Geopolitics

Why America wants a war with Russia

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on February 23, 2018

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Why America wants a war with Russia
by Palloy
21 Feb 2018

Just recently I saw this innocent question asked on Moon of Alabama's website, and decided to post a reply:

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/02/russian-bots-how-an-anti-russian-lobby-creates-fake-news.html
"For the life of me I cannot figure why Americans want a war/conflict with Russia."

Ever since US Crude Oil production peaked in 1970, the US has known that at some point the oil majors would have their profitability damaged, "assets" downgraded, and borrowing capacity destroyed.  At this point their shares would become worthless and they would be bankrupt. The contagion from this would immediately spread to airlines, transport businesses, plastics manufacture, herbicides and pesticide production and a total implosion of Industrial Civilisation.

In anticipation of increasing Crude Oil imports, Nixon stopped the convertibility of Dollars into Gold, thus making the Dollar entirely fiat, allowing them to print as much of the currency as they needed.

They also began a system of obscuring oil production data, involving the DoE's EIA and the OECD's IEA, by inventing an ever-increasing category of Undiscovered Oilfields in their predictions, and combining Crude Oil and Condensate (from gas fields) into one category (C+C) as if they were the same thing. As well the support of the ethanol-from-corn industry began, even though it was uneconomic.  The Global Warming problem had to be debunked, despite its sound scientific basis.  Energy-intensive manufacturing work was off-shored to cheap labour+energy countries, and Just-in-Time delivery systems were honed.

In 2004 the price of Crude Oil rose from $28 /barrel up to $143 /b in mid-2008. This demonstrated that there is a limit to how much business can pay for oil (around $100 /b). Fracking became marginally economic at these prices, but the frackers never made a profit as over-production meant prices fell to about $60 /b.  The Government encourages this destructive industry despite the fact it doesn't make any money, because the alternative is the end of Industrial Civilisation.

Eventually though, there must come a time when there is not enough oil to power all the cars and trucks, bulldozers, farm tractors, airplanes and ships, as well as manufacture all the wind turbines and solar panels and electric vehicles, as well as the upgraded transmission grid. 

At that point, the game will be up, and it will be time for Plan B – WW3 and a War Economy.  So we need to line up some really big enemies, and develop lots of reasons to hate them.  Thus you see the demonisation of Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela for reasons that don't make sense from a normal perspective.

The Coming Fall of the House of Saud: Austerity is in, and the Countdown to Saudi Arabia’s Fire Sale is On! [part 2/2]

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Published on From Filmers to Farmers on December 31st, 2017

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"Did somebody say they want to make a deal?" The greatest deal maker the world has ever seen, flanked by his wife on his right and the king of Saudi Arabia on his left, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and the princess of the United States playing mental footsie in the rear, and a guy between the latter two pretending to see nothing while he plans his adventurous and extended holiday with Edward Snowden (photo by The White House)

With austerity policies sweeping the globe it was really only a matter of time before they hit the more affluent parts of the Middle East, although one certainly wouldn't expect the oil-rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be so hot on the heels of the "lazy" Greeks. The word "austerity" has however earned a bit of a bad rap with some and so rendered itself rather unfashionable in certain circles, resulting in no astute leader being daft enough to explicitly impose "austerity" on his or her populace. Nevertheless, when your nation's time has come it doesn't matter what kind of language you prefer to use, because when push comes to shove you either do as you're told and send increasing portions of your nation's population down the river or – and as Alexis Tsipras nearly found out – your country earns itself an early ticket to the dark ages (edit 01/01/2018: or in the case of Saudi Arabia, its dark ages get exacerbated even further).

So when the goons from The Economist came a knockin' and asked Saudi Arabia's monarchy if it was ready to impose those-that-shall-not-be-named policies upon its kingdom –

This is a Thatcher revolution for Saudi Arabia?

– the monarchy's representative threw on the biggest smile he possibly could and obediently proclaimed (with the word "assets" standing in for "under-employed and over-subsidized subjects", and the word "grow" standing in for "be sold")

Most certainly. We have many great, unutilised assets. And we have also special sectors that can grow very quickly.

That's not me being facetious, what with said Q&A session coming courtesy of a 2016 interview The Economist had with the then-prince and now crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman (affectionately known as MbS). If you've never heard of MbS then you obviously haven't been keeping abreast with the headlines coming out of the supermarket checkout aisles, what with MbS having induced the greatest amount of upheaval Saudi Arabia has ever seen since MbS' grandfather founded the kingdom in 1932, much of which was covered in the New Yorker's aptly-titled article "Saudi Arabia’s Game of Thrones".

I'll leave you to your own devices though if you'd like to peruse through the tabloids for coverage of all the trashy palace intrigue, but suffice to say that following ongoing re-shuffling by MbS' frail 81-year-old father, king Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, MbS went from being a virtually unknown in the kingdom to next in line to the throne (ahead of all the king's brothers and six elder sons). With MbS having been given carte blanche from his father to do pretty much as he pleases, in April of 2016 the 32-year-old "long-awaited young reformer", who has been venerated by "a rising younger generation that feels its time has come", unveiled his ambitious social and economic agenda to remake the kingdom for the modern age via weaning it from its dependence on oil receipts to being based on mining, tourism (religious tourism) and banking activities.

The ostensible reason for all this can be seen as a page taken from George W. Bush's book, what with MbS having stated that "We have an addiction to oil. This is dangerous". Having also presumably missed out on the memo about which way one is supposed to go through the Kübler-Ross five stages of grief, MbS stated, with what was presumably a straight face, that "I think by 2020, if oil stops we can survive", backed up with "We need it, we need it, but I think in 2020 we can live without oil." Likewise,

Within 20 years, we will be an economy or state that doesn’t depend mainly on oil… We don’t care about oil prices – $30 or $70, they are all the same to us. This battle is not my battle.

With domestic energy consumption rising at 6% per year (double its rate of population growth) thanks to increasing affluence, Saudi Arabia would effectively be a net crude importer by 2030, no thanks to oil being used for half its electricity production of which contributes to a quarter of Saudi Arabia's domestic oil use. None of that bodes well for "we can live without oil"

MbS is quite possibly another case of the blind leading the blind, but what's more than just a possibility is that MbS is well versed in the dark arts of CTRL-C and CTRL-V, abilities that he used to lift a series of proposals put together by McKinsey & Company. I'll presume you've never heard of McKinsey & Company before, said outfit being the consulting firm that in December of 2015 put together a report entitled Saudi Arabia Without Oil: The Investment and Productivity Transformation. Coincidentally enough the neoliberal transformations outlined in the report parallel what MbS unveiled half a year later as Vision 2030 (formally recognized by the Saudi cabinet as the National Transformation Program), the fashions of the time dictating that MbS should avoid calling it Austerity for Soon-to-be, and Once-Again, Desert Nomads.

While the ostensible purpose of Vision 2030 Austerity for Soon-to-be, and Once-Again, Desert Nomads is the easier-said-than-done job of balancing Saudi Arabia's budget and transforming it from a petrocratic absolute monarchy to a pluralist, market-based diversified economy, its underlying purpose is to begin the process of cutting off a continually increasing amount of the kingdom's subjects from the teats that spurt blacken milk, teats which are in the process of starting to dry off.

Alongside cutting subsidies, transfer payments, study grants, public sector employment and interest free loans, selling government assets, and reducing if not eliminating low-wage foreign workers, MbS and Company's plan is to also try and convince the average Salam-six-pack that he doesn't want to live the oil-begotten "easy life" but would in fact prefer to be a worker in an insecure market environment. "Congratulations, you're no longer a subject but a citizen now. Freedom at last!"

With 70% of the kingdom consisting of under-30-year-olds who one can presume have recently started watching pirated copies of Dallas, Miami Vice, and Beverly Hills 90210, MbS – who according to one of the advisors appointed by the king is "speaking the language of the youth" – has not only curtailed the power of the police (the religious police, aka The Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prohibition of Vice) but has also established an entertainment authority with a whopping $2.7bn budget. As a senior Saudi royal figure put it, "This is about giving kids a social life. Entertainment needs to be an option for them."

To allow for this, Wahhabism (a puritanical interpretation of Islam) is apparently on its way out thanks to MbS having promised to curtail the powers of the Wahhabi clerics as well as promise to return the country to a more "moderate Islam".

Social restrictions that grate the young are also being loosened, but with their underlying premise being increased financial activity it is hoped that while people have more (top-down) fun that they do so at home rather than by traveling abroad. However, while a considerable portion of the one million Saudis that travelled to Dubai alone in 2017 likely did so because they'd be able to buy a beer in Dubai, this is something they still won't be able to in Saudi Arabia and which will likely result in continued travel abroad.

Suffice to say then that MbS and the entertainment authority still need to do a bit of homework into the notion of "entertainment", because although the kingdom will finally be allowing what were previously deemed "corrupting-to-the-soul" cinemas, comedy shows, pro wrestling, and even monster truck rallies, its first music concert not only restricted attendees from getting shit-faced, but was rather disappointingly only admissible by men.

It's okay. Although there was a massive oversupply the concession stands were only selling goat sausage (photo by Choo Yut Shing)

All those allowances (and cutbacks) do of course come with a slew of challenges though, not the least of which is the fact that Saudi Arabia is a society reared on the notion of government handouts as its right. As just one example, significant portions of the public sector don't actually exist to provide services to the public but rather to buy political loyalty from large swaths of the populace with salaries for what is often little more than notional work. The monarchy's attempt to push more people (including women!) into the private sector have been mostly in vain, what with very few of those already employed by the state having any compulsion to give up their free ride for doing actual work – for less pay – in the private sector, while most of everybody else tries to avoid the private sector if at all possible. Meanwhile, the monarchy is hesitant to proactively "trim the fat" lest it alienate those it had bought off, and although privatization could be an answer to this money-losing problem, who wants to buy an organization that pays loads of people to do essentially nothing?

Likewise, with 86% of Saudi Arabians wanting their water and electricity subsidies to remain intact the monarchy has had to tread carefully since it's certainly aware that hiking fuel prices anywhere in the world has always been a sure-fire way to incite civil unrest (which in this case would induce one of those so-called "Arab-Spring" things). And since Saudi Arabians don't pay taxes, the monarchy played it safe by introducing the income tax only upon foreigners, although Saudi subjects-cum-citizens will now be paying basic "sin taxes" upon such things as tobacco and sugary drinks. Although the head of Saudi Arabia's central bank talked the tough game and said that energy subsidies may be disappearing in toto (energy subsidies did, after all, account for a quarter of all government spending in 2011), when it came to petrol the monarchy bashfully increased its price by 40%, that still leaving gasoline at the below-cost price of $0.21 / litre ($0.79 / gallon), the monarchy therefore continuing to endure deficits in order to avoid its "Arab Spring" overthrow.

Alongside the limitations the Saudi monarchy has in regards to reigning in its populace, the monarchy has had equally dismal results in trying to cut back on its usage of low-wage foreign workers – who make up an absurd 9 million out of the 31 million that call Saudi Arabia home – thanks to the fact that Saudi Arabians themselves have little to no interest to work low-end jobs. That's not just innuendo, the passage from John Perkins' jaw dropping book The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman being just as relevant today as it was more than 40 years ago:

In 1974, a diplomat from Saudi Arabia showed me photos of Riyadh, the capital of his country. Included in these photos was a herd of goats rummaging around piles of refuse outside a government building. When I asked the diplomat about them, his response shocked me: He told me they were the city's main garbage disposal system.

"No self-respecting Saudi would ever collect trash," he said. "We leave it to the beasts."

So thanks to being unable to galvanize many of its subjects to work low-end jobs, lacking the trained populace to work the high-end jobs, and presumably unable to persuade its freeloading population of goats to chauffeur women around in wingless vehicles, the monarchy had little choice but to not only roll back several of its Austerity for Soon-to-be, and Once-Again, Desert Nomads platitudes in early-2017, but to throw Saudi Arabians and their "entrenched poor work ethic" (I wonder where they got that from?) another set of bones. These compensations included announcing in September 2017 that women would be permitted to drive themselves come June 2018 (so as to rid the kingdom of the 1.4 million money-draining foreign chauffeurs), and then a month later announcing the kingdom's plans for the (pie in the sky) $500bn futuristic city NEOM in which high-end workers would be compelled to flock to Saudi Arabia from overseas while the low-end jobs would be performed by robots.

Hello progress!

"Who's the king of this desert now, huh? Who's the king of this desert now! Ba-a-a-a-a-a-a!"

But with said facets of Austerity for Soon-to-be, and Once-Again, Desert Nomads already floundering, and oil still priced below Saudi Arabia's 2017 break-even point of roughly $74, where in the world is the monarchy supposed to find $500bn for a city that it hopes to not only pay for itself but to also cover its already-evident shortcomings? The answer to that, in short, is that the monarchy is planning to undertake what will ultimately be the greatest equity sale fire sale the world will ever see.

With the intentions of raising its Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) to $2tn from the $160bn it currently sits at, what the monarchy has in mind is to create the largest wealth fund in the world, a sizable nest-egg for its end-of-oil days. While this includes the usual humdrum privatizations of state assets like health care, education, and even parts of the military, it also means the erstwhile unfathomable notion of selling the goose that lays the blacken eggs itself, Saudi Aramco.

Heralded as the most valuable company in the world (according to Bloomberg more valuable that even Apple, Google's parent Alphabet, Microsoft, and Berkshire Hathaway combined), Saudi Aramco is not only inherently the world's largest oil company but by being wholly state-owned allows the monarchy to control the entirety of the country's oil development (and thus windfalls). Estimated by analysts to be valued somewhere between $1tn and $10tn ($2tn is the figure estimated by the monarchy itself), since Aramco and the kingdom's oil reserves are Saudi Arabia's lever for geopolitical and strategic power the monarchy of course isn't about to float and sell off the entirety of Aramco but rather offer up a 5% stake in the hopes of raising $100bn.

Your guess is as good as mine as to why they're doing this – be it to raise some needed cash, the first steps taken before much larger chunks of Aramco are sold off and the monarchy attempts to fleece the populace by making a run for it with the loot, or to simply add some transparency to the kingdom's operations so as to settle the nerves of those hesitant to invest in Saudi Arabia's incipient market economy (listing on the London or New York exchanges would require divulging data about its closely guarded reserve levels, less so if it listed on its own exchange in Riyadh, the Tadawul, and even less so if it just skipped the IPO altogether and took up China's offer to buy up the entire 5%). Regardless of where the truth lies, somebody with a keen sense of smell has noticed a potential deal:

The sought after $100bn from Aramco's partial sale are of course dependent on a $2tn valuation, that in itself being dependent on the price of oil. To guarantee it's able to garner as much from its IPO as possible – initially slated for 2018 but delayed for now until at least 2019, perhaps so that oil has a chance to appreciate in price a bit – the Saudi Arabian monarchy has not only undertaken such activities as joining the rest of OPEC (and Russia) to cut production levels by 1.8 million barrels through to the end of 2018 in hopes of raising oil's price, but it has also cut the amount of income tax Aramco pays from 85% to 50% in hopes of sweetening the deal for private investors.

"My kingdom for you throwing your son-in-law under the bus"; "Deal!" (photo by The White House)

On top of things like NEOM being a soon-to-be major letdown, the totality of this recent Saudi Arabian escapade can not only be taken as too little too late, but one in which MbS is simply the personification of the age-old pre-revolutionary scenario in which an expiring regime attempts to reform right before it all comes crashing down. The degree of desperation can be seen via November's absurdities in which MbS proceeded to cement his position as the most powerful prince Saudi Arabia has ever had.

Billed as a corruption purge, guests as Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton were given the boot just before midnight on November 4th in order to make way for the rather opulent detainment of 11 princes and about 200 businessmen. Some of the detainees at the Ritz-Carlton shakedown were indeed allowed to leave, but only after agreeing to sign over assets procured via what have been suddenly deemed corrupt practices. Others, however, still remain incarcerated, most notably prince Alaweed bin Talal, stakeholder in Twitter, Citigroup Inc., and more

It may very well be that the anti-corruption campaign was undertaken in order to rectify ill-begotten gains and so establish faith in Saudi Arabia's transition from a corrupt petrocratic absolute monarchy to a (corrupt oligarchic) market economy, implying that business dealings would no longer require payoffs ("the Dubai model [being] the template here", as put by a senior Saudi official). That being said, there's also the possibility that Saudi Arabia's coffers were deemed to be running a bit too dry and so in need of a top-up, while it is of course also possible that this was a coup of sorts undertaken by MbS in order to further consolidate his power and make sure that no possibility existed for an armada of armed guards to perform a coup of their own.

The latter-most is perhaps the most plausible case of all, what with MbS now in control of the four pillars of state power – the economy, the military and security, the religious establishment, and the media. Furthermore, there is in fact one other notable person besides prince Alaweed that has yet to relinquish any of his riches, that of course being MbS himself, owner of a €500m yacht and a $300m French chateau, the latter said to be the most (monetarily) valuable home house in the world.

United States secretary of state Rex Tillerson (former CEO of ExxonMobil), Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, and what is quite possibly a ghost whispering sweet nothings in T-Rex's ear in hopes that he and his posse be gentle when it comes time for the future king to assume the position (photo by The White House)

To add to all the fractious shenanigans in the upper echelons of Saudi society there's also the ongoing incursions from not only the exteriors (earlier this month Yemeni rebels launched a second ballistic missile towards Riyadh, this time aimed at a palace of king Salman) but also problems of dissent from the interior courtesy of its very own people. In the attempt to deal with the results of cutting off Saudi Arabians from their "addiction to oil" (MbS' words, not mine), it not only turns out that Saudi Arabia is one of the world's largest purchasers of Western weapons, but that after introducing the first stages of its austerity policies it also decided to allocate the largest part of next year's budget to what Bloomberg calls "defence and security". That rather unsurprisingly included a 10-year, $350bn deal in mid-2017 with its long-time Petrodollar partner, which was a follow up to purchases of Canadian-made military equipment, a country of which it can claim to be one of its largest customers.

Calls have been made for good-cop prime minister Justin Trudeau to nix the $142m Saudi Arabian arms deal due to reports that the monarchy has been using said equipment against its own people (military equipment is the coercive "stick" that internal security uses to placate those not fortunate enough to have received oil-fuelled payoffs from the monarchy), although Trudeau has stated that he will refrain from backing out of the deal that bad-cop (former prime minister) Stephen Harper signed with the Saudis:

People have to know that when you sign a deal with Canada, a change in governments won’t immediately scrap the jobs and benefits coming from it.

Nonetheless, it was stated by Canada's ministry of global affairs that

If it is found that Canadian exports have been used to commit serious violations of human rights, the minister will take action.

No word on what that action would be, so I'll just go ahead and presume it means that any of the planned and already built 100 Saudi Arabian Tim Hortons locations would be cancelled and shut down, forcing Saudi Arabians to find their caffeine fix elsewhere.

"First the pyromaniac Filipinos, then we deal with the uncooperative Canadians for taking away our Double Doubles™" (photo by Omar Chatriwala)

Anyhow, with the fattening of the SWF still a while's away, its corollary – the Public Investment Fund (PIF) – has already become active via the purchase of strategic financial and industrial assets abroad, including such acquisitions as a 38% stake in a South Korean construction company as well as a $10bn investment in a Russian investment fund.

In the meantime, and although he had to turn a blind eye to Saudi Arabia's slave-like migrant labour conditions, Richard Branson has become the first international investor to invest in a PIF-funded construction project. That project would be the one to develop 50 islands over a 34,000 sq/km portion of the Red Sea, the monarchy reciprocating with plans of its own to invest $1bn in Branson's Virgin Galactic. (Count that as two winners!)

But with the ultimate purpose of Vision 2030, the SWF, and the PIF being to completely wean the kingdom off of oil proceeds and have it instead rely on little more than foreign financial and industrial assets, I'm a bit stupefied as to how in the world those foreign and financial assets are supposed to operate without their foreign inputs, most notably the rather crucial "input" otherwise known as Saudi Arabian oil.

With this whole escapade therefore being little more than complete nonsense piled on top of complete nonsense, some of it has nonetheless seemed to have gotten even the more astute of us confused. For as Kurt Cobb stated on his blog Resource Insights following the mid-2016 Vision 2030 announcement,

The world's largest exporter of crude oil, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, recently announced a plan for its post-oil future. If a country almost synonymous with the oil economy can see the need for such a plan, how can the rest of the world, particularly the United States, the world's largest consumer of petroleum, not see the necessity of such foresight?

Really? Vision 2030 Austerity for Soon-to-be, and Once-Again, Desert Nomads counts as foresight as opposed to the plans of a faction within the kleptocratic monarchy to triage its subjects into oblivion as well as throw its fellow tribesmen under the bus?

The Saudi move toward a post-oil economy ought to be one of the strongest messages ever that the world is moving closer to a peak and decline in world oil production. The kingdom's actions are telling us that the world's largest crude oil exporter feels it must start today to plan and implement a post-oil economy.

Having put it that way, and if the whole shebang can be taken as a rule, what "the kingdom's actions are telling us" is that the big-wigs planning for a post-oil economy have nobody's interest in mind other than their own, and that the rest of us should seriously distrust any large-scale attempt to implement one.

Furthermore, what Vision 2030's greatest accomplishment will ultimately be is the creation of a grandiose scapegoat – in the form of MbS – to pin Saudi Arabia's collapse on. As The Economist put it in preparation of scapegoating MbS and exonerating itself, "If his ambitious plans falter, Saudis will know whom to blame."

(photo by The Saudi Press Agency)

The faltering of Vision 2030 will by no means be MbS' failt though. As I put it in my review of Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed's book Failing States, Collapsing Systems: Biophysical Triggers of Political Violence,

While Saudi Arabia went on a crash course several decades ago to increase its wheat production in order that food couldn't be used as a weapon against it in the same way that it withheld oil from the West (for a while Saudi Arabia, a desert country, was actually one of the world's largest exporters of wheat), its depleting aquifers have been recently putting an end to production that was also using up 18 percent of its oil revenue. While the state-sponsored Saudi Arabian wheat production is now kaput, Ahmed points out that 80% of Saudi Arabia's food is purchased through subsidies. Along with that, he states that 70% of Saudi Arabia's domestic water supplies are procured through desalination, an extremely energy-intensive process that estimates state burns through about half of its domestic oil consumption.

In other words, Saudi Arabia doesn't need any help from MbS or Vision 2030 in order to precipitate its collapse.

With a third of Saudi Arabia's youth already unemployed, hundreds of thousands of young Saudis entering the job market every year, and so things bound to get a whole lot worse, the House of Saud's days are numbered. And while the Saudi kingdom will undoubtedly fracture into an array of fragments, The Economist will nonetheless live to tell another obfuscation.

To somewhat remedy the present and future obfuscations I'll start off by extending the passage from the previously quoted senior Saudi royal figure:

This is about giving kids a social life. Entertainment needs to be an option for them. They are bored and resentful. A woman needs to be able to drive herself to work. Without that we are all doomed. Everyone knows that – except the people in small towns. But they will learn.

"The people in small towns"?

Well, I've never been to a small Saudi Arabian town, but it doesn't surprise me that some of them may be so "backwards" that they've yet to learn that the only worthwhile "entertainment options" are the top-down entertainments that one ultimately has to pay for. Moreover, I can't help but wonder whether or not they're so "backwards" that while having yet to latch on to the promises of what you might call the modern Dubai model that they've been stubborn enough to hold out for what you might call the classic Dubai model.

For as stated many years ago by the United Arab Emirates' first prime minister, Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum:

My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel.

All the best to those small-town Saudi Arabians (or whatever they'll be called once the House of Saud falls). And to the NEOM-esque Saudi Arabians attracted to the bright lights of the big cities, a few words of advice. With all apologies to John Michael Greer –

Get your camel now, avoid the rush!


The Emperor Dump Has No Hair

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on January 3, 2017

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   By all accounts the world has gone and entered into a pharmaceutical induced hallucination of narcissistic and instant chicanery.  The entire hallucination is conjured to a fevered pitch of delusional bliss, and manipulated by card carrying psychopaths.  The big black snake went and crossed the river and pissed out a bunch of fracked oil for a healthy 1% profit.  The trickster God went and got himself elected President of Merika and forgot how to pronounce pronunciation while he was at it.  Now the worried amongst the diminishing thinking class of people left on our planet think this trickster Dump might start a nuclear holocaust!   A big fat steaming pile of dumpy poppycock I say!  A president Dump even.  I shit out the likeness of his Dumpness in my toilet bowl from time to time. 
   
   We are entering into our 17th year of continual war in the Middle East.  We're all one cancer cell away from bankruptcy.  We're one pretend chemical industrial food product away from terminal cancer.  Dump's gonna drop a nuclear dump on us any day now.  The coral is dying and the ocean is filling with plastic.  Robots are on their way to making human labor obsolete.  I guess the scientist that technology up this wiz bang, to cheap to meter reality, better come up with the singularity app stat.  Cause we're all going to have to float on to the next chapter sooner then later if things keep going the way they are going.  Otherwise we're going to have some real big problems, and I don't think Dumps gonna be able to drop turds out of his shit hole to cover it up either. 
   
   Indeed, there seems to be doom around every corner…waiting.  I've been waiting for 10, going on 11 years now, for doom to arrive and erase a recognizable pile of business as usual from my view.  I'm still waiting.  Not even a year ago I was splitting bamboo poles and weaving them into baskets.  I was making shakuhachi flutes and playing them.  I was even getting paid money to make chicken coops out of bamboo.  I was making money designing permaculture landscapes in suburbia from time to time.  Money for hugelkultur!  Unfortunately the people in our society with the money AND Earth ethics are rare.  Most people don't see the point when eggs, meat, cheese, vegetables…and microwaveable entrees are too cheap to price in the big box stores.  If you want to support yourself and your family with Permaculture then you have to get certified as a pemaculture teaching wizard.

   Unfortunately energy still has a pretty steep meterable cost.  It's metered in dead brown people over there…in our 15, going on 20, year war on terrorism.  When times are tough we can meter energy in unemployed vets and starving children drifting up dead on the coast of the Mediterranean.  I guess the silver lining is that at least they aren't starving any longer since they are dead.  One less worthless eater to feed!   We need to look on the bright side of life, not the miserable, dead, brown, glass half empty, shitty president Dumpy side.  If we all just believe that unicorns are real, and that their rainbow colored skittle shit is a cure all to the cancer that ails us, then we can all watch football and everyone's team will win forever! 
   
   How much longer will business as usual last?  I mean the stock market is healthier then it's ever been.  Even more healthy then before the great depression.  Even more healthy then when tulips sold for a billion dutch dump wigs.  It's even doing more better then when Chia Pets and Pet Rocks reached their pinnacle of mind dumbing numbing trumpness.  Who didn't want a Pet Trump?  You didn't even have to feed it!  Personally I've grown weary waiting for the crash.  It's not as if the trash pile is getting any smaller over at the land of away.  All of my recycling and natural yield wielding has been for naught.  It's morning in Merika and the sun is rising over the land of Dumpness.   He's dumping unintelligible turds out of his finger tweeter everyday, and he's got a legion of repukelicans puking up his poopy poop in unison. 

   You know it's the end of times when a once Druid Permacultue Bamboo Ninja has given up his lawn mowers for a tractor trailer full of even more fractional reserve digibits.  It just wouldn't be a paradoxical conundrum complete with mythological levels of irony and hyperhypocricy without a Trucker Permie Bamboo Ninja out here on Merika's roadways, hauling freight for BAU.  It's too bad that splitting and weaving bamboo baskets can't pay for a family to live in our current Merikan world.  Who needs primitive skills like splitting bamboo with a knife, by hand, and then weaving it into stupid baskets when the robots are coming?  Who needs natural and renewable landscapes where food is the product and waste doesn't exist?  It's not like robots need food.  Is it?  I mean don't they just plug some plugs into us and harvest our bioenergy in the end?  Aren't we going to upload into the cloud and live in the singularity?  What do we even need the Earth for anyways?  It's not like we're going to need our meat suits in like a couple more years.  Once dump finishes  pooping out his trickster shit we'll all have a good laugh and then depart into the blissful Matrix of human created robot hubris.  I bet his Dumpness will poop out a turd that's got a wig on it as well.  Won't that be hilarious?  Who need a drink?  I'd like a dumpy drink.  A dumpy, stupid, better then you, genetically modified corn colored poopy dump drink to swallow down my load of Dump with.  God Bless Merika, and long live President Turd. 

This Week In Doom August 6, 2017


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on August 6, 2017

“Negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting."
 ― Donald J. Trump  


It's not a premise particularly new or unique, but I will say with some pride that I had it early.

What Donald Trump wants to do above all else is hold onto his base, meaning a roughly 35 per cent approval rating in public polls. No matter how bigly he or his surrogates want to describe his inauguration crowds or his popular vote victory, he is a minority president opposed by well more than half of the country. In that way, he will retain the loyalty of the Congressional "Freedom Causus" of libertarian-tinged free- market fundamentalists, and ride out any legal unpleasantness that may come his way.

Of all the things Trump may or may not be, Trump is most certainly a TV guy. He pays attention to Nielsen ratings, he knows how to promote, to capture attention with outrage, and how to play the media. He made his bones saying,"you're fired!" By now it's axiomatic that every time #TrumpRussia starts to heat up, the the Donald or someone on his staff will drop some fresh outrage in order to change the subject  with a 5 AM shitter tweet.

With Trump and his people, every day is a scrap to win the news cycle. Team Trump only cares about his controlling the daily narrative, and of late is failing badly. This week the Quinnipiac poll had Trump's overall approval rating at 33%. This is an all-time low, and factors in Scaramucci but does not account for other news items that broke later in the week, including Robert Mueller's Grand Jury announcement and the announcement of the subpoena of documents from the White House.

Not a good week for the Trumpkins.

The best article summarizing this miserable week was penned by notorious Republican Rick Wilson in the Daily Beast:

Even before this devastating news, if you wanted to pick a week where the Trump administration got its ass handed to it at virtually every turn, this would be it. At almost every moment in the news cycle, Team Trump was getting beaten like a rented mule. The fallout of the Anthony Scaramucci firing is barely cool to the touch, and already this week’s pile of steaming radioactive waste from this White House is hip-deep.

In the wake of the health care/tax cut bill foundering in the Senate, Trump tweeted his executive displeasure and insisted the solons frog march back to their chambers and get something done. This was met with a collective yawn as Senators prepped for August recess. And as a parting “fuck you” to the White House, they left the Senate technically in session to preclude an untimely recess appointment of, say, a pliant and unrecused attorney general who could spike Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Trump was forced into signing the bipartisan Russian sanctions bill. Passed by overwhelming, veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate, Trump was trapped like a Russian mink in a snare. 

Trump was even trolled on Twitter by Dmitry Medvedev for “total weakness.” In Russia, they murder their opponents and even supporters gone past their sell-by date. Where’s your spine, Donzo? The hits just keep on coming:

Another massive loss for Team Trump: the death of the cruel, phony attempt to frame Hillary Clinton and the Democrats for the murder of Seth Rich. Rich wasn’t killed by the Clintons, but Fox News and the White House were apparently delighted to torture his family. The accusations in a new lawsuit against Fox News and subsequent reporting over the withdrawn story of Seth Rich’s murder have already implicated outgoing White House press secretary Sean Spicer—who met with the investigator working on behalf of Trump superfan Ed Butowsky—but may reach Donald Trump himself.

As much as the blowhard-in-chief likes to proclaim any non-fawning story as “fake news,” here are allegations of some of the genuine article being made by hand in the West Wing. And apparently this wasn’t the first such manufacture:

“Donald Trump was also revealed to have personally written his namesake son’s deceptive and false statement about the Trump Tower meeting with Russians who came to New York to offer the Trump team compromising information on Hillary Clinton. You could almost hear the howls of laughter from the special prosecutor’s SCIF. “

And then there is the War on Leaks, led by the obsequious and eager to please AG Sessions, with rounds of investigation and recrimination.  Say nothing of the incipient White House Civil War between the Generals and the Alt Reich. COS Kelly ousted unfireable mystery man Ezra Cohen-Watnick, he of the handing raw intel to disgraced Congressional shitheel Devon Nunes. In response the Breitbart wing of the party has come gunning for McMasters. Grab the popcorn, but take the Generals and give the points.

And while on the subject of pointless efforts going nowhere, a promised trade bill and a promised bill to limit legal immigration will give true believers a little gristle, but will pass to a soundless and forgettable death in Congress. Although the immigration bill did provide us the Goebbels-esque spectacle of certified mole-person Stephen Miller referring to CNN's Jim Acosta as “cosmopolitan,” a term used by extremists to tag people suspected of extra-national allegiances or insufficient "assimilated" because of how they look, speak or live. (The history-challenged should read Charlie Pierce on the ignoble history of cosmopolitan-as-epithet here.)

But to return to Quinnipiac and the Holy Cause of winning the news cycle, at which Team Trump went winless last week. Rick Wilson again:

Increasing numbers of Americans say they believe Trump isn’t honest or capable. As his numbers pass some critical support thresholds, the magic of 2016 starts to morph into the fear of 2018 in the minds of many elected officials. The Great Distancing has begun. To top it all off, even Matt Drudge helpfully pointed out that Trump’s number is lower than Obama ever received.

So one wonders why Quinnipiac has Team Trump at 33 per cent when the normally less rabid Gallup poll had him at 38? It may be that the Congressional Rs have decided that Trump is unsalvageable, and are hoping to get away from a sinking Titanic before it can suck under their re-election hopes. Several weeks ago observers noted the creation of several million Twitter bots, an alt-Reich social media army ready to deploy at the twitch of a Mercer, the better to influence which stories "trend" on Twitter. Should Team Trump continue to sink, watch for the deployment of zombie-bots Making America Grate Again.

Let's end with the question posed by Charlie Pierce in his week-ending article:

What's the only thing worse than being the target of a grand jury called by Robert Mueller?

Being the target of two grand juries called by Robert Mueller!


This being about Doom, etc., here are some short pieces that may amuse while you're waiting for the latest methane hydrate explosion.

Is a Coup Inevitable?

 Yale historian Timothy Snyder, author of the new book "On Tyranny" says we may have one year left to save American democracy…

The fact that democracies usually fail is a rule which”… Americans believe…“can’t apply to us…Donald Trump will have his own version of Hitler’s Reichstag fire to expand his power and take full control of the government by declaring a state of emergency…In an authoritarian regime change, at the beginning the individual has a special kind of power because the authoritarian regime depends on a certain kind of consent. Which means that if you are conscious of the moment that you are in, you can find the ways not to express your consent and you can also find the little ways to be a barrier. If enough people do that, it really can make a difference — but again only at the beginning.


Aaahhhhpocalypse Now!: 10 Dark Visions Headed Your Way

For readers of The Doomstead Diner, Apocalyptic visions-R-Us. Alternet recently gathered some of the best—or  worst—apocalyptic thinking in one place. This list contains plenty of bad news on economic, planetary and political fronts, enough to satisfy the doomiest doomer. Here are 10 visions of the apocalypse—coming soon!


This Big Hole in the Sun is Not a Good Thing

And as we gear up for observing the total eclipse of the Sun on August 21, other heliocentric newz is not so good. The sky monster that will eat a hole in the sun on that date has a partner,

 a 75,000-mile-wide hole that’s big enough to be seen from Earth, big enough to be given a name (AR2665), and potentially big enough to produce ‘M-class’ solar flares which can knock out communications satellites, create radiation storms and cause electronic chaos. This is not a good thing.


And at week's end, some proof that yes, there is a God:

Former drug company executive Martin Shkreli is convicted of fraud

NEW YORK, Aug 4 (Reuters) – Former drug company executive Martin Shkreli was convicted of securities fraud by jurors in a U.S. court in Brooklyn on Friday, after a highly publicized, month long trial.

Federal prosecutors had accused the 34-year-old of defrauding investors in his hedge funds and stealing from his old drug company, Retrophin Inc, to pay them back.

Jurors found Shkreli guilty on two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy, on the fifth day of deliberations. 

Here's hoping the boys in Cellblock D are preparing Shkreli a special welcome.


We end this week secure in the knowledge that Robert Mueller has two grand juries working overtime on the Trump Family Grift kept afloat with laundered Russian oligarch cash, plus obstruction of justice, if not just overall being a dick. Suffice it to say that we are grateful to not have a phalanx of FBI gumshoes and mean-spirited prosecutors with a thirst for vengeance crawling all up in our bidness.


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere, and was active in the Occupy movement. He lives in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary and is the proud parent of a recent college graduate. He will have failed if not prominently featured on an enemies list compiled by the current administration.

Q is for Quotidian Fluctuations in a Teacup

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Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on June 12,  2017

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Here in the UK, things have been a little weird over the past week. People have red rings around their eyes and they get angry at the slightest provocation. You may have heard that there was an election, and that the result was somewhat unexpected and confusing. You may have seen some news about it and experienced a fleeting sense of bewilderment, wondering whether it was relevant in any way to your own life. And then, deciding that it wasn't, you will have instantly forgotten about it. But if you're even a wee bit curious as to what is afoot, here is an explainer of sorts. I will summarise the election twice. The first summary will be incredibly brief. In fact, it will be one sentence. Should your curiosity be piqued, the second summary will be a bit more in depth.

Summary 1

Nobody is in control and the politicians are running around like headless chickens emitting a strange gurgling squawk from their neck holes as they hold up banners saying 'Situation Normal – please carry on shopping'.

Summary 2

Okay, take a deep breath and get ready to shake your head slowly from side to side whilst quietly muttering "And these people once ran a whole empire?" For clarity and understanding I shall proceed in bullet point format.

 

  • So, the prime minister, Theresa May — a vicar's daughter who was never elected to lead the country and only promoted to the position after David Cameron resigned following the Brexit vote — called a snap election a little over a month ago.
  • The prevailing logic was that her party, the Conservatives (Tories), would prevail in a landslide, thus cementing her authority and enabling her to follow through on some of her most favoured pledges, such as breaking up with the European Union (which, ironically, she was opposed to in the vote), bringing back grammar schools, taxing people with dementia so that their homes can be stolen, and re-legalising fox hunting for the 1-percenter chums of her investment banker husband.
  • Political analysts boldly stated the Tories would win a landslide because May's only viable opponent, Jeremy Corbyn (leader of the opposition Labour Party), was completely unelectable, despite being very popular with the non-elite.
  • Corbyn, it was said, was 'completely unelectable' because he was a bearded socialist who rode a bicycle to work and spent his down time growing organic vegetables rather than chasing foxes with dogs and selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. In short, he was 'crazy'.
  • Much was made of a statement he made when he said he wouldn't want to start a nuclear war and kill millions of people, which was seen as hopelessly idealistic and weak. What a loser!
  • And the fact that he once spoke with representatives of the IRA (remember them? The Irish Republican Army) to try and get a peace deal. Clearly a friend of terror!
  • A smear campaign was launched by the media, with just about every publication, including so-called progressive outlets, such as The Guardian and the BBC, saying he was not fit for office.
  • Pollsters predicted that the Labour Party would be wiped out — possibly for generations — and we would enjoy a prosperous future governed by the Tories, whose main objective was to privatise everything and share out the spoils among the top 1%.
  • But not everyone loved the Tories. In fact, anyone not under the spell of the media smear campaigns, or under 60, hated them. With bells on.
  • They hated them so much that some of the other progressive parties, such as the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, even bowed down and told their supporters to vote for Labour.
  • This made some of their supporters angry. They didn't like the idea of tactical voting. "It will end in tears," they opined.
  • But young people were quite keen on the idea of getting rid of the Tories and electing Jeremy Corbyn. He had promised them a long list of things, such as abolishing tuition fees for students,   halting austerity programmes and taxing the rich more to pay for public services. Oh, and he was not going to privatise the National Health Service, which the Tories wanted to do.
  • Fighting between the two sides was bitter and acrimonious. The media stooped low, very low.
  • And it began to work. People started to call Jeremy Corbyn 'the terrorists' friend', Jezbollah and Red Jezza.
  • As all this squabbling was going on a young Islamic fanatic walked into a pop concert in Manchester filled with teenage girls and children and detonated a suicide bomb, killing 22 innocents.
  • Everyone went quiet for a few days until Theresa May popped up again saying she was the only one who could be trusted to keep Britain safe from terrorists.
  • But then people with a memory longer than the average goldfish remembered that in her previous role she had axed 20,000 police officers as part of an austerity drive. The police themselves said that would probably have caught the terrorist if they hadn't been so underfunded and resourced.
  • Some of the right wing newspapers began to turn on Theresa May, although they made it clear that the still hated Jeremy Corbyn even more because he 'supports terrorism' and doesn't like war.
  • Theresa May, who enjoyed war and said she would be more than happy to nuke entire nations, tried to fight back. But there was a problem. All she could say was "I am strong and stable" over and over, like a robot that had been programmed by a 10-year-old using BASIC and was stuck in a recurring logic loop. People began to call her the 'Maybot'.
  • She came across very badly in media appearances and decided not to turn up to a televised debate for party leaders, which looked bad.
  • Then, for some reason known only to her and her team of advisors, she stated that she was going to confiscate everyone's houses when they got old and infirm. This didn't go down very well with a lot of people.
  • The gap between Labour and the Tories began to narrow as the election approached, sending several newspapers in paroxysms of terror. All the stops were pulled out in smearing Corbyn and his party. 
  • But none was more terrified than The Guardian, which had been knifing Jeremy Corbyn in the front for the past two years and suddenly realised he was in with a chance of winning. The editor decided to completely reverse position on Corbyn, ordering all leader writers to do a U-Turn on the man. Up until then the progressive organ had advocated a Blairite ideology of free market capitalism under the guise of 'socialism lite'. The spectacle of journalistic slithering and backsliding and was enough to upset a delicate stomach.
  • And then three Islamic fanatics attacked central London on a Saturday night, butchering people with kitchen knives and slitting a waitress's throat before they were killed in a hail of bullets by police.
  • Everyone went silent, again. It was only a week before the election. A few liberals could be heard bleating about extending the hand of love to Jihadis, but otherwise it was quiet.
  • In fact, things were pretty quiet right up to the day of the poll, other than a constant low level murmuring on social media about tactical voting.
  • Nobody mentioned the almost £2 trillion (and rising fast) national debt, or the precarious state of energy reserves. These were issues that are not considered important enough compared to, say, Jeremy Corbyn's fondness for growing his own vegetables, or the fact that he once rode around behind the Iron Curtain on a motorbike. 
  • On election day, every online British news site declared that the Tories would win by a substantial margin, meaning that Corbyn supporters might as well just stay at home. A suspicious person would almost think that there was a coordinat … oh, never mind.
  • Polls closed at 10pm and then it was revealed that there was a SHOCK EXIT POLL which showed that Jeremy Corbyn could potentially WIN!
  • How could the opinion pollsters have got it so wrong, gasped the public. I mean, they never get it wrong, do they?
  • Corbyn supporters went wild with excitement for several hours as the results began to come in, most of which showed the Tories being savaged by the electorate, even in supposed 'safe seats'. For the second time in less than a year, it seemed people were lining up to plunge their daggers between the ribs of an out-of-touch government.
  • A Tory bloodbath ensued and by the next morning it looked like the government was DOOMED… 
  • BUT there was a major catch. Something which would take a while to sink in for Corbyn's supporters…
  • The Tories had still WON, albeit by a margin not large enough to mean they could be declared fit to form a government.
  • A HUNG PARLIAMENT was declared.
  • Which does not mean suits dangling on the end of lamp posts (yet) but simply means there was no overall winner and  a caretaker government would have to be put in place until another election could be scheduled (and we're getting pretty sick of elections, I can tell you).
  • But Labour supporters (and many others) STILL saw it as a victory and started drinking beer, even though it was a Friday morning, and they should have been drinking tea instead.
  • And then Theresa May, who should have been dead at this point, TOTALLY KILLED THE PARTY!
  • She went to see the Queen and told her she was forming a new government with the DUP. Queenie said "Okay, Mrs May."
  • "The DU what?" said everyone.
  • The DUP — Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party. They had enough elected Members of Parliament to form a viable majority with the Tories.
  • Everyone frantically Googled the DUP to see who they were and what they stood for. When they found out there was much gnashing of teeth and renting of hair.
  • The DUP, it turns out, are an Irish version of ISIS. As Presbyterian fundamentalists, they define themselves by what they hate, which is Catholics, gays, single mothers, sin, Catholics, modernity and gays. What's more, many of their supporters wear black balaclavas and paint murals on the sides of houses depicting them holding machine guns with words such as "Never Surrender" and lines of scripture.
  • These people were now potentially our government.
  • And Jeremy 'the terrorists' friend' Corbyn was still free to spend plenty of time down at the allotment watering his pumpkins.
  • Progressives fell into a profound pit of despair as something beyond their worst nightmares had come to pass. Their strategic voting hadn't worked, and the smaller parties, such as the Greens, having voluntarily acted as doormats, had lost credibility.
  • But it wasn't all bad news from their perspective, at least now EVERYONE hated Theresa May — including her own party. For she has taken a party that was telling itself to get ready to rule for several decades, if not forever, and brought it to the much reduced point where they had to cosy up to people who wore ski masks in the pub.
  • She'll probably be killed off for good shortly and replaced with Boris 'the buffoon' Johnson.
  • And she didn't even get to re-introduce her favourite blood sport, which must hurt.
  • To further confuse things Scotland voted FOR the Tories, rather than their beloved Scottish Nationalist Party — meaning the Scots wanted to be part of Britain and rejected the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon's desire to break away from England BUT surrender to the EU. Confused yet?
  • Meanwhile, the pound fell on all the uncertainty, and the whole process of Brexit has been thrown into confusion. And the EU just sits there, thrumming its fingers on the desk and saying "Well, are you leaving, or aren't you? Make your mind up."
  • But the DUP don't like the idea of Brexit (which must be sinful, in some way) — despite once stating that Europe was run by the Antichrist — and seeing as they have a very big bargaining chip they might insist on either staying in the EU or watering down the terms of leaving it — most probably in the form of keeping the borders open.
  • Meanwhile 'unelectable' Corbyn is down at his vegetable plot fertilising his brassicas, a wry smile on his weathered face. Not only does he now have a large army of fanatical supporters, but he has some major chunks of the media begging for forgiveness. And if another election were called in the next couple of years —which, let's face it, is looking very likely — he'd stand a good chance of winning.
  • So, to recap, the Tories won but they 'lost', Labour lost but they 'won', the Scottish Tories won for Britain but lost for Scotland, the Northern Irish Presbyterians, who could never have dreamed of winning, have won the whole UK, UKIP has disappeared but might appear with a vengeance if Brexit is threatened, the Green party got thrown on the compost heap and the Liberal Democrats simply annoyed everyone — all clear?
  • And still nobody mentions the debt or the energy entropy time bomb …
 
So there you have it. I imagine it looks like a storm in a teacup from an international perspective — but it sure feels uncomfortable when you live in the teacup.
 
And the winner is …

What Can Governments Hide From Us? Lessons From WWII

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Published on Cassandra's Legacy on July 7, 2017

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What Can Governments Hide From Us? Lessons From WWII

 
In this post, I examine the historical case of the Russian campaign of the Italian army during WWII to discuss how effective can governments hide important facts from public knowledge. I think that these black-out campaigns can be very effective and it may well be possible that they are being enacted right now. 
 

Governments are not known to be benevolent organizations. On the contrary, when it is question of ensuring their own survival, they are ruthless. And they are well known to lie to people. The case of the "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq is well known but, at least, eventually it became clear that it was a lie: these weapons didn't exist. But it often easier to hide existing things than to create non-existing ones.

The internet is full of claims that governments or some of their institutions are engaged in this kind of lies. They are hiding from us the spreading of poisons in the sky in the form of chemtrails, the building of hidden concentration camps for political opponents, the fact that aliens landed and were captured, the fact that oil is really a renewable resource constantly recreated underground by abiotic processes, that climate scientists are engaged in a worldwide conspiracy to scare us first and then enslave us. The latest one is about "child slaves on Mars".

These claims are usually described in terms of "conspiracy theories" and most of them are so hopelessly naive and absurd that they raise the legitimate suspicion that they are part of some targeted disinformation campaign. But it seems to be easy to convince people to believe in the weirdest ideas, so maybe these legends are spontaneous evidence of this tendency. Still, it is also true that conspiracies do exist and that governments are often actively engaged in them (I can propose at least one well-documented case). So, we may ask ourselves a very general question: can governments hide important things from us? Let me examine a couple of historical examples.

Perhaps the mother of all government conspiracies was the extermination of the Jews and of other ethnic and social groups during WWII. Did the German know about what was going on, at the time? The question is controversial. On one side, it is argued that the Germans had been exposed to years of aggressive anti-Jews propaganda and that they couldn't miss the fact that the Jews were disappearing from their homes. Besides, so many people were involved with the extermination program that it wasn't just possible that even ordinary citizens wouldn't be able to understand that something monstrous was going on.

On the other side, it is noted that the Germans never could read anything about the extermination in the press, only that the Jews were being "relocated to the East," which would account for their disappearance from German cities. But the main point was that the Germans who understood what was going on couldn't say that publicly. The few who did were arrested and quickly executed. And the message was clear for all the others.

Personally, I can't say much about what the average German could or could not know during WWII. But I can offer an example of a situation that I know much better: that of Italy. The Italian government didn't engage in the mass extermination of the Jews during WWII, but we can find a significant example of "media fog" with the defeat of the Italian forces in Russia, between 1942 and 1943.

Italy engaged some 250,000 men on the Eastern Front, a major effort that ended in disaster when the Italian forces were decisively defeated by the Red Army in a series of campaigns that started in November 1942. By February 1943, the Italian forces on the Eastern Front had ceased to exist. The losses are variously reported, but probably amounted to about half of the expeditionary force. It was probably the greatest defeat suffered by Italy over its history. The disaster was so great that we could consider it as sufficient to charge the commander-in-chief with criminal incompetence and have him hanged upside down. That was, indeed, the destiny of the Italian leader, Benito Mussolini, but only two years later, in April 1945, and this specific criminal act didn't seem to have played a role in the event.

So, what did the Italians know about the Russian disaster while it was happening?  For one thing, the news of the defeat in Russa never appeared in the Italian press during the war. It is instructive to follow the news as they were reported in the Italian press. Up to December 1942, there are daily reports about the Italian expeditionary corps in Russia, the "ARMIR". Then, the reports fade out. The last one that I have been able to find on the Italian newspaper "La Stampa" dates Dec 22, 1942. Afterward, reports continue coming from Russia, describing battles fought between the Germans and the Soviets, but the Italians have disappeared. It was as if the quarter million men of the army had vanished into thin air.

That doesn't mean, of course, that the Italians couldn't know at least something about what was happening on the Russian front. It would have been easy to understand that something had gone terribly wrong just from what the press did not say, that is from the disappearance of all mentions of the Italian forces in Russia. Besides, there were tens of thousands of veterans who were repatriated after the defeat: many were sick, wounded, frostbitten, or in desperate conditions of psychological shock. They were told by the government to say nothing about what they had seen in Russia, but it is unthinkable that all of them obeyed and, in any case, their presence couldn't be ignored. Yet, the "media fog" that the government had enacted was successful. Italians seemed to be unable to discuss or express their outrage at the disaster, at least as long as the Fascist government remained in control of the country. Only years after the war was over, the disaster in Russia became widely known.

A similar situation existed with the war. In the 1940s, Italy and Germany both faced what we call today an "existential threat" in the form of military annihilation. Yet, their citizens were never told, up to the last moment, that the war was being lost. Also in this case, it was not difficult to understand what was going on from what the newspapers did not say, but it seemed impossible to state it in public or to debate it.

Now, it is always difficult to generalize, but I think that these historical examples can tell us something about how governments can hide truth: simply by not mentioning it. In other words, governments cannot make the truth disappear, but they can "blur" it, marginalizing it and making it appear unimportant.

Today, the entity that we call "The West" is facing existential threats in the form of resource depletion and global warming. Yet, the mainstream media are completely silent about resource depletion and, at least in the US, they seem to be aiming at silencing the discussion on global warming. Not that people cannot know what's going on, there are plenty of blogs and discussion groups where you can learn the truth. But it remains an unofficial, marginal truth that plays no role in the general discussion. The main discussion remains dominated by concepts such as "making the country great again" and "restart growth," probably as impossible as it was for Italy to defeat the Soviet Union and the USA together, during WWII.

________________________________
 

Below you can see the last piece of news on the Italian newspaper "La Stampa" that mentions the "ARMIR", the Italian expeditionary force in Russia. It is dated 22 December 1942 and it only states that the defensive measures taken to contain the Soviet attacks are being successful. I was unable to find further mentions of the ARMIR in later issues that appeared during the war. By February 1943, the Italian forces in Russia had ceased to exist.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washington and Berlin on a Collision Course

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Published on Greanville Post on July 5, 2017

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The 9.5 billion euro pipeline is being financed by five companies; Germany’s Uniper and Wintershall; Austria’s OMV; France’s Engie; and Anglo-Dutch Shell. All these majors operate in Russia, and have, or will establish, pipeline contracts with Gazprom.



In a joint statement, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern stressed that, “Europe’s energy supply is a matter for Europe, not the United States of America”; “instruments for political sanctions should not be tied to economic interests”; and the whole thing heralds a “new and very negative quality in European-American relations”.

An oil trader in the Gulf bluntly told me, “the new sanctions against Russia basically amount to telling the EU to buy expensive US gas instead of cheap Russian gas. So the Germans and the Austrians basically told the Americans to buzz off.”

A top US intel source, Middle East-based and a dissident to the Beltway consensus, stresses how, “the United States Senate by a nearly unanimous vote have decided to declare war on Russia (sanctions are war) and Germany has threatened retaliation against the United States if it initiates sanctions.

Germany accused the United States of trying to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline of Russia to the EU so that the US can export their liquid natural gas to the EU, making the EU dependent on the United States.”
But then, there’s a possible game-changing aftermath; “That would spell the end of NATO if a trade war between the EU and the United States takes place.”

The usual Brexiteer suspects obviously are falling like a ton of bricks over the “Molotov-Ribbentrop 2 pipeline” – another trademark expression of paranoia by Poland.

They are even demonizing Germany for daring to do business with Russia, “undermining the security and economic interests of Eastern and Central Europe” and – yes, roars of laughter are in order — undermining “American emotional backing for NATO.”

So much pent-up “emotion” even leads to a nasty accusation of betrayal; “We know which side Poland is on. Which side is Germany on?”

What’s really unforgivable though is that Nord Stream 2, in practice, buries for good failed state Ukraine’s $2 billion in revenue from pipeline fees.

Nord Stream 2 is opposed by all the usual suspects; Poland; the Baltic states; Washington; but also the Nordic states. The top official argument is that it “harms EU energy security”. That in itself embeds a massive joke, as the EU has been harming itself in interminable “energy security” discussions in Brussels for over a decade.


Lucrative creative destruction, anyone?

Analyst Peter G. Spengler qualifies the US Senate bill as a “declared, but not yet executed act of warfare, an act of (sanctions) war against Germany and Austria directly, possible recipients within the EU indirectly.”

Spengler draws attention to the reminder of the FRG/USSR Agreement on Economic Cooperation of 1978 with a 25 years duration 1978 Agreement of Economic Cooperation between the then Federal Republic of Germany and the USSR, designed to last for 25 years; “This agreement together with all the foregoing treaties between West Germany and the Soviet Union were the basis on which [Helmut] Kohl could build his ‘Haus Europa’ with the Soviet Union/Russia from the summer of 1989 in Bonn onwards.”
Crucially, this agreement also included a gas transportation triangle between Moscow, Teheran and Bonn, and was “fiercely but completely clandestinely embattled by the Carter administration, among so many silent wars against the Federal Republic of Germany in those years.”

And guess who was trying to sabotage the agreement 24/7; recently deceased Polish “Grand Chessboarder” Zbigniew Brzezinski.

So nothing much changed since the late 1970s; Washington demonizing both Tehran and Moscow. The section of the US Senate bill related to Russia is some sort of after thought to yet another hardcore package against Iran, the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act (which includes the Russia sanctions.)

It’s not an accident that the US Senate sanctions bill targets energy; this is a sub-product of a fierce energy war. But what is the US Senate really up to? Call it creative (lucrative) destruction.
The US Senate is convinced that Nord Stream 2 “would compete with US exports of liquefied natural gas to Europe”. Thus the US government “should prioritize the export of United States energy resources in order to create American jobs, help United States allies and partners, and strengthen United States foreign policy”.

Yet this has absolutely nothing to do with helping “allies and partners”; it’s rather a case of US energy majors getting a little help from their friends/puppets in the Senate. It’s in the public domain how US energy majors donated over $50 million in 2015/2016 to get these people elected.


Watch those Hamburg fireworks

Compared to the US Senate, the role of the European Commission (EC) in the saga remained somewhat murky, until it became clear it will interfere via a “mandate”. This “mandate” will have to be approved by a “reinforced qualified majority” vote by member states, a higher than usual threshold of 72 percent of EU states representing 65 per cent of the population.

Spengler observes how, “the commission’s continued attempts to get a legal foot in the contracts between European companies and Gazprom would be much more detrimental and potentially efficient than even a President’s signing of the Senate (and House) sanctions law.”

So where will this all lead? Arguably towards an extremely messy clash “between the European Commission/Court of Justice and German/Austrian (plus Russian) jurisdiction.”

The Senate bill will have to be backed by a veto-proof majority in the House; that vote won’t happen before the G-20 in Hamburg. Then it would become law – assuming President Trump won’t squash it.

The key, “nuclear” issue is a non-mandatory clause for the US Treasury to sanction those five Western firms involved in Nord Stream 2. If the law is approved, the White House better ignore it. Otherwise Germany, Austria and France will definitely interpret it as a declaration of war.

Trump and Chancellor Angela Merkel will definitely be on a collision course at the G-20, with Merkel emphasizing discussions on climate change, refugees and no trade protectionism, much to Trump’s disgust. The Russia sanctions bill just adds to the unholy mess. Expect a lot of fireworks “celebrating” those bilaterals in Hamburg. 

 

Fear and loathing on the Afghan Silk Road

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Published on Asia Times on June 21, 2017

An Afghan policeman looks at the bloodstains of victims outside a mosque where a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in Kabul, June 16, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Omar Sobhani

An Afghan policeman looks at the bloodstains of victims outside a mosque where a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in Kabul, June 16, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Omar Sobhani

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Will the New Silk Roads, a.k.a. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) ever manage to cross the Hindu Kush?

Temerity is the name of the game. Even though strategically located astride the Ancient Silk Road, and virtually contiguous to the US$50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a key BRI node – Afghanistan is still mired in war.

It’s easy to forget that way back in 2011 – even before President Xi Jinping announced BRI, in Kazakhstan and Indonesia, in 2013 – the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton touted her own Silk Road, in Chennai. No wonder the State Dept.’s vision bit Hindu Kush dust – because it assumed war-torn Afghanistan as the plan’s lynchpin.

The state of play in Afghanistan in 2017 is even more depressing. Dysfunctional does not even begin to describe the administration that emerged out of the fractious 2014 presidential election and which passes for a government.

Since 2002 Washington has spent a mind-boggling US$780 billion on its (unfinished) Operation Enduring Freedom. It has absolutely nothing to show for it – apart from over 100,000 dead Afghans.

President Obama’s much-touted 2009 nation-building-cum-counterinsurgency surge was, predictably, a disaster. Aside from reframing the global war on terror (GWOT) as Overseas Contingent Operations (OCO) it achieved nothing. There was no “clear, hold, and build”; the Taliban are back virtually everywhere.  

HinduKush

 

 

 

 
Washington has spent around US$110 billion in Afghan “reconstruction.” Adjusted for inflation that’s roughly equivalent to the full cost of the Marshall Plan. Yet no gleaming Afghan Frankfurt sprang up around the Ghazni minaret; over US$70 billion went to the Afghan military and police; and waste and corruption were always pervasive. Afghanistan’s GDP last year was still a paltry US$17 billion, or US$525 per capita.

The new Afghan “policy” under the Trump administration has consisted in dropping an MOAB (Mother of All Bombs) in the east, to no effect, coupled with the Pentagon demanding more troops. Enduring Freedom forever, indeed.

Wanna go mining? Ask the Taliban

It should not come as a surprise that, under the radar and without most Atlanticist circles even noticing, Chinese government researchers recently met with foreigners in Beijing for a discussion billed as “Afghanistan Reconnected”.

Sun Yuxi, the first Chinese ambassador to Kabul after the Taliban were bombed out of power in late 2001, correctly summed up the stakes as follows: “If the way and connectivity through Afghanistan is not open, it would be like an important vein being blocked on the Belt and Road, which leads to many diseases to this organ.”

How to reconnect/ reconstruct/ rebuild Afghanistan is the substance of sleepless nights in places such as the Beijing-based Centre for China & Globalization think tank.

Everyone knows about the projections Afghanistan may be sitting on at least US$1 trillion in mineral wealth from copper, gold, iron ore, uranium and precious stones. But how to safely extract it?

Photo: iStock

 

 

 

 

Photo: iStock / Getty

Beijing’s security dilemma about protecting its investments is spectacularly illustrated by the ongoing Mes Aynak copper mine saga. The Chinese Metallurgical Group Corp bought the mine – 40 kilometers southeast of Kabul – in 2008. Theirs was the largest foreign investment project in Afghanistan. It took the Taliban another eight years to pledge its resolve not to attack it. 

Meanwhile, on the railway front – which is key to BRI – in September 2016 the first ever freight train from China arrived in Haratan, in Afghanistan, via Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The trade flow is still negligible, though, so no regular service for now.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), led by Russia and China, is finally stepping in. At its latest summit, while warning about the security “deterioration”, the SCO pledged to be directly engaged in finding an “all-Asian” solution for Afghanistan, with both India and Pakistan, now full SCO members, on board.  

The “Syraq” connection

Afghanistan is a close neighbor to the Xinjiang autonomous region – and some of its most inaccessible parts host the odd member of the Uyghur separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which is closely linked to al-Qaeda (while being dismissed by Islamic State).

To compound the problem, any possible New Silk Road eventually traversing the Hindu Kush must consider the direct connection with what’s happening with the phony caliphate in “Syraq”.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is moving inexorably towards the Iraq border. At the same time, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units have reached the Syrian border in Al-Waleed. Between them we happen to find US forces – which are occupying al-Tanaf in Syria. Damascus and Baghdad have agreed, however, to close the al-Tanaf crossing from the Iraqi side of the border. This means the US forces have nowhere to go, except back to Jordan.

Bets can be made that the Pentagon won’t take this lightly. The Ministry of Defense in Moscow is convinced these US forces will use High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) to eventually prevent the meeting of the Iraqi units and the Syrian army, whose mission is to pursue Daesh remnants inside Syrian territory.

This “Syraq” meeting of the armies is so important because it heralds in effect the realignment of a key nexus in the New Silk Roads: Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut.

An Afghan security officer keeps watch at the site of a road being constructed by a Chinese company in Afghanistan. Photo: Reuters

 

 

 

 

An Afghan security officer keeps watch at the site of a road being constructed by a Chinese company in Afghanistan. Photo: Reuters

It is a categorical imperative for Beijing to expand BRI across the Levant, linking China to the Mediterranean overland just like the Ancient Silk Road did.  And yet that clashes frontally with the crucial fact admitted on record by Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn himself: that the Obama administration made a “willful decision” to let Islamic State fester, with the objective of arriving at a “Sunnistan” across “Syraq” as a means to accelerate regime change in Damascus. Translation: let ISIS break up the BRI in the Levant.

There’s no question influential sectors of the US deep state have not abandoned the project. At the same time President Trump has declared unwavering war on ISIS. The fundamental question is whether the “House of Saud policy” – striking against Damascus and its supporters in Iran – will prevail in Washington.

When the Taliban went after Afghan warlords across Pashtun lands in the mid-1990s, the local population supported them because they brought safety to roads and villages. They were widely regarded as angels fallen from heaven to help the Prophet against his enemies in Mecca.

This “Syraq” meeting of the armies is so important because it heralds in effect the realignment of a key nexus in the New Silk Roads: Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut

In my travels across “Talibanistan,” some of them documented at Asia Times, I found the Taliban to be stone-cold pious and moralistic, enveloped in a sort of heavily-weighted obscurity, virtually inaccessible.

But the main actors in this renewed Great Game in the Hindu Kush are far from being the Taliban. It’s all about the jihadi diaspora after the collapse of the caliphate in “Syraq”.

ISIS is already shipping out jihadis in retreat in both Iraq and Syria to the Hindu Kush. At the same time, it is actively enrolling scores of Pashtuns with lots of cash and weapons – a workforce including tens of thousands of potential suicide bombers.

Besides Afghans, a new batch of recruits includes Chechens, Uzbeks and Uyghurs, all of them quite capable of blending in with the scenery in a mountainous region inaccessible even to the Pentagon’s MOABs.

It’s no wonder secularized Afghans in Kabul already fear that Afghanistan is the new citadel of a re-morphed caliphate. Against the self-declared Islamic State Khorasan (ISK), it’s up to the SCO – primarily China, Russia, India, Pakistan – to come up with a rescue brigade. Otherwise Eurasian integration will be in mortal danger all across the intersection of Central and South Asia.

Blood on the tracks of the New Silk Roads

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Published on Asia Times on June 14, 2017

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China’s cardinal foreign policy imperative is to refrain from interfering abroad while advancing the proverbial good relations with key political actors – even when they may be at each other’s throats.

Still, it’s nothing but gut-wrenching for Beijing to watch the current, unpredictable, Saudi-Qatari standoff. There’s no endgame in sight, as plausible scenarios include even regime change and a seismic geopolitical shift in Southwest Asia – what a Western-centric view calls the Middle East.

And blood on the tracks in Southwest Asia cannot but translate into major trouble ahead for the New Silk Roads, now rebranded Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) attend the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

 

 

 

 

US President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud attend the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 21, 2017. Photo: Reuters

Trump’s senior staff though maintains that Qatar never came up in discussions with the Saudis. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former Exxon-Mobil CEO and a certified old Middle East hand, has done his best to defuse the drama – conscious there would be no reason for Qatar to continue hosting Al Udeid Air Base and Centcom to a hostile superpower.

Meanwhile, Russia – the Beltway’s favorite evil entity – is getting closer and closer to Qatar, ever since the game-changing acquisition in early December by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) of 19.5% of the crown energy giant Rosneft.

That translates into an economic/political alliance of the world’s top two gas exporters; and that explains why Doha – still holding a permanent office at NATO’s HQ – has abruptly thrown its “moderate rebels” in Syria under the (economic) bus.

Russia and China are bound by a complex, multi-vector strategic partnership. Beijing, privileging economic interests, takes a pragmatic view and is never inclined to play a political role. As the world’s biggest manufacturer and exporter, Beijing’s motto is crystal clear: Make Trade, Not War.

But what if Southwest Asia is mired in the foreseeable future in a permanent pre-war footing?

China and BRI’s best pal Iran

China is Qatar’s top trading partner. Beijing was actively negotiating a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) before the current standoff. Moving forward, a possible scenario is Qatar even pulling out of the GCC.

Qatar is also China’s second-largest source of liquefied natural gas (LNG), while Saudi Arabia is China’s third-largest source of oil. Since 2010 China is ahead of the US as the biggest exporter to Southwest Asia while solidifying its position as the top importer of Southwest Asia energy.

When King Salman recently visited Beijing, the House of Saud ecstatically spun a “Sino-Saudi strategic partnership” based on the signing of deals worth $65 billion. The partnership, in fact, hinges on a five-year Saudi Arabia-China security cooperation agreement that includes counter-terrorism and joint military drills. Much will have to do with keeping the profitable Red Sea-Gulf of Aden corridor free of political turmoil.

Of course, eyebrows may be raised over the fact that Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabism is the ideological matrix of Salafi-jihadism threatening not only Southwest Asia and the West but also China itself.

The New Silk Roads/BRI imply a key role for the GCC – in a mutual investment, trademark Chinese “win-win” way. In an ideal world, the Saudi “Vision 2030” modernizing plan breathlessly being sold by Warrior Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) could, in theory, even reign in the appeal of Salafi-jihadism of the Daesh variety all across Southwest Asia.

What the Iranophobic MBS seems not to understand is that Beijing actually privileges its BRI-based economic relationship with Tehran.

Early last year, when President Xi Jinping visited Tehran, he and President Rouhani pledged to raise Chinese-Iranian bilateral trade to a whopping $600 billion in 10 years, most of it related to BRI expansion.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tehran, Iran January 23, 2016. REUTERS/President.ir/Handout via Reuters

 

 

 

 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tehran, Iran January 23, 2016. Photo: Reuters

China and Iran have been doing serious business. For over a year now, direct China-Iran cargo trains have been crossing Central Asia in only 12 days. That’s just the appetizer for high-speed rail connectivity spanning the arc from China to Turkey via Iran in the early 2020s.

And in a (distant?) future, a pacified Syria will also be configured as a BRI node; before the war, Syrian merchants were a top fixture in the trading-in-small-goods Silk Road running from the Levant to Yiwu in eastern China.

BRI does Turkey, Egypt and Israel

China’s Maritime Silk Road is not about a threatening “string of pearls” – but mostly about port infrastructure, built by Chinese companies, configuring key BRI stops from the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea and Suez all the way to Piraeus port in the Greek Mediterranean. Piraeus is owned and operated by China’s COSCO since August 2016; this upgraded, modern container hub for trade between East Asia and the West is already the fastest-growing port in Europe.

For his part, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already made it clear that Turkey’s national interests involve “the Suez Canal, the adjacent seas, and from there extending to the Indian Ocean.” As much as Ankara has set up a base in Qatar – with soldiers now flowing in – it has also established a Turkish-Saudi Strategic Cooperation Council.

Ankara may have been slowly and surely engaged in a strategic pivoting to Russia – as in the go-ahead for Turkish Stream. Yet that also qualifies as a pivot to China – expected to develop, bumps included, in all key areas, from membership of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Both Turkey and Iran – a possible full member of the SCO as early as next year – are actively supporting Qatar in the current standoff, including via regular food shipments. That shows once again how Beijing simply cannot allow itself to be dragged politically into what is essentially the vicious, intractable Iran-Saudi regional power war. Once again; BRI trumps everything.

Egypt poses an extra problem. It aligns with Riyadh in the current standoff; after all Field Marshall President Al-Sisi depends on the House of Saud “largesse”.

In Egypt, the new Singapore-sized capital east of Cairo is essentially being financed by Chinese investment; $35 billion by the end of last year, and counting. Extra bonuses include Beijing facilitating currency swap deals – providing a much-needed boost to the Egyptian economy. Ahmed Darwish, chairman of the Suez Canal Economic Zone, has nothing but praise to the top investor in the Suez Canal Corridor, which happens to be Beijing.

And then there’s the budding Israeli-Chinese connection. Israel backs the Saudi-UAE anti-Qatar blitzkrieg essentially as yet another proxy war front against Iran.

China is bidding to build the Red-Med high-speed rail connecting the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. If the proverbial sea of containers can be accommodated near Eilat, the Chinese will be able to transship cargo via the Red-Med railway directly to Piraeus – an alternative route adding to the already Chinese-involved Suez Canal Corridor.

FILE PHOTO - A man looks as the world's biggest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) tanker, Qatari-flagged DUHAIL as she crosses through the Suez Canal April 1, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

 

 

 

 

A Qatari-flagged LNG tanker crosses through the Suez Canal. Photo: Reuters

Connectivity is frantic on all fronts. Shanghai International Port Group is running Haifa port. China Harbor Engineering will build a new $876 million port in Ashdod. Israel is already China’s top supplier of advanced agricultural technology – as in water desalination, aquaculture and cattle farming, for instance. Beijing wants more biomedical, clean energy and telecom technology Israeli imports. And the clincher is Israel’s imminent membership of the AIIB.

It’s fair to argue that from now on everything that happens across Southwest Asia will be conditioned by, and interlocked with, BRI’s land-sea superhighway emporium from East Asia and Southeast Asia to southeastern Europe.

Focused on BRI’s comprehensive drive for multipolarization, “inclusive” globalization 2.0, and the rapid spread of information technology, the last thing Beijing needs is a throwback to the past; a foolish, manufactured standoff as the new front in an existential proxy war between the House of Saud and Iran, and with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Israel pitted against Qatar, Turkey, Iran – and Russia.

Talk about sleepless nights in the Zhongnanhai these days.

 

Trump’s Sword Dance Sets Off the War of the Wahhabis

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Published on Sputnik on June 7, 2017

President Donald Trump holds a sword and sways with traditional dancers during a welcome ceremony at Murabba Palace in Riyadh

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US President Donald Trump could not possibly have predicted the game-changing after-effects of his triumphal sword dance in Riyadh.

Or could he?

 

The fact is the House of Saud went amok, in a flash, going after Qatar and bombing from the inside that glorious Arab NATO project – call it NATOGCC — sworn with pomp over a glowing orb.

 

An excited Trump tweeted three times his approval for Riyadh going after Doha. 

Trump and NATOGCC had equaled Daesh and Iran as “terrorists”. The House of Saud went one up — and denounced Qatar for top terror financing, which equals Don Corleone hurling Mafioso accusations against Tony Soprano. 

But then, in an unexpected plot twist, Daesh, handily, graphically, underlined the cosmic stupidity of the whole charade – staging, or at least claiming to stage a terror attack against the Parliament and the Imam Khomeini shrine in Tehran.

 

The current Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, now “guilty” for not blaming Iran as the root of all evils in the Arab peninsula, might even be following the steps of his own father, Hamad, who invented modern Qatar and deposed himself – under Saudi pressure – in favor of his son in 2013.

 

We can’t forget that Bandar bin Sultan, a.k.a. Bandar Bush, notorious former top assembler/weaponizer of jihadis, and frustrated “liberator of Syria”, had famously described Qatar in the past as “300 people and a TV station”.

So what is really going on in this noxious petrodollar swamp?  

The Israel-UAE connection

Let’s cut to the chase and establish that this nasty inter-GCC cannibalization has nothing to do with the Global War on Terror (GWOT). 

Among massive disinformation crossfire, a trail of evidence points to a concerted strategy elaborated by the Israeli lobby (via the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, founded, among others, by nefarious casino schemer Sheldon Adelson, and very close to Bibi Netanyahu); US neocon/Ziocon/neoliberalcon elements; and the UAE ambassador in Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba.

Leaked emails have shown how Otaiba – widely idolized in the Beltway because of his “largesse” – and the neocon Foundation for Defense of Democracies have discussed means of teaching Qatar a lesson for its support of Hamas, and overall non-confrontational policies towards Iran. Otaiba also happens to be close to Jared Kushner – which would explain Trump’s reaction to the anti-Qatar blitzkrieg.

 

Unlike Qatar, the House of Saud and the UAE are one step away from establishing diplomatic relations with Israel – the sine qua non condition imposed by Washington to insert Israel in an anti-Iran Arab NATO guided by Riyadh.

 

A previous row in 2014 offers additional background. Regional intel operatives confirm at the time there were military Emirati maneuvers not far from the Qatari border; London and Paris, for instance, knew all about it.

But the head of the House of Saud in charge at the time was the late King Abdullah, who was in fact an appeaser. The Head-Chopper-in-Chief now is Warrior Prince Mohamed bin Salman, a.k.a. MBS, an arrogant twat who’s already, miserably, losing a war on Yemen — conducted with billions of dollars in US and UK weapons — that has provoked a horrific humanitarian crisis in the poorest nation in the region. It is MBS who ordered the Saudi demonization of Qatar.

Let me out of the terror train

The “terra terra terra” shorthand, for the House of Saud, applies mostly to the accusation of Qatar supporting Shi’ite protest movements in eastern Saudi Arabia. That’s ridiculous; Doha is not involved.

And then there’s the accusation of Qatar supporting Islamists. That’s exactly what powerful Saudi donors – many linked to the monarchy – do.

 

U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber arrives at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar (File)
© REUTERS/ U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Terrica Y. Jones

 

 

 

Doha does support, big time, the Muslim Brotherhood – which has not much to do with al-Qaeda and/or Daesh, and is hated with a vengeance by Riyadh and its puppet al-Sisi in Cairo, who survives on Saudi handouts. What powerful Qatari donors did (up to $3 billion) was support al-Qaeda in Syria, a.k.a. Jabhat al-Nusra, which vast US neocon/neoliberalcon sectors brand as “moderate rebels”.

 

The Saudis, meanwhile, supported their own jihadis in Syria – and elsewhere. WikiLeaks has unequivocally proved how “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide”.

Apart from complex tribal rivalry issues, the key religious factor is that Qatar – unlike Saudi Arabia – is tolerant towards non-Salafis, or “revolutionary” Salafis like the Muslim Brotherhood, and does not try to globally export its version of Wahhabism. For all practical purposes, hardcore Saudi imams consider Qataris heretics. As if they’re almost as bad as “apostate” Shi’ites. 

 

The schism has translated, in practice, into a proxy war in Libya for example. Doha supports Islamic militias in Misrata as well as those faithful to the “Mufti of Qatar” Sadiq al-Ghariani. The Emirates and Egypt support Gen. Khalifa Haftar, the chief of the self-styled Libya National Army (LNA).

 

It’s a gas, gas, gas

Saudi intel disinformation agents are spreading that “Turkey and Qatar are the last two states run by the Muslim Brotherhood. Most probably Qatar will experience a change of regime and exit being the bankroller on behalf of Britain to support all kind of chaos in the region, and that include playing from behind the scenes with Teheran.”

Utter diversionist nonsense. The plain fact is the House of Saud is absolutely desperate. Oil price remains low, around $50 a barrel. The monster Saudi IPO on Aramco is only 12 months away. The House of Saud needs to move the markets towards a higher oil price by any means necessary – ultimatums and threats of war included.

A non-ideological US intel source goes further, stressing how “Turkey, Iran and Russia are moving closer together. The question remains who will control the Gulf States and the oil price — which was being manipulated so far to destroy Russia. The deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia is really just a minor improvement.”

 

So no wonder obfuscation remains the norm – with narratives taking attention away from the House of Saud and placing it on Iran, and now also Qatar.

 

And then there’s the key Pipelineistan angle, mixed with how Qatar as a natural gas powerhouse is immensely annoying OPEC producers Saudi Arabia and UAE. 

Qatar is the largest global exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG). That’s what has allowed it to shape a foreign policy completely independent from the House of Saud. Add to it that Qatar’s fabulous gas wealth yields from the massive offshore North Field, shared with Iran (who controls what it calls South Pars). 

There’s been speculation, obviously unconfirmed by Tehran and Doha, that Iran and Qatar may have reached an agreement on sharing the rights for a gas pipeline from North Dome/South Pars to the eastern Mediterranean in Syria, as long as Doha stops supporting al-Nusra.

Were that to happen, it would signal the spectacular closure of one of the key motives for the Syrian tragedy. The Obama administration had fully approved a Qatar to Turkey – via Saudi Arabia and Syria – gas pipeline as a means of trying to undermine Gazprom. It took a lot of dead bodies and horrific destruction for Doha to realize Moscow would never allow it. 

 

Thus Qatar’s strategic pivot towards Russia – materialized, for instance, via Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund investing $2.7 billion in Rosneft. This may be spelling out, in the medium term, a Qatar way more amenable to the Russia-Iran-Syria connection. Considering that Qatar hosts CENTCOM and is home to Al-‘Udayd, the largest US military base in the Middle East, that certainly does not go down very well at the Pentagon. 

 

As far as the US game is concerned, it’s terminally naïve to believe Washington would not have provided a green light to its Saudi satrap to go after Doha.

Add to it Qatar opening the first yuan clearing center in the Middle East; that’s something that did not go down well with financial Masters of the Universe. In parallel, the much-lauded Trump $100 billion weapons deal announced in Riyadh may have been devised in exchange for the House of Saud delaying as long as possible Chinese oil payments in yuan that would bypass the petrodollar.

To weave conspiracy theories is an idle undertaking. “T.Rex” Tillerson, from his ExxonMobil days, knows the Qatari leadership quite well. And so does “Mad Dog” Mattis, former head of CENTCOM. Watch them; how they act in the follow-up will unveil at least some layers of the current shadow play – and whether the whole charade packs way more punch than mere House of Saud desperation. 

What’s In A Flag?


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Originally published on Daily Kos June 9, 2017

“In the 1950s and 1960s, civil rights activism and new federal laws inspired the same resistance to racial progress and once again led to a spike in the use of Confederate imagery. In fact, it was in the 1950s, after segregation in public schools was declared unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education, that many Southern states erected Confederate flags atop their state government buildings.” 
― Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption


Earlier this year, one Corey Stewart, an overcooked potato currently running for Virginia governor against Republican fixer and bagman Ed Gillespie, campaigned at a Confederate-flag-bedecked gedunk on Virginia's Eastern Shore (a home for retrograde politics ever since Governor Berkeley fled Bacon's Rebellion for safety in 1676.)

A few words about Corey Stewart: He is Chair of the Board of Supervisors of Prince William County, Virginia, and drew national media attention for spearheading Prince William County's 2007 crackdown on illegal immigrants. He was hired as the Virginia chairman of the Trump for President campaign in December 2015, and fired in October 2016. He also drew attention for his use of the word "cuckservative" in a Reddit AMA.

Republican candidate for Governor of Virginia, Corey Stewart, at a campaign kickoff rally in Occoquan, Va., AP Photo/Steve Helber

Let's be clear: Stewart hails from Minnesota and has no ties to the Confederacy aside from whiteness. Stewart has made common cause with those Virginians who have elevated the Confederate flag and Civil War monuments to false-god status:

“Over my dead body when I’m governor of Virginia are we ever going to take down the statue of Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson or any hero of the commonwealth of Virginia,” he roared in a dance hall plastered with the Stars and Bars. He put in a good word for the flag, too.

“I’m proud to be next to the Confederate flag,” said Stewart, a Minnesota native and chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. “That flag is not about racism, folks. It’s not about hatred. It’s not about slavery. It’s about our heritage. … It’s time that we stop running away from our heritage. It’s time that we embrace it.”

Otherwise known as shoveling fresh meat to the base.

Americans have had to endure 150 years of revisionist history from sore losers. I have (hyperbolically) argued with Confederate-flag defenders that, had we as a nation not been beguiled by Lincoln's "soft peace" after the Civil War with paroles for everyone, and executed several thousand Rebel legislators and top-ranking officers, perhaps the many apologists for the so-called "Lost Cause" would not have made so bold with their pens.

And perhaps we would not have had to continue to endure the American swastika as an emblem of the worst instincts of the American experience.

When they say, "heritage, not hate," they lie.

Let's be clear: the Confederate Flag and its derivatives, including the Battle Flag (which is often confused for "the Confederate flag) was created as a symbol of oppression. Period. The Confederacy was founded on the explicit principle that slavery is the “natural and normal condition” of black people. This is not arguable.

The flag’s promoter said:

Our idea is simply to combine the present battle-flag with a pure white standard sheet… As a people, we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause it would be hailed by the civilized world as THE WHITE MAN’S FLAG.

If that is not sufficiently convincing, take what Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate government said in the “Cornerstone Address,” specifically addressing America’s belief that all men are created equal:

Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.

The problem with the flag, and the monuments, is that they have become rallying images for the worst impulse of illiterate, retrograde types. The Trump era gas given implicit permission to white supremacists, neo-fascists and assorted Nazis to come out of the shadows and rejoin public life.

On May 14, Self-proclaimed white nationalist Richard Spencer (he of punch-a-nazi meme fame) led a tiki-torch carrying group of demonstrators in Charlottesville to protest plans to remove a Confederate monument.

Via Periscope, Spencer addressed the crowd thus:

“You will not replace us. You will not destroy us.You cannot destroy us. We have awoken. We are here. We are never going away.” 

And as if to prove the point, we learn via The Root this week that the KKK has filed paperwork for a demonstration in Charlottesville on July 8. And a group who call themselves “Unity and Security for America”  have applied to hold another event on Aug. 12.

In a tasty bit of writing-with-a-flourish, The Root’s Michael Harriot describes organizer Jason Kessler, the blogger too racist for The Daily Caller, as

…one of the many butt-hurt white boys upset over the removal of Confederate monuments—also believes in the bullshit premise of “white genocide,” once writing, “White people are rapidly becoming a minority in the U.S. and Europe,” and adding, “If we’re not able to advocate for ourselves we may go extinct…” 

…neofascists have lately made the statue a symbol of “political correctness gone mad,” because the white man’s ego has lately become as fragile as his toehold at the top of America’s social hierarchy. 

And that’s where we are. The Trump era (Eric Trump: “Democrats aren’t even people”) has unleashed the zombie id of the American right, and it expresses itself in flag and monument-fetish. This is a movement nourished by hatred of the other, as old as wars of extermination of the Native American, enslavement of the African, and hatred of each successive wave of immigrants whose arrival surely announced the defilement of our women and the destruction of our way of life, whatever that means.

Racist ideology runs through the bloodstream of our body politic as surely as does a taste for violence. It has ignorance and fear at its root, and definition of “the other” as dangerous.

Symbols have no inherent meanings, only those people assign them. The Confederate flag (and assorted Confederate monuments) is now assigned many different meanings: a symbol of slavery, an emblem of rebellion, a guidon for white supremacists, an historical artifact,  even a benign display of regional pride. But as white nationalists make bold to reopen old wounds and sow deep divisions, we have to remember the words of Edmund Burke:

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.


Note: If you are a history geek like me, and want to know more about Bacon's Rebellion (1676–1677), a litlte known and less understood episode of history, the net effect of which was to codify and rigidify a race-based caste system in British America, I recommend this article by James Douglas Rice in the online Encyclopedia Virginia.

 


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is the author of numerous rants, articles and spittle-flecked invective, and was active in Occupy. He lives in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary and is the proud parent of a recent college graduate.

Jihad 2.0: the Making of the Next Nightmare

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Published on Sputnik on May 31, 2017

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You are about to enter the ultimate minefield.

 

Let’s start with 28 EU leaders discussing the Western Balkans at a recent summit and blaming – what else – "Russian aggression" in the EU’s backyard.

 

Cue to a Montenegro prosecutor raging that "Russian state bodies" staged a coup attempt during the October 2016 elections to stop the country from joining NATO.

And cue to President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker warning that Donald Trump’s anti-EU rhetoric could lead to war in the Balkans. Juncker, condescending as ever, maintains that, "If we leave them to themselves — Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska, Macedonia, Albania, all of these countries — we will have a war again."

 

The Balkans may be about to explode – all over again. Yet with a twist; unlike 1999, NATO won’t get away with bombing a defenseless Belgrade for 78 days. A new generation of Russian missiles would easily prevent it.

 

The 1999 tragedy in the Balkans was essentially stirred up by fake massacres in Kosovo set up by the BND – German intelligence — using local Albanians and BND agent provocateurs, who shot both sides to stir up a war and break up Yugoslavia.

All Eyes on Albania

 

Kosovo Serb caring Serbian flag during the protest against recognition of Kosovo as an independent state, in the northern Serb-dominated part of the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo, Monday, April 22, 2013
© AP Photo/ Darko Vojinovic

 

 

 

 

 

What’s evolving at the current geopolitical juncture is even murkier.

 

The usual suspects do what they usually do; blame Russia, and damn any evidence.

So let a knowledgeable insider, Dr. Olsi Jazexhi, director of the Free Media Institute in Tirana, Albania, be our guide.

In December 2016, the CIA’s John Brennan went to Albania and issued a fatwa for “war against Russia” – especially in Macedonia.

As Dr. Jazexhi explains, “after Brennan left Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania, a close friend of George Soros, gathered all Albanian political parties in Macedonia and ordered them to support  Zoran Zaev against Nikola Gruevski. Gruevski is seen as filo-Russian and anti-NATO, while Zaev is a lapdog of Soros. As a result, Gruevski was boycotted by Albanians and Zaev had their support to form a government. The promise of Zaev to Albanians is that Macedonia will adapt Albanian as an official language and create a third (half) Albanian state in the Balkans. Macedonians are resisting, but Tirana and Edi Rama are orchestrating Albanian political parties against Gruevski. The end game is to make Macedonia a NATO member.”

Meanwhile, in Kosovo – essentially a nasty narco-Mafioso scam posing as a state and housing Camp Bondsteel, the largest overseas US military base on the planet — Hashim Thaci, the president and former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) goon, is “building an army for Kosovo. The final aim is to integrate Kosovo into NATO even though Serbia rejects this for its former autonomous province.”

 

Jazexhi also details how, “in Albania, we have two major terrorist organizations being protected by the Americans and the Europeans.”

 

The first is what Ankara describes as the Fetullah Gulen Terror organization (FETO), allegedly instrumentalized by German intelligence; “Turkey is protesting why Albania hosts the FETO group but the Americans host them against Erdogan.”

The second is Mojahedin-e Khalq (MKO), which fights against Tehran; “Albania is being turned into the center of MKO. John Bolton was recently in Tirana, with other international supporters of MKO, and they are attacking Iran and calling for regime change.”

 

Kosovo Serb caring Serbian flag during the protest against recognition of Kosovo as an independent state, in the northern Serb-dominated part of the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo, Monday, April 22, 2013
© AP Photo/ Darko Vojinovic

 

 

 

 

 

The MKO’s wacky Marjam Rajavi has also visited Tirana, developing  plans to “topple the Ayatollahs” in Iran.

 

The key issue, as Jazexhi emphasizes, is that “after turning the Balkans into a recruiting center for ISIS/Daesh during the Syria war, now the Americans are turning Albania into a jihad 2.0 state.”

So what is developing is “the same historical mistake as made by the Albanians of Kosovo, who have 100% linked their future with Camp Bondsteel and would will be instantly re-invaded by Serbia in case NATO or the US leave (which they will, sooner or later, inevitably).

Meanwhile, the European Union and the Americans, who want to de-radicalize the Wahhabi Muslims of Europe, keep mum about the Iranian jihadis.”

The “Invisible” Enemy

So the key piece of the puzzle is the configuration of Albania as the center of Jihad 2.0 — against the Slavs in Macedonia, against Tehran, and also against Ankara. No wonder the chief adviser of the Albanian government, until a few months ago, was a certain Tony Blair.

But then there is the “invisible” enemy that really matters.

 

In late March, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic went to Beijing in his last official visit before the April 2 elections. Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed that economic cooperation with Serbia – and the Balkans at large – is a priority for China.

 

No question. In 2014, Beijing created a fund that will invest 10 billion euros in Central and Eastern Europe. Last year, China Everbright bought Tirana’s airport in Albania. China Exim Bank is financing highway construction in both Macedonia and Montenegro.

In Serbia, China Road and Bridge Corporation built the 170 million euro Pupin bridge over the Danube in Belgrade – a.k.a. the “Sino-Serbian Friendship Bridge”, inaugurated in 2014 and 85% financed by a China Exim Bank loan.

 

And the cherry in the (infrastructure development) cake is the 350 km, $2.89 billion high-speed rail line between Athens and Budapest, via Macedonia and Belgrade.

 

The EU has set off alarm bells on the flagship $1.8 billion Budapest-Belgrade stretch, investigating whether the Hungarian section violated strict EU laws according to which public tenders are a must for large transportation projects.

Inbuilt is the proverbial Western haughtiness, ruling that the Chinese could not possibly be capable of building high-speed rail infrastructure as well if not better – and for a lower cost – than in Europe.

 

Budapest-Belgrade happens to be the crucial stretch of the Land Sea Express Route that Beijing pledged to build, way back in 2014, with Hungary, Serbia and Macedonia. That’s the crux of the Southeastern Europe node of the New Silk Roads, now Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); a trade corridor between the container port of Pireus, in the Mediterranean – co-owned by China Ocean Shipping Company since 2010 – all the way to Central Europe.

 

NATO’s official spin is that it must be planted in the Balkans to fight the “threat of terrorism.” According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “I recently visited Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo, and I’m encouraged to see how focused they are on countering the threat of foreign fighters."

Well, the “foreign fighters” happen to be right at home, not only in Kosovo but soon in Albania, the capital of Jihad 2.0. NATO after all excels in creating emerging “threats” that are essential to justify its existence.

Jihad 2.0 may be directed against Slavs in Macedonia, against Iran and against Turkey. Not to mention against the Russian underbelly. The invisible angle is that they can always be deployed to jeopardize China’s drive to integrate southeast Europe as a key node of the New Silk Roads.  

Donalditry Trumpovetsky

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Published on The Doomstead Diner May 28, 2017

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Well, we are about halfway through the first year of the Presidency of His Trumpness over the ever decaying corpse of Amerika.  Global citizens can count themselves lucky that at least so far he hasn't pushed the button to glaze over Beijing or Pyongyang, or whoever else is pissing him off over breakfast while he fires off the tweets.

http://thehill.com/sites/default/files/styles/thumb_small_article/public/blogs/golf.photo_.trump_.png?itok=XFAOdlxd This week as I begin this recap, he took a break from the weekly Golf rounds at Mar de Lago flying in on Air Force 1 surrounded by an Army of Secret Service Agents to go Jet Setting around the world to meet with a variety of Foreign Leaders.  This of course costs the Taxpayer just slightly more than your average First Class Ticket on United for a Hawaiian Vacation.  In fact I could LIVE in Hawaii for the rest of my life for the cost of one of these trips!  It's in the $MILLIONS$ for every weekend round of Golf he needs to play down in Florida to relieve the high stress during the week of getting out his Morning Tweet.

However, Deal-maker extraordinaire that he is, the money should be recouped by all the financial deals he will make for the FSoA during the trip!  According to Newz Reports in the MSM, in just the first day he sold $110B worth of military hardware to the Wahabist Killers running Saudi Arabia!  By itself, this easily pays for the trip!  Although of course, they could have done the same deal over the internet and saved a lot of money on what is basically just a Photo Op.  All the deals are already worked out long before El Trumpsky walks down the stairs from Air Force 1.

BTW, don't you find it a bit curious that all shots of the POTUS coming off one of these airplanes (there are actually a fleet of them, not just one) have a portable stairway on open tarmac, no terminal in sight?  On my first flights in the 1960s down to Brazil, this was very common.  Even international airports of the time did not sport the big hydraulically powered jetway ramps that today attach themselves to just about every aircraft, unless you either are flying in an incredibly small and uncomfortable Regional Jet, or are flying to some complete Buttfuck location in the middle of 3rd World Nowhere.

Today however, you can't fly from Milwaulkee to Cleveland and disembark the plane without walking through a hydraulically powered Jetway tube.  When Air Force 1 lands in Riyahd though, there are apparently no available Gates at the terminal for the plane to dock at, so the POTUS is forced to walk down stairs to a waiting Limousine on the Tarmac.  You would think by now they would have at least devised a Mobile Escalator for the purpose of shipping the High & Mighty Meat Package of the POTUS off the fucking 747!

Update!  They DO have Portable Tarmac Escalators for the High & Mighty!

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2017/03/01/13/3DD4168400000578-4270328-Saudi_Arabia_s_King_Salman_front_arrives_at_Halim_airport_in_Jak-a-4_1488374132388.jpg

How come Donaldovitch didn't get one of these when he landed in Saudi Arabia?

https://o.aolcdn.com/images/dims3/GLOB/legacy_thumbnail/1028x675/format/jpg/quality/85/http%3A%2F%2Fo.aolcdn.com%2Fhss%2Fstorage%2Fmidas%2Ff1f3c703e3588f09aa10e42fb97a323a%2F205290194%2Fpresident-donald-trump-receives-the-order-of-abdulaziz-alsaud-medal-picture-id685748534 So anyhow, what the expensive trip amounts to is an opportunity for numerous Photo Ops with Trumpovsky looking "Presidential" as he shakes hands with various Foreign Leaders. Also in theory for him a Welcome Relief from the last couple of weeks of Domestic Attacks on his credibilty and the way he is running the Executive Branch of Goobermint here on Home Soil.  Whether he can resist the temptation to Tweet while he is Jet Setting though remains an open question as of today when I begin writing this essay.

Back here in the FSoA though, the non-stop chatter about parallels with Watergate and the possibilities for the Big "I" of Impeachment continue, and not strictly from the so-called "left" of the Demodopes or Wing Nut bloggers.  It's being bandied about by WaPo on a daily basis, with heavyweight Law Professors from Harvard like Alan Dershowitz weighing in.  Regardless of who is interviewed though, they all pretty much say the same thing, that even if Donaldovitch is guilty of Impeachable crimes, it's unlikely the Repugnant controlled CONgress will pull the plug on him.  This takes a 2/3rds majority in the Senate,  so even if all the Demodopes vote to Impeach, you still need around 17 Repugnants to join them.  This does appear highly unlikely, except for a couple of things.

First is that currently the entire Goobermint is in complete dissarray and nothing on the Repugnant agenda is getting accomplished.  Well, at least none of the major stuff, some small stuff like eviscerating the EPA is happening.  Still haven't got rid of that pesky Obamacare yet though.  Also women can still get birth control and abortions, evolution is still being taught in the schools, teachers are still Unionized and there aren't any fucking Oil Drilling Platforms off Malibu or Virginia Beach yet!  Also they have not yet raided all the public pension funds or privatized Social Security.  So things are not going as smoothly as the Repugnants would like here under the Trumpoyetsty Regime, mainly because the constant turmoil he creates with the Daily Lie on Twitter keeps them too bizzy doing Spin Control and trying to save their own sorry asses.

http://a.abcnews.com/images/Politics/AP-jason-chaffetz-town-hall-2c-jt-170211_12x5_1600.jpg The second major issue is that the CONgressional elections are coming up in 2018, and Repugnant candidates are currently getting pelted with Rotten Eggs & Rotten Tomatoes at Town Hall meetings all across the FSoA.  It's gotten so bad that they need to arrest reporters for the serious crime of asking questions and give their speeches from inside a Shark Cage protected by Secret Service carrying Bazookas.  Gerrymandering and voiding voter ballots may not be enough to get these clowns re-elected, and they know it.  At a certain point you gotta cut your losses and throw somebody under the bus, and with every Tweet Donaldovitch looks more and more like good Bus Meat.

Lopping off Donaldefsky's head isn't likely to make things better, it may in fact make them worse since we will get Pensky as replacement POTUS.  Pensky is likely to be worse since he is an experienced career beltway politician who knows where the money goes and how to buy favors and not just try to bully everybody in town.  He's already got a Super-PAC formed to collect money from Billionaires to help fellow Retardican pols get re-elected, and then himself too once he takes over the Oval Office from Trumpovitch and becomes the unelected POTUS, Gerald Ford style.  He can then grant a Pardon to Trumpov for Money Laundering for the Ruskie Mafia, after of course he deposits a nice chunk of change to Pensky's account in the Cayman Islands.

http://static.politico.com/5e/d5/6c18d0e844809d4ea6cdfa67638c/160513-trump-russia-gty-1160.jpg The whole Ruskie connection deal with the Donaldov is so blatantly obvious it's not even funny.  First is the fact he refuses to disclose his Tax Returns, which no doubt are loaded with Fake Numbers.  Next is the fact it's KNOWN information already that he sold numerous properties in his buildings to Ruskie Oligarchs, who all also are trying to find some mattress to stuff the money they rip off from the Ruskie people into, somewhere outside Mother Russia.  Then there are all the meetings by various members of his staff and family with high level Ruskies and/or high bank account Ruskies.  Then of course is the Praise being dished out at him by Vlad the Impaler, who definitely would not be doing that if there was not something in it for him.  One has to suspect that Trumpovitch is PWNed by the Ruskies and Vlad is counting on him to deliver some good pipeline deals through Rex Tillerson.  If it looks like Donaldov cannot deliver, Vlad the Impaler will cut him loose and leave him twisting in the wind.  Instead of sleeping next to Melania, he will find the head of Cloud Computing in his King Size bed.  Then after that he will be Sleeping with the Fishes.  Compared to a takedown by the KGB, Impeachment is a very positive outcome for Trumpotsky.

http://www.wildsound-filmmaking-feedback-events.com/images/the_godfather_horse_head.jpg Despite all of this ongoing bullshit, a significant number of Deplorables still support Trumpsky, he amazingly has still a 36% approval rating!  The lowest in all of Recorded History at this point in a POTUS administration, but still at least 36% above where it should be.  In reality, it should be measured in the Negative Imaginary Numbers!  It's still unclear though whether a POTUS Popularity Index matters at all, sort of like it doesn't matter what the latest bullshit number is coming out of the BLS or the CBO.  Unemployment is down to 5%, but 50% of the population has dropped out fo the workforce!  The Economy is Growing at 2%/year, but the debt is growing at $2T/year!  Probably more, but you get the picture, none of these stats matter worth a damn anymore, even if they're correct.  Nobody actually in charge of Da Goobermint gives a flying fuck, and no matter who you vote for the debt will keep going up and the number of employed people will keep going down.  Whether your POTUS is LOVED or HATED doesn't matter either, in both cases said POTUS won't be able to do a damn thing to change the downhill trajectory here.  Of course, a complete JERK like Donaldov can speed things up a bit, and is doing a good job with that in his first year shitting in the White House toilet.

https://queerty-prodweb.s3.amazonaws.com/2017/05/Trump-US-Saudi-Arabia_Horo2-e1495307789854-635x357.jpg After his jaunt through Saudi Arabia picking up Beheading techniques from the Saudi Princes, Trumpovitch is due to hit Israel to talk to NetanYAHOO, then over to the Vatican where he will have an audience with His Popeness Francis, Vicar of Christ on Earth.  In one 10 day vacation, Donolovov is covering the Muslims, the Jews and the Christians!  Very broad minded of him.  Buddhists and Hindus may feel slighted here.

After making the Religious pilgrimmage, his next stop is in Brussels and then back to Italy for the G-7 meeting where the Economistas will further fuck up the Global Economy while dining on Canapes, Oysters Rockefeller and $23,000 bottles of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1945.  Followed for desert by the BEST Chocolate Cake ever to go through the pie hole of his Putin Puppet head, even better than that last chocolate cake he ate in Syria.  Following his Impeachment, you can count on Donalditry Trumpovetsky to sign up as chief Spokesmodel for Betty Crocker.

http://www.motherjones.com/files/imagecache/top-of-content-image/chocolate-cake-trump-2000px-2.jpg

The Flies of Summer

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Published on Peak Surfer on April 9, 2017

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"Any faith that China will be standing at the base of the burning building with a fireman’s net is misplaced. "

 

 

A portion of the Silk Road passing through Northern Fujian Province, October 2016 image by Albert Bates

  As national Republican political strategist Rick Wilson said on The Last Word, what we witnessed this past Thursday at the clown show in the White House was impulse, not policy. "Whoosh, whoosh, bang, bang, he got to turn the key and watch the pretty rockets go … this is a guy with the attention span of a gnat on meth."

The cost of the whoosh whoosh bang bang, just in spent ordnance, not delivery, was somewhere north of $80 million. Damage on the ground has been estimated at $700,000. Raytheon, who makes Tomahawks for the Navy, saw its stock value jump $500 million.

 

 

 

The more important meeting took place in Rick Wilson's home state of Florida, where POTUS continued to rack up Secret Service bills (some $30 million so far this year) at his Mar-A-Lago Resort where membership fees — that go to him — went up $100,000 since he took office.

That meeting was between Romulus Augustulus, the final Caesar (if you don't count the Russian Czars), and the future Justinian. The president of a dying empire met with the president of its successor.

The world being handed off was concisely described 200 years ago by Edmund Burke: 

 

 

“… [T]he temporary possessors and life-renters in it, unmindful of what they have received from their ancestors, or of what is due to their posterity …  act as if they were the entire masters; that they … think it amongst their rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inheritance, by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society; hazarding to leave to those who come after them, a ruin instead of an habitation – and teaching these successors as little to respect their contrivances, as they had themselves respected the institutions of their forefathers.

"By this unprincipled facility of changing the state as often, and as much, and in as many ways as there are floating fancies or fashions, the whole chain and continuity of the commonwealth would be broken. No one generation could link with the other. Men would become little better than the flies of summer.”

 

 

In the dying empire, both the left and the right share the same myopia. In the inner chambers of most of the world’s governments economic growth and environmental stewardship are viewed as an adversarial relationship. In fact, that need not be the case. It is not seen that way in Bhutan, Denmark or Iceland.

In the new empire there are no dichotomies; One Belt One Road (OBOR); Two Mountains. As yet, these remain completely obscure concepts in the West.

We described the Two Mountain policy here last fall. Xi Jinping himself described it in his January address to the UN plenary in Geneva:

 

 

“Man coexists with nature, which means that any harm to nature will eventually come back to haunt man. We hardly notice natural resources such as air, water, soil and blue sky when we have them. But we won’t be able to survive without them. 

“Industrialization has created material wealth never seen before, but it has also inflicted irreparable damage to the environment. We must not exhaust all the resources passed on to us by previous generations and leave nothing to our children or pursue development in a destructive way.

“Clear waters and green mountains are as good as mountains of gold and silver. We must maintain harmony between man and nature and pursue sustainable development.”

China has staked its future now on preservation of nature. While POTUS erects his 2000-mile long, 100-foot-tall concrete barrier on the Mexican border, Xi is planting the 2800-mile long Three-North Shelterbelt or “Green Great Wall,” to halt and re-vegetate the Gobi Desert.

Erebus Wong, Lau Kin Chi, Sit Tsui and Wen Tiejun, writing for the independent socialist Monthly Review, observe:

 

 

The Chinese government has publicly stressed the lessons of the 1930s overcapacity crisis in the West that precipitated the Second World War, and promoted these new initiatives in the name of “peaceful development.” Nevertheless, the turn to OBOR suggests a regional scenario broadly similar to that in Europe between the end of the nineteenth century and the years before the First World War, when strong nations jostled one another for industrial and military dominance.

China is aware that it is the most likely candidate for leading world power to succeed the United States, whose role as the world’s leading empire began with the Spanish American War, peaked in the global economic boom following the Second World War and is now in steep decline. Wong et al write:

 

 

 

China is arguably only the third country in history, after Britain and the United States, with the capacity to shape and lead a global system of finance and trade. Of course, in the foreseeable future, China will not replace the U.S. dollar system; it could at most stand on equal footing. After the United States overtook the United Kingdom to lead the world in industrial production capacity in the late nineteenth century, it took another fifty years and two world wars before it could dominate global finance. China recognizes this reality, and has consistently promoted the AIIB [Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank] and other organizations as complements, not competitors, of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB).

***

Awkwardly for the United States—which launched the TPP with the original intent of blocking China—the AIIB marks the first time since before Bretton Woods that the United States has been excluded from an important international financial structure. When trusted European allies like the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, and others announced their participation, Obama called an emergency national security meeting. The reason is clear: the AIIB challenges, albeit still within an institutional framework, the U.S. financial hegemony that has prevailed since the Second World War.

Of course, these allies are not jumping ship from the U.S. dollar-dominated system just yet, but only hedging their bets, as that hegemony has shown clear signs of exhaustion. In setting up the AIIB, China has stressed shared interests and cooperation among member nations, the better to attract interested allies.

What the US and its allies see in China is a possible way to climb off the ledge they have found themselves on after the liquidity crisis of 2008 was resolved by issuing massive new debt and resuming the exponential derivatives trade. This time they have no margin left, so perhaps China will be there with a net to catch them, they hope. Switzerland, Luxemburg and Britain — strongholds of financial capital that have previously declined to join most international organizations — became the first to join AIIB.

 

 

 

The liquidity swap alliance formed in October 2013 among six central banks—the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank, the U.S. Federal Reserve, and the Swiss National Bank—is designed to prevent another large-scale liquidity crisis in Europe and North America like the one that precipitated the financial crisis of 2008–09. Yet it is only preventive. The new global paradigm now needs new institutions and proactive propositions. The IMF and the World Bank (and its subsidiary, the ADB), constrained by U.S. interests, are not up to the task. Can China take this opportunity to oversee the development of a new global financial alliance? For a large industrial country just entering the phase of financial capitalism, increasingly roiled by domestic disturbances, the challenge is unprecedented and enormous.

Any faith that China would survive the coming financial crash and be standing at the base of the burning building with a fireman’s net is misplaced. Rob Mielcarski observes:

 

 

 

The Chinese are repeating all of our mistakes, but on a larger scale. It makes no difference how leaders are educated, they will eventually succumb to the inherited behaviors common to all humans.

The main difference between us and them now is that they are “borrowing to employ” and we are “borrowing to consume”.

Tim Morgan adds:

 

 

 

The picture that emerges is quite extraordinary. Over the ten years between 2005 and 2015, GDP grew at rates of between 9% and 14% annually, not even stumbling materially during the 2009 global downturn. But debt has grown by between 17% and 35% of GDP each year, with the exception of 2009, when debt increased by 47% of GDP.
 

Tianjin (Ghost City) built to employ underemployed construction workers

What this means is that, over a period in which reported GDP increased by RMB 40tn, debt expanded by RMB 129tn. This is a borrowing-to-growth ratio of 3.2:1, still reasonably modest by Western standards, but a far cry from past Chinese practice – back in 2005, the trailing ten-year (T10Y) ratio was only 1.67:1.

 

Unlike the Western economies, whose vice-of-choice is to use debt to fund consumption and inflate property markets, the Chinese bias is towards using debt for investment in capacity. In theory, capacity investment should be “self-liquidating”, because capacity increases should increase income, and thus fund the paying off of the initial debt. (This is contradistinction to consumer borrowing, which is “non-self-liquidating”).

But the self-liquidating characteristic of business investment depends on capacity expanding without depressing margins, something which happens when expansion creates major capacity surpluses. It is abundantly clear that Chinese PNFC borrowing has followed the course of excess, depressing returns in the process.

As a result, much of the Chinese business sector earns returns which appear to be well below the cost of debt capital. In this situation, an obvious remedy is to convert debt into equity. This, however, seems to have been tried, and failed, because it showed clear tendencies to crash the equity market.

The final sting in the tail of this analysis is that, if underlying GDP is a lot lower when stripped of the borrowing effect, debt ratios are correspondingly higher. On the SEEDS basis of computation, aggregate debt already stands at 385% of GDP (rather than the reported 246%), and is growing a lot more quickly than publicly available numbers indicate, adding around 43% of GDP (rather than 20%) annually.

The void that China attempts to fill with OBOR and AIIB is deeper than merely technical insolvency. Since at least the Second World War, the United States based its economic empire on its military power. The only reason that the dollar has not already been replaced by the Yuan as the standard international currency is that the former is backed by overwhelming force. The US spends more on its military than the next 10 countries combined and the current administration is willing to beggar its domestic programs to double down.

That cloak is showing tears in its fabric, however. “Bringing democracy to the Middle East” has been revealed for what it really is — chaos and mayhem; internecine regional conflicts; and death and displacement on a massive, economic-community-destroying scale.

China plans to replace military bluster with “peaceful development” — to sponsor infrastructure investments, promote cooperation and minimize conflict. It will find that difficult.

 

 

 

For instance, how can the AIIB avoid the damage done by the World Bank and others to the environment and indigenous livelihoods? How can China promote infrastructure investments that drive local development through diversity and sustainability, and not simply serve its own need for export outlets? The challenge, in other words, is to ensure that the AIIB and Silk Road Fund do not simply become East Asian counterparts of the IMF and World Bank.

***

It should be clear that this discursive power will depend on deeds as much as words. If China continues to absorb excess capacity through rapid urbanization without regard for rural culture or ecological sustainability, and if the government fails to address the severe social contradictions caused by rising wealth inequality, labor disputes, environmental deterioration, and official corruption, then the slogans of “infrastructure-based developmentalism” will have little persuasive power overseas.

Jack Goldsmith, writing for Lawfare, sums up our predicament:

 

 

 

Two months into the Trump administration, we are witnessing the beginnings of the greatest presidential onslaught on international law and international institutions in American history. 

 

***

An in-your-face attitude toward international law and institutions will invite blowback — from international and domestic actors — not unlike what Trump has been experiencing in response to his controversial attacks on domestic courts and the press. There is a quiet way to pull back from international law and institutions, and a loud way. The loud way has heightened symbolic impact, and for that reason invites heightened resistance and retaliation.


This is what we are witnessing. We are over the peak on the Limits to Growth and into the slide. There is a jockeying for position for the quickly vanishing scraps on the false premise that there is still some way to regain the peak we only just experienced.  The prosperous way down is to downsize population, expectations, and mechanistic productivity.

None of that is yet being done and so a hard reckoning is inevitable. Whether that hard reckoning comes to blows remains to be seen, but our side is not taking its gloves off. It likes to poke sticks at hornets' nests.

It is doing that now, with Tomahawks hurled at Russian MIGs.

Burke also said in his Reflections:

 

“Nothing turns out to be so oppressive and unjust as a feeble government.”

 

Village Tofumaker, October 2016 by Albert Bates

Perhaps Xi Jinping's best contribution is one that is most overlooked. As part of his Two Mountains policy Xi is sponsoring creation of 100 ecovillages in 5 years. The key to social adoption of climate ecoforestry is ecovillage. The social glue of ecovillage depends upon cognitive semantics training and permaculture. The economic engine will be, in most cases, small (village-scale, even in urban contexts) microenterprises, particularly the Cool Lab, which we described in last week's post.

Key to the kind of capital formation that is needed, and redirection from the kinds of capital that are not, is the training of trainers, particularly in Cool Schools, and the development of even better varieties of social benefit (B-type) enterprises to share profits in order to spread wealth more evenly and achieve the more difficult measures required to stabilize climate and return us to the Holocene in which we all have a safer space to argue.

This post is part of an ongoing series we're calling The Power Zone Manifesto. We post to The Great Change on Sunday mornings and 24 to 48 hours earlier for the benefit of donors to our Patreon page. Albert Bates offers ecovillage apprenticeships, including Cool Lab trainings, this year at The Farm in Tennessee April through July.

EU Election Fake Newz

slogging-through-mudgc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on the The Slog on May 1, 2017

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May has PND episode as Hunt cracks down on rogue NHS traitors, Macron’s DNA revealed & TLF boss Corbyn goes OTT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S FAKE NEWS ABOUT EU ELECTION HARMONISATION

There’s a sort of vaguely medical theme to things today, although there’s nothing of any great significance to that….beyond the observation that when things are a little odd, one goes to see the doctor. Most of the people featured here never did: as a result, we’re stuck with them as they are.

Take Ms Thearse May, for example. She is obviously suffering from the worst case of post nasal depression I’ve ever come across. As these tragic pictures show only too well, she is in the tertiary stages of this mentally debilitating illness.

Rafe Roydian-Slippe  of the London School of Conkology comments that “it is a rare condition in which the victim becomes convinced that her nose is growing. After many years of looking down their noses at people, sufferers keep catching sight of the hooter and becoming increasingly disturbed. In the last three shots, we can see how poor Thearse will now do anything rather than look at her nose. Sadly, the obsession is incurable”.

So then, not the happiest of endings, but then a lot of medical work ends up like that. I often wonder if those engaged in longevity research really have thought its consequences through fully. Supposing they come up with a stem cell that extends human life to over a thousand years: I mean it’s not the sort of formula you’d want getting into the wrong hands, is it? I’ve had fifty years of Rupert Murdoch, but twenty times that amount of cunning psychopathy is impossible to imagine.

huntfutureWell, gossip has crossed my desk suggesting that for three weeks now, a research team in the Guy’s Hospital Lifespan Enhancement Division has been holed up in its office suite, held under siege by the crack BUPA Commando Unit that protects Health Secretary Mr Jeremander Cnut (left) round the clock, round in circles, and right round Hampstead Heath if necessary.

I understand that the LED team has come up with an astonishing elixir, and Cnut – having got wind fbbbrrr of the breakthrough – ordered his henchmen into action. Sources close to Mr Cnut tell me the Wealth Secretary has been heard muttering “the painting in the attic can’t go on much longer, we’ll just have to rush the bastards if necessary”.


Across the Channel, European Union medical researchers seem to have cracked the problem of human cloning. I’m not sure exactly whose genes were used to produce French Presidential ‘candidate’ Emmanuel Macron, but observation suggests that hair of Blair, eye of Cameron, heart of Sarkozy and toenail of Clinton might well have been involved along the way.

macron1The clues are suggested in phrases like “third way”, “tough on crime and the causes of crime”, “cracking down on terrorism” and “the great European project”. Monsieur Maclone’s occasional inpromptu faces (left) also suggest a bit of Dolly the Sheep crept in along the way. It really doesn’t matter anyway: he is almost certainly glissante comme une anguille and a couille molle (a slippery eel and a spineless wimp) but Brussels, NATO and George Soros demand such things.

In his new book I am made of Money, the next President explains how he got from being nonentity married to ageing lycée teacher crumpet to the Elysée Palace all on his own in nine months flat. It should be a rattling good zzzzzzzzz sorry about that, nodded off for a second there.


CorbyAdamsA much greater divide than the Channel is the aisle in the House of Commons these days, and it is there we find comeback kid Jeremy Corbyn – seen left with close friend in happier times. JC is the only pol among this lot not in need of medical assistance, being very clearly an inoperable case. Yesterday Mr Cuban’s Tooting Liberation Front set out a 20-point plan, which oddly enough wasn’t the blueprint for wiping out a 20-point Tory lead in the Fakelection. This is a shame, as polls earlier in the day had shown that Thearse May’s lead had indeed “been slashed”, as The Indepungent put it, from 18 to 12 points.

“I am absolutely delighted,” said Mr Dustbin, “that in just one week we have turned a Tory avalanche into little more than a landslide”.

Peccable sources at the Daily Telegraph assured me last night that ‘the 20 point plan’ has lots of hidden clues in it as to the bearded Lady Lieber’s real intentions once he is swept to power on a tidal wave of multiple registrations. One of the pledges (I’m serious) is ‘Introduce four new bank holidays’, but ace Torygraph reporter Ronnie Barkray tells me this is code for ‘nationalise all the banks within four days’, while ‘Use public spending power to drive up standards’ is code for ‘ban German Rover imports and relaunch British Leyland’.

The one that has me baffled is “Pass a law tomorrow right saying that all racist fattism jokes about public school hypocrisy will incur the death penalty for any scumbigot fascist caught spreading such a creed of hate’. For the life of me, I can’t work out how it got in there.


mesmile All above content guaranteed totally counterfeit, complete bollocks and nothing whatever to do with the British General Election currently wasting the Nation’s time and money on a bold plan to ignore the Will of the People by asking them to do some more voting and Will showing.

—————–

Looking in the mirror

There is a confluence of knowledge taking place on Earth. Those in charge of the planet are ignoring it, for reasons which I hope to make clear. But despite their manic blindness, the old leaps and intuitions, fables and ancient sagesse are being taken more seriously by social anthropologists. Complementary medical practices are being given sound bases by sub-atomic physicists and behaviour therapists. And the idea of faith moving mountains currently inspires a larger and larger number of neuroscientists and anatomists.

Time and Space are illusions. Separation as a model of the Universe has been replaced by one of unending connection. These findings are being fed into studies of how ‘the mind’ works, how the brain learns, and why mental and physical aberrations are inextricably linked.


Only NOW is real.

The past has gone and cannot be regained. The future is wide open and cannot be ordained. All guilt, rigidity, bigotry and regret emanate from a past that no longer exists in any sense that our species can physically reach. Most fear, anxiety and pessimism is based on a future we do not as yet know. It too is not real.

If one spends a healthy amount of time in Now, tranquility can be obtained and retained – because the neuroses based on illusory Time are absent.

By all means learn from the past and plan for the future. But don’t live there, because living there is a fantasy based on the unreal.

Security services, the military, egomanic politicians, media proprietor gargoyles and other self-appointed mega-money élites all live beyond Now in an unreal world of their own making. “You come into the World with nothing, and you leave it with nothing” is a lesson they never learn. This is why they talk of visions and projects and ideologies and legacies and Gods and enemies and protection from threats and Great Histories and the rest of the twaddle: they are suffused with neurosis, paranoia, fear and aggression, and can only work within parameters of a past they want to glorify or a future better than that past.

Because they never visit Now, they never appreciate sufficiency, balanced ambition and tranquility. All they want is more and more and more. For them.


Such people have severely depleted primary senses. They never stop to see, hear, smell, taste and touch the simple things of life. Thus they never understand the natural needs of their supplicants, clients, citizens, customers or neighbours.  When presented with reality, they variously deny it, spit at it, smear it and – when all else fails – censor it.

This is true now of almost all professions. Legal minds frame laws that will never be obeyed. Medics see placebo and unfamiliar approaches as things to be dismissed rather than studied. Bureaucrats run ill-constructed Superstates that will never be loved. Faced with insolvency, finance ministers and bankers change names and reorder columns or simply alter accountancy rules. Forced to observe facts, Left activists and blinkered neocons ‘reinterpret’ empirical data and carry on as before. Shown the trade dependence they have on another country, Presidents tell the foreign partners they are ‘deluded’ and bully them, insisting they must ‘come to heel’. As a Twitter compatriot wrote yesterday, ‘they do not blink’. But we all blink to clean our eyes so we can see better. If we didn’t blink, by the age of three our eyes would be clogged with an inch of infected dust.


Our age has become, above all else, the flight from what is real and natural in favour of what is imagined and unnatural. This is entirely driven from above, where the élites I describe would rather their programme of denial, censorship, power and personal wealth continued forever. In order to ensure it does, they have to increase the power of intelligence agencies. When the intelligence delivers the Truth, they falsify the intelligence.

All of us at various times in our lives deny the Truth picked up by our primary senses. We continue in relationships that don’t work, we chant received wisdom in order to be accepted by the herd, we keep quiet in order to avoid ostracism. We drink to produce stimulation because nothing stimulates us, and we evade change. We claim there is no alternative to more of the same, because we do not spend enough time, in a calm state, adding up the pros and cons of this or that change of direction.

We fear the new because we ignore The Now.


When my own perception of life gets out of balance – when I remember the worst atrocities of the past and project them robotically into a nightmare future – I become tense, irritable and impatient. Everyone is different, but with me those things go straight to my digestive system.

But after decades of taking pills based on this theory – and then pills to replace those pills based on a ‘better” theory – I have learned the hard way to reduce symptoms by solving their cause….not just by alleviating their effect.

And this again plugs in – by definition, eclectically – to the confluence of knowledge: what have we learned, what is real, and what is natural.

Relax through meditation. Become more aware of primary senses. Train them to work harder. Have patience. Every day do something slowly. Take more exercise. Every day do something you don’t want to do. Grow herbs and drink infusions from them. Ignore the “news” as often as possible in favour of new insights, old wisdoms and important discoveries you can find in books and online. Every day, do something to help somebody. If you’re stuck in traffic, watch everything around you. If you hear a loud or incessant noise, picture it going through you and passing on….for that is the reality.

Talk to yourself. When not done unconsciously or inappropriately, this is sanity, not madness. We gain false impressions based on nasty things people say. Those airwaves go through the tympanic membrane and into your brain as Truth. Persuading that same brain audibly – as often as possible – that it’s bollocks isn’t just common sense, it’s tested science: it works.

Twitter is one of the most abusive and good-turned-bad media ever to see the light of day. Don’t block new ideas on it, block abuse. Abusive people have nothing to offer in the way of wisdom. Don’t engage, block. Eventually, your following/followers circle “residue” will agree and disagree with you in a civilised manner. Go to bed at night, and forgive all those you blocked. They deserve your pity, not your ire.

Above all, every day find something to laugh at that doesn’t involve gratuitous cruelty towards the oppressed. If you take the mickey in a light tone, prepare for people to do the same to you. If they become abusive for no genuine reason, ask them (later) if anything’s wrong. If they yell at you again, leave them alone politely. If you never hear from them again, you’ve learned something. You will also waste less time in future.


These are just a few of my own personal life lessons. They work for me. When I forget them, I don’t work properly. But everyone is different: the determination to deny that particular reality in favour of One Size fits All is what drives those who make our lives less fulfilling than they should be….be they the arrogant hospital consultant, the unfeeling politician, or the crazed neocon globalist.

Remember: nothing acts faster than Anadin. So take nothing.

Let them Eat Chocolate Cake

From the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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  Published on Sputnik on April 13, 2017

Piece of Cake: New Normal of Trump's Foreign Policy

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Here's the Commander-in-chief of the Beautiful Piece of Chocolate Cake School of Foreign Policy, expanding on his next move regarding North Korea.

"We are sending an armada. Very powerful. We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you."

 

 

 

As if bombing nuclear-armed North Korea would be as much of a piece of cake as Tomahawking a semi-deserted air base in Syria. But then, that's the beauty of a box of chocolates foreign policy; you never know what you're gonna get.

 

NATO was "obsolete." Then it was "no longer obsolete." China was a currency manipulator. Then it was no longer a currency manipulator. There would be no more adventures in the Middle East. Then it's back to pulling a Hillary and bombing Syria. Russia was supposed to be a partner – basically in oil and gas deals, while a Kissingerian Divide and Rule remix would try to unravel the Russia-China strategic partnership. Then Russia is bad because supporting "animal" (sic) Assad.

 

Some (other) things never change. Iran will continue to be demonized. The NATO-GCC combo will continue to be bolstered. The House of Saud terrorizing Yemen will continue to be a close GWOT (Global War on Terror) ally.

It's as if the whole dysfunctional Trump administration machine has become a prisoner of its non-stop duty to justify the Tomahawks-with-chocolate Commander-in-Chief's about turns and blatant lies, whereas its previous strength derived from exposing the lies and the hypocrisy inbuilt in the US establishment/deep state nexus.

Xi is on the phone

Russian intelligence may have well inferred – correctly – that the main goal of Secretary of State "T. Rex" Tillerson's visit to Moscow was to quiet 

down the high-stakes game as much as possible as Trump moves to a face off with Pyongyang. Washington simply cannot handle multiple, simultaneous crises in Syria, Ukraine, North Korea, the South China Sea, Afghanistan. The possible deadline is May 9; the South Korean presidential election that could stop any attack by the US on North Korea in its tracks.

 

Japanese and South Korean media were hysterically reporting on the deployment of as many as 150,000 People's Liberation Army (PLA) personnel, part of the PLA's 16th, 23rd, 39th and 40th Group Armies, to the Chinese-North Korean border. These forces are not aggressive; they'd rather coordinate efforts to alleviate a refugee crisis in the – appalling – event of a Second Korea War breaking out.

The Chinese Ministry of Defense issued a sort of non-denial denial about the deployment. But the crucial element was the subsequent Xi Jinping call to Trump. Priority number one was to dissipate the swelling US corporate media narrative that Beijing would approve a US strike against North Korea (on the contrary; Beijing was seriously worried). Chinese media stressed Xi emphasizing to a volatile Trump the only possible way out is to work towards a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Priority number two was to defuse the fake news notion that Xi, facing his Tomahawk-with-chocolate-cake desert at Mar-a-Lago, had agreed to further US strikes in Syria. In his phone call, Xi once again stressed the only way out in Syria is a diplomatic solution.

 

With the Beautiful Piece of Chocolate Cake School of Foreign Policy as the new normal, now no one has a clue what is Washington's policy on Syria, and who's driving it (that was the key information Foreign Minister Lavrov was trying to extract from Tillerson).

 

The previous policy was obvious; balkanization light, with a Kurdish enclave in the eastern desert, to be run by US proxies such as the small PYD Syrian Kurdish population; Israel absorbing yet another stretch of the Golan Heights; a patch of the north for Turkey; and enough real estate for Sunnis and assorted jihadists.

Even before the Tomahawk show, US military intelligence officials scattered around the Middle East had serious doubts about what became the official White House narrative on the chemical attack in Idlib. Former US intel stalwarts, including Ray McGovern, Phil Giraldi and Bill Binney, even wrote a memo to Trump calling for an honest, independent investigation – as much as Lavrov would later make it clear in his press conference with Tillerson. The official narrative was also debunked by an MIT professor as "totally false."

 

Irrespective of whether Trump saw the light via a White Helmets YouTube video or was Tomahawked by the neocon/neoliberalcon axis, the facts on the ground don't change.

 

Moscow simply is not going to yield its sphere of influence in Syria to Donald Trump or the deep state. Russia has all but won the Syrian War by preventing the formation of an Emirate of Takfiristan, and defusing the possibility of Russian/Chechen/Uzbek Salafi-jihadis operating in alliance with Jabhat al-Nusra and/or Daesh going back to wreak havoc in the Caucasus. Not to mention that over 75% of Syria's population is now living in the functional parts of the country controlled by Damascus.

When in doubt, sow chaos

The War Party/military-industrial-security-media complex wants war, any war; it's good for business, and ratings. The neocons want a war to contain Iran. Professor Stephen Cohen is realistically alarmed. No one knows for sure whether Trump is now a mere hostage of Mad Dog Mattis, HR McMaster and co. who believes he's actually in charge, or whether he perfected some sort of genius non-twitterable geopolitical jiu-jitsu.

A dissident US intel analyst based in the Middle East paints a much gloomier picture: "The US will not tolerate a Russia-China alliance tilting the balance of power. North Korea and Syria are merely pawns in this struggle that has almost no meaning for themselves. The Russians believe that the US is determined to go to war against them, while they remain unsure about the performance of their S-500 defensive missiles. The Russians say more false flags are to come in Syria, while the Chinese are also reviewing any commitments of the US on the basis of what they saw in Syria."

 

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, shakes hands prior to their talks in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, April 12, 2017
© AP Photo/ Alexander Zemlianichenko

 

 

 

President Putin has all but stated, on the record, that Moscow cannot trust Washington. Russia has been patiently building up its missile defense capability – to the point that its air space might as well turn out to be impenetrable before the end of the decade.

 

Lavrov has spoken many times in the past about "managed chaos" – a "method of strengthening US influence" exhibiting "projects" that "should be launched away from the United States in regions that are crucial for global economic and financial development." The Beautiful Piece of Chocolate Cake School of Foreign Policy may have forced everyone to be lost in a masquerade. But Moscow — and Beijing – do seem to see it for what is; yet another facet of unmanageable chaos.

 

 

Will England & Sotland become One-Party States?

slogging-through-mudgc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on the The Slog on April 19, 2017

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SNAP ELECTION: New shocker as England & Scotland on verge of becoming One-Party States.

methink1  Theresa May broke her word to call this election. After it, she will break her word on Brexit. But there is no Opposition to stop her. Whose fault is it?

 


Four years ago, I posted a piece about the then Culture (sic) Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. His sole response in the Commons, to damning evidence that he had abused his office to favour the Murdoch family, was “I have done nothing wrong”. Shortly after this, the then Prime Minister David Cameron denied that the favour involved (letting Newscorp grab BSkyB largely unhindered) had been discussed at a secret Boxing Day lunch with James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks. They’d just all had lunch in the strictest secrecy because they were pals. The way you do.

Two MPs I spoke to at the time (one Labour, one Conservative) said almost exactly the same thing: that things had got to a stage in the clique running the Tory Party where, after surviving that lot, they now believed they could get away with anything. The Conservative – a very nice and principled bloke with rather rich descriptive faculties – said, “To be honest, Cameron could fuck a pig in Newmarket’s main street in broad daylight now, and nobody would give a stuff”. In an astonishing switch whereby surreal fantasy became fact, it was revealed the following year that Cameron had given fellatio to a dead pig at some jolly gathering. Dave didn’t even bother to deny it.

So with an Election now rising over the blue horizon, let us summarise what the re-elected Tory Party has been up to since, and how events have variously unfolded and unravelled. It has knowingly misled the country (twice) on WASPI pension information between 1995 and 2012. It has committed a brazen act of embezzlement in hanging onto 40 years of the victims’ NI contributions. It has cut a swathe of such ferocity through disablement welfare, thousands of people are going to be without enough money or any transport from here on. It has created more jobs, but the number of hours being worked remains static, wage levels are going down, and low paid work is now almost completely without any security of tenure.

It made such a Horlicks of the EU referendum campaign, Cameron had to resign after the result. Despite all the crushing austerity, the national debt has doubled and the deficit reduction missed its target by 40%….so the Chancellor had to resign. Well actually, he was fired….by the Home Secretary who, given the task of cutting immigration to 10,000 a year, never got it below 130,000. And so she therefore had to….um, become Prime Minister.

Everything the Bullingdon Boys set out to do in 2010 now lies in tatters. The Murdoch family – caught red-handed carrying out illegal surveillance on ten of thousands of voters – is stronger than ever, and Brooks is back at the helm of Newscorp UK….or whatever the Digger has decided to call it this week. British manufacturing has shrunk by a further 18%, and the economy is even more biased to financial 3-card trick mumbo-jumbo than it ever was. And Brexit has happened…..allegedly.

But even on that last point, The Brexiteer Cup was snatched from the hands of the winners by the announcement of a May Cabinet consisting almost entirely of pro-EU Remainers – the same people like Fallon and Hammond who have given us the most cynically unethical foreign policy in even our ruthless Imperial history. Hammond – the new mendacious but at times quite amusing Chancellor – has spent every day since undermining the Brexit negotiating team, while privately ridiculing the bombastic incompetence of Boris Johnson our equally new (but dreadfully tarnished) Foreign Secretary.

Just to round off this cacophony of arrogant amateur night, as London Mayor, Johnson (you will remember) falsified emissions data to let his mate Tim Yeo get a whopping taxi contract, placed his capacious buttocks on the Elm House Tory Council child trafficking scandal, and tried to pervert the course of justice on Hackgate.

A motley crew of partners in crime, you may think: and you would, in my estimation, be right. But it was obvious from the opening salvos last year that May the reborn Brexiteer was chained every which way by Brussels idiocy, Tory backbench ire, and various Cabinet colleagues. (Labour would claim that she was also under pressure from the childish antics of the 48%, but that is palpable nonsense. Since the Love not Hate organised jumping up and down began in earnest, she has steadfastly ignored it….along with every evidenced entreaty from WASPI.

Thus, when Philip Hammond faced a debt-swamped Budget challenge six weeks ago – and tackled it by ignoring both debt and austerity victims in favour of sweeteners for any wavering smuggies – I predicted that a snap election was on the cards. And here it is.


Yet this crew of scurvy knaves now boarding the pirate ship Mayflower has every confidence that they’re about to singe the Corbyn’s beard and bury Blackabbott – and this is not faux confidence: even the New Statesman predicts Labour will lose up to 40 seats, and there is at the moment a general consensus that The Arse May** will end up with a 100-135 seat majority. No UK election favourite has ever started from that position and lost.

Before we get into the meat of this, however, there is the question of recent changes in electoral law regarding the amount of power she has to call an election at all – following the Fixed Term Parliament Act of 2011. Regrettably, like most “laws” the Coalition passed, the Devil is in the exceptions: Clause 2 still allows an election to be called after losing a vote of confidence or if two-thirds of Members vote in favour of a Cabinet recommendation to dissolve Parliament. So she is going to get her election: Labour Blairites will vote for it (the quicker to dump the Corbynistas) and activist Corbynites unable to contain their Bring it On delusions will do the same – although to be fair, were they not to welcome it, they would be open to charges of cowardice given their gobbiness in recent months.

Due to be held on Thursday June 8th, the Election promises to be (as Hobbes put it) “nasty, brutish and short”. Another certainty, I fancy, is that there will be clangers dropped on all sides….if only because we have never had so many born clanger-droppers in UK politics as we do today. And that brings me to the spine of my argument today.


After the last two by-elections,  I posted a piece called ‘Where now for those of us who aren’t Conservatives?‘ Two months on, I see no reason to change any of it – other than point out the few areas in which the Opposition outlook is now even worse.

There is, still, nowhere for those of us who find the economic vandalism, national asset greed, serial mendacity and uncaring nature of neocon-infected Conservatism to go and vote with either pride or certainty. The astonishing thing about that (in my lifetime) unique situation is that we represent perhaps 1 in 5 of those who do vote regularly. We can all chuck blame about irresponsibly until the Bermuda Triangle aircrews come back; but the country’s Opposition forces having reached that place of near-zero attraction with mind-boggling consistency, every objective analyst must start with those involved in arriving there.

The Blairite Soros clones of 1997 tossed away the best chance to rebuild British society along fresh lines for 34 years through a cowardly combination of pc gesture politics and Tory-lite policies. Those who followed turned to Metro-pc drivel. Now we have a return to class war and crypto-collectivism locked in a death struggle with the Muswell Hillbilly pinhead dancers and sociopathic Campbellista spin-quacks.

None of it is attractive to me, and most of it is deemed risible by mainstream Britain: and mainstream Britain is not racist Little Englanders. Rather, it is a potentially unbeatable alliance of what I choose to call The Vulnerable: young aspiring professional families, cheated pensioners, the innocent disabled, older traditionalists, radical realists and desperate carers – nurses, young doctors and special needs/care home heroes.

It would not be that difficult to unite these groups. But Labour has gone out of its way to alienate them, ignore its core support, and continue an onanistic debate that has been going on for over 130 years.

The SNP? It is led by a chancer who disguises the reality that (a) she has yet to persuade anything near a majority of her compatriots to leave the UK, and (b) remains – like Labour – a supposedly radical fairness Party unable to discern the bullying, fascist nature of the EU….or recognise the unaccountable power of its unelected banking and administrative functionaries.

The Liberal Democrats? In a world sadly dominated by identity politics, they have lost their brand identity….and gained a leader whose identity is only in question on the dimension of whether he is an identity politician or a political nonentity. (I fear that he is both – an even worse form of electoral antimatter than the Corbyn-Blackabbott combo)

And last but by no means least, the post-Farage UKIP led by Paul Nuttall. UKIP also has two disadvantages: far too many voters think Brexit is a done deal, so voting UKIP is at best nostalgia; and Paul Nuttall. Many of those who admired “Sir” Nigel will go back to the Conservatives – and even if the unpleasant guttersnipe who has replaced him manages to grab a few more disgruntled former core Labour voters, there is no way our archaic FPTP voting system will allow any breakthrough for his Party.


The Conservatives are going to win….and in the aftermath of that, the Opposition crisis will (at least for a while) worsen. Unlike the Brexit Referendum, I see no reason at all to vote in this General Election. My only role – and even that one must be limited – will be to help Waspi pension victims focus action on those constituencies where there is a large, ageing population who increasingly distrust the Tories.

If Labour’s soi-disant activists want something useful to do – as opposed to attending brainless demonstrations – then they could do a lot worse than organise the bottom-end desperate to vote. In the last election, 34% of the entitled electorate didn’t cast a vote. Even persuading half of them to do so would sweep Jeremy Corbyn to victory.

But as with apolitical Waspis, such causes lack appeal for the Dave Sparts of this world. Not for them the unsung hero role. They’re more your spitting, obscene labelling, placard-carrying, Trot syntax sort of folks. And unfortunately, they’re the ones promoting the quantitative fantasy of Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.


** As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, The Arse May is an anagram of Theresa May. I intend to stick with it for the duration of the General Election.

 

 

 

Trump’s Bay of Pigs

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Published on the The Slog on April 8, 2017

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FAKE NEWS IN SYRIA: why this is Donald Trump’s Bay of Pigs moment

 

methink1After a couple of days spent analysing the motives, players, geopolitics and “evidence” relating to deaths in Syria from nerve gas, it isn’t enough to simply ask some pointed questions about ‘gas attacks’ in Syria. The NATO/Turkey/Saudi narrative makes no sense, and can’t be supported by anyone who’s awake. President Trump is now close to a point of no return to the standpoint that got him elected.


Top of the Pops in the ‘fake news’ category at the minute has to be the “nerve gas attack” in Syria, and President Trump’s retaliation in the face of it. But before we get into the detail (God used to be in there, but these days I harbour a permanent suspicion it’s the CIA) a couple of openers might be in order.

  1. At this point, we don’t even know there was a nerve gas attack. What we seem able to say is that an attack took place, as a result of which nerve gas was released.
  2. If you believe that Trump’s reaction to the attack was genuine, then congratulations: you are one of millions of folks across the globe who believe anything their side says. Even as a supporter of Trump in the Election because he wasn’t the murderous psychopath Hillary Clinton, the lachrymose talk about “sweet little babies” in his speech had that familiar saline taste rising in the back of my throat.

I’m sure a lot of what I write sounds heartless, but I am sick to the core of my fairly strong stomach with the brazen and braindead use of children to evoke sympathy whenever the case for belief is, to say the least, flakey. It is the worst kind of sick propaganda, the bonkers premise being that – whichever side you hate – they set out to target kids just to prove how unutterably nasty they can be. The bombers I mean, not the kids.

There is a Twitter site called Israel Bombs Babies. As a positioning, it’s less than subtle: anyone who bombs or fires weapons in any civilian area is a criminal. Be the violence 1956 in Hungary via tanks, 1967 via surprise attack on Israel, 1970 via Agent Orange and napalm in Vietnam, 1971 via bombs in Cambodia – or a thousand other atrocities before and since – children will die. So too will grandmothers, cats, terrapins, circus animals and a million other innocent species who merely want to be left alone.

But this “little babies” whining (to repeat myself, for which I don’t apologise) almost always starts because a bunch of ideologically twisted cynics want our approval for an action that should never be tolerated. Life is full of people excusing themselves for inhuman acts with the risible line, “But I’m only human”.


I’m not trying to be Henry Fonda in the movie Twelve Angry Men. I don’t see myself that way, because both Fonda and his kids always struck me as the sort of Hollywood preppy liberals who give me the pip. But the general parallel is real enough: eleven other media jurists are baying for blood, and I feel more and more like the bloke who says “show me the evidence?” – or more colloquially, “where’s the beef?”

These are the “gas-attack” questions that leave me way beyond a shadow of doubt about culpability on the Syrian attack issue:

  • Where is the verifiable photographic evidence that Assad’s jets carried out the attack?
  • Given there was at one point in the not too distant past joint US/RF agreement that Assad no longer had access to nerve gas, why is it assumed that this is no longer the case?
  • Where is the motive for Assad to shoot himself in the foot with an action like this? This one bears all the hallmarks of the “Assad bombs Turkey” drivel we heard two years ago…which turned out to be nonsense.
  • Erdogan has “confirmed” the “findings” of his security services, viz, surprise surprise, Assad carried out the attack. If you think that’s worth the paper it’s written on, then you’re not using that paper correctly: it’s for the cleaning of one’s anus, not the seeking out of Truth.
  • What are we to make of the Putin allegation that the strike force hit supplies of ISIS nerve gas, as a result of which nearby civilian populations were affected? I ran a couple of videos this morning of the shaky camera work background bombing footage….it looks to me like the bombs are attacking a base, not a town.
  • Does anyone in his right mind really think that a top geopolitical chess player like Vladimir Putin would give Assad the untrammeled right to do precisely the wrong thing at this stage in the process?

Setting all the above to one side as the general doubts, here’s a few specifics:

  • The US has been losing both ground and geopolitical credibility in Syria since late last year. The CIA/Texas/EUNATO energy nexus needs something to rack up the anarchy in the region, and get back to the sort of régime-change strategy we’ve all grown to know and love…..via which safe carriage of oil can take place to the West, undisturbed by an Arab nation trying to get back to normality. The action strikes me as exactly the kind of excuse it’d need. The motive is (for me) infinitely more convincing than the idea of Putin suddenly dropping 50 IQ points.
  • The US has had Tomahawk missiles in Turkey since God was a girl. After the JFK/Kruschev compromise (following the Cuban missiles crisis in 1962) the missiles were supposed to be removed. In February 1963 – and again in August of that year – Jack Kennedy asked the Generals about progress on the removal, and received less than convincing answers. As the year progressed, he became increasingly determined – if he won the Election in 1964 – that he would put both the Pentagon and the CIA back in a watertight box. By the end of November, he was dead.
  • Over the past three weeks, we have been looking at a very different Donald Trump to the new broom that sashayed into the White House a few short months ago. You may think there are Democrat and GOP-biased media in the US, but beyond the newer territories of the internet Resistance, that is a sad chimera: the same unelected psychos of the Establishment are both defining and editing the narrative – as they have been on and off since the Dallas motorcade hit. Nobody can know this for certain (and I would dearly love to be proved wrong) but The Donald bears all the hallmarks of being yet another President who’s been nobbled….or hoodwinked.
  • One of the anti-Assad legions wringing their hands about this “atrocity” is Saudi Arabia. Ah yes, that fine country so admired by the West for its stance on democracy (it doesn’t have any) and no-nonsense judicial system (based largely on amputation). The Saudis have been running with both hare and hounds for three decades at least; everyone familiar with Middle Eastern culture, religion, politics and conflict knows it. But still they are appeased because they have the munnneeee to buy weapons….including nerve gas. Why the UK Left continues its full frontal assault on Israel when there’s a barn-side called the Saudis to aim at is beyond me.

     

     

     


    So these are my two conclusions.

First, both the illogicality of narrative and motives involved here leave me astonished that anyone would just accept it. But the clincher surely is the ‘you would say that’ syndrome: The Saudis hate the Alawites and want Assad out; NATO needs the certainty of oil access and so wants Assad out; and although the Turkish people get on exceptionally well with the Syrians, Erdogan doesn’t like Alawites or Sunnis, is a known supplier of ISIS and a confirmed anti-European Islamist…therefore he wants Assad out. To me, these are infinitely more compelling motives than the ones attributed to Assad and Putin in relation to the attacks.

Second, Trump has either been given some BS he believes, or gone native and joined the nexus. I’d say thus far, the jury’s out. JFK believed the Pentagon about the Bay of Pigs ‘plan’ to overthrow Castro. But when it came to the Cuban missiles crisis, Adlai Stevenson went to the UN with cast-iron aerial reconnaissance and clearly marked missile carriers and silos. Only then did Kennedy believe the generals – and throughout the NSC meetings, he found the hawkish Pentagon view “beyond belief” in its lack of concern for consequences. He vowed to smash he nexus after ’64. Very probably, that aspiration caused his death.

The kindest thing one can say at this juncture about Donald Trump is that he’s new in the job, and has been snowed into the Tomahawk retaliation. John F Kennedy learned from the Bay of Pigs, but then Trump doesn’t have the same wisdom. If The Donald thinks this through, learns the lesson and refuses any further demands for intervention, he may yet be, if not a great President, then at least an agent for long-overdue change. If he doesn’t get it and doesn’t learn, then he’s a dangerous idiot. But if he knows exactly what’s been pulled here and is going along with it, then he’s a coward letting down everyone who voted for him.

The danger with Trump has always been that, along the testosterone dimension, he’s a spotty teenager who never grew up. Having seen everything he tried to do domestically crash dive to Earth, my hunch is that he decided a tough-guy action was crucial to the reestablishment of his credibility. His need to do that, of course, is the direct result of DNC lies about his ties to Russia: but that doesn’t excuse him. Having been elected to do what Clinton wouldn’t do, he has now done exactly what she’d have done. He will not be given a second chance.

 

 

 

 

Viral Conspiracies

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Published on Peak Surfer on February 6, 2017

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"Now that President Trump has brought fake news out into the open, is it safe to call bullshit on the 9/11 story?"

 

 

 

When we watch the near-hysteria going on in the United States as the country tries to come to grips with the consequences of its recent choice of government we notice how completely out of touch the usual pundits in print and broadcast journalism have become. Their world has been turned upside down. The tired nostrums that provided a handsome living for them before no longer apply.

Analysis is cheap and abundant. However, done well it takes time, and those now in charge are using that delay to advantage.

Most who try to make sense of the rapid changes we are witnessing fail to appreciate the important work on cognition provided by Gregory Bateson (ecology of mind), Alfred Korzybski (general semantics) and Noam Chomsky (transformational grammar), among others.

The polish-born Korzybski (1879-1950) was a Russian intelligence officer in the First World War. His first book, Manhood of Humanity (1921) set out a new theory of humankind as a "time-binding" class of life (humans perform time binding by the transmission of knowledge and abstractions through time, which are accreted not in pack knowledge, but in cultures). Korzybski suggested that humans are limited in what they know by (1) the structure of their nervous systems and (2) the structure of their languages. Humans cannot experience the world directly, but only through their "abstractions" (nonverbal impressions or "gleanings" derived from the nervous system, and verbal indicators expressed and derived from language). This provided the foundation of general semantics. His best known dictum is "the map is not the territory," meaning that no one can have direct access to reality, given that the most we can know is that which is filtered through the brain's responses to reality.

In November, 2011, we posted here:

So why don’t more people seek shelter from the coming storm? Why don’t election year debates get real? Two reasons: confirmation bias and normalcy or optimism bias. In the case of the former, we sentient bipeds with tripartite brains actively seek out and assign more weight to evidence that confirms our views of the world — views we mostly formed as children as we “aped” our parents and teachers or our inspiring leaders and celebrities.

Our fondness towards normalcy and predilection for optimism, both acquired through Darwinian selection, let us box out things that make us feel uncomfortable and allow us to focus on ways to blend into the crowd. If the crowd thinks peak oil, climate change, JFK’s assassination, or the inside job at the World Trade Center are just weird conspiracy theories by crazies at the fringe of our society, we ape the crowd. That’s just Sapiens’ Social Software, even if it means, in the case of 9/11, that we must repeal the laws of physics.

You will have noticed a fairly common response when the 9/11 massacre enters a discussion. Smart people will say that they “will not go there”, which brings to mind the “here be dragons” warning on uncharted bits of medieval maps. That response is not stupid. It hints at an understanding that there is no way back once you enter that realm. There is simply no denying that if you accept the essential conclusions of the official 9/11 report you must also concede that laws of nature stopped working on that particular day. And, true enough, if you do go there and bear witness publicly to what you see, you may well be devoured; your career in many government positions, the media and even academia is likely to come to an end.

— Karel van Wolferen, The Unz Review

A recent book on human evolution, Denial: Self-Deception, False Beliefs, and the Origins of the Human Mind by Ajit Varki and Danny Brower, makes clear our metaprogramed biases are what allow us to carry the knowledge of our own mortality and still take risks like flying in an airplane or crossing the street. We are hard wired to ignore danger if it stands between us and a more immediate goal. As Tali Sharot’s book, The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain, points out, we are likely to think everything will work out with big challenges like a right wing coup d'état, nuclear deterrence or climate change because we are genetically predisposed to assume it will.

Varki and Brower explain that the mechanism within the brain that denies reality works in much the same way the fear suppression module does. When mammals need to fight, they not only deny their own mortality, but also tend to deny anything they find unpleasant and often deny rational logic that conflicts with what their limbic (primitive) brain wants to do. And thus, while we can perform impressive intellectual feats such as visiting the moon, we do so by rapidly depleting non-renewable resources and destroying the habitat we need for survival on Earth.
 

Every religion has some form of life after death story. Religions can and do tell every conceivable oddity of story but religions do not need a life after death story to unite a group. It might be reasonable for a few random religions to include life after death in their stories, but it is not reasonable that every religion has a life after death story.

 

— Rob Mielcarski, On Religion and Denial

The genetic justification for religion is that having a false story about life everlasting allowed intelligence to evolve to permit self-awareness, including awareness of one’s own mortality. Our ability to delude ourselves — something we tend to ritually practice on a regular schedule — kept us from going crazy from the kinds of knowledge that our rapidly expanding neocortex opened up to us.
 

Groups frequently devote all of their surplus wealth to constructing structures to please and communicate with gods in the after life. Pyramids and cathedrals being two of many examples. The … behavior remains strong in modern times because new religions, like Scientology, continue to have life after death stories.

— Mielcarski

This is our truncated version of Rob Mielcarski's outline for our predicament:

  • The short-term solution to our problems is the long-term cause of our problems: economic growth;
  • The long-term solution to our problems is the short-term cause of our problems: reduced consumption;
  • All political parties in all countries and almost all citizens, including the few citizens that understand our predicament, reject our best course of action: austerity;
  • The only problems society does not acknowledge, or discuss, or act on, are the only problems that matter: species extinction, limits to growth, debt, overshoot, resource depletion, climate change, sea level rise, fisheries collapse & ocean acidification, nitrogen imbalance & tree decline;
  • The only possible permanent solution is rejected by the belief systems of 90+% of citizens: population reduction;
  • Citizens have wildly different beliefs about our predicament: there is no problem; there is a problem but it’s not caused by humans; I don’t want to think about it; technology will save us; it’s in the hands of God; I’ve already done enough; someone else needs to do something first; my actions won’t make a difference; someone else will consume whatever I give up; it’s too late to do anything;
  • The leader of the free world denies science and issues daily, jaw-dropping, cringe-inducing tweets: Trump
  • The one world leader that did understand the problem and spoke out was rejected by the citizens and no longer speaks out: Jimmy Carter
  • We do not acknowledge that the world’s economic problems began with the peaking of a key non-renewable resource: conventional oil
  • Every country has similar economic problems and not one leader anywhere in the world connects the dots and publicly acknowledges the root cause, even after they leave office: energy extraction cost + debt
  • The professionals with the most influence on public policy use models that violate the most trusted laws of physics: economists
  • The scientific theory that explains the relationship between the economy, energy, and climate is ignored by everyone that should understand it: Tim Garrett
  • The people who deserve the most respect and admiration get the least: scientists
  • The people who deserve the least respect and admiration get the most: celebrities
  • All types of non-fossil energy do not provide a substitute for the only energy we can’t live without: diesel for trucks, trains, ships, tractors, and combines; natural gas for fertilizer
  • All climate science models that do not predict disaster now depend on an unproven technology that we probably can’t afford and other species definitely can’t afford: BECCS (bio-energy with carbon capture and storage)
  • Earth with its diverse complex life and a highly intelligent species is extraordinarily rare, precious, and worth fighting to protect, yet we dream of other barren homes: colonizing Mars
  • The tool that could be used to unite citizens in common purpose and useful action is instead being used to create tribes that reinforce preexisting beliefs: internet
  • The few sources of information that understand and communicate the truth are under threat: fake news

Recently the activist collective, TheRules.org, used data analysis visualization to look more closely at “Fake News.” The team included data scientist Federico Cruz, complexity researcher Mehul Sangham, visual artist Lucila Sandoval, and cognitive linguistic Joe Brewer.
 

Two conversations about the same topic — 
yet they are largely disconnected from each other.

Our team took a unique dataset of 60 million tweets referencing the US election on Twitter during the week following its completion (November 8th to the 13th). This was a global media conversation that spanned at least 74 countries. We used visualization software to create images of the relationships throughout this massive web of information. The graphic above was generated from this dataset. The colors represent webs-within-webs for each meshwork of tweets that connect with each other in some way.
 

***

When we drilled into the data, we saw that many conversations are disjointed and don’t overlap with each other. Individual people can have as much influence on the information that spreads as the “official” media outlets. One lesson we can learn from this is that stories can come from anywhere that resonate with the feelings people have in the moment.

Another lesson is that the facts-on-the-ground don’t really matter. People share what feels true to them and now they have communication tools to organize around. Those of us working to tackle the global threats to humanity must cut through the many layers of meaning to make sense of things ourselves. Then we’ll have even more challenges to communicate what we discern about reality once we’ve done this.
 

***

What we all need to do now — collectively as a species — is build the institutional capacities to make sense of big data on a regular basis. Having a biased meshwork of corporate media outlets won’t be sufficient. Neither will the “democratized” independent people in the grassroots who have shown us how biased they can be in their own worldviews as they interpret the world to serve themselves.

In 2004, David Suskind interviewed White House spokesman Karl Rove about the layers of unreality in the Bush-Cheney policies, foreign and domestic. Rove's reply was prophetic. First, he took the journalist to task for working in “the reality-based community.” Then he said:

“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” 

Of course he was absolutely right. As Dutch journalist Karel van Wolferen wrote last week for the Unz Review,
 

With President Obama as a mere spectator, the neocon/liberals could – without being ridiculed – pass off as a popular revolution the coup d’état they fomented in the Ukraine.

***

Putin was held personally responsible in much of the media for the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner flying over the Ukraine, which killed 298 people. No serious investigation was undertaken.

***

As the fighting in Syria reached a phase when contradictions in the official Washington/NATO story demanded a stepping back for a fresh look, editors were forced into contortions to make sure that the baddies stayed bad, and that no matter how cruel and murderously they went about their occupation in Aleppo and elsewhere, the jihadi groups fighting to overthrow the secular Assad government in Damascus remained strictly labeled as moderate dissidents worthy of Western support, and the Russians as violators of Western values.

 
How could Rove’s predictions so totally materialize? There’s a simple answer: ‘they’ got away with momentous lies at an early stage. The more authorities lie successfully the more they are likely to lie again in a big way to serve the purposes of earlier lies.   VanWolferen continues:
 

We have experienced massive systemic intimidation since 9/11. For the wider public we have the absurdities of airport security – initially evidenced by mountains of nail-clippers – reminding everyone of the arbitrary coercive potential that rests with the authorities. Every time people are made to take off their belts and shoes – to stick only to the least inane instances – they are reminded: yes, we can do this to you! Half of Boston or all of France can be placed under undeclared martial law to tell people: yes, we have you under full control!

How can anyone quarrel with Rove’s prophecy? Mainstream media and social media are in a tizzy to try to keep up with newly created realities. Rove's words made it very clear: you have no choice! This is what the White House strategy is all about. Shock and awe, nonstop. You go ahead and study the last move we made while we are busy making our next.

Now that President Trump has brought fake news out into the open, is it safe to call bullshit on the 9/11 story?

The science of climate change, as we have been showing in this series of essays, is not seriously in doubt, at least not when rationally scrutinized by any objective standard. What is in serious doubt is the ability of superstitious, authoritarian-cleaving, greedy, fecund and destructive humans to muster the social cohesion to follow the science and do the right thing, and soon.

Joe Brewer says,

The deep truth about fake news is that a great deal of moral integrity and analytic skill is needed to make sense of the world in our complex media environments today. These cultural capacities are desperately lacking today. This is about connecting the dots, revealing system-level patterns, and searching for root causes.

It is also about having the luxury of enough time to do that.
 

We cannot be sure we will get to where we need to be before it is too late for our species. Maybe the next round of evolutionary biology will get some form of life there — perhaps Earth will be re-seeded from the microbes we left on Mars. It may take a few hundred million years to find that out, and by then Earth would be perilously close to drifting out of its orbit of habitability as the Sun radiance gradually enlarges. Any recapitulation of life as we know it would be relatively short-lived compared to the potential we have if we act to save the current enterprise.

Next week, in the meantime, we will examine some corollaries that proceed from this analysis.

 

The Blame Game

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on February19, 2017

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As our economy spins down, our climate deteriorates, our geopolitical system descends into chaos and warfare, placing BLAME for this sad state of affairs is a popular thing to do amongst Bloggers and people who comment on blogs.  This Blame Placing works its way down from the very large to the very small.  In this article, I will cover the way various Pundits and Commenters in the Collapse Blogosphere like to place blame for the ongoing Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

WE ARE ALL TO BLAME

This is the biggest subset, as in all of Humanity.  The reason for our self-destruction is all of us, and Human Nature.  Because "we" are all to blame, we also all deserve to DIE.  As soon as possible too, since if we all die fast enough, maybe some other furry animals and trees will get to live!  This is the argument you get most often on blogs like Nature Bats Last.  It's the Nihilist/Misanthrope argument.

WESTERN WHITE PEOPLE ARE TO BLAME

This reduces the subset to a smaller group of people, those who as gross cultures took the most advantage the earliest from the accessing of the fossil fuel energy resource.  Once that was accomplished, these cultures went on a centuries long tear subjugating other cultures all over the world, from the First Nations people in the FSoA to the Villagers in Me Lai in Vietnam and the residents of Allepo in Syria today.

BOOMERS ARE TO BLAME

This is very popular amongst the Millenial crowd, although there is a lot of self-directed guilt by the Boomers themselves as being responsible for this mess.  The meme here is that Boomers created the wasteful, consumerist culture we live in and today live high on the hog while the younger generation suffers and their future is ruined.

THE BLACKS/LATINOS/NATIVES WELFARE LEECHFUCKS ARE TO BLAME

This is the spin you get on the alt-right type of website, where the population of the underclass is painted as lazy and stupid and sucking wealth from the "good productive" members of the society who still have jobs.  This  remains a popular blaming meme, but is beginning to fail as more of the people who used to blame these folks themselves fall off the economic cliff.  To paraphrase Martin Niemholler, "First they came for the Blacks. I did not speak for them. Then they came for the Mexicans.  I did not speak for them.  Then they came for the Water Protectors trying to stop the Oil Pipeline under the Missouri River.  I did not speak for them.  When they came for me, nobody was left to speak for me".

THE CHINESE/RUSKIES ARE TO BLAME

The argument here is that these nations are the aggressors, while the Western Iluminati counties are just trying to defend "Freedom & Democracy" globally.  Which by any measure is a complete crock of shit.  By no means are the folks running China or Mother Russia very nice, warm and friendly people, but you can't really place the blame on them for this clusterfuck.  Mostly, they have been behind the Eight Ball and just reacting all along the way.  As things really spin up here, Vlad the Impaler is being painted as the Big Bad Guy, but he's just a creation of the whole system, and no different than the people who are running NATO, th EU or the FSoA.  Well, you could make the case he is doing better at it, since his popularity ratings are consistently higher than those of EU heads of state. lol.

THE .01% IS TO BLAME

This blame paradigm puts our problems on the shoulders of those who have reaped the most profit from the system, the .01% of the population that controls the banking system, most means of production and most of the land mass of the earth.  The folks who today fly around in Private Jets to go to conferences at Bilderberg in Switzerland.  AKA, The Masters of the Universe or Illuminati.

THE CENTRAL BANKS ARE TO BLAME

This blame placing goes on the back of Fiat Money, and generally those who do this blaming are Gold Bugs.  The idea being here if we had just stayed on a Gold Standard for money, our economic system would not have run amok.  The CBs are blamed for the problems whether they print money or don't print money.  If they print money, it devalues and you get inflation in something, somewhere.  If they don't print money, you get a loss of "liquidity" and deflation.  Either one screws with the purchasing power of the average J6P.

THE MEDIA IS TO BLAME

In this case, because the MSM has been brainwashing us with Bernay's style Propaganda for so long, people don't know the Truth (with a capital T), and as a result have been hoodwinked by the .01% that controls this media.  So it's a corollary of the Illuminati argument.  The media is also blamed for being "lefty" or "liberal", another popular group to receive blame, particularly from the Alt-Right folks mentioned above.

LEFTIES ARE TO BLAME

A very popular meme amongst the fans of Capitalism as an economic system. Socialism or Communism according to them were big failures, and all the people receiving some sort of social welfare benefit are a drain on the society.  Lefties also like to kill unborn babies and want to steal money from good hard working citizens through taxation and give it to lazy, unproductive citizens.

RIGHTIES ARE TO BLAME

Righties are blamed for being war mongering, selfish and greedy people only looking out for themselves.  By and large, righties have more money than lefties, and the righties feel they deserve their money and the lefties are thieves trying to steal it from them.  Righties also tend to be fairly intolerant of any group other than themselves, mainly White European descendents.  They also tend to believe abortion is murder and women should be forced to have babies they don't want or can't support.  They definitely think LGBTQ people are perverts in need of a shrink at least, if not being jailed for moral turpitude.

CORPORATIONS ARE TO BLAME

Corporatism is a fairly new word, which fans of Capitalism invented to try and make a distinction between the Big Corporations they hate and the Small Bizman they love.  Corporations get blamed from both sides of the Lefty-Righty divide for just about everything, from screwing up our economic system to screwing up the environment to stealing resources from poor people…you name it, if it is Evil the corporations are responsible for it!

RELIGION IS TO BLAME

A very popular meme, as long as it is somebody ELSE'S Religion you are blaming.  Atheists blame all religions for the woes of the world.  Christians blame the Muslims, Muslims blame the Christians, and everybody blames the Jews. lol.  Buddhists don't get much blame, because if a Buddhist falls in the forest, does it make a sound? Druids occassionally get blamed, because they wear silly costumes and have long beards full of yesterday's lunch menu particles. Panentheists like me don't get much blame, because first of all there are vanishingly small number of Panentheists around and just about nobody else even understands what they are and how Panentheism differs from Pantheism.

BIG GOOBERMINT IS TO BLAME

Goobermint is the favorite Blame Punching Bag of the Alt-Right, Tea Party & Libertarian type folks who believe in the "Free Market", "Property Rights", "Deregulation", etc etc etc.  Goobermint is blamed for getting in the way of bizness, encroaching on Freedom and Liberty, waging wars, being inefficient and wasteful of money, being loaded with imbecilic politicians, and most of all, TAXING too much!

———————

OK!  There's a brief rundown of many of the forms of blame you run across around the Collapse Blogosphere. It's not complete, for instance Vegans blame Carnivores for eating meat, and Permaculturists blame Industrial Ag for running an unsustainable food production paradigm.  Pedestrians and Cyclists blame Car drivers for wasting gas and running them off the road. etc, etc, etc.  Everybody's got an axe to grind on someone or something else.

Now, the issue is, what in this litany of things to blame is worthwhile to consider in terms of it being True or not as the underlying cause of the problems we face?  I'm not going to make a Value Judgement on that in this article for the most part (it would take too long and this article is already long enough), if you have read my work for long enough you know where I place most of the blame.

I will take issue with the "Blame Generalists" though, the folks at the top of the list who blame ALL of Humanity for our problems!  That is ridiculous though, because if you blame everyone, you blame no one.  HTF is a Kalahari Bushman responsible for this mess?  He has the same "Human Nature" you do or Lloyd Blankfein does, but he hardly caused the same damage as either you or Lloyd did.  He did cause some of course, but what you have to do is determine LEVELS of blame.  Who caused the MOST damage?  Who was MOST responsible?  Who had the MOST control?  Who was relatively Powerless and who had Power to change the direction of society at any given point in history?

Also pointless is to blame entire generations of people, because all generations have been part of one long continuous slide, basically from the time we invented Agriculture to today.  I never had any say in the choice from moving from Nomadic Hunter-Gatherer living to sedentary Ag livingor Industrial living, so HTF is that MY fault?  I'm not going to take the blame for that.  I'm also not going to take blame for being born a White Male, nor will I take blame for the folks running the country I live in dropping the Death From Above on Syria either.  I DEFINITELY will not take the blame for The Donald being elected POTUS or the fucking stupid Executive Orders he pitches out either.

Then you have the issue of whether it is worthwhile to try and assign blame at all?  Individuals, even entire classes of people get blamed, and often enough that blame is incorrectly applied, so does that mean we stop placing blame entirely because it's "not productive"?  I can't place blame on DAPL for trying to run a pipeine under the Missouri River? I can't blame them for setting Attack Dogs on the Water Protectors?  I can't place blame on Lloyd Blankfein for being a greedy scumbag?  It's unproductive of me to blame The Donald and all the people who voted for him for being idiots?  What?

Basically, somebody has to be held accountable for the actions taken as a society, and saying "We ALL are to Blame" is completely ridiculous, because we are NOT all to blame, at least not in equal amounts anyhow.  The amount of blame you shoulder depends on how much control you had over the direction the society took.  Most of us had virtually ZERO power even just during the time period we were alive, and we certainly had no power whatsoever over what came before the date of your birth.  You're stuck with the society you are born into unless you have enough power to change it, and few do.

However, unless SOMEBODY is held accountable for the poor choices, you can't change the direction of the ship, the Titanic will sail into the Iceberg.  The very FIRST thing you must do to change the direction of the society is get RID of the people in command of the ship who are sending it into the iceberg. To do that, you have to place some BLAME here, and blaming all the passengers on the Titanic for being passengers is just plain stupid.  There IS Blame to be assigned here, it must be assigned and then there must be Punishment assigned as well.  Otherwise, the same shit keeps happening.

Our society in aggregate has become like Parents who never will spank their children or even rebuke them in any significant way.  Kids pick up on this pretty quick, and generally by the time they hit Junior High they feel INVINCIBLE!  The Teachers are POWERLESS to punish them for misbehavior or disrupting the class learning.  In fact, often the TEACHER is blamed for the problem, both by the parents and by the school administrators.  All sorts of totally useless forms of punishment like Detention are dropped on, which actually punishes the teacher as much as the student, since now you have to spend an hour or two extra after the school day is over to monitor this detention, and you have the same behavior problems to deal with in the detention room as you had in the classroom!  So your daily torture as a teacher is just extended here with this method.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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