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[Markets] Unsealed Affidavit Tries To Put WikiLeaks In Cahoots With The Taliban, Bin Laden

On Monday a federal judge in Virginia unsealed the original 2017 affidavit and criminal complaint on which Assange's extradition request to the US is based, offering new details including chat logs between Assange and former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning, which attempt to support a single count of “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion” which may or may not have succeeded.

The US alleges Assange actively sought for and encouraged Manning to crack a password to access classified information on a Defense Department network; the affidavit claims details related to this charge, for instance chat log discussions between the pair over how to crack a password, though the affidavit notes that "it remains unknown whether Manning and Assange were successful in cracking the password," related to the conspiracy charge.

File photo via the AFP.

“Investigators have not recovered a response by Manning to Assange's question, and there is no other evidence as to what Assange did, if anything, with respect to the password,” the document states.

However, the FBI-produced affidavit's language throughout makes no mention of Assange acting in the way of a journalist or a publisher, but instead takes pains to paint him as conspiring to commit espionage.

The document further notes that though Manning suspected the person on the other end of the chat was Assange, ultimately “it took me four months to confirm that the person i was communicating was in fact assange.”

The affidavit describes the individual in communication with Manning “appeared to have extensive knowledge of WikiLeaks' day-to-day operations, including knowledge of submissions of information to the organization, as well as of financial matters.”

Manning had spent seven years in prison on violations of the Espionage Act and copying and disseminating classified military field reports, before receiving a commutation from President Obama. The secret military documents and files were what put WikiLeaks on the international media map after they were released on 2010, and included sensitive information about the Iraq and Afghan wars, Guantánamo Bay operations, as well as other State Department cables.

The document uses maximal and hyped language to describe “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States,” yet struggles to ascertain whether “illegal agreement that Assange and Manning reached” specifically led to the release of the document trove (obviously crucial for charges against Assange to hold up).

Concerning a potential extradition to the US, “probable cause” is cited to be the hundreds of messages sent between Manning and Assange on the Jabber platform. The argument is that Assange and Manning understood that it “would cause injury to the United States,” especially with US forces active on the ground in Afghanistan. 

But on this point of whether the leaks did actual harm and damage to US efforts, the document is left reaching, trying to spin and insinuate a narrative that puts WikiLeaks and terrorist groups like the Taliban and al-Qaeda in cahoots.

It starts by claiming that “after the release of the Afghanistan War Reports, a member of the Taliban contacted the New York Times.”

The supposed Taliban member said, “We are studying the report… If they are US spies, then we will know how to punish them.” This strange and somewhat comical example is meant to support the notion that Assange ultimately aided America's enemies with the leaks. 

Worse, the affidavit makes Osama bin Laden  killed in a 2011 raid by US Navy Seals while living comfortably in an Abbottabad, Pakistan compound — out to be a WikiLeaks fan, given letters had been found instructing an al-Qaeda member to “gather” the publicly available material leaked by Manning.

Somehow this is meant to imply WikiLeaks in a round-about way assisted al-Qaeda's mission. The FBI is perhaps left grasping with this "bin Laden benefited" theory given the relative flimsiness of evidence to support the original “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion” aspect on which the case originated. 

The affidavit also alleged the Taliban exploited the WikiLeaks disclosures to put U.S. allies in danger, citing a New York Times article headlined, “Taliban Study WikiLeaks to Hunt Informants.” It also said the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, showed that the terrorist was actively seeking information contained in the WikiLeaks disclosures and that al Qaeda was providing him with information from the leaked Afghanistan war reports. The Afghanistan war reports also contained specifics on improvised explosive device techniques and countermeasures espoused by the U.S. that “the enemy could use these reports to plan future lED attacks,” the affidavit said. Washington Examiner

Also of crucial note is the timing concerning the US government's pursuing the case out of which the affidavit originated. The document's author, FBI special agent Megan Brown, was assigned to the case in 2017, less than a year prior to filing the affidavit. 

This suggests, as long suspected, the Obama DOJ likely wasn't moving forward with charges, after which the Trump DOJ decided to go for it.  

The compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden lived. Image source: EPA

In the document Brown confesses that her understanding of the seven-year-old “criminal conspiracy” is based on “testimony of a forensic examiner in Manning’s court martial, my conversations with FBI forensic examiners, and research on the internet.”

Research on the internet? Perhaps the FBI found itself over-reliant on Wikipedia for those times it couldn't concoct "WikiLeaks-Taliban" connections out of New York Times headlines. 

* * * 

The full US federal affidavit below:

Published:4/16/2019 9:24:44 AM
[88faf7fa-933a-5c90-bf5d-a0cc074bae86] Andrew McCarthy: Behind the Obama administration’s shady plan to spy on the Trump campaign In Senate testimony last week, Attorney General William Barr used the word “spying” to refer to the Obama administration, um, spying on the Trump campaign. Of course, fainting spells ensued, with the media-Democrat complex in meltdown. Former FBI Director Jim Comey tut-tutted that he was confused by Barr’s comments, since the FBI’s “surveillance” had been authorized by a court. Published:4/16/2019 8:25:16 AM
[Politics] 41% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

Forty-one percent (41%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending April 11.

This week’s finding is up one point from a week ago. Prior to this, that number had been on the decline week-over-week from 43% in early December to 31% by the end of January. It ran in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016, President Obama's last full year in office.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The national telephone survey of 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from April 7-11, 2019. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:4/16/2019 5:53:25 AM
[Markets] CJ Hopkins: Assange & Uncle Tom's Empire

Authored (satirically) by CJ Hopkins via The Unz Review,

I don’t normally do this kind of thing, but, given the arrest of Julian Assange last week, and the awkward and cowardly responses thereto, I felt it necessary to abandon my customary literary standards and spew out a spineless, hypocritical “hot take” professing my concern about the dangerous precedent the U.S. government may be setting by extraditing and prosecuting a publisher for exposing American war crimes and such, while at the same time making it abundantly clear how much I personally loathe Assange, and consider him an enemy of America, and freedom, and want the authorities to crush him like a cockroach.

Now I want to be absolutely clear. I totally defend Assange and Wikileaks, and the principle of freedom of the press, and whatever. And I am all for exposing American war crimes (as long as it doesn’t endanger the lives of the Americans who committed those war crimes, or inconvenience them in any way). At the same time, while I totally support all that, I feel compelled to express my support together with my personal loathing of Assange, who, if all those important principles weren’t involved, I would want to see taken out and shot, or at least locked up in Super-Max solitary … not for any crime in particular, but just because I personally loathe him so much.

I’m not quite sure why I loathe Assange. I’ve never actually met the man. I just have this weird, amorphous feeling that he’s a horrible, disgusting, extremist person who is working for the Russians and is probably a Nazi. It feels kind of like that feeling I had, back in the Winter of 2003, that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons, which he was going to give to those Al Qaeda terrorists who were bayonetting little babies in their incubators, or the feeling I still have, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Trump is a Russian intelligence asset who peed on Barack Obama’s bed, and who is going to set fire to the Capitol building, declare himself American Hitler, and start rounding up and murdering the Jews.

I don’t know where these feelings come from. If you challenged me, I probably couldn’t really support them with any, like, actual facts or anything, at least not in any kind of rational way. Being an introspective sort of person, I do sometimes wonder if maybe my feelings are the result of all the propaganda and relentless psychological and emotional conditioning that the ruling classes and the corporate media have subjected me to since the day I was born, and that influential people in my social circle have repeated, over and over again, in such a manner as to make it clear that contradicting their views would be extremely unwelcome, and might negatively impact my social status, and my prospects for professional advancement.

Take my loathing of Assange, for example. I feel like I can’t even write a column condemning his arrest and extradition without gratuitously mocking or insulting the man. When I try to, I feel this sudden fear of being denounced as a “Trump-loving Putin-Nazi,” and a “Kremlin-sponsored rape apologist,” and unfriended by all my Facebook friends. Worse, I get this sickening feeling that unless I qualify my unqualified support for freedom of press, and transparency, and so on, with some sort of vicious, vindictive remark about the state of Assange’s body odor, and how he’s probably got cooties, or has pooped his pants, or some other childish and sadistic taunt, I can kiss any chance I might have had of getting published in a respectable publication goodbye.

But I’m probably just being paranoid, right? Distinguished, highbrow newspapers and magazines like The AtlanticThe GuardianThe Washington PostThe New York TimesVoxViceDaily Mail, and others of that caliber, are not just propaganda organs whose primary purpose is to reinforce the official narratives of the ruling classes. No, they publish a broad range of opposing views. The Guardian, for example, just got Owen Jones to write a full-throated defense of Assange on that grounds that he’s probably a Nazi rapist who should be locked up in a Swedish prison, not in an American prison! The Guardian, remember, is the same publication that printed a completely fabricated story accusing Assange of secretly meeting with Paul Manafort and some alleged “Russians,” among a deluge of other such Russiagate nonsense, and that has been demonizing Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-Semite for several years.

Plus, according to NPR’s Bob Garfield (who is lustfully “looking forward to Assange’s day in court”), and other liberal lexicologists, Julian Assange is not even a real journalist, so we have no choice but to mock and humiliate him, and accuse him of rape and espionage … oh, and speaking of which, did you hear the one about how his cat was spying on the Ecuadorean diplomats?

But seriously now, all joking aside, it’s always instructive (if a bit sickening) to watch as the mandarins of the corporate media disseminate an official narrative and millions of people robotically repeat it as if it were their own opinions. This process is particularly nauseating to watch when the narrative involves the stigmatization, delegitimization, and humiliation of an official enemy of the ruling classes. Typically, this enemy is a foreign enemy, like Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad, Miloševic, Osama bin Laden, Putin, or whoever. But sometimes the enemy is one of “us” … a traitor, a Judas, a quisling, a snitch, like Trump, Corbyn, or Julian Assange.

In either case, the primary function of the corporate media remains the same: to relentlessly assassinate the character of the “enemy,” and to whip the masses up into a mindless frenzy of hatred of him, like the Two-Minutes Hate in 1984the Kill-the-Pig scene in Lord of the Flies, the scapegoating of Jews in Nazi Germany, and other examples a bit closer to home.

Logic, facts, and actual evidence have little to nothing to do with this process. The goal of the media and other propagandists is not to deceive or mislead the masses. Their goal is to evoke the pent-up rage and hatred simmering within the masses and channel it toward the official enemy. It is not necessary for the demonization of the official enemy to be remotely believable, or stand up to any kind of serious scrutiny. No one sincerely believes that Donald Trump is a Russian Intelligence asset, or that Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite, or that Julian Assange has been arrested for jumping bail, or raping anyone, or for helping Chelsea Manning “hack” a password.

The demonization of the empire’s enemies is not a deception … it is a loyalty test. It is a ritual in which the masses (who, let’s face it, are de facto slaves) are ordered to display their fealty to their masters, and their hatred of their masters’ enemies. Cooperative slaves have plenty of pent-up hatred to unleash upon their masters’ enemies. They have all the pent-up hatred of their masters (which they do not dare direct at their masters, except within the limits their masters allow), and they have all the hatred of themselves for being cooperative, and … well, basically, cowards.

Julian Assange is being punished for defying the global capitalist empire. This was always going to happen, no matter who was in the White House. Anyone who defies the empire in such a flagrant manner is going to be punished. Cooperative slaves demand this of their masters. Defiant slaves are actually less of a threat to their masters than they are to the other slaves who have chosen to accept their slavery and cooperate with their own oppression. Their defiance shames these cooperative slaves, and shines an unflattering light on their cowardice.

This is why we are witnessing so many liberals (and liberals in leftist’s clothing) rushing to express their loathing of Assange in the same breath as they pretend to support him, not because they honestly believe the content of the official Julian Assange narrative that the ruling classes are disseminating, but because (a) they fear the consequences of not robotically repeating this narrative, and (b) Assange has committed the cardinal sin of reminding them that actual “resistance” to the global capitalist empire is possible, but only if you’re willing to pay the price.

Assange has been paying it for the last seven years, and is going to be paying it for the foreseeable future. Chelsea Manning is paying it again. The Gilets Jaunes protestors have been paying it in France. Malcolm X paid it. Sophie Scholl paid it. Many others throughout history have paid it. Cowards mocked them as they did, as they are mocking Julian Assange at the moment. That’s all right, though, after he’s been safely dead for ten or twenty years, they’ll name a few streets and high schools after him. Maybe they’ll even build him a monument.

Published:4/15/2019 11:20:19 PM
[Markets] America's War Against Iran & Venezuela's "Deep States" Is Going Public

Authored by Andrew Korybko via Oriental Review,

The US’ desire to dismantle the network of Iranian influence in Latin America and specifically in Venezuela speaks to its commitment to counter the regional sway of its rivals’ “deep states”, though it’s hitherto unprecedented for any country to make such a crusade public since the end of the Old Cold War, let alone clothe it in “anti-terrorist” and “anti-criminal” rhetoric.

US Secretary of State Pompeo recently reiterated his rhetoric that Iran is a “global threat”, this time basing it on his claims that the country’s network of influence in Latin America is supporting “transnational crime” and “terrorism”. This comes shortly after Washington designated the IRGC as a “terrorist” organization and approximately half a year since the Justice Department began investigating Iranian ally Hezbollah’s alleged links to drug cartels as a follow-up to the scandalous Obama-era “Operation Cassandra“.

Taken together, it’s clear that the US desires to dismantle Iran and Venezuela’s supposedly interconnected influence networks in Latin America as the next step in fortifying “Fortress America, and while “deep state” wars such as this one have been going on for decades, it’s hitherto unprecedented for any country to make such a crusade public since the end of the Old Cold War when the US used to make similar claims about the USSR and its communist proxies.

Evidently, the US isn’t shy about ushering in a new era of “deep state” wars whereby Great Powers such as itself (which is presently the leading one in the world) openly work to thwart the networks of influence established by its regional rivals’ on the grounds that the military-intelligence wings of their “deep states” are engaged in “criminal” and “terrorist” activities that threaten the world at large. It’s no secret that the CIA has been involved in these exact same activities for years, but getting bogged down in “feel-good” “whatabouttism” isn’t the purpose of this analysis even though it’s still important to point that out since it shows that the Trump Administration’s “hyper-realist” foreign policy is centered on the notion that “might makes right” and that double standards don’t matter as long as a state is strong enough to implement them with minimal consequences to its interests.

If successful in what it’s setting out to do, then the US will undoubtedly expand its operations against Venezuela and Iran’s “deep states” to include Russia and China’s as well, with the first-mentioned being relevant because of the emerging role that it plays in strengthening “Democratic Security” across the “Global South” in counteracting America’s regime change influence whereas the latter is importantly leading the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) that will tie all of its partner states together in a “community of shared destiny” that revolutionizes 21st-century geopolitics.

Russian influence is already on the decline in Latin America except for in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Cuba, though China’s is on the ascent and poses the largest long-term threat to the “New Monroe Doctrine”, which is why it’ll probably be targeted next. Given the pattern being established through the public crusades against against Venezuela and Iran’s “deep states”, the US will likely attack China’s using similar “criminal”- or “corruption”-related rhetoric too, at the very least.

Published:4/15/2019 10:20:01 PM
[302155c8-2535-577f-98d9-4412344b9af7] Michelle Obama recalls time she broke royal protocol with Queen Elizabeth Michelle Obama is looking back at the one time she accidentally broke royal protocol with Queen Elizabeth.  Published:4/15/2019 8:50:38 PM
[Markets] State Department Veteran: Iraq Wrecked Me For Nothing

Authored by Peter van Buren via TheAmericanConservative.com,

"Most everything that happened in Iraq and Afghanistan has gone un-investigated, unheard of, or unpunished. Ancient History..."

I recently spoke to some college students who, I realized, were in fifth grade when I got on a plane to Iraq. They now study that stuff in history classes like “Opportunities and Errors: 21st-Century America in the Middle East.” About halfway through our conversation, I realized it’s coming up on 10 years since I first went to Iraq. Now that’s real history.

I was a Foreign Service Officer then, a diplomat, embedded with the U.S. Army at a series of forward operating bases and in charge of a couple of reconstruction teams, small parts of a complex failure to rebuild the Iraq we wrecked. I ended up writing a book about it all, explaining in tragicomic terms how we failed (those “Errors”).

The book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People was—and wasn’t—well-received. People laughed at the funny parts, but my message—it didn’t work and here’s why—was largely dissipated at the time (2012) by government and media propaganda centered on The Surge. That was David Petraeus’s plan to pacify the Sunnis and push al-Qaeda away, while clearing, holding, and building across the country, apparently to make room so ISIS and the Iranians could move in.

Meanwhile, the new American president, elected in part based on his “no” vote on the war in 2003, proclaimed it all a victory and started bringing the troops home even while I was still in Iraq.  Meanwhile my employer, the U.S. Department of State, was unhappy with my book. After a year-long process, State pushed me into early retirement. My career was history.

Iraq wrecked me, even though I somehow didn’t expect it to. I was foolish to think that traveling to the other side of the world and spending a year seeing death and poverty, bearing witness to a war, learning how to be mortared at night and deciding it didn’t matter that I might die before breakfast, wasn’t going to change me. Of the military units I was embedded in, three soldiers did not come home; all died at their own hands. Around us, Iraqis blew themselves up alongside children. Everyone was a potential killer and a potential target. I did this at age 49, on antidepressants and with a good family waiting back home. I cannot imagine what it would have done to 18-year-old me. And I had it easier than most, and much easier than many.

People asked in line at Trader Joe’s and in interviews on semi-important TV shows, “Was it all worth it to you?” I always answered yes. I’m not important, I said, but the story is. And now we’re making the same mistakes in Afghanistan. The only way to even start to justify it was to think there might be some meaning behind it all. It didn’t do anything for me but fill my soul with vodka but maybe somehow it…helped?

See, my book wasn’t aimed at cataloging the failures in Iraq per se, but in trying to make sure we didn’t do the same thing in Afghanistan. The initial title wasn’t We Meant Well, but Lessons for Afghanistan from the Reconstruction of Iraq. The early drafts were pretentious scholarly stuff, outlining our mistakes. Harvard Business School-like case studies. Maps. Footnotes. It would have sold maybe five copies, and so my editors encouraged me to add more funny parts. NPR’s Fresh Airactually added a laugh track to my interview. I figured I’d get the lessons across with humor more effectively anyway. In such situations, you have to think that way. You can’t believe that what you went through didn’t matter and keep getting out of bed every morning.

I now know officially that it did not matter. It was pointless. SIGAR shows I accomplished nothing.

SIGAR is the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, a government oversight body that is supposed to prevent waste, fraud, and mismanagement of the billions of dollars being spent rebuilding Afghanistan but that has its hands full just keeping a CVS receipt-length history of what’s wrong. Sound familiar?

SIGAR just released its “2019 High-Risk List,” which points out especially egregious things that will follow in the wake of any peace agreement in Afghanistan. Here are some quoted highlights:

  • “There are over 300,000 Afghans currently serving in the security forces, most of whom are armed. If, because of a loss of financial support, their paychecks were to stop coming, this could pose a serious threat to Afghanistan’s stability.”

  • “A failure to peacefully reintegrate as many as 60,000 heavily armed Taliban long-term would threaten any peace agreement as disaffected former Taliban who may have been expecting a peace dividend may return to violent and predatory behavior.”

  • “Effective policing will require a force that gives citizens the presumption of innocence, rather than anticipating and taking preemptive offensive operations against perceived threats…. There is no comprehensive strategy for a competent civil police force backed by the rule of law.”

  • “Failure to effectively address systemic corruption means U.S. reconstruction programs, at best, will continue to be subverted and, at worst, will fail.”

  • “The opium trade plays a significant role in the Afghan economy and it is difficult to see how a peace accord between the Afghan government and the insurgency would translate into the collapse or contraction of the illicit drug trade.”

  • “If the U.S. reduces its presence in Afghanistan but feels compelled to provide significant financial support for reconstruction, there may be little choice but to provide a greater proportion of funding as on-budget assistance. But if that road is taken and conditions are lacking, we may as well set the cash ablaze on the streets of Kabul for all the good it will do.”

That last line really got me. In my book, I’d written, “While a lot of the money was spent in big bites at high levels through the Embassy, or possibly just thrown into the river when no one could find a match to set it on fire….” Had SIGAR read what I’d written? Or was the joke just so obvious that we’d both come to the same punchline 10 years and two countries apart?

Word for word as in Iraq, and after over 17 years of American effort, the U.S. has failed to establish a viable government in Afghanistan, eliminate the local insurgents/patriots/residents, establish a civil society, tamp down corruption, and ensure some sort of national defense. Afghanistan has almost no chance of survival except as a Taliban narcoland with financial support needed indefinitely to avoid whatever “worse” would be in that calculus.

But there still are semi-believers. One former State Department colleague is on her fourth assignment in Kabul, roughly half her career. Her job is to liaise with the few NATO officials still hanging around. She says it’s easy work; they’ve known each other for years. She’s heard we’re making progress.

Around the same time as the SIGAR report, the Army War College released its history of the Iraqi Surge, a quagmire of dense prose that I’m only about halfway through, but so far no mention of the impact of reconstruction. The theme seems to be that the Army had some good ideas but the politicians got in the way. Fair enough, but they misspelled Vietnam as I-r-a-q all throughout.

The post-9/11 wars have metastasized across three presidencies so far. Pick the thing you detest most about Bush, Obama, and Trump, and complain about how it was never investigated enough and how there weren’t enough hearings. And then I’ll disagree, for most everything that happened and continues to happen in Iraq and Afghanistan has gone uninvestigated, unheard of, and unpunished. It’s ancient history.

We all want to believe that what we did, what we didn’t do, the moral injury, the PTSD, the fights with spouses, the kid at home we smacked too hard when she wouldn’t eat her green beans, all of what we saw and heard, mattered. You read that SIGAR report and tell me how. Because basically I’m history now.

Published:4/15/2019 8:19:51 PM
[] Tiger Woods Wins Masters Because Trump .@TigerWoods during the Obama regime and Tiger Woods during the Trump presidency. #WINNING #KAG #Trump2020 #MAGA #MastersSunday #TigerWoods @Mr_Pinko @BigFurHat @KLSouth pic.twitter.com/vHWH2eByT9— Deplorable CSteven (@CSteven) April 14, 2019 No but really he won the Masters, which is a nice comeback... Published:4/15/2019 7:49:56 PM
[Markets] Despite 66% Of Americans Getting A Cut, Only 20% Believe Their Taxes Were Lowered

Donald Trump’s tax cut, passed in 2017, benefited nearly 66% of all Americans in the form of lower taxes. But now, as today's deadline to file taxes for the past year rolls around, a new survey shows just 20% of taxpayers believe that their taxes have actually gone down, according to Bloomberg . The tax cuts, which were supposed to pay for themselves, have also swelled the deficit, making it even harder for President Trump to use them as a talking point in 2020.

Dan Eberhart, a major Republican donor said: “The Democrats really outmaneuvered the Republicans by convincing the American people that the main thrust of the tax reform package was to cut taxes for the wealthy. Republicans failed to fully explain the success to voters.”

Trump will try to promote the tax cut on Monday in Minnesota, a potential swing state for 2020. It’s part of a week of events designed to promote the tax law's effect on the economy.



The tax cuts were sold as a catalyst for economic growth and reduction of the deficit. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell assured the public in December 2017 that the measure would contain the deficit and also be a "revenue producer". Larry Kudlow said last week at the tax cut package has "already paid for itself " - a statement that does not gel with government data.

Instead, the United States' budget shortfall grew by 17% to $779 billion in 2018, which the CBO has attributed partly to the tax law. Along with additional spending that has been signed into law, the CBO projects this deficit will surpass $1 trillion by 2020. 

However, when the law passed, Mitch McConnell said: "If we can’t sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work."


An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll this month showed that just 17% of Americans believed their taxes had been cut. A Reuters poll in March showed that 21% thought the same. This is despite an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center that two out of three taxpayers would see their taxes go down. The biggest benefits, however, go to the top 1%, who are expected to receive an average tax break of $62,000, while the middle 1/5 of earners got an average tax cut of $1090, or about $20 per week.

Nathan Rigney, an analyst at H&R Block’s Tax Institute told the New York Times: “The vast majority of people did get a tax cut. Just now we have real data to back that up. Most people didn’t recognize the increase in take-home pay, or at least didn’t attribute it to the tax cut. Some of them might realize it now that they’re filing their taxes, but it’s little consolation to discover that you received a couple thousand dollars during the year but you already spent it.”

The law is now being compared to President Barack Obama‘s stimulus package in 2009, where most Americans received a tax break but the incremental gains were so small that most didn’t notice. Eberhart claimed that the Trump administration wanted "an immediate reaction" by reducing the amount the IRS withheld from regular paychecks. But the amount was too small to notice, he continued. Meanwhile, due to lower withholdings, tax refunds were smaller than expected, down about 1.1% overall, but still noticeable to individual households.

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said on Friday that the poll results could be explained by frustration with the tax system broadly and may not be attributed to the tax cuts. He stated data like the Michigan survey of consumer sentiment, that “suggest[ed] that you should have a very optimistic outlook for economic growth this year."

Countering his point, Vanessa Williamson, a political scientist at the Brookings Institution told the NY Times: “People aren’t taking out their pay stubs and Excel spreadsheets and making their determination. Instead they’re making a broader statement about whether the government is doing a good job.”

The tax law was passed by Republicans without any Democratic support and lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. It also closed or tightened various tax breaks, like capping the amount of state and local taxes that could be deducted.

Meanwhile, treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin said on FOXBusiness Monday that there is "no question" that the advantages from the tax plan have just begun to kick in. He said they will become more apparent over the next few years.



For what it's worth, democrats spent the 2018 midterm campaign hammering the law as a giveaway to the top 1% that would widen the deficit. A Republican commissioned poll found that this message was effective. CNN exit polls on Election Day 2018 showed that 29% said that the new tax law helped their finances, but 45% said the law said the law had no impact and 22% said it would hurt their finances.

Taxes continue to be a hot button issue that will likely dominate the upcoming 2020 Presidential election. We reported just two months ago that Americans continued to flee to low tax states. According to the most recent Census Bureau data on state-to-state migration flows, 523,000 people moved to California from other states. But at the same time, more than 661,000 Californians moved to other states.

That is, on net, nearly 138,000 more people left California than moved into it from elsewhere in the US. Yet, California isn't the worst in this regard. Both Illinois and New York lost even more residents to other states with net losses to other states totaling 144,000 and 167,000, respectively. These numbers reinforce what has become a well-entrenched trend of US residents moving from high-tax states to low tax states.

In fact, among the top-ten states that the largest number of Americans have fled, seven of the ten are states which rank among the top 15 states for the worst tax burdens - according to the Tax Foundation's most recent report on state and local taxation. New York is ranked worst in the nation, while California is ranked at number four.

At the other end of the spectrum are states with far more modest tax burdens. Florida, which tops the list with a net 118,000 new residents from other states, is ranked by the Tax Foundation as having the 31st highest tax burden. Arizona, at number two, with 98,000 new residents from other states, is ranked at an even better number 34. Texas is near dead last (in a good way) at number 47. Even Washington State, which gained nearly 62,000 new residents from other states, is ranked in the middle at number 27. (Oregon is an exception, as it is ranked as having the 16th worst tax burden in the nation.)

Published:4/15/2019 5:50:44 PM
[Markets] 'William Who?' - Former Massachusetts Gov. To Challenge Trump For Republican Nomination

With a nearly 90% approval rating among Republicans, President Trump's dominance of the party is beyond question. But that doesn't mean some of the lingering #NeverTrumpers who tried, and failed, to stop him in 2016 won't give their Quixotic quest one last go.

John Kasich, long considered the most likely candidate to challenge Trump for the 2020 nomination, has already admitted that "I can't beat him", and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, another credible challenger from what's left of the party's moderate wing, has ruled out a run. But apparently Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, best known nationally for being Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson's running mate in 2016, thinks he has a shot to best Trump in the Republican primary.

Weld

The former governor announced on Monday that he plans to challenge Trump, whose campaign has already raised $30 million for his reelection run, dwarfing the sums raised by even the most popular Democratic challengers, for the 2020 nomination.

For those who are asking themselves 'who is Weld, exactly?', here are some facts about the former governor courtesy of Axios:

Current position: Partner at Mintz Levin law firm, member of the Council on Foreign Relations, associate member of the InterAction Council

Age: 73

Born: Smithtown, New York

Undergraduate: Harvard University

Date candidacy announced: April 15, 2019

Previous roles: Governor of Massachusetts (1991-1997), U.S. assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division (1986-1988), U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts (1981-1986)

A recent FiveThirtyEight piece described Weld as potentially "one of the weakest candidates that anti-Trump Republicans could put up in a national campaign."

He tends to be liberal on social issues and moderate on issues like immigration and climate change, while being fiscally conservative. And as if this resume didn't virtually guarantee that he will get laughed out of the convention...

Abortion: Weld supports abortion rights and has fought to protect them. As governor in 1991, he introduced a bill aiming to make it easier to get an abortion in Massachusetts.

Same-sex marriage: While governor, Weld recognized domestic partnership rights for same-sex couples and signed legislation protecting gay and lesbian students. He also signed a 2013 amicus brief in support of same-sex marriage.

Marijuana: Weld sits on the board of directors of Acreage Holdings, a cannabis company looking to roll back federal regulations, the Washington Post reports. He has supported legalization of medical marijuana since 199.

Economy: Despite his more progressive social views, Weld is a traditional conservative when it comes to the economy, prioritizing cutting spending and cutting taxes.

Climate change: Weld supports rejoining the Paris climate agreement, according to Boston.com.

...his decision to endorse Barack Obama over John McCain in 2008 will.

Published:4/15/2019 4:50:35 PM
[Politics] “Assassinate President Trump” – CBS primetime show tweets screenshot from show, then deletes it after uproar I remember when Obama first got elected. No major comedian would even make jokes about him and big media companies certainly wouldn’t have dared write storylines that involved assassinating him. But that . . . Published:4/15/2019 4:19:55 PM
[Politics] “Assassinate President Trump” – CBS primetime show tweets screenshot from show, then deletes it after uproar I remember when Obama first got elected. No major comedian would even make jokes about him and big media companies certainly wouldn’t have dared write storylines that involved assassinating him. But that . . . Published:4/15/2019 4:19:54 PM
[Markets] Obama's Border Patrol Chief: Migrant Crisis 'Worst In The History Of The Country'

A second ex-Obama admin official has spoken up over the crisis at the southern US border. 

Mark Morgan, a career FBI official who served as Border Patrol chief during the last six months of the Obama administration told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo on Monday that the US-Mexico border crisis has reached historic proportions and is the worst in the history of the country. 

"this isn’t just a crisis, this is a crisis like we’ve never experienced in the history of this country since we started tracking numbers," said Morgan, who also addressed false statistics floating around comparing the numbers of migrants to those of the 1990s. 

There’s still this very false talking point out there that — well, back in the ’90s, the numbers were higher — over a million.” Well, first of all, again, you got to remember they were Mexican adults, we were moving, deporting 90 percent of them. With the broken asylum laws and other loopholes that are there, we’re seeing 65 to 70 percent increase in family units, and because of those broken laws, we’re allowing them in. This year, we’re expected to hit a million, but we’re going to let 650,000 into the country. That’s driving this crisis, driving our resources, being overwhelmed. We have to address it.

In late march, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said that the situation at the southern border has reached a crisis, and that the number of apprehensions has exceeded anything he encountered during his time in the Obama administration. 

 

Published:4/15/2019 4:19:50 PM
[Politics] Could Trump Rescue Lawyer For Obama? President Trump calls the indictment of President Obama's White House counsel, Gregory Craig, "a really big story." That it is, but probably not precisely in the way that Mr. Trump means it. Mr. Craig is a pillar of the Washington establishment. He's a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy; of Harvard, where he was chairman of the student government and graduated Phi Beta Kappa; and of Yale Law School, where he was in the same class as President and Hillary Clinton. He was a partner at two... Published:4/15/2019 12:49:13 PM
[Politics] 41% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

Forty-one percent (41%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending April 11.

This week’s finding is up one point from a week ago. Prior to this, that number had been on the decline week-over-week from 43% in early December to 31% by the end of January. It ran in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016, President Obama's last full year in office.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The national telephone survey of 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from April 7-11, 2019. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:4/15/2019 11:21:29 AM
[] Valerie Jarrett's Book Makes the Corrupt New York Times' Bestseller List -- Despite Being Ranked 1,030 on Amazon Collusion? Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett?s book is number 1,030 on Amazon with only three reviews, but is on the NYT Best Seller list. An industry insider said that was "inconceivable" and that Jarrett likely paid a company that helps authors... Published:4/15/2019 11:21:29 AM
[Energy] Democrats Want to Rejoin the Paris Accord. Let’s Recall Why It Was Such a Bad Deal.

When the Obama administration negotiated the Paris climate agreement, conservatives argued that it should move through the proper treaty process and be sent to the... Read More

The post Democrats Want to Rejoin the Paris Accord. Let’s Recall Why It Was Such a Bad Deal. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:4/15/2019 10:17:55 AM
[Markets] Chris Hedges On The Martyrdom Of Julian Assange

Authored by Chris Hedges via TruthDig.com,

The arrest Thursday of Julian Assange eviscerates all pretense of the rule of law and the rights of a free press. The illegalities, embraced by the Ecuadorian, British and U.S. governments, in the seizure of Assange are ominous. They presage a world where the internal workings, abuses, corruption, lies and crimes, especially war crimes, carried out by corporate states and the global ruling elite will be masked from the public. They presage a world where those with the courage and integrity to expose the misuse of power will be hunted down, tortured, subjected to sham trials and given lifetime prison terms in solitary confinement.

They presage an Orwellian dystopia where news is replaced with propaganda, trivia and entertainment. The arrest of Assange, I fear, marks the official beginning of the corporate totalitarianism that will define our lives.

Under what law did Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno capriciously terminate Julian Assange’s rights of asylum as a political refugee? Under what law did Moreno authorize British police to enter the Ecuadorian Embassy—diplomatically sanctioned sovereign territory—to arrest a naturalized citizen of Ecuador? Under what law did Prime Minister Theresa May order the British police to grab Assange, who has never committed a crime? Under what law did President Donald Trump demand the extradition of Assange, who is not a U.S. citizen and whose news organization is not based in the United States?

I am sure government attorneys are skillfully doing what has become de rigueur for the corporate state, using specious legal arguments to eviscerate enshrined rights by judicial fiat. This is how we have the right to privacy with no privacy. This is how we have “free” elections funded by corporate money, covered by a compliant corporate media and under iron corporate control. This is how we have a legislative process in which corporate lobbyists write the legislation and corporate-indentured politicians vote it into law. This is how we have the right to due process with no due process. This is how we have a government—whose fundamental responsibility is to protect citizens—that orders and carries out the assassination of its own citizens such as the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son. This is how we have a press legally permitted to publish classified information and a publisher sitting in jail in Britain awaiting extradition to the United States and a whistleblower, Chelsea Manning, in a jail cell in the United States.

Britain will use as its legal cover for the arrest the extradition request from Washington based on conspiracy charges. This legal argument, in a functioning judiciary, would be thrown out of court. Unfortunately, we no longer have a functioning judiciary. We will soon know if Britain as well lacks one.

Assange was granted asylum in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer questions about sexual offense allegations that were eventually dropped. Assange and his lawyers always argued that if he was put in Swedish custody he would be extradited to the United States. Once he was granted asylum and Ecuadorian citizenship the British government refused to grant Assange safe passage to the London airport, trapping him in the embassy for seven years as his health steadily deteriorated.

The Trump administration will seek to try Assange on charges that he conspired with Manning in 2010 to steal the Iraq and Afghanistan war logsobtained by WikiLeaks. The half a million internal documents leaked by Manning from the Pentagon and the State Department, along with the 2007 video of U.S. helicopter pilots nonchalantly gunning down Iraqi civilians, including children, and two Reuters journalists, provided copious evidence of the hypocrisy, indiscriminate violence, and routine use of torture, lies, bribery and crude tactics of intimidation by the U.S. government in its foreign relations and wars in the Middle East. Assange and WikiLeaks allowed us to see the inner workings of empire—the most important role of a press—and for this they became empire’s prey.

U.S. government lawyers will attempt to separate WikiLeaks and Assange from The New York Times and the British newspaper The Guardian, both of which also published the leaked material from Manning, by implicating Assange in the theft of the documents. Manning was repeatedly and often brutally pressured during her detention and trial to implicate Assange in the seizure of the material, something she steadfastly refused to do. She is currently in jail because of her refusal to testify, without her lawyer, in front of the grand jury assembled for the Assange case. President Barack Obama granted Manning, who was given a 35-year sentence, clemency after she served seven years in a military prison.

Once the documents and videos provided by Manning to Assange and WikiLeaks were published and disseminated by news organizations such as The New York Times and The Guardian, the press callously, and foolishly, turned on Assange. News organizations that had run WikiLeaks material over several days soon served as conduits in a black propaganda campaign to discredit Assange and WikiLeaks. This coordinated smear campaign was detailed in a leaked Pentagon document prepared by the Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch and dated March 8, 2008. The document called on the U.S. to eradicate the “feeling of trust” that is WikiLeaks’ “center of gravity” and destroy Assange’s reputation.

Assange, who with the Manning leaks had exposed the war crimes, lies and criminal manipulations of the George W. Bush administration, soon earned the ire of the Democratic Party establishment by publishing 70,000 hacked emails belonging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and senior Democratic officials. The emails were copied from the accounts of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. The Podesta emails exposed the donation of millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the major funders of Islamic State, to the Clinton Foundation. It exposed the $657,000 that Goldman Sachs paid to Hillary Clinton to give talks, a sum so large it can only be considered a bribe. It exposed Clinton’s repeated mendacity. She was caught in the emails, for example, telling the financial elites that she wanted “open trade and open borders” and believed Wall Street executives were best positioned to manage the economy, a statement that contradicted her campaign statements. It exposed the Clinton campaign’s efforts to influence the Republican primaries to ensure that Trump was the Republican nominee. It exposed Clinton’s advance knowledge of questions in a primary debate. It exposed Clinton as the primary architect of the war in Libya, a war she believed would burnish her credentials as a presidential candidate. Journalists can argue that this information, like the war logs, should have remained hidden, but they can’t then call themselves journalists.

The Democratic leadership, intent on blaming Russia for its election loss, charges that the Podesta emails were obtained by Russian government hackers, although James Comey, the former FBI director, has conceded that the emails were probably delivered to WikiLeaks by an intermediary. Assange has said the emails were not provided by “state actors.”

WikiLeaks has done more to expose the abuses of power and crimes of the American Empire than any other news organization. In addition to the war logs and the Podesta emails, it made public the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency and their interference in foreign elections, including in the French elections. It disclosed the internal conspiracy against British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by Labour members of Parliament. It intervened to save Edward Snowden, who made public the wholesale surveillance of the American public by our intelligence agencies, from extradition to the United States by helping him flee from Hong Kong to Moscow. The Snowden leaks also revealed that Assange was on a U.S. “manhunt target list.”

A haggard-looking Assange, as he was dragged out of the embassy by British police, shook his finger and shouted:

“The U.K. must resist this attempt by the Trump administration. … The U.K. must resist!”

We all must resist. We must, in every way possible, put pressure on the British government to halt the judicial lynching of Assange. If Assange is extradited and tried, it will create a legal precedent that will terminate the ability of the press, which Trump repeatedly has called “the enemy of the people,” to hold power accountable. The crimes of war and finance, the persecution of dissidents, minorities and immigrants, the pillaging by corporations of the nation and the ecosystem and the ruthless impoverishment of working men and women to swell the bank accounts of the rich and consolidate the global oligarchs’ total grip on power will not only expand, but will no longer be part of public debate. First Assange. Then us.

Published:4/15/2019 10:17:55 AM
[The Blog] Boom: Trump outraises Dem rivals with $30M Q1; Update: Surpasses Obama?

Biden's choice.

The post Boom: Trump outraises Dem rivals with $30M Q1; Update: Surpasses Obama? appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:4/15/2019 9:51:45 AM
[Politics] O’Rourke Extols ‘Record Security and Safety’ at Border, Even as Thousands Attempt to Enter Every Day

Former congressman and presidential candidate Robert Francis O'Rourke extolled the "record security and safety" at the U.S.-Mexico border during an interview with former Obama adviser David Axelrod on Sunday, despite the fact that thousands of individuals are arriving at the border every day.

The post O’Rourke Extols ‘Record Security and Safety’ at Border, Even as Thousands Attempt to Enter Every Day appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:4/15/2019 9:17:10 AM
[Politics] Mayor Buttigieg's Promise Mayor Peter "Pete" Buttigieg's speech throwing his hat into the ring for president strikes us as the best debut from a Democrat since 2004. That's when the party's nominee was introduced at Boston by a young senator named Barack Obama, who stressed the idea of a UNITED States of America. Mr. Buttigieg captured at his launch this evening a youthful optimism that, other than Mr. Obama, our country hasn't heard from a Democrat since JFK. Not that we're unmindful of what happened in respect... Published:4/14/2019 9:13:57 PM
[Culture] Andrew Yang and the Normies

Once you read his book, it is apparent that Andrew Yang is running for president because he is afraid of normal people.

Given that there are approximately 11 million candidates for the Democratic nomination, you could be forgiven for not having heard of Yang. He is currently polling at one percent; 59 percent of those polled have never heard of him. He has never held high office, his only claim to political fame being brief recognition by the Obama White House.

The post Andrew Yang and the Normies appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:4/14/2019 5:21:17 AM
[Media] Honorary Obama bro will not allow Rep. Dan Crenshaw to shirk the racist hatred he incited

Rep. Dan Crenshaw can't just quote someone accurately and think he can get away with it.

The post Honorary Obama bro will not allow Rep. Dan Crenshaw to shirk the racist hatred he incited appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/13/2019 7:07:05 PM
[Markets] Rep. Omar Virtue Signals With "No Ban Act" - Except Obama's Travel Bans Were 16x That Of Trump's

Via SaraCarter.com,

As Democrats prepare to introduce ‘No Ban Act’ legislation to end what they say is President Donald Trump’s racist Muslim ban they should take a moment to read the new Government Accountability Office report issued Thursday. It shows that under President Obama the travel ban rate for security reasons in 2015 was 16 times higher than under Trump in 2017 based on the one year data that was available to GAO.

It also indicates a very significant finding: that the Trump administration’s executive orders not only did not increase its refusal rate -for terrorism and security related reasons- but it was lower for the respective years studied.

GAO’s analysis indicates that, out of the nearly 2.8 million NIV applications refused in fiscal year 2017, 1,338 applications were refused specifically due to visa entry restrictions implemented per the executive actions,” stated the report.

In fact, the nonimmigrant visa refusal rate rose under Obama’s tenure from about “14 percent in fiscal year 2012 to about 22 percent in fiscal year 2016, and remained about the same in fiscal year 2017; averaging about 18 percent over the time period,” according to the report. “The total number of NIVs issued peaked in fiscal year 2015 at about 10.89 million, before falling in fiscal years 2016 and 2017 to 10.38 million and 9.68 million, respectively.”

For example, in 2015, “CBP data showed that it identified and interdicted over 22,000 high-risk air travelers through these programs” according to the most recent data available at the time of GAO’s report it stated.

ONLY 1,338 VISA APPLICATIONS WERE REFUSED BECAUSE OF THE PRESIDENT TRUMP’S VISA ENTRY RESTRICTIONS FOR PEOPLE FROM CERTAIN COUNTRIES IN 2017 – THESE REFUSALS WERE TERRORISM OR SECURITY RELATED CONCERNS.

Nonimmigrant visa’s are those issued to foreign nationals seeking admission into the United States. Some examples are visas issued to tourists, students and businessmen seeking temporary status.

According to the GAO, “the number of adjudications peaked at about 13.4 million in fiscal year 2016, and decreased by about 880,000 adjudications in fiscal year 2017.”

State Department Stats

From the time period above, the State Department denied roughly 18 percent of adjudicated applications “of which more than 90 percent were because the applicant did not qualify for the visa sought” and only “0.05 percent were due to terrorism and security-related concerns.”

The report noted that previous successful and attempted terrorist attacks against the United States raised questions about the U.S. vetting system. One example listed in the report was the December 2015, terrorist attack in  San Bernardino, California, which led to the deaths of 14 people with dozens more injured. One of the attackers was admitted into the United States under a nonimmigrant visa, stated the report.

Lack of Vetting 

President Trump issued his executive travel ban in 2017 based on the apparent lack of vetting and what some security analysts described as an “open gateway” for applicants from nations affiliated with terrorist organizations.

“Trump’s ban was not targeting Muslims it was using common sense to keep dangerous persons from entering the country through the visa system based on factual evidence of past attempted attacks and ones that we couldn’t stop,” said a DHS official, who was not authorized to speak to the media.

“The failure was that system tied the hands of adjudicators in many cases – they just didn’t have all the information necessary to appropriately vet those entering the United States,” the DHS official added. “For nations like Syria, Libya and Yemen it’s almost impossible to know the intentions of those being vetted because those nations are not stable or have well functioning governments.”

The report noted that an August 2018, analysis of State data “indicates that relatively few applicants— approximately 0.05 percent—were refused for terrorism and other security-related reasons from fiscal years 2012 through 2017.”

It also shows that in 2017, under President Trump there was not a significant increase in refusals because State Department “data indicate that 1,256 refusals (or 0.05 percent) were based on terrorism and other security-related concerns, of which 357 refusals were specifically for terrorism-related reasons.”

From 2012 To 2017 Most NIVS Were Denied For Reasons Other Than Security or Terrorism

State data indicate that more than 90 percent of NIVs refused each year from fiscal years 2012 through 2017 were based on the consular officers’ determination that the applicants were ineligible nonimmigrants—in other words, the consular officers believed that the applicant was an intending immigrant seeking to stay permanently in the United States, which would generally violate NIV conditions, or that the applicant otherwise failed to demonstrate eligibility for the particular visa he or she was seeking. For example, an applicant applying for a student visa could be refused as an ineligible nonimmigrant for failure to demonstrate possession of sufficient funds to cover his or her educational expenses, as required.

Under former President Obama the numbers were much higher. For example, “in fiscal year 2015 DHS’s predeparture programs stopped 22,000 high-risk travelers from entering the country.”

The Numbers and and Ilhan Omar’s “No Ban Act”

The numbers are important. Why? Because some Democrats, led by Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, have introduced “The No Ban Act,”  which directly targets the Trump administration’s travel ban policy. The policy prevents persons from nations such as Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia from entering the country. The reason being, is that the majority of these nations do not have a functioning government capable of documenting or clearing those traveling to the United States and concern that some of these countries are safe-havens for terrorist organizations, as listed by the State Department. 

Last year, Trump’s third executive travel ban order was upheld in a 5-4 ruling by the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who authored the majority opinion, noted that the president was within his authority to impose the ban. Trump based the ban on extensive national security concerns regarding travelers from these nations.

Roberts opinion noted it was not the court’s place to pass judgment on Trump’s previous comments during the campaign regarding immigrants.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, wrote the dissenting opinion, and said Trump’s comments targeting Muslims should have been the reason to strike down his travel ban.

Omar’s bill, however, will face a steep battle in Congress and the Senate. It would effectively end Trump’s policies to limit entry from these unstable and mostly ungoverned nations. It would also limit the government ability to conduct extreme vetting of immigrants who attempt to comet to the U.S. from countries designated as a threat because of ties to terrorism.

Here’s what Omar had to say: 

“The Muslim ban is a moral stain on our country’s history,” Omar said.

“Proud to have joined my colleagues in introducing the #NoBanAct yesterday to put an end to this discriminatory ban,” Omar said on Twitter.

Omar could not be immediately reached for comment.

*  *  *

GAO FOUND

  • About 2.8 million nonimmigrant visa applications were refused in fiscal year 2017—over 90% of which were because the applicant di 0.05% of applications were refused for security-related concerns

  • 1,338 visa applications were refused because of the President’s visa entry restrictions for people from certain countries.

  • In fiscal year 2015 DHS’s predeparture programs stopped 22,000 high-risk travelers from entering the country

FROM THE GAO

In August 2018, GAO reported that the total number of nonimmigrant visa (NIV) applications that Department of State (State) consular officers adjudicated annually increased from fiscal years 2012 through 2016, but decreased in fiscal year 2017 (the most recent data available at the time of GAO’s report).

GAO’S ANALYSIS INDICATES THAT, OUT OF THE NEARLY 2.8 MILLION NIV APPLICATIONS REFUSED IN FISCAL YEAR 2017, 1,338 APPLICATIONS WERE REFUSED SPECIFICALLY DUE TO VISA ENTRY RESTRICTIONS IMPLEMENTED PER THE EXECUTIVE ACTIONS.

NIVs are issued to foreign nationals, such as tourists, business visitors, and students, seeking temporary admission into the United States. The number of adjudications peaked at about 13.4 million in fiscal year 2016, and decreased by about 880,000 adjudications in fiscal year 2017. State refused about 18 percent of adjudicated applications during this time period, of which more than 90 percent were because the applicant did not qualify for the visa sought and 0.05 percent were due to terrorism and security-related concerns. In 2017, two executive orders and a proclamation issued by the President required, among other actions, visa entry restrictions for nationals of certain listed countries of concern. GAO’s analysis indicates that, out of the nearly 2.8 million NIV applications refused in fiscal year 2017, 1,338 applications were refused specifically due to visa entry restrictions implemented per the executive actions.

Nonimmigrant Visa Adjudications, Fiscal Years 2012 through 2017

In January 2017, GAO reported that the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operates predeparture programs to help identify and interdict high-risk travelers before they board U.S.- bound flights. CBP officers inspect all U.S.-bound travelers on those flights that are precleared at the 15 Preclearance locations at foreign airports—which serve as U.S. ports of entry—and, if deemed inadmissible, a traveler will not be permitted to board the aircraft. CBP also operates nine Immigration Advisory Program and two Joint Security Program locations, as well as three Regional Carrier Liaison Groups, through which CBP may recommend that air carriers not permit identified high-risk travelers to board U.S.-bound flights.

CBP Data High Risk

CBP data showed that it identified and interdicted over 22,000 high-risk air travelers through these programs in fiscal year 2015 (the most recent data available at the time of GAO’s report). While CBP tracked some data, such as the number of travelers deemed inadmissible, it had not fully evaluated the overall effectiveness of these programs. GAO recommended that CBP develop a system of performance measures and baselines to better position CBP to assess program performance. As of December 2018, CBP set preliminary performance targets for fiscal year 2019, and plans to set targets for future fiscal years by October 31, 2019. GAO will continue to review CBP’s actions to address this recommendation.

Why GAO Did This Study

Previous attempted and successful terrorist attacks against the United States have raised questions about the security of the U.S. government’s screening and vetting processes for NIVs. State manages the visa adjudication process. DHS seeks to identify and interdict travelers who are potential security threats to the United States, such as foreign fighters and potential terrorists, human traffickers, drug smugglers and otherwise inadmissible persons, at the earliest possible point in time. DHS also has certain responsibilities for strengthening the security of the visa process. In 2017, the President issued executive actions directing agencies to improve visa screening and vetting, and establishing nationality-based visa entry restrictions, which the Supreme Court upheld in June 2018.

This statement addresses (1) data and information on NIV adjudications and (2) CBP programs aimed at preventing high-risk travelers from boarding U.S.-bound flights. This statement is based on prior products GAO issued in January 2017 and August 2018, along with selected updates conducted in December 2018 to obtain information from DHS on actions it has taken to address a prior GAO recommendation.

What GAO Recommends

GAO previously recommended that CBP evaluate the effectiveness of its predeparture programs. DHS agreed with GAO’s recommendation and CBP has actions under way to address it.

Click here for GAO Report...

Published:4/13/2019 7:07:05 PM
[America] Spying On Trump & A Progressive Game of Semantics

Proggie congresscritters claim to be shocked at charges the Obama administration “spied” on team Trump.  Given the public record, that is itself shocking. This from the Blaze (internal links omitted): At a hearing before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) asked Barr about a team he had indicated the day before that he was […]

The post Spying On Trump & A Progressive Game of Semantics appeared first on Bookworm Room.

Published:4/13/2019 8:07:46 AM
[dde826fc-149a-517e-a736-0376d12bf745] Rachel Campos-Duffy: Christians won’t fall for Buttigieg’s platitudes I don’t need my president to be my savior – I already have one.  However, after eight years of President Obama’s anti-Christian agenda, it was time to get a new leader in the White House who would defend Americans’ right to freedom of religion. Published:4/13/2019 4:33:41 AM
[Markets] Stephen Moore Set To Challenge Fed Status Quo

Trump's proposed nominee to the seven-member Federal Reserve board, Stephen Moore, is planning to challenge the status quo at the US central bank, at a time when it needs continuity and stability the most. Moore said on Bloomberg that he is seeking to debunk the idea that growth causes inflation and that he is also going to "try to demystify monetary policy so it’s not conducted within a temple of secrecy."

Moore said yesterday: "I’ll say that again: Growth does not cause inflation. We know that. When you have more output of goods and services, prices fall. And I think the Fed has been afraid of growth -- there’s "growth-phobiacs" over there and I think they’re wrong.” Whether or not the FOMC committee will agree with that remains to be seen, it would be perhaps more interesting to hear his position on whether debt causes growth, which is far more topical in a world where to "buy" one dollar of GDP, nations have to increase debt by $3, $4 or more.

Last month, President Trump said that he’s planning to nominate Moore for a seat on the Fed’s board of governors. Trump's intentions drew ire and criticism from some circles as a move motivated by politics instead of "sound" economics.

Another of Moore's missions that's sure to be a hit with current Fed governors is his intentions to make the Fed more transparent. 

“I’m going to run on an agenda of transparency, openness. Why shouldn’t Bloomberg and C-Span and others be able to cover everything they do? Why does there have to be this temple of secrecy? So, I want openness and sunlight on the Fed,” Moore said, assuring that his future colleagues (assuming he succeeds in the nomination process) isolate him from any off the record, decision-making huddles. He certainly will never be invited to conference room E at the BIS tower in Basel where all the really important decisions are made every few weeks.

Moore further raised eyebrows for pushing the Fed to set monetary policy in response to falling commodity prices and criticizing its rate hikes for undermining Trump’s economy, after slamming it when Barack Obama was in the White House for keeping rates too low. He also called for Fed Chairman Jerome Powell to be fired, though he later said he regretted that remark.

Of course, Moore still has to undergo FBI clearance and financial disclosures before being nominated, a process that usually lasts about a month. 

That said, if he's interested in transparency, perhaps he can start by explaining his recent comments, when he referred to himself as a "growth hawk", a term that nobody seems to understand. 

“We want wage increases, I want workers to be better off but I’ve said repeatedly when I get at the Fed I’m going to be the growth hawk there. I’m one of these people, I don’t believe in secular stagnation, it’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,” Moore told FOX Business yesterday.

Even if he is nominated, he is certain to get the cold shoulder from his Fed colleagues: as Bloomberg reported today, Fed officials, "in their polite and coded way", have already issued a veiled warning for the political loyalists that President Donald Trump is trying to insert into their ranks: We don’t do flimsy economics, which of course is hilarious for a central bank which last October said the neutral rate was "far away", and just two months later had to make a humiliating U-turn after the market slumped into a very brief bear market.

“There’s a lot of analysis that goes into these decisions and a lot of dispassionate judgment about a variety of matters about the macro economy,’’ St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said Thursday in Tupelo, Mississippi, apparently without a shred of self-referential sarcasm. “Even if somebody comes in with strong political views, they get converted into technocrats pretty quickly.”

And by technocrats, he means people who check the S&P several times every hour, ready to launch QE or issue a dovish soundbite should the "wealth effect" ever be threatened and jeopardize the social order with even a modest correction.

* * *

Providing some perspective on Moore's thought process is Cornell professor, libertarian and self-described gold bug Dave Collum who saw Moore speak earlier this week, and had the chance for a 20 minute one-on-one conversation with the potential nominee. Collum described Moore as a "remarkably genuine person displaying serious humility." He continued, "I didn't detect even a twinge of arrogance":

Collum note that Moore told students to question authority. "Experts can be dead wrong," Moore said.

Moore also apparently stressed a goal of zero inflation and holding prices fixed. 

Moore also didn't seem to loathe or laugh at the gold standard, like almost every other Fed governor and academic over the past few decades.

He also noted that he "detests corporate welfare" and ended his conversation with a great one liner: "Monetary policy cannot correct for bad economic policy." Moore also called MMT the "most insane concept imaginable". 

You can read Collum's entire interaction with Moore in this thread.

Published:4/12/2019 8:30:46 PM
[Markets] Investigation Nation: Mueller, Russiagate, & Fake Politics

Authored by Jim Kavanaugh via Counterpunch.org,

So the Mueller investigation is over. The official “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election” has been written, and is in the hands of Attorney General William Barr, who has issued a summary of its findings. On the core mandate of the investigation, given to Special Counsel Mueller by Rod Rosenstein as Acting Attorney General in May of 2017—to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump”—the takeaway conclusion stated in the Mueller report, as quoted in the Barr summary, is that “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

In the footnote indicated at the end of that sentence, Barr further clarifies the comprehensive meaning of that conclusion, again quoting the Report’s own words: “In assessing potential conspiracy charges, the Special Counsel also considered whether members of the Trump campaign ‘coordinated’ with Russian election interference activities. The Special Counsel defined ‘coordination’ as an ‘agreement—tacit or express—between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference’.”

Barr restates the point of the cited conclusion from the Mueller Report a number of times: “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election…the Special Counsel did not find that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated with the IRA [Internet Research Agency, the indicted Russian clickbait operation] in its efforts.”

Thus, the Mueller investigation found no “conspiracy,” no “coordination,”—i.e., no “collusion”—“tacit or express” between the Trump campaign or any U.S. person and the Russian government. The Mueller investigation did not make, seal, or recommend any indictment for any U.S. person for any such crime.

This is as clear and forceful a repudiation as one can get of the “collusion” narrative that has been insistently shoved down our throats by the Democratic Party, its McResistance, its allied media, and its allied intelligence and national security agencies and officials. Whatever one wants to say about any other aspect of this investigation—campaign finance violations, obstruction of justice, etc.—they were not the main saga for the past two+ years as spun by the Russiagaters. The core narrative was that Donald Trump was some kind of Russian agent or asset, arguably guilty of treason and taking orders from his handler/blackmailer Vladimir Putin, who conspired with him to steal the 2016 election, and, furthermore, that Saint Mueller and his investigation team of patriotic FBI/CIA agents were going to find the goods that would have the Donald taken out of the White House in handcuffs for that.

Keith Olbermann’s spectacular rant in January 2017 defined the core narrative and exemplified the Trump Derangement Syndrome that powered it: an emotional, visceral hatred of Donald Trump wrapped in the fantasy—insisted upon as “elemental, existential fact”—that he was “put in power by Vladimir Putin.” A projection and deflection, I would say, of liberals’ self-hatred for creating the conditions—eight years of war and wealth transfer capped off by a despised and entitled candidate—that allowed a vapid clown like Trump to be elected. It couldn’t be our fault! It must have been Putin who arranged it!

Here’s a highlight of Keith’s delusional discourse. But, please watch the whole six-minute video below. They may have been a bit calmer, but this is the fundamental lunacy that was exuding from the rhetorical pores of Rachel, Chris, and Co. day after day for two+ years:

The military apparatus of this country is about to be handed over to scum, who are beholden to scum, Russian scum! As things are today January 20th will not be an inauguration but rather the end of the United States as an independent country. Donald John Trump…is not a president; he is a puppet, put in power by Vladimir Putin. Those who ignore these elemental, existential facts—Democrats or Republicans—are traitors to this country. [Emphases in original. Really, watch it.]

This—Trump’s secret, treasonous collusion with Putin, and not hush money or campaign finance violations or “obstruction of justice” or his obvious overall sleaziness—was Russiagate.

Russiagate is Dead! Long Live Russiagate!

And it still is. Here’s the demonstration in New York last Thursday, convened by the MoveOn/Maddow #Resistance, singing from “the hymnal” about how Trump is a “Russian whore” who is “busy blowing Vladimir”:

This is delusional lunacy.

Here are the three lines of excuse and denial currently being fired off by diehard Russiagaters in their fighting retreat, and my responses to them.

1. The Mueller Report is irrelevant, anyhow. ‘Cause either A) Per Congressional blowhard Adam Schiff: There already “is direct evidence” proving Trump-Russia collusion, dating from before the Mueller Investigation, so who cares what that doesn’t find; or B) (My personal favorite) Per former prosecutor and CNN legal expert Renato Mariotti: Of course there is no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, and it’s “your fault” for letting Trump fool you into thinking Mueller’s job was to find it. (The Mueller “collusion” investigation was a red herring orchestrated/promoted by Trump! I cannot make this up.)

Mueller’s report will almost certainly disappoint you, and it’s not his fault. It’s your fault for buying into Trump’s false narrative that it is Mueller’s’ job to prove “collusion,” a nearly impossible bar for any prosecutor to clear.

My piece in @TIMEhttps://t.co/VQ2WhhC996

This is, of course, the weakest volley. It’s absurd, patent bad faith, for Russiagaters to pretend that they knew, thought, or suggested the Mueller investigation was irrelevant. It is they who have been insisting that the integrity and super-sleuthiness of the “revered” Robert Mueller himself was the thing that would nail Donald Trump for Russian collusion. To now deny that any of that was important only acknowledges how thoroughly they have been fooling the American people and/or themselves for two years. Either Adam Schiff had the goods on Trump’s traitorous Russian collusion two years ago, in which case he’s got a lot of explaining to do about why he’s been stringing us along with Mueller, or Schiff is just bluffing. Place your bets.

2. The Mueller Report didn’t exonerate Trump entirely. It was agnostic about whether Trump was guilty of “obstruction of justice,” and there are probably many nasty things in the report that may not be provably criminal, but nonetheless demonstrate what a slimeball Trump is.

No, Russiagaters will not get away with denying that the core purpose of the Mueller investigation was to prove Trump’s traitorous relation to Vladimir Putin and the Russian government, which helped him win the 2016 election. They will not get away with denying that, if the Mueller investigation failed to prove that, it failed in its main purpose, as they constantly defined and reinforced it, with table-pounding, hyperventilating, and—a few days ago!—disco-dancing to “the hymnal.”

They will not get away with trying to appropriate, as if it were their point all along, what the left critics of Russiagate have been saying for two+ years—that Donald Trump is a slimeball grifter whose culpability for politically substantive and probably legally actionable crimes and misdemeanors should not be hard to establish, without reverting to the absurd accusation that he’s a Russian agent.

These are the left critics of Russiagate and Trump, whom Russiagaters deliberately excluded from all their media platforms, in order to make it seem that only right-wing Trump supporters could be skeptical of Russiagate—the left critics Russiagaters then excoriated as ”Trump enablers” and “Putin apologists” for speaking on the only media platforms that would host them. Among them, Glenn Greenwald and Aaron Maté (who just deservedly won the I.F. Stone prize for his Russiagate coverage) were the most prominent, but many others, including me, made this point week after week (Brian Becker, Dave Lindorff, Dan Kovalik, Daniel Lazare, Ted Rall, to name a few). As I put it in an essay last year: “There are a thousand reasons to criticize Donald Trump…That Donald Trump is a Russian agent is not one of them. There are a number of very good justifications for seeking his impeachment…That he is a Kremlin agent is not one of them.”

So, it’s a particularly slimy for Russiagaters to slip into the position that we Russiagate skeptics have been enunciating, and they have been excluding, for two years, without acknowledging that we were right and they were wrong and accounting for their effort to edit us out.

3. But we haven’t seen the whole Mueller Report! Barr may be fooling us! Mueller’s own team says so! You are now doing what you accused us of doing for two years—abandoning proper skepticism about Republicans like Barr and even Mueller (Yup. He’s a suspicious Republican now!), and assuming a final result we have not yet seen.

This is the one the Russiagaters like the most. Gotcha with your own logic!

Well, let’s first of all thank those who are saying this for, again, recognizing that we Russiagate critics had the right attitude toward such an investigation: cautious skepticism as opposed to false certainty. And let’s linger for a moment or more on how belated that recognition is and what its delay cost.

But let’s also recognize that what’s being expressed here is the last-minute hope on the part of the Russiagaters that the Mueller report actually does contain dispositive evidence of Trump’s treasonous Russian collusion. Because, again, that is the core accusation that hopeful Russiagaters are still singing about, and nobody ever argued that evidence of other hijinks was unlikely.

Well, that hope can only be realized if one or both of the following are true: 1) Barr’s quotes from the report exonerating Trump of collusion are complete fabrications, or 2) Mueller both wrote those words even though they contradict the substance of his own report and declined to indict a single U.S. person for such “collusion” even though he could have.

Sure, in the abstract, one or both of those conditions could be true. But there is no evidence, none, that either is. The New York Times (NYT) report that set everyone aflutter about the “concern” from “some members of Mr. Mueller’s team” is anonymous, unspecified, and second-hand. Read it carefully: The NYT did not report what any member of Mueller’s team said, but what “government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations” said. Those “officials and others interviewed [not members of the Mueller team itself] declined to flesh out” to the NYT what “some of the special counsel’s investigators” were unhappy about. To that empty hearsay, the NYT appends the phrase “although the report is believed to examine Mr. Trump’s efforts to thwart the investigation”—suggesting, but not stating, that obstruction of justice issues are the reasons for the investigators’ “vexation.” The NYT cannot state, because it does not know, anything. It is reporting empty hearsay that is evidence of nothing, but is meant to keep hope alive.

“[T]he report is believed to examine” is a particularly strange locution. Is the NYT suggesting that the Mueller report might not have examined obstruction of justice possibilities? Or is it just getting tangled up in its attempt to suggest this or that? Hey, it could just as well be true that Barr’s characterization of what the Mueller Report says about “obstruction of justice” is a misleading fabrication. Maybe Mueller actually exonerated Trump of that. If you mistrust Barr’s version of what the Mueller Report says about collusion, why not equally mistrust what it says about obstruction of justice?

There is no evidence that Barr’s summary is radically misleading about the core collusion conclusion of the Mueller Report. The walls are closing in, alright, on that story. The I’m just being as cautious now as you were before! line is the opposite of the reasonable skepticism is claims to be; it’s Russiagaters clinging to a wish and a belief that something they want to be true is, despite the determinate lack of any evidence.

It’s not just the words; it’s the melody, and the desperation in the voices. The core Trump-blowing-Vladimir collusion song that #Resisters are still singing is a fantastical fiction and the people still singing it are the pathetic choir on the Russiagate Titanic. And while they’re singing as they sink, Trump is escaping in the lifeboat they have provided him. The single most definite and undeniable effect of the Mueller investigation on American politics has been to hand Donald Trump a potent political weapon for his 2020 re-election campaign. A real bombshell.

It would be funny, if it weren’t so funny:

But it’s worse than that. The falsity of the Trump-as-a-Russian-agent narrative does not depend on any confidence in Mueller and his report or Barr and his summary. The truth is there was no Russiagate investigation, in the sense of a serious attempt to find out whether Donald Trump was taking orders from, or “coordinating” with, Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin.

No person in their right mind could believe that. Robert Mueller doesn’t believe it. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t believe it. Adam Schiff doesn’t believe it. John Brennan, James Clapper, and the heads of intelligence agencies do not believe it. Not for a second. No knowledgeable international affairs journalist or academic who thinks about it for two minutes believes it. Sure, some politicians and media pundits did work themselves up into a state where they internalized and projected a belief in the narrative, but few of them really believed it. They were serving the Kool-Aid. Only the most gullible sectors of their target audience drank it.

With some exceptions, to be sure (Donald Trump among them), the people in the highest echelons of the state-media-academic apparatus are just not that stupid. And, most obvious and important, Vladimir Putin is not that stupid, and they know he is not. Vladimir Putin would never rely on Donald Trump to be his operative in a complex operation that required shrewdly playing and evading the US intelligence and media apparatuses. Nobody is that stupid. Thinking about it that way for a second dissipates the entire ridiculous idea. (Not to mention that Trump ended up enacting a number of policies—many more than Obama!—contrary to Russian interests.)

The obvious, which many people in the independent media and none in the mainstream media (because it is so obvious, and would have blown their game) have pointed out, is that any real investigation of Russiagate would have sought to talk with the principals who had direct knowledge of who is responsible for leaking the infamous DNC documents: Julian Assange and former British ambassador Craig Murray (“I know who leaked them. I’ve met the person who leaked them.”). They were essentially two undisputed eyewitnesses to the crime Mueller was supposed to be investigating, and he made no effort to talk to either of them. Ipso facto, it was not really an investigation, not a project whole purpose was to find the truth about whatever the thing called “Russiagate” is supposed to be.

The Eternal Witch-hunt

It was a theater of discipline. Its purpose, which it achieved, was to discipline Trump, the Democratic electorate, and the media. Its method was fishing around in the muck of Washington consultants, lobbyists, and influence peddlers to generate indictments and plea bargains for crimes irrelevant to the core mandate. Not hard, in a carceral state where prosecutors can pin three felonies a day on anyone.

The US establishment, especially its national security arm, was genuinely shocked that their anointed candidate, Hillary, who was, as Glen Ford puts it “’all in’ with the global military offensive” that Obama had run through Libya, Syria, and the coup in Ukraine, was defeated by a nitwit candidate who was making impermissibly non-aggressive noises about things like Russia and NATO, and who actually wanted to lose. For their part, the Democrats were horrified, and did not want to face the necessary reckoning about the complete failure of their candidate, and the best-of-all-possible-liberaloid-worlds strategy she personified.

So, “within 24 hours of her concession speech” Hillary’s campaign team (Robby Mook and John Podesta) created a “script they would pitch to the press and the public” to explain why she lost. “Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.” A few months later, a coalition of congressional Democrats,, establishment Republicans, and intelligence/natsec professionals pressured Trump (who, we can now see clearly, is putty in the hands of the latter) to initiate a Special Counsel investigation. Its ostensible goal was to investigate Russian collusion, but its real goals were:

1) To discipline Trump, preventing any backpedaling on NATO/imperialist war-mongering against Russia or any other target. Frankly, I think this was unnecessary. Trump never had any depth of principle in his remarks about de-escalating with Russia and Syria. He was always a staunch American exceptionalist and Zionist. Nobody has forced him (that’s a right-wing fantasy) to attack Syria, appoint John Bolton, recognize Israeli authority over Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, or threaten Iran and Venezuela. But the natsec deep state actors did (and do) not trust Trump’s impulsiveness. They probably also thought it would be useful to “send a message” to Russia, which, in their arrogance, they think they can, but they cannot, “discipline,” as I’ve discussed in a previous essay.

2) To discipline the media, making “Russian collusion,” as Off-Guardian journalist Kit Knightly says, “a concept that keeps everyone in check.” Thus, a Russophobia-related McCarthyite hysteria was engendered that defined any strong anti-interventionist or anti-establishment sentiment as Russian-sown “divisiveness” and “Putin apologetics.” This discipline was eagerly accepted by the mainstream media, which joined in the related drive to demand new forms of censorship for independent and internet media. The epitome of this is the mainstream media’s execrable, tacit and sometimes explicit acceptance of the US government’s campaign to prosecute Julian Assange.

3) To discipline and corral the Democratic constituency. Establishment Dems riled up outraged progressives with deceptive implied promises to take Trump down based on the collusion fiction, which excused Hillary and diverted their attention from the real egregious failures and crimes that led their party to political ruin, and culminated in the election of Trump in the first place. This discipline also instituted a #Resistance to Trump that involved the party doing nothing substantively progressive in policy—indeed, it allowed embracing Trump’s most egregious militarism and promoting an alliance with, a positive reverence for, the most deceptive and reactionary institutions of the state.

Finally, incorporating point 2, perhaps the main point of this discipline—indeed of the whole Mueller enterprise—was to stigmatize the leftists and socialists in and around the party, who were questioning the collusion fiction and calling critical attention to the party’s failures, as crypto-fascist “Trump enablers” or “Putin’s useful idiots.” It’s all about fencing out the left and corralling the base.

Note the point regarding the deceptive implications about taking down Trump. Though they gave the opposite impression to rile up their constituents, Democratic Congressional leaders, for the reasons given above and others I laid out in a previous essay, did not think for a second they were going to impeach Trump. They were never really after impeaching Trump; they were and are after stringing along their dissatisfied progressive-minded voters. They, not Trump, were and are the target of the foolery.

We should recognize that Russiagate/The Mueller Investigation achieved all of these goals, and was therefore a great success. That’s the case whatever part of the Mueller Report is summarized and released, and whoever interprets it. The whole report with all of the underlying evidence cannot legally be released to the public, and the Democrats know that. So, even if the House gets it, the public will only ever see portions doled out by various interested parties.

Thus, it will continue to be a great success. There will be endless leaks, and interpretations of leaks, and arguments about the interpretations of leaks based on speculation about what’s still hidden. The Mueller Investigation has morphed into the Mueller Report, a hermeneutical exercise that will go on forever.
The Mueller Investigation never happened and will never end.

It wasn’t an investigation. It was/is an act of political theater, staged in an ongoing dramatic festival where, increasingly, litigation substitutes for politics. Neither party has anything of real, lasting, positive political substance to offer, and each finds itself in power only because it conned the electorate into thinking it offered something new. That results in every politician being vulnerable, but to a politically vacuous opposition that can only mount its attacks on largely politically irrelevant, often impossible to adjudicate, legalistic or moralistic grounds. Prosecutorial inquiry becomes a substitute for substantive political challenge.

It’s the template that was established by the Republicans against Bill Clinton, has been adapted by the Democrats for Trump and Russiagate, and will be ceaselessly repeated. What’s coming next, already hinted at in William Barr’s congressional testimony, will be an investigation of FISAGate—an inquiry into whether the FISA warrants for spying on the Trump campaign and administration were obtained legally (“adequately predicated”). And/or UkraineGate, about the evidence “Ukrainian law enforcement officials believe they have…of wrongdoing by American Democrats and their allies in Kiev, ranging from 2016 election interference to obstructing criminal probes,” involving Tony Podesta (who worked right alongside Paul Manafort in Ukraine), Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Joe Biden and his son, et. al. And/or CampaignGate, the lawsuit claiming that Hillary’s national campaign illegally took $84 million of “straw man” contributions made to state Democratic campaigns. And/or CraigGate, involving powerful Democratic fixer and Obama White House Counsel, Gregory Craig, who has already been referred to federal prosecutors by Mueller, and whose law firm has already paid a $4.6 million-dollar fine for making false statement and failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act—for work he did in Ukraine with—who else?—Paul Manafort.

There are Gates galore. If you haven’t heard about any of these simmering scandals in the way you’ve heard incessantly about, you know, Paul Manafort, perhaps that’s because they didn’t fit into the “get Trump” theme of the Mueller Investigation/Russiagate political theater. Rest assured the Republicans have, and will likely make sure that you do. If you think the Republicans do not have at least as much of a chance to make a serious case with some of these as Mueller did with Trump, you are wrong. If you think the Republicans will pursue any of these investigations because they have the same principled concern as the Democrats about foreign collusion in US elections, or the legality of campaign contributions or surveillance warrants, you are right. They have none. Like the Democrats, they have zero concern for the ostensible issues of principle, and infinite enthusiasm for mounting “gotcha” political theater.

Neither party really wants, or knows how, to engage in a sustained, principled debate on substantive political issues—things like universal-coverage, single-payer health insurance, a job guarantee, a radical reduction of the military budget, an end to imperialist intervention, increasing taxes on the wealthy and lowering them for working people, a break from the “overwhelming” and destructive influence of Zionism, to name a few of the policies the Democratic congressional leadership could have insisted on “investigating” over the last two years..

Instead, both parties’ political campaigns rely on otherizing appeals based on superficial identity politics (white-affirmative on the one hand, POC-affirmative on the other) and, mainly, on bashing the other party for all the problems it ignored or exacerbated, and all the terrible policies it enacted, when it was in power—and for the version of superficial, otherizing identity politics it supposedly based those policies on (the real determinants of class power remaining invisible). What both parties know how and will continue to do is mount hypocritical legalistic and moralistic “investigations” of illegal campaign contributions, support from foreign governments, teenage make-out sessions, personal-space violations, et. al., that they are just “shocked, shocked” about.

It’s Investigation Nation. Fake politics in the simulacrum of a democratic polity. Indeed, someone, of some political perspicuity, might just notice, if only for a flash, that the people who do pretty well politically are often the ones who frankly don’t give a crap about all that. Maybe because they’re talking to people who don’t give a crap about all that. But we wouldn’t want to confuse ourselves thinking on that for too long.

Which brings us to the last point about Russiagate/The Mueller Investigation mentioned above. It may not (or may!) have been an intended goal, but it has been its most definite political effect: The Mueller Investigation has been a great political gift to Donald Trump. #Resisters and Russiagaters can wriggle around that all they want. They can insist that, once we get the whole Report, we’ll turn the corner, the bombshell will explode, the walls will close in—for real, this time. Sure.

But even they can’t deny that’s the case right now. Trump is saying the Mueller investigation was a political counterattack against the result of the election, masquerading as a disinterested judicial investigation; that it was based on a flimsy fiction and designed to dig around in every corner of his closets to find nasty and incriminating things that were entirely irrelevant to the ostensible mandate of the investigation and to any substantive, upfront political critique—a “witchhunt,” a “fishing expedition.” And he is right. And too many people in the country know he’s right. At this point, even most Russiagaters themselves know it—though they don’t care, and will never admit it.

So now Trump, who could have been attacked for two years politically on substance for betraying most of the promises that got him elected—more aggressive war, more tax cuts for the wealthy, threatening Medicare and Social Security—has instead been handed, by the Democrats, the strongest arrow he now has in his political quiver. As Matt Taibbi says: “Trump couldn’t have asked for a juicier campaign issue, and an easier way to argue that ‘elites’ don’t respect the democratic choices of flyover voters. It’s hard to imagine what could look worse.”

You might think the Democratic Party would be horrified at this result, which one conservative analyst calls: “one of the greatest self-defeating acts in history.” You might think Democrats would now move quickly and decisively toward a strategy of offering a substantive political alternative, and abandon this awful own-goal Mueller/Russiagate tack that has already helped Trump immensely (and which they are not going to turn their way). That is obviously what would happen if the Democrats’ main goal was to defeat Trump. But it isn’t.

As discussed above, the Democratic establishment’s’ main goal throughout this was not to “get” Trump, but to channel its own voters’ disgust with him into support for some halcyon, liberal, status quo ante-Trump, and away from left demands for a radical change to the social, economic, and political conditions that produced him and his clueless establishment opponent in 2016. The Democrats’ goal was, and is, not to defeat Trump, but to stave off the left.

What they are doing with the Mueller Investigation/Russiagate is what they did in the primaries in 2016: Then, they deliberately promoted Trump as an opponent, while working assiduously to cheat their own leftist candidate; now, they gin up a fictional spy story whose inevitable collapse helps Trump, but on which they will double down, in order to continue branding “divisive” leftists who challenge any return to their version of status-quo normalcy as the Kremlin’s “useful idiots.”

The Democrats’ main goal in all this is not to impeach, or stop the re-election of, Donald Trump; it’s to prevent the nomination and election of Bernie Sanders, or anyone like him.

Russiagate Forever

Here’s Tim Ryan’s presidential campaign kickoff speech in Youngstown, Ohio, a poster city of late American capitalist deindustrialization, explaining to the voters what is causing the destruction of their lives and towns. After complaining that “We have politicians and leaders today that want to divide us. They want to put us in one box or the other. You know, you can’t be for business and for labor,” he elaborates:

Yup, it’s those Russians, you see, sowing division through certain “politicians and leaders,” who are preventing us from fixing our healthcare, education, economic and government systems. This—doubling down on Russiagate—is the centrist Democrats’ idea of a winning political appeal. I consider it utterly delusional.

I heard last week from a friend in Western Pennsylvania, not too far from Youngstown. She’s a good person who is trying to organize Democrats in the area to beat Trump in 2020, and, pleading for advice, she expressed her exasperation: “They’re leaving the party!”

You mean the five million people who voted for Obama in 2012, in the 90% of counties that voted for Obama either in 2008 or 2012, but would not vote for Hillary in 2019, aren’t streaming back into - are indeed still streaming out of - the Democratic Party, despite all the Mueller investigation has done for them? Imagine that.

What has Russiagate/The Mueller Investigation wrought? It’s either a shrewd political gambit sure to take down Trump, or it’s ridiculous political theater leading Democrats, and the country, over another cliff. Double-down or leave that table?

Place your bets.

Published:4/12/2019 7:38:31 PM
[Markets] 'No Constitutional Difference' Between WikiLeaks And New York Times: Dershowitz

Op-Ed | Alan Dershowitz via The Hill

Alan Dershowitz: Is Julian Assange another Pentagon Papers case?

Before WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gained asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012, he and his British legal team asked me to fly to London to provide legal advice about United States law relating to espionage and press freedom. I cannot disclose what advice I gave them, but I can say that I believed then, and still believe now, that there is no constitutional difference between WikiLeaks and the New York Times.

If the New York Times, in 1971, could lawfully publish the Pentagon Papers knowing they included classified documents stolen by Rand Corporation military analyst Daniel Ellsberg from our federal government, then indeed WikiLeaks was entitled, under the First Amendment, to publish classified material that Assange knew was stolen by former United States Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning from our federal government.

So if prosecutors were to charge Assange with espionage or any other crime for merely publishing the Manning material, this would be another Pentagon Papers case with the same likely outcome. Many people have misunderstood the actual Supreme Court ruling in 1971. It did not say that the newspapers planning to publish the Pentagon Papers could not be prosecuted if they published classified material. It only said that they could not be restrained, or stopped in advance, from publishing them. Well, they did publish, and they were not prosecuted.

The same result would probably follow if Assange were prosecuted for publishing classified material on WikiLeaks, though there is no guarantee that prosecutors might not try to distinguish the cases on the grounds that the New York Times is a more responsible outlet than WikiLeaks. But the First Amendment does not recognize degrees of responsibility. When the Constitution was written, our nation was plagued with irresponsible scandal sheets and broadsides. No one described political pamphleteers Thomas Paine or James Callender as responsible journalists of their day.

It is likely, therefore, that a prosecution of Assange for merely publishing classified material would fail. Moreover, Great Britain might be unwilling to extradite Assange for such a “political” crime. That is why prosecutors have chosen to charge him with a different crime of conspiracy to help Manning break into a federal government computer to steal classified material. Such a crime, if proven beyond a reasonable doubt, would have a far weaker claim to protection under the Constitution. The courts have indeed ruled that journalists may not break the law in an effort to obtain material whose disclosure would be protected by the First Amendment.

But the problem with the current effort is that, while it might be legally strong, it seems on the face of the indictment to be factually weak. It alleges that “Assange encouraged Manning to provide information and records” from federal government agencies, that “Manning provided Assange with part of a password,” and that “Assange requested more information.” It goes on to say that Assange was “trying to crack the password” but had “no luck so far.” Not the strongest set of facts here!

The first question is whether a legal theory based on such inchoate facts will be sufficient for an extradition request to be granted. Even if it is, a grant of extradition could be appealed through several layers of courts, which would take a long time. The second question is what would happen to Assange while these appeals proceeded. If he were locked up, he might well waive extradition in the hope of winning his case in the United States. The third question is whether American prosecutors might amend the indictment to make it legally and factually stronger and, if they did so, whether they would take such action before or after he was extradited.

The last question is whether Manning will testify against Assange. It is not clear whether prosecutors really need her testimony or whether they can make the case based on emails and other documents, but her testimony surely would be helpful if she were to corroborate or expand on the paper trail. President Obama commuted her sentence in 2017 and she was freed from prison, but she was jailed last month for refusing to testify against Assange before a grand jury. Manning could be given immunity from further prosecution and compelled to testify. But if she refused, would prosecutors keep her in prison? There are lots of moving parts to this process, all of which make its outcome and timetable unpredictable.

Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School. His new book is “The Case Against the Democratic House Impeaching Trump.” You can follow him on Twitter @AlanDersh.

Published:4/12/2019 5:04:34 PM
[Markets] Georgetown Students Approve Mandatory Fee For Slavery Reparations

Students at Georgetown University have approved a measure to mandate a $27.20 per semester fee to create a fund that would benefit the descendants of the 272 slaves the college sold in 1838 to pay off the Georgetown Jesuits' debt, a move which saved the university from financial ruin, according to ABC News

The measure, which still must be approved by the university, passed with 66% voting yes. 

The slaves were sold in 1838 for $17,000 (approximately $465,000 adjusted for inflation).  

Todd Olson, vice president for student affairs at Georgetown University, in a statement issued after the vote, lauded the students' efforts saying "university values the engagement of our students and appreciates that 3,845 students made their voices heard in yesterday’s election. Our students are contributing to an important national conversation and we share their commitment to addressing Georgetown’s history with slavery."

The university has vowed to "carefully review the results of the referendum, and regardless of the outcome, will remain committed to engaging with students, Descendants, and the broader Georgetown community and addressing its historical relationship to slavery," Matt Hill, the university's media relations manager, told ABC News in a statement. -ABC News

"The Jesuits sold my family and 40 other families so you could be here," said Georgetown student Melisande Short-Colomb during a town hall to discuss the proposal last week. Short-Colomb is attending Georgetown under an admissions policy which counts descendants of the 272 slaves as "legacy" students, according to the report. 

Sophomore Melisande Short-Colomb (via ABC 13)

Also included in that group is Elizabeth Thomas - a descendant of slaves Sam and Betsy Harris who were sold by the university in 1838. Thomas will receive her master's degree in May and is currently a desk assistant at ABC News in Washington. 

After news of Georgetown's slave sale surfaced, the university apologized. In April 2017, the school rededicated two buildings named after two former Jesuit University presidents who facilitated the sale.

Not all students are on board with the proposed tuition increase. Some who oppose it expressed concerns as to where the money would be spent and how long they'd on the hook for paying. Several students noted they were working to support themselves and any additional costs wouldn't be welcomed.

Others complained the referendum wasn't comprehensive enough. -ABC News

(Aimin Tang/Getty Images)  White-Gravenor Hall of Georgetown University is shown.

Other Georgetown students feel that current generations should not be responsible for paying for the sins of the past -- a stance that's come up in previous political debates.

"It's unjust to compel 7,000-plus people to pay for the university's historical sins," said sophomore Haley Grande, who is in student leadership. "There is an obligation for Georgetown to reconcile its sins, and that obligation falls squarely on the institution."

The Georgetown reparations measure comes amid a national conversation on reparations ahead of the 2020 election - with candidate Sen. Cory Booker introducing a Senate bill this week that would study the possibility of reparations for descendants of slaves.

The New Jersey Democrat said on Monday that "this bill is a way of addressing head-on the persistence of racism, white supremacy, and implicit racial bias in our country. It will bring together the best minds to study the issue and propose solutions that will finally begin to right the economic scales of past harms and make sure we are a country where all dignity and humanity is affirmed."

Booker's bill is companion legislation to a January bill introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) which would establish a commission to explore the impact of slavery and continued discrimination against black Americans. The bill - similar to legislation introduced 30 years ago by then-Rep. John Conyers of Michigan - would make recommendations on reparation proposals. 

"Since slavery in this country, we have had overt policies fueled by white supremacy and racism that have oppressed African-Americans economically for generations," Booker said, adding "Many of our bedrock domestic policies that have ushered millions of Americans into the middle class have systematically excluded blacks through practices like GI Bill discrimination and redlining."

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who spoke at the National Action Network last week, reiterated his support for Rep. Jim Clyburn's 10/20/30 plan, an effort the South Carolina congressman said aims to help counties that had a poverty level of more 20% for more than three decades. Those communities would then receive at least 10% of federal funds from a specific program.

Booker did not say whether he considered the measure a form of reparations. Clyburn, however, said the measure "absolutely" is. -ABC News

Also backing reparations at at some level are Democratic 2020 contenders Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), businessman Andrew Yang and Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro who was President Obama's housing secretary. 

Harris on NPR recently suggested that we study the impact of "the effects of generations of discrimination and institutional racism and determine what can be done, in terms of intervention, to correct course."

The topic of reparations has been discussed since the end of the Civil War - with some of the earliest proposals from 150 years ago suggesting that Confederate-owned land should be confiscated and divided up to provide each slave family with 40 acres and a mule. 

"Here we are in 2019 talking about it again. It is a sore spot for this nation," said NAACP President Derrick Johnson, who supports reparations. "It is something that we must address, so we can get past this moment in time in a way in which the legacy of slavery, the legacy of segregation, the legacy of institutional racism can once in for all be done away with and we can all prosper as a nation as one whole community."

Published:4/12/2019 2:03:49 PM
[CIA] We’ve Gone Through the Looking Glass (John Hinderaker) It is almost unbelievable that the Democrats and their media adjunct are trying to deny that the Obama administration spied on the Trump presidential campaign. Are they unaware of the multiple FISA warrants obtained to spy on Carter Page? Do they not know that the fake Fusion “dossier” was the basis for those FISA warrants, thus eliminating any question about whether the point was to spy on the Trump campaign? Published:4/12/2019 1:35:30 PM
[Crime] Liberals Are Lying to You: Trump WAS Spied On By Obama’s FBI

The following article, Liberals Are Lying to You: Trump WAS Spied On By Obama’s FBI, was first published on Godfather Politics.

Byron York at the 'Washington Examiner' recently pointed out that Trump is 100 percent right that his campaign was spied upon by Obama.

Continue reading: Liberals Are Lying to You: Trump WAS Spied On By Obama’s FBI ...

Published:4/12/2019 10:32:59 AM
[Political Cartoons] The Spy Who Hated Me – A.F. Branco Cartoon

By A.F. Branco -

Democrats say there’s no proof of Obama officials spying on the Trump Campaign, but the proof is the FISA warrants obtained for that very purpose. Political Cartoon by A.F. Branco ©2019. See more Branco toons HERE

The Spy Who Hated Me – 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:4/12/2019 10:03:18 AM
[Crime] Liberals Are Lying to You: Trump WAS Spied On By Obama’s FBI

The following article, Liberals Are Lying to You: Trump WAS Spied On By Obama’s FBI, was first published on Godfather Politics.

Byron York at the 'Washington Examiner' recently pointed out that Trump is 100 percent right that his campaign was spied upon by Obama.

Continue reading: Liberals Are Lying to You: Trump WAS Spied On By Obama’s FBI ...

Published:4/12/2019 10:03:18 AM
[Crime] Barack Obama’s White House Counsel is First Dem. Indicted Over Mueller Probe

The following article, Barack Obama’s White House Counsel is First Dem. Indicted Over Mueller Probe, was first published on Godfather Politics.

Former White House counsel for Barack Obama, attorney Gregory Craig, was indicted on Thursday by a grand jury for lying to the FBI.

Continue reading: Barack Obama’s White House Counsel is First Dem. Indicted Over Mueller Probe ...

Published:4/12/2019 8:25:04 AM
[Crime] Barack Obama’s White House Counsel is First Dem. Indicted Over Mueller Probe

The following article, Barack Obama’s White House Counsel is First Dem. Indicted Over Mueller Probe, was first published on Godfather Politics.

Former White House counsel for Barack Obama, attorney Gregory Craig, was indicted on Thursday by a grand jury for lying to the FBI.

Continue reading: Barack Obama’s White House Counsel is First Dem. Indicted Over Mueller Probe ...

Published:4/12/2019 8:02:39 AM
[2016 Presidential Election] Barr brings accountability (Scott Johnson) Kim Strassel devotes her weekly Wall Street Journal column today — “Barr brings accountability” (behind the Journal’s column) — to the news that Attorney General William Barr is undertaking a review of the surveillance of the Trump presidential campaign conducted by the FBI and intelligence agencies under the Obama administration. As we have frequently observed, we weren’t meant to learn a blessed thing about this surveillance. Strassel picks up this Published:4/12/2019 6:01:57 AM
[Markets] Libya's Incoming Strongman Haftar Will Send The Oil Out To Europe... And Keep Its Migrants In

Authored by Vijay Prashad via Common Dreams

You can well imagine the tension when Libya’s beleaguered Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj met with the UN envoy Ghassan Salamé in his office in Tripoli on Monday morning. Not far away, in the south of Libya’s capital, the troops of the Libyan National Army led by General Khalifa Haftar had made rapid advances. They had taken the shell of Tripoli International Airport and had made a dash toward the road that links Libya to Tunisia. Haftar’s troops, well-armed and well-disciplined, had moved northward toward the Ain-Zara neighborhood. On Monday, Haftar’s air force bombed the only working airport in Tripoli—at Mitiga. The United Nations wanted to let al-Serraj know that it would not abandon him.

It’s hard to follow the ins and outs of Libyan politics, particularly given the fragmentation of the country after the NATO war in 2011. NATO hit Libya very hard, destroying what institutions remained. As soon as the bombs started falling, General Khalifa Haftar departed for Benghazi (in Libya’s east) from his home in Virginia, just a 10-minute drive from CIA headquarters.

French President Emmanuel Macron and General Khalifa Haftar, commander in the Libyan National Army, meeting near Paris in July 2017. Image source: AFP

Haftar had been a senior general in the army of Muammar al-Gaddafi, and it was Haftar who had led the charge into Chad during that ill-fated war in 1987. Haftar defected to the United States, dashed out of Libya with his family and arrived in Virginia. The United States government essentially gave Haftar exile status, keeping him in cold storage for when he might be useful. But Haftar was in for a surprise.

The U.S. government led by Barack Obama thought that it controlled the situation in North Africa, when in fact it was flat-footed. Obama’s team felt that it could continue to support Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak even after Egypt’s military had decided to do away with him. In Libya, they felt that their man—Haftar—would be able to take the reins and seize Libya for the United States. But when Haftar arrived in Benghazi, he found that the Gulf Arabs—notably the Qataris—had already chosen the next leader of Libya, their banker Mahmoud Jibril. The United States and France bombed Libya to a crisp and Qatar won the initial prize, with Jibril as the head of government.

Libya fell into the worst of the rivalries of the Gulf Arabs. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—with their close friend Egypt—had a grand falling out with Qatar—and its close friend Turkey—in 2014. Egypt and the UAE, as well as Saudi Arabia, had already decided that Haftar would be their man against Qatar’s Jibril. The Egyptian and Emirati bombers gave Haftar air support as they continued his brutal war in Benghazi and then as he attempted a failed coup in Libya in 2014. Haftar appeared to the Saudis and the Emiratis as the Libyan version of Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Haftar saw that el-Sisi was given a long leash, not only by his Gulf Arab allies but also by the West, which said nothing about the human rights violations inside Egypt. If el-Sisi can get away with it, Haftar surmised, so can he.

UN Government

NATO destroyed Libya, but the UN was forced to pick up the pieces. This has become such a familiar sight. The West bombs a country, then withdraws; the UN, often with peacekeepers from the Global South, has to do triage.

A few days ago, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres came to Libya. He had hoped to broker a peace. Nothing seemed possible. “I leave Libya with a heavy heart and deeply concerned,” Guterres said. Guterres had been accompanied in his trips to see al-Serraj, the UN-backed prime minister, and Haftar. Guterres, whose UN has sent in a succession of five envoys since 2011, was perhaps aware that the work the UN did to unite the country’s factions that led to the government of al-Serraj was soon to unravel.

Al-Serraj, who comes from a wealthy and well-connected family, was always the UN’s prime minister. It has long been said in Libya that al-Serraj’s government is more interested in “international” (meaning Western) support than in Libyan support. Basic needs of the population have not been met, with power and water being a challenge and security non-existent in parts of the country. Al-Serraj’s government has been bolstered by certain militias that came into their own during the NATO war. Disagreements over the role of political Islam tore apart Libya’s institutions, with a House of Representatives in the eastern city of Tobruk refusing to recognize the government in Tripoli.

Haftar and al-Serraj had several meetings. The United States, the Gulf Arabs, France, Egypt and Russia have been eager to see progress between the two sides. The prime minister and the general met in Cairo (February 2017), in Abu Dhabi (April–May 2017) and in Paris (May 2018). At each meeting, they substantially agreed on basic principles—a peaceful solution, for instance—but did not agree on specifics. Officials in al-Serraj’s government said that they hoped to bring in Haftar as the head of the army of the Government of National Accord. But Haftar had other dreams. He saw that there was unrest in Tripoli about the inefficiency and inconsiderateness of the government. There was even a protest against Salamé. Haftar is the kind of man who has great ambition but no real agenda. He will take all of Libya, but he has not said what he would do with it.

Oil and the West

Europe wants Libyan oil. Its sources of energy have been picked off one by one by the West’s conflicts. It first lost access to Iranian energy because of the United States and Israeli driven sanctions regime (2006 to the present). NATO’s war on Libya set back the possibility for Libyan oil—the easiest to refine kind—to travel across the Mediterranean Sea (2011). It then lost access to the Russian energy, including the crucial Russian–German Nord Stream gas pipeline, after the conflict in Ukraine (2014). There’s no doubt that Europe is eager for Libyan oil. It has said so quite directly.

Haftar’s troops seized the southern oil fields in Libya (including the largest, Sharara, directly south of Tripoli) and are in control of most of the oil installations on the coastline. He is already—substantially—in charge of the oil. If Haftar is able to take the oil terminals in Zawiya, then he controls all the oil and its exits.

There is a good reason why the United States withdrew its forces from Libya as Haftar approached Tripoli. It does not want to be forced to defend the UN government against a man who will soon be anointed leader of the country. France has very close links with Haftar. Its defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has been a regular guest in Libya, meeting both al-Serraj and Haftar. Sources near Haftar say that Le Drian and the general are very comfortable with each other.

If Haftar takes Libya, the Saudis and the Emiratis would have their tentacles across most of North Africa (Egypt and Libya). Last year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman toured the rest of North Africa, including Algeria. He received the cold shoulder from both the people and the leaders. Things will change for him if his close proxies are in charge of half of the north.

The West and the Gulf Arabs have condemned Libya to the strongman.

Europe has another worry: the refugees. There is a sense that Haftar will bring stability to the country and stop the movement of people northward. European values are fairly clear: they want oil to travel northward, not people. Haftar, at the cost of the Libyans themselves, will make that happen.

This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Published:4/12/2019 2:32:34 AM
[Markets] Chicago Sues Jussie Smollett Over "Refusal To Reimburse City" For Hoax Investigation

The city of Chicago has filed a civil complaint against Jussie Smollett, who has failed to reimburse the city for the cost of investigating a hate-crime hoax perpetrated by the Empire actor. 

The lawsuit "follows his (Smollett) refusal to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false police report on January 29, 2019," according to a city law department spokesman. 

Last week Fox News reported that the city had planned to draft the civil complaint in order to "pursue the full measure of damages allowed under the ordinance."

Smollett told police in late January that he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway sandwich shop in an upscale Chicago neighborhood at around 2 a.m. The actor - who is openly gay and black - said that the attackers recognized him from Empire and began shouting racial and homophobic slurs. 

It was later discovered that the two men, brothers from Nigeria, were associates of Smollett's who say the actor paid them $3,500 to stage the whole thing. 

Thursday's complaint goes on to note: "Defendant knew his attackers and orchestrated the purported attack himself. Later, when police confronted him with evidence about his attackers, he still refused to disclose his involvement in planning the attack."

It is also alleged in the suit that Smollett rescheduled the hate-crime hoax because his plane was delayed.

Furthermore: "Cell phone records indicate that at 12:49am, Defendant and Abel spoke by telephone. Defendant told Abel the attack should take place at 2:00AM at agreed upon location. Minutes later, Ola order an Uber to pick the brothers up at their home."

Smollett was hit with a bill for $130,000 last Thursday to cover "overtime hours in the investigation of this matter," adding that if the amount was not paid within seven days, the city might prosecute Smollett "for making a false statement" or "pursue any other legal remedy available at law.

At an estimated $125,000 per Empire episode, Smollett could have simply acted his way out of the civil suit - which makes two things he couldn't manage to pull off without a director. 

Two weeks ago, Smollett ducked 16 felony counts for lying to the police about the hate-crime hoax he staged, while his case was sealed. Justifying their actions, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office issued the following statement: "After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollet’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition & appropriate resolution."

In short; 'he did it, but we're dropping it.' 

Smollett, meanwhile, took a victory lap, undoubtedly high-fived his sisters who worked for President Obama, and proudly maintained his innocence. 

The dismissal of the investigation came after Michelle Obama's former Chief of Staff, Tina Tchen, pressured Chicago's top prosecutor, Kim Foxx, to transfer the case to the FBI. When that wasn't done, Foxx's office decided not to pursue the case

The dismissal seriously pissed off Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. Emanuel called it a "whitewashing of justice," done "all in the name of self promotion." 

Watch that entire press conference below: 

Published:4/11/2019 6:29:06 PM
[Politics] Susan Rice Says She Won't Challenge GOP Sen. Collins in 2020 Susan Rice, who served as national security adviser under President Barack Obama, won't be challenging Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine in 2020.Rice told former Obama administration official Alyssa Mastromonaco at the 10th annual Women in the World Summit on Thursday... Published:4/11/2019 6:02:11 PM
[In The News] Former Obama Aide Indicted For Lying To DOJ

By Paul Ingrassia -

Former Obama White House counsel, Greg Craig, was indicted Thursday on two charges for lying to federal investigators about consulting work his former firm did on behalf of Russia-backed ex-Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych. Craig was accused of lying to the Department of Justice for allegedly making false statements and concealing ...

Former Obama Aide Indicted For Lying To DOJ 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:4/11/2019 4:30:43 PM
[Issues] Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig Indicted for Alleged False Statements

Former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig was indicted Thursday on two counts of making false statements about work for clients in Ukraine in a case stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

The post Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig Indicted for Alleged False Statements appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:4/11/2019 4:01:26 PM
[Social Media] ‘You MIGHT wanna sit down for this.’ Sean Spicier’s tweet about Obama admin spying sends Libs over the EDGE (bonus Biden)

If you thought Democrats and the media (same thing) were freaking out over Barr using the word SPY, you should see how badly the Obama zombies flipped out on our favorite parody account, Sean Spicier, just for tweeting about it. Granted, this account has been going for YEARS and most of them still don’t realize […]

The post ‘You MIGHT wanna sit down for this.’ Sean Spicier’s tweet about Obama admin spying sends Libs over the EDGE (bonus Biden) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/11/2019 3:28:49 PM
[2019 News] Greg Craig, ex-Obama White House counsel, indicted for alleged false statements Greg Craig, ex-Obama White House counsel, indicted for alleged false statements. Nice to see Mueller didn’t just go after Trump people. Up next Tony Podesta? The Washington-based lawyer was indicted by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for allegedly falsifying and concealing “material facts” and making false statements […] Published:4/11/2019 3:28:49 PM
[Politics] BREAKING: Former Obama WH lawyer INDICTED by Justice Department Obama’s former White House counsel has just been indicted by the DOJ regarding his Ukrainian activities: Former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig charged with lying to the Justice Department about his . . . Published:4/11/2019 2:28:56 PM
[US News] It’s all HAPPENING! Ex-Obama White House counsel indicted for false statements, concealing work for Ukraine (Lefties FREAK)

Well well well … ain’t this interesting? Ukraine. Is this where we start accusing Obama of collusion with Russia? Asking for a friend. #BREAKING: Ex-Obama White House counsel indicted for false statements, concealing work for Ukraine https://t.co/7X6O3KHQRk pic.twitter.com/dTZzcL1h9u — The Hill (@thehill) April 11, 2019 From The Hill: Former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig […]

The post It’s all HAPPENING! Ex-Obama White House counsel indicted for false statements, concealing work for Ukraine (Lefties FREAK) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/11/2019 2:28:55 PM
[] Former Obama White House Counsel (And Clinton's Impeachment Defense Lawyer) Greg Craig Indicted for Lying About His Work as an Unregistered Foreign Agent for the Ukraine He was indicted for withholding material facts and misleading regulators about whether he should have registered as a foreign agent under FARA [Foreign Agents Registration Act] for his work for Manafort's client in Ukraine. Former Obama White House counsel Greg... Published:4/11/2019 2:28:55 PM
[Politics] BREAKING: Former Obama WH lawyer INDICTED by Justice Department Obama’s former White House counsel has just been indicted by the DOJ regarding his Ukrainian activities: Former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig charged with lying to the Justice Department about his . . . Published:4/11/2019 1:59:29 PM
[Markets] Comey On Barr 'Spying' Claim: "No Idea What The Heck He's Talking About"

Former FBI Director James Comey told an audience at the Hewlett Foundation's Verify Conference that he has "no idea what the heck he's talking about" - adding that "The FBI conducted court-ordered authorized surveillance. I don't consider that spying."

Barr admitted on Wednesday during congressional testimony that the Obama administration 'spied' on President Trump - a claim which he has vowed to investigate. 

"I think spying did occur," said Barr during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing - expanding on comments made the day before. "But the question is whether it was adequately predicated and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that."

We know about the Carter Page FISA warrants - but did a court authorize the Obama administration's use of longtime spook Stefan Halper to infiltrate the Trump campaign and surveil both Page and aide George Papadopoulos? And why was Halper paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the Obama Defense Department?

Comey added of Barr: "I think that his career has earned him the presumption that he will be one of the rare cabinet members who will stand up for things like truth." 

When asked if the FBI might have done anything differently going back to 2013 in preparation for 2016, Comey said "Going back to 2013, can I decline to accept the appointment of FBI director?"

And who could blame him based on all the money he made before entering public office! Prior to heading up the FBI, Comey earned $6 Million dollars in one year as Lockheed’s top lawyer – the same year the over-budget F-35 manufacturer made a huge donation to the Clinton Foundation. He was also a board member at HSBC shortly after (then NY AG) Loretta “tarmac” Lynch let the Clinton Foundation partner slide with a slap on the wrist for laundering drug money.

Lastly, when asked by MSNBC's Natasha Bertrand about the Thursday arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange - who reportedly scuttled a deal with WikiLeaks for Assange's testimony in the Russia investigation in exchange for redactions in the "Vault 7" document dump

Comey's Boy Scout philosopher routine is wearing thin...

Published:4/11/2019 1:27:34 PM
[Politics] Corey Lewandowski: '100%' Obama Knew of Campaign Spying Attorney General William Barr has to figure out just how high in President Barack Obama's administration did the authorization to spy on the Trump campaign come, and it is "100%" former President Obama knew himself, according to Corey Lewandowski. Published:4/11/2019 12:28:24 PM
[Alex Acosta] Acosta DOL seeks to impose radical diversity agenda on law firms (Paul Mirengoff) The Obama Labor Department is now in its eleventh year. The first eight were under the direction of President Obama’s Labor Secretaries, most notably Tom Perez. The remainder are under the direction of Alex Acosta, President Trump’s choice for the job. The latest manifestation of the DOL’s left-liberalism under Acosta is its warning to law firms that they must become more diverse or else risk losing contracts with the federal Published:4/11/2019 12:28:23 PM
[US News] ‘OUCH!’ Donald Trump Jr. spied an Obama tweet that is NOT aging well (in the wake of Bill Barr’s testimony)

"LMAO."

The post ‘OUCH!’ Donald Trump Jr. spied an Obama tweet that is NOT aging well (in the wake of Bill Barr’s testimony) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/11/2019 10:26:24 AM
[The Blog] Will a former Obama adviser get indicted in Manafort case?

Why didn't Mueller indict him?

The post Will a former Obama adviser get indicted in Manafort case? appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:4/11/2019 8:29:10 AM
[Immigration] CNN Says Obama Separated Families, But ‘It Was For Their Own Protection’

The following article, CNN Says Obama Separated Families, But ‘It Was For Their Own Protection’, was first published on Godfather Politics.

According to CNN’s National Security Analyst Samantha Vinograd, Obama separated migrant children from their families and stuck them in metal cages for their own “protection.” Did they come up with an excuse for President Obama turning kids over to human traffickers, a practice that President Trump was able to stop after he took office? CNN’s ...

Continue reading: CNN Says Obama Separated Families, But ‘It Was For Their Own Protection’ ...

Published:4/11/2019 7:26:53 AM
[Immigration] CNN Says Obama Separated Families, But ‘It Was For Their Own Protection’

The following article, CNN Says Obama Separated Families, But ‘It Was For Their Own Protection’, was first published on Godfather Politics.

According to CNN’s National Security Analyst Samantha Vinograd, Obama separated migrant children from their families and stuck them in metal cages for their own “protection.” Did they come up with an excuse for President Obama turning kids over to human traffickers, a practice that President Trump was able to stop after he took office? CNN’s ...

Continue reading: CNN Says Obama Separated Families, But ‘It Was For Their Own Protection’ ...

Published:4/11/2019 7:26:53 AM
[Markets] Unaccountable Media Faced With Dilemma In Next Phase Of Deep-State-Gate

Authored by Ray McGovern via ConsortiumNews.com,

Now that the media has been exposed for wrongly siding with the intelligence agencies, how will it handle Devin Nunes’s criminal referrals in Deep State-gate?

Readers of The Washington Post on Monday were treated to more of the same from editorial page chief Fred Hiatt. Hiatt, who won his spurs by promoting misleading “intelligence” about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and suffered no consequences, is at it again.

This time he is trying to adjust to the fading prospect of a Deus ex Mueller to lessen Hiatt’s disgrace for being among the most shameless in promoting the Trump-Russia collusion narrative.

He is not giving up. When you are confident you will not lose your job so long as you adhere to the agenda of the growing Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank complex (MICIMATT if you will), you need not worry about being a vanguard for the corporate media. It is almost as though Hiatt is a tenured professor in an endowed chair honoring Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who perhaps did most to bring us Iraqi WMD.

In his Monday column Hiatt warned: “Trump was elected with the assistance of Russian spies and trolls, which he openly sought and celebrated. But he did not (or so we are told) secretly conspire with them.” In effect, Hiatt is saying, soto voce: “Fie on former (now-de-canonized) Saint Robert of Mueller; we at the Post and our colleagues at The New York Times, CNN et al. know better, just because we’ve been saying so for more than two years.”

Hiatt: Never held to account. (Wikipedia)

Times executive editor Dean Baquet said, about the backlash to the Times‘ “collusion” coverage: “I have no regrets. It’s not our job to determine whether or not there was illegality.” CNN President Jeff Zucker said: “We are not investigators. We are journalists.” (One wonders what investigative journalist Bob Parry, who uncovered much of Iran-Contra and founded this site, would have thought of that last one.)

Going in Circles

Hiatt’s circular reasoning is all too familiar. It is the kind a former director of national intelligence excels at when he’s not lying, sometimes under oath. For instance, James Clapper was hawking his memoir at the Carnegie Endowment last year when he was confronted by unexpectedly direct questions from the audience.

Asked about the misleadingly labeled, rump “Intelligence Community Assessment” (ICA) of Jan. 6, 2017, which he orchestrated, and which blamed Russia for interfering in the 2016 election, Clapper gavean ipse dixit response: The ICA simply had to be correct because that’s what he had told President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump.

In fact, that “Intelligence Community Assessment” stands out as the most irresponsible, evidence-free and at the same time consequential crock of intelligence analysis since the National Intelligence Estimate of Oct. 2001 claimed there was WMD in Iraq. Recall that that one was shaped by out-and-out fraudulent intelligence to “justify” an attack on Iraq six months later.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, described the main thrust of the committee’s five-year bipartisan report, stating, “In making the case for war, the [Bush] Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”

Hiatt was one of the media’s major offenders, feeding on what the Cheney/Bush folks told him. When no “weapons of mass destruction” were found in Iraq, Hiatt conceded during an interview withThe Columbia Journalism Review that, “If you look at the editorials we write running up [to the war], we state as flat fact that he [Saddam Hussein] has weapons of mass destruction … If that’s not true, it would have been better not to say it.” [CJR, March/April 2004] As Parry wryly observed at the time in a piece calling for Hiatt’s dismissal, “Yes, that is a common principle of journalism, that if something isn’t real, we’re not supposed to confidently declare that it is.”

The Morning After

Clapper: After WMD failure, promoted by Obama.  (White House Photo/ Pete Souza)

The media set the prevailing tone the day after the ICA was published. The banner headline atop page one of theTimes read: “Putin Led Scheme to Aid Trump, Report Says.” That put in motion more than two years of Dick Cheney-like chicanery in the media.

Buried inside the Times that same day was a cautionary paragraph written by staff reporter Scott Shane who noted, “What is missing from the public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the [three] agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. That is a significant omission.” Indeed it was; and remains so.

(Sadly, Shane was then given his marching orders and fell in line with many other formerly reputable journalists in what has been the most miserable performance by the mainstream media since they helped pave the way for war on Iraq.)

Clapper and Hiatt are kindred souls when it comes to the “profound effect” of Russian election interference. In his column, Hiatt asserted as flat fact that: “Trump was elected with the assistance of Russian spies and trolls …” At the Carnegie event in November, Clapper opined:

“As a private citizen, understanding the magnitude of what the Russians did and the number of citizens in our country they reached and the different mechanisms that, by which they reached them, to me it stretches credulity to think they didn’t have a profound impact on election on the outcome of the election.”

Hiatt: Captain of Cheerleaders

Hiatt emulated peppy, preppy cheerleader George W. Bush in leading Americans to believe that war on Iraq was necessary. Appointed Washington Post editorial page editor in 2000, he still runs the page — having not been held accountable for gross misfeasance, if not malfeasance, on Iraq. Shades of Clapper, whom President Obama allowed to stay on as director of national intelligence for three and a half years after Clapper lied under oath to the Senate Intelligence Committee about NSA surveillance of U.S. persons.

That Obama appointed Clapper to lead the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election speaks volumes. Clapper claims to have expertise on Russia and has made no effort to disguise his views on “the Russians.” Two years ago, he told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press:

“… in context with everything else we knew the Russians were doing to interfere with the election, and just the historical practices of the Russians, who are typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique … we were concerned.”

It beggars belief that Obama could have been unaware of Clapper’s bizarre views on “the Russians.” Clearly, Obama was bowing yet again to pressure from powerful Deep State actors arguing that Clapper was the ideal man for the job.

And there is now documentary evidence that, from the Deep State point of view, indeed he was. In the text exchanges between discredited FBI sleuth Peter Strzok and his girlfriend, Lisa Page, a lawyer working for the FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, it seems clear that Obama wanted to be kept apprised of the FBI’s behind-the-scenes machinations. In a Sept. 2, 2016 text to Strzok, Page writes that she was preparing talking points because the president “wants to know everything we’re doing.”

A Sweaty Pate?

Clapper is aware now that he is going to have to sweat it out. He may believe he can ignore White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who has said that he and other former intelligence officials should be investigated after special counsel Mueller did not establish collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Strzok: Will he be on Nunes’s list? (Wikipedia)

But recent statements by members of the House and Senate intelligence committees cannot be dismissed so easily. In his media appearances, the supremely confident, hero-of-many-liberals Clapper has been replaced by a squirming (but-Obama-made-me-do-it) massager of facts. He may find it harder this time to avoid being held accountable.

Devin Nunes (R-CA), the House Intelligence Committee ranking member, has gone on the offensive, writing Friday that committee Republicans “will soon be submitting criminal referrals on numerous individuals involved … in the abuse of intelligence for political purposes. These people must be held to account to prevent similar abuses from occurring in the future.”

On Sunday, Nunes told Fox News he’s preparing to send eight criminal referrals to the Department of Justice this week concerning alleged misconduct during the Trump-Russia investigation. This will include leaks of “highly classified material” and conspiracies to lie to Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court. It’s no-holds-barred for Nunes, who has begun to talk publicly about prison for those whom DOJ might indict and bring to trial.

Nunes’s full-speed-ahead offensive is being widely ignored in “mainstream” media (with the exception of Fox), giving the media the quality of “The Dog That Did Not Bark in the Night.” The media has put its ducks in a row, such as they are, to try to rip Attorney General William Barr apart this coming week when he releases the redacted text of the Mueller report that so disappointed the Democratic Party/media coalition.

But how will they cover criminal referrals of the “heroes” who have leaked so much to them, providing grist for their Russia-gate mill? They will likely find a way, eventually, but the media silence about Nunes is depriving oxygen to the story.

On Sunday, Nunes said,

“They [the Democrats] have lied multiple times to the American people. All you have to do is look at their phony memos. They have had the full support of the media, 90 percent of the media in this country. They all have egg on their face. And so the fact of the matter remains, is there going to be — is justice going to be served or is justice going to be denied? And that’s why we’re sending over these criminal referrals.”

Nunes is, of course, trying to project an image of confidence, but he knows he is fighting uphill. There is no more formidable foe than the MICIMATT, with the media playing the crucial role in these circumstances. How will the American people be able to see egg on anyone’s face if the “mainstream media” find ways to wipe it off and turn the tables on Nunes, as they have successfully done in the past?

Though the Democrats now control the House, they have lost some key inside-the-Deep-State allies.

By all appearances, House Democrats still seem to be banking on help from the usual suspects still on duty in the FBI, CIA, and the Justice Department. Lacking that they seem ready to go down with the Schiff—Rep. Adam Schiff of California, perhaps the most virulent Russia-gater that there’s been.

Clapper is no long in position to help from the inside, and there’s no knowing how his sleepy replacement, Dan Coates, will react, if and when he wakes up long enough to learn chapter and verse about the machinations and dramatic personae of 2016.

Of course, there is a new sheriff in town running the Department of Justice. Attorney General William Barr, for better or ill, is a far cry from Jeff Sessions, who let himself be diddled into recusing himself. He’s not Rod Rosenstein either, whose involvement in this affair may have already earned him a prominent place on Nunes’s list of referrals.

What Did Obama Know, and When Did He Know It?

On top of this, Sen. Rand Paul (R, KY) has called for an investigation into the origins of Mueller’s probe, including on the dicey question of how witting President Obama was of the Deep State chicanery during the last months of his administration. Page did tell Strzok in that Sept. 2, 2016 text that the president “wants to know everything we’re doing.”

Sen. Paul has also tweeted information from “a high-level source” that it was former CIA Director John Brennan who “insisted that the unverified and fake Steele dossier be included in the Intelligence Report… Brennan should be asked to testify under oath in Congress ASAP.”

Vying for Media Attention

If, as expected, Nunes discloses the names of those being criminally referred to DOJ, and Barr releases a redacted text of the Mueller report, the “mainstream” media will have a fresh challenge on their hands. The odds would seem to favor the media covering the Democrats’ predictable criticism of Barr — and perhaps even of Mueller, now that he has been defrocked.

The Post’s Hiatt should be counted on, as always, to play a leading role.

At the same time, there are signs the America people are tired of this. It would be difficult though for the media to avoid reporting on criminal referrals of very senior law enforcement and intelligence officials. Given the media’s obvious preference for siding with the intelligence agencies and reporting on Russia-gate rather than Deep-State-gate, it would be even harder for the media to explain why these officials would be in trouble.

Things appear to be unraveling but, as always, much will depend on whether the media opts to remain the “dog that didn’t bark,” and succeeds again in hoodwinking too many people.

Published:4/10/2019 11:15:00 PM
[The Blog] Obama: You know, it’s not racist to believe that immigrants should assimilate

"If you're going to have a coherent, cohesive society, then everybody has to have some agreed-upon rules."

The post Obama: You know, it’s not racist to believe that immigrants should assimilate appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:4/10/2019 10:16:16 PM
[Markets] It Begins: Ex-Obama Counsel To Be Indicted Following Mueller Probe

In what will be the first case linked to Robert Mueller's report since the special counsel concluded President Trump did not collude with Russia; The New York Times reports that lawyers for Gregory B. Craig, a White House counsel in the Obama administration, expect him to be indicted in the coming days on charges related to his work for the Russia-aligned government of Ukraine.

The 74-year-old legal heavyweight, who served in senior legal roles for two Democratic presidents, reportedly refused to accept a plea deal, and the matter could be presented to a grand jury for indictment as soon as Thursday.

Mr. Craig served as the White House counsel to President Obama for the first year of his administration. He also served as a senior legal adviser to President Bill Clinton during the impeachment inquiry into the president’s conduct.

The Wall Street Journal reports that people familiar with the situation say they believe Mr. Craig will be charged with making false statements to the Justice Department unit that oversees the activities of foreign agents, though other charges are possible.

Lawyers for Mr. Craig blasted the planned indictment as a "misguided abuse of prosecutorial discretion"...

“This case was thoroughly investigated by the SDNY and that office decided not to pursue charges against Mr. Craig. We expect an indictment by the DC US Attorney’s Office at the request of the National Security Division. Mr. Craig is not guilty of any charge and the government’s stubborn insistence on prosecuting Mr. Craig is a misguided abuse of prosecutorial discretion.”

The possible charges stem from the Ukrainian government’s hiring of Mr. Craig and his then-law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in 2012 to evaluate the corruption trial of the former Ukrainian prime minister. 

Ukraine used the report to bolster the pro-Russia government’s contention that the prosecution of a rival to then President Viktor Yanukovych was appropriate and proper, while the report itself made more narrow findings.

In January, the law firm agreed to pay $4.6m as part of a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over unregistered work it did with former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort to benefit the government of Ukraine in 2012 and 2013.

Craig was identified as lead partner on that project and in the settlement, the firm blamed Mr. Craig for providing the government with the misleading information

He would be the first prominent Democrat charged as a result of Mueller's investigation, according to the Post.

Published:4/10/2019 8:15:44 PM
[Markets] Huawei: A Formidable Threat To US Telecom Infrastructure

Authored by James Gorrie via The Epoch Times,

The 'tainted' Chinese equipment manufacturer has been embedded in US rural areas for decades...

The arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver last December for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions against Iran confirmed what experts in the telecom industry, some members of Congress, and the U.S. defense establishment have long suspected: Huawei and its subsidiaries represent a tangible threat to the United States.

The Chinese tech giant also has been accused of intellectual property theft involving phone testing robot technology owned by T-Mobile. And in January of this year, a Huawei employee was arrested in Poland on espionage charges. Other accusations also attach to the second biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world.

But these incidents—though serious—haven’t disrupted Huawei’s business relationships with Europe and Asia. Today, Huawei operates in more than 170 countries, supporting more than 500 telecom providers. What’s more, Huawei technology and infrastructure will play a key role in deploying the next generation of mobile communications, the 5G network, for much of the world. But the Huawei story is much more complex than sanctions violations and spying employees.

Huawei’s Biggest Espionage Coup?

Yet even as U.S. President Donald Trump attempts to limit Huawei’s expansion into the global 5G market, some experts fear that it may already too late. Defense and telecom authorities assert that Huawei may have already accomplished its biggest espionage coup of eavesdropping on America’s Strategic Nuclear forces and other major defense installations located in the Western states.

According to telecom expert Gary Frost, in the early 2000s, smaller, rural customers in states such as Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and Colorado were overlooked by equipment giant Cisco and others. These underserved states created an opportunity for a low cost, good quality infrastructure provider to step in. Huawei was happy for the opportunity to install its own cheaper versions of Cisco-type equipment—routers, switches, and other telephone and internet infrastructure—and gain customers in these rural communities.

Today, not all of the states in question are entirely dependent on Huawei, but up to 25 percent of rural wireless carriers use the company’s equipment, with Montana highly dependent upon it and Wyoming almost not at all. But Frost points out that although there’s no Huawei fiber to his knowledge, Huawei equipment sits adjacent to fiber carrying nuclear and highly sensitive defense data to launch command sites and defense facilities located throughout the states mentioned.

Have there been compromises? It’s unknown for sure, and it’s not clear there has been any investigation.

CALEA Makes Spying Easier for Everyone

A key enabling factor in creating these vulnerabilities was the establishment of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which was passed in 1994 and became effective on January 1, 1995. CALEA mandated that for national security reasons, both telecom companies and manufacturers of telecom equipment must add built-in access for lawful surveillance to eavesdrop on suspicious communications. This can be done remotely.

When CALEA was established, it was likely assumed that all relevant infrastructure and access points to be used by CALEA were specific and identified. If that was true, it wasn’t for very long. Quick expansion of both CALEA and infrastructure demands meant that packaging of switches became hybrids of various technologies—creating multiple vulnerabilities. Today, all telecom manufacturers have remote access monitoring and update capabilities. These also have been targeted by Huawei since they are embedded into the telecommunications architecture.

China’s Involvement

Some of those vulnerabilities were exploited and the evidence points to China as the culprit. It’s a bit technically complex to explain in detail here, but essentially, when access points are used to steal data, that data is sent to a determined destination for it to be received and analyzed. In other words, a hacking or eavesdropping event on switches and other infrastructure leaves a trail and reveals where data was sent.

In the hacks that Frost references, both the data flows hitting interfaces to CALEA equipment and the IP addresses where the data went, were Chinese. They were so-called “brute force” attacks, which, in layman terms, means overwhelming the security of a program or piece of equipment with multiple interactions or instructions all at once or over a period of time. It’s not a particularly clever technique, but the attacks worked.

Thus, Huawei leveraged the opportunity to bring rural America into the digital age and Rural Telephone Associations and Rural Wireless Associations (RTAs and RWAs) in those sparsely populated states were more than grateful. Over the years, Huawei has become embedded in the telephone and wireless associations. Huawei officials have sat on RTA boards for years and have helped steer additional infrastructure build-outs as needed. But in the process, Huawei—and, according to Frost and other experts, the Chinese regime—have been eavesdropping via built-in access points in America’s telephone and internet infrastructure in rural areas.

To be clear, it’s not likely that there is Huawei fiber in sensitive installations. So-called “last mile” communication lines serving those areas are protected by “armored fiber pairs.” This hardened equipment is then installed by vetted telecom contractors. But at some point, some distance away, those installations are connected to vulnerable equipment manufactured and installed by Huawei. And it’s not simply listening in on conversations. As Frost explains it, Huawei may potentially be able to even remotely change or block data and communication transmissions to strategic U.S. sites.

How could such oversights occur time after time over the years?

Series of Errors

For one, not all relevant federal agencies were looking for espionage vulnerabilities. The main interest of the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Federal Communications Commission was to certify that new equipment will not harm the existing system and would perform as advertised. And the main interests of rural telecoms, at least at first, was to enter the digital age with the low cost, high functionality of Huawei’s equipment. Preventing spying wasn’t a major concern at the time.

But the way in which cable and fiber pairs are laid out opens up the possibility for access that shouldn’t be allowed. There may be several fiber pairs existing side-by-side within the same cable, with the defense pairs adjacent to Huawei equipment—where its technicians could potentially “tap” into the defense infrastructure. This could mean that Huawei and the Chinese regime have been able to hack and track data transmissions of America’s most sensitive installations for decades. That’s why it would appear to be no coincidence that Huawei focused its first efforts in the state of Nebraska. Nebraska is where the Offutt Air Force Base is situated, and, more to the point, where the U.S. Strategic Air Command headquarters is located.

Huawei’s strategy to gain access to the crown jewels of U.S. defense installations was as simple as it is brilliant. By offering great equipment at low cost to underserved regions in America in a technologically vulnerable environment, it was able to embed mission-critical equipment in rural telecom infrastructures. That positioned it to exploit the vulnerabilities that surround America’s most strategic defense operations.

Overcoming Lax Attitudes Is a Challenge

This apparent sloppiness of U.S. defense officials regarding our strategic communication infrastructure is more than troubling. As of yet, there’s no serious evidence that the Huawei vulnerability is being reviewed at the granular level necessary by the Department of Defense. They seem to be much more focused on the potential threats of the as-of-yet non-existent 5G network deployment instead of dealing with the current threats.

As for mitigating responses on the part of relevant authorities, some believe the Trump administration’s animus to Huawei could result in rural markets losing their Huawei equipment. But that has yet to occur. In the meantime, the reason among officials for such laxity is not clear, although Frost regards it as a holdover attitude from the Obama administration since a considerable portion of the civil defense and administrative positions remain occupied by Obama appointees. Frost also notes that defense officials in the current administration are aware of this resistance, which is something that Trump is faced with in various departments.

Almost all of this is public knowledge and no one questions the motives of the rural telecoms. They needed telephone and internet coverage and Huawei supplied it to them. The risk is with the equipment itself, and can’t be overstated. It can potentially intercept data sent to and from nuclear launch sites. And yet, the federal government has not removed the threat.

Why not?

It should be removed and replaced immediately.

Unfortunately, the belief among the neoconservatives and globalists was that modernizing China would lead to more openness and greater access to the country’s massive markets. Perhaps it still is. This is the reason why China was quickly given access to the U.S. market. But the very real threat from Huawei, as well the current trade climate between China and the United States, both prove the folly of that policy.

Published:4/10/2019 7:14:43 PM
[Media] Ari Fleischer says Jay Carney proves his point about the Obama admin and the media, Carney takes offense

And Carney takes offense.

The post Ari Fleischer says Jay Carney proves his point about the Obama admin and the media, Carney takes offense appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/10/2019 5:43:22 PM
[Media] ‘This is a big deal’: Ari Fleischer makes a prediction now that the ‘allegations are against the Obama Admin’

"Today is the day the shoe moved to the other foot."

The post ‘This is a big deal’: Ari Fleischer makes a prediction now that the ‘allegations are against the Obama Admin’ appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/10/2019 1:44:14 PM
[Trending Commentary] Watch: People Slam Trump’s Immigration Comments — But They’re Actually Obama’s

By DCNF Video Team -

People were quick to slam former President Barack Obama’s comments promoting cultural assimilation when presented under the guise that they were President Donald Trump’s. Obama said at a town hall Saturday: “If you’re going to have a coherent, cohesive society, then everybody has to have some agreed upon rules. It’s ...

Watch: People Slam Trump’s Immigration Comments — But They’re Actually Obama’s 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:4/10/2019 12:47:54 PM
[] AG Barr: "I Think Spying Did Occur" Against Trump Campaign, and I Need to Investigate If It Was Justified or Not Obama, you might have heard, ran a scandal-free administration. Except for the matter of weaponizing the intelligence community and DOJ and FBI to spy on a rival campaign in a move that makes Watergate look like a college lark. Attorney... Published:4/10/2019 11:12:53 AM
[US News] ‘I think spying did occur’: AG Barr leaves Dem senator ‘speechless’ when asked about Obama admin. investigation of the Trump campaign

And BOOM! Attorney General William Barr testified just a few moments ago that he did think spying on the Trump campaign occurred in the runup to the 2016 election: AG Barr tells Senate panel "I think spying did occur" on the Trump campaign, but says the question is whether it was adequately predicated. — Jared […]

The post ‘I think spying did occur’: AG Barr leaves Dem senator ‘speechless’ when asked about Obama admin. investigation of the Trump campaign appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/10/2019 10:14:41 AM
[Markets] Will US Troops Be At Greater Risk After Tit-For-Tat 'Terrorist Org' Designations With Iran?

Following the US decision to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization, and Iran's decision to do the same with US Central Command in response, Russia's RT has suggested that the escalation in tensions may put American troops at greater risk while operating in the Middle East. 

For example, the 2016 detention of 10 US sailors who strayed into Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf may have gone differently today than it did three years ago. 

"The approach will be much different... the American soldiers would be treated as terrorists and not as soldiers of a [state-run] army," said Ali Rizk, a Middle East-based journalist and writer. 

Terrorism is a criminal offense under Iranian law, and so “Iran could have taken the toughest action, including imprisonment and a subsequent trial,”Vladimir Sazhin, senior research fellow at Russia’s Institute for Oriental Studies, stated. -RT 

And while National Security John Bolton is undoubtedly a huge fan of the new terrorist designation pissing match, the last two administrations were hesitant to do the same, according to the New York Times

The George W. Bush administration considered a range of tough actions on Iran during the Iraq war, but held back.

The potential blowback vastly outweighs the benefits,” said Jeffrey Prescott, a senior Middle East director under President Barack Obama.

Wendy R. Sherman, a former top State Department official, said the Obama administration considered designating the Revolutionary Guards a foreign terrorist organization, but decided against it because there would be no practical payoff given the risks to Americans and the fact the group was already under other sanctions.

By designating a foreign military as a foreign terrorist organization, we were putting our troops at risk, particularly our troops in Iraq, next door to Iran,” she said.

The Revolutionary Guards oversaw the previous Iranian nuclear program, and some of the top officers were placed under United States and United Nations sanctions. -NYT

Meanwhile, many Iraqi officials have opposed the terrorist labeling, as it could restrict the movement of some lawmakers in the Shiite-led government as well as other officials who have ties to Iranian leadership. According to the Times, this could impact the movements and actions of some 5,000 American troops based in Iraq - a popular proposal among some Iraqi lawmakers.

According to Russia's Sazhin, the escalation between Washington and Tehran is only a pretext to boost propaganda campaigns, calling it the continuation of a "40-year Cold War between Iran and the US," however neither country actually wants to cross the line and risk sparking military action. 

Published:4/10/2019 9:42:35 AM
[Markets] The Geopolitics Of Oil In The Trump Era

Authored by Thierry Meyssan via The Voltaire Network,

The United States have become the leading world producer of hydrocarbons. As from now, they are using their dominant position exclusively to maximise their profits, and do not hesitate to eliminate their major rivals in oil production, plunging their citizens into misery. Although in the past, access to Middle East oil was a vital necessity for their economy (Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr.), then a market over which they presided (Clinton), and then again a failing resource whose supply they wanted to control (Bush Jr., Obama), hydrocarbons have now become black gold (Trump).

Economy depends primarily on the source of energy to which it has access. This need has always been one of the main causes of war. At one time, it was necessary to put slaves to work in the fields then, in the 19th century, to seize coal with which to feed machinery, and today we rely on hydrocarbons (oil and gas).

To avoid looking at this logic too closely, men have always invented good reasons to justify what they are doing.

Thus, today we believe

  • that Iran is being sanctioned because of its military nuclear programme (which it closed down in 1988); 

  • that the installations and assets of the PDVSA (Venezuelan Oil) have been seized in order to transfer them from the dictator Maduro to Juan Guaido’s team (although it is the former and not the latter who was constitutionally elected President of Venezuela); 

  • or again that the United States maintains its military presence in Syria in order to support their Kurdish allies against the dictator el-Assad (while in fact the Kurds are mercenaries who do not represent their people, and el-Assad was democratically elected).

These narratives have no real basis in truth and are contradicted by the facts. We believe them because we think we can make a profit from them.

The world market

Hydrocarbons represent the major world market, more important than foodstuffs, weapons, medicine and drugs. At first, they were managed by private companies, before becoming, in the 1960’s, the private hunting ground of states. As the economy developed, new actors stepped in, and the market became increasingly unpredictable. Besides this, from the end of the USSR until the return of Russia, the market became highly speculative, undergoing variations of sales prices between 1 and 4.

Apart from this, the world noticed that many oil fields, after having been heavily exploited, were now drying up. At the end of the 1960’s, the Rockfeller family and the Club of Rome popularised the idea that hydrocarbons were fossil energies, and therefore limited. However, contrary to this belief, we do not actually know the origin of hydrocarbons. The hypothesis suggests that they are probably fossils, but perhaps not. Nonetheless, even if hydrocarbons are renewable, that would not prevent them from disappearing if they were over-exploited (the Hubbert peak theory). Above all, the Club of Rome studied the question with a Malthusian a priori – its mission was to demonstrate that it was necessary to reduce the world’s population because the Earth’s resources are limited. Its belief in the end of oil is no more than an argument to justify the desire of the Rockfellers to limit the demographic growth of the poor populations. Within the space of half a century, we believed on five separate occasions that oil was going to become scarce within the next few years. Yet there still exist reserves which have been proven sufficient to supply the needs of Humanity for at least another century.

The highly variable costs of exploitation (from 1 in Saudi Arabia to 15 in the USA), the improvement of technology, the considerable variations of prices and the ideological debate have several times demonstrated the improbability of a return on investments. However, taking into account the operational delays, any interruption of the investment in research, exploitation and transport provokes a rarefaction of the produce available in the next five years. As a result, the market is particularly chaotic.

The world energy policy

The creation of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) by Venezuelan Juan Pablo Perez Alfonzo, in 1960, progressively displaced the power to fix prices from the oil companies to the exporting states. This transfer was made apparent during the Egypto-Syrian war against Israël, in October 1973 (known in the West as the « Yom Kippur War »), and world oil crisis it provoked.

The United States, which were at that time the major world power, led different policies in the hydrocarbon sector. 

  • President Jimmy Carter considered that his country needed this source of energy, and that access to Middle East oil was a question of « national security ». The Arabs and the Persians could not refuse to sell them its black gold or to exaggerate its cost. 

  • President Ronald Reagan created CentCom, the US Command for this region (defined according to the knowledge of the oil fields available at that time). In order to apply the policies of his predecessor, he negotiated for permanent military bases and began installing troops. 

  • President George Bush Sr. took the head of a quasi-universal coalition and crushed Iraq, which had imagined that it could find its own outlets, and had dared to try to recuperate the Kuwaiti wells of which the British had deprived it. 

  • President Bill Clinton and his Vice-President Al Gore inherited a unipolar world, without the USSR. They drew up a map of the corridors that had to be opened across the world (pipelines, highways, railways and Internet zones) and the military operations it would be necessary to conduct in order to build them and ensure their security – for example the war against Yugoslavia in order to build the 8th corridor). 

  • President George Bush Jr. and his Vice-President Dick Cheney, convinced that hydrocarbons were soon to become rare, launched a series of wars, no longer for the purpose of grabbing the black gold, but to control its production and market. Returning to the Malthusian theory of the imminent end of these energy sources, they decided to control who would have the right to buy it and therefore be able to keep their population alive. 

  • President Barack Obama seized the opportunity of shale gas and oil in his own country and decided to favour its extraction. He was hoping that in this way he could save his country from the Malthusian curse. 

  • President Donald Trump took power when his country had become the world’s leading producer. He decided to overturn US strategy.

Donald Trump’s policies

When President Trump nominated the representative from Kansas, Mike Pompeo, as Director of the CIA, we interpreted this unexpected nomination in terms of the President’s difficulty to find allies in the Republican Party which he had just over-run. We had forgotten that from 2006 to 2010, Pompeo had been the CEO of the hydrocarbon equipment supplier Sentry International. He knew how the oil market worked, and knew personally the world’s main actors. At the same time, President Trump nominated Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Tillerson had been the CEO of one of the major hydrocarbon companies, Exxon-Mobil. We should therefore have considered the possibility that energy policy would be at the centre of the actions of his administration.

It is obviously impossible today to estimate the extent of Pompeo’s actions as head of the secret service. However, we may entertain the thought that his older objectives may not be too far removed from those he defends today. And in fact, it so happens that he has just revealed them.

Every year, an advisory board created by the uncontested specialist of the hydrocarbon market, Daniel Yergin, organises an international meeting concerning the evolution of the situation. The 2019 Congress (CERAweek, 9 to 13 March, in Houston, Texas) was the largest international meeting in History on this subject. The CEOs of the main companies of 78 countries were present. Top of the bill was the speech by Mike Pompeo. The whole profession had been notified of the importance of his intervention, and this was the only moment at which the huge room was chock-full.

After having saluted his ex-colleagues, Mike Pompeo expressed his pride for the incredible performances of his country’s oil industry, which, in six years, had become the world’s major oil producer, thanks to new techniques for the extraction of shale. He announced that he had created a special bureau in the State Department tasked with managing energy resources. From now on, the directors of specialised US companies would have to talk to him. His mission was to help them to win markets overseas. In exchange, they must agree to help their own country to apply his energy policy.

This consisted both of producing as much as possible in the United States, and also drying up a part of the world offer in order to balance the market. This is the only way that the country would be able to sell shale oil and gas, since their extraction is particularly expensive.

According to the Pompeo doctrine, it is not a question of reducing world production to the level of demand per quotas of production, such as the OPEC+ has instituted for the last two years, but by closing the door on certain large-scale exporters - Iran, Venezuela and Syria (whose gigantic reserves were discovered only recently, and are not yet being exploited). The NOPEC project (No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act) should therefore soon emerge from the archives. This proposed law, of which numerous variants were introduced to Congress two decades ago, is aimed at eliminating the sovereign immunity that the OPEP countries invoke in order to form a cartel, despite US anti-trust laws. It would enable the pursuance before US tribunals of all the state-members of OPEC+, despite their having been nationalised, for having profited from their dominant position, and would therefore influence the rise in prices.

It so happens that, since the end of 2016, Russia has associated itself with OPEC in order to raise prices. It has thus agreed to diminish its production. This is all the more indispensable for Russia since its economy suffers from Western sanctions, and that the export of hydrocarbons - and also weapons - is one of its main sources of income. Consequently, in the current situation, the interests of Moscow and Washington do not hamper one another, but coincide to avoid flooding the market. This is why Russia does nothing to help Iran to export its oil, and still does not exploit the areas of Syria of which its nationalised companies have acquired the monopoly. It is also probable that it will not help Venezuela in this sector either. As a result, the transfer of the European headquarters of the PDVSA to Moscow has been postponed.

Russia, which saved Syria from NATO’s mercenary jihadists, has never agreed to go any further. Without reaction, it watches the slow collapse of this once prosperous nation. The situation has not yet degraded into famine, like in Yemen, but is inexorably approaching that condition.

However, the United States intend not only to stabilise the world offer, but also to determine its flow, which is the source of the pressure by Washington both on the European Union and its member-states to avoid terminating their pipeline Nord Stream 2. The point is to free the EU from is dependence on Russian hydrocarbons. In the event that these interventions should be crowned with success, Russia would turn this flow towards China, which would be unable to pay the same price.

Already, in order to respond to the needs of the European Union, the United States are building,as fast as possible, methane ports capable of handling shale gas. Meanwhile, Russia is accelerating the construction of the Turkish Stream pipeline, which would create another route to reach the Union.

Besides this,the US Treasury Department is blocking all means of transport for Iranian and Venezuelan oil, and also deliveries to destinations in Syria. The data to which it has access attest that the CIA had begun to observe this commerce in detail since the election of Donald Trump, including during the period of transition, which confirms the idea of the central position of energy in its policies. The attitude of the White House towards Syria is different, insofar as this country is currently unable to exploit its reserves, and Russia is allowing time to pass. The aim is to prevent reconstruction and therefore make life impossible for its people. The CIA is implementing an intense strategy of sabotage against any form of energy supply. The majority of the population, for example, has no more gas for heating their homes, nor for cooking purposes. Worse, a Turkish petrol tanker which was transporting Iranian product to Syria was sabotaged off the port of Latakia. The ship exploded, causing the deaths of its entire crew and a vast oil slick which the Western Press did not even mention.

Considering that Hezbollah participates in the Lebanese government while serving Iranian interests, the US administration extended its ban on the export of oil to Beirut Mike Pompeo is attempting to impose a new distribution of territorial waters which would re-route Lebanese oil tankers under Israëli sovereignty.

In identical fashion, Venezuela gives oil to Cuba in exchange for its military experts and its doctors. The State Department is trying to sanction any exchange between the two countries, particularly since Cuban military experts are considered to be responsible for the support given to President Maduro by the Venezuelan army.

Coming evolutions

For the moment, Donald Trump’s policies can only succeed by diminishing US demand. Until now, hydrocarbons were mainly used to fill automobile petrol tanks, which explains the development of projects for electric cars. Consuming petrol in order to supply electricity is much less expensive in the United States than using it directly in car motors. Above all, electricity can be supplied from various sources on US territory, inexpensively and at stable prices.

It is important to note that the development of electric vehicles has hardly any connection with the ideology according to which we must decrease the production of CO2 to bring down the temperature of the Earth. On one hand because the making of batteries can itself produce large quantities of CO2, but on the other, because electricity can be much more responsible for the production of CO2 than oil, when it is produced by coal, as is the case in Germany and China.

Moreover, the consumption of oil is evolving. On the world scale, it is no longer in priority destined for transport, but for the fabrication of plastics.

The United States will not allow the export of hydrocarbons from Iran, Venezuela and Syria until 2023 or 2024, the date at which their shale production will begin to decrease rapidly, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Once again, the entire geopolitical structure will be overturned.

Published:4/10/2019 2:41:43 AM
[Markets] Mike Whitney Asks "Will Junta-Mastermind, John Brennan, Ever Face The Music?"

Authored by Mike Whitney via The Unz Review,

The Great Russia Deception all began with John Brennan.

It was Brennan who reported “contacts… between Russian officials and persons in the Trump campaign”, just as it was Brennan who first referred the case to former FBI Director James Comey. It was also Brennan who “hand-picked” the analysts who stitched together the dodgy Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) (which said that “Putin and the Russian government aspired to help…Trump’s election chances.”) And it was Brennan who persuaded Harry Reid to petition Comey to open an investigation. At every turn, Brennan was there. He got the ball rolling, he pulled all the right strings, he whipped up a mood of public hysteria, and he excoriated the president at every opportunity. For those who want to know where Russiagate began, look no further than John Brennan.

Here’s a bit of what Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee during his testimony in 2017:

“We were uncovering information and intelligence about interactions and contacts between U.S. persons and the Russians. And as we came upon that, we would share it with the bureau.”

Brennan’s statement clarifies his role in the operation, he was providing the raw intelligence to Comey and Comey was reluctantly following up with surveillance, wiretaps, leaks to the media, and the placing of confidential informants in the Trump campaign. It was a tag-team combo, but Brennan was the primary instigator, there’s no doubt about that.

And let’s not forget that Comey didn’t really want to participate in Brennan’s hairbrain scheme to smear candidate Trump. At first he balked, which is why Brennan leaned on Senate Majority leader Harry Reid to twist Comey’s arm. Here’s a little background from Tom Fitton at artvoice.com:

“Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid reportedly believed then-Obama CIA Director Brennan was feeding him information about alleged links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in order to make public accusations:

According to ‘Russian Roulette,’ by Yahoo! News chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff and David Corn… Brennan contacted Reid on Aug. 25, 2016, to brief him on the state of Russia’s interference in the presidential campaign. Brennan briefed other members of the so-called Gang of Eight, but Reid is the only who took direct action.

Two days after the briefing, Reid wrote a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey asserting that ‘evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign continues to mount.’ Reid called on Comey to investigate the links ‘thoroughly and in a timely fashion.’

Reid saw Brennan’s outreach as ‘a sign of urgency,’ Isikoff and Corn wrote in the book. ‘Reid also had the impression that Brennan had an ulterior motive. He concluded the CIA chief believed the public needed to know about the Russian operation, including the information about the possible links to the Trump campaign.’

According to the book, Brennan told Reid that the intelligence community had determined that the Russian government was behind the hack and leak of Democratic emails and that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind it. Brennan also told Reid that there was evidence that Russian operatives were attempting to tamper with election results. Indeed, on August 27, 2016, Reid wrote a letter to Comey accusing President Trump’s campaign of colluding with the Russian government.” (“The John Brennan-Harry Reid Collusion to ‘Get Trump’”, artvoice.com)

So Brennan fed Reid a load of malarkey and the credulous senator swallowed it hook, line and sinker. It may sound incredible now, given the results of the Mueller report, but that’s what happened. Here’s more of Brennan’s testimony to Congress:

“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals and it raised questions in my mind, again, whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.”

Okay, so Brennan says he gathered “information and intelligence that revealed contacts between Russian officials and persons in the Trump campaign.”

What information? What intelligence? What officials? Brennan has never identified anyone and never produced a lick of evidence to back up any of his claims, and yet, his testimony was taken as gospel truth. Why? Why would anyone in their right mind trust anything Brennan has to say? Hasn’t Brennan lied to Congress in the past? Didn’t the CIA’s inspector general find that Brennan’s agents “improperly” spied on US Senate staffers”? Hasn’t Brennan defended the use of torture and promoted Obama’s homicidal drone program? Hasn’t Brennan revealed his personal animus and vitriolic hatred for Donald Trump many, many times before. So why would anyone trust what he has to say? It makes no sense. The man has a major credibility problem which is a polite way of saying he’s a serial liar. Here’s more from Brennan:

“I don’t know whether or not such collusion — and that’s your term, such collusion existed. I don’t know. But I know that there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.”

Got that? So Brennan had zero hard evidence of anything, but he thought that a few scratchy phone intercepts were sufficient for the FBI to hector, harass and spy on the GOP nominee for president of the United States. Can you see how ridiculous this is? No one elected John Brennan to anything, and yet, he arbitrarily decided that he had the right to sex up the intelligence so Comey and Clapper would do his bidding and try to bring down Trump. This is the type of thing you’d expect to see in a police state not America.

We are told by the Guardian that:

“GCHQ (British Government Communications Headquarters) played an early, prominent role in kickstarting the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, which began in late July 2016. One source called the British eavesdropping agency the “principal whistleblower”. (Guardian)

This might be true, but I seriously doubt it. I suspect the Guardian is just covering for Brennan because they know that his ridiculous claims of “contacts between Russian officials and persons in the Trump campaign” are complete, utter nonsense. There were no contacts between Russian officials and the Trump campaign because–as the Mueller report states– there was no coordination, no cooperation, and no collusion. In other words, Brennan just made it up to pursue his own personal vendetta against Trump which is what you’d expect from the most partisan CIA chief in history. Here’s more from the same article:

“The Guardian has been told the FBI and the CIA were slow to appreciate the extensive nature of contacts between Trump’s team and Moscow ahead of the US election. This was in part due to US law that prohibits US agencies from examining the private communications of American citizens without warrants. “They are trained not to do this,” the source stressed.” (Guardian)

“The extensive nature of contacts between Trump’s team and Moscow”???

There were no extensive contacts nor were there any illegal, unethical or improper contacts. If there were, AG Barr would have highlighted them in the 4-page Mueller report summary released last weekend. But he didn’t, because they don’t exist. The Democrats are now clinging to the feint hope that their flimsy obstruction case can be pulled from the ash-heap, but that’s not going to happen. It’s impossible to obstruct a case when you already know the case is is a fraud. Trump did not break the law. It’s that simple.

As for Brennan, well, he was providing classified briefings to ranking members of Congress (expressing his belief that Moscow was helping Trump win the election) as early as August 2016. The date seems particularly relevant given that Trump did not become the GOP’s official presidential nominee until July 21, 2016. Was that just a coincidence or did it suddenly dawn on Brennan that Trump must be a Kremlin mole shortly after he clinched the top spot on the ticket? Funny how that works, isn’t it? Trump nabs the nomination and all of a sudden Brennan shifts into high gear digging up all kinds of fictional intercepts from Estonia and god-knows where else. Is this the looniest story you’ve ever heard or what?

There’s really no part of Brennan’s implausible storyline that holds water. Even his flagship Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA), which was supposed to provide iron-clad proof of Trump’s culpability, fizzled out like a Roman candle in a summer downpour.

Brennan of course hit all the cable news stations shortly after the ICA was released touting its wishy-washy findings as rock-solid proof of wrongdoing but, strangely enough, the report undermined its own credibility by providing a sweeping disclaimer that cautions readers against drawing any rash conclusions from the analysts observations. Here’s the money-quote from the report:

“Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.”

Nice, eh? So, while Brennan continues to insist that the Kremlin meddled in our elections, his own analysts suggest that any such judgements should be taken with a very large grain of salt. Nothing is certain, information is “incomplete or fragmentary”, and the entire report is based on what-amounts-to ‘educated guesswork.’ It’s a wonder why anyone took the report seriously to begin with.

There’s no way to get around the fact that Brennan was glitzing up the intelligence to persuade Comey into hounding Trump. That’s the bottom line here. The unelected agents in the bureaucracy decided to use their considerable power to try to sabotage the election, prevent the normalisation of relations with Russia, and pave the way for impeachment proceedings. Only they got caught with their pants down, so someone’s going to have to take the fall.

Who is responsible for placing spies in the Trump campaign? That’s what we want to know.

Who is Stefan Halper and who did he work for?

Why did he cozy up to Trump campaign advisers Carter Page, Sam Clovis and George Papadopoulos?

Was it all part of an ‘entrapment’ scheme?

How many other spies were assigned to the Trump campaign?

What was their purpose and who did they work for?

Who signed off on the FISA applications that were improperly obtained?

How was the Steele dossier used to build the case against Trump?

Who authorized or participated in the leaks to the media? Who approved the wiretapping of Trump advisors?

Was Trump wiretapped too?

What was Obama’s role in all of this? How much did he know and how much did he authorize?

How has Brennan escaped blame for the political firestorm he started?

(According to Mother Jones, it was not the FBI that initiated the “Trump-Russia connection”.. but ..”Former CIA Director John Brennan … was the one who got the ball rolling.”)

The only way the American people are going to find out what really happened is by interrogating the people who know. Putting John Brennan in the docket would be a good place to start.

Published:4/9/2019 10:09:12 PM
[Politics] BREAKING: AG Barr puts together team to investigate 2016 counterintel probe into Trump campaign! This is the news that many on the right have been so long to hear. AG Barr has reportedly put together a team to investigate the 2016 counterintelligence probe by the Obama . . . Published:4/9/2019 9:38:58 PM
[Politics] BREAKING: AG Barr puts together team to investigate 2016 counterintel probe into Trump campaign! This is the news that many on the right have been so long to hear. AG Barr has reportedly put together a team to investigate the 2016 counterintelligence probe by the Obama . . . Published:4/9/2019 9:10:12 PM
[Markets] Reckoning With Failure In The War On Terror

Authored by Chris Hedges via TruthDig.com,

Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the presidency, as Max Blumenthal points out in his insightful book “The Management of Savagery: How America’s National Security State Fueled the Rise of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Donald Trump,” was made possible not only by massive social inequality and concentration of wealth and political power in the hands of the oligarchic elites but by the national security state’s disastrous and prolonged military interventions overseas.

From the CIA’s funneling of over a billion dollars to Islamic militants in the 1970s war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union to the billion dollars spent on training and equipping the radical jihadists currently fighting in Syria, the United States has repeatedly empowered extremists who have filled the vacuums of failed states it created. The extremists have turned with a vengeance on their sponsors. Washington’s fueling of these conflicts was directly responsible for the rise of figures such as Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden and ultimately laid the groundwork for the 9/11 attacks. It also spawned the rabid Islamophobia in Europe and the United States that defines Trump’s racist worldview and has been successfully used to justify the eradication of basic civil liberties and democratic rights.

The misguided interventions by the national security apparatus have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, over 5 million desperate refugees fleeing to Europe, the destruction of entire cities, the squandering of some $5 trillion of U.S. taxpayer money, rampant corruption and criminality. The mandarins of national security, rather than blunt the rise of radical jihadism, have ensured its spread across the globe. The architects of this imperial folly have a symbiotic relationship with those they profess to hate. The two radical extremes—the interventionists in the national security apparatus and the radical jihadists—play off of each other to countenance ever-greater acts of savagery. The more perfidious your enemy, the more your own extremism is justified. We are locked in a macabre dance with the killers we created and empowered, matching war crime for war crime, torture for torture and murder for murder. This unrestrained violence has a dark momentum that escapes management and control. It exacerbates the very insecurity it claims to be attempting to eliminate by constantly creating legions of new enemies.

“Drone strikes take out a few bad guys to be sure, but they also kill a large number of innocent civilians,” Nabeel Khoury, a former U.S. deputy chief of mission in Yemen, argues. “Given Yemen’s tribal structure, the U.S. generates roughly forty to sixty new enemies for every AQAP [al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula] operative killed by drones.”

The binary view of the world imagined by right-wing ideologues such as Richard Pipes during the Cold War, defined as a battle to the death against godless communism, has been reimagined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and American neocons such as Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, Fred FleitzRobert Kagan, Steve Bannon, William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld and leaders of the Christian right including Gary Bauer and William Bennett to become a battle to the death between the “barbarity” of Islam and the “civilized” ethic of the Judeo-Christian West. It is a rebranding of the Cold War, so useful to the retrograde forces of capitalism in crushing popular dissent and so profitable to the arms industry. Its most prominent voices are a bizarre collection of neofascist ideologues and quack conspiracy theorists such as Bannon, Sean Hannity, Stephen Miller and Pam Geller, who claims that Barack Obama is the love child of Malcolm X.

This ideology, like the ideology of anti-communism, erases not only history but context. Those who oppose us are removed from the realm of the rational. They are seen as incomprehensible. Their hate has no justification. They are human embodiments of evil that must be eradicated. They despise us for our “values” or because they are driven by a perverted form of Islam. The failure, as Blumenthal writes, to place these conflicts in context, to examine our own complicity in fueling a justifiable anger, even rage, dooms us to perpetual misunderstanding and perpetual warfare. Our response is to employ greater and greater levels of violence that only expand the extremism at home and abroad. This demented project, as Blumenthal writes, collapses “the fragile space where multi-confessional societies survive.” It bifurcates political space into competing forms of extremism between the jihadists and the counter-jihadists. It creates a strange and even comforting “mutually reinforcing symbiosis” that depends “on a constantly escalating sense of antagonism.”

The methods used on a wary public by the national security state, especially the FBI and the intelligence agencies, to justify and advance these wars are increasingly unsavory. Muslims, many suffering from emotional and mental disabilities, are baited by law enforcement into “terrorist” plots that few of them could have conceived or organized on their own. The highly publicized arrests and quashing of these nascent “terrorist plots” exaggerate the presence of radical jihadists within the country. They keep fear at a fever pitch among the U.S. population. Trevor Aaronson, the author of “Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terror,” found that nearly half of all terror prosecutions between Sept. 11, 2001, and 2010 involved informants, including some with criminal backgrounds who were paid as much as $100,000 by the FBI. Aaronson noted that during the last year of the George W. Bush administration the government did not prosecute anyone arrested in a terrorist “sting.” But such stings exploded under Barack Obama, a tactic that Blumenthal writes was “designed to cast his administration as just as tough on terror as any Republican”—the Obama administration “announced an arrest resulting from a terrorism sting every sixty days.” This suggested, Aaronson writes, “that there are a lot of ineffective terrorists in the United States, or that the FBI has become effective at creating the very enemy it is hunting.”

The longer and more confusing the “war on terror” becomes, nearly two decades on, the more irrational our national discourse becomes. The paranoid and racist narratives of the far right have poisoned the mainstream dialogue. These racist tropes are repeated by the White House, members of Congress and the press.

“Islamophobia had become the language of a wounded empire, the guttural roar of its malevolent violence turned back from the sands of Iraq and the mountain passes of Afghanistan, and leveled against the mosque down the turnpike, the hijabi in the checkout line, the Sikh behind the cash register—the neighbors who looked like The Enemy,” Blumenthal writes.

Far-right parties are riding this rampant Islamophobia, fueled by the catastrophic failures in the Middle East, to power in Germany, Italy, France, Britain, Sweden, Poland and Hungary. This toxic hatred is also a central theme of the Trump administration, which demonizes Muslims, especially Muslim refugees, and seeks to bar them from entering the United States.

The arrival of millions of Muslim refugees in Europe from states such as Libya, Syria (which alone has produced a million refugees in Europe), Iraq and Afghanistan has dramatically bolstered the appeal of European neofascists. Nearly 73 percent of Britons who voted for their nation to leave the European Union cited the arrival of immigrants as their most important reason for supporting the referendum.

The radical jihadists have long expressed a desire to extinguish democratic space in the West. They are aware that the curtailment of civil liberties, evisceration of democratic institutions, especially the judicial system, and overt hatred of Muslims push Muslims in the West into their arms. Such conditions also increase the military blunders of the United States and its allies abroad, providing jihadists with a steady supply of new recruits and failed states from which they can operate. The jihadist strategy is working. In the year before the 2016 presidential election, violence against Muslims in the United States soared, including shootings and arson attacks on mosques. Public disapproval of Muslims, according to opinion polls, is at a record high.

The Democratic Party, signing on to the forever crusade by the national security state in the name of humanitarian intervention, is as complicit. The Obama administration not only accelerated the sting operations in the United States against supposed terrorists but, in its foreign operations, increased the use of militarized drones, sent more troops to Afghanistan and foolishly toppled the regime of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, creating yet another failed state and safe haven for jihadists.

The radical jihadists, in an irony not lost on Blumenthal, are often deliberately armed and empowered by the U.S. national security apparatus, along with Israel, as a way to pressure or remove regimes deemed antagonistic to Israel and the United States. Obama’s secretary of state, John Kerry, in audio leaked from a closed meeting with Syrian opposition activists, admitted that the U.S. had used Islamic State as a tool for pressuring the Syrian government. He also acknowledged that Washington’s complicity in the growth of IS in Syria was the major cause for Russian intervention there.

In a 2016 op-ed titled “The Destruction of Islamic State Is a Strategic Mistake,” Efraim Inbar, the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, argued that “[t]he West should seek the further weakening of Islamic State, but not its destruction.” He said the West should exploit IS as a “useful tool” in the fight against Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah. “A weak IS is, counterintuitively, preferable to a destroyed IS,” Inbar concluded. He went on to argue for prolonging the conflict in Syria, saying that extended sectarian bloodshed would produce “positive change.”

Earlier in 2016, Israel’s former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon had said similarly, “In Syria, if the choice is between Iran and the Islamic State, I choose the Islamic State.”

Israel seeks to create buffer zones between itself and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. It sees its neighbor Syria, because of its alliance with Iran, as a mortal enemy. The solution has been to cripple these traditional enemies by temporarily empowering radical Sunni jihadists and al-Qaida. There are numerous reports of Israel, along with the United States, using its aircraft and military in Syria to aid the very jihadists Washington and Jerusalem claim to want to wipe from the face of the earth.

This intractable morass, Blumenthal argues, led directly to the demonization of Russia. Trump’s anti-interventionist rhetoric, however disingenuous, triggered what Blumenthal calls “a wild hysteria” among the foreign policy elites. Trump calls the invasion of Iraq a mistake. He questions the arming of Syrian jihadists and deployment of U.S. forces in Syria. He is critical of NATO. At the same time, he has called for better relations with Russia.

“Joining with the dead-enders of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, who were desperate to deflect from their crushing loss, the mandarins of the national security state worked their media contacts to generate the narrative of Trump-Russia collusion,” Blumenthal writes.

“Out of the postelection despair of liberals and national security elites, the furor of Russiagate was born. This national outrage substituted Russia for ISIS as the country’s new folk devil and painted Trump as Russian president Vladimir Putin’s Manchurian candidate.”

“Almost overnight, hundreds of thousands of liberals were showing up at postelection rallies with placards depicting Trump in Russian garb and surrounded by Soviet hammer-and-sickle symbols,” Blumenthal writes.

The FBI and the intelligence community, organizations that have long spied upon and harassed the left and often liberals, became folk heroes. NATO, which was the instrument used to destabilize the Middle East and heighten tensions with Russia because of its expansion in Eastern Europe, became sacrosanct.

“In its obsession with Moscow’s supposed meddling, the Democratic Party elite eagerly rehabilitated the Bush-era neoconservatives, welcoming PNAC [Project for the New American Century] founder William Kristol and ‘axis of evil’ author David Frum into the ranks of the so-called ‘resistance,’ ” Blumenthal writes. “The Center for American Progress, the semiofficial think tank of the Democratic Party, consolidated the liberal-neocon alliance by forging a formal working partnership with the American Enterprise Institute, the nest of the Iraq war neocons, to ‘stand up to Russia.’ ”

Those in the alternative media who question the Russia narrative and chronical the imperial disasters are in this new version of the Cold War branded as agents of a foreign power and hit with algorithms from Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to deflect viewers from reading or listening to their critiques. Politicians, such as Bernie Sanders and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who push back against the war lust are smeared with the same nefarious charge. It is, as Blumenthal writes, a desperate bid by the war industry and the interventionists to mask the greatest strategic blunder in American history, one that signals the end of American hegemony.

“In the face of their own failure, America’s national security elites had successfully engineered a new Cold War, wagering that the reignited conflict would preserve their management of savagery abroad and postpone the terrible reckoning they deserved at home,” Blumenthal concludes.

The corporate state, its legitimacy in tatters, seeks to make us afraid in order to maintain its control over the economic, political and military institutions. It needs mortal enemies, manufactured or real, at home or abroad, to justify its existence and mask its mismanagement and corruption. This narrative of fear is what Antonio Gramsci called a “legitimation doctrine.” It is not about making us safe—indeed the policies the state pursues make us less secure—but about getting us to surrender to the will of the elites. The more inequality and injustice grow, the more the legitimation doctrine will be used to keep us cowed and compliant. The doctrine means that the enemies of the United States will never be destroyed, but will mutate and expand; they are too useful to be allowed to disappear. It means that the primary language of the state will be fear. The longer the national security state plays this game, the more a fascist America is assured.

Published:4/9/2019 8:09:21 PM
[] I Me Mine: Obama Breaks His Own Record and References Himself 392 Times in New Berlin Speech Ich bin ein Egoist. President Obama was in Germany on Saturday, ostensibly to speak about "community leadership and civic engagement" on behalf of his eponymous Obama Foundation, but Berliners soon discovered his main topic of interest was ... Barack Obama.... Published:4/9/2019 8:09:21 PM
[Markets] Barr Forms Team To Investigate FBI Malfeasance During 2016 Election

Attorney General William Barr has assembled an internal team at the Justice Department to review controversial counterintelligence decisions made by DOJ and FBI officials - including actions taken in the summer of 2016, according to Bloomberg, which cites a person familiar with the matter. 

This indicates that Barr is looking into allegations that Republican lawmakers have been pursuing for more than a year -- that the investigation into President Donald Trump and possible collusion with Russia was tainted at the start by anti-Trump bias in the FBI and Justice Department -Bloomberg

Barr seemingly confirmed the Bloomberg report earlier Tuesday, when he told a House panel "I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around all the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted during the summer of 2016.

For starters, Barr's team may want to investigate exactly how information flowed from a self-professed member of the Clinton Foundation - Joseph Mifsud - who told Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos in March of 2016 that Russia had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. 

Papadopoulos would later tell Australian diplomat Alexander Downer about the so-called Clinton dirt, which resulted in the launch of "operation crossfire hurricane," the code name for the FBI's counterintelligence investigation against the Trump campaign. 

In September 2016, the FBI would send spy Stefan Halper to further probe Papadopoulos on the Clinton email allegation, and - according to an interview with pundit Dan Bongino, Papadopoulos says Halper angrily accused him of working with Russia before storming out of a meeting. 

Of note, Halper was hired by the Defense Department's Office of Net Assessment for $244,960.00 on September 15, 2015. Overall, the Obama DoD paid Halper more than $1 million starting in 2012. 

Then of course there's the purported FISA abuse that the FBI committed when it used a salacious and unverified dossier to obtain a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. According to senior FBI lawyer Sally Moyer, there was a "50/50" chance that the FISA warrant would have been issued without the Clinton-funded anti-Trump opposition research. 

While Barr's internal team is separate from a long-running investigation by the DOJ's Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, it falls short of appointing a special counsel to investigate the Obama DOJ and its many holdovers. Horowitz's inquiry is expected to be done by May or June, according to Barr's Tuesday testimony. 

Barr is also looking into a criminal investigation launched against former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2017 for misleading lawmakers about his contacts with Russians during his time as a senator advising the Trump campaign. It was eventually closed without charges. 

"That’s great news he’s looking into how this whole thing started back in 2016," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) - the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee. "That’s something that has been really important to us. It’s what we’ve been calling for."

Before the GOP lost control of the House, Jordan and California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes were aggressively pursuing how the FBI and DOJ harbored animus and bias against Donald Trump, and showed favoritism towards Hillary Clinton. The pair interviewed over 40 witnesses, held hearings, and demanded that the Justice Department hand over hundreds of thousands of documents related to the 2016 election. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said in a March 28 interview with Fox News "Once we put the Mueller report to bed, once Barr comes to the committee and takes questions about his findings and his actions, and we get to see the Mueller report, consistent with law, then we are going to turn to finding out how this got off the rails."

Indeed.

Published:4/9/2019 7:09:55 PM
[Uncategorized] Biden and Sanders Lead Polling Among Democrat Presidential Contenders I'm so old, I remember Biden was the perpetual embarrassment of the Obama administration. Published:4/9/2019 6:08:30 PM
[] Rasmussen: Trump's Approval Rating Rises to 53% With Public Giving Him High Marks for His "Not Collusioney" Style I was just being silly about that last part, though I imagine having that conspiracy theory monkey off his back is contributing to his rise. Here's Rasmussen's write up. Note the graph comparing Obama's and Trump's approval ratings through each... Published:4/9/2019 5:07:39 PM
[Markets] Trump Cares About Two Things: Empire & The Stock Market

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Though not surprising, it’s nevertheless extraordinary to watch Donald Trump publicly and shamelessly morph into a George W. Bush era neocon when it comes to foreign policy, and a CNBC stock market cheerleader when it comes to the economy. Just like Barack Obama before him, Trump talked a good populist game on two issues of monumental importance (foreign policy and the rigged economy), but once elected immediately turned around and prioritized the core interests of oligarchy.

Trump doesn’t even give lip service to big picture populist topics anymore unless they’re somehow related to the culture war, which works out perfectly for the entrenched oligarchy since the culture war primarily serves as a useful distraction to keep the rabble squabbling while apex societal predators loot whatever’s left of this hollowed out neo-feudal economy.

The pivot toward status quo consensus when it comes to two of the most existential issues facing the nation should be deeply concerning to everyone, but particularly to those who thought Donald Trump would be different. When it comes to militarism and empire, Trump’s hypocrisy and bait and switch is one for the record books. Just as it became clear Obama was a fraud once he hired Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner (we later found out his cabinet was apparently chosen by Citibank), Trump placing neocons Mike Pompeo and John Bolton into key positions was a clear sign you could take “Make America Great Again” and flush it down the toilet. This administration is now laser focused on maintaining and even expanding imperial reach.

Like Obama before him, Trump’s abandonment of every important thing he ran on was noticeable early on. Recall that while campaigning, Trump accurately called out the Saudis for their key role in the 9/11 attacks:

“Who blew up the World Trade Center? It wasn’t the Iraqis, it was Saudi — take a look at Saudi Arabia, open the documents,” Trump told the gang at Fox & Friends Wednesday morning…

“It wasn’t the Iraqis that knocked down the World Trade Center,” Trump told a crowd in Bluffton, South Carolina. “It wasn’t the Iraqis. You will find out who really knocked down the World Trade Center, ‘cuz they have papers in there that are very secret. You may find it’s the Saudis, okay? But you will find out.”

Shortly after he made those comments, the infamous “28 Pages” were released showing how Saudi elites helped finance the whole operation. Did that stop Trump from making Saudi Arabia his very first state visit after being elected? Don’t be ridiculous.

Donald Trump knows the score when it comes to Saudi Arabia. He knows about their role in 9/11 and he knows they’re the top global proliferators of terrorist ideology on the planet. Nevertheless, Trump is now enthusiastically tied to the hip with the Saudis, thus making him a defender and protector of the status quo. Defend him all you want, but this isn’t the sort of thing he ran on with regard to America’s foreign policy.

Like other presidents who came before him, he campaigned on one foreign policy platform and then supports another once elected. In fact, Trump’s now so far off the deep end he’s widely expected to veto a measure recently passed by both houses of Congress to stop aiding Saudi Arabia in its ongoing genocidal war in Yemen.

Trump knows better when it comes to foreign policy, but he’s doing this stuff anyway. A similar thing could be said for his economic policy. While on the campaign trail he accurately called what was going on in financial markets a “big, fat, ugly bubble,” but now that he’s in the Oval office, he can’t get enough of it — cheering on the stock market every chance he gets as if it means anything to the masses of people barely getting by.

Meanwhile, back in 2011 Trump tweeted the following.

Turns out QE led to massive asset price inflation and society-destabilizing wealth inequality which played a key role in Trump’s election, but he’s not concerned about that anymore. In fact, he’s now actively begging for more Federal Reserve money printing.

I’ll take the other side.

Many people naively believed Trump meant what he said on the campaign trail. They thought because he was already wealthy and not a career politician he’d get in there and really shake up the status quo on hugely important issues like foreign policy and the rigged, monopoly dominated, surveillance focused, financialized crony-economy. Well it turns out Trump’s just like everybody else. He doesn’t want to be the guy sitting in the White House when the scam economy and unsustainable empire collapses. I guess I can’t blame him, but it doesn’t make the situation any less dire for the rest of us.

While there’s a very high probability that both the U.S. empire and the world financial system fall apart under Trump, it’s important to note that he didn’t create either one of those things. All the dangerous, outdated, corrupt and unsustainable things being desperately stitched together on a daily basis to maintain the status quo have been building up for decades.

It’s become clear no president will ever intentionally dismantle this ticking time bomb, it just has to play out on its own timeline. The important thing is to be honest about what’s really going on so you’re not completely caught off guard when the world changes faster and more dramatically than you could ever imagine in the years ahead.

*  *  *

Liberty Blitzkrieg is now 100% ad free. As such, there’s no monetization for this site other than reader support. To make this a successful, sustainable thing I ask you to consider the following options. You can become a Patron. You can visit the Support Page to donate via PayPal, Bitcoin or send cash/check in the mail.

Published:4/9/2019 3:40:06 PM
[World] Larry Elder Blasts Judge Who Blocked Trump Illegal Asylum Law

Radio host Larry Elder blasted Federal Judge Richard Seeborg, an Obama appointee who blocked President Trump from enacting his new "Remain in Mexico" policy for illegal immigrants and asylum seekers.

Published:4/9/2019 1:38:54 PM
[National Security] Senior Obama Cyber Official Lobbying for China

China's government-linked telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies has hired a senior Obama administration cyber security official as a lobbyist, according to a congressional filing.

The post Senior Obama Cyber Official Lobbying for China appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:4/9/2019 12:39:58 PM
[Media] ‘Can’t criticize their baby’! Guardians of Truth fall all over themselves to put out Barack Obama’s family separation fire

"Man there is nothing that gets the blue check journo brigade going like being reminded of the scandals they didn't cover when Obama's name comes up."

The post ‘Can’t criticize their baby’! Guardians of Truth fall all over themselves to put out Barack Obama’s family separation fire appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/9/2019 12:39:58 PM
[2020 Presidential Election] Trump Rising (John Hinderaker) I’ve been waiting for President Trump’s approval rating to rise in the wake of the collapse of the Mueller investigation. That now seems to be happening, as Rasmussen Reports finds him at 53% approval, 45% disapproval, for a healthy +8 margin. It is also noteworthy that Trump’s “strong approval” now exceeds his “strong disapproval” by one point, something that rarely happened with Barack Obama. Trump’s rising approval may also be Published:4/9/2019 11:08:38 AM
[World] Tucker Carlson on Barack Obama Defending Assimilation of Immigrants

Tucker Carlson said new comments by former President Barack Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders show how far to the left some Democrats have moved on immigration and border security.

Published:4/9/2019 10:06:12 AM
[Middle Column] Skeptics press White House to keep proposed climate panel independent – Reject scientists ‘dependent on government funding’

Skeptics argue that federal research has become tainted by the involvement of activists and a grant process that rewards climate-disaster scenarios. “The only way to get a truly independent review of climate science is to go outside the government and allow a truly independent review of climate science,” said Climate Depot’s Marc Morano, author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change.”

“When you have groups like the National Academy of Sciences, which are nearly 100 percent dependent on government funding, it is very difficult to ever expect unbiased reviews,” he said. “When you have reports like the National Climate Assessment that was coordinated by Obama’s lead UN Paris negotiator and activists from the Union of Concerned Scientists, you can’t expect unbiased reports on the science.”

Published:4/8/2019 10:35:21 PM
[Markets] How (& When) Will White Liberals Wake Up?

Authored by Patrick McDermott via The Unz Review,

White liberals can be maddening. They proceed through life happily proclaiming their devotion to progressivism, completely oblivious to the brewing demographic dangers on the horizon. Indeed, most polls show them doubling down on their beliefs in the era of Donald Trump. If you try to warn them, they will stare at you blankly. If you are a friend or relative, count yourself lucky that they still tolerate you and your beliefs.

Unfortunately, such delusional obstinacy cannot be ignored. Their views are a fundamental component of the broader, systematic threat to Western Civilization. History has shown what the world’s European peoples can accomplish when we are reasonably united. No foreign enemy or ideology could destroy us without the assistance of a substantial share of our own people. To turn the tide, we must win them back.

White liberals are neither evil nor irredeemable. They are temporarily misguided. The longer history of white liberalism, which in the past was far more hardheaded and realistic, clearly shows how much the latest iteration has gone off the rails.

The road to perdition may be paved with good intentions, but most of them will awaken before we get there. Our collective struggle will be difficult, but they will be standing with us when we emerge on the other side.

Liberal Psychology

Understanding how white liberals will change requires first understanding how their minds work. Entire fields of scientific inquiry have been devoted to explaining human behavior, including evolutionary psychologysocial psychologybehavioral neuroscience, and political psychology to name a few. Although no single theory adequately covers the entire spectrum of behaviors, one framework will do for our purposes.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, first proposed in 1943 by Abraham Maslow, explains human motivation as the product of a variety of competing needs. These needs, shown in the figure below, are presumed to have been evolutionarily derived. According to the theory, lower order basic needs are more primitive and must be met before an individual will turn his or her attention to higher-order needs. Someone who has met all of the needs is assumed to be fulfilled and happy.

Although neuroscience has advanced considerably since Maslow first outlined his theory, the framework remains popular today. Many of his ideas have been substantially confirmed by more recent research.

Two of the needs in this framework are particularly important for understanding white liberals: self esteem and love / belonging. These needs can be evolutionarily traced to our status as a social species.

Morality, which research suggests is also a byproduct of evolution, is closely linked with these needs. Morality helped tribes survive and thrive in humanity’s early history and may also help explain the relative prosperity of nations today. Individuals who are viewed as moral derive significant status within society, while those who are immoral can face serious social or legal punishments ranging from shunning to banishment or even death. Even without such punishments, humans are extremely sensitive to the possibility of social rejection.

In today’s Western societies, anti-racism has come to be viewed as the morally correct position and racism as the ultimate evil. This creates substantial incentives for conformity in our racial views and rewards status-seeking behavior (sometimes referred to as “virtue signaling”) on racial issues. In those cases where this dominant moral paradigm conflicts with an individual’s other needs, such as the desire to live in a safe neighborhood, rationalizations provide the necessary cover so that white liberals can avoid guilt and cognitive dissonance while simultaneously engaging in hypocritical behavior.

In sum, white liberals are simply acting on the same hard-wired psychological motivations that are present in all human beings. As social creatures, they are programmed to conform to the dominant moral paradigm in their social environment. Of course, this tendency also affects conservatives. This universal human tendency toward conformity is one reason why American politics are so strongly polarized, not just ideologically but also geographically.

As challenging as these barriers may seem, however, it gets worse. Research has shown that human beings are highly resistant to facts that challenge their core convictions. They will seize on any information that confirms their preexisting beliefs and if their beliefs are challenged, they will simply ignore or disbelieve the source. Stronger challenges to core beliefs can even backfire, causing people to double down on their original position.

Troy Campbell, a researcher on the topic, explained it this way: “As causes become our identity, we don’t just believe we are right anymore; we need to believe we are right to maintain self-worth.”

The Missing Ingredient: Fear

Liberalism’s close ties to its own version of morality – combined with the universal human needs for self-esteem and social belonging – make this an exceedingly tough nut to crack. But crack it will. How do we break through these barriers? The answer can be found near the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy: the need for safety.

The biological basis for safety-seeking behavior is well known. Incoming sensory information is first processed in an ancient portion of the brain called the amygdalawhere perceived threats can trigger a near instantaneous fight or flight response. The amygdala are also responsible for a variety of other emotional reactions that can play a central role in decision-making.

These and other recent developments in neuroscience and evolutionary biology have substantially confirmed many of Maslow’s earlier findings. This includes the needs for self esteem, love, and belonging that lie at the heart of the liberal worldview. However, it also includes safety needs, which recent research suggests are even more dominant than Maslow first thought.

The implications of this research are clear. Most white liberals will not be convinced by rational arguments, no matter how strong or well-supported those arguments may be. They will only be convinced by threats to their basic safety. This, in turn, points to the real barrier. Most white liberals do not feel threatened.

Most of them do not see a civilization that is crumbling around them or a brewing threat on the horizon. They see a thriving economy and a skyrocketing stock market. Yes, race relations are not perfect, but they think those problems will sort themselves out as soon as we solve the challenge of poverty and get rid of Donald Trump. Immigration is beneficial. There are no meaningful differences between people. Trump voters are just suffering from irrational phobias and “white anxiety.” Times are good. What on earth is there to be afraid of?

For the average white liberal, strident anti-immigration positions are not just racist, but pointlessly so. According to one poll, 73 percent of Hillary Clinton’s white voters reportedly thought it was racist for white Americans to even have an opinion on immigration.

The sad reality is that few people who are living in a bubble are able to see it until it pops. The rare iconoclasts who are right too soon are usually viewed as social outcasts and misfits. The liberal bubble is about to pop, however. The signs are all around us.

The Growing Threat

The coming awakening of white liberals, which in the United States will probably occur over the next decade, will be primarily due to five factors. The first, instinctual ethnocentrism, affects humans and animalsalike and is present in babies. Although such ethnocentrism is not new, it remains centrally important and provides a baseline for the other factors.

The second is growing direct contact with minorities, which will only increase as the nation continues to change over time. Some academics argue that such contact can improve race relations, but other research has shown that the negative effects are stronger. Ongoing white flight in neighborhoods and schools provides the most definitive answer on this question.

A third factor is growing cultural threat. Unlike direct contact, which is lessened by white flight, there is no escaping mass culture. As was noted in a recent Vox article, White Threat in a Browning America:

We live in an America where television programs, commercials, and movies are trying to represent a browner country; where Black Panther is a celebrated cultural event and #OscarsSoWhite is a nationally known hashtag; where NFL players kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and pressing 1 for English is commonplace.

This unavoidable onslaught is a constant reminder to America’s white population that their nation is changing. Research has shown that such messages make them more conservative, view minorities less positively, and feel more attachment to other whites.

A fourth factor is the growth of explicitly anti-white rhetoric. The idea that “whiteness” is inherently evil and should be abolished originated in academia, but now it is seeping into our broader culture and political discourse. Treating people equally and with decency regardless of their race was once sufficient to avoid the racist label, but now it elicits charges of color-blind racism and implicit bias. Unsurprisingly, research has found that accusations of white privilege can make people feel defensive and resentful. Even white allies are not immune. Black Lives Matter demonstrators protested Bernie Sanders’ candidacy. White feminists were blamed for Trump’s election and criticized for their “white supremacy in heels.”

The fifth factor, political threat, may be the most important because, unlike the others, it cannot be avoided or ignored. The principal source of this threat is the nation’s changing demographics, which are empowering minorities and shiftingthe Democratic Party sharply to the left. The effects of this change have been evident in elections throughout the nation this year. These have included the well-publicized primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York, Andrew Gillum in Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, and Stacey Abrams in the Georgia Democratic gubernatorial primary, as well as victories for lesser known candidates in governors’ races in TexasArizonaNew Mexico, and Maryland.

While many of these candidates will probably lose in November, they are paving the way for likely victories down the road as more states become majority-minority in the lead up to 2045, when the nation as a whole will reach that milestone. These changes, most of which are concentrated in the Democratic Party, can also be expected to shift future Democratic presidential nominees further left.

The reaction of white voters to such hard-left ideological swings is well-established. Two of the most left-leaning presidential nominees in modern history, George McGovern and Walter Mondale, were trounced at the polls. More recently, moderate Republican gubernatorial candidates have a solid track record of defeating far-left Democrats in deep blue states. What accounts for this? Many white liberals, particularly those with high household incomes, are not as far left as they think.

White liberals may not feel threatened by the left today, particularly with Republicans controlling Congress and Trump dominating the news on a daily basis, but that will change in the coming decade. As the nation changes, the mainstream media and social media companies may try to clamp down on opposing views, but they are unlikely to repress the emerging voices of the far left, who will do far more to open the eyes of white liberals than conservatives ever could. They are our unwitting allies.

Useful idiot” was once a term applied by communists to their supporters in the West, but the concept is still applicable today. Every day that someone kneels during the national anthem, calls for abolishing whiteness, or attacks another cherished Western tradition for its roots in “white supremacy” or “institutional racism” is another day that more white people will wake up to the growing threat.

“White People Riot Quietly”

In 1995, a white liberal named Roger Boesche wrote an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times after the OJ Simpson verdict. In it, he warned that when white people riot, they do it quietly. Channeling other white liberals, he wrote:

I am afraid that even liberals, in the face of cheers by African Americans who saw the not guilty verdict as a victory over racism, will say: “I supported affirmative action; I applauded programs for the poor, and I thought Rodney King’s attackers were guilty. But I am still jeered as a racist. To hell with it. I’m going to close my doors and pull down the shades. It’s time to retreat to private life and ignore public affairs.”

How will we know when white liberals have changed their views? It will probably not be immediately obvious. Most will not publicly proclaim their shift. There will instead be occasional calls for bipartisanship and arguments against the growing tide of identity politics. And then there will be silence as former liberals say less and less, daring only to whisper among friends about their growing concern about the direction of the country.

The real sign will be at the ballot box, where the racial divide will become obvious and stark. Over time, it is not unrealistic to assume that voting patterns at the national level will begin to mirror those of the South, where white support for Republican presidential candidates commonly reaches 80-90 percent. In the long run, however, it will not be enough. Demographics are still political destiny.

In another article, I suggested that America may be on a path toward partition at some point in the middle of this century. Such an outcome is not as far-fetched as it might seem. It would not be the first time the United States has faced secession. Polls already show significant cross-party support for the idea. Moreover, there is a long and significant global history of such partitions. Recent examples in white nations include the Soviet UnionCzechoslovakiaYugoslaviaIrelandNorwayFinland, and Sweden. And this does not include the many brewing independence movements like those in ScotlandQuebec, and Brazil.

The Soviet Union, one of the 20th Century’s two superpowers, was destroyed by its adherence to an ideology that ignored human nature. It should not be surprising that the world’s other superpower might also be destroyed by an unrealistic ideology, in this case one that willfully ignores the world’s long history of ethnic conflict. Should that occur, it would be sad, but it would also serve as an important wake-up call and object lesson for the rest of Western Civilization.

The primary purpose of nations is to preserve and protect their peoples. When a nation stops serving that purpose, the time has come to build a new one.

Published:4/8/2019 9:33:19 PM
[The Blog] The I’s have it: the definitive Barack Obama mash-up

Me me me me ....

The post The I’s have it: the definitive Barack Obama mash-up appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:4/8/2019 8:03:01 PM
[US News] How many times? In case you thought Obama had fallen out of love with himself, he just set a new record

More of the same.

The post How many times? In case you thought Obama had fallen out of love with himself, he just set a new record appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/8/2019 7:02:49 PM
[] Trump Imposes Sanctions on Iran, Designates the Revolutionary Guards as a Terrorist Organization When Obama was coddling Iran, he was colluding with them. He had foreign contacts with Iran. Valerie Jarrett herself had lots of foreign contacts with Iranians. Ergo, collusion. The IRGC [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps] has long been implicated in terrorist... Published:4/8/2019 6:01:02 PM
[US News] Not. Even. Close. Eric Trump subtweets Barack Obama with some actual numbers about his beloved Euro-topia

Tell us more, 44.

The post Not. Even. Close. Eric Trump subtweets Barack Obama with some actual numbers about his beloved Euro-topia appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/8/2019 4:30:58 PM
[Markets] The Curse Of America's Thinking Class

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

How might we account for the strange melding of neuroticism and dishonesty that has gripped America’s thinking class since the ascent of Donald Trump as an epically reviled figurehead on our ship of state?

It all seems to come down to shame and failure.

There is, for instance, the failure of America’s leading economic viziers to arrest the collapse of the middle class — and with it, the disintegration of families — that more than anything produced the 2016 election result. What is a bigger emergency: the destruction of all those towns, cities, and lives in flyover-land, or the S & P stock index going down twenty points?

The choice made by the “experts” the past ten years is obvious: pump the financial markets at all costs by using dishonest policy interventions which they are smart enough to know will eventually blow up the banking system. They did it to preserve their reputations long enough to retire out of their jobs. The trouble is that the damage is now so extreme that when the time comes for them to apologize it will not be enough. They will lose their freedom and perhaps their heads.

The neuroticism and dishonesty is exactly what turned two of this country’s most sacred and noble endeavors, higher education and medicine, into disgraceful rackets. Sunday night, CBS 60 Minutescovered both bases in their lead story about how the NYU medical school recently declared its program tuition-free. This great triumph was due to an enormous cash gift from one of the founders of the Home Depot company, billionaire Ken Langone. Nowhere in the broadcast did CBS raise the question as to how the cost of a degree became so outrageous in the first place. Or how Mr. Langone made his fortune by putting every local hardware store in America out of business, which enabled him to capture the annual incomes of ten thousand small business owners and their employees. NYU’s grand gesture is just a way to paper over the shame of the University executives’ role in the college loan racket that may destroy countless lives.

Neuroticism and shame is what drives identity politics with all its weird ritual persecutions and punishments. It was the thinking class that led the civil rights campaign of the 1960s. Here we are fifty years later with dozens of ruined cities, failed public school systems, and prisons stuffed with black men way out of proportion to their actual demographic in the general population (nationally 37 percent versus 13 percent). In California, it’s 29 percent while only 6 percent of the state’s male residents are African American. The favored narrative of the thinking class says that the high incarceration rate is due to unfair application of drug laws for relatively minor offenses, especially being caught holding weed.

Okay, marijuana has been legal in California for several years now. Has that altered the statistics? I guess we’ll find out soon. Is there another explanation? Perhaps disproportionate bad behavior of other kinds: assault, robbery, murder? Perhaps the result of government policies engineered by the thinking class to promote single-parent households with no fathers present for three generations now?

After all this time and all the evidence of how pernicious this condition is, why is there no debate about it? Why is the thinking class so dishonest about the most ruinous ingredient in everyday public schooling: bad behavior, violence, and constant classroom disruption. The thinking classes must be ashamed and appalled by all this, since it appears to contradict all the mighty efforts made to uplift the black underclass. And so what was the most notable response? The Obama Department of Education directed school districts to stop suspending and disciplining black kids who behaved badly because it looked bad, and that policy is still in place. How’s that working out?

The latest appeal among the thinking class to remedy these otherwise intractable and embarrassing problems is the panacea of reparations for the descendants of slaves. Of course, the money spent on social services the past half-century, if simply distributed as cash, would have made every African American a millionaire. Personally, I can’t imagine a worse way of ginning up racial animosity across America to the breaking point than these proposed reparations. We will surely hear more about this in the long slog to the 2020 elections, and it will only make the USA look more insane to the rest of the world.

The thinking class’s position on both legal and illegal immigration is possibly even more cynical — because they surely know how dishonest it is, even through the fog of self-deception. Last week California’s attorney general Xavier Becerra proposed that illegal immigration be decriminalized. Surprisingly, nobody laughed at this extraordinary exercise in casuistry. Meanwhile, the state slides into hopeless insolvency, squalor, and chaos — a reminder that people don’t necessary get what they expect, but rather what they deserve.

RussiaGate, of course, has been the most acute locus of neurotic dishonesty across this land the past two years. The primary information organs of the thinking class — The New York TimesThe WashPo, CNN, MSNBC — have not only omitted to apologize for the dangerous hysteria they knowingly propagated, but they persist in supporting the matrix of fantasies at all costs in what must now be seen as a hopeless attempt to preserve their reputations and perhaps even their livelihoods. The repudiation of this nonsense by chief inquisitor Robert Mueller could not be more absolute, even if he was compelled by reality against his own wishes and instincts to do it.

And now, what avenue will all this diseased animus of the thinking class go down in its destructive, shame-fueled frenzy to justify itself?

Published:4/8/2019 1:59:43 PM
[World] Tarlov on Obama's Warning: Many Dems Scared of 'Purity Tests' From Far Left

Democrat Jessica Tarlov said on "Outnumbered" Monday that progressives should listen to former President Barack Obama's warning against creating a "circular firing squad" in the party.

Published:4/8/2019 1:01:26 PM
[Markets] Saudi Arabia Denies That It Threatened To Abandon Petrodollar

In what appears to be the latest example of Saudi Arabia saying one thing in public and another in private, Saudi Arabia's energy ministry on. Monday denied reports published last week claiming that the kingdom might abandon the petrodollar if Congress passes the "NOPEC" bill, which would expose members of the oil cartel to American antitrust laws.

The Financial Times reported that the kingdom has "no plans" to sell its oil in currencies other than the dollar, a decision that, if the kingdom did follow through, would seriously undermine the dollar's role as the dominant global reserve currency.

These reports "are inaccurate and do not reflect Saudi Arabia’s position on this matter," the energy ministry said in a statement, adding that the kingdom’s decades-long policy of selling oil in dollars “has served well the objectives of its financial and monetary policies.”

This notably comes as Saudi state oil firm Aramco's first dollar-denominated bond offering was 4x oversubscribed with $40 billion in orders on $10 billion of bonds.

Saudi

Of course, Saudi Arabia has a long history of subtly threatening the US in response to unfavorable legislation. Three years ago, the kingdom implied it might dump US Treasury holdings following the passage of a law that would hold Saudis accountable for 9/11. That bill was signed into law by Obama after passing both houses of Congress, and since then, the kingdom has been pressuring President Trump to rescind it - though the kingdom remains one of the largest holders of US debt.

Six months ago, the Saudis once again threatened to weaponize their wealth and invoke another of the "nuclear options" to exert leverage against the US as the biggest importer of arms from America threatened to buy arms somewhere else if the US sanctioned it over the death of Jamal Khashoggi. Sanctions instead were levied against 17 Saudi nationals believed to be involved in the killing, though Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the kingdom's government were spared.

Infographic: The USA's Biggest Arms Export Partners | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

Last week, Reuters reported, citing three unidentified people familiar with Saudi energy policy, that the kingdom had threatened to drop the dollar as its main currency in selling its oil if the US passes the lawsuit bill. While the death of the petrodollar has long been predicted (particularly as the petroyuan gathers momentum), this is the most direct threat yet to the dollar's privileged position in global commodity markets.

NOPEC, or the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, was first introduced in 2000 and aims to remove sovereign immunity from US antitrust law, paving the way for OPEC states to be sued for curbing output in a bid to raise oil prices.

The threats to de-dollarize arrived amid reports that Russia and China have been buying more gold reserves as part of a move away from the dollar.

But even if Saudi Arabia keeps the dollar as its currency of choice for trading oil, the Russia and China-led push to create an alternative to the dollar-based financial system will almost certainly continue. And investors who naively expect the dollar's position will go unchallenged forever would do well to remember the following chart.

Reserves

Published:4/8/2019 12:01:21 PM
[Politics] 40% Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction

Forty percent (40%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending April 4.

This week’s finding is up two points from a week ago. Prior to this, that number had been on the decline week-over-week from 43% in early December to 31% by the end of January. It ran in the mid- to upper 20s for much of 2016, President Obama's last full year in office.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The national telephone survey of 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from March 24-28, 2019. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Published:4/8/2019 10:59:56 AM
[Markets] Were The Ukrainians Meddling In The 2016 Election, Too? For Hillary Clinton!

Via SaraCarter.com,

John Solomon published another blockbuster investigation Sunday on possible alleged interference in the 2016 election involving Ukraine.

Ukrainian sources told Solomon that the  Trump Justice Department has allegedly not followed up on evidence given to the department by Ukrainian law enforcement officials.

Those Ukrainian officials said they have evidence showing that American Democrats, along with allies in Kiev,  sought to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections and obstruct ongoing criminal probes.

Solomon interviewed Kostiantyn Kulyk, deputy head of the Prosecutor General’s International Legal Cooperation Department. He told The Hill that he, along with other senior law enforcement officials, have tried since last year to get visas from the U.S. Embassy “in Kiev to deliver their evidence to Washington.”

Kulyk told Solomon, “we were supposed to share this information during a working trip to the United States. However, the (U.S.) ambassador blocked us from obtaining a visa. She didn’t explicitly deny our visa, but also didn’t give it to us.”

According to Solomon’s interview with Kulyk, 

Ukrainian businessmen “authorized payments for lobbying efforts directed at the U.S. government. In addition, these payments were made from funds that were acquired during the money-laundering operation. We have information that a U.S. company was involved in these payments.”

Kulyk said the company is tied to one or more prominent Democrats, Ukrainian officials insist, as reported by The Hill.

To read more on this in-depth investigation go to The Hill...

Published:4/8/2019 8:58:45 AM
[Markets] Trump's Neocons See Erdogan As Their Ticket To A Region-Wide MidEast War

Authored by Mike Whitney via The Unz Review,

Turkish troops and armored units are massed along Turkey’s southern border awaiting orders to invade northern Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to clear a ten mile-deep swath of land east of the Euphrates River in order to remove terrorist-linked militants (YPG) currently occupying the territory. The proposed offensive would put US Special Forces in the line of fire which significantly increases the likelihood of US casualties. If American troops are killed or wounded by the Turkish operation, Washington will respond in force leading to a potentially catastrophic face-off between the two NATO allies. The possibility of a violent clash between Turkey and the United States has never been greater than it is today.

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Turkey that any unilateral action in Syria would have “devastating consequences.” Pompeo’s comments were intended to intimidate Erdogan who stated on Tuesday that the military offensive would begin shortly after last weekend’s elections. If Erdogan proceeds with his plan, Pompeo will undoubtedly give the military the go-ahead for retaliatory attacks on the Turkish Army. This will either lead to a speedy retreat by Turkey or asymmetrical strikes on US strategic assets across the region. In any event, the fracas with Turkey is bound to widen the chasm between the two former allies forcing Erdogan to reconsider his commitment to the western alliance. Any further deterioration in relations between the US and Turkey could result in a dramatic shift in the global balance of power.

Washington’s problems with Erdogan began years before the current dust-up. The Turkish leader has always steered an independent foreign policy which has been a constant source of frustration for the White House. During the war in Iraq, Erdogan refused to allow the US to use Turkish air bases to conduct their operations. (Erdogan did not support the war.) Presently he is purchasing air defense systems from Russia (S-400), (which VP Mike Pence has strongly condemned), he has attended summits in Sochi with Moscow and Tehran in order to find a political settlement for the war in Syria, he has signed contracts with Gazprom that will make his country the energy hub of southern Europe, and he has been harshly critical of US support for the its Kurdish proxies in east Syria (the SDF) which is an offshoot of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a group that is on the US State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.

Most of the friction between Erdogan and the US has been brought on by Washington’s flagrant disregard for Turkey’s security concerns. The current crisis is just another self inflicted wound, like the failed coup in 2016 which backfired spectacularly strengthening Erdogan’s grip on power while fueling widespread distrust of the United States. Check out this excerpt from an article in the New York Times dated August 2, 2016:

“A Turkish newspaper reported that an American academic and former State Department official had helped orchestrate a violent conspiracy to topple the Turkish government from a fancy hotel on an island in the Sea of Marmara, near Istanbul. The same newspaper, in a front-page headline, flat-out said the United States had tried to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the night of the failed coup.

When another pro-government newspaper asked Turks in a recent poll conducted on Twitter which part of the United States government had supported the coup plotters, the C.I.A. came in first, with 69 percent, and the White House was a distant second, with 20 percent.

These conspiracy theories are not the product of a few cranks on the fringes of Turkish society. Turkey may be a deeply polarized country, but one thing Turks across all segments of society — Islamists, secular people, liberals, nationalists — seem to have come together on is that the United States was somehow wrapped up in the failed coup, either directly or simply because the man widely suspected to be the leader of the conspiracy, the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, lives in self-exile in the United States.” (Turks Can Agree on One Thing: U.S. Was Behind Failed Coup – The New York Times)

Let’s cut to the chase: Was the United States behind the plot to remove Erdogan from office in 2016?

Probably, just as the United States was behind more than 50 other regime change operations since the end of WW2.

And is the US currently harboring the mastermind of the Turkish junta in a sprawling compound in rural Pennsylvania?

Yes, this is probably true as well. But, even though Turkey has provided the US with mountains of evidence identifying Gulen as the coup-leader, and even though Turkey has cooperated in the extradition of numerous terror suspects sought by the United States, the US simply doesn’t feel any obligation to return the favor by treating Turkey with respect and fairness. Why is that? Why is there one standard for the United States and a completely different standard for everyone else?

Erdogan has repeatedly asked the Trump administration to respect Turkey’s legitimate security concerns by removing terrorist-linked militants (YPG) from the area around Turkey’s southern border. In mid December, Trump discussed the issue with Erdogan over the phone and agreed to meet the Turkish president’s requests. Four days later (December 19) Trump announced that all US troops would be withdrawn from Syria within 30 days. Since then, the administration has failed to meet any of its prior commitments. It has increased its troop levels in east Syria, bolstered its military hardware and weaponry, and reinforced its positions along the border.

The US has also failed to fulfill its obligations under the terms of the Manbij Roadmap which requires the US to remove all YPG fighters in and around the city and assist Turkey in establishing security in Manbij. There has been no movement on this front at all. If anything, the situation has gotten worse. This suggests that the Trump team has no intention of lifting a finger to address Turkey’s security concerns or of following through on its clearly stated commitments. It suggests that Washington is actually trying to provoke Erdogan in taking matters into his own hands and doing something that he might later regret.

While Ankara’s designs on Syrian territory have no legal basis, they have been consistently reiterated (without change) from the earliest days of the war. As far back as 2012, Turkey insisted on a “safe zone” which would establish a buffer between itself and YPG militants operating in east Syria. The Obama administration agreed to assist Erdogan in the creation of a safe zone in exchange for the use of the strategically-located airbase at Incirlik. Here’s a clip from another article at the New York Times dated July 27, 2015 which explains:

“Turkey and the United States have agreed in general terms on a plan that envisions American warplanes, Syrian insurgents and Turkish forces working together to sweep Islamic State militants from a 60-mile-long strip of northern Syria along the Turkish border, American and Turkish officials say.

The plan would create what officials from both countries are calling an Islamic State-free zone controlled by relatively moderate Syrian insurgents, which the Turks say could also be a “safe zone” for displaced Syrians.

While many details have yet to be determined, including how deep the strip would extend into Syria, the plan would significantly intensify American and Turkish military action against Islamic State militants in the country, as well as the United States’ coordination with Syrian insurgents on the ground. …

“Details remain to be worked out, but what we are talking about with Turkey is cooperating to support partners on the ground in northern Syria who are countering ISIL,” a senior Obama administration official said, using another term for the Islamic State. “The goal is to establish an ISIL-free zone and ensure greater security and stability along Turkey’s border with Syria.” (“Turkey and U.S. Plan to Create Syria ‘Safe Zone’ Free of ISIS”, New York Times)

Repeat: “Turkey and the United States have agreed in general terms on a …safe zone” In exchange, the US would be allowed to use the Incirlik airbase. This is the deal that Obama made with Erdogan, but the United States never kept up its end of the bargain. Of course, the facts related to Incirlik have been swept down the memory hole in order to demonize Erdogan and make it look like he is the one creating all the problems. But that’s simply not the case. It wasn’t Erdogan who scotched the safe-zone deal, it was Obama.

By the way, the announcement that Turkey had struck a deal with Obama on Incirlik turned out to be the trigger for Russia’s entry into the war. This little known fact has escaped the attention of historians and analysts alike, but the truth is clear to see. Shortly after the above article was published (July 27, 2015), Russia began hastily clearing airfields and shipping its warplanes to Syria. Two months later, Russia began its momentous air campaign across Syria.

Why the hurry?

Mainly because of the information that appeared in the NY Times article, particularly this:

“Turkish officials and Syrian opposition leaders are describing the agreement as something just short of a prize they have long sought as a tool against Mr. Assad: a no-fly zone in Syria near the Turkish border.”

“No-fly zone”? Is that what Obama had up his sleeve?

Once Putin realized that the US was going to use Incirlik to establish a no-fly zone over Syria, (the same way it had in Libya) the Russian president quickly swung into action. He could not allow another secular Arab leader to be toppled while the country was plunged into chaos. This is why Russia intervened.

What Trump’s Neocons Want

So now Turkey and the United States are at loggerheads, the Turkish Army has completed its preparations for a cross-border operation east of the Euphrates, while Pompeo, Bolton and Pence continue to exacerbate the situation by issuing one belligerent statement after the other.

Is this the administration’s strategy, to lure Turkey into a conflict that will force Washington to get more deeply involved in the Middle East? Is that why the US has shrugged off its commitments to Ankara, dug in along the border, created a Kurdish state at the center of the Arab world, and is now thumbing its nose at Erdogan?

What is it the neocons (Pompeo, Bolton and Pence) really want?

They want to intensify and expand the fighting so that more US troops and weaponry are required. They want a wider war that forces Trump to go “all in” and deepen his commitment to regional domination. They want America’s armed forces to be bogged down in an unwinnable war that drags on for decades and stretches across borders into Lebanon, Turkey and Iran. They want Washington to redraw the map of the Middle East in a way that diminishes rivals and strengthens Israel’s regional hegemony. They want more conflagrations, more bloodletting, and more war.

That’s what the neocons want, and that’s what their provocations are designed to achieve.

Published:4/8/2019 4:28:36 AM
[Markets] Russiagate: A Moral Reckoning Is Due

Authored by Renee Parsons via Off-Guardian.org,

With Russiagate, the Democrats created some powerful karma to answer for; especially for the likes of Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell, (D-Calif.), both of whom persist in the mindless search for the Holy Grail.

After cheating Bernie out of the nomination in 2016, the Dems had not yet learned their karmic lesson when they lost the Presidential election. The Mueller Report is but the latest of that karmic reckoning.

There is no pride in being one of those who “got it right” that there was no evidence, not a scintilla of material fact to prove collusion between the Trump campaign and the dastardly Russians. As the country has been torn asunder by a two year politically tainted investigation begun with no evidentiary standard and no probable cause, there is little satisfaction to be gained.

That being said, I am royally pissed off at all the players who supported this unprecedented farce as an attack on the country’s rule of law. How could the autocratic digital giants, the intel community (which missed 911), the already discredited MSM and the pathetically trivial Democratic party think they could get away with lie after lie? Because they counted on the Democratic rank n file and other hypnotized Americans to believe anything they are told – repeat a lie often enough and the masses will own it.

The determination of no new indictments and no collusion is little cause for celebration in that the country should not have had to endure the extended anguish of an insistent, irrational, near-hysterical drumbeat generated by the MSM and Democrats as co-conspirators. It is fair to say that all participants were consciously aware that they were repeatedly lying to the American public just as it is highly probable that Special Counsel Robert Mueller who was appointed in May, 2017 knew well before the 2018 mid-term elections that allegations of collusion and obstruction were unsubstantiated.

Now that the Report into the Investigation on Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election has been delivered, all can rest assured that the American system of government works, that the checks and balances did their job and that American democracy survived another close call.

As a result of the hyperventilating hubris, the word ‘collusion’ has now become an empowered part of the lexicon. There is now an implicit warning for any candidate, or indeed any citizen, to be wary with whom they speak, be wary of their associations, to not fraternize with just anyone and to be ultra sensitized to meeting with any potential adversary, even in the legitimate interests of diplomacy.

In addition, without the political will to do so, there will be little initiative for PTB (powers that be) to undo the new generation of intense political repression and censorship initiated by Russiagate that can be traced directly to HRC’s loss in 2016.

Two weeks after that election, the Washington Post, long believed to be a CIA asset, combined allegations that Russia exploited American online platforms “critical of the US government” with the now discredited creation of ‘fake news’ that 200 American websites were “peddlers of Russian propaganda.”

As Attorney General William Barr quotes from the Mueller Report:

The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors had successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations and publicly dessiminated those materials throughout various intermediaries including Wikileaks.”

This statement is in direct contradiction with Bill Binney, former NSA Technical Director for Analysis and co-founder of NSA’s Signal Intel Center who conducted independent forensic research. Binney concluded that the data was ‘leaked by a person with physical access to the DNC computer” and that the “DNC data was downloaded to a storage device and transported to Wikileaks, like on a thumb drive or cd rom.”

While neither Mueller, any Congressional committee nor the FBI ever contacted Binney regarding his findings, the DNC refused to turn over their computer to the FBI for forensic testing. After the full Mueller report is publicly available, Binney’s feedback promises to be enlightening.

As some Democrats and MSM continue to spin the illusion of a pending obstruction of justice charge, Barr’s letter relying on the Mueller Report is clear – the “Report identifies no actions that constitute obstructive conduct” and that ‘evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime,” therefore, there is no proof ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that obstruction occurred. Legalese 101 says that obstruction cannot be alleged if no crime was committed but when did proof or evidence ever make a difference to the co-conspirators. Review of the Mueller Report itself will provide further details.

It was the unverified Steele dossier that provided the FBI with the basis for its submission to the FISA Court that Russian collusion had occurred and in order to obtain the necessary warrants (four of them) to spy on the Trump campaign; specifically US Naval Academy graduate, the hapless Carter Page. Prior to its FISA Court submission, the FBI knew that the Dossier was a bogus document. We know that the HRC campaign and the DNC funded Fusion GPS firm to get the dirt on Trump. Fusion then brought in Christopher Steele who put together a salacious piece of garbage that the FBI took and ran with.

The dossier was then circulated by Obama CIA Director John Brennan and publicly released by BuzzFeed and CNN in January, 2017. Former Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper provided ‘inconsistent information’ to the House Intelligence Committee that he “flatly denied” any media discussions regarding the dossier and then “subsequently acknowledged discussing the dossier with CNN’s Jake Tapper” and perhaps others.

CNN (Tapper, Carl Bernstein, Evan Perez and Jim Sciutto) went on to win White House Correspondents Association’s 2018 Merriman Smith Award for outstanding reporting with the Judges noting that the “depth of reporting demonstrated in these remarkable and important pieces, and the constant updates as new information continued to be uncovered showed breaking news reporting at its best.” The WHCA gathers annually to “celebrate the First Amendment and the crucial role of journalism in informing and protecting the public.”BuzzFeed, which broke the original story, did not share in the $2500 award.

In reality, the award apparently struck other WHCA members as unusual, considering the entire story took little actual reporting and instead relied on leaks from Brennan and Clapper.

There should be enough shame to go around but there appears to be no evidence of a conscience or the need to pay a karmic debt among any of the perpetrators.

In the aftermath of Mueller, Judicial Watch has filed an FOIA suit to obtain the records of communication between Brennen, Clapper and CNN including all documents related to the dossier.

In a September, 2016 text message from FBI attorney Lisa Page to Peter Strock, she relates the preparation of talking points to brief FBI Director Jim Comey on the efforts to bring down Trump. In that same message, Page adds that “POTUS wants to know everything we are doing.”

The question arises whether the usual mealy-mouth Republican establishment and a previously compromised FISA Court will step up and better protect the Constitution than they have in the past?

Published:4/7/2019 11:26:46 PM
[Markets] Prepare For The Political Pendulum's Payback...

Authored by Tim Knight via SlopeOfHope.com,

Allow me to start off what is intended as an economic musing by referring to a favorite comic of mine, Patton Oswalt. He has a fairly new bit in which he explains the Trump phenomenon as a totally understandable response to the Obama presidency.

The political pendulum in America, deep in the throes of the financial crisis, had swung so far that the United States elected its first black President, and a rather progressive one.

After eight years of that, the "mirrored" response was to elect a political novice known principally as the billionaire star of a reality television show.

Oswalt conjectures, probably quite accurately, that the next President will probably be an equally hard swing to the left (perhaps the first gay President) and, following his administration, a Klansman with the ass cut out of his jeans. America is a very centrist country, and the ideological moving average of our Presidents has to adhere to some kind of median, even if that median is comprised of wild swings to the left and right.

This oscillation applies to economic thought as well. Nothing is ever perfect, and given whatever circumstances are going in a given era, there will eventually be a critical mass of people who decides that something else must be better, so they give that a try instead. And the something else isn't perfect either, so eventually yet another thing is tried, probably quite different, and probably fairly close to whatever system was in place two attempts ago. Back and forth, left and right, to and fro it goes.

Consider John Law's introduction of paper money into France in 1716. For a few years, that financial revolution was a screaming success. Yet by 1720, Law was fortunate to escape France with his life. The country so was psychologically scarred by the harm that Law's paper money scheme had created, it would be a full eighty years (which, not coincidentally, is just about the span of a human life, and thus generational memory) until paper money was tried in France once more. Eighty years of trauma recovery.

The economic pendulum in the United States has likewise swung fairly regular. I'll broadly characterize these movements as to the "left" (push for economic equality, higher taxes, anti-business, anti-rich) and "right" (low taxes, pro-business, pro-rich). For a while it was almost like clockwork:

  • RIGHT - 1900s - Gilded Age;

  • LEFT - 1910s - Trustbusters, income tax begins, Federal Reserve;

  • RIGHT - 20s - Roaring 20s, Hoover tax cuts;

  • LEFT - 30s - Pecora Commission, New Deal, growth of unions;

  • RIGHT - 40s/50s - American prosperity, Eisenhower, soaring stocks;

  • LEFT - 60s/70s - heavy regulation, powerful unions, Great Society;

  • RIGHT - 80s/90s - Bull market; Reagan revolution; deficit prosperity;

  • LEFT - 2000s - Sarbanes-Oxley, Obama election, Dodd-Frank;

  • RIGHT - 2010s - Quantitative easing, 0% interest, Trump tax cuts

I would argue, however, that the swing to the left in the 2000s was extremely muted. Economic equality peaked around 1971, and we've been swinging to the right pretty hard since then, almost half a century now. The chasm between rich and poor has been becoming wider by the year. If it weren't for government employees, unions would be almost non-existent. Taxes are 15% for the rich. And the Federal Reserve appears to be permanently "accommodative". In short, the rich have never had it better than right now, and this divide has accompanied political polarization hand-in-hand.

In a wiser world, the financial crisis of 2008 would have been a huge wake-up call, and there would have been a very hard swing to the left. But there's no point in arguing hypotheticals, because the modest response (in the form of Dodd-Frank, now largely neutered to the point of non-existence) hardly constituted a pendulum swing to the other side. It was more of a brief bobble, principally because there wasn't enough political will to do more. The public has become so utterly snowflake-ized that there's no way they could dare suffer, so trillions and trillions of dollars of QE were rained down upon them.

The "spoiling" of the public has basically cheated them out of any wisdom that might have been garnered by the financial crisis, but instead, they have become so accustomed to government aide that both rich and poor really, really like it and want it bigger and better than ever. This had led to many insanities, the pinnacle of which are the malformed twins of Universal Basic Income and Modern Monetary Theory.

These will both, in the end, be decried as abject lunacy, but it'll be a while.

There has been virtually no pushback against such madness thanks to three simple words that almost everyone has embraced: Deficits Don't Matter. Why should they? After all, what harm are they causing? Inflation? What inflation? The trillions of new money have hardly caused a blip. So keep those presses rolling!

Well, we all know there has been inflation - - massive amounts of it - - but it's the kind of inflation that the rich love. Specifically, asset inflation.

The general public doesn't want to see bread and meat go up 500% in price. But those who own assets - - especially the small percentage of the public that owns a lot of assets - - has no problem at all with this kind of inflation. The higher, the better!

The old style of thinking was along these lines:

  • If the government goes deeper into debt and creates a lot of new money...

  • ...then people will have a lot more money to spend...

  • ...and prices of everything will go up...

  • ...so eventually it'll even out, so what was the point of all that new debt? Because the inflation will rob people of purchasing power.

But in this new gilded age:

  • The government goes deeper into debt and creates a lot of new money...

  • ...the highest echelon of businesses and private citizens are the beneficiaries of that new money, which they spend on assets...

  • ...the assets go up in price, which encourages them to buy even more assets at even higher prices (with triple-digit P/E ratios)...

  • ...so a virtuous cycle is created, and the stuff soaring in price are things like high-end real estate, objects of fine art, and other luxuries

The end result being a larger and larger gulf between the rich and the poor. But as long as the poor aren't starving and rioting in the streets, what difference does it make, right? Bread and circuses, baby.

For the purposes of this thought experiment, let's make one assumption. Let's dust off some old sayings that seem to have been true for human history: "there's no such thing as a free lunch"; "you can't print your way to prosperity"; and anything else appropriate.

Let's say, just to be crazy, that human wisdom still holds true today. Put more directly, let's suppose the shit actually hits the fan one day, and all this QE and 0% interest stop working. In fact, that they start causing harm. The economic cycle grabs hold again. Rates go up. Jobs go away. The lower 95% of the public starts to get pissed off.

I would suggest that, sooner or later, a revenge mentality is going to take place. I would further speculate that placations about more QE aren't going to cut it anymore, because the public (at long, long last) will see through such tricks.

But the fact is that the debt is there (which, by then, will be - - $30 trillion? $50 trillion? Depends on when this all happens) and it needs to be serviced. And where's the money going to come home? The rich, perhaps? And why would the government pursue the rich in order to get funds to service the debt? To quote Willie Sutton: "Because that's where the money is."

And the public will back them up. The swing to the left, both politically and economically, will be far more severe than normal, because there is a certain "pendulum payback" waiting in the wings. White collar prisoners. Confiscatory tax rates. Luxury and asset taxes. And a push toward socialism that few of us can imagine.

And I think that's a shame. Because such a hard reversal will, in the end, hobble America. But my supposition is that there's a certain price to be paid for indulging America's highest classes for a few decades, and that price is going to be borne by everyone.

It won't have been worth it. At least not for most of us.

Published:4/7/2019 10:26:08 PM
[Markets] The Management Of Savagery: Pro-War Lobbyists Push To Ban Book Exposing Regime Change Wars

Authored by Alexander Rubinstein via MintPress News

The Syrian American Council and a collection of pro-war lobbyists have led an intimidation campaign aimed at bullying a major Washington-based bookstore, Politics and Prose, into canceling award-winning journalist and author Max Blumenthal’s launch event for his new book The Management of Savagery.

And it appears to have worked. Politics and Prose announced that it would “postpone” the event, citing “concerns” over the event’s “format, substance, … [and] security” in a tweet. In a testament to the ferocity of the harassment campaign against the small chain, the company has pinned the statement to the top of its Twitter page so that anyone visiting it sees immediately that they caved.

Politics and Prose is the go-to space for D.C. book events. If you are on a book tour and coming to Washington, chances are that Politics and Prose will be hosting your event.

On Monday, I called the Politics and Prose location that was to host the event for Blumenthal. I was directed to the events department, as nobody in the store itself had authority on such matters. After being put on hold for a few minutes, I was told by an employee, “I spoke to all of my co… my manager and also our events person and we have no plans for canceling that event. It is going to go on as scheduled.”

What was left out was that the store had already begun making onerous demands of Blumenthal, including requiring him to have an “interlocutor” on stage, specifically, one who would appease the Syrian American Council. Blumenthal secured Andrew Cockburn, one of the premiere journalists covering U.S. and Middle East politics and a longtime correspondent for Harper’s Magazine. But Blumenthal told MintPress that Cockburn was denied; Politics and Prose management insisted that Cockburn was “too sympathetic” to his own views.

As the pressure campaign increased, so too did the company’s suspicions of Blumenthal. One would think that they would be familiar with Blumenthal already, as he has appeared for three previous book events there.

Critics say that Blumenthal paints a rescue organization as a terrorist group and has mocked victims of war crimes. What they leave out is that Blumenthal’s reporting exposed that rescue organization — the infamous White Helmets — as a Western government-funded public-relations project that has, in fact, been operating alongside extremist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and Al Qaeda. And he has not mocked victims of war crimes, but instead made light of the lack of evidence of those crimes beyond manipulative social-media videos that ranged from the slickly produced to outright sloppy.

In a phone conversation with Blumenthal just hours before the April 3 event, Politics and Prose co-owner Bradley Graham informed him that his reporting from Venezuela, where he recently challenged corporate media deceptions from Caracas, had also become a problem. Graham said:

A number of people … have expressed concern on various aspects of the event; first and foremost that you’re being given a platform and in some cases raising not just objections about your positions on Syria, but on Venezuela, on other issues.

“I don’t know what is behind all this, and this is the point I’m trying to get to,” Graham told Blumenthal, according to the journalist. “We haven’t had the time to sort through what all these claims are and whether there’s any relevance to them or not.”

Politics and Prose co-owner Lisa Muscatine chimed in: “We just felt so up-against-the-wall. They’re all over our social media… We’ve been fucking inundated.”

The Syrian American Council celebrated the success of their pressure campaign, thanking Politics and Prose for “listening” to the “Syrian American community,” whose views, in their implicit opinion, are monolithic. They went on to accuse Blumenthal of denying the “lived experiences” of Syrian Americans, who in reality are not so homogenous.

Thus they were able to silence their most effective critique. Blumenthal’s latest book, The Management of Savagery, reveals the cynical aspirations of this lobby, from regime change to genocide, if its bedfellows are any indication of its aims.

Deceptions and double standards

Blumenthal told MintPress News that the criticism of his book willfully misrepresented its content:

None of these people who tried to have me canceled have read this book, but it’s understandable that they would want it banned, because it is actually about them. But if they had opened the book they would see that it’s actually a critique of right-wing politics and Islamophobia through the framework of American empire, showing how these proxy wars and regime change wars that the West has waged from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya to Syria have been like steroids for the ultra-right, whipping up a xenophobic frenzy thanks to a series of refugee crises that our national security state fomented.

In my book, I go back to the era well before the so-called “war on terror” to show how this campaign of destabilization fueled the rise of Islamophobia, which Donald Trump effectively exploited to become president. So anyone trying to say this book is somehow Islamophobic – I’ve seen that allegation carelessly thrown around – clearly hasn’t read it. I think this book is one of the most damning surveys of the rise of the Islamophobia industry and the national security state’s role fueling it – and funding it in many cases. Clearly these regime change lobbyists want to burn my book because it exposes their own cynical tactics, but in doing so they’re seeking to deprive people of the ability to to learn about the horrible political crisis we’re in in the West from a new and unique angle.

Blumenthal has been covering what he calls the “anti-Islam industry” for years. In fact, it is part of what brought the author to prominence. His investigation into the rise of Islamophobia in which Blumenthal named and shamed leading anti-Muslim agitators and funders predated mainstream studies of the trend and was even blamed in an angry screed by the far-right FrontPageMag for providing “the idea behind” the Center for American Progress report on anti-Muslim politics, “Fear Inc.” Blumenthal told MintPress that he founded the Grayzone Project at AlterNet in 2015 in part to provide critical coverage of the dangerous anti-Muslim politics that Trump was exploiting at the time.

During his exchanges with the owners of Politics and Prose, Blumenthal said he emphasized the double standards they were applying to him.

“I pointed out that last week they hosted Janet Napolitano, who was essentially the deportation tsar under Obama, destroying thousands of immigrant families through the deportation machine she oversaw. And I said that nobody asked her to have somebody on stage to challenge her when she, unlike me, was actually personally involved in human rights abuses. Politics and Prose has also hosted David Frum, the neocon who appears in the pages of my book crafting the bogus case for the war in Iraq in which a million people were killed. Nobody said that he had to have someone grilling him for his role in one of the worst catastrophes in modern history. The owners really didn’t have a response to my comments.”

* * *

Gulf-backed experts, foreign operatives and pro-war lobbyists put the pressure on

Blumenthal said that the owners of Politics and Prose insisted they’d spoken to “Middle East experts” about his book and that they expressed reservations about hosting him. But when pressed for the names of those experts, he received one: Amy Hawthorne, a former resident fellow at the Saudi-funded Rafik Hariri Center at the Atlantic Council – a think tank backed by the arms industry and various Gulf monarchies that has been at the center of the campaign for regime change in Syria.

Before her time at the Atlantic Council, Hawthorne worked in the US State Department, where she “helped to shape and coordinate US support for Egypt’s transition and advised on the US response to the Arab Spring,” according to her bio.

Another one of the self-styled Syria experts who pushed to have Blumenthal’s Politics and Prose event canceled was Charles Lister. Like so many of the lobbyists demanding the censorship of Blumenthal’s book, Lister is a fellow at a Gulf-funded think tank featured in the “Management of Savagery” for research that falsely claimed that 70,000 so-called “moderate rebels” were battling the Syrian government. When Blumenthal personally confronted Lister about his discredited claims during a 2017 Atlantic Council meeting, Lister flew into contortions and struggled to push back.

Mouaz Moustafa, the director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, also joined the campaign to block Blumenthal’s book event. In fact, Blumenthal’s book documents how Moustafa served as the Washington point man for the Syrian regime change operation, escorting John McCain to the Syrian border in 2013, where the late senator posed for photos with extremist insurgents involved in the kidnapping of Shia pilgrims.

As Ben Norton reported at The Grayzone, Moustafa has continued to lobby the Trump administration on Syria. He even boasted that he was “hanging out” with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews at about the same time as he was clamoring online for the cancellation of Blumenthal’s book event.

“It is totally understandable that a character like Moustafa would want my book banned,” Blumenthal said. “I excavated his shocking record of pro-war lobbying and expose all the deceptions that were deployed in the process.”

The Syrian American Council, the pro-war lobbying outfit that led the charge against Blumenthal’s book, has also been involved with some unsavory figures during its push for regime change in Syria. As Norton reported, the Council hosted at its 2015 gala a Syrian opposition activist named Maher Sharafeddine who has openly called for the genocide of religious minorities in Syria.

“I am warning the Alawites to get out of the country or they will all be slaughtered. There can be no reconciliation with the Alawites,” Sharafeddine said during an infamous 2015 appearance on Al Jazeera Arabic. “The only way for us to take [power] from them is over their dead bodies.”

“It is the right of the [Sunnis] to demand the slaughter of the Alawites,” the host of that Al Jazeera show, Faisal al-Qassem said, “Of course, of course,” Sharafeddine replied.

Perhaps the most remarkable figure to weigh in against Blumenthal’s book and demand the cancellation of his event was James Le Mesurier. A former British military intelligence officer and UAE-backed mercenary, Le Mesurier oversaw the foundation of the White Helmets in Turkey and placed himself at the center of destabilization campaign against Syria’s government. Through the White Helmets, who were at the scene seemingly any time a major chemical attack was alleged, Le Mesurier played a central role in driving the US to bomb Syria over so-called “red line” violations.

“The whole history of Le Mesurier and the White Helmets in trying to push the US to decapitate the government of another previously stable Middle Eastern state is told in ‘The Management of Savagery,’” Blumenthal said. “Once again, you have a figure trying to cover up their dirty deeds by censoring a journalist who dared to expose them.”

From my point of view, and I told this to Politics and Prose,” Blumenthal continued, “they have surrendered to a bullying campaign run by a lobbying apparatus that’s tried to silence me and shut down my factual journalism, which has helped expose what I consider to be one of the biggest scandals in recent memory, which is the multi-billion dollar campaign to arm and equip extremist insurgents to rip Syria to shreds. But I think the public wants to know more about this titanic scandal, and it wants to know what’s on the pages of my book, and there’s nothing these war lobbyists can do about that. The mask is off.”

Blumenthal’s book is available through his publisher at Verso and many other locations. The launch event for ‘The Management of Savagery’ will be held at the Justice Center at 617 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. on Wednesday the 10th at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Published:4/7/2019 9:27:04 PM
[Markets] Obama Decries Fractured Democratic Party's "Circular Firing Squad" 

Former President Barack Obama encouraged Democrats to put aside their differences and embrace each other, noting that 'ideologically rigid' progressives and their more radical colleagues on the left have created a "circular firing squad," where "you start shooting at your allies because one of them has strayed from purity on the issues.

Speaking at a Saturday town hall event for the Obama Foundation in Berlin, the former president spoke of compromise and acceptance on order to strengthen the party. 

"One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States —maybe it’s true here as well — is a certain kind of rigidity where we say, ‘Uh, I’m sorry, this is how it’s going to be,’ and then we start sometimes creating what’s called a ‘circular firing squad,’ where you start shooting at your allies because one of them has strayed from purity on the issues," adding "And when that happens, typically the overall effort and movement weakens."

"So I think whether you are speaking as a citizen or as a political leader or as an organizer … you have to recognize that the way we structure democracy requires you to take into account people who don’t agree with you, and that by definition means you’re not going to get 100 percent of what you want," Obama added. 

In short - Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer need to realize that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is indeed the boss, the Green New Deal will somehow work, Socialism is the future, and stop infighting whenever Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) disses the Jews.

Meanwhile, Obama has been glaringly silent while his former Vice President Joe Biden defends himself against accusations that he made unwanted advances on at least seven women - while a flood of pictures and videos of him perving on people of all ages has added fuel to the fire. 

Is Obama's ideological purity and "certain kind of rigidity" causing him to hold his tongue?  Or does Obama's call to avoid a "circular firing squad" extend to his former VP - whose defenders insist he's just a clunky old man using "tactile politics" in a #MeToo world (and totally not molesting women and children in plain sight). 

Published:4/7/2019 8:25:45 PM
[US News] Ameri-pology tour 2.0: Obama identifies the ‘pinnacle of human well being’ (nope, not the nation that twice elected him president)

Just stop.

The post Ameri-pology tour 2.0: Obama identifies the ‘pinnacle of human well being’ (nope, not the nation that twice elected him president) appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/7/2019 4:54:40 PM
[US News] You realize this is YOUR fault: Barack Obama is now rebuking the party he drove off the Left cliff

Now he gets concerned.

The post You realize this is YOUR fault: Barack Obama is now rebuking the party he drove off the Left cliff appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/7/2019 1:24:57 PM
[Uncategorized] Obama, Merkel Hold ‘Private’ Talks in Berlin The New York Times: "Obama Evokes Nostalgia in Germany" Published:4/7/2019 1:24:56 PM
[Markets] Rubino: "Gold Is Moving Back Into The Center Of The Global Financial System"

Via Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com,

Unemployment is near 3% and President Trump is calling for rate cuts and quantitative easing. Is the economy doing well or getting ready to tank?

Financial writer John Rubino says, “We went from being at all-time highs to down 20% in sort of a flash crash in two months towards the end of last year. That told the Fed and the other central banks that they can never tighten again..."

"This is it for this cycle and for the entire remaining time of today’s financial system for higher interest rates. They abruptly announced to never mind about those four rate hikes that were going to happen in 2019. We (the Fed) are not going to do anything. If we do anything, it will be in the opposite direction and cut interest rates and a new round of QE, etcetera and etcetera. The stock market went right back up to record levels...

The end part of this story is how good all this is for gold...

The next thing from the Fed will be a rate cut, and it will increase and not decrease its balance sheet... We are going to go preemptively to monetary easing, and that’s really new. This is very, very new. You normally don’t do this. You wait until you see a bear market and a slowdown in the economy that gets people laid off before you start aggressively easing. Apparently, we are going to do that stuff before that stuff starts happening. Who knows what the impact of that will be? If it works the way they want, more people will get hired, wages will pick up and we’ll have inflation in the 4% or 5% range before you know it.”

So, with near record low yields on bonds and near record high prices for stocks, Rubino has just one question. Rubino says, “What’s cheap? Gold and silver. What is down and what is cheap relative to the fundamentals..."

"It’s not just the price of gold and silver, it’s how much gold and silver exists relative to how much paper wealth is in the world. The amount of gold and silver that we are bringing out of the ground is growing at 1% or 2% per year. The amount of paper wealth in the world is growing exponentially...

Gold is moving back into the center of the global financial system.”

Another big factor to consider is debt. Rubino says, “Every big country is running deficits that are dramatically bigger than they were five years ago..."

"In the U.S., we are back to $1 trillion a year deficits, which is Obama Administration post Great Recession kind of numbers, and we are doing it 10 years into an expansion...

So, in the next recession, we will be taking on huge amounts of new debt at an accelerating rate. We are not fixing any of the mistakes...which mean the problems that are going to flow from today’s mistakes are going to be that much bigger because we are compounding yesterday’s mistakes. . . . This is new and scary and fascinating. From a safe distance, this is going to be very interesting to watch. Unfortunately, for most people, they will not be a safe distance. They will be right in the middle of the tornado.

In closing, Rubino says, “It is possible that a garden variety one year recession would blow up the financial markets..."

"That’s the stuff that they are hearing (in the White House) that is terrifying. . . . There are probably older and wiser people whispering in Trump’s ear who are saying the next equities bear market might be the end of the financial world for us...

They are so worried, they are willing to experiment with monetary policy again in order to prevent the crash that could make them this generation’s Herbert Hoover.”

Join Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com as he goes One-on-One with John Rubino, founder of DollarCollapse.com.

To Donate to USAWatchdog.com Click Here

Published:4/7/2019 12:24:02 PM
[Democrats] Obama: Democrats Are Having A ‘Circular Firing Squad’

The following article, Obama: Democrats Are Having A ‘Circular Firing Squad’, was first published on Godfather Politics.

Barack Obama is worried about progressives’ ‘rigidity’ leading to ‘circular firing squad’ in the Democratic Party. “One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives … we start sometimes creating what’s called a ‘circular firing squad’ where you start shooting at your allies because one of them has strayed from purity on the ...

Continue reading: Obama: Democrats Are Having A ‘Circular Firing Squad’ ...

Published:4/6/2019 7:50:49 PM
[The Blog] Obama: Progressives have ‘a certain kind of rigidity’ that leads them to form circular firing squads

He's talking about you, AOC.

The post Obama: Progressives have ‘a certain kind of rigidity’ that leads them to form circular firing squads appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:4/6/2019 7:50:49 PM
[Markets] A New Call For Expanding "Racist" Labelling By Reporters

Authored by Mark Glennon via Wirepoints.com,

If everything is racist, nothing is racist.

You’d think that principle might be now be obvious, given how the terms racist and racism are used as often as they are. Maybe you’ve been hoping that racism’s most genuine enemies are concerned that overusing the term is causing real examples to be overlooked.

Forget it.

Instead, reporters now have the green light to use those labels far more often, as many of them will see things. In fact, some will feel obligated to do so, as they are interpreting new guidelines  from the Associated Press. Those new guidelines are in the A.P.’s revised Stylebook, which is about more than style. It’s about politically correct language, and it’s the definitive source. We know it’s the definitive source not just because many reporters obey it but because, well, the A.P. says so.

It’s is a particularly bad development for places like Chicago that sit on perpetual racial powder kegs.

This is about separating factual reporting from opinion. Separately labeling commentary and opinion supposedly is a core ethical obligation in journalism, but the A.P.’s new guidelines undoubtedly will be accepted by many as permission to throw away any pretense about that.

Under the new guidelines, reporters should forget what it calls euphemisms like racially chargedracially divisive and racially tinged.

Instead, just call those things racist or racism, say the guidelines. At least that’s how many reporters will interpret them.

Some news sources already seem elated, welcoming the guidelines as authorization to report racism as fact in news stories:

  • Previous years of soft-pedaling around the word ‘racist’ in news reporting are reflective of how we as a country have soft-pedaled around having an honest dialogue about the impact of racism not only in America but in American newsrooms,” said Sarah Glover, an editor at NBC-owned television stations.

  • Minnesota Pubic Radio referred to racially-charged as “a weak-kneed euphemism used by news organizations who know what racism and racists look like, but don’t want to be pinned down on it.”

  • “People have criticized news outlets,” as the Huffington Post sees things in its world, for using those sugarcoated words “particularly in reporting on President Donald Trump.”

Trump is undoubtedly who they’re most giddy about since they can now just report he’s a racist whenever he trolls on racial topics or goes over the top, as he often does

But this will go far beyond Trump. Think about the countless stories where those so-called euphemisms – or something still weaker — were appropriate but should have been replaced, according to the A.P., by racism reported as fact.

Some examples:

Hillary Clinton made what Fox News called a racially tinged joke. Fox should have called it racist?

John McCain’s comparison of Barack Obama to young, white celebrities was racially tinged, according to the New York Times. No, that was racism, they apparently should have written.

The list goes on endlessly.

Calling rioters thugs is racially charged, according to an NPR story. Burly has a racially charged history, according to the New York Times.

Leslie Jones of Saturday Night Live made racially charged jokes, as news reports had it. (Jones is black.) Should it all have been called racism in news stories?

Illinois offers a good example of the inflammatory impact the new A.P. standards could have.

A black legislator has a bill pending to mandate minority representation on boards of directors of public companies in Illinois. Last week, an opponent in the legislature criticized the bill with language that undoubtedly could be described by those euphemisms the A.P. now dislikes. The black sponsor said he was offended and the critic has now apologized.

Should the criticisms of the bill have been labeled racist in the news stories about it? Opinions may vary, but the A.P.’s guidelines clearly would encourage a news source to report the opposition as racist.

A hotter example of how the guidelines may be abused came up in a Twitter skirmish I had recently with Dan Mihalopoulos, a reporter at Chicago’s NPR station.

He wrote it’s “Already time to implement the new AP policy on calling a racist a racist,” referring to a news story about Pat Buchanan saying “we haven’t fully assimilated African-American citizens.”

The underlying story did it right, as I see things. it simply reported what Buchanan said. The story was by a source that’s left-leaning – Mediaite.

Instead of just reporting what Buchanan said, Mihalopoulos apparently thinks the story should have said racist or racism, per the A.P. policy.

I tweeted back: “Ridiculous. Instead of reporting what somebody said, you’re saying to report a subjective, highly charged characterization of what they said using a term defined very differently by different people.”

Mihalopoulos entirely missed that point, resorting instead to trying to link Buchanan’s views to mine. That’s hardly relevant, nor accurate, since I don’t share Buchanan’s views. He answered, “You think anybody needs you or Pat Buchanan to tell them how to assimilate? Including those whose ancestors were brought here forcibly as slaves? Assimilate to what? And you will reform media with such bias!” He proceeded to block me.

If Mihalopoulos wants to write an opinion piece saying Buchanan or his words were racist, great. But labeling things that way in a news story about what was said would violate the basic, ethical duty to separate reporting from opinion.

What’s fact is that racism now has vastly different meanings to different people. The new left’s version is about systemic, ubiquitous, implicit bias, and conformity to what many of us see as politically correct rules of language police like the A.P. To me and many others, it’s about judging on color instead of character and violating what Chief Justice Roberts wrote: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Other people — good, reasonable people — may have other definitions, so it would be fine to see opinion columns branding Buchanan or his comments as racist or not racist.

But this is about reporting news.

That’s one obvious problem with the A.P.’s new guideline. Despite being fighting words to many, racist and racism are exceptionally controversial in meaning. The country is already torn apart over this. Why use those terms except where there’s some consensus on what they mean?

There’s certainly no shortage of examples where there should be consensus. To take just one, consider the conduct reported at Chicago’s Water Management Department. A white worker urinating in the cup of a black co-worker, crosses in front of the lockers of complaining African American employees, copies of Mein Compf placed on the desks of black co-workers and more.

I doubt many Chicagoans know that story, except black Chicagoans who are probably all too familiar with it. Why? Isn’t it partly because stories like that are lost in the fog? That’s the biggest problem with the A.P.’s new guidelines. The fog of stories about racism will thicken as reporters report it as fact where they, subjectively, see it. The public will become further desensitized.

If you carefully parse through the A.P.’s new guidelines, you can make a case that it actually calls for use of racism and racist only in limited circumstances. Racism, it says, “is a doctrine asserting racial differences in character, intelligence, etc., and the superiority of one race over another, or racial discrimination or feelings of hatred or bigotry toward people of another race.”  [Emphasis added.] And the guidelines say not to use the word unless it really fits. That would be a fine interpretation.

But look through the whole thing and you’ll see it’s filled with weaselly contradictions that reporters so inclined will cite as their go-ahead for labeling more conduct as racistEuphemism has insulting connotations. Users of the terms the A.P. calls euphemisms are cowards, the standards imply. And there’s this silliness, which is impractical for reporters with deadlines: “[D]ecisions should include discussion with colleagues and/or others from diverse backgrounds and perspectives.”

In short, many reporters will interpret the guidelines as this simple headline put it: “Reporters Urged to Use 2 Words They Often Avoid.”

Count on seeing racism reported as fact more often. It certainly will include the A.P. itself, which already is no exemplar of objective reporting. It will include other reporters who obey its rules, which apparently will include Mihalopoulos, whose NPR station is already among the most biased news sources in Illinois.

Their stories probably will be infused with the usual pretense of racial togetherness and understanding.

The opposite will result.

Published:4/6/2019 7:18:58 PM
[Democrats] Obama: Democrats Are Having A ‘Circular Firing Squad’

The following article, Obama: Democrats Are Having A ‘Circular Firing Squad’, was first published on Godfather Politics.

Barack Obama is worried about progressives’ ‘rigidity’ leading to ‘circular firing squad’ in the Democratic Party. “One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives … we start sometimes creating what’s called a ‘circular firing squad’ where you start shooting at your allies because one of them has strayed from purity on the ...

Continue reading: Obama: Democrats Are Having A ‘Circular Firing Squad’ ...

Published:4/6/2019 7:18:58 PM
[Markets] Fake News After Mueller: Orwell Would Be Delighted

Authored by Raul Ilargi Mueller via The Automatic Earth blog,

Allow me to start with a question: Has anyone seen any of the main newspapers and networks who went after Donald Trump for 3 years accusing him of colluding with “the Russians”, apologize to either Trump, or to their readers and viewers, for spreading all that fake news now that Robert Mueller said none of that stuff was real, that they all just made it up?

I’ve seen only one such apology, albeit a very good and thorough one, from Sharyl Attkisson for The Hill. But one is a very meager harvest of course. With over 500,000 articles on collusion published on the topic, as Axios said -leading to 245 million social media ‘interactions’, shouldn’t there be more apologies, if only so people can hold on to their faith in US media for a while longer?

Apologies to President Trump

With the conclusions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe now known to a significant degree, it seems apologies are in order. However, judging by the recent past, apologies are not likely forthcoming from the responsible parties. In this context, it matters not whether one is a supporter or a critic of President Trump. Whatever his supposed flaws, the rampant accusations and speculation that shrouded Trump’s presidency, even before it began, ultimately have proven unfounded. Just as Trump said all along. Yet, each time Trump said so, some of us in the media lampooned him.

We treated any words he spoke in his own defense as if they were automatically to be disbelieved because he had uttered them. Some even declared his words to be “lies,” although they had no evidence to back up their claims.We in the media allowed unproven charges and false accusations to dominate the news landscape for more than two years, in a way that was wildly unbalanced and disproportionate to the evidence. We did a poor job of tracking down leaks of false information. We failed to reasonably weigh the motives of anonymous sources and those claiming to have secret, special evidence of Trump’s “treason.”

As such, we reported a tremendous amount of false information, always to Trump’s detriment. And when we corrected our mistakes, we often doubled down more than we apologized. We may have been technically wrong on that tiny point, we would acknowledge. But, in the same breath, we would insist that Trump was so obviously guilty of being Russian President Vladimir Putin’s puppet that the technical details hardly mattered. So, a round of apologies seem in order.

It’s a shame Attkisson refrains from labeling the whole decrepit circus as “fake news”, even if she says it’s just that, in different words. It’s a shame because the term “fake news” can this way remain connected to Trump, something the mainstream media really like. Because it allows for the media to cast doubts on the Mueller report, and for the Democrats to cast doubt on AG Bill Barr.

But they, the MSM, CNN and the NYT, are the ones who, as Robert Mueller has proven, have been spreading fake news all that time, not Trump. And if you would suggest they apologize, they’ll tell you that you’re too early, wait for the report to be released, or that Bill Barr is holding tons of stuff back, or that Mueller didn’t have access to elementary info, or that Trump is a really bad person or or or.

Their reputations would be lost forever if they issue a mea culpa, and apologizing constitutes a mea culpa, so that’s not going to happen. And they all think their credibility remains sound and alive, because they live in echo chambers where they don’t have to listen to anyone prepared to cast any doubt on their credibility.

I first said it years ago: in the new -digital, social- media age, the mainstream media have only one chance of survival: report the naked truth, and be relentless about that. There are a billion voices who can write up rumors, slander, smear and other falsities, but none have the organizations to find out the truth.

Well, it looks like they gave up on that one chance. Russiagate has made it crystal clear that the MSM would rather make a quick buck than investigate, that money and political views trump veracity any day where they operate. So stick a fork in them and turn them over; they’re done.

April 1 was the perfect moment to add it all up, and the Babylon Bee did exactly that:CNN Publishes Real News Story For April Fools’ Day

Fooling thousands of readers in a prank that the cable news organization said was “just for fun,” CNN published a real news story for April Fools’ Day this year. The story simply contained a list of facts, with no embellishment, editorializing, or invented details. The story also didn’t cite shaky “anonymous sources” and only quoted firsthand witnesses to the event. It was completely factual without any errors whatsoever. Baffled CNN fans immediately knew something was up.

“I was reading this story, and I was like, ‘Wait, what is this?'” said one man in New York who relies on CNN for his fake news every morning. “They really got me good. Then I looked up at the calendar and I realized I’d been duped. A classic gag!” “Those little rascals!” he added, shaking his head and laughing goodnaturedly. “As long as they return to their regularly scheduled fake news tomorrow, we’re good. We’re good.”

We could stop right there. What’s to add? It sums up America to the core. Then again, perhaps not quite yet. How about we add this from the BBC?

Is Facebook Winning The Fake News War?

For the people contracted by Facebook to clamp down on fake news and misinformation, doubt hangs over them every day. Is it working? “Are we changing minds?” wondered one fact-checker, based in Latin America, speaking to the BBC. “Is it having an impact? Is our work being read? I don’t think it is hard to keep track of this. But it’s not a priority for Facebook. “We want to understand better what we are doing, but we aren’t able to.”

[..] While there are efforts from fact-checking organisations to debunk dangerous rumours within the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook has yet to provide a tool – though it is experimenting with some ideas to help users report concerns.

Right, Facebook Fights Fake News. Right. 533,074 web articles on Trump-Russia collusion pre-Mueller report according to Axios, and 245 million ‘interactions’ -including likes, comments and shares- on Twitter and Facebook. Let’s say 100 million on Facebook.

How much did they catch as fake news in their valiant efforts? Not “the Russians” spreading fake news, but the New York Times? How about none? How many times did Facebook shut down the New York Times? Rachel Maddow? None. But Robert Mueller says all those articles about collusion were fake news.

Those reputations are gone forever. Nobody serious will ever again believe anything these people say. Oh, their own subscribers will, but they don’t count as serious people. They swallowed all the nonsense for all of that time. Get real.

Talking about reputations: I decided to try and follow the trails of the Steele dossier earlier, because I think if you figure out the road that dossier has traveled, who has been pushing it etc., you can get a long way towards finding out how how Russiagate came about.

I turned to Wikipedia first, where “Steele dossier” automatically becomes “Trump-Russia dossier”. I read the intro, and it was already so clear where Wikipedia stands on this: not on Trump’s side. Impartiality does not count as a virtue there either. And I know that this stuff is written by third parties, but does Jimmy Wales really want to devalue his life’s work for party politics?

Right below the intro of the very long entry, a familiar name pops up: Luke Harding, and I’m thinking HAHAHAHA!

Luke Harding, after making a mint with his book Collusion, which Robert Mueller has singlehandedly moved into the Fiction section of the bookstore, and co-writing Manafort Held Secret Talks With Assange In Ecuadorian Embassy last November, which Mueller fully discredited, is presented as a source for an entry about collusion? Oh boy.

A few paragraphs down I come upon the name Victoria Nuland, and again of course I think HAHAHAHA, what kind of source is she? Nuland became notorious for colluding with John McCain on Maidan Square in Kiyv, and she has less credibility than Harding, if such a thing is possible. A Nuland quote from the Wikipedia article:

“In the middle of July [2016], when he [Steele] was doing this other work and became concerned, he passed two to four pages of short points of what he was finding and our immediate reaction to that was, ‘This is not in our purview’.” “This needs to go to the FBI if there is any concern here that one candidate or the election as a whole might be influenced by the Russian Federation. That’s something for the FBI to investigate.”

The entry continues:

It has remained unclear as to who exactly at the FBI was aware of Steele’s report through July and August, and what was done with it, but they did not immediately request additional material until late August or early September, when the FBI asked Steele for “all information in his possession and for him to explain how the material had been gathered and to identify his sources. The former spy forwarded to the bureau several memos — some of which referred to members of Trump’s inner circle. After that point, he continued to share information with the FBI.”[57][56]

According to Nancy LeTourneau, political writer for the Washington Monthly, the report “was languishing in the FBI’s New York field office” for two months, and “was finally sent to the counterintelligence team investigating Russia at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.”, in September 2016.[65]

Meanwhile, in the July to September time frame, according to The Washington Post, CIA Director John Brennan had started an investigation with a secret task force “composed of several dozen analysts and officers from the CIA, the NSA and the FBI”. At the same time, he was busy creating his own dossier of material documenting that “Russia was not only attempting to interfere in the 2016 election, they were doing so in order to elect Donald Trump … [T]he entire intelligence community was on alert about this situation at least two months before [the dossier] became part of the investigation.”

Ergo: the fully deranged Nuland, then Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, gets the dossier to the FBI, where nothing happens with it despite Nuland’s insistence that it shows terrible things going on, until someone (McCain?!) gets it to Brennan, and then the ball gets rolling.

There’s all these people in the Hillary sphere of influence who pick it up, in the media, the House, and the FBI and CIA. Because the campaign decides a story about prostitutes peeing on a bed where Obama once slept can a be a winner, and by July 2016 a few nerves had started twitching. The entire machinery shifted into gear right then and there.

The index to the entry contains some 350 links to articles, almost all by the usual suspects and with the usual angles. It all oozes collusion. An exception is Bob Woodward in January 2017: ‘Garbage Document’: Woodward Says US Intel Should Apologize Over Trump Dossier

Woodward said on “Fox News Sunday” the dossier was a “garbage document” and that Trump’s point of view on the matter is being “under-reported.”Woodward said the dossier should never have been presented at an intelligence briefing and it was a mistake for U.S. intelligence officials to do so. “Trump’s right to be upset about that … Those intelligence chiefs, who were the best we’ve had, who were terrific and have done great work, made a mistake here.


And when people make mistakes, they should apologize,” said Woodward. Meantime, Woodward’s former partner in reporting on the Watergate scandal, helped report the news about the dossier on CNN last week. Carl Bernstein defended the reporting on the dossier, dismissing Trump’s contention that it was “fake news.” Bernstein argued that U.S. intelligence saw fit to present the material to President Obama and President-elect Trump.

“Mistakes” by the intelligence chiefs? Hard to believe, if you’ve followed Brennan, Clapper, Comey in the past 2 years.

Not sure I’m going to finish reading that Wikipedia entry on the Steele dossier. What’s the point? It’s fantasy advertized as fact in order to make money. It’s misleading, it’s fake and it seeks to damage people. It would appear we’d be better off discussing what fake news is (and what is not), and to not stick the label to everything Trump says, or the $50 million spent on the Mueller probe will have been entirely wasted.

What we can learn from it is that we can no longer trust the media we once had confidence in. Those days are gone and they won’t be back. They’ve been lying for a long time for their 30 pieces of silver, and once your credibility is gone, it’s gone for good.

That, by the way, is why we need Julian Assange so much, because we know he doesn’t lie. But of course that little fact has also already been buried in a big pile of fake news.

Orwell would be delighted.

Published:4/6/2019 2:49:27 PM
[Politics] Obama is WORRIED extremist Democrats are RUINING the party! LOL! Man, when even Obama is telling the far left extremists in the democratic party to chill, you know it’s bad!! From the Hill: Former President Obama expressed concern about the progressive wing . . . Published:4/6/2019 12:47:19 PM
[Politics] Obama is WORRIED extremist Democrats are RUINING the party! LOL! Man, when even Obama is telling the far left extremists in the democratic party to chill, you know it’s bad!! From the Hill: Former President Obama expressed concern about the progressive wing . . . Published:4/6/2019 12:47:19 PM
[Markets] How Brzezinski's Chessboard Degenerated Into Brennan's Russophobia

Authored by Mike Whitney via The Unz Review,

“Russia is an inalienable and organic part of Greater Europe and European civilization. Our citizens think of themselves as European. That’s why Russia proposes moving towards the creation of a common economic space from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, a community referred to by Russian experts as ‘the Union of Europe’ which will strengthen Russia’s potential in its economic pivot toward the ‘New Asia.’”

- Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, February 2012

The allegations of ‘Russian meddling’ only make sense if they’re put into a broader geopolitical context.

Once we realize that Washington is implementing an aggressive “containment” strategy to militarily encircle Russia and China in order to spread its tentacles across Central Asian, then we begin to understand that Russia is not the perpetrator of the hostilities and propaganda, but the victim. The Russia hacking allegations are part of a larger asymmetrical-information war that has been joined by the entire Washington political establishment. The objective is to methodically weaken an emerging rival while reinforcing US global hegemony.

Try to imagine for a minute, that the hacking claims were not part of a sinister plan by Vladimir Putin “to sow discord and division” in the United States, but were conjured up to create an external threat that would justify an aggressive response from Washington. That’s what Russiagate is really all about.

US policymakers and their allies in the military and Intelligence agencies, know that relations with Russia are bound to get increasingly confrontational, mainly because Washington is determined to pursue its ambitious “pivot” to Asia plan. This new regional strategy focuses on “strengthening bilateral security alliances, expanding trade and investment, and forging a broad-based military presence.” In short, the US is determined to maintain its global supremacy by establishing military outposts across Eurasia, continuing to tighten the noose around Russia and China, and reinforcing its position as the dominant player in the most populous and prosperous region in the world. The plan was first presented in its skeletal form by the architect of Washington’s plan to rule the world, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Here’s how Jimmy Carter’s former national security advisor summed it up in his 1997 magnum opus, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives:

“For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia… (p.30)….. Eurasia is the globe’s largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. …. About 75 per cent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for 60 per cent of the world’s GNP and about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.” (“The Grand Chessboard:American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives”, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Basic Books, page 31, 1997)

14 years after those words were written, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took up the banner of imperial expansion and demanded a dramatic shift in US foreign policy that would focus primarily on increasing America’s military footprint in Asia. It was Clinton who first coined the term “pivot” in a speech she delivered in 2010 titled “America’s Pacific Century”. Here’s an excerpt from the speech:

“As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theaters. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in the Asia-Pacific region…

Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology…..American firms (need) to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia…The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade. As we strive to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by 2015, we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia…and our investment opportunities in Asia’s dynamic markets.”

(“America’s Pacific Century”, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton”, Foreign Policy Magazine, 2011)

The pivot strategy is not some trifling rehash of the 19th century “Great Game” promoted by think-tank fantasists and conspiracy theorists. It is Washington’s premier foreign policy doctrine, a ‘rebalancing’ theory that focuses on increasing US military and diplomatic presence across the Asian landmass. Naturally, NATO’s ominous troop movements on Russia’s western flank and Washington’s provocative naval operations in the South China Sea have sent up red flags in Moscow and Beijing. Former Chinese President Hu Jintao summed it up like this:

“The United States has strengthened its military deployments in the Asia-Pacific region, strengthened the US-Japan military alliance, strengthened strategic cooperation with India, improved relations with Vietnam, inveigled Pakistan, established a pro-American government in Afghanistan, increased arms sales to Taiwan, and so on. They have extended outposts and placed pressure points on us from the east, south, and west.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been equally critical of Washington’s erratic behavior. NATO’s eastward expansion has convinced Putin that the US will continue to be a disruptive force on the continent for the foreseeable future. Both leaders worry that Washington’s relentless provocations will lead to an unexpected clash that will end in war.

Even so, the political class has fully embraced the pivot strategy as a last-gasp attempt to roll back the clock to the post war era when the world’s industrial centers were in ruins and America was the only game in town. Now the center of gravity has shifted from west to east, leaving Washington with just two options: Allow the emerging giants in Asia to connect their high-speed rail and gas pipelines to Europe creating the world’s biggest free trade zone, or try to overturn the applecart by bullying allies and threatening rivals, by implementing sanctions that slow growth and send currencies plunging, and by arming jihadist proxies to fuel ethnic hatred and foment political unrest. Clearly, the choice has already been made. Uncle Sam has decided to fight til the bitter end.

Washington has many ways of dealing with its enemies, but none of these strategies have dampened the growth of its competitors in the east. China is poised to overtake the US as the world’s biggest economy sometime in the next 2 decades while Russia’s intervention in Syria has rolled back Washington’s plan to topple Bashar al Assad and consolidate its grip on the resource-rich Middle East. That plan has now collapsed forcing US policymakers to scrap the War on Terror altogether and switch to a “great power competition” which acknowledges that the US can no longer unilaterally impose its will wherever it goes. Challenges to America’s dominance are emerging everywhere particularly in the region where the US hopes to reign supreme, Asia.

This is why the entire national security state now stands foursquare behind the improbable pivot plan. It’s a desperate “Hail Mary” attempt to preserve the decaying unipolar world order.

What does that mean in practical terms?

It means that the White House (the National Security Strategy) the Pentagon (National Defense Strategy) and the Intelligence Community (The Worldwide Threat Assessment) have all drawn up their own respective analyses of the biggest threats the US currently faces.

Naturally, Russia is at the very top of those lists. Russia has derailed Washington’s proxy war in Syria, frustrated US attempts to establish itself across Central Asia, and strengthened ties with the EU hoping to “create a harmonious community of economies from Lisbon to Vladivostok.” (Putin)

Keep in mind, the US does not feel threatened by the possibility of a Russian attack, but by Russia’s ability to thwart Washington’s grandiose imperial ambitions in Asia.

As we noted, the National Security Strategy (NSS) is a statutorily mandated document produced by the White House that explains how the President intends to implement his national security vision. Not surprisingly, the document’s main focus is Russia and China. Here’s an excerpt:

“China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity. They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.” (Neither Russia nor China are attempting to erode American security and prosperity.” They are merely growing their economies and expanding their markets. If US corporations reinvested their capital into factories, employee training and R and D instead of stock buybacks and executive compensation, then they would be better able to complete globally.)

Here’s more:

“Through modernized forms of subversive tactics, Russia interferes in the domestic political affairs of countries around the world.” (This is a case of the ‘pot calling the kettle black.’)

“Today, actors such as Russia are using information tools in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democracies. Adversaries target media, political processes, financial networks, and personal data.” (The western media behemoth is the biggest disinformation bullhorn the world has ever seen. RT and Sputnik don’t hold a candle to the ginormous MSM ‘Wurlitzer’ that controls the cable news stations, the newspapers and most of the print media. The Mueller Report proves beyond a doubt that the politically-motivated nonsense one reads in the media is neither reliably sourced nor trustworthy.)

The Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community is even more explicit in its attacks on Russia. Check it out:

“Threats to US national security will expand and diversify in the coming year, driven in part by China and Russia as they respectively compete more intensely with the United States and its traditional allies and partners…. We assess that Moscow will continue pursuing a range of objectives to expand its reach, including undermining the US-led liberal international order, dividing Western political and security institutions, demonstrating Russia’s ability to shape global issues, and bolstering Putin’s domestic legitimacy.

We assess that Moscow has heightened confidence, based on its success in helping restore the Asad regime’s territorial control in Syria,...

Russia seeks to boost its military presence and political influence in the Mediterranean and Red Seas… mediate conflicts, including engaging in the Middle East Peace Process and Afghanistan reconciliation….

Russia will continue pressing Central Asia’s leaders to support Russian-led economic and security initiatives and reduce engagement with Washington. …Russia and China are likely to intensify efforts to build influence in Europe at the expense of US interests…” (“The Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community”, USG)

Notice how the Intelligence Community summary does not suggest that Russia poses an imminent military threat to the US, only that Russia has restored order in Syria, strengthened ties with China, emerged as an “honest broker” among countries in the Middle East, and used the free market system to improve relations with its trading partners and grow its economy. The IC appears to find fault with Russia because it is using the system the US created to better advantage than the US. This is entirely understandable given Putin’s determination to draw Europe and Asia closer together through a region-wide economic integration plan. Here’s Putin:

“We must consider more extensive cooperation in the energy sphere, up to and including the formation of a common European energy complex. The Nord Stream gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea and the South Stream pipeline under the Black Sea are important steps in that direction. These projects have the support of many governments and involve major European energy companies. Once the pipelines start operating at full capacity, Europe will have a reliable and flexible gas-supply system that does not depend on the political whims of any nation. This will strengthen the continent’s energy security not only in form but in substance. This is particularly relevant in the light of the decision of some European states to reduce or renounce nuclear energy.”

The gas pipelines and high-speed rail are the arteries that will bind the continents together and strengthen the new EU-Asia superstate. This is Washington’s greatest nightmare, a massive, thriving free trade zone beyond its reach and not subject to its rules. In 2012, Hillary Clinton acknowledged this new threat and promised to do everything in her power to destroy it. Check out this excerpt:

“U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described efforts to promote greater economic integration in Eurasia as “a move to re-Sovietize the region.”….

“We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it,” she said at an international conference in Dublin on December 6, 2012, Radio Free Europe.”

“Slow down or prevent it”?

Why? Because EU-Asia growth and prosperity will put pressure on US debt markets, US corporate interests, US (ballooning) national debt, and the US Dollar? Is that why Hillary is so committed to sabotaging Putin’s economic integration plan?

Indeed, it is. Washington wants to block progress and prosperity in the east in order to extend the lifespan of a doddering and thoroughly-bankrupt state that is presently $22 trillion in the red but continues to write checks on an overdrawn account.

But Russia shouldn’t be blamed for Washington’s profligate behavior, that’s not Putin’s fault. Moscow is merely using the free market system more effectively that the US.

Now consider the Pentagon’s 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) which reiterates many of the same themes as the other two documents.

“Today, we are emerging from a period of strategic atrophy, aware that our competitive military advantage has been eroding. We are facing increased global disorder, characterized by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order—creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory. Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.”

(Naturally, the “security environment” is going to be more challenging when ‘regime change’ is the cornerstone of one’s foreign policy. Of course, the NDS glosses over that sad fact. Here’s more:)

“Russia has violated the borders of nearby nations and pursues veto power over the economic, diplomatic, and security decisions of its neighbors…..(Baloney. Russia has been a force for stability in Syria and Ukraine. If Obama had his way, Syria would have wound up like Iraq, a hellish wastelands occupied by foreign mercenaries. Is that how the Pentagon measures success?) Here’s more:

“China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model…

“China and Russia are now undermining the international order from within the system…….

“China and Russia are the principal priorities for the Department… because of the magnitude of the threats they pose to U.S. security.” (National Defense Strategy of the United States of America)

Get the picture? China and Russia, China and Russia, China and Russia. Bad, bad, bad.

Why? Because they are successfully implementing their own development model which is NOT programed to favor US financial institutions and corporations. That’s the whole thing in a nutshell. The only reason Russia and China are a threat to the “rules-based system”, is because Washington insists on being the only one who makes the rules. That’s why foreign leaders are no longer falling in line, because it’s not a fair system.

These assessments represent the prevailing opinion of senior-level policymakers across the spectrum. (The White House, the Pentagon and the Intelligence Community) The USG is unanimous in its judgement that a harsher more combative approach is needed to deal with Russia and China. Foreign policy elites want to put the nation on the path to more confrontation, more conflict and more war. At the same time, none of these three documents suggest that Russia has any intention of launching an attack on the United States. The greatest concern is the effect that emerging competitors will have on Washington’s provocative plan for military and economic expansion, the threat that Russia and China pose to America’s tenuous grip on global power. It is that fear that drives US foreign policy.

And this is broader context into which we must fit the Russia investigation. The reason the Russia hacking furor has been allowed to flourish and spread despite the obvious lack of any supporting evidence, is because the vilifying of Russia segues perfectly with the geopolitical interests of elites in the government. The USG now works collaboratively with the media to influence public attitudes on issues that are important to the powerful foreign policy establishment. The ostensible goal of these psychological operations (PSYOP) is to selectively use information on “audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of… organizations, groups, and individuals.”

The USG now sees the minds of ordinary Americans as a legitimate target for their influence campaigns. They regard attitudes and perceptions as “the cognitive domain of the battlespace” which they must exploit in order to build public support for their vastly unpopular wars and interventions. The relentless Russiagate narrative (which was first referred to the FBI by the chief architect of the Syrian War, former-CIA Director John Brennan) represents the disinformation component of the broader campaign against Russia. Foreign policy elites are determined to persuade the American people that Russia constitutes a material threat to their security that must be countered by tighter sanctions, more sabre-rattling, and eventually war.

Published:4/5/2019 11:02:53 PM
[The Blog] Biden: “I’m an Obama-Biden Democrat, man,” and the vast majority of our party’s voters are traditional liberals, not progressives

"Show me the really left-left-left-left-wingers who beat a Republican."

The post Biden: “I’m an Obama-Biden Democrat, man,” and the vast majority of our party’s voters are traditional liberals, not progressives appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:4/5/2019 7:43:45 PM
[] Unexpectedly, The US Economy Adds Nearly Another 200,000 New Jobs and the Unemployment Rate Remains Stable at a Low 3.8% Imagine if the media were tabulating how many jobs had been saved or created! But this is a Republican president, so we only count the ones actually created. Economists had predicted smaller jobs gains. Trump is the anti-Obama. Economists surveyed... Published:4/5/2019 1:11:48 PM
[World] Obama-Era Border Chief Mark Morgan: Ocasio-Cortez Accusations Against Border Agents 'Wrong, Reckless'

Obama-era Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan said recent accusations by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) about the men and women who protect the southern border were "wrong" and "reckless."

Published:4/5/2019 11:11:02 AM
[Markets] Schlichter: The Admission Scam Is Another Reason To Destroy Academia As We Know It

Authored by Kurt Schlicher, op-ed via Townhall.com,

American college is terrible and, as a society, we should stop doing it – at least how it is being currently done. The greatest benefit of a system where most citizens are pushed to get college educations, whether they truly need and want one or not, would be a society of really smart, informed, and engaged citizens.

Do you see that happening?

No, you do not.

Instead, we have a bunch of people who are dragged down by crushing debt after wasting years of their youth chasing a piece of paper that often has no relationship to these graduates’ futures. Compounding the failure is how these grads march off campus infatuated with ridiculous commie notions abhorrent to a free people. The college system is a disaster – an expensive disaster that picks our pockets as well as those of the suckers who matriculate – and we should stop tolerating it. Time for conservatives to reform academia the hard way, and by “reform” I mean, “Destroy it, sow the campuses with salt, and rebuild academia into something that isn’t useless.”

About 99% of current college grads will feel that “sow with salt” line zoom over their empty heads. Most of them probably think “Carthage” is a rapper, or maybe a lesser Kardashian. 

The college admission scandal, where a herd of rich Democrat donors paid a ton of dough to get their half-wit progeny into Snooty U, was the perfect encapsulation of how big a rip-off college really is. Did you notice how the parents forked over cash to get Junior into school because Junior scored 112 on his SAT and then…Junior stayed in the elite school with no problem? You might think that if these schools were rigorous institutions of higher learning instead of ruling class credential rubber-stump machines, they might flunk out? But no. When the internet famous daughter of that (former) Full House / Hallmark-movie-about-a-widow-finding-love-with-a sexy-carpenter-at-Christmas starlet Lori Loughlin was busted, she was literally sailing around the Bahamas on a yacht owned by a USC trustee.

I guess she needed a break from her work carrying on Dr. Hawking’s particle physics research.

Of course, according to our betters – the same betters who pulled off this scam and all the myriad other scams that are wrecking our culture – the answer to this outrage is to eliminate standardize testing. That way there will be no objective criteria for college admission at all, and the elite can simply wield its influence, pull a few strings, and voilà – Kaden has his gender studies degree from Yale!

But your kid, like every other Normal kid, will have even less chance of being accepted at, say, Harvard, because they can’t test in anymore. Harvard is, of course, the best school in the world, according to Harvard and the people who went there, a fact about them that you will learn within 15 seconds of meeting one. And your kid will have even an even worse chance if he or she (though not xe – that’s a plus) is both Normal and Asian. Apparently the hard work and talent of Asian-American students give them an unfair advantage over people lucky at being bornor who get on TV spouting approved liberal clichés

It’s apparent that the current collegiate system serves several functions, all of them a symptom of a deeper problem with our society. We have seen how admission to one of the elite schools is a de facto degree, which in turn is a de facto ticket into the ruling class. Any actual education is purely coincidental. It is also clear that attendance at non-elite schools is today merely a signal to employers that the person might possesses the basic readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmatic skills we used to expect from a high school graduate. This is because high school’s purpose is not to create a baseline educated citizen anymore but, rather, to provide comfy sinecures for Democrat-voting unionized teachers and the swollen ranks of lazy, useless administrators. Again, education is an afterthought – public education’s real goal is to provide jobs for Democrat constituencies. 

Academia is similar. It exists to mass produce ignorant future elitists and to provide jobs for liberal indoctrinators fueled by our tax money. The state and private schools both take our dough directly as well as through guaranteed student loans. Student loans are a giant scam, of course. Students get grifted into chaining an anchor around their necks in exchange for credentials most don’t even need. Colleges can raise tuition as high as they like because the government will just back the loans these suckers take out. It’s a great system, if you’re an academic. Not so much if you are a student or a taxpayer. 

Of course, the schools love the “free college” movement. Nothing costs as much as “free.” The only thing better than having the millennial dummies willing to borrow 200 grand for a degree in the feminist literature of Mongolia pay for it is to make you and me pay for it.

How about no?

Now, the college scam has insinuated itself into our culture like a malignancy, and cutting it out will be traumatic, but we need to do it or it will destroy us.

First, we need to demand that high school do its job and turn out students who can do the basic things citizens must do without taking remedial courses in college so they can master See Spot Run. Outlawing teachers’ unions sounds like a great start, as well as refusing federal aid for any district that has more than a 1:1 teacher to administrator ratio.

Second, we need a cultural rethink of the concept of college itself. A four-year degree – as opposed to a four-year party – is not for everyone. It’s not even for most people. You know who do well today, who aren’t MFA grads yet making our coffee for us? People with skills. Plumbers. Electricians. Welders. Trades are the future.

And a four-year degree should not always be a prerequisite for a professional degree either. I did four years of undergrad, where I majored in beer and girls with a minor in 80s post-punk alternative music, then three years of law school (albeit interrupted by the Army). That seven years could have been condensed to five, maybe four. Same with med school; docs learn as on the job as residents. You should not have to spend nearly a decade taking classes to do the vast majority of jobs. I deal with other lawyers for a living. Most are quarter-wits aspiring to be half-wits.

Third, we need to realize that our elite schools are not elite. Their status comes not from the quality of their education but the selectivity (at least, the selectivity they claim to the public) of their admissions. Guess what the median grade at Harvard is. Go on, guess. Our most rigorous school, right? It should be really hard, right? Lots of “C” and “B” grades because of said rigor, right? 

It’s an “A-.” The median grade at Harvard is an “A-,” which is supposed to be “outstanding.” But a Harvard A- is not “outstanding.” It is the default. Think about it. Half the grades at Harvard are “A-” or above. Would you give our ruling class an “A-”?

And beside all this, the universities as bastions of leftism and censorship. That needs to end tooPresident Trump’s free speech executive order is just the first step in defeating academic fascism.

Academia is a scam, as well as a campus gulag archipelago of hellholes of leftist oppression, and we need to tear it down and start over.

*  *  *

Since I’m a unintersectionalist author of non-cisness, am regularly-abled and identify as a dude, my novels about an America split apart into red and blue (People's RepublicIndian Country and Wildfire) will never get on a college reading list. Check them out anyway, if only to irritate the SJWs.

Published:4/5/2019 10:10:33 AM
[Markets] The Chicago Police Department Is Suing Jussie Smollett

Chicago police were livid when the state's attorney, Kim Foxx, dropped a 16-felony-count indictment against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett for faking his own hate crime, and were further incensed when the actor, who forfeited his $10,000 bail, refused to reimburse the department for the $130,000 in overtime it paid out to officers investigating his case.

And we imagine Maxine Waters' insistence that dropping the charges was "the correct thing to do" didn't make them feel any better. So, in the interest of trying to maintain some semblance of the notion that justice was served, the PD has said it will sue Smollett for the overtime costs, according to Reuters.

Smollett

Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Law, said late Thursday that the lawsuit was being prepared.

"Mr. Smollett has refused to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false police report on January 29, 2019," McCaffrey said. "The Law Department is now drafting a civil complaint that will be filed in the Circuit Court of Cook Country."

Smollett was charged in February with hiring two Nigerian-born brothers with whom he was friendly to stage a hate crime back in January. At the time, Smollett claimed that he was attacked by two white men who screamed "this is MAGA country!" before beating him, tying a noose around his neck and pouring bleach on him. After prosecutors dropped the charges, a Chicago judge sealed Smollett's case file - which one police source later said was "eight inches thick" - something the states' attorney's office said it didn't ask for.

The decision to drop the charges infuriated the police and outgoing mayor Rahm Emmanuel.

Earlier this week, a group of some 300 people, including off-duty officers, took to the streets to demand an explanation, and that Foxx resign, as the FBI continued to investigate the decision to drop the charges. Foxx had recused herself from the case before the charges were dropped after it was revealed that she had exchanged texts with one of Smollett's relatives. Adding to the air of conspiracy, a former Obama administration official reportedly tried to have Smollett's case transferred from the Chicago PD to the FBI, but was told to pound sand.

Published:4/5/2019 8:13:08 AM
[Politics] Polling Critics Who Work in Glass Houses Shouldn’t Throw Stones. By Richard Baris

In 1948, Gallup had Democratic President Harry S. Truman trailing Republican Thomas E. Dewey by 5 points, 49.5% to 44.5%. President Truman won the popular vote 49.6% to 45.1%, and the Electoral College 303 to 189.

It would be six decades before Gallup misfired again, when they underestimated Barack Obama’s support in 2012.

Published:4/5/2019 7:42:41 AM
[Markets] Pentagon Obsession: China, China, China

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Chinese nuclear bombers. Chinese hypersonic missiles. Chinese carrier killer missiles. Chinese cyberattacks. Chinese anti-satellite weaponry. Chinese militarization of the South China Sea. Chinese Huawei spying.

So many Chinese “malign intentions”. And we’re not even talking about Russia.

Few people around the world are aware that the Pentagon for the moment is led by a mere “acting” Defense Secretary, Patrick Shanahan.

That did not prevent “acting” Secretary to shine in the red carpet when presenting the Trump administration’s 2020 Pentagon budget proposal – at $718 billion – to the Senate Armed Services Committee: the top US national security threat is, in his own (repeated) words, “China, China, China”.

“Acting” Shanahan has been in charge since Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis – the original butcher of Fallujah in 2004 – resigned last December. His former employer happened to be Boeing. The Pentagon’s inspector general is still investigating whether Shanahan was in fact acting as a no holds barred Boeing commercial asset whenever he met the Pentagon top brass.

That, of course, fits the classic Beltway “revolving door” pattern. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, a Washington-based group, actually filed a complaint around the fact that “acting” Shanahan blasted Lockheed Martin, Boeing’s competitor, in every top-level Pentagon meeting.

Shanahan told the Senate, “China is aggressively modernizing its military, systematically stealing science and technology, and seeking military advantage through a strategy of military-civil fusion.”

That includes Beijing’s development of a nuclear-capable long-range bomber that, according to Shanahan, will put it on the same level as the US and Russia as the only global powers controlling air-, sea- and land-based nuclear weapons.

It’s essential to remember that Mattis and Shanahan are the main authors of the National Defense Strategy adopted by the Trump administration which accuses China of striving for “Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global pre-eminence in the future.”

Now compare it with Col. Larry Wilkerson's view; the whole Pentagon show is all about offense while Russia and China are always emphasizing defense.

Fighting the Trojan Horse

Even more enlightening is to directly compare the Pentagon approach with the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces under its chief, Gen. Valeriy Gerasimov.

Gerasimov identified “the US and its allies” as engaged in permanent war of all types, including “preparation for ‘global strike’, ‘multi-domain battle’, [and the] use of the technology of ‘color revolutions’ and ‘soft power’. Their goal is the elimination of the statehood of undesirable countries, undermining their sovereignty, changing the legitimately elected public authorities. Thus it was in Iraq, in Libya and in Ukraine. Now similar actions are observed in Venezuela.”

So there it is, graphically explained: Venezuela, geostrategically, is as important to Moscow as Syria and Ukraine.

Gerasimov also detailed how, “the Pentagon has begun to develop a fundamentally new strategy of warfare, which has been dubbed the ‘Trojan Horse’. Its essence lies in the active use of the ‘protest potential of the fifth column’ in order to destabilize the situation with simultaneous strikes by precision-guided weapons on the most important targets.”

Then the clincher; “The Russian Federation is ready to oppose every one of these strategies. In recent years, military scientists, together with the General Staff, have developed conceptual approaches to neutralize the aggressive actions of potential opponents. The field of research of military strategy is armed struggle, its strategic level. With the emergence of new areas of confrontation in modern conflicts, methods of struggle are increasingly shifting towards the integrated application of political, economic, information and other non-military measures, implemented with the support of military force.”

Call it Russia’s response to Made in USA Hybrid War. With the major incentive of being a value for money operation; after all the Russian General Staff, unlike the Pentagon, is not in the business, for all practical purposes, of stealing trillions of dollars from taxpayers for several decades.

There’s no question the Chinese leadership, not exactly adept at state of the art Hybrid War techniques, is studying the Russian military strategies in excruciating detail.

Of course this is all intrinsically linked to Putin’s leadership. Last month, in Moscow, Rostislav Ishchenko, arguably the top Russian analyst of the Ukraine saga, explained it to me in detail:

“Putin does not ‘take over the elites’ or ‘guide the nation.’ His genius lies in an acute intuitive sense of the strategic needs of the nation (which creates a strong feedback and causes absolute trust of the absolute majority of the people), but most importantly, he is a master of political compromise, understanding the importance of maintaining peace between different social, economic, and political groups within the country, to ensure its stability, prosperity, and international authority. Given that foreign policy is always a continuation of domestic policy, we can clearly trace his desire for compromise in Russian international activity.”

“Putin, Ishchenko added, “does not try to suppress the opponents even in those cases when Russia is unconditionally stronger and the result of the confrontation will clearly be in her favor. Putin understands that both the loser and the winner lose in the confrontation. Therefore, he always offers a compromise for a long time, almost to the last opportunity, even to those who clearly do not deserve it, moving to other solutions only after the opponent has clearly crossed all possible red lines and can pose a threat to the vital interests of Russia. An agreement based on consideration of each other's interests is always stronger than any short-term ‘victories’, which tomorrow will result in the need to reaffirm their status of the winner again and again. It seems to me that Putin understands this well. Hence the effectiveness of his actions. You can also take a look at his team. These are professionals who adhere to a variety of ideological views (or do not adhere to any). The main thing is that they perform their work qualitatively. The ability to manage such a team is another of its undoubted advantages. After all, these are all ambitious people who are aware of their professionalism and are able to defend their opinion, which is not always the same for everyone. Nevertheless, they work as a single mechanism and achieve really great results.”

Watch out for Yoda’s hordes

To expect the same from the US industrial-military-surveillance complex would be idle.

In fact, “acting” Shanahan’s deputy, Under Secretary David Trachtenberg, doubled down when addressing the Senate Armed Services Committee; he said that Washington will not relinquish its self-attributed right for a nuclear first strike.

In his own words; “A 'no-first use' policy would erode US allies' belief that they are protected.” As if all US allies were begging in unison to be “defended” by US nuclear bombs. In true “war is peace” mode, this Orwellian state of affairs is justified under the Pentagonese notion of “constructive ambiguity”.

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) exhibits a long list of causes that may detonate a US nuclear first strike – including a worryingly vague attack on “allied or partner civilian infrastructure”. Even a clumsy false flag, for instance in the South China Sea, could lead to such a stand off.

All of the above is in fact directly linked to the death of Yoda.

Yoda is of course RAND asset Andrew Marshall, who was the director of the nefarious Office of Net Assessment at the Pentagon from 1973 to 2015. 

Predictably, scores of Atlanticist think tanks are celebrating Yoda as the winner in devising the new rollback US "strategy" against China. 

Yoda did groom scores of analysts across the whole spectrum of the industrial-military-surveilance complex – including think tanks, universities and mainstream media.

So in the end Yoda did body-slam Bismarckian Henry Kissinger – who remains alive, sort of (if Marshall was Yoda, would Kissinger be Darth Vader?) Kissinger always advised containment in relation to China, disguised as what he termed “co-evolution”.

Yoda finished off not only Kissinger but also the Obama administration’s wobbly and ill-defined “pivot to Asia”. Yoda preached hardcore confrontation with China. There’s no question that even beyond the grave, he'll continue to rule over his warmongering Beltway hordes.

Published:4/4/2019 11:07:16 PM
[Markets] Was John Brennan The Russia Lie Ringleader?

Authored by Monica Crowley, op-ed via The Washington Times,

The best defense, the saying goes, is a good offense.

The key orchestrators of the Big Trump-Russia Collusion Lie seem to have hewed tightly to that tactical advice.

Over the past two years, one of their biggest “tells” has been their hyper-aggressive and gratuitous attacks on the president. Given that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation found no collusion or obstruction of justice, their constant broadsides now look, in retrospect, like calculated pre-emptive strikes to deflect attention and culpability away from themselves.

By accusing Mr. Trump of what they themselves were guilty of, they created a masterful distraction through projection.

We now know that former FBI Director James Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe, are hip-deep in the conspiracy. Both wrote supposed “tell-all” books and carpet-bombed the media with interviews in which they regularly flung criminal accusations against the president. Whenever asked about their own roles, they reverted to denouncing Mr. Trump.

With Mr. Mueller’s findings, Mr. Comey’s and Mr. McCabe’s media benders look increasingly suspicious.

As do those of their comrades in the Obama national security apparatus, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and his partner in possible crime, former CIA Director John Brennan, who, apart from former President Barack Obama himself, may be the biggest player of them all.

Any investigation into the origins and execution of the Big Lie must focus on Mr. Brennan, whose job as the nation’s chief spook would have prohibited him, by law, from engaging in any domestic political spy games.

Of course, the law didn’t stop him from illegally spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee by hacking into its computers and lying repeatedly about it, prompting Democratic senators to call for his resignation.

Once out of Langley, Mr. Brennan tore into Mr. Trump, accusing him of “treason” (among other crimes) in countless television appearances and bitter tweets. It got so vicious that Mr. Trump pulled his security clearance.

Consider a few critical data points.

The Obama Department of Justice and FBI targeting of two low-level Trump aides, George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, was carried out in the spring of 2016 because they wanted to spy on the Trump campaign but needed a way in. They enlisted an American academic and shadowy FBI informant named Stefan Halper to repeatedly sidle up to both Mr. Papadopoulos and Mr. Page. But complementing his work for the FBI, Mr. Halper had a side gig as an intelligence operative with longstanding ties to the CIAand British intelligence MI6.

Another foreign professor, Joseph Mifsud, who played an important early part in targeting Papadopoulos, also had abiding ties to the CIA, MI6 and the British foreign secretary.

A third operative, Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, targeted Mr. Papadopoulos in a London bar. It was Mr. Downer’s “tip” to the FBI that provided the justification for the start of Russia counterintelligence investigation, complete with fraudulently-obtained FISA warrants to spy on the Trump campaign.

All of these interactions reek of entrapment. Mr. Papadopoulos now says, “I believe Australian and UK intelligence were involved in an active operation to target Trump and his associates.” Like Mr. Halper and Mr. Mifsud, Mr. Downer had ties to the CIA, MI6 and (surprise!) the Clintons.

Given the deep intelligence backgrounds of these folks, it’s difficult to believe that former DOJ/FBIofficials such as Peter Strzok or even James Comey and Andrew McCabe on their own devised the plan to deploy them.

So: who did? How did the relationships with Messrs. Halper, Mifsud and Downer come about? Who suggested them for these tasks? To whom did they report? How were they compensated?

Any investigation must follow the money — and the personnel. There were plenty of DOJ/FBI officials involved, but what about intelligence officials? Was Mr. Brennan a central player in the hoax, which would help explain the participation of Mr. Halper, Mr. Mifsud and Mr. Downer? Intel officials are likely to draw on other intelligence operatives.

There is also a glimpse of a paper trail.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge reported last week that “in a Dec. 12, 2016 text, [FBI lawyer Lisa] Page wrote to McCabe: “Btw, Clapper told Pete that he was meeting with Brennan and Cohen for dinner tonight. Just FYSA [for your situational awareness].”

“Within a minute, McCabe replied, “OK.”

Ms. Herridge notes that those named are likely Peter Strzok and Mr. Brennan’s then-deputy, David Cohen. Ms. Herridge also notes that while we don’t yet know what was discussed during the dinner, government sources thought it “irregular” for Mr. Clapper to be in contact with the more junior-level Mr. Strzok. She also points out that the text came “during a critical time for the Russia probe.”

Indeed. It was right before the publication of the ICA, the official Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian 2016 election interference.

As Paul Sperry has reported, “A source close to the House investigation said Brennan himself selected the CIA and FBI analysts who worked on the ICA, and that they included former FBI counterespionage chief Peter Strzok.

“Strzok was the intermediary between Brennan and Comey, and he was one of the authors of the ICA,” according to the source.” Recall that the dossier-based ICA was briefed to Obama, Trump and Congress ahead of Trump’s inauguration.

Post-Mueller report, Mr. Brennan is spinning wildly that perhaps his early condemnations of Mr. Trumpwere based on “bad information.”

These are just some of the threads suggesting Mr. Brennan may be one of the Masters of the Big Lie, requiring full investigation.

If the devil is in the details, Mr. Brennan is all over the details.

No wonder he — and his fellow caballers — have been so loud. They doth protest too much.

Published:4/4/2019 8:36:19 PM
[Markets] Petrodollar Panic: Saudis Threaten To Dump USD-Oil Trades Over OPEC Anti-Trust Bill

Three year ago - almost to the day - Saudi Arabia rattled its first sabre towards the United States, with an implicit threat to dump US Treasuries over Congress' decision to allow the Saudis to be held responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

In a stunning report at the time by the NYTimes,  Saudi Arabia told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Then, six months ago, the Saudis once again threatened to weaponize their wealth as the biggest importer of arms from America in the world.

Infographic: The USA's Biggest Arms Export Partners | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

And now, Reuters reports, citing three unidentified people familiar with Saudi energy policy, Saudi Arabia is threatening to drop the dollar as its main currency in selling its oil if the U.S. passes a bill that exposes OPEC members to U.S. antitrust lawsuits.

While the death of the petrodollar has long been predicted (as the petroyuan gathers momentum), this is the most direct threat yet to the USDollar's exorbitant privilege...

“The Saudis know they have the dollar as the nuclear option,” one of the sources familiar with the matter said.

“The Saudis say: let the Americans pass NOPEC and it would be the U.S. economy that would fall apart,” another source said.

Riyadh reportedly communicated the threat to senior U.S. energy officials, one person briefed on Saudi oil policy told Reuters

As Reuters details, NOPEC, or the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, was first introduced in 2000 and aims to remove sovereign immunity from U.S. antitrust law, paving the way for OPEC states to be sued for curbing output in a bid to raise oil prices.

While the bill has never made it into law despite numerous attempts, the legislation has gained momentum since U.S. President Donald Trump came to office. Trump said he backed NOPEC in a book published in 2011 before he was elected, though he not has not voiced support for NOPEC as president.

Trump has instead stressed the importance of U.S-Saudi relations, including sales of U.S. military equipment, even after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year.

A move by Saudi Arabia to ditch the dollar would resonate well with big non-OPEC oil producers such as Russia as well as major consumers China and the European Union, which have been calling for moves to diversify global trade away from the dollar to dilute U.S. influence over the world economy.

Russia, which is subject to U.S. sanctions, has tried to sell oil in euros and China’s yuan but the proportion of its sales in those currencies is not significant.

Venezuela and Iran, which are also under U.S. sanctions, sell most of their oil in other currencies but they have done little to challenge the dollar’s hegemony in the oil market.

However, if a long-standing U.S. ally such as Saudi Arabia joined the club of non-dollar oil sellers it would be a far more significant move likely to gain traction within the industry.

Perhaps this explains why Russia has been dumping dollars in favors of gold in recent months...

Russia

And why China suddenly admitted to increased gold reserves...

And why there has been a spike in yuan buying by reserve managers last year, as the IMF pointed out in a recent report.

Reserves

So the next time you hear an analyst on CNBC categorically dismiss the notion that the loss of the dollar's reserve currency status isn't something that markets should take seriously (even as several credible voices have warned that it should be), you'd do well to remember this chart.

Reserves

Nothing lasts forever.

Published:4/4/2019 8:07:31 PM
[Science, Technology, and Social Media] It’s Been More Than A Year Since Trump Dinged Net Neutrality. Here’s How The Internet Is Doing Now

By Chris White -

It’s been more than a year since regulators repealed an Obama-era rule that beefed up regulations on the Internet, yet the web has not melted down as activists predicted. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and a handful of Republicans on the commission moved to rollback net neutrality in December ...

It’s Been More Than A Year Since Trump Dinged Net Neutrality. Here’s How The Internet Is Doing Now 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:4/4/2019 7:07:29 PM
[] Deep State Conspirators Filed a Motion To Share Their Unmasked Targets With Foreign Intelligence Services, Thereby Pointing Out Which Persons Foreign Intelligence Should Spy On -- Without Any Constitutional Protections for US Services Obama did this, and NeverTrump supports Obama in this, as they supported so much of Obama's agenda. Remember the US intelligence trick? They can't spy on US citizens without a warrant sufficient to clear the probable cause evidentiary hurdle. But... Published:4/4/2019 4:05:27 PM
[Markets] Biden Funneled $1.8 Billion To Ukraine While Son Bagged 'Sweetheart' Government Deal: Report

Joe Biden allegedly directed $1.8 billion in aid money to Ukraine as Vice President while his son Hunter received millions of dollars from Ukrainian energy giant Burisma Holdings, according to Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute and senior Breitbart editor-at-large. 

As The Hill's John Solomon reported Monday, Hunter Biden was paid upwards of $166,000 per month to sit on the board of Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015. 

"We’ve talked before about the deals he procured with the government for China, Schweizer said Tuesday night on SiriusXM's Breitbart News Tonight. "The other place [Joe Biden’s] son, Hunter Biden, procured a big deal was in Ukraine. In Ukraine, it involved an energy company called Burisma, which is a very corrupt organization headed by an oligarch named Mykola Zlochevsky who is very close to Viktor Yanukovich, the pro-Russian leader."

"There’s all kinds of questions and implications. Is there a Russian component to this, because Burisma is such a corrupt company?" Schweizer added. 

"The bottom line is Joe Biden was the Obama administration’s point-person on policy towards Ukraine," said Schweizer. "He steered $1.8 billion in aid to that government and while he was doing so, his son got a sweetheart deal with this energy company – that we’ve been able to trace over just a 14-month period – paid $3.1 million into an account where Hunter Biden was getting paid."

Schweizer highlighted Hunter Biden’s lack of professional or experiential bona fides in terms of his board position at Burisma Holdings.

“Suffice to say, Hunter Biden has no background in Ukraine,” stated Schweizer. “He has no background in energy policy. There’s really no legitimate explanation as to why he got this deal with this energy company, other than the fact his father was responsible for doling out money in Ukraine itself.”

Schweizer went on, “It’s a huge problem, and it goes to this question of corruption and potential payoffs and bribes that these foreign entities were making to the Bidens in exchange for hopefully getting favorable treatment.”

Despite the Robert Mueller-led operation’s ostensible pursuit of “collusion” between President Donald Trump and the Russian state, Schweizer noted actual financial dealings between the Biden family and foreign interests. -Breitbart

"One of the phrases that has been tossed around as it relates to the Russian collusion hoax was ‘obstruction of justice’ by Trump, and there’s been no — at least in my mind — evidence that that ever happened, and it doesn’t seem that Mueller felt any charges should be brought on that count. But in this case, you would have a pretty clear-cut case of obstruction of justice, where Joe Biden is saying to Ukrainian officials, ‘We are not going to give you this billion-dollar loan guarantee unless you fire this guy.'" added Schweizer. 

***

On Wednesday we reported that Biden bragged last year to an audience of foreign policy experts how he threatened to hurl Ukraine into bankruptcy if their top prosecutor, General Viktor Shokin, wasn't immediately fired, according to The Hill's John Solomon. Shokin was investigating Burisma. 

In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. -The Hill

"I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’" bragged Biden, recalling the conversation with Poroshenko. 

"Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time," Biden said at the Council on Foreign Relations event - while insisting that former president Obama was complicit in the threat. 

Shokin was leading a wide-ranging corruption investigation into Burisma while Hunter Biden sat on the board. 

The prosecutor he got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden’s younger son, Hunter, as a board member.

U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden’s American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts — usually more than $166,000 a month — from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015,during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia. -The Hill

We wonder if Biden will grope for an excuse to explain this apparent Ukrainian "enrichment" scheme. 

Published:4/4/2019 2:05:00 PM
[Markets] Nine Reasons Why You Should Support Joe Biden For President

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

Former Vice President Joe Biden has released a video statement telling the American people that the accusations he is now facing of touching women in inappropriate ways without their consent is the product of changing “social norms”, assuring everyone that he will indeed be adjusting to those changes.

And thank goodness. For a minute there, I was worried Biden might cave under the pressure of a looming scandal and decline to run for president on the grounds that it could cripple his campaign and leave America facing another four years of Donald Trump. Here are nine good reasons why I hope Joe Biden runs for president, and why you should support him too:

1. It’s his turn.

It’s Biden’s turn to be president. He’s spent years playing second fiddle while other leading Democrats hogged all the limelight, and that’s not fair. He’s been waiting very patiently. Come on.

2. Most Qualified Candidate Ever.

If Joe Biden secures the Democratic Party nomination for president, he would be the Most Qualified Candidate Ever to run for office. His service as a US Senator and a Vice President has given him unparalleled experience priming him for the most powerful elected office in the world. Everything Biden has done throughout his entire career proves that he’d make a great Commander-in-Chief.

3. He’s closely associated with a popular Democratic president.

You think Biden, you think Obama. You think Obama, you think greatness. You can’t spend that much time with a great Democratic president without absorbing his greatness yourself. It’s called osmosis.

4. You liked Obama, didn’t you?

Biden was part of the Obama administration. Remember the Obama administration? It was magical, right? If you want more of that, vote Biden.

5. But Trump!

Do you want Trump to win the next election? You know he’ll shatter all our norms and literally end the world if he does, right? You should be terrified of the possibility of Trump winning in 2020, and if you are, you should want him running against Joe Biden. What’s the alternative? Nominating some crazy unelectable socialist like Bernie Sanders? Might as well just hand Trump the victory now, then. Anyone who wants to beat Trump must fall in line behind the Most Qualified Candidate Ever.

6. Iraq wasn’t so bad.

Okay, maybe some of his past foreign policy positions look bad in hindsight, but come on. Pushing for the Iraq war was what everyone was doing back in those days. It was all the rage. We all made it through, right? I mean, most of us?

7. This is happening whether you like it or not.

We’re doing this. We’re going to push Joe Biden through whether you like it or not, and we can do it the easy way or the hard way. Just relax, take deep breaths, and think about a nice place far away from here. Don’t struggle. This will be over before you know it. We’ll use plenty of lube.

8. Just vote for him.

Just vote for him, you insolent little shits. Who the fuck do you think you are, anyway? You think you’re entitled to a bunch of ponies and unicorns like healthcare and drinkable water? You only think that because you’re a bunch of racist, sexist homophobes. You will vote for who we tell you to or we’ll spend the next four years calling you all Russian agents and screaming about Susan Sarandon.

9. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

Honestly, what could possibly go wrong? It’s not like the Most Qualified Candidate Ever could manage to lose an election to some oafish reality TV star. Hell, Biden could beat Trump in his sleep. He could even skip campaigning in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and still win by a landslide, because those states are in the bag. There’s no way he could fail, barring some unprecedented and completely unforeseeable freak occurrences from way out of left field that nobody could possibly have anticipated.

*  *  *

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Published:4/4/2019 8:37:27 AM
[Markets] The Dangers Of The New Democratic Socialism

Authored by Richard Ebeling via The American Institute for Economic Research,

In the ancient world, there was often a philosophy of life that the events surrounding man and the world he lived in went in circles and cycles. It certainly seems that way with the recent revival of the case for democratic socialism. After seeming to have been relegated to the dustbin of history following the collapse of Soviet-style socialism in the early 1990s, the idea of “socialism” is once again declared to be both relevant and alive as an alternative to the existing institutions of a still-market-based and still-liberal society.

For most of the last century, socialism was identified with political totalitarianism, comprehensive government central planning, and a terror state that tortured and murdered tens of millions of people in the name and promise of a wonderful and beautiful collectivist utopia to come that, it was said, would justify all the tragedy and torment that was needed to bring it about.

Socialist Disaster and Destruction

For those of us who had an opportunity to travel in the Soviet Union before its disappearance from the political map of the world in December 1991, the promised heaven on earth had turned out to be a graveyard of broken dreams, a place of ruined and impoverished lives, and a nightmare chamber of horrors.

Disastrous decades of centralized government planning had left the people of the Soviet Union in a stagnant poverty of empty shelves or shoddy unwanted goods in the “people’s” retail stores to which Soviet citizens trudged with grim faces to obtain some meager amounts of the things needed for everyday life.

Matching the poverty of economic planning were perpetual corruption and connivance to find ways to get the things you needed through the underworld of insider connections, bribes, and make-believe friendships without which you might not be able to get a pair of shoes for your child, or a ticket to go to the theater, or the medicine that was essential for you or a loved one not to die.

The land of promised socialist equality was a society that was politically and economically held together through an intricate network of privilege and favoritism. Nowhere as much as in the Soviet Union was George Orwell’s famous phrase from his novel Animal Farm so true that in the new socialist society everyone is no doubt equal, but some are more equal than others.

Members of the Communist party as well as the bureaucrats who managed the socialist planned economy used their power and privileged positions to divert towards themselves much of the available quantities and whatever better quality goods that were produced under their command. Special food stores; special clothing and household items stores; special vacation resorts; special hospitals and clinics, with medicines imported from the West — all these and many, many more were at the exclusive disposal of the lucky “servants of the people.”

The rest of the society, those toiling masses in whose name the entire system was rationalized, got by with barely a fraction of what most average citizens in the Western democracies in Europe and North America took for granted as their comfortable standards and qualities of life.

Soviet workers were certainly protected from the supposed evils of a capitalist consumer society. Of course, nothing makes you as crassly materialistic and absorbed with a desire for “stuff” as when you live in a society that has assured that you will have no such temptations because the socialist system under which you live fails at every turn to supply you with the things of everyday life that you desperately need and want. (See my article “How Communism Became the Disease It Tried to Cure.”)

Democratic Socialists and Soviet Socialism

Defenders of the socialist ideal in the West insisted for decades that the Soviet Union was an aberration and not the norm for what socialism represented and could be. Now, once again, more than a quarter of a century after the passing of the Soviet system from the stage of history, a new generation of “democratic socialists” has reappeared saying that their vision of the future has nothing to do with the experienced “socialism-in-practice” of the 20th century.

The new visionaries of socialism, represented by such high-profile political spokesmen as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, assure people that theirs is a kinder and gentler socialism, a socialism of democratic inclusiveness, social justice, and egalitarian fairness for all. It will end human exploitation, save the planet from environmental destruction, and ensure that everyone gets their just deserts on the basis of an identity politics focusing on race, gender, and social class.

They say they reject the socialism of the old Soviet Union, and that to classify what they desire and offer as being in the same category as the Soviet system is merely an attempt to throw their ideal into disrepute through a process of guilt by association. The Soviet Union was the perverted and misnamed socialism; theirs is the good and true socialism.

New Socialists and Old Marxist Fallacies

But how do they see society any differently than the older, Soviet-based socialism that they claim to reject? At the core, it remains a view of society based on class conflict, just as it was in its 19th- and 20th-century Marxist forms. Reference to the wealthy “1 percent” is merely a modified Marxian terminology concerning the concentrated private owners of the means of production who extract supposedly unearned income by exploiting the multitude of workers whom they employ.

Marx and his loyal followers at least had a theory — however logically flawed and factually unrealistic it may have been — claiming to demonstrate that the value of goods was a reflection of the physical labor expended to produce them, and that the capitalists’ profits were the unjust taking of a portion of the surplus value over bare subsistence produced by the workers hired by those private businessmen.

Our new democratic socialists neither offer nor seem to reason from any coherent theory or explanation of what determines the wages of workers, or from where comes the savings and investment on the basis of which industry is undertaken and workers are paid salaries over the period of production before a finished product is ready and available for sale.

They merely assume an injustice in profits earned and interest incomes received in relation to wages paid to others in the processes of production within a competitive market economy. They moralizingly “emote” without a clue that interest income received is a necessary payment for people to save a portion of their previously earned income so it may be productively borrowed for the investment activities undertaken by others, and without a clue that profits are not exploitive extractions from the labor of workers, but the reward earned by entrepreneurs for successfully anticipating the future direction of consumer demands so the supplies of goods and services might be properly coordinated with the wants of everyone in society.

Wages, in turn, are the competitive market’s estimate of the value of each employee’s collaborative contribution in bringing desired goods to the shelves where consumers buy them. Savings facilitates investment in new, better, and more productive capital (machinery, tools, equipment) that increases the quantities and qualities of the finished goods and services that everyone in society has available for higher standards of living over time. And that same capital investment has the potential to increase the productivity of workers on the job, tending to increase the value of the workers employed and the wages they may receive, again, over time. (See my article “The Austrian Economists Who Refuted Marx [and Obama].”)

Slavery Through the Ages and Its Liberal Opponents

The new ingredient in the socialist mix of social conflict is the emphasis on supposed race and gender oppression and an accompanying “white privilege,” especially for men. It is certainly the case that if one looks over the long stretch of human history, human relationships for thousands of years were based on power, plunder, privilege, and slavery. Indeed, these were common features of the human landscape regardless of which society or civilization anywhere around the globe.

Women were often viewed as the property of fathers and husbands with limited or nearly no legal rights over their own lives. Slavery has traditionally been an “equal opportunity” institution of human bondage. That is, if conquerors did not kill the vanquished, they enslaved the defeated to work for them to do things they either could not or did not want to do. There was little or no regard concerning the race or ethnicity of those enslaved. Only in the 1500s and the 1600s did it take the particular twist of it being black Africans being transported to the Americas as the slaves of European conquerors and colonists.

But it is also the fact that in modern history it was some of those same Europeans, and their North American offshoots, who in the 1700s and 1800s came to call for the end of all slavery everywhere, including in their own countries and colonies, and who fervently spoke out against the race-based rationales for slavery especially in what became the American southern states of the union.

They did so based on the theory of each individual’s natural right as a human being to their life, liberty, and honestly acquired property. In the eyes of God and on the basis of any thinking man’s right reasoning it was clear that no one should claim or impose their rule over another by force and then maintain such bondage through continued coercion.

This revolutionary idea was the underpinning of the American Declaration of Independence, and eventually brought about the end to slavery in the United States and became the basis for an equivalent insistence for an equality of rights before the law regardless of either race or sex. The world may not have changed overnight, but like the continuous beating of drops of water on even the hardest of surfaces, the resistance to the ideas of individual liberty and equality before an impartial rule of law was slowly worn away.

Now, this does not mean that race prejudices and gender biases have disappeared from American society. But it is the case that a consistent philosophy of personal freedom and individual rights challenges and undermines notions of collectivist identity and favoritism. This is another way of saying that the America of today may not be race- or gender-blind when it comes to fully judging people as distinct individuals, but compared to 100 years ago or even 50 years ago, we have traveled light-years in the direction of a society more in tune with respect for each and every person separate from their race or gender.

From Class Conflict to Race and Gender Warfare

But the new socialists and their “progressive” collaborators in the arena of public policy have chosen to reawaken race and gender awareness and make it the basis of public policy. When most people in a country such as the United States view themselves as and are economically part of the broad middle class or even higher, there is not likely to be much traction from once again proclaiming as a rallying cry, “Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.”

Instead, the new variation on the Marxian conception of class conflict between the workers and the capitalists is now the mostly white wealthy and privileged males versus the oppressed and underrepresented lexicon of race, gender, and interrelated minorities.

Among the leading tasks of a politically triumphant democratic socialism, we are told, is to bring about race and gender equity and fairness. But how is this to be done? And this brings us to the issue of whether the new socialism will or can be any less authoritarian and potentially tyrannical than the old one.

The starting premise is that unless an enlightened and socialist-oriented government replaces all or most of the institutions of a free market liberal society, racism and sexism inevitably and inescapably dominate and dictate human relationships and outcomes. That is, individual liberty and freedom of association naturally result in an unjust society through the institutions of private property and market competition.

(One might add that a peculiar tacit assumption underlying “identity politics” in general is that unless restrained by government command and control, white men have a seemingly natural superiority over women and people of color that results in them dominating society and the positions of power in a free society. A strange and unintended concession to the very white racism that the proponents of identity politics say they so much abhor!)

Planning the Plunder for the Underprivileged

If society is to be made over into a more socially just configuration, the socialists elected to positions of political authority through a democratic process must now introduce government planning to introduce comprehensive collective group fairness. The elected socialist politicians and the appointed bureaucratic managers in the government departments and agencies must now formally classify and categorize everyone in society in terms of social class, race, gender, and related “intersectionalities” to determine who has unjustified “privilege,” and who has been exploited, underrepresented, or in some way discriminated against for the undeserving benefit of others. (See my article “Collectivism’s Progress: From Marxism to Race and Gender Intersectionality.”)

Then it must be decided what redistribution of positions, wealth, and status across all facets of the society would move the United States in the direction of a rebalanced equity among all such groups and subgroups. If this is to be decided and done on a “democratic” basis, this will inevitably become a political contest among the groups and subgroups vying for revisions to their status in the society. But, in reality, the horse-trading will be done among those who have shown the political acumen for attaining influence and positions of power within each of the competing racial, gender and social groups.

This will inescapably devolve into a plunder politics of groups versus groups guided by their respective politically positioned leaders. Who will get a new housing project? What group will secure more government jobs? Which sector of the economy will receive increased government budgetary funding to ensure investment and employment opportunities for a still-underprivileged minority in a particular region of the country? What will be a fair wage for certain types of work, possibly based on race and gender deservedness? What is a reasonable profit margin or return on investment in regulated private industries? Which products will be either subsidized or produced directly by a government planning agency?

Where will medical-treatment and medical-care facilities be expanded or reduced in certain communities based on alternative and competing minority group concerns? To what extent are the problems and needs of transgender people of greater or lesser significance than those of gay or “straight” people in terms of social funding commitments of specific types? Who will decide whether increased funding should go to solar panel installing versus building more wind-power sources of energy, and in what parts of the country, and how will they do so? On whom and by how much will tax-based reparations payments be made to historically oppressed peoples, and who will decide exactly how much is received by each of the designated recipient groups?

From Democratic to Authoritarian Socialism

Once decided, on the basis of the power-trading democratic process, “the plan” and its interconnected network of governmental sub-plans cannot be overturned or radically changed without reopening up all the basic questions of deservedness and redistributive fairness. All in society, therefore, must conform to and be constrained within the socialist design of the society, regardless of how unfair, unjust, or frustrating the procedures or outcomes of it all may seem to any particular individuals.

After all, the socialist system does not exist for the freedom of individuals, but for society-wide results meant to best serve all the people as reflected in distributive income shares, planned employments, and centrally decided productions of what the socialist social engineers have agreed to through their “democratic” decision-making for the betterment of all the designated groups into which everyone has been assigned their place and position.

The Green New Deal, whether it is ever brought into existence or not, captures virtually everything that I have briefly suggested as the elements and aspects of the desired system of “democratic socialism.” To “save the planet,” the entire economy will have to be remade according to a central plan, so every corner of the society is changed and adapts to what is needed for a “carbon free” world. To do so requires changing many of the things people do and how they do it, and what alternative employments and lifestyles can be theirs in this new world.

If free and competitive markets are no longer to determine what gets produced and how, by whom and where, and what shall be the relative income remunerations for all those freely associating in the social system of division of labor, then those designing, directing, and imposing such a green central plan will have to decide all these things. Democratic power politics rather than peaceful competitive market prices will determine all that happens in the society. (See my articles “The Green New Dealers and the New Socialism” and “The Nightmare Fairyland of the Green New Dealers.”)

Regardless of the intentions or naïve beliefs, a system of democratic socialism cannot escape imposing commands and controls over economic life any noticeably different than those that were in existence in the old Soviet Union. But it might be said, even if the economy is made to conform to such a central plan, there need not be a secret police or a suppression of all dissenting views. Freedom and plan can exist side-by-side.

But what happens if dissatisfaction with the methods and the outcomes of socialist planning becomes great enough that a “democratic” removal of the socialist system is threatened? Will the central planners, along with the privileged and positioned identity-political groups, as well as all those who work within the socialist bureaucratic structures, fatalistically just hand over the keys of political power to those who declare an intention to reestablish a functioning free market economy based on individual rights and freedom of association instead of those group identities? (See my article “An ‘Identity Politics’ Victory Would Mean the End to Liberty.”)

It is far more likely that those democratic socialists, Green New Dealers, and progressive proponents of social justice and identity politics will demonstrate their ideological-DNA ties to their totalitarian relatives of the 20th century, and follow in the footsteps of their Soviet ancestors. That is why using the democratic process to prevent the triumph of democratic socialism is so important before there are put in place the institutions and the policies that once there will be extremely difficult to undo, with the restoring of a free society highly unlikely short of a severe societal crisis that envelops everyone.

Published:4/3/2019 9:03:15 PM
[] Valerie Jarrett Says In New Book That Obama White House Was Too "Macho," "Causing Women to Feel Uncomfortable" Too macho. Right. Former White House advisor Valerie Jarrett complained in her new book that there was a "general macho atmosphere" in the Obama White House. Jarrett explained that after noticing that the overall dynamic in the West Wing was... Published:4/3/2019 5:07:39 PM
[Society] 4 Things to Know About Former Obama Aide Hired by SPLC to Review Discrimination Charges

The onetime chief of staff to former first lady Michelle Obama is leading an internal investigation into the Southern Poverty Law Center’s alleged workplace misconduct... Read More

The post 4 Things to Know About Former Obama Aide Hired by SPLC to Review Discrimination Charges appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:4/3/2019 3:59:03 PM
[US News] THUD: Rep. Ilhan Omar’s rush to pin ‘racist’ label on Trump over border emergency cut short by HARD trip over Obama’s DHS chief

"Disgusting."

The post THUD: Rep. Ilhan Omar’s rush to pin ‘racist’ label on Trump over border emergency cut short by HARD trip over Obama’s DHS chief appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/3/2019 3:29:33 PM
[] Joe Biden Bragged That He Intimidated Ukraine Into Firing a Prosecutor... Who Happened to Be Investigating a Company Which Employed His Son as a Board Member Now this looks a lot like collusion. John Solomon: In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan... Published:4/3/2019 2:00:38 PM
[The Blog] Was Obama ever asked about Biden’s behavior?

Bias.

The post Was Obama ever asked about Biden’s behavior? appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:4/3/2019 12:58:18 PM
[Politics] Castro Plans to Grant Millions Amnesty, Gut Immigration Enforcement

Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro unveiled a far-reaching immigration plan on Tuesday that would make it easier for illegal immigrants to enter and remain in the United States.

Castro, who served as secretary of housing and urban development in the Obama administration, is the first 2020 Democrat to present a detailed immigration plan. The plan comes as Castro struggles to gain traction in a crowded Democratic field, despite being the only Latino running. He outlined his vision in a post on Medium.

The post Castro Plans to Grant Millions Amnesty, Gut Immigration Enforcement appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:4/3/2019 4:30:57 AM
[Markets] UK Condemns Trump's Recognition Of Golan Heights As Israeli Territory

Speaking Tuesday in the House of Commons, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt issued a critique of US policy and stern rebuke to President Trump's recent controversial move to bestow formal US recognition on the Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory.

Hunt's words, which he said represents long-standing UK policy, came during a question and answer session in reaction to a fellow Conservative MP member, who raised the “matter of the greatest regret that our allies, the United States, are in clear contravention of UN Resolution 497.”

British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, file photo.

Hunt condemned Trump’s actions “with a heavy heart” because Israel was also “an ally and a shining example of democracy in a part of the world where that is not common… We want Israel is to a success and we consider them to be a great friend but on this we do not agree,” according to The Times of Israel.

Hunt agreed with Tory Grandee Nicholas Soames' perspective that the White House's signing into US law formal recognition of the disputed region previously wrested from Syria was "illegal".

Soames said that “annexation of territory is prohibited under international law” and asked Hunt to “condemn unreservedly this breach of the rules-based order”.

Without hesitation Hunt declared he was “absolutely happy to do that,” and added:

“We should never recognize the annexation of territory by force… that has been one of the great achievements since the founding of the United Nations.”

Israel fully annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 after capturing it from Syria during the Six-Day War of 1967. The United Nations has never recognized Israeli annexation and settlement there, but has repeatedly condemned it. 

President Trump’s reversal of half-century-old US policy was signed into effect on March 25 during a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House, and cited Israeli security concerns as of paramount importance. 

Trump had tweeted days prior that "it is time" for the US to "fully recognize Israel's sovereignty" over the Golan Heights.

"After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability," Trump stated, first marking the dramatic reversal of US policy which had historically alongside global international allies seen the Golan as occupied territory. 

Netanyahu, for his part, welcomed the move as he has for years declared Israel would "never give it up". 

But as Tuesday's words from the UK foreign minister confirm, in practice Trump's act of recognition will change little internationally as well as in terms of the on the ground strategic reality.

However, it could have far-reaching diplomatic reverberations, putting further distance between Washington and European capitals amid the ongoing standoff over Europe's intent to skirt renewed US sanctions on Iran after Trump's dumping the 2015 Obama-brokered nuclear deal, or JCPOA. 

Published:4/3/2019 3:26:57 AM
[Markets] China's European Moment Has Arrived

Authored by Patrick Lawrence via ConsortiumNews.com,

The simplicities of the postwar order have just begun to pass into history...

It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Xi Jinping’s visits to Rome, Paris and Monaco last week. In bringing his much-remarked Belt and Road Initiative to the center of Europe, the Chinese president has faced the Continent with the most fundamental question it will have to resolve in coming decades: Where does it stand as a trans–Atlantic partner with the U.S. and — as of Xi’s European tour — the western flank of the Eurasian landmass? The simplicities of the postwar order, to put the point another way, have just begun to pass into history.

In Rome, the populist government of Premier Giuseppe Conte brought Italy into China’s ambitious plan to connect East Asia and Western Europe via a multitude of infrastructure projects stretching from Shanghai to Lisbon and beyond. The memorandum of understanding Xi and Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio signed calls for joint development of roads, railways, bridges, airports, seaports, energy projects and telecommunications systems. Along with the MoU, Chinese investors signed 29 agreements worth $2.8 billion.

Xi Jinpeng: Plenty to celebrate in Europe. (Wikimedia Commons)

Italy is the first Group of 7 nation to commit to China’s BRI strategy and the first among the European Union’s founding members. It did so two weeks after the European Commission released “EU–China: A Strategic Outlook,” an assessment  of China’s swift arrival in Europe that goes straight to the core of the Continent’s ambivalence. Here is the operative passage in the E.C. report:

“China is, simultaneously, in different policy areas, a cooperation partner with whom the E.U. has closely aligned objectives, a negotiating partner with whom the E.U. needs to find a balance of interests, an economic competitor in the pursuit of technological leadership, and a systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance.”

There is much in this document to chew upon. One is the mounting concern among EU members and senior officials in Brussels about China’s emergence as a global power. This is natural, providing it does not tip into a contemporary version of the last century’s Yellow Peril. At the same time, the Continent’s leaders are highly resistant to the confrontational posture toward China that Washington urges upon them. This is the wisest course they could possibly choose: It is a strong indicator that Europeans are at last seeking an independent voice in global affairs.

Looking for Unity

They are also looking for a united EU front in the Continent’s relations with China. This was Emmanuel Macron’s point when Xi arrived in Paris. The French president made sure German Chancellor Angela Merkel and E.C. President Jean–Claude Juncker were there to greet Xi on his arrival at the Élysée Palace. The primary reason Italy sent shockwaves through Europe when it signed onto Xi’s signature project is because it effectively broke ranks at a highly charged moment.

But unity of the kind Macron and Merkel advocate is likely to prove elusive. For one thing, Brussels can impose only so far on the sovereignty of member states. For another, no one wants to miss, in the name of an E.U. principle, the opportunities China promises to bring Europe’s way. While Macron insisted on EU unity, he and Xi looked on as China signed contracts with Airbus, Électricité de France, and numerous other companies worth more than $35 billion.

There is only one way to read this: Core Europe can argue all it wants that China is unrolling a divide-and-conquer strategy, but one looks in vain for on-the-ground resistance to China’s apparent preference for bilateral agreements across the Continent. On his way home, Xi stopped in Monaco, which agreed in February to allow Huawei, China’s controversial telecoms company, to develop the principality’s 5G phone network.

In numerous ways, Italy was fated to demonstrate the likely shape of China’s arrival in Europe. The Conte government, a coalition led by the rightist Lega and the Five-Star Movement, has been a contrarian among EU members since it came to power last year: It is highly critical of Brussels and of other member states, it opposes EU austerity policies, it is fiercely jealous of its sovereignty in the EU context, and it favors better ties with Russia.

Closer to the ground, the Italian economy is weak and inward investment is paltry. Chinese manufacturers have made short work of Italian competitors in industries such as textiles and pharmaceuticals over the past couple of decades. A map, finally, tells us all we need to know about Italy’s geographic position: Its ports, notably Trieste at the northern end of the Adriatic, are gateways to the heart of Europe’s strongest markets.

BRI’s six proposed corridors, with Italy circled, on maritime blue route. See Wikipedia’s “Belt and Road Initiative” entry for more details. Map not meant for latest national  boundaries. (Lommes, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

As the westward destination of Xi’s envisioned Belt and Road, Europe’s economic and political relations with China were bound to reach a takeoff point. The accord with Italy, Xi’s European tour and an EU–China summit scheduled to take place in Brussels on April 9 signal that this moment has arrived.

Shift in Relationship

But it is not yet clear whether Europeans have grasped the strategic magnitude of last week’s events. In effect, the Continent’s leaders have started down a path that is almost certain to induce a shift in the longstanding trans–Atlantic relationship. In effect, Europe is starting — at last — to act more independently while repositioning itself between the Atlantic world and the dynamic nations of the East; China first among them by a long way.

No European leader has yet addressed this inevitable question.

Let us not overstate this case. Trans–Atlantic ties have been increasingly strained since Barack Obama’s presidency. President Donald Trump’s antagonisms, most notably over the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear agreement, have intensified this friction. But there is still no indication that any European leader advocates a rupture in relations with Washington.

Can U.S.–European ties evolve gradually as China’s presence on the Continent grows more evident? This is the core question. Both sides will determine the outcome. The Europeans appear to be preparing for a new chapter in the trans–Atlantic story, but there is simply no telling how Washington will respond to a reduction in its long-unchallenged influence in Western European capitals.

There is one other question the West as a whole must face. The E.C.’s “strategic outlook” terms China “a systemic rival promoting alternative forms of governance.” There are two problems with this commonly sounded theme.

  • First, there is no evidence whatsoever that China has or ever will insist that other countries conform to its political standards in exchange for economic advantage. That may be customary practice among Western nations and at institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It is not China’s.

  • Second, as we advance toward a condition of parity between West and non–West — an inevitable feature of our century — it will no longer be plausible to assume that the West’s parliamentary democracies set the standard by which all others can be judged. Nations have vastly varying political traditions. It is up to each to maintain or depart from them. China understands this. So should the West.

Published:4/3/2019 1:28:16 AM
[Politics] Continetti: ‘Good Feelings’ for the Obama Era Driving Biden’s Strong Poll Numbers

The post Continetti: ‘Good Feelings’ for the Obama Era Driving Biden’s Strong Poll Numbers appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:4/2/2019 9:59:32 PM
[Markets] "Breathtakingly Terrible Idea": Top Democrat Proposes Taxing Unrealized Capital Gains

As if Alexandra Ocasio-Jones infuriating Amazon was not enough for Long Island City, and New Yorkers in general, when the world's biggest online retailer scuttled plans to build its New York-based HQ2 as a result of socialist blowback against arguably the world's most successful (whether one loves or hates him) capitalist, Democrats appear intent on doubling down, and infuriating not just Jeff Bezos, but virtually all Americans who save money and invest their capital.

The reason: according to the WSJ, the top Democrat on the Senate’s tax-writing committee has proposed taxing unrealized gains in investment assets every year at the same rates as other income, offering not only an idea that would transform how the U.S. taxes the wealthiest people, but a solid reason for those same people to get the hell out of America.

The proposal from Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon is the latest berserker plan from Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates for boosting taxes on the wealthy to address economic inequality and provide funding for their policy agenda. And while this specific proposal has little chance of becoming law soon - or, one hopes, ever - such ideas could quickly gain momentum if the party succeeds in next year’s elections.

What is especially insane is that this proposal is effectively the polar opposite of that other bananas proposal putched by AOC and various other Democrats, namely MMT, or money printing, because why bother taxing anyone, rich, poor or otherwise, if you can just print all the money you need. We are confident we won't get a satisfactory answer, ever.

Going back to Wyden’s suggestions, capital gains would be taxed annually based on how much assets have gained in value. Now, luckily, gains are taxed only when assets are sold and at a top rate of 23.8% instead of 37% for ordinary income. As for the reasons why sane individuals only tax booked gains, this is mostly three-fold: so that there is actual funds that can be taxed (and avoid liquidation of other assets just to pay one's tax bill), so that the government doesn't end up owing Net Operating Losses on unbooked losses, oh and because it's impossible as the government would somehow have to keep track of the value of every single asset at every single moment.

“It would be a huge change,” said Lily Batchelder, a tax-policy aide to President Obama, in what is the understatement of the day. “It would be a really big shift in our income-tax system.”

While Wyden’s tax differs from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax and Bernie Sanders’ higher estate tax. Like those plans, however, Mr. Wyden’s concept would present "logistical challenges" as the WSJ puts it sarcastically.

He would need to figure out how to value complex assets, handle declines in value, deal with people without enough cash to pay the tax and address illiquid investments such as closely held businesses and real estate.

A simpler way of putting it is that the government would effectively have to somehow value every single asset at every single moment. Good luck with that. A similar proposal from Eric Toder of the Urban Institute and Alan Viard of the American Enterprise Institute would generate an estimated $125 billion in 2025 alone, according to their 2016 paper. That plan was focused on publicly traded assets and applied a different rule to closely held businesses.

The proposal announced Tuesday “eliminates serious loopholes that allow some to pay a lower rate than wage earners, to delay their taxes indefinitely, and in some cases, to avoid paying tax at all,” Mr. Wyden said in a statement.

Republicans, in contrast, have fought to lower capital-gains taxes. Sen. Pat Toomey said capital gains get preferential rates now for several reasons, including to mitigate inflation. Under Wyden’s proposal, he said, someone could pay taxes on an investment one year as it rises, even if the investment later fails.

The good news, is that Toomey said the plan would go nowhere as long as Republicans control one part of the government.

“That,” he said, “is a breathtakingly terrible idea.

It actually is, and yet for those who are puzzled by how on earth this would actually look in the real world, consider someone who bought $1 million of stock in 2002 that is now worth $10 million and doesn’t pay dividends. Under current law, the investor would have paid no income taxes on that $9 million gain and would pay none if the stock is left to an heir.

Under Wyden’s plan, she would have paid taxes on the $9 million gain in chunks each year as the value of the stock grew. That could be trickier if, instead of publicly traded stock, the asset were an operating business that was harder to value each year; yet somehow the Democrat senator thinks that it's easy as apple pie to value, well, anything.

There is at least some semblance of rationality: capital losses could still be deducted from gains, as they are under current law. Asset owners also wouldn’t pay additional taxes when they eventually sold an investment, because they would have already paid annually. There would be exemptions for the sales of primary residences and retirement accounts like 401(k)s, Wyden’s office said.

Ultimately, one can only hope that this plan that may have well emerged from the deepest recesses of Soviet Siberia never sees the light of day as the only stock that would be generating capita gains - whether booked or not - would be that of the airline that is taking America's taxpayers on one way rides to any other place in the world.

Joking aside, the last time Democrats proposed an idiotic fiscal plan, i.e. AOC's Green New Deal, none of them voted for it. We wonder if McConnell put Wyden's proposal up for a vote, if any of them would have the guts to put their name to an actual vote this time.

Published:4/2/2019 8:55:16 PM
[Markets] A Satirical Russiagate Requiem

Authored by CJ Hopkins via The Unz Review,

So the Mueller report is finally in, and it appears that hundreds of millions of Americans have, once again, been woefully bamboozled. Weird, how this just keeps on happening. At this point, Americans have to be the most frequently woefully bamboozled people in the entire history of woeful bamboozlement.

If you didn’t know better, you’d think we were all a bunch of hopelessly credulous imbeciles that you could con into believing almost anything, or that our brains had been bombarded with so much propaganda from the time we were born that we couldn’t really even think anymore.

That’s right, as I’m sure you’re aware by now, it turns out President Donald Trump, a pompous former reality TV star who can barely string three sentences together without totally losing his train of thought and barking like an elephant seal, is not, in fact, a secret agent conspiring with the Russian intelligence services to destroy the fabric of Western democracy. After two long years of bug-eyed hysteria, Inspector Mueller came up with squat. Zip. Zero. Nichts. Nada. Or, all right, he indicted a bunch of Russians that will never see the inside of a courtroom, and a few of Trump’s professional sleazebags for lying and assorted other sleazebag activities (so I guess that was worth the $25 million of taxpayers’ money that was spent on this circus).

Notwithstanding those historic accomplishments, the entire Mueller investigation now appears to have been another wild goose chase (like the “search” for those non-existent WMDs that we invaded and destabilized the Middle East and murdered hundreds of thousands of people pretending to conduct in 2003). Paranoid collusion-obsessives will continue to obsess about redactions and cover-ups, but the long and short of the matter is, there will be no perp walks for any of the Trumps. No treason tribunals. No televised hangings. No detachment of Secret Service agents marching Hillary into the White House.

The jig, as they say, is up.

But let’s try to look on the bright side, shall we?

Disgraceful as this Russiagate fiasco has been, at least it was all just an honest mistake, and not any kind of plot, or conspiracy, or anything as disturbing as that. It’s not like the majority of the corporate media perpetrated a massive, coordinated, intelligence agency-initiated psyop on the Western public for two and half years. No, they just “got it wrong,” again … like they did with those Iraqi WMDs.

The corporate media, after all, are comprised of dedicated, professional journalists, who maintain the highest ethical standards, and who would never knowingly bombard the masses with hysterical McCarthyite propaganda based on absolutely nothing but the word of a bunch of deep state types who were trying to force a president out of office and delegitimize a populist backlash against the spread of global neoliberalism.

Plus, there is no “deep state.” Not really. That’s just one of those right-wing conspiracy theories that only Trump-loving fascists believe in.

I mean, it’s not as if elements of the FBI, the DOJ, and the DNC paid a former MI6 spook working for a Washington PR firm contracted by a Washington law firm contracted by the Clinton campaign to fabricate a “dossier” alleging that “the Russian regime [sic] has been cultivating, supporting, and assisting Trump for at least five years” in order “to sow discord” within the Transatlantic Alliance, and then fed that fabricated dossier to their contacts in the corporate media, who used it to generate mass hysteria, which the Congress then used to justify the appointment of a special prosecutor, whose investigation of the allegations contained in the fabricated dossier the corporate media and deep state types used to generate even more mass hysteria … and so on, until hundreds of millions of people actually believed that Donald Trump was some kind of Russian intelligence asset, and was going to be impeached and tried for treason.

Now, that would be scary, if that had happened!

Another thing that (thank Christ!) didn’t happen was when the corporate media hired a bunch of ex-intelligence agency officials to appear on their “news” shows every other night disseminating Russiagate propaganda while at the same time effectively banning journalists with dissenting views from challenging their lies. Well, and OK, to the degree they did that (and they certainly did it to some degree), they didn’t do it intentionally, or knowingly, or with malice aforethought or criminal intent. They probably just misplaced the telephone numbers (and the email addresses and Twitter handles) of Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, Aaron Mate, and other infamous “collusion rejectionists,” so they had no choice but to bring in the spooks.

Look, I don’t want to beat this to death. The important thing is that we can all be grateful that none of that stuff I just mentioned happened, and, basically, just shut up and get back to work. This is not the time to remind everybody how totally insane and hysterical things got, and how they ran around like headless chickens squawking about “Russians” coming out of the woodwork, accusing anyone they disagreed with of being “Kremlin agents” or “Russian bots,” and begging corporations to censor the Internet.

No, it’s time to, you know, let bygones be bygones, and just forget about all this “Russiagate” business, and the FBI, and that made-up dossier, and how respected publications like The Washington PostThe New York TimesThe Guardian, and others published completely fabricated stories about secret meetings that never took placepower grid hackings that never happenedRussia-linked servers that never existedimaginary Russian propaganda peddlers, and … well, too many other examples to list.

Talking about all that is just a distraction (as my former colleagues on what has recently become the radical Rooskie-hunting Left wasted no time in advising everyone). Worse, it only helps Donald Trump, who, OK, maybe isn’t a Russian intelligence asset anymore, but is still almost literally Adolf Hitler … or at least some sort of inhuman monster that bears no resemblance whatsoever to Obama or any other normal president, and who is certainly going to declare martial law, proclaim himself Führer, and unleash his underground white supremacist army on us, or something more or less along those lines.

And as for the non-existent deep state, and the Democrats, and the corporate media, and the millions of Americans they accidentally bamboozled … well, I imagine they’re feeling pretty silly right now. So this is not the time to demand a full accounting from the patriots in the intelligence community, or to compare the professionals in the corporate media to the keys of an enormous Goebbelsian piano mechanically hammering out whatever tune the ruling classes decide to play.

Yes, they made a few mistakes, and got a little carried away, but they’re only human, after all. I’m sure they’re all very, very sorry, and will never, ever, do it again.

Published:4/2/2019 7:55:00 PM
[Markets] Is Trump Laying A Trap For Democrats On Immigration?

Authored by Jeff Faux via The Nation,

Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats thoroughly outplayed Donald Trump in January’s legislative battle over funding for his border wall; he didn’t get an additional dime. So when Trump sent up his annual proposed budget asking for still more, Democrats scoffed.

“This ridiculous request,” said Representative Nita Lowey, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, “is not worth the paper it is written on.”

But Trump isn’t aiming for a budget victory; his purpose is to keep the fight going in order to make illegal immigration a wedge issue in his 2020 reelection campaign.

The Democrats’ insistence on compassion for the undocumented gives them the moral high ground in this debate. Trump’s proposed wall is not popular, and most Americans do not like his separation of immigrant children from their parents or his deportation of the many undocumented people who have worked and paid taxes here for years. And they sympathize with the students and others who fall under the Obama-era protections of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), whom Trump also threatens to deport.

But a majority of Americans - in numbers well beyond Trump’s base - also want immigration laws to be strictly enforced and the border sealed against illegal crossings. A 2018 Harvard/Harris poll reported that 70 percent of voters support more restrictive laws, with 64 percent - including 53 percent of Latinos - in favor of sending back people who cross the border without papers. And although most blamed Trump for the government shutdown, when that skirmish was over, his favorability ratings rose by three points.

Trump is betting that he can again use anxieties about immigration to stoke enough class anger to win the Midwestern battleground states that he needs for reelection.

“No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working class and America’s political class,” he signaled bluntly in February’s State of the Union address. “Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders, while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards. Meanwhile, working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal immigration—reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools, hospitals that are so crowded you can’t get in, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.”

To hammer home that message, Trump already has an enormous war chest and an experienced and ruthless propaganda machine that includes Fox News, the most popular cable-news channel in the country.

The GOP has been honing its skills in the politics of fear and division for decades, from Ronald Reagan’s racist “welfare queen” trope in 1980, to George H.W. Bush’s 1988 campaign, which smeared Michael Dukakis by playing on racial fears involving the furlough of convicted black murderer Willie Horton, to the GOP’s fraudulent assault on the war record of John Kerry in its 2004 campaign to win a second term for Bush’s draft-dodger son.

The inflammatory ads attacking immigrants that appeared at the end of the 2018 midterm elections were a warm-up for what’s to come. TV and social media will be flooded with images of immigrants - doctored to make dozens look like thousands - throwing rocks at the Border Patrol or rushing to scale the fences, as well as police mug shots of immigrant Latino criminals. The US-bred, Salvadoran-based MS-13 gang might well become the Willie Horton of the 2020 election.

The goal will be to fix in voters’ minds not just that the Democrats are weak on crime (i.e., illegal immigration) but that they’re beholden to activists who champion “open borders.”

And many will be receptive to this claim: A 2018 Quinnipiac poll found that voters thought the Democrats exploited the immigration issue for political gain more than Trump, by 60 to 53 percent.

The Democrats are thus in a political bind. They need the Latino vote, so they have to defend immigrants against Trump’s inhumanity. But as they do, they risk losing credibility with voters who are not racist or xenophobic but who suspect that Democrats care more about protecting people who cross the border illegally than they do about securing it.

On the question of border security, Trump is loud and clear: Keep illegal immigrants out. As far as the 2020 campaign is concerned, whether he actually makes any progress in building his wall is irrelevant; it’s much more important as a symbol of his supposed commitment to law and order.

Many Democrats, on the other hand, are unclear where they stand. When pressed, they offer measures that could be described as “Trump Lite” - a little more money for the Border Patrol, a small fence rather than a big wall, and carefully modulated assurances that of course they favor border security. Outside the liberal enclaves, Democrats try to change the subject, as Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer did by focusing their budget fight with Trump on the government shutdown rather than immigration. “Don’t take the bait,” Pelosi warned in the closing days of last fall’s midterms, advising Democrats to talk about health care instead.

Until recently, Democrats might have counted on the issue? going away by itself. Unauthorized border crossings fell substantially from their highs in the late 1990s and early 2000s, largely because of a drop-off in migrants from Mexico. But the numbers from Central America—especially Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—have risen. Some 76,000 undocumented migrants crossed the border in February, an 11-year high. Forecasts are for another 180,000 by May.

The immigration system on our southern border is collapsing. Courts are swamped with a backlog of cases estimated at 850,000. Detention centers are overwhelmed and understaffed. Children are lost, women are abused, and busloads of confused migrants and refugees are dumped on the street and told to come back later for their hearings. Some show up, some don’t.

Regardless of whether the numbers rise or fall over the coming year, attempts at evasion or Trump Lite will not be an option in the face of the president’s fearmongering blitzkrieg. To meet it, Democrats need to gain clarity and credibility and go on the offensive.

First, Democratic candidates must make clear that they are committed to limiting immigration to what is legal (currently over 1 million people per year).

Second, they need to counterattack. Democrats should be using the rising numbers of illegal border crossings as evidence that Trump’s hard line has failed. They need to make clear that the irrational “catch and release” policy that he rants against stems from our failure to provide the judges and other legal infrastructure needed to process claims quickly.

Third, Democrats need a broader narrative to connect the dots between immigration and foreign policy. The current debate is US-centric, focused entirely on domestic policies: what to do about the undocumented once they arrive here. But there can be no enduring solution to the problem unless we also ask why they are coming from there.

Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are de facto US colonies, places where oligarchs have long exploited their people in partnership with American capital. They are suffering the aftereffects of brutal civil wars stoked by Washington’s paranoia toward leftist political movements. The region has also become a major route for the shipment of drugs from South America to the United States. Attracted by the enormous profits, oligarchs have collaborated with narcotraffickers and other criminal gangs that terrorize citizens through robbery, extortion, rape, and murder.

Washington’s so-called War on Drugs reinforces the rich and powerful in these countries with money and military equipment, which is often used to suppress dissent rather than snare criminals. Thus, for example, in 2009 the Honduran military kidnapped the elected president—whose modest social programs providing food and education to the poor had enraged the upper class—and, after refueling at a US military base, shipped him out of the country. Protesters were beaten, jailed, or killed. The “compassionate” Obama administration endorsed this coup, and the “law-and-order” Trump administration continues to support the violent kleptocracy that has been in power ever since. Five years after the coup, the number of Honduran children illegally crossing into the United States jumped by more than 1,200 percent.

Progressive Democrats should demand that we stop supporting regimes that are driving immigrants to our doorstep. A policy of zero tolerance for corruption and oppression should apply to any aid, and the US national-security apparatus needs to cleanse itself of its unhealthy relationship with Central American militaries. Given that there is no conceivable military threat to the United States from the region and that none of these countries threaten their neighbors, we arguably do not need to have military bases or advisers there at all.

Conditioning foreign aid on wholesale political reforms and breaking up the cronyism between the US and Central American militaries would give democracy some political room to grow. And having helped to impoverish the people of these countries, we also need to rebuild their hopes for a better future. The newly elected president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (popularly known as AMLO), argues that investing in jobs is the real answer to the drug violence and out-migration that drains these economies of their hardest-working and most ambitious people. He has outlined a long-term social- and economic-development plan, a Mexican version of the Green New Deal proposed by progressive US Democrats (it’s worth noting that Franklin Roosevelt is one of AMLO’s heroes). But Mexico cannot change the region’s direction by itself. Despite his history as a critic of US meddling, AMLO has proposed a joint US-Mexican Marshall Plan for Central America. Given the United States’ history in the region, Mexican leadership in such a project would be essential.

Trump has signaled support for this idea in principle. But, as usual, it’s a trick: He promises that the private sector would put up the money, while his own 2020 budget cuts foreign aid to Central America by 25 percent.

Foreign aid is not popular, of course. But a generous US contribution to this effort would cost a lot less than Trump’s border wall. Its domestic purpose would be clearer to the average American voter than the abstract geopolitics used to rationalize most foreign-aid programs. A new narrative on immigration would also contribute to the search for a progressive foreign policy in the post-Trump era.

Published:4/2/2019 5:59:45 PM
[World] 'The Five' on Former Obama DHS Sec'y Jeh Johnson Declaring 'Crisis' at Southern Border

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson confirmed there is a "crisis" at the southern border, with the number of apprehensions going beyond what he witnessed while serving in the Obama administration.

Published:4/2/2019 1:23:25 PM
[Issues] DOL Stands Up for Ronald McDonald  

The Department of Labor released a proposal to protect franchise businesses on Monday, rolling back Obama-era policies that had hindered hiring in one of America's most popular business models.

The post DOL Stands Up for Ronald McDonald   appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:4/2/2019 10:23:36 AM
[97646316-4a79-5f7b-9e70-78efeb3a546e] Isaiah Washington thanks Trump for First Step Act, criticizes Barack Obama for not supporting 'Black Agenda' Actor Isaiah Washington tweeted his thanks for President Donald Trump's support of the First Step Act while also criticizing former President Barack Obama for a lack of movement regarding “the Black Agenda.” Published:4/2/2019 9:21:34 AM
[] The Morning Report - 4/2/19 Good morning kids. Tuesday and the lead items continue to be the the slow but hopefully steady shifting of the spotlight away from Trump and on to Clinton and Obama vis a vis the collusion myth, the absolute crisis... Published:4/2/2019 7:25:24 AM
[Markets] Is The World Already Multi-Polar?

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

A hefty case can be made that the Empire of Chaos currently has no allies; it’s essentially surrounded by an assortment of vassals, puppets and comprador 5th columnist elites professing varied degrees of – sometimes reluctant – obedience.

The Trump administration’s foreign policy may be easily deconstructed as a crossover between The Sopranos and late-night comedy.

– Pepe Escobar, in his recent Consortium News piece: Empire of Chaos in Hybrid War Overdrive

While the U.S. empire’s existed in various states of decline for much of the 21st century, I’ve been opining on the topic with far more frequency and urgency since the election of Donald Trump. This isn’t because he’s fundamentally much different from the imperial managers (aka presidents) that came before him on foreign policy, but because his personality, style and overall boorishness serve to accelerate the pace of decline.

As many astute observers have noted, what really bothers establishment types on the “NeverTrump” right and the “Russiagate conspiracy theory” left is not so much what Trump does, but how he does it. These political cliques may disagree on many issues, but what they have in common — aside from Trump derangement syndrome — is a love affair with U.S. empire and an unwavering dedication to the maintenance of American geopolitical dominance at all costs.

Both the NeverTrump right and the Russiagate conspiracy theory left are concerned that Trump, unlike Obama, is a poor global salesman for empire. Obama had the rare quality of being able to bailout bankers and keep them out of prison, pass healthcare “reform” only an insurance company could love, and expand American wars across the globe and still be revered around much of the world and celebrated as a liberal at home. That’s the sort of person you need in charge to keep a corrupt and violent empire running smoothly.

It keeps the mask on a while longer and allows everyone to pretend the status quo still works. In contrast, there’s no lipstick on the imperial pig under Trump and his band of creepy recycled neocons. It’s just an endless stream of threats and sanctions, and most importantly, an increased willingness to use the U.S. dollar and the global financial system as a weapon, even against allies.

What’s most interesting is that as the U.S. runs around sanctioning and trying to regime-change any sovereign state that dares to be anything less than an obsequious poodle, many traditional allies have begun to bristle. We saw it with the opening of a new trade channel earlier this year by France, Germany and Britain to avoid U.S. sanctions on Iran following Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA last May. We saw it again recently with the European Commission decision to allow individual countries to decide for themselves on Huawei’s participation in the 5G buildout, despite the Trump administration calling for a ban. We also saw it with Italy recently signing up for China’s belt and road initiative despite U.S. objections, as well as Xi Jinping signing a variety of deals with France last week while the U.S. remained in the midst of a trade war.

The mere fact that America’s European allies have been so glaringly dismissive of U.S. demands on a variety of fronts recently makes me consider that perhaps a multi-polar world isn’t coming at some point in the distant future, but is in fact already here. In other words, it seems the world as it stands today is already being shaped and influenced by a variety of geopolitically significant powers as opposed to just one. The only faction that doesn’t seem to understand this yet is the U.S. government itself, which is of course a very dangerous situation. The rest of the world doesn’t know how to break reality to those in charge of the levers of power in America. No one wants to tell them bluntly, because it’s become pretty clear that many diehard imperialists are still willing to double down on some very evil and stupid things in order to maintain an illusion of world dominance.

With the failed regime change attempt in Syria and now the flailing coup in Venezuela, it’s become clear the U.S. can’t easily get whatever it wants anymore despite its gigantic defense budget and 800 formal military bases in 80 countries. The most effective weapon the U.S. empire still currently has at its disposal is a dominance of the global financial system and the core role of the USD in it. This is why the Trump administration’s been flexing these financial tools so aggressively, but of course, this abuse of America’s exorbitant privilege is precisely what will ultimately lead to a serious decline in the global position of USD down the road (I expect it to play out by 2025).

If you’re an American reading this and find it depressing, don’t despair. The U.S. empire as it stands today is exceedingly corrupt, violent and works against the interests of the average American citizen, both economically and from a civil liberties perspective. Although the transition from being the unipolar power to just one of several major powers will be challenging, we should see it as an opportunity. Our government and our culture spends far too much of its energy and wealth trying to dominate the world that we’ve collectively lost sight of caring about the country we actually live in.

Our media’s a joke and bridges are crumbling as I write this, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Trump pledged to change this, but his campaign promises are being brushed aside as he fills foreign policy positions with wild-eyed neocons focused on making imperial dominance great again. Nothing will get better until we stop spending all our time playing Game of Thrones with the world, and transition our domestic affairs away from the corrupt and unaccountable oligarchy we have today, into a robust, creative, entrepreneurial, and freedom-loving society.

It’s very possible, we just have to get out of our own way.

*  *  *

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Published:4/1/2019 9:49:48 PM
[Markets] Johnstone: Leaked '401'-Page Mueller Report Proves Barr Lied, Collusion Theorists Vindicated

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

An unredacted copy of the Robert Mueller report has been leaked to theWashington Post, who published the full document on its website Monday.

The report contains many shocking revelations which prove that Attorney General William Barr deceived the world in his summary of its contents, as astute Trump-Russia collusion theorists have been claiming since it emerged.

For example, while Barr’s excerpted quote from the report may read like a seemingly unequivocal assertion, “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” it turns out that the full sentence reads very differently:

It is totally not the case that the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

The following sentence is even more damning: “It definitely did establish that that happened.”

The report goes on to list the evidence for numerous acts of direct conspiracy between Trump allies and the Russian government, including a detailed description of the footage from an obtained copy of the notorious “kompromat” video, in which Trump is seen paying Russian prostitutes to urinate on a bed once slept in by Barack and Michelle Obama, as well as other documents fully verifying the entire Christopher Steele dossier which was published by BuzzFeed in January 2017.

Other evidence listed in the report includes communication transcripts in which Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen ordering President Trump to bomb Syria, stage a coup in Venezuela, arm Ukraine, escalate against Russia in America’s Nuclear Posture Review, withdraw from the INF treaty and the Iran deal, undermine Russia’s fossil fuel interests in Germany, expand NATO, and maintain a large military presence near Russia’s border.

These things were done, according to Putin, in order to “keep things interesting.”

Mueller told reporters Monday morning that there would indeed be mass indictments of large numbers of Trump associates revealed in the near future, including Jared Kushner and Donald Trump, Jr, just as the diligent journalism of MSNBC and other respected news media outlets have been assuring. Mueller said the delay in the arrests, and the mountain of evidence which will surely lead to Trump’s impeachment, was due to the need to “cross a few ‘t’s and dot a few ‘i’s.”

When asked why he didn’t reveal to the public that Barr was misrepresenting the contents of his report, Mueller responded with a mischievous grin, “I didn’t want to spoil the surprise.” He then put on a pair of sunglasses and rode off on a motorcycle due east into the rising sun, while the smooth notes of a single saxophone resounded through the D.C. cityscape.

Needless to say, this completely vindicates the many alert reporters who rightly pointed out that Barr’s assertions about the Mueller report could be gravely dishonest, and that there was no way to know whether or not it had determined collusion between Trump and the Russian government. In a greater sense, it vindicates everyone who has spent the last three years focusing all public attention on the suspicion that the Kremlin could possibly have infiltrated the highest levels of the US government. In an even greater sense, it vindicates America, and it vindicates our very souls.

I feel a bit sheepish writing all this, because I’ve been a very vocal critic of the Russian collusion narrative from the very beginning. It turns out that by voicing skepticism and demanding evidence for a news story that dominated political discourse to the near exclusion of all else, I was actually assisting the Russian government in its war against democracy, truth, and justice.

Obviously I owe the world a very big apology. I’m sorry for calling the Russiagaters idiots, morons, drooling imbeciles, stupid, gullible sheep, foam-brained human livestock, tinfoil pussyhat-wearing delusional conspiracy theorists, demented cold war-enabling McCarthyite bootlickers, oafish slug-headed slime creatures, energy-sucking, CIA-coddling wastes of space and oxygen, and an embarrassment to the human species. Clearly, because of their indisputable vindication this April the first 2019, they are definitely none of these things.

*  *  *

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Published:4/1/2019 11:18:51 AM
[] The Morning Report - 4/1/19 Good morning kids. Monday and happy April Fool's Day. I'm going to make this one brief (no, really) as I have an early business appointment. Fallout from the implosion of the Mueller Deflection and Clinton/Obama Coup Cover-Up continues, and... Published:4/1/2019 4:44:11 AM
[Markets] Trump Was Not Just Spied Upon, It Was Entrapment!

Authored by Roger Simon via PJMedia.com,

It's bad enough, as has been evident for some time, that Donald Trump and his campaign were being spied upon by our own government, but it's highly likely they were also subject to literal entrapment--at least a serious attempt was made.

I don't mean the entrapment of promulgating the salacious Steele dossier both to the public and the FISA court as if it were the truth. That was more of a smear to justify a phony investigation. I mean something more subtle and LeCarré-like coming from the depths of our intelligence communities. It raises once more the question of the power of such agencies in a free society, a conundrum with no easy answers but of great significance to our lives.

For all his New York rough-and-tumble, Trump was an innocent abroad when he arrived in Washington. Way back in January 2017, he was warned by old-timer Chuck Schumer that "intel officials have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you."

The Senate minority leader--Deep Stater par excellence--knew whereof he spoke. But Trump somehow survived the storm, although sometimes it seemed as if he wouldn't. Now, some of the obvious parties --John K. Brennan and James Clapper with their apparatchik miens -- have suddenly found themselves in the crosshairs, as the Washington Times notes:

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s finding that there was no Trumpcampaign conspiracy with Russia to steal the 2016 election has unleashed a tsunami of outrage toward Obama-era intelligence chiefs, particularly former CIA Director John O. Brennan and former FBI Director James B. Comey, who are accused of pushing the allegation during congressional hearings, in social media posts and in highly charged interviews on television over the past two years.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper also leveled up highly publicized comments that President Trump could even be an “asset” of Russian President Vladimir Putin, part of a slew of remarks that critics say went far beyond the usual partisan sniping that can accompany a change of administrations.

More's afoot here, however, considerably more because the entire American intelligence system and the unique power referred to by Schumer are also now in those same crosshairs, as they should be. But many of the men and women involved are less overtly Soviet in their style than Mssrs. Brennan and Clapper and slip more easily under the radar.

Notable among these, and perhaps able to reveal much of the McGuffin to the mystery of where this all started and how, is Stefan Halper.  Mr. Halper is "an American foreign policy scholar and Senior Fellow at the University of Cambridgewhere he is a Life Fellow at Magdalene College and directs the Department of Politics and International Studies." He is also a spook who worked for Nixon, Ford, and Reagan, no less, and was a principle American connection to the UK's MI-6.

Mr. Halper has (ahem) other connections:

A top FBI official admitted to Congressional investigators last year that the agency had contacts within the Trump campaign as part of operation "Crossfire Hurricane," which sounds a lot like FBI "informant" Stefan Halper - a former Oxford University professor who was paid over $1 million by the Obama Department of Defense between 2012 and 2018, with nearly half of it surrounding the 2016 US election.

Hmm.... The perspicacious Margot Cleveland had more to say the other day at The Federalist in "Who Launched An Investigation Into Trump's Campaign Before Crossfire Hurricane."

"Crossfire Hurricane," as most know, is the codename the wannabe hipsters at the FBI gave the Trump-Russia investigation. But more important is the word "before" in Ms. Cleveland's title.

The Post further noted that the academic, since identified as Stefan Halper, first met with Trump campaign advisor Carter Page “a few weeks before the opening of the investigation,” and then after Crossfire Hurricane’s July 31, 2016, start, he met again with Carter Page and “with Trump campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis,” offering the latter his “foreign-policy expertise” for the Trump team. Then in September, Halper “reached out to George Papadopoulos, an unpaid foreign-policy adviser for the campaign, inviting him to London to work on a research paper.”

Papadopoulos and Page are the two naifs of the most obvious sort (sorry, guys) we have all seen on television who spent the last couple of years having to defend themselves against absurd charges. Considering the timing, it's pretty obvious they were being set up (i. e. entrapped) on some level well back during the Obama administration.

Who ordered it is the obvious question, but I'm not going to leave it there. I suggest that an attempt was being made to implant Halper in the Trump campaign, one way or another, not just for spying purposes but actually to help create this collusion of the campaign with Russia--that is, to help manufacture it.

Putting it another way, someone or some group wanted to create -- or, more subtly, to encourage the creation -- of Trump-Russia collusion from the inside in order to destroy Trump before, or failing that, after he was elected.

How's that for a nefarious plot? Worthy of LeCarré or maybe even Graham Greene. But is it true? I wouldn't bet against it. Something close anyway.

By the way, if I am right, this won't be the first time for Halper. And unfortunately for Republicans, the shoe was then on the proverbial other foot. As Glenn Greenwald wrote last year:

Four decades ago, Halper was responsible for a long-forgotten spying scandal involving the 1980 election, in which the Reagan campaign – using CIA officials managed by Halper, reportedly under the direction of former CIA Director and then-Vice-Presidential candidate George H.W. Bush – got caught running a spying operation from inside the Carter administration. The plot involved CIA operatives passing classified information about Carter’s foreign policy to Reagan campaign officials in order to ensure the Reagan campaign knew of any foreign policy decisions that Carter was considering.

Republicans can console themselves that their malfeasance was more benign, relatively. This new one was outright sedition involving a foreign power. It is a blow to the heart of our democratic republic. We need Halper, under oath and unredacted. Whether that's possible is another question.

Published:3/31/2019 6:43:45 PM
[Markets] In Defence Of Free Markets

Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com,

Why is it that no one defends free markets, and socialism, despite all the evidence of its failures, comes back again and again? Unsurprisingly, the answer lies in politics, which have always led to a boom-bust cycle of collective behaviour. Furthering our understanding of this phenomenon is timely because the old advanced economies, burdened by a combination of existing and future debt, appear to be on the verge of an unhappily coordinated bust. But that does not automatically return us to the free markets some of us long for.

Cycles of collective behavior

Throughout history there have been few long-lasting periods of truly free markets. Contemporary exceptions are confined to some small island states, forced to be entrepreneurial by their size and position vis-à-vis the larger nations with which they trade. The governments of these islands know that the state itself is not suited to entrepreneurship. Only by the state guarding the freedom of island markets and the sanctity of property rights can entrepreneurs serve the people in these communities and create wealth for all.

This is not the normal condition for larger nations. Before the Scottish enlightenment which nurtured David Hume and Adam Smith, the benefits of free trade were barely understood. Since then, the wealth created by free trade and sound money has nearly always been the springboard for detrimental change. Sometimes a political strongman, like Mao or Lenin dictates to the people what they can and cannot do. Alternatively, a leader courts popularity by taxing heavily the few for the alleged benefit of the masses. This is the model of welfare states today. Debasement of the means of exchange is an extension of these socialising policies, furthering the transfer of personal wealth to the state.

To understand why free markets are more often than not unpopular, we must put them into a context of human behaviour. In this regard we can stylise a cycle of collective behaviour into three characteristic phases.

  • The first is a lawless condition of no secure ownership of property rights; in the absence of enforceable law the means of possession are necessarily violent and uncertain. It is the natural condition of tribalism and pre-civilisation societies. It is the condition to which humanity returns when the cycle completes.

  • The second phase is the consolidation of property ownership, with enforceable laws to define and protect it. Out of the chaos that fails to advance the condition of the people comes order, and with it the aggregation of the means of production. Capital in all the forms necessary for production accumulates, and being scarce, is used most efficiently. The backbone of this phase is freedom for the individual to dispose of his or her resources at will. The pace of improvement in the human condition is governed by the level of accumulated wealth and technological innovation.

  • The third phase is the abandonment of free markets in favour of state control. The state, whose primary function in economic terms is to act as provider and facilitator of the law, increasingly supresses commerce by extracting escalating levels of tax. Taxes are imposed to redistribute wealth from those that earned and conserved it to those that did not. The state takes control of money, issuing its own currency which it can print at will. The damages to the economy are covered up by all the artifices available to the state.

The state regulates. The state confiscates. The state deprives its people of their freedom. The state’s demands become so insatiable, so counterproductive, so impoverishing that the economy collapses back into the first phase of the next cycle.

That is our theoretical cycle of collective behaviour. Out of chaos is created progress. Out of progress lies the course to destruction. The best of these times is the free markets of the second phase. No one defends them.

Empirical evidence of the cycle.

The assembly of German states into a unified nation in 1871 gave credence to a new socialising phenomenon, whereby Bismarck, Germany’s first Chancellor, promoted the state as a socialising entity, superseding free markets. He was the first politician to create a welfare state, introducing accident and old-age insurance and socialised medicine. Shortly after unification, in the mid-1870s Bismarck abandoned free trade and introduced trade protectionism.

His policies echoed the principles of the German Historical School, which drove intellectual thought in the Prussian administration. The Historical School rejected the classical economics of Smith, Ricardo and Mill in favour of a controlling state, backed up by analysis of historical events, hence the name. These lessons were applied to the changing conditions at that time. Workers were moving from the land into new factories, and it was the German establishment’s outdated response to an entirely new social phenomenon.

The creation of a new German socialising state and the denial of economic liberalism inevitably led to the founding of Chartalism, the state theory of money, which stated that only the state has the right to determine the currency used by the people. Georg Knapp published his State Theory of Money in 1905. He handed Bismarck the key to unlock constraints on state spending. The state was then able to consolidate its potential, both in its bureaucracy and military armament. We all know what happened: it fed into to the First World War and in 1923 resulted in the collapse of the currency.

It is worth reflecting that a cycle of events occurred taking ordinary Germans to full state socialism from a freedom to improve their personal circumstances. The start of it was promising, with the introduction of the Zollverein, a customs union between independent German-speaking states. The roots of the Zollverein were in the 1830s, consolidated and formalised in 1861. It preceded the formation of a greater Germany in 1871. It was the gateway to political union, and statist economic management.

It is a doppelganger for the development of the European Union today, but the underlying point for EU-watchers is that it was a cycle of events, taking a nation through the erosion of laissez-faire to full state domination of economic activity and monetary affairs.

In Germany’s case, the political consequences of the First World War and the collapse of the currency were not the end of the story, or the cycle. The rise of extreme fascist socialism finally led to the destruction of the German state in 1945. The return to free markets under Ludwig Erhard’s guidance followed his appointment as Director of the Economic Council for the Occupation Zone and completed the cycle.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Soviet-occupied Germany was not so lucky. Erhard had to ignore the instincts and orders of his fellow American and British military committee members, who were stuck in a bureaucratic militaristic frame of mind. In July 1948, without consulting them, Erhard abolished all rationing and price controls. Almost instantly, shops reopened, food became available, the suppressed mood lifted, and people began to rebuild their lives. By way of contrast, victorious socialist Britain continued with rationing until 1954, when meat rationing finally ended.

The evolution in Germany from free markets through increasingly destructive statism and back again to free markets had taken nearly eighty years from unification in 1871. Russia suffered a similar, though initially more dramatic, socialist change from relatively free markets. Instead of a progressive introduction of state control and loss of personal freedom, it was sudden and absolute. After three years of civil war and using a ready-made Marxist template Lenin seized and consolidated control. Both Lenin and Stalin his successor were ruthless in their suppression of freedom. Tens of millions were deemed to be enemies of the state, which included those who merely disagreed or of the wrong race. They were executed or sent to the gulags. That suppression lasted until the soviets had impoverished their people to the point where there was nothing left. In 1989, after seventy-odd years the USSR finally collapsed.

The German and Russian experiences tell us in their own ways that because the beneficiaries of free trade fail to defend it, free trade does not last. Anyone reading about life in Vienna before the First World War would be struck by the widespread prosperity, freedom and artistic flowering of the age, which was destroyed by the war and a subsequent collapse of the currency. It is unfashionable in our socialist times to defend those pre-war years as good times.

I personally grew up with the free-market prosperity of Britain’s African colonies; a prosperity that benefited not just the better-off Europeans but indigenous African and Asian communities as well. That was destroyed by political imperatives, the call for independence from British rule by those who had benefited from the free markets they set out to then destroy. Fully-functioning free-market economies were replaced throughout Africa by corrupt elites that still steal their way to personal prosperity.

It is no accident that post-independence African leaders embraced socialism as the justification for their actions. They argued that the European landowners had seized property which was in the communal ownership of the tribes, and that a newly-independent state had the right to seize it back. But they ignored the fact that before the arrival of Europeans there was no ownership nor property law to define it. Occupation was by force. It is a no more than a common socialist justification for the state to acquire for itself private property.

In only fifty years, free markets had taken the ordinary native in the African heartlands from ignorance of the wheel to the age of jet engines and skyscrapers. Never before have tribal communities witnessed such rapid social change. We forget the appalling conditions and routine cruelty that existed before the introduction of western capitalism. Those conditions are best summed up in a quote from Tacitus, writing about the German tribes in 98AD: “It seems feckless, nay more, even slothful, to acquire something by toil and sweat which you could grab by the shedding of blood.” He could have been describing the cattle raids that still occur today in Kenya’s Northern Frontier District and Laikipia.

Nearly two millennia after Tacitus described tribal Germania, in Africa similar disorder reigned before white settlers developed the land. To escape a subsistence stasis that had seemingly existed for ever, disorder had to be replaced by the white man’s order. Through the introduction of capital and property ownership, free markets allowed the whole population to rapidly improve its condition.

Without these crucial ingredients there can be no progress. Socialism unwittingly returns civilisation to an unenlightened state by encroaching upon, then abolishing, both property ownership and the accumulation of capital. The economy is hindered in its progress, until it withers on the vine. A nation then returns to its pre-capitalist state of lawlessness, corruption, brutality and widespread poverty. Once again, cattle raiding and similar actions become the means of ownership.

But if this repetitive cycle is so obvious, why does humanity fall into the same cyclical trap time and again?

The psychology of denying free markets

Cycles of human behaviour require a build-up of human prejudice until it becomes unsustainable. One human prejudice which is little examined is why establishments frequently stick to their convictions while denying reasonable debate. As we have seen, much of the answer is that a version of self-serving economic dogma becomes central to the credibility of statist policies. We see it today with our post-Keynesian economic establishment driving economic and monetary policies, while denying the superiority of unfettered markets in these matters. Anyone who challenges the unreason of the establishment’s economics will risk personal vilification and be side-lined.

Create the belief structure and the government can justify any action. Leadership becomes more effective when it is based on prevailing doctrines, with minds firmly closed to all evidence to the contrary. All types of socialism demonstrate opinions insulated from inconvenient contradictions. A socialising government can then appear independent and fair-minded, serving the people when it actually serves itself.

New dogmas become entrenched. The government and also the public, like our hunter-gatherer forebears in their communal caves, huddle round the mutual safety of the new consensus. Concerning the government’s contradictions, comfort is sought by the public from the government itself. It becomes an iterative process that allows the state to drift remorselessly away from free markets, not only with public consent, but public encouragement. It is the basis of groupthink, the enemy of reason.

To the building self-ignorance is added an overestimation of understanding complex issues: an understanding-bias that is reinforced by debate on terms set by society itself, represented by the media. Editors select complex issues which they reduce to simplified choices, that are then discussed by invited participants. The debate always proceeds on the basis of which government intervention or regulation is most likely to achieve a given objective. Spoil the party by insisting that personal freedom is preferable to any government intervention, you damage the media ratings and you will be deemed a maverick, never to be invited back.

Contradiction becomes too difficult to take. A form of naïve realism develops, whereby talking heads promote themselves as supporting the assimilation of a consensus. Furthermore, they believe that those that do not subscribe to the consensus are irrational, biased, uneducated and ignorant. By these means, the benefits of free markets and individualism are increasingly suppressed. Economists are paid to promote policies in favour of the state’s control of money. The universities develop an anti-market bias, and free-market economists are unable to secure paid professorships.

The position these toadying experts occupy was summed up by John Ioannidis, a professor of medicine at Stamford University:

“Scientists in a given field may be prejudiced purely because of their belief in a scientific theory or commitment to their own findings… Prestigious investigators may suppress via the peer review process the appearance and dissemination of findings that refute their findings, thus condemning their field to perpetuate false dogma. Empirical evidence on expert opinion shows it is extremely unreliable.”

Disappointingly, we all assume scientists are disciplined in their specialisations and unbiased. Not so. In economics, there is the extra problem of human unpredictability, to which is added a total lack of precise definition. Soundly-reasoned theory is swept aside by the introduction of unreliable, and often extraneous statistics as the feedstock for mathematical equations. Reason, freedom and free markets are the casualties.

Instead of reasoning for ourselves and recognising the flaws in debate, we trust an elite to guide our thoughts with their knowledge. Alongside the elite there is a cadre of self-anointing experts consulted by the media. We place value on their independence. We see them as informed insiders, but we forget their privileged access depends solely on supporting the party line. It is a profitable after-life for those who had power, a self-congratulatory basis for the concealed promotion of social policy.

When it gets left behind by progress, the static socialist state eventually becomes the author of its own destruction. Only then might the psychological consensus of denying free markets be broken. If we are lucky, out of the ensuing chaos a new commitment to free markets rapidly emerges. More likely, it becomes the opportunity for extremism, as Germany showed in the aftermath of its inflation collapse of 1923.

Contemporary socialist evolutions

As economic historians, we observe the faults of others usually without recognising them in ourselves, mainly for the psychological reasons noted above. Most economic historians selectively approach the subject with the bias of their culture and generation. The story of Bismarck’s Germany is hardly known in English literature and the lessons are lost in an English-speaking world. The fall of communism in the USSR is fresh in our minds, but the struggles of the state under Yeltsin to replace it with a market-based economy and the ensuing corruption is more topical.

In Britain, many have forgotten the appalling services and products of nationalised monopolies: British Railways, British Telecom, British Leyland, to name just a few. Consequently, the Brits as well as other socialists in the West are never adequately deterred in their antagonism against free markets to change their minds. Bernie Sanders’ desire to run again for President and the Marxism of Jeremy Corbin are testament to the short-mindedness of the voting public. It is a wilful ignorance that defends socialism and never defends free markets.

In America, socialism is being challenged by President Trump. Without us examining his beliefs too closely, he obviously knows that the government establishment has been strangling the US economy. His dislike of the Democrats and their policies under Obama identifies him as an enemy of socialism. But as a free-marketeer, Trump does not defend free markets. Instead, he ends up defending crony-capitalism, military spending and monetary inflation. His trade protectionism, strongly echoing Bismarck’s policies in the late nineteenth century, is similarly socialism under the banner of nationalism. Far from rescinding the socialist tide, Donald Trump is swimming in it.

Trump’s trade policies, as I’ve argued in another article, are driving America and therefore the world into a deep recession. Under current monetary policies the result will be a spectacular increase in monetary inflation, which could lead to the destruction of the dollar. If this happens, Trump almost certainly will be blamed, not socialism. That being the case, the destruction of the American economy and perhaps the dollar with it will not be the end of socialism and the return to free markets. By not properly understanding free markets, President Trump risks condemning his nation and his legacy to a more intense post-crisis socialism similar to that which fuelled fascism in 1920s Germany.

If so, we can only hope the period will be brief. Economists in the free-market tradition can only forecast the likely economic and monetary consequences of current policies. The laissez-faire tradition tells us a failing government should stop intervening and restrict itself to ensuring basic criminal and contract law is enforced. It should stop monetary inflation. As Ludwig Erhard demonstrated in 1948, free markets left alone rapidly restore economic order. But that is not the socialising instinct. As long as there is breath in socialism free markets will continue to be supressed.

The foundation of the European Union echoes the tactical approach of Bismarck: corral a group of nations into a Zollverein customs union, then steer them towards political integration. As the German Historical School was for Bismarck, Marxist-socialism becomes the driving force for the EU, innocuously at first by encouraging free trade within the union. Free trade is then hampered by bureaucratic regulation in the names of common standards, fairness and further integration. Already planned are the imposition of new federal taxes to extend the power of the Brussels government, and the building of a new pan-European military force. Pure Bismarck, and pure Brussels.

Witness the struggle with Brexit, where it turns out the Westminster Parliament is comprised of an overwhelming majority of members who are committed to the EU’s socialising masterplan to the exclusion of democracy. Even a majority of Tory MPs, the party of free enterprise, prefers a federal socialist system to free markets.

It is the stuff of late-stage socialism. The whole world is in its grip, rather than just Germany, just the USSR, just America, just the EU, or just Britain. And these are only some among the traditionally advanced nations. Being cyclical, the bankruptcy of it all in time is for sure. It is set to throw up greater challenges than ever seen before because of its ubiquity. Assuming it does not end in a nuclear destruction of the human race, we will eventually turn our backs on the follies of socialising governments and go back to free markets. Then the cycle of humanity’s socialising madness will start all over again.

Published:3/31/2019 6:13:41 PM
[490f6edd-52e9-5787-a7c0-832d1c680e83] Why didn’t Obama do more to counter Russia’s interference in our election? There are a lot of unanswered questions arising from Robert Mueller’s investigation, and some of the most compelling ones involve President Obama’s seemingly inept handling of Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election. Published:3/31/2019 3:12:00 PM
[Markets] Mulvaney: It Would Take "Something Dramatic" For Trump Not To Close The Southern Border

Following reports over the weekend warning about a "system-wide collapse" along the southern border as a surge in asylum-seeking migrants has overwhelmed Customs and Border Protections' detention centers and strains municipal resources, Trump acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney warned during an appearance on ABC's "This Week" that President Trump's threat to close the southern border this week should absolutely be taken seriously.

Mulvaney

The Mexican peso tumbled Friday afternoon after Trump tweeted that he would close the border unless Mexico took steps to stop Central American migrants traveling through its territory, before telling a group of reporters that he would shut the border "for a long time" if nothing is done.

Responding to a question about whether Trump was serious about closing the border, Mulvaney affirmed that it would take "something dramatic" for him not to do it. Even former Obama officials have come forward to talk about the burgeoning crisis at the border, and the fact that the situation isn't a "made up emergency" has now been well established.

"When Jeh Johnson said it’s a crisis, I hope people now believe us. A lot of folks in the media...Democrats didn’t believe us a month ago, two months ago, when we said what was happening at the border was a crisis: a humanitarian crisis, a security crisis," he said.

"One hundred thousand people coming across the border this month...that is a crisis," he added.

Mulvaney was referring to figures from the border patrol that 100,000 migrants, many of whom were traveling in families, crossed the southern border in March, which would be a new record. Last week, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan warned that the agency's resources had reached a "breaking point", and called on Congress to act to authorize more resources for the border patrol and customs enforcement at the border.

Trump previously threatened to close the border in November and December, though the markets mostly shrugged these off as idle threats. But as more mainstream media outlets cover the rapidly deteriorating situation with an increasing sense of urgency, the pressure is mounting on Trump to hold to his anti-immigration principles and take immediate action.

Though any order to close the border will almost certainly elicit lawsuits to try and reverse it.

Watch the clip with Mulvaney below:

Published:3/31/2019 2:43:45 PM
[Markets] Former Obama Official Admits Trump Is Right: 'We have A Crisis At Our Southern Border'

Authored by Jennie Taer via SaraCarter.com,

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Saturday that America has a “crisis” at the southern border, and that the number of apprehensions exceed anything he encountered during his time serving under former President Barack Obama.

“By anyone’s definition, by any measure, right now we have a crisis at our southern border,” he said on “Cavuto LIVE.”

“According to the commissioner of [Customs and Border Protection], there were 4,000 apprehensions in one day alone this past week, and we’re on pace for 100,000 apprehensions on our southern border this month.”

“That is by far a greater number than anything I saw on my watch in my three years as Secretary of Homeland Security,” he said.

Johnson’s remarks come after President Trump this week accused Mexico of doing nothing to stop the illegal immigration flow to the U.S. and threatened to close to southern border next week.

Last month, more than 76,000 migrants were detained, marking the highest number of apprehensions in 12 years.

Published:3/31/2019 2:09:21 PM
[World] [Ilya Somin] Noah Feldman and Neil Siegel on Court-Packing

Two prominent liberal constitutional law scholars warn against the dangers of court-packing.

There is a debate on the left over whether the Democrats should try to "pack" the Supreme Court the next time they get the opportunity to do so. Support for court-packing within the Democratic Party is growing. But many liberals remain opposed to the idea, warning that it is likely to do more harm than good. Over the last few days, two leading left of center constitutional law scholars have written insightful pieces highlighting some of the dangers of court-packing: Noah Feldman (Harvard) and Neil Siegel (Duke). Both works make good points.

One of the most important is the way they address the standard liberal rationale for resorting to court-packing: the idea that it is a justifiable response to the Republican-controlled Senate's refusal to hold hearings or a vote on President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland in 2016. Both point out that court-packing would not be a proportionate response, but a major escalation in the conflict. Here's Siegel on that issue:

I agree that Senate Republicans behaved very badly by, among other things, refusing even to consider President Obama's nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland, who was supremely qualified, experienced, and ideologically moderate. But there are difficult line-drawing problems here. For example, if the full Senate had voted Garland down on the merits as insufficiently conservative (a deeply unfortunate but not norm-defying outcome, in my view), we would presumably have the same Court we have now, and yet Court-packing would not seem a justifiable response.

In addition, and moving from the question of whether Court-packing is justified in response to flagrant norm violations by the Republicans to whether Court-packing would be wise, the Democrats can at some point retaliate in tit-for-tat fashion for the mistreatment of Garland by refusing to consider a Republican Supreme Court nominee. (And, by the way, I would not limit such retaliation to the last year of a Republican President's term, which is a distinction without a relevant difference.) Proportionality is important to prevent conflict escalation and so to avoid fueling a race to the bottom.

And Feldman:

The proportionate response would be for Democrats to refuse to confirm a Republican president's nominee when they control the Senate.

Democrats would then effectively be saying that Republicans have changed the background rules of confirmation. It would follow, that we might get an incredible shrinking Supreme Court, with nominees added only when the president and the Senate majority come from the same party. There are reasons to think that's a bad idea; but in any case it would be a state of affairs that followed logically from the Republican decision to block Garland.

A proportionate response is a tit-for-tat strategy: Whatever you do to me, I do back to you. Such a strategy can help reestablish equilibrium when it is in danger of being permanently broken.

In contrast, packing the court would be a disproportionate response to the Garland affair. Instead of doing what the Republicans did, Democrats would be raising the stakes by transforming the balance of the court in one fell swoop, rather than one justice is a time.

That in turn would invite Republicans to retaliate by doing the same thing. Instead of a shrinking Supreme Court, the result could be a vastly expanded Supreme Court, one that gets new members each time the president and Senate come from the same party.

That would be unsustainable. Not only could the court grow to an unmanageable size; its rulings could zigzag from one ideological extreme to the other.

A zigzagging court, deciding every case on ideological grounds, is the antithesis of the rule of law. Decisions must produce at least some degree of settled expectations for them to contribute to governance by law rather than by judicial fiat.

Siegel is also right to point out that the GOP's refusal to hold hearings on Garland differed only in degree from voting him down and doing the same to any other Obama nominee the Republicans considered too liberal. i would add that it was also little different from what then-Senator Barack Obama and many other Democrats unsuccessfully tried to do in 2006 with the nomination of Samuel Alito: prevent a vote from occurring by using the filibuster (a move Obama later said he regretted). A filibuster prevents nominees from coming to a vote no less than the GOP's 2016 strategy did. Republicans also argued (plausibly, in my view) that their 2016 strategy was a proportionate response to Democrats' use of similar tactics against lower-court nominees, and statements suggesting they would do the same thing if a GOP president had the opportunity to name a justice late in his term.

In fairness, Obama's 2006 strategy did permit hearings on Alito's nomination, even as he sought to block a vote. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's 2016 tactics did not even allow hearings. But I suspect Democrats would have been only slightly less angry if McConnell had permitted hearings on Garland, but blocked a vote.

None of this necessarily proves that the GOP's refusal to vote on Garland was justified. But it does indicate that any norm against blocking nominees was far less clear than that against court-packing, which both parties had previoulsy adhered to for many decades.

Feldman and Siegel also emphasize the institutional damage that court-packing would do, which goes far beyond anything that has happened in the last several decades of judicial nomination wars. Here, I think they actually underrate the risk somewhat. The problem is not just that the Court would "zigzag" (Feldman) or see its legitimacy damaged (Siegel), but that the institution of judicial review would be severely undermined by the rendering the Supreme Court subservient to whichever party manages to control the presidency and Congress simultaneously. It is no accident that court-packing is a standard tool of authoritarian populists seeking to undermine liberal democracy, recently used in such countries as Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela. Would-be authoritarians know that independent courts are an obstacle to their illiberal measures, and that court-packing is an effective way to neuter them.

The problem is unlikely to be limited to the Supreme Court, as similar strategies could be used to pack the lower courts, as well. Indeed, the current round of debates over court-packing arguably began in 2017 when prominent conservative legal scholar Steve Calabresi and his coauthor Shams Hirji proposed a plan for Republicans to do just that. I opposed that plan for much the same reasons as I now object to Democratic court-packing proposals. But if the Supreme Court gets packed, both parties are likely to revive versions of the Calabresi-Hirji plan to do the same for other federal courts.

Rejecting court-packing does not mean that Democrats (or anyone else) should necessarily reject all proposals for reforming the Supreme Court. I have previously pointed out that such reform proposals as limiting justices to 18-year terms do not pose the same sorts of risks. Similarly, it would be reasonable for Democrats to seek some concession in exchange for supporting a constitutional amendment limiting the size of the Court, and thereby permanently eliminating the risk of packing. I suggested one possible deal of that sort here. Current GOP proposals for an anti-court packing amendment are unlikely to succeed without some such agreement.

I don't agree with every point that Siegel and Feldman make. For example, unlike Siegel, I am skeptical that using the threat of court-packing is a relatively safe idea even if those who make the threat have no intention of actually carrying it out. Like court-packing itself, the threat of doing it is a game both parties can play, if it turns out to be effective. Over time, effective threats can also undermine judicial independence. Moreover, it is difficult to make such a threat effectively without actually being prepared to carry it out, should the justices refuse to give in to the president who makes it. A credible threat would require the president to mobilize his or her party's base in favor of court-packing, thereby creating strong expectations that the threat would be carried out if the justices continue to make rulings the president's party finds highly objectionable.

Regardless of such quibbles, Feldman and Siegel have made valuable contributions to the court-packing debate. Anyone interested in the issue should make sure to read them!

UPDATE: I should perhaps note that Feldman and Siegel are not the only liberal critics of court-packing. I noted several others here, including Laurence Tribe and former Obama White House Counsel Bob Bauer.

Published:3/31/2019 12:11:06 PM
[Markets] US Army Major Warns Dems: "Trump Will Wipe The Floor" In 2020 Unless You 'Fix' Foreign Policy

Authored by US Army Major Danny Sjursen (ret.) via TruthDig.com,

Still Waiting: 2020 Fever and the Quest for a Progressive Foreign Policy

The 2020 election will not turn on global issues – and more’s the pity. After all, thanks to decades upon decades of accumulating executive power in an increasingly imperial presidency, it is in foreign affairs that the commander-in-chief possesses near dictatorial power. Conversely, in domestic policy, a hostile Congress can – just ask Barry Obama – effectively block most of a president’s agenda.

Still, the vast majority of Americans don’t give a hoot about issues of war, peace, and international diplomacy. Why should they care? It’s not as though anything is asked of them as citizens. By cynically ditching the draft, Tricky Dick Nixon took the wind out of the sails of current and future antiwar movements, and permanently cleaved a gap between the U.S. people and their military. Mothers no longer lose sleep over their teenage sons serving their country and they – along with the rest of the family – quit caring about foreign policy. Such it is, and so it will be, that the 2020 presidential election is likely to be decided by “kitchen-table” affairs like healthcare, immigration, race, and taxes.

Be that as it may, serious observers should pay plenty of attention to international strategy.

  • First, because the occupant of the Oval Office makes policy almost unilaterally – including the decision of whether or not to end the human race with America’s suicidal nuclear button.

  • Second, because 2020 is likely to be another close contest, turning on the votes of a few hundred thousand swing state voters. As such, Trump’s opponent will need to win every vote on every issue – including foreign affairs. What’s more, there are still some folks who genuinely care about a potential commander-in-chief’s international bonafides.

So, while Dems can’t win the White House with foreign policy alone, they can lose it by ignoring these issues or – oh so typically – presenting a muddled overseas strategy.

This is serious.

Just in case there are any out there still underestimating Trump – I, for one, predict he’ll win in 2020 – make no mistake, he’s no pushover on foreign policy. Sure he doesn’t know much – but neither does the average voter. Nonetheless, Trump is no dope. He’s got the pulse of (white) voters across this country and senses that the populace is tired of spending blood and cash (but mostly its cash) on Mideast forever wars. In 2016, he (correctly) made Hillary”regime change” Clinton out to be the true hawk in the race. Trump, on the other hand, combined tough guy bravado (he’d “bomb the shit” out of ISIS) with earthy good sense (there’d be no more “stupid” Iraq invasions. And it worked.

So, with 2020 in mind, whether you’re a progressive, a libertarian, or just a Trump-hater, its vital that the opposition (most likely the Dems) nominate a candidate who can hang with Trump in foreign affairs.

Mark my words: if the DNC – which apparently picks the party’s candidates – backs a conventional neoliberal foreign policy nominee, Trump will wipe the floor with him or her. And, if the Dems national security platform reads like a jumbled, jargon-filled sheet full of boring (like it usually does) than Joe the proverbial plumber is going to back The Donald.

That’s what has me worried. As one candidate after another enters an already crowded field, this author is left wondering whether any of them are commander-in-chief material. So far I see a huge crew (Liz, Kirsten, Kamala, Beto) that live and die by domestic policy; two potentially conventional foreign policy guys (Biden and Booker); and two other wildcards (Bernie and Tulsi). That’s not a comprehensive list, but you get the point. If they want to stand a chance in 2020, the Dems had better back a nominee with a clear, alternative progressive foreign policy or get one the domestic-focused candidates up to speed…and fast.

So here’s how my mental math works: a progressive candidate needs to win over libertarian-minded Republicans and Independents (think Rand Paul-types) by force of their commonsense alternative to Trump’s foreign policy. That means getting the troops out of the Mideast, pulling the plug from other mindless interventions and cutting runaway defense spending. Then, and only then, can the two sides begin arguing about what to do with the resultant cash surplus. That’s an argument for another day, sure, but here and now our imaginary Democratic (or Third Party?) nominee needs to end the wars and curtail the excesses of empire. I know many libertarians – some still nominally Republican – who could get behind that agenda pretty quickly!

Still, there’s more than a little reason for concern. Look at how “Nasty” Nancy Pelosi and the establishment Dems came down on Ilhan Omar for that representative’s essentially accurate tweets criticizing the Israel Lobby. Then there’s Joe Biden. Look, he’s definitely running. He’s also definitely been wrong time and again on foreign policy – like how he was for the Iraq War before he was against it (how’d that turn out for John Kerry in 2004?). And, for all the talk of a progressive “blue wave” in the party ranks, Biden still polls as the top choice for Democratic primary voters. Yikes.

Behind him, thankfully, is old Bernie – who sometimes shows potential in foreign affairs – the only candidate who has both backed Omar and been consistent in a career of generally antiwar votes. Still, Bernie won his household name with domestic policy one-liners – trashing Wall Street and pushing populist economic tropes. Whether he can transform into a more balanced candidate, one that can confidently compose and deliver a strong alternative foreign policy remains to be seen. Tulsi Gabbard, though she still looks the long shot, remains intriguing given here genuine antiwar (and combat veteran) credentials. Still, she’ll have her hands full overcoming problematic skeletons in her own closet: ties to Indian Hindu nationalists, opposition to the Iran deal, and sometime backing of authoritarians and Islamophobes. Then again, even Bernie has his foreign affairs flaws – such as reflexively denouncing the BDS movement and occasionally calling for regime change in Syria. Nevertheless, both Bernie and Tulsi demonstrate that there’s some promise for fresh opposition foreign policy.

Here’s (some) of what that would look like:

speedily withdraw all U.S. troops from the (at least) seven shooting wars in the Greater Middle East;

choke off excessive arms deals and expensive military handouts to Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other frenemies;

quit bombing or enabling the bombing of impoverished civilians in places like Yemen and Gaza; begin dismantling America’s “empire of bases” overseas;

seek firm détente rather than conflict with Russia and China;

and cut defense and war-related spending down to size.

Our imaginary candidate would need to convey this commonsense course to a war-weary American people as plainly and coherently as Trump can. No jargon, no Clintonian wonky crap – simple and to the point. Imagine it: a commonsense course for a clear-eyed country!

Less war and more investment at home. Less war and more middle-class tax cuts. Whatever. That fight will come and the progressives and independents/libertarians will fight it out. For now, though, what’s essential is checking the war machine and military-industrial behemoth before its too late (it may be already!).

None of this will be easy or likely, of course. But count on this much: the establishment Democrats, media-mogul “left,” and centrist DC think tanks won’t save us from the imperial monster or deliver a Trump-defeating strategy in foreign affairs. The Mueller-will-save-us, Mattis-was-a-hero, reflexively anti-Trump, born-again hawks like Rachel Maddow and the other disappointing chumps at MSNBC or CNN aren’t on our side. Worse yet, they’re born losers when it comes to delivering elections.

All of this may be far-fetched, but is not impossible. Neither libertarians nor progressives can countenance Trump. Nor should they. One of their only true hopes for compromise rest on foreign policy and a genuine antiwar message. It can be done.

Look, on a personal note, even America’s beloved and over-adulated soldiers are reachable on this issue – that’s how you know the foreign policy alliance has potential! For every rah-rah war-fever cheerleader in uniform, there’s an exhausted foot soldier on his Nth tour in the Mideast. There’s also a huge chunk (40%!) who are racial minorities – usually a reliably anti-Trump demographic. Finally, among the white men and women in uniform I’ve personally met a solid core of libertarians. And the data backs up my anecdotal observation – Ron Paul was highly popular among active-duty military members and their families. A progressive foreign policy alliance with the libertarian wing of Republicans and Independents would sell better with these such voters both in and out of uniform. You know the type: sick of war but justas sick of stereotypical liberal snowflakes.

So here’s a plea to the “opposition” such at it is: avoid the usual mistakes – don’t cede foreign affairs to the Trump and the Republicans; don’t nominate anyone remotely resembling Joe Biden; don’t alienate libertarians and independents with wonky or muddled international policy.

Try something new. Like winning…

*  *  *

Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. Army officer and regular contributor to antiwar.com. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet.

Published:3/30/2019 10:35:50 PM
[Markets] "This Is A System-Wide Collapse" - Texas Border City Overwhelmed By "Surge" Of Central American Migrants

Democrats like to deride President Trump's warnings about a crisis at the southern border as a "fake emergency" reliant on "nonsensical" numbers about the flow of migrants. They even tried, and failed, to terminate his emergency declaration, which has also triggered a flurry of lawsuits, but that won't change the fact that the first tranche of money from Trump's expanded border wall has already been approved by the DoJ. 

And the timing couldn't have been better, because over the past month, as reports about the number of migrant families declaring asylum between border checkpoints climbing to an all-time high were picked up by the mainstream press,  the true weight of the ongoing disaster at the border has suddenly become difficult to ignore. Even the peso, which had mostly shrugged off his prior threats, tumbled when Trump warned that he would close the border next week if Mexico doesn't try to stop illegals from entering the US.

Migrants

And in the latest report that, like the others, will be difficult for the public to chalk up to more conservative fear mongering, USA Today published a story on Saturday about a border city that has seen public resources overwhelmed as asylum seekers are released into the city at a rate of more than 800 per day.

The city is McAllen, Texas, which has seen a surge of migrants crowding church shelters and other resources in the community as ICE has been forced to release more asylum seekers as they await their immigration hearings. ICE shelters have simply become too overcrowded, and the agency, which can hold migrants for up to 20 days, longer than the 72 hours for the border patrol, has few alternatives.

Under a bridge connecting the U.S. with Mexico, dozens of migrant families cram into a makeshift camp set up by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The families are there because permanent processing facilities have run out of room.

Seven hundred miles east, busload after busload of weary, bedraggled migrants crowd into the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas. Organizers there are used to handling 200 to 300 migrants a day. Lately, the migrants have been arriving at a clip of around 800 a day, overflowing the respite center and straining city resources.

"It’s staggering,” McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez said. “Really, we’ve never seen anything like this before."

Along the Texas border with Mexico – from El Paso to Eagle Pass to the Rio Grande Valley – masses of migrants have been crossing the border in unprecedented numbers, overwhelming federal holding facilities and sending local leaders and volunteers scrambling to deal with the relentless waves of people.

With the border patrol on track to apprehend 100,000 migrants during the month of March - a new monthly record - Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday during a speech in El Paso that the border had reached its "breaking point". He urged Congress to do something - though it seems the Democrat-led House is preoccupied with stymieing Republican efforts to secure more money for border security. "The surge numbers are just overwhelming the system", McAleenan said.

Theresa Brown, director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, who was a CBP policy adviser under both President Obama and President Bush, put it even more bluntly: "This is a system-wide collapse".

When migrants who have made it through the first round of the asylum process arrive in McAllen, they are typically released to the Catholic charities in town, which have also become overwhelmed.

In McAllen, migrants deemed to have credible asylum cases are released to the Catholic Charities respite center, where they’re allowed to shower, given medical attention and helped with getting a bus or airplane ticket to their final U.S. destination.

Sister Norma Pimentel, who oversees the shelter, said she received a phone call two weekends ago from a Border Patrol official warning that the numbers were about to skyrocket. The next day, around 800 migrants showed up to the shelter, she said.

On Wednesday, clusters of migrants crowded the halls of the center. Lines stretched down long halls, as migrants waited to use the shower or pick up diapers. Teams of volunteers called migrants' relatives to get bus tickets. Every 20 minutes or so, a new tour bus would drive up and deliver another 50 migrants into the shelter.

As the charity's respite center started to overflow, the town has gotten involved, opening new shelters and bringing in city buses for transportation. Local officials are applying for federal disaster grants to compensate them for the hundreds and thousands of dollars already drained from city coffers.

Despite the crush, Pimentel said she will continue taking in the migrants. "If you drop them off on the street, they’re not going to know what to do" she said. "We’re going to have chaos. We’re going to have a terrible problem."

As the respite center started to overflow last week, city officials got involved, opening new shelters and contracting buses to take the migrants directly to shelters rather than have them cluster around the bus station downtown.

Rodriguez, the city manager, said he’s dedicated several city officials to spearhead the problem and the city’s spending thousands of taxpayer dollars a day on the buses and other services.

He’s lobbied the federal government for reimbursement, but he’s not overly hopeful. In 2014, when a similar crush of Central American migrants strained city resources, local officials applied for $600,000 in federal disaster funds. After years of wrangling, they got just $140,000, he said.

"This is very similar to what we saw then," Rodriguez said. "It’s real people and real time and real money."

So, Nancy Pelosi, tell us again how the border crisis is a "made up emergency?"?

Published:3/30/2019 5:03:43 PM
[Markets] Taibbi: On Russiagate & America's Refusal To Face Why Trump Won

Authored by Matt Taibbi via RollingStone.com,

Faulty coverage of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign later made foreign espionage a more plausible explanation for his ascent to power

Last weekend, I published a book chapter criticizing the Russiagate narrative, claiming it was a years-long press error on the scale of the WMD affair heading into the Iraq war.

Obviously (and I said this in detail), the WMD fiasco had a far greater real-world impact, with hundreds of thousands of lives lost and trillions in treasure wasted. Still, I thought Russiagate would do more to damage the reputation of the national news media in the end.

A day after publishing that excerpt, a Attorney General William Barr sent his summary of the report to Congress, containing a quote filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Suddenly, news articles appeared arguing people like myself and Glenn Greenwald of the Intercept were rushing to judgment, calling us bullies whose writings were intended to leave reporters “cowed” and likely to “back down from aggressive coverage of Trump.”

This was baffling. One of the most common criticisms of people like Greenwald, Michael Tracey, Aaron Mate, Rania Khalek, Max Blumenthal, Jordan Chariton and many others is that Russiagate “skeptics” - I hate that term, because it implies skepticism isn’t normal and healthy in this job - were really secret Trump partisans, part of a “horseshoe” pact between far left and far right to focus attention on the minor foibles of the center instead of Trump’s more serious misdeeds. Even I received this label, and I once wrote a book about Trump called Insane Clown President.

A typical social media complaint:

@mtaibbi and all his deplorable followers. The truth will come out and your premature celebrations are embarrassing.

It’s irritating that I even have to address this, because my personal political views shouldn’t have anything to do with how I cover anything. But just to get it out of the way: I’m no fan of Donald Trump.

I had a well-developed opinion about him long before the 2016 race started. I once interned for Trump’s nemesis-biographer, the late, great muckraker Wayne Barrett. The birther campaign of 2011 was all I ever needed to make a voting decision about the man.

I started covering the last presidential race in 2015 just as I was finishing up a book about the death of Eric Garner called I Can’t Breathe. Noting that a birther campaign started by “peripheral political curiosity and reality TV star Donald Trump” led to 41 percent of respondents in one poll believing Barack Obama was “not even American,” I wrote:

If anyone could communicate the frustration black Americans felt over Stop-and-Frisk and other neo-vagrancy laws that made black people feel like they could be arrested anywhere, it should have been Barack Obama. He’d made it all the way to the White House and was still considered to be literally trespassing by a huge plurality of the population.

So I had no illusions about Trump. The Russia story bothered me for other reasons, mostly having to do with a general sense of the public being misled, and not even about Russia.

The problem lay with the precursor tale to Russiagate, i.e. how Trump even got to be president in the first place.

The 2016 campaign season brought to the surface awesome levels of political discontent. After the election, instead of wondering where that anger came from, most of the press quickly pivoted to a new tale about a Russian plot to attack our Democracy. This conveyed the impression that the election season we’d just lived through had been an aberration, thrown off the rails by an extraordinary espionage conspiracy between Trump and a cabal of evil foreigners.

This narrative contradicted everything I’d seen traveling across America in my two years of covering the campaign. The overwhelming theme of that race, long before anyone even thought about Russia, was voter rage at the entire political system.

The anger wasn’t just on the Republican side, where Trump humiliated the Republicans’ chosen $150 million contender, Jeb Bush (who got three delegates, or $50 million per delegate). It was also evident on the Democratic side, where a self-proclaimed “Democratic Socialist” with little money and close to no institutional support became a surprise contender.

Because of a series of press misdiagnoses before the Russiagate stories even began, much of the American public was unprepared for news of a Trump win. A cloak-and-dagger election-fixing conspiracy therefore seemed more likely than it might have otherwise to large parts of the domestic news audience, because they hadn’t been prepared for anything else that would make sense.

This was particularly true of upscale, urban, blue-leaning news consumers, who were not told to take the possibility of a Trump White House seriously.

Priority number-one of the political class after a vulgar, out-of-work game-show host conquered the White House should have been a long period of ruthless self-examination. This story delayed that for at least two years.

It wasn’t even clear Trump whether or not wanted to win. Watching him on the trail, Trump at times went beyond seeming disinterested. There were periods where it looked like South Park’s Did I offend you?” thesis was true, and he was actively trying to lose, only the polls just wouldn’t let him.

Forget about the gift the end of Russiagate might give Trump by allowing him to spend 2020 peeing from a great height on the national press corps. The more serious issue has to be the failure to face the reality of why he won last time, because we still haven’t done that.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Trump meet in Helsinki.

In the fall of 2015, when I first started covering Trump’s campaign, a few themes popped up:

First, like any good hustler, Trump knew how to work a room. At times, he recalled a comedian trying out new material. If he felt a murmur in the crowd in one speech, he’d hit it harder the next time out.

This is how a few offhand comments about the “bad deal” wars in the Middle East turned into what seemed like more planned shots at “nation building” or overseas wars that left us “flat broke” and unable to build schools at home.

These themes seemed to come from feeling out audiences and noting these lines were scoring with veterans in his crowds. (Studies have since shown Trump did well in areas with returning vets).

As time went on, he made the traveling press part of his act. The standard campaign setup was perfect for him. We were like zoo animals, standing on risers with ropes around us to keep the un-credentialed masses out.

Even that small symbol of VIP-ism Trump turned to his advantage. Behind the ropes we were what national campaign reporters mostly always are: dorky blue-staters with liberal arts degrees from expensive colleges dressed in gingham and khaki, and looking out of place basically anywhere on earth outside a trendy city block or a Starbucks.

Trump, the billionaire, denounced us as the elitists in the room. He’d call us “bloodsuckers,” “dishonest,” and in one line that produced laughs considering who was saying it, “highly-paid.”

He also did something that I immediately recognized as brilliant (or diabolical, depending on how you look at it). He dared cameramen to turn their cameras to show the size of his crowds.

They usually wouldn’t – hey, we don’t work for the guy – which thrilled Trump, who would then say something to the effect of, “See! They’re very dishonest people.” Audiences would turn toward us, and boo and hiss, and even throw little bits of paper and other things our way. This was unpleasant, but it was hard not to see its effectiveness: he’d re-imagined the lifeless, poll-tested format of the stump speech, turning it into menacing, personal, WWE-style theater.

Trump was gunning for votes in both parties. The core story he told on the stump was one of system-wide corruption, in which there was little difference between Republicans and Democrats.

...

Perhaps just by luck, Trump was tuned in to the fact that the triumvirate of ruling political powers in America – the two parties, the big donors and the press – were so unpopular with large parts of the population that he could win in the long haul by attracting their ire, even if he was losing battles on the way.

...

The subtext was always: I may be crude, but these people are phonies, pretending to be upset when they’re making money off my bullshit.

I thought this was all nuts and couldn’t believe it was happening in a real presidential campaign. But, a job is a job. My first feature on candidate Trump was called How America Made Donald Trump Unstoppable.” The key section read: 

In person, you can’t miss it: The same way Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house, Donald on the stump can see his future. The pundits don’t want to admit it, but it’s sitting there in plain view, 12 moves ahead, like a chess game already won:

President Donald Trump…

It turns out we let our electoral process devolve into something so fake and dysfunctional that any half-bright con man with the stones to try it could walk right through the front door and tear it to shreds on the first go. 

And Trump is no half-bright con man, either. He’s way better than average.

Traditional Democratic audiences appeared thrilled by the piece and shared it widely. I was invited on scads of cable shows to discuss ad nauseum the “con man” line.

This made me nervous, because it probably meant these people hadn’t read the piece, which among other things posited the failures of America’s current ruling class meant Trump’s insane tactics could actually work.

Trump was selling himself as a traitor to a corrupt class, someone who knew how soulless and greedy the ruling elite was because he was one of them.

...

The only reason most blue-state media audiences had been given for Trump’s poll numbers all along was racism, which was surely part of the story but not the whole picture. A lack of any other explanation meant Democratic audiences, after the shock of election night, were ready to reach for any other data point that might better explain what just happened.

Russiagate became a convenient replacement explanation absolving an incompetent political establishment for its complicity in what happened in 2016, and not just the failure to see it coming. Because of the immediate arrival of the collusion theory, neither Wolf Blitzer nor any politician ever had to look into the camera and say, “I guess people hated us so much they were even willing to vote for Donald Trump.”

Post-election, Russiagate made it all worse. People could turn on their TVs at any hour of the day and see anyone from Rachel Maddow to Chris Cuomo openly reveling in Trump’s troubles. This is what Fox looks like to liberal audiences.

Worse, the “walls are closing in” theme — two years old now — was just a continuation of the campaign mistake, reporters confusing what they wanted to happen with what was happening. The story was always more complicated than was being represented.

Read more here...

Published:3/30/2019 2:32:57 PM
[Markets] More SPLC Employees Step Forward, Claim "Systemic Culture Of Racism And Sexism" 

One week after the head of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the organization's legal director resigned, more employees are coming forward to tell CNN that the nonprofit group suffers from a "systemic culture of sexism within its workplace." 

SPLC Co-founder Morris Dees, former president Richard Cohen, former legal director Rhonda Brownstein

This comes after two dozen employees signed a letter of concern over "allegations of mistreatment, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and racism following the ouster of co-founder Morris Dees over sexual misconduct claims. 

CNN spoke with three current employees of the organization who talked on condition of anonymity because of fears over possible retribution.

It was one of those employees who cited the systemic problems with racism and sexism, and a second employee agreed with that assessment.

...

But one of the employees who spoke to CNN alleged the organization suffers from a "pervasive racist culture" and an environment in which a woman is not seen or heard. She also said qualified African-American employees were regularly passed over for promotions -- including one African-American colleague she describes as brilliant. She added, "My boss only hires white people." -CNN

Sounds like conservative pundit Gavin McInnes was right when he said the SPLC is "frothing with bigots." McInnes is suing the nonprofit for labeling his fraternal organization, the Proud Boys, a hate group

Earlier this month, the SPLC board of directors appointed Michelle Obama's former chief of staff, Tina Tchen to head up the inquiry into the sexual misconduct claims. In an unrelated matter, Tchen was apparently was able to pull strings and have the Jussie Smollett case dropped.

***

Inside the SPLC "Scam"

As the Washington Examiner's Beckett Adams wrote last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center is a "scam," which has taken "no care whatsoever for the reputational and personal harm it causes by lumping Christians and anti-extremist activists with actual neo-Nazis."

As it turns out, the SPLC is a cynical money-making scheme, according to a former staffer’s blistering tell-all, published this week in the New Yorker. The center’s chief goal is to bilk naive and wealthy donors who believe it's an earnest effort to combat bigotry.

The only thing worse than a snarling partisan activist is a slimy conman who merely pretends to be one. -Washington Examiner

"“Outside of work," recalls Bob Moser of his days working for the organization, "we spent a lot of time drinking and dishing in Montgomery bars and restaurants about … the hyperbolic fund-raising appeals, and the fact that, though the center claimed to be effective in fighting extremism, ‘hate’ always continued to be on the rise, more dangerous than ever, with each year’s report on hate groups. ‘The S.P.L.C.—making hate pay,’ we’d say."

Published:3/30/2019 1:10:19 PM
[Markets] The End Of The World (For Democrats?)

Via The Zman blog,

Back in the 1990’s, most people knew Bill Clinton was a crook and a degenerate, but people also knew he would never be held to account. An unspoken truth of the age was that a big part of the frustration with the Clinton crime family was really over the unwillingness of the so-called conservatives to get tough. The National Review types carried on like they were too good to get into the outrage over the endless stream of scandals surrounding Team Clinton. They were above that stuff.

As a result, talking about the Clinton shenanigans became a staple of talk radio, mostly because it was amusing, but also as a form of outrage porn. Every time one of them got away with some obvious lie, the phone lines would light up with people ready to talk about how angry they were about it. In other words, a big part of the Clinton hating was over the fact they kept getting away with it, because the political class, particularly the so-called principled conservatives, lacked the stones to do anything about it.

That’s an important thing to keep in mind while watching the Left wrestle with the fact Trump will not be sent to prison for treason. To normal people, the Russian collusion stuff was always a nutty conspiracy theory. It seemed obvious that the point of the Russian collusion narrative was to distract people from the fact the Obama White House was engaged in activity that would have made Nixon blush. If there was a conspiracy, it was the media running cover for the crooks in the Obama administration.

This understanding blinded people to what could be the most important part of the Russian collusion story. The Left really believed it. They really thought there was a secret conspiracy between Trump people and Putin people to work some secret magic to alter the 2016 election. They did not know the nature of this magic. In fact, it was probably supernatural, but the Left was sure it was real. This is something people outside the Progressive hive are just starting to realize. The Left really is that crazy.

The juxtaposition of the Clinton haters and the NeverTrump people is a good way of understanding the vast chasm between the Progressive worldview and that of normal people. The hatred of the Clintons was rooted in a grudging acceptance of the reality of modern politics. It was a lament, more than a set of beliefs. People knew they were crooks, but also knew the so-called conservatives were wimps and liars. Bill Clinton in the White House was the symptom of the disease that had infected the nation’s elite.

The NeverTrump stuff is something different. It’s rooted in a fantasy about how the world is organized and the role the Left plays in it. They really do believe in mysterious forces that operate on the fringes. They not only think there is a man behind the curtain, but that the curtain itself is part of an elaborate conspiracy. Most important, they deeply believe that the arc of history bends toward the Promised Land and that they are on the right side of history, leading the rest of us into the light of salvation. They really do think that.

Source

It’s why their response to the Mueller report has been like the response to the sudden death of a child. They were not convinced some Trump people had some shady dealings with the Russians. They were sure there was an elaborate conspiracy that altered the election. That was the key part of their coping system for the last two plus years. The conspiracy altered the election. The arc of history was not altered. The bad guys were not able to legitimately defeat those on the right side of history. The devil real!

Cults have ways to deal with disconfirmation, but there must be a way to salvage some of the original core belief from the wreckage. If the aliens were supposed to arrive on Tuesday, but failed to show, the cult can explain this by claiming they got the dates wrong or that they failed to perform the proper ritual. In this case, the Left can’t seem to find a way to salvage the core belief from the wreckage, because the core belief had to be completely true in order to confirm their role in the Great Russian collusion narrative.

What we’re seeing with the Left is a child learning that they have not only been adopted, but they have been in a coma their whole life and everything they believe about themselves is a dream. Rachel Maddow right now is someone sure she was a Jewish TV lesbian, but has learned she is really white guy with two kids and an ex-wife, working at the Home Depot. Everything about who she was in the moral sense is not just false, it never existed. As a result, she never really existed. She was part of the fraud.

That’s why the audience has evaporated for these lefty chat shows. Conservatives will try to explain this in the same dimwitted way they explain everything, by focusing on the fact these shows promoted a fake story. In reality, we’re witnessing the collapse of an identity cult, built around the belief in a sinister conspiracy to snatch away the 2016 election from forces of light. The collapse of the central narrative is also the collapse of the core of this identity cult. These are now people without a reason to exist.

Published:3/30/2019 12:38:23 PM
[Media] John Brennan: From spittle to flop sweat (Scott Johnson) Among the high former Obama administration officials who have most disgraced themselves by their public comments since leaving office, John Brennan deserves special recognition. Marc Thiessen has done us the favor of making the case in the Washington Post column “The Trump-Russia collusion hall of shame” (accessible via the link to Jewish World Review). Thiessen renders this damning judgment: Put aside the rogues’ gallery of reporters and pundits who assured Published:3/30/2019 8:35:43 AM
[Markets] The New Grand Strategy Of The United States

Authored by Thierry Meysan via The Voltaire Network,

Many people think that the United States is very active, but does not succeed in much. For example, it is said that its wars in the Greater Middle East are a succession of failures. But for Thierry Meyssan, the USA has a coherent military, commercial and diplomatic strategy. According to its own objectives, it advances patiently, and is crowned with success.
 

It is commonly believed in the United States that the country has no Grand Strategy since the end of the Cold War.

A Grand Strategy is a vision of the world that one seeks to impose, and that all administrations must respect. So, even if you lose in one particular theatre of war, the fight continues in others, and finally ends in triumph. At the end of the Second World War, Washington chose to follow the directives set by ambassador George Keenan in his famous diplomatic telegramme. It proposed describing an alleged Soviet expansionism in order to justify containment of the USSR. Indeed, although the USA had lost the wars in Korea and Vietnam, it finished by prevailing.

It is very rare to be able to rethink a Grand Strategy, even if there were others during that period, in particular, with Charles De Gaulle in France.

Over the last eighteen years, Washington has been able to progressively set new objectives and new tactics with which to attain them.

1991-2001: a period of uncertainty

When the Soviet Union collapsed on 25 December 1991, Father Bush’s USA supposed that they no longer had any rivals. The victorious President by default demobilised 1 million soldiers and imagined a world of peace and prosperity. He liberalised the transfer of capitals so that the capitalists would be able to get richer and, he believed, thus enrich their fellow citizens.

However, capitalism is not a political project, but a means of making money. The major US businesses – not the federal state – therefore allied themselves with the Chinese Communist Party (the reason for Deng Xiaoping’s famous « journey to the South »). They delocalised their businesses with very low added value from the West to China, where the workers were uneducated, but their wages were on average 20 times lower. The long process of the de-industrialisation of the West had begun.

In order to manage its transnational affairs, the Grand Capital moved its assets to countries with low taxation rates, where it realised that it could avoid its social responsibilities. These countries, whose fiscal exemption and discretion are indispensable for international commerce, suddenly found themselves swept along on a gigantic wave of fiscal optimisation, even a massive fraud system, from which they benefited in silence. The reign of Finance over the economy was beginning.

Military Strategy

In 2001, Secretary for Defense and permanent member of the « Continuity of Government ») [1] Donald Rumsfeld, created the Office of Force Transformation, which he handed to Admiral Arthur Cebrowski. This man had already computerised the armies, and was now set to modify their mission.

Without the Soviet Union, the world had become unipolar, which is to say no longer governed by the Security Council, but by the United States alone. In order to maintain its dominant position, it was obliged to « lose some to gain more », in other words, to divide Humanity in two. On one side, the stable states, meaning the members of the G8 - Russia included - and their allies), and on the other side, the rest of the world, viewed as a simple reservoir of natural resources. Washington no longer considered access to these resources as vital for itself, but intended for them to become accessible to the stable states only by permission of the USA. From that point on, it would be necessary to destroy – preventively – all the state structures in these reservoirs of resources, so that no-one could either challenge the will of the top world power, or do without it [2].

Since then, this strategy has been implemented ceaselessly. It began in the Greater Middle East (Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Yemen). However, contrary to what had been announced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, (Pivot to Asia), it was not continued into the Far East, due to the military development of China, but in the Caribbean Basin (Venezuela, Nicaragua).

Diplomatic Strategy

In 2012, President Barack Obama took up the leitmotiv of the Republican Party and made the exploitation of oil and gas by hydraulic fracturing a national priority. Within a few years, the United States multiplied its investments and became the world’s major producer of hydrocarbons, reversing the paradigms of international relations. In 2018, the ex-director of the oil equipment provider Sentry International, Mike Pompeo, became the director of the CIA , then Secretary of State. He created the Bureau of Energy Resources, which he handed to Francis Fannon. The BER is the equivalent of what the Office of Force Transformation had been for the Pentagon. He set up a policy which was entirely concentrated on taking control of the world market for hydrocarbons [3]. To do so, he imagined a new type of alliance, like those of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific region. It was no longer a case of creating military blocs like the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quads), but organising these alliances around objectives of economic growth, on the basis of guaranteed access to sources of energy.

This concept was integrated into the Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy. It was no longer a case of grabbing the hydrocarbons from the rest of the world (Washington has absolutely no need of them), but to determine who may have them to use for their own development, and who will be deprived of them. This is a total reversal of the doctrine of the rarefaction of oil, promoted by the Rockefellers and the Club of Rome since the 1960’s, then by Dick Cheney’s National Energy Policy Development Group. From then on, the United States decided that not only had oil not disappeared, but that despite the drastic increase in demand, Humanity had enough to last at least another century.

Using many different pretexts, Pompeo has blocked Iran’s access to the world market, then that of Venezuela, and finally, has maintained US troops in the East of Syria to prevent anyone from exploiting the oil fields that have been discovered there [4]. Simultaneously, he is increasing pressure on the European Union to give up on the Russian gas pipeline Nord Steam 2 and is also pressuring Turkey to give up Turkish Stream.

Commercial Strategy

In 2017, President Donald Trump attempted to repatriate some of the jobs which had been delocalised from the United States to Asia and the European Union. Basing himself on the advice of left-wing economist Peter Navarro [5], he put an end to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement. At the same time, he set prohibitive Customs taxes on German cars and most Chinese products. He completed these with a fiscal reform which encouraged the repatriation of capital. This policy has already enabled the re-balancing of commerce and the relaunching of the job market.

*  *  *

The military, economic and diplomatic systems are now complete. Each chapter is articulated with the others. Everyone knows what they have to do.

The designers of the US Grand Strategy – Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his advisor, Admiral Arthur Cebrowski; President Donald Trump and his commercial advisor Peter Navarro; and finally Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his advisor Francis Fannon.

The main force of this new Grand Strategy resides in the fact that it has not been understood by the elites of the rest of the world. Washington therefore retains the effect of surprise, reinforced by the deliberately chaotic communications of Donald Trump. If we look at the facts instead of the Presidential tweets, we note the advance of the United States after the double period of uncertainty under Presidents Clinton and Obama.

Published:3/29/2019 11:29:31 PM
[Markets] Why There'll Be No US-Russia Reset Post-Mueller

Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

President Donald Trump and his White House team have been cleared of collusion with the Kremlin in the 2016 presidential election. That startling conclusion by Special Counsel Robert Mueller after nearly two years of investigation, might be viewed by some as giving Trump freedom to now get on with normalizing relations with Moscow. Don’t bet on it.

Mueller’s report, and US attorney general William Barr’s appraisal of it, only partially vindicate Trump’s long-held claims that the whole so-called “Russiagate" story is a “hoax”.

Yes, Mueller and Barr conclude that neither Trump nor his campaign team “conspired” with Russia to win the presidential race. But Democrat opponents are now dredging up the possibility that Trump “unwittingly” facilitated Kremlin cyber operations to damage his 2016 rival for the White House, Hillary Clinton.

In his summary of Mueller’s report, Barr unquestioningly accepts as fact the otherwise contentious claim that Russia interfered in the US election. Democrats and the anti-Trump US news media have not been deterred from pursuing their fantasy that the Kremlin allegedly meddled in US democracy. Trump has been cleared, but Russia has certainly not. It very much continues to have the smear of interference slapped all over its image.

At the heart of this narrative – bolstered by Mueller and Barr – is the false claim that Russian cyber agents hacked into the Democrat party computer system during 2016 and released emails compromising Clinton to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. That whole claim has been reliably debunked by former NSA technical expert William Binney and other former US intelligence officials who have shown indisputably that the information was not hacked from outside, but rather was released by an insider in the Democrat party, presumably based on indignation over the party’s corruption concerning the stitch-up against Clinton’s rival nomination for the presidential ticket, Bernie Sanders.

That is real scandal crying out to be investigated, as well as the Obama administration’s decision to unleash FBI illegal wiretapping and dirty tricks against Trump as being a “Russian stooge”. The Russian collusion charade was always a distraction from the really big serious crimes carried out by the Obama White House, the FBI and the Democrat party.

In any case, the notion that Russia interfered in the US elections – even without Trump’s collusion – has become an article of faith among the American political and media establishment.

That lie will continue to poison US-Russia relations and be used to justify more economic sanctions being imposed against Moscow. Trump may be cleared of being a “Kremlin stooge”. But he will find no political freedom to pursue a normalization in bilateral relations because of the predictable mantra about Russia interfering in American democracy.

But there is a deeper reason why there will be no reset in US-Russia relations. And it has nothing to do with whether Trump is in the White House. The problem is a strategic one, meaning it relates to underlying geopolitical confrontation between America’s desired global hegemony and Russia’s rightful aspiration to be an independent foreign power not beholden to Washington’s dictate.

Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin has presented a somewhat shocking quandary for the US ruling class. It found that Russia was no longer in the servile business of rolling over to pander to Washington’s tyranny in international relations. Under Putin, Russia shook off the vassal status that it had unfortunately acquired under the feckless presidency of Boris Yeltsin (1991-99).

Putin’s landmark speech in Munich in 2007 was certainly a watershed moment in geopolitical relations whereby the Russian leader condemned US rampaging across the Middle East with criminal wars.

Then there was the failed attempt in 2008 by the US and NATO to over-run Georgia, failed because of a decisive military intervention by Russia in support of neighboring South Ossetia.

The return of the Cold War in US-Russia relations under former President GW Bush was due to the realization in Washington that Putin and Russia were no longer subordinates that could be pushed around for the gratification of American imperialism.

The Americans then tried another tack. Public relations and inveigling.

When Barack Obama took over the White House in 2009, there was the famous “reset policy” initiated by Washington towards Moscow. In March 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greeted Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva with a jokey “reset button”, purportedly to demonstrate a willingness in Washington for a new beginning in bilateral relations.

Ominously, Clinton’s State Department mislabelled the button with the Russian word for “overload” not “reset”. Her inane cackling to ingratiate herself with the skeptical Lavrov was also a giveaway of a phony reset.

Look how hollow such ostensible claims for “reset” by Washington have since manifested.

Admittedly, there was a significant gain in Obama’s negotiation of substantial nuclear arms reductions with the New START treaty in 2010.

However, it didn’t take long until Washington was back to its usual business of subversions and covert wars for regime change against foreign states that didn’t kowtow to its dictates. We saw this with ample evidence in the overthrow of Libya’s government in 2011, the attempted ouster in Syria beginning the same year, and the even more daring American intervention in Ukraine in early 2014 when it installed a rabidly anti-Russian regime through an illegal coup d’état.

We are also presently seeing this criminal American imperialism being conducted brazenly towards Venezuela, where Washington wants to overthrow a socialist president in order to get its corporate hands on the South American country’s vast oil wealth.

All the while, Russia has become ever more resolute its defiance of Washington’s global gangsterism. Moscow’s military defense of Syria from US-led regime change was certainly a pivotal moment in defining the limits of Moscow’s tolerance, as was Russia’s defense of Crimea.

For these reasons, Washington in its chagrin has moved to abandon the other major arms control treaty, the INF, which could allow it to install short and medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe, thus aggravating threats and tensions with Russia. The future of the much-vaunted New START treaty is also in doubt because of American vacillation. So much for Obama’s “reset”.

These are the structural, strategic factors in why Washington is set on a course of hostility towards Moscow. It has got very little to do with President Trump being in the White House or whether he has been cleared of “collusion” with Moscow.

The fundamental issue for Washington is that Russia is not a vassal for American imperialism. That’s why there will be no reset. There will only be reset when American imperialism is replaced by a law-abiding, genuinely democratic US government. Until then, expect more US hostility, confrontation and even war towards Russia.

Published:3/29/2019 10:28:45 PM
[Markets] Paul Craig Roberts: The Democrats Are Self-Destructing

Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,

The Democrats cannot stop making fools of themselves.  Thom Hartmann is an example. He writes for Common Dreams and has a progressive talk radio program.  During the George W. Bush regime I was a frequent guest on his program.  It was OK to tell the truth about the Bush regime’s  deceits and illegal wars of aggression.  But telling the truth about the Obama regime’s deceits and illegal wars of aggression left me unqualified for his program.

Hartmann, like the rest of them, will never escape from Democratic partisanship. He asserts that Attorney General William Barr, who he calls “cover-up general” covered up Mueller’s Russiagate report.  Hartmann seems to think that Mueller found all sorts of damning evidence against Trump, but we will never know because Barr, “without showing us even a single complete sentence from the Mueller report decided that there are no crimes here.”  He accuses Barr of “burying Mueller’s report and cherry-picking fragments of sentences from it to justify Trump’s behavior.”  He tells his readers that “Barr’s history of doing just this sort of thing to help Republican presidents in legal crises explains why Trump brought him back in to head the Justice Department.” 

Hartmann  ignorantly accuses Barr of withholding Mueller’s report. To the contrary, Barr’s summary of the report clearly states that federal laws, which he identifies, govern the release of information that can be made public.  Once the DOJ has identified “material that by law cannot be made public,” the report will be released.  

I know Democrats are disappointed not to have Trump’s head presented to them by Mueller on a silver platter.  But surely not even Democrats are stupid enough to believe the Russiagate conspiracy tale.  It was all cooked up by the military/security complex to prevent Trump from normalizing relations with Russia, thereby removing the enemy that justifies the $1,000 billion annual budget.

Before writing such nonsense as Hartmann has written, he should have read Barr’s summary of the report.  Barr quotes Mueller directly from the report

 “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Again from Mueller’s report:  

“The evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.”

Other Democrats who cannot cope with their disappointment claim that although cleared of election theft collusion Trump was not cleared of obstruction of justice.  This is nonsensical even for Democrats.  As Trump committed no crime, what evidence did he obstruct?  The evidence of his innocence?  Just as murder requires a body, obstruction requires a crime to obstruct.

But facts are boring to Democrats.  They were certain that all the lies that they and the media whores told would find their way into Mueller’s report. Mueller’s staff was Democrat to the core, and Mueller used every dirty trick in the book in his effort to get something on Trump.  It simply couldn’t be done.

Democrats will never get over it, just as they never have got over Iran-Contra.  Hartmann couldn’t write about the “Russiagate coverup” without dragging in Ronald Reagan and the “Iran-Contra coverup.”

What coverup is he talking about? The Reagan administration started an investigation that continued during the George H.W. Bush administration.  It resulted in a dozen indictments and convictions of high level officials, not lowly grunts as in the Abu Ghraib torture case. Among the convicted were Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, National Security Adviser Robert C. McFarlane, National Security Advisor John Poindexter, Chief of Covert Ops-CIA Clair George, Chief of the CIA’s Central American Task Force Alan D. Fiers, Air Force Major General Richard Secord, Lt. Col. Oliver North.  

Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger was indicted but pardoned by President Bush prior to being tried.  Poindexter’s conviction was overturned.  North was granted immunity for testifying. With the exception of General Secord, the others convicted were later pardoned by President Bush.  

Under precedents established by the George W. Bush and Obama regimes, an Iran-Contra investigation would not be possible today.  In the 21st century US presidents have successfully asserted powers as commander-in-chief that are beyond the reach of Congress.  For all practical purposes, the Boland Amendment is a dead letter law.

Iran-Contra was a scheme involving Israel to prevent what was perceived to be a communist takeover in Nicaragua and to obtain the release of US hostages held by Hezbollah.  As a scandal its illegality pales in comparison to the Clinton regime’s bombing attack on Serbia, the George W. Bush regime’s invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Obama regime’s overthrow of Gaddafi and attempted overthrow of Assad by military force and Obama’s overthrow of democratically elected presidents in Honduras and Ukraine, and the Trump regime’s threats against Iran and current attempt to overthrow the democratic government in Venezuela.

Iran-Contra was three decades ago. No one under 50 would know anything about it. Yet we hear more about it from the liberal/progressive/left than we do about the massive abuses of power and war crimes of our own time. 

Published:3/29/2019 9:59:58 PM
[Immigration] Obama’s DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson Says ‘We Truly Are In A Crisis At The Border’

Obama’s DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson: ‘We are truly in a crisis‘ at the southern border. “A little bit of context here. When I was in office in Kirstjen Nielsen’s job, at her desk, I’d get to work around 6:30 in the morning, and there would be my intelligence book sitting on my desk, the PDB, ...

The post Obama’s DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson Says ‘We Truly Are In A Crisis At The Border’ appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:3/29/2019 6:32:52 PM
[Immigration] Obama’s DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson Says ‘We Truly Are In A Crisis At The Border’

Obama’s DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson: ‘We are truly in a crisis‘ at the southern border. “A little bit of context here. When I was in office in Kirstjen Nielsen’s job, at her desk, I’d get to work around 6:30 in the morning, and there would be my intelligence book sitting on my desk, the PDB, ...

The post Obama’s DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson Says ‘We Truly Are In A Crisis At The Border’ appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:3/29/2019 6:32:52 PM
[Markets] The Two Faces Of Larry Kudlow Explained (Or Why Trump Needs A Huge Rate-Cut Stat!)

Authored by Sven Henrich via NorthmanTrader.com,

My take here:

The budget is blowing up in their face and they know it. The tax cuts did not pay for themselves and deficits are ballooning, federal spending is the highest in 10 years as tax receipts have been slowing. It’s a receipe for budget disaster. Don’t give me this two faced nonsense:

I don’t think the underlying economy is slowing” when everyone with a brain and basic understanding of data knows it is.

It’s cheerleading and playing the confidence game, while at the same time demanding a 50bp rate cut by the Fed, an utterly ridiculous suggestion especially in light of the earlier statement.

You knows who makes a statement such as this? Someone that’s worried about a lot of things. Worried that funding requirements are out of control and they can’t stop it. Worried about the slowdown morphing into a recession. NOBODY will admit to a recession being a possibility, too much is at stake and consumers need to be kept spending.

The real worry I suspect is obvious and is a political calculation: They don’t want a recession to coincide with the 2020 election. That’s how elections are lost. Trump knows this. Larry Kudlow knows this and even Stephen Moore knows this. Hence they’re asking for rate cuts.

Getting the Fed to stop the balance sheet rolloff and to stop rate hikes was the first obvious step and the Fed acquiesced claiming to be data dependent.

The second step: Get the Fed to cut rates. Markets are already pricing in a rate cut for 2019:

That’s recessionary risk this late in the cycle. But Larry Kudlow apparently thinks a recession can get averted by juicing markets with more cheap money.

You know what else is recessionary? This:

Oh it’s just the tax cuts. Really? Weren’t tax cuts supposed to bring in all this growth that would pay for itself?

It hasn’t and it won’t, but the spread between increased government spending and reduced government income is widening the most since, well, the last recession:

Yea, you need a 50bp rate cut, cause otherwise the math doesn’t work.

To say that would be honest. But instead you get two faced nonsense. Don’t fall for it. Recession coming is a real risk here. But nobody will admit it.

*  *  *

For the latest public analysis please visit NorthmanTrader. To subscribe to our market products please visit Services.

Published:3/29/2019 4:28:03 PM
[World] [Ilya Somin] Does the US Constitution Offer Stronger Protection Against Right-Wing Populism than Left-Wing Populism?

Legal scholar John McGinnis argues the answer is "yes." But the issue is a far closer one than he suggests.

Recent years have seen the rise of both left-wing and right-wing populist movements in the US. To those who value civil liberties and economic freedom, both potentially pose significant threats. But, as my friend and prominent legal scholar John McGinnis points out in a thoughtful post, the danger is partly mitigated by constitutional constraints on government power. John also argues that the US Constitution (at least as currently interpreted by the courts) does more to protect against the dangers of right-wing populism than the left-wing variety:

Right-wing and left-wing populists share some bad tendencies. Both, for instance, tend to ignore deficits and government debt...

But right and left populists also have flaws that are peculiar to their respective brands. The right's xenophobia often makes it suspicious of even legal immigration of the talented, and ethnic prejudices lead to demonization of immigrants on the grounds of ethnicity rather than illegality. Historically, right populists have sometimes lashed out at ethnic groups within their nations. Left populists, in contrast, more often stir up resentment against the rich and large businesses, playing on passions of envy.

Whether right or left populists are worse for the nation depends to some extend on its constitution. If provisions against racial and ethnic discrimination are strong, the worst aspects of right-wing populism will be restrained. Similarly, if provisions protecting property and economic rights are strong, left-wing populism will be contained....

It is thus the content of current constitutional law that makes right-wing populist movements somewhat less dangerous than left-wing movements in the United States. Our constitution rightly has provisions against religious, racial, and ethnic discrimination by the government. And the enforcement of these provisions are of such long standing that they have helped to give rise to more general norms against discrimination throughout much of society.

In contrast, whatever was the Constitution's original meaning, we no longer have strong protections for economic freedom or obstacles to centralized government economic control. Thus, left-wing populists can enact their growth and freedom destroying plans without much fear of constitutional reversal. The one possible exception is a wealth tax, which is probably unconstitutional, even if ironically it is pushed by the one former law professor running for President. But that is the exception that proves the rule.

Most of John's points about left-wing populism are true. In recent years, the Supreme Court has modestly strengthened judicial protection for property rights, and judicial enforcement of structural limits on federal government power. But both remain relatively weak compared to enforcement of other types of constitutional rights and limits on power. Judicial protection for economic liberties outside the property rights context is far weaker still.

It is also worth noting that many left-wing populists endanger free speech with their proposals to curb political expression through campaign finance regulation. The ACLU's critique of the latest Democratic Party proposals along these lines makes for sobering reading. Current Supreme Court precedent provides substantial constraints on this threat. But the precedent rests on close 5-4 decisions that many on the left will try to overturn at the first available opportunity.

But John is overly optimistic about the extent to which current judicial precedent provides strong protection against right-wing populism. As he notes, of the main areas where right-wing populists abuse government power is the field of immigration policy. Yet, as last year's travel ban decision demonstrates, current Supreme Court precedent mandates far greater deference to the government on immigration issues than almost anywhere else. Thus, the Court upheld blatant discrimination on the basis of religion that would have been struck down in virtually any other context (and indeed has been in recent cases addressing situations where the evidence of discriminatory motivation was less extensive). Even before the Trump administration, immigration enforcement also involved large-scale racial profiling that courts have done little to curb.

Right-wing populists also, of course, target trade, as well as immigration, promoting protectionist policies rejected as harmful by economists across the political spectrum. Yet the Constitution give Congress virtually unlimited power to adopt trade restrictions. This is one of the most serious flaws in the document. Modern Supreme Court precedent has exacerbated the problem by allowing Congress to delegate broad power over tariffs to the executive. This has enabled the Trump administration to start a series of trade wars on the basis of specious "national security" justifications. And, so far at least, the courts have upheld the administration's actions.

Another characteristic of right-wing populism is the tendency to repress civil liberties in the face of real and imagined national security threats. Here, modern Supreme Court precedent is a mixed bag. Things have improved since the historic low point of the Japanese internment cases during World War II. But there still often excessive deference in these situations. That problem might get worse before it gets better, as newly appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh has a worse record in this area than his predecessor (and key swing voter) Anthony Kennedy.

As in the case of immigration, the problem here is not that Kavanaugh and other conservative judges are big fans of right-wing populism. Most tend to be closer to the "establishment" wing of conservatism. Rather, it is that the dangers of right-wing populism tend to overlap with some key flaws of mainstream conservative jurisprudence that long predate the current political moment.

Right-wing populists also can exploit some of the same doctrinal weaknesses as left-wing ones can. For example, the two are similar in their disdain for property rights that might stand in the way of their preferred policies. Trump's proposed border wall, for example, requires the use of eminent domain against thousands of property owners.

What can be done to address these problems? Various legal scholars, myself included, have argued for stronger judicial protection for property rights and economic liberties, more vigorous enforcement of constitutional limits on federal power, and an end to special judicial deference on immigration and national security issues. But each of these improvements in legal doctrine is likely to happen only gradually, if at all. Moreover, in the long run, effective judicial review depends in part on at least a modicum of outside political support, and appointment of judges likely to move the relevant doctrines in the right direction.

In the meantime, economic and civil liberties remain vulnerable on multiple fronts, both right and left. There is no easy solution to the problem, in part because of its multifaceted nature. Those who fear populism will need to mount stronger political opposition to it, which should include greater willingness to cooperate outside conventional left-right political lines.

Published:3/29/2019 3:59:40 PM
[World] [John K. Ross] Short Circuit: A Roundup of Recent Federal Court Decisions

It wasn’t about what was fair, it wasn’t about what was honest, it was about winning.

Please enjoy the latest edition of Short Circuit, a weekly feature from the Institute for Justice.

Friends, the national platforms for both the Democratic and Republican Parties call for reforming civil forfeiture, that stain on the Constitution and the nation's very moral fiber. Happily, a bill that would correct some of the worst abuses was reintroduced this week in Congress. Among other improvements, the FAIR Act would eliminate the direct financial incentives to seize and forfeit property. Click here to learn more.

  • Production company hires union labor after Boston officials allegedly threaten to withhold permits for music festivals. District court: Can't try the officials for extortion because they didn't obtain any personal benefit; the alleged benefits went to the union. First Circuit: The indictment should not have been dismissed.
  • Bank charges account holders up to $90 for overdrafts. An illegal "usurious" interest charge? The First Circuit says no; overdraft fees are not considered interest under the relevant statute or its implementing regulations. Dissent: When a bank covers an overdraft and the account holder doesn't make good on the balance, then that's pretty much a loan, and the overdraft fee is interest. Plaintiff should have been allowed to do some discovery.
  • Exeter, N.H. police search apartment, find child porn on laptop owned by one of the residents; he's convicted of knowing possession. But wait! He has two roommates, the laptop was kept in a common room and not password protected, and there's no evidence that he used the laptop around the time the pornography was downloaded. And he took no steps to hide the laptop or destroy the files despite having approximately 15 minutes to do so. Enough evidence for a conviction? First Circuit: Most certainly not.
  • FBI agents suspect that child porn is being downloaded/shared on a computer in a house in Cabo Rojo, P.R. Rather than get a warrant, they show up and ask to inspect the computers in the house, claiming that one of them is "sending a signal and/or viruses to computers in Washington." The residents consent to a search, the FBI finds child pornography, and, some days later, arrests one of the residents. Was lying to secure consent for the search a Fourth Amendment violation? First Circuit: Yes, and a clearly established one at that.
  • Boy meets boy, boy dates boy, boy dumps boy: The story plays out every day in New York City. Bu