Geopolitics

Donalditry Trumpovetsky

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Published on The Doomstead Diner May 28, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Flies of Summer

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Published on Peak Surfer on April 9, 2017

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

***

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

Tim Morgan adds:

 

 

 

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

Tianjin (Ghost City) built to employ underemployed construction workers

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

***

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

***

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


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

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

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

Burke also said in his Reflections:

 

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

 

Village Tofumaker, October 2016 by Albert Bates

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

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

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

EU Election Fake Newz

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Published on the The Slog on May 1, 2017

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S FAKE NEWS ABOUT EU ELECTION HARMONISATION

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

—————–

Looking in the mirror

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

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


Only NOW is real.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

We fear the new because we ignore The Now.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Let them Eat Chocolate Cake

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

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

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Xi is on the phone

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

When in doubt, sow chaos

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

Will England & Sotland become One-Party States?

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

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Published on the The Slog on April 19, 2017

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

 

 

 

Trump’s Bay of Pigs

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Published on the The Slog on April 8, 2017

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

     

     

     


    So these are my two conclusions.

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Viral Conspiracies

youtube-Logo-4gc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Albert Bates

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Published on Peak Surfer on February 6, 2017

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

In November, 2011, we posted here:

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

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

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

— Karel van Wolferen, The Unz Review

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

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

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

 

— Rob Mielcarski, On Religion and Denial

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

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

— Mielcarski

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joe Brewer says,

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

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

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

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

 

The Blame Game

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on February19, 2017

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

WE ARE ALL TO BLAME

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

WESTERN WHITE PEOPLE ARE TO BLAME

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

BOOMERS ARE TO BLAME

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

THE BLACKS/LATINOS/NATIVES WELFARE LEECHFUCKS ARE TO BLAME

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

THE CHINESE/RUSKIES ARE TO BLAME

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

THE .01% IS TO BLAME

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

THE CENTRAL BANKS ARE TO BLAME

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

THE MEDIA IS TO BLAME

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

LEFTIES ARE TO BLAME

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

RIGHTIES ARE TO BLAME

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

CORPORATIONS ARE TO BLAME

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

RELIGION IS TO BLAME

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

BIG GOOBERMINT IS TO BLAME

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

———————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brazil & the Bloodied BRICS

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on February 12, 2017

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6b/BRICS_leaders_meet_on_the_sidelines_of_2016_G20_Summit_in_China.jpg

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Just going back a few years, the "BRICS" were all the rage as the next great Superpower conglomeration.  BRICS stood for Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa.

3 of them Brazil, India and South Africa also fit in the category of "Emerging Markets", and EMs were where all the Hot Money was flowing for investment during the period, seeking high yields and return on investment.

What could be more perfect, right?  Great resource availability and populations willing to work at low wages to supply industrial products to the world!  Not to mention Russia & China as large military powers with the capability of making a good fight with the FSoA if challenged!  Even if they don't have the aircraft carriers the FSoA has, they have Nuke ICBMs, and they have cruise missiles capable of sending any FSoA Carrier Group to the bottom of Davey Jones Locker.  The Chinese field a 1 Million Man Standing Army.  Lotta potential Boots on the Ground there!

So a lot of betting went down that this group of Nation-States was going to make a serious challenge to the European and Anglo-Amerikan hegemony over the industrial economy, not to mention the Bankstering system which runs it. Even to this day, you have some pundits like Pepe Escobar claiming the Chinese are going to build a "New Silk Road" that will bring the BRICS to ascendancy as the inheritors of the failed policies of the Western Europeans and Anglo-Amerikans.

Unfortunately, something went wrong along the way here, and precisely the opposite has occured or is occuring as I write this article.  What fucked up in the BRICS master plan?

To begin with, it was a typical financialized bubble.  Beyond that, you have countries here with Goobermints that are corrupt beyond belief, it's possible they are all more corrupt than the FSoA Goobermint, although of course that is hard to imagine.  To top it all off, you have the issue that even if said countries have energy resources left like Brazil and Russia do, you have populations that cannot afford to buy those energy resources and retire the debts incurred by the extractors of the energy.

http://www.usfunds.com/media/images/frank-talk-images/2016_ft/Jul-Dec/overnight-indian-prime-minister-narendra-modi-killed-90-nations-currency-12-2016.jpg India already jumped off the cliff with the demonetization of the biggest Rupee notes by His Modiness, which sent the entire economy into a tailspin.  Not to mention the fact it further impoverished already impoverished people, and as bad as their farmer suicide problem was before this, one has to figure it has been worse since.  A VAST number of Indians have no bank account, or even Goobermint ID.  For them, it's entirely a Cash Economy, and no Cash, no Economy.

This of course does not even touch on the Climate and Environment problems the Indians have, or their Energy problems or population overshoot problems.  Then they have the constant battle with the Pakistanis, so overall the place is a complete fucking mess.  They may even start exchanging Nukes with the Pakis, since they both got 'em

Moving down to South Africa, they probably have the worst problems with drought of any of the BRICS, although Brazil is not doing too well with this problem either.  Besides that is the perpetual racial divide problem of South Africa and the fact that its entire economy is a mineral resource extraction economy, and globally nobody is paying much for resources, because the Konsumers of the resources are running out of money to buy them with.  Well, except for the filthy rich who are still buying some Diamonds at Tiffany's, but unfortunately there aren't enough filthy rich to fund an entire economy this way.  Tiffany's isn't doing too good either, they just fired their CEO.

Doing slightly better than these two locations are the Middle Kingdom of China and Mother Russia, but not by all that much plus Newz doesn't really escape well from either Nation-State, so you can't be entirely sure of WTF is going on there.  In Mother Russia, one of Vlad the Impaler's political opponents recently went to the Great Beyond, apparently resultant from Poisoning.  Another one, Alexander Navalny who was a Blogger so I like him 🙂 was convicted of some kind of felony so is no longer eligible to run against Vlad to run Mother Russia. He was probably the only opponent of Vlad who stood some chance of beating him, at least in popular voting.  The Ruskies do have some cheap Oil left though, and their population is not too large given the land mass available there.  On the other hand they have NATO troops massing on their borders, not a good sign.

Of all the BRICS, the Chinese have weathered the storm the best so far, but by no means does this presage a rosy future for them.  In fact the Chinese are TOAST, and are in worse shape than everyone in the BRICS except perhaps the Indians.  Reason of course is Population Overshoot, but by no means is that their only problem.  They've blown a Credit Bubble that makes the one Da Fed blew up look like Child's Balloon next to the Hindenburg.  Forget about not drinking the water, half of it is not even fit for human contact!  You can't walk outside in Beijing without at least a surgical mask on, but really you need a full blown activated charcoal gas mask or better yet a SCUBA tank.  This is not a recipe for a bright future for the Chinese.

However, of all the BRICS, the one in the WORST shape right now and is clearly exeriencing a FAST COLLAPSE is Brazil.  Their economy is in complete collapse, corruption is systemic and now they are losing control of the social structure as well.

In the state of Espirito Santo which borders on the state of Rio de Janeiro which is home to the city of Rio, Corcovado (the big Christ statue on the mountain) and numerous Favelas (slums), the Military Police recently went on strike because…they weren't getting PAID!  Big fucking surprise, who is going to work at anything if you don't get your paycheck at the end of the week?

Problem for these cops of course is that just like under Amerikan Law, Strikes of "publicly essential personnel" are ILLEGAL!  So even if you're not getting paid, you're supposed to KEEP WORKING!  Does this sound like SLAVERY to you?  It does to me.

Since these cops are MILITARY cops, one suspects they can't even quit either until whenever their enlistment in the military runs out.  Not that they would quit anyhow, because in all likelihood there are no other jobs for them to take in the neighborhood.  So they got a bit creative here on this one, and instead of the cops themselves not showing up for work, their families went out and blockaded the stations, so the cops could not go out on patrol.  Of course, they had the option of possibly Arresting their own families for "obstruction of justice", but who is going to go out and arrest their own wives, kids, fathers and mothers, or shoot them?  Not gonna happen.

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/cee9e57924da473fc287876b61e1fe4a7691ecd1/0_163_5000_3000/master/5000.jpg?w=300&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=6dca5670e4f694a61b2948765d4f87b9 So in the wake of this absence of cops on the streets of Vitoria (the capital of Espirito Santo), the population at large took the opportunity to go an a rampage of looting, raping and killing.  There is of course a large population of people living the criminal life in Brazil, because there are no opportunties for them in the "legitimate" world.  They deal drugs, they steal, they kill people.  It's like Chicago on Steroids and much larger.  Its not like everyone is a criminal, but without a police presence, it's "Criminals Gone Wild".

So Da Goobernator of Espirito Santo asks for help from Da Federal Gobermint, and they promise to do "watever it takes" to restore order and send in the Military to replace the cops on the streets.  Except how many do they send in?  A Big 200 soldiers to police a city of 2M people!  That is 1 for every 10,000.  Even only 1% of those 10K are criminals, that is still a 100:1 ratio!  However, in this situation it's probably more than 1%, since many normally law abiding type citizens will take the opportunity to go loot the local grocery or Iphone store.

Normally, they put out on the street 1800 cops, so to do the same job you would need around the same number of soldiers.  So now you have to pay the soldiers instead of the cops, and Da Federal Goobermint of Brazil is in no better position to do that than the states are, they are BROKE also!

Even if they could field enough paid soldiers to go in there to restore order, Vitoria and Espirito Santo as a whole is a relatively small state in Brazil.  What happens when the same thing occurs in Rio De Janeiro or Sao Paolo or Brasilia?  Sao Paolo has something like 20M people now, that by itself is an order of magnitude larger than Vitoria.  What is to stop this from spreading to Sao Paolo?  They are broke too, and besides that running short on water and the money to run their sewage treatment plants, garbage collection etc.  It's not just cops not getting their paychecks, just about all the public workers are seeing wages withheld because Da Goobermint doesn't have the money to pay them.

Unlike the FSoA (also broke), the Brazilleiros cannot just issue infinite debt and have it recognized as worth anything.  They have gone through NUMEROUS periods of Hyperinflation, and they are trying to avoid that problem with "austerity", but austerity means people either are paid to little to live on or not paid at all.  Jobs are cut, pensions are cut and you get a downhill spiral as people have no money to spend in the economy.  They can't afford to buy enough food to feed their kids.  At this point, they get desperate, and take desperate measures.  That is what the cops in Espirito Santo are doing.

http://media.gettyimages.com/photos/man-walks-on-dry-cracked-earth-where-water-usually-stands-at-the-picture-id467643149 The problem here of course is that like many other resource based economies, the Brazilleiros are running short on resources people around the globe can afford to buy at the prices they cost to extract.  There are some big oil fields in deep water off the coast of Brazil, but their own state company of Petrobras is broke, and oil majors like Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell are not going to put up debt money to drill these fields, because there is no profit in it.  These companies are already bleeding red ink on properties they are drilling here in the FSoA, and beyond that there is an oil GLUT due to collapsing demand around the world.  So the Brazilians will not be saved by the Oil underneath the ocean floor surrounding them.

It's only a matter of time before the chaos in Espirito Santo spreads to the rest of Brazil.  How much time?  Then from there it spreads to other SA countries dependent on resource exports, and the chaos grows.  Then it makes it to Mexico, then it migrates across the border to the FSoA.  How long will that take?  Timeline, Timeline, Timeline.  Like Location, Location, Location in the world of Real Estate, that's always the question, not what the final outcome is.

Tanto Magis Omnia

TriangleofDoomgc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Steve Ludlum

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Published on the Economic Undertow on January 30, 2017

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Discuss this article at the History Table inside the Diner

Why man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves

— William Shakespeare

The Colosseum in Rome was named for a gigantic portrait statue of Nero commissioned by the emperor in AD 64 to commemorate … himself. It stood within the Domus Aurea, a 300 acre complexes of palaces, gardens and pavilions Nero ordered built at public expense not far from the old Republican Forum, between the Palatine and Esquiline hills. The Domus’ occupied what was previously a residential district for Roman elites adjacent to a marshy lowland. The grounds can be compared to another marshy lowland favored of the elites, the National Mall in Washington, DC. At 309 acres, the two compounds are not entirely identical: one was intended to be as a tourist attraction, the other, a playground for a single person,.

As for the Domus …

… Its size and splendor will be sufficiently indicated by the following details. Its vestibule was large enough to contain a colossal statue of the emperor a hundred and twenty feet high; and it was so extensive that it had a triple colonnade a mile long. There was a pond too, like a sea, surrounded with buildings to represent cities, besides tracts of country, varied by tilled fields, vineyards, pastures and woods, with great numbers of wild and domestic animals. In the rest of the house all parts were overlaid with gold and adorned with gems and mother-of‑pearl. There were dining-rooms with fretted ceilings of ivory, whose panels could turn and shower down flowers and were fitted with pipes for sprinkling the guests with perfumes. The main banquet hall was circular and constantly revolved day and night, like the heavens. He had baths supplied with sea water and sulfur water. When the edifice was finished in this style and he dedicated it, he deigned to say nothing more in the way of approval than that he was at last beginning to be housed like a human being.

 

 

 

 

— Suetonius

 

 

 

The pond was supplied with water from an aqueduct built for the purpose and surrounded with its own colonnade. The rotating hall and other features were said to be powered by a water wheel. The 400 rooms were arranged on two floors as a kind of maze intended for banquets and entertainments, there are no signs of any sleeping quarters. Nero did not live there but in another palace on the Quirinal Hill.

Rooms were built with 30- foot vaulted ceilings, were lit with skylights and clerestories, decorated with frescoes, elaborate mosaics, fountains and grottoes. The complex was constructed largely of brick and Roman concrete then finished over with marble, alabaster and other colorful stones. Nero’s statue might have been the largest cast bronze artwork of ancient times, exceeding the by-then destroyed Colossus at Rhodes. By comparison, New York’s Statue of Liberty rises one hundred and fifty-one feet from her metal base to the torch. Lady Liberty was built like a car or a washing machine in a factory, assembled from hammered copper sheets riveted together onto an iron armature. Nero’s sculpture was cast in sections which were then braze-welded together and hoisted onto its base. It was a marvel of Roman artistry and craft; the techniques needed to make large castings were lost and forgotten for over 1,200 years until they were reinvented by Donatello in the early half of the fifteenth century.

Nero was a appealing public figure at the beginning of his reign, because of his youth and his informal demeanor. He was an entertainer who was obsessed with his own popularity

Not content with showing his proficiency in these arts at Rome, he went to Achaia, as I have said, influenced especially by the following consideration. The cities in which it was the custom to hold contests in music had adopted the rule of sending all the lyric prizes to him. These he received with the greatest delight, not only giving audience before all others to the envoys who brought them, but even inviting them to his private table. When some of them begged him to sing after dinner and greeted his performance with extravagant applause, he declared that “the Greeks were the only ones who had an ear for music and that they alone were worthy of his efforts.”

 

 

 

 

While he was singing no one was allowed to leave the theater even for the most urgent reasons. And so it is said that some women gave birth to children there, while many who were worn out with listening and applauding, secretly leaped from the wall since the gates at the entrance were barred, or they feigned death and were carried out as if for burial. The trepidation and anxiety with which he took part in the contests, his keen rivalry of his opponents and his awe of the judges, can hardly be credited. As if his rivals were of quite the same station as himself, he used to show respect to them and try to gain their favor, while he slandered them behind their backs, sometimes assailed them with abuse when he met them, and even bribed those who were especially proficient.

— Suetonius

 

 

 

As he grew into maturity, Nero was consumed by his insecurities, his crimes were many, there were no checks upon his viciousness and greed. The Domus was built in an area that had been ravaged the great fire of 64:

When someone in a general conversation said: “When I am dead, be earth consumed by fire;” Nero rejoined “Nay, rather while I live,” and his action was wholly in accord. For under cover of displeasure at the ugliness of the old buildings and the narrow, crooked streets, he set fire to the city so openly that several ex-consuls did not venture to lay hands on his chamberlains although they caught them on their estates with tow and fire-brands, while some granaries near the Golden House, whose room he particularly desired, were demolished by engines of war and then set on fire because their walls were of stone. For six days and seven nights destruction raged, while the people were driven for shelter to monuments and tombs. At that time, besides an immense number of dwellings, the houses of leaders of old were burned, still adorned with trophies of victory, and the temples of the gods vowed and dedicated by the kings and later in the Punic and Gallic wars, and whatever else interesting and noteworthy had survived from antiquity. Viewing the conflagration from the tower of Maecenas and exulting, as he said, in “the beauty of the flames,” he sang the whole of the “Sack of Ilium,” in his regular stage costume. Furthermore, to gain from this calamity too all the spoil and booty possible, while promising the removal of the debris and dead bodies free of cost he allowed no one to approach the ruins of their own properties; and from the contributions which he not only received, but even demanded, he nearly bankrupted the provinces and exhausted the resources of individuals.

 

 

 

 

— Suetonius

 

 

 

Nero was known to disguise himself then go out into the city at night and rob passersby, also break into houses and shops and steal the contents which he would later sell in the palace. These encounters were often violent so that soldiers were sent to follow behind at a discrete distance and rescue the emperor from those who fought back.

Then, it became notorious that the depredator was the Caesar; outrages on men and women of rank increased; others, availing themselves of the license once accorded, began with impunity, under the name of Nero, to perpetrate the same excesses with their own gangs; and night passed as it might in a captured town. Julius Montanus, a member of the senatorial order, though he had not yet held office, met the emperor casually in the dark, and, because he repelled his (Nero’s) offered violence with spirit then recognized his antagonist and asked for pardon, was forced to commit suicide, the apology being construed as a reproach.

 

 

 

 

— Tacitus

 

 

 

Nero was suspected of conspiring with his mother to murder by poison his step-father, the emperor Claudius. It is possible the youthful Nero was not involved directly, but he became emperor as a consequence and was thereby an accessory. He later grew weary of his mother’s interference and had her put to death after a brutal ordeal; he also murdered his half-brother, also the daughter of Claudius by his second wife (Claudius had four wives); Nero also killed his own two wives along with the husband of the first so as to gain access to her; also a man who was his mother’s lover; also his first cousin and maternal second cousin along with that individual’s widow, children and father-in-law. Nero did away with many servants including long-time tutors and advisors, Seneca, and possibly Sextus Burrus, his military aide. Due to his insatiable need for funds he used the plot of Gaius Calpurnius Piso as an opportunity to murder hundreds of distinguished Romans; their wives, children, even their servants in order to confiscate their properties, he also murdered ordinary citizens.

Nero needed the money because of his stupendous wastefulness …

Accordingly he made presents and wasted money without stint. On Tiridates though it would seem hardly within belief, he spent eight hundred thousand sesterces a day, and on his departure presented him with more than a hundred millions. He gave the lyre-player Menecrates and the gladiator Spiculus properties and residences equal to those of men who had celebrated triumphs. He enriched the monkey-faced usurer Paneros with estates in the country and in the city and had him buried with almost regal splendor. He never wore the same garment twice. He played at dice for four hundred thousand sesterces a point. He fished with a golden net drawn by cords woven of purple and scarlet threads. It is said that he never made a journey with less than a thousand carriages, his mules shod with silver and their drivers clad in wool of Canusium, attended by a train of Mazaces and couriers with bracelets and trappings.

 

 

 

 

— Suetonius

 

 

 

Nero gave himself over entirely to debauchery and vice.

Besides abusing freeborn boys and seducing married women, he debauched the vestal virgin Rubria. The freed-woman Acte he all but made his lawful wife, after bribing some ex-consuls to perjure themselves by swearing that she was of royal birth. He castrated the boy Sporus and actually tried to make a woman of him; and he married him with all the usual ceremonies, including a dowry and a bridal veil, took him to his house attended by a great throng, and treated him as his wife. And the witty jest that someone made is still current, that it would have been well for the world if Nero’s father Domitius had had that kind of wife.

 

 

 

 

— Suetonius

 

 

 

All of this and more were paid for out of the Treasury then extracted with increased violence by the tax collectors.

In point of extravagance and notoriety, the most celebrated of the feasts was that arranged by Tigellinus; which I shall describe as a type, instead of narrating time and again the monotonous tale of prodigality. He constructed, then, a raft on the Pool of Agrippa, and superimposed a banquet, to be set in motion by other craft acting as tugs. The vessels were gay with gold and ivory, and the oarsmen were catamites marshaled according to their ages and their libidinous attainments. He had collected birds and wild beasts from the ends of the earth, and marine animals from the ocean itself. On the quays of the lake stood brothels, filled with women of high rank; and, opposite, naked harlots met the view. First came obscene gestures and dances; then, as darkness advanced, the whole of the neighboring grove, together with the dwelling-houses around, began to echo with song and to glitter with lights. Nero himself, defiled by every natural and unnatural lust had left no abomination in reserve with which to crown his vicious existence; except that, a few days later, he became, with the full rites of legitimate marriage, the wife of one of that herd of degenerates who bore the name of Pythagoras. The veil was drawn over the imperial head, witnesses were dispatched to the scene; the dowry, the couch of wedded love, the nuptial torches, were there: everything, in fine, which night enshrouds even if a woman is the bride, was left open to the view.

 

 

 

 

— Tacitus

 

 

 

Nero was a coward, he never led an army in battle, nor was the Empire expanded during his rule. The Romans waged an on-again, off-again war against the Parthians in Armenia (eastern Turkey). An uprising by Boudica in Celtic Britain was triggered by oppressive taxation and cruel Roman administration

To all the disasters and abuses thus caused by the prince there were added certain accidents of fortune; a plague which in a single autumn entered thirty thousand deaths in the accounts of Libitina; a disaster in Britain, where two important towns were sacked and great numbers of citizens and allies were butchered; a shameful defeat in the Orient, in consequence of which the legions in Armenia were sent under the yoke and Syria was all but lost.

 

 

 

 

— Suetonius

 

 

 

The legions ultimately prevailed in both places, Boudica’s army was scattered and she committed suicide. The Parthians withdrew and Armenia remained a Roman client.

I may fairly include among his shows the entrance of Tiridates into the city. He was a king of Armenia, whom Nero induced by great promises to come to Rome; and since he was prevented by bad weather from exhibiting him to the people on the day appointed by proclamation, he produced him at the first favorable opportunity, with the praetorian cohorts drawn up in full armor about the temples in the Forum, while he himself sat in a curule chair on the rostra in the attire of a triumphing general, surrounded by military ensigns and standards. As the king approached along a sloping platform, the emperor at first let him fall at his feet, but raised him with his right hand and kissed him. Then, while the king made supplication, Nero took the turban from his head and replaced it with a diadem, while a man of praetorian rank translated the words of the suppliant and proclaimed them to the throng. From there the king was taken to the theater, and when he had again done obeisance, Nero gave him a seat at his right hand.

 

 

 

 

— Suetonius

 

 

 

Given a little time it is likely Nero would have put on the bridal veil and wed the king of Armenia, the dowry was already paid. And yet, the ordinary Romans were satisfied with their emperor, whose outrages were directed toward others, whose vices were to them only rumors. The plots against Nero rose from the elites, whom he prosecuted with increased ferocity until he was undone by bad luck: besides pestilence, there were damaging storms and food shortages. Rome was entirely dependent upon grain shipments from the provinces particularly Egypt. Interruptions for any reason held serious consequences. As belts were tightened, Nero’s popularity with the ordinary citizens evaporated:

When another rebellion arose in the western provinces he ignored the warnings, seeming at first not to take them seriously. After a delay of some days, during which he was abandoned by his courtiers and bodyguards, he fled to the house of a servant in a nearby suburb. Declared a public enemy by the Senate, he committed suicide to avoid being beaten to death in the Forum. He was 32.

Nero was in office for fourteen years, which seems to suggest his reign was successful; he was not deified afterward which suggests it was not. Leaving aside the epidemic and famine, it is likely the better classes of Rome had grown anxious of his vanity and licentiousness; the constant demands of the tax collectors; also the debasement of the currency and persecutions and murders. Nero’s follies did not bring the empire to a end or even lead to it; ironically his vast money-waste stimulated the Roman economy … there were no other places for the funds to go outside of the empire. Over the course of the following year, Nero was succeeded by three mediocrities; Galba, Otho and Vitellius; the fourth, Vespasian, was at least competent.

The Domus was a public reminder of Nero’s excesses, within a decade it was stripped of its decorations and partly abandoned to the bats and wild dogs. Parts of the building were used as storerooms or as stables. The pond was drained to allow for the foundations of the enormous amphitheater built in its place. Other parts of the palace were built over or became dumping grounds for garbage and rubble left over from earthquakes and building demolition. It was this accretion of structures and material that preserved the remains of the Domus that can be seen today …

Vespasian removed Nero’s likeness from the Colossus and fitted it a new head representing the Roman sun god; later Hadrian moved the statue to allow construction of the new temple of Venus and Rome on the original site. The triumphal arch of Titus and the Bath of Trajan were built nearby along with warehouses, bakeries and apartments. Note: the temples of ancient Rome were not houses of prayerful worship and propaganda like churches today; the priests acted as notaries, mediators, fiduciaries, keepers of vital records and contracts; temples functioned as banks, law offices and trading rooms as these things did not exist as such during that time. The last mention of Nero’s statue was in a description of the city in a manuscript published 354 AD. It was likely broken up, perhaps toppled by an earthquake, with the remains sold off as scrap: Sic Semper Tyrannis.

– C. Suetonius Tranquilis, ‘The Lives of the Twelve Caesars’

– Publius Cornelius Tacitus, ‘The Annals’

– Furius Dionysius Filocalus / Unknown author ‘The Chronography of 354’

This Week In Doom: What Muslim Ban?


That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Hampton Roads Light Brigade at direct action January 31, 2017

 


Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on February 5, 2016

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."

–Pastor Martin Niemoller 


Our foreign policy requires an externalized enemy, as our economy requires a state of permanent war. Were peace to break out across the world, the US economy would shudder to a halt within 60 days.

Ever since Reagan announced "Morning in America" we have been tempted with the promise of returning America to the golden postwar era when white male colossi like Patton, Marshall and MacArthur strode like heroes astride a grateful world. And the corresponding postwar boom in which American industry sold everything it could make to a prostrate world. Who paid for it with money we lent them.

Trump's call to "Make America Great Again," prints nicely on red ball caps but is short on specifics. One example put in practice is the recently announced Muslim Ban, giving color of law to demonization of the Muslim "other." [Note: On Friday night, U.S. District Judge James Robart blocked the entirety of trump’s de facto Muslim ban from taking effect. His ruling, which applies nationwide, froze all relevant provisions of trump's executive order.]

In a recent Harper's article, Lawrence Jackson ruminates about the leaders of the Atlantic-facing victors, usually known as "the West:"

The most arrogant inhabitants of these nations …understood themselves to be the ordained directors of human beings across the globe, across space and time. They were committed to civilization by the sword. Yet not even Reagan was mighty enough to reinstall the American militants who ached to battle the Russians and the Chinese. Reagan took to politics for what he couldn’t achieve in his original profession, acting. He stood in the shadow of John Wayne, a cultural hero who… declared that the problem was that the values of white rule weren’t being exported vigorously enough. Wayne’s films gave audiences a steady dose of what historian Richard Slotkin calls “regeneration through violence.” Both civilization and capitalist bonanza depend on violent encounters and imperial expansion. If the country is to be healthy, it needs some frontier populated by some brand of enemy.

After 9-11, to forestall a "peace dividend" breaking out, America's best minds concocted the Global War on Terror, a concept plastic enough to permit many interpretations, and unwinnable enough to guarantee the Permanent War Economy. Having recently defined that enemy as brown people planet-wide coming for our golfs and guns, now they have infiltrated our borders! Clear and present danger! Wearing hijab! Sharia Law in our streets! Can female genital mutilation for Barbie be far behind?

Enter trump. In our empathy-free times, we think little and care less about what such reckless decisions mean to individuals. Today I am going to challenge you to care.

Demonstrators march from a Department of Homeland Security office through the West Loop on Feb. 1, 2017 against President Donald Trump's ban on refugees and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. (Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

Several weeks ago, I listened to a Ted Talk by Deeyah Khan, raised in Norway by an Afghan mother and Pakistani father. Khan recounted the rejection and isolation felt by Muslim kids growing up in the West, and the way they get squeezed between two worlds. At a time when executive action careens towards an unconstitutional ban on immigrants fleeing the very countries we bomb, this talk opened my eyes—and ears.

Khan recounted the story of how she had to subsume her own dreams for her life and take on those given her by her father. To be famous, he said, “it's either got to be sports, or it's got to be music." So he threw away her toys and dolls at age seven, and was given a ratty Casio keyboard. She practiced music for hours each day.

Khan started singing and playing, and became good enough to perform before growing audiences. Let her tell it:

I became almost a kind of poster child for Norwegian multiculturalism. I felt very proud, of course. Because even the newspapers at this point were starting to write nice things about brown people, so I could feel that my superpower was growing.

Until one day, she was headed into a store for candy, and found her way blocked by a man intent on making sure she understood who really ran things in Norway.

There was this grown white guy in the doorway blocking my way. So I tried to walk around him, and as I did that, he stopped me and he was staring at me, and he spit in my face, and he said, "Get out of my way you little black bitch, you little Paki bitch, go back home where you came from." I was absolutely horrified. I was staring at him. I was too afraid to wipe the spit off my face, even as it was mixing with my tears. I remember looking around, hoping that any minute now, a grown-up is going to come and make this guy stop. But instead, people kept hurrying past me and pretended not to see me.

So she learned that when faced with persecution of brown people, white people tend to not want to get involved. But her fellow brown people would have her back, right? Not exactly.

Some men in my parent's community felt that it was unacceptable and dishonorable for a woman to be involved in music and to be so present in the media. So very quickly, I was starting to become attacked at my own concerts. I remember one of the concerts, I was onstage, I lean into the audience and the last thing I see is a young brown face and the next thing I know is some sort of chemical is thrown in my eyes and I remember I couldn't really see and my eyes were watering but I kept singing anyway. I was spit in the face in the streets of Oslo, this time by brown men.

The threats continued and the oppression, this time from her fellow Muslims, got worse. And it took the edge that we often hear that the Islamic world visits upon women:

The death threats were endless. I remember one older bearded guy stopped me in the street, and said, "The reason I hate you so much is because you make our daughters think they can do whatever they want." A younger guy warned me to watch my back. He said music is un-Islamic and the job of whores, and if you keep this up, you are going to be raped and your stomach will be cut out so that another whore like you will not be born.

Her family realized they could no longer keep her safe, so they sent her to London. She resumed her music career, but with similar results.

Different place, but unfortunately the same old story. I remember a message sent to me saying that I was going to be killed and that rivers of blood were going to flow and that I was going to be raped many times before I died. By this point, I have to say, I was actually getting used to messages like this, but what became different was that now they started threatening my family.

Eventually after transitioning to work as a maker of films, she moved again, this time to the US. She makes this point:

What most people don't understand is that there are so many of us growing up in Europe who are not free to be ourselves. We're not allowed to be who we are. We are not free to marry or to be in relationships with people that we choose. We can't even pick our own career. This is the norm in the Muslim heartlands of Europe. Even in the freest societies in the world, we're not free. Our lives, our dreams, our future does not belong to us, it belongs to our parents and their community.

So this lack of freedom to choose personal autonomy is what we decry in our conflict with Islam: "Islam is a death cult." "Look how it treats women." Yet compare and contrast with the policies announced and espoused by the current trump/pence regime.

Denying women reproductive freedom has long been the Holy Grail of Christian Dominionists who have never gotten over The Pill. The Pill gave women the ability to control pregnancy, and with it far more autonomy over their lives. Couple these efforts with the assault on programs that combat violence agaist women, and you begin to trace the outlines of a program to re-chattelize women that sounds positively… Islamist.

Consider in the singular example of Deeyah Khan how Islamists treat women, and realize that this story is re-enacted across the world millions of times over. Then compare with announced trump/pence policies designed to deny women access to services won over decades of activism and legislation. It would appear that the difference is merely one of degree. Policies to repress the rights of women stem from the same shrunken root: an insecure manhood and a need for control. Women, beware short fingered vulgarians and the men who serve them.

 


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 once quit barking and got off the porch long enough to be active in the Occupy movement. Where he met the woman who now shares his old Virginia home and who, like he, is grateful that he is not yet taking a dirt nap, and like he, will be disappointed to not be prominently featured on an enemies list compiled by the incoming administration.

Melbourne’s Donald Trump Protest: Harbinger of the Rise of Pauline Hanson?

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Published on From Filmers to Farmers on February 3, 2017

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

 


(photos by Gage Skidmore and Velovotee)

Feeling in a bit of a masochistic mood a couple of Saturdays ago I decided to take a stroll over to the Donald Trump protest outside of Melbourne's State Library, the place to be if you had the need of getting the wax cleared out of your ear drums. I managed to listen to the first couple of speakers, but the inanity of it all became way too overwhelming and I realized I had to get my apparently not-quite-masochistic-enough arse out of there before I did something stupid like turn around to the lady behind me and tell her "I hope you're hurting your voice as much as you're hurting my ears."

Not that I needed the protest to confirm things for myself, but there still doesn't seem to be all that many people in the United States – nor Australia for that matter – that appear to have much of a grasp of why it is that so many people managed to have voted for Trump, some pundits even dismissing the very reasons when they're staring them right in the face – that this was essentially the result of class warfare, not racism. Just before leaving office Barack Obama himself stated that had of he run for a third term he would have defeated Trump. If he's correct – and I think he is – then how is it that Trump won the election thanks to racism? Put a bit differently, how is it that Obama was able to win two elections in a nation that's supposedly so racist that it was able to put Trump into office? Answer: That's not why Trump got elected.

Fact of the matter is that out of the two most detested candidates in US election history, voters were more disgusted with the tried-and-tested corruption, and so rather than vote for the devil they knew who wouldn't release her Wall Street speeches and possibly would have started a war with Russia, they voted for the devil they didn't know who wouldn't release his taxes and might possibly start a war with China. As a result, and with many would-be Democrat voters deciding to sit this one out, Hillary Clinton received 3.5 million fewer votes than Obama did in 2008, and could very well have been the one person in the United States most unlikely to beat Trump.

Anyway, while Trump protesters couldn't be doing a better job of doing exactly what is needed to get Trump re-elected in four years' time, Australians might be doing exactly what is needed to get Pauline Hanson – dissenter of "multiculturalism" and leader of Australia's right-wing One Nation party – eventually elected as well, albeit with a bit of "catch up" required first. Because if Hanson can bide her time, it's only to her benefit that Australia happens to be a country populated by a significant enough amount of bigots which may one day be enough to tip the scales in her favour. And no, what I'm talking about isn't Australia's storied preponderance of racial bigots, but the astounding amount of classicist bigots it has. All one needs to look at for evidence of this is the tragic event that unfolded in Melbourne's CBD just two weeks ago to the day.

Deciding to delay my lunch by half an hour so I could get my latest blog post up, while walking up Elizabeth Street to the Queen Vic Market I happened to be cut off at Bourke Street by police tape that was just going up, about half an hour after a crazed individual had indiscriminately plowed through pedestrians on one of Melbourne's busiest streets, killing six and injuring scores of others.

Without knowing what had happened I pulled up Reddit on my phone-number-deficient smart phone to get the low-down, and going through the first round of comments on the relevant post it wasn't too surprising to see a stream of people surmising it was an ISIS hit and that Muslims were ultimately behind it all. These were the racial bigots, and they were summarily responded to with derision by their fellow Redditors.

An hour or so later it was revealed however that not only was the crazed individual not affiliated with ISIS in the slightest, but that he wasn't Muslim either – he was a born-and-bred Australian of European background who had been involved in a stabbing just a few hours earlier. While this shut up the racial bigots, a whole new wave of comments came in denouncing the individual as a "bogan meth-head". These commenters are what I'd call the less sophisticated portion of Australia's classicist bigots, and as is about the standard fare here the derision on Reddit was nowhere to be seen this time around. (I have noticed exceptions before, but they're comparably rare.)

For those who don't know the local lingo, "bogan" is Aussie for the more American and Canadian epithet of "redneck". Spend enough time here, and with Australia being one of the most urbanized countries in the world (one can never actually overtake the kollapsnik's wet-dream of Singapore of course), if you have an eye or an ear for such things you might soon notice that Australia should perhaps be more known for its classicist bigotry rather than its racial bigotry.


Gold diggers out to get their hands on the Trump family jewels

While it's often stated that racial bigots are "uneducated" (which I think is a gross over-simplification), I've come to notice, in Australia at least, that most classicist bigots stem from the educated classes. And while there is undoubtedly Australians who like to "punch up", I can't help but get the impression that there is a vastly greater amount of Australians who like to "punch down", down upon those who they themselves are intent on not becoming. And although this can only be chalked up to personal, anecdotal experiences, the majority of Australian classicist bigots that I've come across have been of the female persuasion, and a majority of those have been of non-European backgrounds (some born in Australia, some not). Coincidences? For the most part, yes, I think so (I certainly hope so!). Nonetheless, I think it speaks volumes when the part of the population (and I'm not just talking about women with non-European backgrounds) that prides itself over its supposed inclusiveness via "multiculturalism" – a system that is supposedly free of prejudice against other people – readily, and most often without derision sent back its way, partakes in "punching down" – the quasi national sport for the recently vindicated and their European brethren of the more privileged classes.

As recently stated by Tim Soutphommasane, Australia's race discrimination commissioner and author of the book Don't Go Back to Where You Came From: Why Multiculturalism Works, "Too often people can forget that the burden of racial tolerance isn't something that weighs upon everyone evenly." Very true. But what isn't also mentioned is that people – possibly even Soutphommasane – can forget that the burden of socio-economic tolerance isn't something that weighs upon everyone evenly either. And if there's one person out there that understands and took advantage of this, that would be Donald Trump.

To Trump's advantage, the candidate he was up against in the recent United States general election happened to be a classicist bigot, one that wasn't quite adept as he was at BSing certain portions of the populace. Perhaps it was a bit unfair when Clinton was called out for wearing a $12,000 Armani jacket while giving a speech on income inequality, because it should be no surprise that billionaire Trump routinely wears $7,000 Brioni suits. But while Clinton could nonchalantly state to the "LGBT for Hillary Gala" crowd that "you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables", Trump was in Las Vegas (absurdly) stating that "I love the poorly educated!" One of these people was better than the other at hiding that they're full of it – as well as at pandering to the poor, the racial bigots, and the Bernie Sanders supporters disgusted with the sabotage-extraordinaires Hillary Clinton, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and the Democratic National Committee – and it was that person who won the election.


The voluntary inmates protesting Trump, escorted and proceeding
in an orderly fashion (those are police vehicles in the top-left)

In the meantime, the one candidate that wasn't full of it (albeit seemingly daft when it came to peak oil and the collapse of industrial civilization) had his campaign sabotaged by Clinton, Schultz and the DNC, and had of he fairly won the Democratic primary it's quite likely that he would have trounced Trump at the polls. That being so, who then is ultimately more responsible for Trump's election? Trump's backers, or Clinton/Schultz/the DNC and all those who voted for Clinton in the Democratic primaries, in effect preventing Sanders from being the rightful president of the United States, a president who by no means would have required a Woman's March?

On top of that, is firing away at Trump really going to be any more productive now than it's been over the past year, or is it not possible that it's the very thing that will further galvanize his supporters (and win him new ones) on his way to re-election in 2020? Trump's strategy has essentially been to (falsely) frame himself as the victim of a rigged system and then pander to millions of people who are victims of a rigged system, rigged for people like, well, him. Not only that, but Trump is still playing the victim, and people are still falling for it – most recently with his comment in front of the CIA's Memorial Wall where he claimed to have had more inauguration attendees than Obama in 2009. (I've expounded on this strategy of Trump's earlier, one where he's playing the "heel" of which he's drawn upon from his time in World Wrestling Entertainment.)

What Trump is essentially doing is running the "eternal campaign" (as South American populist presidents have been doing for decades), because not only has he not errantly forgotten to get out of campaign mode, but rather is already campaigning for 2020 – "Keep America Great!" is the campaign slogan he's already registered – although he doesn't seem to have gotten the domain name in time. The only thing left to wonder is, once the United States is inevitably in a (by no means Trump-induced) appreciably worse economic and social condition in three years' time, whether Trump will place the blame on Obama or some other scapegoat, or whether he'll claim against all evidence that things are doing much better than before and that any media outlet and pundit who says otherwise is lying.

This is where we return to the situation in Australia, the place where the operator of Hanson's social media strategy, Saraya Beric, seems to have at least an inkling of what's going on. As The Guardian reported,

The more party figures attacked Hanson – who routinely attracts withering derision from members of the broader public opposed to her right-leaning agenda – the more supporters rallied around her, Beric says.


Isn't it a bit ironic that by voting for the corrupt vagina-clad
candidate in the Democratic primaries that we're now having
Vagina Marches to stop the vagina grabber? Particularly
when there were women much more worthy than Clinton,
and who don't playing the gender card?

If Hanson's as sharp as I'm not so sure she is, I imagine she'd be well served by having her followers going around places like Melbourne and Sydney and rather than have them tear down Donald Trump protest posters, have them take just one down, photocopy it a few hundred times, then plaster said cities in hopes of riling up the vitriolic, earwax-clearing anti-Trump sentiment. And if she could figure out her own way to bait her opposition into denouncing her the way Trump did with all his Tweeting and "straight talk", then she may be able to create an aura around her of somebody who's on the receiving end of the classicist bigot's condescension, thus gaining sympathy with what is bound to be Australia's increasing population of "bogans" (more on that in a moment).

Because while Trump does have some valid platforms (he did after all back out of the TPP, as Sanders would have done), Hanson does as well (One Nation is provisionally against coal seam gas, AKA hydraulic fracturing, AKA fracking). And the more Trump has gotten vilified, and the more his economically downtrodden supporters have been dismissed as nothing but deplorable, irredeemable, sexist, racists, the more his voters – some of whom fall under none of those categories/stereotypes – have gotten galvanized. Even worse, these marginalized portions of the world's first-world countries are quite likely to increase in the next few years when the next economic bubble bursts (the fracking bubble?), enlarging the proportion of those who see people like Trump as the "human molotov cocktail" to be thrown upon the "punching down" portion of the upper crust, and possibly as the means to burn down the village to save burn down the village.

Returning to Australia again, if there's one thing though that Hanson doesn't have going for her it's that Australia is nowhere close to being the socio-economic basket case that the United States is. While Australia's minimum wage of AUD $17.25 is almost double that of the United States' USD $7.25 per hour, it also has a pretty decent universal health care system (although not as good as Canada's if I'm not mistaken), a decent unemployment system, a decent retirement system, and on and on. However.

This can't, and won't, last forever – and probably for not too much longer either, for the simple reason that the onset of peak oil and other energy shortages imply the protracted collapse of industrial civilization in Australia, just like everywhere else. While Australia came out of the recent recession virtually unscathed for the simple reason that China was its largest trading partner, the United States and the worldwide economic slowdown has finally been catching up with China, which has thus had its desire for Australian coal, iron, and other mining products – the biggest, but shrinking, sector of Australia's economy – wither away. On top of that, and with Australia having reached its peak of oil supplies in 2000 (increasingly supplanting them with imports from Middle Eastern countries, which themselves are on their way to peaking), the party is really on its way to being over.

Taking all this into account, one need only look at the creeping situation in Australia: while the mining industry is slowly collapsing, Australia has willingly jettisoned its entire car manufacturing industry and now must import every last vehicle. It should go without saying that losing and disposing of a growing amount of predominantly blue-collar jobs bodes no better for Australia than it has for the United States, and Melbourne and the rest of Australia has another thing coming to it if it really thinks it can sustain its way of life via imports of Chinese tourists, imports of Chinese students paying inflated student fees, and imports of latté-sipping Europeans.

In the meantime, Hanson's One Nation secured 4.3% of Australia's vote in 2016's federal election, including 9% of the vote in Queensland. Is Queensland therefore a "backwards" den of "bogans" – as educated, female visible minorities proud of their "multiculturalism" have told me – or might it actually be an early warning system providing a closer ear to the ground? Taking a look at the election results in the northern beach suburbs of Queensland, it is seen that One Nation actually scored as high as 24.7% of the vote in some regions; could something be in the drinking water that's making Alice River, Deeragun, Northern Beaches, and Bluewater more racist than other places? Not quite.

Lo and behold, and mimicking what's been going on in the United States' rust belt areas that voted for Trump (after, I'll repeat, they had Sanders stolen from them by Clinton/Schultz/the DNC), these suburbs surround the now-defunct Yabulu nickel plant. So while there may very well be a higher than average amount of people who hold racial prejudices in certain parts of Queensland than other parts of the country, it's quite possible that a fair amount of these people who are being economically marginalized are vulnerable and/or susceptible to falling for racial scapegoating (which in Australia may unfortunately not be very tough to pull off), or that for whatever reason they've felt that they've had little other option that to hold their noses while voting for One Nation.

In regards to the former, while Australia is a nation pretty much founded on racism (which, to be fair, so is the United States – a country founded by slave owners who wanted their freedom from the oh-so oppressive Brits) and which only four decades ago got rid of its White Australia policy, there's also the fact that 49% of Australians recently polled as being in support of One Nation's ban on Muslim immigration, including 34% of Green Party respondents. And just a few days ago Scott Morrison – Australia's current treasurer, former immigration minister, and the guy who some see as the country's next back-stabbing successor to the prime minister's office – refused to denounce Trump's recent travel ban and instead stated that "Really, the rest of the world is catching up to Australia." And that's all during a time when the Australian economy is still doing quite well. One can only imagine how such situations are going to escalate once things actually start to get hairy (and by hairy I mean hairy – hairier than all the front-mullets of Melbourne's hipsters combined).


"When [fill in the blank], we fight back!" Alright, sure

While mentioning all this to an acquaintance of mine – a card-carrying member of Victoria's Green Party and former political science student nonetheless – I was assuredly told that because of Australia's parliamentary system where politicians – not the people – pick the party leader, Hanson will never be able to come to power in a major party. And because of preferential voting, I was again assured, One Nation will never be able to win an election. Roughly translated, this suggests that better-off Australians can screw over the lower classes and the otherwise economically marginalized all they want and not suffer any blowback nor rendezvous with pitchforks, thanks to governmental firewalls. "It can't possibly happen here!"

Right.

Not only is this nonsense (and bound to backfire), but this was said to me after said individual informed me over and over again that were he American he would have voted for Trump in order to rid the country of Clinton corruption. In other words, the cognitive dissonance in Australia can be just as astounding as anywhere else.

This all being so, is attacking Hanson and One Nation head-on the wisest thing to be doing if the idea is to avoid a White Australia Redux? We've already seen – and still see, but generally still aren't cluing in – that this hasn't, isn't, and won't ever work with Trump. But having also attended a Hanson/One Nation protest a few months ago (out of curiosity – and masochism) where the modus operandi seemed to be that "we" win if we can yell louder than they can (and which gave me the impression that rabies does in fact exist in Australia), the approach seems to be the exact same as to what got Trump elected in the first place. Namely, the dismissal of the concerns of the marginalized, and the over-simplifying idea that voters of right-wing populists are nothing but backwards, racist "bogans", thus missing out on the valid concerns that right-wing leaders – sometimes far right-wing leaders – are tapping into: economic marginalization.

Is there anything that can be done to counter this? Well, having read Soutphommasane's book a few years ago, it's quite apparent that he has absolutely no comprehension of what multiculturalism authentically is. In short, since the term "culture" comes from the Latin cultura (to cultivate plants and/or animals), an authentic multiculturalism would, at its base, thus entail multiple methods of cultivation – the implication being local cultures adapted to their places, irrespective of skin colour or any other differences. For as I wrote in a previous post (in part 1/4, listed below),

It's often said that 'we are what we eat.' But since the majority of the food that the majority of us eat is grown in monocultures, would that not then make us monoculturalist rather than multiculturalist?

With everything I've written in this post in mind, I'm starting to get the impression that the only way to stop this far-right insurgence is to outflank them, similar to how Trump snagged the disaffected would-be-Democrat-voters who watched as Clinton and company sabotaged Bernie Sanders' campaign. How to do that? Well, as absurd as it sounds, and having nothing to do with that identitarian BS, the best way to assure that Australia never sees Hanson and One Nation (or some other equiavalent) rise to power might very well be to rescind Australia's Multicultural Policy, the same as it got rid of its White Australia Policy some fourty years ago.

I won't start elaborating on that for another few months, but in the meantime, and for those who are a bit curious and want a head start in understanding what an "authentic multiculturalism" actually is, I'll leave you with the following (which I'll be re-posting before I start elaborating):

Culture and the Land (part 1/4)

The Art and Culture of Authentic Multiculturalism (part 2/4)

The Multicultural Diversitywash (part 3/4)

Multiculturalism of the Land (part 4/4)

Paging Tim Soutphommasane!

Fears of the False Alphas

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

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Published on the The Slog on January 28, 2017

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

Why the False Alphas in power fear citizens who discriminate, discern and decide for themselves

 There has always been a tension between the citizen self as selector of the best future, and the controlling State as guardian of the revered past. Elector naivety and technological advance are combining to destroy contrarian creativity.


I want to open today if I may with a brief observation about the noun ‘discrimination’, and the verb to discriminate.

The history of this noun over the last half century has been one of almost unmitigated negativity. Although in the last two decades it has been replaced by the even more vague suffix ‘ism’, it began life in the race relations industry as ‘racial discrimination’ – that is, discrimination against someone on the basis of ethnicity – skin colour, facial features and so forth.

This has led two generations to be unthinkingly convinced that all discrimination is A Very Bad Thing. By slipping into such a misguided belief, they have allowed the idea to take hold that nothing – no person, no country, no system and indeed no culture – should be “judged”….except, of course, about those things that their own belief systems deplore….and even there, double standards abound and abide.

My point is simply this: among many other elements of genuine tolerance, what the intolerantly correct have forgotten is the diametric difference represented by discrimination against and discrimination between.


The ability to discriminate between truth and lie, persuasion and dictation, original and copycat, silly and sensible, intelligent and wise, genuine and counterfeit, real passion and simulated enthusiasm, social good and political tactic, ideological bigotry and measured governance – or ultimately, empirical and fanciful – is the most important foundation stone of equality of opportunity and civilised fair play. It  underpins everything to do with the best option.

The muddling of ‘against’ and ‘between’ goes a long way towards explaining the contemporary retreat of,  and decline in, the persuasive power of those of us broadly in favour of kindness, compassion, laughter, goodwill and reality in the shaping of communities.

Sadly, it also explains completely the nonsense of “quotas of success” based on gender, age, social class, culture and ethnicity. It promotes the poorly qualified as a sop to indiscriminate equality – and allows those who succeed on the basis of tribal connections based on nepotism, networks, old school ties and so forth to laugh in the face of those with better qualifications being left behind. It dumbs down education by lowering the bar. It patronises those perceived by radical chic whites to be “in need of help” to succeed. And above all, it results in a dearth of competence. But apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, it’s an excellent play.


It is ironic, is it not, that Leftlib fluffy fancy helped produce a mathematically illiterate Tory Chancellor in George Osborne, and a constitutionally illiterate Shadow Home Secretary in Diane Abbott. Neither have any of the qualifications required for good governance, and both of them are obscenely obvious double-standard hypocrites.

It would probably be fair to say that the Left has lost the plot on social equality, the Right retains its plot to remain socially superior…and the Establishment continues to pervert any semblance of equality before the law.

This is why I have seen myself for many years now as both disenfranchised by politics, and yet at the same time above it. It’s why I reject ideological hubris in favour of Benthamite governance to the benefit and fulfilment of the greatest number.

The Left is obsessed with special-case minorities, the Right remains determined to promote the undeserved privilege of monied minorities. A plague on both their houses, I say.

But there is more to my frustration with contemporary Groupthink than a simple desire to be rid of its dysfunctional discipline.


The West’s cultures – especially those pertaining in the UK and US – represent a coincidental copulation between two devilish influences: the insistence on ideological conformity, and the development of increasingly advanced technology.

Homo sapiens has been (for all its flaws) a remarkably successful species. This success is based on competitive selection within tribes, and cooperation between them. Not only do we have powerful survival instincts and unconscious selective drives, the overwhelming majority also have a left brain hemisphere which dominates the emotions while we are awake.

The bad news is that, for much of the time, the uncontrolled drive for greed and power among a tiny minority ensures their emergence as what I choose to call False Alphas. These self-styled leaders do not operate for the good of the greatest number in human society….but their fame, power, oratory and wealth make them highly electable to public life, the most likely to succeed in business and banking, and the most attractive to potential Alpha and Beta partners of the opposite gender.

Be they persuasive as part of a political Party, social movement or religious tendency, the control freakery of such False Alphas insists on unswerving loyalty to a belief system in general, and them personally. The application of “correctness” to several key areas of human life – education, religion, politics, gender relations and commerce – has been an enabling process for the establishment of rigid conformity. I think there is little doubt that it started in politically devised education; but there is no knowing how or where it will end, other than the certainty of tears being involved.

The bottom line is a stronger pull towards the herding instinct than perhaps at any time in the recorded history of Homo sapiens. Referring back to the first section of this essay, there has never been more pressure to stop the natural process of intelligent minds discriminating between what they are told….and what they might, as unique individuals, think. Seventy years ago, George Orwell predicted the emergence of Thoughtcrime. Today’s robotic thinking is but a small step away from such legislation….think ‘non-violent extremist’. Think Theresa May.


It is to our great collective misfortune that this inherent danger has been exacerbated by technology in many forms.

It allows for 24/7 surveillance of actions and geographical location – a capability bound to strike fear into the hearts of intelligent contrarians.

Worse still, it presents itself variously as fun, as positive social behavour, and even “for your own protection”. For the less intelligent or enquiring among us, Facebook and Twitter, Blogging threads, vlogs and so forth are called – surprise, surprise – social media. In reality, they are anything but. Equally, every shop, petrol station, public arena, club, mall, legislature, bank and office building is riddled with cameras.

But while this is the highest profile concern in 2017 – and even now, I would estimate only around 15% of any citizen franchise is worried – there are other dimensions of technology at least as dangerous to the survival of personal liberty.

Uppermost in my mind at the minute are a growing genre of “labour saving/greater efficiency” devices.

SatNav is one. Not only does it, in neuroanatomy terms, cause the orienteering centres to atrophy; it is also developing in a direction via which in-car devices will be two way: you will know exactly where you are…and so will the security services.

Buying online is another. Much easier, cheaper and convenient than physical shopping in most cases: but opening every castle’s front door to those keen to know what you’re buying…from which they can extrapolate why. Would you, today, go to a website explaining fully what paedophilia is and offering scientific books about it for sale? I wouldn’t: such an action could be construed by sovereign blackmailers as more than enough evidence to put you away as “some kind of sicko”

EFTPOS (electronic funds transfer at the point of sale) is a third very real and present danger. Stops the risk of being mugged for your cash, saves all that struggling with change…and increasingly now, no need even for a pin number on smaller purchases: tap the terminal with your magic plastic and hey presto – paying for stuff was never easier. What this process will facilitate, of course, is the eventual disappearance of untraceable cash…and your last chance of nickel-and-dime tax evasion – while large multinational businesses continue to make ‘deals’ that are flagrant tax evasion in return for cash-flow.


In the last year alone, France has cut the amount one can pay a supplier in cash by 90%….and developed an ID card for self-employed suppliers designed to become, over time, an electronic record of all outgoings and receipts – but already issued with an upfront tax demand for €2,500.

In that same year, electorates in Britain and America have dared to flout received wisdom and vote down what the Establishments so clearly want. The reaction of both the neocon and liberal élites to these developments has been to orchestrate “opposition” to the democratic decisions involved. This is reassuring to the duped herds, and frightening for the objectively supine.

More and more of us are supine, distracted, disenfranchised, and cynical than ever before. More and more monied power is being distributed among fewer and fewer False Alphas than ever before. More and more easily updated records exist to control, scold, threaten and smear every contrarian voice. More and more types of tax expenditure and privilege have moved beyond our power to oppose them.

In 2017, 21 out of 28 EU States have overt legislation making it illegal to encourage non-payment of tax.

On every level, our ability to discriminate between élite greed and good governance is under attack and thus being undermined. At every turn, the False Alphas’ ability to discriminate against individual citizens via financial, social and media penalties is being expanded. But the Rule of Law and Equality before the Law are withering on the vile dead wood feared by every discerning cultivator of civilisation.

Don’t be fooled by those who insist that to critique the status quo is to commit a criminal act. To paraphrase JFK, “Ask not what your State can do for you….investigate instead what your leaders are doing to you in the name of the Superstate”.

This Week In Doom: American Nightmare


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 January 29, 2017

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” 
― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax.”

 


The first full week of the Presidency of Donald J. Trump was both cruel and absurd. Nothing about this should be surprising. Trump is a singular example of the cult of personality, a manifestly unfit individual whose path to power has enabled a hidden phalanx of anti-democratic hedge-fund plutocrats and white supremacists to get their paws on executive power. These political apostates have funneled into the palaces where the wheels and gears of power are kept, like the mob storming Versailles, the better to finger the crystal and steal the silver.

The first week of the Trump administration marks the violent reassertion of the prerogatives of White Males against the legacy of Barack Obama and the Great Arc of History. This crowd's capacity for brutality is unimaginable by middle class Americans who grew up on the legacy of the New Deal and amidst the prosperity engendered by winning World War II. Truly, who among us ever thought we'd have to beat Nazis again in this lifetime?

The first realization of the coming kleptocracy dawned as Trump announced his cabinet choices, resembling nothing so much as the Dread Pirate Roberts naming the plunder all star team to crew a new pirate ship.

Now, the owners of this glittering casino and their gum-toothed spawn are clawing back their presumptive place at the top of a so-called "meritocracy" that rewards their gene pool with the sweet perks of "freedom" and "capitalism," which is political code for one class prospering off the suffering of another. The subsequent rewriting of laws then institutionalizes the grift and makes it like, official, dig?

If you've spent the week under a rock, here's a summary of week one executive actions:

  • An order to “ease the burdens” of the Affordable Care Act, "to the extent allowed by law". On Thursday, Trump cut all advertising to alert Americans that the ACA enrollment period ends on Tuesday.

  • He reinstated the “global gag rule,” a ban on federal funding for any international group provides abortion information to women. With NO exemptions for hospitals and clinics that don’t actually provide abortions, or for facilities that treat women with complications from abortions.

  • Trump issued executive memoranda to restart construction on the stalled Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.

  • Trump signed an executive order taking action on immigration. He announced plans to build the border wall with Mexico, and insisted Mexico would pay for it with tariffs. He threatened “sanctuary cities” with federal funding cuts, and announced plans to build more detention centers.

  • Politico reports that the executive orders signed this week   were composed by chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and were so hastily wrought they may be unenforcable or even illegal.

  • Trump removed the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation economic agreement supported by none of the presidential candidates, and against which candidate Trump campaigned.

  • Trump’s declared war on the press through his surrogates. At his briefings this week, Press Secretary Sean Spicer called on outlets that peddle fake news and praise Trump ahead of the AP and other mainstream outlets. Stephen Bannon suggested this week the media “should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut.”

  • He announced an initiative to look into imagined "voter fraud" by which the three million votes by which he lost the popular vote were cast by "illegal immigrants." In a CNN interview, VoteStand founder Gregg Phillips said that he can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Clinton received at least 3 million “illegal” votes for president in 2016. Phillips stands accused of being a "revolving door hustler" and a state-level grifter dogged by controversy.

  • On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Trump issued an executive order halting refugee resettlement and suspending travel to the United States from the Muslim-majority countries Syria, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. As I write, refugees and immigrants are being detained at airports all over the world because of the refugee ban. This includes an Iraqi military translator detailed at JFK airport. Crowds of protestors gathered at JFK and other ariports across the country, chanting,

“No hate! No fear! Refugees are welcome here!”

or a variant

“Say it loud and say it clear! Refugees are welcome here!”

Protesters rally during a demonstration against the Muslim immigration ban at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday in New York City. (Stephanie Keith/Getty)

The order also bars legal permanent residents of the U.S. from returning home if they are now travelling overseas, even though they already went through "extreme vetting" procedures to get their green cards.

Late Saturday night, Federal Judge Ann Donnelly in New York issued a nationwide temporary injunction, halting the implementation of part of Trump’s executive order on immigration and blocking the deportation of travelers with valid visas detained at airports. This in response to a suit brought by the ACLU.

The judge further ruled that the government must immediately stop deporting travelers from the named nations, including refugees who already went through a rigorous vetting process, and provide a complete list of all those detained. The Intercept published an update.

Suffice it to say that when Michael Moore, Dick Cheney, and the Pope are all on the same side of an issue, and you're on the other side, you've crossed the line: you're an asshole.

Hours after Trump signed this executive order heralding this global descent into barbarism, a mosque in Texas went up in flames.

The Islamic Center of Victoria was set on fire around 2 a.m. on Saturday, according to local reports.

Victoria Fire Marshal Tom Legler told the Victoria Advocate he had no theories about the cause of the fire, but he is seeking assistance from state and federal fire investigators.

Just week one.

While Bannon writes, Trump tweets and Washington burns, the left continues to squabble about assigning blame for the Trumpenkrieg to various Hillbots or Berniebots or Steinswine. This endless circular firing squad, which obtains any time three of more "progressives" share the same space, is why we can't have nice things. And why we have Trump.

One of the great shortcomings of the age derives from late stage capitalism. It is the keenness of focus on measurement at the expense of all other values. Remember working in businesses when profitability was enough? No more: now profitability must be maximized. How it works: most American industries are mature indistries, which over time become less profitable. These mature industries exist at a time of little real growth and the end of cheap energy. In this environment profitability comes from two sources: 1) squeezing more out of your current operation, and 2) stealing share from your competitors. Our "business leaders" conjure results from these two foci though spreadsheet worship, and concoct strategies by which they can wring the last erg of energy out of a workforce, all in the name of "efficiencies." Enter automation, Amazon, and subcontractors.

American political philosopher Richard Rorty saw this coming. In his 1998 book “Achieving Our Country,” now much quoted in the New Yorker and around the internet, he observed our present circumstances:

"Members of labor unions, and unorganized and unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers—themselves desperately afraid of being downsized—are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.

"At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. . . . Once the strongman takes office, no one can predict what will happen. "

 

No one can predict what will happen. But if Trump's first week is predictive of the future, the cruelty and absurdity of this week will continue until Robert Mercer and the Koch brothers determine he is too loose a cannon and needs to be impeached. Which will install President Pence. Remove Pence? There's Ryan. With Orrin Fucking Hatch in the on deck circle. Vote them out in 2018? Talk to your Republican governors about who will actually be allowed to the polls in 2018.

By 2020, don't be surprised if the franchise is not restricted to white male property owners with a net worth of $1 million. As God intended. And there are still assholes out there who will argue that voting doesn't matter.

 


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He has squeezed out numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere, and once quit barking and got off the porch long enough to be active in the Occupy movement. Where he met the woman who now shares his old Virginia home and who, like he, is grateful that he is not yet taking a dirt nap, and like he, will be disappointed to not be prominently featured on an enemies list compiled by the current administration.

Remember Kennedy: and then ask, “How long will Trump last”?

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Published on the The Slog on January 15, 2017

 

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 There has never been a new Presidency quite like this one. The inauguration is still six days away, and already the American People have been given a torrent of disinformation about the President-Elect. Will it in time get even worse.


He likes it when hookers piss on him, he is being blackmailed by the Kremlin, he is the creature of Deutsche Bank, he paid bribes to the FBI, he has gigantic debt, he plans to use the US to leverage his company into the world’s biggest conglomerate, he is a Fifth Columnist Hell-bent on destroying NATO, he’s going to deport everyone who isn’t a WASP, and during his media career he groped the entire female population of the USA.
Most if not all of this stuff is utterly risible tosh.

But of course, to write this immediately renders me (under the current Queensberry rules of political news debate) a racistscumfascistbigot….and, naturally, the target of the New York Times and their Orwellian campaign to hunt down “fake news”. If it wasn’t so dangerously concocted by Soros Associates – and naively soaked up by the Progressively Correct – it would all make for the most wonderful off-Broadway surreal farce.

The doctored DNC-issued opinion polls, The Washington Post ‘98% chance that Clinton will be the next President’, the Electoral College drive, the Russian hacking drivel, the Soros-orchestrated demos, and then the Meryl Million have been all been variously wheeled out, launched, run up the flagpole and floated. All of them having careered off the road or sunk, the time has come for the top echelons of what the conspiracists call The Deep State to have a crack. But when they come onto the field, the production genre switches instantly from farce to horror.

What we’re now seeing is an attempt to snow The Donald into the Military-Industrial-neocon nutjob narrative. From what we’ve seen so far – although that too could be just more disinformation – he’s not managing to control the hawks terribly well.

But his problem is that he isn’t yet inaugurated: so even among some of those he’s appointed, there’s a power-control vacuum….and they’re making the most of the chance to cook the goose before the new head chef takes up his post.

The two months following next Friday will define very clearly how well Trump has prepared for the onslaught. There are three possible outcomes: either Trump really is just another cleverly disguised stooge; or he has the radical aspirations and wherewithal to strip the covert State of its power; or he will be given his head, and then terminated if he fails to deliver on what the Hoods want.


As time goes on, it gets easier to believe that something has been going on to take power further and further away from the US electorate since November 1963. It’s over half a century since the young President was assassinated, but with the forward march of film and sound technology since the early years of this century aggregating doubts about the killing, fully 73% of Americans now do not believe the Warren Commission, and over half do not believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

Since 2012, a third doubt has been added to the original two I always had about the murder:

  1. How could 22 separate witnesses right by the motorcade imagine they smelt cordite?
  2. How could anyone believe that the fatal bullet (it blew the President’s head apart) was from the same gun that went straight through its victims without serious damage?
  3. Why did the CIA hijack the Zapruder film over the post-assassination weekend, and why did the CIA’s film analysis unit tell a serious former Government investigator on film in 2012 that the film in the national archives “is a crude and obvious fake”?

The original 1963 home movie was an 8 mm twin-track film, from which over 14 frames have been removed, and hand-tinting of five others has been undertaken – after the senior CIA analyst edited the real original minimally “to reduce public stress on seeing the more explicit frames”. The original expert insisted in the 2012 documentary, “this is not the original I saw….the damage to the President’s head has been clumsily obscured, and the cranial explosion massively reduced”.

The motive looks damning: to mislead viewers as to the calibre of the gun – and the direction (immediately behind) from which it came.

We will never know exactly who planned the JFK assassination, or indeed who carried it out. But it’s hard to deny in 2017 that Kennedy was blown away by the unelected part of the US. It remains as deadly as ever. I hope Donald Trump has secret service men around him he can really trust.

 

The Haft of His Axe

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Published on Peak Surfer on December 25, 2016

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In Nanjing they have banned gas and diesel powered motorbikes, scooters, and trike-cabs or trike-trucks and replaced them with electrics. While most vehicles are retrofits, new electric bikes and trikes are sold in showrooms and all around the city repair shops, battery stores, and parts dealers are easy to find. As a result, the air is fresher, the streets are clean, and the city is much quieter. It is a pleasure to sit in an outdoor café without having to breathe two-stroke engine fumes or listen to their din. They have not yet banned petrol-fueled cars and buses, but that can’t be far away, once they have the replacements lined up.

We confess Nanjing has been on our bucket list since we read Gavin Menzies’ flawed but enticing 1421: The Year China Discovered The World. We wanted to see the Nanjing Shipyards where Admiral Zheng He had constructed the great treasure fleet that traveled the seven seas by discovering an ingenious method of calculating lines of latitude, marking and recording the timing of eclipses and the transit of Jupiter’s moons at different observation points.

 

 

Zheng He Shipyard Park, Nanjing

Whether Zheng reached the Americas is still disputed, and the official Chinese version has him going no farther than the Cape of Good Hope, but it is undisputed that he built a floating city of wooden ships like nothing the world had ever seen, before or since. Six hundred years ago the Ming armada weighed anchor on the first of seven voyages almost a century before Christopher Columbus or Vasco da Gama. If a 1763 replica of a 1418 chart is any evidence, Zheng’s geographers accurately charted the entire world’s coastlines. Each continent of the world has correct shape, mass, latitude and longitude, and position. All oceans of the world are displayed, along with many major rivers (the Potomac to present-day Washington DC) and innumerable islands.

 

 

 

Replica of Troop Ship

Decades later, the ships of Columbus and da Gama combined would have fit on the main deck of a single vessel of Zheng’s fleet. One such design, likely a troop transport at 71.1-meters (233.3 ft), was reconstructed in 2010 and is in the old drydock of Longjiang shipyards. Its stability was created by a V-shaped hull, a long keel, and heavy ballast. The keel is made from wooden beams bound together with iron hoops. In stormy weather, holes in the prow would partially fill with water when the ship pitched forward, lessening the turbulence.

National Geographic in June 2005 wrote:

 

 

 

Treasure Ship drydocks

The greatest seafarer in China's history was raised in the mountainous heart of Asia, several weeks' travel from the closest port. More improbable yet, Zheng was not even Chinese — he was by origin a Central Asian Muslim. Born Ma He, the son of a rural official in the Mongol province of Yunnan, he had been taken captive as an invading Chinese army overthrew the Mongols in 1382. Ritually castrated, he was trained as an imperial eunuch and assigned to the court of Zhu Di, the bellicose Prince of Yan. Within 20 years the boy who had writhed under Ming knives had become one of the prince's chief aides, a key strategist in the rebellion that made Zhu Di the Yongle (Eternal Happiness) emperor in 1402. Renamed Zheng after his exploits at the battle of Zhenglunba, near Beijing, he was chosen to lead one of the most powerful naval forces ever assembled.

We used Trip Advisor to find Zheng He’s museum at the shipyard. We took an iPhone screen shot of the Chinese characters for its address and showed that to the taxi driver, who agreed to take us there for about $7. It was an hour ride across the city, made nearly twice that long by an official motorcade with helicopter escorts that forced us off the six-lane expressway and onto the crowded back-streets, but we got there eventually and the driver agreed to wait for us while we toured the museum.

That museum, really a large and quite tranquil nature park in the middle of the city, was one of our best experiences in Nanjing. You enter through an ornate gate and pass through a large plaza with roller skaters and hot dog carts until you reach the edge of the canals, originally constructed by Zheng in the early 15th Century to get his ships from their cradle and crane assembly lines to the Yangtze River and thence down to the ocean.

Along the stone and wooden pathways are small canal-side plazas where people come to do taiji, unleash their children to run after pigeons, or sit beneath cherry trees and watch ducks.

Zheng was a great-great-great-grandson of Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar, a Persian who served in the administration of the Mongol Empire and was the governor of Yunnan during the early Yuan dynasty. His grandfather and father had the title hajji suggesting that they had made the pilgrimage to Mecca and also that young Zheng knew Arabic. His later names of Ma Sanbao (三保 ("Three Protections") and Sanbao Taijian (“Three Treasures”) suggest he may have also had Buddhist training.

 

 

 

Hardwood drydocks >600 years old

Between 1405 and 1433, the Ming government sponsored seven naval expeditions. Vast forests were cut in Southeast Asia to supply the cranes, masts, mahoganies and teaks required not just for the ship but for the dry docks. Zheng He's first voyage departed 11 July 1405, from Suzhou and consisted of a fleet of 317 ships holding almost 28,000 crewmen. To the lands he visited, the Admiral presented gifts of gold, silver, porcelain, and silk; he returned with ostriches, zebras, camels, giraffes and ivory. On his 4th voyage he brought envoys from thirty states to pay their respects at the Ming court. One stone stelle says he visited more than 3,000 nations.

During the reign of the Yung-Lo Emperor Zhu Di, the Ming fleet consisted of:

 

 

 

  • More than 250 Nine-masted "treasure ships" (宝船, Bǎo Chuán or Pao chuan), ranging from 400 to 600 feet long (from one to two football fields) by 170 feet (55 m) beam (more than the width of a football field) and manned by 400 to 1000 crew. Contrast this with a Ford or Nimitz class aircraft carrier, with only 1/3 more length and a more narrow beam.
  • Eight-masted “Equine ships” (馬船, Mǎ Chuán), about 103 m (338 ft) by 42 m (138 ft) (roughly the size of a football field), carrying horses and tribute goods and repair material for the fleet.
  • More than 400 seven-masted supply ships (粮船, Liáng Chuán), 78 m (256 ft) by 35 m (115 ft), containing staples.
  • Some 400 six-masted troop transports (兵船, Bīng Chuán), 67 m (220 ft) by 25 m (82 ft).
  • 1350 five-masted 50-meter Fuchuan warships (福船, Fú Chuán), Zheng He’s destroyer escorts.
  • 1350 eight-oared 37-meter patrol boats (坐船, Zuò Chuán).
  • Water tankers (水船, Shuǐ Chuán) with at least 1 month's supply of fresh water, especially for the horses.

Zheng He set sail with anywhere from 300 to 800 of these ships in each voyage. Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta both described the fleet’s largest ships carrying 500 to 1,000 passengers in their translated accounts. Niccolò Da Conti, who witnessed the fleet in Southeast Asia, estimated the Treasure Ships at 2000 tons.

Zheng He's tomb in Nanjing has been repaired and a small museum built next to it. We did not see the tomb, and anyway he is reported to have been buried at sea, but we traced the routes of the slips where the ships had launched, amazed to see teak timbers still in the ground and dating to that period. We went to the statue of Zheng He and visited the windlasses, steering wheels, and rudders from his ships, and two 2.5 m (8 foot) iron anchors weighing over a thousand pounds each, Walking among bronze statues of the shipyard workers, we watched a child play the giant ship’s bell from the Admiral’s flagship.

 

 

 

Ships Rudder

Zheng He reshaped Asia. The maritime history in the 15th century was essentially the Zheng He story — a story placing peaceful trade and cultural exchange above conquest and cultural destruction.

Leaving the museum we rushed back to the hotel for a rendezvous with our student guides who were taking us to meet Professor Pan Genzing, top biochar researcher at Nanjing Agricultural University. Professor Pan had arranged a welcoming supper for the distinguished members of the board of the International Biochar Initiative and because we were in China at the time, and on the board of the US Biochar Initiative, we were fortunate to have been invited.

Over the next two days we were also invited to observe the IBI board meeting, attend the unveiling of the Asian Biochar Center, take a field trip to a biochar research station, and speak at an international biochar seminar, where we gave a short slide talk on cool microenterprises and the drawdown economics of cool villages. All of these events were accompanied by elegant feasts of pretty much anything with wings, tails, fins or carapaces, served nearly whole and whirling around on huge lazy-susans. We were reminded of the scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

 

 

 

 


While this cuisine is quite different than what we enjoyed at Wu Ling (and had almost no rice), it demonstrated the scope and breadth of Chinese culture, enriched in so many ways 600 years earlier by the voyages of Admiral Zheng He.

Less than a day in paradise,
And a thousand years have passed among men.
While the pieces are still being laid on the board,
All things have changed to emptiness.
The woodman takes the road home,
The haft of his axe has rotted in the wind:
Nothing is what it was but the stone bridge
Still spanning a rainbow, cinnabar red.

— Meng Chiao (9th Century)

Nanjing, October 19, 2016

As this is the fourth and final memoir in this series, we thought it best that we step back and paint the broader context.

 

 

Annette Cowie at Nanjing International Biochar Symposium

As we described in our book, The Financial Collapse Survival Guide and Cookbook (2d Ed. 2014), the Bretton Woods economic system of the West is poised at the precipice of collapse. Historically, this is normal. All civilizations cycle between growth and retraction, and when growth has been exponential, contraction will track the reverse curve. We are passing over the peak at the top of the roller coaster.

When the first cracks in the delusion of infinite fossil energy consumerist cornicopia appeared in the form of the 2008 market crash they were papered over with new and bigger debt. Money was fiated out of thin air by an exponential expansion of government lending. China sees that.

 

 

L-R: Pan, Lehmann, Renaud, Miles, Sohi

Russia sees that. Europe is in a condition of Keynesian extend and pretend. The United States simply doesn’t discuss the subject. It imagines that in a pinch it can just lend again. And again. 2008 is viewed as a liquidity crisis, solved by creating more liquidity, ie: debt.

The new guys on the block, knowing nothing of petrocollapse or ponzinomics, figure that the one thing the US has going for it still, empire wise, is its military power. So like Roman Senators, the architects of the Third Reich, or the Mayan Overlords, the Pentagon crazies continue along a course of conquest, intent on sucking more resources to the center from the periphery to fuel even greater military expansion. Since the early 90s the US has been busy ringing China and Russia with more than 400 military bases and modernizing its now dangerously archaic nuclear arsenal.

 

 

Electric conversion

China, for its part, has had a quite adequate supply of atomic rocketeers on low alert for the last 40 years. Their missiles and warheads were in separate buildings. After the recent US election, that changed. China has moved to high alert, mounted its warheads and prepared to fuel its missiles on short notice. Both Russia and China have said they do not seek war but, echoing Bismarck, "If you want war, you shall have it.”

 

 

 

Vegetables growing in sand at China Biochar Research Center

In 1966 Robert F. Kennedy said, “There is a Chinese curse which says ‘May you live in interesting times.’” He was not far wrong, although the proverb was not Chinese. In Cantonese, "interesting" can mean dangerous or turbulent, therefore the phrase could, in Chinese, be something of a curse.

Make no mistake: the empire in decline is the United States. The empire in ascent is China. But both suffer the fatal disease of addiction to exponential fossil-fuel based consumer culture and the cancer of biological degradation of the ecosystems required, not just to sustain empire, but for human life on the planet. Any ascent by China that adheres to the Western growth model will be short-lived.

 

 

 

Yellow Bikes, Nanjing  

China is the world's top holder of U.S Treasuries — $1.16 trillion as of September — and any decision to dump those would have impact. President-Elect Trump, who has financed his personal fortune by borrowing heavily and plans to do the same for military and infrastructure spending, will surely understand that. He may want to trot out the big guns in order to make offers that cannot be refused.

A clash of declining empires is not something to look forward to, especially when both are armed to the teeth with suicidal weapons and at least one side thinks they should be free to use those to get their way.

“I will have a military that’s so strong and powerful, and so respected, we’re not gonna have to nuke anybody,” Donald Trump told GQ. “It is highly, highly, highly, highly unlikely that I would ever be using them.”

 

 

 

Stephen Joseph and Annette Cowie

The Chinese, along with the rest of humanity, can only hope he is sincere. Given the choice between slow extinction later this century when warming passes 5-degrees C (while holding out for the possibility of rescue by a cadre of energized young emergency planetary technicians) or immediate, but nonetheless painful, death-by-atomic-holocaust, which would you choose? The pistol or the poison?

It is all so silly, and so unnecessary. Is there something in the water, or some worm eating away at our brains? Why are we behaving as if we actually deserve to go extinct? 


Chinese milennials are hip, intelligent, highly educated and well-traveled. They suffer a naïvete similar to their Western counterparts when discussion turns to the advanced state of climate change and the future availability of energy and other resources. To set them up as patsies for the ideological insecurities of USAnians is nuts. To engage China militarily is suicidal. Why can't we all just get along?

 

Plutocracy

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Published on Epiphany Now on January 5, 2017

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I don't understand how they get away with it.  That is the mystery to me.  All of the power should be with the people as we have the numbers, but it's not, and seemingly it never has been, as the documentary Plutocracy (the film at the bottom of this blog post) attests to. I highly recommend that you find the time to watch this film.  There is a second part, but unfortunately the audio has been removed due to a copyright infringement.  How convenient is that!  

The people give the power to the church by going to it and believing in it, and that's the level just below the 1%.  Below that is the military which is formed from the proletariat class, so the force that protects and ensures the whole system is kept safe by the sons and daughters of the people. 

The rentier class doesn't do anything but profit off of the backs of the people as this depiction shows.  It seems they could easily be overtaken by the people.  I guess that happens by striking, which I never really understood until watching Plutocracy.  Striking and boycotting are really the only meaningful actions the proletariat can take.  Protesting has no effect any longer.  It used to raise awareness back before Facebook cast it's narcissistic net over the masses.  TPTB could give two farts whether we protest or not as is obvious by OWS and Standing Rock.

Organizing a massive strike is a Herculean task to be sure.  The only security the people have are their wages, so it has to be bad enough for the fear of no wages to be less than the quality of life that the wages provide.  Over the years the 1% have perfected the means by which they control the masses.  Control of the food via industrial agriculture with terminator seeds and GMO's is probably the most important step by which they control.  They made food easy.  They made it where the people did not have to concern themselves with getting enough food, or where the food comes from.  It's not good healthy food, but it's cheap and it taste good. 

Next is private property which is what makes money so necessary.  You have to have a place to live…a place to lay your head and stay warm and sheltered.  If all of the land is private property where you have to have permission to be there, than there is nowhere for you to live your life without money.  That's ultimately where they get control of the whole thing, money!  This allows the Rentier class to profit off of the peoples backs. 

With control of the food and the money what are the people to do?  Now the people have no idea about food.  To the majority it's something that comes wrapped in petroleum at the big box store, or it's something that they drive their cars through a fast food fry pit line to acquire.  Where do the big box stores get the food?  It comes from the trucks of course.  Where do the trucks get the food?  From the food factory of course.  Where does the food factory get the food?  What do you mean?  They get the food from the food gettin' place…and that's if the fools even think that far about it, which they mostly don't.  The food just comes from the grocery store and that is all the thinking that is done about it. 

What is it that keeps us enslaved to the system they have put into place?  Is it really the ignorance and gullibility of the masses?  If you can get past the ignorance and gullibility somehow, by educating, then I suppose the next edifice is fear itself.  Or maybe a lack of imagination combined with a sense of powerlessness.  The more stupid the people become the easier it is for them to control us, and nothing is more representative of this process than Trumpty Dumpty as POTUS.  This is straight out of the film Idiocracy.   

The truth is that the people have been dumbed down to the point where they think Trump has their back.  At least a sizeable portion of the people.  The people are satiated by food chemicals, corn syrup, alcohol, nicotine, netflix, iphones, and finally fukitol. 

In the end, and there is an end to this, the 1% have built a house of cards.  We have a global 1% now, and they can all keep the people in check via the system they have built.  The huge global Corporate system that is the true plutocracy has a weakness.  Fossil fuels are that weakness!  The Corporatocracy is dependent on fossil fuels to keep the house of cards propped up.  At some point, on the back side of Hubbert's curve, there will be enough austerity for the masses that a critical mass will be reached.  There will be a tipping point, and I think that's when we will know that the game is over. 
 

 

 

It will be OWS times 10, only it will not be peaceful.  When there is enough austerity in America there will be nothing that can stop the anger of the proletariat.  Unfortunately they do not understand that fossil fuels are the ultimate reason why their lives have changed.  What will the 1% do when the system begins breaking under the weight of low EROEI energy?  By all measures we are at that point now, but as I have mentioned they are keeping it's dead lifeless body propped up with endless digibit subsidies.  That trick has a shelf life. 

I'm certain the 1% has a plan for the breaking point.  I don't buy that they have no idea about the weakness that's built into their system.  I can buy that the politicians mostly might not know due to ignorance, but the upper echelons are informed.  Why they aren't trying to curtail the whole thing with renewables is a mystery to me, but I'm sure there is a reason for it.  It's likely because they know that there is no way that renewables can be anything more than a band-aid.  That's why I'm starting to believe that their plan is for a massive reduction in population.  Reduce the world population by 5 billion and there's enough fossil fuels to keep this whole shootin' match going until Nibiriu comes or the Sun burns out. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I is for Interesting Times

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Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on November 21, 2016

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"May you live in interesting times," says the old Chinese curse. The election of Donald Trump to president of the United States was the starting pistol for interesting times. From now on, not much will remain the same.

On the night of the election I had tried to stay awake to watch the whole thing unfold. Because of the time difference I knew there would be no clear results until early morning, and so I ended up going to bed at about 1am— at which point all the TV pundits were saying it was 'practically impossible' for Trump to win. So I went to be bed, but barely managed three hours of sleep due to fitful dreams. My phone was on the table next to the bed when I awoke, but I couldn't bring myself to turn it on and see all the "First Woman in the Whitehouse" headlines. I put it off and tried to snooze a while longer. Unable to do so I eventually reached over and turned it on with a 'better get this over with' attitude.

That was when I almost fell out of bed in shock.

It was like Brexit all over again. Brexit on steroids. The impossible had suddenly been proved possible. A spell had been broken and the world had been turned on its head. Donald Trump—a giant ego on legs—had pulled off the impossible. He had taken on the arrayed masses of media, celebrities, pundits, received wisdom and social inertia—and beaten them all. Thrashed them, in fact.

The stunned disbelief on social media rapidly turned into white hot anger. I felt a great disturbance in the force—it was as if a million voices cried out in terror; and then there was violence. Protestors rampaging around the streets, setting fire to cars and smashing window. Yes—the great hissy fit had begun.

From my perspective across on the other side of the Atlantic, I had one immediate cause for celebration: my family would not be nuked. Given Clinton's bellicose rhetoric about surrounding China with missiles and 'taking on' Russia, I had every reason to believe that she would willingly start a world war within months of taking office. With Nato forces building up on the border of Russia in numbers not seen since WWII, and the mainstream press squirting out anti-Russian propaganda from every orifice, and with Russia itself drilling its citizens for imminent nuclear war, I felt I had every reason to be concerned—especially as I live close to a couple of likely military targets. But on the morning on October 9th I got my geiger counter, my iodine pills and my copy of US Armed Forces Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Survival Manual, and put them away in my bottom drawer. For now.

But, of course, global nuclear war is a piffling matter for those more concerned with transgender bathrooms and the breaking of glass ceilings for power crazed career politicians. "But what about Pussygate?" scream the angry mob of social justice warriors. To which I would reply that there are plenty of places where presidential fingers don't belong, but frankly I'm more concerned about them being on the big red button.

So, yes, a large bubble has been popped. This is what the apocalypse looks like. The word 'apocalypse' means 'living the veil'. It's a consciousness thing. The apocalypse will happen at the level of human consciousness before it happens (if ever) on the physical plane. The fake doctrine of neoliberalism/neoconservatism/globalisation—that has made the world we see today, has been exposed for what it is. And all of those who happily went along with it feel a deep terror in their bones. They sense, perhaps correctly, that all of the horrors America and the West have unleashed on the world over the last four decades—horrors which they thought were safely locked away in the basement—have been awoken and are starting to walk up the stairs, feet shuffling, hands outstretched. Not even the soothing tones of Barack Obama can convince them to go back down again—they know they are done for.

So who are all these people who are so terrified? They are the ones who have fallen prey to the globalist controlling mindset. For them, it's all a matter of identity politics, victim statuses and the almighty ruling patriarchy. Status is conferred by your relative minority status, delineated along lines of race, gender, sexual orientation etc. By shifting the entire nature of politics into the realm of identity politics the globalist class have quite brilliantly— with the unflinching support of the mainstream media and Hollywood—cast a magic spell that almost succeeded in enslaving the entire world. And because identity politics so enfeebles people, it was easy to divide and conquer them and get them to conform to their idealised state of passive obedience. This idealised state is one where everyone is defined in a very narrow sense, there is no collective grouping outside of one's own little group, and anyone who objects to this state of affairs is called a 'racist' or a 'homophobe' or a whatever. With everyone so caught up in policing one another the globalists have been able to continue their destructive course of war profiteering and handing democratic sovereignty to corporations largely unchallenged.

The power of the spell is broken now, even if the socially-engineered, weak-minded apologists for the power set refuse to believe it. For what they don't realise is that the election of Trump—and Brexit before it—was the anguished howl of a people who had had enough and were unwilling to acquiesce to the madness any longer. In that respect, Brexit and Trump's election will go down as the most important historical events of Western civilisation in the 21st century. If you don't believe me, just wait.

Yet the people still entrapped by this spell believe in maintaining the status quo so vehemently that they are quite unable to function when their overlords are exposed as frauds and fakes. They are fine with their military raining death down on foreign nations so that they can plunder their oil (but don't turn away the refugees), fine with supporting a candidate who takes blood money from a nation that routinely kills gays and stones women for adultery (as long as we have freedom and equality) and fine with starting a nuclear war which would kill millions of innocent people (because Putin said something nasty about gays). They are also the ones who loudly insist that it is racist to be against globalisation, although they always assume that the benefits of globalisation will accrue to themselves, and if you find yourself living in a wasteland of drug addiction, crime and unemployment because of it, well then that's just your own stupid fault and you're probably a racist so there.

These people are all going to be swept away into history's compost bin, and they know it. It would be a good thing if they could be brought round to see reason—after all, some of them are good people and it's not their fault they've been brainwashed. But, alas, in most cases they are too far gone and it is impossible to reason with them. They belong to a superfluous unproductive class for which there will soon be no further need. They are the corporate PR flacks, the media, the overstuffed university faculty members, the fat layers of government who produce nothing but new regulations and rules to penalise everyday people, and the political hangers-on and other assorted medieval court fauna. As the global energy pie shrinks and the very real limits to growth assert themselves, these people will find themselves pushed out of the picture. No longer will they boast on Facebook about not being able to change a lightbulb as though menial, physical, useful skills are for the Untermensch classes—they'll be too busy fighting among themselves about whose fault all this was and forming circular firing squads.

For anyone who thinks they might detect a note of glee here, they'd be right. I would dearly love to see the likes of The Guardian, the Clintons and all the other warmongering, social engineering, psychopathically driven impediments to real human progress tossed into the fiery abyss. But, gratifying as that might be, it doesn't mean everything will then be all sweetness and light. Indeed how do we even know what to expect next? As has become abundantly clear to many people, the world of mass media, talking heads, opinion formers and politicos don't offer us any useful guidelines any longer. That's why the polymathically inclined turn to other areas where they might find better tools for human understanding—and one particularly useful area is the realm of mythology and psychology.

The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung noted the various archetypes manifest in human consciousness, and explained how we relate to these in our lives (although they exist on a subconscious level so usually we don't realise it). Joseph Campbell took this a stage further in his analysis of myths throughout human history, drawing out these archetypal figures to help make sense of such a widely diverse universe of stories. These archetypes are encoded in our minds and have been there from the time of our earliest ancestors. For the most part they lurk there unseen, only revealing themselves in times of need, when they help us to make sense of the world when everyday logic seems to fail us. This, of course, flies in the face of progress and scientism and the other pseudo-religions we like to insist are useful to us, and so many people choose to ignore the lessons of mythology. So it goes.

The archetype that should concern us today is the one they call the Trickster. The Trickster is a magician—someone who can conjure something seemingly impossible out of nothing. Magic, by the way, is the ability to take something from a non-physical realm and bring it forth into the physical one. It is the ability to change human consciousness through act of will. We all do it, usually without realising it, and politicians try to do it more than most of us (check out the Clinton team's disastrous experiments with Spirit Cooking). The Trickster is adept at this, appearing in times when civilisations have become stale and moribund, and when politics seems dead and insipid. The Trickster strides onto the stage and explodes the neat order of things, creating chaos and mayhem and collapse. Trickster is a disruptive intelligence. He laughs as he brings down elites, chuckles as he tosses political grandees into oblivion and cackles with mischief as he throws entire societies into turmoil.
 

In Norse mythology, Loki took the main Trickster role. Loki wanted to start Ragnarök—an all-encompassing battle that would destroy much of the world and also kill the gods in the process. Pan was also a Trickster—you've heard of 'pandemonium' and 'panic'—as was Shakespeare's Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream. In Britain we have a real-life Trickster in the form of Nigel Farage, and now in America, we have The Donald. Pretty soon, across much of Europe, each nation will have its very own Trickster running the show.
 
A note of warning. Those who are tired of the status quo, who are sick of corrupt politicians and exploitative corporations, and who yearn for deep and meaningful change should beware. Because normally we don't get the Trickster we want: we get the Trickster we deserve. It is worth knowing that we ourselves may be tossed into the abyss along all the other detritus: we vanquish our control when we summon forth the Trickster. Because, as Jung once again explains, the type of Trickster we get depends on our own dark Shadow. This Shadow represents our deepest fears: it is everything about us that we have been too afraid to confront. Our Shadow, at a societal level, is represented by all those bodies in the basement I mentioned above. It's all the stuff we have tried to block out, such as the harm we do to the planet, the resource wars our politicians get into on our behalf, factory farming, nuclear weapons technology—all the stuff we chose not to focus on rises up from the collective subconscious and becomes the Trickster beating down our basement door.
 
What follows is never pretty. When Shiva dances, worlds crumble. But afterwards, when the Trickster has had his fun, he leaves the scene and a time of renewal can occur. For, even after the mayhem of Ragnarök the land rose up from the sea, cleansed and refreshed. 
 
I'll let Puck have the last word, with his closing speech in A Midsummer Night's Dream
 
If we shadows have offended,
 Think but this, and all is mended—
 That you have but slumbered here
 While these visions did appear.
 And this weak and idle theme,
 No more yielding but a dream,
 Gentles, do not reprehend.
 If you pardon, we will mend.
 And, as I am an honest Puck,
 If we have unearnèd luck
 Now to ’scape the serpent’s tongue,
 We will make amends ere long.

The Year In Doom 2016: Counter-Revolution


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 January 1, 2017

“History is as light as individual human life, unbearably light, light as a feather,
as dust swirling into the air, as whatever will no longer exist tomorrow."

 ― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being


Every new year, pundits attempt to make sense of the events of the year past, or make bold predictions about what will happen in the next. Your scribe is neither motivated nor ambitious enough to do either. Our job here is to look at certain of the year's events through the jaundiced filters of collapse and doom, the purpose being to make sense out of what 2016 left at our doorstep like a burning paper bag filled with turds.

Much is been made of the political developments – Brexit, the coup in Turkey, Syria and the refugee crisis, the election of Donald Trump as president, with many thousands of tons of aggrieved punditry launched in a nearly 24–7 assault of PR artillery to try to "make sense of it all." There is simply no making sense of it within the confines of ordinary time and news cycles. Better to soar to the 50,000-foot level, unbearably light, to the vantage point of history, to discern larger trends.

This year's events are symptoms of an evil zeitgeist which is bad news for those of us on the left or so-called "progressive" side of politics. They are harbingers of a sweeping counter-revolution, made possible by a 40-year assault on the funding and functions of government and its efficacy, such that even ordinary people question the very legitimacy of government itself. An underfunded government rarely works.

Never forget that it was the French revolution that gave us Napoleon. And that in 1933, The German Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which gave Adolf Hitler the power to enact laws without the involvement of the lawmaking body. Thus everything that Hitler would come to do was perfectly legal and achieved through parliamentary means. Consider this on the eve of a Trump presidency and a Tea Party Congress motivated by the most atavistic impulses ever to spring from a Koch brother.

(And if you find this comparison to Hitler overly hysterical and are moved to invoke Godwin's Law, allow me to refer you to the Tea Party Republic of North Carolina, where legislative Republicans enacted a putsch and passed new, restrictive legislation essentially stripping the newly elected democrat governor Roy Cooper of much of his executive power. Watch now for other states to start pulling the same shit. Feel free to join in a rousing chorus of, "It Can't Happen Here.")

When one considers who Trump has chosen for his own cabinet, the one common thread that seems to run through each is a prior career dedicated to opposing the regulations of said department. William Astore describes Trump's cabinet as "a Coup Waiting to Happen" and as a clique of warrior-generals ready to end the American democratic experiment by the time the limos are parked at the White House. 

Yet 21st-century America is witnessing a new and revolutionary moment: the elevation of losing generals to the highest offices in the land. Retired Marine Corps general James “Mad Dog” Mattis, known as a tough-talking “warrior-monk,” will soon be the nation’s secretary of defense. He’ll be joined by a real mad dog, retired Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn as President-elect Donald Trump’s national-security adviser. Leading the Department of Homeland Security will be recently retired general John Kelly, another no-nonsense Marine. And even though he wasn’t selected, retired Army general David Petraeus was seriously considered for secretary of state, further proof of Trump’s starry-eyed fascination with the brass of our losing wars.

And why does this matter, you may ask? Didn't Truman appoint McArthur, and Bush appoint Powell? WTF?

 A republic… founded on civilian control of the military needs true civilians as a counterweight to militarism as well as military adventurism. Recently retired generals are anything but that; they’re not even speed bumps on the road to the next set of misbegotten military “adventures.” They are likely to be only one thing: enablers of and accelerants to military action. Their presence in the highest civilian positions represents nothing short of a de facto military coup in Washington, a coup that required no violence since the president-elect simply anointed and exalted them as America’s security saviors.

Mattis is one thing; Flynn quite another. By most measures, he has a reputation for not playing well with others. Flynn is known as an ideologue with a virulent, irrational hatred of Islam and a penchant, like his boss, of unburdening himself on Twitter. Often wrong but never in doubt, he was forced from his position as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, after which he became a harsh critic of Obama. Of Flynn, Astore observes:

Rising to prominence during the Trump campaign, he led the chant against Hillary Clinton (“Lock her up!”) at the Republican National Convention in July. (His son recently helped spread the false rumor that Clinton was involved in a child sex trafficking ring involving a Washington, D.C., pizzeria.) Flynn, who sees Islam as a political conspiracy rather than a legitimate religion, is an angry warrior, a dyed-in-the-wool crusader. That Trump sees such a figure as qualified to serve as the nation’s senior civilian security adviser speaks volumes about the president-elect and the crusading militarism likely to be forthcoming from his administration.

One does not have to try hard to imagine a preference for military solutions to diplomatic problems being favored as part of "Making America Great Again." And with Twitler already composing 140-character love poems to nukes, it is a short leap to see the Doom Meter set a couple of clicks higher. Never forget that war is always a great way to balance the books.


“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
– Warren Buffett, The New York Times

Military adventurism is bad enough. Meanwhile at home comes the Trumpenkrieg.

Look at what has happened over the past 40 years. Ever since Saint Reagan announced that "government is not the solution: government is the problem," tax cuts for plutocrats and trims to the social safety net to pay for them have been the order of the day.

In broad strokes , here's what has happened in the last 40 years: The Corporate State's agenda has been to oblige American labor to compete at global prices through an assortment of "trade deals" long on exporting American jobs but short on results: NAFTA, GATT, Fast Track, FTAA , the TPP. Corpstate has worked to privatize social benefits and social services, abolish negotiated benefits like pensions and health care, slash taxes for corporations and the wealthy,  and has broken the power of unions. All against a background of massive deregulation: airlines in 1978, trucking in 1980,  telecom in 1984 and 1996, electricity in 1992, oil and gas extraction in 1980, and finance, repeatedly between 1978 and 2000. I'm sure you've noticed the benefits "trickling down."

No? Maybe someone's been pissing down your back.

All of these consciously planned policies have led to the manifestation of what Spawn of Satan Allen Greenspan once defined as the "precariat," people who face diminished prospects of achieving middle-class status—a good job, homeownership, decent retirement. This is by design.

If workers are more insecure, that’s very “healthy” for society, because if workers are insecure they won’t ask for wages, they won’t go on strike, they won’t call for benefits; they’ll serve the masters gladly and passively. And that’s optimal for corporations’ economic health. . . how do you ensure “greater worker insecurity”? Crucially, by not guaranteeing employment, by keeping people hanging on a limb than can be sawed off at any time, so that they’d better shut up, take tiny salaries, and do their work; and if they get the gift of being allowed to serve under miserable conditions for another year, they should welcome it and not ask for any more. That’s the way you keep societies efficient and healthy from the point of view of the corporations.

Sound familiar? Don't blame the immigrants, don't blame the Mexicans: blame the plutocrats. By 2020, a study estimates more than 40 percent of Americans, or 60 million people, will be independent workers—freelancers, contractors, and temporary employees. This constituency—notably white—is angry, and with good cause. Since 1998 white Americans have seen declines in both their incomes and life expectancy, with large spikes in suicide and fatalities related to alcohol and drug abuse. These are the people who, in anger and hopelessness, have chosen a billionaire builder who stiffs his subcontractors. 

With Trump and the Tea Party foxes in charge of the henhouse, there is little question about the future direction of economic policy. The end game will be not only the dismantling of the New Deal, but also most of the 20th century. The only questions are whether and when the much anguished white working class (who voted for Trump) realizes how badly they have been played, and what they will do about it.


“There’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.”
— U.S. President Barack Obama

"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."

— U.S. President-Elect Donald J. Trump

The assortment of oilmen, climate change deniers and other sociopaths that Trump has chosen to direct energy and environmental policy will exacerbate the greatest existential threat of the age. We are supposed to ignore the record of  the hardcore climate denier that Trump named his chief White House strategist, the hardcore climate denier Trump put in charge of the EPA, the climate action opponent Trump named as his Chief of Staff, the fossil fuel executives and lobbyists placed in charge of Energy and Interior, and the conservative Supreme Court judge he can name who will ratify whatever. This at a time when every sober observer of world climate is waving frantically signaling that we must do something NOW.

The human onslaught to destroy life on Earth is unprecedented in Earth's history. In a sobering article, Life on Earth is Dying. Thousands of Species Cease to ExistRobert J. Burrowes reviews the heinous toll of man's environmental dominion:

Planet Earth is now experiencing its sixth mass extinction event and Homo sapiens sapiens is the cause. Moreover, this mass extinction event is accelerating and is so comprehensive in its impact that the piecemeal measures being taken by the United Nations, international agencies and governments constitute a tokenism that is breathtaking in the extreme.

And it is no longer the case that mainly ‘invisible’ species are vanishing: those insects, amphibians and small animals about which you had never even heard, assuming they have been identified and given a name by humans.

Of course, some of what is happening is related to the ongoing climate catastrophe and there isn’t any good news on that front. See ‘What’s Happening in the Arctic is Astonishing’.

Of course, military violence has devastating consequences on the Earth’s ecosystems too, destroying land, water and atmosphere (not to mention killing human beings) in the fight over resources. 

When Fox News’ Chris Wallace asked Donald Trump about his thoughts on climate change, the president-elect responded,

“Nobody really knows. Look, I’m somebody that gets it, and nobody really knows. It’s not something that’s so hard and fast.”

He’s not alone; according to Pew Research less than half (48%) of all American adults believe that the Earth is warming mostly due to human activity. They are wrong, if consistent; in 2016, news from around the world made climate change undeniable to anyone paying attention. And Trump has made certain noises about getting NASA out of the earth-monitoring business, the better to not confuse citizens with evidence that might interfere with worship of "growth."

As climate change becomes ever more observable and its effects more evident, half of Americans remain firmly in denial. Ecocide is an appropriate word. And in the view of cynics, earth will be just fine in the long run; it's humans that will have it tougher.


An impressive array of notable people left us in 2016: Prince, Mohammad Ali, Alan Rickman, Carrie Fisher, Fidel Castro, John Glenn, Nancy Reagan, Arnold Palmer, and Leonard Cohen. But 2016 left us Trump. Fuck us.


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 once quit barking and got off the porch long enough to be active in the Occupy movement. Where he met the woman who now shares his old Virginia home and who, like he, is grateful that he is not yet taking a dirt nap, and like he, will be disappointed to not be prominently featured on an enemies list compiled by the incoming administration.

King Trump The Irrelevant

TriangleofDoomgc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Steve Ludlum

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Published on the Economic Undertow on December 23, 2016

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

Santa came early this year, he left presents for all the children … whether they wanted them or not!

Hard to say what Santa will offer next year, Christmas may be cancelled … or Stukas might be dive-bombing Poland. In the twilight of ‘More’ anything is possible except ‘more’.

Anguish being felt across the country after Trump election, (LA Times):

Americans who voted against Trump are feeling unprecedented dread and despair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have never seen anything quite like the grief being felt by the majority of American voters who did not vote for Donald Trump.

Back in 1980, there was disappointment among Democrats when Ronald Reagan won. In 2000, after the long Florida recount and the intrusion of the Supreme Court into the decision, there were plenty of upset people who thought Al Gore, not George W. Bush, deserved to be president. But the losing voters in those elections were not despondent. They were not breaking out in tears weeks later. They were not waking up each morning with feelings of dread about what was to come.

This time it is different … (David Frum):

“Construction of the apparatus of revenge and repression will begin opportunistically and haphazardly,” Frum wrote. “It will accelerate methodically.”

Do you mean the apparatus of revenge and repression aimed at Chelsea Manning, or the citizens of Boston? How about other ‘Brand X’ whistle blowers? (Justice Integrity Project):

OpEd News (OEN) Publisher Rob Kall, another speaker, has a different view. “Since Obama has taken office,” Kall reported in ‘RoughTime for Whistleblowers’, “most whistleblowers say his administration and his DOJ treat whistleblowers worse than any previous president.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kall quoted GAP Homeland Security and Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack, a well-credential ethics advisor in 2001 at the Bush Department of Justice. It promptly ousted her from her job and tried to inflict harsh reprisals in her later career after she provided to superiors her opinion that FBI personnel committed an ethics violation in questioning American John Walker Lindh after he was caught with the Taliban in Afghanistan. “Obama,” she told Kall, “has brought more prosecutions against whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than any previous president and all presidents combined.”

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you sir, may we please have another! Everyone knows Trump is a Fuhrer who is making lists and identifying enemies, (WaPo):

Obama administration tries to shut down visitor registry program before Trump takes office

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Obama administration on Thursday took the unprecedented step of creating obstacles to a widely-anticipated but poorly understood plan by President-elect Donald Trump to establish a Muslim ban or registry — by dismantling the registry system that already exists.

 

 

 

 

 

In fact, almost every ‘crime’ the oafish Trump is being accused of in advance has been committed already by preceding administrations including Obama’s, starting illegal wars, snooping on citizens, raping the environment, cozying up to bankers, bankers, bankers and more bankers.

Don’t forget Obama’s ‘drone war’, suspension of habeas corpus, arbitrary imprisonment and torture in secret prisons. These programs took form under Bush but Obama did nothing to end them or much to rein them in.

Erratic, bullying, Nazi, paranoid … all are unpleasant to contemplate, but are hardly new. The issues that defines our new (gauche) president are matters of form rather than substance. The conflicts of interest, the ‘massive self-enrichment’ by office holders and ‘retaliation by means fair and foul’ are as entrenched in Washington as traffic jams. Our small-d democracy isn’t threatened, it vanished a long time ago, after people decided to let ‘experts’ tend to their affairs and for corporate marketing and PR to do everyone’s thinking for them.

Remember this?

Comparing Combatants in Syria – Iraq Theater

COUNTRIES – INTERESTS WHAT THEY INTEND TO GAIN COST WHAT THEY OFFER GOVERNMENT: CURRENT | PROPOSED ECONOMY
USA Arms sales. To destabilize region to import consumption Operational expenses & loss of influence Transient tactical advantage for no one in particular Corporate plutocracy / None Capital destruction – consumption / Ponzi finance

“Corporate Plutocracy / None” … that’s us!
So is Capital destruction – consumption / Ponzi finance!

 

 

This generated blind fury across the mediasphere; the suggestion is Trump is a nuclear madman.

Obama’s Russian Rationale for $1 Trillion Nuke Plan Signals New Arms Race

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 23 2016

The Obama administration has historically insisted that its massive $1 trillion nuclear weapons modernization program does not represent a return to Cold War-era nuclear rivalry between Russia and the United States.

The hugely expensive undertaking, which calls for a slew of new cruise missiles, ICBMs, nuclear submarines, and long-range bombers over the next three decades, has been widely panned by critics as “wasteful,” “unsustainable,” “unaffordable,” and “a fantasy.”

 

 

 

 

 

It’s okay as long as ‘our guy’ does it: it wasn’t Trump who ringed Russia with military bases, missiles and combat formations, it wasn’t Trump who sent spies and provocateurs to destabilize Ukraine or attack Russian clients Syria and Libya from the air. It wasn’t Trump who is engaged in questionable wars in multiple countries across the globe all aimed at driving energy- and resource consumption to the world’s largest energy hog. It isn’t Trump who made al-Qaeda into a defacto ally of the Pentagon and the CIA, who gave the militants arms and training, who enabled the rise of Turkish neo-Ottoman ambition alongside Saudi Salafism and state terror. It was Obama who did all these things and more, following in the footsteps of American presidents going back to Truman.

Or was it? Whoever is president doesn’t matter, he is irrelevant. Our managers (including Trump) are actors reading from scripts, performing at the direction of shadowy back-door men, employed strictly by how they conform to the public expectations created by corporate marketing. Conforming includes how they look, dress, speak, where certified and whom they ‘know’; where they live and work and how they travel. Trump himself acknowledges this reality by selecting as footmen those who are possessed of a certain je ne sais quoi, that is, they have the appropriate outward appearance. Activities that require labor, skill, difficulty or do not present a marketing opportunity are penalized with diminished status. There are no grimy proletarians, mechanics or farmers in the current administration or those set to come; nor in Congress or the Courts. Instead, there are neatly coiffed thievish mandarins. Because our Ponzi- economy is divorced from reality the scam managers are expected to be incompetent, they have to be even as they are fashionable. There is no penalty for stupidity in America.

Competence is unacceptable except where it allows for the proper internal functioning of the enterprise. Our ostensible Ponzi- masters are grasping buffoons while those tending the boilers (Goldman-Sachs) must know what they are about.

The conflict in America is not between ‘left’ and ‘right’, ‘liberal vs. conservative’ but between logic and illogic, between reality and denial. The establishment’s factions are parties to malfeasance and mis-communication. To tell the truth is to acknowledge that business as usual is bankrupt regardless of who is in charge, (Brooking Institute):

Another Clinton-Trump divide: High-output America vs low-output America

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week, as my colleague Sifan Liu and I were gnawing on some questions asked by Jim Tankersley of The Washington Post, we happened upon a revealing aspect of the election outcome. While looking at number of influences on the presidential vote outcome, we found that in a year of massive divides, one particular economic split stands out.

Our observation: The less-than-500 counties that Hillary Clinton carried nationwide encompassed a massive 64 percent of America’s economic activity as measured by total output in 2015. By contrast, the more-than-2,600 counties that Donald Trump won generated just 36 percent of the country’s output—just a little more than one-third of the nation’s economic activity.
Candidates’ counties won and share of GDP in 2000 and 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1: US counties voting preference, (Brookings Intitute, click for big).

Here you can see very clearly that with the exceptions of the Phoenix and Fort Worth areas and a big chunk of Long Island Clinton won every large-sized county economy in the country. Her base of 493 counties was heavily metropolitan. By contrast, Trumpland consists of hundreds and hundreds of tiny low-output locations that comprise the non-metropolitan hinterland of America, along with some suburban and exurban metro counties, as Indeed Chief Economist Jed Kolko pointed out in a tweet …

The foundation of Brooking’s argument is breathtakingly false, yet is so fashionably rendered anyone looking at it uncritically would take the authors’ premise at face value: that the metropolitan areas who fell to Clinton ‘produced’ greater ‘output’ than the backwards redneck promised lands that supported Trump. By way of Brookings’ logic, the consumption that takes place in cities is ‘productive’ because the various banks magically output ‘money’ to pay for it.

Cities are sinks not sources, their actual output is little or nothing but waste. The backwaters of America don’t ‘produce’ either, they extract our nation’s wealth — our non-renewable resource capital — and speed it to its death. Soil fertility, water, oil, gas, coal, metallic ores along with the lumpishly unfashionable activities that require labor, skill, difficulty … all these and more are sucked out of our towns making stops at Hillary Clinton’s capital-annihilating colonias on their way to the landfill. Retail sales and speculation are measured as production by Brookings’ economists and the banks which fund the process, lending abstract ‘wealth’ into existence using the wasting processes as collateral. Given four- hundred-plus years of mechanized pillaging the flyover counties have been emptied out with the extractive returns captured by well-positioned rentiers. The locals cry, “where’s our cut?” The fact of the question itself reveals the answer …

Establishment whines about ‘fake news’; what is fake is denial of the onrushing consequences of resource squander and how these are making themselves manifest.

Figure 2: Fed Funds by FRED, (click for big). Immediately before president-elect Obama took office in ’09, Santa gave the children negative real interest rates, that is, yields below the rate of inflation. Bargain basement borrowing costs were the incentive for firms to borrow astronomical sums, to fund carry trades of all kinds, to become larger and more concentrated, to buy out competition, to overpay for the firms’ own shares. Tycoons borrowed to buy luxury real estate, yachts and fine art. This offered the impression of a recovery from the ’08 crash, everyone looked like geniuses for a little while including Obama, for whom it can be said it is better to be lucky than good …

Even without the Fed, rates would have been low. Because of the Great Recession, there was a ‘flight to safety’ and the bidding up Treasuries in the absence of real, non-financial returns elsewhere. Added was systemic moral hazard and the eagerness of banks to lend back-and-forth to each other. The outcome was dollar carry trades speeding US inflation around the world; ‘Lucky Obama’ able to enjoy interest rate tailwinds every single year throughout his term in office.

Figure 3: Chart by estimable Doug Short, (Click for big). Obama is jumping ship before the storm breaks: 10-year Treasury rates are galloping upward due to dollar preference which pressurizes foreign exchange and unwinds dollar carry trades. The ‘official narrative’ is future US inflation but the decline in bonds is the re-pricing of repayment risk and the forex depreciation that is certain to come. In developing countries, borrowers with cavitating currencies cannot repay their dollar debts. The incoming president promises (more) tax relief for overburdened tycoons, those expected to pick up the tab are the same developing countries already tapped to service and retire prior rounds of credit expansion.

Remember dollar preference? Don’t pick up that economics textbook, you won’t find it there! Just because Marshall or Keynes didn’t write about it doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Dollar preference is what it sounds like: given the choice between accepting a dollar as payment or one- or more foreign currencies; between holding the dollar or spending it for shit or between holding the dollar or non-cash assets, people will choose the dollar. At issue is what determines the dollar’s worth. Conventional Lucas/Friedman economics suggests ‘efficiencies’ going forward discount future money: this and time preference ‘discovers’ present monies’ worth. The conventional narrative supports the rate-setting role of central banks and centrality of monetary policy. Debtonomics insists dollars and other currencies are priced by their exchange on demand for petroleum, something that takes place millions of times every day at gas stations around the world. Question for Donald Trump: millions of motorists vs. a handful of central bankers and corrupt politicians, who wins? The worth of the dollar is the fuel price bargain each one represents relative to other currencies, also what future dollars will be worth in a fuel constrained world. In this narrative, dollars are a proxy for fuel as dollars and other currencies were proxies for gold was during the periods of the gold standard. As such the dollar is a hard currency now becoming harder, to be hoarded out of circulation for the value it represents.

Put another way, dollar preference is the convergence between the value of the oil capital and the dollars that are exchanged for it. Fuel by itself is worth more than the real-world enterprises that make use of it regardless of what means are used to ‘adjust’ the price. By this way of reasoning, fuel in the ground in North Dakota is worth more than fuel wasted in a car stuck in traffic on an LA Freeway. Business (wasting) enterprises earn nothing on their own and are essentially worthless. They exist solely to borrow, gaining- and making use of credit is their primary product: other goods and services are intended to justify credit issuance in ever-increasing amounts. Part of this stream becomes the property of well-positioned ‘entrepreneurs’: enormous unearned borrowed profits are what drives the system. When debt = wealth, there is an incentive to take on as much debt as possible, keep what you can for yourself and to shift the retirement- and servicing burdens onto others.

Our economy as nothing more than a vast cost-shifting regime, our ongoing crisis is the shortage of ‘others’ able to bear the burdens of rapidly increased surplus-related costs.

Figure 3: Emerging market currency ETF: carry trades have been unwinding since 2011 as the dollar becomes stronger. A dollar carry is a way to sell the dollar short; investors borrow in the US at low rates then ‘sell’ dollars for higher-yielding assets in another currency. Decline of dollar becomes profits to those holding the overseas assets. When the dollar strengthens as it is doing now, the deal is a bust. Any asset appreciation in an overseas currency is more than offset by foreign exchange losses. What this means is costs are more difficult to shift, that dollar debts held overseas cannot be retired. The export of dollars and the shifting of costs that have been the mainsprings of globalization; that and the petroleum trade. Resource depletion and dollar preference are undoing all three …

Figure 4: Polygon of Doom: since 2008, price peaks in oil markets are followed by sharp declines, the amplitude of peaks diminish as the world’s customers go broke, chart by TFC Charts (click for big). Unraveling of carry trades, currency depreciation, runs out of forex and generalized credit contraction ruins millions of customers at a time. This in turn strands oil drillers who cannot extract the cheap petroleum as our economy requires. In our over-financialized world, fuel shortages don’t manifest themselves as gas lines or odd-even days. Rationing takes place through the credit transmission channel. When oil price rises high enough credit vanishes and customers cannot buy. How high is too high? Last year $65/barrel turned out to be pricey enough to torpedo China’s currency; the diminution of Chinese consumption crushed the price of crude. The current barrel price of $55 appears to be too high with another predictable banking- and credit crisis unfolding in Europe.

Energy deflation occurs when shortages cause prices to fall instead of rise. This is another something not found in your macro textbooks, it’s real nevertheless and unfolding under @realDonaldTrump’s nose. Because shortages can’t make customers richer, they are unable to borrow in order to bid up the price. The drillers are stranded because they don’t have customers to sell products to. Ruined customers is the reason why oil prices have declined 60% since 2014, broke customers are why the entire oil extraction industry is insolvent.

Oil prices can only decline as there are diminished returns on each energy dollar invested … diminished GDP, diminished credit availability, diminished ability to meet ever-higher real extraction costs. Going forward, real energy costs will increase relative to the ability to meet them … even as nominal costs decline. The result is a net-energy death spiral or ‘energy deflation’ similar to Irving Fisher’s Debt Deflation. Whatever the fuel price happens to be at any given time it is too high. The price falls to meet the market, but fuel is removed from the market because of the drop in price, the ongoing shortage reduces the ability of customers to meet the price which is still too high … in a vicious cycle.

Energy deflation and dollar preference are large forces beyond the control of politicians, generals or central bankers. They are driving countries and events toward involuntary conservation. America’s new president is the product of economic failure; the inability of the economists to make correct analysis, a long grinding recession disguised as recovery; media falsehoods and the unwillingness of Americans and others to face reality, government policy failures and the headwinds of resource depletion. Trump and his cretinous gang of thieves represents the last gasp of a defunct industrial system that is sinking under the weight of its own costs.

Keep in mind, oil producing states like the US tend to be autocratic. The US, Canada, Mexico and others are on their way to becoming single-party police states like Saudi Arabia or Iran. Because of autocrats promise of access to energy, they gain ascendancy with their populations’ eager consent. What is at stake for Americans and the West is democracy itself: a choice between the right to have a say in our own affairs versus the false-promises of energy-driven ‘prosperity’ offered by autocrats … the choice between the (vague) promise of convenience or having a functioning republic.

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