Friday, July 19, 2019

Today's Links

1--Trump escalates in East Syria


Last year, President Donald Trump ordered a full military withdrawal from Syria. However, a backlash from politicians in Washington and the mainstream media forced him to make a U-turn.

Several recent reports suggest that Washington is now actually stepping up its military presence in northeastern Syria through direct and indirect means.

The U.S. has been increasing the number of private military contractors deployed in the northeastern region of Syria, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova revealed during a press briefing on July 17.
“It is reported that the number of private military contractors in Syria exceeds 4,000, and as many as 540 people arrived in the country in the second half of June, including 70 command personnel and instructors … These mercenaries are transported by car in groups of 12 to 16 people,” the spokesperson said.
These private military contractors are reportedly training US-backed forces, protecting oil and gas infrastructure and ensuring security. The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) is responsible for their deployment and activities.
Zakharova noted that the U.S. had followed a similar tactic in Iraq before and warned that the deployment of private military contractors in Syria is a dangerous violation of international laws.


2--Winston Churchill--was no hero


Prime Minister Winston Churchill managed to outdo Hitler and his Nazi cohorts. The Germans may have taken 12 years to murder 6 million Jews, but their Teutonic cousins, the British, managed to kill almost 4 million Indians in just over a year, with Churchill cheering from the sidelines.
Australian biochemist Dr Gideon Polya has called the Bengal Famine a “manmade holocaust” because Churchill’s policies were directly responsible for the disaster. He knowingly and enthusiastically caused the famine in 1942-43 by transferring vast quantities of food grain from India to Britain.

To Churchill, the starvation of Indians was less serious than that of Greeks. When the British administrators urged him to release food stocks for India, Churchill responded with a telegram asking why Gandhi hadn’t died yet.
Churchill’s hostility toward Indians has long been documented. At a War Cabinet meeting, he blamed the Indians for the famine, saying they breed like rabbits, and are a beastly people with a beastly religion. On another occasion, he insisted they were “the beastliest people in the world next to the Germans”.
According to author Madhusree Mukerjee,
“Churchill’s attitude toward India was quite extreme, and he hated Indians, mainly because he knew India couldn’t be held for very long.”
The fact is the British Prime Minister possessed an extraordinary range of prejudices. During World War II, in a memorandum to the War Cabinet about policy towards Italy, he wrote:
“All the industrial centers should be attacked in intense fashion, every effort being made to terrorize the population.”
He also pushed for the firebombing of German population centers such as Dresden, Leipzig and Chemnitz which killed 200,000 civilians in 1945. It was the only way the British could show they were in the war.

In 1944, Churchill came up with a cataclysmic plan to convert Germany into a “country primarily agricultural and pastoral in its character”. The Morgenthau Plan if implemented would have starved 10 million Germans to death in the first year alone. US President Franklin Roosevelt admitted Churchill was “bought off” by the American offer of $6.5 billion in Lend Lease.

3--Barr probe aimed at Brennan??


As Barr explained, “What we’re looking at is: What was the predicate for conducting a counterintelligence investigation on the Trump campaign … How did the bogus narrative begin that Trump was essentially in cahoots with Russia to interfere with the US election?

Barr, who is empowered to declassify highly sensitive documents, made clear that his primary focus was not the hapless FBI under James Comey but the CIA under John Brennan

4--Michelle Obama is the most admired woman in the world, according to a new poll. (prelude to candidacy??)


The former first lady led the pack in a survey released Thursday by market research firm YouGov.
Obama came out ahead of an array of high-profile women, besting Oprah Winfrey in second, actress Angelina Jolie, who came in third, and Queen Elizabeth II, fourth on the list.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took the eighth place spot, ahead of Taylor Swift, Madonna and Ellen DeGeneres. First lady Melania Trump came in at number 19.


President Trump landed in 14th place, while Russian President Vladimir Putin was the 10th most admired man, according to those surveyed.

It was better news for the Trumps in a separate YouGov survey of America's most admired people. The current commander in chief came in second place, right behind the 44th president. Melania Trump ranked third in the women's category, behind Michelle Obama and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

5--Fake Socialists line up behind Democratic candidate


The Democratic Party is a party of reaction, based on an alliance of the military-intelligence apparatus, Wall Street, and the affluent, identity-obsessed upper middle class.

Its differences with Trump have always been tactical in character. The Democrats’ chief concern is that Trump is undermining the key strategic imperatives of American imperialism—particularly in relation to Russia—and that his unpredictable and erratic behavior will destabilize domestic politics, stoke popular opposition, and further endanger their foreign policy goals. When it comes to cutting taxes, lowering interest rates and increasing military spending, the Democrats and Trump agree. Both support Trump’s oft-repeated threat that “America will never be a socialist country.”...

Both factions of the ruling class will use the 2020 elections to contain social opposition and divert it behind their reactionary aims.

All the candidates are making “left” noises about guaranteeing health care for all, taxing the rich and using the proceeds to fund social reforms. If elected, they will do none of these things.
The same sorry act plays out over and over. The “progressive” candidates will tack left during the primaries to resuscitate illusions among disaffected voters, arguing that this time the party can be pressured to the left. In the end, the nomination process spits out a right-wing candidate like Bill or Hillary Clinton, John Kerry or Michael Dukakis.

One thing is certain in 2020: the “progressive” candidates, undercut by the party elites and without receiving any concessions on program, will either abandon all proposals of social reform or humiliate themselves by demanding their supporters “unite” behind a right-wing nominee.

Groups like the Democratic Socialists of America play a critical role in this process. While posing as “independent socialists," the DSA has already endorsed whatever right-wing Democrat the party nominates—a year-and-a-half before the election!

In a May interview with the New York Times, Jacobin editor and leading DSA figure Bhaskar Sunkara declared that a Joe Biden presidency “would be great.” if a progressive candidate does not win the primary, he said:

“I think the mentality has to be to call for people to vote for Joe Biden, especially in swing states.” It is necessary “to avoid a third-party candidacy”—that is, to break from the Democratic Party—on the basis of the “strategic knowledge and commitment to getting rid of Trump.”
Sunkara blurted out his lines before the primary debate performance had even started,

6--Kamala Harris: Law-and-order with a dose of identity politics

 

At the heart of Harris’s candidacy—as far as her credentials with the ruling class are concerned—is her record as a ruthless operative in the fields of criminal justice and national security. She was district attorney in San Francisco for six years, then California state attorney-general for the same length of time, before winning a Senate seat in 2016....

 Most revealing was her appointment to the Intelligence Committee in 2017—the only newly elected Democrat to be given such a critical position, and an indication that, as far as the Democratic Party establishment and the military-intelligence apparatus were concerned, Harris is a “safe pair of hands.”

 

Harris has repaid this confidence by acting as the point woman, among the Democratic presidential candidates, for the bogus anti-Russian campaign, demanding Trump’s impeachment, not for his flagrant violations of the US Constitution or his persecution of immigrants, but based on the McCarthyite smear that he is a stooge of Moscow.
Speaking at the California Democratic Party’s convention in early June, Harris said, “Let’s talk about this so-called commander in chief. He parrots Russia’s lies over the word of American intelligence and law enforcement leaders. He denies that Russia interfered in the election of the president of the United States. We need to begin impeachment proceedings and we need a new commander in chief.”...

As both a city prosecutor and as the top law enforcement official in the largest US state, Harris made a name for herself as a strict “law and order” advocate. As San Francisco District Attorney, she prided herself on the high conviction rates obtained oftentimes heedless of ethical legal practice. Felony conviction rates rose from 52 percent in 2003 to 67 percent in 2006 under her leadership.

This increase in convictions, however, was often due to clear misconduct on the part of Harris and her office. In 2012, Superior Court Judge Ann-Christine Massulo ruled that Harris’s office violated defendants’ rights by withholding damaging information about a corrupt police crime lab technician who had stolen drugs and falsified reports.

As state attorney-general, Harris took on the high-profile defense of the state prison system against court rulings condemning overcrowding and mistreatment of prisoners as unconstitutional “cruel and unusual punishment.” She sought to end federal court supervision of the prisons, later defending her aggressive advocacy with the cynical statement that as the principal legal representative of the state government, “I have a client, and I don’t get to choose my client....

When the US Supreme Court in Brown v. Plata in 2014 declared the state’s prisons so overcrowded that they constituted cruel and unusual punishment, Harris fought the ruling. Prisoners were stacked in three-person bunkbeds and were falling ill and dying for lack of medical care. The state of California was subsequently ordered to reduce its prison population by 40,000 inmates. Harris actually argued that if California released inmates too soon, the state would lose an important source of labor, citing its reliance on untrained prison inmates risking their lives fighting wildfires for $2 a day.

In 2015, Harris defended convictions obtained by county prosecutors after the latter had inserted false confessions into interrogation transcripts. Harris asserted at the time that perjury was not sufficient to demonstrate prosecutorial misconduct.

The vindictive, anti-democratic character of Harris’s tenure as attorney general was not limited to the courtroom either. In 2010, Harris sponsored a law, later signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, which sought to improve schools by jailing parents of truant children and subjecting them to fines of up to $2,000. Even though the law explicitly made jail time a probable outcome for parents of truant children, Harris claimed in a CNN interview last May that sending parents to jail was an “unintended consequence” of the law.

Harris used her powers as a prosecutor to conduct vicious attacks on the poor and working class while doing her utmost to shield police and politicians from punishment. This stands in marked contrast to what her campaign claims was her record of virtually untarnished progressivism while in office. In her book, The Truths We Hold, issued to help launch her campaign, Harris mixes typical sentimental boilerplate with overt falsifications of her political record. She describes herself as a “progressive prosecutor.” Moreover, she claims she “used the powers of the office with a sense of fairness, perspective and experience.”..

While Harris has been half-hearted and inconsistent in her attempts at social demagogy—not the natural bent of someone who spent most of her career putting people in jail or defending police atrocities against the working class—she has shown somewhat more energy in embracing identity politics, which she has previously invoked as the “first black and female” DA of San Francisco, the “first black and female” attorney general of California, and currently as the only black and female US senator

7--Trump Is Running Out of Time to Denuclearize North Korea



 



 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Today's links

If Trump wins re-election, then I think the top political & media voices who pushed Russiagate above all else should resign. History shouldn’t forgive them for diverting so much valuable — perhaps existential — political & media energy into a conspiracy theory & fear-mongering.  aaron mate

 

 

1---Robert Mueller Should be Arrested for Conspiracy to Overthrow the President of the United States


A prosecutor, indeed a former Director of the FBI, who confuses his unsubstantiated allegation with evidence, is not only a person devoid of any respect for law, but also an extremely dangerous person to have been vetted for the high government positions that he has held.  ...

That Mueller’s indictment of Russians for attempting to throw the presidential election to Trump is unsubstantiated has been highlighted by US Federal District Judge Dabney Friedrich. The judge just ruled that Mueller’s assertion of Russian “sweeping and systematic” interference in the presidential election does not constitute proof of the charge. It is nothing but an unsubstantiated indictment based on nothing but an assertion by the special prosecutor. Mueller provides no evidence in his report to support his claim. Mueller is so corrupt that he uses his unsubstantiated indictment as evidence for the indictment! https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/07/no_author/another-nail-in-russiagate-coffin/ 

In other words, the Federal Judge has ruled that Mueller has made a false indictment.

2--Michael Hudson--Prosperity requires debt forgiveness


Michael Hudson: There’s an attempt by the United States to penetrate China. In the recent trade agreements China did permit U.S. banks to create their own credit. I’m not sure that this is going to really take off, now that Trump is accelerating the trade war. But basically, in America you have private banks extending credit to corporations. In China you have the government banks extending the loans. That saves China from having a financial crisis in the way that the United States does.

About 12 percent of American companies are said to be zombie companies. They’re already insolvent, not able to make a profit after paying their heavy debt service. But banks are still giving them enough credit to stay in business, so they won’t have to go bankrupt and create a crisis. China doesn’t have that problem, because when Chinese industry and factories are not able to pay, the public Bank of China can simply forgive the debt. Its choice is clear: Either it can let companies go bankrupt and be sold at a low price to some buyer, mainly an American; or, it can wipe the bad debts off the books.

America’s banks are owned by the stockholders and bondholders, who would never let Chase Manhattan or Citibank or Wells Fargo just forgive their various categories of loans. That’s why public banking is so much more efficient from an economy-wide level than private banks. It’s why banking should be a public utility, not privatized. ...

Michael Hudson: Well, think of the alternative to writing down debts. If you don’t write down America’s student debts, the graduates are going to have to pay so much of the student debt service (now to the government) that they’re not going to have enough money to be able to buy a house, they won’t have enough money to get married, they won’t have enough money to buy goods and services 

3--Turkey demands US rectify ‘mistake’ of booting them from F-35 program


“We call on the United States to come back from this mistake that will cause irreparable wounds in our strategic relations,” it said 


4--US, Israel demand Iran withdraw from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon before any future deal: report

 

5--Finally, some good news!  Rand Paul angles to become Trump's emissary to Iran

The senator pitched the idea during a recent round of golf with the president.

It is unclear whether the senator will meet with Zarif. He and his office declined multiple requests for comment. But the president’s willingness to tap Paul as the go-between with a top Iranian official is a demonstration both of his unorthodox approach to foreign affairs and his continuing desire, even as his aides threaten to squeeze Iran until it capitulates to U.S. demands, to entice the Islamic Republic’s leaders to the negotiating table.

Trump has been attempting to start negotiations with Iran for months, a campaign that has included letters to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an attempt to use Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as an emissary to Tehran, and public comments expressing his desire to talk. Some Iranian officials have said that they are open to negotiations, but only after the administration removes sanctions. Khamenei, however, has likened talking with the U.S. to drinking “poison.”

6--Pentagon seeks "usable" nukes?


The Pentagon is actively contemplating the use of nuclear weapons to win wars that need not be fought in the first place. As expected, opposition to the US nuclear doctrine is almost non-existent in the mainstream media

7--Foreign purchases of American homes plunge 36% as Chinese buyers flee the market

 

8--Was Stefan Halper spying on the Trump Campaign


9--Feds end investigation into Trump Org and hush money payments

 

10--A war with Iran would be catastrophic

 

Since the illegal and tragic US occupation of Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been constructing a vast network of underground missile defense facilities alongside the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Gulf of Oman in anticipation of possible US attacks. Iran and its powerful allies have also developed formidable asymmetrical capabilities across the region. It has both the will and means to decisively engage with a belligerent power.

In order to prevent any appetite for all-out war, Iran will respond to a limited military strike with a massive and disproportionate counterstrike targeting both the aggressor and its enablers. Regional regimes such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia that facilitate aggression in any way or form should expect the swift destruction of their oil assets and critical infrastructure. On the other hand, all-out war would mean the obliteration of all oil and gas installations as well as ships on both sides of the Strait of Hormuz. Under such circumstances, the closure of the Strait would be the least of Bolton's problems.

The Emirati and Saudi regimes would most probably swiftly collapse. Millions of indentured servants would overrun Abu Dhabi and Dubai while Yemeni forces and their regional allies would overwhelm Saudi Arabia as western occupation forces would be expelled from the region. Millions of people would stream towards Europe, even as the EU and the rest of the world would be facing an economic catastrophe.

11--Iran’s Natural Gas: A Gateway to US-Iran Cooperation


 


Iran was proposing a pipeline from its South Pars gas field to Europe via Turkey, Greece and Italy. Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, supported the Iranian proposal.

Israel’s proposal was the EastMed pipeline, running from off-shore reserves in the Levantine Basin to Europe, via Greek Cyprus, Greece and Italy. This was the pipeline that Papadopoulos was promoting prior to and after joining the Presidential campaign team of Donald J Trump.
Russia, already the major natural gas exporter to Europe, was planning an extension of the TurkStream pipeline. It had already signed a contract with Turkey in December 2014, to supply Russian natural gas into Turkey. The proposed extension would pipe Russian natural gas to Europe through Turkey, by connecting the TurkStream to three other pipeline networks - Tesla (Turkey, Greece, Austria), Eastring (Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia) and ‘The Interconnector’ (Turkey, Greece, Italy

Incredibly, Obama was committed to providing a pathway for the mullahs, long regarded as the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism and one of America’s greatest enemies, to become a regional superpower.


Iran’s inability to produce and export natural gas will deny the global energy market, including Europe, an additional source for energy security. US policymakers should pursue a strategy that best preserves US interests while promoting energy security for its allies and partners. The United States, as outlined in the National Security Strategy, seeks to promote the viability of global energy sources, not just for itself, but for allies.

However, if Iran becomes the regional hub for oil and natural gas exports, energy exports would afford Iran additional geopolitical power and economic wealth. Under current geopolitical conditions and looming sanctions, Iran cannot unilaterally monetize its vast proved natural gas reserves. Iran possesses an incredible opportunity if it can strike a balanced relationship with the United States, an approach the regime’s hardliners have vehemently opposed.

A Hybrid Approach toward Iran is Best

The United States requires an integrated regional strategy to protect its national interests, preserve favor among Iranian youth, and encourage long-term cooperation with Iran. There are three potential approaches: cooperation, confrontation, and a hybrid.

A confrontational approach has done little to change regime behavior in the past, but the United States has maintained favor with Iranian youth while denying the Iranian regime revenue to support malign activities in the region. Confronting Iran will punish those seeking an additional source for natural gas for the foreseeable future unless the United States is willing to subsidize US LNG exports to Europe and minimize Russia’s market share. A cooperative approach invites an alternative source of natural gas for the global market and may help to increase energy security, but may indirectly fund activities that counter US interests. A hybrid approach based on a strategy of containment could preserve pro-American sentiment for the next generation of policymakers to pursue cooperation and moderation. Iran’s natural gas sector can become the gateway to cooperation, exploiting Iran’s desires to become a major exporter of natural gas and using it to reward and embolden reforms in the Iranian government.

Under a hybrid approach, the United States would pursue a two-pronged strategy that promotes global energy security and maintains a dialogue with the Iranian government while managing conflict in the short term. The first supports competing natural gas projects in the region, lessening the demand for Iran’s natural gas. (In Central Asia, due to rising demand for natural gas, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline will export 33 bcm of Turkmen natural gas to South Asian countries. In the Mediterranean, recent natural gas discoveries in Egypt, Israel, and Cyprus afford two opportunities: an alternative supply to Turkey and the potential emergence of Egypt as a Middle East energy hub.) Though episodes of confrontation may be necessary, long-term cooperation ought to be the end goal.

 


 12--Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy agree on $7b. East Med gas pipeline to Europe

 

Energy minister says deal could help moderate Arab influence in Europe; agreement reportedly reached after EU agreed to invest $100 million in a feasibility study


Greece, Italy, and Cyprus have reached an agreement with Israel to lay a pipeline connecting the Jewish state’s gas reserves to the three countries, in a major project estimated at costing over $7 billion that will supply gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe, as the continent seeks to diversify its energy supply.
According to Hadashot TV, the European Union agreed to invest $100 million in a feasibility study for the project before the agreement was reached over the laying of the longest and deepest underwater gas pipeline in the world.



13--Man in the Middle : The Importance of George Papadopoulos

 


14--FDR And The Kingfish: Roosevelt stole "his thunder" and his ideas

 

Franklin Roosevelt derived from a quite different tradition of reform. He felt kinship with those post-Populist reformers, the Progressives, the followers of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson who feared and despised Populism as an uprising of the ignorant, the suspicious, the envious, the unsuccessful. Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson had sought to rescue the reform movement from the rural fundamentalists and direct it in channels of respectability that the urban middle class would accept. It was this tradition- the reform impulse of the Establishment—of which Franklin Roosevelt, like TR and Wilson, was a part. This tradition could find no space for the ambitions of a Huey Long.

FDR held an aristocratic view of the reformer-statesman as the paladin of the lowly. In the novels of Roosevelt’s youth—in the political romances of such writers as the American novelist Winston Churchill—the hero is typically a wellborn Galahad who battles the machine, purifies the corrupt legislature, and routs the evil combine, all the while wooing a heroine who breathlessly admires his daring in entering the political arena. In the final scene, hero and heroine ride off in their coach to live happily forever after—on their inherited income.
Huey shared no such fantasies. His idols came from the pages of Ridpath’s history of the world—kings, conquerors, rulers; and it was unadorned power, the power of an Alexander, that made the greatest appeal. Long’s model was Frederick the Great:” ‘You can’t take Vienna, Your Majesty. The world won’t stand for it,’ his nitwit ambassadors said. The hell I can’t,’ said old Fred. ‘My soldiers will take Vienna and my professors at Heidelberg will explain the reasons why!’

Long insinuated that Roosevelt and his circle, no less than the Louisiana planters and the oilmen, were part of the Establishment, with a stake in the system. The New Dealers, he sensed, were most vulnerable to the charge that they did not really represent a new order but actually sustained the old one.

He sponsored Louisiana’s first income tax law, eliminated the poll tax, revamped the barbarous state institutions for the insane, considerably expanded public health facilities, and initiated the greatest road-building program of any state in the union. When he took office, Louisiana had less than three hundred miles of concrete roads and only three major bridges; seven years later, there were over thirtyseven hundred miles of paved highways and forty major bridges. He distributed free textbooks to students and got the legislature to tax the oil companies to pay for them. (Huey insisted, “When these fellows suck an oil well dry we want a new schoolhouse somewhere.…”) He instituted night schools to cope with the state’s illiteracy, and by the time he left for the U.S. Senate in 1932, one hundred thousand people had been taught to read, write, and cipher
 
With so much achievement, it was not always easy to recognize that Long’s programs had shortcomings too, especially when contrasted to FDR’s emerging welfare state. Long opposed minimum-wage legislation; failed to further the Child Labor Amendment (though children in Louisiana toiled for as little as six cents an hour); showed small understanding of the aspirations of the union movement; and did not do much for either the urban unemployed or the sharecropper. Unlike other reform governors, Huey left no shelf of social legislation. Yet Long’s reign, deficient, undemocratic, and shamelessly corrupt, nonetheless brought unprecedented change to Louisiana.


Long’s assault came at a particularly embarrassing time: after the upturn of the first Hundred Days of 1933, the economy had come to a standstill. At precisely that point, in January 1934, Huey made his bid for national power by establishing a national political organization with an arresting slogan: Share Our Wealth

It has often been suggested that the most important response to Long came in the New Deal legislation of the second Hundred Days of 1935. Some writers believe that Roosevelt advanced reforms that year with the deliberate purpose of “stealing Huey’s thunder.” Two acts in particular are said to show Long’s influence. The first was FDR’s allocation of fifty million dollars to the National Youth Administration, an agency that, by giving part-time employment to students, offset the appeal of Long’s plank for free college education. In June the President took another step that seemed to indicate a much more conspicuous response to Long: his tax message, asking Congress for a new law based on the idea of redistributing the wealth. “For the time being,” wrote the Los Angeles Times , “he has silenced Huey and taken him into camp. However hard it comes, the Kingfish must perforce applaud.” 

The vast following Long had acquired posed a serious threat to Roosevelt in itself, and if the Kingfish could align behind him the supporters of the radio priest Father Coughlin, the old-age pension advocate Dr. Francis Townsend, and the farm leader MiIo Reno, he would be more powerful still.
The Share Our Wealth organization provided Long not merely with backing for his scheme but with a countrywide political organization that might shape the outcome of the 1936 elections, and Share Our Wealth was sweeping the country like a prairie fire. Raymond Moley, Roosevelt’s former adviser, wrote that the administration came to feel that Long “could make himself political master of the whole, vast Lower Mississippi Valley—perhaps even of great hunks of the West. Who knew where Huey … would end?”

Yet in 1935 Huey was still only forty-two, and his ambitions were boundless; so, many believed, were his prospects. Roosevelt had a long way to go to get the country out of the Depression. And there was no mistaking Long’s intent. “I’ll tell you here and now,” he informed newspaper reporters late in the summer of 1935, “that Franklin Roosevelt will not be the next President of the United States. If the Democrats nominate Roosevelt and the Republicans nominate Hoover, Huey Long will be your next President.”

“As God is my judge,” Gerald L. K. Smith cried in 1935, “the only way they will keep Huey Long from the White House is to kill him.” At least as early as 1934 Long’s opponents were talking openly of violence as the only way of ridding the state of the senator and his cronies. In the spring of 1935 one of the few remaining Long opponents in Baton Rouge warned: “I am not gifted with second sight. … But I can see blood on the polished floor of this Capitol. For if you ride this thing through, you will travel with the white horse of death.”


 
 
 

 

 

 Huey Long--Wikipedia--



By 1935, the society had over 7.5 million members in 27,000 clubs across the country. Long's Senate office received an average of 60,000 letters a week. Some historians believe that pressure from Long and his organization contributed to Roosevelt's "turn to the left" in 1935. He enacted the Second New Deal, including the Social Security Act, the Works Progress Administration, the National Labor Relations Board, Aid to Dependent Children, the National Youth Administration, and the Wealth Tax Act of 1935. In private, Roosevelt candidly admitted to trying to "steal Long's thunder."[92]


Long's program, however, diverged significantly from Marxist communism. In particular, the Share Our Wealth program preserved the concept of private property and also sought to avoid any need for violent revolution.[117] When asked whether his plan was communist, Long replied: "Communism? Hell no! ... This plan is the only defense this country's got against communism."[118] In a radio address on February 23, 1934, Long later said that his ideological inspiration for the Share Our Wealth plan came from the Bible and the Declaration of Independence.[119]  wiki



 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Today's Links

  What is the official Democratic explanation for why Mueller's hearing was delayed a week? I can't find it. No matter what it is, the actual explanation seems obvious: Dems realized they've set themselves up for a dud, and need to mitigate. And/or Mueller is still trying to bail.  aaron mate

 

 

1-- Veterans doubt value of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan in new poll

 

In a survey of nearly 1,300 veterans conducted in May and June, 64 percent of those surveyed said the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, as opposed to just 33 percent who said the security benefits outweighed the sacrifices.

 

For Afghanistan, 58 percent of veterans said that fight was not worthwhile, versus 38 percent who believed it was. Results from both questions closely track with the opinions of the American public at large.

 

2--Everything’s Fine Until Suddenly it Isn’t: How a “Leveraged Loan” Blows Up 

 

3--Bombshell revelations force Mueller to postpone testimony--The two main pillars supporting the Mueller report have been obliterated

 

on July 1, Judge Dabney Friedrich ordered Mueller to stop pretending he had proof that the Russian government was behind the Internet Research Agency’s supposed attempt to interfere via social media in the 2016 election. ...Mueller’s other twin charge — Russian hacking of the DNC — also has been shown, in a separate Court case, to be bereft of credible evidence.

No, the incomplete, redacted, second-hand “forensics” draft that former FBI Director James Comey decided to settle for from the Democratic National Committee-hired CrowdStrike firm does not qualify as credible evidence. Both new developments are likely to pose a strong challenge to Mueller. 

(Mueller's report now shown to lack evidence) "established that Russia interfered in the 2016 election principally through two operations. First, a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working in the Clinton campaign, and then released stolen documents.”...

Reporting Thursday on Judge Friedrich’s ruling, former CIA and State Department official Larry C. Johnson described it as a “potential game changer,” observing that Mueller “has not offered one piece of solid evidence that the defendants were involved in any way with the government of Russia.” After including a lot of useful background material, Johnson ends by noting:
“Some readers will insist that Mueller and his team have actual intelligence but cannot put that in an indictment. Well boys and girls, here is a simple truth–if you cannot produce evidence that can be presented in court then you do not have a case. There is that part of the Constitution that allows those accused of a crime to confront their accusers.”...

“Facebook cautioned that the Russia-linked posts represented a minuscule amount of content compared with the billions of posts that flow through users’ News Feeds everyday.”
 
The chances that Americans saw any of these IRA ads—let alone were influenced by them—are infinitismal. Porter and others did the math and found that over the two-year period, the 80,000 Russian-origin Facebook posts represented just 0.0000000024 of total Facebook content in that time. Porter commented that this particular Times contribution to the Russiagate story “should vie in the annals of journalism as one of the most spectacularly misleading uses of statistics of all time.”..

CrowdStrike, the controversial cybersecurity firm that the Democratic National Committee chose over the FBI in 2016 to examine its compromised computer servers, never produced an un-redacted or final forensic report for the government because the FBI never required it to, the Justice Department


4--Twitter CEO maxes out donations to Tulsi Gabbard... conspiracy machine kicks into overdrive

 

5--Iran--Ballistic missiles are not negotiable

 

“They can't have a nuclear weapon. We want to help them. We'll be good to them. We'll work with them. We will help them in any way we can,” Trump claimed. “But, they can't have a nuclear weapon. We're not looking, by the way, for regime change because some people say we're looking for regime change....They can't be testing ballistic missiles which right now under that agreement, if they had the agreement, which we are out of, they'd be able to do. They can't do that."

 

“If the US wants to talk about missiles , it should stop selling weapons including missiles to regional states,” Zarif said.
Tehran has time and again asserted that its defense missile program is non-negotiable.

6--FBI's spreadsheet puts a stake through the heart of Steele's dossier


Multiple sources familiar with the FBI spreadsheet tell me the vast majority of Steele’s claims were deemed to be wrong, or could not be corroborated even with the most awesome tools available to the U.S. intelligence community. One source estimated the spreadsheet found upward of 90 percent of the dossier’s claims to be either wrong, nonverifiable or open-source intelligence found with a Google search....

Steele’s theory about who in the Trump campaign might be conspiring with Russia kept evolving from Page to Cohen to former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. None of those theories checked out in the end, as the Mueller report showed.
Again, Steele’s intelligence was wrong or unverifiable....

Steele had some general things right, of course, including that the Russians were behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails. (HUH??? Solomon selllout)

The FBI’s own spreadsheet was so conclusive that it prompted then-FBI Director James Comey (no fan of Trump, mind you) to dismiss the document as “salacious and unverified” and for lead FBI agent Peter Strzok to text, “There’s no big there there.” FBI lawyer Lisa Page testified that nine months into reviewing Steele’s dossier they had not found evidence of the collusion that Steele alleged.

7--Russia probe critic Gaetz accuses feds of shrugging off threat against him

 

8--Donald Trump’s fascist strategy

 

Trump equates opposition to his administration and criticism of his personal rule with support for terrorism, paving the way for the criminalization of free speech and critical thought. Trump states that his opponents are “dangerous” and “hate” the nation, suggesting that “complaining” about the policies of the government is treasonous. He presents socialism and communism as foreign ideologies directed against the American people.

These are ideas developed by Nazi theorists such as the jurist Carl Schmitt, who authored the conception of a “state of exception” to justify Nazi totalitarian rule. Lurking behind Trump’s assertion that those who are “not happy” and “want America to be socialist” should “leave” the US is the suggestion that if they fail to do so voluntarily, the government will be justified in rounding them up by force.

“Trump’s America is a ‘White Man’s Country,

9--Another nutty report from CNN--CNN peddles intelligence agencies’ lies against Assange


Despite the potentially sensitive nature of the UC Global material, CNN’s report is extraordinarily thin....

The report is based on the claims of the Democratic Party and the US intelligence agencies that material published by WikiLeaks in 2016 was provided by the Russian government. These included leaks of emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and John Podesta, the chairman of Clinton’s campaign, along with secret speeches Clinton had earlier delivered to Wall Street bankers...

WikiLeaks 2016 publications proved that the DNC had sought to rig the Democratic Party primaries against self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders, and in favour of Clinton, in contravention of its own rules. They showed that Clinton had promised multi-billionaire bankers that she would govern in their interests and support more predatory US military interventions.
 
Documents also established that the Clinton Foundation was a massive cash for access scheme, whereby governments, corporations and individuals would provide sums of money, in return for meetings with the Clintons and other government figures.

10--Trump's attacks on "the squad"--Politics as usual??


Trump’s Sunday attack forced Pelosi to stand with her severest critics, and she re-elevated the race issue with this tweet: “When Trump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again.”

Do Democrats believe that refighting the racial battles of the 1960s that were thought to have been resolved is a winning hand in 2020?

Does Pelosi think that demeaning white America is going to rally white or minority Americans to Democratic banners?

The race issue had already arisen in the first debate when Sen. Kamala Harris called out front-runner Joe Biden for befriending segregationist Senate colleagues in the ’70s and ’80s, and for colluding with them to block court-ordered busing to achieve racial balance in the public schools.

Observing the clash between Trump and these women, the rank and file of the Democratic Party are being forced to take sides. Many will inevitably side with the fighters, as Democratic moderates appear timid and tepid.

Trump is driving a wedge right through the Democratic Party, between its moderate and militant wings. With his attacks over the last 48 hours, Trump has signaled whom he prefers as his opponent in 2020. It is not Biden; it is “the Squad.”

11--Farage--"The EU--A modern-day version of communism"?


In an election, having a choice of one is hardly open and democratic. This was a total stitch-up from the very beginning.

12--CNN Twists Embassy Surveillance Records That Were First Covered By Spanish Newspaper







 



 

 

 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Today's links

"Merciless review of Syriza's record, with comparisons to Yeltsin: "1 in 3 Greek workers on part-time salary of €317/month...incomes fell 30%, pensions 50%... ended universal health care...perfected techniques of police repression targeting workers" Failures of the Left in Greece, marc ames

 

 

1--A "No-deal" Brexit seems unavoidable


The one possible flaw in this plan, Deacon asserts, is that the EU leaders might decide a no-deal Brexit would be a lot more damaging to Britain than it would be to them. If that is what they think, they might not find the threat quite so compelling, leaving Deacon to paint an alternative scenario:
The British Government might as well be saying: "If I shoot myself in the foot with this machine gun, it's going to make a terrible mess of your carpet. Imagine the stain. Could take you a whole hour to get it out. All that scrubbing. Be a real nuisance for you. Plus you'd have to put up with the horrible sound of my screaming, as I writhe around in unspeakable agony on your floor until the paramedics arrive. Wouldn't be much fun for you, would it? Could ruin your evening. Do you really want that? Are you sure?"
This is about as close as it gets to pointing out how absurd the stance of the leadership candidates is, delivering us a train wreck where the only choice is the side of the rails from which we want the doomed train to plunge

2--The Epstein Affair--The hidden conflicts within the Deep State are emerging, and the resulting crisis will be explosive.


I have long held that there is a camp within the Deep State that grasps the end-game of Neocon globalism, and is busy assembling a competing nation-centric strategy. There is tremendous resistance to the abandonment of Neocon globalism, not just from those who see power slipping through their fingers but from all those firmly committed to the hubris of a magical faith in past success as the guarantor of future success....

The faction within the Deep State that no longer accepts traditional fictions is gaining ground, and now another fracture in the Deep State is coming to the fore: the traditionalists who accept the systemic corruption of self-serving elites and those who have finally awakened to the mortal danger to the nation posed by amoral self-serving elites.
The debauchery of morals undermines the legitimacy of the state and thus of the entire power structure. As I recently noted in Following in Rome's Footsteps: Moral Decay, Rising Inequality (June 29, 2019), America's current path of moral decay and soaring wealth/power inequality is tracking Rome's collapse step for step.
Enter the sordid case of Jeffrey Epstein, suddenly unearthed after a decade of corporate-media/elitist suppression. It's laughable to see the corporate media's pathetic attempts to glom onto the case now, after actively suppressing it for decades:Jeffrey Epstein Was a Sex Offender. The Powerful Welcomed Him Anyway. (New York Times) Where was the NYT a decade ago, or five years ago, or even a year ago?
 

3--Another PR Disaster?  Boeing 737 Max ordered by Ryanair undergoes name change 

 

4--Syria Battle Map 

 

5--EU's Mogherini: Iran commitment reduction no significant JCPOA noncompliance

 

6--Follow Up on the Flynn Plot by Larry C Johnson

 

What the CIA did not tell the FBI is that the Brennan's CIA apparently had helped arrange, albeit indirectly via the Israelis, Flynn's gig with INOVO. When Flynn was pressured by the FBI to file documents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, he was being manipulated into a lie. The record that has emerged in the last couple of weeks, thanks to his new lawyer, Sidney Powell, shows that former FBI Chief of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, David Laufman, played a critical role in pressuring Flynn to file.

 

7--Elizabeth Warren espouses economic nationalist policies aligned with Donald Trump

 

Friends who knew her as a young adult describe Warren at that time as a “die-hard conservative,” in an era when that meant support for Senator Barry Goldwater and opposition to the civil rights movement. She was a registered Republican until 1996—when she was 47 years old—although in a recent interview she claimed to have voted for only one Republican presidential candidate, Gerald Ford in 1976. It appears that her party registration corresponded to whatever predominated among the faculty at the university where she was teaching economics: a Republican while in Texas; a Republican ticket-splitter at the University of Pennsylvania; a down-the-line Democrat after a tenured appointment at Harvard.

Warren’s campaign biography and media profiles emphasize the shift in her political views in the course of the 1990s, as she became an increasingly prominent researcher and writer in the sphere of bankruptcy economics. She was the most conservative of a trio of economic researchers who undertook an empirical study of personal bankruptcy filings, which included extensive field studies of individual cases and refuted the prevailing academic prejudice that those who filed for bankruptcy were spendthrifts and wastrels exploiting the system. Instead, the researchers found that most of those filing for personal bankruptcy were victims of various social misfortunes: a severe illness, an unexpected job loss or pay cut, divorce, an automobile accident, etc. Rather than taking advantage of the system, they were themselves cruelly used by lenders and regulators....

Warren’s basic standpoint is one of economic nationalism, spelled out most fully in two documents: an article published in Foreign Affairs last January and a statement on “economic patriotism” issued by her campaign in June.

The Foreign Affairs article is notable for its overlap with the policies of Donald Trump. Warren espouses economic nationalism. She, like Trump, claims to stand up for the interests of American workers and condemns most recent trade deals from that standpoint, although she calls for inclusion of the unions in the process of negotiation.

More fundamentally, she embraces the national security doctrine outlined by the Pentagon under Defense Secretary James Mattis, in which great power competition with China and Russia has displaced terrorism as the principal concern of US strategic planners. She writes: “Whether our leaders recognize it or not, after years as the world’s lone superpower, the United States is entering a new period of competition. Democracy is running headlong into the ideologies of nationalism, authoritarianism and corruption. China is on the rise… Russia is provoking the international community with opportunistic harassment and covert attacks. Both nations invest heavily in their militaries and other tools of national power.”...

Her policy prescription amounts to a purportedly more polite and diplomatic version of what Trump seeks to do by bullying and threats of trade warfare: reworking trade deals to make them more favorable to the United States, opposing China’s rise to a more powerful position in the world economy, and using the threat of denying access to US markets to force other countries to bow to US demands....

Another function of Warren’s deep faith in the capitalist market is her role as the “idea factory” for the Democratic presidential field. Her campaign has issued more than a dozen major policy documents. According to a recent tabulation by the New York Times, these include a wealth tax, universal child care, breaking up big tech companies, encouraging low-income housing, agriculture, greater accountability for corporate executives, corporate taxation, the management of public lands, cancellation of student debt and free college, reducing maternal mortality, military housing, Puerto Rico debt relief, the opioid crisis, climate change, abortion rights, economic patriotism and green manufacturing.

8--Epstein's shadowy and inexplicable past 


9--Blowback in Honduras--

US-trained troops shot activists protesting the Juan Orlando Hernandez government’s attempt to privatize education and healthcare.

 

10--Globalization’s Wrong Turn

And How It Hurt America

 

11--A Case Could Be Made That Unregulated Capitalism Is Destroying the World


 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Today's links

1---China rises while US slumps


Neither China nor the US is overly trade-dependent. Trade accounts for 26% of America’s GDP and 37% of China’s–compared to 56% of Canada’s and 86% of Europe’s. Chinese imports are 18.7% of GDP and US imports are 14.6% of GDP.
 
Over the past ten years China has steadily reduced her overall reliance on trade, particularly with the USA. China’s net exports–exports minus imports–are two percent of GDP. Since 2007 China’s global current-account surplus has fallen from 10% of GDP to 1.4% but America’s deficit has remained unchanged.

China is America’s biggest trading partner while America is China’s third biggest trading partner after the EU and ASEAN. ASEAN replaced the US as China’s second-largest export market last year and the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership[2] later this year will boost area trade significantly.
 
Though it is due to come into force next year, China has already granted all the benefits of the EU-China Bilateral Investment Agreement to European investors without requiring reciprocity. Belt and Road trade is rising 17.2% annually, trans-Eurasian trains now depart hourly and fiber-optic cables and pipelines are rapidly uniting Mackinder’s World Island, the Eurasian landmass.

China is lowering tariffs and opening domestic markets to attract multinationals and foreign products in order to force domestic companies to innovate, which is why it is now the largest recipient of foreign direct investment, FDI, in the world.

  • There are thousands of US Corporations in China and two-thirds of the largest exporters in China are foreign-owned.
  • Boeing sells more airplanes to China than anywhere else and Walmart produces more goods from China than any other company in the world.
  • US companies in China sell $600 billion annually into China’s domestic market–$100 billion more than China exports to the US–and generate net profits of $50+ billion annually.
  • Tesla, Boeing, BMW of America, Exxon Mobil and Wal-Mart have announced new investments and factories in China since the trade war began and Japanese, South Korean, and European companies are expanding their footprints there because Chinese sales are growing six percent annually.
  • Of the factories operated by Apple’s top suppliers, 357 are in China and 63 are in America. Apple is shifting Mac Pro manufacturing from the US to China.
  • By shortening its negative list for foreign investment from 63 items to 48 last month, China widened access to its primary, secondary and tertiary sectors and detailed 22 opening-up measures in finance, transportation, professional services, infrastructure, energy, resources and agriculture.
  • China’s domestic consumer market, at $7 trillion, passed the US’s $6.94 trillion last year.
  • Chinese cross-border e-commerce consumers spent $100 billion on goods from abroad in 2017 and $128 billion in 2018.
  •  

THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS
Twenty years ago Samuel Huntington[3] observed, “Civilizations grow because they have an instrument of expansion, a military, religious, political, or economic organization that accumulates surplus and invests it in productive innovations and they decline when they stop the application of surplus to new ways of doing things. In modern terms we say that the rate of investment decreases. This happens because the social groups controlling the surplus have a vested interest in using it for non-productive but ego-satisfying purposes which distribute the surpluses to consumption but do not provide more effective methods of production.”

As the chart below makes clear, the social groups controlling America’s surplus used it for non-productive, ego-satisfying purposes and distributed the surpluses to consumption but did not provide more effective methods of production...

We’ve cut R&D investment, shuttered our great corporate labs and fallen from first to thirty-first in world education rankings since 1974, while China has done the opposite. In Crazy Rich Asians a father urges his kids to finish their dinner, “Think of all the starving children in America”. By 2021 every Chinese will have a home, a job, plenty of food, education, safe streets, health and old age care and there will be more suicides and more homeless, poor, hungry children and imprisoned people in America than in China. In absolute numbers. Think of the impact on our ‘allies...

December 10, 2018. Governments and secret services in the non-Western world begin equipping themselves exclusively with Huawei to protect the confidentiality of their communications...

December 24, 2018. Chinese imports posted a 14.6% rise for the first eleven months of 2018 to exceed US$2 trillion, a record high, making China the most powerful trading nation both by volume and dollar value  

2--Edward Snowden--

The law simply has not caught up to the fact that a technological corporation now can indenture entire populations into servitude to the corporate good, rather than to individual or public good.

3--Erdogan's missteps?? 

Syrian Civil War

The explanation has, basically, two components. One is the series of serious strategic and political missteps taken by Erdogan and his team, centering on (but not limited to) the disastrous decision they took in August 2011 to buy into Barack Obama’s call for the overthrow of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. The other is the re-emergence of a portion of the influence that Moscow used to enjoy in the Middle East, in the context of President Vladimir Putin having consolidated enough power at home to be able to think of cautiously projecting some back into the Levant—and of him being aided in doing this by the diplomatic smarts of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his team.

Turkey’s support for the regime change project in Syria opened the whole of the 500-mile, often mountainous border between the two states for a massive, years-long delivery of arms, money, and foreign fighters to the anti-Assad fighting forces in northern Syria, with nearly all the costs born by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar. But the anti-Assad forces failed to win the speedy victory that their backers in Washington and Ankara had so confidently predicted. As the fighting dragged on, Turkey increasingly started to suffer blowback in the form of anti-Ankara activities undertaken both by some of the takfiri extremists it had supported in Syria and by allies of the Kurdish forces who emerged as a serious, organized force in northeastern Syria....

From 2015 on, southeastern Turkey became engulfed in a brutal civil war. Meanwhile, just across the border in Syria, U.S. troops were working closely with the main ethnic Kurd movement, the YPG, a fanatically loyal subsidiary of the PKK, spouting the pensees of PKK leader Abdulah Ocalan (long imprisoned in Turkey) in all their “political training” sessions. Ankara has remained outraged at the U.S.-YPG coordination ever since....

The Syrian government is understandably eager to regain Idlib, but it would need significant help from Russia to do so. Idlib, meanwhile, contains thousands of extreme takfiri fighters, a large proportion of whom are foreigners who flocked there, with Turkey’s help, from scores of countries around the world whose governments do not want them to return home. Turkey also does not want Idlib’s seasoned takfiri fighters (who have broad support networks inside Turkey) to retreat to Turkey. So, since September 2017, it has been working actively with Russia to try to slow the Syrian forces’ advance.

4--Obama's lies on democracy, human rights, pluralism, good governance and economic development lead to lost US power and prestige in ME


Fast forward to 2011: the Obama administration has adopted the right discursive position on Syria. It declared the Assad regime to be illegitimate in August 2011, well in advance of Turkey doing the same.

In fact, on 9 August 2011, I held six hours of long talks with President Bashar al-Assad himself. We agreed on a 14-point framework for a peaceful transition and a two-week period for him to declare this framework after necessary preparations.

We informed our American counterpart about the deal. Yet the US administration was rushing to declare the Assad regime illegitimate, which it did only a week after we agreed upon the framework deal. Needless to say, during the same time period, the Assad regime also violated the terms of this framework deal several times. Thereafter, we also cut all contacts with the regime.

Along the same lines, the Obama administration rightly condemned the brutality of the Assad regime, called for regime change and denoted the use of chemical weapons as red lines that would trigger a military response and lead to severe repercussions for the Assad regime.

All these publicly declared positions and red lines have since been violated by the Assad regime with more or less impunity, not least by the use of chemical weapons in August 2013.

On a more bilateral note, even though the Obama administration denoted the Assad regime early on as illegitimate and rightly accused him of committing grave crimes, including crimes against humanity, the same administration has also proven to be unsympathetic towards the difficulties, challenges and threats that Turkey has faced as a neighbour to a war-torn country nominally ruled by an illegitimate regime.

From the flow of millions of refugees into the country to Syria-induced Islamic State (IS) and PKK terrorism, Turkey has faced a myriad of hardships and threats.
In other words, this illegitimate regime was the source of these challenges and threats for Turkey, yet the Obama administration was unwilling to recognise it as such and act upon it accordingly.
On the contrary, at the end of the day, the Obama administration allowed Assad’s brutality to continue while supporting "his ally" Turkey’s foes, on the ground...

The more the West consents to the authoritarian comeback in the region, the more it risks the erosion of democracy in their own national contexts. Europe doesn't appear to realise that it has only a fluid border, in the shape of the Mediterranean Sea, between itself and the MENA..

 
Fourth, if not reversed, Trump’s belittling of the European integration project and downplaying of the significance of NATO will shake the bond between the transatlantic community, which again will be counter-productive to US national interests....

Obama’s lacklustre foreign policy legacy should motivate the new US administration to devise a new democracy and human rights-oriented, people-friendly foreign policy. It should strengthen its ties with its current allies and search for new ones.

5--The permanent recession


Sure, we got outstanding growth in stocks, but growth in business revenue has been pathetic. Growth in corporate development has been even worse (i.e., new plants, improved productivity, etc.) Growth in earnings was decent, except for the fact that it is entirely a feint because it was created mostly by reducing the numbers of outstanding shares over which earnings are divided, not so much by growing business. (Why do you think Wall Street prefers to talk about “earnings per share, ” EPS, instead of just actual profits?)

We can pretend the strength in EPS was because business has been booming during the “long economic expansion,” but it wasn’t. We got less production growth out of this expansion than in any other expansion in US history, and that is easy to prove with the Fed’s own data. GDP went up, but the rate of growth in GDP has been in secular decline during each expansion:

Oops. Worse than pathetic. Using consistent accounting through time, we discover we have actually been in receding GDP (recession) since 2000 with the exception of one little bump in 2004. We don’t want to admit that, so we we’ll just ignore that by saying we improved our accounting methods over time.
And that is why I say “It’s been a great recession” because we never actually left the Great Recession. Rather than the longest expansion in US history, we’ve been enduring the longest recession in US history ever since the dot-com bust. The above chart shows the GDP growth rate, and the REAL GDP “growth” rate, which has actually been contraction, not growth, for the past two decades if measured by historic standards. So long as GDP is growing, (above 0 on the chart above), we’re in expansion. Whenever GDP is shrinking (below 0 on the chart above), we’re in recession.

6--US warns Turkey against launching military operation east of Euphrates

 

7--House Democrats ratify $733 billion for US military

 

8--US-China trade negotiations at virtual standstill

 

9--Pentagon says--More nukes needed

 

10--The Democrat's stealth candidate--Buttigieg (The Deep State is now running its own nominees)


Buttigieg has been the most aggressive holder of high-dollar fundraisers, attending dozens of such events, particularly in California and the northeast, and raising much of his money from Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

 

he is a veteran of naval intelligence, having served a tour of duty in Afghanistan, where he helped identify targets for assassination squads.

These attributes—comparative youth, identity as a gay man and a background in military intelligence, together with his public embrace of religion (he is a practicing Episcopalian)—make Buttigieg something of a made-to-order candidate from the standpoint of the Democratic Party establishment. His candidacy ticks a number of boxes: anchoring the primary campaign in a right-wing national security perspective; employing youth and identity to appeal to the predominately youthful supporters of Sanders; and elevating a right-wing figure as a “next-generation” leader of the Democrats, although perhaps a more likely candidate for the vice presidency than the top job....

n the media, Buttigieg is described as a 37-year-old “boy wonder,” an “intelligent and worldly man” who speaks seven languages, whose speeches on the campaign trail exude intelligence and thoughtfulness, a former Rhodes scholar and graduate of Harvard and Oxford, who, driven by the ideal of public service, returned to his humble Midwestern roots to become mayor of his impoverished hometown, and who single-handedly sparked a renaissance in South Bend after a half-century of urban decay.

As usual, the media depiction is largely at odds with reality.

One of the most noteworthy features of Buttigieg’s campaign so far is its political amorphousness. Even by the standards of American capitalist elections, where issues of concern to the working class are systematically excluded from the public discussion, Buttigieg has distinguished himself by his reluctance to take concrete positions on major political questions. His campaign website initially had no reference to policies, speaking only of the need to restore “values.”

As the campaign has developed, Buttigieg has taken substantive political positions that demonstrate he is a thoroughly establishment figure, aligned more with the “moderate” wing of the Democrats headed by former Vice President Joe Biden, and flatly opposed to the policies identified with Sanders. Buttigieg rejects the single-payer “Medicare for All” slogan proposed by Sanders and taken up by many other Democrats in favor of the establishment of a “public option” available on the health insurance exchanges set up under Obamacare...

The city has one of the highest eviction rates in the country, which has doubled under the mayor, according to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. In households with working adults, 54 percent do not earn enough to meet a ‘survival budget,’ according to the United Way.”

Buttigieg was talent-spotted early and has moved in the top circles of the US national security establishment from the time he left college. From 2004 to 2005 (when he was 22 and 23), he worked as a conference director for the Cohen Group, a Washington-based consultancy that advises clients on international investment strategies.

The Cohen Group is headed by former Republican Senator William Cohen, who was secretary of defense under Democratic President Bill Clinton. Its principals, besides Cohen, include Marc Grossman, undersecretary of state for political affairs in the Bush administration and special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan under Obama; retired General Joseph Ralston, who concluded a 37-year Air Force career as chief of the European command and supreme allied commander, Europe; and Nicholas Burns, US ambassador to NATO and Grossman’s successor as undersecretary of state for political affairs under Bush.

This aspect of Buttigieg’s resumé closely resembles that of Barack Obama, who worked for CIA-connected Business International at age 21-22, making connections within the national security apparatus that stood him in good stead during his meteoric political rise.

From 2007 to 2010, the year before his first mayoral campaign, Buttigieg served as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, an international consulting firm with revenues of over $10 billion.

Media comments suggest that the Democratic Party sees one of the functions of Buttigieg’s campaign as preventing Bernie Sanders from winning the nomination. An opinion piece in the Washington Post headlined “Buttigieg might save the Democratic Party from Sanders,” applauded Buttigieg’s public criticism of Sanders’ occasional use of the word “socialism.” Buttigieg said: “I think of myself as progressive. But I also believe in capitalism, but it has to be democratic capitalism.” The Post author commented: “In many ways, Buttigieg is ideally suited to take on Sanders for the hearts, minds and political survival of the Democratic Party.”

In 2014, during his first term as mayor, Buttigieg was deployed to Afghanistan, where he was a member of the Afghan Threat Finance Cell, a counter-terrorism group established in 2008 by then-commanding General David Petraeus. Through his work in this task force, Buttigieg was involved in activities that placed individuals on the US military’s “kill or capture list,” targeting these opponents of the US occupation for assassination or extraordinary rendition to a CIA black site.
Two of the seven languages in which Buttigieg claims fluency are Arabic and Dari (the Afghan dialect of Persian, spoken by about one-third of the population). Such language skills are likely the product of intensive military-intelligence training.

The presence of ex-military officers in the Democratic field is part of a larger process, the direct incorporation of military and intelligence figures into the leading personnel of the Democratic Party, a phenomenon the World Socialist Web Site identified among Democratic candidates for Congress in 2018 (see: The CIA Democrats).

Buttigieg is also on the board of directors of the Truman Center, an imperialist foreign policy group. Other board members include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Leon Panetta, former CIA director and secretary of defense. The Truman Center is a veritable training center for CIA Democrats, offering workshops and messaging guidelines for up-and-coming politicians. It boasts on its website: “Our community includes more than 1,700 post-9/11 veterans, frontline civilians, policy experts, and political professionals who share a common vision of US leadership abroad.”
Buttigieg’s relative silence on foreign policy issues cannot be explained by a disinterest or lack of knowledge. It can be explained only as a deliberate attempt to avoid airing views he knows are widely unpopular, but which are mainstream within the Democratic Party.

When he finally delivered a significant foreign policy address, in May, it was at the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies at Indiana University, which is named in honor of former Democratic Congressman Lee H. Hamilton and former Republican Senator Richard G. Lugar, both pillars of the foreign policy establishment.

In light of Buttigieg’s national security background, his campaign proposal for the establishment of a “national service” program has particularly ominous implications. Buttigieg argues that such a program is necessary to promote a feeling of unity and “social cohesion” within the American population. In reality, such a program would amount to a return to the draft, combined perhaps with labor conscription, which could be used to suppress wages and living standards in the working class.

Whether or not Buttigieg ultimately wins the nomination, and at this point the possibility seems remote, his sudden elevation in advance of the primaries flows from definite political considerations within the Democratic Party itself. Whoever ultimately wins the nomination must be acceptable to the corporate aristocracy and the military apparatus the Democrats represent. However, the debacle of the Hillary Clinton campaign revealed, much to the Democrats’ surprise, that any figure publicly identified with social inequality and war is liable to be deeply hated, particularly within the working class.

One gets the sense that the Democratic Party is attempting replicate its success with Barack Obama, whose formless demagogy about “hope” and “change” was able to divert popular hostility to the political establishment, allowing the voters to see in him what they wanted to see. Buttigieg’s status as the first gay man to become a serious presidential hopeful would thus parallel Obama’s role as the “first black president.”
In the context of popular disillusionment with eight bitter years under Obama, however, it is unlikely the Democrats will be able to pull off the same trick twice.

11--Police launch mass arrests on Bastille Day in Paris

By Will Morrow and Alex Lantier
15 July 2019
Two hundred thirty years after the storming of the Bastille prison launched the French Revolution in 1789, President Emmanuel Macron’s government carried out mass preventive arrests, rounding up well known “yellow vest” protesters on Bastille Day in Paris yesterday. Macron was booed and jeered as he drove in the motorcade down the Champs-Elysées on the traditional military parade Sunday morning.
According to the Paris police prefecture, 175 people were arrested throughout the day, most of them in locations around the annual military parade down the Champs-Elysées avenue. Almost all the arrests were based on charges of “organization of an unauthorized demonstration.”

They ruling classes internationally are orienting towards police-state measures and the promotion of fascistic and far-right forces against the workers. In the United States, the Trump administration has begun mass round-ups of undocumented immigrants. In Germany, the political establishment and media have legitimized and promoted the neo-fascist Alternative for Germany as the official opposition party. It has covered up for the assassination of a major German politician, Walter Lübcke, by an individual with close ties to neo-Nazi networks.

12--Democrats back mass deportations