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[Markets] JPM Explains Why It's Unlikely The Infrastructure Bill Becomes Law (But Filibuster Changes Everything) JPM Explains Why It's Unlikely The Infrastructure Bill Becomes Law (But Filibuster Changes Everything)

As we wait for tomorrow's main event - the Fed - investors are taking a deep dive at infrastructure (discussed here and here) and taxes (here). Full details on both have yet to be revealed but below JPMorgan has done a quick recap on the tax plan, details of which were published in BBG.

  • Raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%

  • Paring back tax preferences for so-called pass-through businesses, such as limited-liability companies or partnerships

  • Raising the income tax rate on individuals earning more than $400,000

  • Expanding the estate tax’s reach

  • A higher capital-gains tax rate for individuals earning at least $1 million annually.(Biden on the campaign trail proposed applying income-tax rates, which would behigher)

  • Elizabeth Warren’s “Ultra-Millionaire” Tax (WSJ): The legislation would create a 2%annual tax on the net worth of households and trusts between $50 million and $1billion and an additional 1% surtax on those above $1 billion.

What does the above mean for markets?

Here, JPMorgan's economists have put together their assessment of the proposed plans with one critical provision: the assumption that Democrats do not remove the filibuster, which would lower the vote threshold from 60 to 50 to pass bills.

The first hurdle is identifying whether the infrastructure bill could pass in a bi-partisan fashion. If yes, then there are limits to what the GOP would accepts on taxes to the fund the bill. The GOP would push back most aggressively on

  • (i) capital gains tax change,

  • (ii) additional tax on $400k+ in income; and

  • (iii) the ultra-millionaire tax.

Though, it is possible the ultra-millionaire tax would fail to be upheld during legal challenges as the way it is stated in the WSJ article suggests a federal tax on real estate/property; this is generally thought to be outside the purview of the federal government. The easiest pathway may be a raising corporate taxes to 28% and a return to Obama-era individual taxes without adding a >$400k provision.

If Democrats choose to pursue infrastructure via Reconciliation, then the question becomes how Progressive Manchin and Sinema will vote. While both Senators are concerned about the deficit/total debt levels of the government, it may be easier to win their support with a smaller infrastructure package than with a larger tax proposal. Further, Manchin said that he would not support infrastructure that does not have bi-partisan support, which the proposed bill is unlikely to have. If, in order to pass infra, we need (i) bi-partisan support, (ii) increased taxes to offset, and (iii) this is to be done without removing the filibuster, what can actually be passed?

Is it possible that infrastructure, long thought to have strong bi-partisan support over the last 20+ years, has a low probability of becoming law? Well, according to JPM's head of cross-asset strategy, John Normand, most asset markets are not pricing in an infrastructure bill becoming law.

Normand's takeaways:

  • For Bonds, what is peculiar is how modest inflation expectations and long-dated forward rates are for an economy where an infrastructure package raises the risk of an overheating (although 10Y Breakevens continue to rise).

  • It is still difficult to see the prospective rise in rates as challenging the overall direction of Equities.No one should be bothered by bond yields moving above dividend yields now, and even more so in the next few years.

  • For Commodities and Commodity Equities, what is notable is that most are close to fair value rather than expensive in anticipation of a major policy initiative.

  • Why the lack of aggressive pricing in a range of markets that could be heavilyimpacted by an infrastructure bill?

    • In Fixed Income, the lack of risk premium probably reflects the difficulty oftranslating fiscal stimulus into a multi-year path for inflation, then determininghow the Fed will manage policy as inflation evolves.

    • In Commodities, there should be concern about how China’s intended creditslowdown will impact demand for Base Metals, even if growth in a minor consumer like the US could ramp up over the next decade.

    • In Energy, there are doubts that Oil markets will remain tight indefinitely when OPEC+ enjoys spare capacity, US drillers will respond eventually to high-ish prices and a Democratic driven infrastructure package would emphasize green energy over carbon.

Tyler Durden Tue, 03/16/2021 - 14:00
Published:3/16/2021 1:19:02 PM
[1159512a-6551-5a81-b9e9-e4a4fa409884] Michelle Obama reacts to Meghan Markle’s racism claims Former first lady Michelle Obama said it “wasn’t a complete surprise” to hear Meghan Markle detail alleged racism within the British royal family. Published:3/16/2021 4:16:37 AM
[Markets] Biden Plans Biggest Federal Tax Hike Since 1993 To Fund Infrastructure, Climate Initiatives Biden Plans Biggest Federal Tax Hike Since 1993 To Fund Infrastructure, Climate Initiatives

Households across the US rejoiced over the weekend as they received their first stimulus checks. And as BofA's team of analysts parses exactly how millions of Americans will spend this money (will they buy washing machines and toasters? Or dump it into crypto/GME?), Bloomberg is out with a chilling report alerting Americans to the inevitable reality that President Biden is about to switch gears from spending to fundraising.

Of course, we use that term loosely: Despite the fact that Biden just shelled out another $1.85 trillion to finance a third round of stimulus checks (not to mention hundreds of billions in handouts to states and municipalities), his administration isn't raising money to pay for that. Instead, they're looking to finance a Democratic "New New Deal".

Breaking with his former boss, Barack Obama (who signed legislation to make most of the Bush-era tax cuts permanent), Biden is embarking on what could be the biggest federal tax hike since 1993 (remember 'no new taxes'?) to finance an infrastructure plan, Biden's climate-change initiatives, health care and economic inequality.

Here's more from Bloomberg.

Unlike the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 stimulus act, the next initiative, which is expected to be even bigger, won’t rely just on government debt as a funding source. While it’s been increasingly clear that tax hikes will be a component - Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said at least part of the next bill will have to be paid for, and pointed to higher rates - key advisers are now making preparations for a package of measures.

With each tax break and credit having its own lobbying constituency to back it, tinkering with rates is fraught with political risk. That helps explain why Bill Clinton’s signature 1993 overhaul stands out from the modest modifications done since.

With all the talk about a federal 'wealth tax' (thanks, Elizabeth Warren) - progressives in certain parts of the country are already pushing for state wealth taxes in places like New York - the notion that taxes will move higher under Biden is hardly a surprise.

According to Bloomberg, the tax hikes would likely take effect next year, despite modest support for delaying them further among some Democrats. An independent analysis of the Biden campaign tax plan published by the Tax Policy Center (and cited by Bloomberg) estimated the new revenue streams would raise $2.1 trillion over a decade, though, given the current political climate (with West Virginia's Joe Manchin still acting as a check on Democratic excess) the final total will likely be smaller. To be sure, Democrats will need to convince 10 Republicans to back the bill to circumvent the filibuster.

The overall program has yet to be unveiled. Nevertheless, analysts are penciling in between $2 trillion to $4 trillion. No date has yet been set for an announcement, though the White House said the plan would be introduced after the COVID relief bill was signed into law.

Bloomberg has a list of proposals that are reportedly under consideration, though they all likely won't make it into the final bill. Notably the first two bullets would effectively unwind the two biggest components of the Trump tax cuts.

  • Raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%
  • Paring back tax preferences for so-called pass-through businesses, such as limited-liability companies or partnerships
  • Raising the income tax rate on individuals earning more than $400,000
  • Expanding the estate tax’s reach
  • A higher capital-gains tax rate for individuals earning at least $1 million annually. (Biden on the campaign trail proposed applying income-tax rates, which would be higher)

The biggest question for Democrats is which parts of Biden's post-Trump new deal actually need to be funded?

An outstanding question for Democrats is which parts of the package need to be funded, amid debate over whether infrastructure ultimately pays for itself - especially given current borrowing costs, which remain historically low. Efforts to make the expanded child tax credit in the pandemic-aid bill permanent - something with a price tag estimated at more than $1 trillion over a decade -- could be harder to sell if pitched as entirely debt-financed.

Bloomberg's economists believe the economic boom from Biden's infrastructure plan could outweigh the economic hit to corporate revenue.

"The next major legislative initiative, infrastructure investment, could provide the sort of durable economic gains that not only support higher pay, but promote diffusion of those gains across demographic lines and political persuasions."

Coming from pro-Democrat Bloomberg, that's hardly a surprise.

Just days after the media proclaimed that corporations were cancelling planned layoffs thanks to the Biden stimulus (American Airlines is a particularly salient example), the prospect of a massive hike in corporate taxes threatens to slam this trend into reverse. But the most consequential factor for Americans in the wake of the retail trading boom isn't the effect on the labor market, but the effect on the markets.

The Fed needs the wealth effect afforded by elevated asset prices to help drive economic growth in the aftermath of the pandemic. How will President Biden, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and the Fed's Jerome Powell square that circle? And as some Democrats will inevitably seek to delay the tax hikes (lest they wreak havoc on the economy should they coincide with the Fed's first tightening measures) it begs a question recently raised by DoubleLine's Jeff Gundlach: if so much of these packages is simply debt financed, then monetized by the central bank, why bother with taxes at all?

Tyler Durden Mon, 03/15/2021 - 06:56
Published:3/15/2021 6:10:50 AM
[Markets] The New New Deal Has Already Arrived. Thank The COVID Panic The New New Deal Has Already Arrived. Thank The COVID Panic

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

We’ve entered a new era of politics and government in America, and the Left is pretty happy about it. This week, for example, The Guardian announced “Biden's $1.9tn Covid relief bill marks an end to four decades of Reaganism.”

From this point of view, “Reaganism” is code for extreme free-market libertarian public policy. Or as some call it: “neoliberalism.”

The idea that this sort of  Reaganism took over the country contradicts reality, of course. By virtually every metric—from tax revenues and federal spending per capita, and in to the size of the regulatory state—the size of the American state has expanded relentlessly for more than 40 years. 

But in many respects the headline is correct. The new Covid relief bill signals that whatever restraint on public spending existed before 2020 is now all but gone. And the bill represents the beginning of a new era: an era that can be likened to the New Deal. This has long been part of the plan according to social democrats and progressives. After all, there’s been a lot of talk from the Left for years about the need for a “new new deal." Whether it centered on environmentalism or on health care, everyone in these circles agrees on one thing: we needed a new surge in the size and scope of the government sector.

And now it's happened. We're in a new era when an ongoing crisis justifies any number of drastic new measures enacted by governments. To question this, the media and the pundits insist, constitutes "denying science" or "wanting grandma to die." The only question now is how long this new era of enbridled government expansion will last. 

Moreover, just as the New Deal turned an ordinary downturn into a decade-long depression—and did nothing to "end" the Depression—this new new deal will only ensure that any real recovery is years away. 

A Great Leap Forward in Government Spending

The most visible aspect of this all are the immense increases in government spending that have occurred over the past year.

While it’s true the Biden administration is signing off on an immense $1.9 trillion “relief” package, the fact is the Trump administration already approved $4 trillion in new spending for covid-19 stimulus and relief bills. The Biden addition will be on top of that. To put this into perspective, keep in mind that during most of the Obama years, total federal outlays ranged from $3.5 to $3.9 trillion. Trump pushed those numbers up even further, topping $4.4 trillion in the 2019 fiscal year. In the 2020 fiscal year (which ended in September) outlays skyrocketed to 6.5 trillion. This doesn’t even capture all of Trump’s stimulus spending. Some of it will count under the 2021 fiscal year, and we still have a long way to go.

Now Biden has added nearly $2 trillion to that total, and there’s likely to be more “relief” and “stimulus” going forward.

Meanwhile, the one-year deficit exploded to $3.3 trillion in 2020, more than doubling the $1.4 trillion deficit that piled up in 2009. 

To make this all possible, of course, the central bank has furiously created newly "printed" money, showering Washington and Wall Street with dollars as the Fed bought up US debt on the secondary market and even began buying corporate debt. Naturally, the Fed’s balance sheet is now well above seven trillion.

The overall money supply has increased by nearly one-third since last March.

Both of the US major parties have signed off on this. Political dissent in Congress is absent beyond a tiny handful of Republicans like Thomas Massie. The victory for the New New Dealers has been nearly total. 

A New Surge in the Executive State and the Regulatory State

A second major change that has taken place has been the surge in executive and regulatory power across the nation. This also reflects what happened during the original New Deal. As noted by Garet Garret at the time, the transformation of the US into an executive-dominated regime is one of the primary characteristics of the New Deal. What had once been three separate branches, with a dominant legislative branch, the new regime was something else. Now, he pointed out, laws are routinely created within the executive branch itself, and interpreted by administrative law judged within the same branch. The old checks and balances had disappeared. 

It's a little different this time, though, as this has perhaps been most noticeable at the state level. In nearly every US state, state governors granted themselves vast new regulatory powers, and ruled by decree.

Every few weeks—or even every few days in some case—governors announced new regulations on a level of micromanagement that would have been considered unthinkable prior to 2020. Governors continually issued new regulations about how many people were allowed to enter a grocery store or a restaurant. They issued edicts on what sorts of masks employees and customers must wear. They dictated operating hours for all sorts of firms. During March and April, these governors even placed millions of their citizens under house arrest, threatening arrest of peaceful residents who stepped outside for “nonessential” reasons.

At the federal level, President Trump issued new edicts on federal spending, health care, and international travel. In September, the White House unilaterally declared that landlords were no longer permitted to evict tenants who missed rent. Millions of rental contracts were rendered null and void by a stroke of the president’s pen.

This was all done in most cases without the passage of any laws through the “traditional” methods of public debate, and legislative processes. Chief executives across the nation simply did as they pleased. 

Corporatism Ascendant

Like the original New Deal, much of our New New Deal is built around cushy partnerships between the central government and immense corporate interests.

Wall Street, for example, has already become accustomed to being bailed out repeatedly by outright cash transfers to big banks and other corporate players—as happened in 2008. But Wall Street also benefits perennially from the so-called Greenspan Put which is a wink-and-nod arrangement between the central bank and the upper echelons of Wall Street.

Thanks to the Greenspan Put, Wall Street knows that if the stock markets and the financial sector face any substantial losses due to market “instability,” the Fed will intervene with injections of easy money, and asset purchase programs.

The Fed is still sitting on trillions in junk assets it bought up during the Great Recession to prop up Wall Street’s portfolios.

With the Covid Panic came a new round of bailouts. Sure, these bailouts weren’t like the 2008 bailouts. Things were more hidden this time around. The asset purchases from the central bank continued and were expanded. Moreover, this time the free money and the cheap loans were ostensibly geared toward medium-sized and small businesses. But, Big Business reaped the greatest rewards.

For example, the Paycheck Protection Programs (PPP) was supposed to prop up the “little guy.” But as Alana Abramson at Time notes, the reality was something different:

The implementation of the program, says John Arensmeyer, the CEO of the Small Business Majority, an advocacy group that represents more than 65,000 independent companies, was structurally flawed. Because PPP required banks to act as intermediaries, it created a dynamic wherein larger, more established companies—often with existing relationships and lines of credit with banks—received funds before smaller operations, who feared their collapse was imminent.

The law’s definitions were also problematic. While PPP defined “small businesses” as entities with up to 500 employees, the law included a provision pertaining to the food and hospitality sectors wherein companies with individual locations of fewer than 500 people were still eligible. That meant that large, multi-million dollar chains, like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Shake Shack were able to apply, often edging out the smaller mom-and-pop enterprises that the law was touted as propping up. 

This should surprise no one. Since 2008, and with a wave of new regulations imposed on the financial sector, Wall Street and the banks have become all the more geared toward working with large, established firms while smaller businesses, farmers, and other small enterprises find it increasingly difficult to secure loans, and take advantage of the ultra-low interest rates that favor large established firms.

Don't expect this to end with Covid. The first New Deal paved the way for the economic regimentation and rationing of the Second World War.  It also set the stage for the war on free speech and the prosecution of "sedition" during the war. Dissent cannot be tolerated during the "crisis," and once the regime has control of the levers of the economy, it doesn't let go easily. 

On there other hand, there are signs of hope. Americans of the 1930s meekly did as they were told. When FDR told American to hand over all their gold via executive order, for instance, the overwhelming majority did so without complaint.  The naive Americans of that age generally believed what their politicians told them. Much of America today appears less primed for compliance. Public trust in government institutions, the media, and public health officials has gone into steep decline.

This is why Biden complained last week that  confidence in the regime “has been plummeting since the late 60s to what it is now.” So, he's now, "on a mission to restore faith in government." The good news is he's likely to fail. 

Tyler Durden Sun, 03/14/2021 - 21:30
Published:3/14/2021 8:37:32 PM
[Markets] Free Speech: And... It's Gone Free Speech: And... It's Gone

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

It’s no surprise to me that the war against speech is accelerating. There’s desperation in the air everywhere.

From the barricading of the U.S. Capitol since January 6th to the shrill calls for continued lockdowns over a virus mostly behind us, we see those with power lashing out trying to hold on to it.

And it’s no more obvious than in the lockdowns on speech. In the past week we’ve seen another major assault on Twitter-alternative Gab. A massive attack on its security architecture handing out the passwords and information of millions of users to the dark web.

Then Texas Governor Greg Abbott, you know the guy who let millions of Texans freeze last month rather than order the coal-fired plants brought online in defiance of the DoE, piles on calling Gab “anti-semetic.”

Abbott’s just doing what he’s paid to do, serve everyone but Texas.

Gab CEO Andrew Torba then informed us that the attacks on Gab are far deeper than even a putz like Abbott’s. The relentless pressure to cut his company off from the doing business continues, with bank after bank refusing to do business with them.

Torba’s invoking Operation Chokepoint is important here. It reminds us that Biden is a cypher put in place to restore Obama to the White House as functional president.

Honestly, taking a step back, is this at all rational? All Torba and Gab want to do is operate a social media platform that conforms, ruthlessly, to the first amendment. Nothing more, nothing less.

It’s not like Gab is funded by foreign intelligence services spreading obvious agitprop and propaganda. No, sorry, that’s the job of the mainstream media and Twitter.

I thought if we didn’t like the treatment we got on Twitter we could go ‘build our own’ and that would be fine. Separate but equal, freedom of and from association and all that.

But, no, any competition that doesn’t adhere to the current orthodoxy of what constitutes ‘acceptable speech’ is now no longer tolerated. Free Speech is not an option.

It’s an obvious coordinated assault from every angle to extend ‘cancel culture’ into a cultural revolution. Because it’s not enough to hound people whose opinions you don’t like from the public square, they have to be beaten out of society entirely, even if the means employed to do so are patently hypocritical.

And don’t think that doesn’t tie right into what’s coming from Operation Chokepoint vis a vis gun ownership in the coming weeks, but I digress.

Then there’s Amazon’s abrupt turn into the Ministry of Information Gating. From removing a documentary about Clarence Thomas from its streaming service — during Black History Month — to making it verboten to talk about gender dysphoria as a mental illness, which it may well be.

Amazon is lurching quickly from refusing to publish certain topics under its Kindle Direct Publishing platform to denying authors space on their virtual shelves. I think we’re close to the point where keeping Orwell’s 1984 on the shelves is tolerated because It’ll soon be looked on as children’s literature.

Speaking of which, the long march of communists through our educational institutions has now led to pulling sales of six classic stories by Dr. Seuss by its publisher and President Biden banning Dr. Seuss from “Dr. Seuss Day.”

Although the company made the decision last year, they chose to make the announcement on March 2nd: National Read Across America Day—or, as it’s more commonly knownDr. Seuss Day.

In 1998, the National Education Association partnered with Dr. Seuss Enterprises 1998 to launch Read Across America Day as a way to encourage children to read. The important role Dr. Seuss has played in children’s literacy was remarked upon by former President Obama, who began the presidential tradition of issuing yearly Read Across America Day proclamations, each of which mentioned Dr. Seuss. In 2016, Obama described the world-renowned author as “one of America’s revered wordsmiths.”

Attacking Dr. Seuss, even in the mildest way, is yet another tactical move to outrage anyone with a connection to their past. It’s done to create a false discussion of racism and force people to take up the defense of something that needs no defense.

It’s done to undermine parental choices of what stories they should read their children at night and adding more divisive fodder for family get-togethers (remember those?) where the kids come home from school and blame their racist parents for programming them from birth because Dr. Seuss.

We’re dealing with people who have no ability to parse nuance or engage in any reasonable discussion of the past. As opposed to turning the depictions of Asians or blacks in Dr. Seuss into a teaching moment about how far we’ve come their impulse is to remove it from ‘polite society’ for the good of everyone.

And that’s what’s truly shameful.

Frankly, I’m ambivalent about Dr. Seuss because when I re-read The Cat in the Hat recently I couldn’t tell if it was a cautionary tale about child predation or programming children to accept it?

I’d go on some long-winded rant about Jung and these malformed people being unwilling to accept and integrate heir shadows, but what’s the point in 2021?

We’re now dealing with an acceleration of the erasure of the past that will not abate until it consumes most of the people perpetrating it in the first place. So, my advice to you is duck where you can and drink heavily.

I’ve only covered a couple of these recent events here, because there are too many to list. But it was this post on RT which caught my attention in light of the growing attacks on alternative speech platforms and journalists.

Because in the days after Buzzfeed fired one-third of the staff at the former Prom Queen of the Woke, the Huffington Post, we’re treated to this fake spat between ‘journalists’ over something Tucker Carlson said.

This manufactured harassment controversy over his showing a publicly-available picture of some chick (yes, I’m a misogynist, but hey I’m protecting her identity!) who works at the New York Times is on its face laughable. It won’t do anything other than improve Carlson’s ratings.

Because it isn’t enough to be a disgraced plagiarist fired by that pillar of responsible journalism, Buzzfeed, to try and keep the lights on this incel Broderick pens a piece going after, of all people, Glenn Greenwald.

Responding to Broderick’s broadside on Thursday, Greenwald noted that journalists have “bizarrely transformed from their traditional role as leading free expression defenders into the most vocal censorship advocates, using their platforms to demand that tech monopolies ban and silence others.”

Broderick was fired from BuzzFeed for “serial plagiarism” but now wants to reinvent himself as “the Guardian and Defender of Real Journalism” with a straight face, Greenwald pointed out. He also blasted mainstream journalists as having a “bottomless sense of entitlement and self-regard and fragility” and seeking to create a world in which they can attack whoever they want, while banning anyone who criticizes them for it.

First they came for Gab and no one listened. Then they came for Parler who knuckled under. And now they’ve driven the best investigative journalists to Substack and that’s too much free speech?

But it’s part of the pattern of behavior that continues well beyond Gab’s persecution.

Because the most disturbing thing I’ve seen this week isn’t any of this. It is the now zero-tolerance for anyone on platforms like YouTube or Patreon who voice any skepticism from the WHO and/or the CDC about COVID-19, the vaccines or anything related.

Fearless people like The Last American Vagabond, Whitney Webb and now Venessa Beeley have all been canceled by Patreon. My subscribers keep wondering when I’m going to be canceled. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. I continue to get notes from Patrons telling me they won’t support Patreon because ‘they suck’ or ‘they’re evil.’

And I don’t blame them one bit. Vote with your dollars, force me to consider alternatives (which there are if you are interested).

But, at the same time, the more Patreon or Twitter or YouTube acts the way they do the more opportunity there is for someone else to build something better.

That’s what Torba did in 2016 and he’s paid a terrible price for it. He lived by one of Jordan Peterson’s new rules when he built Gab in the first place: “Notice where opportunity lurks when responsibility has been abdicated.”

Our responsibility to free speech has been abdicated by our professional journalists for decades. In fact, I’d argue, outside of the people I’ve mentioned so far in this article, there are precious few people writing today who could even rise to the level of ‘yellow journalist,’ present company included.

I’ve been saying since Torba started Gab in 2016 that what is needed is a blockchain-based, censorship-proof platform with inviolable property rights in that which you create. That would disempower gatekeepers like Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and ensure the costs of government censorship would rise to the point of failure.

And Torba is absolutely right that this assault on free speech in the U.S., and really the world over, is driving the industry towards that eventuality when he mentions bitcoin. Early attempts at this have been a mess — Steemit, Minds, etc. — but the basic concept is sound.

What these folks are doing with Operation Chokepoint is no different than Trump going Sanctions Slap Happy for four years on our national rivals. Trump tried to raise costs on Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela to the point where they would cry in submission.

And it didn’t work. And I told you (and Trump) it wouldn’t work. Repeatedly.

Because the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility is universal in all human endeavors.

There is an upper limit to the efficacy of any particular activity, simply because accumulating more of one thing lowers its marginal return on your investment of time and/or capital. it’s why Pareto is the law of the land, ultimately.

In the case of censorship or economic starvation (same thing), when you make the cost of doing business in one arena too expensive — selling oil for dollars, for example — you make the transition away from that medium of exchange (the dollar) relatively more attractive.

Russia now does more than half of its business in local currencies. Iran is empowering Iranians to mine bitcoin to evade sanctions and procure things from overseas. Both are working with trading partners to bypass the dollar and the euro to effect international trade.

And soon, all the dissident journalists of exceptional character will be the ones who validate new business models and publishing platforms that do the same. In the same way that we helped validate Patreon’s business model in the first place, which helped us bypass the traditional publishing firms like Buzzfeed and which drove the HuffPo to irrelevancy.

That’s what’s coming with all of this censorship and marginalization of dissident voices — the proliferation of new platforms that are hardened against cancellation. The people like George Soros who believe they can drive the truth back underground to the days where publishing materials and disseminating them were hideously expensive are living a lie.

And they are wasting everyone’s time pursuing this in their sick, pathetic attempts to maintain and solidify societal control at a level that is the very definition of unsustainable.

Today it’s the opposite of that. Today it’s cheaper and easier than ever to produce and disseminate superlative work to an audience. Finding the audience is the hard part. And that’s what they are trying so desperately to keep us from achieving.

But we will achieve it because total surveillance and the complete abolition of our property right in the work we produce is a fantasy of the deranged and the arrogant. And that’s why their fear is so real you don’t need to be a dog to smell it.

In the face of planned economic and societal destruction which is driving up the cost of everything, free speech is the most precious commodity of all.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Sat, 03/13/2021 - 21:30
Published:3/13/2021 8:32:14 PM
[Opinion] Hey Joey, You Didn’t Build That

By Dave King -

During the Obama years, when anyone attempted to display their entrepreneurship by taking credit for the business their efforts built, leftist Democrats would abuse and mock that person. The most insulting was Elizabeth Warren who attacked those business people by claiming that “you didn’t build that” and would then go on to explain that the …

Hey Joey, You Didn’t Build That is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:3/13/2021 6:31:02 PM
[Markets] Fentanyl Flowing Into United States At Record Volume Fentanyl Flowing Into United States At Record Volume

Authored by Charlotte Cuthbertson via The Epoch Times,

The amount of fentanyl seized while coming through the southern border during the first 5 months of fiscal year 2021 is already higher than all of fiscal year 2020, according to the latest statistics from Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

CBP has seized more than 5,000 pounds of fentanyl since Oct. 1, 2020, said acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller during a March 10 media call.

“We are seeing a dramatic increase in fentanyl seizures this fiscal year, more than 360 percent higher than this time last year,” Miller said.

“Nationwide drug seizures increased 50 percent in February from January. Cocaine interceptions increased 13 percent, seizures of methamphetamine increased 40 percent, seizures of heroin went up 48 percent.”

Fentanyl is the synthetic opioid attributed to the escalating overdose death rate in the United States. It is most often manufactured in Mexico using chemicals supplied by China. It’s mixed with other narcotics to increase potency as well as pressed into counterfeit pain pills commonly known as “Mexican oxys.”

“The cartels are dominating the distribution of this poison and it’s really, really alarming,” Derek Maltz, former head of the DEA’s special operations division, told The Epoch Times.

“I do anticipate the crisis continuing on this escalating path. And to be honest with you, it’s really sad, because I’ve been communicating with a lot of parents who have lost their young kids, especially to the counterfeit pills. And it’s all coming from Mexico.”

Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids (other than methadone) between 2005 and 2018. (DEA 2021 report)

The Rio Grande City Border Patrol station takes care of a 68-mile strip of international border in south Texas. It sits within the Rio Grande Valley Sector and in 2019 was the busiest of the nation’s 135 stations for drug seizures and the second busiest for illegal alien apprehensions.

Then-deputy chief Border Patrol agent for the Rio Grande Valley sector Raul Ortiz, said in March 2019 “we’re not even probably catching about 10 percent of it [drugs].”

Border experts have said it’s likely Border Patrol drug seizures will decrease as illegal immigration surges—agents will be tied up with large groups of people rather than interdicting drugs. Border Patrol highway checkpoints are also closing in many areas as agents are sent to the border to help with processing the increased numbers.

The Biden administration has said there’s no crisis on the border and urges potential migrants not to come in illegally. But the latest illegal crossing numbers show that February hit a 14-month high with more than 100,000 Border Patrol apprehensions.

Mexico’s president has expressed concern that President Joe Biden’s policies are encouraging illegal immigration and human trafficking along the border with the United States.

“They see him as the migrant president, and so many feel they’re going to reach the United States,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said of Biden the morning after a virtual meeting with his U.S. counterpart on March 1, according to Reuters.

Maltz said, “perception is reality. People around the world look at Biden as a softie on immigration.”

“The open border is a disaster. It just increases the [cartels’] ability to move drugs freely into America,” he said.

“Also, most importantly, it allows them to get their command and control operatives in the [United States] to establish the stash houses, the distribution outlets, the money collection points, so they have lots of people in America who are able to operate freely around the country.”

Areas of influence of major Mexican cartel within the United States. (DEA report 2021)

The cartels control the south side of the U.S.–Mexico border and anyone who crosses illegally has to pay them. Many can’t afford the smuggling fees and become indentured to the cartels once they reach the United States. Others realize it’s more lucrative to become involved in transnational crime rather than get a job at a fast food restaurant, for example, Maltz said.

“This didn’t start under Donald Trump. It didn’t start under Barack Obama. It didn’t start under George Bush. This drug crisis has been escalating for years,” he said.

“But they’re doing it at levels that we’ve never seen in the history of the country.”

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/13/2021 - 14:30
Published:3/13/2021 2:00:18 PM
[Markets] How California Is Embracing Mandatory Racial-Injustice Study For All Of Its 1.7 Million High Schoolers How California Is Embracing Mandatory Racial-Injustice Study For All Of Its 1.7 Million High Schoolers

Authored by John Murawski via RealClearInvestigations (emphasis ours),

California has struggled for five years to create a politically palatableethnic studies” curriculum that would teach high schoolers how systemic racism, predatory capitalism, heteropatriarchy and other “structures of oppression” are foundational to American society.

Now, after more than 82,000 public comments, and four major rewrites, the state Board of Education is expected to approve the latest version next week, clearing the way for lawmakers to make a semester-long course in the material a graduation requirement for all of California’s 1.7 million high school students.

The latest curriculum, however scaled back, still shares similarities with an earlier, rejected draft that a top state official said failed to comply with state law, and the Los Angeles Times editorial board characterized as a jumble of “politically correct pronouncements” that feel like “an exercise in groupthink, designed to proselytize and inculcate more than to inform and open minds.”

When all is said and done, the material emphasizing whites’ subjugation of non-whites is not a conventional textbook subject, but an ideology with an activist political agenda. Revisions may never satisfy parents and teachers who believe public schools shouldn’t be in the business of teaching kids how to develop a “social consciousness” or using class time to pinpoint a student’s intersectional identity to determine where they fit on a hierarchy of power.

At the same time, ethnic studies activists are furious that their efforts at promoting social justice, and centering “voices of color” are being diluted by, as they put it, power structures such as “whiteness,” Zionism and assimilationism.

Passage of the landmark curriculum at the board’s scheduled meeting on March 18 should mark a hard-fought victory for the half-century-old ethnic studies movement and help advocates promote their movement across the country. But it will not end the conflict in California, where the issue will be forced to the local level to be decided by local schoolboards or in individual classrooms.

The reason: The state’s guidelines grant teachers wide flexibility in how they teach the subject. Ethnic studies activists -- including those who wrote the first, rejected draft of the curriculum -- say high school teachers will have an escape clause to teach a watered down version that the activists deride as a “Foods, Heroes & Holidays” and “all lives matter” pabulum. These advocates insist on hewing to a heroic narrative about how people of color have suffered from and fought against European capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism.

White privilege, as defined by the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Institute Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Institute

Practitioners have formed their own organization – the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Institute – to promote an “authentic” ethnic studies, a discipline born in the late 1960s out of student campus protests led by the Third World Liberation Front to end Eurocentrism in education.

For the past year, these activists have been meeting in online sessions to hash out strategy, expound upon their “liberatory” and “transformational” ideology, and encourage educators to teach the full-strength curriculum that the state has flunked. Their unguarded comments in numerous videos convey the combative tone and spirit of ethnic studies already evident in some California classrooms, and likely to be adopted by many more teachers regardless of the model curriculum approved by the state.

Inside of the United States, native people have been actively fighting a long war to dismantle the United States,” said Stevie Ruiz, who teaches in the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at the California State University, Northridge, during a May 2020 online strategy session.

“So then we can actually think about what happens if we honor native people’s acknowledgements and begin to tear apart the United States internally,” continued  Ruiz, who was listed as one of the leaders of the Liberated group until February. “What if we decide to call this place the United States no longer?”

'A Way of Life'

The Liberated Ethnic Studies group includes many of the original authors of the 2019 Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum that the state has gutted, as well as 50 scholars, teachers, practitioners and students, according to Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, an Asian American Studies professor at San Francisco State University, speaking during a Feb. 2 online event. The advocates say that many state officials fail to grasp that ethnic studies is not a traditional school subject, but a movement and a philosophy best described as “narrative medicine,” “radical healing” and even a “way of life.” It’s distinguished from traditional classroom instruction by its emotional, immersive pedagogy designed to deprogram kids from European cultural assumptions, to make teenagers conscious of systemic inequities, and to reconnect them with forgotten ancestral knowledge.

According to one of the Liberated institute leaders, Theresa Montaño, a professor of Chicana and Chicano studies at the California State, Northridge, the group’s K-12 lesson plans should be available online for free this spring.

According to the group’s web site, the material will be based on five themes: racialized intersectional identity, collective narratives, systems of power and oppression, resilience and resistance, and solidarity among people of color. And the Liberated institute is open for business: “We have packages and experts that can help you with your Ethnic Studies professional learning needs.”

“We know that when districts begin to implement their ethnic studies programs, they’re not going to go to the state of California and say, ‘Excuse me, state of California, can you come to L.A. and help me implement my ethnic studies program?’” Montaño said last August. “No, they’re going to come to us. And so we are continuing the work that we need to do to develop ethnic studies while simultaneously holding on to some critical hope that we can still influence what the state of California does.”

In repeated expressions of frustration, the advocates attribute the state’s political compromises to a common enemy: “whiteness” – what they call the oppressive force that their movement and its precursors have been seeking to disempower for 500 years. “All of the attacks against the ESMC [Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum] came from the realms of whiteness and authoritarian whitesplaining,” read a statement Los Angeles public school intervention counselor Guadalupe Carrasco Cardona posted during her May presentation on ethnic studies and teacher preparation.

“Well-funded attempts at whitewashing the ESMC ranged from right wing white nationalists at Breitbart, to Wall Street Journal white capitalists who deny the climate crisis, to white moderates who superficially may say they support ethnic studies, but only if it’s done in the way they ‘as gate-keeping white moderates’ say it needs to be done.”

The model curriculum that Cardona, Montaño, Tintiangco-Cubales and others wrote in 2019 hit a tripwire with references to Palestinian resistance to the state of Israel as an example of ethnic studies in action. The removal of those references from the state’s revised curriculum, and the addition of lessons about anti-Semitism, is seen by the advocates as emblematic of the way white power structures erase the histories of those they oppress.  

Cardona, one of the founding members of the Liberated Ethnic Studies group, said by phone that she expects an anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions lesson to be included in the Liberated materials that the group is developing.

Cardona is a longtime public school teacher and a veteran of California’s ethnic studies skirmishes, having been fired from a teaching position three years ago after some parents found out she was a member of a Marxist organization that advocates for political revolution, emulates Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, and vows “to crush all forms of oppression and reactionary tendencies.”

Rejecting the state’s assimilationist bent, Cardona suggested that ethnic studies has a totally different focus than the current equity push to get people of color into middle management positions.

"They just want little youth to want this little piece of this American pie because that's what they think social justice is: put black, brown, indigenous bodies in college, put them into these corporate positions and have them do the same old thing that this country does,” she said in a May podcast. “And we're saying, No, there's something wrong with this system. We want black, brown and indigenous bodies in universities to learn about it and to transform and to end all of this oppression, not to continue the roles of the oppressor."

Another flash point in the 2019 model curriculum was the exclusive focus on people of color, with no mention of European ethnicities that were subject to discrimination and genocide. The experiences of European groups, including Jews and Armenians, deserve to be studied, the advocates say, but they have no connection to the ethnic studies movement, whose true focus is the worldview and struggle of people of color against white supremacy.

The sweeping 1,000-plus pages of the state’s revised model curriculum and appendices have toned down the language of the original version, but the public comments cite a number of concerns.

Judea Pearl, father of the late Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter beheaded by Al Qaeda terrorists, wrote: “I am particularly alarmed by its attempt to depict inter-ethnic relationships as a[n] irreconcilable struggle between racially-defined ‘oppressed’ and [‘]oppressors,’ and by the way it associates ‘whiteness’ with ‘oppression’ and ‘colonialism.’”

According to one of several definitions of “race” provided, American society comprises two opposing racial factions: “In the United States today, races very broadly break down as people of color (POC) and white people.” That definition comes from Rethinking Ethnic Studies, a primer co-edited by R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, a consultant and one of the authors of the rejected 2019 version of the model curriculum.

Breaking New Ground

The state’s Department of Education described its ethnic studies undertaking in the previous draft as “a groundbreaking project – the first of its kind among the 50 states.” And given California’s outsize influence in the textbook industry and educational trends, it is assumed by many in the field that California’s standards could serve as a national model for years to come.

California’s push to make a semester-long ethnic studies class a graduation requirement for all of its 1.74 million high school students in 1,322 high schools would be an exponential expansion for a course taught to 20,500 students in 314 high schools during the 2018-19 academic year.

Ethnic studies advocates believe that after four years of President Donald Trump, a pandemic that hit minorities hard, and a summer of Black Lives Matter demonstrations, Americans are ready to grapple with the moral implications of the nation’s origins and history.

All the horrific shit that white people have been doing to us, has now began to haunt them,” Ruiz told his colleagues in the May video. “Because they’ve been experimenting on us for 500 years, it’s no longer something you can contain anymore.”

They also see encouraging signs in President Biden’s choice of education secretary, Miguel Cardona, considered a champion of the cause who will be well positioned to put federal muscle behind it. As Connecticut’s commissioner of education last year, Cardona oversaw that state’s adoption of a requirement that all high schools offer courses in African American, Black, Puerto Rican, and Latino studies.

“For Ethnic Studies advocates, that’s really encouraging and suggests that maybe we might see some national efforts that are encouraging folks to implement Ethnic Studies in the K-12 setting,” said Ravi Perry, chairman of Howard University’s political science department and immediate past president of the Association for Ethnic Studies.

“Education is a local issue,” Perry said. “But perhaps like they’ve done with transgender bathroom directives in the Obama administration, they can provide some incentives, some strongly worded language to districts, to encourage them to adopt this curriculum while working behind the scenes in the House and Senate to get a bill passed that would perhaps require this [nationally].

There’s no way of getting around the fact that ethnic studies is going to make some people uncomfortable.

“It’s an explicit, straight-out confrontation with power,” said Ron Scapp, professor of humanities and teacher education at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, in New York, and past president of the Association for Ethnic Studies. “And the power in the U.S. is predicated on the white supremacist, Christian nationalist, unfettered capitalist caste system.”

Scapp, who was editor of the journal Ethnic Studies Review for a decade until last year, said the strident tone of some advocates can sound extreme, but that rhetoric is part of the spirit of resistance.

“They are expressing the outrage, the pain, the suffering, and the longing for home, the longing for validity and legitimacy,” he said. “But in that expression of pain and hurt – and maybe a bit of, like, ‘Fuck you, white man’ – I actually think they do a disservice because they wind up participating in a discourse of violence.”

Conversely, the movement’s culture is capable of expressing an almost utopian exuberance. Advocates repeatedly say that ethnic studies has “saved” their life and that it “saves” the lives of students.

In a Feb. 2 organizing session online, Jeff Duncan-Andrade, professor of Latina/o Studies and Race and Resistance Studies at San Francisco State University, hyperbolically declared that Western knowledge stands in awe of the wisdom contained in ethnic studies.

“There isn’t even a debate in the medical field, in neurobiology, in psychology, in social epidemiology, and in public health, about how important an ethnic studies framework and project is to the wellness of the nation,” he said.

Still, confronting complicity in or victimization by European colonialism, imperialism and genocide can take a toll on teenagers, and the California Department of Education’s proposal initially advised schools to have trained counselors on standby to assist distraught students. Indeed, the language in California’s third draft of the proposal read like a surgeon general's warning: "Engaging topics on race, class, gender, oppression, etc. may evoke feelings of vulnerability, uneasiness, sadness, guilt, helplessness, or discomfort.”

The fourth draft removed the warnings, saying instead: “Given the unique and often sensitive material and discussions that may unfold in an ethnic studies course, being able to establish trust and building community within the classroom are essential.”

 'Proselytizing' in Public Schools

Some warn that the ethnic studies curriculum amounts to political indoctrination, violates state anti-discrimination policy, and at times borders on child abuse.

These critics are concerned that kids won’t be required to just study the material, take a multiple-choice test, write a paper and move on; they may be required to espouse progressive politics as a condition of passing the class and graduating from high school.

“It’s a totalitarian worldview that is every bit as much a faith community as any religion,” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, director of AMCHA Initiative, an anti-Semitism watchdog group in Santa Cruz, Calif.

“In a public school, it really is the imposition of a state religion,” she said. “This kind of proselytizing has no place in public schools.”

Even though California offers flexibility on teaching the material, the advocates say a state curriculum reflecting their outlook would provide an important tactical advantage: the necessary political cover to advance their agenda against the expected public backlash.

If it's watered down in that curriculum, yes, it's just a model, you can adjust it,” Cardona said in a December podcast interview. “But you don't have that sort of political coverage that you could have if it was already in the model curriculum."

Cardona is speaking from personal experience. In 2018 she was suspected of teaching Marxist and communist ideology, and was fired from a teaching position at the El Rancho Unified School District, which is about 98% Hispanic and holds the distinction of being the first school district in California to adopt, in 2014, an ethnic studies high school graduation requirement.

According to local news coverage, local residents began to voice concerns about Cardona’s involvement in several activist organizations, including Unión del Barrio. According to the organization’s website and 17-page political manifesto, the group is committed to dislodging European imperialists from the Western Hemisphere and regaining political sovereignty for people of color from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska, forming a single geopolitical unit called Nuestra America, “ultimately advancing Simón Bolívar’s dream of a unified continent.”

We will never unite with bourgeois, capitalist, neo-colonialists, who actively unite with imperialism, exploit their own people, and choose to advance their individual self-interest over the interests of all others,” the group declares.

Cardona said by phone that she subscribes to the revolutionary philosophy of Unión del Barrio, but she does not mix her extracurricular political activities with her day job as a teacher. And she does not hide it: To this day her personal website declares: “She is a proud member of the socialist political organization, Union del Barrio.”

Guillermo Gómez, who teaches ethnic studies at Lincoln High School in San Diego, declared himself in May 2020 as “actually accountable and responsible” to Unión del Barrio, which has “developed my political ideology in order to continue the work that we do.”

In the May webinar, Gómez gave a detailed account of the step-by-step process used to introduce teachers and students to the Ethnic Studies worldview. “It’s important to ground ourselves in this concept of love, of revolutionary love,” he described the initiation.

The training starts by establishing that ethnic studies is grounded in social justice, Gómez said, astutely noting: “Who can argue against social justice, right?”

The process advances through progressive stages of buy-in.

For example, students are taught to see themselves not as individuals but through their identity. And after they start seeing themselves through the prism of race, gender and other intersectional modes of power and oppression, they are taught that their identity is exposed and vulnerable to malevolent external forces.

“Once they’re grounded and they’re very strong about what their identity is, then we start bringing the teachers and students into ideas and attacks against their identity,” he explained. “And once they’re able to analyze and identify the systems of oppression, the question becomes, Well what can we do now?

Some teachers and students become totally committed.

“Ethnic studies is not just an academic discipline – it’s like your whole life – it’s life, period,” Gómez said in the webinar. Gómez did not respond to an email, but Scapp said Gómez represents something very encouraging in ethnic studies: He uses the language of love rather than confrontation, and he’s helping students declutter their minds of toxic ideas.

“It’s the opposite of indoctrination,” Scapp said. “The starting point is that people are already indoctrinated, even if they are not white, by white supremacy.”

In the video, Gómez said that teaching effectively ultimately comes down to trust. “Once you have a strong, positive loving community in the classroom,” Gómez said, “you pretty much can teach anything.”

Email: jmurawski@realclearinvestigations.com

Twitter: @johnmurawski

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/12/2021 - 22:20
Published:3/12/2021 9:25:51 PM
[] FLASHBACK: Tragic Stories of Unaccompanied Minors Under the Obama Administration Published:3/12/2021 8:28:20 PM
[Markets] Taibbi: The Sovietization Of The American Press Taibbi: The Sovietization Of The American Press

Authored by Matt Taibbi via TK News

I collect Soviet newspapers. Years ago, I used to travel to Moscow’s Izmailovsky flea market every few weeks, hooking up with a dealer who crisscrossed the country digging up front pages from the Cold War era. I have Izvestia’s celebration of Gagarin’s flight, a Pravda account of a 1938 show trial, even an ancient copy of Ogonyek with Trotsky on the cover that someone must have taken a risk to keep.

These relics, with dramatic block fonts and red highlights, are cool pieces of history. Not so cool: the writing! Soviet newspapers were wrought with such anvil shamelessness that it’s difficult to imagine anyone ever read them without laughing. A good Soviet could write almost any Pravda headline in advance. What else but “A Mighty Demonstration of the Union of the Party and the People” fit the day after Supreme Soviet elections? What news could come from the Spanish civil war but “Success of the Republican Fleet?” Who could earn an obit headline but a “Faithful Son of the Party”?

Reality in Soviet news was 100% binary, with all people either heroes or villains, and the villains all in league with one another (an SR was no better than a fascist or a “Right-Trotskyite Bandit,” a kind of proto-horseshoe theory). Other ideas were not represented, except to be attacked and deconstructed. Also, since anything good was all good, politicians were not described as people at all but paragons of limitless virtue — 95% of most issues of Pravda or Izvestia were just names of party leaders surrounded by lists of applause-words, like “glittering,” “full-hearted,” “wise,” “mighty,” “courageous,” “in complete moral-political union with the people,” etc.

Some of the headlines in the U.S. press lately sound suspiciously like this kind of work:

— Biden stimulus showers money on Americans, sharply cutting poverty

— Champion of the middle class comes to the aid of the poor

— Biden's historic victory for America

The most Soviet of the recent efforts didn’t have a classically Soviet headline. “Comedians are struggling to parody Biden. Let’s hope this doesn’t last,” read the Washington Post opinion piece by Richard Zoglin, arguing that Biden is the first president in generations who might be “impervious to impressionists.” Zoglin contended Biden is “impregnable” to parody, his voice being too “devoid of obvious quirks,” his manner too “muted and self-effacing” to offer comedians much to work with. He was talking about this person:

Forget that the “impregnable to parody” pol spent the last campaign year jamming fingers in the sternums of voters, challenging them to pushup contests, calling them “lying dog-faced pony soldiers,” and forgetting what state he was in. Biden, on the day Zoglin ran his piece, couldn’t remember the name of his Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and referred to the Department of Defense as “that outfit over there”:

It doesn’t take much looking to find comedians like James Adomian and Anthony Atamaniuk ab-libbing riffs on Biden with ease. He checks almost every box as a comic subject, saying inappropriate things, engaging in wacky Inspector Clouseau-style physical stunts (like biting his wife’s finger), and switching back and forth between outbursts of splenetic certainty and total cluelessness. The parody doesn’t even have to be mean — you could make it endearing cluelessness. But to say nothing’s there to work with is bananas.

The first 50 days of Biden’s administration have been a surprise on multiple fronts. The breadth of his stimulus suggests a real change from the Obama years, while hints that this administration wants to pick a unionization fight with Amazon go against every tendency of Clintonian politics. But it’s hard to know what much of it means, because coverage of Biden increasingly resembles official press releases, often featuring embarrassing, Soviet-style contortions.

When Biden decided not to punish Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi on the grounds that the “cost” of “breaching the relationship with one of America’s key Arab allies” was too high, the New York Times headline read: “Biden Won’t Penalize Saudi Crown Prince Over Khashoggi’s Killing, Fearing Relations Breach.” When Donald Trump made the same calculation, saying he couldn’t cut ties because “the world is a very dangerous place” and “our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the paper joined most of the rest of the press corps in howling in outrage.

In Extraordinary Statement, Trump Stands With Saudis Despite Khashoggi Killing.” was the Times headline, in a piece that said Trump’s decision was “a stark distillation of the Trump worldview: remorselessly transactional, heedless of the facts, determined to put America’s interests first, and founded on a theory of moral equivalence.” The paper noted, “Even Mr. Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill expressed revulsion.”

This week, in its “Crusader for the Poor” piece, the Times described Biden’s identical bin Salman decision as mere evidence that he remains “in the cautious middle” in his foreign policy. The paper previously had David Sanger dig up a quote from former Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross, who “applauded Mr. Biden for ‘trying to thread the needle here… This is the classic example of where you have to balance your values and your interests.’” It’s two opposite takes on exactly the same thing.

The old con of the Manufacturing Consent era of media was a phony show of bipartisanship. Legitimate opinion was depicted as a spectrum stretching all the way from “moderate” Democrats (often depicted as more correct on social issues) to “moderate” Republicans (whose views on the economy or war were often depicted as more realistic). That propaganda trick involved constantly narrowing the debate to a little slice of the Venn diagram between two established parties. Did we need to invade Iraq right away to stay safe, as Republicans contended, or should we wait until inspectors finished their work and then invade, as Democrats insisted?

The new, cleaved media landscape advances the same tiny intersection of elite opinion, except in the post-Trump era, that strip fits inside one party. Instead of appearing as props in a phony rendering of objectivity, Republicans in basically all non-Fox media have been moved off the legitimacy spectrum, and appear as foils only. Allowable opinion is now depicted stretching all the way from one brand of “moderate” Democrat to another.

An example is the Thursday New York Times story, “As Economy Is Poised to Soar, Some Fear a Surge in Inflation.” It’s essentially an interview with JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who’s worried about the inflationary impact of the latest Covid-19 rescue (“The question is: Does [it] overheat everything?”), followed by quotes from Fed chair Jerome Powell insisting that no, everything is cool. This is the same Larry Summers vs. Janet Yellen debate that’s been going on for weeks, and it represents the sum total of allowable economic opinions about the current rescue, stretching all the way from “it’s awesome” to “it’s admirable but risky.”

This format isn’t all that different from the one we had before, except in one respect: without the superficial requirement to tend to a two-party balance, the hagiography in big media organizations flies out of control. These companies already tend to wash out people who are too contentious or anti-establishment in their leanings. Promoted instead, as even Noam Chomsky described a generation ago, are people with the digestive systems of jackals or monitor lizards, who can swallow even the most toxic piles of official nonsense without blinking. Still, those reporters once had to at least pretend to be something other than courtiers, as it was considered unseemly to openly gush about a party or a politician.

Now? Look at the Times feature story on Biden’s pandemic relief bill:

On Friday, “Scranton Joe” Biden, whose five-decade political identity has been largely shaped by his appeal to union workers and blue-collar tradesmen like those from his Pennsylvania hometown, will sign into law a $1.9 trillion spending plan that includes the biggest antipoverty effort in a generation…

The new role as a crusader for the poor represents an evolution for Mr. Biden, who spent much of his 36 years in Congress concentrating on foreign policy, judicial fights, gun control, and criminal justice issues… Aides say he has embraced his new role… [and] has also been moved by the inequities in pain and suffering that the pandemic has inflicted on the poorest Americans…

You’d never know from reading this that Biden’s actual rep on criminal justice issues involved boasting about authoring an infamous crime bill (that did “everything but hang people for jaywalking”), or that he’s long been a voracious devourer of corporate and especially financial services industry cash, that his “Scranton Joe” rep has been belied by a decidedly mixed history on unions, and so on. Can he legitimately claim to be more pro-union than his predecessor? Sure, but a news story that paints the Biden experience as stretching from “hero to the middle class” to “hero to the poor,” is a Pravda-level stroke job.

We now know in advance that every Biden address will be reviewed as historic and exceptional. It was a mild shock to see Chris Wallace say Biden’s was the "the best inaugural address I have ever heard.” More predictable was Politico saying of Thursday night’s address that “it is hard to imagine any other contemporary politician making the speech Biden did… channeling our collective sorrow and reminding us that there is life after grief.” (Really? Hard to imagine any contemporary politician doing that?).

This stuff is relatively harmless. Where it gets weird is that the move to turn the bulk of the corporate press in the “moral clarity” era into a single party organ has come accompanied by purges of the politically unfit. In the seemingly endless parade of in-house investigations of journalists, paper after paper has borrowed from the Soviet style of printing judgments and self-denunciations, without explaining the actual crimes.

The New York Times coverage of the recent staff revolt at Teen Vogue against editor Alexi McCammond noted “Staff Members Condemn Editor’s Decade-Old, Racist Tweets,” but declined to actually publish the offending texts, so readers might judge for themselves. The Daily Beast expose on Times reporter Donald McNeil did much the same thing. Even the ongoing (and in my mind, ridiculous) moral panic over Substack ties in. Aimed at people already banished from mainstream media, the obvious message is that anyone with even mildly heterodox opinions shouldn’t be publishing anywhere.

Those still clinging to mainstream jobs in a business that continues to lay people off at an extraordinary rate read the gist of all of these stories clearly: if you want to keep picking up a check, you’d better talk the right talk.

Thus you see bizarre transformations like that of David Brooks, who spent his career penning paeans to “personal responsibility” and the “culture of thrift,” but is now writing stories about how “Joe Biden is a transformational president” for casting aside fiscal restraints in the massive Covid-19 bill. When explaining that “both parties are adjusting to the new paradigm,” he’s really explaining his own transformation, in a piece that reads like a political confession. “I’m worried about a world in which we spend borrowed money with abandon,” he says, but “income inequality, widespread child poverty, and economic precarity are the problems of our time.”

Maybe Brooks is experiencing the same “evolution” Biden is being credited with of late. Or, he’s like a lot of people in the press who are searching out the safest places on the op-ed page, the middle of the newsroom middle, in desperate efforts to stay on the masthead. It’s been made clear that there’s no such thing as overdoing it in one direction, e.g. if you write as the Times did that Biden “has become a steady hand who chooses words with extraordinary restraint” (which even those who like and admire Biden must grasp is not remotely true of the legendary loose cannon). Meanwhile, how many open critics of the Party on either the left, the right, or anywhere in between still have traditional media jobs?

All of this has created an atmosphere where even obvious observations that once would have interested blue-state voters, like that Biden’s pandemic relief bill “does not establish a single significant new social program,” can only be found in publications like the World Socialist Web Site. The bulk of the rest of the landscape has become homogenous and as predictably sycophantic as Fox in the “Mission Accomplished” years, maybe even worse. What is this all going to look like in four years?

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/12/2021 - 17:40
Published:3/12/2021 4:54:22 PM
[Death Penalty] Vanita Gupta and Dylann Roof (Paul Mirengoff) Dylann Roof is the white supremacist who killed nine African-Americans while they were studying the Bible at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The Obama Justice Department prosecuted Roof. In doing so, it had to decide whether to seek the death penalty. Vanita Gupta, then the acting assistant attorney general, recommended against seeking the death penalty. However, the attorney general, Loretta Lynch, overruled Gupta. The legal issue was whether, in Published:3/12/2021 2:23:36 PM
[Campus] Architect of North Carolina’s Woke Curriculum Supports Obama’s Anti-Semitic Pastor

The North Carolina State Board of Education member responsible for pushing new radical curriculum standards on K-12 students recently lauded anti-American and anti-Semitic preacher Jeremiah Wright.

The post Architect of North Carolina’s Woke Curriculum Supports Obama’s Anti-Semitic Pastor appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:3/12/2021 1:25:43 PM
[Markets] Biden Is Playing A Dangerous Game In The Middle East Biden Is Playing A Dangerous Game In The Middle East

Authored by Cyril Widdershoven via OilPrice.com,

Washington’s new Middle East policies looks like sandcastle. Targeting MBS means putting region at peril. The new media frenzy about a possible full-out confrontation between the US Biden Administration and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a sign that Western political leaders are out of touch with reality.



Last week’s revelations published in a declassified report by U.S. security services on the role of MBS in the Khashoggi murder show not only the lack of proof available, but could also lead to a full divorce between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. A growing amount of Western media publications argue that the Saudi Crown Prince should not only be sanctioned, but that Washington also should reconsider its former in-depth cooperation with the Kingdom. 

Several U.S. experts have been quoted in international media calling for a clear change in US strategy towards the Kingdom, including a possible removal of MBS as Crown Prince via support of former Saudi Crown Prince Bin Nayef or other Saudi royals. In a clear break with US power politics we’ve seen during the last decades, where the removal of third party power brokers was blocked, a new era seems to be looming on the horizon. 

At the same time, Biden finds himself on a slippery slope regarding the ongoing confrontation with Iran, by putting additional sanctions on Iran but at the same time removing one of the region’s main Iranian backed armed groups, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, from the U.S. terrorism list. The results this policy change have already become very clear. A new aggressive drone and ballistic missile campaign has been started by the Houthis to hit Saudi strategic airports and oil infrastructure targets on the Red Sea and East Coast. The high-profile attack on Aramco oil infrastructure this week shows that the Kingdom is still under threat. Some even state that the attacks on the Eastern Province, Saudi’s main oil and gas production region, could not have been done without the full military and logistical support of Iran.

Still, the military capabilities of Houthi rebels and Iran are at present the least of the kingdom’s concerns. The direct diplomatic fall-out of the publication of an intelligence report by the Biden Administration in which the Saudi Crown Prince, who is expected to become Saudi King in the next few years, is being implicated as potential instigator and backer of the Khashoggi murder, is unprecedented. To have U.S. citizens and politicians call for new inquiries about the role of MBS and his security apparatus in the murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is one thing, but having official documents, declassified by the Biden Administration, directly accusing MBS is calling for potential rifts that could have a fall-out for the whole region. 

The attack on Ras Tanura, which is Saudi Arabia’s main crude oil and petchem products export facility had an impact on the market. Crude oil prices spiked, but the effect was only marginal. Even that the current attack has not received the same attention as the Abqaiq attack in 2019, which had a much larger impact on Saudi oil production, the significance seems to be underestimated. A potential destruction of critical facilities in Ras Tanura would have been a shock to the market, even in the light of still high storage volumes worldwide. No oil flows however seem to have been constrained, so futures relaxed again. Still, the market should keep a wary eye on the area, as possible new attacks or even combined attacks on Abqaiq-Ras Tanura by the Houthis and/or Iran could be an option currently being discussed by Tehran hard-liners.

Until now, the impact has been only superficial, but taking into account the growing capabilities of Houthi drone and missile arsenals, or the vast, almost Russian style, capabilities on the other side of the Gulf, other options are clearly on the table. 

What should markets get worried is the fact that in the eyes of Iran, Biden and Europeans have almost given green light to hardliners in Tehran to show their muscles. The ongoing Houthi operations are a clear sign that Biden’s current soft-power or even appeasement approach is already backfiring.

Washington’s diffuse approach to Iranian sanctions and the JCPOA is another bone of contention. In the first months of his Presidency, Biden has not shown any clear strategy, leaving too much room for interpretation. Whatever people think about former US president Trump’s policies, his Iran policies were clear. It seems that Iran has almost fallen off the Resolute Desk in the White House, no open and clear way-forward is being introduced. The only clear path currently painted is that Riyadh and Washington are on a collision course. The Biden Administration seems to hold the view that the US is still the sole power broker in the region, so soft power or pressure put on Arab regimes will reap the rewards sought for.  This is a clear misconception, partly based on still existing Obama Era assessments, which are no longer valid.

Maybe to the surprise of Washington-based analysts, MBS is not sitting still. The Saudi Crown Prince, is making a lot of headlines with his aggressive economic diversification plans and dreams, and has shown that his international position has not yet diminished. The last days, a flurry of diplomatic and high-level meetings have been held in Riyadh, where Russian Minister Lavrov, Jordan’s King Abdallah, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and others have been holding meetings to discuss economic and geopolitical issues. Saudi Arabia's top diplomat Prince Faisal also has been hosted by Qatar's ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani on Monday in Doha, showing renewed interest in expanding cooperation.

At the same time, Saudi ministers have been flying to Saudi major clients, such as China. Russia is currently using the cooling Saudi-US relations as a possible wedge. Moscow and Riyadh already are cooperating fully in energy and logistics, as statements today reaffirmed. Both stated that the OPEC+ cooperation is still very strong and will continue. Moscow is very pleased with the Biden Administration’s lack of strategy for the Arab region.

Putin and his emissary Lavrov hope to be able to capitalize on Biden’s ongoing mistakes, not only in Riyadh, but also Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Egypt. A critical outcome of US pressure on MBS would also be growing fears in Cairo, Abu Dhabi and other places. A possible realignment of these leading Arab countries, leaving the Atlantic sphere of influence while joining the growing Moscow-Beijing axis is not the outcome that Washington or Brussels would like to see. 

Pragmatism is needed and neo-realism also. As Machiavelli and Von Clausewitz clearly stated “to rule or influence a region, one should regard possible strong relationships with the Prince”. If removing the Prince results in a new Prince, instability is the outcome. Stability is needed, Biden’s Gulf strategies are counterproductive, to say the least. By indicating or affronting a “King-to-Be”, enemies are being made. Washington’s culture of backstabbing and rumor carousels are maybe effective in the West, in the Arab world “a man’s word is forever, friendship also”….but this is the same for making enemies.

Tyler Durden Thu, 03/11/2021 - 22:10
Published:3/11/2021 9:19:11 PM
[Markets] Dear Jen 'No Crisis At The Border' Psaki - Watch This Clip! Dear Jen 'No Crisis At The Border' Psaki - Watch This Clip!

You know it's bad when CNN is slamming Democrats...

In a somewhat combative press briefing today, CNN's Kaitlin Collins pressed White House press secretary Jen Psaki on why the Biden admin was refusing to address the "crisis" at the border (which everyone and their pet rabbit could have seen coming):

The administration has refused to call it a crisis, instead referring to it as a challenge and saying what you call it doesn’t make a difference of how you’re responding to it, but now today there are over 3,700 children – unaccompanied migrant children – in border patrol custody,” Collins noted.

They’re spending on average over 100 hours – four days – in these facilities that are jail-like facilities not meant for children, so how can you say that’s not a crisis?” she continued.

Psaki exclaimed that “it doesn’t matter what you call it” and referred to the situation as “an enormous challenge.” 

“Our focus here is getting to the root of the issues and taking actions, and we don’t feel the need to play games with what it’s called,” Psaki ultimately said.

So, having tried the Jedi Mind Trick of convincing Americans that "this is not the border crisis you are looking for," we suggest Ms. Psaki take a look at the following clip that is rapidly going viral...

Biden's "humane" border policy in all its gory glory...

How long before this is banned from the interwebs?

As a reminder, analyst Steven Kopits said that the reported 96,974 migrants apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection broke many records.

“This was almost three times the level of one year earlier and the highest since 2006, that is, during the Bush administration. It was far worse than any February under either the Obama or Trump administrations,” said Kopits.

Tyler Durden Thu, 03/11/2021 - 17:00
Published:3/11/2021 4:17:34 PM
[Markets] COVID-19 Origins To Be Found 'Within A Few Years' According To Wuhan Lab Affiliate Peter Daszak COVID-19 Origins To Be Found 'Within A Few Years' According To Wuhan Lab Affiliate Peter Daszak

In 2014, Peter Daszak, president of New York-based nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, received a grant from Dr. Anthony Fauci's National Institutes of Health (NIH) to work with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and others to research how bat coronaviruses can 'evolve and jump into the human population.'

Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance

The grant's initial funding of $666,442 began in June 2014 with an end date of May 2019, and had paid annually to the tune of $3.7 million under the "Understanding The Risk Of Bat Coronavirus Emergence" project. Notably, the Obama administration cut funding for "gain-of-function" research in October, 2014, four months after Daszak's contract began, while the Wuhan Institute of Virology "had openly participated in gain-of-function research in partnership with U.S. universities and institutions" for years under the leadership of Dr. Shi 'Batwoman' Zhengli, according to the Washington Post's Josh Rogin.

After Rogin exposed diplomatic cables last April expressing grave concerns over safety at WIV, he says (in a new book): "many of the scientists who spoke out to defend the lab were Shi’s research partners and funders, like the head of the global public health nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, Peter Daszak; their research was tied to hers, and if the Wuhan lab were implicated in the pandemic, they would have to answer a lot of tough questions."

Shi Zhengli (center) and Peter Daszak (far right). (Emerging Viruses Group photo)

In short, Daszak - who has insisted the 'lab escape' theory is impossible, and that random natural origin via intermediary animal species is the only answer - has a massive conflict of interest.

Last August, the NIH reportedly cut funding to Daszak amid the COVID-19 pandemic, only to reverse its termination of the grant while suspending funding until EcoHealth met several requirements - including an in-person inspection of the Wuhan Institute of Virology by an outside team.

(August 19): According to a Wall Street Journal report and a statement by EcoHealth Alliance, NIH reversed its termination of the grant but suspended funding until EcoHealth meets new requirements, including arranging an inspection of the Wuhan Institute of Virology by an outside team. “NIH’s letter does not represent a good faith effort to understand the nature of our ongoing research,” EcoHealth says in its statement, but “imposes on us a series of demands that the NIH is fully aware many governments and the World Health Organization alike have been unable to successfully satisfy.” -TheScientist

As it turns out, Daszak (who, again, insists SARS-CoV-2 couldn't have come from the lab he worked with) was the most prominent member of the World Health Organization (WHO)'s media blitz super legitimate 'inspection' of Wuhan and said now-infamous virology institute he'd been collaborating with for years. A trip which coincidentally checked Daszak's box to continue receiving his NIH funding.

Unsurprisingly, Daszak says the WHO team learned during their Wuhan trip that "meat from animals known to carry coronaviruses belonging to the same family as the pandemic virus were sold in the Hunan market," adding that the leading hypothesis is that "a bat or other wildlife species carrying a progenitor, or closely related virus, infected a farm animal or a person, who then carried it to the Huanan market," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans echoed Daszak's position, reiterating that the team considered it "extremely unlikely" that the virus may have escaped from a lab - because they don't have evidence of it doing so (which is somehow different from the lack of natural origin evidence).

"There was a conduit from Wuhan to the provinces in South China, where the closest relative viruses to SARS-CoV-2 are found in bats," Daszak claimed, adding "And that's a really important clue."

So now - with that bit of context - you'll forgive the audible laughter after Daszak on Wednesday said that 'it might be a few years' before we find out exactly where COVID-19 came from.

"I’m convinced we’re going to find out fairly soon," he said during a webinar organized by London think tank Chatham House - defining 'soon' as: "Within the next few years," when "we’ll have real significant data on where this came from and how it emerged" [ZH: and which, in a stroke of unimaginable coincidence, began on the doorstep of WIV - where they were experimenting on how to make bat coronaviruses more easily infect humans].

Daszak also noted that he didn't ask WIV researchers about a mysteriously missing bat virus database.

And before anyone goes having their own thoughts on the matter, bear in mind that you may be censored, throttled or canceled for expressing deviant opinions which run counter to Silicon Valley's uber-establishment doctrine. Of course, as top commenters frequently ask - why are you on social media in the first place?

Tyler Durden Thu, 03/11/2021 - 16:40
Published:3/11/2021 3:50:07 PM
[138753d8-906e-5fd3-b2ae-bf4915309935] WSJ Editorial Board: Why the $1.9 trillion COVID spending bill is only a taste of what's coming next Democrats on Wednesday passed their $1.9 trillion spending and welfare bill that would have been unimaginable even in the Obama years. Published:3/11/2021 12:17:43 PM
[] WaPo: Child migrants in adult custody soar -- far higher than Trump peak Published:3/11/2021 7:18:52 AM
[World] Perils of a porous border include COVID-19 spread

One of the main concerns when Joe Biden was elected president was that he was going to open the southern border. There was good reason to worry about that considering the Obama/Biden disastrous immigration policies.

But this time was different, we heard some people say. There’s no way the Biden ... Published:3/9/2021 8:07:35 PM

[Biden Administration] Grassley Grills Biden Nominee Over Push to Lift Sanctions on Group Tied to Terror

The Biden administration’s nomination of Samantha Power to head the United States Agency for International Development is facing congressional scrutiny amid allegations the former Obama administration’s United Nations ambassador personally lobbied to remove a terror-designated group from the U.S. sanctions list.

The post Grassley Grills Biden Nominee Over Push to Lift Sanctions on Group Tied to Terror appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:3/8/2021 5:30:29 PM
[eea066e4-7f44-5ab2-89be-a967c3f0332d] Sen. Marco Rubio: Biden nominee Wendy Sherman for deputy secretary of state? No way. Here's why Ambassador Wendy Sherman, who served as President Obama's under secretary of state for political affairs from 2011 to 2015, is not qualified to serve as our next deputy secretary of state. Published:3/8/2021 7:25:32 AM
[Fundings & Exits] Praava Health raises $10.6M to increase access to quality healthcare in Bangladesh Before launching Praava Health, a company that combines telemedicine with physical clinics, Sylvana Sinha had a successful career in international law, including serving as a foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and working for the World Bank in Afghanistan. While visiting Bangladesh in 2011 for a family wedding, however, Sinha had a […] Published:3/7/2021 9:52:59 PM
[Markets] Ditch The Afghanistan Experts Ditch The Afghanistan Experts

Authored by Daniel L. Davis via RealClear World (emphasis ours),

U.S. President Joe Biden is coming under heavy pressure to abandon the May 1 deadline to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan. The push to move the deadline might come from a former secretary of state, the congressionally mandated Afghan Study Group, or even NATO’s secretary-general. Opposing the pleas of these popular figures are 20 years of unbroken strategic failure. There is ample evidence to suggest that 20 more years of failure await, should the president give in to the wishes of these personalities.

U.S. Army patrol in Afghanistan (source: Flickr)

In February, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright argued Biden should ignore the May 1 withdrawal date and instead adopt a series of five new steps. The Afghan Study Group likewise advocated to abandon the withdrawal date and offered its own objectives. Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the May 1 date was a “conditions-based” deal and declared the Taliban hadn’t met the conditions, and therefore NATO should continue the war.

All of these advocates ignore that every tactic and objective they advocate has been tried over the past two decades, usually multiple times, and uniformly they have failed.

When Barack Obama came into office, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Commander of U.S. Central Command David Petraeus convinced the new president that they had a better strategy than that employed by Obama’s predecessor. They advocated for a dramatic troop increase and the adoption of a counterinsurgency strategy. Obama listened. He authorized a surge of 17,000 troops to Afghanistan in February 2009, and another surge of 30,000 that December.

Obama was himself unsure the strategy would work. According to Jonathan Alter, however, Obama pressed all his senior officials before making the final decision on Nov. 29 of that year, and he pointedly asked whether they could complete the mission in the 18 months they had promised. All said yes. "If you can't do the things you say you can in 18 months,” Obama demanded, “then no one is going to suggest we stay, right?" All agreed.

And yet as I personally observed — I was one of the surge troops from 2010-2011 — it was obvious from even a cursory observation on the ground that the mission wouldn’t be successfully completed in 18 months, or even in 18 years. Instead, Obama prosecuted eight more years of inconclusive war in Afghanistan. Donald Trump campaigned on ending endless wars and won the 2016 election. Unfortunately, as president he also came under enormous pressure by supposed experts against ending the war.

Then-National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Secretary of Defense James Mattis – both heavyweight former generals with combat experience – sought to sway Trump against following his instincts and ending the war. In August 2017, Trump announced that not only would he not be ordering a withdrawal, but he would reluctantly increase the number of troops.

“My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts,” the president explained. The turnaround, the New York Times reported, was “a victory of sorts” for Mattis and McMaster, who had successfully pressured Trump to order the troop increase. Again the “new” strategy didn’t work, and the result was merely to add four more years to the failed war.

Now it is Biden who is coming under pressure, again by men and women that seem to have great credentials on paper, to seek yet another so-called new strategic roadmap. Again, they advocate against ending the war and withdrawing. If Biden proves to be the fourth straight president to listen to these experts and choose to cancel the withdrawal and continue the war, it is likely he too will be passing off the war to his successor – as the futile and wasteful adventure reaches 24 or 28 years.

I warned in 2010 and 2012 that the war in Afghanistan was unwinnable. The fundamentals that led me to make that conclusion a decade ago have not changed. So long as Pakistan continues to secretly help the Taliban, the Afghan government remains one of the most corrupt in the world, the Taliban remains committed to fighting, and the Afghan Security Forces remain of limited capability, it won’t matter how many troops Biden orders to Afghanistan, how long they remain there, or what strategy he adopts: We will continue losing the war.

The best thing President Biden can do for America’s national security and the health and wellbeing of our troops is to end the war and withdraw our troops, on schedule, by May 1. Anything else will needlessly extend the futility into perpetuity.

Daniel L. Davis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who deployed into combat zones four times. He is the author of “The Eleventh Hour in 2020 America.” Follow him @DanielLDavis1The views expressed are the author's own.

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/06/2021 - 18:30
Published:3/6/2021 5:45:43 PM
[Markets] "We've Gone To A Liberal Form Of John Bolton": Rand Paul Blasts Biden's Foreign Policy "We've Gone To A Liberal Form Of John Bolton": Rand Paul Blasts Biden's Foreign Policy

This week the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a confirmation hearing for Wendy Sherman, nominated by the Biden White House to serve as deputy secretary of state.

The career diplomat answered the usual questions on how she views United States posture toward American rivals and official enemies like Russia, China, and Iran. Once again it was Sen. Rand Paul who had the most direct pushback and biting criticism against an administration that seems bent on returning to the foreign adventurism and unilateral military interventionism of the Obama and Bush years.

"We've gone to a liberal form of John Bolton," Paul said of President Biden during his turn to question Sherman. Paul is especially outraged over Biden's Syria strike without consulting Congress last week.

During the above exchange with Wendy Sherman, Paul in his concluding remarks had blasted away at Biden's vision of the world, citing past failed Democratic-led military interventions in places like Libya, Yemen, and Syria.

"I think we've gone to a liberal form of John Bolton with your new boss and that's something I'm really concerned with," Paul said.

"All I will say is that we're bombing now again in Syria without Congressional approval and we're sending more convoys in there without Congressional approval. It's a messy war - it's been going on forever, there's nothing good that's going to come out of our involvement," Paul explained in his statement.

"People say 'well US lives are at risk'... yeah because we put'em there. We put them in the middle of a civil war that's largely over but can continue if we keep putting troops into there... to put our troops as a 'trip wire' to get involved in a further escalation of this war."

And that's when the Republican Senator from Kentucky blasted President Biden on his Syria stance and general interventionist foreign policy:

"I hope that we'll be sane voices and I hope that you'll be one of those," he said addressing Sherman.

"But I don't have a great deal of confidence that we've actually gone away from John Bolton, I've think we've gone to a liberal form of John Bolton with your new boss, and that's something I'm very concerned with."

Sherman in response had tried to claim that the Biden admin is not trying to get more deeply involved in the Syria conflict, but maintained the 'countering ISIS' stance that the Pentagon has used for years to argue it must continue the occupation of the northeast portion of the country.

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/06/2021 - 14:10
Published:3/6/2021 1:17:28 PM
[Markets] How Democracy Dies: Big Tech Becomes Big Brother How Democracy Dies: Big Tech Becomes Big Brother

Authored by Leni Friedman Valenta with Dr. Jiri Valenta via The Gatestone Institute,

"Digital giants have been playing an increasingly significant role in wider society... how well does this monopolism correlate with the public interest?," Russian President Vladimir Putin said on January 27, 2021.

"Where is the distinction between successful global businesses, sought-after services and big data consolidation on the one hand, and the efforts to rule society[...] by substituting legitimate democratic institutions, by restricting the natural right for people to decide how to live and what view to express freely on the other hand?"

Was Mr. Putin defending democracy? Hardly. What apparently worries him is that the Big Tech might gain the power to control society at the expense of his government.

What must be a nightmare for him -- as for many Americans -- is that the Tech giants were able to censor news favorable to Trump and then censor Trump himself. How could the U.S. do this to the president of a great and free country?

Putin made these comments at the Davos World Economic Forum, in which he and Chinese President Xi Jinping, sped on by the "Great Reset" of a fourth industrial revolution, used enlightened phrases to mask dark plans for nation states in a globalist New World Order. Thus did Xi caution attendees "to adapt to and guide globalization, cushion its negative impact, and deliver its benefits to all countries and all nations."

In March 2019, Putin signed a law "imposing penalties for Russian internet users caught spread 'fake news' and information that presents 'clear disrespect for society, government, state symbols the constitution and government institutions.'" Punishments got even heavier with new laws in December.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to prison for more than three years (with a year off for time served), in part because he revealed photos of a lavish Russian palace allegedly belonging to Putin on the coast of the Black Sea. Its accouterments supposedly include an $824 toilet brush. Many of the thousands of people protesting Navalny's imprisonment have since been protesting Putin by waving gold-painted toilet brushes.

How nice that American Big Tech companies is pushing democracy in Russia -- even while it is denying it at home. Do you notice how many leaders in Europe have risen to condemn censorship in America even though many in Europe are censoring their citizens as well, and are not exactly fans of the person who was being censored, former President Donald J. Trump? Like Putin, they probably do not want Big Tech competing with their governments, either.

The power-sharing of the U.S. Federal government with Big Tech appears a recipe for unharnessed power and corruption. Navalny caught on right away, saying:

"This precedent will be exploited by the enemies of freedom of speech around the world. In Russia as well. Every time when they need to silence someone, they will say: 'this is just common practice, even Trump got blocked on Twitter.'"

What watchdog, if any, is now restraining Big Tech in America? It has become quite clear that Big Tech's censorship may well have cost Trump the election, even if one ultimately finds that election fraud did not.

Big Tech took it upon itself to censor an exposé -- published by the New York Post on October 24, 2020, as well as follow-up exposés -- reporting that Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, had sold his influence to China and Ukraine, and had raked in millions for the family.

The Media Research Center (MRC) found that "One of every six Biden voters we surveyed (17%) said they would have abandoned the Democratic candidate had they known the facts about one or more of these news stories". That information might well have changed the outcome in all six of the swing states Biden reportedly won.

Last August, Twitter also undertook censoring the trailer of an explosive documentary entitled "The Plot Against the President." The film, narrated by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) with commentary by leading members of the Republican Party, exposes leading members of the Democratic Party and their deep state allies, many of whom knowingly used phony evidence to frame President Trump and some in his circle to try convince Americans that he and his campaign had colluded with the Russian government to win the 2016 election.

The film claims, using with recently declassified information, that President Barack Obama, as well Hillary Clinton, were involved in an almost four-year attempted coup incomparably more undemocratic than any riot at the Capital Building on January 6.

Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, claimed in August 2020 that Biden also knew of the ongoing efforts to unseat Trump. Nevertheless, Trump did not target them, perhaps to avoid dividing the country even further.

According to the Washington Times, the Twitter account of the movie, which debuted in October 2020, attracted 30,000 followers. Twitter blacklisted it for a day, but after a public uproar, put the popular documentary back. Our question is: How many blacklistings did Twitter not put back?

The January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol was a pivotal event for Trump and the Republican Party. Prior to January 6, President Trump had offered to deploy 10,000 troops to the capitol, according to his former Chief-of-Staff Mark Meadows. The Pentagon and the Department of Justice had also offered help but were also reportedly turned down by the US Capitol Police The problem, apparently, was "optics" -- about a Capitol now surrounded by barbed wire and thousands of troops, which the current Administration now seems to like.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for further details about the event were also rejected -- it is not clear by whom. It is ridiculous, therefore, for anyone to frame the riots, ugly as they were, as a seditious "insurrection," particularly in light of what appears to be a massive security failure that could have averted the violence. One thing is certain: the timing of the event could not have been more perfect for opposition groups, which is probably why it had been planned for weeks before January 6.

What these efforts and the media did achieve was an end to all attempts to ascertain election fraud at a time when Vice President Mike Pence was counting Electoral College ballots, and allowing speeches from those supporting that claim. Some politicians even called for the resignation of Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, and referred them to the ethics committee for even suggesting an election audit of battleground states, despite questions having been asked -- with no objections -- concerning the results of the 2000, 2004 and 2016 presidential elections.

Ultimately, the result of the latest "witch hunt" against President Trump, as it has been called, was a contrived impeachment attempt to bar Trump from a future presidential bid -- a kangaroo court devoid of due process, hearings, witnesses, and evidence. The prosecution, however, was undeniably eloquent in evoking "democracy" for a totally undemocratic procedure that justly resulted in Trump's acquittal.

Meanwhile, Facebook and Twitter banned Trump and some of his supporters from their cyber domains. An alternative social media platform, Parler, was banned from the Apple and Google app stores, and then completely closed down by Amazon.

Meanwhile, mainstream social media platforms were reportedly used to rally and organize carry out riots in American cities last year. No one was penalized.

Do not, however, expect such slackness now. According to Fox News:

"People like Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have made various public statements labeling Republicans as extremists -- with Ocasio-Cortez claiming the GOP has 'white supremacist sympathizers' within its ranks, and Brennan claiming 'domestic violent extremists' in the form of far-right supporters of President Trump are more dangerous than Al Qaeda."

Columnist and radio host Jeffrey Kuhner warns that a new bill, H.R. 350, "is the liberals' equivalent of the Patriot Act redux. This time, however, it is not aimed at Islamic jihadists. Rather, it directly targets Trump patriots." Kuhner writes that the bill "has the full backing of the Democratic congressional leadership, the Biden administration... Big Media and Big Tech."

"The bill empowers the Deep State to monitor, surveil and spy on American citizens' social media accounts, phone calls, political meetings and even infiltrate pro-Trump or 'Stop the Steal' rallies.

"Conservatives who are deemed potentially 'seditious' or 'treasonous' can be arrested and jailed, fined and/or lose their employment. The goal is simple: to crush all dissent to the Biden regime."

Moreover, last month the new Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, ordered a "stand down "of the entire military for 60 days, "so each service, each command and each unit can have a deeper conversation about this issue [extremism]." Normally stand downs last only a few hours or days and do not involve the entire military. Austin, in addition, has pledged to "rid our ranks of racists and extremists."

These are words that can be applied to anyone dreamed up, including Trump supporters, and based, of course, on nothing but propaganda.

Austin's plan is therefore needless, divisive and dangerous, considering the foreign dangers now circling their prey. This punishment of the regime's "foes" makes one wonder what is next. Are we already marching in lockstep with Russia and China? The way to unite and strengthen the United States is not through suppression and punishment but through political power with checks and balances, a free press and closer adherence to the Constitution.

But here, again, there seems to be. a problem. The Federalist wrote in July:

"According to a new Quillette survey released last month, 70 percent of self-identifying liberals want to rewrite the U.S. Constitution 'to a new Americans constitution that better reflects our diversity as a people.'"

Oh, so that is what we lack: diversity!

What can Americans Do? We are presently at a tipping point in America. Communist China is working hard and is focused on global domination; we are just messing around. In an increasingly digital world, the war against infringements on our freedoms most probably needs to be fought largely in the digital and cyber-space. That is why ending censorship in both the traditional and social media is such an important priority. First, break up the Big Tech companies. Let them become the utilities they originally claimed to be, or else be liable to lawsuits as other publishers are.

We do take some comfort that whereas dictatorships in authoritarian countries such as China and Russia is vertical -- from the top down -- in America, the central government shares power with the states from the bottom up, and with powers separated: the executive, the judiciary and the legislative. Fortunately, governors such as Ron DeSantis in Florida, Greg Abbott in Texas and Kevin Stitt in Oklahoma are now moving legislatively to counter federal laws that may have adverse effects on freedom of speech, jobs, election integrity, the energy industry, the first or second amendments and general constitutional rights.

This does not speak, however, to the major issue here -- that democracy cannot survive in a country where a few technocrats and oligarchs can choose to deny access to information or platforms to candidates running for office. It is simply unacceptable that they alone -- unelected, unappointed, untransparent and unaccountable -- can deem what is "harmful" to society. The job now for all of us is to prevent the United States from slowly becoming a full-blown tyranny.

Tyler Durden Thu, 03/04/2021 - 23:40
Published:3/5/2021 12:07:50 AM
[Security] Number of Illegal Border Crossings Now 6 Times What Obama Team Considered ‘Crisis’

There is a catastrophic crisis that could add another quarter of a million to the population of illegal aliens in this country in less than... Read More

The post Number of Illegal Border Crossings Now 6 Times What Obama Team Considered ‘Crisis’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:3/3/2021 7:07:38 PM
[World] Don't underestimate Joe Biden in putting America last

In his memoir after serving as President Barack Obama’s secretary of Defense, Robert Gates’ assessment of Joe Biden’s foreign policy skills was succinct: “I think he’s been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” 

Mr. Gates was not a partisan hack. ... Published:2/27/2021 4:48:41 PM

[Markets] John Durham Resigns As US Attorney, Will Continue Role as Special Counsel John Durham Resigns As US Attorney, Will Continue Role as Special Counsel

Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times,

U.S. Attorney John Durham, who was tapped by former Attorney General William Barr to lead a special counsel probe into the origins of the Trump-Russia inquiry, announced his resignation from his position as U.S. attorney of the District of Connecticut.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed to the Daily Caller and other news outlets that Durham is still special counsel. Fox News reporter Chad Pegram also reported that Durham will continue his work in probing the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation and whether there were any irregularities and wrongdoing.

A post on the DOJ’s website states that Durham’s office as special counsel was moved to the Main Justice department.

“My career has been as fulfilling as I could ever have imagined when I graduated from law school way back in 1975,” Durham said in a news release from the Justice Department on Friday.

“Much of that fulfillment has come from all the people with whom I’ve been blessed to share this workplace, and in our partner law enforcement agencies. My love and respect for this Office and the vitally important work done here have never diminished. It has been a tremendous honor to serve as U.S. Attorney, and as a career prosecutor before that, and I will sorely miss it.”

The Epoch Times reached out to the DOJ and White House to confirm whether Durham, who has not yet released his long-awaited report, will stay special counsel.

Several weeks ago, President Joe Biden’s administration had asked U.S. attorneys to resign by the end of February.

A justice department spokesman told news outlets in early February that “continuing the practice of new administrations, President Biden and the Department of Justice have begun the transition process for the U.S. Attorneys.”

In his probe, Durham has issued few public statements but in December 2019, he disputed some of the findings of the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, who had concluded that the FBI was justified in opening its probe as to whether former President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government.

“Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” Durham said in a DOJ statement at the time.

So far, Durham netted a single charge and guilty plea in August after former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who was accused of altering an email about Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

Barr in December told the Wall Street Journal that Durham was making “significant progress” in his investigation, but Trump said weeks before that that Durham did not want to investigate top FBI officials, including former Director James Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe.

“We’re still waiting for a report from a man named Durham, who I have never spoken to, and I have never met. They can go after me before the election as much as they want, but unfortunately Mr. Durham didn’t want to go after these people, or have anything to do with going after them before the election. So who knows if he is ever going to even do a report,” said Trump.

The former commander-in-chief has long asserted that the Obama administration weaponized the FBI and DOJ to carry out allegedly unjust investigations into his 2016 campaign, often describing it as the “greatest witch hunt” in U.S. history.

Barr also told the WSJ that the most revealing documents pertaining to the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, known as Crossfire Hurricane, have already been made public—although Barr’s assertion has been disputed by independent researchers.

According to the DOJ’s news release on Friday, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Leonard C Boyle will serve as acting U.S. attorney after Durham leaves by Feb. 28.

“The Office will be in the extraordinarily capable hands of Len and our superb supervisory team who, together, guarantee that the proper administration of justice will continue uninterrupted in our District,” Durham said in the news release.

Tyler Durden Sat, 02/27/2021 - 11:00
Published:2/27/2021 10:14:25 AM
[Markets] US & Israel Convene Top Secret "Strategic Forum" On Iran US & Israel Convene Top Secret "Strategic Forum" On Iran

With expected EU-sponsored US and Iranian talks toward restoring the nuclear deal (JCPOA) still at an impasse before they've even begun, Israel is on a full diplomatic blitz of Capitol Hill to prevent what's it's long claimed to be merely Tehran's "cover" for secretly developing a nuke, even with inspectors on the ground.

As Washington and Tehran continue their blame game and tit-for-tat on who will "comply first", the Biden administration will sit down with Israeli security officials for a "strategic forum" on Iran. Axios first learned this week that the close allies have "elected to reconvene a strategic working group on Iran, with the first round of talks on intelligence surrounding the Iranian nuclear program expected in the coming days."

Via AP

This will present Tel Aviv with an official forum with which to make Netanyahu's case for permanently shooting down the 2015 nuclear deal, or at least to impose higher and more stringent requirements on Iran if it hopes to keep its nuclear energy program. Alternately, the White House is likely to use the opportunity to ensure a political fight will be avoided with America's closest Mideast ally.

The "working group" on Iran was first established under the Obama administration, giving opportunity for intelligence sharing at the highest levels - even at a policy level - which has made it a 'top secret' initiative from the beginning. The need for the group became somewhat moot given Trump later ramped up 'maximum pressure' and turned toward regime change strategizing.

Axios reviews some of the details of the reestablished US-Israeli forum as follows

  • It was the main venue for strategizing over how to apply pressure to Iran during Obama’s first term, and it became the primary setting to air disagreements about the nuclear deal during Obama’s second term.
  • During Donald Trump's tenure, the forum convened to discuss the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal and to coordinate the "maximum pressure" campaign.
  • The forum is headed by the U.S. and Israeli national security advisers — currently Jake Sullivan and Meir Ben-Shabbat — and includes top officials from across the various national security, foreign policy and intelligence agencies in both countries.

Meanwhile, the Netanyahu government has considered US re-entry into the JCPOA as nothing less than an "emergency" and national security crisis.

Further complicating matters was the fact that it took Biden a full month to actually return the Israeli Prime Minister's phone call. The new forum will likely be Israel's only shot at engaging the White House on the Islamic Republic.

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/26/2021 - 18:00
Published:2/26/2021 5:17:57 PM
[Markets] In Final Days, Trump Gave Up On Forcing Release Of Russiagate Files, Nunes Investigator Says In Final Days, Trump Gave Up On Forcing Release Of Russiagate Files, Nunes Investigator Says

Authored by Aaron Maté via RealClear Investigations (emphasis ours),

After four years of railing against “deep state” actors who, he said, tried to undermine his presidency, Donald Trump relented to U.S. intelligence leaders in his final days in office, allowing them to block the release of critical material in the Russia investigation, according to a former senior congressional investigator who later joined the Trump administration.

Kash Patel, whose work on the House Intelligence Committee helped unearth U.S. intelligence malpractice during the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane probe, said he does not know why Trump did not force the release of documents that would expose further wrongdoing. But he said senior intelligence officials "continuously impeded" their release – usually by slow-walking their reviews of the material. Patel said Trump's CIA Director, Gina Haspel, was instrumental in blocking one of the most critical documents, he said.

CIA Director Gina Haspel was instrumental in blocking one of the most critical documents, says Kash Patel (top photo). It is a House report detailing "significant intelligence tradecraft failings" in the CIA’s assessment that Russia ordered  interference in the 2016 campaign to elect Trump.

Patel, who has seen the Russia probe's underlying intelligence and co-wrote critical reports that have yet to be declassified, said new disclosures would expose additional misconduct and evidentiary holes in the CIA and FBI's work.

"I think there were people within the IC [Intelligence Community], at the heads of certain intelligence agencies, who did not want their tradecraft called out, even though it was during a former administration, because it doesn't look good on the agency itself," Patel told RealClearInvestigations in his first in-depth interview since leaving government at the end of Trump's term last month, having served in several intelligence and defense roles (full interview here).  

Trump did not respond to requests seeking comment sent to intermediaries.

Although a Department of Justice inspector general's report in December 2019 exposed significant intelligence failings and malpractice, Patel said more damning information is still being kept under wraps. And despite an ongoing investigation by Special Counsel John Durham into the conduct of the officials who carried out the Trump-Russia inquiry, it is unclear if key documents will ever see the light of day.

Patel did not suggest that a game-changing smoking gun is being kept from the public. Core intelligence failures have been exposed – especially regarding the FBI’s reliance on Christopher Steele’s now debunked dossier to secure FISA warrants used to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. But he said the withheld material would reveal more misconduct as well as major problems with the CIA’s assessment that Russia, on Vladimir Putin's orders, ordered a sweeping and systematic interference 2016 campaign to elect Trump. Patel was cautious about going into detail on any sensitive information that has not yet been declassified. 

‘Continuously Impeded’ in Public Disclosure 

Patel's work on the House Intelligence Committee, under the leadership of its former Republican chairman, Devin Nunes, is widely credited with exposing the FBI's reliance on Steele and misrepresentations to the FISA court. Yet congressional Democrats and major media outlets portrayed him as a behind-the-scenes saboteur who sought to "discredit" the Russia investigation. 

The media vitriol unnerved Patel, who had previously served as a national security official in the Obama-era Justice Department and Pentagon – a tenure that exceeds his time working under Trump. Patel says that ensuring public disclosure of critical information in such a consequential national security investigation motivated him to take the job in the first place.

Rep. Devin Nunes: Patel said he went to work for the California Republican with a condition: optimal disclosure.

"The agreement I made with Devin, I said, 'Okay, I don't really want to go to the Hill, but I'll do the job on one basis: accountability and disclosure," Patel said. "Everything we find, I don't care if it's good or bad or whatever, from your political perspective, we put it out.' So the American public can just read it themselves, with a few protections here and there for some certain national security measures, but those are minimal redactions."

That task proved difficult. The House Intelligence Committee's disclosure efforts, Patel said, "were continuously impeded by members of the intelligence community themselves, with the same singular epithets that you're going to harm sources and methods. …  And I just highlight that because, we didn't lose a single source. We didn't lose a single relationship, and no one died by the public disclosures we made because we did it in a systematic and professional fashion."

"But each time we forced them to produce [documents],” Patel added, “it only showed their coverup and embarrassment." These key revelations he helped expose include Justice official Bruce Ohr's admission that he acted as a liaison to Steele even after the FBI officially terminated him; former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe's false statements about leaks related to the Hillary Clinton email investigation; and the FBI's reliance on the Steele dossier to spy on Page. "There is actually a law that prevents the FBI and DOJ from failing to disclose material to a court just to hide an embarrassment or mistake, and it came up during our investigation. It helped us compel disclosure."

Assessing the ‘Intelligence Community Assessment’ 

For Patel, a key document that remains hidden from the public is the full report he helped prepare and which Trump chose not to declassify after pressure from the intelligence community: The House Intelligence Committee report about the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA).

The ICA is a foundational Russiagate document. Released just two weeks before Trump's inauguration, it asserted that Russia waged an interference campaign to help defeat Hillary Clinton. Despite widespread media accounts that the ICA reflected the consensus view of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, it was a rushed job completed in a few weeks by a small group of CIA analysts led by then-CIA Director John Brennan, who merely consulted with FBI and NSA counterparts. The NSA even dissented from a key judgment that Russia and Putin specifically aimed to help install Trump, expressing only "moderate confidence."

John Brennan: A House report finding that his Intelligence Community Assessment “deviated from established CIA practice” remains classified.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The March 2018 House report found that the production of the ICA “deviated from established CIA practice.” And the core judgment that Putin sought to help Trump, the House report found, resulted from "significant intelligence tradecraft failings that undermine confidence in the ICA judgments."

Along with that March 2018 report, Patel and his intelligence committee colleagues produced a still-classified document that fleshed out the ICA's "tradecraft failings" in greater detail.

"We went and looked at it [the ICA], and looked at the underlying evidence and cables, and talked to the people who did it," Patel says. According to Patel, the ICA's flaws begin with the unprecedentedly short window of time in which it was produced during the final days of the Obama White House. "In two to three weeks, you can't have a comprehensive investigation of anything, in terms of interference and cybersecurity matters."

Patel said that still classified information undermines another key claim – that Russia ordered a cyber-hacking campaign to help Trump. The March 2018 House report noted that the ICA's judgments, "particularly on the cyber intrusion sections, employed appropriate caveats on sources and identified assumptions," but those were drowned out by partisan insistence that Russia was the culprit.

Constrained from discussing the material, Patel said its release "would lend a lot of credence to" skepticism about the Mueller report's claim that Russia waged a "sweeping and systematic" interference campaign to install Trump.

That skepticism was bolstered in July 2019 when the Mueller team was reprimanded by a U.S. District judge for falsely suggesting in its final report that a Russian social media firm acted in concert with the Kremlin. (Mueller's prosecutors later dropped the case against the outfit.)

"We had multiple versions, with redactions, at different levels of classifications we were willing to release," Patel said."But that was unfortunately the one report, which speaks directly to [an absence of concrete evidence] that's still sitting in a safe, classified. And unfortunately, the American public – unless Biden acts – won't see it."

Confirming earlier media reports from late last year, Patel says it was Trump's CIA Director Gina Haspel who personally thwarted the House report's release. The report sits in a safe at CIA headquarters in Langley. "The CIA has possession of it, and POTUS chose not to put it out," Patel says. He does not know why.

'Outrageous' Reliance on CrowdStrike

Another key set of documents that the public has yet to see are reports by Democratic National Committee cyber-contractor CrowdStrike – reports the FBI relied on to accuse Russia of hacking the DNC. The FBI bowed to the DNC’s refusal to hand over its servers for analysis, a decision that Patel finds "outrageous."

"The FBI, who are the experts in looking at servers and exploiting this information so that the intelligence community can digest it and understand what happened, did not have access to the DNC servers in their entirety," Patel said. "For some outrageous reason the FBI agreed to having CrowdStrike be the referee as to what it could and could not exploit, and could and could not look at."

Richard Grenell: Until he came on as Director of National Intelligence, explosive CrowdStrike depositions were kept secret. AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

According Patel, Crowdstrike CEO Shawn Henry, a former top FBI official under Mueller, "totally took advantage of the situation to the unfortunate shortcoming of the American public."

CrowdStrike’s credibility suffered a major blow in May 2020 with the disclosure of an explosive admission from Henry that had been kept under wraps for nearly three years. In  December 2017 testimony before the House Intel Committee showed he had acknowledged that his firm "did not have concrete evidence" that Russian hackers removed any data, including private emails, from the DNC servers. 

"We wanted those depositions declassified immediately after we took them," Patel recalled. But the committee was "thwarted," he says, by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence under Dan Coats, and later by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff once Democrats took control of Congress in January 2018. According to Patel, Schiff "didn't want some of these transcripts to come out. And that was just extremely frustrating.” Working with Coats' successor, Richard Grenell, Patel ultimately forced the release of the Henry transcript and dozens of others last year. 

Still classified, however, are the full CrowdStrike reports relied on by the FBI, Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee. Patel said their release would underscore Henry’s admission while raising new questions about why the government used reports from DNC contractors – the other being Fusion GPS' Steele dossier – for a consequential national security case involving a rival Republican campaign.

Doubting Reliability of CIA's Kremlin Mole

The CIA relied on another questionable source for its assertion that Putin personally ordered and orchestrated an interference campaign to elect Trump: a purported mole inside the Kremlin. The mole has been outed as Oleg Smolenkov, a mid-level Kremlin official who fled Russia in 2017 for the United States where he lives under his own name. According to the New York Times, some CIA officials harbored doubts about Smolenkov's "trustworthiness."

Patel said he could not comment on whether he believes Smolenkov relayed credible information to the CIA. "I'm sort of in a bind on this one, still, with all the classified information I looked at, and the declassifications we've requested, but have not yet been granted."

Patel did suggest, however, that those who have raised skepticism about the CIA's reliance on Smolenkov are "rightly" trying to "get to the bottom" of the story. "But until that ICA product that we created, and some of the other documents are finally revealed – if I start talking about them, then I'm probably going to get the FBI knocking at my door."

Will Key Documents Be Released?

On his last full day in office, President Trump ordered the declassification of an additional binder of material from the FBI’s initial Trump-Russia probe, Crossfire Hurricane. A source familiar with the documents covered under the declassification order confirmed to RealClearInvestigations that it does not contain the House committee’s assessment of the January 2017 that Patel wants released. Nor does it contain any of the CrowdStrike reports used by the FBI.

In addition to those closely guarded documents, Patel thinks that there is even more to learn about the fraudulent surveillance warrants on Carter Page. The public should see "the entire subject portion" of the final Carter Page FISA warrant, Patel said, as well as "the underlying source verification reporting" in which the FBI tried to justify it, despite relying on the Steele dossier. By reading what the FBI "used to prop up that FISA, the American public can see what a bunch of malarkey it was that they were relying on," Patel added. "The American public needs to know about and read for themselves and make their own determination as to why their government allowed this to happen. Knowingly.

"And that's not castigating an entire agency. We're not disparaging the entire FBI because of Peter Strzok [the FBI agent dismissed, in part, because of anti-Trump bias] and his crew of miscreants. Same thing goes for the intelligence community. If they did some shoddy tradecraft, the American public has a right to know about it in an investigation involving the presidential election."

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/25/2021 - 21:00
Published:2/25/2021 8:13:44 PM
[Markets] Biden Carries Out Air Strikes In Syria Targeting "Iranian-Backed" Militia Biden Carries Out Air Strikes In Syria Targeting "Iranian-Backed" Militia

You knew it was coming when the NYT set the stage yesterday with its latest anti-Assad hit piece titled "Having Won Syria’s War, al-Assad Is Mired in Economic Woes" (which makes only a passing reference just why Syria is mired in economic woes namely that "most of the country’s oil fields and much of its agricultural land are in the northeast, which is controlled by Kurdish-led forces backed by the United States") and sure enough, just over a month since his inauguration, Biden reminded the world that the military-industrial complex is back in control by carrying out air strikes in eastern Syria against facilities that allegedly were used by "Iranian-backed" militia, the U.S. Defense Department said on Thursday night.

The strike marked the first (of many) overseas military attack ordered by Joe Biden, which in its first weeks has emphasized its intent to put more focus on the challenges posed by China.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that the strikes took place "at President Biden's direction" and were authorized "in response to recent attacks against American and coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel.”

"Specifically the strikes destroyed multiple facilities located at a border control point used by a number of Iranian backed militant groups including Kait'ib Hezbollah and Kait'ib Sayyid al Shuhada," Kirbry said.

"The operation sends an unambiguous message; President Biden will act to protect American coalition personnel. At the same time, we have acted in a deliberate manner that aims to deescalate the overall situation in both Eastern Syria and Iraq."

A file picture of the MQ9 Reaper, widely used by the US military for reconnaissance and airstrikes

The site is reportedly used as part of a weapons smuggling operation by the militias. The strikes were carried out to degrade the ability of the groups to carry out future attacks and to send a message about the recent attacks, the US official said.

The assault came after a series of rocket attacks in recent days on facilities in Iraq used by the U.S., including one that killed a contractor working with the U.S.-led coalition in the country.

What is amusing is that on one hand Biden is attacking "Iran-backed" militia in Syria, while at the same time he is reportedly seeking to restore the Nuclear deal with Iran and restore cordial relations. As Bloomberg notes, "by hitting a facility in Syria said to be operated by an Iranian-linked militia, the U.S. avoids raising tensions that would come with a strike directly on Iran, which the Biden administration is seeking to persuade to return to a 2015 nuclear deal that former President Donald Trump withdrew from three years ago."

Of course, that's hardly how the attack will be spun by Iran, where Biden just burned any political capital he may have had, and may soon have to resort to paradroping pallets full of billions of dollars in cash, similar to what Obama used to do.

What is even more amusing is that as usual, the deep state never actually had any proof (but it is always highly confident in everything, including that Russia is behind every evil in the world),  and the US had not definitively blamed any specific group for the rocket attacks or attributed them to any Iranian proxies in the region, but the administration had made it clear where they place the blame.

Biden administration officials condemned the Feb. 15 rocket attack near the city of Irbil in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish-run region, but as recently as this week officials indicated they had not determined for certain who carried it out. Officials have noted that in the past, Iranian-backed Shiite militia groups have been responsible for numerous rocket attacks that targeted U.S. personnel or facilities in Iraq.

Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, had said Tuesday that Iraq is in charge of investigating the Feb. 15 attack.

“Right now, we’re not able to give you a certain attribution as to who was behind these attacks, what groups, and I’m not going to get into the tactical details of every bit of weaponry used here,” Kirby said. “Let’s let the investigations complete and conclude, and then when we have more to say, we will.”

So... launch attacks first, and then conclude who is responsible later. Sounds like the good old MIC is back in action.

In any case, the strikes come as Washington and Tehran position themselves for negotiations about Iran's nuclear program, potentially crippling the already fragile process.

The U.S. launched the strike one day after Biden spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. The two leaders “discussed the recent rocket attacks against Iraqi and coalition personnel and agreed that those responsible for such attacks must be held fully to account,” the White House said Wednesday in a statement.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/25/2021 - 20:29
Published:2/25/2021 7:33:08 PM
[World] Republicans must block Biden's COVID-19 stimulus package

Remember when Congress battled over President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus package just over a decade past? It’s no wonder that seems like a lifetime ago, considering Congress has already shelled out more than $4 trillion in COVID-19 relief. If that weren’t enough, another $1.9 trillion is making its way down ... Published:2/25/2021 5:00:32 PM

[Uncategorized] Obama the Healer Strikes Again With Claims of ‘White Resistance’ Preventing Reparations

"the politics of White resistance and resentment"

The post Obama the Healer Strikes Again With Claims of ‘White Resistance’ Preventing Reparations first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:2/25/2021 4:30:48 PM
[] Democrats Demand That Biden Give Up His Power to Launch Nuclear Missiles The Democrats claim they're just making this demand because no one man should have this power. But... they didn't mind when Obama and Clinton had it. What makes Biden different, I wonder?... Published:2/25/2021 12:28:37 PM
[Markets] Was Trump 'The Mule'? Was Trump 'The Mule'?

Authored by Jim Quinn via The Bunring Platform blog,

“Excellence, he is known as the Mule. He is spoken of little, in a factual sense, but I have gathered the scraps and fragments of knowledge and winnowed out the most probable of them. He is apparently a man of neither birth nor standing. His father, unknown. His mother, dead in childbirth. His upbringing, that of a vagabond. His education, that of the tramp worlds, and the backwash alleys of space. He has no name other than that of the Mule, a name reportedly applied by himself to himself, and signifying, by popular explanation, his immense physical strength, and stubbornness of purpose.” 

- Isaac Asimov, Foundation and Empire

“The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity—a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop.” 

– Isaac Asimov, Foundation

In March 2017, a mere two months after the stunningly unexpected victory of Donald Trump over the Deep State hand picked representative of dark forces – Hillary Clinton, I wrote a three-part article based upon Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, attempting to connect Trump’s elevation as the Gray Champion of this Fourth Turning to the plot of Asimov’s masterpiece. The three articles: Foundation – Fall of the American Galactic EmpireFoundation and Empire: Is Donald Trump the Mule?; and Second Foundation: Empire Crumbling, landed with a dud, generating few views and not many comments.

I thought it was a creative look at the fledgling Trump presidency, a Deep State intent on destroying him, integrated within the context of Asimov’s story of galactic subterfuge, controlling populations through mathematical mechanisms, and the rise of an individual upending the plans of elitists. I chalked up the dis-interest to the fact many people had never read the books, therefore could not relate to the comparison between Trump, the Mule, and Hari Seldon’s plan.

The other possibility was the fact I was already pondering Trump failing in his effort to defeat the Deep State and drain the Swamp. Trump supporters were still ecstatic with their victory, believing he could defeat the dark forces aligned against him, and resistant to the thought he might lose. Four years later, with the perspective of what has happened, we can honestly assess the suppositions I made in that article.

For those not familiar with Asimov’s trilogy, The Mule was a powerful mentalic mutant, warlord, and conqueror who posed the greatest threat to the Seldon Plan.

The plan involves the two Foundations. The First Foundation is the bastion of physical science and political order while the Second Foundation is a covert group of people hidden away who are experts in mentalics and psychohistorical prediction. Seldon’s science of psychohistory was outstanding at predicting the behavior of large populations but worthless in trying to predict what an individual might do.

The emergence of the Mule, a mentalic mutant with an acute telepathic ability to modify the emotions of human beings, could not have been predicted by the Seldon Plan, focused as it was on the statistical movements of vast numbers of peoples and populations across the galaxy. The Mule’s acute telepathic ability to modify the emotions of human beings derailed one of the basic assumptions of Hari Seldon’s psychohistory – that, in general, the responses of human populations to given stimuli will remain the same.

The Mule was the unpredictable variable in the equations of history and the greatest threat to the Seldon Plan. He disrupts the inevitability of the continued evolution of the First Foundation and potential early ending of the Dark Age. The Mule, through telepathic manipulation, defeats and takes over the Foundation’s growing empire, which has become increasingly control-oriented and out-of-touch with the outer planets in its rapidly expanding realm of influence.

The term mule invokes feelings of strength, stubbornness, and the ability to power forward despite obstacles. That description fits Trump perfectly and his ability to inspire millions of Americans through emotional appeals to patriotism and demonizing his left wing political and media enemies. His powers of persuasion weren’t mentalic, but his appeal to flyover country Americans was baffling to the liberal elites on the coasts and the RINOs who pretended to be conservative but were nothing more than grifters and neo-con warmongers.

I did not associate Hari Seldon with any particular person on the scene today when I wrote my article in 2017. Hari Seldon was an intellectual who created the Foundation, made up of other academic intellectuals. Then he set up a Second Foundation of even more talented intellectuals as a backup plan in case the Foundation failed. I saw Seldon and his ensemble of elitist academics and intellectual snobs as pompous control freaks on par with the Washington DC and Wall Street elitists like Pelosi, Schumer, McConnell, Yellen, Powell, Dimon and Buffet. They constitute the Foundation.

The Second Foundation was hidden in plain sight, operating in the shadows, unknown to the masses, and controlling the galaxy from behind the curtain. They were the Galactic Deep State.

I now see the Seldon character as Bill Gates, a college dropout geek who lucked into becoming a multi-billionaire with one decent idea, who now portrays himself as an expert in medical science, vaccines, farming, climate change, population right sizing, social media censorship and politics.

His billions entitle him to pontificate his psycho-babble propaganda on captured corporate media outlets, much like Seldon using his psychohistory to predict the future. Billionaire egos are immense. Gates flies on his private jet around the world spewing CO2 while preaching the gospel of lockdowns, drinking reprocessed piss, and forcing the masses to eat synthetic beef and bugs to save the planet.

I see the Second Foundation as representative of the Deep State. This amalgamation of the likes of Clapper, Comey, Brennan, Clinton, Soros, Bloomberg, Zuckerberg, Bezos, Dorsey, Cook, Schmidt, Schwab, and plethora of other sociopaths in the government, media, military, academia, and corporate world spent the last four years attempting to neutralize and neuter Donald Trump (aka The Mule). These affluent, highly educated, narcissistic, sanctimonious, malevolent scumbags, who believe they are the smartest men in the world, operate behind the scenes as the invisible government, manipulating the mechanisms of society and pulling the wires controlling the public mind.

There is virtually no difference between Seldon’s psychohistory and Bernays’ propaganda. These sociopaths believe they are entitled to run the world as they choose, with no input or resistance from the ignorant masses allowed. When the basket of deplorables rose up and elected Trump, the Deep State went into overdrive to nullify and defeat him. My prediction about his presidency came to be, with my ending question still up for debate:

His first two months in power will likely reflect his entire presidency. The Washington establishment and sinister Deep State players will attempt to thwart Trump’s every move. They have already impeded his immigration controls and attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, while using their illegal surveillance state techniques to undermine his administration. The surveillance agencies, who are supposed to act on his behalf, are clearly trying to subvert his presidency. Leaks and fake news designed to sabotage the credibility of Trump and his administration will continue. Will the fear of retribution from mysterious surveillance state operatives convince Trump to fall into line and become a submissive lackey, no longer making waves for the Deep State?

The level of Deep State interference to undermine the Trump presidency reached extreme levels after those first two months of relatively minor meddling. What followed was a three-year Russia-gate farce as the DOJ, FBI and CIA conspired with Obama to unseat Trump by creating a fake Russia interference narrative based on a bullshit dossier, using it to have Comey weaponize the FBI against a duly elected president. Then his AG swamp creature allowed Mueller and his Hillary supporting cronies to torture Trump for two years before calling it quits with absolutely no charges. All along, the left-wing media cackled and crowed, producing a prodigious amount of fake news, which was duly called out by Trump.

The unrelenting negative coverage, despite successes on many fronts by Trump, revealed the true nature of the Deep State coup to overthrow a sitting president. The never-ending coup was ramped up again in 2019 as Pelosi and her flying monkeys – Chinese spy-shagger, Swalwell (aka the farter) and the socialist squad of hate mongers, drummed up a fake impeachment against Trump based upon a phone call regarding actual provable Biden family corruption in the Ukraine. The impeachment was a dead-on arrival political stunt to disparage Trump going into the election year.

But the Deep State coup de grace for cancelling and castrating Trump (aka The Mule) was the Covid conspiracy, which fell into the laps of Trump’s enemies through the accidental or purposeful release of a highly contagious, highly non-lethal flu virus from a Chinese bio-weapon lab, funded by Fauci and other U.S. governmental entities. After the impeachment charade imploded in January, and the Democrat presidential field of dementia patients, communists, whores, and morons pathetically made their case to replace Trump, a November victory seemed assured for Trump, as the economy was OK and the stock market was booming.

But then they were presented with a faux crisis, and as everyone knows – you can never let a good crisis go to waste. The Deep State, democratic governors, democratic mayors, the left-wing loving media, the Silicon Valley social media billionaire censorship tyrants, and Big Pharma combined forces to turn the nation into quivering cowering masked sheep, begging to be corralled and sheered by traitorous lying authoritarians demanding their acquiescence.

Throwing in systematic racism, elevating violent felon scum to sainthood, encouraging BLM and ANTIFA terrorists to burn cities, assault police, storm the White House, and blaming it all on Trump was a genius move. By using the Covid hysteria as a cover for demanding unlimited and uncontrolled mail-in voting, with no signature verification or time limits on counting votes, the Democrats assured themselves of certain victory in the limited number of swing states.

And still, Trump was on his way to victory again as of midnight on election night. This is when a halt was called by the Deep State, Dominion voting machines were “re-programmed” and suitcases full of “newly discovered” mail-in ballots appeared, with 97% of the votes going to Dementia Joe. He truly had put together the best election fraud team in history. That is why he never needed to leave his basement during the campaign.

Despite hundreds of documented accounts of massive voter fraud, eye witness accounts of fraudulent mail-in ballots, statistical analysis proving what supposedly happened with voting machines could not possibly happen, and the absolute laughability of Basement Biden actually getting 80 million votes, the Deep State co-conspirators closed ranks and did not allow Trump and his team a fair day in court to make their case. They had successfully stolen the election and accomplished their four-year long coup.

In order to ensure Trump did not rise again, Pelosi and her compadres used Trump’s powers of persuasion against him, by exploiting his peaceful January 6 rally in DC, as a means to lure some of his useful idiot supporters into entering the Capitol (with the Capitol police opening the doors), enticed by a bunch of ANTIFA/BLM provocateurs and taking selfies, stealing podiums, and milling around, until one of them got shot.

This fake news “armed insurrection” (despite no firearms used or confiscated) was then weaponized by Pelosi and her useful idiot followers to conduct an even more farcical impeachment of a president who was already out of office, playing golf in Florida. This tempest in teapot clown show of idiocracy played out over a few days, breathlessly covered by the MSNBC dullards and CNN dimwits, until it died under its own weight of superficial lunacy, with the Chief Justice refusing to preside and Democrat prosecutors caught doctoring evidence.

This failure to drive a stake through the heart of mule-headed Trump and insure he does not rise from the dead in 2024 to assume power once again, will not stop his vast number of enemies from keeping him stuck in Florida to live out his days on this earth as a failed president. Soros funded attorney generals across the land will hound Trump and his family with legal entanglements unless he promises to be a non-participant in government forever. Will the fear of financial retribution and consequences from a legal system that is stacked in favor of his enemies convince Trump to stand down? In my four-year-old article I asked these questions:

Will Trump’s reign resemble the reign of The Mule? The Mule’s conquest was astonishingly fast. He defeated the Foundation and established the Union of Worlds after only five years. The unpredictability of his arrival and rare mental talents befuddled the Foundation. Then he inexplicably paused in his campaign of conquests. Instead, he launched repeated expeditions in search of the Second Foundation. The Second Foundation, through unyielding pressure and generating fear of the unknown into the mind of The Mule, was able undermine his plans of conquest and turn him into a non-disruptive, toothless, nonthreatening, passive figurehead. As Trump’s best laid plans are obstructed, agenda foiled, and legislation hindered, will his enthusiasm for governance wane?

Based on what I have seen since the January 6 staged event at the Capitol, it appears Trump’s will to fight has subsided, even though he will continue to do interviews and give speeches to burnish his image as an outsider, continuing to fight for his 75 million followers. His influence didn’t help win the two Georgia run-off elections. It is highly unlikely he runs for president again in 2024.

He will utilize his popularity to invigorate his real estate and potential media empire. It will be all about the Benjamin’s from here on out. He surprised himself with his unlikely victory in 2016 and will be busy writing his best- selling book about the adventure in the near future. Trump TV is practically a given, but he will not be anything more than a thorn in the side of the Deep State (Second Foundation) going forward. He will no longer be a legitimate threat to their Plan.

Trump was a disrupting factor, disturbing the best laid plans of the global elitist establishment and revealing the hidden agendas of the Deep State. He had no support from the GOP establishment. In most cases, they undermined his efforts. He hired them into his cabinet and they continuously stabbed him in the back. Having your supposed allies work against you, in cahoots with the Democrats, surveillance state apparatus, all the alphabet agencies, and 90% of the mainstream and social media propaganda machinery, and you come to the realization we are ruled by a Uni-party of globalist elite using their immense wealth to manipulate and control the masses.

Sociopaths like Gates, Soros, Schwab, and Obama believe they are the smartest men on the planet and can pull the strings, making the puppet masses do as they command. Based on the last year, it appears they are right. The neutralization of Trump has convinced themselves of their invincibility. Their hubris blinds them to the wisdom of the bible – Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Not only is the Great Reset, green new deal, communist doctrine implementation not going to reverse the downward spiral of the American Empire, but the last year of horrific political and financial decisions and imminent execution of the left-wing agenda through their empty senile vessel will accelerate the unavoidable collapse. MMT plus QE to infinity will surely solve all our problems.

The national debt went from $20 trillion when Trump was elected to $28 trillion today, and $30 trillion within the next year. It took 219 years to accumulate the first $10 trillion of debt, 9 years to accumulate the next $10 trillion of debt, and now less than five years to accumulate the next $10 trillion. Meanwhile, GDP has barely grown by 2% per year and household income has been stagnant for decades. Anyone who thinks this is sustainable, economically healthy, or representative of free market capitalism is either delusional or lying to promote their agenda of you owning nothing and being happy about it, while eating bugs and drinking processed piss.

Asimov’s trilogy documents the fall of the Galactic Empire, based upon the Fall of the Roman Empire, and written during the fall of the Third Reich. Whether Trump delayed or accelerated the Fall of the American Empire is inconsequential, as no one can reverse the coming collapse at this point. Technology does not improve human nature, create wisdom, or provide understanding. Humanity is incapable of change. The same weaknesses and self- destructive traits which have plagued us throughout history are as prevalent today as they ever were.

Empires are created by corruptible men whose failings, flaws, and desire for power, control and wealth never change. Decades of blunders, awful decisions, incompetent leadership, dishonesty and unconcealed treachery have paved a pathway to ruin for the American Empire. The outward appearance of strength disguises the internal rot, which will be revealed when the coming storm arrives with suddenness and a surprising fierceness.

“Mr. Advocate, the rotten tree-trunk, until the very moment when the storm-blast breaks it in two, has all the appearance of might it ever had. The storm-blast whistles through the branches of the Empire even now. Listen with the ears of psychohistory, and you will hear the creaking.” 

– Isaac AsimovFoundation

The American Empire is crumbling under the weight of military overreach; the totalitarian synergy between Big Tech and Big Gov.; destruction of the Constitution by traitorous surveillance state apparatchiks; the burden of unpayable debts; currency debasement; cultural decay; civic degeneration; diversity and deviancy trumping common culture and normality; pervasive corruption at every level of government; globalist agendas; and the failure of myopic leaders to deal with the real problems.

In the last year we have crossed our proverbial Rubi-covid, willingly trading our freedom and liberties for the perception of safety. We’ve past the point of no return. Asimov’s analogy of the wolf, horse and man has never been more apt than now. In our present- day version, the wolf is a China flu with a 99.7% survival rate that only kills the old and infirm. The horse is the American public (and most of the global population) living in constant fear of a non-lethal virus killing them at any moment. No matter how irrational, they desperately want to believe “experts” who authoritatively declare the steps necessary to save the world from this scourge.

The man is an amalgamation of Gates, Soros, Fauci, and the petty authoritarian politicians (Cuomo, Newsom, Whitmer, Wolf, Murphy) wielding power across the land. The man offered to save the horse from the wolf on condition of being given the power to disregard the Constitution, lockdown the country, destroy small businesses, create mass unemployment, mandate masks, crush free speech (except during BLM and ANTIFA riots), suspend the 4th Amendment, force experimental vaccinations upon the masses, and create $10 trillion of new debt, giving most of it to Wall Street, mega-corporations, and Big Pharma. And as an added benefit, get rid of a president who did not cooperate with their Global Reset agenda.

“A horse having a wolf as a powerful and dangerous enemy lived in constant fear of his life. Being driven to desperation, it occurred to him to seek a strong ally. Whereupon he approached a man, and offered an alliance, pointing out that the wolf was likewise an enemy of the man. The man accepted the partnership at once and offered to kill the wolf immediately, if his new partner would only co-operate by placing his greater speed at the man’s disposal. The horse was willing, and allowed the man to place bridle and saddle upon him.

The man mounted, hunted down the wolf, and killed him. “The horse, joyful and relieved, thanked the man, and said: ‘Now that our enemy is dead, remove your bridle and saddle and restore my freedom.’ “Whereupon the man laughed loudly and replied, ‘Never!’ and applied the spurs with a will.” – Isaac AsimovFoundation

So, today we find ourselves one year into “15 days to slow the spread” and millions of “horses” have asked the “man” to remove their bridle and saddle and restore our freedom. Miraculously, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have plunged since the insertion of Dementia Joe into the White House by his Deep State handlers. The vaccine and mask propaganda campaigns are being ratcheted up, emperor Gates is on TV every other day expounding on covid, climate, synthetic food, population control, and the need for more control by billionaires like himself.

As millions demand their freedoms back, Gates, Fauci, Soros and Schwab laugh loudly and proclaim we can never go back to the way it was. They will apply the spurs of the “New Normal” and “Great Reset”. We failed to heed the wisdom of Ben Franklin and will pay a heavy price for our cowardice and subservience to totalitarian global elitists. The Mule has been defeated.

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Ben Franklin – 1775

*  *  *

The corrupt establishment will do anything to suppress sites like the Burning Platform from revealing the truth. The corporate media does this by demonetizing sites like mine by blackballing the site from advertising revenue. If you get value from this site, please keep it running with a donation.

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/24/2021 - 17:40
Published:2/24/2021 4:52:03 PM
[Politics] Obama: 'White Resistance and Resentment' Prevented Reparations Push Former President Barack Obama says that "the politics of White resistance and resentment" kept him from pushing for financial reparations for Black Americans while he was in office. In the second episode of his podcast with Bruce Springsteen, "Renegades: Born in the USA... Published:2/24/2021 1:24:37 PM
[Markets] Why Durham Report Is Becoming Highly Unlikely Why Durham Report Is Becoming Highly Unlikely

Authored by Lee Smith via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee say they want to know if President Joe Biden’s nominee for Attorney General Merrick Garland will allow Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Crossfire Hurricane probe to continue. “I have no reason to think he should not remain in place,” Garland told Sen. Chuck Grassley Monday.

Attorney John Durham speaks to reporters on the steps of U.S. District Court in New Haven, Conn., on April 25, 2006. (Bob Child/AP Photo)

In reality, if confirmed Garland will not allow Durham to stay in place, never mind issue a report. The prospect that Biden’s attorney general might allow Durham to indict former Barack Obama administration officials is ludicrous. Remember that documents released over the last year gave evidence that as vice-president Biden was not only aware of the spying operation against Trump officials but participated in it. Biden not only knew that the FBI was framing incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn but suggested that the Department of Justice might charge Flynn for violating the Logan Act.

In other words, the FBI officials that Durham is reportedly investigating are Biden’s co-conspirators. To allow them to be indicted would not only point to Biden’s guilt but also show that the most powerful man in the world is unable or unwilling to protect allies who have helped advance the cause of the party he now leads. That would show Biden to be weak. Garland understands that his primary duty as Biden’s chief law enforcement officer is not to oversee the fair and equal treatment of all Americans under the law, but to protect the president and the party he serves.

The Biden administration has already shown it is a very different animal than Trump’s. During his four years in office, Trump’s allies complained that his biggest problem was staffing. It’s true that key spots in his administration were filled with officials who opposed his America First agenda. There were problems with the personnel office, insiders explain. Further, sometimes Trump family members pressed for friends without the experience or commitment to implement Trump’s vision. But even those least experienced or most opposed to Trump’s vision would’ve fallen in line, if he’d given them cause to fear him.

In “The Prince,” Machiavelli writes that in deciding between earning the love and respect of his subjects, the successful prince must choose the public mood that he can control. Instead, the 45th president of the United States sought love. Perhaps the clearest record of that is to be found in former FBI director James Comey’s memos of his meetings and conversations with Trump. They are unintentionally moving documents, showing that Trump solicited the help and even friendship of experienced bureaucrats like Comey. But to him, Trump’s entreaties signaled weakness. Soon Comey saw that the new president had become frustrated when the director failed to publicly clear him of any ties to Russia. And Trump only asked him again to clear him. Instead of firing Comey in disgrace, he cut Flynn loose and then petitioned Comey to go easy on the retired general, the one man who was most loyal to the president. As a result, Trump got the Mueller investigation, which consumed two years of his presidency. But even then there was still time for Trump to elicit the respect that is engendered by fear.

William Barr may be a decent man, but he is a Washington man and thus subject to the winds of power that course through the capital. What makes a Washington man honorable is not any abstract sense of duty but the fear that if he doesn’t serve his boss, he will be destroyed. In Spring 2020, Barr counseled the president against firing FBI director Christopher Wray, warning it would be taken as evidence the White House was in chaos in the middle of an election year. Barr could have fired Wray himself, and had reason to do so, for withholding documents from DOJ prosecutors. But the attorney general was probing the president. By agreeing to Barr’s wishes, Trump indicated there would be no price to be paid for crossing him. Barr hedged his bets with the potential victory of a candidate who had shown that by spying on the Trump team there was no question he would, if victorious in November, retaliate against Trump’s attorney general for chasing him. With no pressure on him from Trump, Barr did not pressure his prosecutor to choose between issuing indictments by late summer, as had previously been promised, or being replaced by someone who would. For all practical purposes, the Durham investigation was over by April.

Biden’s attorney general has an additional incentive to shut down Durham for good. Let’s say the special counsel has the evidence to indict the senior FBI officials he has been investigating. That would confirm what Republicans have been saying about Crossfire Hurricane since 2017—the FBI wasn’t investigating Russian interference, it was spying on a presidential candidate and then the commander-in-chief. To show that Biden’s party was lying about that would suggest that maybe the Democrats were lying about other things, too, maybe lying about everything. They lied about the phone call that got Trump impeached; they lied about the “mostly peaceful” George Floyd riots; they lied about the Jan. 6 protests by calling them an armed insurrection; and most importantly, they lied about the transparency and legitimacy of the 2020 election.

Republicans could try to fight Garland’s nomination or at least use the hearings to advance a case about Democratic Party corruption, but they won’t because they fear the new administration.

Lee Smith is the author of the recently published book “The Permanent Coup: How Enemies Foreign and Domestic Targeted the American President.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/24/2021 - 12:45
Published:2/24/2021 11:51:28 AM
[World] Biden administration shouldn't be negotiating with Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Recent reports reveal throughout the Trump administration, former Obama administration officials worked actively to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Obama nuclear deal. 

On at least three occasions, former Secretary of State John Kerry met with his counterpart, Iranian Foreign Minister Javed Zarif to persuade him to ... Published:2/23/2021 10:47:47 PM

[] Barack Obama says he broke a classmate's nose over a racial slur Published:2/23/2021 6:46:19 PM
[] REPORT: Former Obama Staff Colluded With Iran to Undermine Trump Published:2/23/2021 2:48:38 PM
[Politics] Pompeo: Biden's Plans for Iran Worse Than Kerry's Meetings It was "un-American" for former Secretary of State John Kerry and Obama-era Middle East adviser Robert Malley to have arranged multiple meetings with Iran's foreign minister while President Donald Trump was in office, but what's going on... Published:2/23/2021 2:16:15 PM
[gun control] Conditional ethics (Paul Mirengoff) We have written about several problematic Biden nominees for high level positions: Neera Tanden (who is probably not going to make it), Xavier Becerra (who might not), and two DOJ nominees, Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke (neither of whom should make it). Vivek Murthy, Biden’s selection for Surgeon General is another nominee to watch. Murthy, whose hearing is on Thursday, served Surgeon General under President Obama. It’s impossible to claim Published:2/23/2021 12:48:16 PM
[] The Emerging Crisis of Unaccompanied Minors at the Border Was Totally Predictable Published:2/23/2021 11:14:56 AM
[Markets] Thousands Of Unaccompanied Minors Face 'Cages' As HHS Shelters Hit 93% Capacity Thousands Of Unaccompanied Minors Face 'Cages' As HHS Shelters Hit 93% Capacity

Thousands of migrant children face 'the cages' built by the Obama-Biden administration, after the child-shelter network run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reduced its capacity by 40%, leaving them 93% full.

Children sleeping in cages built by the Obama-Biden administration (2014)

Once the HHS shelters reach capacity, migrants will be housed in facilities run by the Border Patrol - a.k.a. 'the cages,' described by the Wall Street Journal as "stark cells - with just a bench and a toilet - that are designed to hold single adults for a few hours rather than children for days."

Over 700 children were in Border Patrol custody as of Friday, up from 150 on Tuesday, according to the report, which cites "a person familiar with the numbers."

"A jail cell is no place for a child, even for the shortest possible duration," said former US Customs and Border Protection spokesman, Andrew Meehan, who served during 2019.

"They’ve seen very large growth in a very short period of time," said Mark Greenberg, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan Washington think tank, who was in charge of the HHS shelter network during the Obama administration. "The closer you get to 100% capacity, the harder the system is to manage."

On Monday, the government plans to reopen an emergency shelter in Carrizo Springs, Texas—a converted encampment that once hosted oil-field workers—to house 700 additional children. That facility, which opened in 2019 to manage the surge of children, and other emergency shelters had come under criticism from Democrats, in part because they didn’t follow standards governing care at permanent government shelters.

Unaccompanied children enjoy unique protections under immigration law that forbid the government from quickly deporting them. They are required to be sent to HHS shelters, where the government cares for them until they can find a suitable sponsor, typically a family member or family friend living in the U.S. -Wall Street Journal

According to the report, the flood of migrants is likely because of "sagging economies and gang violence in Central America, exacerbated by the pandemic and a pair of hurricanes last year which hit the region."

It could also be the brand new US president that's promised a 'pathway to citizenship' and just started letting migrants enter the United States while they await their immigration hearings they're sure to attend.

"If we were not in the middle of a pandemic, we wouldn’t be facing the situation that we are in right now," said one HHS official.

In November, government shelters began filling up with migrants after a federal court ordered the Trump administration to halt the practice of sending children back to their home countries without an adult - while the Biden administration has opted to continue housing them while they apply for asylum, despite an appellate decision overturning the lower court's November decision.

Biden has also halted the practice of sending children back to their country of origin if they were traveling with an adult who isn't their parent - a policy which sends more children to HHS shelters.

"It’s certainly not ideal," said Jennifer Podkul, vice president for policy and advocacy at Kids in Need of Defense, an immigrant advocacy organization. "But for now, it’s better than having kids remain in [border patrol] custody."

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/22/2021 - 21:20
Published:2/22/2021 8:39:57 PM
[World] John Kerry never got out of bed with Iran

Failed former Secretary of State John Kerry spent so much time wooing Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif during the Obama administration that people started talking.

After years of public canoodling, romantic garden strolls and secret pallets of cold, hard American cash sent under the cover of night, Monsieur Kerry never ... Published:2/22/2021 6:09:09 PM

[Politics] Barack Obama Copies Wife Again, Launches Podcast with New Jersey Man Arrested for DWI

Less than eight months after Michelle Obama launched her successful podcast, her jealous husband, Barack, is once again horning in on his wife's territory by launching a podcast of his own.

The post Barack Obama Copies Wife Again, Launches Podcast with New Jersey Man Arrested for DWI appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:2/22/2021 4:38:57 PM
[Entertainment] Who’s the boss? Obama and Springsteen join forces for new Spotify podcast. Spotify's “Renegades: Born in the USA" series will feature former President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen in intimate conversations, exploring topics such as race, marriage and manhood. Published:2/22/2021 4:38:57 PM
[] Stephen King Complains About Vaccines in Florida, Two Weeks After He Was Vaccinated... in Florida Published:2/22/2021 4:10:29 PM
[35141da7-14e7-54d0-ba55-c2f1022d80fe] Bruce Springsteen, Barack Obama launch podcast together The podcast is part of Obama's exclusive production deal with Spotify. Published:2/22/2021 1:39:06 PM
[Markets] : Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen launch podcast series on Spotify Obama and Springsteen are teaming up for an eight-episode podcast series
Published:2/22/2021 1:39:06 PM
[Markets] Luongo: Merkel's War For Germany Is Nearly Over Luongo: Merkel's War For Germany Is Nearly Over

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

I give German Chancellor Angela Merkel a lot of grief, and with good reason. She’s the main conduit through which every bad idea in Europe flows.

Merkel, as an agent for Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum, is a ruthless destroyer of human potential. Hence, that’s why she’s in charge.

I truly despise everything about her.

But as a political animal she has no peer in Europe. None. Not because she’s so supremely talented but because everyone else is a literal idiot, placed in important positions with the help of the WEF to ensure EU policy conforms to their vision of the future.

Merkel, like the rest, was chosen.

In fact, Merkel’s ineptitude is always on display once she is forced to dabble outside of the EU itself. She rules it with an iron fist but when confronted by nearly anyone else, including a madman like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, she falls on her face spectacularly.

Merkel is a wholly constructed persona whose job it is to keep the ship of the nascent EU state trudging right towards that iceberg of The Great Reset.

The forces behind the ouster of Trump and the selection of Joe Biden did this with the intent of completing the task of subordinating the U.S. (and its military) to EU control through policy normalization on domestic spending, production, taxes, etc.

That’s the 40,000 foot view of the mountain of executive orders issued by Biden in his first month in office. That’s what the proposed tax plan is for, why the stimulus bill is structured the way it is, and why EU policy towards Russia also has not changed for the better.

It’s also why the second Trump impeachment ended with a whimper. None of that would occur if the Senate was bogged down for months calling witnesses.

With Biden as the PFOTUS – President Fungus of the U.S. – the WEF has exactly what it always wanted, a weak U.S. acting as the spear pointed at Russia to subjugate it to the Great Reset.

I’m sure the thinking in Davos is that once Russia is subordinated then China can then it can be tamed.

By the way, I didn’t say this policy made any sense, just that that is what I think is happening because it fits the data better than any other theories.

It’s been Merkel’s job as a head of state and diplomat to sell this Hybrid War with Russia as not her preference .

She’s always talked the good game to Putin that she has to go along with the sanctions to keep the U.S. placated. They are the bad guys, we the poor EU are trapped by their belligerence.

But I think that dynamic changed last year with the Navalny ‘poisoning’ and the attempted coup in Belarus. The question is why?

In hindsight the WEF-aligned forces in the U.S. and Europe expected a Biden presidency. And it was that expectation that let the cat out of the bag as to who was really in charge vis a vis Russia.

Hint: it’s not the U.S.

Because Merkel would have never allowed herself to get so obviously dirty on these two issues if she wasn’t convinced she would have the upper hand over U.S. policy come January 20th.

This is a part of the story I think a lot of commentators are missing in the the U.S./EU/Russia power dynamic. That the goal here, as Pepe Escobar gets close to in his latest article, is not just a restoration of German sovereignty out from under the yoke of the U.S. occupation, but a reversal of the power dynamic completely.

Now imagine a hegemonic Germany in Europe forging closer trade and investment ties with not only Russia but also China (and that’s the other “secret” inbuilt in the EU-China trade-investment deal).

So whoever is lodged in the White House, there’s nothing else to expect from the US Deep State apart from the “maniacal” push towards perennial, accumulated sanctions.

The ball is actually in Berlin’s court, much more than in the court of eurocratic nightmare Brussels, where everyone’s future priority amounts to receiving their full, fat retirement pensions tax-free.

Pepe still thinks there is any room at all between the “Atlanticists” controlling U.S. policy and Merkel’s pro-EU policy. I don’t anymore. I don’t think the U.S. Deep State can or will do anything else to undermine Germany and that all the U.S. posturing about Nordstream 2 is just that, posturing; policy inertia of the Cold War.

I’ve been making Pepe’s point about Nordstream 2’s political implications within the EU since the day it was announced and Poland through a hissy fit. Germany at the heart of EU energy distribution cements its position as the de facto ruler of the EU in a way that makes it even more difficult to counter.

This is why Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and the rest are not allowed to have governments who go against Merkel and will be destroyed in the next eighteen months. Italy is especially vulnerable because new Prime Minister Mario Draghi, was put in place now to finish the job he started with TARGET2 and negative interest rates when he ran the ECB.

In my mind, the battle for Germany’s sovereignty was won the day the Supreme Court denied Texas’ lawsuit against Pennsylvania thus cutting off any legal path to Trump’s election challenge.

Simply putting a puppet like Biden in the White House, who is a stand-in for Obama whose foreign policy was all about boosting Europe in hindsight, was all that was needed.

Merkel, to give her credit, played the Coronapocalypse well. She used the crisis to revive her flailing political prospects, salvaging her CDU party’s position.

Then again, she also was handed a pair of aces in the hole and knew one was coming on the flop, so giving her too much credit is, at best, dubious.

In short, all she had to do was not screw it up completely by not over-betting her hand. But, she did with Navalny, badly.

And Putin finally sniffed out what was really going on.

In recent months Putin and Russia have stonewalled the EU on every issue of contention between them. Putin issued the bluntest opposition to the Great Reset uttered by any world leader. It was a speech for the ages.

EU bureaucrats go to Moscow and come home whining in their Chablis. Meanwhile Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov make clear statements of ever-escalating import that the EU’s behavior is unacceptable and diplomatic ties between Russia and it are now at an ebb.

Why does anyone still think that this isn’t an expression of EU/German independence and ‘sovereignty’? Have we all become so lazy in our analysis and opposition to U.S. hegemonic behavior that we excuse the same behavior from Europe, especially Germany?

Have we, by degrees, been snookered by Merkel’s apparent weakness for all these years or did we not look far enough into the future because we never really considered a bunch of eugenicist oligarchs trying to pull off something so monumentally stupid as The Great Reset?

These are good questions and I’m as guilty of missing the bigger picture as anyone. For a long time I believe even Putin and Lavrov didn’t understand what was really the plan in Brussels all along.

So, given that Germany’s independence, and by extension the EU’s, is accelerating towards its conclusion with the Obama Restoration and Biden as PFOTUS, where do things sit?

In my opinion, just as badly for Europe as they were before this happened. Because as I said, beginning last year Putin and Russia have given Merkel nothing.

She’s tried to play her game of making big promises to Putin and then never following through and failed. It’s forced Germany to back down on more sanctions over Navalny and Russia’s involvement in keeping Lukashenko in power in Minsk.

Moreover, Russia’s return to the Council of Europe saw them remove all further action there over Russia’s reunification with Crimea from the agenda.

The EU having to accept Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine is yet another example of who wears the pants (not pants suit) in Russian/German relations.

Merkel needs Nordstream 2 now more than ever. She needs Russia now more than ever. The problem for her and Germany is that Russia is now on a path to a more dynamic and interesting economic arena than Germany is.

She’s slowly losing the support of the German people, who come out in greater numbers each week against the lockdown policies, while in Russia even the U.S. and European intelligence and diplomatic corps can’t generate anything resembling a protest against Putin.

Merkel is destroying the strong social contract bond between the German people and the government while Putin has only enhanced it between Russians and the Russian state.

She’s ground Germany to a halt with draconian GDR-style lockdowns. Putin left Russia’s economy mostly open and is now coming out of the Coronapocalypse at a much quicker pace than expected despite increased sanctions.

The last round of economic statistics from Russia released this week for January are impressive considering these are year-over-year at pre-COVID levels when oil prices were above $65 per barrel.

  • Unemployment continuing to fall, now at just 5.8%.

  • Retail sales nearly flat year-over-year to pre-COVID levels

  • Real Wage Growth in January at 4.6%.

  • PMI indicating expansion, not recession.

  • CPI running hot at 5.2%

And as long as Putin continues to promote Russian sovereignty he will be forgiven his mistakes. And in the foreign policy arena, Putin’s Achilles’ heel with his people has been his willingness to compromise with Europe and the U.S. in the past.

Since that is no longer the case and he led the opposition to the Great Reset I only see his political positioning strengthen into the Duma elections later this year.

Merkel has the opposite problem, she’s in hiding now, but there is no credible opposition to her that isn’t just as much in the pay of Klaus Schwab as she is. Her political capital can only go down.

Since AfD – Alternative for Germany — is in disarray and incapable of leading a political revolt at this point, this year’s elections in Germany look right now a walk for Merkel’s CDU to formally create an open alliance with the Greens like she’s had in the German Upper House, the Bundesrat, for years, but things can change a lot in eight months.

What’s clear to me at this point, however, is that while Merkel may have been handed Germany’s new found sovereignty from the U.S. to throw around at her European ‘partners,’ she has no power to influence how things play out in the future with either Russia or China.

And that was the point of giving her this power in the first place.

They will dictate terms to her and to whoever comes after her on a ‘take or leave’ basis.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Mon, 02/22/2021 - 03:30
Published:2/22/2021 2:38:41 AM
[Markets] 'A Tale Told By An Idiot': The Second Impeachment Of Donald Trump 'A Tale Told By An Idiot': The Second Impeachment Of Donald Trump

Authored by Martin Sieff via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The first impeachment of Donald Trump in 2019 was no tragedy. It was always a farce. The second impeachment, in which Trump was acquitted on the night of Saturday, February 13 did not even rise to that. It was a hiccup, a non-event. The most solemn procedure in the sacred constitutional process of the United States did not even rise to the entertainment value of a bout of naked mud wrestling.

Washington during the week of the Second Great Impeachment Trial was a fascinating non-place to be. The skies were grey. It was quite cold: About minus Five Degrees Celsius most days.  There was a thin sprinkling of tired, dirty snow on the ground. The city was deserted. More virulent mutations of the COVID-19 virus from the United Kingdom and South Africa were said to be on the loose.

The streets were empty. There were no protests, wall graffiti, slogans or demonstrations either for or against Trump. Nobody cared. It echoed the empty deserted ghostly state of the city during Joe Biden’s non-existent presidential inaugural on January 20. Once again, all that happened was that someone taped a badly handwritten note on the Capitol saying “impeachment” and everything that followed was just a badly acted chaotic play performed by autistic children.

No real human being gave a second’s care for either convicting Trump or acquitting him. Not a single firework was fired off in celebrate his acquittal. Not a single liberal committed ritual suicide, tried to burn themselves to death in front of the Senate or even bothered to throw a rotten tomato or an egg at a single Republican Senator who voted for acquittal. It was never real. It didn’t matter. Nobody cared.

Yet impeachment is supposed to Mean Something. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 rather than melt into blubber beneath its merciless glare. Bill Clinton, who was widely suspected of being guilty of so much, beat an impeachment rap only for lying in public that he had slept with a naive young girl intern.

George W. Bush surely rated impeachment for his unprecedented incompetence in so many areas: He bankrupted the country: He destroyed civil liberties. He failed to prevent the killing of nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11. He ignored Mississippi flood defenses thereby drowning of the city of New Orleans, killing thousands more. He unleashed unnecessary, endless wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. He got thosuands of youn g American soldeirs killed and ten thousands more hideously maimed for life – for nothing.

Yet the Democratic majorities that ran both chambers of Congress during the last two years of Bush’s presidency never had the guts or decency to dare to impeach him for any of these terrible, shameful things.

Bush’s successor Barack Obama blithely presided over the destruction of democracy in Ukraine, risking nuclear war with Russia. He locked the United States into a $1.5 trillion 30-years-long new nuclear arms race. He unleashed war, rebellion, anarchy and chaos in Yemen, Syria and Libya, killing untold millions more. The Republicans who controlled Congress never dared – or bothered – to impeach him either.

This non-existent second failed impeachment of Trump confirms what the world already learned in his farcical first impeachment in 2019. Impeachment as a solemn tool to preserve democracy, depose an unworthy national leader or mean anything at all is stone cold dead in the United States of America.

Like the rest of the Beloved, still so widely revered, more than 230-years-old US Constitution, impeachment has become a meaningless exercise in exhausted, archaic cliches. No one would ever dare to use it for anything that really mattered at all. Both Republicans and Democrats have repeatedly shown over the past 30 years that they are all too scared to.

The aging, absurd, senile and drooling old Democratic political elite in Washington were led over the edge of a political cliff yet again by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer and House congressional “expert” Congressman Adam Schiff. 

They will still revere and mindlessly follow them. Gadarene Swine are incapable of doing anything else.

The Democrats failed to discredit or even politically damage Trump. They revealed themselves as stupid, malignant fools, trying to impeach a powerless president who had already been cast out of office. They failed to plausibly document any of their charges against him. They made a mockery of President Biden’s half-hearted, dazedly delivered pledge of bipartisanship and burying of political enmities in his already forgotten Inaugural Address.

They also handed to the Republicans a perfect precedent for impeaching Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris if they regain control of Congress in 2022, assuming the ramshackle US political system can even survive until then.

The outcome of Trump’s second impeachment was therefore a catastrophe for the Democrats. It repeated Obama and Biden’s disastrous bungled start to their 2009 administration and it already heralds the rapid isolation and collapse of the Biden regime

Nearly 2,000 years ago, the mad Roman boy-emperor Caligula declared war on the God Neptune by collecting sea shells on the beaches of France and Belgium. Caligula had more credibility and success than Pelosi, Schumer and Schiff: At least he got the sea shells.

What we have just seen is another example of the compulsion of America’s liberal ruling elite to make a sick, discredited joke of what is left of their own collapsing and totally bankrupt political system.

What was the Second Impeachment of Donald Trump? Shakespeare gave us the answer in his Scottish Play more than 400 years ago.

It was a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

Tyler Durden Sun, 02/21/2021 - 23:35
Published:2/21/2021 11:10:41 PM
[Markets] Biden AG Pick Merrick Garland Vows To Prosecute Capitol Rioters Biden AG Pick Merrick Garland Vows To Prosecute Capitol Rioters

President Biden's pick for Attorney General, Merrick Garland, has vowed to prosecute participants in the Jan. 6 incursion into the US Capitol.

"If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 -- a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government," said Garland in an opening statement prior to his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Monday.

Will Garland also prosecute BLM organizer John Sullivan, who participated in the 'storming' of the Capitol - after which he sold footage to CBS and NBC for a combined $70,000?

Garland, whose nomination to the US Supreme Court was blocked by Republicans in 2016, also signaled that he will make decisions independently from Biden, according to Bloomberg.

"The president nominates the attorney general to be the lawyer -- not for any individual, but for the people of the United States," unlike Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, who described himself as the president's 'wingman.'

Biden has said he’ll let his attorney general make the tough calls on touchy matters -- including pending investigations of his son, Hunter Biden, and inquiries touching on Trump.

“One of the most serious pieces of damage done by the last administration was the politicizing of the Justice Department,” Biden said at a CNN town hall in Milwaukee on Feb. 16. “Their prosecutorial decisions will be left to the Justice Department, not me.” -Bloomberg

Garland also said during his testimony that the DOJ's civil rights mission is "urgent because we do not yet have equal justice."

"Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment, and the criminal justice system; and bear the brunt of the harm caused by pandemic, pollution, and climate change," said the 68-year-old judge of nearly 25 years.

Garland first served in government as a special assistant in Jimmy Carter's administration before going into private practice. After serving a brief stint as an assistant US attorney in 1989, Garland then became a deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ's criminal division in 1993, after which he was promoted to a top aide of the deputy attorney general.

Tyler Durden Sun, 02/21/2021 - 14:50
Published:2/21/2021 2:01:15 PM
[2021 News] Fundraiser Who Bankrolled Obama, Hillary and Others Sentenced to 12 Years for ‘Serious Offenses’

Fundraiser Who Bankrolled Obama, Hillary and Others Sentenced to 12 Years for ‘Serious Offenses.’ “Take two bribes and call me in the morning!” We wonder how many more like this guy are running around unnoticed?

The post Fundraiser Who Bankrolled Obama, Hillary and Others Sentenced to 12 Years for ‘Serious Offenses’ appeared first on IHTM.

Published:2/21/2021 12:00:24 PM
[Politics] Biden Ready to Pick Fight on Rahm Emanuel for Japan Post President Joe Biden appears willing to pick a fight over loyalty to Obama administration chief of staff and former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a potential ambassador.... Published:2/21/2021 8:10:23 AM
[Markets] U.S. Wants To Negotiate With Iran As Israel And Hezbollah Exchange Threats U.S. Wants To Negotiate With Iran As Israel And Hezbollah Exchange Threats

Submitted by South Front,

Hezbollah, one of Israel’s sworn enemies and a staunch ally of Iran continues its tough rhetoric against Tel Aviv.

On February 17th, the group released a 2-minute video titled “Oh Zionists, You Have Military and Security Targets Within Your Cities.” The footage contained a threat to strike 10 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) targets throughout Israeli cities.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah was shown warning Aviv Kochavi, Chief of General Staff of IDF with “total war”. The Hezbollah video warning of war if the IDF chose to initiate it came in response to large-scale drills that the IDF held in recent weeks.

During the exercise, IDF pilots trained to hit up to 3,000 targets per day in case of all-out confrontation.

This tougher rhetoric from Hezbollah is not something uncommon. What makes it significant is that the movement can afford to make it even tougher due to the Biden Administration formally being less supportive of Israel.

On February 18th, US President Joe Biden told Iran that it was ready to take part in EU-sponsored talks to restore the Iran Nuclear Deal.

This seems as a large concession, and causes a sense of urgency in Israel. For the first time since he entered into office, Biden accepted a phone call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In the conversation, Biden affirmed the US commitment to Israel’s security, and mutual defense cooperation. He said that the flow of weapons, equipment and funding would continue. It all appeared very hollow and according to script.

Similarly, to what US President Barack Obama did, Biden promised to increase Israeli military aid, but that also means it will not get any more “tangible” support.

This is all good and well, but it simply means “you will not feel as special as you were when Donald Trump was around.”

Separately, another Axis of Resistance enemy, Saudi Arabia is suffering by Yemen’s Ansar Allah (the Houthis).

On February 17th, the Houthis captured the significant Marib Dam, as they push towards Marib city and consolidate power in the surrounding areas.

The city is the last major stronghold of the Saudi-led coalition in central Yemen. If it falls, which seems quite plausible, the Houthis will have even more opportunity to push into southern Saudi Arabia.

In their past raids they have captured hundreds of Saudi-led coalition soldiers and various equipment.

February 2021 seems to be the month of the Axis of Resistance, with Iran’s campaign of non-compliance with the Nuclear Deal giving fruit. Hezbollah, the Houthis and the pro-Iranian groups in Iraq and Syria further seem to be achieving limited success.

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/19/2021 - 22:40
Published:2/19/2021 9:49:55 PM
[Markets] Dem Senator Manchin Opposes Tanden For OMB Boss Due To "Overly Partisan & Toxic" Past Dem Senator Manchin Opposes Tanden For OMB Boss Due To "Overly Partisan & Toxic" Past

Did Joe Manchin just confirm his position as 'the most powerful person in congress'?

The West Virginia Senator, who has continually touted his work towards bipartisanship on Capitol Hill...

"Now, more than ever, we must enter a new era of bipartisanship in Washington. With tight margins in the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans are faced with a decision to either work together to put the priorities of our nation before partisan politics or double down on the dysfunctional tribalism."

...may just have cemented his position after saying this afternoon that he would oppose Neera Tanden's nomination to head the White House budget office, potentially sinking her Senate confirmation.

Neera Tanden participates in a panel discussion during the annual Milken Institute Global Conference at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 29, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

As a reminder, here is what Glenn Greewald wrote of the Tanden nomination in November:

The announcement that Joe Biden intends to nominate Neera Tanden as his Director of the Office of Management and Budget — a critical position overseeing U.S. economic and regulatory policy — triggered a wide range of mockery, indignation and disgust from both the left and the right. That should not be surprising: though a thoroughly mediocre and ordinary D.C. swamp creature from the perspective of both ideology and competence, Tanden’s uniquely unhinged, venomous, corrupt and pathologically dishonest conduct as a Clinton Family and DNC apparatchik and President of the corporatist-and-despot-funded Center for American Progress (CAP) has earned her a list of enemies far longer and more impressive than her accomplishments.

...

When news of her appointment broke, many of the journalists and activists she has spent years abusing, slandering, and lying about instantly stepped forward to compile just some of her worst political and behavioral lowlights. And some preliminary signs emerged that she might encounter difficulty in obtaining the Senate confirmation needed for her to assume this position. The Communications Director for GOP Senator John Cornyn of Texas announced that “Tanden stands zero chance of being confirmed” by the Senate.

Former Sanders campaign aide David Sirota hypothesized that “it is not a coincidence that they are putting Neera Tanden — the single biggest, most aggressive Bernie Sanders critic in the United States of America — specifically at OMB while Sanders is Senate Budget Committee ranking/chair.” Sirota’s statement suggests Biden’s nomination of Tanden was intended as yet more humiliation doled out to the Democratic-loyal Sanders left by cucking the Vermont Senator even further by forcing him to shepherd the confirmation of one of his most vicious and amoral attackers (who Sanders himself in 2019 vehemently denounced). But Sirota’s point also raises the prospect that Tanden’s nomination could even encounter trouble from that side of the aisle as well (given Sanders’ compliant and disciplined conduct over the last six months, it’s more likely we will see him roll out a literal red carpet for Tanden to walk on, gently toss red roses on it before she passes, and then serve her a glass of Chardonnay rather than meaningfully obstruct her confirmation).

The list of sociopathic and even monstrous acts from Tanden is too long to list comprehensively. She punched one of her own employees, a reporter for CAP’s now-abolished blog ThinkProgress, after he had the temerity to ask Hillary Clinton in 2008 about her support for the Iraq War (Tanden claimed she “merely” had “pushed,” not punched, her undeferential reporter). In 2011, as the Obama administration was participating in the NATO bombing of Libya, Tanden suggested in internal CAP discussions that the U.S. steal Libya’s oil as a way of reducing the U.S. deficit (a story I was able to report only because Tanden had abused and alienated so many of her employees that they worked together to leak her incriminating emails to me).

During her tenure as CAP’s President, Tanden accepted millions of dollars  from the regime of the United Arab Emirates, which built Dubai and Abu Dhabi using slave labor, along with massive donations from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, J.P. Morgan, the Walton Family and Michael Bloomberg, while hiding the identity of some of her think tank’s largest donors. A huge chapter on the NYPD’s abusive policies toward Muslims under Mayor Michael Bloomberg was removed from a CAP report after Boomberg donated more than $1 million to Tanden’s organization, and he continued to donate even more after that courteous gesture.

She ordered the supposedly independent journalists of the ThinkProgress blog, including Muslim writers, to stop writing critically about Israel after key CAP donors, including Barney Frank’s sister Ann Lewis and long-time Clinton advisor Howard Wolfson, complained. She and Wolfson plotted in 2016 how to weaponize female journalists and people of color against Hillary’s critics as well to use their identity to stigmatize and thus stop undesirable coverage from The New York Times. In 2018, she outed a CAP employee at a staff-wide meeting who had filed an anonymous complaint of sexual harassment and retaliation against one of Tanden’s male allies. Secure with her UAE-and-corporate-funded large salary, she has long urged cuts to Social Security. The list goes on and on.

Of course, now that her words are coming back to bite her, Tanden has repeatedly apologized for the tweets (1000s of which she deleted), some of which compared Republicans to evil fictional characters, referring to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) as “the worst,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) was “a fraud,” proclaimed that “vampires have more heart” than Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R), and comparing then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to the villain in the “Harry Potter” series, Voldemort.

"I regret that language and take responsibility for it," she said at one of the committee hearings, promising to take a different tone as budget chief.

All of which appears to be the driving force behind Manchin's decision, as The Hill reports the senator citing Tanden's harhs tweet about Republicans as the reason for his opposition:

"I believe her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget," Manchin said in a statement.

"For this reason, I cannot support her nomination."

With the Senate divided 50-50, and most Republicans already expected to oppose Tanden over her disgustingly partisan and abusive rhetoric, Manchin's decision means it may be difficult for any GOP senator (cough Mitt Romney cough) to back her now that Biden will need at least one Republican to back her to get her confirmed.

Of course, the knives are out for Manchin already as "pro-reality" twitter-er Jennifer Rubin plays the 'identity card' right out of the gate:

Sexist?

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/19/2021 - 16:57
Published:2/19/2021 4:18:09 PM
[] BREAKING: Biden demands Iran retreat from "destabilizing actions" Published:2/19/2021 11:16:33 AM
[Markets] German Study: Laboratory Accident Most Likely Cause Of Coronavirus Pandemic German Study: Laboratory Accident Most Likely Cause Of Coronavirus Pandemic

Authored by Swiss Policy Research (emphasis ours),

Professor Dr. Roland Wiesendanger, a leading German expert in the field of nanotechnology and three-time winner of the prestigious European Research Council Advanced Grant, has completed a one-year, hundred-page study on the origin of the novel coronavirus. Professor Wiesendanger concludes that “both the number and quality of the circumstantial evidence point to a laboratory accident at the virological institute in the city of Wuhan as the cause of the current pandemic.”

In the following, SPR provides an English translation of the official German press release of the University of Hamburg. The hundred-page German study by Prof. Wiesendanger can be found here.

SPR would like to add the following information: The two most recent global pandemics were the 1977 ‘Russian flu’ and the 2009 ‘swine flu’. In both of these cases, modern genetic research indicates that a lab escape was the most likely origin of the pandemic virus (see here and here).


Study on the origin of the coronavirus pandemic published

Professor Dr. Roland Wiesendanger, University of Hamburg

For more than a year, the coronavirus has been causing a worldwide crisis. In a study, nanoscientist Prof. Dr. Roland Wiesendanger has now shed light on the origin of the virus. He concludes that both the number and quality of the circumstantial evidence point to a laboratory accident at the virological institute in the city of Wuhan as the cause of the current pandemic.

The study was conducted between January 2020 and December 2020. It is based on an interdisciplinary scientific approach and extensive research using a wide variety of information sources. These include scientific literature, articles in print and online media, and personal communication with international colleagues. It does not provide highly scientific evidence, but it does provide ample and serious circumstantial evidence:

  • Unlike previous coronavirus-related epidemics such as SARS and MERS, to date, well over a year after the outbreak of the current pandemic, no intermediate host animal has been identified that could have facilitated the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 pathogens from bats to humans. Therefore, the zoonotic theory as a possible explanation for the pandemic has no sound scientific basis.

  • The SARS-CoV-2 viruses are surprisingly good at coupling to human cell receptors and penetrating human cells. This is made possible by special cell receptor binding domains combined with a special (furin) cleavage site of the coronavirus zigzag protein. Both properties together were previously unknown in coronaviruses and indicate a non-natural origin of the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen.

  • Bats were not offered at the suspected fish market in the center of Wuhan city. However, the Wuhan City Virological Institute has one of the world’s largest collections of bat pathogens, which originated from distant caves in southern Chinese provinces. It is extremely unlikely that bats from this distance of nearly 2,000 km would have naturally made their way to Wuhan, only to cause a global pandemic in close proximity to this virological institute.

  • A research group at the Wuhan City Virological Institute has been genetically manipulating coronaviruses for many years with the goal of making them more contagious, dangerous and deadly to humans. This has been documented in the scientific literature by numerous publications.

  • Significant safety deficiencies existed at the Wuhan City Virological Institute even before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which have been documented.

  • There are numerous direct references to a laboratory origin of the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen. For example, a young female scientist at the virology institute in Wuhan is believed to have been the first to become infected. There are also numerous indications that as early as October 2019, the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen spread from the virological institute to the city of Wuhan and beyond. Furthermore, there are indications that the virological institute was investigated by the Chinese authorities in the first half of October 2019.

“The current coronavirus pandemic is not only dominating the current headlines, but will be with us for many years to come – not least because of the social and economic impact. For months, dealing with and managing the corona crisis has understandably been at the forefront of issues in politics and the media. However, the critical science-based examination of the question of the origin of the current pandemic is already of great importance today, because only on the basis of this knowledge can adequate precautions be taken to minimize the probability of similar pandemics occurring in the future,” says Prof. Dr. Roland Wiesendanger.

The study was completed in January 2021 and initially distributed and discussed in scientific circles. The publication is now intended to stimulate a broad discussion, particularly with regard to the ethical aspects of so-called “gain-of-function” research, which makes pathogens more infectious, dangerous and deadly for humans. “This can no longer remain a matter for a small group of scientists, but must urgently become the subject of a public debate,” says the study’s author.

Read the full hundred-page study in German on ResearchGate ?

***

Meanwhile... two weeks after World Health Organization wrapped up its junket to Wuhan, they're doubling down on the natural origin hypothesis and have added two species to the list of potential crossover hosts; ferret badgers and rabbits, which 'could have played a role' in the spread to humans. Of course, they'd need to find one in the wild that can carry SARS-Cov-2 and infect a human.

According to the very conflicted Peter Daszak of the EcoHealth Alliance, who was on the WHO trip to Wuhan (and participated in coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology after the Obama administration cut US funding for it in 2015), the genetic experts who have been creating chimeric coronaviruses to better infect humans couldn't have possibly been the source.

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/19/2021 - 03:30
Published:2/19/2021 2:44:13 AM
[Entertainment] Malia Obama Joins Writing Staff of Donald Glover's Amazon Project Malia ObamaMalia Obama's new job is sure to make all the other 22-year-olds out there feel like total slackers. Barack and Michelle Obama's eldest daughter has joined the writers room for a...
Published:2/18/2021 2:53:49 AM
[Markets] Media Silence After Biden Removes Petitioning From White House Website Media Silence After Biden Removes Petitioning From White House Website

Authored by Eric Garris via AntiWar.com,

It appears that the ‘We the People’ petition system has been taken off the White House website. Here is an archive of what it looked like before Biden took office.

The system has been around for many years. At any given time, hundreds of petitions were active. If you get 100,000 signatures, the White House is supposed to give an answer. You may remember that there was an active "Free Assange" petition that the Obama Administration was obligated to answer (and gave a bad answer).

When Trump took office, he briefly discontinued it but put it back up after a media uproar.

Now it appears the Biden White House has removed it. The website used to be here:
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov

This URL, as well as URLs for all currently-active petitions, just forward to the White House front page. I explored the website and could not find any mention of it. The link used to appear in both the "Contact" and "Get Involved" links, but it is gone from both.

I have seen nothing about this in the media. When I Google "White House Petition System Down" and other similar searches, I only get 4-year-old articles about the time that Trump temporarily disabled it.

Wikipedia says that the system was taken down the day Biden took officeOn January 20 2021, the day the Inauguration of Joe Biden took place, the website’s address started redirecting to the White House’s website home address.

AFP/Getty Image

This is a terrible event, and it must be publicized, and Biden must be made to reverse this decision.

Tyler Durden Tue, 02/16/2021 - 19:50
Published:2/16/2021 7:00:37 PM
[2021 News] Iran-Backed Militia Accidentally Bombs Chinese Consulate in Iraq

Iran-Backed Militia Accidentally Bombs Chinese Consulate in Iraq. Things haven’t been this crazy since Obama droned a wedding. The attack on Monday, claimed by an allegedly newly-formed militant group named “Saraya Awlia al-Dam (Dummies who can’t shoot straight),” featured about 14 rockets bombing various parts of the regional capital, including Erbil’s airport, residential areas, and at […]

The post Iran-Backed Militia Accidentally Bombs Chinese Consulate in Iraq appeared first on IHTM.

Published:2/16/2021 5:04:54 PM
[] The Problems of the Woke Alliance Published:2/15/2021 3:53:22 PM
[] Good news, everyone! Jen Psaki is no longer the unsung hero of the Biden administration [video] Published:2/15/2021 10:19:27 AM
[Markets] Biden Calls On Congress To Strengthen Gun Ownership Rules Biden Calls On Congress To Strengthen Gun Ownership Rules

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

President Joe Biden on Feb. 14 urged Congress to strengthen existing laws concerning gun ownership on the third anniversary of the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

“The Parkland students and so many other young people across the country who have experienced gun violence are carrying forward the history of the American journey. It is a history written by young people in each generation who challenged prevailing dogma to demand a simple truth: we can do better. And we will,” Biden said in a statement.

This Administration will not wait for the next mass shooting to heed that call. We will take action to end our epidemic of gun violence and make our schools and communities safer. Today, I am calling on Congress to enact commonsense gun law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.”

In the afternoon on Feb. 14, 2018, a man identified by authorities as Nikolas Cruz, now 22, walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and opened fire with AR-15 rifle. The shooting left 17 dead, including 14 students. Cruz, who is currently awaiting trial, could face the death penalty.

After the shooting, a number of Parkland students and parents began agitating for stricter gun control laws, arguing Cruz shouldn’t have been able to obtain a gun. But others pointed to failures by law enforcement, including safety officer Scot Peterson, who has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges for not entering the school building to confront Cruz, and urged restraint on new measures.

Biden said during the 2020 campaign that he supports stronger gun control; last week, administration officials met with gun control advocates, including Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, and John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters later that the administration is ready to move on the “ambitious plan” Biden laid out during the campaign.

Biden said on his campaign website that he will “defeat” the National Rifle Association (NRA). Among his proposed actions is repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which protects gun manufacturers from some lawsuits, banning so-called assault weapons, as Congress did for 10 years in 1994, and forcing people to either give up certain guns and magazines or register them with the federal government.

The NRA’s lobbying arm has fired back at Biden, saying he wants to ban “America’s most popular class of centerfire rifles, as well on the factory-spec magazines for most of the defensive pistols sold in the U.S.”

“Just as when Joe Biden unsuccessfully pursued gun control as Barack Obama’s vice-president, your NRA is fully prepared to oppose whatever plans he may have to ‘defeat’ America’s largest and oldest civil rights organization and the fundamental liberties it protects,” it added in a recent blog post.

Gun-control advocacy groups are pushing both executive orders and legislative packages they believe will help lead to fewer deaths by gunfire.

While Democrats control both chambers of Congress in addition to the White House, they require some Republican support in the Senate to pass new legislation.

Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) on Feb. 14 also mourned the shooting anniversary.

“As we honor the anniversary of this tragedy, we must also find the strength as a nation to prevent such tragedies from ever being repeated. With President Biden in the White House, we finally have the opportunity to make real strides to end gun violence. No survivor should endure another year of inaction. The fear of mass gun violence for Americans doing the most normal of activities, as well as gun violence in too many neighborhoods across the country, must be brought to an end with congressional action,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.

“On this day, I recommit to ensure that the names of the 17 victims are never forgotten in the halls of Congress and to honor their memory with action that will make our communities safer from gun violence,” Deutch added.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
Tyler Durden Mon, 02/15/2021 - 08:45
Published:2/15/2021 7:52:39 AM
[Markets] Biden Initiates Process To Close Guantanamo Bay Prison Permanently Biden Initiates Process To Close Guantanamo Bay Prison Permanently

Authored by Dave DeCamp via AntiWar.com,

The Biden administration is launching a review of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay with the aim of closing the facility, something the Obama administration promised to do but never followed through on.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced the review on Friday. When asked if President Biden plans to shut the prison before his presidency ends, Psaki said, "That certainly is our goal and our intention," but an exact timeline was not given.

Detainees on arrival to Camp X-Ray, the holding facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. DoD image

National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne discussed the review with Reuters. "We are undertaking an NSC process to assess the current state of play that the Biden administration has inherited from the previous administration, in line with our broader goal of closing Guantanamo," she said.

Horne said the NSC will be working with the Pentagon, State Department, and the Justice Department to make progress towards closing Gitmo.

There are currently 40 inmates being held in Gitmo. The prison costs over $530 million to operate each year, meaning each prisoner costs about $13 million per year.

In January, a Gitmo inmate appealed to President Biden for his release in an article in the Independent. Ahmed Rabbani was kidnapped in Pakistan in 2002, sold to the CIA, and mistakenly identified as an al-Qaeda member.

Before heading to Gitmo, Rabbani was tortured for 540 days at a CIA black site, according to the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee Report on CIA torture.

Rabbani has been on a seven-year hunger strike to protest being detained on no charges with no trial. Each day, guards force-feed Rabani by strapping him to a chair and forcing a tube down his nose and throat.

Tyler Durden Sun, 02/14/2021 - 21:30
Published:2/14/2021 8:45:55 PM
[World] The Media Is Telling Us It's OK to Love the First Lady Again Published:2/14/2021 2:51:13 PM
[World] Biden Will Close the Guantanamo Bay Military Prison After 'Robust Review' Published:2/13/2021 4:10:23 PM
[Markets] One Man's Terrorist Is Another Man's Freedom Fighter One Man's Terrorist Is Another Man's Freedom Fighter

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us,

In order for tyranny to be established, people who love freedom must first be demonized.

It seems like this would be an easy historic fact to accept, however, it’s very common for state propagandists and establishment shills in the media to cloud the argument. The conflict between the political left, globalists, conservatives and patriots is awash in misdirection. This article is my appeal to cut through that engineered fog, but before anything else is discussed, we need to recognize a fundamental truth:

If leftists and globalists were not trying to take away our individual and inherent liberties, then we conservatives and moderates would have no reason to fight.

The political left and the globalists are the ONLY people consistently using censorship, mob intimidation, violence, economic ransom, subversion and government oppression to get what they want. And, what they want is control; there is no denying it.

Again, let’s think about this for a moment: Who are the real villains in this story? The people who want to be left alone to live their lives in quiet freedom? Or, the people that want to forcefully impose their will on the world by any means necessary?

They can call it “progress”, they can call it futurism, they can call it the “great reset”, they can call it Utopia, but there is no getting around the reality that leftists and globalists have a vision of the world that is distinctly hostile to independent thought. What’s worse is, they think THEY are the good guys.

Conservatives and constitutionalists are “monsters” to them. Why? Because we exist and we refuse to comply. That is all there is to it. Otherwise, we have done NOTHING to them except defend ourselves in the most limited ways.

In recent months the words “terrorist” and “insurrectionist” have been used monotonously in the media to describe conservatives. The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, introduced in Congress this year, goes even further and specifically targets conservative activist groups as the primary threat to the stability of the US government. Leftists are still calling the protest at the Capitol Building an “attack on democracy” by “terrorists and white supremacists”.

If people walking unarmed into a building and then leaving quietly after an hour is terrorism and insurrection, then what would they call it if we actually physically defended ourselves against the usurpation of our civil rights?

These are labels some of us in the alternative media have been expecting for many years. We knew that the numerous pieces of national security and surveillance legislation passed under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, supposedly aimed at Islamic terrorists, would one day be used against all of us. It was only a matter of time. We were called “conspiracy theorists” 15 years ago for suggesting as much, now we are prophetic, but the mainstream will never admit it.

The argument on the other side of the aisle is that conservatives represent an “outdated” ideal; a philosophy which disrupts the betterment of human society. But is this really true? And, who gets to decide the definition of “betterment”, or the definition of “progress”?

In my article ‘The Real Reasons Why The Liberty Movement Is Preparing To Fight’, published way back in 2013, I stated that:

Some principles, like the liberties embodied in natural law and outlined in the U.S. Constitution, NEVER become outdated. They exist in the heart of mankind, and will remain as long as humanity remains. They cannot be erased, and they cannot be undone. They are inherent and eternal.

The Liberty Movement is not some dying vestige of America’s past clinging to an antiquated philosophy. We are the new wave; the messengers of an ideal of freedom that in the grand scheme of history has been around for only a blink of an eye. Constitutional liberty IS the progress that humanity has been waiting for. We have only been led astray by those who would sell us on our own bondage.

The SPLC and others within the establishment accuse the Liberty Movement of arming for conflict against the government. I am here to tell them that is EXACTLY what we are doing. We are arming because the establishment is arming against us. Yes, we are a threat, but only to political and corporate criminals who use subversion and violence to wrest freedom from the hands of good people. I am not afraid to openly admit it. I and many others will fight against any measure or man that seeks to undermine the rights of the people or destroy the founding principles of this nation…”

Every facet of full blown tyranny is being implemented in the US and around the world in one stage or another. A fascist/communistic state is being established piece by piece right now. Mass surveillance of the public is the norm. Economic lockdowns are the norm. Medical passports are being instituted and the only reason they are not yet prominent in the US yet is because of conservative and moderate resistance. 24/7 contact tracing of every citizen is being suggested. Organization of large groups is being restricted or prohibited. Big Tech and the government are working hand-in-hand to censor dissent. And now, they are even trying to eliminate our gun rights under HR 127.

In 2011 in an article titled ‘The Essential Rules Of Tyranny’, I outlined a list of steps that an oligarchy would have to take before they could impose a centralized control grid in the US. Here is that list:

Rule #1: Keep Them Afraid

Rule #2: Keep Them Isolated

Rule #3: Keep Them Desperate

Rule #4: Send Out The Jackboots

Rule #5: Blame Everything On The Truth Seekers

Rule #6: Encourage Citizen Spies

Rule #7: Make Them Accept The Unacceptable

Most of these steps have been openly pursued in the past year and time is running out. This is how oppressive and murderous regimes begin, right under people’s noses, all in the name of the “greater good of the greater number”.

And that is the only argument left for skeptics to make: That it is government dominance, but dominance by necessity. In other words, the government “must do these things” for our own good. Of course, it’s not for our own good. There are only a select handful of people that benefit from aggressive government intrusion into our lives and they do not care about anyone but themselves.

So, here we are, on the edge of an event which the liberty movement has been predicting for well over a decade. We have been preparing for it. We have been organizing to stand against it. And, we know that we will be painted as the worst devils imaginable for opposing it. None of this is surprising to us.

Every time we defend ourselves, it will be called an act of terror and insurrection. Every terrible event will be immediately blamed on us, even if we had nothing to do with it. There may be false flag attacks carried out in our names and designed to defame us. This is how tyrants operate. This is nothing new.

I will say this, however: One man’s terrorists is often another man’s freedom fighter. All the hyperbolic labels used to demonize us aren’t going to stick with millions of Americans. They just aren’t buying it.

Are we white supremacists? How is that possible when millions of minorities are also conservatives and patriots? Are we dangerous extremists? If that’s the case, then why is there only ONE violent riot to our name the past year while there are hundreds of riots (and deaths) in the name of leftists and social justice cultists? Are we insurrectionists? How is that possible when we are trying to maintain the constitutional foundations of our country, not tear them down like the political left?

Do the globalists and leftists really think they can take 74 million-plus Americans and marginalize us all with a word like “terrorist”? Do they really think they can shut us down, lock us up or remove us from the evolution of this nation’s destiny? The only way they could achieve that is if we go quietly. I have a revelation for them: We will not be going quietly.

Perhaps that is what they expect. Maybe they think they WANT us to fight. Maybe all of these attacks on conservatives are an attempt to provoke us. It is a Catch-22 after all – Damned if we defend ourselves and damned if we do nothing, right? If this is their strategy, then they must assume they can control the outcome of such a conflagration. It is that type of arrogance that will be the end of them in the long run.

Deep down, slavery is NOT what people want (despite what the propagandists might tell you). No, most people want self determination, they just have problems letting their fear get in the way of their freedoms. Deep down, most people are on our side, not on the side of totalitarianism, and this is where despots consistently fail in their designs. The establishment thinks they can convince the world that freedom fighters are terrorists, while secretly, in their heart of hearts, the majority of people want us to win, and in the end, we will.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Fri, 02/12/2021 - 23:40
Published:2/12/2021 11:02:33 PM
[World] [Josh Blackman] Judge Droney Explains Politics "Plays Some Role" In Senior Status Decision The former Second Circuit Obama appointee, who retired during the Trump Presidency, said he "had some role in the appointment of [his] successor." Published:2/12/2021 3:30:09 PM
[Markets] 'You're Nothing Special': Frustration In Israel As Biden Still Hasn't Phoned Netanyahu 'You're Nothing Special': Frustration In Israel As Biden Still Hasn't Phoned Netanyahu

It's increasingly looking like the US and Israel may be in for a frostier four years to come compared to the close and highly coordinated prior state of relations with the Trump administration, in which it should be recalled Tel Aviv got its wish on everything from Washington's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital, to acknowledged sovereignty over the Golan Heights. 

Israeli leadership and the public is voicing increased frustration at the fact that Joe Biden has yet to pick up the phone and talk to Benjamin Netanyahu, as NBC reports late this week:

"In his first three weeks in office, President Joe Biden has made a flurry of phone calls to American allies around the world, including the leaders of Canada, Britain, France and Japan.

But one close American ally’s leader has so far been left conspicuously off the new president’s call list: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu."

AFP via Getty Images

Israeli media is now rife with speculation over what this means for the future of Israeli-US relations even while Washington continues shelling out billions in foreign aid to its number one Mideast ally.

"Biden and his aides aim to tell Netanyahu, 'You’re nothing special,'" geopolitical analyst Yossi Melman wrote in the Israeli daily Haaretz. "'The personal connection and chemistry you had with Donald Trump not only fail to advance your standing in Washington, they’re an obstacle.'"

And the further irony, Melman points out, is that Netanyahu has over the same period had no less than three phone calls from Vladimir Putin.

In response to the reports the former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, who served under the prior Obama-Biden administration, said, "There’s no reason for any drama" and that likely Biden will pick up the phone soon.

However, other pundits are noting it as a clear rebuke. A former Israel consul-general, Dani Dayan, told NBC for example:

"It’s a clear sign of displeasure from President Biden with the fact that Prime Minister Netanyahu was perceived in Washington for the last 12 years as almost a card-carrying member of the Republican Party."

Long-term policy on Israel from the new administration remains unclear, however Biden's Secretary of State has previously indicated the US will continue to uphold some of Trump's more controversial moves regarding the close regional ally, most notably continuing to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and keeping the American embassy there.

Meanwhile, on Thursday the White House was pressed on the matter. "US President Joe Biden plans to speak with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu soon, the White House said on Thursday without providing a date," the press secretary responded, according to Reuters.

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/12/2021 - 14:49
Published:2/12/2021 1:59:32 PM
[Politics] Biden to resume remittances, travel to Cuba, but other Obama-era overtures will take a while

President Biden's initial actions lifting Trump-era restrictions on Cuba won't immediately restore President Obama's warmer relations with the island.

Published:2/12/2021 10:01:29 AM
[Markets] Great Reset? Putin Says, "Not So Fast" Great Reset? Putin Says, "Not So Fast"

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

Did you happen to catch the most important political speech of the last six years?

It would have been easy to miss given everything going on.  In fact, I almost did, and this speech sits at the intersection of nearly all of my areas of intense study.

The annual World Economic Forum took place last week via teleconference, what I’m calling Virtual Davos, and at this year’s event, of course, the signature topic was their project called the Great Reset.

But if the WEF was so intent on presenting the best face for the Great Reset to the world it wouldn’t have invited either Chinese Premier Xi Jinping or, more importantly, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

And it was Putin’s speech that brought down the house of cards that is the agenda of the WEF.

The last time someone walked into a major international forum and issued such a scathing critique of the current geopolitical landscape was Putin’s speech to the United Nations on September 29th, 2015, two days before he sent a small contingency of Russian air support to Syria.

There he excoriated not only the U.N. by name but most importantly the U.S. and its NATO allies by inference asking the most salient question, “Do you understand what you have done?” having unleashed chaos in an already chaotic part of the world?

As important as that speech was it was Putin’s actions after that which defined the current era of geopolitical chess across the Eurasian continent.   Syria became the nexus around which the resistance to the “ISIS is invincible” narrative unraveled

And the mystery of who was behind ISIS, namely the Obama administration, was revealed to anyone paying attention.

President Trump may have taken credit for beating ISIS, but it was mostly Putin and Russia’s forces retaking the Western part of Syria which allowed that to happen, while our globalist generals, like James Mattis, did as much damage to Syria itself and as little to ISIS as possible, hoping to use them again another day.

And regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the U.S.’s policy in Syria, which I most definitely do not, it is hard to argue that Russia’s intervention there fundamentally changed the regional politics and conflicts for the foreseeable future.

It was the beginning of the voluntary disconnection of China, Russia and Iran from the West.

For standing athwart U.S. and European designs on consolidating power in the Middle East, Russia has been vilified in the West in ways that make the indoctrination I received as a kid growing up in the Cold War look like vacation advertisements for spending the summer in Crimea.

But it is that strength of purpose and character that has defined Putin’s two decades in power. He’s done wonders in rebuilding Russia. 

He’s made many mistakes, mostly by first trusting American Presidents and second by underestimating just how arrogant and rapacious the leadership in Europe is.  

That said, he’s now reached his limit, especially with Europe, and he’s set a firmly independent path for Russia regardless of the short-term costs.

And that’s why his speech at the World Economic Forum was so important. 

Putin hadn’t spoken there for nearly a decade.  In a time when WEF-controlled puppets dominate positions of power in Europe, the U.K., Canada and now the U.S., Putin walked into Virtual Davos and dumped his coffee on the carpet.

In terms I can only describe as unfailingly polite, Putin told Klaus Schwab and the WEF that their entire idea of the Great Reset is not only doomed to failure but runs counter to everything modern leadership should be pursuing.

Putin literally laughed at the idea of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – Schwab’s idea of a planned society through AI, robots and the merging of man and machine. 

He flat-out told them their policies driving the middle class to the brink of extinction over the COVID-19 pandemic will further increase social and political unrest while also ensuring wealth inequality gets worse.

Putin’s no flower-throwing libertarian or anything, but his critique of the hyper-financialized post-Soviet era is accurate. 

The era dominated by central banking and the continued merging of state and corporate powers has increased wealth inequality across the U.S. and Europe, benefiting millions while extracting the wealth of billions.

Listening to Putin was like listening to a cross between Pat Buchanan and the late Walter Williams.  According to him the neoliberal ideal of “invite the world/invade the world” has destroyed the cultural ties within countries while hollowing out their economic prospects.  Putin criticized zero-bound interest rates, QE, tariffs and sanctions as political weapons.

But the targets of those weapons, while nominally pointed at his Russia, were really the West’s own engines of vitality, as the middle classes have seen their wages stagnate, and access to education, medical care, and the courts to redress grievances fall dramatically.

Russia is a country on the rise, so is China.  Once their ties are embedded deeply enough to stabilize its economy, so too will Iran rise.

Together they will lead the central Asian landmass out of the nineteenth-century quagmire that exists thanks to British and American intervention in the region.  Putin’s speech made it clear that Russia is committed to the process of finding solutions to all people benefiting from the future, not just a few thousand holier-than-thou oligarchs in Europe.

In a less confrontational address, Chairman Xi said the same thing. 

He gave lip service, like Putin, to climate change and carbon neutrality, focusing instead on pollution and sustainability. 

Together they basically told the WEF to stuff the Great Reset back into the hole in which it was conceived. 

I’ve followed Putin closely for nearly a decade now.  I got the feeling that if he was speaking to a college-level political science class and not a convocation of some of the most powerful people in the world he would been laughed in their faces.

But, unfortunately, he understands better than any of us having been the object of their aggression for so long, he had to treat them seriously as their grasp of reality and connectedness to the people they ruled was nearly severed.

At the end of his planned remarks, Klaus Schwab asked Putin about Russia’s troubled relationship with Europe and could it be fixed.  Putin pulled no punches. 

If we can rise above these problems of the past and get rid of these phobias, then we will certainly enjoy a positive stage in our relations.

We are ready for this, we want this, and we will strive to make this happen. But love is impossible if it is declared only by one side. It must be mutual.

I don’t get the sense from anything I’ve seen from the Biden Administration or the European Commission in Brussels that anyone heard a word he said.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Thu, 02/11/2021 - 23:50
Published:2/11/2021 10:55:06 PM
[Politics] Biden Still Hasn't Called Netanyahu After three weeks in office, President Joe Biden still hasn't called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Washington Post reported that Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama had reached the prime minister within days... Published:2/11/2021 10:51:57 AM
[Markets] Russia Issues Rare Call For "Restraint" From Iran After Uranium Metal Production Russia Issues Rare Call For "Restraint" From Iran After Uranium Metal Production

Iran's "shock" move to produce uranium metal which is a crucial component that can be used to form the core of nuclear weapons (while still also having peaceful energy applications), blowing past a firm ban stipulated by the 2015 nuclear deal, has caught Russia by surprise in addition to the Western officials now condemning it.

Russia is urging restraint from Tehran, with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov saying Thursday, "We understand the logic of their actions and the reasons prompting Iran. Despite this it is necessary to show restraint and a responsible approach," as quoted in RIA Novosti.

Via Reuters

On Wednesday The Wall Street Journal was the first to report that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) formally informed the UN that: "The Agency on 8 February verified 3.6 gram of uranium metal at Iran's Fuel Plate Fabrication Plant (FPFP) in Esfahan." And the report underscored further that "The Iranian threat to produce uranium metal had alarmed Western diplomats because the material crosses over from uranium enrichment, which can be used for civilian purposes, and is a core component of nuclear weapons."

Russia and Iran have long been strategic allies in the Middle East, with Moscow showing itself willing to do weapons deals with the Islamic Republic despite Israeli, Gulf, and Western objections. Moscow has also remained a leading advocate urging the United States to return immediately to the nuclear deal (JCPOA) in order to avoid "chaos" unleased on the region. Yet Russia has also walked a delicate line in maintaining positive relations with Israel that avoids conflict despite several "close-calls" related to near direct clashes over Syria in recent years.

Despite the Kremlin now calling for "restraint" from Iran, Ryabkov also geared his message toward the other side, warning the Tehran is now demonstrating its "determination not to put up with the current situation," after Joe Biden has waffled on quickly reentering the JCPOA according to prior campaign promises.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif issued a warning to President Biden on Wednesday, saying that the "current window" to revive the Obama-era deal is closing fast.

"Soon, my government will be compelled to take further remedial action in response to the American and European dismal failure to live up to their commitments under the nuclear deal," he said.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/11/2021 - 11:01
Published:2/11/2021 10:21:59 AM
[Markets] The Dystopian Bubble: George Orwell Meets Charles Mackay The Dystopian Bubble: George Orwell Meets Charles Mackay

Authored by Kevin Duffy via The Mises Institute,

“Threats to freedom of speech, writing, and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect and, unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen.”

~ George Orwell

In early December I asked Jim Grant how to reconcile exuberant financial markets with economic reality that reads like dystopian fiction. He responded,

I’m not sure there’s much distinction. To me, the current form of dystopia is the bubble form. So I think this is the year of the dystopian bubble.

The opening pages of the new decade feel like we’re living through a combination of George Orwell’s 1984 and Charles Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. On the day the 2020 election results were to be certified in the Senate, a mob from the losing side surrounded and actually breached the Capitol. The outgoing president was accused of inciting a riot, threatened with impeachment, and banned for life on Twitter. Despite the chaos, stocks shrugged it all off and rallied to new highs.

The following weekend cover of Barron’s, “The Case for Optimism,” captured the manic side of the dystopian bubble perfectly. Its editorial staff sees a silver lining in practically every cloud:

[T]his is a market determined to march higher, and it’s not about to be derailed—even by historic mayhem in the nation’s capital. Stocks are rallying on the trillions of dollars in stimulus that may only be accelerated under the new administration. A chaotic political season is winding down, while the economy is gearing up for a postpandemic reopening.

Investors need to keep their eyes forward and look ahead to a Joe Biden presidency: to more-predictable domestic policies, smoother trade relations, and additional efforts to revive the economy. Now might not be a good time to own anything defensive.

Still, Barron’s acknowledges a new set of political risks:

That’s not to say that a Washington controlled by the Democrats…will be entirely friendly to investors. The Democratic agenda includes corporate and individual tax increases, heightened regulatory oversight, and such ambitious social and economic policies as a Green New Deal, health-care reform, and student-loan forgiveness.

With bigger government on the way, what could possibly go wrong?

Making America Great Again

During the first presidential debate in September 2016, citizen Donald Trump trashed the 7.5-year Obama-Bernanke-Yellen bull market, calling it “a big, fat, ugly bubble.” The Fed’s balance sheet has since expanded 63 percent, the national debt grown 41 percent (tacking on $8 trillion), and the budget deficit multiplied 5.5 times. Meanwhile, US stocks, as measured by the S&P 500, have percolated another 80 percent.

Former president Trump may or may not suffer from narcissistic personality disorder, but he clearly doesn’t lack for confidence. One of the symptoms of NPD is grandiosity; “Make America Great Again” was always a delusion.

While the incoming administration promises to “build back better,” a betting man should expect more of the same; in fact, much more of the same.

Filling the Political Swamp

American politics has been a quasi-one-party system at least since the days of Camelot (1960 election of JFK), with Democrats pushing the envelope toward big government and Republicans offering little principled resistance while providing the illusion of healthy debate, acclimating themselves to the political swamp in the process. The two-party system officially died in 1964 when Barry Goldwater was defeated in a landslide by Lyndon Baines Johnson. Goldwater was the last of a dying breed cast in the mold of the Old Right: an anti–New Dealer with a Cold Warrior streak, a classical liberal who called himself a conservative.

Richard Nixon was the first in a long line of establishment Republicans. While ending the Vietnam War, his administration consolidated the gains of LBJ’s Great Society programs, created the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), and ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act), declared wars on cancer, drugs, and inflation, and on August 15, 1971, severed the last ties of gold to the US dollar. The Watergate scandal ended Nixon’s political career, but it was Goldwater’s threat to back the impeachment process that sealed his fate.

The upward march of statism has continued unabated with some brief pauses to catch our breath: Ronald Reagan was a throwback to Goldwater and Trump perhaps a less couth version of Reagan, each a watered-down version of his predecessor. Neither was willing or able to stem the tide of debt, deficits, and money printing.

Say what you will about Trump, as Lew Rockwell remarked after his improbable 2016 election victory, his most endearing quality is that “all the right people hate him.” The political left and establishment right are giddy over his defeat and both want to drive a stake through his heart and the populist movement he represents.

The 2020 election formalizes the transition to one-party rule in the United States.

The Pursuit of Truth

“A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial: that is, when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud.”

~ George Orwell

All (or nearly all) politicians lie, but those on the left take the art form to a new level. To understand why requires examining the mind of the progressive.

After the Capitol breach on January 6, a progressive on Facebook said of conservatives, “We’re going to drag them into the 21st century kicking and screaming if we have to.” The Left envisions a socialist utopia, the inevitable slope of human progress. Their role is to bring this about by any means necessary…and to run things, of course. Truth is a fuzzy concept, only to be bent and twisted to serve the state. Justice does not apply to the individual, but instead becomes an arbitrary concept used to advance the state under cover of the “common good” or “social justice.”

Progressives tend to deny objective truth yet hold the belief that central planners know what’s best for the rest of us. But how can they know without the existence of truth? Orwell referred to such holding of two contradictory ideas at the same time as “doublethink.” Another example is the notion that political power ought to be concentrated and wealth dispersed. Democracy is yet a third example: the people are seen as ignorant rubes but can be relied on to choose omniscient and caring rulers. Democracy was as feared as monarchy by the founders, another reason why the Left is tearing down statues and obliterating history.

Capitol Breach

“The people will believe what the media tell them they believe.”

~ George Orwell

What exactly happened in Washington, DC on January 6?

Whenever a major event like this takes place that attracts national attention, I go through a process: What can be proven with minimal effort and a high degree of certainty? What is highly suspicious, but harder to prove? Who benefits? Who is willing to bend the truth to promote their agenda? (The study of history follows a similar process.)

Did President Trump incite a riot? This should be the easiest question to answer, yet received the least scrutiny. The media simply repeated the accusation over and over with little evidence until it became accepted as truth.

In the initial rush to judgment, how many people actually took the time to listen to Trump’s speech? Ann Althouse, an emerita professor of University of Wisconsin Law School, read the full transcript and listed the seven most violence-inciting statements. Ranked #1:

Together we are determined to defend and preserve government of the people, by the people and for the people. 

Trump mentioned the Capitol just three times in a speech that lasted an hour and thirteen minutes, including:

I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.

Is this why Trump’s allegedly incendiary tweets were so quickly erased? Once the Capitol trespassers went home, why not put the incriminating evidence back up for all to see?

Other questions are more difficult to answer with hard proof. Was the election stolen? Was the Capitol breach a false flag operation? There is plenty of evidence in support, but the left media has no interest in following leads that don’t fit their narrative. Standard practice is to either dismiss promoters of such theories as conspiracy nuts or repeat the lie that the claims have been disproven.

During his speech at The Ellipse in DC, Trump spent a good half hour going over his allegations of election fraud and unlawful behavior from states in their rush to set up mail-in voting. My father is a constitutional expert (five years a regular on a weekly radio show on the subject). After countless hours of research, he felt the Trump legal team had a strong case, especially regarding Pennsylvania Act 77’s conflict with the Pennsylvania Constitution.

These claims never saw the light of day, consumed by the political swamp. If the Democrats were so certain there was no impropriety, why not give Trump’s baseless charges a hearing? The last opportunity for Republicans to air their grievances was at the election certification on January 6, conveniently interrupted by the mayhem in the Capitol that day.

“Applying the classic legal question ‘cui bono?’ (‘who benefits?’), it is clear that Democrats, anti-Trump establishment Republicans, the leftist media, and TDS-sufferers all are victorious,” observed Lew Rockwell.

Projection

In The Road Less Traveled, author Scott Peck claimed that mental illness consists of “an interlocking system of lies we have been told and lies we have told ourselves.” As those on the political left become further empowered and unhinged from reality, they increasingly make Freudian slips, accidentally revealing their methods and intentions. After the events of January 6, president-elect Biden accused Trump’s acolytes of the Big Lie over election fraud, even citing Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. “The degree to which [a lie] becomes corrosive is in direct proportion to the number of people who say it,” Biden explained.

Psychological projection is the Big Reveal.

Big Brother

“We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about.”

~ Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, 2001–11

In the lead-up to the election, Facebook and Twitter censored conservative users, forcing them to leave in droves for alternative platforms like Parler. According to CNN Business, “The platform became the most downloaded app on the weekend of November 8—the day major media outlets called the election for Joe Biden.” A month later Parler had 2.3 million active users which exploded to 15 million after the Capitol breach. (Twitter reported 187 million daily active users as of September 30.)

Twitter initially put Trump’s account in the penalty box for twelve hours but two days later banned him permanently. That weekend brought a wave of purges from social media companies in which Twitter suspended seventy thousand “far-right” accounts. Parler shot to #1 in Apple’s App Store on Saturday but by Sunday evening had been kicked off the Apple and Android (owned by Google) platforms. Meanwhile, Amazon suspended its cloud hosting services, effectively turning out the lights.

“Don’t Be Evil”

How did Silicon Valley, which was largely apolitical and libertarian leaning during the personal computer and networking waves of the 1980s and 1990s, become a virtual appendage of the surveillance state in a single generation?

From the turn of the millennium, the internet has been an incredibly disruptive force, replacing the old personal computer-centric tech trees with aggressive young saplings in online search, e-commerce, social media, cloud computing, etc. The new generation of founders leaned much further to the left and became fabulously wealthy, especially during the liquidity-driven bull market of the past twelve years.

Envy was also a factor. Microsoft had been relentlessly accused by competitors of acting “unfairly” and being a monopolist, leading to a landmark antitrust case in 1998 brought by the Department of Justice. Bill Gates quickly learned that sending an army of lobbyists to Washington, DC was well worth the investment. Today, Big Tech is a major contributor to political campaigns (overwhelmingly funding Democrats).

A third factor was the war on terror, whose fuse was lit on September 11, 2001. According to Ron Paul,

“Big Tech” long ago partnered with the Obama/Biden/Clinton State Department to lend their tools to US “soft power” goals overseas. Whether it was ongoing regime change attempts against Iran, the 2009 coup in Honduras, the disastrous US-led coup in Ukraine, “Arab Spring,” the destruction of Syria and Libya, and so many more, the big US tech firms were happy to partner up with the State Department and US intelligence to provide the tools to empower those the US wanted to seize power and to silence those out of favor.

In short, US government elites have been partnering with “Big Tech” overseas for years to decide who has the right to speak and who must be silenced. What has changed now is that this deployment of “soft power” in the service of Washington’s hard power has come home to roost.

Big Trees Fall Hard

Will the technology forest rejuvenate itself as it has so many times in the past? Jeff Deist, president of the Mises Institute, sees green shoots:

The underlying ideology, the impulse towards freedom which includes free communications and speech, is not so easily quashed. And for that reason, I'm actually quite optimistic about a highly decentralized future where we don't have these huge gatekeepers like Google search, or Amazon Web Services, or Facebook and Twitter and Instagram as the only big 800 lb. gorillas in social media.

The business models of the tech giants could be in for a rude awakening. Huge swaths depend on trust, especially social media and cloud services. If censorship and cancel culture intensify, privacy will become a growing issue!

As a Big Tech contact tells me, the free market is already working to solve this problem:

Tim Berners Lee [known as the inventor of the World Wide Web] is well on his way to creating a Facebook called MeWe that is social media with paywall communities, no bots, no censorship other than by a channel owner. Dave Rubin has his own version called Locals.com that is backed by Peter Thiel protégé and Palantir CEO Joe Lonsdale. Tulsi Gabbard just announced a channel, joining Andy Ngo, Scott Adams and WalkAway star Karlyn Borysenko.

Talent will increasingly leave the rotting mature trees for vibrant saplings that offer creative freedom and opportunity:

I think there will be a financial price to pay for Twitter and Facebook if these alt platforms can keep a connection open. Already the CEO of Gab said that he had thousands of Silicon Valley insiders from high level executives to engineering talent contacting him asking him for a position. Gab is not reliant on any of the big cloud providers.

If high profile engineers and business people in Big Tech companies see this as the final straw then there will be internal pressure on those companies. It could be in the form of open dissent as pressure to reform or just silently leaving for a non-woke company.

I think there is a lot of pent up frustration at the wokesters who have ruled the roost for the past 12 years and we may see a talent drain which some smart and wealthy financiers will see as an opportunity to make a move and seize market share or start some cool new thing. This is the early innings of a shift that may turn out to be a second chance for those of us who have spent the past 10–12 years suffocating in the wokester's soft tyranny of many software companies.

Promoting the state’s false narratives can be quite destructive to a company’s brand. College and professional sports in the US learned that lesson the hard way as they backed the BLM movement last year, only to see ratings plummet. “Get woke, go broke” has become a rallying cry of departing fans.

As I wrote last November, “Nature works against bigness. Species exhaust food sources, monopolies invite competition, empires spread themselves thin.” Big Tech appears to be destroying itself from within, a victim of its own hubris and toxic culture. Worse, it has tied its fortunes to the most termite-infested sequoia in the forest: the state.

By Hatchet, Axe, and Saw

Do the tech behemoths need to be regulated or broken up? Many think so, notably many who lack faith in markets.

According to Eric Savitz, who writes the Tech Trader column for Barron’s, “president-elect Biden, like Trump, has called for the elimination of Section 230 [the clause in the Communications Decency Act of 1996 which provides immunity from third-party content for website publishers].”

This would have a chilling effect on protected speech online and build a protective moat around the tech giants by drowning their upstart competitors in red tape and potential legal liability.

Interventions will only impede the market. As intellectual property lawyer Stephan Kinsella warns, “The only just solution is to shame them and build alternatives.”

Conclusion

So far, investors are unfazed by the growing number of black swans lining up against Big Tech. Since the Capitol breach, Twitter’s stock has taken a 10 percent haircut, while Facebook has rallied. With $3.7 trillion in market cap at stake at Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Google (10 percent of the S&P 500), could a lurch to the political left unwittingly pop the everything bubble?

As Charles Mackay so wisely stated 180 years ago,

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/11/2021 - 06:10
Published:2/11/2021 5:23:49 AM
[Markets] How Biden's Posturing In The Middle East Could Hurt America How Biden's Posturing In The Middle East Could Hurt America

Authored by Cyril Widdershoven via OilPrice.com,

The new Biden Administration has largely been focused on fulfilling its election promises in its first month in power. After reversing an extensive list of Trump policies via executive orders, Biden is now focusing on the Middle East. In stark contrast to his predecessor, Joe Biden’s administration is taking a reserved and diplomatic approach towards the ongoing crisis in the Middle East region.

While the new administration is yet to fully address Iranian Sanctions or the JCPOA-agreement, it has stepped up the pressure on some Arab countries by temporarily blocking U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

In his recent “historic” speech, Biden addressed U.S. military support for the Saudi-led anti-Houthi alliance currently fighting in Yemen. International media has been largely focused on the perceived hard-line position taken by Biden. By removing full-scale offensive military support for Saudi forces, Washington seems to be pushing for a diplomatic solution to the conflict, in which Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and others are fighting a proxy war against the Iranian supported Houthi forces.

Diplomatic sources indicate that the move is a "routine administrative action", noting that it was standard for incoming administrations to review large arms deals initiated by outgoing administrations.

 

Still, Biden’s moves are not going to go down very well in the respective Arab Gulf capitals. Other major players, such as Egypt, Israel, and Jordan will be watching Biden’s moves carefully in the coming months. Among the sales that have been put on hold is a massive $23 billion (€19 billion) deal to supply the UAE with 50 Lockheed-Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets. The deal was made in the final days of the Trump presidency, after the November 6 election. It remains unclear whether or not other Trump arms deals are also going to be targeted, such as the December 29 2020 approved potential sale of 3,000 precision-guided missiles, worth as much as $290 million, to Saudi Arabia.

The reaction from Arab governments to Biden's speech have been very positive, as was expected. None of the countries involved are willing to put their relationship with Washington at risk. Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al Jubeir, stated that Biden’s “historic” speech confirms “America’s commitment to work with friends and allies” on resolving conflicts. Hi words carried a tacit but clear undertone that Washington not forget the larger picture, which includes both Iran and Iraq, and focuses on both geopolitics and energy.

In the coming weeks and months, the Biden Administration will be focusing on the JCPOA agreement and its constraints. While Democrats and European nations may be hoping for a fast revamp of the Iran deal, there are significant hurdles in the way of achieving such a feat.

  • First of all, the former JCPOA agreement has already been attacked by several European nations due to a lack of control mechanisms.

  • Secondly, Iran’s growing missile capabilities, which have already been used in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon, are a major concern for any potential JCPOA signatories.

  • Thirdly, Iran’s current posture with regards to nuclear enrichment will discourage Washington, France, and Germany from coming to the table.

While none of these issues are particularly new, Biden’s position on all of them remains unclear, and will likely depend on his broader foreign policy in the Middle East.

The Biden Administration’s role and relationship with the Arab Gulf states is yet to be established. The postponement of arms deliveries and the blockage of so-called offensive arms to Saudi Arabia, and potentially others, could be setting the scene for a potential political crisis in the region. If this relative aggression towards Arab Gulf nations is combined with a more positive attitude towards Iran, without adressing the concerns of Saudi Arabia-UAE-Israel and Egypt, then Washington will risk losing its key allies in the region. Since the Obama era, the traditionally friendly security and economic relationships between Washington and the GCC region have been severely weakened. A new perceived pro-Iranian and anti-Arab strategy could lead to Washington coming under fire in the Middle East. 

It is not only U.S. interests in the region that could be threatened by a new course of action in the Middle East, but also the U.S. and European economies. A new pro-Iranian vision of the Middle East could give birth in the GCC arena to a willingness to increase already growing cooperation with Russia, China, and India. Strategic posturing could also result in a less lenient approach from Arab oil nations towards Biden’s energy strategies and the U.S. shale recovery. OPEC+ is evidence of the growing economic strength of non-U.S. economies. Broad support from the U.S. for a new JCPOA agreement and increasing pressure on Arab regimes would only increase this new economic force and could also lead to a very volatile oil and gas market.

President Biden will have to play his hand carefully in the Middle East to avoid global economic and geopolitical ramifications.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/11/2021 - 05:00
Published:2/11/2021 4:19:47 AM
[Markets] Biden Holds First Phone Call With Xi, Both Sides Offer Vastly Different Accounts Of What Was Said Biden Holds First Phone Call With Xi, Both Sides Offer Vastly Different Accounts Of What Was Said

Nearly a month after his inauguration and more than three months since the presidential election, Joe Biden held his first call with Xi Jinping since entering the White House, just days after his secretary of state warned Beijing that Washington would hold China accountable for its “abuses”.

In a Wednesday night tweet, Biden said that he spoke today with President Xi "to offer good wishes to the Chinese people for Lunar New Year." He also shared concerns "about Beijing’s economic practices, human rights abuses, and coercion of Taiwan" and told him that Biden "will work with China when it benefits the American people."

The White house also chimed in saying that "President Biden underscored his fundamental concerns about Beijing’s coercive and unfair economic practices, crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan. President Biden committed to pursuing practical, results-oriented engagements when it advances the interests of the American people and those of our allies."

"The two leaders also exchanged views on countering the COVID-19 pandemic, and the shared challenges of global health security, climate change, and preventing weapons proliferation. President Biden committed to pursuing practical, results-oriented engagements when it advances the interests of the American people and those of our allies" the White House said.

The call, however, had vastly different content when retold from China's side.

According to an account of the conversation reported by Chinese state television, Xi said that "cooperation was the only choice and that the two countries need to properly manage disputes in a constructive manner." Xi also told Biden that "confrontation between China and the United States would be a disaster and the two sides should re-establish the means to avoid misjudgments."

Xi also said Beijing and Washington should re-establish various mechanisms for dialogue in order to understand each others’ intentions and avoid misunderstandings, the report said.

Finally, and most bizarrely, Xi told Biden that he hopes the United States will cautiously handle matters related to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang that deal with matters of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Quite the opposite of what Biden reportedly told Xi...

How is it possible that both sides came away with such profoundly different summaries of what was said: maybe the two were talking without a translator?

Ahead of the call, a senior US official said Biden had planned to raise a number of issues with Xi, including China’s crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and its repression of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang. It wasn't clear if Hunter Biden was also discussed.

“The president will raise [Hong Kong and Xinjiang] directly with Xi Jinping on the call . . . and indicate that this is not just about American values, it’s about universal values,” the official said. “It is about obligations that China itself has signed on to with respect to core international agreements.”

Biden's secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, angered the Chinese last month when speaking to his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, in the first high-level interaction between the countries since Biden became president, Blinken said the US viewed the detention of an estimated 1 million Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang as “genocide”.

China's treatment of its Muslim population has sparked calls for countries to boycott the 2022 winter Olympics in Beijing. Asked if Biden would raise the games in the call, the senior US official said it would “not be on the agenda”. In fact, we doubt that any truly controversial topics were breached for the reason discussed in "Blockbuster Report Reveals How Biden Family Was Compromised By China."

Meanwhile, relations between China and the US remain at rock bottom. After years of escalating trade wars between Trump and Xi, the Financial Times reported that Chinese warplanes entered Taiwan’s air defence zone just after Biden’s inauguration and simulated missile attacks on the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier in the South China Sea. Which may explain why the US has now sent a second aircraft carrier in the South China Sea where it is holding naval exercises even as Beijing blasts the "blow to peace and stability."

On Sunday, Biden told CBS News that China would face “extreme competition” from the US. While he praised his Chinese counterpart — whom he knows from his time as Barack Obama’s vice-president — as “very bright”, he said he “doesn’t have a democratic . . . bone in his body”.

Just a few days prior, Blinken told Yang the US would stand up for democracy and human rights, signalling a hawkish stance towards China. “I made clear the US will . . . hold Beijing accountable for its abuses of the international system,” Blinken wrote on Twitter following the call. In response, Yang warned the US not to interfere in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, saying “no one can stop the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.

It's unclear if that means that "10 for the big guy" will now stop.

 

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/10/2021 - 22:37
Published:2/10/2021 9:48:20 PM
[Markets] Biden Admin Says It Will Continue Trump DOJ's Extradition Of Julian Assange Biden Admin Says It Will Continue Trump DOJ's Extradition Of Julian Assange

It comes as no surprise that President Biden doesn't plan to let up on the US pursuit of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, after widespread hopes and expectations that Trump was going to pardon Assange during his last days in office, which didn't happen.

Despite the US losing its push in a London court for the UK to extradite him in a ruling early last month on grounds that he would likely be subject to cruel punishment, the US government now has until a February 12 deadline to submit its "grounds for appeal". It's now been confirmed that the Biden administration intends to do just that.

"We continue to seek his extradition," said Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi on Tuesday. This is exactly what Assange's legal team and supporters feared — Washington plans to drag this out as long as possible, leaving him to languish at Belmarsh prison, tied up in the seeming endless legal process.

Initially last year the Trump administrated formally indicted Assange on 17 counts of espionage and one count of conspiracy to commit a computer crime, which together would mean 175 years in prison if convicted.

Interestingly, Biden's stance is however a departure from the prior Obama policy. As one of the journalists most closely following Assange's confinement and trial notes:

The statement represents a departure from President Barack Obama's administration, which declined to prosecute Assange. Justice Department officials were reportedly concerned about the threat it would pose to press freedom.

If he were brought to the United States it would most certainly mean he'd spend the remainder of his life at the notorious at ADX Florence, the supermax facility that currently houses terrorists, murderers, and traitors to the US government - where inmates spend 23 out of 24 hours in a small cell with no view of the outside world.

Based on this British district judge Vanessa Baraitser's January 4th decision cited that Assange's fragile mental state was "such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America."

Thus it appears the legal saga and Assange's imprisonment could press on for months more, and according to the worst-case scenario, even years.

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/10/2021 - 21:45
Published:2/10/2021 8:48:14 PM
[Markets] 14 State Attorneys Say Keystone Cancellation Delivers "Crippling Economic Injuries", Threaten Legal Action 14 State Attorneys Say Keystone Cancellation Delivers "Crippling Economic Injuries", Threaten Legal Action

Authored by Tom Ozimek via The Epoch Times,

Fourteen Republican attorneys general are urging President Joe Biden to reconsider his decision to cancel a permit for the construction of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, alleging severe economic harm and threatening to take legal action.

“We write with alarm regarding your unilateral and rushed decision to revoke the 2019 Presidential Permit” for the pipeline, the officials wrote in a Feb. 9 letter (pdf), initiated by Montana’s Attorney General Austin Knudsen.

Calling cancellation of the pipeline a decision “to impose crippling economic injuries on states, communities, families, and workers across the country,” the attorneys general urged Biden to reconsider, while warning that they are “reviewing available legal options.”

In the letter, Knudsen denounced Biden’s decision to pull the permit as “a symbolic act of virtue signaling” that would do little to accomplish its stated objective of protecting Americans and the domestic economy from harmful climate impacts.

“The real-world costs are devastating,” Knudsen contended. “Nationally, your decision will eliminate thousands of well-paying jobs, many of them union jobs.”

Keystone XL pipeline facilities are seen in Hardisty, Alta., in a file photo. The now-canceled pipeline would have carried oilsands crude from Hardisty to the U.S. Gulf Coast. (The Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh)

The State Department determined in 2014 (pdf) that the Keystone XL pipeline project would support a total of 42,100 jobs and create roughly 3,900 direct jobs in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas over what was expected to be one or two years of construction.

After the pipeline entered service, operations would require around 50 employees in the United States, including 35 permanent employees and 15 temporary contractors, the State Department found.

While construction of Keystone XL would contribute roughly $3.4 billion to U.S. gross domestic product, according to a National Regulatory Research Institute review of State Department estimates (pdf), the pipeline would also offer tax revenues for local and state governments. Property taxes resulting from the project would generate roughly $55.6 million in Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

Knudsen argued that axing the pipeline would deprive counties and states of future tax revenue.

“Montana will lose the benefits of future easements and leases, and several local counties will lose their single-biggest property taxpayer. The loss of Keystone XL’s economic activity and tax revenues are especially devastating as five of the six impacted counties are designated high-poverty areas,” Knudsen wrote.

In canceling the permit, Biden said the pipeline would do little to benefit the country’s energy security and economy, while approving it would undermine the administration’s efforts to combat climate change.

“In 2015, following an exhaustive review, the Department of State and the President determined that approving the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the U.S. national interest,” Biden wrote in his Jan. 20 executive order.

“That analysis, in addition to concluding that the significance of the proposed pipeline for our energy security and economy is limited, stressed that the United States must prioritize the development of a clean energy economy, which will in turn create good jobs,” he wrote.

“The analysis further concluded that approval of the proposed pipeline would undermine U.S. climate leadership by undercutting the credibility and influence of the United States in urging other countries to take ambitious climate action,” he wrote, adding that, “The world must be put on a sustainable climate pathway to protect Americans and the domestic economy from harmful climate impacts.”

Knudsen contended in the letter that Biden did not explain “how killing the Keystone XL pipeline project directly advances the goals of ‘protect[ing] Americans and the domestic economy from harmful climate impacts,'” nor does his decision “actually cure any of the climate ills” that the president referenced.

“Observers are thus left with only one reasonable supposition: it is a symbolic act of virtue signaling to special interests and the international community,” he wrote.

The Keystone XL pipeline was first proposed in 2008 but reached a snag under the Obama administration. Former President Donald Trump revived the project and was a strong proponent.

Cancellation of the Keystone construction permit has also drawn heavy fire from industry groups and Republican lawmakers.

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/10/2021 - 19:05
Published:2/10/2021 6:18:16 PM
[NEWS & ANALYSIS] ‘DEVASTATING DAMAGE’: 14 AGs Threaten Legal Action After Biden Cancels Keystone XL Pipeline

In a slew of executive orders signed during his first few days in office, Joe Biden cancelled the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline.  A bit of background: in 2017, Trump granted a permit for the pipeline, an $8 billion cross-border project with Canada. Though it was delayed for several years by the Obama administration […]

The post ‘DEVASTATING DAMAGE’: 14 AGs Threaten Legal Action After Biden Cancels Keystone XL Pipeline appeared first on Human Events.

Published:2/10/2021 4:46:53 PM
[World] What Is It About Massively Expensive High Speed Rail That So Excites the Left? Published:2/10/2021 12:46:33 PM
[Markets] We Must Have MOAR: Almost Everyone In Washington Seems To Agree That More Free Money Will Fix The Economy We Must Have MOAR: Almost Everyone In Washington Seems To Agree That More Free Money Will Fix The Economy

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

There seems to be a growing consensus in Washington that the only way to fix the worst economic downturn in more than 70 years is by giving out much more free money.  Joe Biden wants more “stimulus”, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wants more “stimulus”, and most members of Congress from both parties want more “stimulus”.  Of course none of the previous “stimulus packages” that we spent trillions of dollars on fixed the economy, but they insist that this latest one will finally do the job.  In addition to the 1.9 trillion dollar package that Biden has already proposed, Democrats in Congress are now pushing monthly direct payments to parents that have children under the age of 18. 

Needless to say, that proposal has overwhelming support among the American people, because direct socialist payments have become wildly popular since they were first introduced last year.  But by borrowing and spending so much money, we are literally committing national suicide, but very few people are concerned about that at this point.

Even though the previous round of “stimulus payments” is still being sent out, Biden and his minions can’t wait to start sending out another round.

In fact, Biden insists that we literally “don’t have a second to waste”

“We don’t have a second to waste when it comes to delivering the American people the relief they desperately need. I’m calling on Congress to act quickly and pass the American Rescue Plan.”

Quite a few independent economists are alarmed by the inflation that previous “stimulus payments” have created, but Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is dismissing those fears.

Instead of focusing on inflation, she says that not sending out more free money would be an even greater risk

“As treasury secretary, I have to worry about all of the risks to the economy, and the most important risk is that we leave workers and communities scarred by the pandemic and the economic toll that it’s taken, that we don’t do enough to address the pandemic,” Yellen told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

“I’ve spent many years studying inflation and worrying about inflation, and I can tell you, we have the tools to deal with that risk if it materializes,” she continued. “But we face a huge economic challenge here and tremendous suffering in the country. We’ve got to address that. That’s the biggest risk.”

She is assuring us that inflation is not an imminent threat, and perhaps we should believe her.

After all, if we can just completely ignore the hard numbers and the extremely shocking charts the Federal Reserve keeps putting out, what she is saying sounds pretty good.

I know that it is not “normal” for M1 to nearly double over the course of 12 months, but this is the “new normal” where the laws of economics are suspended and we can do whatever we want.

So let’s borrow and spend trillions more, because this party is just getting started.

A while back, “Republican” Senator Mitt Romney proposed thousands of dollars in direct payments to parents with children, and Democrats liked that idea so much that they plagiarized it

Under the proposal, the Internal Revenue Service would provide $3,600 over the course of the year per child under the age of 6, as well as $3,000 per child of ages 6 to 17. The size of the benefit would diminish for Americans earning more than $75,000 per year, as well as for couples jointly earning more than $150,000 per year. The payments would be sent monthly beginning in July.

The benefits would not be deducted off taxpayers’ existing tax liability, meaning American parents would still receive $250 per month per child — or $300 per month per young children — even if they have an existing tax obligation with the IRS.

I think that this proposal will have a 90 percent approval rating with U.S. parents.

Of course a minority will strongly object.  They will insist that these are “socialist welfare payments” and that the federal government should not be doing this.

If you are one of those objectors, you are 100 percent correct.

But take the money anyway.

Let me be 100 percent serious for a moment.  Since the entire ship is going down anyway, take anything that they send to you and use it for yourself and your family.  At this point, survival is the priority.

There is no going back to the way that things once were.  We are literally committing national financial suicide, and at this point even most Republicans in Washington have completely discarded any pretense of fiscal responsibility.

In the old days, Republicans in Congress at least made minimal attempts to slow down the wild spending that the Obama administration was pushing.  But now almost all resistance is gone, and the left is greatly rejoicing that “the path to a fast recovery and an era of prosperity is now open for Biden”…

The left has stewed for a dozen years over Obama’s inability to secure more fiscal stimulus. And while he might perhaps have gotten a bit more out of Congress with more clever design, ultimately the most important constraints came from outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Obama’s economic-recovery push came in an atmosphere of pure hysteria, in which media and business elites joined by many members of his own party believed the United States stood on the precipice of hyperinflation and a public-debt crisis, the resolution of which had willing partners across the aisle. All those myths now lay in tatters. After hard experience, the path to a fast recovery and an era of prosperity is now open for Biden.

Yeah, we’ll see about that.

But what we do know is that all of the insane borrowing and spending that has been going on is already causing inflation to show up in countless ways.

In 2020, silver performed even better than the stock market did, and it continues to climb higher.

Gold has been surging too, and the outlook for precious metals is going to continue to be bright as long as our leaders continue to flood the system with more money.

Meanwhile, the real economy continues to steadily deteriorate

Without a fresh round of COVID-19 aid from the federal government, about a third of the nation’s pandemic-stricken small businesses are warning they won’t be able to survive.

That’s according to a new report published by the Federal Reserve, which found that sales for 88% of small businesses have not yet returned to pre-crisis levels. About one in three — roughly 30% — of businesses said they expected they could not stay afloat without further assistance from the government, according to the report from the U.S. central bank’s 12 regional offices.

No amount of complaining from the rest of us will prevent a new round of stimulus payments from going out.

The good news is that all of this new money is likely to improve short-term economic conditions for a very brief period of time.

But the bad news is that our long-term problems continue to get much, much worse.

We are literally in the process of completely destroying our money, and since the U.S. dollar is the de facto reserve currency of the whole world, the economic fate of the entire globe is in our hands.

*  *  *

Michael’s new book entitled “Lost Prophecies Of The Future Of America” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/10/2021 - 06:30
Published:2/10/2021 5:44:00 AM
[World] Rocky Psaki: New White House press secretary has bumpy start

Jen Psaki, a veteran political spokesman who served in the Obama White House as a deputy press secretary, is off to a rocky start in her new and improved role.

She’s only been at her post of White House press secretary for three weeks, but Ms. Psaki has already been ... Published:2/9/2021 3:53:41 PM

[Uncategorized] Book Burning, Name Calling and the Democrats’ Praetorian Guard   Back in 2008 when Barack Obama was running for the presidency I was virulently opposed to his candidacy. I was not a huge fan of John McCain, but given the two I voted for McCain. McCain was a war hero by any stretch. Not only did he fight for his country and survive five... Read more » Published:2/9/2021 12:38:49 PM
[Markets] Iran Issues Rare Declaration To Pursue Nukes "If Backed Into A Corner" Iran Issues Rare Declaration To Pursue Nukes "If Backed Into A Corner"

In an extremely rare and possible first, a top Iranian intelligence official has signaled that the Islamic Republic could pursue the production of nuclear weapons "if backed into a corner".

It marks a change in tune from Iranian leaders who both in recent years and past decades have consistently repeated Iran's official line which has long seen nuclear weapons as "un-Islamic". Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has within the past two years explicitly declared nukes as "illegal under Islamic law" in line with his predecessor clerics. Tehran has all along maintained its nuclear development pursuits are exclusively for domestic energy consumption. 

Image via Fars News

In comments first reported in Iranian state TV on Tuesday, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi emphasized, "Our Nuclear Industry is strictly peaceful. Iran's supreme leader said in a fatwah that producing nuclear weapons is against Islamic norms, is haram."

But then the powerful intelligence chief pivoted to a "threat" at a moment of continued standoff with the Biden administration over the restoration of the JCPOA nuclear deal:

"I will only say this: if a cat is backed into a corner, it might behave the way it wouldn't while free. If Iran is pushed in that direction, it will not be Iran's fault. Under the regular circumstances, Iran has no such plans," he said.

Alavi affirmed further: "If they push Iran in this direction, it won’t be the fault of Iran, but the fault of those who have pushed Iran."

Despite Biden's repeat promises on the campaign trail to 'immediately' restore US participation in the 2015 nuclear deal brokered under Obama, which Trump pulled out of in May 2018, there's currently not even so much as negotiations for reentry underway.

The rival sides are essentially saying "you first" in terms of returning to its terms, with the White House demanding that Tehran lower uranium enrichment levels back under stipulated caps and other terms of the deal.

Iranian Minister of Intelligence Seyyed Mahmoud Alavi, Getty/Anadolu Agency

On Monday Iran's Foreign Ministry released a statement repeating Iran's longstanding position that, "The US was the party to leave the negotiation table and the JCPOA. We wait for the other side to fully fulfill its commitments; then, we will follow the path of returning to our obligations." 

Meanwhile the latest report from Reuters suggests the Biden administration is pursuing a strategy of taking "small steps" toward US re-entry in the JCPOA, which would simultaneously require Iran to take significant but piecemeal action in return.

Tyler Durden Tue, 02/09/2021 - 12:20
Published:2/9/2021 11:38:45 AM
[Markets] Barack Obama's 12-year-old unworn basketball shoes are on the market for $25,000 Barack Obama's 12-year-old unworn basketball shoes are on the market for $25,000 Published:2/9/2021 11:38:45 AM
[Markets] When (Or If) Comes The Pushback? When (Or If) Comes The Pushback?

Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via AMGreatness.com,

The corruption of the Renaissance Church prompted the Reformation, which in turn sparked a Counter Reformation of reformist and more zealous Catholics.  

The cultural excesses and economic recklessness of the Roaring 20s were followed by the bleak, dour, and impoverished years of the Great Depression. 

The 1960s counterculture led to Richard Nixon’s landslide victory in 1972, as “carefree hippies” turned into careerist “yuppies.” 

So social, cultural, economic, and political extremism prompt reactions - and sometimes counterreactions.   

The Bush-Clinton-Obama continuum of 24 years (from 1993 through 2015) cemented the bipartisan fusion administrative state. Trump and his “Make America Great Again” agenda were its pushback.  

The counter-reaction to the populism of the Trump reset—or Trump himself—is as of yet unsure.  

Joe Biden’s tenure may mark a return to business as usual of the Bush-Clinton years. Or more likely, it will accelerate the current hard-left trajectory. 

Either way, it seems that Biden is intent on provoking just such a pushback by his record number of early and often radical executive orders—a tactic candidate Biden condemned. 

On almost every issue—open borders, blanket amnesties, canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, promoting the Green New Deal, and hard-left appointees—Biden is touting positions that likely do not earn 50 percent public support. 

When Biden made a Faustian bargain with his party’s hard-left wing of Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to win the election, he took on the commitment to absorb some of their agenda and to appoint their ideologues. 

But he also soon became either unwilling or unable to stand up to them.

Now they - and the country - are in a revolutionary frenzy.

  • The San Francisco school district has canceled over 40 schools honoring the nation’s best - Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln - largely on racist grounds that they are dead, mostly white males. 

  • Statues continue to fall. Names change. 

  • The iconic dates, origins, and nature of America itself continue to be attacked to meet leftist demands.

  • And still, it is not enough for the new McCarthyites.

  • Social media are banning tens of thousands.

  • Silicon Valley and Wall Street monopolies go after smaller upstart opponents.  

  • A wrong word destroys a lifelong career.

  • Formerly sane pundits now call for curtailing the First Amendment.

  • Thousands of federal troops blanket a now-militarized Washington, D.C.

If Trump’s pushback tried to return to traditions ignored during the Obama years, Biden’s reset promises to become far more radical than Obama’s entire eight years. 

Trump likely lost his second pushback term for two reasons - neither of which had anything to do with his reset agenda.

First, the sudden 2020 pandemic, quarantine, recession, summer-long demonstrations and riots, and radical changes in voting laws all ensured that 100 million ballots were not cast on Election Day, derailed a booming economy, and finally wore the people out.  

Second, Trump underestimated the multitrillion-dollar power and furor of Silicon Valley, Wall Street, the media, Hollywood, and the progressive rich. Those forces all coalesced against him and swamped his outspent and outmanned campaign. 

With 24/7 blanket ads, news coverage, endorsements, and social media messaging, Trump sometimes was easily caricatured as a twittering disrupter. The inert and mute Biden in his basement was reinvented as the sober and judicious Washington “wise man” antidote to Trump’s unpredictability.

Had Biden continued his moderate campaign veneer, the current left-wing radicalism might not have prompted a counterreaction. 

Instead, Biden is now unapologetically leading the most radical left-wing movement in the nation’s history. 

Pundits thought Biden’s prior hints of a single four-year term would make him a weak lame duck.  Instead, the idea of just one term has liberated the 78-year-old Biden. We forget that septuagenarians can be as reckless as 20-year olds. Some old guys can feel their careers only have a few remaining years and might as well go out with a bang—and a legacy. 

For now, Biden enjoys a congressional majority for the next 24 months. He has no plans to run for reelection. He sees both realities as a liberating blank check to accomplish what the much more heralded rockstar Barack Obama never could. 

Experts assured voters that Joe Biden would work on a bipartisan consensus and bring back “normality.”

He would “unite” the country.  

That will not happen. How ironic that Biden will not just be pushed and pressured by the radicals whom he brought to power, but he may be leading them forward to cement an even harder Left legacy.

Will there be a reaction to this extremism?  

The Left is assured that radical changes in voting laws and demography, the fears of COVID-19, the Antifa-Black Lives Matter uprising, and anger at Trump over the January 6 Capitol riot have all permanently changed the electorate - and pushed it far leftward. 

If they are wrong, they have instead alienated and insulted the American people, and will reap the whirlwind in 2022 of the wind they are now sowing.

Tyler Durden Sat, 02/06/2021 - 23:30
Published:2/6/2021 10:51:36 PM
[Markets] Biden Bars "Erratic" Trump From Receiving Intel Briefings Customary For Former Presidents Biden Bars "Erratic" Trump From Receiving Intel Briefings Customary For Former Presidents

The New York Times is reporting that President Biden has barred his predecessor Donald Trump from receiving intelligence briefings that all former presidents are entitled to after they leave office. 

While it's a longstanding tradition for past presidents, in Trump's case Biden is citing Trump's "erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection" to justify the ban. Biden made the comments during a new "CBS Evening News" interview with anchor Norah O'Donnell which will air just ahead of the Super Bowl on Sunday. Biden also fears trump might "slip" and reveal classified information publicly.

Biden was asked directly what the main concern is when it comes to Trump receiving the customary briefings. Biden responded: "I just think that there is no need for him to have the -- the intelligence briefings. What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?" CBS has teased the interview by releasing the below clip:

Here's the key part of the exchange via CBS:

"Well, let me ask you then something that you do have oversight of as president," O'Donnell said. "Should former President Trump still receive intelligence briefings?" 

Former presidents often have the opportunity to receive intelligence briefings as a courtesy.  

"I think not," Mr. Biden responded. 

"Why not?" O'Donnell asked. 

"Because of his erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection," Mr. Biden said. 

Biden's comments come roughly three weeks after the Washington Post published an Op-Ed from former deputy director of national intelligence from 2017 - 2019, Susan M. Gordan, who wrote that Trump poses a "potential national security risk" - citing his plan to remain engaged in politics, and his "significant business entanglements that involve foreign entities." 

Additionally The New York Times has noted that this would constitute the first time in history that a former president will be blocked from such briefings by the sitting president. "The move was the first time that a former president had been cut out of the briefings," NY Times wrote.

The briefing to former presidents is considered a "courtesy" - with the daily intelligence briefings also currently being provided to Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. 

But during the CBS interview Biden reaffirmed his earlier words when O'Donnell brought up his prior assessment of Trump as an "existential threat" and "dangerous, you've called him reckless" - to which Biden said, "I believe it".

Theoretically it enables the sitting president to reach out to past presidents for advice on foreign policy issues and threats the nation is facing. However, the Democrats now deem Trump himself a "threat" given they blame him for "incitement" - charges now being brought publicly as part of impeachment efforts - for the January 6 Capitol Hill unrest. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 02/06/2021 - 14:00
Published:2/6/2021 1:18:23 PM
[Markets] All Hail The Conquering Central Bankers... Or Else All Hail The Conquering Central Bankers... Or Else

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

If you are unclear what’s happening, frankly, you aren’t paying attention. The central banks, at the urging of the World Economic Forum, have come from behind the shadows to assert their will over the world.

In order to create the imprimatur of depth and sincerity Fungal President Joe Biden tapped former FOMC Chair Janet Yellen as his Treasury Secretary.

It doesn’t matter that Yellen was the architect of the worst recovery in history or that her incessant dithering on ending QE and raising rates. She’s a woman. Right?

The only good thing about Yellen at Treasury is that Steve “Mr. Goldman” Mnuchin is gone. All Mnuchin did at Treasury was ensure the outsourcing of monetary policy to Blackrock through the loan programs of the CARES Act and sanction anyone who didn’t pay Goldman enough Tribute.

So, from that perspective, I guess, Yellen is an upgrade. Because she’s just an incompetent career bureaucrat. But what this means is that since personnel is policy in D.C. the central banks will become the center of policy.

And that means full international coordination by them to implement not only MMT — Modern Monetary Theory — but also accelerate the adoption of digital-only versions of national currencies, CBDCs, to support the full takeover of the economy by central planners.

Given Biden’s first foreign policy speech last night and the very real smackdown issued by Russian President Vladimir Putin at this year’s Virtual Davos, expect nothing but more of what ailed us under Trump taken up another notch.

Putin’s speech was one for the ages, to be honest, and everyone should read it.

Why?

Because Putin openly declared his opposition to the brave new world of Klaus Schwab and his Davos Crowd. And that means he incurred the wrath of the policy-wonks in D.C, Brussels and London.

Not that he didn’t have that already, but again, I believe we ain’t seen nothin’ yet when it comes to aggression. The problem with that however is that it openly risks open military conflict not only in Syria where Biden immediately sent troops across the Iraqi border but also in the Black Sea

As I’ve said many times, the stakes are higher today than they were in 2016 for these people. The Obama Restoration that is the Fungal Presidency depends solely on the central banks taking control over the global economy, sidelining the traditional, and terminally corrupt, banking system.

Yes, I can hear you saying, “But they are one and the same.” But, not really, not anymore. In order to pull this off someone will have to be sacrificed to the incredibly angry mob that is brewing outside the capitols of every major western power.

This planned destruction of the West’s middle class is creating an unruly, #ungovernable mob. This week that mob attacked Wall St. at its heart. Going after the hedge funds who are nothing but fronts for the big banks.

They’ve used their market position and capture of the regulators (including Yellen herself) to create one-way trades, draining the vitality of the economy through fees, taxes and barriers-to-entry.

That’s what animated the GameStop Rebellion of the past couple of weeks and we’ll see more of these #ShortSqueezes going forward. The markets, thanks to the ocean of liquidity sloshing around and now the promise of another massive stimulus bill, are so thoroughly unbalanced that anything could become a trigger for another meltdown.

And that brings me to the next part of the story in the conquering of governments by the central banks. Mario Draghi (yes that guy!) has been given the right to try and forma government from the ashes of the last terrible government in Italy.

President Sergio Mattarella is as pro-EU and Italian Swamp as it gets. This will be the fourth time he has intervened far beyond his constitutional capacity since Five Star Movement and Lega shocked the world in 2018 with their bipartisan populist uprising.

Because those election results would never hold up today, Mattarella continues to shield Italy from new elections. It’s fascinating how a mostly ceremonial (mostly peaceful) position like his has become more powerful than any other, all because Brussels demands it be so.

So, Former ECB President Mario Draghi will likely become the next Prime Minister of Italy over the objections of everyone outside of the Rome Mafia.

“In my opinion, the 5-Star Movement has the duty to meet (Draghi), listen and then take a position on the basis of what our parliamentarians decide,” said Luigi Di Maio, the outgoing foreign minister and party big-wig.

“We did not seek the stalemate … but it is precisely in these circumstances that a political force shows itself to be mature in the eyes of the country.”

Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi suggested he might be ready to support a Draghi government – a move that could cause a schism within the right-wing opposition bloc.

Now it was Di Maio who betrayed Lega leader Matteo Salvini in September 2019 to form the outgoing government which was never stable. It was a clear betrayal by Di Maio who I said at the time would become Italy’s version of Alexis Tsipras, the former Greek Prime Minister who folded to Brussels in 2015 if he did just that.

But Di Maio is now in the same position that another reformer turned toady was in after he betrayed his country in 2015, Greece’s Alexis Tsipras.

To remind everyone, Tsipras is now out of a job and one of the most hated people in Greece. So complete was his sell out of the Greek people, he ushered back into power a center-right government in July.

Five Star cannot go for new elections because their position is even more precarious, poll-wise, than it was then. I was right about that. And the same goes for Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, which is massively over-represented in the current parliament.

 

So, of course, Berlusconi will be happy to get back into some state of relevance here and would happily betray the Center-Right Coalition he’s in with Lega and FdL, but it all still comes down to Five Star who control the balance of power.

There is no path to a workable Majority without Five Star. So, the question will be whether Di Maio still has enough clout in the party to finish the job of destroying it or will his faction be marginalized and we see elections regardless of Mattarella’s wishes.

If Draghi cannot make this work then things get interesting. But I sincerely doubt that will happen. No one in Rome wants Lega and the Brothers of Italy to take charge. Mattarella’s job here is to get Draghi in power and have him limp along until next year’s elections.

During that year Draghi will complete the betrayal of Italy to the EU finishing the work he started as President of the ECB, buying up hundreds of billions in Italian sovereign debt to use as leverage over an Italian government he’s about to lead.

As political stitch-ups go, no one tops the Italians for court intrigue. If it all wasn’t so depressing it would almost be as compelling as cable.

All of this is happening because the people of Italy have shifted farther to the right than they have since the time of Mussolini.

Remember, when Salvini was in power talking about taking Italy out of the euro Draghi’s stance was that Italy was free to go as long as it paid its bill to Europe on the way out the door.

Now he’s set to control which way the door swings.

From a market perspective Wall St. loved this. Italian debt had begun breaking up in yield and needed to be controlled. ECB President Christine Lagarde didn’t have to do anything there but she has the bigger problem that there’s a brewing dollar short squeeze happening thanks to the fallout from the GameStop Rebellion and attempted short squeeze on silver.

Today’s terrible U.S. jobs report and the Senate filibuster-proofing the $1.9 trillion stimulus package stick-saved the euro which was falling off a cliff and sovereign debt yields which were spiking into the announcement.

Those trades reversed on the U.S. open as the prospect of a dovish Fed means, as Zerohedge put in Bad News is Good News Again.

But, hey, they let gold save face at $1800 while oil surged towards $60 and food prices continue to skyrocket.

But we shouldn’t worry about any of that.

In the world run by central bankers risk is truly a four-letter word and tyranny speaks in incomprehensible jargon.

For those that voted for Biden and didn’t vote for Draghi, all that matters is that they bribe you with SOMA and maintain nominal growth along with the illusion anyone in power cares one whit about what the people themselves want.

The only problem is that illusion is failing. My advice to them?

Learn to code.

*  *  *

Join my Patreon if you think central bankers are a cancer

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Tyler Durden Sat, 02/06/2021 - 09:20
Published:2/6/2021 8:28:57 AM
[The Week In Pictures] The Week in Pictures: Circleback Edition (Steven Hayward) The catchphrase for the Obama Administration was “leading from behind,” which was easy to confuse with “leading with our behinds” if you just looked at their policies. And already we have our catch phrase for the Biden Administration: “Circle back.” Perfect really, since the Biden Administration is circling back to Obama policies, and then doubling down on them in an effort to encircle American freedom. And then there’s the Lincoln Published:2/6/2021 4:46:30 AM
[Markets] Clarity In Trump's Wake Clarity In Trump's Wake

Authored by Angelo Codevilla via AMGreatness.com,

The United States of America is now a classic oligarchy. The clarity that it has brought to our situation by recognizing this fact is its only virtue...

"Either the Constitution matters and must be followed . . . or it is simply a piece of parchment on display at the National Archives."

- Texas v. Pennsylvania et al.

Texas v. Pennsylvania et al. did not deny setting rules for the 2020 election contrary to the Constitution. On December 10, 2020, the Supreme Court discounted that. By refusing to interfere as America’s ruling oligarchy serves itself, the court archived what remained of the American republic’s system of equal justice. That much is clear.

In 2021, the laws, customs, and habits of the heart that had defined the American republic since the 18th century are things of the past. Americans’ movements and interactions are under strictures for which no one ever voted. Government disarticulated society by penalizing ordinary social intercourse and precluding the rise of spontaneous opinion therefrom. Together with corporate America, it smothers minds through the mass and social media with relentless, pervasive, identical, and ever-evolving directives. In that way, these oligarchs have proclaimed themselves the arbiters of truth, entitled and obliged to censor whoever disagrees with them as systemically racist, adepts of conspiracy theories. 

Corporations, and the government itself, require employees to attend meetings personally to acknowledge their guilt. They solicit mutual accusations. While violent felons are released from prison, anyone may be fired or otherwise have his life wrecked for questioning government/corporate sentiment. Today’s rulers don’t try to convince. They demand obedience, and they punish.

Russians and East Germans under Communists Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker in the 1970s lived under less ruling class pressure than do today’s Americans. And their rulers were smart enough not to insult them, their country, or their race.

In 2015, Americans could still believe they lived in a republic, in which life’s rules flow from the people through their representatives.

In 2021, a class of rulers draws their right to rule from self-declared experts’ claims of infallibility that dwarf baroque kings’ pretensions.  In that self-referential sense, the United States of America is now a classic oligarchy.

The following explains how this change happened. The clarity that it has brought to our predicament is its only virtue.

Oligarchy had long been growing within America’s republican forms. The 2016 election posed the choice of whether its rise should consolidate, or not. Consolidation was very much “in the cards.” But how that election and its aftermath led to the fast, thorough, revolution of American life depended on how Donald Trump acted as the catalyst who clarified, energized, and empowered our burgeoning oligarchy’s peculiarities. These, along with the manner in which the oligarchy seized power between November 2016 and November 2020, ensure that its reign will be ruinous and likely short. The prospect that the republic’s way of life may thrive among those who wish it to depends on the manner in which they manage the civil conflict that is now inevitable.

From Ruling Class to Oligarchy

By the 21st century’s first decade, little but formality was left of the American republic. In 1942, Joseph Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy described the logic by which government and big business tend to coalesce into socialism in theory, oligarchy in practice. But by then, that logic had already imposed itself on the Western world. Italy’s 1926 Law of Corporations—fascism’s charter—inaugurated not so much the regulation of business by government as the coalescence of the twain. Over the ensuing decade, it was more or less copied throughout the West. 

In America, the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act’s authors had erected barriers against private oligopolies and monopolies. By maintaining competition between big business, they hoped to preserve private freedoms and limit government’s role. But the Great Depression’s pressures and temptations led to the New Deal’s rules that differed little from Italy’s. No matter that, as the Supreme Court pointed out in Schechter Poultry v. U.S., public-private amalgamation does not fit in the Constitution. It grew nevertheless alongside the notion that good government proceeds from the experts’ judgment rather than from the voters’ choices. The miracles of production that America brought forth in World War II seemed to validate the point.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had come to understand large organizations that feed on government power and dispense vast private benefits, was not shy in warning about the danger they pose to the republic. His warning about the “military-industrial complex” that he knew so well is often misunderstood as a mere caution against militarism. But Ike was making a broader point: Amalgams of public and private power tend to prioritize their corporate interests over the country’s. 

That is why Eisenhower cautioned against the power of government-funded expertise. “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever-present and is gravely to be regarded,” he said, because “public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.” Government money can accredit a self-regarding elite. Because “a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity,” government experts can end up substituting their power for truth.

The expansion of government power throughout the 1960s and ’70s in pursuit of improving education, eradicating poverty, and uplifting blacks created complexes of public-private power throughout America that surpassed the military-industrial complex in size, and above all in influence. 

Consider education. Post-secondary education increased fourfold, from 9 percent of Americans holding four-year degrees in 1965 to 36 percent in 2015. College towns became islands of wealth and political power. From them came endless “studies” that purported to be arbiters of truth and wisdom, as well as a growing class of graduates increasingly less educated but ever so much more socio-politically uniform.

In the lower grades, per-pupil expenditure (in constant dollars) went from $3,200 in 1960 to $13,400 in 2015. That money fueled an even more vast and powerful complex—one that includes book publishers, administrators, and labor unions and that has monopolized the minds of at least two generations. As it grew, the education establishment also detached itself from the voters’ control: In the 1950s, there were some 83,000 public school districts in America. By 2015, only around 13,000 remained for a population twice as large. Today’s parents have many times less influence over their children’s education than did their grandparents.

Analogous things happened in every field of life. Medicine came to be dominated by the government’s relationship with drug companies and hospital associations. When Americans went to buy cars, or even light bulbs and shower nozzles, they found their choices limited by deals between government, industry, and insurance companies. These entities regarded each other as “stakeholders” in an oligarchic system. But they had ever less need to take account of mere citizens in what was becoming a republic in name only. As the 20eth century was drawing to a close, wherever citizens looked, they saw a government and government-empowered entities over which they had ever less say, which ruled ever more unaccountably, and whose attitude toward them was ever less friendly.

The formalities were the last to go. Ever since the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 A.D., the rulers’ dependence on popular assent to expenditures has been the essence of limited government. Article I, section 9 of the U.S. Constitution enshrines that principle. Congressional practice embodied it. Details of bills and expenditures were subject to public hearings and votes in subcommittees, committees, and the floors of both Houses. But beginning in the early 1980s and culminating in 2007, the U.S government abandoned the appropriations process.

Until 1981, Congress had used “continuing resolutions” to continue funding government operations unchanged until regular appropriations could be made. Thereafter, as congressional leaders learned how easy it is to use this vehicle to avoid exposing what they are doing to public scrutiny, they legislated and appropriated ever less in public, and increasingly put Congress’ output into continuing resolutions or omnibus bills, amounting to trillions of dollars and thousands of pages, impossible for representatives and senators to read, and presented to them as the only alternative to “shutting down the government.” This—now the U.S government standard operating procedure—enables the oligarchy’s “stakeholders” to negotiate their internal arrangements free from responsibility to citizens. It is the practical abolition of Article I section 9—and of the Magna Carta itself.

In the 21st century, the American people’s trust in government plummeted as they—on the political Left as well as on the Right—realized that those in power care little for them. As they watched corporate and non-profit officials trade places with public officials and politicians while getting much richer, they felt impoverished and disempowered. Since the ruling class embraced Republicans and Democrats, elections seemed irrelevant. The presidential elections of 2008 and 2012 underlined that whoever won, the same people would be in charge and that the parceling out of wealth and power among stakeholders would continue.

Americans on the Right were especially aggrieved because the oligarchy had become culturally united in disdain for Western civilization in general and for themselves in particular. The cultural warfare it waged on the rest of America inflamed opposition. But it also diluted its own focus on solidifying profitable arrangements.

By 2016, America was already well into the classic cycles of revolution. The atrophy of institutions, the waning of republican habits, and the increasing, reciprocal disrespect between classes that have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another, than did the 19th century’s Northerners and Southerners precluded returning to traditional republican life. The election would determine whether the oligarchy could consolidate itself. More important, it would affect the speed by which the revolutionary vortex would carry the country, and the amount of violence this would involve.

The Trump Catalyst

By 2015, the right side of America’s challenge to the budding oligarchy was inevitable. Trump was not inevitable. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had begun posing a thorough challenge to the “stakeholders” most Americans disrespected. Candidate Trump was the more gripping showman. His popularity came from his willingness to disrespect them, loudly. Because the other 16 Republican candidates ran on different bases, none ever had a chance. Inevitably, victory in a field so crowded depended on when which minor candidate did or did not withdraw. There never was a head-to-head choice between Trump and Cruz.

Trump’s candidacy drew the ferocious opposition it did primarily because the entire ruling class recognized that, unlike McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012, he really was mobilizing millions of Americans against the arrangements by which the ruling class live, move, and have their being. Since Cruz’s candidacy represented the same threat, it almost certainly would have drawn no less intense self-righteous anger. Nasty narratives could have been made up about him out of whole cloth as easily as about Trump. 

But Trump’s actual peculiarities made it possible for the oligarchy to give the impression that its campaign was about his person, his public flouting of conventional norms, rather than about the preservation of their own power and wealth. The principal consequence of the ruling class’ opposition to candidate Trump was to convince itself, and then its followers, that defeating him was so important that it legitimized, indeed dictated, setting aside all laws, and truth itself.

Particular individuals had never been the oligarchy’s worry. In 2008, as Barack Obama was running against Hillary Clinton and John McCain—far cries from Trump—he pointed to those Americans who “cling to God and guns” as the problem’s root. Clinton’s 2016 remark that Trump’s supporters were “a basket of deplorables,”—racists, sexists, homophobes, etc.—merely voiced what had long been the oligarchy’s consensus judgment of most Americans. For them, pushing these Americans as far away as possible from the levers of power, treating them as less than citizens, had already come to define justice and right. 

Donald Trump—his bombastic, hyperbolic style, his tendency to play fast and loose with truth, even to lie as he insulted his targets—fit perfectly the oligarchy’s image of his supporters, and lent a color of legitimacy to the utterly illegitimate collusion between the oligarchy’s members in government and those in the Democratic Party running against Trump.

Thus did the FBI and CIA, in league with the major media and the Democratic Party, spy on candidate Trump, concocting and spreading all manner of synthetic dirt about him. Nevertheless, to universal surprise, he won, or rather the oligarchy lost, the 2016 election.

The oligarchy’s disparate members had already set aside laws, truth, etc. in opposition to Trump. The realization that the presidency’s awesome powers now rested in his hands fostered a full-court-press #Resistance. Trump’s peculiarities helped make it far more successful than anyone could have imagined.

“Dogs That Bark Do Not Bite”

Applying this observation to candidate Trump’s hyperbole suggested that President Trump might suffer from what Theodore Roosevelt called the most self-destructive of habits, combining “the unbridled tongue with the unready hand.” And, in fact, President Trump neither fired and referred for prosecution James Comey or the other intelligence officials who had run the surveillance of his campaign. He praised them, and let himself be persuaded to fire General Michael Flynn, his national security advisor, who stood in the way of the intelligence agencies’ plans against him. Nor did he declassify and make public all the documents associated with their illegalities. 

Four years later, he left office with those documents still under seal. He criticized officials over whom he had absolute power, notably CIA’s Gina Haspel who likely committed a crime spying on his candidacy, but left them in office. Days after his own inauguration, he suffered the CIA’s removal of clearances from one of his appointees because he was a critic of the Agency. Any president worthy of his office would have fired the entire chain of officials who had made that decision. Instead, he appointed to these agencies people loyal to them and hostile to himself.

He acted similarly with other agencies. His first secretary of state, secretary of defense, and national security advisor mocked him publicly. At their behest, in August 2017, he gave a nationally televised speech in which he effectively thanked them for showing him that he had been wrong in opposing ongoing war in the Middle East. He railed against Wall Street but left untouched the tax code’s “carried interest” provision that is the source of much unearned wealth. He railed against the legal loophole that lets Google, Facebook, and Twitter censor content without retribution, but did nothing to close it. Already by the end of January 2017, it was clear that no one in Washington needed to fear Trump. By the time he left office, Washington was laughing at him.

Nor did Trump protect his supporters. For example, he shared their resentment of being ordered to attend workplace sessions about their “racism.” But not until his last months in office did he ban the practice within the federal government. Never did he ban contracts with companies that require such sessions.

Thus, as the oligarchy set about negating the 2016 electorate’s attempt to stop its consolidation of power, Trump had assured them that they would neither be impeded as they did so nor pay a price. Donald Trump is not responsible for the oligarchy’s power. But he was indispensable to it.

#TheResistance rallied every part of the ruling class to mutually supporting efforts. Nothing encourages, amplifies, or seemingly justifies extreme sentiments as does being part of a unanimous chorus, a crowd, a mob—especially when all can be sure they are acting safely, gratuitously. Success supercharges them. #TheResistance fostered the sense in the ruling class’ members that they are more right, more superior, and more entitled than they had ever imagined. It made millions of people feel bigger and better about themselves than they ever had.

Logic and Dysfunction

Disdain for the “deplorables” united and energized parts of American society that, apart from their profitable material connections to government, have nothing in common and often have diverging interests. That hate, that determination to feel superior to the “deplorables” by treading upon them, is the “intersectionality,” the glue that binds, say, Wall Street coupon-clippers, folks in the media, officials of public service unions, gender studies professors, all manner of administrators, radical feminists, race and ethnic activists, and so on. #TheResistance grew by awakening these groups to the powers and privileges to which they imagine their superior worth entitles them, to their hate for anyone who does not submit preemptively.

Ruling-class judges sustained every bureaucratic act of opposition to the Trump Administration. Thousands of identical voices in major media echoed every charge, every insinuation, non-stop and unquestioned. #TheResistance made it ruling-class policy that Trump’s and his voters’ racism and a host of other wrongdoing made them, personally, illegitimate. In any confrontation, the ruling class deemed these presumed white supremacists in the wrong, systemically. By 2018, the ruling class had effectively placed the “deplorables” outside the protection of the laws. By 2020, they could be fired for a trifle, set upon in the streets, prosecuted on suspicion of bad attitudes, and even for defending themselves.

Because each and every part of the ruling coalition’s sense of what may assuage its grievances evolves without natural limit, this logic is as insatiable as it is powerful. It is also inherently destructive of oligarchy.

Enjoyment of power’s material perquisites is classic oligarchy’s defining purpose. Having conquered power over the people, successful oligarchies foster environments in which they can live in peace, productively. Oligarchy, like all regimes, cannot survive if it works at cross-purposes. But the oligarchy that seized power in America between 2016 and 2020 is engaged in a never-ending seizure of ever more power and the infliction of ever more punishment—in a war against the people without imaginable end. Clearly, that is contrary to what the Wall Street magnates or the corps of bureaucrats or the university administrators or senior professors want. But that is what the people want who wield the “intersectional” passions that put the oligarchy in power.

As the oligarchy’s every part, every organ, raged against everything Trump, it made itself less attractive to the public even as Trump’s various encouragements of economic activity were contributing to palpable increases in prosperity.

Hence, by 2019’s end, Trump was likely to win reelection. Then came COVID-19.

The COVID Fortuna

The COVID-19 virus is no plague. Though quite contagious, its infection/fatality rate (IFR), about 0.01 percent, is that of the average flu, and its effects are generally so mild that most whom it infects never know it. 

Like all infections, it is deadly to those weakened severely by other causes. It did not transform American life by killing people, but by the fears about it that our oligarchy packaged and purveyed. Fortuna, as Machiavelli reminds us, is inherently submissive to whoever bends her to his wishes. The fears and the strictures they enabled were not about health—if only because those who purveyed and imposed them did not apply them to themselves. They were about power over others.

COVID’s politicization began in February 2020 with the adoption by the World Health Organization—which is headed by an Ethiopian bureaucrat beholden to China—and upon recommendation of non-scientist Bill Gates, of a non-peer-reviewed test for the infection. The test’s chief characteristic is that its rate of positives to negatives depends on the number of cycles through which the sample is run. More cycles, more positives. Hence, every test result is a “soft” number. Second, the WHO and associated national organizations like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported COVID’s spread by another “soft” number: “confirmed cases.” That is, sick persons who tested positive for the virus. 

When this number is related to that of such persons who then die, the ratio—somewhat north of 5 percent—suggests that COVID kills one out of 20 people it touches. But that is an even softer number since these deaths include those who die with COVID rather than of it, as well as those who may have had COVID. Pyramiding such soft numbers, mathematical modelers projected millions of deaths. Scary for the unwary, but pure fantasy.

For example, the U.S. Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which modeled the authoritative predictions on which the U.S. lockdowns were based, also predicted COVID-19 deaths for Sweden, which did not lock down. On May 3, the IHME predicted that Sweden would suffer 2,800 COVID deaths a day within the next two weeks. The actual number was 38. Reporting on COVID has never ceased to consist of numbers as scary as they are soft.

Literate persons know that, once an infectious disease enters a population, nothing can prevent it from infecting all of it, until a majority has developed antibodies after contracting it—so-called community immunity or herd immunity. But fear leads people to empower those who promise safety, regardless of how empty the promises. The media pressed governments to do something. The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan screamed: “don’t panic is terrible advice.” The pharmaceutical industry and its Wall Street backers salivated at the prospect of billions of government money for new drugs and vaccines. Never mind the little sense it makes for millions of people to accept a vaccine’s non-trivial risk to protect against a virus with trivial consequences for themselves. All manner of officials yearned to wield unaccountable power.

Because the power to crush the general population’s resistance to itself is the oligarchy’s single-minded focus, it was able to bend fears of COVID to that purpose. Thus, it gathered more power with more consequences than the oligarchs could have imagined.

But only President Trump’s complaisance made this possible. His message to the American people had been not to panic, be mindful of the scientific facts—you can’t stop it, and it’s not that bad—while mitigating its effects on vulnerable populations. But on March 15, Trump bent, and agreed to counsel people to suspend normal life for two weeks to “slow the spread,” so that hospitals would not be overwhelmed. Two weeks later, the New York Times crowed that Trump, having been told “hundreds of thousands of Americans could face death if the country reopened too soon,” had been stampeded into “abandoning his goal of reopening the country by Easter.” He agreed to support the “experts’” definition of what “soon” might mean. By accrediting the complex of government, industry, and media’s good faith and expertise, Trump validated their plans to use COVID as a vehicle for enhancing their power.

Having seized powers, the oligarchs used them as weapons to disrupt and disaggregate the parts of American society they could not control.

The economic effects of lockdowns and social distancing caused obvious pain. Tens of millions of small businesses were forced to close or radically to reduce activity. More than 40 million Americans filed claims for unemployment assistance. Uncountable millions of farmers and professionals had their products and activities devalued. Millions of careers, dreams that had been realized by lifetimes of work, were wrecked. Big business and government took over their functions. Within nine months, COVID-19 had produced 28 new billionaires.

Surplus and scarcity of food resulted simultaneously because the lockdowns closed most restaurants and hotels. As demand shifted in ways that made it impossible for distribution networks and processing plants to adjust seamlessly, millions of gallons of milk were poured down drains, millions of chickens, billions of eggs, and tens of thousands of hogs and cattle were destroyed, acres of vegetables and tons of fruit were plowed under. Prices in the markets rose. Persons deprived of work with less money with which to pay higher prices struggled to feed their families. This reduced countless self-supporting citizens to supplicants. By intentionally reducing the supply of food available to the population, the U.S. government joined the rare ranks of such as Stalin’s Soviet Union and Castro’s Cuba.

But none of these had ever shut down a whole nation’s entire medical care except for one disease. Hospitals stood nearly empty, having cleared the decks for the (ignorantly) expected COVID flood. Emergency rooms were closed to the poor people who get routine care there. Forget about dentistry. Most Americans were left essentially without medical care for most of a year. Human bodies’ troubles not having taken a corresponding holiday, it is impossible to estimate how much suffering and death this lack of medical care has caused and will cause yet.

The oligarchy’s division of all activity into “essential”—meaning permitted—and “nonessential”—to be throttled at will—had less obvious but more destructive effects. Private clubs, as well as any and all gatherings of more than five or 10 people, were banned. Churches were forbidden to have worship services or to continue social activities. The “social distancing” and mask mandates enforced in public buildings and stores, and often on the streets, made it well-nigh impossible for people to communicate casually. Thus, was that part of American society that the oligarchy did not control directly disarticulated, and its members left alone to face unaccountable powers on which they had to depend.

Meanwhile, the media became the oligarchy’s public relations department. Very much including ordinary commercial advertising, it hammered home the oligarchy’s line that COVID restrictions are good, even cool. These restrictions reduced the ideas available to the American people to what the mass media purveyed and the social media allowed. Already by April 2020, these used what had become near-monopoly power over interpersonal communications to censor such communications as they disapproved. Political enforcers took it upon themselves even to cancel statements by eminent physicians about COVID that they judged to be “misleading.” Of course, this betrayed the tech giants’ initial promise of universal access. It is also unconstitutional. (In Marsh v. Alabama, decided in 1946, the Supreme Court barred private parties from acting as de facto governments). Since these companies did it in unison, they also violated the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act. But the ruling class that had become an oligarchy applauded their disabling whatever might be conducive to conservatives’ interests and inconvenient to their own candidates.

Private entities wielding public powers in coordination with each other without having to observe any of government’s constitutional constraints is as good a definition of oligarchy as there is. Oligarchy had increasingly taken power in the buildup to the 2020 election. In its aftermath, it would try to suffocate America.

Sovereignty of the Vote Counters

The oligarchy’s proximate objective, preventing the 2020 presidential election from validating the previous one’s results, overrode all others. The powers it had seized under COVID’s cover, added to the plethora that it had exercised since the 2016 campaign’s beginning, had surely cowered some opposition. But as November 2020 loomed, no one could be sure how much it also had energized. 

Few people were happy to be locked down. It was a safe bet that not a few were unhappy at being called systemically racist. The oligarchy, its powers notwithstanding, could not be sure how people would vote. That is why it acted to take the presidential election’s outcome out of the hands of those who would cast the votes and to place it as much as possible in the hands of its members who would count the votes.

Intentionally, traditional procedures for voting leave no discretion to those who count the votes. Individuals obtain and cast ballots into a physical or electronic box only after showing identification that matches their registration. Ballot boxes are opened and their contents counted by persons representing the election’s opposing parties. Persons registered to vote might qualify to vote-by-mail by requesting a ballot, the issuance and receipt of which is checked against their registration. Their ballots are counted in the same bipartisan manner.

The Democratic Party had long pressed to substitute universal voting by mail—meaning that ballots would be sent to all registered voters, in some states to anyone with a driver’s license whether they asked for them or not and regardless of whether these persons still lived at the address on the rolls or were even alive. The ballots eventually would arrive at the counting centers, either through the mail, from drop boxes, or through “harvesters” who would pick them up from the voters who fill them out, and who may even help them to fill them out. Security, if any, would consist of machine-matching signatures on the ballot and on the envelope in which it had come. The machine’s software can be dialed to greater or lesser sensitivity.

But doing away with scrutiny of ballots counted by representatives of the election’s contenders removes the last possibility of ensuring the ballot had come from a real person whose will it is supposed to represent. Once the link between the ballot and the qualified person is broken, nothing prevents those in charge of the electoral process from excluding and including masses of ballots as they choose. The counters become the arbiters.

Attorney General William Barr pointed out the obvious: Anyone, in America or abroad, can print up any number of ballots, mark them, and deliver them for counting to whoever is willing to accept them and run them through their machines. Since the counters usually dispose of the envelopes in which ballots arrive—thus obviating any possibility of tracing the ballot’s connection to a voter—they may even dispense of the fiction that there had ever been any signed envelopes. That is especially true of late-found ballots. Who knows where they came from? Who cares to find out?

Only in a few one-party Democratic states was universal vote-by-mail established by law. Elsewhere, especially in the states sure to be battlegrounds in the presidential election, mail-in voting was introduced by various kinds of executive or judicial actions. Questions of right and wrong aside, the Constitution’s Article II section 1’s words—“Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct”—makes such actions unconstitutional on their face. Moreover, in these states—Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin—the counting of votes in the most populous counties is firmly in the hands of Democratic Party bosses with a well-documented history of fraud.

To no one’s surprise, the 2020 presidential election was decided by super-majorities for the Democratic candidate precisely from these counties in these states. Yes, Trump’s percentage of the vote fell in certain suburbs. But Trump received some 11 million more votes in 2020 than four years earlier, and nearly doubled the share of votes he received from blacks. The Democrats’ gain of some 15 million votes came exclusively from mail-in ballots, and their victory in the Electoral College came exclusively from the supermajorities piled up in these corrupt counties—the only places where Trump’s share of the black vote was cut by three-quarters. Did people there really think so differently?

This is not the place to recount the list of affidavits sworn under penalty of perjury by persons who observed ballot stuffing, nor the statistical anomaly of successive batches of votes that favored Biden over Trump by precisely the same amounts, of un-creased (i.e., never mailed) ballots fed into counting machines, nor the Georgia video of suitcases of ballots being taken from under tables and inserted into counting machines after Republican observers had been ousted. Suffice it to note that references to these events have been scrubbed from the Internet. It is more important to keep in mind that, in America prior to 2020, sworn affidavits that crimes have been committed had invariably been probable cause for judicial, prosecutorial, or legislative investigations. But for the first time in America, the ruling class dismissed them with: “You have no proof!” A judge (the sister of Georgia’s Stacey Abrams) ruled that even when someone tells the U.S. Postal Service they have moved, their old address is still a lawful basis for them to cast a ballot. Certainly, proof of crime is impossible with such judges and without testimony under oath, or powers of subpoena.

Just as important, Republicans in general and the Trump White House in particular bear heavy responsibility for failing to challenge the patent illegality of the executive actions and consent decrees that enabled inherently insecure mail-in procedures in real-time, as they were being perpetrated in key states. No facts were at issue. Only law. The constitutional violations were undeniable.

Pennsylvania et. al. answered Texas’s late lawsuit by arguing it demanded the invalidation of votes that had been cast in good faith. True. But Texas argued that letting stand the results of an election carried out contrary to the Constitution devalued the votes cast in states such as Texas that had held the election in a constitutional manner. Also true. Without comment, the Supreme Court chose to privilege the set of voters on the oligarchy’s side over those of their opponents. Had the lawsuit come well before the election, no such choice would have existed. Typically, the Trump Administration substituted bluster for action.

The Oligarchy Rides its Tigers

Winning the 2020 election had been the objective behind which the oligarchy had coalesced during the previous five years. In 2021, waging socio-political war on the rest of America is what the oligarchy is all about. 

The logic of hate and disdain of ordinary Americans is not only what binds the oligarchy together. It is the only substitute it has for any moral-ethical-intellectual point of reference. Donald Trump’s impotent, inglorious reaction to his defeat offered irresistible temptations to the oligarchy’s several sectors to celebrate victory by vying to hurt whoever had supported the president. But permanent war against some 74 million fellow citizens is a foredoomed approach to governing.

The Democratic Party had promised a return to some kind of “normalcy.” Instead, its victory enabled the oligarchy’s several parts to redefine the people who do not show them due deference as “white supremacists,” “insurrectionists,” and Nazis—in short, as some kind of criminals—to exclude them from common platforms of communication, from the banking system, and perhaps even from air travel; and to set law enforcement to surveil them in order to find bases for prosecuting them. Neither Congress nor any state’s legislature legislated any of this. Rather, the several parts of America’s economic, cultural, and political establishment are waging this war, uncoordinated but well-nigh unanimously.

Perhaps most important, they do so without thought of how a war against at least some 74 million fellow citizens might end. The people in the oligarchy’s corporate components seem to want only to adorn unchallenged power with a reputation for “wokeness.” For them, causing pain to their opponents is a pleasure incidental to enjoying power’s perquisites. The Biden family’s self-enrichment by renting access to influence is this oligarchy’s standard.

But the people who dispense that reputation—not just the professional revolutionaries of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, but “mainstream” racial and gender activists and self-appointed virtue-crats, have appetites as variable as they are insatiable. For them, rubbing conservative America’s faces in excrement is what it’s all about. A Twitter video viewed by 2.6 million people urges them to form “an army of citizen detectives” to ferret out conservatives from among teachers, doctors, police officers, and “report them to the authorities.” No doubt, encouraged by President Biden’s characterization of opponents as “domestic terrorists,” any number of “authorities” as well as private persons will find opportunities to lord it over persons not to their taste. This guarantees endless clashes, and spiraling violence.

Joseph Biden, Kamala Harris, and the people they appoint to positions of official responsibility are apparatchiks, habituated to currying favor and pulling rank. They have neither the inclination nor the capacity to persuade the oligarchy’s several parts to agree to a common good or at least to a modus vivendi among themselves, never mind with conservative America. This guarantees that they will ride tigers that they won’t even try to dismount.

At this moment, the oligarchy wields an awesome complex of official and unofficial powers to exclude whomever it chooses from society’s mainstream. Necessarily, however, exclusions cut both ways. Invariably, to banish another is to banish one’s self as well. Google, Facebook, and Twitter let it be known that they would exclude anything with which they disagree from what had become the near-universal means of communication. They bolstered that by colluding to destroy their competitor, Parler. Did they imagine that 74 million Americans could find no means of communicating otherwise? Simon and Schuster canceled a book by Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) critical of communications monopolies. Did its officials imagine that they would thereby do other than increase the book’s eventual sales, and transfer some of their customers to Hawley’s new publisher? The media effectively suppressed inconvenient news. Did they imagine that this would prevent photos of Black Lives Matter professionals in the forefront of the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol from reaching the public?

In sum, intending to relegate conservative America to society’s servile sidelines, the oligarchy’s members drew a clear, sharp line between themselves and that America. By telling conservative Americans “these institutions and corporations, are ours, not yours,” they freed conservative America of moral obligations toward them and themselves. By abandoning conservative America, they oblige conservative America to abandon them and seek its own way.

Clarity, Leadership, and Separation

To think of conservative America’s predicament as an opportunity is as hyperbolic as it was for Machiavelli to begin the conclusion of The Prince by observing that “in order to know Moses’ virtue it was necessary that the people of Israel be slaves in Egypt, and to know the greatness of Cyrus’s spirit that the Persians be oppressed by the Medes, and to know the excellence of Theseus, that the Athenian people be dispersed, so at the present, in order to know the virtue of an Italian spirit it was necessary that Italy reduce herself to the conditions in which she is at present . . .” 

Machiavelli’s lesson is that the clarity of situations such as he mentions, and such as is conservative America’s following the 2020 election, is itself valuable. Clarity makes illusions of compromise untenable and points to self-reliant action as the only reasonable path. The people might or might not be, as he wrote, “all ready and disposed to follow the flag if only someone were to pick it up.” But surely, someone picking up the flag is the only alternative to servitude.

What, in conservative America’s current predicament, might it mean to “pick up the flag?” Electoral politics remains open to talented, courageous, ambitious leadership. In Florida and South Dakota, Governors Ron DeSantis and Kristi Noem have used their powers to make room for ways of life different from and more attractive than that in places wholly dominated by the oligarchy. Texas and Idaho as well attract refugees from such as California and New York by virtue of such differences with life there as their elected officials have been able to maintain. Governmental and corporate pressures on such states to conform to the oligarchy’s standards, sure to increase, are opportunities for their officials to lead their people’s refusal to conform by explaining why doing this is good, and by personally standing in the way. They may be sure that President Kamala Harris would not order federal troops to shoot at state officials for closing abortion clinics or for excluding men from women’s bathrooms.

For more than a generation, a majority of Americans have expressed growing distrust of, and alienation from, the establishment. The establishment, not Donald Trump, made this happen. That disparate majority, in many ways at cross purposes with itself, demands leadership. Pollster Patrick Caddell’s in-depth study of the American electorate, which he titled “We Need Smith,” showed how the themes that made it possible for the hero of the 1939 movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” to prevail against the establishment then are even more gripping now and appeal to a bigger majority. Trump was a bad copy of Mr. Smith.

More than ever, an audience beyond the 74 million Americans who voted for Trump hungers for leadership. The oligarchy came together by ever more vigorously denigrating and suppressing these deplorables. Already before the 20th century’s turn, the FBI and some elements in the Army and the Justice Department had concluded that they are somehow criminal, and that preparations should be made to treat them as such. The official position of the administration taking power after the 2020 election is that domestic terrorism from legions of “white supremacists” is the primary threat facing America. No wonder those so designated for outlawry demand protection.

The path to electoral leadership is straightforward. Whoever would lead the deplorables-plus must explain their cause to friend and foe, make it his own, and grow it by leading successful acts of resistance. 

Increasingly, conservative Americans live as if under occupation by a hostile power. Whoever would lead them should emulate Charles de Gaulle’s 1941 basic rule for la résistance: refrain from individual or spontaneous acts or expressions that produce only martyrs. But join with thousands in what amount to battles to defeat the enemy’s initiatives, weaken his grip on power, and prepare his defeat. Thus, an aspirant to the presidency in 2024, in the course of debunking the narrative by which the oligarchy seized so much power over America, might lead millions to violate restrictions placed on those who refuse to wear masks. Or, as he pursues legislative and judicial measures to abolish the compulsory racial and gender sensitivity training sessions to which public and private employees are subjected, he might organize employees in a given sector unanimously to stay away from them in protest. They can’t all be fired or held back.

Such a persuasive prospective president, or president, could finish the process that, beginning circa 2010, initiated the process of reshaping the Republican Party into something like Caddell’s Mr. Smith would have personified.

Electoral politics, however, is the easy part. Major corporations, private and semi-private institutions such as schools, publishing houses, and media, are the oligarchy’s deepest foundations. These having become hostile, conservative Americans have no choice but to populate their own. This is far from impossible. 

Sorting ourselves out into congenial groups has been part of America’s DNA since 1630, when Roger Williams led his followers out of Massachusetts to found Providence Plantations. In the 19th century, the Mormons left unfriendly environments to establish their own settlements. Since 1973, Americans who believe in unborn children’s humanity have largely ceased to intermarry with those who do not. Nobody decided this should happen. It is in the logic of diverging cultures. 

As American primary and secondary education’s dysfunction became painfully apparent, parents of all races have fled the public schools as fast as they could. Businesses have been fleeing the Rust Belt for the Sun Belt for generations. When Democratic governors and mayors used COVID to make life difficult in their jurisdictions, people moved out of them. When Twitter’s censorship of conservatives became undeniable, Parler added customers by the hundreds of thousands each day. Facebook and Twitter’s stock lost $50 billion in a week. Much more separation follows from the American people’s diverging cultures.

As conservative America sorts itself out from oligarchy’s social bases, it may be able to restore something like what had existed under the republic. Effectively, two regimes would have to learn to coexist within our present boundaries. But that may be the best, freest, arrangement possible now for the United States.

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/05/2021 - 23:40
Published:2/5/2021 10:50:52 PM
[Markets] Biggest Gun Control Bill In History Targets The Poor, Will Make Millions Of Felons Overnight Biggest Gun Control Bill In History Targets The Poor, Will Make Millions Of Felons Overnight

Authored by Matt Agorist via TheFreeThoughtProject.com,

HR127, known as the Sabika Sheikh Firearm Licensing and Registration Act introduced by Rep. Jackson Lee, Sheila [D-TX-18], is, without a doubt, the most tyrannical gun control bill ever proposed.

Like all gun control measures, this bill would hit the poor and minority communities the hardest. Its massive scope would also turn tens of millions of legal, law abiding gun owners into felons overnight.

As TFTP reported in December, before Joe Biden took office, his administration has major plans for eviscerating the Second Amendment. Biden has been an outspoken gun grabber and on his campaign website, he’s stated that he will use executive action to enforce gun control.

On the site, Biden states that he will use executive action to “get weapons of war off our streets.” Calling an AR-style weapon a “weapon of war” is laughable given the fact that Biden, under president Obama, aided in the wholesale slaughter of countless innocent civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia — using actual “weapons of war” like drone strikes, hellfire missiles, and sanctions.

Nevertheless, the new boss — who is the same as the old boss, contrary to what many believe — is presiding over a Congress that will consider the most tyrannical gun control measures in the history of America, HR127.

Former vice presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, Spike Cohen points out that “HR127 would be most heavily enforced against those with the least ability to defend themselves in court: the poor, and minorities. It will also make things much worse in marginalized communities, where only police and criminals will have guns.”

In a post to Facebook, Cohen narrowed down some of the bill’s most ominous points that would target every single gun owner in the country.

1. Firearms License required for any new gun purchases or ownership transfers.

  • Licensee Must be 21, complete a 24 hour gun safety training course, and must undergo a psych evaluation.

  • Multi-tier license. Individual license for ownership and display of “antique” firearm, standard firearm license, and “military style” license.

  • Military license requires additional 24 hour safety course.

  • Licensing is revoked immediately for anyone indicted of a crime in which the sentence lasts longer than 1 year.

This heavily discriminates against anyone who has ever seen a therapist or had to get mental health treatment, such as victims of abuse and people with depression, and veterans seeking care for PTSD. Depression and addiction are mentioned specifically as reasons for licensing denial.

Also, gun licensing is expensive, which makes ownership less accessible for those who need their own protection most.

2. Requires an $800 annual government insurance fee for all current and future gun owners, to be paid to the Attorney General EVERY YEAR.

There is no grandfather clause, meaning this applies to anyone that owns a gun at all, not just those who purchase a new firearm after this passes.

This fee will certainly go up each year. It’s yet another barrier for those in poverty to be able to defend themselves.

3. Mandatory Nationwide Firearms Registration & Database

  • ALL firearms owned shall be registered under penalty of up to $150,000 and 15 years in prison.

  • Serial, make, model, date, identity of owner, and the location of where the firearm will be stored to be collected and maintained in a database by the US Attorney General.

  • Names and information of all those who may have access to the firearms shall be collected as well.

  • This information to be accessible by state, local, and federal police, military, as well as state and local governments.

4. Ammunition and Magazine Bans

  • Bans .50cal and larger ammunition outright.

  • Bans all mags that hold more than 10 rounds

This ammo is mostly used for hunting and is rarely used against people. The most common handguns and rifles use magazines that exceed this arbitrary limit, which makes TENS OF MILLIONS of law-abiding gun owners felons overnight.

Illegal ownership of even a single round of banned ammo will result in up to $100,000 in fines AND 20 years in prison.

This bill was originally presented last year and reinvented this year with a whole new level of tyranny added to it both in the government and out of it. For example, the registration data will be made public. Given the cancel culture mass hysteria-inciting media frenzy as of late, this list could be used by big tech and woke cults to target their political rivals. They could seek out this data and use it to implement blacklists, social media bans, and any other number of ways the cancel culture attacks those with whom they disagree.

As we reported in December, many of these gun control measures are already on the president’s agenda, which go even further.

One of Biden’s most ominous moves in regard to controlling guns is his push for “smart gun technology” that will require biometrics to fire in an ostensible move to “prevent unauthorized use.” In reality, however, this paves the way for bad actors, including the state and hackers, to be able to control, hack, or essentially turn off your gun, making it a paperweight.

Biden also plans to pick up where Trump left off in regard to extreme risk laws, also called “red flag” laws. Under Biden’s plan, which is similar to the many plans implemented under Trump, family members or law enforcement officials will be able to make claims — many which involve no evidence — allowing a person’s guns to be temporarily taken until that person is declared fit enough to get them back.

This attacks on the Second Amendment must be resisted. Please consider calling your representative and peacefully telling them to oppose this bill.

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/05/2021 - 21:00
Published:2/5/2021 8:13:24 PM
[Markets] Rabobank: "American Exceptionalism Is Back", Except... Rabobank: "American Exceptionalism Is Back", Except...

By Michael Every of Rabobank

"American Exceptionalism is Back", except...

“Oh say, can you see! By Dawn’s early light; a pro-dollar trade; that puts the bears to flight?” Bloomberg Daybreak this morning boldly states “American exceptionalism is back” (baby). Apparently better-than-expected data and corporate earnings and the prospects of fiscal stimulus show the USA is still the global standout after all. As a result, bearish USD trades touted for the first month of the year need to suddenly be unwound: EUR is now back below 1.20, AUD is clinging to 0.76, and JPY is past 105.50, while as an EM proxy, MXN is back to 20.38 at time of writing vs. 19.55 on January 21.

Oh say, can you see that the data are still objectively poor in the labor market, or at least show a bifurcated economy where, as far as the market is concerned, tens of millions don’t matter?

... That positive (mega-)corporate earnings are the antithesis of a better wage and small-business outlook needed to give this recovery real legs?

... And the fiscal stimulus is a fraction of what other developed markets are already offering (e.g., another stimulus cheque vs. 75-80% of Covid-impacted workers’ earnings).

This USD buying is also despite a slew of Fed speakers reiterating that tapering isn’t going to happen soon, which might well be interpreted as mild verbal yield curve control to try to slow the ascent of 10s, which now stand around 1.14%.

However, the star-spangled point from the often-mangled Daybreak holds true: the market seemed to think the US was exceptionally bad when many other economies still look objectively worse, or are prepared to be even more dovish than the Fed. For example, the ECB and BOE are both toying with (more) negative rates (see here); and the RBA Governor --who hilariously just testified that the Bank has never and should never target house prices – I would add “just land, bricks, mortar, windows and plumbing”-- has just made even clearer that rates are on hold until 2024. Hence this USD move could have some legs for some crosses. But let’s see how the key US payrolls number trades today first. Last month we got a shockingly bad number, and yet US yields actually spiked. It will be interesting to see what happens to both USD and US yields if we get a better number for January. Could be spikey for sure.

Meanwhile, some crosses look at other fundamentals: CNH is stronger than 6.50, for example. Here we get to the geopolitical side of American exceptionalism, and how that impacts on FX in ways Econ 101 doesn’t address. President Biden projects the image of returning the US to its position of global leadership, on which USD power nestles; and, yes, USD is top dog because billions of individuals make the rational choice to use it, but take away US global military supremacy and that choice can rapidly change, as history makes abundantly clear. In turn, that supremacy rests on economic, technological, and political foundations which are rapidly changing. Indeed, the president may rapidly find that rather than returning to head the pack, the US may instead be trying to herd cats.

President Biden has called on the military in Myanmar to relinquish power after their recent coup. What happens when they refuse? A signature criticism of the Obama foreign policy team was its refusal to match US rhetoric (e.g., “pivot to Asia”) with any substantive action (e.g., in the South China Sea or Syria). The new team gave interviews before assuming office saying they had learned these lessons. So what options with teeth does the US have for the generals in Naypidaw to back their demand? Sanctions are meaningless for a group who rarely travel abroad and whom can look to China for support if needed, despite their coolness towards Beijing to date.

This underlines the need for any top dog (or cat) to build up a pack (or clowder). Here again we see problems. Many articles have been written about the new US administration’s call for the EU to stand alongside it to create new global frameworks favourable to the West (and by extension for USD) and not China (and CNY); and about how the EU is not willing to step up to that plate because of French exceptionalism and German Merkel-cantilism. Macron now says the EU should not gang up on China with the US: “This kind of common front against China risks pushing Beijing to lower its cooperation on issues like combatting climate change, and exacerbating its aggressive behaviour in Asia, including in the South China Sea,” he says. So will the US response then have to be Trumpian and EUR negative, like last time? If not, then what exactly?

Of course, the previous administration had been building bridges to India, which has its own issues with China. However, this relationship is still in its early stages, and India has traditionally looked to Russia for muscle, a role Moscow would be happy to play again. In that regard, the White House backing large anti-government protests in New Delhi against an agricultural reform programme ostensibly to the US’s liking, and criticizing the government for cutting off the internet to try to disrupt them, is unlikely to help build bridges: indeed, India has already drawn comparisons to the events of 6 January in the US Capitol, showing the US is not as exceptional as it likes to project it is. These kind of shifts can matter, even if this is just one small step on a much longer journey (and USD trend channel).

Meanwhile, the Aussie government (which has also never and will never target house prices, “just land, bricks, mortar, etc.”) might be wondering what the US will help do about a report that a Chinese company is planning to build a new city on a Papua New Guinea island near Australia’s northern border. ‘New Daru City' allegedly includes an industrial zone, seaport, business and commercial zone, along with a resort and residential area. Will Canberra regard this as a market-driven response to the well-known Chinese demand for lifestyle residences in the vibrant cultural hub that is the PNG hinterland, or as a Bond-villain project to develop a port just 200km from their Northern Territory? The PNG Prime Minister himself says he is “unaware” of this proposal(!) Yes, this may well not come to pass; but one can again see the paving stones being prepared for alternative paths for currencies like AUD, USD, and CNY (to say nothing of PNG’s Kina) to travel over the course of the 2020s.

Meanwhile, the US can at least rely on the UK, as usual, where yesterday saw regulators ban China’s CGTN TV news service, and the Telegraph also reports that three Chinese spies posing as journalists have just been expelled from the country. Somehow, along with the whole BNO passports issue, this is not likely to help ensure the “golden era” of Sino-British relations promised under previous UK leadership. But will it ensure a golden era of Bido-BoJo relations? That is another path as yet untrod.

Happy Friday! “We love it so much, I think you do too.”    

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/05/2021 - 09:25
Published:2/5/2021 8:43:22 AM
[Markets] Biden Convenes "Urgent" High Level NSC Meeting To Talk Iran Nukes Biden Convenes "Urgent" High Level NSC Meeting To Talk Iran Nukes

Axios has a new report underscoring the "urgency President Biden feels about Iran" - given on Friday the White House is convening a National Security Council principals committee meeting focused on what to do about the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. This after within the past week multiple international headlines suggested (somewhat misleadingly) that Iran is "weeks away" from being capable of producing a nuclear weapon.

Biden campaigned firmly on a commitment to immediately restore US participation in the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA) brokered under the Obama administration; however, this is already stalled given the White House position that Tehran must return to conformity to uranium enrichment and other caps stipulated by the deal. 

Iran has of course responded by saying it's exclusively the US side (under Trump) which broke off the deal, thus it's up for Washington to "move first" by dropping all sanctions which have served to cripple the Iranian economy. 

Here are the key details regarding Friday's high level NSC meeting, according to Axios:

  • Principals committee meetings — held in the Situation Room and attended by the secretaries of Defense and State and other key national security players — are designed to discuss policy at the highest level before presenting recommendations to the president.
  • One of the main action items Friday is whether to push toward returning to the nuclear deal before the June presidential elections in Iran or wait until after, a source familiar with the issue said

Earlier in the week national security advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters that "We are actively engaged" with European partners, and further, "The consultations will produce a unified front when it comes to our strategy."

The statement came in response to European Union offers to mediate a full restoration of of the JCPOA, which initially Washington seemed to rebuff.

On Thursday French President Emmanuel Macron put forward a plan for him to personally act as a broker for renewed talks. However Iran has viewed any offer for "stricter" talks that would move the goal posts in terms of the deal with hostility.

"I do believe we do need to finalize, indeed, a new negotiation with Iran," Macron said. "We have to address ballistic missile issues, and we have to address the stability of the region, and this comprehensive agenda is to be negotiated now," he added.

Again, Iran has spoken out vehemently against anything that resembles "new negotiations" while insisting it's up for the side that tore up the deal in the first place to show that it can conform first.

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/05/2021 - 09:03
Published:2/5/2021 8:11:04 AM
[Laughter is the Best Medicine] Thoughts from the ammo line (Scott Johnson) Ammo Grrrll recounts THE HUNT FOR A MODERNA SHOT. She writes: A few days ago Breitbart ran a story about Hollywood celebrities – all “down for the shtruggle,” as Mrs. Obama would say – all-in for Diversity and against White Privilege, offering clinics bribes for vaccine. No, really. They were offering up to $10,000 to budge the line and get the Commie Flu shots for their entire families, regardless of Published:2/5/2021 5:11:22 AM
[Ideology] Biden's Department of Homeland Sleaze Chief, by Michelle Malkin Everything old is new again. The corruptocracy of the Obama administration is back with a vengeance in the White House. Once more, the "S" in "DHS" stands not for security — but for sleaze. Our nation is back for sale to the highest foreign bidders and their "America last" cronies. Last Thursday, the Senate Homeland... Published:2/4/2021 6:38:22 PM
[Markets] Biden Vows To "Defend Democracy Globally", Says "Days Of Rolling Over" To Russia "Are Over" Biden Vows To "Defend Democracy Globally", Says "Days Of Rolling Over" To Russia "Are Over"

On Thursday afternoon President Biden gave a much anticipated and wide-ranging speech laying out his foreign policy agenda during a visit to the State Department. As expected much of it was a repudiation of Trump's "America First" vision - though without mentioning Donald Trump by name. His address to State Department diplomats and staff was centered around the theme of his words: "America is back. Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy."

Alarming for anyone who has called for an end to the vision which sees Washington as essentially acting the like to 'global police force' - which unfortunately became a (disastrous) reality starting in the Bush years and under the neocons, Biden vowed that as commander-in-chief he would "defend democracy globally".

He urged for the US to rebuild "the muscles of democratic alliances that have atrophied from four years of neglect and abuse." He emphasized that "We can't do it alone." 

Of course, the big question is what will that look like, with many expecting a return to the kind of 'humanitarian interventionism' abroad and liberal internationalism that defined the Obama years. This often took the form of covert wars (with the foremost example being Syria) and military interventions under the guise international coalitions (such as NATO's war on Libya) aimed at regime change. 

"We must meet this new moment of accelerating global challenges – from a pandemic to the climate crisis to nuclear proliferation – that will only be solved by nations working together in common cause," Biden said in the afternoon address. "That must start with diplomacy, rooted in America’s most cherished democratic values: defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, treating every person with dignity."

Here are some of the highlights and significant foreign policy changes in US posture...

Russia

Biden said that "we will not hesitate to raise the costs on Russia." At a moment Russian opposition leaders are lobbying Washington for the targeted use of Magnitsky sanctions on Putin's inner circle, Biden actually mentioned the imprisoned opposition activist Alexey Navalny by name.

He called on the Kremlin to release Navalny "immediately and without condition" while expressing that authorities had targeted him for "exposing corruption" of Putin and top Kremlin leadership. And further:

He said that he "made it clear to President Putin, in a manner very different from my predecessor, that the days the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive action" – pointing to cyber attacks from the SolarWinds breach and the poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny – "are over."

Yemen

As expected, the president announced the formal end of US offensive operations in the war-torn country:

Biden announced an end to all American support for offensive operations in Yemen and said he will appoint an envoy to focus on the long-standing conflict. Calling the conflict "a war that has created humanitarian and strategic catastrophe," Biden also made clear the US will "continue help and support to Saudi Arabia."

While it was announced earlier that a "pause" on all weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia and UAE would take immediate effect for an executive review, it's unclear precisely what it means that the US will continue its "support" for the Saudis as they continue pummeling Yemen with bombs.

Countering China; Myanmar Coup 

Biden emphasized the need to counter China: 

"American leadership must meet this new moment of advancing authoritarianism, including the growing determination of China to rival the United States and the determination of Russia to damage our democracy," he said.

He also addressed the Myanmar crisis, vowing to "impose consequences" - likely in the form of targeted sanctions against military leaders who oversaw the arrests of civilian leaders. 

"The Burmese military should relinquish the power they have seized, release the activists and officials they have detained, lift the restrictions on telecommunications and refrain from violence."

Halting Trump's troop draw downs

Biden noted in the speech that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will soon be overseeing a global posture review, which will require halting the Trump-ordered troop draw downs from Germany for the time being.

"America’s alliances are among our greatest assets, and leading with diplomacy means standing shoulder to shoulder with our allies and key partners once more," he said.

Defending Freedom & Democracy Abroad in 'New Era'

Emphasizing during the introductory portion of his remarks that there will be a 'new era' in US foreign policy, he said the US will return to strengthening alliances through greater engagement and diplomacy which is rooted in America’s "most cherished democratic values." And further:

In his first major foreign policy address as president, Biden said that defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights and respecting the rule of law are "the grounding wire of our global power" and give the U.S. "an abiding advantage" on the world stage.

"Though many of these values have come under intense pressure in recent years, even pushed to the brink in the last few weeks, the American people are going to merge from this stronger, more determined and better equipped to unite the world in fighting to defend democracy – because we have fought for it ourselves," he added in the prepared remarks.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/04/2021 - 18:20
Published:2/4/2021 5:36:53 PM
[Markets] GameStop Was A Warning: Elites Are Weaponizing Censorship To Keep Outsiders Out GameStop Was A Warning: Elites Are Weaponizing Censorship To Keep Outsiders Out

Authored by David Sacks via Persuasion.Community,

As the apex predators of capitalism, hedge funds are accustomed to raking in billions by driving companies into the ground and feasting on the carcasses. So there was widespread satisfaction last week when members of an online discussion group called WallStreetBets started beating the Wall Street bully boys at their own game. Ringleaders of the group noticed that hedge funds had taken a short position in the videogame retailer GameStop that far exceeded the number of shares available to trade. Motivated as much by revenge as by profit, these influencers in the group encouraged the 2.7 million members (since risen to around 8 million) to purchase the stock in order to drive the price higher and create a massive short squeeze. This quickly became a movement with a cause similar to that of Occupy Wall Street, except much more effective because it hit the intended target where they would feel it the most, in the wallet. “The only way to beat a rigged game,” one WallStreetBets leader said, “is to rig it even harder.” 

GameStop stock, which closed at $17.69 a share on Jan. 8, shot up to $347.51 by the close last Wednesday. With combined losses of almost $20 billion, hedge funds were on the ropes and close to bleeding out, selling their longs in an increasingly futile effort to cover their shorts. One fund, Melvin Capital, lost over half its value and had to be bailed out by hedge fund sugar daddies Ken Griffin (Citadel) and Steve Cohen (Point 72). Another fund, Citron, was teetering on the brink of collapse. All this outsider army needed to win was the continued ability to communicate with each other online, and their collective ability to keep piling into the “Buy” side of the trade. Within hours, they would be hobbled on the first front and crippled on the second. 

The Empire Strikes Back

First, the digital distribution platform Discord banned the WallStreetBets account after the close Wednesday for hate speech, glorifying violence, and spreading misinformation.” (For a moment, it looked like Reddit had also banned the group, but they resisted pressure to do so.) If the quoted justification sounds familiar, it’s nearly identical to the one given by Google, Apple, and Amazon for deplatforming Parler just three weeks earlier. Echoing Amazon, Discord said it had sent the group repeated warnings about objectionable content before deciding, on that day of all days, to shut them down. 

Meanwhile, WallStreetBets investors were locked out of their trading accounts by online brokers such as Robinhood on Thursday morning. Based on new collateral requirements that it says were imposed by an industry consortium, Robinhood forbade its users from buying GameStop and other stocks that WallStreetBets had identified as short squeeze opportunities. Users were allowed only to “close their positions”—in other words, to sell to the shorts desperate to buy. When angry users registered their disapproval by leaving over 100,000 one-star reviews of the Robinhood app in the Google Play Store, Google deleted them. 

Normal trading was allowed to resume Friday, but the hedge funds used their 24-hour sole ownership of the battlefield to fortify their positions, covering the most vulnerable shorts. Wall Street then sent in reinforcements, as new short positions were taken at these high price levels, virtually guaranteed to pay out when, inevitably, the air leaks out of the balloon. Faced with a game that, for once, they couldn’t rig in their favor, it appeared that the insiders tipped the board over and started a new game. As a massively decentralized online group of scrappy outsiders, the only tools at WallStreetBets’ disposal were online trading and social networking. Both were frozen at the crucial moment, and the hedge fund insiders were let off the hook. The weaponization of censorship is a big part of the reason why. 

Down the Slippery Slope

Some of us warned of a slippery slope when Parler was taken down and a sitting president was systematically ghosted from every online speech platform. But we could not have foreseen how slippery the slope would be, or how fast we would slide down it. We were told that the curbs on speech of President Trump and his supporters were necessary to prevent further “insurrection” and protect the peaceful transition of power. However, much like the troops and barricades that still ring the Capitol, these speech restrictions remain in place well after the transition of power has occurred. The censorship power is always justified in response to a genuine outrage or crisis, but it is rarely relinquished once the threat passes. Rather it gets weaponized to protect powerful, connected insiders, as the GameStop fiasco illustrates.

How do we suppose Discord chose that moment to enforce its “Community Guidelines” against WallStreetBets? Almost certainly, one of the hedge funds whose ox was being gored combed through their message boards looking for anything that might violate the terms of service. And surely they found it, as these boards contain the same raunchy language you would hear if you visited any trading floor or boiler room on Wall Street. They presumably reported the content to Discord, which took the group down. 

Did Discord warn WallStreetBets of content violations before last Wednesday? I’m sure they did. Amazon sent such a warning letter to Parler as well. Frankly, such a letter could be, and likely is, sent to every large message board on the web. The founder of a user-generated content site described it to me as “the One Percent Problem.” Every user-generated content site will have a small percentage of offensive material that gets through, no matter how many content moderators are hired. For example, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube allowed far more content advocating for and planning the Capitol riot than Parler. But instead of acknowledging this, they were eager to blame the upstart, which had recently taken over the top spot in the social networking category in the app store. Scapegoating Parler served the dual purpose of deflecting blame and squashing a competitor.

Critics of social networks insist that these sites simply need to double down on censorship in order to finally rid us of problematic speech. But that ignores how social media moderation actually works. Algorithms set to recognize keywords capture only a small fraction of problematic posts, leaving millions of posts for humans to review. The work is so voluminous that it’s outsourced to far-flung locales where English may not even be the first language. Low-level employees must decipher complicated guidelines while navigating our increasingly Byzantine world of political and cultural hot-buttons. Mistakes are inevitable, and the harder a company tightens the standards to get the One Percent Problem down to 0.1 or 0.01 percent, the more undeserving accounts—from Ron Paul to the Socialist Equality Party—will be swept up in the dragnet. With the Town Square now digitized, centralized, and privatized in the hands of a cartel of Big Tech companies, the protections of the First Amendment no longer apply. 

Insiders Vs. Outsiders

Censorship is about who has the power to censor, and what checks are placed upon that power. Right now, tech companies have all the power, and they exercise it as a like-minded cartel. When we see Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ted Cruz voice similar concerns over what happened to WallStreetBets last week, we should realize that the politics of this issue in the post-Trump era will no longer divide along an axis of Left and Right, but of insider and outsider. 

Elizabeth Warren, when she started landing blows against Wall Street after the 2008 financial crisis, met with President Obama’s economics adviser, the former treasury secretary and Harvard president Larry Summers. He presented her with a choice: “I could be an insider or I could be an outsider,” she recalled in her 2014 memoir, A Fighting Chance. “Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People—powerful people—listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders.”  

It’s precisely this insider-protection scheme that the internet and social media have most disrupted. Insiders are massively powerful but few in number. Outsiders have always been numerous but unorganized. Social networking and online organizing have given the outsiders real power to effect change, and finally register their disgust at the way incompetent elites protect each other. The elites of Big Business, Big Media, Wall Street, and Washington are terrified of this, and will leverage any censorship power to keep the outsiders at bay. 

The Real “Big Lie”

After the storming of the Capitol building on Jan. 6, we heard a lot about the “Big Lie” perpetrated by Trump and his allies that the election was “stolen.” In reality, this narrative never got far. It was rejected by the media (including Fox News), thrown out by the courts, labeled by social networks as “disputed,” and dismissed by politicians, including Trump’s own vice president. Yes, some far-right groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers came to Washington to commit acts of violence, but they were roundly denounced. For a Big Lie to be successful, it has to have buy-in from the people in power, moneyed interests, the narrative-framers in the media generally, all of whom have to benefit from the lie and therefore repeat it. 

But what issue could possibly unite all of these constituencies? For several years, elites in the media, government, and now finance have denounced social media as a tool for propaganda, disinformation and hate. Social media was to blame for the Russian disinformation that supposedly elected Trump in 2016. Social media was fingered as the main culprit in an “insurrection” that attempted to overthrow an election. And now, WallStreetBets is accused without evidence of spreading hate and misinformation. We’ve even been told that social media is worse than cigarettes

What all of our elites have in common is a reason to fear social media. Legacy media hates social media for disrupting their business models and competing with them for influence. Wall Street has just learned that organized social networks can threaten their control of the Monopoly board. The party in power benefits from increased censorship and repression of political dissent by labeling it “hate speech” and “disinformation.” Ironically, the tech oligarchs benefit the least from the censorship they impose, but the threat of break-up keeps them in line. 

If there is a Big Lie in American politics right now, it is the idea that censorship of social media is necessary to save democracy. In his book The Square and the Tower, the historian Niall Ferguson describes the age-old tension between hierarchies and networks—between the rulers in the Tower and the people in the Square. The last thing that the rulers want to see when they look down is a teeming throng in the Square. And nobody benefits more than the rulers from malleable censorship rules that are easily weaponized to restrict, disrupt, or disband the Square. What the insiders fear is not the end of democracy, but the end of their control over it, and the loss of the benefits they extract from it. Ultimately, the battle over speech is just one aspect of a broader war for power amid a growing political realignment that is not Left versus Right, but rather insider versus outsider. Thanks to social media, the outsiders are threatening to replace who’s in the Tower, and the insiders have never been more scared.

*  *  *

David Sacks, founding chief operating officer of PayPal and founder of Yammer, is founder and general partner at the venture capital firm Craft Ventures. He writes the Bottom Up newsletter and appears on The All In Pod

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/04/2021 - 06:10
Published:2/4/2021 5:12:26 AM
[Markets] Americans Are Buying Guns At "Blistering Pace", FBI Data Shows Americans Are Buying Guns At "Blistering Pace", FBI Data Shows

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times,

Newly released background check data from January shows Americans are buying guns at a “blistering pace,” a firearms expert said.

“That’s undoubtedly connected to President Joe Biden’s plans to attack the firearm industry by undoing and rewriting regulations and executive actions to target the firearm industry,” Mark Olivia, director of public affairs at the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said in a statement.

Olivia pointed to the Biden administration freezing the publication of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s “Fair Access” banking rule, and promises to try and repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act to tighten restrictions on gun licenses, and to ban AR-15 style rifles.

The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.

According to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check (NCIS) data, 4.3 million firearm background checks were initiated in January. That’s the highest number on record, and up over 300,000 in comparison to December 2020. Three of the top 10 highest weeks are now from January 2021.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s adjusted background check figure of 2 million, reached by subtracting out background code permit checks and permit rechecks and checks on active concealed carry permits, was a jump from its adjusted figure of 1.1 million in January 2020.

“These are jaw-dropping figures to start the New Year. Americans are claiming their Second Amendment rights to provide for their own safety in record numbers,” Olivia said.

Jurgen Brauer, the chief economist for Small Arms Analytics, said in a statement that the new year “certainly started off with a sales ‘bang’ due to the turmoil surrounding the confirmation and inauguration of Mr. Biden as the new U.S. president.”

“The 79 percent year-over-year increase, however, was NOT unprecedented—an even higher increase, of just over 100 percent, was experienced in January 2013, the month Mr. Obama’s second presidential term began,” he added.

Everytown for Gun Safety said the continued increase in background checks highlights the need for Congress and Biden to implement gun restrictions.

“As the country reels from multiple crises, the gun industry has cashed in with record sales that have made Americans less safe,” Nick Suplina, managing director of law and policy for the group, said in a statement.

“Without swift changes in policy, our already devastating gun violence epidemic could get even deadlier. The good news, though, is that we finally have leaders in the White House and in both chambers of Congress who recognize that this crisis demands action.”

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/03/2021 - 21:50
Published:2/3/2021 9:03:34 PM
[Markets] US Has Extended New START Nuclear Treaty With Russia For 5 Years: Blinken US Has Extended New START Nuclear Treaty With Russia For 5 Years: Blinken

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced early Wednesday the US has formally agreed to extend the New START treaty with Russia for another five years.

"Extending the New START Treaty ensures we have verifiable limits on Russian ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers until February 5, 2026," Blinken said in a statement according to Reuters.

Via Reuters

The landmark treaty, which marks the last major arms control agreement between the US and Russia, limits the number of strategic nuclear weapons maintained by the former Cold War rivals to no more than 1,550 each.

Blinken said in his statement:

Especially during times of tension, verifiable limits on Russia's intercontinental-range nuclear weapons are vitally important. Extending the New START Treaty makes the United States, US allies and partners, and the world safer. An unconstrained competition would endanger us all.

The prior agreement was set to expire on Feb.5 and its fate was anything but certain, given that both the INF and Open Skies treaties faltered under the past US administration.

It was no secret that the Russians were waiting out Trump, anticipating that the former president's declared desire to pull out New START would be a moot point should Biden take the White House.

During prior negotiations this past fall, Putin was willing to offer an extension on the landmark nuclear treaty of at least one year without any preconditions in order to save the deal, while at the same time Biden on the campaign was on record as clearly indicated he'd be ready to agree to an unconditional 5-year extension.

Though serious tensions remain, Biden and Putin appeared to find at least this one point of agreement during a Jan.22 phone call over a range of issues, mostly involving Biden raising the top of Russian 'interference' in US elections and hacking accusations.

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/03/2021 - 15:39
Published:2/3/2021 2:59:06 PM
[Markets] Former CBP Head: Biden Has Decimated Border Protections With "Stroke Of A Pen" Former CBP Head: Biden Has Decimated Border Protections With "Stroke Of A Pen"

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

Former Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan slammed the Biden administration Tuesday for undoing significant border protections put into place by President Trump.

Morgan first took aim at White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki for trashing Trump’s efforts to secure the border, and attributing the infamous Obama/Biden ‘kids in cages’ and family separation policy to Trump.

After Psaki had spoken, calling Trump’s border policies “horrific”, Morgan stated that “There isn’t enough time to address all the spin and misinformation that the Press Secretary just sent out.”

Morgan outlined that agencies within the Trump administration have been “working tirelessly” to reunite families separated at the border.

Morgan explained that the “broken immigration system was exploited” by human smugglers and cartels who knew US authorities could not detain children.

Morgan further reeled off a list of actions by the Biden administration that have put border officers in grave danger.

“Just in a couple of weeks [Biden has] decimated our ability to secure this border, and keep our country safe,” Morgan warned, adding that Biden has “completely dismissed” the pleas of those working on the border.

Watch:

In a further appearance on National Desk, Morgan called out the Democrat hypocrisy of walling off Capitol Hill, noting  “It’s okay to put walls up around the Capitol, protect our congressional members, but it’s not okay to construct walls on our borders of our country to protect every American citizen.”

In a third appearance, on Fox News, Morgan urged that “with a stroke of a pen” Biden “has made our border less secure, our country less safe and endangered the lives’ of those protecting the U.S.”

Biden signed three more executive orders on immigration Tuesday, taking the total to now over 40.

“There’s a lot of talk, with good reason, about the number of executive orders that I have signed. I’m not making new law. I’m eliminating bad policy,” Biden declared before signing the orders to create a task force to reunite separated families, as Morgan was previously discussing, as well as two further orders to “address the root causes of migration” and to promote “immigrant integration and inclusion,” with another a task force on “new Americans.”

“This is about how America is safer, stronger, more prosperous when we have a fair, orderly, and humane legal immigration system,” Biden declared.

After signing the orders Biden refused to answer any questions:

In addition to the EOs, the DHS announced this week that special vaccination sites will be opened for illegals, and that ICE and CBP “will not conduct enforcement operations at or near” the sites.

Morgan described Biden’s orders as “another significant step reinstating incentives for and loopholes to be exploited by migrants to enter our country illegally.”

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/03/2021 - 11:20
Published:2/3/2021 10:27:39 AM
[Markets] Our Oligarchs' Crisis Of Confidence Our Oligarchs' Crisis Of Confidence

Authored by Declan Leary via TheAmericanConservative.com,

Let's not attribute to malice that which can be explained by an insecure elite stumbling back into a tenuous grasp on power...

On November 9, as the first week of election disputes started to wind down, Big Pharma giant Pfizer Inc. announced that its COVID vaccine had been tested and shown to be 90 percent effective.

The timing was…fortuitous; cue the crazies. 

Donald Trump, Jr. took to Twitter with the kind of vague suggestiveness that usually only works if you have something to suggest:

“The timing of this is pretty amazing. Nothing nefarious about the timing of this at all right?”

Charlie Kirk, a young conservative intellectual renowned for subtlety and nuance, took a similar tack in a Facebook video:

“The reason is Pfizer wanted to wait until Joe Biden was coronated as president, so that Joe Biden could get the credit for this.”

(Props to Charlie for the choice of “coronation” there, though his timing was off by a couple months.)

History repeats itself - and since 2020 took all the good material, in 2021 we’ve already hit the reruns.

On January 24, word got out that California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom planned to lift his Regional Stay Home Order, one of the strictest anti-COVID measures in the country. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, another pandemic hardliner whose iron fist inspired a hilariously ineffective kidnapping plot last year, likewise announced suspiciously close to the inauguration that her loyal subjects would be allowed to dine indoors beginning on February 2.

Once again, murmurs issued from the lower-tier twitterati about the announcements’ suspicious timing. Some of it was serendipity, to be sure. Maybe, like Pfizer’s timeline being pushed back from just before the election to just after the election, it’s just a really bad look dictated by crappy circumstances. COVID numbers in both states are trending downward, and Newsom’s announcement came just as they’d dropped to the same point as when he’d put the order in place a month before. But there is a real question worth asking here, and it lies at the heart of our current political dysfunction: why do the people in power, in government and beyond, consistently act in a way that makes them look like part of some vast left-wing conspiracy? Why are tectonic policy shifts at the state level being arranged around the transfer of power at the federal? Why did the media and big business suddenly change their tune on the miracle date of January 20?

I think the answer is fairly simple, and a lot less nefarious than some of the alternatives.

We hear a lot of talk these days about “the politics of fear,” and it’s almost exclusively directed at the right (and almost exclusively in ridiculous ways): the only reason anyone possibly could have voted for Donald Trump is that they’re conditioned to fear Xi Jinping, or Jack Dorsey, or black people; the only reason to oppose progressive social policies is a fear of homosexuals, or of women, or of men who think they’re women; the only reason to reject the candidates of Wall Street—whose names are always tagged with a big, dark capital “D”—is fear that our backwards way of life will be ravaged by Kamala Harris’ lizard-people overlords; et cetera, et cetera, until it becomes apparent that the only possible explanation for any of the left’s electoral failures is some deep terror ingrained in the minds of half the voting public.

But it’s worth talking too about the fear that drives the left.

There’s the obvious example of the pandemic - the hysteria that left most of Blue America hunkered down like it was a nuclear apocalypse, only to bravely emerge from their bunkers in droves on November 3. That’s the same kind of fear that underlies the really fanatical climate stuff.

But there’s another kind too, and it essentially boils down to a fear of opposition, a fear of not being in power.

It’s a function of our adversarial politics: when you see no way of working with someone, when you can find no common ground, when the stated goals of that person go against everything you believe, you’re probably going to be terrified of any situation in which that person has power and you don’t. And it’s not fear of the extremes, either—call me an optimist, but I don’t think there are many people stupid enough to sincerely believe that Donald Trump is a fascist. We live in a world where four years of sometimes-successful administration by a scattershot, moderate conservative puts the fear of God in about 80 million people.

So why does everything change the second 45 gives way to 46? It doesn’t require Don Jr.’s hypothetical nefarious plot. All it requires is that people in positions of power—the people who are terrified of losing those positions—act exactly as we would expect them to act under the influence of that terror. That doesn’t just mean Democratic governors who overplayed their hands, and then rethought their moves the second they stepped into a post-Trump world. It means the huge companies that, for the first time (and likely the last time) in a long time, didn’t have a buddy in the White House and now are ready to dive back into the game. It means the legacy media that went through a well-earned hell over the past five years, and now get a little breathing room to lob softball questions at a friendly politician. It means every American who subscribes to the progressive culture and narrative that dominate our institutions, who worried just for a moment that maybe they wouldn’t always be in control.

Of course Gavin Newsom is going to do a 180 at the end of the age of Trump. He’s spent the last heaven-knows-how-long in a hysteric fugue, wrecking the bottom 90 percent of his state’s economy because he thought the world was ending. He came out of it to realize that there are consequences for the things you do in a panic, and that he was heading into a recall election. I don’t know everything; there’s always the outside possibility that Barack Obama and George Soros instructed Newsom on the necessary timeline during a weekend getaway at Bohemian Grove (or a pricey lunch at the French Laundry). But I find it more likely that the guy is just scrambling.

Amazon is in a similar situation. On Inauguration Day, CEO Dave Clark sent a very buddy-buddy letter to Joe Biden, tripping over himself in a rush to announce the conglomerate’s eagerness to help with vaccine distribution. Of course, during the months the Trump administration had a vaccine in hand—or the months before, for that matter—the online megacorp made no such public offer. Were they holding the nation hostage? No vaccine until you vote the right way; scratch that, no vaccine until we’re absolutely sure that you all voted the right way and there’s no possible chance of going back. Again, anything’s possible—and speaking of lizard people, I’m suspicious of Jeff Bezos—but there are more probable explanations. Amazon’s profits skyrocketed during the pandemic, but so did negative attitudes among the public—as well as certain players in the federal government. I don’t see any imaginable world, even under Trump, where Amazon takes a real fall, but I can imagine plenty of ways that an unhappy government could make things a little harder for them. If I were Dave Clark, I’d be worried enough to curry favor with the new caudillo. I scratch your back, you stay 3,000 miles away from me.

There are other reasons too, of course. A contract to help with the distribution of vaccines at the federal level is likely to be lucrative, and Donald Trump may have had the sense to deny it to Amazon. (Not least of all because the evidence has consistently shown that top-down distribution plans are failing, while locally oriented ones have seen remarkable success.) But at an even more fundamental level, Amazon wants to jump to the front of the queue. They’ve been pushing to get their labor force vaccinated as early as possible, including by a direct petition from Clark to the Centers for Disease Control. Can’t very well make record-breaking profits if all of your floor workers catch the WuFlu. A plum deal that keeps the labor force from needing sick days and boosts optics with the public and the feds may be exactly what Amazon needs just a few months after protesters set up a guillotine outside its founder’s Dupont Circle house.

That’s one of the key takeaways here: these people are far too desperate to be as nefarious as we might think. The more outrageous aspects of the last few months—from Twitter censorship to post-election whiplash—may be best understood not as the first flashes of an ascendant tyranny, but as a flurry of idiotic moves by an elite who clearly have much less faith in their hold on power than we do.

The wild saga of GameStop’s stock adventures over the past week or so is a perfect illustration of the point. When users of the subreddit r/wallstreetbets decided to invest in the video game chain, the price of the stock skyrocketed to peaks well over $400 (six months ago it was closer to $4). The move resulted in jaw-dropping profits for some of the amateur traders—and a whole lot of anger from the Wall Street establishment. Hedge funds and other big-dollar investors who had shorted the stock have lost over $5 billion altogether from the episode. So what did our robust market system do? Simple: citing market volatility, Robinhood and other day-trading services just restricted transactions on GameStop and other WallStreetBets picks. The big funds, meanwhile, were free to continue trading as normal. Besides giving the big guys a chance to get their ducks in a row, the freeze caused the stock to crash on Thursday morning, costing many amateur investors a pretty penny.

It’s corrupt and immoral, and I’d be mad as hell if I’d been smart enough to get in on the GameStop craze. But it’s not the kind of thing that confident oligarchs do. It suggests the same fear that’s motivated so many decisions by people in power these past few months. Not to mention it may spark a backlash that will be well worth watching—and that may yet change our course in surprising ways.

I’m as wary of the Wall Street-Silicon Valley-Washington axis as anyone. But it’s hard to be too afraid of any regime that can be thrown into such a devastating panic by a horde of Redditors buying GameStop stock from laptops in their mothers’ basements—or, for that matter, by a virus, or an election, or the host of The Apprentice.

Tyler Durden Tue, 02/02/2021 - 23:20
Published:2/2/2021 10:23:46 PM
[Biden Administration] Biden staffs up with China sympathizers (Paul Mirengoff) Joe Biden keeps appointing “czars.” One of them, the Asian policy czar, is Kurt Campbell. Campbell was a former Obama administration official and, more recently, board vice chairman of the U.S.-China Strong Foundation. What’s that? According to Alana Goodman, who cites State and Justice Department records, it’s “ostensibly a nonprofit group that promotes student language exchanges with Beijing but whose leaders included prominent members of the Chinese government’s overseas propaganda Published:2/2/2021 9:04:37 PM
[Markets] China Suspected In Hack Of US Federal Payroll Agency Using SolarWind Exploit China Suspected In Hack Of US Federal Payroll Agency Using SolarWind Exploit

Just days after China sent a not-so-subtle warning to Taiwan regarding independence (and by extension, to US President Joe Biden), inside sources at the FBI are leaking details about another cyberattack linked to Solarwind, which made headlines in December after operatives believed to be sponsored by the Russian government used an exploit to compromise classified systems.

This time, however, the villain is China - which federal agents believe used the same SolarWinds exploit as the suspected Russians to break into US government computers and access an unknown quantity of data, according to "five people familiar with the matter."

One of the agencies believed to have been hacked by China is the National Finance Center, an obscure agency in the federal government that handles payroll and other sensitive data. It's housed within the Department of Agriculture, but contains information from employees across the federal government.

Two people briefed on the case said FBI investigators recently found that the National Finance Center, a federal payroll agency inside the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was among the affected organizations, raising fears that data on thousands of government employees may have been compromised.

The software flaw exploited by the suspected Chinese group is separate from the one the United States has accused Russian government operatives of using to compromise up to 18,000 SolarWinds customers, including sensitive federal agencies, by hijacking the company’s Orion network monitoring software. -Reuters

Security experts have long suspected a second actor was involved in the series of SolarWinds breaches, however this is the first report naming China as another bad actor.

The USDA acknowledged the hack to Reuters, while the Chinese foreign ministry parried - instead claiming that the hack was a "complex technical issue," and any allegations should be supported with evidence. "China resolutely opposes and combats any form of cyberattacks and cyber theft," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

SolarWinds, meanwhile, said it was aware of a single customer that was compromised by the second set of hackers but that it had “not found anything conclusive” to suggest who was responsible.

Authorities only fingered the Chinese hackers within the past few weeks, adding to the body of evidence that SolarWinds' cybersecurity was seriously lacking - which is disturbing for a company with such a powerful list of corporate and government clients.

And although Reuters couldn't say for certain what data were accessed, the report suggests that, as with most prior high-profile data breaches involving the federal government, whoever organized it was trying to compile data on federal employees across a wide range of departments, since the NFC handles payroll and other mundane personnel-related tasks for the federal government.

And as with prior attacks, it seems the CCP - or whoever did this - was fishing for private data on American government employees.

Reuters could not determine what information the attackers were able to steal from the National Finance Center (NFC) or how deep they burrowed into its systems. But the potential impact could be “massive,” former U.S. government officials told Reuters.

The NFC is responsible for handling the payroll of multiple government agencies, including several involved in national security, such as the FBI, State Department, Homeland Security Department and Treasury Department, the former officials said.

Records held by the NFC include federal employee social security numbers, phone numbers and personal email addresses as well as banking information. On its website, the NFC says it “services more than 160 diverse agencies, providing payroll services to more than 600,000 Federal employees.” The USDA spokesman said in an email: “USDA has notified all customers (including individuals and organizations) whose data has been affected."

"Depending on what data were compromised, this could be an extremely serious breach of security,” said Tom Warrick, a former senior official at the U.S Department of Homeland Security. "It could allow adversaries to know more about U.S. officials, improving their ability to collect intelligence." -Reuters

One has to wonder if the Biden administration will now slap aggressive sanctions on China, as both Obama and the Trump administration did over 2016 US election meddling.

Tyler Durden Tue, 02/02/2021 - 17:40
Published:2/2/2021 4:55:45 PM
[In The News] McConnell Hammers Biden’s DHS Pick Over ‘Unethical’ Political Favors For Democrats

By Chuck Ross -

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he will vote against the confirmation of Alejandro Mayorkas to serve as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, citing allegations that the nominee provided political favors to Democrats when he served in an immigration post in the Obama administration. “As a high-ranking official in the Obama administration, …

McConnell Hammers Biden’s DHS Pick Over ‘Unethical’ Political Favors For Democrats is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:2/2/2021 1:56:41 PM
[Markets] Biden Pick For Pentagon Mideast Desk Bragged That US "Owns" Syrian Oil Territory Biden Pick For Pentagon Mideast Desk Bragged That US "Owns" Syrian Oil Territory

President Joe Biden recently tapped Dana Stroul to lead the Pentagon’s Middle East desk, according to Axios and other reports. She'll serve as the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for the Middle East after a previous stint as a senior official on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and as a longtime fellow at the hawkish Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

She had also previously worked on Mideast policy at the Pentagon under the Obama administration. As we noted before, this and other appointments gives more alarming context to Biden's constant message on the foreign policy front that "America is back" and is "ready to lead the world" once again.

Stroul was recently on record as touting that America "owns" one-third of Syrian territory, particularly the resource-rich northeast region. So much for the administration "distancing" itself from Trump policies... (given Trump was the first to repeatedly and bluntly state the US was there "securing" Syria's oil).

Stroul made the comments during a televised think tank event in D.C. hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in October 2019.

"The United States still had compelling forms of leverage on the table to shape an outcome that was more conducive and protective of US interests," she explained at the time. She had been co-chair of the Syria Study Group, previously described by journalist Ben Norton as a "bi-partisan working group appointed by Congress to draft a new US war plan for Syria."

Here's how the new Biden-appointed head of the Pentagon's Middle East desk described the US occupation of Syria and Pentagon strategic objectives there:

"The first one was the one-third of Syrian territory that was owned via the US military with its local partner, the Syrian Democratic Forces. Now this was a light footprint on the US military, only about a thousand troops over the course of the Syria Study Group’s report; and then the tens of thousands of forces, both Kurdish and Arab, under the Syria Democratic Forces.

And that one-third of Syria is the resource-rich – it’s the economic powerhouse of Syria. So where the hydrocarbons are, which obviously is very much in the public debate here in Washington these days, as well as the agricultural powerhouse."

"We argued that it wasn’t just about this one-third of Syrian territory that the US military and our military presence owned, both to fight ISIS (Daesh) and also as leverage for affecting the overall political process for the broader Syria conflict," she added of her policy recommendations.

This "leverage" which has included devastating sanctions is now driving Syria into economic collapse and with much of the population now unable to access food and fuel.

Biden's newly appointed Mideast official was literally bragging about "owning" the "agricultural powerhouse" of Syria as ordinary Syrians starve

The Pentagon busy "spreading democracy" and plundering the oil in the process:

At another think tank panel discussion in June of 2019, Stroul further advocated the war is about standing up to Russia in the Middle East:

"This isn't just about a Syrian conflict, this is about great power competition and what we're going to do about Russia and the foothold it's been given in the Middle East," she said.

Stroul's appointment is as clear a sign as any that regime change targeting Assad is still on the table, and the US occupation of the country is not drawing down any time soon; instead it is only likely to expand in order to also "confront" Russia and Iran.

Tyler Durden Tue, 02/02/2021 - 05:45
Published:2/2/2021 4:49:12 AM
[Markets] Enemies Of The State Vs. Enemies Of The People Enemies Of The State Vs. Enemies Of The People

Authored by Frank Miele via RealClearPolitics.com,

I didn’t declare war on the establishment; it declared war on me.

It declared war on me when it supported energy policies that could enrich Saudi Arabia and Russia and would cost me more money at the gas pump or on my power bill.

It declared war on me when it told me my ideas weren’t worthy of debate and discussion or that they were even so dangerous they couldn’t be shared publicly.

It declared war on me when it used the police powers of the FBI and CIA to first spy on a presidential candidate and then worked to undermine the administration of that candidate after he was elected.

It declared war on me when it told me my religious beliefs did not deserve the protection of the First Amendment.

It declared war on me when it told me boys could compete against girls in high school sports and that they could shower together afterwards.

It declared war on me when it offered citizenship to illegal aliens and shipped American jobs to China.

It declared war on me when it mocked the usefulness of a wall on the Mexican border and simultaneously put up a razor-wire fence around the Capitol.

It declared war on me when it tried to defund the police so that millions of Americans would be left defenseless against mobs from antifa and Black Lives Matter.

It declared war on me when it said America was never great.

It declared war on me when it told my children they are not good enough because they are white.

It declared war on me when it said that defending the Constitution’s rules on federal elections is sedition.

It declared war on me when it told me that I was a domestic terrorist if I didn’t believe the government’s official pronouncements about elections, about free speech, and about right and wrong.

Let’s just say it plainly: The establishment declared war on me and on all conservative Americans when it decided that leftist orthodoxy was more important than the Constitution.

Don’t believe me? Fine, why should you believe a Trump supporter? You’ve been indoctrinated by the national media, Big Tech oligarchs, the Democratic Party, and academic elites to believe without questioning that people like me can’t be trusted. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

Listen instead to John Brennan, the former CIA director under President Obama, who speaks authoritatively for the Deep State:

He said on MSNBC that “the members of the Biden team who have been nominated or have been appointed, are now moving in laser-like fashion to try to uncover as much as they can about what looks very similar to insurgency movements that we've seen overseas, where they germinate in different parts of the country and they gain strength and it brings together an unholy alliance frequently of religious extremists, authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists, even libertarians.”

This “guilt by labeling” is the antithesis of fair play or justice. It is a convenient mechanism for the ruling class to herd people into identity clusters so that individual rights can be supplanted by group responsibility. If this reminds you of China’s Cultural Revolution, you are not wrong. The ruling class wants you to conform, confirm and comply. If you step outside the lines, be prepared to be shamed, silenced and ostracized.

A shocking example was provided Wednesday when Douglass Mackey of Delray Beach, Fla., was arrested for creating memes that allegedly misled voters in 2016 to think they could vote by texting instead of by actually going to the polls. This is the equivalent of arresting Sacha Baron Cohen for exposing the gullibility of the rich and famous. The FBI offered no evidence that Mackey actually convinced anyone not to vote, but even if it did, so what? Would you rather live in a country where the FBI is hunting down pranksters — four years after the supposed transgression — or a country where voters are expected to be able to recognize a joke when they see one?

But nothing can be taken for granted any more. The people — and even their representatives and senators — are considered enemies of the state because they hold opinions that don’t meet the standards of Joe Biden or (this is even scarier!) Jake Tapper.

No wonder the people are starting to rise up and rebel against the plutocracy.

It’s not “We the Oligarchs” who are the source of power in the Constitution, but “We the People,” yet the ruling establishment has forgotten that.

If people like Donald Trump and Douglass Mackey are deemed to be “enemies of the state,” then those who would suppress them and their freedoms must be considered “enemies of the people.”

A house divided against itself cannot long stand, but if there is to be a truce it will not come from submission, but from a recognition that all people are created equal, that they all have certain inalienable rights, and that among those are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those words were worth fighting for once. Are they worth fighting for today?

I don’t know, but I do know this: If Americans can’t have liberty, we can’t have America either - at least not one that is distinguishable from China. The time has come to make a choice.

Tyler Durden Tue, 02/02/2021 - 00:00
Published:2/1/2021 11:17:58 PM
[Markets] McConnell Calls QAnon-Supporting Congresswoman "Cancer" On GOP, Says Cheney An "Important Leader" McConnell Calls QAnon-Supporting Congresswoman "Cancer" On GOP, Says Cheney An "Important Leader"

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) drew a line in the sand on Monday between the GOP establishment (the big club you ain't in), and the populist QAnon movement - whose theories on elite pedophiles and a shadow government were deemed plausible by at least one-third of Americans in an October poll reported by Axios.

McConnell, who voted to go to war in Iraq based in part on a conspiracy theory and fabricated evidence misinformation from some guy, said on Monday - without actually saying her name - that freshman Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's embrace of "loony lies and conspiracy theories" is a "cancer for the Republican party."

"Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality," McConnell said in the "three-sentence statement" reported by The Hill.

Greene has come under fire in recent weeks for her past support of QAnon - a political sin which Democrats such as Scott Dworkin - a veteran of both Obama campaigns and a Biden super PAC senior adviser - are using to call for Greene's expulsion from Congress.

Meanwhile, Congressional Democrats are also ganging up to oust Greene from her Committees.

Democrats are threatening to force a floor vote this week to oust the controversial Georgia Republican from the Education and Labor Committee and the Budget Committee if House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) does not remove her first. 

McCarthy is set to meet with her in Washington as early as Tuesday. Some Republicans said they did not anticipate McCarthy booting her off the committees given that she has the backing of former President Trump, who still holds enormous sway within the GOP. -The Hill

And McConnell, who's apparently fine agitating millions of QAnon-believing Republican voters, thinks she's a cancer.

Greene responded to McConnell's comments in a Monday tweet, saying "The real cancer for the Republican Party is weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully," adding "This is why we are losing our country."

For which a Democrat compared her physical appearance to Miss Piggy. (Do as we say...)

And while McConnell spent Monday bashing one Republican lawmaker, he also gave GOP Rep. Liz Cheney a boost, telling CNN in a statement that she had "the courage" to vote to impeach former President Trump last month.

"Liz Cheney is a leader with deep convictions and the courage to act on them," he said, adding "She is an important leader in our party and in our nation. I am grateful for her service and look forward to continuing to work with her on the crucial issues facing our nation."

Another GOP lawmaker anonymously told The Hill of Greene: "It remains to be seen how big of an issue she is long-term. She's had a noisy entrance, but it's unclear what she will be viewed as and whether she will even be known in the public psyche in November 2022. She's had a tough transition to Congress. I'm not sure we need to go to the wall on this right now."

Greene said on Saturday that she had spoken with former President Trump, who is "100% loyal to the people and America first." She added that she won't back down or apologize, and will "always keep fighting for the people."

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/01/2021 - 20:40
Published:2/1/2021 7:46:49 PM
[] Nat'l Journal: Let's face it, Biden's more interested in "pandering to progressives" than bipartisanship Published:2/1/2021 6:16:28 PM
[] Another Norwegian socialist nominates fiery but mostly peaceful Black Lives Matter for the Nobel Peace Prize Published:2/1/2021 4:18:28 PM
[Politics] Foreign Agents Law Is Looking In Need of Reform What do President Obama's White House counsel, President Trump's national security adviser and campaign chairman, and a finance chairman of the Republican National Committee under George W. Bush have in common with an Iranian-American political scientist who has been a frequent op-ed contributor to the New York Times? All five of them have been ensnarled by the Foreign Agents Registration Act. That federal law, enacted in 1938 amid anxiety about German influence as World War II loomed, carries... Published:2/1/2021 4:18:27 PM
[Markets] Visualizing World Leaders In Positions Of Power Since 1970 Visualizing World Leaders In Positions Of Power Since 1970

Who were the world leaders when the Berlin Wall fell? How many women have been heads of state in prominent governments? And who are the newest additions to the list of world leaders?

This graphic, via VisualCapitalist's Avery Koop, reveals the leaders of the most influential global powers since 1970. Countries were selected based on the 2020 Most Powerful Countries ranking from the U.S. News & World Report.

Note: Switzerland has been omitted due to the swiftly changing nature of their national leadership.

The 1970s: Economic Revolutions

Our graphic starts in 1970, a year in which Leonid Brezhnev ruled the Soviet Union, while on the other side of the Iron Curtain, Willy Brandt was presiding over West Germany.

In the U.S., Richard Nixon implemented a series of economic shocks to stimulate the economy, but resigned in scandal due to the Watergate tapes in 1974. In the same time period, China was undergoing rapid industrialization and economic hardship under the final years of rule of communist revolutionary Mao Zedong, until his death in 1976.

In 1975, the King of Saudi Arabia, Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was assassinated by his nephew. The decade also marked the end of Park Chung-Hee’s dictatorship in South Korea when he was assassinated in 1979.

To cap off the decade, Margaret Thatcher became the first female prime minister of the United Kingdom in 1979, transforming the British economy using a laissez-faire economic policy that would come to be known as Thatcherism.

The 1980s: Reaganomics and the Fall of the Wall

The 1980s saw Ronald Reagan elected in the U.S., beginning an era of deregulation and economic growth. Reagan would actually meet the Soviet Union’s president, Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 to discuss human rights and nuclear arms control amid the tensions of the Cold War.

The 1984 assassination of the Indian prime minister, Indira Gandhi was also a defining event of the decade. She was succeeded by her son, Rajiv Gandhi for only seven years before his own assassination in 1991.

The ‘80s were clearly turbulent times for world leaders, especially towards the end of the decade. In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and Germany was reunified under chancellor Helmut Kohl. 1989 was also the year when the devastating events occurred at the Tiananmen Square protests in China, under president Deng Xiaoping. The event left a lasting mark on China’s history and politics.

The 1990s: War 2.0 and the Promise of the EU

The beginning of a new decade marked the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union, leading to Boris Yeltsin’s position as the first president of the Russian Federation. A sense of peace, or at least the knowledge that a finger wasn’t floating above a nuclear launch button at any given moment, brought a sense of global calm.

However, this does not mean the decade was without conflict. The Gulf War began in 1990, led by the U.S. military’s Commander-in-Chief George H.W. Bush. In the mid-90s, prime minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel was assassinated by Jewish extremists.

In spite of this, the ‘90s were a time of optimism for many. In 1993, the European project began. The European Union was founded with the support European leaders like the UK’s prime minister John Major, France’s president Francois Mitterrand, and chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany.

The 2000s: Historic Firsts and Power Shifts

The dawn of a new century had people feeling both hopeful and scared. While Y2K didn’t end the world, many transformative events did occur, such as the 9/11 attacks in New York and the subsequent war on terror led by U.S. president George W. Bush.

On the other hand, Angela Merkel made history becoming the first female chancellor of Germany in 2005. A few years later, Barack Obama also achieved a momentous ‘first’ as the first African-American president in the United States.

The 2000s to early 2010s also revealed rapidly changing power shifts in Japan. Shinzo Abe rose to power in 2006, and after five leadership changes in seven years, he eventually circled back, ending up as prime minister again by 2013—a position he held until late 2020.

The 2010s: World Leaders Face Uncertainty

The 2010s were more than eventful. The Hong Kong protests under Chinese president Xi Jinping, and the annexation of Crimea led by Vladimir Putin, uncovered the wavering dominance of democracy and international law.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s move to introduce a Brexit referendum, resulted in just over half of the British population voting to leave the EU in 2016. This vote led to a rising feeling of protectionism and a shift away from globalization and multilateral cooperation.

Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential election was a shocking political longshot in the same year. Trump’s stint as president will likely have a longstanding impact on the course of American politics.

Two countries elected their first female leaders in this decade: president Park Geun-Hye in South Korea, and prime minister Julia Gillard in Australia. Here’s a look at which global powers have been led by women in the last 50 years.

2020 to Today

No one can avoid talking about 2020 without talking about COVID-19. Many world leaders have been praised for their positive handling of the pandemic, such as Angela Merkel in Germany. Others on the other hand, like Boris Johnson, have received critiques for slow responses and mismanagement.

The year 2020 packed about as much punch on its own as an entire decade does, from geopolitical tensions to a nail-biting 2020 U.S. election. The world is on high alert as the now twice-impeached Trump prepares his transfer of power following the riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The newest addition to the ranks of world leaders, Joe Biden, has recently taken his place as the 46th president of the United States on January 20, 2021.

Tyler Durden Sun, 01/31/2021 - 23:15
Published:1/31/2021 10:19:26 PM
[World] The dangerous, disappearing Persians Published:1/31/2021 6:49:06 PM
[Politics] Learn to Land Mines: Kamala and Joe (and Obama and Easter Island Head) have been telling coal miners to LEARN TO [Not Code] LEARN TO CODE used to get you thrown off the internet. You know, because it hurt the sensitive feelings of the elite skilled moral and ethical journalists of America. But that’s exactly . . . Published:1/31/2021 6:12:50 PM
[Politics] Learn to Land Mines: Kamala and Joe (and Obama and Easter Island Head) have been telling coal miners to LEARN TO [Not Code] LEARN TO CODE used to get you thrown off the internet. You know, because it hurt the sensitive feelings of the elite skilled moral and ethical journalists of America. But that’s exactly . . . Published:1/31/2021 6:12:50 PM
[Politics] Undoing Family Separation Policy Damage Difficult The Trump administration expanded the Obama-era family separation policy in "zero tolerance" to deter illegal immigration and child trafficking, but the 600 kids left unclaimed at the boarder remain an issue President Joe Biden's officials are left to solve.It will not be... Published:1/31/2021 2:13:44 PM
[2021 News] Judge Boasberg: The Clinesmith Lies Don’t Matter

Judge Boasberg: The Clinesmith Lies Don’t Matter. Another day, another wacky ruling from an Obama judge.

The post Judge Boasberg: The Clinesmith Lies Don’t Matter appeared first on IHTM.

Published:1/31/2021 12:50:11 PM
[Markets] Whether Trump Or Biden, Europeans Are Still Uncle Sam's Vassals Whether Trump Or Biden, Europeans Are Still Uncle Sam's Vassals

Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Biden’s presumption of telling the Europeans that Nord Stream-2 is a bad deal shows that ultimately the Europeans are considered to not have sovereignty when it comes to setting their energy policy.

The European Union got a rude memo this week indicating there may be a new president residing in Washington, but it’s still the same American policy of treating them like vassals.

Democrat President Joe Biden may have more transatlantic finesse and sensibility when compared with rough-edged Republican Donald Trump. But the bottomline is Biden feels every bit as entitled as his predecessor did to order the Europeans around like a bunch of flunkies. Perhaps not with quite the same terse rhetoric, but nevertheless with the same overbearing attitude.

This was clear from the Biden administration’s declaration on the Nord Stream-2 natural gas project which is soon due for completion between Russia and Europe. “President Biden thinks this is a bad deal for Europe,” said White House spokesman Jan Psaki with an air of finality on the matter.

The new administration is looking into ways to implement sanctions formulated by the previous Trump which will target European companies involved in the construction of the gas project. After a year of suspended work due to American sanctions, construction of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline resumed this week. The €10 billion project involving 1,225 kilometers of piping under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany is over 95 per cent complete. The final few kilometers of pipe-laying resumed in Danish waters heading for the German coastline.

The new Nord Stream supply line will double the existing volume of natural gas delivered from Russia to Germany and the rest of the European Union. Increasing consumption of cleaner natural gas is crucial for German plans to move away from dirty coal and nuclear power. Russian gas is also much more economical than alternative sources such as plans by the Americans to export seaborne liquefied natural gas.

Indeed Russia has objected to the American sanctions on the Nord Stream-2 on grounds that Washington is trying to strong-arm commercial decisions using political instruments. (So much for American free-market capitalism!)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reiterated her government’s commitment to finishing the Nord Stream-2 project. German business consortiums have also underscored the strategic importance of securing affordable gas energy supplies for future economic growth. Energy costs are paramount for Germany’s export-led economy as well as for keeping household consumer bills down.

This German commitment is spite of the controversy over Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny who was flown to Germany last August claiming that he was poisoned by the Kremlin in an outlandish assassination plot. The Kremlin has categorically rejected the claims as a deliberate provocation, suggesting Western intelligence involvement in a bid to destabilize Russia. Navalny stayed in Germany for nearly five months as a de facto guest of the Berlin government. On his return to Moscow on January 17, he was arrested for violations of his parole license for a suspended sentence concerning a past fraud conviction.

Merkel and other German politicians have certainly given Navalny a lot of media support for his unsubstantiated allegations against the Kremlin. Their indulgence of such provocative accusations is certainly a contemptible disregard for Russia’s sovereignty and laws, elevating a dubious agitator over the office of President Vladimir Putin.

However, the Germans are not that stupid. They know full well that to abandon Nord Stream-2 is tantamount to shooting their economy in both feet. Hence, despite the brouhaha over Navalny, Berlin is sticking with Nord Stream-2.

Enter Joe Biden. The president is presuming to tell the Europeans what he thinks is good or bad for them. An American leader from across the Atlantic is hollering to European states that taking delivery of economical Russia gas is “not a good deal”.

Of course, the Americans have to disguise their naked commercial and strategic interests with the rhetorical garb that Washington is “only” concerned for Europe being exploited by Russian political blackmail if Europe is dependent on Moscow for gas supplies. The inference being that Russia could turn off the gas lines whenever it is politically expedient. That cynical view is premised on dark Russophobia, and in any case from a legal, contractual perspective it would be implausible.

Biden’s arrogant opposition to Nord Stream-2 is not just a continuation of Trump administration policy. In the former Obama administrations (2008-2016) in which Biden served as vice president, it was also policy to oppose the ambitious gas project, which began in 2011.

With Trump, most European leaders came to loathe his brash and boorish manner. Touting his America First slogan, Trump browbeat Europeans over alleged unfair trade tariffs as well as for allegedly slacking on military spending commitments to NATO. Only Poland and the rightwing Baltic states seem to have had any favor for Trump whom they admired for his anti-Russia sanctions over Nord Stream-2.

Now with Biden in the White House, various European leaders have expressed relief and warm welcomes to the new president who openly talks about renewing and strengthening the transatlantic alliance. The implicit belief is that Biden appreciates European allies in a way that the vulgar Trump did not.

Any notions of newfound American appreciation of European allies should be disabused. Biden’s presumption of telling the Europeans that Nord Stream-2 is a bad deal shows that ultimately the Europeans are considered to not have sovereignty when it comes to setting their energy policy. Uncle Sam, as always, knows best for his little European vassals.

Tyler Durden Sun, 01/31/2021 - 07:00
Published:1/31/2021 6:05:08 AM
[Markets] 'Black Lives Matter' Nominated For The Nobel Peace Prize 'Black Lives Matter' Nominated For The Nobel Peace Prize

Authored by Monica Showalter via AmericanThinker.com,

If the Nobel committee's handing over of the Nobel peace prize to newly elected President Obama seemed like the nadir of the prize's prestige, there's now another thing coming.

According to The Guardian:

The Black Lives Matter movement has been nominated for the 2021 Nobel peace prize for the way its call for systemic change has spread around the world.

In his nomination papers, the Norwegian MP Petter Eide said the movement had forced countries outside the US to grapple with racism within their own societies.

“I find that one of the key challenges we have seen in America, but also in Europe and Asia, is the kind of increasing conflict based on inequality,” Eide said.

“Black Lives Matter has become a very important worldwide movement to fight racial injustice.

“They have had a tremendous achievement in raising global awareness and consciousness about racial injustice.”

That's right, a group led by self-described "trained Marxists" who literally spent time with Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and then triggered night after night of violent looting riots at a cost of at least 25 lives and a record $2 billion in insured property claims, (probably much more in uninsured property), and grotesque Red Guard-style repudiation scenes such as forcing restaurant diners to wave their fists in solidarity or face overturned tables and assault, is somehow ... is worthy of the world's top award for peace.

Back in 1964, when Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the same prize for calls to judge people on the content of their character over color, along with non-violent resistence, there was a recognizable standard for peace. Now, such approaches don't cut it anymore for this Norwegian bunch. And to place BLM in the same league as MLK, Jr., is kind of obscene.

The Norwegian pol who put the nomination out cited BLM's capacity to mobilize as his criteria. But that seems to be pretty shaky grounds, given that so many leftists out there really just wanted to Get Trump. BLM has since morphed into what appears to be a corporate shakedown racket and managed to get its Marxist identity politics party line into every corporate boardroom in America. But the capacity to use muscling community organizer tactics is no evidence of morality, or more pointedly, peace. BLM is never going to be satisfied no matter how much kowtowing is done, each victory it wins brings a bigger demand to its marks, without ceasing, until its will to absolute power is achieved. Sound like peace? Only of the grave.

What it highlights is how low the Nobel peace prize has fallen. Sure, this Norwegian socialist clown doing the nominating likely has no idea what's going on in the states, given that he lives in isolated Norway, takes in meetings with activists, and only reads the leftist press. The idiocy of his proposal tops that of the Norwegians handing out a Nobel prize to Barack Obama just for getting elected president for being black without doing anything else.  

In both instances, the Nobel committee nominators seem to relish anyone with the ability to exert leftist power, equating that kind of power-mongering with 'peace.' It's a sorry act they've come to, to worship power over any semblance of authentic peace. If this is peace, what a sorry state of affairs we have, mau-mauing's triumph over actual creating of peace. Will all Nobel peace prize recipients have to show proof of starting riots to qualify now? How, exactly, is riot-making 'peace'? One likes to suppose that this nomination will go nowhere, but with the current nonsense going on, don't bet on it. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/30/2021 - 22:00
Published:1/30/2021 9:12:03 PM
[Markets] Taibbi: Suck It, Wall Street! Taibbi: Suck It, Wall Street!

Authored by Matt Taibbi via TK News,

In a blowout comedy for the ages, finance pirates take it up the clacker

In the fall of 2008, America’s wealthiest companies were in a pickle. Short-selling hedge funds, smelling blood as the global economy cratered, loaded up with bets against finance stocks, pouring downward pressure on teetering, hyper-leveraged firms like Morgan Stanley and Citigroup. The free-market purists at the banks begged the government to stop the music, and when the S.E.C. complied with a ban on financial short sales, conventional wisdom let out a cheer.

"This will absolutely make a difference," economist Peter Cardillo told CNN. "Now, if there is any good news, shorts will have to cover.”

At the time, poor beleaguered banks were victims, while hedge funds betting them down as the economy circled the drain were seen as antisocial monsters. “They are like looters after a hurricane,” seethed Andrew Cuomo, then-Attorney General of New York State, who “promised to intensify investigations into short selling abuses.” Senator John McCain, in the home stretch of his eventual landslide loss to Barack Obama, added that S.E.C. chairman Christopher Cox had “betrayed the public’s trust” by allowing “speculators and hedge funds” to “turn our markets into a casino.”

Fast forward thirteen years. The day-trading followers of a two-million-subscriber Reddit forum called “wallstreetbets” somewhat randomly decide to keep short-sellers from laying waste to a brick-and-mortar retail video game company called GameStop, betting it up in defiance of the Street. Worth just $6 four months ago, the stock went from $18.36 on the afternoon of the Capitol riot, to $43.03 on the 21st two weeks later, to $147.98 this past Tuesday the 26th, to an incredible $347.51 at the close of the next day, January 27th.

The rally sent crushing losses at short-selling hedge funds like Melvin Capital, which was forced to close out its position at a cost of nearly $3 billion. Just like 2008, down-bettors got smashed, only this time, there were no quotes from economists celebrating the “good news” that shorts had to cover. Instead, polite society was united in its horror at the spectacle of amateur gamblers doing to hotshot finance professionals what those market pros routinely do to everyone else. If you’ve ever seen Animal House, you understand the sentiment:

The press conveyed panic and moral disgust. “I didn’t realize it was this cultlike,” said short-seller Andrew Left of Citron Research, without irony denouncing the campaign against firms like his as “just a get rich quick scheme.” Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin said the Redditor campaign had “no basis in reality,” while Dr. Michael Burry, the hedge funder whose bets against subprime mortgages were lionized in “The Big Short,” called the amateur squeeze “unnatural, insane, and dangerous.”

The episode prompted calls to regulate Reddit and, finally, halt action on the disputed stocks. As I write this, word has come out that platforms like Robinhood and TD Ameritrade are curbing trading in GameStop and several other companies, including Nokia and AMC Entertainment holdings.

Meaning: just like 2008, trading was shut down to save the hides of erstwhile high priests of “creative destruction.” Also just like 2008, there are calls for the government to investigate the people deemed responsible for unapproved market losses.

The acting head of the SEC said the agency was “monitoring” the situation, while the former head of its office of Internet enforcement, John Stark, said, “I can’t imagine there isn’t an open investigation and probably a formal order to find out who’s on these message boards.” Georgetown finance professor James Angel lamented, “it’s going to be hard for the SEC to find blatant manipulation,” but they “owe it to look.” The Washington Post elaborated:

To establish manipulation that runs afoul of securities laws, Angel said regulators would need to prove traders engaged in “an intentional act to push a price away from its fundamental value to seek a profit.” In market parlance, this is typically known as a pump-and-dump scheme…

Even Nancy Pelosi, when asked about “manipulation” and “what’s going on on Wall Street right now,” said “we’ll all be reviewing it,” as if it were the business of congress to worry about a bunch of day traders cashing in for once.

The only thing “dangerous” about a gang of Reddit investors blowing up hedge funds is that some of us reading about it might die of laughter. That bit about investigating this as a “pump and dump scheme” to push prices away from their “fundamental value” is particularly hilarious. What does the Washington Post think the entire stock market is, in the bailout age?

America’s banks just had maybe their best year ever, raking in $125 billion in underwriting fees at a time when the rest of the country is dealing with record unemployment, thanks entirely to massive Federal Reserve intervention that turned a crash into a boom. Who thinks the “fundamental value” of most stocks would be this high, absent the Fed’s Atlas-like support in the last year?

For context, Goldman, Sachs posted revenues of $44.56 billion in 2020, its best year since 2009, a.k.a. the last year Wall Street cashed in on a bailout. Back then, the shortcut back to giganto-bonuses was underwriting fees for financial companies raising money to purge themselves of TARP debt. This time it’s underwriting fees for bond issues and IPOs. The subtext of both bailouts was that anyone who owned or underwrote financial assets got richer, while everyone else got the proverbial high hat. It’s no accident that income inequality dramatically accelerated after the last bailouts, and that the only people to see net gains in wealth since 2008 have been the richest 20% of Americans, a pattern almost certain to continue.

The constant in the bailout years has been a battery of artificial stimulants sent through the financial sector, from the TARP to years of zero-interest-rate policies (ZIRP) to outright interventions like the multiple trillion-dollar rounds of Quantitative Easing. All that froth allowed finance companies to suck out hundreds of billions in fees, encouraged lunatic risk-taking in every direction and rampages of private equity takeovers, and kept a vast stable of functionally dead companies alive on cheap credit.

Those so-called “zombie companies” make up roughly 30% of all corporations in America now, and they racked up over a trillion dollars in new debt since the pandemic alone. While policymakers may have stabilized the economy with the bailouts, they may also “inadvertently be directing the flow of capital to unproductive firms,” as Bloomberg euphemistically put it back in November.

In other words, it was all well and good for investment banks and executives of phoney-baloney companies to gorge themselves on funhouse profits on a funhouse economy, but when amateurs decided to funnel just a bit of this clown show into their own pockets, finance pros wailed like the grave of Adam Smith had been danced upon. The worst was Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, who issued a somber warning that those behind the recent market frenzy are “in for a very rude awakening,” adding, “I don’t know if it is going to happen tomorrow, next week or in a month, but it will happen.”

This is the same James Gorman whose company just saw its 2020 fourth-quarter profits go up 51% versus the year before, with total revenues up 16% to $48.2 billion, matching almost exactly the 16% rise in the stock market last year. If you’re going to rake in $33 million as Gorman did last year captaining a firm that just siphoned off billions in essentially risk-free profits underwriting a never-ending bailout, should you really be worrying about someone else getting a “rude awakening”? There are 19 million people collecting unemployment who might be reading those profit numbers. Does this man know how to spell “pitchfork”?

GameStop has prompted more pearl-clutching than any news story in recent memory. Expert after grave-faced expert has marched on TV to tell Reddit traders that markets are complicated, this isn’t a game, and they wouldn’t be doing this, if they really understood how things work.

“I’m not sure everybody fully understands what’s happening here,” was the melancholy comment on CNBC of Wall Street’s famed fluffer-in-chief, Andrew Ross Sorkin. The author of Too Big to Fail added in pedagogic tones that while this “stick it to the man moment” might feel good, betting up the value of GameStop above Delta Airlines just isn’t right, because “there are no fundamentals here”:

Fundamentals? How much does Sorkin think his exalted Delta Airlines would be worth now, if the Fed hadn’t stopped its death plunge last March? How much would any of the airlines be worth in the Covid age, with their fleets of mothballed jets? What a joke!

Furthermore, everybody “understands” what happened with GameStop. Unlike some other Wall Street stories, this one isn’t complicated. The entire tale, in a nutshell, goes like this. One group of gamblers announced, “Fuck you!” Another group announced back: “No, fuck YOU!”

That’s it. Or, as one market analyst put it to me this morning, “A bunch of guys made a bet, got killed, then doubled and tripled down and got killed even more.”

Regarding improprieties, leaving aside that the Redditors were doing exactly what billion-dollar hedge funds do every day — colluding to move a stock for fun and profit — the notion that this should be the subject of a federal investigation is preposterous.

Is it completely outside the realm of possibility that the GME fiasco isn’t just day traders giving the finger to Wall Street, that “major players” are behind the stock’s movement, in an illegal manipulation scheme? No. Probably it’s not that, but it could be, just as some of the usual suspects may have piled on the long side once the frenzy started. But if there’s anything to investigate here, the obvious place to start is with the hedge funds and their brokers.

While it isn’t a complicated story, some of the awesome humor of GameStop is in the mechanics.

Unlike betting on a stock to go up (i.e. betting “long”), where you can only lose as much as you invest, the losses in shorting can be infinite. This adds a potential extra layer of Schadenfreude to the plight of the happy hedge fund pirate who might have borrowed gazillions of GameStop shares at five or ten hoping to tank the firm, only to go in pucker mode as Internet hordes drive the cost of the trade to ten, twenty, fifty times their original investment.

Short-sellers bet by borrowing shares from so-called prime brokers (Goldman, Sachs and JP Morgan Chase are among the biggest), selling them, and waiting for the price to drop, at which point they buy them back on the open market at the lower price and return them. The commonly understood rub is that prime brokers don’t always really procure those original borrowed shares, and often give out more “locates” than they should, putting more shares in circulation than actually exist (as in this case). GameStop is exposing this systematic plundering of firms using phantom shares and locates, by groups of actors who now have the gall to complain that they’re the victims of a “get rich quick” scheme.

Short-sellers are not inherently antisocial. They can be beneficial to society, instrumental in rooting out corruption and waste in whole sectors like the subprime industry, or in single companies like Enron. Moreover, the wiping out of such funds isn’t necessarily to be cheered. Sorkin correctly notes that many hedge funds invest on behalf of entities like pension funds, though maybe they shouldn’t, given their high cost and relatively mediocre performance, as I’ve noted before.

However, that’s the point. The degree to which even the beneficial functions of short-sellers are cheered or not is dependent upon whose corruption they’re uncovering. Let the record show that when the S.E.C. imposed a ban on shorts of financial stocks in 2008, they routed short-sellers who were dead right about the insolubility of America’s banking sector. The state prevented their correct judgment about companies like Wachovia and Washington Mutual, whose stocks kept plunging even after the ban and went bust soon after.

The shorts were right about all the other banks, too. The Inspector General of the TARP, Neil Barofsky, eventually told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission that 12 of the 13 biggest banks were on the brink of failure when they got saved — by the short ban, by emergency overnight grants of commercial bank licenses to companies that weren’t commercial banks, by the bailouts, by the subsequent avalanche of underwriting fees, and most of all, by the lies about all of the above.

The home of James “rude awakening” Gorman, Morgan Stanley, got its bank holding company license (and the lifesaving Fed credit lines that came with it) late on a Sunday night in September, 2008, because the firm couldn’t have opened its doors without it the next Monday morning. They’d have been blown to bits, by “fundamentals.” Instead, they got rescued, given a forever pass to keep feeding at the neck of society while claiming, falsely, to be not-failures and not-welfare recipients, better somehow than the “dumb money” they think should be theirs alone to manage.

The rank selectivity of this makes any moral argument against the GameStop revolt moot. There’s no legitimate cause here, just an assertion of exclusive rights to plunder, which will doubtless be exercised now in the form of bans, investigations, and increased barriers to market entry. Probably also, in the political spirit of our times, there will some form of speech crackdown on platforms like Reddit, to protect us from the mob.

About that: there are many making hay of a description found on a Subreddit, to the effect that wallstreetbets is “like 4Chan found a Bloomberg terminal.” A columnist at the Guardian, settling into the rhetorical line sure to find acceptance among the wine-and-MSNBC crowd, admitted to finding the rampaging-id dynamic on 4chan funny as a young person, but strange now to “witness a brief and regretful adolescent occupation re-emerge as a prominent cultural force.” The author wanted to admit to laughing at this “intentionally senseless” behavior, but ultimately decried the “transgressive attitudes” of the Redditors.

This is where society will ultimately come down, of course, uniting to denounce $GME as financial Trumpism, even though it actually comes closer to being an updated and superior version of Occupy Wall Street. It’s likely not any evil manipulation scheme, but ordinary people acting — out of self-interest, but also out of sheer enthusiasm for one of the best reasons to do just about anything, because you can — on a few simple, powerful observations.

They’ve seen first that our markets are basically fake, set up to artificially accelerate the wealth divide, and not in their favor. Secondly they see that the stock market, like the ballot box, remains one of the only places where sheer numbers still matter more than capital or connections. And they’re piling on, and it’s delicious, not so much because they’re right, but because the people running for cover are so wrong, and still can’t admit it.

Buy the ticket, take the ride, nitwits. If you earned anything, it’s this.

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/30/2021 - 20:00
Published:1/30/2021 7:05:29 PM
[Uncategorized] Biden’s New Iran Envoy Robert Malley Has Tainted History Of Weakness Towards Mullah Regime

Malley was booted out of the 2008 Obama campaign for "unauthorized" talks with Iran-backed terrorist group Hamas.

The post Biden’s New Iran Envoy Robert Malley Has Tainted History Of Weakness Towards Mullah Regime first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:1/30/2021 11:03:31 AM
[Uncategorized] Joe Biden’s Presidency is Already Worse Than Imagined

"On policy, it's Obama 2.0 but more woke and on free expression it's more like East Germany than the United States."

The post Joe Biden’s Presidency is Already Worse Than Imagined first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:1/29/2021 4:25:26 PM
[Political Cartoons] Tools of the Trade – A.F. Branco Cartoon

By A.F. Branco -

Biden is Obama’s 3rd term implementing the same old radical failed policies. Political cartoon by A.F. Branco ©2021.

Tools of the Trade – A.F. Branco Cartoon is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:1/29/2021 10:53:08 AM
[Markets] Is This 'The Market Spring'? Is This 'The Market Spring'?

Authored by Bill Blain via MorningPorridge.com,

Is this the Market Spring? There is a serious mass delusion underway. It can only end badly…

“This thing's really outrageous, I tell you on the level
It's really so contagious must be the work of the devil

Mother please, is it just a disease, that has them breaking all my laws,
Check if you can disconnect the effect and I'll go after the cause
No-one will tell what this is all about
But I will find out, I will.”

Back in medieval times, Ergot was a fungal mould that would infect corn stores and drive populations mad. Watching the current market action, and the Reddit memes, I’m wondering what particular malign madness is driving it all. Have the Chinese sneaked something into the water? Maybe some evil genius hacker has invented a bio-computer-worm that jumps from screen to infect human brains – spreading it through Reddit making millions believe they can trade capitalism into the ground?

Or maybe this is a genuine revolution..? Founded in frustration and genuine grievance? 

As I highlighted yesterday, if you are one of the top 1%, then you’ve had a pretty good Pandemic. Your stock portfolio has gone up in value. You’re comfortable working from you pretty countryside home. You don’t have to commute and you’re pretty well off and happy. 

The mob aren’t. 

They live in the real world of lockdown frustration. They suddenly found a voice taking down hedge funds (or so the stories say). They have stumbled into the market and is discovered they have power. How corrupting. Acting in unison and driven by speculation, the masses expect to overturn the old order. Maybe storming the palaces of the rich online is preferable to the usual outcomes when angry, dispossessed bored angry mobs storm Versailles – which never ends well. Like all other mobs through history, they will likely be disappointed. 

We do need to think about what’s driving this insane market behaviour. 

The apparent rewards of speculation – fuelled by the very visible socia-media lived lives of the rich and the obscene wealth of the very few - has convinced millions of bored young people they can also make billions, change their lives and get everything they think they deserve from markets. 

They are not ignorant – but well educated college graduates who see their life-chances far more limited than their parents. I recently read a fascinating article last year celebrating 3 decades of the Simpsons: 30 years-ago the yellow cartoon TV family represented the down-at-heel lower middle class tottering on the edge as they barely made ends meet. Today their unchanging lifestyle is way beyond the expectations of most American families. 

Same thing here in the UK. When I was in my mid-twenties I was looking to buy my first flat. My son has a great job and is well paid, but he’ll have to save for years and see his income triple before he can realistically buy anything in London. He’s looking at markets and wants my advice on how to make his savings work for him. He’s tempted by the madness all around him – his favourable views on Musk are fashioned by the wisdom of the mob. He’s wondering and attracted to how Bitcoin might enable him to climb up the ladder.

So, this morning, let’s start with something for my kids and their generation – a very simple look at what is real and what is less real. Let’s do a very quick compare and contrast: 

Apple is real. It has just posted its most profitable quarter ever. It has successfully commoditised a high value consumer discretionary product in its own name, the iPhone, and innovated a whole tech ecosystem around it. It can expect to sell more and more people a new phone every 2 or 3 years. It takes a massive margin from each sale, meaning it $111 billion in quarterly sales translates to a $28 bln profit. 

I do have concerns about Apple. Its initial success came on the back of Steve Jobs disrupting the whole personal computing business, giving it status and style. Design and function were its core value. Now it’s become commoditised – which helps its profitability. One day someone will invent something new that will make the iPhone and the rest of the range obsolete. No company lasts for ever. Can Apple keep innovating to refresh and bring on board new customers. Its current customers are ageing. Will future generations be so keen on bright shiny tech things?

Apple is a very real company paying dividends with a market capitalisation of $2.4 trillion. But it trades at a P/E of 43 times – which is frighteningly high for an old market dog like me, constantly wondering about future challenges. 

Tesla is an equally real company. After years wondering if it would survive, it’s now very well capitalised, has a clear path to expansion with new factories, and is meeting many of its promised targets. It just posted $31 billion in annual sales and a $721 million profit on 500k car sales. Its’ market capitalisation is $820 bln, and it trades on a P/E of 1700 times. That would terrify me. 

Tesla is the market darling. Every Gen X, Y, and Z loves it. Yet, for all that it wishes to be Apple and a commoditised unchallenged market leader, it is not. It had created the EV revolution, but has spawned a host of competitors, and raises some very challenging ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) issues about the company. Tesla hasn’t yet made a penny selling cars, its’ made profits from selling regulatory credits, a form of government market subsidy. 

The difference is…. Apple is a good stock. It provides investors with a solid return from dividends and rising value. But Tesla is a stratospheric moon-shot. $1000 dollars invested in March 202 is now worth $8000. That is a number no PBDJTGR (Poor but desperately keen to get rich) young speculator can ignore. But piling into Tesla at this level is one any experienced market professional would caution against.

In times of revolution no one listens to conventional experience. So, our young investor decides to do some research and end up on the Tesla fansites.. telling them what they want to hear. Reinforcing their hopes that $8000 invested today is going to double, triple or quintuple by next year they buy – after all, even bank analysts have jumped on board. 

This where this gets really dangerous for everyone. 

For the last 13 years since the Global Financial Crisis we’ve seen the most incredible transfer of wealth from the real economy into financial assets; stocks and shares. This has happened because of central banks propping up the real economy by bailing out bank, keeping interest rates low and buying bonds via QE. Meanwhile, voters have listened and watched as a strong financial asset markets are equated with economic success. They listened to Donald Trump equate the success of his presidency with a rising stock market, and many applauded as Trump bullied the Fed into easing to push up the index as his popularity wavered.

As I highlighted yesterday, most of the money the Fed and other central banks has barely touched the edges of the real economy. Most has gone straight into financial assets, driving up the price of stocks – which is why everyone who knows anything from experience about stock markets thinks they are in bubble territory. 

Lots of Americans now equate success with a strong market, and wonder why it doesn’t percolate down to them in their rotting cities. They want a bit of it, which is why lockdown and bored young people with nothing else to do are now playing stocks like it’s a game. They’ve never heard my first rule of markets: “The market has but ambition: to inflict the maximum amount of pain on the maximum number of participants.”

It’s not just the Reddit mob who will likely be disappointed. We will all lose out due to distortion.  It’s killing capitalism. 19% of US companies are now Zombies – companies that will die if rates normalise. We’re seeing similar numbers in Europe and the UK. As long as rates stay low these dinosaurs continue to dominate and stifle market innovation. 

Such firms defeat the purpose of capitalism – distorting the cost of capital and favouring the growth of corporate bureaucracy and inertia. Large companies that are too-big-to-fail, survive on the back of subsidy and bailouts, or can continue to borrow on the argument debt is so cheap, levering themselves higher and higher while doing nothing to improve productivity or their product lines either become long-term economic bed-blockers, or, as is happening now, become blocks on innovation.

Tesla is a great example of how a disruptive new company that created a paradigm shift from the old Internal Combustion Engine, and replaced cars with connected software driven Electric Vehicles, at a stroke reinventing the whole basis of personal transport and allowing us to move towards driverless cars, and new ownership models where cars can become financial assets making a positive return.

Maybe. But for every Tesla that’s created expectations of extraordinary disruptive profits, the end of Schumpeter’s Creative Destruction as the driving force of capitalism has created firms like Boeing: using the same old 1960s format plane with minimal and dangerous modification to reap windfall profits from mass production, which they invested in stock-buybacks to push up the stock price so the executives could pay themselves more.

If I was to bring a new planemaker to the market, based around new clean carbon battery technology that forms the wing and fuselage, with a power density enough to power meaningful lift capacity via electric engines, I’ll struggle to find finance. I’ll be told it doesn’t work because its too frontier finance, it will be tech risk, it will be “too expensive to succeed in current market”, and how-much-can it attract in subsidy.

But the real reason will be that money management has become as distorted as capital flows. All these years of financial repression hasn’t just killed business, but has killed investment as well. Markets are following money and not real growth and the real economy. 

Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind some fundamental numbers about how this market is distorted – I took this from a piece on Linkedin: "Total stock market capitalization vs GDP on inauguration day of a new president: Ford: 40% Carter: 47% Reagan: 43% Bush I: 53% Clinton: 64% Bush II: 117% Obama: 60% Trump: 125% Biden: 190%"

It’s not just me that thinks the market is a bubble that should burst. There isn’t a single reputable name out there saying anything except this is dangerous. I listen to these guys because they suffer from experience. I’ve seen this in 1987, 1992, 1998, 2000, 2008 and today. I’ve seen this before. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/29/2021 - 08:44
Published:1/29/2021 7:54:08 AM
[Markets] While John Kerry Masquerades As Biden's Climate Crusader, His Family Tools Around In Private Jet While John Kerry Masquerades As Biden's Climate Crusader, His Family Tools Around In Private Jet

In less than half-a-decade, John Kerry has gone from helping oil-rich Iran sell more fossil fuels, to the Biden administration's so-called Special Climate Envoy.

Yet, while the Yale Bonesman may have gone full Greta in his newfound climate advocacy, his ultra-liberal ketchup-empire family is still tooling around in a carbon-spewing private jet.

According to Fox News, the FAA's registry shows that his wife's private charter jet company, Flying Squirrel LLC, owns a Gulfstream IV jet which emits up to 40x more carbon per passenger than a commercial plane.

"We look forward to the anti-carbon lectures from a guy who travels the globe on private jets and luxury yachts," noted the New York Post editorial board last November. The Post also reported that during Kerry's 2004 failed presidential run, his campaign made 60 payments to his wife's charter jet company, totaling $273,171.

As late as 2013, his executive branch personnel financial disclosure showed Kerry owning "over $1,000,001" in assets for "Flying Squirrel LLC" through his wife. -Fox News

Shouldn't Biden's new climate czar and his ultra-liberal family set an example by ridding themselves of their gross polluting methods of transportation? They couldn't possibly be virtue signaling while insisting the rest of us adopt, and pay for, 'green' lifestyles.

What would Greta say?

Tyler Durden Thu, 01/28/2021 - 14:44
Published:1/28/2021 1:47:13 PM
[Entertainment] Gymnast Nia Dennis Had the Best Reaction to Michelle Obama's Tweet About Her Viral Routine Nia Dennis, Michelle ObamaFans are flipping over Nia Dennis' viral routine. The 21-year-old gymnast spoke about her unforgettable floor exercise during the Jan. 28th episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show....
Published:1/28/2021 12:16:59 PM
[] The Morning Rant: Minimalist Edition Susan Rice is a vile human being (and I am being generous), and the fact that she has returned to power as one of the puppeteers manipulating Joe Biden is suggestive of Obama's control, or at least influence over... Published:1/28/2021 10:17:00 AM
[Markets] Facebook Hires Biden Transition, Obama Admin Official As VP Of 'Civil Rights' Facebook Hires Biden Transition, Obama Admin Official As VP Of 'Civil Rights'

Authored by Peter Svab via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours)

Facebook has hired Roy Austin, former Obama administration official and a member of President Joe Biden’s transition team, as the social media company’s vice president of Civil Rights and deputy general counsel.

White House Deputy Assistant to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity Roy Austin at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 11, 2015. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Austin used to serve as civil rights prosecutor and supervisor in the Department of Justice (DOJ) before becoming a deputy assistant to President Barack Obama for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity in 2014. In 2017, he went into private practice as a criminal defense and civil rights attorney at Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis. In November, Biden named him as one of the volunteers on the Agency Review Team for the DOJ in his transition.

It’s not clear what will be Austin’s specific responsibilities at Facebook. The company didn’t respond to a request for further details and an attempt to reach Austin for comment was unsuccessful.

“I am delighted to welcome Roy to Facebook as our VP of Civil Rights. Roy has proved throughout his career that he is a passionate and principled advocate for civil rights—whether it is in the courtroom or the White House,” said Facebook General Counsel Jennifer Newstead in a Jan. 11 release.

“I know he will bring the same wisdom, integrity, and dedication to Facebook. It’s hard to imagine anyone better qualified to help us strengthen and advance civil rights on our platform and in our company.”

Austin’s appointment underscores the closeness of Facebook to the Biden administration.

Former Facebook associate general counsel Jessica Hertz was the Biden transition’s general counsel and is his new White House staff secretary. Jeffrey Zients—Biden’s coronavirus czar—used to serve on Facebook’s board of directors in 2018-2020. Austin Lin, a former program manager at Facebook, was on one of Biden’s agency review teams before reportedly being tapped for a deputy role at White House’s Office of Management and Administration. Erskine Bowles, a former Facebook board member, reportedly advised the transition team.

Hertz, Zients, and Lin used to hold roles in the Obama administration. Bowles served as President Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff.

Facebook chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, gave $500 million to election officials ahead of the 2020 election for measures such as ballot drop boxes and mail-in voting described as tools to make voting safer amidst the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic. The grants violated election laws and were distributed unevenly, favoring Democrat-heavy areas, according to The Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society, a constitutional litigation organization.

Austin was to start his role at Facebook on Jan. 19, based in Washington, D.C., the company said.

“I am excited to join Facebook at this moment when there is a national and global awakening happening around civil rights,” Austin said in the release.

“Technology plays a role in nearly every part of our lives, and it’s important that it be used to overcome the historic discrimination and hate which so many underrepresented groups have faced, rather than to exacerbate it. I could not pass up the opportunity to join a company whose products are used by so many and which impacts the civil rights and liberties of billions of people, in order to help steer a better way forward.”

His referral to “underrepresented groups” raises the ghost of political bias, as the underlying reasoning has been tied to tech companies enforcing their content rules unevenly.

Facebook moderators were told, for instance, that prohibited “Hate Speech” against certain groups was to be left alone under some circumstances as long as it aligned with the company’s agenda, according to a 2018 memo to moderators working at Cognizant, a firm that at the time contracted with Facebook to shoulder part of the content policing.

“Anything that is DELETE per our Hate Speech policies, but is intended to raise awareness for Pride/LGBTQ” was to be temporarily allowed, the post stated, specifying that “this may occur especially in terms of attacking straight white males.”

In 2019, Facebook updated its policy to allow “threats that could lead to death” against those on the company’s list of “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations.”

Aside from groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and individuals tied to Nazism, Facebook also placed on the list people such as populist commentator Paul Joseph Watson and conservative activist Laura Loomer.

After backlash, Facebook quietly removed the exception from the publicly available version of its policy, but this change was never communicated to its content moderators, and, in practice, the exception remained in place, according to Zach McElroy, who used to work as a Facebook moderator at Cognizant.

Facebook isn’t the only tech company that seems to interpret its own policies unevenly.

Google tweaked its products to promote what the company considered the interests of “historically marginalized” groups, according to insider documents and recordings.

The approach aligns with the tenets of the quasi-Marxist critical theory, which divides society into oppressors and the historically oppressed based on characteristics such as race and gender along the lines of Marxism’s class division.

Follow Petr on Twitter: @petrsvab
Tyler Durden Thu, 01/28/2021 - 09:09
Published:1/28/2021 8:21:42 AM
[Right Column] New Yorker Contributor Bill McKibben Claimed Keystone XL Is ‘Climate Carelessness’

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board wrote Jan. 20 that “[t]he Obama State Department found five separate times that the pipeline would have no material impact on greenhouse gas emissions since crude would still be extracted.” When you choose to be a fanatic about eco-extremism like McKibben, facts that don’t support your preexisting dispositions tend to fall by the wayside.

The Journal proceeded to note that “[k]illing Keystone won’t keep fossil fuels in the ground.” It continued: “It will merely strand billions of dollars in Canadian investment and kill thousands of U.S. jobs while enriching adversaries and alienating an ally.” 

Published:1/27/2021 8:42:52 PM
[Democrats] Court Packing, Here We Come? (John Hinderaker) The Biden administration has appointed a “bipartisan” commission to study “reforms” to the Supreme Court. It isn’t hard to see where this is going: Biden campaign lawyer Bob Bauer and former deputy assistant attorney general within the Obama Justice Department Cristina Rodríguez will serve as co-chairs, according to Politico. The outlet said the commission’s exact mandate is still being determined. Here is a clue: Politico pointed out that Fredrickson, who Published:1/27/2021 6:41:39 PM
[Markets] Remember When Joe Biden Said "You Can't Legislate By Executive Orders Unless You're A Dictator" Remember When Joe Biden Said "You Can't Legislate By Executive Orders Unless You're A Dictator"

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

This video from the 15th October 2020 speaks for itself.

During a town hall broadcast by ABC News just over a fortnight before the election, Joe Biden was discussing his tax proposals when he declared that in order to see them implemented he would need votes and approval from Congress.

“I have this strange notion. We are a democracy,” Biden sardonically declared, pointing out that “Some of my Republican friends, and some of my Democratic friends occasionally say ‘well if you can’t get the votes, by executive order you’re going to do something'”.

“You can’t do it by executive order, unless you’re a dictator,” Biden declared, adding “We’re a democracy, we need consensus.”

Fast forward to the first day of Biden’s presidency.

The guy implemented NINETEEN executive actions.

Before the first week of his presidency was over, Biden had signed THIRTY-SEVEN executive actions.

Despite the apparent fact that Biden doesn’t even know what he’s signing, he has already put pen to paper on more than three times as many orders as the previous four Presidents COMBINED.

In their first weeks Trump signed four, Obama signed five, George W. Bush signed none, and Bill Clinton signed one.

Indeed, no other President has ever signed as many orders as Biden, according to The American Presidency Project at the University of California Santa Barbara.

So, Joe… In your own words, what does that make you?

Key Biden executive actions

  • Re-engage with World Health Organization

  • Create position of COVID-19 response coordinator

  • Rejoin Paris climate agreement

  • Revoke permit for Keystone XL pipeline, pause energy leasing in ANWR

  • Ask agencies to extend eviction/foreclosure moratoriums

  • Ask Education Dept. to extend student-loan pause

  • Launch an initiative to advance racial equity, end “1776 Commission”

  • Revoke order that aims to exclude undocumented immigrants from census

  • Preserve/fortify DACA, which helps “Dreamers”

  • Require masks/distancing on all federal property and by federal workers

  • Reverse travel ban targeting primarily Muslim countries

  • Stop construction of border wall

  • Combat discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity

  • Require ethics pledge for executive-branch personnel

  • Modernize and improve regulatory review

  • End “harsh and extreme immigration enforcement”

  • Extend protection from deportation for Liberians in U.S.

  • Revoke certain executive orders concerning federal regulation

  • Freeze any new or pending regulations

  • Fill supply shortfalls in fight vs. COVID-19 with Defense Production Act, other measures

  • Increase FEMA reimbursement to states for National Guard, PPE

  • Establish “COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board,” expand testing

  • Bolster access to COVID-19 treatments and clinical care

  • Improve collection/analysis of COVID-related data

  • Mount vaccination campaign amid goals such as 100 million shots in 100 days

  • Provide guidance on safely reopening schools

  • OSHA guidance for keeping workers safe from COVID-19

  • Require face masks at airports, other modes of transportation

  • Establish a “COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force”

  • Support international response to COVID-19, “restore U.S. global leadership”

  • Ask agencies to boost food aid, improve delivery of stimulus checks

  • Restore collective bargaining power for federal workers

  • Repeal ban on transgender people serving openly in U.S. military

  • Tighten ‘Buy American’ rules in government procurement Executive order

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/27/2021 - 18:00
Published:1/27/2021 5:11:36 PM
[World] Biden shows that his foreign policy will not be our 'finest hour'

Not one day into his presidency, Joe Biden showed his colors vis-a-vis our strongest and most faithful ally, the United Kingdom — our mother country, military partner, the source of our government, laws and dedication to freedom.

He follows in the footsteps of Barack Obama who, in 2009 removed from ... Published:1/27/2021 4:11:37 PM

[NEWS & ANALYSIS] Biden v. Xenophobia: New Executive Order Bans Term ‘China Virus’

As of Wednesday, his seventh day in office, Joe Biden signed 40 executive orders; more than Barack Obama issued in his first year, and just 15 short of Donald Trump’s inaugural-year tally, based on National Archive numbers per BizPacReview.  One of them is particularly interesting.  In a scramble to combat racism and “xenophobia,” Biden signed an […]

The post Biden v. Xenophobia: New Executive Order Bans Term ‘China Virus’ appeared first on Human Events.

Published:1/27/2021 3:40:54 PM
[Markets] Biden Assembling Commission To Study Supreme Court Reform Biden Assembling Commission To Study Supreme Court Reform

The Biden administration is moving forward on the creation of a 'bipartisan' commission which will study potential reforms to the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary, according to Politico.

Housed under the purview of the White House Counsel's office, the commission will be filled out with "behind-the-scenes help of the Biden campaign's lawyer Bob Bauer." While the commission's mandate is 'still being decided,' we can only imagine it's the first step towards Democrats 'packing the court' to overcome its current conservative bias.

According to people familiar with the discussions, several members have already been selected - including Yale Law School professor Cristina Rodriguez - who served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Obama DOJ, and has been tapped to co-chair the commission. Others include "Caroline Fredrickson, the former president of the American Constitution Society, and Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor and a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Bush Department of Justice," according to the report.

Fredrickson has hinted that she is intellectually supportive of ideas like court expansion. In 2019, she said in an interview with Eric Lesh, the executive director of the LGBT Bar Association and Foundation of Greater New York: “I often point out to people who aren't lawyers that the Supreme Court is not defined as ‘nine person body’ in the Constitution, and it has changed size many times.”

Rodriguez’s opinions on court reforms are less clear. Goldsmith’s selection, meanwhile, is likely to be the one to frustrate progressives. A senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Goldsmith did not support Trump and is a friend and co-author of Bauer. But he was a vocal advocate of Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the high court—an appointment that sparked Democratic advocacy for expanding the number of Supreme Court seats. -Politico

A source tells Politico that the Commission is expected to have between nine and 15 members.

The Commission comes after then-candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris repeatedly refused to answer whether they would pack the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Gisnburg and her conservative replacement, Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the weeks before the November election. Instead of answering directly, Biden vowed to form such a commission to examine potential changes to the Court, despite saying he's "not a fan of court packing."

"The last thing we need to do is turn the Supreme Court into just a political football, whoever has the most votes gets whatever they want," Biden told "60 Minutes" in October, adding "Presidents come and go. Supreme Court justices stay for generations."

Bauer, the behind-the-scenes operator, is himself a proponent of term limits for federal judges, and reportedly came up with the idea of forming a commission to study court reform.

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/27/2021 - 14:40
Published:1/27/2021 1:42:12 PM
[Middle Column] Analysis: Biden ‘would literally do everything differently if he really cared about’ climate change

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.:  "Then Barack Obama was elected. Al Gore debouched himself of a new edict. An alleged climate crisis no longer required any unpopular energy taxes at all. By some process not explained, the emergency had become a political free lunch, requiring congresspersons only to do what they like doing anyway, dishing out subsidies to favored constituents." ...

"Suppose you actually cared about climate change. You would not throw episodic subsidies at things that can survive only as long as you are subsidizing them. You would try to set in motion long-term trends that have the advantage of being in accordance with existing trends." 

 

Published:1/27/2021 8:09:31 AM
[Markets] Texas Judge Blocks Biden's 100-Day Deportation Ban Texas Judge Blocks Biden's 100-Day Deportation Ban

A federal judge on Tuesday threw cold water on the Biden administration's 100-day deportation moratorium - a central component of the newly minted president's immigration priorities.

US District Judge Drew Tipton, a Trump appointee and former Marine Sergeant, issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) sought by the state of Texas, which sued the Biden administration on Friday in response to a Department of Homeland Security memo which instructed immigration agencies to halt most deportations, according to the Associated Press. Tipton concluded that the Biden administration had failed "to provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations."

Tipton’s order is an early blow to the Biden administration, which has proposed far-reaching changes sought by immigration advocates, including a plan to legalize an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. Biden promised during his campaign to pause most deportations for 100 days.

The order represents a victory for Texas’ Republican leaders, who often sued to stop programs enacted by Biden’s Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama. It also showed that just as Democratic-led states and immigration groups fought former President Donald Trump over immigration in court, often successfully, so too will Republicans with Biden in office. -AP

Acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske had signed the DHS memo on Biden's first day in office which instructed immigration authorities to refocus their efforts on national security and public safety threats, along with any illegal migrants apprehended in the United States after November 1 - a sharp reversal from President Trump's policy which opened deportations up to anyone illegally residing in the country.

In the state's court filing, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that the moratorium violated both federal law and an agreement signed between Texas and DHS which required Homeland Security to consult with Texas and other states before taking any actions to "reduce, redirect, reprioritize, relax, or in any way modify immigration enforcement."

The Biden administration argued in court filings that the agreement is unenforceable because “an outgoing administration cannot contract away that power for an incoming administration.” Paxton’s office, meanwhile, submitted a Fox News opinion article as evidence that “refusal to remove illegal aliens is directly leading to the immediate release of additional illegal aliens in Texas.”

Tipton wrote that his order was not based on the agreement between Texas and the Trump administration, but federal law to preserve the “status quo” before the DHS moratorium. -AP

In Paxton's motion requesting the TRO, Paxton wrote: In one of its first of dozens of steps that harm Texas and the nation as a whole, the Biden administration directed DHS to violate federal immigration law and breach an agreement to consult and cooperate with Texas on that law. Our state defends the largest section of the southern border in the nation. Failure to properly enforce the law will directly and immediately endanger our citizens and law enforcement personnel,” adding: “DHS itself has previously acknowledged that such a freeze on deportations will cause concrete injuries to Texas. I am confident that these unlawful and perilous actions cannot stand. The rule of law and security of our citizens must prevail."

Tyler Durden Tue, 01/26/2021 - 15:50
Published:1/26/2021 3:04:05 PM
[Politics] Grenell: Susan Rice, Not Biden or Harris, Calling Shots in White House Susan Rice, the former national security adviser to President Barack Obama and the current director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, is the real leader in the Oval Office according to former Richard Grenell... Published:1/26/2021 10:04:43 AM
[Markets] Biden To Halt Oil, Gas Leasing On Federal Land Biden To Halt Oil, Gas Leasing On Federal Land

As previously reported, and as was just confirmed by the WSJ, President Biden on Wednesday will announce that he is halting all new oil and gas leasing on federal territory, "setting up a confrontation with the oil industry over the future of U.S. energy." And since this effectively will suspend all fracking on federal lands (albeit once the extension period expires), this means that contrary to his representations, Biden is in fact banning fracking despite his Aug 31, 2020 proclamation that “I am not banning fracking. Let me say that again. I am not banning fracking, no matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me."

As the WSJ reports, the Biden administration has drafted an order to impose the moratorium while it conducts a review of the federal oil and gas leasing program, in what is potentially a first step toward his campaign pledge to end future leases. The order is expected to be included in a package of measures across government aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and boosting land conservation, which is just another conduit to legitimize trillions in taxpayer spending under the guise of "fixing the environment", aka the oldest grift in the book, yet one which liberals and virtue-signalers fall for every single time.

In addition to the moratorium on oil and gas leasing, Biden is expected to set a goal of protecting 30% of federal land and water by 2030, the WSJ sources said. The president is also planning to re-establish a White House council of science advisers that was established during the Obama administration.

And since this was leaked well in advance, for those who missed it last week, we published a report from Goldman analyzing the consequences of the biden frack ban. We republish it again below:

Biden's Federal Land Lease Ban To Send Oil Prices Higher: Goldman

Oil stocks tumbled following yesterday's one-two punch of Biden energy news, when first we learned that the Interior Department enacted a 60-day moratorium on issuing oil and gas leases that affects all federal lands, minerals, and waters, which was followed by news that Biden was set to fully suspend the sale of oil and gas leases on federal land, which accounts for about a tenth of U.S. supplies.

Yet while E&P companies sold off sharply on the news, one can argue that the decision wasn't exactly a surprise for the drillers themselves, because as the following chart from BofA shows, federal drilling permits spiked into year-end as companies clearly anticipated a ban on drilling on federal lands.

But it's not just speculation about what impact on drillers - and especially frackers will be - Biden's intervention will have: an just as important question is what to expect on the price of oil as a result.

Well, overnight, Goldman's commodity team said that a lack of urgency from the US government to lift Iranian sanctions and a push for larger fiscal spending support the constructive view on oil and gas prices; at the same time it estimated that a 2 trillion stimulus over 2021-2022 would increase US demand by 200k bpd and stated that delays in a full return of Iran production would support the bullish oil outlook. Goldman's summary, which could say is obvious: "policies to support energy demand but restrict hydrocarbon production (or increase costs of drilling and financing) will prove inflationary in coming years given the still negligible share of transportation demand coming from EVs (and renewables)."

In short, just what Putin and the Crown Prince ordered.

Below we excerpt from Goldman's note:

Initial orders by the Biden administration include restrictions on North American hydrocarbon leasing, drilling and pipelines. In turn, initial comments suggest no urgency in lifting sanctions with Iran. Combined with a push for greater fiscal spending - and hence higher energy demand - these initial actions reinforce our constructive view on oil and gas prices. As we have argued, policies to support energy demand but restrict hydrocarbon production (or increase costs of drilling and financing) will prove inflationary in coming years given the still negligible share of transportation demand coming from EVs (and renewables).

  • The Interior Department imposed on Wednesday a 60-day moratorium on oil and gas leases and drilling permits on federal lands, minerals, and waters. This order is temporary and has no impact on near-term activity as producers had aggressively accumulated federal drilling permits. While temporary, this order nonetheless suggests that the new administration views its pledge to halt leasing on federal lands as a priority of its climate plan, with such a broader moratorium on federal leasing potentially scheduled for next week according to Bloomberg. As we argued ahead of the election, such actions point to both higher production and financing costs for shale producers in coming years as well as lower recoverable resources. The additional orders to impose a moratorium on leasing activity in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and to revoke Keystone XL’s border permit point to a similar regulatory shift.
  • On their own, these actions do not point to a faster tightening of the oil market. in 2021-22, as a ban on permitting would still leave a window of up to two years to drill from elevated outstanding permits. In fact, this would likely shift drilling activity away from private to federal land (for example from the Midland to the Delaware basin) for a couple years to minimize the loss of recoverable resources. While producers are focused on shareholder returns over production growth,investors may support more aggressive drilling to secure future cash flows, potentially creating a modest headwind to sharply higher oil prices in the next few years. The administration’s focus on fiscal spending and recent foreign policy comments are, however, likely to help tighten the oil market in 2021-22.
  • The release of President Biden’s COVID-relief plan has led our economists to increase their assumption for additional fiscal measures from $750bn to $1.1tn. Larger boosts to disposable income and government spending will make this recovery energy intensive long before it hurts oil demand, in our view, especially as they come alongside those in China and the EU. On our estimates, a $2 trillion stimulus over 2021-22 would for example boost US demand by c. 200 kb/d. Such spending would further contribute to a weakening dollar which itself lends support to oil prices. A faster vaccination roll-out would in turn accelerate the rebound in jet fuel consumption, which still accounts for more than half of the remaining lost oil demand.
  • Finally, the new administration’s focus on reaching bi-partisan policy support suggest a lessened incentive to quickly revisit the divisive Iran nuclear deal. While the US president has significant freedom to re-enter the JCPOA agreement (see Appendix),the confirmation hearing for the US Secretary of State and Treasury Secretary focused on the need for consultation with Congress and US allies, on Iran being non-compliant and on the goal of reaching a stronger and longer new deal. We view such statements as consistent with our assumption that the increase in Iran exports will remain moderate in 2021 (we assume 0.5 mb/d in 2H21) with in fact risks that our assumed full recovery in Iran production in 2Q22 proves optimistic. Delays in a full return of Iran production would reinforce our bullish oil outlook since we already forecast a tight 2022 crude market with low OPEC spare capacity.
  • Stronger demand and a slower ramp-up in Iran production would create a larger call non shale production, which will face higher regulatory costs, leading to further increases in long-dated oil prices. The oil market experienced such an outcome in 2018, when the loss of Iran production and strong economic growth pushed oil prices sharply higher. As we argued at the time, the rally to $80/bbl Brent prices was necessary to bring high-cost Bakken barrels to the global market by rail. Notably, the potential halt to Dakota Access Pipeline flows could recreate such conditions incoming years (the pipeline may need a new Environmental Impact Study from the Army Corps of Engineers, which is led by a presidential appointee which could stay its operations).
Tyler Durden Tue, 01/26/2021 - 10:55
Published:1/26/2021 10:04:42 AM
[Markets] Government Waste Thrives In Darkness Government Waste Thrives In Darkness

Submitted by Real Clear Politics, authored by Thomas W. Smith chairman of OpenTheBooks.com.

In the last 20 years, our country’s national debt has exploded. In 2001, when George W. Bush took office, the national debt was $5.8 trillion. It took around 225 years -- booms, busts, depressions, wars, etc. -- to amass that much national debt. In just eight years, Bush and a compliant Congress doubled the number to $11.7 trillion. In Barack Obama’s two terms, another $8.6 trillion was added. During the past four years, Donald Trump and Congress fought many battles, but not over this: In that time, America’s future was mortgaged to the tune of another $6.7 trillion. Today, the national debt is around $27 trillion, a four-fold increase in the last two decades. That doesn’t count unfunded mandates. And there is no end in sight. 

Whenever human beings gather to accomplish a task, any task, without strong and effective oversight, a natural evolution takes place. Whether it be in business, academia, philanthropy, or government, every activity morphs from the original goal to self-aggrandizement. In government, this process is particularly toxic. There are no profits, let alone a profit motive. No concern with productivity. No incentive to turn off the proverbial lights. No measure of success. No motivation to end counterproductive activities. 

Add to this mix the influence of public employee unions. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman were opposed to them for reasons that long ago became apparent. The goal of all unions is self-preservation – just as management’s is to maximize profits. But public employee unions add two other noxious elements to the mix: (1) defending job incompetence and (2) heavy-handed involvement in the electoral process in a search for pliant politicians who can help them achieve their objectives by spending ever more of the public’s money.

Now, out of the blue, the experts-for-hire have a new scheme to justify continued fiscal irresponsibility: modern monetary theory. It holds that so long as interest rates are lower than inflation rates, politicians can spend away. That is not a theory. It is idle wordplay, and the victim of such sophistry is the American taxpayer -- and future generations of American taxpayers.

Never in our history has fiscal soundness been more important. The exploding annual deficits of the last 20 years have produced a national debt as a percentage of the gross domestic product that is as high as it was during World War II even though our nation is at peace. Moreover, many severely underfunded programs such as Social Security and Medicaid are not included in today’s debt calculations, although they should be.

The passage of a 5,593-page must-pass-quickly bill in December was indisputable evidence that the national debt will never be addressed from the top down. That legislation was sent to the Senate two hours before the vote. Who can read 2,800 pages per hour, 47 pages per minute? How can a responsible lawmakers vote on bills they have not read? While our political leaders have repeatedly told us how important this bill was to the survival of so many Americans, they delayed the bill for months for political reasons. A crucial-to-the-survival-of-so-many-Americans pork-filled bill? Some $10 million to Pakistan for “gender programs”? Another $700 million to Sudan for Lord knows what? And on and on and on.

History has a clear and repeated message: If we do not address this exploding debt, it will bring to life all-knowing leaders, leaders who Friedrich Hayek said possessed the “fatal conceit.” They think they know more than is knowable. Leaders who have all the answers for everything they define as a problem: More regulations. More government control. More taxes. This is a noxious cure that has never succeeded, one that has left country after country in economic tatters.

Fortunately, the world in changing. Today, we have the means to address this financial irresponsibility, this threat to our country as our founders envisioned it. We are immersed in the Information Age, the Big Data world, the Cloud world, the Bitcoin world. The cost of communications is close to zero. Smartphones, iPads, and computers are a crucial part of everyday life. With the touch of a finger, one click, information on every topic is available 24 hours a day. Buy anything. Sell anything. Today, instant access to information is embedded in our culture. Why should government expenditures be exempt? 

Transparency has always been the best antidote to rein in profligate government spending. Having instant information at our fingertips gives fiscally responsible Americans a powerful new weapon in the War on Waste. Today, there is no reason why every local, state, and federal government expenditure is not online, in real-time, available to every citizen. Taxpayers should be able to attend a school board meeting and pull up school expenses on their phones. 

OpenTheBooks has a formidable weapon to unleash the voting public’s ability to address this exploding national debt, this lack of transparency, this threat to our democracy -- the OpenTheBooks Government Expenditure Library, which contains over 5 billion (and growing) local, state, and federal government expenditures. Last year, we filed 41,500 Freedom of Information Act requests. We sued several government entities to encourage them to provide us the same information we collect from other states.

The OpenTheBooks Government Expenditure Library is open to everyone: Citizens.  Politicians. Students. Academics. Scholars. Journalists. Think tanks. Everyone -- 24-hours a day, seven days a week. 

Transparency can be as revolutionary as the Internet has been for the economic well-being of the world. Transparency can not only enhance the odds of the survival of this, the greatest country in the history of the world but, over time, it will contribute to our prosperity, our health, and our happiness. Wasted taxpayer dollars are not just nonproductive. Waste allowed to exist encourages more waste. Fraud allowed to exist encourages more fraud. A financially sound economy, one that works to remove waste, fraud, duplication, and incompetence, will increase respect for government, for the rule of law. 

OpenTheBooks places the future of this great country more firmly in the hands of the voters. To ensure our elected officials realize this, we have to communicate continuously with them what we expect and how we will vote. I suggest we begin with one clear public statement: “I will never vote for anyone who has voted for a bill they have not read.” Register that statement at OpenTheBooks.com/READTHEBILL

Obviously, our elected officials are unwilling to address this explosive, increasingly crucial national debt problem. Fortunately, we the taxpaying voters today have a weapon at our fingertips to successfully wage a War on Waste. Successful because our political leaders will quickly recognize that if they want to be reelected, they will have to respond accordingly.

Tyler Durden Mon, 01/25/2021 - 21:50
Published:1/25/2021 8:58:51 PM
[Markets] Biden Reverses Trump's Transgender Military Ban Biden Reverses Trump's Transgender Military Ban

President Biden on Monday repealed former President Trump's ban on transgender individuals serving in the US military - signing an executive order that "sets the policy that all Americans who are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States should be able to serve," according to a fact sheet circulated by new Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin following a meeting with Biden.

"President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity," said the fact sheet. "Allowing all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform is better for the military and better for the country because an inclusive force is a more effective force."

Transgender troops and their taxpayer-funded medical and psychological treatment became a topic of controversy after President Trump tweeted in July 2017 that he wanted to ban them from the military. In January, 2019, the US Supreme Court ruled that a modified ban could take effect while lower court challenges to Trump's ban continued.

Also known as gender dysphoria, transgenderism is recognized by the medical and mental health community. In a February 2019 article, USA Today noted that "the cost of treating troops with the diagnosis of gender dysphoria has totaled $7,943,906.75. That included 22,992 psychotherapy visits, 9,321 prescriptions for hormones and 161 surgical procedures," adding "Surgeries performed included 103 breast reductions or mastectomies, 37 hysterectomies, 17 "male reproductive" procedures and four breast augmentations. Psychotherapy sessions cost nearly $5.8 million and surgery cost more than $2 million, according to the data."

Biden's executive order revokes Trump's 2017 and 2018 orders banning transgender military service, and orders the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that all policies are in-line with his executive action.

"Simply put, transgender servicemembers will no longer be subject to the possibility of discharge or separation on the basis of gender identity; transgender servicemembers can serve in their gender when transition is complete and the gender marker in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) is changed and transgender servicemembers should know that they are accepted throughout the U.S. military," reads the fact sheet.

Biden pledged during the presidential campaign he would lift Trump’s ban, referring to it as a “day one” priority. But it was not among the batch of executive orders Biden signed hours after his inauguration last Wednesday amid a delay in Austin’s confirmation. With Austin's confirmed Friday, Biden was expected to act as soon as Monday.

The Obama administration, in which Biden was vice president, lifted the previous ban on transgender military service in 2016.

A RAND Corporation study commissioned by the Pentagon during the Obama administration found allowing open service would have “a minimal impact on readiness.” Additionally in 2018, the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Marines Corps and Air Force said in congressional testimony they had seen no problems with discipline, morale or unit cohesion resulting from transgender troops serving openly in the military. -The Hill

In 2019, the Pentagon established and implemented a policy to fulfill Trump's order barring most transgender people from serving in the military unless they can perform their duties as their biological sex. There were loopholes, however, such as a waiver one could seek to serve openly. According to the report, just one such waiver was granted. The policy also allowed those who had come out under the Obama administration to continue serving openly.

An estimated 14,700 service members on active duty or in the reserves identify as transgender, according to The Hill, while Pentagon data shows that around 1,500 troops since 2016 have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

Tyler Durden Mon, 01/25/2021 - 12:25
Published:1/25/2021 11:26:38 AM
[Markets] Preview Of Biden's Executive Orders For Next Week Preview Of Biden's Executive Orders For Next Week

Next week President Biden will continue his blitz of executive actions after signing 17 such directives in his first week covering a range of issues - much of which were aimed at undoing various Trump initiatives ranging from immigration to climate policy.

Via The Economist

...whether he knows what he's signing or not for 'his' agenda.

For his second week in office, Biden plans on signing another flurry of executive actions, going further on climate and immigration, while also focusing on health care and other issues. Each day will have a theme, according to The Hill.

Monday will be 'Buy American' day, during which Biden will sign an executive order directing agencies to strengthen requirements that goods and services are purchased from American businesses and workers. Biden pledged on the campaign trail to make a $400 billion investment during his first term towards purchasing products made by American workers, as well as tighten loopholes and waivers allowing federal agencies to buy products made overseas.

As The Hill notes, former President Trump signed a 'buy-American-and-hire-American' executive order during his first few months in office, aimed at restricting the flow of certain visa-holders, while boosting domestic wages.

Tuesday is 'Equity' day, which will include a 'broad range of executive orders' related to racial equity.

The president is likely to establish a policing commission and reinstate Obama-era rules on the transfer of military-style equipment to local law enforcement. He is also expected to sign an executive order directing the Department of Justice to improve prison conditions and begin to eliminate the use of private prisons.

Other executive actions lined up for Tuesday include a memorandum directing agencies to strengthen engagement with Native American tribes, a memo ordering the Department of Housing and Urban Development to promote equality in housing, and an order disavowing discrimination against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. -The Hill

Other Tuesday actions which have yet to be finalized may involve immigration, and reversing a ban on transgender troops serving on active duty.

Wednesday will be 'Climate' day, where Biden will announce plans for a US-hosted summit to be held on Earth Day, and likely sign an executive order to "combat climate change domestically and elevates climate change as a national security priority," as well as reestablish the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. The move comes after last week's executive action to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, while revoking a key permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Thursday is 'Health Care' day - during which Biden will likely rescind the so-called Mexico City policy which bans the use of US funds for foreign orgs which endorse or provide abortions.

The policy, described as a “global gag rule” by reproductive health advocates, was first instated by then-President Reagan, and has been repeatedly rescinded by Democratic presidents and reinstated by Republican presidents in the years since.

Biden will also order a review of the Trump administration’s controversial changes to the Title X family planning program, which required family planning providers participating in the program to stop providing or promoting abortions to remain eligible for funding. 

The president is also slated to sign an executive order aimed at strengthening Medicaid and initiating an open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act. -The Hill

And finally, Friday will be 'Immigration' day - on which Biden will expand some of the immigration-related actions he took on his first day in office. According to The Hill, one of the orders will likely be related to regional migration and border processing, and will rescind Trump-era policies surrounding the asylum program. It will also reportedly contain strategies to address the root causes of Central American migration to the United States. 

Biden will also sign an order establishing a task force to reunify migrant families separated during the Trump administration. Biden himself faced criticism during the Democratic primaries for the Obama administration's deportation policies, but the Trump administration implemented an official zero tolerance policy that led to the separation of thousands of migrant families.

The president will also sign an order directing an immediate review of the public charge rule "and other actions to remove barriers and restore trust in the legal immigration system, including improving the naturalization process."

A fourth order, establishing principles to guide the implementation of the Refugee Admission Program, is tentatively on the schedule for Friday but could be scrapped or changed, according to the memo. -The Hill

And there you have it. We can't help but wonder if the press will be herded out of the room if they dare ask Biden to discuss the sweeping changes he's making?

Tyler Durden Sun, 01/24/2021 - 18:20
Published:1/24/2021 5:25:37 PM
[] Byron York recalls what the WaPo's analysis revealed about impeaching Barack Obama as a former president Published:1/24/2021 4:20:33 PM
[Markets] Key Advisor Reveals Trump's Post-Presidency Plans Key Advisor Reveals Trump's Post-Presidency Plans

Authored by Beth Baumann via Townhall.com (emphasis ours),

Now that President Donald Trump has left the White House, many Americans are wondering what he plans to do next. There have been rumors about him starting a new political party, known as the Patriot Party. But, according to one of his key advisors, Jason Miller, Trump plans to focus on something bigger and far more important: election integrity.

Just one day after boarding Air Force One with the Trump family on their venture from Washington, D.C. to Mar-a-Lago, Miller told "Just the News AM" that the former president has a couple of goals over the next few years, including "winning back the House and the Senate for Republicans in 2022 to make sure that we can stop the Democratic craziness."

"You're also going to see him emerge as the nation's leader on ballot and voting integrity," he said.

According to Miller, Trump wants to focus on voter integrity but that work will never take place in Washington, D.C. because Democrats don't believe there is a threat to America's elections. Instead, Trump is likely to work with individual states and state legislatures to create reforms. 

"As we saw, an important thing to keep in mind, so much of our debate between the election and up until a couple weeks ago was over these Article 2 abuses and the Constitution, where only the state legislatures can actually go and set" the rules for mail-in voting, Miller explained.

"This is something we're going to start ramping up, not immediately. We'll give them a little bit of a transition period but this is critical and we have to do it," he said.

Even though President Biden has come out in full swing with executive orders since he took office on Wednesday, Miller said Republicans could do things legislatively to counteract his measures, but it's highly unlikely.

"A number of things could be done legislatively but I think President Trump also looks at Capitol Hill and realizes Democrats are in charge of both the House and the Senate and, quite frankly though, even if we had Republicans controlling much of this, they might go to block some of these things. We see how the D.C. insiders are just slow to move," he explained. "I mean, how many years did Republicans sit there and do nothing about Section 230 abuses? How many years did Republicans sit there on Capitol Hill, even though we had both the House and the Senate, and never did anything about the spying and cheating that we saw from President Obama and his administration, everything he did in the transition in 2016 when Joe Biden was screaming, 'Logan Act' and all the abuses we saw Susan Rice and all the other things. Republicans never got to the bottom of that."

Tyler Durden Sun, 01/24/2021 - 11:15
Published:1/24/2021 10:18:53 AM
[Politics] For Black pioneers Harris and Obama, different times mean different approaches on race

Barack Obama, the first Black president, followed aides' advice to not be a "racial grievance" figure. Kamala Harris, the first Black vice president, will be. Times changed.

Published:1/24/2021 7:49:17 AM
[Markets] Greenwald: The Moronic Firing Of Will Wilkinson Greenwald: The Moronic Firing Of Will Wilkinson

Authored by Glenn Greenwald via greenwald.substack.com,

Will Wilkinson is about as mainstream and conventional a thinker as one can find, and is unfailingly civil and restrained in his rhetoric. But yesterday, he was fired by the technocratic centrist think tank for which he worked, the Niskanen Center, and appears on the verge of being fired as well by The New York Times, where he is a contributing writer. This multi-pronged retribution is due to a single tweet that was obviously satirical and sarcastic and for which he abjectly apologized. But no matter: the tweet has been purposely distorted into something malevolent and the prevailing repressive climate weaponized it against him.

Will Wilkinson, who worked until Monday at the Niskanen Center think tank and as a Contributing Writer at The New York Times (Twitter)

Neither Wilkinson nor his tweet are particularly interesting. What merits attention here is the now-pervasive climate that fostered this tawdry episode, and which has unjustly destroyed countless reputations and careers with no sign of slowing down.

During the Bush and Obama years, Wilkinson worked at the libertarian CATO Institute but, even then, he was not much of a libertarian. As he himself explained, he is far more of a standard-issue neoliberal that one finds everywhere throughout DC think tanks, the op-ed pages of large newspapers, and the green rooms of CNN, just with a bit wonkier style of expression and a few vague libertarian gestures on some isolated issues. That self-description was in 2012, and he since then has become even more of a standard liberal during the Trump era, which is why the Paper of Record made him a contributor opinion writer where he published articles under such bold and groundbreaking headlines as “Trump Has Disqualified Himself From Running in 2020.”

On Wednesday, the night of Joe Biden’s inauguration, Wilkinson posted this now-deleted tweet in which he was obviously not calling for violence. He was instead sardonically noting that anti-Pence animus became a prevailing sentiment among some MAGA followers over the last month, including reports that at least a few of those who breached the Capitol were calling for Pence’s hanging on treason grounds, thus ironically enabling liberals and MAGA followers to “unite” over that desire:

The next morning, a right-wing hedge fund manager and large-money GOP donor, Gabe Hoffman, flagged this tweet and claimed to believe that Wilkinson “call[ed] for former Vice President Mike Pence to be lynched.” Hoffman also tweeted at Wilkinson’s New York Times bosses to ask if they have “any comment on your ‘contributing opinion writer’ calling for violence against a public official?,” and then tweeted at Wilkinson’s other bosses at the think tank to demand the same.

It is unclear whether Hoffman really believed what he was saying or was just trying to make a point that liberals should be forced to live under these bad faith, repressive “cancel culture” standards he likely blames them for creating and imposing on others. This is how he responded when I posed that question:

I was not attempting anything. Numerous major news outlets reported on Wilkinson's tweet, including Fox News. I simply documented the events on my Twitter feed yesterday. Clearly, many liberal journalists were outraged at his firing, noticed my documentation, and decided to inexplicably blame me for his firing. It's ridiculous that many liberal journalists apparently had nothing better to do on Twitter, than blame a guy with less than 10,000 followers documenting events, for getting Wilkinson fired, considering many major news outlets reported on Wilkinson's tweet.

When I pressed further on whether he really believed that Wilkinson’s tweet was an earnest call for assassination or whether he was just demanding that perceived “cancel culture” standards be applied equally, he responded: “I did not take a position either way on the matter. Wilkinson is perfectly capable of explaining the tweet and his intended meaning, since he wrote it. Clearly, given the content, the least one can expect is that he should give that explanation.”

Either way, intentional or not, Hoffman’s distorted interpretation of Wilkinson’s tweet produced instant results. That afternoon, Wilkinson posted a long and profuse apology to Twitter in which he made clear that he did not intend to advocate violence, but still said: “Last night I made an error of judgment and tweeted this. It was sharp sarcasm, but looked like a call for violence. That's always wrong, even as a joke. It was especially wrong at a moment when unity and peace are so critical. I'm deeply sorry and vow not to repeat the mistake. . . . [T]here was no excuse for putting the point the way I did. It was wrong, period.”

At least for now, that apology fell on deaf ears. The president and co-founder of the Niskanen Center, Jerry Taylor, quickly posted a statement (now deleted without comment) announcing Wilkinson’s immediate firing, a statement promptly noted by Hoffman:

Statement of Niskanen Center, posted to Twitter the evening of Jan. 21 and now deleted without comment, by President Jerry Taylor

 

Wilkinson’s job with The New York Times is also clearly endangered. A spokesperson for the paper told Fox News: “Advocating violence of any form, even in jest, is unacceptable and against the standards of The New York Times. We’re reassessing our relationship with Will Wilkinson."

So a completely ordinary and unassuming liberal commentator is in jeopardy of having his career destroyed because of a tweet that no person in good faith could possibly believe was actually advocating violence and which, at worst, could be said to be irresponsibly worded. And this is happening even though everyone knows it is all based on a totally fictitious understanding of what he said. Why?


It is important to emphasize that Wilkinson’s specific plight is the least interesting and important aspect of this story. Unlike most people subjected to these sorts of bad faith reputation-wrecking attacks, he has many influential media friends and allies who are already defending him — including New York Times columnists Ezra Klein and Ross Douthat — and I would be unsurprised if this causes the paper to keep him and the Niskanen Center to reverse its termination of him.

All of this is especially ironic given that the president of this colorless, sleepy think tank — last seen hiring the colorless, sleepy Matt Yglesias — himself has a history of earnestly and non-ironically advocating actual violence against people. As Aaron Sibarium documented, Taylor took to Twitter over the summer to say that he wishes BLM and Antifa marchers had “rushed” the St. Louis couple which famously displayed guns outside their homes and “beat their brains in,” adding: “excuse me if I root for antifa to punch these idiots out.” So that’s the profound, pious believer in non-violence so deeply offended by Wilkinson’s tweet that he quickly fired him from his think tank.

Whatever else might be true of them, the Niskanen Center’s president and The New York Times editors are not dumb enough to believe that Wilkinson was actually advocating that Mike Pence be lynched. It takes only a few functional brain cells to recognize what his actual intent with that tweet was, as poorly expressed or ill-advised as it might have been given the context-free world of Twitter and the tensions of the moment. So why would they indulge all this by firing a perfectly inoffensive career technocrat, all to appease the blatant bad faith and probably-not-even-serious demands of the mob?

Because this is the framework that we all now live with. It does not matter whether the anger directed at the think tank executives or New York Times editors is in good faith or not. It is utterly irrelevant whether there is any validity to the complaints against Wilkinson and the demands that he be fired. The merit of these kinds of grievance campaigns is not a factor.

All that matters to these decision-makers is societal scorn and ostracization. That is why the only thing that can save Wilkinson is that he has enough powerful friends to defend him, enabling them to reverse the cost-benefit calculus: make it so that there is more social scorn from firing Wilkinson than keeping him. Without the powerful media friends he has assembled over the years, he would have no chance to salvage his reputation and career no matter how obvious it was that the complaints against him are baseless.

Humans are social and political animals. We do fundamentally crave and need privacy. But we also crave and need social integration and approval. That it is why prolonged solitary confinement in prison is a form of torture that is almost certain to drive humans insane. It is why John McCain said far worse than the physical abuse he endured in a North Vietnamese prison was the long-term isolation to which he was subjected. It is why modern society’s penchant for removing what had been our sense of community — churches, mosques, and synagogues; union halls and bowling leagues; small-town life — has coincided with a significant increase in mental health pathologies, and it is why the lockdowns and isolation of the COVID pandemic have made all of those, predictably, so much worse.

Those who have crafted a society in which mob anger, no matter how invalid, results in ostracization and reputation-destruction have exploited these impulses. If you are a think tank executive in Washington or a New York Times editor, why would you want to endure the attacks on you for “sanctioning violence” or “inciting assassinations” just to save Will Wilkinson? The prevailing culture vests so much weight in these sorts of outrage mobs that it is almost always easier to appease them than resist them.

The recent extraordinary removal of the social media platform Parler from the internet was clearly driven by these dynamics. It is inconceivable that Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos and Google executives believe that Parler is some neo-Nazi site that played anywhere near the role in planning and advocating for the Capitol riot as Facebook and YouTube did. But they know that significant chunks of liberal elite culture believe this (or at least claim to), and they thus calculate — not irrationally, even if cowardly — that they will have to endure a large social and reputational hit for refusing mob demands to destroy Parler. Like the Niskanen and Times bosses with Wilkinson, they had to decide how much pain they were willing to accept to defend Parler, and — as is usually the case — it turned out the answer was not much. Thus was Parler destroyed, with nowhere near the number of important liberal friends that Wilkinson has.

The perception that this is some sort of exclusively left-wing tactic is untrue. Recall in 2003, in the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when the lead singer for the Dixie Chicks, Natalie Maines, uttered this utterly benign political comment at a concert in London: “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence. And we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.” In response, millions joined a boycott of their music, radio stations refused to play their songs, Bush supporters burned their albums, and country star Toby Keith performed in front of a gigantic image of Maines standing next to Saddam Hussein, as though her opposition to the war meant she admired the Iraqi dictator.

But two recent trends have greatly intensified this mania. Social media is one of the most powerful generators of group-think ever invented in human history, enabling a small number of people to make decision-makers feel besieged with scorn and threatened with ostracization if they do not obey mob demands. The other is that the liberal-left has gained cultural hegemony in the most significant institutions — from academia and journalism to entertainment, sports, music and art — and this weapon, which they most certainly did not invent, is now vested squarely in their hands.

But all weapons, once unleashed onto the world, will be copied and wielded by opposing tribes. Gabe Hoffman has likely seen powerless workers fired in the wake of the George Floyd killing for acts as trivial as a Latino truck driver innocently flashing an “OK” sign at a traffic light or a researcher fired for posting data about the political effects of violent v. non-violent protests and realized that he could use, or at least trifle with, this power against liberals instead of watching it be used by them. So he did it.

It’s exactly the same dynamic that led liberals to swoon over Donald Trump’s banning from social media and the mass-banning of his followers only to watch yesterday as numerous Antifa accounts were banned for the crime of organizing an anti-Biden march and how, before that, Palestinian journalists and activists have been banned en masse whenever Israel claims their rhetoric constitutes “incitement.”

Unleash this monster and one day it will come for you. And you’ll have no principle to credibly invoke in protest when it does. You’ll be left with nothing more than lame and craven pleading that your friends do not deserve the same treatment as your enemies. Force, not principle, will be the sole factor deciding the outcome.

If you’re lucky enough to have important and famous media friends like Will Wilkinson, you have a chance to survive it. Absent that, you have none.

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/23/2021 - 20:30
Published:1/23/2021 7:44:22 PM
[In The News] Grassley Wants To Know How DOJ Found ‘No Wrongdoing’ In Michael Flynn Leak Probe

By Chuck Ross -

Sen. Chuck Grassley on Friday called on the Justice Department to explain its decision to close an investigation into leaks of information about former national security adviser Michael Flynn with a finding of no wrongdoing on the part of Obama administration officials. The New York Times reported Tuesday that federal prosecutors quietly closed a criminal probe …

Grassley Wants To Know How DOJ Found ‘No Wrongdoing’ In Michael Flynn Leak Probe is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:1/23/2021 6:13:37 PM
[Markets] Confessions Of A Deprogrammed Trump Supporter Confessions Of A Deprogrammed Trump Supporter

Authored (satirically) by Matthew Ehret via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

As many people are aware, CNN recently aired a wonderful interview by former Moonie-turned-cult-deprogrammer Steve Hassan giving advice to Americans wishing to deprogram their MAGA-hat wearing loved ones, now that the age of Trump is coming to an end.

I was fortunate enough to have read Hassan’s book and had the loving scrub-brush of truth wash my brain of all of its formerly pro-Trump sympathies and can honestly say that I am most certainly better off for having left those old delusions in the past.

For one thing, I used to enjoy my right to free speech… but thanks to the terrible events of January 6, 2021 that left 3 people dead, horned Q supporters doing photo ops for media, pro-Trump rioters let into the capitol building by guards, and busloads of conspicuous violent figures whom some say were “provocateurs” (whatever that means), I have come to realize that I was all wrong. Free speech is actually very dangerous. Words we took for granted like “patriot”, “nationalism”, or “vote fraud” are actually very racist and using them is a sure fire sign that you might be a domestic terrorist. At any rate, using them should at least be enough to get someone banned from social media and put under surveillance.

For a long time, I thought that record numbers of Black and Hispanic voters supporting Trump in 2020 meant that Trump was not racist, but I now realize that these poor folks just suffered from “multiracial whiteness”.

I thought that questioning voting machines that had been caught red handed manipulating elections across the world was patriotic and that somehow some conglomeration of Big Tech, the media, intelligence agencies and a thing called “deep state” were colluding to create a color revolution in the USA… but I now realize that I was actually supporting conspiracy theories and thus violence and thus domestic terrorism.

I was so far gone that my pre-deprogrammed self was actually persuaded in the crazy idea that depopulation agendas hid behind the cover of a “Great Reset agenda”, concocted by a shadowy elite of sociopathic oligarchs. I have now learned that this was either a silly conspiracy theory, the result of my own delusions or if it was true, then I can at least say with certainty that it is all for my own good.

The truth that I have now come to discover, is that free speech has just gone too far.

This practice has reached its limits, and Twitter’s legal executive Vijaya Gadde is absolutely right. Social Media should do its civic duty and extend its censorship of “dangerous thoughts” to citizens and political officials outside of the USA in order to protect the world from itself.

If other world leaders are worried about this new truth, then they should seriously do some soul searching and learn to think differently.

The old me is long gone, and now all I can say is “thank god” Joe Biden has found himself in the position of leader of the free world at this historic moment of change.

For awhile it was looking like Donald Trump would actually stop forever wars, and untie the U.S. military’s involvement from the CIA. That white supremacist actually came precariously close to destroying the foundations of globalization that many enlightened billionaires had put decades of energy into organizing- first destroying Obama’s Transpacific Partnership, then the Paris Climate Accords and THEN he had the nerve to scrap NAFTA itself by giving nation states a say in economic affairs!

He even committed the sin of criticizing NATO itself- the very foundation of western collective security from the obvious threats of Russia and China!

He called for insane things like “bringing back manufacturing to the USA”, “restoring protectionism”, and “making space exploration and arctic development a priority for the nation” and everyone knows that this is all so 1963.

But now the “disturbance” is over, and the age of Biden has arrived!

Joe Biden is a man who understands what liberal values and the “rules-based order” are really about.

He was wise enough to get onto the unipolar bandwagon before it was popular by drafting the 1994 surveillance bill that John Ashcroft later used verbatim for the Patriot Act after 9/11.

He was smart enough to know that Wall Street couldn’t lead America into the 21st century as long as Glass-Steagall was in place and voted for its repeal in 1999.

He was one of the loudest supporters of NAFTA which helped reduce carbon emissions drastically by exporting dirty industrial jobs oversees where they should be.

He also gave the Credit Card companies the political support they needed to stop citizens from abusing their generosity which went a long way to help Americans build character and take responsibility for their short sighted consumer decisions.

After 9/11, Biden also brilliantly supported the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq (who may not have had anything to do with 9/11 but at least showed the terrorists who’s boss).

Unlike those cultish Trumping fascists, Biden was courageous enough to proclaim even before the horrible insurrectionary riots of January 6th, that a new Patriot Act/Domestic Terror Bill would be needed to purge the republic of dangerous terrorism and the insidious thought crimes which spread doubt in honest elections, and distrust in the benevolent political structures leading the western world. Thinking people know, that thought does sometimes cause action… and if we want to truly remedy wrong actions like the riots of January 6th, or dangerous COVID-denialism, then we should most certainly take the battle to the realm of the mind.

The brilliant Steve Hassan even recognized this reality in his CNN interview when he said that “the bottom line is all of America needs deprogramming because we’ve all been negatively influenced by Donald Trump.”

Sure, some people think that the 46 deaths and 32 riots caused by Antifa and BLM over the past six months might qualify as domestic terrorism, but that’s only because they are infected with racist wrong think and don’t realize that these groups were just fighting against fascism and racism.

Certainly, the first 100 days after Biden’s inauguration will be inspired.

Already, Biden has made commitments to sign the USA back onto the legally binding Paris Climate Accords to help us win the war against climate, and has shown the good sense to reverse Trump’s disastrous decision to break the anti-China TPP in 2016. Biden always said he would renegotiate the TPP in order “to hold China accountable”, and everyone knows Trump’s selfish decision only helped China by freeing up its neighbors to work together on the BRI. If only Trump hadn’t killed TPP, then the 14 nation strong Regional Cooperation Economic Partnership which China just finalized would never have happened.

Most importantly, our benevolent overlords who meet at Davos every year are happy once more and have even kicked off Biden’s inauguration with a special celebration entitled “the Davos Agenda” running from January 25-29. According to the WEF, this event will “mark the launch of the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset Initiative and begin the preparation of the Special Annual Meeting in the spring. Each day will focus on one of the five domains of the Great Reset Initiative.”

The USA’s new Special Envoy on Climate, John Kerry, captured the excitement of this wonderful moment perfectly when he said:

“The notion of a reset is more important than ever before… we’re at the dawn of an extremely exciting time.”

According to the Great Reset architects, this is definitely the right idea.

WEF President Klaus Schwab has taught us that the “age of owning things” is so passe, and we know that this obsolete relic of capitalism isn’t compatible in our new age of global peace and brotherhood.

Ownership of “things” just makes us selfish and forget about the real purpose of life.. which is really about sacrifice. Establishing new supranational organizations to manage the levers of consumption and production according to evidence-based standards and scientific realities of carrying capacity is the only remedy to the evils of populism and being ignorant to this reality doesn’t lessen the fact that boards of experts who are smarter than you say that it is so.

According to the WEF’s Great Reset website global CO2 output collapsed by over 7% during the 12 months of global COVID-19 shutdowns… which means the COVID-19 is more of a blessing than many dim witted selfish nationalists who like owning things realize.

So what if the world population will contract under the shutdown of the world economy under COVID lockdowns? And so what if we lose our capacity to support industrial civilization through the imposition of global green energy grid?

Didn’t the late great Maurice Strong (who was WEF Executive Director and father of the Great Reset), ask the question in 1991:

“What if a small group of world leaders were to conclude that the principal risk to the Earth comes from the actions of the rich countries? And if the world is to survive, those rich countries would have to sign an agreement reducing their impact on the environment. Will they do it? The group’s conclusion is ‘no’. The rich countries won’t do it. They won’t change. So, in order to save the planet, the group decides: Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”

So get ready for an exciting time in history, and hopefully China finally learns that the new world order is Unipolar – with a big green hug for all well behaved leaders who get rid of such silly ideas as “nationalism”, “industrial progress” or “ending poverty through development” which dangerous concepts like the Belt and Road Initiative threaten to unleash.

Most importantly, China has to really deprogram itself from her belief that Russia is a worthwhile partner in the 21st century.

Xi made a good decision to attend this month’s Great Reset conference and both he and Modi would do well to abandon dirty fossil fuels, their support of nuclear energy development or space mining in order to adapt their realities to the computer models which have been telling us how to hitch our destinies to a world of entropy and diminishing returns.

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/23/2021 - 18:35
Published:1/23/2021 5:43:44 PM
[Politics] Column: You thought McConnell was tough as majority leader? Wait until you see him as minority leader

Get ready for the same tough-as-nails obstructionist we saw when Obama was in office.

Published:1/23/2021 6:42:26 AM
[Markets] A Large US Military Convoy Rolled Into Syria On 1st Day Of Biden Presidency A Large US Military Convoy Rolled Into Syria On 1st Day Of Biden Presidency

Two separate reports from Middle East news sources at the end of this week strongly suggest that both Russia and the United States are building up their forces in war-torn Syria within the opening days of the Joe Biden administration.

First, Syrian state media is alleging a major US build-up and reinforcements sent to "illegitimate bases in Hasakah countryside". The report in Syria's SANA details:

"...that a convoy consisted of 40 trucks loaded with weapons and logistical materials, affiliated to the so-called international coalition have entered in Hasaka countryside via al-Walid illegitimate border crossing with north of Iraq, to reinforce illegitimate bases in the area."

Illustrative file image of US convoy in northeast Syria

Damascus said further that tons of US heavy equipment was observed going toward building up US positions at Conoco oil and gas field: "Over the past few days, helicopters affiliated to the so-called international coalition have transported logistical equipment and heavy military vehicles to Conoco oil field in northeastern Deir Ezzor countryside, after turning it into military base to reinforce its presence and loot the Syrian resources," SANA wrote further.

This comes at a moment Biden's Syria policy and direction is still largely a big unknown - though it remains that his cabinet looks to include foreign policy hawks - particularly many of the same officials responsible for Obama's both overt and covert interventions in Libya and Syria upon the start of the so-called 'Arab Spring'.

For now President Biden is likely simply to continue Trump's policy of keeping a contingent of American special forces troops stealing occupying Syria's oil and gas fields.

Meanwhile a separate story on the same day as the reported US convoy reinforcements says Russia too is busy building up its forces in an area near where Americans and Turkish patrols are occupying northeast Syria.

According to Beirut-based Al Masdar News:

The Russian Armed Forces sent more reinforcements and heavy military equipment to the Al-Qamishli Airport this week, as they strengthen their presence east of the Euphrates River.

According to the latest reports from the Al-Hasakah Governorate, the Russian Armed Forces deployed more troops to the frontlines with the Turkish military and their allied militants near the key town of Tal Tamr.

This is based on Russian military sources featuring footage of a Russian IL-76 cargo landing a Qamishli Airport which is the "second time in ten days that they have brought in more reinforcements and military equipment."

Russian military cargo plan landing in northern Syria on Thursday:

Russia has also lately sent more ships to patrol off Syria's Mediterranean coast, out of the naval base at Tartus.

Likely this latest rush to ensure greater Russian 'readiness' is based on the "unknowns" represented by the presidential transition in Washington. However, there's little doubt Biden will keep up the severe sanctions which are currently crushing what's left of the Syrian economy, with civilians bearing the brunt of suffering.

Israel also appears to be ramping up its airstrikes inside Syria, claiming to be targeting Iranian positions amid concerns Biden will be "soft" on the Islamic Republic and so-called Iranian influence in Syria and Lebanon.

Tyler Durden Sat, 01/23/2021 - 06:00
Published:1/23/2021 5:13:22 AM
[Markets] Cult: Government Is Now The New Religion? Cult: Government Is Now The New Religion?

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFPlan.com,

A new magazine cover of the Jacobin is striking a nerve after it appears that the magazine is saying the government is now god and our religion, to be worshipped. It sure begs the age-old question: who do you serve?

If we are ever to be free, we have to remove our consent. That goes for those who worshipped Trump as the messiah as well (and there were plenty.)  We should have never allowed ourselves to see each other as slaves to the ruling class, submitting to democracy (which is mob rule) and letting others have power over anyone else for any reason. Our inability to take the moral high ground has led to us this point in history. Government is now your god. Like it or not.

Describing Trump supporters as a cult has become a trope among his Democratic critics. Which seems ironic, considering how the very same crowd in the past four years tended to invest emotionally in whoever they hoped would end Trump’s presidency. Special Counsel Robert Muller probably received the lion’s share of the prayers, though figures like ex-FBI director James Comey or even Trump’s fixer-turned-critic Michael Cohen basked in some limelight. –RT

Here’s the cover of the magazine in its entirety for you to have a look at:

Biden’s larger-than-life, bare-chested figure is shown surrounded by ‘holy spirits’ of Twitter and ‘saints’. The latter include kneeling Democrat leaders in the US Congress, Dr. Anthony Fauci, fawning journalists, and manager-class devotees eagerly consuming the ‘holy scripture’ from what is probably the latest Barack Obama memoir. The former president himself is shown as a six-winged seraphim bracketed by the likewise angelic Hillary and Bill Clinton, with the trio gazing benignly from the heavens. A crowd of mask-wearing suburban laymen on Earth celebrates Biden’s ascension. A pair of Reaper drones complete the picture, providing a clear hint for the doubtful that the image should be taken with a grain of salt.-RT

It is way past time to figure out that this is the plan.  One world government, worshipped under the one world religion where the very few control and enslave the many.  Trump obviously didn’t do anything he promised, such as drain the swamp, and people are still worshipping him as some sort of messiah as well.  Stop allowing others to rule over you and making exceptions if one has a different letter behind his name.

Democracy is mob rule. If voting mattered, they wouldn’t let us do it. Government is slavery. Taxation is theft. Time to wake up and take the moral approach that no one should be a master and no one should be a slave regardless of whether it’s called “government” or not.

Hopefully, this is the wake-up call people need and the push toward a liberated humanity, truly free from their chains.

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/22/2021 - 23:40
Published:1/22/2021 10:44:21 PM
[Politics] Former DHS Acting Secretary Urges Mayorkas Confirmation Former Department of Homeland Security Acting Director Kevin McAleenan has encouraged the Senate to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas as his successor, hailing his former boss in the Obama administration. ''After serving under his leadership during the Obama administration, I know... Published:1/22/2021 9:39:37 PM
[Politics] Ex-VA Secretary Wilkie to Newsmax TV: Don't Bring Back Old Guard Outgoing Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie cautioned the incoming Biden administration against ''bringing back the same people'' that ran the department under former President Barack Obama, suggesting on Newsmax TV on Friday that it would result in many of the same... Published:1/22/2021 7:37:27 PM
[Entertainment] Behind the Scenes With Sergio Hudson on Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris' Inauguration Day Looks Kamala Harris, Michelle Obama, Sergio HudsonAs Michelle Obama descended the stairs at the United States Capitol to make her formal appearance on Inauguration Day, a world of eyes was watching--including Sergio Hudson's. The...
Published:1/22/2021 4:36:10 PM
[NEWS & ANALYSIS] UH-OH, JOE! Biden’s Opening Approval Rating Lower than Trump, Obama

“The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this: I will be a President for all Americans — whether you voted for me or not. I will keep the faith that you have placed in me.” That is a quote directly from Joe Biden himself.  But despite his promise to be […]

The post UH-OH, JOE! Biden’s Opening Approval Rating Lower than Trump, Obama appeared first on Human Events.

Published:1/22/2021 4:06:13 PM
[Markets] Janet Yellen Talking Out Of Both Sides Of Her Mouth Janet Yellen Talking Out Of Both Sides Of Her Mouth

Authored by Michael Maharrey via SchiffGold.com,

During testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, Treasury Secretary-nominee Janet Yellen talked out of both sides of her mouth. She acknowledged that too much debt is problematic, but in the same sentence, insisted we need to “act big” to rescue the economy.

Neither the president-elect, nor I, propose this relief package without an appreciation for the country’s debt burden. But right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big.”

This is a prime example of the old adage that you can ignore everything in a sentence that comes before the word “but.”

The truth is, Yellen doesn’t care about the debt, and she, nor the newly installed Biden administration, will ever do anything to address it. The strategy is to spend, spend, spend, and continue to kick the debt-can down the road. In fact, this has been the strategy of both Republicans and Democrats for decades.

Pretty much everybody pays lip-service to the national debt, just as Yellen did. But while politicians of every stripe have jawboned about the need for fiscal responsibility and talked vaguely about “dealing with our rising debt”  – someday – the national debt now approaches $28 trillion. This has to make one wonder, at exactly what number does legitimate concern kick in? $30 trillion? $40 trillion?

I’ll give you a hint: there is no number.

The fact of the matter is, there is always a reason to borrow, spend, and push concerns about the debt into some nebulous moment in the future. During the Obama years, it was the financial crisis. Today, it’s the coronavirus pandemic. And tomorrow there will be another reason — perhaps climate change, or maybe our crumbling infrastructure, or perhaps another war.

Any talk of actually addressing the debt problem should be viewed in the same way we look at Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. She’s going to pull it away. Every single time.

Yellen reasons that spending now is fine with “interest rates at record lows.” This should raise a question. Why are interest rates at record lows?

The reason is simple; the Federal Reserve is artificially keeping them there.

The Process

When Uncle Sam borrows money, it puts upward pressure on interest rates. The more bonds the Treasury Department issues, the lower the price falls because market demand can’t keep up with supply. Bond yields inversely correlate with bond prices. As the price of bonds drops, interest rates rise. This is simple economic calculus.

Enter the Federal Reserve. The Fed buys bonds on the open market (quantitative easing), creating artificial demand and propping prices up. This keeps interest rates artificially low.

So far, so good. But there is a small hitch in this process. The Fed buys these bonds with money created out of thin air and injects this money into the economy. This is inflation. And it’s precisely why the money supply increased at a record pace in 2020.

Yellen thinks this process can continue because “in a very low interest-rate environment like we’re in, what we’re seeing is that even though the amount of debt relative to the economy has gone up, the interest burden hasn’t.” And she believes “the future is likely to bring low-interest rates for a long time.” She can say this with some level of certainty because she knows that the Fed will have her back and continue to monetize all of the debt.

Ironically, Yellen promised she would “be a voice for fiscal sanity” in the Biden administration. If this is fiscal sanity, I shudder to think what the fiscally insane are saying.

The End-Game

Here’s the problem with this entire scenario: you can’t just keep printing money indefinitely without consequences. We already see the impact in the massive stock market bubble. We’re starting to see signs of inflation in the commodities markets. Oil is back above $50 a barrel. Remember $4 per gallon gas in the mid-2000s? And at some point, you’re going to see the impact in the supermarket. In fact, my wife insists we already are.

Typically, the Fed fights inflation by tightening monetary policy and letting interest rates rise. But how can it do this with Yellen and Biden depending on low rates to finance their massive spending spree?

The answer is obvious. It can’t.

In another example of Yellen double-talk, she insisted “the United States does not seek a weaker currency to gain competitive advantage and we should oppose attempts by other countries to do so.”

The US may not be “seeking” a weaker currency, but that’s what it’s getting. That’s exactly what happens when you print money out of thin air. And that’s exactly what the Fed is going to continue to do.

There is no exit strategy from this insane monetary policy.

As Peter Schiff explained in a recent podcast, the Fed managed to run this shell game successfully after the 2008 financial crisis because everybody believed all of the quantitative easing was a “temporary emergency measure.” They believed the central bank would unwind it, shrink the balance sheet and normalize interest rates. And as Fed chair, Yellen gave it a shot, and to a greater degree, Jerome Powell after her. But the stock market tanked in the fall of 2018 and the Fed went right back to rate cuts and QE.

Are people going to fall for this con a second time? Not likely, as Schiff explains.

Nobody is going to buy into it again. Nobody is going to bite on this a second time. Everybody knows at this point that QE is infinite. Everybody knows that the Fed is never going to shrink its balance sheet. The balance sheet is going to grow in perpetuity. It’s just that now people are under the delusion that it’s OK. They don’t realize that the only reason it worked the first time was because the world was convinced that it was temporary and a one-off emergency measure.”

A dollar crash is the end game. The Fed has to keep monetizing and the printing presses have to keep running because Yellen-Biden-et al. have to keep interest rates low.

So, sure Janet, debt doesn’t matter.

Until it does.

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/22/2021 - 14:47
Published:1/22/2021 2:05:41 PM
[] Politico: Will Biden agree to jettison war authorizations? Published:1/21/2021 5:32:37 PM
[Markets] Despite Record Year, Wall Street Firms Refuse To Hike Banker Pay Despite Record Year, Wall Street Firms Refuse To Hike Banker Pay

Two days ago, when reporting on Goldman's blockbuster Q4 earnings report (and again, the the next day with Morgan Stanley just as impressive results), we pointed out that even as bank revenues soared on the back of the pandemic profit bonanza, employee comp was in fact declining and was, at best, flat, saying "higher bank revenues and much lower comp: this is the end of an era for  bankers/traders who used to share in firm upside"

We were confident some major financial outlet would promptly piggyback on this observation, and this morning Bloomberg did not let us down, and in a report titled "Wall Street Gets Frugal With Employees After Pandemic Windfall", it wrote that despite what turned out to be a record year for most top banks, "average pay per employee rose $271 at top U.S. banks last year" and "even where revenue soared, compensation costs rose much less."

To be sure, ahead of Q4 earnings there were conflicting reports with some predicting a decline for traders and dealmakers, in some cases as much as 30%, while others expecting a modest increase for top performers (especially among for hedge funds), but now that the results are in, it's not pretty. Quote Bloomberg:

Deluged by client orders and often working from home, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s workforce generated 15% more revenue per employee during the tumult of 2020. But as the year wound down, the firm had spent an average of just 2% more on each person.

Inside JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s investment bank, revenue per employee surged 22%. The figure for pay: up 1%.

Then again, perhaps it's just a case of lumping all bankers within the same compensation line. To be sure, few big U.S. banks disclose figures revealing how they compensated Wall Street-oriented workforces, and especially when it comes to compensation broken down by various segments. And while it is very likely that the superstar traders and rainmakers will get a raise and/or generous year-end bonuses, the prevailing image across banks was one of surprising pay restraint:

Earnings reports in recent days underscored anew how hard 2020’s tumult battered other business lines such as lending, where banks stockpiled tens of billions to cover bad loans. Despite the flurry of activity on Wall Street, total revenue at the nation’s six banking giants was little changed last year. The group boosted average pay per employee by a mere $271.

One possible reason for the stingy comp is that these same firms that enjoyed a bumper year thanks to the covid lockdowns - which left millions unemployed - are bracing for tougher times in Washington, where Democrats "skeptical" of large financial-industry paychecks are ascendant. As Bloomberg notes, "from President Joe Biden’s recent picks of veteran watchdogs -- such as Gary Gensler for the Securities and Exchange Commission and Rohit Chopra for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- to his focus on inequality, there are signs the industry faces both tougher scrutiny and regulation."

The changing of the guard may further embolden lawmakers and other critics who want to publish more data on industry wages, curb pay for chief executive officers and restrict bonuses that could encourage risk-taking.

"The optics aren’t good right now for large payouts", Mayra Rodriguez Valladares, a former analyst at the NY Fed who now trains bankers and regulators through her consulting firm, MRV Associates, told Bloomberg. "The more you reward the big lenders, the big traders, they take on more risk," which would attract criticism, she said. Well, yes, but it would also attract bailouts so in the end everyone wins. Except taxpayers of course.

While we expect most bankers to be furious for not getting a substantial raise to match the surging revenue of their employers, the news should probably not be a surprise, and as Bloomberg adds hints "have been emerging for weeks that some banks would opt to keep a lid on compensation for Wall Street operations pulling in loads of cash, ending a years-long period in which revenue and compensation have generally moved by similar degrees."

By late November, Bank of America Corp. executives were discussing proposals to keep its bonus pool for sales and trading at the prior year’s level. By December, Citigroup aimed to leave its overall pot unchanged for equities, while boosting it for bond traders by at least 10%. More-generous increases approaching 20% were under discussion in Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan, but even there, the thinking was that moves would vary widely.

In the end, however, the news was bad with Goldman’s earnings showing the firm cut the share of revenue it spent on compensation to 30% last year, down from about 34% or more in the prior three years. At JPMorgan’s corporate and investment banking division the ratio fell to just 24%, down from 28% in those earlier years. Morgan Stanley also shaved two percentage points off its compensation ratio.

Asked about the drop in comp, Goldman CFO Stephen Scherr said that “our philosophy remains to pay for performance, and we are committed to compensating top talent. Our full year compensation ratio is at a record low, reflecting the operating leverage in our franchise. As we have said in the past, we view the compensation ratio metric as less relevant to the firm as we build new scale platform businesses."

As Bloomberg concludes, the last time revenue growth and compensation growth diverged so wildly was in 2009, when Wall Street earnings rebounded from the 2008 financial crisis amid a withering public backlash against the industry’s pay practices. Critics of the industry’s excesses have kept a close eye on bonus trends ever since although Wall Street promptly resumed its generous ways as the post-GFC recovery continued on the back of QE1, QE2, QE3 and so on.

Ironically, the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act set the stage for stage for much heavier regulation of executive compensation, but several of its key rules were never fully adopted by the Obama administration (which, as a reminder, received generous donations from Wall Street). The prohibition on incentive-based payment arrangements that can encourage inappropriate risk-taking by bankers still hasn’t yet been finalized. And while some major banks have voluntarily instituted clawback provisions since the 2008 crisis, few have used them.

That may change now: Rodriguez Valladares expects policy makers will pay more attention to the gaps in pay between senior executives and employees on the lower rungs.

“Where legislators can play a very good role is to say: ‘Well hang on, you’re getting paid 100 times more than your teller, why is that?’” she said. “‘And you’ve been underpaying these people, so pay them more.’”

That's one angle; the other is that with much more scrutiny on Wall Street pay now, bankers - who used to leverage potential job offers from competitors - will now be stuck, both at home and in the current position since few others can offer generous pay raises, certainly not the hedge funds who are shuttering left and right as they continue to underperform not only the market but the average 16-year-old Robinhood trader.

Tyler Durden Thu, 01/21/2021 - 17:40
Published:1/21/2021 4:59:53 PM
[World] [Eugene Volokh] New Administration "Moving in Laser Like Fashion" to Uncover "Even Libertarians" in "an Unholy Alliance" So states former Obama Administration CIA Director John Brennan. Published:1/21/2021 4:59:53 PM
[Markets] Peter Schiff: Biden Takes The Helm Of A Sinking Ship Peter Schiff: Biden Takes The Helm Of A Sinking Ship

Via SchiffGold.com,

Joe Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20, becoming the 46th president of the United States. And as Peter Schiff put it in his podcast, he took the helm of a sinking ship.

But the stock markets sure don’t act like the ship is taking on water. All four major stock indices close at new record highs on inauguration day. Peter said this proves that the stock market rally really didn’t have much to do with Donald Trump.

If the stock market gains were really attributable to Donald Trump’s policies, and Joe Biden is already unwinding those policies and reversing as many as he can by executive order, why are all the stock markets making record highs? To me, that shows you that the stock market couldn’t care less about Biden being president, because it didn’t matter that Trump was president. This stock market rally that Donald Trump took credit for was not the result of Donald Trump’s policies.”

Peter has said from the beginning that the stock market wasn’t going up because of Donald Trump. And it didn’t go up on inauguration day in anticipation of Joe Biden. The stock market is going up because of the Federal Reserve.

Wall Street knows that. And they know that despite the change in the White House, there is no change at the Federal Reserve. Fed policy is going to be consistent. It is going to remain the same. And I think Joe Biden sent a message to Wall Street of the continuity by nominating Janet Yellen, who was the head of the Federal Reserve, to kind of cement in the minds of the markets, or the participants in the markets, that it is business as usual at the Fed — that they will keep in printing money, they will keep interest rates artificially low, in order to sustain asset bubbles. And that is what the stock market is celebrating.”

At this point, it doesn’t really matter who is sitting in the Oval Office as long as the Fed continues to supply the monetary heroin.

Looking back at the Trump era, it’s pretty clear he failed to “Make America Great Again.” To do so would have required stepping on a lot of political landmines while dealing with the deep-rooted problems of Social Security, Medicare and the national debt – the so-called third rail of politics.

The hope was that Donald Trump would not be shy about grabbing that third rail. Instead, he completely ignored it, and so the problems got much bigger during the Trump presidency.”

Trump wasn’t willing to do the painful things necessary to address the underlying problems facing the US. He wasn’t willing to take steps that would have tanked the stock market. But as Peter says, the stock market needed to go down despite the short-term pain it would have caused.

Had Donald Trump done the right thing, the stock market would have gone down. But that would have been a good thing. Overpriced stocks, overpriced real estate, that’s part of the problem. Part of the solution is allowing these assets to reprice to more reflect their actual value rather than the bubble that the Fed had been inflating. We need real economic growth, not another bubble. And unfortunately, that’s all we got under Trump.”

And now the markets expect the same thing to continue under President Biden. Peter said that’s where he thinks the markets and the country are wrong.

I think that there is a false sense of confidence that this can continue, whereas I think we’re nearing the end.”

A lot of people reason that things were basically OK under President Obama and therefore things under Biden won’t be too bad either. But Peter said the problems Biden is inheriting from Trump pale in comparison to the problems Obama inherited from George W. Bush. Mind you, these aren’t problems that Trump created. They’re the same problems he inherited from Obama.

It’s just that they got a lot bigger while [Trump] was president because he refused to do anything about the problems. The problems got bigger and bigger, to the point where they’re now so enormous that I think it’s impossible for Biden to get out of Dodge and hand this problem to the next president. I think this is the end of the line.”

Peter admitted that he’s had this feeling before and that he underestimated how long we could kick the can down the road. He said he didn’t expect so many people would be fooled into believing that the Fed could normalize rates and shrink its balance sheet after the extraordinary monetary policy launched during the Great Recession.

But just because we were able to kick the can down the road for as many years as we have doesn’t mean we can continue to do it with the same degree of success. Because the can is now so large that it can’t be kicked. If you try to kick it, you’re just going to break your foot.”

The reason QE 1, QE2 and QE 3 didn’t crash the dollar was because so many people believed the Fed would be able to unwind the policy.

But nobody is going to buy into it again. Nobody is going to bite on this a second time. Everybody knows at this point that QE is infinite. Everybody knows that the Fed is never going to shrink its balance sheet. The balance sheet is going to grow in perpetuity. It’s just that now people are under the delusion that it’s OK. They don’t realize that the only reason it worked the first time was because the world was convinced that it was temporary and a one-off emergency measure.”

On top of that, Biden is inheriting an economy that is fundamentally in much worse shape.

We’re in an even deeper economic hole. Despite the fact that the stock market is at record highs, the actual economy is in worse shape now, much worse shape, than it was in 2008.”

Peter said the bottom line is we’re not going to get away with this again, even though we got away with it in the past, and the inevitable dollar crisis is going to be that much worse because they did manage to kick the can so far down the road.

Tyler Durden Thu, 01/21/2021 - 16:20
Published:1/21/2021 3:29:29 PM
[] NYT Nobel Laureate Gets a History Lesson After Wondering Why 'God Save the King' Was Played at the Inauguration Published:1/21/2021 2:59:16 PM
[Markets] Iran Tells Biden 'Ball In US Court' To Revive Nuclear Deal While Admin Says "Long Way To Go" Iran Tells Biden 'Ball In US Court' To Revive Nuclear Deal While Admin Says "Long Way To Go"

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani signaled Washington on the day of President Joe Biden's inauguration that the "ball is in Washington’s court" to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

"If they [the White House] issue an order, they will see an order issued in Iran, no more. If they effectively implement their commitments, they must know there will be effective implementation of commitments on this side," Rouhani said while reiterating that Tehran is ready to immediately return to the JCPOA if Washington drops all sanctions in accord with the Obama-era deal.

"If they show their honesty in action, toward the laws and the resolution that they voted for and commitments they signed on for, naturally we will also implement all our commitments," he added.

While during his last weeks in office Trump had ramped up the pressure campaign on the Islamic Republic, Iranian authorities defiantly announced they had taken uranium enrichment to 20%, installed more advanced centrifuges, and advanced its capability to produce uranium metal crucial for nuclear warhead development (though Tehran has long maintained all of this is toward peaceful domestic energy purposes).

Iran's taking steps to breach the terms of the deal after Trump's prior pullout appeared geared toward creating leverage ahead of Biden's entry into the White House.

During the first White House press briefing of the Biden presidency, press secretary Jen Psaki chose her words carefully when asked about Iran, saying the following:

"The president has made clear that he believes that through follow-on diplomacy, the United States seeks to lengthen and strengthen nuclear constraints on Iran and address other issues of concern. Iran must resume compliance with significant nuclear constraints under the deal in order for that to proceed." 

Psaki said further in the briefing: "We would expect that some of his earlier conversations with foreign counterparts and foreign leaders will be with partners and allies and you would certainly anticipate that this would be part of the discussions."

This comes after Biden has long promised to rejoin the deal. Psaki's words left this open and seemed to anticipate new negotiations.

Interestingly, Biden’s pick for secretary of state, Antony Blinken told a Senate hearing Tuesday that "we are a long way" from returning to the JCPOA. Likely the US administration will seek to assure both Israel and Gulf allies that it will not be giving away too much in returning to the nuclear deal, which Tel Aviv vehemently opposes.

Meanwhile, it appears Washington and Tehran are now telling each other, "you first" in terms of who acts to reverse measures. Psaki signaled that Iran must return to JCPOA conformity while Tehran is saying it's up for Biden to immediately pursue a reversal of sanctions.

Tyler Durden Thu, 01/21/2021 - 12:49
Published:1/21/2021 11:58:44 AM
[Middle Column] Watch: Morano on Fox and Friends: Biden’s climate policies are designed to ‘hammer America first’ – Biden rejoins UN Paris pact & cancels Keystone pipeline

Fox and Friends - Fox News Channel - Broadcast January 21, 2021

Morano: "It is going to hammer middle & lower-income Americans & it's not going to change the climate one bit. We are back to where we were under Pres Obama -- climate virtue signaling."
 
Biden's policies "are not going to change the weather. The climate will not notice a difference."
Published:1/21/2021 9:57:57 AM
[Markets] Watch: Rand Paul Challenges New Secretary Of State Over Regime-Change In Syria Watch: Rand Paul Challenges New Secretary Of State Over Regime-Change In Syria

Via AlMasdarNews.com,

Senator Rand Paul recently challenged the new Secretary of State nominee Anthony Blinken on his history of pushing regime change in the Middle East and North Africa:

"Regime change in the Middle East has led to chaos, instability and more terrorism," Sen. Paul argued. 

"Like Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton you've been a supporter of military intervention in the Middle East from the Iraq war to the Libyan war to the Syrian civil war..." he introduced in his Tuesday questoning of Blinken.

Sen. Paul began his argument by questioning Blinken’s role in the NATO intervention of Libya in 2001 and his support for the US military invasion of Iraq in 2003, which the Kentucky congressman said was a major disaster that paved the way for a stronger Iran.

The congressman argued that Blinken continued to push regime change in Syria, which he said was a significant blunder, especially with the amount of money spent training "moderate rebel forces".

Sen. Paul said the administration of former President Barack Obama spent $250 million (USD) on training 60 rebels [as part of the DoD side; the CIA program was much more expansive], which he said was a waste of money.

He would go on to question why Blinken would support the Syrian opposition groups on the ground, as he pointed out the most powerful fighters are those from the jihadist groups like the Al-Nusra Front.

"Even after Libya you guys went on to Syria wanting to do the same thing again... it's a disaster. The lesson of these wars is that regime change doesn't work!" Paul said.

"You got rid of one 'bad guy' and another 'bad guy' got stronger," Paul added while lambasting the US strategy of going after Iran while Iraq is still weakened by Bush's regime change war there.

"Maybe we shouldn't be 'choosing' governments in the Middle East," Paul continued.

Watch the full exchange here:

Blinken claimed in response that he wasn't supportive of a full-scale 'Iraq-style' regime change war in Syria while vaguely claiming that he's done "deep thinking" and reflection on the issue. Blinken never repudiated the policy of regime change in the Middle East, however.

Sen. Paul then shifted his attention to NATO, which he said Blinken was trying to strengthen for the purpose of combatting Russia. The senator said Blinken’s policy on NATO would lead to war with Russia, which the latter responded would have the opposite effect.

Antony Blinken upon his nomination for Secretary of State in the new administration, via Reuters

Paul concluded by saying that regime change needs to end because it is involving the US in long wars that are costly to the military.

Tyler Durden Thu, 01/21/2021 - 10:19
Published:1/21/2021 9:27:38 AM
[Entertainment] A History of the Most Fascinating First Family Code Names Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Malia Obama, Sasha ObamaWhat's in a code name? A lot of history, that's what! For over 75 years, U.S. presidents and first families have taken part in a long-honored tradition of going by nicknames...
Published:1/21/2021 8:27:25 AM
[Markets] Luongo: Epitaph For A Post-Trump America Luongo: Epitaph For A Post-Trump America

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

I’m relieved Donald Trump is no longer President. In fact, I’m downright ecstatic. This is the best I’ve felt in weeks.

Trump was four years of faint hope, failed promises and false narratives.

Oh, don’t get me wrong he was also entertaining as hell, did many things I fundamentally agreed with and accelerated the collapse of the biggest, most corrupt organization ever created in human history.

He made a mockery of the media, stood tall until the final days of his presidency against a self-congratulatory bureaucracy and forced out into the open the depths of the depravity of our ruling class.

I friggin’ love the guy for that.

But I’m also over it. It’s time to move on.

Today I feel no nostalgia for Trump or America 1.0.

I refuse to go into the same hysterical theatrics the Left did four years ago. Biden’s the president. The restoration is complete. He was selected no different than every president other than Trump since Reagan.

I have as much emotion for him as I had for Bush the Lesser, Clinton the Rapist or Obama the Enigma.

He’s just a placeholder for a system I no longer have any affinity for. Trump always represented a big two-fingers up to that system, which too many conservatives helped Trump prop up for four years.

One of my patrons posted a stray thought in our community on Slack that sums things up perfectly:

“Just think if Trump had won fairly and the “steal” hadn’t happened. We’d have had another 4 inept years of placeholding and false hope.

What a godsend that the steal happened as it has decoupled the people from the political establishments and freed them. Ok, so the Great Reset’s happening but who cares?

Everybody knows about it.

Necessity is the mother of invention and as long as people “feel” free then they aren’t free. That’s how it’s worked up until now. The decoupling had to happen somehow.”

This is the law of unintended consequences writ large. Today should be looked at with relief for the clarity of vision we have for the future. It will suck, but at least there is symmetry.

In the end they stole the election to regain control and doing so set the stage for a wholesale rejection of their authority.

Too many conservatives still believed in the Myth of America. That should stop today.

The lead up to the inauguration with all of the pearl clutching, troop movements, breathless headlines portending a violent assault on the Capitol was the height of political theater.

And they know this. There’s no putting that genie back in the bottle.

This is a picture that encapsulates everything wrong with post-Trump America. Symbols of America but no Americans.

Military and pols everywhere but no governed giving their consent.

Image systems matter folks and the world is watching the U.S. transition from a Republic into an Autocracy.

I guess Gil Scott Heron was wrong, the revolution will be televised after all.

The two weeks since the staged assault on the Capitol saw Trump pile-driven in the ground by a vengeful GOP leadership while obviously having his arm twisted behind the scenes.

People who should know better can’t see through their own coping.

What did they think trust-fund Donald was going to do? Fall on his sword for a whistleblower/journalist? Trump is, after all, still just Trump.

This was the plan. Trump needed to finally be defeated. His followers humiliated. There was never going to be an Assange pardon.

There was never going to be a big declassification.

He was never allowed to burn the place down.

If any of that was going to happen it would have happened ages ago.

And this is why I’m happy Trump is gone. Because did you really want to live through another four years of pathetic virtue signaling, bureaucratic inertia, media lies and shameful pandering?

No, today the collapse of the U.S. will be on the watch of the people who orchestrated it. It won’t have the consent of a majority of the people, but if we were really honest with ourselves that’s how it was under Obama, Bush the Lesser and Clinton.

Trump was a guy who made things interesting but he also ensured we would be disabused of any notion of dissidence.

Today is the day Trump supporters can finally grow up. He wasn’t Orange Jesus sent to save America from itself. There was never a plan.

Trump was just a guy in over his head doing something no President did since Calvin Coolidge, giving a shit about what America means for Americans.

That’s why he had to be destroyed and that’s why we ultimately have to put him behind us.

As the U.S. sinks and what’s left of the legal protections we’ve enjoyed are taken away under the guise of ‘domestic terrorism’ we are also, strangely, free.

That’s why I’m ecstatic a man more fit for Andrew Cuomo’s COVID Death Parlors is president today rather than Trump.

Everyone’s eyes are now open. A fungus is president.

Absent the false hope of Trump people are now free to conclude what I always have — politics got us into this, politics will not get us out.

We can finally put the childish Red vs. Blue behind us.

That false duality is gone. The GOP is dead. The Democrats are ready to knife each other climbing to the pinnacle. They both hate us.

The Capitol knows it is under siege, not from right-wing militias and neo-Nazis but from their own fear of our not feeling anything for them anymore…

… except maybe pity.

So, raise a glass to Trump, wish him well, accept his limitations. The Empire is back with a vengeance. The Brave New Post-Trump World is here.

And that has never been a more exhilarating thought.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Wed, 01/20/2021 - 22:25
Published:1/20/2021 9:33:14 PM
[Joe Biden] Cup of Joe (Steven Hayward) • So, Joe Biden is now President. Can’t you just feel the excitement? • No, seriously—has there been a new president in the last 70 years entering office with less enthusiasm than Slow Joe? I caught a YouGov poll today reporting that Joe Biden’s public approval rating is 52 percent—among the lowest for an incoming president since this polling question began decades ago. (Obama was at 69 percent on inauguration Published:1/20/2021 9:01:35 PM
[Markets] Rabobank On President Biden: Now What Rabobank On President Biden: Now What

By Philip Marey, senior US strategist at Rabobank

Summary

  • Today, Joe Biden was inaugurated as President of the United States. In his first ten days in office, President Biden is expected to sign a flurry of executive actions aimed at Covid-19, the economy and climatechange.
  • The two Democratic victories in the Georgia run-off elections have opened the door to expansive fiscal policy in the next two years. For the near-term, Biden has proposed the American Rescue Plan. For the remainder of his term he is expected to announce a Recovery Plan next month. According to our calculations, Biden’s plans would provide a boost to economic growth, also in the long run.
  • However, the question is how much of his plans can be realized, given the minimal Democratic majority in the Senate. It would take only one centrist democratic senator to block a Biden initiative. Consequently, the internal divisions in the Democratic party will come to the forefront in the coming two years. In this sense, Biden’s style may be more reminiscent of that of a prime minister trying to hold together a broad and shaky coalition.
  • Under a Biden administration foreign and trade policy will remain focused on meeting the challenge of China as the main rival of the US. However, Biden is likely to return to a multilateral approach.
  • The contested elections have left the United States with legitimacy issues regarding Biden’s presidency.In fact, a majority of Republican voters does not even believe Biden is the legitimate president of the United States.While we expect Biden’s policies to boost economic growth, we do not expect them to end the vicious cycle of polarization and social unrest that is undermining the country

Introduction

Today, Joe Biden was inaugurated as President of the United States. In his first ten days in office, President Biden is expected to sign a flurry of executive actions aimed at Covid-19, the economy and climate change.Biden intends to sign orders expanding testing for Covid-19, protecting workers from the pandemic and establishing public health standards. He also wants to mandate the use of face masks on federal property and for interstate travel on airlines, trains and transit systems.Biden is also expected to keep in place restrictions on evictions and foreclosures and to extend a suspension of interest-free student loan payments.Biden wants to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and put an end to the Keystone XL pipeline.The reversal of the deregulation of the Trump year swill have an early start.

Biden’s growth impulse

The two Democratic victories in the Senate run-off elections in Georgia on January 5 have opened the door to expansive fiscal policy in the next two years. In the near term, this means a substantial additional Covid relief package. But it also means an expansive fiscal policy in the next two years, aimed at stimulating economic growth. Biden wants to invest more in education, R&D, and infrastructure. The Democrats want to pay for this partly through higher taxes. The budget deficit is likely to increase further. But our calculations show that Biden’s plans could provide a substantial impulse to economic growth, also in the long run. Biden’s fiscal policy initiatives are split up in a near-term covid relief plan (American Rescue Plan) and a medium-to-long term plan (“Recovery Plan”). He presented the first on January 14 and is expected to release the second in February.

The American Rescue Plan

While it took Congress relatively little time to agree on the well over $2 trillion CARES Act back in March last year, it took until December to come up with a $900 billion follow-up. However, the two Democratic victories in the Senate run-off elections in Georgia on January 5 have opened the door to more covid relief.On January 14, Biden presented his American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion package that includes additional direct payments of $1400 to Americans (in addition to the $600 from the December package), an increase in federal unemployment benefits to $400 (from $300) per week and an extension through September(from March), and increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour(from $7.25 since 2009). The rescue package can be divided in three large chunks: $1 trillion in direct relief to households, $440 billion for small businesses and communities that were hit particularly hard by the pandemic, and $415 billion for virus response. At present, it is uncertain how much of this plan will be approved by the Senate. For example, there is doubt about the effectiveness of sending people checks without knowing if they really need it. Not only Republicans have their doubts, but also a centrist Democratic senator such as Joe Manchin.

The American Recovery Plan

As for the coming years, Biden is expected to present a Recovery Plan in February. Biden is expected to invest more in education, R&D, and infrastructure. Even if only part of Biden’s plans materialize -the Democratic majority in the Senate is minimal-, we expect a boost to GDP growth in 2021 and beyond.While there may be some common ground between Democrats and Republicans on infrastructure, for a large part they are thinking about different forms of infrastructure. While Republicans may be willing to spend federal money on highways, bridges and airports, Democrats are thinking of green infrastructure facilitating clean energy and electric vehicles.

Although markets are focusing on Biden’s spending spree, we should not forget that tax hikes are also part of his plans. They may not be at the top of his list given the covid crisis, but once the economy regains momentum tax hikes may come back to the surface. Meanwhile, we should not lose sight of the fact that not all businesses and households have suffered due to the covid outbreak. Some have actually done quite well, so they should be able to absorb a higher tax rate.During her Senate confirmation hearings for the position of Treasury Secretary, on January 19, Janet Yellen said that the Biden team does not immediately plan to pursue tax increases, but would consider them as part of a later package that focuses on long-term investments.

Getting plans realized

The question is how many of Biden’s plans are going to be realized. After all, the Democratic majority in the Senate is minimal. The Republicans have 50 seats and the Democrats 48. However, independent senators Bernie Sanders and Angus King caucus with the Democrats and the Vice-President is the tie-breaker in case of a 50-50 outcome. This means that Kamala Harris is going to be busy and is likely to spend a lot of time on Capitol Hill. Her main contact may very well be Joe Manchin, who is considered to be the most conservative Democratic senator. He will be able to block the more leftist plans of the Democrats on his own. So we cannot simply assume that Biden can realize all his plans just because the Democrats have majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate. In the next two years the differences within the Democratic Party will come to the forefront, instead of the differences between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party as in the last four years. How many of Biden’s plans are going to be realized no longer depends on Senate Republicans after the Georgia elections, but on centrist Senate Democrats.In this sense, Biden’s style may be more reminiscent of that of a prime minister trying to hold together a broad and shaky coalition,ranging from centrists to democratic socialists.

Increasing polarization

While Biden’s economic plans are expected to boost the economy, they will probably not reduce the polarization in politics and society. The ever increasing polarization of US politics and society has reached a level that poses a serious threat to the stability of the country. The question is now: is this the culmination of the civil unrest in the United States, or is this just another warning signal that the country is heading toward something worse? If we look at the underlying mechanism of polarization, it appears tobe self-reinforcing. New events or information will be interpreted through two different filters, such as CNN and Fox. What’s more, economic policies aimed at income redistribution will not appease Trump supporters, as we explained in Economy or identity. The Trump vote is not about the economy, it’s about identity. Biden’s plans do not offer a solution to these anxieties. If the US does not find an off-ramp from this route of increasing polarization, we are only going to see a further escalation of civil unrest.

In fact, a majority of Republican voters does not even believe Biden is the legitimate president of the United States.As we argued in Election meltdown, this was going to be the case no matter who would be sworn in. With Trump claiming in advance that the elections were rigged and the Democrats spurring their voters to go to the polls to avoid all kinds of nightmare scenarios, how much trust in the election outcome were voters supposed to have if their side would lose? Meanwhile, foreign adversaries such as the Russians, Chinese and Iranians, are likely to amplify the mutual distrust through cyber warfare. As we concluded in Civil unrest, no matter who would have won the elections, the turbulence in US politics and society is not likely to pass. This was only the beginning.

Return to multilateralism

When it comes to foreign policy, trade policy and international climate policy the Biden administration intends to return to the multilateral approach of the Obama years. Multilateralism does not necessarily mean that the US will go soft on all its rivals and enemies. Rather it means that it will not go at them alone, but instead (re)build coalitions.During his Senate confirmation hearing for the job of Secretary of State, on January 19, Antony Blinken said that he will work to revitalize damaged American diplomacy and build a united front to counter the challenges posed by Russia, China and Iran.However, we should note that America’s leadership of the free world has credibility issues after four years of Trump’s go at it alone approach. What’s more, America’s moral leadership has also lost credibility after the insurrection. In fact, it is already being exploited by America’s adversaries.

During his Senate confirmation hearing Blinken said that there was no doubt China posed the most significant challenge to the US of any nation, and believed there was a very strong foundation to build a bipartisan policy to stand up to Beijing. While the US is heavily polarized on domestic topics, there is a broad consensus on China. According to the Pew Center, the percentage of survey respondents who say they have an unfavorable opinion of China has risen in the last 15 years from a minority to a majority. And this is true of Democrats and Republicans, even though Republicans always score higher than Democrats on this topic. So there is some common ground abroad for Democrats and Republicans. However, on other issues, such as international climate agreements, Biden  – feeling pressure from left wing Democrats – will be at odds with the Republicans.

Conclusion

Biden has an ambitious agenda, but he has only two years with the certainty of a Democratic majority in the Senate. If the Republicans flip just one seat in the November 2022 midterms, it will all be over by January 2023 and the Republican Senate will shoot down most if not all of Biden’s remaining plans. And during these first two years he only has a minimal majority in the Senate, which means that just one centrist Democratic senator can block an initiative. What’s more, the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives has been reduced. Meanwhile, the country is heavily divided and a majority of Republican voters does not even believe Biden is the legitimate president of the United States. Biden’s plans do not address the anxieties that fuel this divide. So while we expect Biden’s policies to boost economic growth, we do not expect them to end the vicious cycle of polarization and social unrest that is undermining the United States

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/20/2021 - 21:45
Published:1/20/2021 9:01:35 PM
[Foreign Policy] Why a Biden Crony Wanted to Punch Me in the Face, by Michelle Malkin When you're catching flak, you're over the target. When you're triggering threats of violence from the Biden crime family, you know you've hit the bull's-eye. As the entrenched Obama-Biden syndicate that I chronicled in my 2009 book, "Culture of Corruption," officially returns to power in Washington, D.C., this week, it's worth calling attention to a... Published:1/20/2021 8:31:42 PM
[Politics] Inauguration coats: Where Ella Emhoff, Amanda Gorman and more got their looks

Yellow! Purple! Turquoise! Here's who designed the winter looks seen on Michelle Obama, Ella Emhoff, Amanda Gordon and others at the inauguration.

Published:1/20/2021 6:41:46 PM
[] Did the Secret Service "probe" a comedian over an SNL sketch about Trump? Published:1/20/2021 6:00:26 PM
[Joe Biden] Resist Joe Biden? (Paul Mirengoff) After Barack Obama was elected in 2008, I wrote a column for the Washington Examiner (also published on Power Line) about how conservatives should respond to and cope with the Obama presidency. It was a high-minded piece that included such advice as “pray that President Obama achieves greatness in office” and “don’t assume that Obama is always wrong,” The column wasn’t easy for me to write. Not after witnessing the Published:1/20/2021 2:29:29 PM
[Markets] Biden Institute Refuses To Disclose Donors; Blinken Faces Questions Over $22 Million In Anonymous Chinese Contributions Biden Institute Refuses To Disclose Donors; Blinken Faces Questions Over $22 Million In Anonymous Chinese Contributions

The Biden Institute at the University of Delaware has refused to disclose all of its donors now that Joe Biden is President, according to Politico.

Joe Biden speaks during an event to formally launch the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware on March 13, 2017. | Patrick Semansky/AP Photo

The Institute, established in 2017 with a goal of raising $20 million, promises to embody the spirit of "honesty, integrity, compassion and courage" that it claims Biden stands for - yet, as Politico notes, "the Biden Institute continues to engage in a multimillion-dollar fundraising campaign, which could attract donations from those interested in currying favor with the Biden administration."

Meanwhile, Biden's pick for Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, is facing calls to explain over $20 million in anonymous Chinese funding of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, established in 2018 and run by Blinken since its inception along with former Obama Administration aides.

The National Legal and Policy Center (NPLC) is demanding "that the University of Pennsylvania and its Penn Biden Center disclose the identity of $22 million in anonymous Chinese donations since 2017, including a single eye-popping donation of $14.5 million given on May 29, 2018, shortly after the opening of the Biden Center in Washington, DC. Altogether, China gave $67 million in two years to the University of Pennsylvania."

Apparently nobody asked Blinken about this during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

At least 28 people with ties to Biden nonprofits and academic centers have either advised his transition or are joining the Biden administration.

Tony Blinken, Biden’s pick for secretary of State, worked as a managing director at the Penn Biden Center and was paid nearly $80,000 in the first six months of 2019, according to his personal financial disclosure.

Other Penn Biden Center alumni joining the administration include Steve Ricchetti, who will be a White House counselor to Biden; Brian McKeon, Biden’s choice for a top State Department post; Colin Kahl, Biden’s pick for under secretary of Defense for policy; Jeff Prescott, whom Biden will nominate as deputy ambassador to the United Nations; and Carlyn Reichel, Juan Gonzalez and Ariana Berengaut, all of whom will serve on the National Security Council staff.

Ted Kaufman, who’s running the transition, served as the Biden Foundation’s chair, and Louisa Terrell, who will be Biden’s White House legislative affairs director, drew a salary of more than $220,000 as its executive director, according to a tax filing. -Politico

 We're sure the MSM will get right on that Chinese money trail.

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/20/2021 - 15:26
Published:1/20/2021 2:29:29 PM
[Markets] "Not Even North Korea Would Say This": CNN Anchor Mocked For Unrestrained Fawning Over Biden "Not Even North Korea Would Say This": CNN Anchor Mocked For Unrestrained Fawning Over Biden

On Tuesday CNN’s politics editor and VP David Chalian described the scene and atmosophere of the National Mall in preparation for Joe Biden's inauguration as one of a stark contrast to the "disgraced president" who is leaving the words he used to describe Trump  at the "lowest point in his presidency."

That's when things got weird live on air. Chalian went on a flowery emotional tribute and display of loyalty one might expect in some third world dictatorship. Indeed he was hardly able to contain himself while images of thousands of lights on the National Mall were put up on the screen:

"The contrast on display tonight was so stark. I mean, those lights that are just shooting out from the Lincoln Memorial along the reflecting pool, it’s like almost… extensions of Joe Biden’s arms embracing America."

Journalist Glenn Greenwald voiced perhaps what everyone is thinking: "Not even North Korean TV would say this," he said on Twitter.

It's not hard to imagine how ruthlessly US media would mock any other country's pundits for saying this about their leaders, particularly the line about an imagined "embrace" by the Glorious Leader's "arms" in the form of "lights...shooting out".

A number of commentators underscored that this was only the beginning of more groveling to 'Dear Leader' to come...

Meanwhile...

This embarrassingly sycophantic "extension of Joe Biden's arms" moment is rivaled only perhaps by Chris Matthews' 2008 moment where he said on MSNBC that Obama gives him a "thrill going up my leg".

"I have to tell you, you know, it’s part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama’s speech," Matthews said live on air. "My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often."

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/20/2021 - 13:30
Published:1/20/2021 12:35:49 PM
[Uncategorized] Biden Inaugurated, Plans To Immediately Sign 17 Executive Actions Restoring Obama Agenda

Obama administration 2.0?

The post Biden Inaugurated, Plans To Immediately Sign 17 Executive Actions Restoring Obama Agenda first appeared on Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion.
Published:1/20/2021 12:08:17 PM
[Markets] Watch Live: Joe Biden Inaugurated As The 46th President Of The United States Watch Live: Joe Biden Inaugurated As The 46th President Of The United States

Pomp, circumstance, (some) former presidents, and Hollywood celebs will all be primed and ready to celebrate in front of no crowds (because 'security' and social-distancing) as Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States under the theme "America United".

As was the case with previous inaugurations, most of Congress and the Supreme Court are expected to be in attendance, as are some former presidents. Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are all set to attend, as are former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton. Jimmy Carter, the country's oldest living former president, at 96, and former first lady Rosalynn Carter will not be there, but they sent their "best wishes." The inauguration is the first they have missed since Carter was sworn in in 1977.

Also absent will be Trump, making him the first president to skip his successor's inauguration since Andrew Johnson in 1869. He flew to Florida on Air Force One for the last time on Wednesday morning. Vice President Mike Pence will attend the inauguration.

A new day indeed...

Watch Live (events are due to start at 11amET):

*  *  *

Here's what to expect: (via NBC News):

The proceedings will begin with an invocation by the Rev. Leo J. O'Donovan, a Jesuit priest who is the former president of Georgetown University and a close friend of the Biden family. Andrea Hall, the first African American female firefighter to become captain of the Fire Rescue Department in South Fulton, Georgia, will recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Lady Gaga - who teamed with Biden on domestic violence issues when he was vice president and campaigned for him in the 2020 election — will sing the national anthem.

Amanda Gorman, who became the country's first Youth Poet Laureate in 2017, will read a poem she has written for the occasion called "The Hill We Climb." Like Biden, Gorman had a speech impediment that she has worked hard to overcome. She has also announced plans to run for president herself in 2036 — the first election she'll be old enough to do so.

Gorman will be followed by a performance by Jennifer Lopez, like Gaga a former Super Bowl performer. Brooks, who played Obama's inauguration in 2009, will also perform.

A longtime friend of the Biden family, the Rev. Silvester Beaman, pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware, will deliver a benediction.

As is tradition, the Supreme Court's chief justice, John Roberts, will administer the oath of office to Biden just after the clock strikes 12. Biden will take the oath with his hand on top of his 127-year-old, 5-inch-thick family Bible, which will be held by his wife, Jill Biden.

In an address after he’s sworn in, Biden will call on Americans to bring the country together during an unprecedented crisis, according to advisers to the president-elect who asked not to be identified ahead of the speech. He’ll ask every citizen to meet what the advisers called an extraordinary challenge facing the nation, in a speech they said would be built around the theme of unity. The address will be 20 to 30 minutes long, according to a person familiar with the matter who also asked not to be identified.

What will be most evident, aside from the lack of crowds, will be the plethora of security. Historically, inaugurations have always seen heavy security but Washington has never experienced an operation on this scale before. Around 8,000 Guard members were deployed for Trump's inauguration ceremony in 2016 in addition to the regular Secret Service and law enforcement presence. Biden's inauguration, on the other hand, has a stunning 25,000-plus National Guard members - that's five times the troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan combined where approximately 2,500 service members are still serving, according to a recent Department of Defense announcement. 900 U.S. troops are aso reportedly still on the ground in Syria.

Infographic: D.C. Troop Levels Five Times As High As Iraq & Afghanistan | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

As shocking as these security arrangements are, however, they do graphically illustrate the scale of division in the U.S. today as the country prepares for the first term of President Biden.

“It has been the most tense, contentious transition since the post-Civil War era,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a politics professor at the University of Houston.

“The expectation of the political system is that there be a smooth transition and minimal friction. We’ve obviously seen that shattered.”

But, as Biden said above "it's a new day" right?

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/20/2021 - 10:50
Published:1/20/2021 10:05:33 AM
[Markets] Trump Pardons Lil Wayne, Steve Bannon, But Not Himself, Or Julian Assange Trump Pardons Lil Wayne, Steve Bannon, But Not Himself, Or Julian Assange

President Trump granted clemency to dozens of people on Wednesday, keeping alive a tradition of last-minute pardons observed by President Obama. The biggest names on the list included Trump's former campaign chief and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, as well as rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black (the former worked with Trump on a plan to financially power black Americans), former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (one of many American big-city mayors who have ended up in federal prison on corruption charges), and former top GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy, who pleaded guilty in October to acting as an unregistered foreign agent.

Of course, the two biggest names that weren't on the list were those of President Trump himself (remember all those MSM anonymously sourced stories claiming Trump was "considering" it?) and Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange.

Considering Assange's recent major legal victory in the UK - where a judge ruled against extraditing him to the US on the grounds that he might face inhumane punishments that could lead to his suicide - and the intense lobbying for Trump to drop a federal case against the Wikileaks' founder, the fact that his name wasn't included seems almost suspicious.

Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host and vocal proponent of freeing Assange, offered something of an explanation: apparently, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has sent word to the White House that if Trump were to pardon Assange, then they would be much more likely to convict the president in a second impeachment trial. Carlson speculated whether backhanded threats like this were even legal, but "we're not lawyers, we don't know. It's certainly wrong. But more than that, it tells you everything about their priorities."

Some Republicans were infuriated by the inclusion of a former Democratic megadonor Salomon Melgen, who performed unnecessary, sometimes painful, surgeries on elderly patients in the biggest Medicare fraud in history. Melgen most infamously stood trial alongside New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, who skated on the corruption charges and is still in office.

Trump granted pardons to 73 people, and commutations to another 70, according to the White House, which released the full list here.

Here's a list of a few other notable names curated by Bloomberg:

  • A commutation for Sholam Weiss, who is believed to be serving the longest white-collar sentence in U.S. history, 835 years, for money laundering and other charges stemming from the failure of the National Heritage Life Insurance Co. He fled while on bail and partied with prostitutes at a luxury hotel before the authorities tracked him down in Austria. “He regrets doing that,” Weiss’s nephew, Hershy Marton, said in an interview in December.
  • A pardon for Bannon, who was among a group of four Trump supporters accused last year of using money donated to the supposedly nonprofit “We Build The Wall” campaign for personal gain. Despite portraying the group as a volunteer effort, Bannon received more than $1 million and used some of it to pay personal expenses, prosecutors said. Bannon denied the charges.
  • A pardon for Broidy, a fundraiser for both Trump and the Republican National Committee in 2016. Fugitive businessman Jho Low initially paid $6 million to Broidy and promised $75 million more if he succeeded in persuading the Justice Department to walk away from its civil forfeiture case. The back-channel efforts failed and Low was indicted in 2018 on charges of conspiring to launder billions of dollars embezzled from 1MDB. He has denied wrongdoing.
  • A commutation for Kilpatrick, who was convicted in 2013 on 24 counts of racketeering conspiracy, extortion, bribery and tax evasion and sentenced to 28 years in prison. He was mayor of Detroit from 2002 to 2008; prosecutors alleged his corruption contributed to the city’s bankruptcy five years after he left office.
  • A commutation for Salomon Melgen, a Palm Beach retinologist who was serving a 17-year sentence for Medicare fraud after billing the government to treat people for eye disease they didn’t have. Melgen’s commutation was supported by Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a Democrat whom prosecutors alleged pressured federal agencies to help Melgen after receiving gifts and campaign contributions. Charges against Menendez were eventually dropped after a New Jersey jury was unable to reach a verdict.
  • A pardon for former Google executive Anthony Levandowski, an autonomous driving engineer who was ordered in August to spend 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets from Google as he defected to Uber Technologies Inc., in one of the highest-profile criminal cases to hit Silicon Valley.
  • A conditional pardon to Duke Cunningham, a former congressman from California, who in 2005 plead guilty to bribery and other charges arising out of the scandal revolving around the disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Cunningham, a Republican, was released from prison in 2013.
  • A pardon to Todd Boulanger, who had worked with Abramoff and pleaded guilty to conspiring to “commit honest services fraud.” He admitted to providing to public officials “all-expenses-paid travel, tens of thousands of dollars-worth of tickets to professional sporting events, concerts and other events, and frequent and expensive meals and drinks at Washington, D.C.-area restaurants and bars,” according to a 2009 Justice Department press release.
  • A pardon for former Representative Rick Renzi, an Arizona Republican who served three years in prison on corruption, money laundering and other charges. He was convicted in 2013 of using his congressional seat to make companies buy his former business associate’s land so the associate could repay a debt to Renzi. Prosecutors also said he looted a family insurance business to help pay for his 2002 campaign.
  • A pardon for Aviem Sella, an Israeli indicted for espionage in connection with the Jonathan Pollard affair. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested Sella’s pardon, the White House said in its statement.
  • A pardon for former InterMune Inc. Chief Executive Officer W. Scott Harkonen, who was convicted in 2009 of issuing a fraudulent press release touting a drug’s success against a fatal lung disease. Harkonen had unsuccessfully argued his case all the way to the Supreme Court, which rejected his appeal in 2013.
  • A pardon to Paul Erickson, a conservative political activist sentenced in July to seven years in prison following his conviction on fraud and money laundering charges. He was the boyfriend of Maria Butina, a Russian woman who sought to curry favor with Republican and gun-rights groups and later pleaded guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent.
  • A pardon for Ken Kurson, a former business associate of Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Prosecutors have charged Kurson with cyberstalking related to his 2015 divorce. The White House claimed the criminal investigation “only began because Mr. Kurson was nominated to a role within the Trump administration.”

* * *

On Tuesday night, the NY Post reported that Trump would also pardon Death Row Records co-founder Michael "Harry-O" Harris after some heavy behind-the-scenes lobbying by rapper Snoop Dogg.