Geopolitics

Waiting For Eggs

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on August 22, 2019

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She sipped coffee, her voice made little ripples in her cup

' How long are we going to wait here

He looked up from his phone

' Don't worry, it is just going to be a bit longer today. The kitchen is short-staffed

' Why's that, how do you know?

' The Guatemalans did not show up for work today and they only have one Mexican

' Oh, that's right. Trump's immigration raids are today. But how do you know they only have one Mexican?

' All the others Mexicans have cleaning services and do yardwork now. Being here a while they know what pays. More lucrative I imagine and ICE does not work nights so much. People are going to leave a floor waxer alone. Guatemalans are still in the kitchen. They are more recent in getting here

' Why did Trump tell everyone about what he was going to do. Has that happened before?

' Separating children in families of refugees has a really long history. The Romans did it to the Visigoths when the Visigoths were driven into the empire by Huns. There were two and a half million Visigoth youth spread across the empire and held hostage, something like that. When the Visigoth uprising started they were all killed

' Stop that. You always do that. I was talking about Trump. Pay attention

' I figure Trump puts the news out to wave his law enforcement finger. They are all criminals don't you know. 'Drug dealers, criminals, rapists' that is what Trump says. Convincing people the raids are going after criminals instead of brown people trying to eat; that is Trump being Trump. Trump with PR smarter than he himself, his trademark

Trump gets pre-approval for his raids by saying he goes after criminals and those who are here illegally, who become criminals by definition. I had a hard time finding any news about how many people are coming across the border a month. All we get is propaganda. Details they do not want us to know. Bloomberg was the worst, total spin and inhumanity.

' Some of them are criminal, they need to go

' About 100,000 a month now. Gangs are rampant in El Salvador and many people from there flee from violence. It is easy to twist all Salvadorians as being violent instead of most being actual victims of violence. Mainstream media does not even need a Trump to do that

' Any group of 100,000 people are going to have some bad eggs. I'd like to have mine. You said Guatemalans

' Yes, most are from Honduras and Guatemala. The area is called the Northern Triangle of Central America. Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The area is experiencing a horrible drought which has been going on for several years now. It is climate change doing its thing. Most of the refugees from Honduras and Guatemala say they come north because they have nothing to eat. Malnourished with starving kids. Under American law coming here that way is an illegal act. So is talking about climate change

' That is horrible

' Yes it is

This time it’s personal…

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on April 12, 2019

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With your host, Category5.

 

Do you ever find yourself feeling like this guy?

No? I guess it’s just me.

I could have been much more well known if I had stayed on Youtube… or not. What’s going on in my brain and what comes out of my mouth are two completely different things.  C5 dont talk good.

You wont be able to count on me for an inspiring motivational rallying speech to the troops. Or to be a public teacher  of my thoughts and skills. The simple act of opening my mouth is generally enough to repel people.

So, it has come as a surprise to everyone that this form of communication has sort of worked for me. I get a bit more time to think about what I am trying to say. It slows down my thought processes enough that I can communicate in Human.

I’m far less likely to have the first words coming out of my mouth be ‘Poop Train’.

For me, it’s just best to stay out of the worlds way… and see civilization occasionally as a twisted tourist destination. A Dystopian Disney Land. If I stay too long, I generally want to release the Ebola virus and let nature take its course.

But for most of my readers that haven’t already, it’s just best to find that middle ground. With that said, Irv Mills put out his latest, Part 8, in the Responding to Collapse series. There is really good stuff in it. Ive got to throw in my big C5 seal of approval on this one.

http://theeasiestpersontofool.blogspot.com/2019/03/responding-to-collapse-part-8-pitfalls.html

On our end, the weather has finally made that change. Good thing because I was definitely at wits end.   It’s once again that time of  year when we step outside, look around and say… “What a shithole” and begin assessing all the winter damage that needs to be repaired.

Its that time of year to say the C5 Doomsteaders Prayer-

To whom it may concern, please don’t let me have a heart attack this year.

Lead us not into debilitating power tool related injuries, nor have any falls off anything that might break bones.

And deliver us from Cancer diagnosis.

Amen.

Fuck it. I’m not in a very Typey mood lately. I’m going to pass on giving any survival advice this round. All I have been doing is Bucking, Splitting, Hauling and Stacking next years firewood anyhow. Not very interesting.

Curiously though…. I do wonder if this recent post had anything to do with my Apocalyptic Wood series. Things that make me go hum. Billhooks and Pollards and Coppice, Oh My! https://www.resilience.org/stories/2019-04-03/harvest-timber-without-destroying-forests/

I’m just going to be presenting others work this round in that mixed media reporting you have gotten used to… about stuff I have previously talked about… and has been on my mind lately, generally ruining my mood.

To start, I would say it is now confirmed that the US caused the Venezuela power outage. Good, full report here.

https://thegrayzone.com/2019/04/01/solidarity-survival-and-sabotage-reconstructing-the-history-of-the-blackouts-tormenting-venezuela/

“The first stage, according to Dominguez, was the hacking the main computer and control systems. These systems would have been electronically assaulted, “leaving all computer screens black,” said the President. On Monday the 11th, Maduro also indicated that the attacks were made from Houston and Chicago, reaffirming that the US government itself was responsible for the cyber attack.”

“The second stage, Dominguez said, consisted of the use of electromagnetic pulse devices. Highly sophisticated devices of electronic warfare were aimed at the transmission systems and the control platform, disabling them and inducing the system to overload and fail.”

“The third stage was a direct physical attack to the intermediate platforms of electric distribution. There were five attacks on four substations, with little time between each one them; they were carried out simultaneously to stabilize the general electricity supply.”

And just in case you missed it, Chinese troops have arrived  in Venezuela this week, following Russian troops the week before. (edit a few hours later. This turned out to be fake news. Link removed. Solved)

Soooo…..How did we get here?

And how did Right wing  Fascism and all these acts of Terrorism happen so quickly?  It’s these douche canoes. The Koch Brothers and an underground group of billionaires that did a stealth coup of the US… and too a lesser degree Canada. Bring out the gimp.

part 2

part 3

You all know this quote. Maybe not.

and my favorite smart guy of the moment.

 

Favorite line “Three Nazis walk into a BAR. They don’t get up”. That is MY position. Period.

People philosophize all the time about, How did Nazi Germany happen?

One third of the population dehumanized one third of the population while one third of the population did nothing. And here we are again, watching it in real time. Or ignoring it in real time.

There is only one way I can think of to stop it… and unfortunately… it’s not gun control.

A few years old but you get the idea.

With that unpleasantness said…

Lets end this with a piece of music passed along from Mythos.

This is C5 on the Dark Green Mountain, transmitting from Koch Brothers/US Occupied Canada. If you are receiving this broadcast, YOU are the Rebel Alliance.

 

COMING SUNDAY APRIL 21st ON THE DOOMSTEAD DINER

Just Another Day on the Farm – A conversation with FarmGal

Brexit: No Reverse Gear for the EU

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Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on January 20,  2019

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2019 Collapse Survey still OPEN.

Time is running out before we close it!  Time is running out to get your opinions counted. Vote today!

 

Brexit: No Reverse Gear for the EU

 

 

 

 
The daily Brexit spectacle in this country grows ever more surreal. Since Theresa May had her EU leaving agreement ground into the tarmac like a discarded cigarette butt by MPs last week, and then narrowly avoided a vote of no-confidence launched by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the complexity of the situation has exploded exponentially.
 
Politicians have had the best part of two years to find a solution to walking away from the European Union, which is what a majority of people voted to do, but now find themselves set back to square one. This time however there’s only 10 weeks left on the clock, which perhaps explains all the headless chickens running around.
 
Politics at the national level is usually mostly froth and can be safely ignored while more interesting pursuits are followed – after all, during the good times, aren’t politicians merely surfers catching the waves of popular opinion? Remember, these are the good times, for now.
 
But then there are times when serious underlying stresses in society and the economy have built up to a point where they threaten to cause devastating earthquakes. This is when politicians are put to the test – and usually found wanting. You expect them to solve serious national problems, but all they can do is spout platitudes and sound bites. It’s as if they are simply not designed to do the right job – like buying a dishwasher and expecting it to heat your dinner; what you get instead is a blocked outlet pipe and no dinner.
 
The political and social phenomena that arise at these times of stress have two aspects, that is they are both important and unimportant at the same time. I see them as being ‘unportent’.
 
Brexit, for example, is unimportant at face value. It is simply a country reconfiguring its trading arrangements into a more efficient format from the point of view of its people. True, there will likely be a period of adjustment when some prices of goods will be higher and some services could be unavailable, but demand and supply will iron out these problems in the medium term, like they always do. These are minor issues; Europe isn’t physically going anywhere, Britain isn’t going anywhere either, we’ll still be able to drink French wine and eat Italian cheese and go on holiday to the Alps … what’s the problem?
 
In fact, compared to the real crises of out time, such as the insect apocalypse, decaying infrastructure, mass mental breakdown etc. Brexit is hardly even worthy of consideration. Of course, the media have ways of amplifying the trivial and ignoring the important, so the whole situation may seem like a catastrophe if you get your information from those sources, but that doesn’t actually make it so.
 
At the same time, while it may not be important from a whole systems point of view, it can be important to the people within the system affected. For instance, given that the EU is both undemocratic when it comes to the important policy decisions, and a consolidator of centralised power, it matters a great deal to Brits whether or not their children will be conscripted into some future Euro army and forced to fight Russia for its resources at the behest of ‘chicken hawk’ politicians in Brussels, Paris and Washington.
 
Thus the whole Brexit saga is both unimportant and important at the same time i.e. unportent. I suspect unportent things will crop up with greater regularity as humanity continues to slide down the depletion curve of easy-to-get at energy sources.
 
Governing parties not fit for purpose?
It’s curious that Europe has seen the rise of a wave of new populist parties either swept into power, or finding themselves in prominent positions in coalitions over the last handful of years, and yet Britain still clings to the two-party tribal warfare system.
 
Italy has the 5 Star Movement, which is now forms a partner in government, and Germany has the AfD (Alternative for Germany) which has stolen support away from Angela Merkel, while Sweden has the Sweden Democrats, which were just yesterday denied a place in central government despite coming within a whisker of doing so. All of these so-called populist parties are derided in the mainstream media and described in varying tones of invective. 
 
It’s true that most of them are right-wing, driven primarily by concerns about unchecked immigration, but there’s no particular reason why they couldn’t be left-wing populists (apart from the fact that left-wing parties are currently preoccupied by issues of ‘social justice’ and are unable to coherently formulate policies that people might vote for). 
 
Britain, of course, has UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party) whose raison d'être was to force a vote on leaving the EU – something it can be said to have achieved. But due to the ‘winner takes it all’ system of democracy over here it was never destined to achieve great power. Instead it merely managed to exert enough political leverage to shift the Conservatives away from their cosy relationship with big business and extract the promise of a referendum. The fact that David Cameron thought British voters could be railroaded into voting to remain in the EU turned out to be a critical error on his part.
 
But, for the main part, British people are either Labour or Conservative voters, and these two parties have enjoyed a joint monopoly on power for over a hundred years, if you set aside the National Government of the inter-war years.
 
America is in a similar situation, with the Republicans and the Democrats the only two parties worthy of consideration for the majority of voters. While the two-party system gives an advantage in terms of stability, it is looking less suitable in the modern age with all its myriad power struggles and fragmented constituencies. Indeed, perhaps there's some kind of Anglo Saxon ‘two tribes’ mentality playing out here.
 
So what gives? Both parties in both countries are internally conflicted, with the neoliberal element in each having had the upper hand for the past four decades, which coincidentally I’m sure, is the same time period over which the financialisation and globalisation of the world economy took place.
 
During this period, money has dominated politics, because parties could woo big business with the promise of rewards in the form of contracts, reduced regulation and a lower tax burden … just as soon as they got into power. They could easily do this because, once in power, governments in industrialised countries have had the privilege of being able to create money out of thin air without somehow having to earn it.
 
This worked well, up to a point. After conventional oil production peaked in 2005 and the real economy stopped growing, it became an awful lot harder to service all the debt that had been built up, leading to the financial heart attack of 2008. Since then, the global economy has been kept alive as ‘first responder’ central bankers performed CPR and mainlined dizzying amounts of ‘money’, i.e. debt, into the languid white arm of the economy in the hope that the corpse would get up off the floor and start walking again. So far, apart from a few twitches and convulsions, it’s still lying there.
 
With dismal growth, the spoils of financialisation and globalism have become a lot scarcer. Those with access to what remains are fleeing to their citadels and pulling up the drawbridge behind them, while the vast majority of us are left as ‘tax donkeys’, working two or three jobs and dealing with hidden inflation, punitive regulations and reduced prospects. Life just ain’t the same as it used to be.
 
Instead of an easy life we get Donald Trump, Brexit and the Gilets Jaunes – all manifestations of ‘the people’ of industrialised countries trying to claw back some of the wealth and resources they feel are theirs. Can't we just back up a little and go back to simpler systems that redistribute the wealth a bit more evenly?
 
It turns out, however, that there is no reverse gear in over-developed financialised economies. They are built on the concept of exponentially expanding economic growth – something that is neither possible nor, arguably, desirable. To stop growing is to die and consolidation of financial power is a one-way kind of thing. 
 
Perhaps this is why the political classes are doing everything in their power to overturn Brexit and to impeach Trump and fob off the Gilets Jaunes with delays to tax hikes. They may well be successful in all of their attempts but it doesn’t change the dynamic forces behind the scenes that led to the popular rebellions in the first place. As one Gilet Jaune protester succinctly put it "We don't want Macron's crumbs, we want the whole baguette."
 
But are ‘the people’ right?
Most people in these damp islands have a vague and confused idea about the EU. Like Marmite, you are supposed to either love it or hate it. Those in favour of it generally have a ‘rainbows and unicorns’ vision of a benign distant force for good that occasionally arrives on our shores to disgorge its cornucopia of cash, and give our crooked politicians a well-deserved kick up the backside. Others have the polar opposite view, imagining Brussels to be a nest of villainous meddlers who spend day and night concocting schemes to straighten bananas, ban toasters and forbid the use of feet and inches.
 
The truth, of course, lies somewhere in the middle. Yes, the EU has had some success in forcing Britain to clean up its beaches and make it easier to study abroad, and the last time I checked there were still bent bananas in my local grocery store being sold by the pound.
 
Fans of the EU also like to point to various initiatives and projects that are funded by the bloc, claiming that these would never have been undertaken without EU funding. While this may be true, many of these projects could be considered ‘white elephants’. Not long after the EU has built them, cut the ribbon, erected their large blue “This project was funded by the EU” signs and buggered off, it’s usually the local community that is forced to pay for their upkeep and eventual decommisioning with their local taxes.
 
One such example is an industrial heritage mining site near where I live in Cornwall that was part-funded by the EU and given World Heritage status when it opened in 2012. Not only have I never visited it, I’ve never even heard of anyone visiting it, and looking at its website today the ‘Latest Happenings’ section hasn’t been updated in nine months.  Its Wikipedia page is four sentences long (by comparison, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat entry has 8,000 words) – to be honest, it’s not even very good at being a white elephant.
 
However, mention the EU to some of the locals around here and they won’t talk about prestige projects like the Heartlands Heritage Mining Centre, they’ll talk about how Brussels devastated the local fishing industry and destroyed their children’s future. They will tell you how an army of trucks awaits at the docks at dawn each morning to load up the contents of the fishing boats and immediately ship it off to continental Europe, while their own families are forced to shop at Poundland and eat frozen fish fingers. It’s narratives like this that may have had a hand in Cornwall’s decision to vote ‘No’ in the referendum, although they were roundly mocked for doing so, called ‘stupid’ and other less than pleasant names.
 
The kind of disconnect between two entirely different versions of reality throws a sharp light on the struggle between the winners and losers in the globalised economy.
 
As I finish off writing this, it’s Sunday morning and the newspapers are saying that a group of MPs is planning either to sabotage the Brexit process and keep the UK in the EU, or to push through some kind of dismal deal that will effectively sell off the country for a fistful of euros. It would be a mistake to do so. The forces that have been unleashed are not about to meekly get back into Pandora’s box and agree to shut up.
 
EU elections are coming up in May that will likely see a populist right-wing ‘anti EU’ bloc forming at the very centre of political-power, and with Eurozone industrial production and growth plummeting it won’t be long before Europe enters a steep recession – and by then it won’t be just France that goes up in flames. To try and prevent this, ECB president Mario Draghi is doing the only thing he knows how to do – cranking up the money printing press – just in time to feed the thousands of moribund ‘zombie’ corporations dotted across Europe that can only survive if free money is hosed their way. 
 
The banking industry isn’t looking too stable either, with German banks – led by Deutsch – losing most of their value, Italian ones already starting to implode and Denmark’s biggest bank implicated in one of the biggest money laundering scandals in banking history …
 
 
Meanwhile, EU figureheads Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron are both spent political forces, the latter unable to show his boyish face in public, preferring instead to address the hordes of angry left-behinds from his golden Élysée Palace. Italy’s deputy PM, Matteo Salvini, is openly trolling permadrunk EC President Jean Claude Juncker, and Hungarian pariah PM Viktor Orban is the kind of political ghoul who must give the Euro power elite nightmares.
 
Will the UK be able to break away from this sinking ship in time before the acrid smell of smoke from burning capitals wafts across the English Channel to London, polluting the rarefied air of the political bubble in Westminster? Perhaps the smell will simultaneously put the virtue-signalling Islington Guardianistas off their flat whites and the money-grubbing City speculators off their glasses of Chablis?

 

 
Who knows, stranger things have happened.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Week in Doom 12/16: “…at the direction of Individual-1.”


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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on December 16, 2018

“If you can't even get a fawning opportunist like Chris Christie to be your chief of staff, you're in serious trouble.”

 ― David Lazarus, Twitter  


'Dirty deeds': Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen sentenced to 3 years in prison

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's one-time fixer, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for crimes that included arranging the payment of hush money to conceal his boss' alleged sexual affairs, telling a judge that he agreed time and again to cover up Trump's "dirty deeds" out of "blind loyalty.

From all accounts, said dirty deeds did NOT come dirt cheap.

Cohen will continue cooperating with prosecutors, and is also prepared to tell "all he knows" to Congress if asked. One of the other outcomes from this pleading is that the inhabitant of the White House has a new nickname: "Individual 1."

At the sentencing, defense attorney Guy Petrillo pleaded for leniency for Cohen. Cohen cooperated with the Special Counsel so extravagantly that Mueller recommended leniency. Yet Cohen did not cooperate so completely with the Southern District of New York, the charges from which included the taxi medallion case. It seems clear that Cohen's reluctance to come clean stems from a reluctance to have members of his family disappear and be buried in New Jersey.

It also came out this week that Individual 1, Cohen and David Pecker, publisher of the National Enquirer, met to discuss payments to two women in 2015, according to multiple reports.

The revelation ― first made public last month by The Wall Street Journal and corroborated this week ― came after the Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., signed a non-prosecution deal with federal prosecutors in which it admitted to paying off former Playboy model Karen McDougal in 2016 in order to protect Trump’s chances in the presidential election.

Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted  "in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1." Thus the claims potentially implicate Trump in illegality, although it’s unclear how the Justice Department would proceed if investigators found Individual 1 had, in fact, broken the law. The agency has previously held that a president cannot be indicted while in office.

At this point, as The Washington Post reports, mounting legal threats surround Individual 1 as nearly every organization he has led is under investigation. 

Trump’s private company is contending with civil suits digging into its business with foreign governments and with looming state inquiries into its tax practices.

Trump’s 2016 campaign is under scrutiny by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, whose investigation into Russian interference has already led to guilty pleas by his campaign chairman and four advisers.

Trump’s inaugural committee has been probed by Mueller for illegal foreign donations, a topic that the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman plans to further investigate next year.

Trump’s charity is locked in an ongoing suit with New York state, which has accused the foundation of “persistently illegal conduct.”

One immediate impact is on Individual 1, who is accustomed to dictating the news cycle with his cell phone, but who now has to play defense and spend his political capital — and that of his party. The Post reported that last week, 

…weary Senate Republicans scrambled away from reporters to avoid questions about Trump and his longtime fixer Michael Cohen — and Cohen’s courtroom assertion that he had been covering up Trump’s “dirty deeds” when he paid off two women who claimed they had affairs with the president before he was elected.

Note the one about Trump's inaugural committee reportedly being under federal criminal investigation. It isn't known if Trump is implicated in that investigation. but Ivanka and Mike Pence are seriously implicated in it. In fact, the stink about the inauguration committee may well be why Chris Christie was unavailable as Chief of Staff. See the story below.

For a detailed look at eight takeaways from the Mueller and SDNY filings against Michael Cohen, see the Slate article here.


Trump Hits a Wall

In a meting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on Tuesday to negotiate a way around a scheduled government shutdown, the Orange one affirmed that he's  ‘proud’ to shut down government in the name of border security.

Trump clashed sharply with Pelosi and Schumer in a remarkable Oval Office meeting before reporters Tuesday, in which Trump ambushed his guests with the fact that it would be televised for all to see. Apparently he had a spectacle planned. The antagonists traded barbs over Trump’s border wall during what was supposed to be a private negotiating session.

Pelosi coolly explained that he didn't have the votes in the waning days of republican control, and urged him to try. Presiding over the demise of the wall would be a karmically-just manner for Speaker Paul Ryan, once a friend of immigrants, to slither out of office. Clearly frustrated, the Master of the Deal immediately pissed away his political leverage by saying he would be “proud” to preside over a partial shutdown if that’s what it takes to get his campaign promise fulfilled. Brilliant.

Wasting time and taxpayer money over a piece of absurdist art beloved by MAGAts for a completely unnecessary shutdown does nothing so much as signal Individual 1's contempt for the complicated process of governing. 


Christie passes, Mick Mulvaney takes Chief of Staff job.

Chris Christie’s decision to take himself out of consideration left Twitter users speculating as to why.

The former New Jersey governor, historically unpopular when he left office in January, had chaired Trump’s transition team after the 2016 election and was once thought to be angling for a spot in 45's Cabinet. Now not so much.

Christie murmured the usual syllables about spending more time with family, but the truth may have much more to do with how badly Christie got burned by Trump concerning the transition committee.

The indefatigable Bill Palmer of the Palmer Report brought this story to light:

Donald Trump originally put Chris Christie in charge of the transition, but then quickly fired him and replaced him with Mike Pence. Various supposed explanations have surfaced for this, but none of them have ever been confirmed. Here’s the thing. According to the Michael Lewis book The Fifth Risk, as unearthed by Daily Kos, it turns out Trump’s decision to fire Christie had something to do with Trump’s desire to pocket the money. Check out this rather profane passage from the book:

Trump was apoplectic, actually yelling, You’re stealing my money! You’re stealing my fucking money! What the fuck is this?? Seeing Bannon, Trump turned on him and screamed, Why are you letting him steal my fucking money? Bannon and Christie together set out to explain to Trump federal law. […] To which Trump replied, Fuck the law. I don’t give a fuck about the law. I want my fucking money. Bannon and Christie tried to explain that Trump couldn’t have both his money and a transition.

Once Trump won the election, he effectively fired Christie because Christie wouldn’t let him simply steal the money, fired the entire transition staff, and then installed Mike Pence, then allegedly proceeded to steal the money. Did Trump think Pence was too stupid to realize the money was being stolen? Or did Trump put Pence in charge because he knew Pence would help him steal the money? 


The Weekly Standard To Fold After 23 Years


Neocon news outlet The Weekly Standard is shutting down after 23 years of circulation. The outlet, which often published influential conservative opinion pieces, had been searching for a new owner, reports CNN, but its publisher told staffers Friday that it was no longer interested in seeking ways to revamp the company. 

Founded by Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes in 1995, The Weekly Standard dependably sung the tune for the Cheney-Bush cabal, but in recent years had been consistently critical of Trump, and increasingly out-of-step with a Republican party, whose racist and nationalist leanings have found their apotheosis in Trump.

The paper’s most lasting legacy may be its role in cheerleading the trillion-dollar boondoggle Iraq War, as its editors wrote in the months after 9/11 that they hoped “the president will courageously decide to destroy Saddam’s regime.” Kristol, meanwhile, has remade himself as a Never-Trumper and finds a home on cable news, occupying a chair that might have otherwise been occupied by a liberal voice. And his presence enables the mainstream media to maintain their pious "both sides" pose.


Short takes

The news from Washington, and especially about Trump, is so constant and toxic that it consumes a disproportionate portion of our attention. Nevertheless, dozens of other important stories occur each week. Below is a selection of important stories that moved this week that also deserve your attention. For a daily selection of stories filtered through a view of collapse, check out the Doomstead Diner Daily each day.

Macron's ratings fall further after month of gilets jaunes protests

Theresa May defeats Tory coup over Brexit deal but is left damaged

Maria Butina, accused Russian agent, reaches plea deal with prosecutors

7-year-old migrant girl taken into Border Patrol custody dies of dehydration, exhaustion

Time's 2018 "Person of Year" is killed and imprisoned journalists

U.S. Stands with Russia and Saudi Arabia Against Climate Science

Scientists ‘shocked’ that warming has wiped out oldest, thickest Arctic sea ice

Extreme Events "Virtually Impossible" without Warming

Scary warming at poles showing up at weird times, places

Another Mass Extinction Is Underway

Corruption is eroding American democracy

America’s Next Civil War: The United States shows all the warning signs of impending social and political collapse

DHS Says Americans Need to Start Prepping for up to six months without electricity!

Don't sleep on this last article. There are some disturbing observations. DHS warns that the electric grid is now a “prime target” of terrorists, and says Americans need to be prepared for a power outage of up to six months.

“People no longer keep enough essentials within their homes, reducing their ability to sustain themselves during an extended, prolonged outage. We need to improve individual preparedness.” 

The report, titled Surviving a Catastrophic Power Outage”,  warns that an attack would likely come with little to no notice and could cause complete chaos for at least a half a year,  

“Long-duration, lasting several weeks to months (at least 2 months, but more likely 6 months or more) due to physical destruction to equipment, such as transformers or transmission lines; or the severity of the event resulting in limited workforce to repair damage, or inability to create or transport replacement parts.

Food for thought. Solar panels and/or portable generators for Christmas?


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. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

🗳️ Election Special Edition

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 5, 2018

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

 

I don't light up the Full Panentheist Shrine too often, it's only for Special Occasions like the Summer & Winter Solstice and the Spring & Fall Equinox.  However, this Midterm Election qualifies as a Special Occasion, and I felt it important to bring FULL CANDLE POWER to bear here in the attempt to sway the election.  This may not be as effective as Ruskie meddling and hacking, but hopefully it does something.  Since I am not laundering money in real estate for Ruskie Oligarchs, it's the best I can do.

Midterm elections are generally a referendum on the sitting POTUS, and Trumpovetsky hasn't exactly lit up the world with his Leadership Genius, although there still is a "base" of complete morons who will support him until the Sun goes Red Giant even if he rapes little girls on the corner of 5th Avenue and Central Park South.  Overall though, Trumpty-Dumpty opposition has been energized, and this is bound to affect the outcome of many of the mid-term elections now up for grabs.  Where it appears most potent for change is in the House of Reprehensibles, and it seems likely that the Repugnants will lose control of this branch of Da Goobermint in this round.  This is quite important, since it will throw a Monkey Wrench into the machinations of the Repugnant Party personified these days by Trumpofsky who proclaims his brilliance daily on his morning Tweets.  Not that having the House controlled by Demodopes will put a halt to Collapse of course, that will progress forward regardless.  However, with Demodopes in the Driver's Seat, it might be a slightly Kinder & Gentler Collapse than with the Repugnants in charge.  No Guarantees there, but when presented with two versions of Evil, choosing the Lesser of the two Evils can make a small difference.

More difficult to prognosticate is what will occur in the Senate elections.  There, only 1/3 if the seats are up for grabs in any given election, since Senate seats last for 6 years, unlike the House of Reprehensibles where they only last for two and the POTUS spot which gives you 4 years to fuck up the country if you are not impeached or assassinated in the interim.

Of the 20 or so Senatorial races up for grabs in this election, the MOST interesting is occuring in Texas, between the Demodope Congressman Beto O'Rourke and the current sitting Repugnant Senator, Ted Cruz.  Ted The Turkey is so repulsive on ALL levels anybody else would be better, and Beto is Better.  So I am ALL IN in support of Beto O'Rourke, and I made the prediction inside the Diner that he would win this race, despite the fact no Demodope has won a national level electoral Race in Texas since the 1990s.  The only thing Texas produces are Steers and Queers, and the Steers have been voting in force for years.  The Queers may come out of the closet this time.

Besides Ted  the Turkey down in Texas though, there are another  19 or so seats in the Senate up for grabs, many of which could go either way.  Here is the recap courtesy of The Hill:

The top Senate seats most likely to flip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senate Republicans believe they are on the cusp of increasing their majority in the midterm elections despite historic headwinds that seem likely to cost the GOP control of the House.

Republicans believe they have growing momentum to pick up seats in North Dakota, Missouri and Indiana, while races in Montana and Florida remain tight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The GOP is feeling more bullish about not losing any of their own incumbents up for reelection, a significant turnaround from earlier in the cycle when Nevada Sen. Dean Heller was seen as possibly the most endangered Senate incumbent standing.

Surprises are still possible on Tuesday in a quickly changing environment.

Here's a look at the Senate seats more likely to flip:

North Dakota

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) is viewed as the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in the final weeks before the midterm elections, as she’s trailed behind Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) in the polls.

Democrats aren’t counting Heitkamp out after she squeaked out a victory in 2012. They argue that Heitkamp still has a path if she can hit her targets in the eastern part of the state, win over moderates and turn out Native American voters.

The election will come less than a week after tribes unsuccessfully challenged a voter ID law that requires a current address for the identification to be valid. Native Americans strongly backed Heitkamp in 2012.

Though recent polls have shown a slight tightening in the race, Heitkamp is behind in the polls by an average of more than 11 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics.

The race is being handicapped by election watchers as leaning toward Republicans. And President Trump, in a sign that Republicans are feeling good about the state, isn’t expected to make a campaign stop in the final days before the election.

Missouri

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has been a top target since the start of the cycle, with Republicans convinced they would have beaten her in 2012 if her GOP opponent, then-Rep. Todd Akin (Mo.), hadn’t sparked a political firestorm by saying that female bodies have a way of preventing pregnancy from “legitimate rape.”

But she’s managed to keep her race close despite Trump winning her state by roughly 15 percentage points in 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several polls in the final month before the midterms, including a Fox News poll released last week, have shown the race between McCaskill and Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) locked in a tie. Others have Hawley with a slight lead but well within the margin of error.

McCaskill has tried to align herself with Trump and distance herself from the more progressive elements in her party, telling Fox News that she isn’t one of those “crazy Democrats” and that she “100 percent” supports Trump blocking a migrant caravan from entering the country.

But her strategy earned her no reprieve from Trump, who said during a rally in Missouri days before the midterms that the voters would “retire far-left Democrat Claire McCaskill.”

Indiana

Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly (Ind.) is trying to hold on to his seat in a state Trump won by roughly 16 points in 2016 and where he is the lone Democrat to hold a statewide office.

Donnelly has tried to tie himself to Trump, including becoming the first Democratic senator to open the door to considering Trump’s controversial effort to change who qualifies for birthright citizenship.

A Fox News Poll showed Donnelly with a 7-point lead over businessman Mike Braun. But the race remains rated a toss-up, with Republicans viewing it, Missouri and North Dakota as their best chances to pick up seats currently held by Democrats.

Arizona

Arizona is emerging as Democrats’ best shot to flip a Republican-held seat in an otherwise brutal Senate midterm map.

Republicans hoped that when Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a frequent critic of the president, announced his retirement last year it would give the party a better shot at protecting the Senate seat.

But while Republicans got the candidate they wanted when Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) managed to survive a brutal primary election, she’s remained locked in a tight battle with Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

Unlike in Nevada, where Democrats are trying to unseat an incumbent, the open race appears to be giving Sinema and her party an easier, but still heavy, lift.

Sinema is leading in the race on average by a percentage point, according to RealClearPolitics. And a Fox News poll released last week had the race locked in a tie.

Nevada

Heller has been a top target since the start of the 2018 cycle as the only Senate Republican running for reelection in a state won by Hillary Clinton.

But he’s managed to stay in his race against Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) despite being targeted by more than $33.5 million in negative spending from outside groups.

Heller has stuck closely to Trump as he’s searched for a path to victory in the battleground state, and RealClearPolitics shows he’s leading by 2 percentage points on average.

But, in a potential sign of trouble for Heller, Democrats are leading in the state’s early voting tally by roughly 3.5 percent, which will put pressure on the GOP senator to drive up his margin among independents on Tuesday. And after predicting a Heller victory in 2012, Jon Ralston, a veteran Nevada political observer, said on Sunday he believes Heller will lose this year.

Montana

How close the race in Montana is during the waning days of the 2018 election cycle depends on which party you ask.

Democrats, while acknowledging the race is close, are quick to note Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) has maintained a steady lead in the polls for weeks despite months of battering by Trump and Donald Trump Jr.

Tester, according to RealClearPolitics, has a more than 4-point lead on average. But other recent polls show the race being as narrow as 2 or 3 percentage points, putting it within the margin of error.

Republicans are more bullish, believing the Tester-Trump feud has moved the race their way. And Republicans are hoping that a last-minute visit by Trump, who remains deeply popular in the state, will help vault Matt Rosendale into the lead just in time for Tuesday.

Florida

Democrats are feeling bullish about Sen. Bill Nelson’s chances in Florida despite Gov. Rick Scott having gone up with TV ads months before Nelson and pouring more than $63 million into his race to defeat the incumbent.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Friday pointed to early Republican optimism about the race as an example of a “GOP talking point busts,” noting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) prediction that Democrats would leave Nelson “for dead” by mid-September didn’t pan out.

Democrats point to two main factors as the reason for their optimism: The composition of Florida, which has the reputation as a swing state, and the excitement over Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee.

Nelson only has a narrow 2-point lead in the race according to several polls, but FiveThirtyEight gives him a 2-in-3 chance of keeping the seat.

West Virginia

Sen. Joe Manchin was initially viewed as one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents up for reelection in a state won by Trump by roughly 42 points — his biggest margin of victory in 2016.

But while many of his red-state colleagues have seesawed in and out of front-runner status in their respective races, Manchin has maintained a solid lead over Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in public polling in the state over for weeks.

Strategists in both parties attribute his advantage to his gifts as a retail politician and name ID in a state where he served as governor before joining the Senate.

Republicans are hoping a final visit by Trump to the state could provide Morrisey with momentum heading into election day.

But The Washington Post reported that the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with McConnell, is no longer airing television advertisements in the Mountain State.

 

 

 

 

Tennessee

Democrats’ hopes of picking up retiring GOP Sen. Bob Corker’s Senate seat appear to be fading.

Former Gov. Phil Bredesen, like other red-state Democrats, has played up his support for border security as Trump has hammered on the issue in the closing days of the campaign, even releasing an ad touting his decision to send military personnel to the border.

But GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) has led in all but one recent public poll, and two polls released during the final week of the election have her with an 8-point and 9-point lead, respectively.

Texas

Sen. Ted Cruz’s race against Rep. Beto O’Rourke (R-Texas) has captured the national spotlight, dominating media coverage and raking in historic levels of fundraising for a Senate fight in a deeply red state like Texas.

Democrats point to the fact that O’Rourke is getting targeted with roughly $7.7 million in negative outside group spending as a sign that they’ve put Republicans on defense in what could have been a sleeper Senate race.

But national attention aside, Cruz has maintained a steady, high single-digit lead in the polls, and Republicans believe the fundamentals of the conservative state — which hasn’t sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1988 — will allow Cruz to win on Tuesday.

 

I dont't pretend to know how any of these races will work out in the end, too many variables are involved, which include cheating on the ballot counting of course.  What I do know for sure is that Repugnants are disgusting people who need to be removed from office first off, and then their supporters need to be sent in for some serious re-education.  Obviously, something went seriously wrong in the upbringing of Repugnants, whether it was poor parenting or genetics or a combination of both I do not know.  Demodopes are not much better, but at least they have some concept of fairness and creating an equitable society, which Repugnants could give a shit about.  Repugnants are the Scum of the Earth, supporters of Donalditry Trumpovetsky are Dogshit and unworthy of the appelation "Human Being".  Cockroaches are above Right Wing Repugnants on the Evolutonary Scale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diners Litigate the Civil War (War of Northern Aggression)

youtube-Logo-4gc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 4, 2018

 

Discuss this article at the History Table Inside the Diner

 

Diners have  a constant battle ongoing about interpretations of the causes and reasons for the Civil War, or the War of Northern Aggresion as it is knowm in Old Dixie.  With all the talk of secession and new Civil War recently, I thought I would treat the Diner Blog Lurkers to some of the Diner Opinions on this topic.  Particularly apropos I think with the "election" upcoming on Tuesday.

 

From Eddie

 

I don't consider the DOC to be any kind of really legitimate organization.It's a club for women whose ancestors fought in the Civil War for the South, and at one time it might have been considered to be some kind of tie to an idealized genteel Southern past, but any connection to reality has been gone for a long, long time, and I'm not sure why any modern woman would join, except perhaps to make her grandmother happy, or maybe David Duke.

But, with that said, it never ceases to amaze me how far these "woke" people will go to vilify what is now nothing more than a silly caricature.

Let's start by debunking the first assertion. That is, that the DOC is or was an adjunct of the Klan.

Laura Martin Rose was no doubt a Klan supporter. I expect her father AND her  husband, if she was married, were both in the Klan. That doesn't make the DOC part of the Klan, any more than being a Republican makes someone a fascist, although there is no doubt some overlap there too.

And I don't see that the DOC even published that Kiddie Klan Klassic. It was published by the L.C. Graham Company in NOLA, which published all manner of racist crap in the late 19th and early 20th century. If DOC money was involved, I expect it was local money, and not that of the larger organization.

New Orleans didn't make it through 1865 without its first post-war race riot, and it's been a bastion of racism right up until now. If that has anything to do with the DOC, it's a fairly tangential connection. The contention the author makes, that the Daughters of the Confederacy is, or ever has been the "women's auxillary of the Klan", is not supported by the facts. It's pure speculation, but it's presented as if it were fact.

Do they get tax breaks? Sure they do, just like every other non-profit in the country. Big effin' deal. So does Planned Parenthood, and the AARP.

At one time they raised money to put up statues of Confederate heroes. Those statues were of these women's own grandfathers. Pardon them for wanting to glorify their service. Many of them died in the war.

The reason people today don't accept that the war was not fought to preserve slavery is because it wasn't nearly that simple. To start with, prior to the war starting, Lincoln himself had no intention ending slavery in the existing slave states. The national argument was about whether slavery would be legal in the new western states. These SJW journalists are as ignorant about history as they are about evolutionary biology.

Less than 5% of Southerners owned ANY slaves in 1860. So does that mean 95% of the Confederates went to war and almost a half million of them died to support an institution they didn't even derive the least bit of benefit from? Get real.

And just because the fiery rhetoric of the secession documents of the Confederacy (which were written by the most radical people in the South) said the war was about preserving slavery, that doesn't mean that it wasn't about several other fairly contentious issues as well.

The major impact of the war wasn't really even the end of slavery, which would have no doubt ended anyway, as it did most everywhere else on earth, without a bloody civil war.

The most lasting effect of the US Civil War was the consolidation of complete federal government political tyranny over the states, which impacts everyone alive today, not just white people, or Southerners. That has to be the most overlooked, yet most profound, effect that the war ever had.

 

From RE

 

Less than 5% of Southerners owned ANY slaves in 1860. So does that mean 95% of the Confederates went to war and almost a half million of them died to support an institution they didn't even derive the least bit of benefit from? Get real.

 


But they DID derive economic benefit from Slavery!

First of all, many served as Overseers on somebody else's Plantation.  They got paid, the slaves did not.  The Profit for the operation came from the Slave Labor.

Even if they weren't directly employed on a plantation, they may have been Teamsters driving the Cotton and Tobacco to market in horse-drawn wagons.  Again, they get paid because the operation is profitable with Slave Labor.  So do the middlemen, the wholesalers and retailers of the products produced by the slaves.

The entire economy was rooted in slavery.  Everyone who was not a slave got some benefit from that, unless of course they were unemployed.

Does this mean southern boys went to war to protect slavery and their economic system?  Of course not.  I'm sure they didn't grasp these connections.  Mostly they went to war because their Leaders (mainly the Plantation Owners) told them they had to and Conscripted them.

 

From Azozeo

 

Tariffs played a major role in the division of the Union of States

 

From Eddie (quotes from RE)

 

"First of all, many served as Overseers on somebody else's Plantation"

I think the actual truth of that is that some few whites worked in various capacities on larger plantations in a variety of skilled jobs, but that "overseer" was not the primary job description of most of them. It wasn't like Gone With The Wind. Maybe it was in a few places, like the Tidewater.

But aside from that, a good part of the population were just plain subsistence farmers, and they weren't participating in the slave economy AT ALL.  Subsistence farmers, like my father's people, had very little need for, or connection with any kind of money based economy at all. "Forty acres and mule" started with white people, not blacks.

The entire economy was rooted in slavery.  Everyone who was not a slave got some benefit from that, unless of course they were unemployed.

Actually that's bullshit.

MOST people WERE unemployed in the South in 1860, in the modern sense of that word. The big plantations were the "Big Ag" of that day and time, but most of the economy was people scratching out a living out of a garden and raising a few animals. The idea that these Southerners were beneficiaries of slavery is pretty questionable, in my view.

 

From RE

 

My guess would be that those people (besides the Owner of the Plantation) who were directly connected to the Slave Economy served as the Officers in the Confederate Army.  Subsistence Farmes were the ones who got conscripted as Cannon Fodder.

 

From Eddie

 

Not a bad guess, but the truth is slightly different. There was a war with Mexico in 1846, and so when the Civil War came, almost all the officers on both sides were the military veterans from that war.

My maternal gg grandfather was the second son of a big plantation owner, but he was still definitely just cannon fodder, with Lee at South Mountain in Maryland, in what was the very first big campaign of the war. His brother-in-law, a Mexican War vet, mustered in as a Captain and was promoted to Major. He made it all the way to Appomattox. Of the original unit of over a thousand, only seventy-odd men made it that far.

Many men in Lee's army in the fall of 1862 even then didn't even have shoes, and they had nothing to eat for the last week of their lives except for green corn they took from the local farms they passed, which gave most of them terrible diarrhea. And this was early in the war, in September of 1862.

I don't how my paternal gg grandfather died, but the was not a young man when he died late in the war the winter of 1864. He served in Texas, maybe on the frontier instead of the actual war. Unlike the other one, his bones were laid to rest near his home.

 

From RE

 

Not a bad guess, but the truth is slightly different. There was a war with Mexico in 1846, and so when the Civil War came, almost all the officers on both sides were the military veterans from that war.

 


That's true for the Texas contingent, but how many soldiers from South Carolina served in the Mexican war?

 

From David B

 

I find the civil war fascinating because it comes at a time of massive technological change. I sometimes wonder how long it took all those Mexican war veterans to say" oh fuck what have we done". Between railroads ,rifled barrels, the minie bullet, telegraphs, it must have been a terrifying new level of shitty. The intensity and "efficiency" of warfare was amplified making it possible for all out meat grinder. All those new toys came together.
Viscous but fascinating.

 

From Surly

 


The reason people today don't accept that the war was not fought to preserve slavery is because it wasn't nearly that simple. To start with, prior to the war starting, Lincoln himself had no intention ending slavery in the existing slave states. The national argument was about whether slavery would be legal in the new western states. These SJW journalists are as ignorant about history as they are about evolutionary biology.

Less than 5% of Southerners owned ANY slaves in 1860. So does that mean 95% of the Confederates went to war and almost a half million of them died to support an institution they didn't even derive the least bit of benefit from? Get real.

And just because the fiery rhetoric of the secession documents of the Confederacy (which were written by the most radical people in the South) said the war was about preserving slavery, that doesn't mean that it wasn't about several other fairly contentious issues as well.

The major impact of the war wasn't really even the end of slavery, which would have no doubt ended anyway, as it did most everywhere else on earth, without a bloody civil war.

 [/color]

 


For fuck's sake.

Are we really going to re-litigate the Civil War again for the umpteeth time?

Very clever of you to attempt (unsuccessfully ) to inoculate yourself against the Cornerstone Speech and the constitutions of the states that comprised the confederacy, which I have adduced here previously. And which call you out dead to rights. Which makes the motives of the seditionists and traitors absolutely clear. And which put the lie to your assertion above.  Holders of privilege, property and prerogatives are always happy to fight the current war down to your last son.

Interresting that you don't want the words produced by the men who enbcouraged your forebears to die on their behalf to be used as part of an indictment. Like disqualifying a murderer's confession.

OF COURSE only five per cent of whites in the Confederacy owned slaves. Strap yourself in for this reality bomb:

THEY WERE THE ONES WITH THE MONEY. THEY COULD AFFORD THEM

The 95 per cent of seditionists who took up arms against the Americans did so for the reasons all young man flock to the banner of their country: "duty, honor, country," and all that other manipulative claptrap the elites use in every generation to manipulate the proles, and the same sodden bullshit Trump will invoke to urge the next generation to Victory on Mars.

Because Grant attempted to implement Lincoln's "soft piece," we are afforded the luxury of endless justification for treason on the part of Confederate rebels. Had 3,000 Confederate politicians and senior officers swung from gibbets, we might not have to suffer the promiscuous rewriting of history by devotees to the so-called "Lost Cause" back in the day, and by Republiconfederates today.

 

From RE

 

I find the civil war fascinating because it comes at a time of massive technological change. I sometimes wonder how long it took all those Mexican war veterans to say" oh fuck what have we done". Between railroads ,rifled barrels, the minie bullet, telegraphs, it must have been a terrifying new level of shitty. The intensity and "efficiency" of warfare was amplified making it possible for all out meat grinder. All those new toys came together.
Viscous but fascinating.

 


In essence, it was a War between Industrialist Elite in the North and Agrarian Elite in the South.  The Industrialists won.  The Southerners only had Human Slaves.  The Industrialists has 22 Billion Energy Slaves.  No contest.

 

From Surly

 

I find the civil war fascinating because it comes at a time of massive technological change. I sometimes wonder how long it took all those Mexican war veterans to say" oh fuck what have we done". Between railroads ,rifled barrels, the minie bullet, telegraphs, it must have been a terrifying new level of shitty. The intensity and "efficiency" of warfare was amplified making it possible for all out meat grinder. All those new toys came together.
Viscous but fascinating.

 


Absolutely. The Spencer repeating rifle alone was responsible for a Union delaying action that was an important action on the first day of Gettysburg. John Buford's unmounted cavalry used Spencer carbines to create a rate of fire disproportionately higher than the Confederate force they were opposing, and bought the Union troops coming up from the south valuable time. The Civil War also ushered in the Gatling Gun, which had minimal impact on the Civil War but rather more at Wounded Knee.

 

From RE

 

 

From Eddie

 

Whoa, dude. I never used to write anything about the Civil War here or anywhere else. I feel dragged into it.

Frankly, I grew up without ever learning much detail about the war, even though I took American History in college and read stuff like the Cattons and the usual reading list from back in the day…..but let's face it…..you only get so much from a one semester freshman survey course.

I Have educated myself a little more  over the last several years, because I wanted to get some idea of the real story, and not just the mythology. I don't claim to be a real expert. But I know made up crap when I read it.

You might remember that my comment was directed at debunking a piece of garbage that some biased black SJW wrote that showed up on a feed YOU reposted here. It was simply an honest response to what I considered a fairly reprehensible misrepresentation of a dumb Southern women's club.

I offered a comment, because the piece was EXTREMELY biased and failed to make any of its points, yet it no doubt got taken as gospel by most so-called educated liberal people. That pisses me off.

I don't want to refight the war. It wasn't ever MY war. It's always been ancient history.

But these modern bullshit artists who try to take the words  of one admittedly racist writer from 1914 and twist that into some kind of completely imagined widespread racist conspiracy….that shit deserves to be called out for what it is, which is pure propaganda.

 

From RE

 

Whoa, dude. I never used to write anything about the Civil War here or anywhere else. I feel dragged into it.

 


I don't think you were "dragged" into it.  You started writing about the War of Northern Aggression when you went to visit your relatives in SC at the 2nd Convocation.  That was your own choosing.  Then you got riled up by the Statue Demolishing of the Dixie "War Heros" and wrote your objections to that.  Surly then felt it necessary to counter your spin with his own spin.

It just evolved over time.  Now you gotta deal with that.

 

From Eddie

 

What I gotta deal with is a bunch of ignorant modern people lying about history in pursuit of their modern agendas of social justice.

I think I've been really clear about that, and that's why I write what I write.

My own family history has some bearing on my story, but I have never lied about them or made them out to be anything other than what they were.

I actually started to get the real story, when I read about Lincoln…..the real Lincoln….you know the one who exiled a US congressman to Canada…and who locked up a bunch of people for the duration of the war without any resort to habeus corpus.

That Lincoln, not the Great Emancipator, the martyred Lincoln all the ignorant people worship for all the wrong reasons. Lincoln actually talked about sending the freed slaves back to Africa. That was his first choice. I seldom hear that mentioned in these SJW articles.

As I said, the really most important impact of the US Civil War was that it castrated the rights of individual states, once and for all. This is not even taught in the history books, so important is it that it be completely ignored and forgotten.

 

From RE

 

"States Rights" never stood a chance if everybody used the same currency created by same Banksters.  In the words of Mayer Amchel Rothschild:
 

 
 

This Week in Doom, Oct.28: Hate Speech in the Streets


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 October 28, 2018

“Violence is as American as cherry pie.”

 ― H. Rap Brown  


It was almost inevitable. that after two years of lies, white nationalism, xenophobia, and demonization of the press, political enemies, and everyone who failed to take the knee, the rhetoric of #NotMyPresident would result in tragedy. The week's news was defined by pipe bombs sent to the top tier of Democratic politicians and at least two former Presidents. A marginal personality, one Cesar Sayoc, was apprehended after mailing the bombs to critics of the Trump administration, in an attempt at large scale political assassination. And the cesspool of anti-Semitic messages and symbols that social media has become bred a new supertroll, a gunman who invaded a Pittsburgh synagogue and left behind a string of casualties and grief. Meanwhile, the Prevaricator of the Potomac called for "unity" one minute, then a litany of complaints, accusations, whining and blame the next.


There is no acceptably sardonic or funny take on this news. News reports indicate that a random fingerprint and some DNA on at least one of the bombs was enough for the authorities to ID Sayoc. From The New York Times:

Mr. Sayoc, a registered Republican, has a lengthy criminal history in Florida dating back to 1991 that includes felony theft, drug and fraud charges, as well as being arrested and accused of threatening to use a bomb, public records show. His criminal record from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement indicates that at the time of his last arrest in 2015, he was 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds. He has brown eyes, black hair and a scar on his left arm, the records said, and was born in New York. The records listed Mr. Sayoc’s occupation as “manager.” According to a 2012 bankruptcy petition filed in Miami, Mr. Sayoc resided at the time at his mother’s home. “Lives w/mom,” a handwritten note on the petition said. “Has no furniture.”…

The windows of his van were festooned with stickers of outrageously Trumpist flavor, including images of administration critics in cross-hairs.  Even as reporters sift through Sayoc's Facebook and Twitter feeds, he appears as another lost soul, another casualty of late stage capitalism, with little to his name, less to protect, and no stake in the system– unsuccessful even at crime. And who found in the klaxon call of the Orange Kleagle what brought him his fifteen minutes of fame: enemies. And in blaming those unlike him, he shares a common cause with too many who stain this country with their presence.

We've seen this movie before: home-grown, far-right extremists who have used violence to draw attention to themselves, a cause, a manifesto, or as a way to unleash revenge. The line runs from the Unabomber through Oklahoma City to Boston, Charleston and Orlando. In some cases, these motives are conjoined with mental illness. Rage breaks through with an accelerator. Today it is only fair to wonder whether tensions are being ratcheted up to a new and dangerous level by irresponsible "presidential" rhetoric, the pronouncements of the #NotMyPresident's hired enablers and liars, and the constant drumbeat of reinforcement from the right wing media ecosystem.

 

My day job in meatspace is to lead a group that creates commercials. Any good advertising executive knows the importance of repetition's cumulative effect; it can bend the incredible into the credible. Repetition establishes credibility, creates a beachhead in the mind. Today constant repetition creates markets for psoriasis meds, dick pills, reverse mortgages, and HR certification gatekeepers. In this manner have the serial lies of the Tiny Mushroom established a separate reality for Trumps; phalanx of accepting, uncritical bobbleheads, who show up for his nightly Nuremberg rallies for a feast of blame of The Other.

By now it is clear that accused Bomber Cesar Sayoc Was a Fervent Trump Supporter

"…who in recent weeks was unafraid to taunt and even threaten Trump’s critics on social media. In what appears to be Sayoc’s Twitter account, the alleged bomber tweeted pictures of alligators that had eaten humans to Biden and movie director Ron Howard.

"How and why Sayoc went from online troll — he has posted dozens of tweets per day for months — to the accused serial bomber who grabbed the world’s attention are still unknown. But if his bombs, none of which detonated, were sent because he was inspired by Trump’s violent rhetoric at campaign rallies, Sayoc would not be the first domestic terrorist inspired by conspiracy theories associated with Trump."

Thus do online trolls become real world actors.

As much as the bobbleheads of the drooling right like to invoke the specter of Soros or Antifa for their masturbatory fever dreams, the historical record is full of violent events executed by retrograde elements.

Many of the usual suspects had maintained that the bombs were some sort of false flag manufactured by Democrats to affect the upcoming election. In this they were led by the #NotMyPresident, using his Twitter account to push a self-serving conspiracy theory surrounding the bombs sent to critics. It is also clear that merely arresting a suspect, as it turns out, doesn't keep them from calling it a False Flag. It really is a #Trumpcult.


And on Saturday, as the echoes of "Lock Her Up" faded from Nuremberg Charlotte, news from Pittsburgh came of that oldest of demonizations, anti-Semitism. At least 11 were killed, 6 wounded in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. Officials say the suspect, Robert Bowers, 46, taken into custody after a gun battle with police, will face hate-crime charges.

A gunman armed with an assault rifle killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue during Saturday-morning services in what the Anti-Defamation League called "likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.”

Law enforcement officials said Robert Bowers — a 46-year-old man with a history of making virulently anti-Semitic statements online — was taken into custody after a gun battle with police and is expected to face federal hate crime charges.

“Justice in this case will be swift and it will be severe,” said Scott W. Brady, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Brady said Bowers could be charged sometime Saturday for what he called a “terrible and unspeakable act of hate."

The victims have been named and they range in age from 54 to 97, with two brothers and a married couple among the dead

A stunned nation mourns with the survivors. A reminder that no matter how far we may have thought we had come, anti-semitism is alive and well in the US. We know this from statistical and anecdotal evidence. In February, the Anti-Defamation League released its annual report, stating that

“the number of anti-Semitic incidents was nearly 60 percent higher in 2017 than 2016, the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since ADL started tracking incident data in the 1970s.”

The massacre in Pittsburgh massacre is just the latest example of the homicidal fury and hatred emerging from the fringes of American right. It brings together the armaments and techniques of other active-shooter incidents of recent memory– the opportunity presented by a "soft target" like a synagogue at prayer, for example. And it underlines the remarkable frequency of mass casualty events in this country compared to nearly every other nation in the world. You'd almost think it was the guns.


The snarling rhetoric of #NotMyPresident has helped rip the mask from this phenomenon. Although he did appeal for "unity" and decry violence in remarks Saturday night. Although his idea of "unity" is that the entire nation stop their resistance, fold their tents, and fall in lockstep behind him.

In Charlotte the other night, America's Chief Victim tried to strike a measured tone. 

“Political violence must never ever be allowed in America and I will do everything in my power to stop it. We must unify as a nation in piece, love, and in harmony.”

That didn't last. 

In literally the next breath he began a lengthy rhetorical barrage against the press, as though it was the mainstream media and not he that had celebratedand incited violence.

“We all say this in all sincerity”—he was not being sincere—“but the media’s constant unfair coverage, deep hostility, and negative attacks—you know that—only to serve to drive people apart and to undermine healthy debate,” he said.

We're supposed to ignore the constant barrage of lies, the promised tax cut that was a complete fiction, the supposed "defense" of Obamacare, the protections for people with pre-existing condition, the assertion that Dems want "open and undefended borders." As David Graham has it in the article cited here,

Trump wants harmony, but he immediately attacks. He demands honest coverage, but like a funhouse George Washington, he cannot tell a truth. He pleads for an end to the politics of personal destruction, but he cannot resist indulging in ad hominem attacks. Trump’s vision of unity is one… that can exist only in one-party states, where there is no meaningful opposition and no criticism. His idea of harmony is that his critics yield entirely to his whims.

An election looms nine days ahead on November 6. It remains to see if the nation will elect legislators who will choose a different path, or whether we will continue to descend into this long national nightmare.


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. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

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


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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

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