice?
Even if we don’t assume Hillary Clinton will be the next President, are Clinton, Trump, Cruz, Rubio, and Sanders really the 5 best candidates America has to offer? I, personally, would rather see Obama for another 4 or 8 years.
Should any “events” that may or may not happen in the next 8 months before November really be allowed to change the result we have now? I guess this is the will of the people – Hillary Clinton with roughly 60% support of half the voters, which in turn are only one-third of eligible voters – so, like, 9% of Americans.
What Trumpism Means for Democracy
The republic has been decaying for decades, but it will not be saved by an unconstrained demagogue.
By ANDREW J. BACEVICH • March 1, 2016
Should Trump or a Trump mini-me ultimately succeed in capturing the presidency, a possibility that can no longer be dismissed out of hand, the effects will be even more profound. In all but name, the United States will cease to be a constitutional republic. Once President Trump inevitably declares that he alone expresses the popular will, Americans will find that they have traded the rule of law for a version of caudillismo. Trump’s Washington could come to resemble Buenos Aires in the days of Juan Perón, with Melania a suitably glamorous stand-in for Evita, and plebiscites suitably glamorous stand-ins for elections.
The Russian-American Agreement on Syria?
THE SAKER • FEBRUARY 24, 2016
I think that it is now fair to say that the Russian position on Syria has won. Here is why:
First: nobody is suggesting anymore that Assad will be ousted or Damascus taken. That, in turn, means that everybody has now recognized that Syrian Arab Republic, backed by Russia, has successfully repelled the aggression of the huge coalition the AngloZionists built to overthrow Assad.
Second: Russia has forced the UNSC and the USA to admit that the vast majority of those who fight Assad today are terrorists. Of course, this is not how this was declared, but if you look at the organizations which the UNSC has already declared as ‘terrorists’ then you already have an absolute majority of the anti-Assad forces. This means that the moral and legal legitimacy of the anti-Assad forces is lies in tatters.
Third: regardless of what Erdogan does actually try to do next, there are now clear signs that neither NATO, nor the EU nor even the Turkish high military command want a war with Russia. And that means that Erdogan’s gamble has not paid off and that his entire Syria policy is now comprehensively dead. Keep in mind that following the treacherous attack on the Russian Su-24 the Kremlin made it a policy goal to “Saakashvilize” Erdogan. This goal is now almost reached and Erdogan’s future looks very, very bleak: everybody ( except maybe the Saudis) is sick and tired of this maniac.
Failure as a Way of Life
The logic of lost wars and military-industrial boondoggles
By WILLIAM S. LIND • February 15, 2016
The fault line in American politics is no longer Republican vs. Democrat nor conservative vs. liberal but establishment vs. anti-establishment. This is an inevitable result of serial failure in establishment policies. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in the establishment’s repeated military interventions abroad in wars against non-state opponents. When such interventions fail in one place—first Somalia, then Iraq, then Afghanistan, then Libya, now Syria—it does the same thing again somewhere else, with the same result…
…rely on the establishment’s wealth and power to insulate its members from the consequences of policy failure. The public schools are wretched, but the establishment’s children go to private schools. We lose wars, but the generals who lose them get promoted. The F-35 is a horrible fighter, but no member of the establishment will have to fly it. So long as the money keeps flowing, all is well.
I’d say that I didn’t really start to understand it fully until I started reading Vaclav Smil, who has written a lot about this. David Christian, in “Big History,” writes about this. It’s energy intensification, where we essentially have, through our light bulbs and cars, the manpower of [hundreds of] people working on our behalf, helping our food being created, helping our materials like steel and plastic and wood and paper be created. Our lifestyles are incredibly energy intense.
I had a lot of respect for Bill Gates before I read this. He is resting on his laurels, mailing it in. Tedious, sophomoric techno-utopian gibberish. He should go head-to-head with Elon Musk. Or just stop.
As for Mr. Trump, he remains what I said at the campaign’s outset: worse than Hitler, lacking the brains, charm, and savoir faire of the Ol’ Fuhrer, and with his darkness even more plainly visible. Even Adolf could manage to get his necktie on so that it didn’t dangle around his nutsack. I don’t mean to trivialize the difference between these two psychopaths, except to say that America will be very very sorry to follow the tune of the so-far leading Republican candidate’s pied-pipings.
Frankly, if Mr. Trump actually manages to technically snag the party’s nomination, I can imagine several consequences. One, that he will indeed succeed in destroying the party. The other leaders at the dark heart of its hierarchy will never stand for Trump. In that case, they will form a breakaway rump GOP and throw their support to Michael Bloomberg, if he decides to jump in — and he might be enough of a true patriot to do that. The less appetizing alternative consequences involve the apparatus of the runaway Deep State (NSA and the military) either bumping off Trump, or staging a coup d’état against him in the event that he manages to get elected. I’m not advocating for those outcomes, but you ought to be prepared for the possibilities.
Maybe a tad hysterical. The good news is Jim has rarely been right. I thought the GOP was already destroyed. Jim led me to believe Dubya accomplished that eight years ago. Whatever. Bloomberg? Are you kidding me?
Week Nineteen of the Russian Intervention in Syria
THE SAKER • FEBRUARY 20, 2016
From a purely military point of view, it makes absolutely no sense for the Turks to mass at the border, declare that they are about to invade, then stop, do some shelling and then only send a few little units across the border. What the Turks should have done was to covertly begin to increase the level of readiness of their forces then and then attacked as soon as Russians detected their preparations even if that meant that they would have to initiate combat operations before being fully mobilized and ready. The advantages of a surprise attack are so big that almost every other consideration has to be put aside in order to achieve it. The Turks did the exact opposite: they advertised their intentions to invade and once their forces were ready, they simply stopped at the border and began issuing completely contradictory declarations. This makes absolutely no sense at all.
What complicates this already chaotic situation is that Erdogan is clearly a lunatic and that there appears to the at least the possibility of some serious infighting between the Turkish political leaders and the military.
Furthermore, there appears to be some very bad blood between the USA and the Erdogan regime. Things got so bad that Erdogan’s chief adviser, Seref Malkoc, said that Turkey might deny the US the use of Incirlik Air Base for strikes against ISIL if the US does not name the YPG as a terrorist group. Erdogan later repudiated this statement, but the fact remains that the Turks are now directly blackmailing the USA. If Erdogan and his advisors seriously believe that they can publicly blackmail a superpower like the USA then their days are numbered. At the very least, this kind of irresponsible outbursts shows that the Turks are really crumbling under the pressure they themselves have created.
Turkey’s Convenient War
Islamist strongman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan relies on sketchily attributed terrorism to consolidate power and disrupt Syria.
By PHILIP GIRALDI • February 23, 2016
But perhaps the most telling, and chilling, incident relating to Erdogan and his intelligence service cronies is something that did not happen. Back in 2014, a secret telephone recording made by police investigating criminal activity by some family members within the government inner circle revealed that the then-prime minister had conspired with his intelligence chief Hakan Fidan and his Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to stage a false flag attack on the tomb of Turkish Sultan Suleyman Shah, which for historical reasons is located inside Syria and is guarded by Turkish soldiers. Davutoglu told Fidan “The Prime Minister [Erdogan] said that in current conjuncture, this attack (on the Suleyman Shah Tomb) must be seen as an opportunity for us.” Fidan responded “I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey.” In the event, the attack did not take place but if it had it might have meant killing fellow Turks to create a casus belli that would have justified massive retaliation and direct intervention in Syria.
Would Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan be willing to kill his own soldiers to create an incident that would enable him to advance his own agenda? The answer is apparently yes.
Developments in information and communication technology, he has insisted, just don’t measure up to past achievements. Specifically, he has argued that the I.T. revolution is less important than any one of the five Great Inventions that powered economic growth from 1870 to 1970: electricity, urban sanitation, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, the internal combustion engine and modern communication.
First came the Great Inventions, almost all dating from the late 19th century. Then came refinement and exploitation of those inventions — a process that took time, and exerted its peak effect on economic growth between 1920 and 1970. Everything since has at best been a faint echo of that great wave, and Gordon doesn’t expect us ever to see anything similar.
Is he right? My answer is a definite maybe.
First, he points out that genuinely major innovations normally bring about big changes in business practices, in what workplaces look like and how they function. And there were some changes along those lines between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s — but not much since, which is evidence for Gordon’s claim that the main impact of the I.T. revolution has already happened.
Second, one of the major arguments of techno-optimists is that official measures of economic growth understate the real extent of progress, because they don’t fully account for the benefits of truly new goods. Gordon concedes this point, but notes that it was always thus — and that the understatement of progress was probably bigger during the great prewar transformation than it is today.
The meaning of “stability” should be clear to anyone with a rudimentary grasp of the English language: it means not moving. In economic terms, this should mean a state where prices neither rise nor fall. Yet the Fed has been able to redefine price stability to mean prices that rise at a minimum of 2% per year. Nowhere does such a target appear in the founding documents of the Federal Reserve. But it seems as if Janet Yellen has borrowed a page from activist Supreme Court justices (unlike the late Antonin Scalia) who do not look to the original intent of the framers of the Constitution, but their own “interpretation” based on the changing political zeitgeist.
The Fed’s new Orwellian mandate is to prevent price stability by forcing price to rise 2% per year. What has historically been seen as a ceiling on price stability, that would have forced tighter policy, is now generally accepted as being a floor to perpetuate ultra-loose monetary policy. The Fed has accomplished this self-serving goal with the help of naïve economists who have convinced most that 2% inflation is a necessary component of economic growth.
This was written in 1998. My question is how much progress along these lines has actually been made by scientists in the last almost 2 decades? And also see the movie ‘Ex Machina’ if you haven’t.
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