In case you wonder how our politics fell into such a slough of despond, the answer is pretty simple. Neither main political party, or their trains of experts, specialists, and mouthpieces, can construct a coherent story about what is happening in this country — and the result is a roaring wave of recursive objurgation and wrath that loops purposelessly towards gathering darkness.
What’s happening is a slow-motion collapse of the economy. Neither Democrats or Republicans know why it is so remorselessly underway. A tiny number of well-positioned scavengers thrive on the debris cast off by the process of disintegration, but they don’t really understand the process either — the lobbyists, lawyers, bankers, contractors, feeders at the troughs of government could not be more cynical or clueless.
Are we suggesting that the heads of the so called Intelligence Community are at war with the Trump Administration and paving the way for impeachment proceedings?
Yep, we sure are. The Russia hacking fiasco is a regime change operation no different than the CIA’s 50-or-so other oustings in the last 70 years. The only difference is that this operation is on the home field which is why everyone is so flustered. These things are only suppose to happen in those “other” countries.
Does this analysis make me a Donald Trump supporter?
Never. The idea is ridiculous. Trump might be the worst US president of all time, in fact, he probably is. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other nefarious forces at work behind the smokescreen of democratic government. There are. In fact, this whole flap suggests that there’s an alternate power-structure that operates completely off the public’s radar and has the elected-government in its death-grip. This largely invisible group of elites controls the likes of Brennan, Clapper and Comey. And, apparently, they have enough influence to challenge and maybe even remove an elected president from office. (We’ll see.)
And what’s more surprising, is that the Democrats have aligned themselves with these deep state puppetmasters. They’ve cast their lot with the sinister stewards of the national security state and hopped on the impeachment bandwagon. But is that a wise choice for the Dems?
Why do you suppose nations employ foreign ministers and ambassadors, if not to conduct conversations at the highest level with other national leaders? And might these conversations include matters of great sensitivity, that is, classified information? If you doubt that then you have no understanding of geopolitics or history.
The General Mike Flynn story is especially a crack-up. Did he accept a twenty thousand dollar speaking fee from the Russian news outlet RT in his interlude as a private citizen? How does that compare to the millions sucked in by the Clinton Foundation in pay-to-play deal when Madame was secretary of state? Or her six-figure speeches to Goldman Sachs and their ilk. Are private citizens forbidden to accept speaking fees or consulting fees from countries that we are not at war with? I’d like to know how many other alumni of the Bill Clinton, Bush-II and Obama admins have hired themselves out on this basis. Scores and scores, I would bet.
But how and why that might be the case isn’t really what interests McDonald, the author of previous books about McKinsey, the consulting firm, and JPMorgan’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon. In “The Golden Passport,” he’s determined to call the Harvard Business School to account, citing its founding doctrine, which was to develop “a heightened sense of responsibility among businessmen” (and eventually women) who “will handle their current business problems in socially constructive ways.” In that regard, McDonald is scathing in his critique: Harvard Business School has not only “proven an enormous failure,” but its very success has made it positively “dangerous.”
He drives home the point in chapter after chapter, picking up steam in more recent decades: Harvard, he maintains, provided the ideological underpinnings for the junk-bond-induced takeover mania and resulting scandals of the 1980s; the corporate scandals of the 2000s; the egregious increase in the pay gap between chief executives and ordinary employees; the real estate mortgage bubble and ensuing financial crisis; even the election of Donald Trump. In McDonald’s view, the school has contributed to pretty much every bad thing that has happened in American business and the economy in the last century. In the wake of whatever scandal or financial collapse or recession to which it has contributed, it wipes its hands, distances itself and still has the nerve to put forth its experts as the solution to problems.
In my study, there hang portraits of my two literary heroes. One of them, Samuel Johnson, at age 25 married a woman twenty years his senior—a widow who, like Mrs. Macron, brought three children to the marriage. Johnson loved his wife dearly, to the bafflement of his friends. After she died seventeen years later, he mourned her for the rest of his own life.
Le Pen’s program will raise taxes on banks and financial transactions while fining capital flight in order to continue funding France’s retirement age of 62 for women and 65 for men, keeping the 35 hour work-week, and providing tax free overtime pay. She promises direct state intervention to prevent factories from relocating to low wage EU economies and firing French workers.
Le Pen is committed to increasing public spending for childcare and for the poor and disabled. She has pledged to protect French farmers against subsidized, cheap imports.
Marine Le Pen supports abortion rights and gay rights. She opposes the death penalty. She promises to cut taxes by 10% for low-wage workers. Marine is committed to fighting against sexism and for equal pay for women.
“On the THAAD system, it’s about a billion dollars. I said, ‘Why are we paying? Why are we paying a billion dollars? We’re protecting. Why are we paying a billion dollars?’ So I informed South Korea it would be appropriate if they paid. Nobody’s going to do that. Why are we paying a billion dollars? It’s a billion dollar system. It’s phenomenal. It’s the most incredible equipment you’ve ever seen – shoots missiles right out of the sky. And it protects them and I want to protect them. We’re going to protect them. But they should pay for that, and they understand that.”
Ah, but they don’t understand it – and neither does H. R. McMaster, Trump’s newly-appointed National Security Advisor, who rushed to assure Seoul that the President didn’t really mean what he clearly said. And the South Koreans, who are in the midst of a presidential election – the vote is on May 5 – are in a uproar.
More NYT ‘Spin’ on the Syria-Sarin Case
April 28, 2017
By Robert Parry
Further, the U.S. and its allies have been conducting airstrikes across much of Syria in campaigns against Islamic State and Al Qaeda-linked terror groups, which have been supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other Sunni-led sheikdoms. Turkey has been active, too, with strikes against Kurdish forces. And Israel has hit repeatedly at Syrian targets to promote what it regards as its interests, including destruction of Iranian weapons believed headed to the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah.
Some – if not all – of these entities had a far stronger motive to create a chemical-weapons incident in Syria on April 4 than the Syrian government did. At the end of March, the Trump administration announced that it was no longer a U.S. priority to overthrow the Assad government, an announcement that upset several of the countries involved in the Syrian conflict, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Israel.
Shortly after the incident at Khan Sheikhoun, I was told by an intelligence source that U.S. satellite imagery had picked up what looked like a drone in the vicinity at around the time that the poison gas was released. Despite some technical difficulties in tracking its route, the source said the analysts believed that it may have come from a Saudi-Israeli special operations base in Jordan, used to assist the rebels.
Ignatius, of course, is not alone. He joins a long line of faithful Western pundits who frame the Saudi regime as a reformist entity, earnestly pushing change in a fundamentally reactionary country under perma-threat from Shia forces. The Al Saud mafia is not in league with religious extremists, but a bulwark against them; they are not an illegitimate dictatorship, but an enlightened ruling class helping usher in “reform” in the face of a hyper-religious population.
And throughout it all, they are on a 71,500-year reform plan where they are effusively praised for moving their country toward the 19th century every five years or so. Other regimes that oppress their people and bomb civilians “must go” now, and are beyond the moral pale—mere allegations of being friendly with them, a career-ender. But the Saudi regime, a friendly host to light-touch US pundits, is just a well-meaning scrappy band of reformers this close to turning into Switzerland. All they need is a bit more time.
Hirst once possessed a similar ingenuity, having wrung a not-quite-full career out of three ideas he had in his twenties. The taxidermied sharks certainly snatch the most attention thanks to their evocation of primal fears—though they induce a frisson of unease more than sublime horror—as well as for drawing a rather obvious parallel with capital itself: like a shark, our economy must move continuously or else expire. As if to illustrate this connection, Hirst’s original tiger shark, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, was obtained for $8 million by hedge fund manager Steven Cohen in 2004, one of the highest prices paid for a piece of contemporary art at the time. Hirst’s two other primary brands are much easier to replicate. Since 1986 he has produced, with a great deal of help from assistants, over a thousand “spot paintings,” in which colorful dots are strung in rows, executed with machine-like precision, or “by a person trying to paint like a machine,” as he has noted. Hirst’s “spin paintings,” generated by pouring paint on a circular canvas that has been affixed to a rotating potter’s wheel (like a larger version of the spin art offered at elementary school fairs), are even easier to duplicate.
Macron might serve the interests of the American Deep State, which is determined to drive a wedge between Europe and the Chinese-Russian-Iranian “silk road” economic bloc that would consolidate trade in the Eastern Hemisphere. The US wants “the West” to remain what it had been for seventy years: the dominant posse. Even if the underlying conditions remained the same, this might not be possible.
But those underlying conditions are changing, and in ways that much of the political maneuvering across the West cannot alter, or even comprehend, for instance, the inability of these mature industrial economies to grow anymore. That is largely a function of the end of affordable energy. Unfortunately, the absence of growth portends not stagnation but collapse as society fails to generate enough new wealth to pay its debts.
I’ve always been behind you
So I think we should meet
I’ve sharpened my knives
So I’m gonna use them
I’m gonna smother you with my love
Forever and ever, also forever
Acid and poison and chemicals baby
Is what I mean to provide
I know together, we’ll make the possible
If you want me I’m yours
And even if you don’t want me
I’m trained and licensed and armed to the teeth
I think you’ll agree
It’s so hard to apologize
So I’m just gonna skip it
Sleep deprivation will make you a million
Did you just hear something crazy?
I got my fingers crossed you’ll catch something baby
Cause I just threw myself at you
Everyone run and hide
I’m coming to find you
Is my face still bleeding?
Then what is your problem?
By the skin of my teeth
That’s how I’m going to drive you
On the goodship lolly-gag
LSD and a bloody pile of rags
I hate to be the bearer of bad news
But I am…
Fundamentally solve the “intelligence problem,” and all other problems become trivial.
The problem is that this problem is a very hard one, and our native wit is unlikely to suffice. Moreover, because problems tend to get harder, not easier, as you advance up the technological ladder, in a “business as usual” scenario with no substantial intelligence augmentation we will effectively only have a 100-200 year “window” to effect this breakthrough before global dysgenic fertility patterns rule it out entirely for a large part of the next millennium.
What is happening in Aleppo is a raging sectarian civil war and a proxy battleground for the regional political maneuvers of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran. They are none of America’s business and haven’t been since the so-called Arab spring uprising spread to Syria in 2011.
Indeed, Syria is a lawless, bombed-out, economically decimated failed state today owing to Washington’s heavy-handed intervention at the behest of the War Party’s bloody twin sisters. That is, the neocons and the R2P liberal interventionist claque around Hillary Clinton, including UN Ambassador Samantha Powers and National Security Council head Susan Rice.
We name names in this context for a reason. A nation of 22 million back in 2011, which had been reasonably stable in modern times under the authoritarian but secular rule of the Assad family, does not suddenly give rise to a human tsunami of 5 million refugees spilling all over the Mediterranean and Europe and to the reduction of virtually every one of its ancient cities and towns to rubble and rivers of blood on its own volition.
To the contrary, all of this mayhem was instigated by the War Party’s armchair warriors and the “indispensable” nation hegemonists in Washington. Literally billions in aid, weapons, munitions, training and logistics have flowed into Syria from all directions on the outside. And all of it was either financed by American taxpayers or by regional powers which have been armed and greenlighted by Washington.
And let’s not forget the fact that Carter’s jihadist buddies on the ground launched a mortar attack on the Russian embassy in Damascus on Tuesday. That’s another part of this low-intensity war that’s already underway. So all this rubbish about Obama mulling over these “new options” for “military strikes” is complete hogwash. Plan Carter is already in full swing, the train already left the station. The only thing missing is presidential authorization which probably isn’t necessary since Il Duce Carter decided that it was his turn to run the country.
Of course they want to bomb Assad. They’re losing! Everyone wants to bomb someone when they’re losing. It’s human nature. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. It’s a very bad idea. Just like supporting Sunni extremists is a bad idea. Just like giving shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS) to fanatical crackpots is a bad idea. How crazy is that? And how long before one of these religious nutcases use their new toys to take down an Israeli or American jetliner?
Thus, the Russians wanted to take al-Qaeda out of Aleppo, so the city can be fed and brought back to life. The Americans were ready to start armed hostilities against Russia for the right of Al Qaeda to remain in the city.
In other words, the Americans did not believe in their own myth of moderate opposition. They knew, as well as the Russians, that without “terrorists”, the insurgency in Syria is doomed. They did not want to let Syria be under Assad and with the Russians.
As usual, they made a lot of humanitarian-sounding noise about suffering children of Aleppo. Why Aleppo, and not Mosul with its mounting victims? Just because the killers of Mosul are supported by the US? Why not Yemen, where Saudi troops using American weapons (procured after giving a hefty bribe to Clinton’s war chest) to kill more children than there are in Aleppo? And where is this great sisterly supporter of Mme Clinton, Mrs Albright who famously said “it was worth it” to kill five hundred thousand children of Iraq?
The only way to save al-Qaeda (short of the described above) is to start war with Russia. And this is actually the choice the US administration is about to make.
Why the war? For the fun of it. American leaders appreciate brinkmanship, I was told by a very prominent American insider. This is a human quality. Young kids like to walk at the edge of the precipice. This is their way of proving they are better than their mates. Grown ups do it too, for the same reason.
Brinkmanship is the practice of causing a situation to become extremely dangerous in order to get the results that you want, says a too-rational dictionary, but in real life of elites, the reason (“in order to get the results that you want”) has been forgotten. It is pure art, brinkmanship for the sake of brinkmanship.
There is in fact a simple answer to when to use force: it is to defend the United States itself against a clearly defined threat to the country or to a genuine vital interest. Indeed, unless a vital interest is threatened the U.S. has no right to intervene anywhere. And how to use force is also simple: it is up to Congress to declare war as required by the Constitution. But the Constitution of the United States did not envision major deployments of American soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen overseas, nor did it consider the existence of more than 1,000 military bases worldwide. Indeed, the U.S. has not faced a domestic armed threat since Pancho Villa raided New Mexico in 1916, so it is necessary to consider war-making in a contemporary context.
War as a preferred instrument for resolving international disputes is a symptom of a government which outwardly appears to have all the tools to respond competently but which in reality is dysfunctional.
Interesting… Workaday Woes
The end of work and the problem of leisure
STUART WHATLEY October 11, 2016
“There’s not enough work to employ most adults at a living wage because we’ve become so productive that the relationship between work and income is arbitrary in any case.” A quarter of all employed adults makes less than a living wage, half are eligible for food stamps, and “the fastest-growing component of household income since 1959 has been ‘transfer payments’ from the government.”
The logical conclusion, Livingston says, is to tax corporate profits—which are never invested in anything but destructive financial bubbles anyway—and institute a guaranteed “minimum annual income for every citizen,” an idea which has regained popularity in recent years on both the left and right, with even Charles “Bell Curve” Murray endorsing it.
Voters in France begin voting in the first round of regional elections just three weeks after the deadly Islamic State militant attacks in Paris. Exit polls show strong gains for the far-right National Front which is leading in six regions and reshape the political landscape after decades of domination by the centre-left and the centre-right coalitions. Midday voter participation is 16.27 percent, marginally higher than five years ago. There are 44.6 million eligible voters.(Reuters)
Germany’s vice-chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, accuses Saudi Arabia of financing Islamic extremism in the West and warns that it must stop. He tells German media, “We have to make clear to the Saudis that the time of looking away is over, Wahhabi mosques all over the world are financed by Saudi Arabia. Many Islamists who are a threat to public safety come from these communities in Germany”. His comments come days after Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service released a report saying Saudi Arabia was “destabilizing” the Arab world.