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Trump Says if Jesus ‘Came Down’ He’d Win the Blue States in Unhinged Iowa Speech

Trump Says if Jesus ‘Came Down’ He’d Win the Blue States in Unhinged Iowa Speech.....»»

Category: topSource: yahooDec 2nd, 2023

Ken Griffin Says Chicago Violence Like "Afghanistan On A Good Day", Claims Crypto Is "Jihadist" Attack On The Dollar

Ken Griffin Says Chicago Violence Like "Afghanistan On A Good Day", Claims Crypto Is "Jihadist" Attack On The Dollar Move over Jamie Dimon. There's another American billionaire financier who appears to be quietly launching a post-business political career. Or at the very least, one could be forgiven for believing Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin's appearance Monday at the Chicago Club of Economics was one long stump speech. Griffin's hour-plus dialogue, which received extensive coverage from the financial press, comes at an interesting time. On the Internet, "conspiracy theorists" (according to Citadel) have continued to raise questions about possible collusion (or other wrongdoings) between Citadel and Robinhood (and one Robinhood exec in particular) before RH pulled the plug on January's meme stonk mania. Meanwhile, over at the SEC, Gary Gensler has said he's looking into regulating - or possibly eliminating or greatly restricting - the practice of 'Payment for Order Flow", whereby electronic retail brokerages like Robinhood sell their customers' orders to Citadel and other market makers (but primarily Citadel). Griffin spoke with Bloomberg's Erik Schatzker about a seemingly endless list of topics, offering imminently quotable lines and thoughtful takes on everything from crypto, to political corruption in Illinois and Chicago's slow decline into anarchy, President Biden's policies, the prospect of another Trump presidency, PFOF, crypto, and of course COVID. The dialogue started with a question on vaccination rates and meandered on from there. Here's a breakdown of what Griffin said by topic. COVID When it comes to containing COVID, Griffin believes that the US's battle against the virus was lost right at the beginning. "The country lost this battle in the first attack, when we weren’t willing to do what it took to shut down America, to truly contain Covid-19. And then to get back out of the seat, and we’ve all just paid a catastrophic price as a result." When it comes to vaccination rates, Griffin believes they have plateaued at an "unacceptably low level". The Fed According to Griffing "the Fed's in a really tough box." The Fed is in "no man's land", Griffin says, and as far as being its chairman, "it is a job I would not be so grateful to have". He also noted that inflationary pressures in the US are "really unsettling." What to do? "If i were Chairman Powell, i stay the course that I'm on as unnerving as that is. to see inflation running this hot is really unsettling." It was at this point that Griffin said something really interesting about the Fed and it's credibility. It's not often that you hear the people who actually run our financial system speak frankly about how it really works. But Griffin essentially said 'the quiet part out loud' when the discussion turned to the Fed's credibility, which we have argued time and again is already in tatters - especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. "And let's be clear right now we don't have price stability. Inflation is at 5% is the highest number people here have seen in their lifetimes," Griffin said. He added that the Fed's position that these pressures are "transitory" is really just "a big bet". But regardless of the course of inflation in the future, Griffin said that the more pressing issue is protecting the Fed from being tainted by the same ugly politics that afflict Capitol Hill. The whole point of a central bank is it's supposed to be independent from politics. Whether this is actually true or not, it's the appearance of neutrality that's necessary to maintain global confidence in the dollar. "We need to maintain the belief in the separation of the Fed from the halls of Washington for the sake of a strong dollar. If you're part of the financial community...you need to push back on that". Fiscal Stimulus Griffin slammed the post-COVID stimulus for being to expansive, and claimed all those benefits are still "disincentivizing lower-wage workers". China The first question Griffin was asked about China was whether he still opposes a "decoupling" between China and the US. According to Griffin, this "decoupling" is already happening. "I think in important ways we have already decoupled." But on a day where Biden's Trade Rep Katherine Tai essentially plagiarized President Trump's tough-on-China economic policies during a major speech, Griffin insisted that there will be drawbacks to what the US is doing - including limiting access to semiconductors and software, which has further motivated Beijing to develop their own. "By restricting Chinese access to semiconductors and American software we have pushed them into a national campaign to eliminate their dependence on the west...imagine a world where there are two totally independent software stacks." When it comes to the technology arms race, Griffin warned, the US is bound to lose. "They graduate about twice as many graduates as we do half of them have stem degrees. They're producing about 5x more talented engineers per annum. The belief that we will be technologically dominant...is naive." Once China surpasses American tech, "not only will they use it in the biggest market in the world which is their own market...but they'll push it to all their trading partners, the Brazils of the world..." Ultimately, "I can imagine a world where we have been divided...and I don't like thinking about that outcome. I can picture a world in 30 to 40 years where, in some sense we have divided the world up between east to west technologically,” Griffin said. TSMC Could Beijing's lust for better semis technology accelerate their takeover of Taiwan? The tiny rogue territory has somehow emerged as a global leader in chip technology and production thanks to TSMC. "They don't have the entire solution, they still buy equipment from around the world, but talk about a powerhouse...and going back to my point earlier, China views Taiwan as part of China, there's no way they will be technologically important against American in the next 20 years. They will get there eventually." The Rust Belt That's not to say there haven't been drawbacks to the US engagement with Beijing, and according to Griffin is the fact that China's advances in manufacturing and the state support allowing their companies to be more competitive helped contribute to the hollowing out of thousands of American factory towns. In retrospect, this was a necessary sacrifice to entice the Chinese to embrace first capitalism, and then democracy. But increasingly it looks like the CCP has no intention to ever loosen its monopoly on power, meaning all those sacrifices were for nothing. "To have the most populous country in the world becoming increasingly capitalistic our belief was that them becoming capitalist would inevitably lead to them becoming a democracy. when we wrote the rules of rht road for them, we did it with the objective of making that happen." "The challenge that we underestimated is how devastating this was going to be for small towns that had its only factory shut down. It wasn't how it was going to impact NYC, Chicago or LA but how it was going to impact a small town in upstate New York. That was a terrible policy miscalculation not done in bad faith...but we didn't have the trainin or relocation strategies to help people get back on their feet." Competition Griffin believes America is facing an identity crisis, and needs to get back to its "core values." And a big part of that is embracing "competition". Enough of this 'everybody gets a trophy' bs. "We need to get back to our core values if we're going to win. What does that mean? Children need to be taught the virtue of earned success. It can't be that every time a race is won, there's two gold medal winners. and earned success is so important to the psychological success of our country. When people know they've done a job well..." there's a sense of pride. The reason why 1 in 10 Americans is severely depressed is that "when life revolves around your instagram and facebook account not how well you do on the sports field, how well you do in class...you've lost your way in life." "We need to teach our children math and science and how to write and how to compete and how to enjoy success....because we need these children to lead this country in 20 years." Griffin also complained that the scientists who developed the COVID jabs weren't properly venereated. "Why haven't we brought the scientists from Pfizer and Moderna to the White House to recognize them for the accomplishment of developing a vaccine in a year. These people are the heroes of our lifetime..." "There are no people who are children are looking up to to say 'I wanna be like her'" Griffin said. Teachers Unions One of the biggest causes of the decay in the quality of public education, according to Griffin, are the teachers unions. He relayed how former Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel went to bat for the schools against the unions...and lost. That's why Chicago has one of the shortest school years, and shortest school days, in the country. "Our mayor went to bat to change that and got batted over the head by the teacher's union," he said. Biden Agenda Moving on to the subject of Biden's economic agenda, which is presently the subject of a Democratic civil war in Washington, Griffin said there was plenty in the bill he liked, but also plenty he opposed, starting with the price tag. "Let's just say thank God for Sen. Manchin," Griffin said. Debt Ceiling Griffin believes the responsibility for raising the debt ceiling lies with the Dems...whether or not that means falling back on reconciliation to bypass a GOP filibuster, or not. "We've played this game of chicken before...I hope somebody blinks before they go over the cliff. I do believe the Democrats have a responsibility....to push this forward." Payment for Order Flow Finally, the big one. Are hidden costs imposed by Citadel and other market makers via payment for order flow (PFOF) helping to line Griffin's pockets at the expense of retail traders? Of course not, he insisted. In fact, if you took away PFOF, Citadel would be just fine..."from the 100,000 feet view" at least, Griffin said. Even though the practice has been a major driver of profits at his firm, Griffin tried to frame PFOF as a nuisance cost, suggesting he would rather not have to "pay" for order flow at all. "Let us hope that we maintain the status quo. brokerage firms have a duty to secure the best price for their customers. That's the premise on which we compete that's the premise on which we win." Ultimately, losing PFoF would be "a huge loss" for traders who enjoy the lowest commissions in history right now (nothing), Griffin claimed, while adding that "let us hope that in Washington, they maintain the status quo." Ken Griffin discusses PFOF (1/2)#BanPFOF #KenGriffinLied pic.twitter.com/nprGSAzT1M — Antonio Martinez (@AntonioTheMexi) October 4, 2021 Ken Griffin discusses PFOF (2/2)#BanPFOF #KenGriffinLied pic.twitter.com/PwnVVNuex5 — Antonio Martinez (@AntonioTheMexi) October 4, 2021 Whatever the SEC decides regarding PFoF, "all i want to know are the rules of the road...If i have to drive on the left I'll drive on the left...just tell me to drive." Crypto While Griffin is certainly amused by crypto, he wishes all this energy could be channeled toward something that doesn't also inadvertently undermine the American financial system. Instead, Griffin sees crypto-mania as a "jihadist call"... Griffin Sees Crypto-Mania as ‘Jihadist Call’ Against the Dollar A mania which your Robinhood subsidiary is eagerly fanning... — zerohedge (@zerohedge) October 4, 2021 ...to attack and undermine the dollar. "I wish all this passion directed at crypto was redirected at making American stronger," adding that backing bitcoin over the dollar was a "Jihadist call". He also made a crack about how terribly energy inefficient bitcoin is, repeating a longstanding criticism. While he certainly has ethical objections to crypto, Griffin says he would absolutely let Citadel to get involved in the market if it's ever regulated. "If it were regulated, I would trade it because..it would be good to have a Tier 1 firm making prices." Chicago Griffin saved most of his anger for Gov. Pritzker and other Illinois elected officials. He started with a story of a conversation between him and Pritzker where Griffin claimed the governor refused to send in the National Guard to quell violence in the city because of the political optics. Since the last time Griffin spoke at the Economic Club in 2013, the City has gotten even worse. "Since the last time I spoke in 2013, 25,000 of my fellow Chicagoans have been shot. It is a disgrace that our governor will not insert himself into the challenge of addressing crime in our city. It won't look good to have men and women on corners on Michigan Avenue with assault weapons...well, if it would save the life of one child, I don't care. We need to try and start to take the state back inch by inch from people who put their politics first and the people second." On the subject of police, Griffin said: "We need our police officers to know that they are respected and welcomed as Americans." In fact, Griffin says Citadel has already started to dial back its presence in Chicago because of the safety issue before sharing an amusing crack about Chicago being more dangerous than Afghanistan. "We aren't as much in Chicago. It's becoming ever more difficult to have this as our global headquarters, a city that has so much violence. I mean Chicago is like Afghanistan on a good day. They tried to car jack the security detail that sits outside my apartment. It just shows you how deep crime runs in this city. There is nowhere you can feel safe walking home at 2130 at night. And it's really hard to recruit people to Chicago. When they read the headlines, theey know the facts. 20 years ago, this was a great place to raise a family...I could say that and be genuine...I can't give that speech today." As for New York City, Griffin warned that many of the same things he has seen in Chicago are starting to take place in New York City. Griffin added that Citadel's next big expansion will be office space in Miami, and that the company's time of remaining headquarter in Chicago will be measured in "years not decades". The Sun Belt Moving on from the Chicago discussion, Griffin believes that across the US, coastal blue states with high taxes will start to lose their economic edge to the Sun Belt, which has more business-friendly regulations. "Conditions are Better across the sun belt states, less regulation less taxes a workforce that's generally of the ethos of 'I'm here to earn it'. Northern cities still have a considerable advantage...those schools anchor our great northern cities. the south doesn't have that yet writ large. But as universities in the south continue to get better, you're going to see the balance of power shift from the north to the south as the ease of doing business in the south trumps the ease of hiring top employees in the north." Trump Finally, the big one. When it comes to President Trump, Griffin admits his economic policies were "pretty damn good." However, when asked about the prospect of another campaign in 2020, he said that "it's time for America to move on. The 4 years under president trump were so divisive it was not constructive for the country." He also said he was "appalled" by Trump's willingness to play identity politics. * * * Griffin's speech before the Chicago Club  the first major public appearance by Griffin since the "GameStopped" hearings back in Feb. Tyler Durden Mon, 10/04/2021 - 17:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 4th, 2021

Bulk Of Republicans Locked In On Support For Trump

Bulk Of Republicans Locked In On Support For Trump Authored by Lawrence Wilson via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Former President Donald Trump speaks at Treasure Island Resort & Casino after Nevada caucus results in Las Vegas, Nev., on Feb. 8, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times) News Analysis CHARLESTON, S.C.—Republican voters delivered a decisive result for President Donald Trump in the South Carolina presidential primary. The former president demonstrated his command over Republican voters in the fourth and final early primary, defeating the state’s former governor Nikki Haley by 20 percentage points on Feb. 24. “The people spoke for Trump,” Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) told The Epoch Times, virtually waving a white flag over the Haley campaign, of which he had been a notable proponent. Ms. Haley has vowed to continue her run for the White House at least through Super Tuesday, March 5, when 15 states will conduct presidential primaries. Yet the overwhelming support for President Trump in South Carolina, which builds on the momentum generated in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, validates Mr. Norman’s assessment. Neither legal battles, nor age, nor mean tweets, nor the outcome of previous elections will keep the party from nominating its favorite son. Republicans want Donald Trump, and nobody but Donald Trump, and many appear immune to any argument to the contrary. Age and Vitality Ms. Haley has begun to criticize the former president, albeit gingerly. One line of attack was a veiled reference to his age and the insinuation that he represents an older generation. Ms. Haley tied President Trump to incumbent President Joe Biden, whose age and mental acuity have become a concern to many voters. Ms. Haley frequently repeated polling numbers suggesting that 70 percent of Americans do not want either man in office, and said that electing either one would be voting for “more of the same.” Referring to herself as a fresher, more vigorous alternative, Ms. Haley often used the phrase “new generational leader.” The idea sticks with many Haley supporters, who picture her as a fresher, more vigorous candidate. “I don’t want either old man in the White House,” Haley supporter Diane Derusha, 75, of Mt. Pleasant told The Epoch Times. Republican presidential candidate and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign event at Clemson University in Clemson, S.C., on Feb. 20, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times) However, the argument failed to persuade President Trump’s core voters in the Palmetto state, most of whom believe he is actually more fit for the job as leader of the free world than Ms. Haley. Among Republican voters in South Carolina, 69 percent said Trump has the physical and mental health to be president, according to exit polling reported by CBS. Just 62 percent of them said the same of Ms. Haley. Electability Ms. Haley’s most direct attack on President Trump centered on his ability to win a general election. “Donald Trump can’t win,” she said in stump speeches. “He lost in 2018. He lost in 2020. He lost in 2022, and he continues to lose.” Referring to polling data on hypothetical matchups between President Trump vs. President Biden and herself vs. President Biden, Ms. Haley told reporters in Columbia on Feb. 2, “Trump doesn’t defeat Joe Biden ... I defeat Biden.” Indeed, a number of polls show that Ms. Haley would fare better in the general election than would President Trump. The latest, conducted by Marquette University, shows Ms. Haley with a 16 percent lead over President Biden. Other polls show a lead of about 3 percent. Polls involving President Trump have shown him winning by about 2 percentage points. Others indicate that he would lose to President Biden. 2024 Presidential candidates Donald J. Trump and Nikki Haley supporters after a Haley event in North Augusta, S.C., on Feb. 21, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times) Haley supporters are well-attuned to that polling and are convinced Ms. Haley is the more electable candidate. “If you look at the big picture, do we want to win?” Melanie Sabelhaus, co-chair of Women for Nikki, said on Feb. 23. “Wake up America! We want to win. The polls are saying ... she can beat Joe Biden.” Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., has also seen the same opportunity, noting that the GOP results from South Carolina show this is a “three-way race,” thanks to those who won’t vote for President Trump or President Biden. Tonight’s results in South Carolina proved this is officially a three-way race. A recent NBC poll showed that in a three-way dead heat, 34% of Americans could see themselves voting for me right now. I have the highest net favorability of any candidate and continue to gain… — Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) February 25, 2024 Part of Ms. Haley’s favorable polling against President Biden could be that she draws strong support among moderates, independents, and even some Democrats. In the New Hampshire primary, 70 percent of voters choosing Mrs. Haley were independents. In South Carolina, 53 percent of Haley voters were independents, and 70 percent described themselves as moderates. “I’ve already voted for Nikki,” Kurt Kehelbeck, 64, of Charleston, told The Epoch Times, having cast his ballot during the early voting period. But to win the Republican primary, a candidate must have the support of Republican voters. And most of that support has gone to President Trump. As for electability in the general election, most Republican voters still believe President Trump would fare better than Ms. Haley. Of Republican primary voters, 83 percent said President Trump was either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to defeat President Biden in a general election. For Ms. Haley, just 59 percent said the same. Normalcy Ms. Haley has positioned her candidacy as a return to “normalcy” after what she described as disorder and unpredictability surrounding President Trump, who pitches his presidency around efforts to “drain the swamp.” “Chaos follows him,” she told rally goers in Columbia on Feb. 1. “He’s gotten more unstable and unhinged,” Ms. Haley said of President Trump in a speech at Clemson University on Feb. 20. After the New Hampshire primary, Ms. Haley added a line to her stump speech about President Trump’s reaction to her 40 percent share of the vote. “Donald Trump had a temper tantrum on stage. He was completely unhinged. All he did was talk about revenge ... and my dress,” she told supporters in Myrtle Beach on Feb. 22. But two days earlier, when Laura Ingraham asked what revenge meant to him during a Fox News town hall, President Trump was given a chance to respond to the media coverage about his alleged plans for vengeance. “I don’t care about the ‘revenge’ thing. I know they use the word ‘revenge,’ ‘Will there be revenge?’” he said. “My revenge will be success.” Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald J. Trump’s rally in Manchester, N.H., on Jan. 20, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times) Ms. Haley’s supporters are apt to use words like “disrespectful” or “arrogant” to describe President Trump. They appear to see Ms. Haley as calmer and more level-headed. “The most important thing she can do is bring a divided country together. She can reach across the aisle and begin to heal what’s broken,” Mark Wilson, 65, of Mt. Pleasant told The Epoch Times. Many of President Trump’s supporters, on the other hand, seem more likely to believe that America is in the midst of an internal conflict that needs to be won rather than healed. Of those who voted for President Trump in this primary, 90 percent said the most important characteristic they look for in a candidate is someone who “fights for people like me.” “If we don’t take this country back, we’re going to be like Afghanistan or Iraq or Iran or some third world country,” Douglas Benton of Myrtle Beach told The Epoch Times. If things didn’t change, he said, “It’s going to get ugly.” Lawsuits As President Trump’s legal problems have mounted over the past year, Ms. Haley has leveraged them as an argument against his presidential candidacy. “He spent $50 million of his campaign funds to pay for legal fees. Are you kidding me?” she told reporters in Columbia on Feb. 1. “How’s he going to campaign against Joe Biden when he has no money?” she asked, adding that his court cases will continue throughout the year. To many Trump supporters, the former president’s legal woes have no bearing on his ability to get elected or to govern. Many view the cases against him as abuses of prosecutorial power intended to scare away voters and keep him out of office. As such, his candidacy is cast as a quest for justice. Michael Large, 62, of Moncks Corner told The Epoch Times he wanted to “show my support for a man that I believe is being politically persecuted and deserves another chance. That’s really why I want him in office.” People attend Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald J. Trump’s rally in Manchester, N.H., on Jan. 20, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times) Exit polls showed that 67 percent of Trump supporters believed his legal problems don’t matter, and 61 percent said he would be fit to hold office even if convicted of a crime. Perhaps the most telling finding of the exit pollsters is that Republican voters were largely unpersuadable in the days before this primary. Most Republican voters had made their choice long before heading to a polling site. More than two-thirds of Trump voters had locked in their choice more than a month before the election. If the mindset of Republican voters generally mirrors that of South Carolinians, the grail quest for a dozen Republican candidates whose last name is not “Trump” and a significant number of Republican and independent voters in the GOP presidential race appears to be futile. Voters are saying, there simply is no Republican alternative to Donald Trump. Tyler Durden Mon, 02/26/2024 - 21:20.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytFeb 26th, 2024

On The Rising Danger Of Democratic "Lawfare"

On The Rising Danger Of Democratic 'Lawfare' Authored by Alex Berenson via 'Unreported Truths' substack, The New York state fraud case against Donald Trump is absurd; and the White House now openly tells its operatives to defy Congressional subpoenas. Democrats seem blind to the risks they're running. Even dictatorships have judges. Which doesn’t mean they have justice. Democrats appear ever-more enamored with “lawfare” — a term that hardly existed before Donald Trump was elected president in 2016 — as they try to keep Trump from returning to the White House. Left-wing politicians, prosecutors, and lawyers may be sincere when they say they believe Trump is an existential threat to democracy who must be stopped by any means necessary. But they would be wise not to become what they fear. The Democratic effort to twist the legal system has accelerated in the last few months. Trump and his most ardent supporters now face an unrelenting flow of civil and criminal cases, some of which at best stretch legal theories to their limits. But judges in blue cities and states have been notably reluctant to push back on them. Meanwhile, as I wrote yesterday, the Biden White House has now openly encouraged its operatives to defy Congressional subpoenas by promising them carte blanche to do so - even as the Justice Department tries to jail Trump’s advisors for similar moves. The issue stretches far beyond the four flagship criminal cases and 91 charges that Trump faces. In those, at least, he has the protections that criminal law gives defendants, and the financial resources to use them. The Associated Press estimated that Trump has spent $77 million in the last two years defending himself. Even bigger expenses lie ahead as his criminal trials approach. Some of Trump’s biggest supporters are not so lucky. In Washington, D.C., prosecutions over the Jan. 6 protests and riot are increasingly unhinged. Even the New York Times admitted last month they have now caught many people who “did little more than walk into — and then out of — the Capitol.” In Colorado, the former general counsel of the Democratic Party has led an effort to use language meant for Confederate secessionists to keep Trump off the 2024 ballot. And in New York, the reality that Trump cannot count on anything like impartial hearings from neutral judges has been clear for months. Not coincidentally, the actions that have damaged Trump the most were both brought in Manhattan, where Trump is widely hated and Joe Biden won 87 percent of the vote in 2020. Most stunningly, Trump faces up to $370 million in fines and the loss of his businesses for a civil “fraud” case brought by the state of New York in which he took out loans - then fully repaid them.  Even the Associated Press questioned the ruling, writing that Trump’s companies were: the only big business found that was threatened with a shutdown [under the New York law used against Trump] without a showing of obvious victims and major losses. Some legal experts worry if the New York judge goes ahead with such a penalty in a final ruling expected within the next couple of weeks, it could make it easier for courts to wipe out companies in the future. Then there are the two “defamation” lawsuits from E. Jean Carroll, a woman who was completely unknown until she accused Trump in print of raping her. (Carroll’s suits might more accurately be called “famation” cases.) Manhattan juries have already decided against Trump in those suits and awarded Carroll almost $90 million. Trump certainly used nasty language to defend himself against Carroll’s claims, but it is unclear how exactly he could have denied them without incurring a jury’s wrath. *  *  * Back in Washington, the Biden Administration is now extending its (literal) contempt of the law to Congress, as I wrote yesterday: URGENT: Ex-White House advisor Andy Slavitt is refusing to comply with a subpoena over questions about how he tried to censor me and others in 2021 ALEX BERENSON· FEB 4 Andrew Slavitt, the former Biden Administration operative who in 2021 helped conspire to violate my First Amendment rights and make Twitter ban me, has refused to comply with a Congressional subpoena to testify about his actions. Slavitt’s lawyers told Read full story... That the White House has told two of its former operatives - Andy Slavitt and Rob Flaherty, the deputy campaign manager of Biden’s 2024 presidential campaign - to ignore a lawful Congressional subpoena is ugly enough. But the fact that it has done so while prosecuting two of Trump’s advisors for refusing similar testimony is far worse. Of course, none of this has stopped me and James Lawrence from suing the White House for its censorship efforts in Berenson v Biden. I remain a believer in the court system - and very optimistic that federal Judge Jessica G.L. Clarke will see the merits of our case. After all, Judge William Alsup - a Clinton appointee - took our arguments in Berenson v Twitter seriously and rejected Twitter’s motion to dismiss the suit. But the overall picture is ugly. Sure, Democrats are winning tactical victories and costing Trump money. But they’re not considering how these efforts to use the courts look, not just to Trump partisans but anyone who thinks elections should be decided by voters, not judges or juries. And Trump’s criminal prosecutions haven’t even gotten to trial yet. *  *  * Subscribe to Unreported Truths Tyler Durden Tue, 02/06/2024 - 22:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytFeb 7th, 2024

Greg Abbott And The Invasion Of The Border Snatchers

Greg Abbott And The Invasion Of The Border Snatchers Submitted by Donald Jeffries via "I Protest", We’ve come a long way from the Boston Tea Party. What would happen to “extremists” throwing tea into a harbor today? Independence Hall. Lexington and Concord. The Articles of Confederation. Patrick Henry declaring, “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to my dying day your right to say it.” The Founding Fathers (sorry, there were no Founding Mothers, and certainly no Founding Transgenders) would all be marginalized if they were living and breathing in the Orwellian mess that is America 2.0. They’d be relegated to writing on Substack. Maybe some of them would be subscribers of mine. No mainstream media outlet would give them even a momentary platform. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Keep your “insurrectionist” thoughts to yourself. That little line should be confined to Ben Franklin’s womanizing. Yes, Ben actually used “would you like to join me in the pursuit of happiness?” as an eighteenth century pickup line. When he wasn’t consorting with prostitutes dressed as nuns in his demonic Hellfire Club. Aside from Franklin, and certainly the bankers’ stooge Alexander Hamilton, the Founders were a legendary lot. The “greatest generation” if such a thing ever existed. As recently as 1963, Thomas Jefferson was thought so highly of that President Kennedy would tell a state dinner comprised of some of the leading cultural figures of the time, “The is the greatest assemblage of talent ever gathered together in the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.” That kind of comment would get any Democrat, and probably any American, “cancelled” today. Sally Hemings was the real talent behind Jefferson. She wrote the Declaration of Independence. Designed Monticello. Ask any court historian. He was a racist rapist. One of the few responsibilities ceded to the central government under the Constitution is defending the border. Article 4, section 4, states clearly that “The United States shall guarantee to every State in the Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against invasion…” Our southern border has been under an invasion of illegal aliens, illegal immigrants, undocumented migrants, whatever you want to call them, for over forty years now. More significantly, the federal government has gone beyond enabling this invasion. They have assisted it. Made it possible. Probably financed much of it. Greg Abbott has been governor of Texas since 2015. He epitomizes the Stupid Party’s tradition of issuing lukewarm rhetoric about “border security,” but ultimately doing nothing to stop the invasion. For unclear reasons, he has now stepped up the rhetoric decisively. After the Supreme Court- Trump’s supposed court, with his lovely nominee Amy Coney Barrett voting with the Left as usual- made one of its trademark disastrous decisions, Abbott threw down the gauntlet. The Court ruled that Texas can not try to stop the Feds from cutting down the barbed wire fencing they’ve put up in places, in a laughable attempt to stop the flow of immigrants. Think about that; the highest court in the land- the Supreme Court- has ruled that a state cannot defend its borders. True, the Feds are constitutionally delegated with that power, but they quite blatantly have neglected to do this for several decades now. Under the Biden administration, the numbers coming across the border with literally no resistance from U.S. authorities, have reached such a critical mass that it has finally caught the attention of even the sleeping Republicucks. When you have one of the three branches in government- the Executive- aiding and abetting a foreign invasion, another- the Legislative- encouraging it as well, and now the Judicial branch giving the invasion a legal imprimatur, then you understand the situation. Abbott’s fiery statements brought to mind visions of Sons of Liberty dancing in our heads. He has sounded remarkably like the Confederates did back in 1860, when he charged that the federal government has broken their “compact” with the states. This was the central premise behind the decision of the southern states to secede. Our fast food culture insists it was all about slavery. The dastardly, tobacco spitting whiter than White secessionists wanted their slaves, and that was that. Abraham Lincoln, the secular saint of our crumbling civilization, responded by declaring, “The Union of these States is perpetual.” That contradicted, of course, the guiding principle of our War for Independence, which was that all people have a right to consent to those who govern them. In 1860, the Confederate states no longer consented. What exactly does “consent” mean, anyhow? In America 2.0, it has come to be a carte blanche power given to women (well, when there were women- now all gender is fluid), over whether a sexual act can take place. This power has been extended to well beyond the act itself, so that women who have had time to reflect on a bad decision can claim they were “date raped,” or simply maintain that they had said “no,” but the hapless, mindless, horny male used force. If you think about it, Abraham Lincoln was a rapist. Or at least a date rapist. Those poor southern states clearly said “No!” But Honest Able pushed on relentlessly, resulting in nearly a million American deaths. He took their consent and shoved it in them with extreme unconstitutional force. Now I don’t know that Joe Biden has Lincoln’s raping capabilities, but he is certainly a time-tested hair sniffer and all around creep. Not that he’d be making any decisions anyhow. He’s barely capable of eating his own ice cream cone at this point. If I understood it correctly, the deadline for his first ultimatum to Texas has already passed. Videos of Texans firing their guns have gone viral. There is supposed to be a huge trucker convoy going to the border, to stand with the brave Texans. And most shockingly, the governor of twenty five other states have signed on with their support. This includes the putrid RINO in Utah. This is extremely uncharacteristic behavior on the part of Republicans. The Washington Generals. The apology experts. If history is an indicator, Abbott will return to form and back down. The other Republican governors will become Republicucks again. “State’s Rights” is an anachronistic term in America 2.0. It brings to mind images of Strom Thurmond, back before he married that pretty woman some forty years younger than him. Or George Wallace, trying to block Black students from entering the University of Alabama, and proclaiming, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” But in both those instances, the underlying motivation appears to have been race. Call it “White supremacy” if you must. You have to go back to 1860 to understand the real principles at stake. The Confederacy and Lincoln weren’t on the same page. Neither are the Biden administration and Texas. I’ve written extensively about our immigration policy. Which has become a no enforcement policy. A policy of overt favoritism towards those entering this country illegally. Free healthcare. Free VISA cards. Free transportation to various spots across America, usually by a startling coincidence to Republican enclaves with lots of “White privilege.” Free housing and food in some very nice hotels. And now, the Biden administration is supposedly instructing banks not to turn down loans to illegals. I don’t know, maybe that’s all Republican propaganda. It certainly seems hard to comprehend. Especially given that so many American citizens are sleeping in tents on the street, and foraging in dumpsters for food. I confess to feeling an illicit thrill over the prospect of Texas state authorities standing up to the biggest and most odious Goliath that ever existed. Maybe that’s how people felt nearly 190 years ago, when Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and a small band of other worthies steadfastly defended the Alamo against far superior forces. Remember the Barbed Wire! doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. To whatever degree our horrific leaders still care about public relations optics, it might give them pause before attempting to forcefully overpower Texas officials, and perhaps a lot of angry truckers. Maybe they’ll send a special Transgender SWAT team. I don’t know how any American could possibly support the federal government sending agents to a sovereign state, to remove the only weak blockade put up to repel a nonstop foreign invasion. But I know millions do. The Supreme Court does. So does the state controlled mainstream media. So does the entire entertainment world. Why would any American citizen be in favor of flooding the job market, and our tenuous government safety net, with unimaginable numbers of the poorest people in the world? We have way too many poor people of our own, and have little desire to help them, so why such generosity for poor people from other countries? Could this all turn into a Civil War II? Think of the ugly logistics involved. In my own family, outside of my wife and kids, I’m not sure any of my other large collection of relatives would be on my side in any such conflict. Not that I’d be taking up arms, mind you, but I’d have a logical rooting interest for those that are resisting tyranny. If brother fought brother in Lincoln’s war, think how many would be opposing each other in Civil War II. You would have father versus son, mother versus daughter, wife versus husband. As if American families weren’t already dysfunctional enough. I don’t think any of us would be literally fighting, with blue and red uniforms I guess, but the ideological battle would be brutal. And centered around Trumpenstein. Trump has praised Governor Abbott for his resolve. Frankly, by merely putting up barbed wire, Abbott has done more than Trump did in four years. It’s not much, of course, but it beats tweeting out toothless threats to put troops on the border, end sanctuary cities, end birthright citizenship, deport millions, and the like. Trump couldn’t even end DACA, which Obama created with an executive order. It wasn’t legislation. But he’s preoccupied, what with being ordered to pay millions to an off-the-wall woman who can’t remember the year in which he raped her. The border may be the boiling point, but this conflict is centered around a corrupt and politicized “justice” system, taxation without representation, and a huge cultural divide. I guess it’s fitting that illegal immigration should be the triggering mechanism for whatever battle that follows. It was Trump’s foundational issue in 2016, and what turned out to be his empty rhetoric on the subject precipitated an intense hatred towards him unlike that for any other public figure in our history. Ever since Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration “Reform” Act in 1986, this has been a bubble issue, waiting to explode like the “dream deferred” Langston Hughes wrote about. The Reagan Supreme Court, no friendlier to liberty than Trump’s Court, decreed that the children of illegals must be given a free public school education. And the 1965 “Reform” Act directed that almost all legal immigrants be nonwhite persons. As a fiery young radical, I watched all those old timers, along with the yuppies and soccer moms, accept bilingual signs. Bilingual ballots. Shouldn’t you have to be able to read a ballot in the predominant language of the country you’re voting in? Can you imagine being able to vote in France, or Greece, without understanding either language? But no, it’s “Press 2 for Spanish.” Is cheap labor really worth all that? Worth rendering your citizenship status meaningless? After all, if you don’t have to be a citizen to vote, just what advantage is there to being a citizen? And every “Woke” person in America supports noncitizens being able to vote. They’re the ones who will be opposing us in any prospective Civil War. I have said many times that America cannot continue in its present, balkanized state. I hate quoting the despot Lincoln, but a house divided against itself cannot stand. There is not a single foundational principle today which all Americans agree upon. God? Millions not only don’t believe in God, but mock and ridicule the concept. We don’t agree on when life begins. Probably at least 80 million Americans will never accept the transgender madness. Cancel us all you want, but you cannot make us believe that men can give birth. We will not accept the mutilation of little boys and little girls, sacrificed on the altar of identity politics. More Whites are becoming fed up with the Great Replacement. And that lies at the heart of what’s happening at the border. Everyone coming across that border is nonwhite. Persons of color. We who oppose this are cast as colorless and privileged. As I’ve noted, this massive influx of nonwhite migrants is happening exclusively in Western nations. Majority White nations. At least for now. Where is the shrill “Woke” demands that China experience some of our “diversity?” Japan? North Korea? Saudi Arabia? India? This is a very simply equation; import nonwhites into White nations. Sure, it’s expensive, but obviously someone is paying for Haitians and Africans to travel great distances to “diversify” England, Canada, Australia, and the U.S. Nothing reveals the deterioration of America like our immigration policies. That open southern border is the poster child for America 2.0. And that’s with political prisoners everywhere, and citizens fired for politically incorrect social media posts, made on their own personal time. Legal precedents are being set to sue Thought Criminals for speculating about national events, or “exaggerating” the extent of their wealth. Or for even suggesting electoral fraud. The Orwellian term “Hate Speech” is accepted by almost all. Free speech is more unpopular than ever, and not allowed as a defense in American courtrooms. And our infrastructure “rebuild” consists of renaming “racist” roads, not fixing pot holes. Click your heels and repeat “Build Back Better.” But it’s that open border that epitomizes everything. The Beatles of corruption. If Greg Abbott and other Republicans surprise us all and stand strong, they will be thoroughly demonized. In a society run by the worst criminals in the world, dissent must be crushed. And so it has been. But it’s gone beyond that. The notion of dissent must be as demonized as any present-day dissenters. So the Founders become dead White male “racists,” memorable only as examples of “White Supremacy.” The stirring fight for liberty and independence becomes converted into endless lectures on how awful American slavery was, juxtaposed against the amazing accomplishments of Black Americans who were simultaneously prevented from accomplishing anything. The Civil War was about slavery. Period. Ask the great Nikki Haley. And World War II was a “good war.” It was about the Holocaust. Period. All enemies are “Nazis.” If the crisis at the border turns out any other way than the Texas officials skulking back to their offices with their tails between their legs, I’ll be shocked. They aren’t going to let states secede. Abraham Lincoln, our greatest president, demonstrated that to the tune of about 800,000 deaths. You aren’t leaving. Our government is like a cheating, abusive spouse, who won’t give us a divorce. The majority of brainwashed, unthinking Speeple have a special brand of Stockholm Syndrome. Let’s say the unthinkable happens, and the Texas guard and trucker convey defeats federal forces decisively. Would the state controlled media even report it? How would they spin even a federal victory? “U.S. Forces Prevent Texas From Defending its Border?” One senses that we are in the final act of a play. America 2.0, staggering around the ring, primed to be counted out. Have Texans, at least, been pushed perhaps a bit too far? Despite decades of non-enforcement at the border, has the incredible increase in migrants finally got their attention? Are Texans, or any appreciable number of Americans, capable of saying enough is enough? Our ancestors sacrificed everything for the right of self-determination. I’ll be watching with keen interest, remembering Bull Run, and Valley Forge, and Yorktown, and whistling “Dixie.” Just don’t tell the authorities. I’m pretty sure that’s a Thought Crime at this point. Tyler Durden Tue, 01/30/2024 - 23:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 31st, 2024

The Spooky Blackout Of Border News

The Spooky Blackout Of Border News Authored by Jeffrey A. Tucker via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), There was an amazing moment last week when the Governor of Texas proclaimed that the chief executive of the United States was facilitating an invasion of the United States and stopping the state of Texas from working to prevent it. The Governor called Biden a “lawless president who does nothing to stop external threats like cartels smuggling millions of illegal immigrants across the border.” Mexican migration paperwork sits near the United States border wall in Jacoumba, Calif., on Jan. 10, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times) The Supreme Court had given the go-ahead for the U.S. government to interfere with Texas’s rights at the border. Then 25 states joined Texas in active resistance to D.C.’s edicts. The drama here is epic, and central to the future of the American nation. The union itself is threatened. There is an election coming up and undocumented migrants in many states find methods to vote in federal elections even by absentee ballots. It can come down to simple issues such as: what is the test deployed to confirm citizenship? If it is loose enough, anything is possible, as Elon Musk has pointed out. While the migrants may be coming here to work, they can also be conscripted as stand-ins for voters, which is why many people believe that the Biden administration has taken such a strong interest. You would have to be blind not to see what is happening here. By forcing open the border and overriding states’ rights, the Biden administration is acting like an agent of chaos, tossing out border security to recruit voters in an election it fears it will lose, and thus cementing a blue majority for the future. Regardless of your views, a naive person might expect that this news would be all over the main headlines, regardless of one’s position on this contentious issue. As the week progressed, there was a dearth of reporting outside of alternative channels of information. The New York Times ignored it completely. The Wall Street Journal did the same. There is nothing on MSNBC or NPR. CNN has run a report a week late and bizarrely rendered the whole dispute as a struggle over whether the federal government can save children from drowning. A week after the crisis began, other reliable venues such as Business Insider and Vox started reporting, with a strong and determined slant against Texas. Finally Wired Magazine, which Anthony Fauci had deployed as a reliable voice during lockdowns, weighed in with a headline that updated a chapter out of Orwell: “Far-Right Extremists Are Organizing an Armed Convoy to the Texas Border.” The scenes at the border are bad enough but cities around the country are also seeing the effects as mayors stuff these populations into local hotels and even plead with residents to open their homes. The whole situation is crazy and unsustainable, certainly not defensible by any ideological perspective. And yet the media blackout persists in the strangest way, broken only by wild propaganda that smears everyone who doubts the wisdom of the practice as a violent racist. You really don’t have to be of a conspiracy mindset to see what is going on here. It’s impossible to prove but it looks for all the world like some order came down from somewhere that said: don’t report on this. When the reports started to come in, they were wildly distorted and slanted to favor overriding Texas’s right to defend itself. News outlets have editors and the job entails figuring out what is and isn’t important and the order in which to highlight those. That’s a serious challenge and judgments are inevitably affected by political bias. Any competent journalist needs to bury that bias as deeply as possible. The trouble in this case is that there is no scenario in which this remarkable standoff is not important to the country. It pits the largest state plus half the other states against a major policy of the Biden administration that will permanently affect the demographics and power center of U.S. policy making. It’s that important, and obviously so. So why would the major curators and caretakers of the public mind decide to bury the news? Here is where the manipulation becomes overwhelmingly obvious. The facts alone make the Biden administration’s little caper obvious. It looks truly terrible. If Americans understood the fullness of what was taking place, it would be devastating to a president who is already deeply unpopular. I had read Herman and Chomsky’s “Manufacturing Consent” after it came out in 1988. My takeaway then was that the hive mind of media—the way careerism and institutionalized prompts to fit in draw editors and reporters toward respectable narratives—cause what we call “the news” to be channeled into paths approved by the regime. Even with this book in hand, I did not understand this to be deliberate culture planning but rather a trajectory set in motion by the unwillingness to think outside the box in a fundamental way. This is what has rattled me about our times: the discovery that it is in fact deliberate culture planning, that the manufacturing of consent is not spontaneous but rather has a manufacturer, a real engineer working behind the scenes (such as the Trusted News Initiative). Realizing this has been something of a shock to me. I’ve always resisted this explanation because it seemed too crude. In fact, it seems correct. We are talking here about something more sinister than bias, and more than the incompetence of this venue or that. It looks highly coordinated. And this unfolds even as we gain ever more information thanks to FOIAs and court discovery, that federal agencies have been involving themselves in the management of news for many years. Elon Musk confirmed it, stating that however bad you think it is, the reality is worse. When many of us became aware of this was during the COVID crisis. Reading the news, it appeared as if every expert agreed with the policies that were wrecking business life and society in general while holding out no chance of finally ending the virus. We knew many scientists and medical doctors who were not in favor of these policies and yet they were being silenced on social media and never interviewed in the mainstream press. Then the floods of reality hit with emails and edicts coming directly from government agencies to block this information and that and hit particular accounts with takedown orders. Many of us did not know this sort of thing could happen in the United States because we have a First Amendment that restricts the government from interfering with free speech even if by using third parties to achieve the aim. But it did happen. As research got deeper, it became clear that the censorship industrial complex was already in place before COVID. It had started being built after Donald Trump won in 2016 and it was deployed through the so-called Russiagate crisis and much more besides. There is ongoing litigation about this now but it is not causing this censorship and manipulation machinery to be deterred. The contrast between the content of X (formerly Twitter) and the rest of the corporate media, excluding of course The Epoch Times, is now impossible to ignore. It seems more stark by the day, which is why so many dissenting public figures are now using the platform to cut through the fog of propaganda. Indeed, the Texas governor and all supporting states used X to announce their opposition to the Biden administration’s interventions. Mainstream media is now facing waves of layoffs in response to declining readership and advertising. It appears that when subjected to a market test, censorship and aggressively partisan information filtering is failing. Now that the reality of a captured news media is out in the open for everyone to see—it was not always so—the market is responding. After all, when Rome fell, one supposes that if they had newspapers, some reporter would have bothered to cover it. Some journalists and reporters, as well as scholars and activists, are covering the descent into madness. Their observations and insights, however, are nearly universally blocked by what we once called “mainstream news.” We are approaching the point where that moniker is no longer descriptive. We would be more accurate in calling it the regime news. We know which side of the border they are on. Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times or ZeroHedge. Tyler Durden Mon, 01/29/2024 - 14:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 29th, 2024

"Politics Is So Confusing Right Now" - Dems & Reps Have Switched Sides & Now Half Of Voters Identify "Independent"

"Politics Is So Confusing Right Now" - Dems & Reps Have Switched Sides & Now Half Of Voters Identify 'Independent' Authored by Peter Savodnik via The Free Press, The Great Scramble Democrats and Republicans have switched sides—and nearly half of voters now call themselves independent. Peter Savodnik meets the politically homeless... In 2016, Shelle Lichti voted for Donald Trump. She got tons of blowback from other gay people who thought she’d betrayed them. She was 45 at the time, and she’d been doing things her own way since she was 11, since she was adopted by the big Mennonite family in Missouri, and ran away, and came out, and became a trucker, hauling beef and pork across the American hinterland in a rainbow-painted eighteen-wheeler.  It had been tough being a woman. And a lesbian. But she’d forged a new life for herself.  She had built a portable home in the back of her truck—with the kitchenette, the curtains, the warm little lights, the generator, and her bed on the lower bunk, and all her clothes, first-aid gear, and dry goods in the top bunk—and she’d traversed an array of politics and religions. (She was into Buddhism—the calm, the focus. “I choose to say I have faith, but I’m not religious,” Lichti said.) She liked to listen to audiobooks—she was into Nora Roberts, the romance novelist—and she loved to turn up Sia when she was “laying down some miles,” which meant going for hours and hours, not stopping, pushing on to wherever she was going. “Everybody is on their own ride,” Lichti tells The Free Press. “We have to respect that.” (Jamie Kelter Davis for The Free Press) What she had learned from riding around the country in her little home in her big rig was you never knew as much as you thought you did about other people. “Everybody is on their own ride,” she said. “We have to respect that.” Over the years, she noticed the homophobia had waned, but it had gotten harder to make a living, mostly because of the influx of truckers, most of whom were from Somalia and the Middle East. “I don’t have a problem with them—they’re out here making a living for their families,” Lichti said. But with the new truckers, it was harder to get a raise. “When I started”—in 1993—“I made 19 cents a mile. Now, I barely make double that.” Shelle Lichti works on her truck, The Rainbow Rider, on December 10, 2023 in Joliet, IL. (Jamie Kelter Davis for The Free Press) It wasn’t just Lichti who was struggling. It seemed to her like the country was falling apart. “A lot of roadside motels and hotels look like crack houses,” she said. “Not enough people coming through.” On top of that, she said, Main Streets everywhere had been devoured by Walmart, Costco, Amazon. “The billboards on Route 66”—the 2,500-mile highway connecting Chicago and Los Angeles—“are mostly gone.”  Then, in June 2015, Trump announced his presidential bid, and the bluster, the fireworks, the who-gives-a-fuck about sticking to your talking points—that was refreshing in the face of all the decline. A lot of her gay and lesbian friends thought she’d gone crazy. “I was like, ‘If you want to unfriend me because of my beliefs, then you’re no better than the people that hate on us,’ ” Lichti said. But after Trump got into office, Lichti started to see the world differently yet again. Trump seemed too nasty in his rhetoric, like a “toddler,” she said.  Then, she learned her son was transgender, and it seemed like a dangerous time to be trans or Muslim or Mexican. “My son’s own twin brother has blown him off,” she said. Then came Covid, George Floyd, the riots. And Trump didn’t seem to make life any better for truckers, Lichti said. “It got even worse.”  By Election Day 2020, she said, “I wanted anybody but Trump.” Lichti voted for Joe Biden. More than three years later, she doesn’t know what to believe. She says she feels unmoored. She considers Biden a “seat-filler.” She doesn’t care for Democrats. She kind of cares about climate change, and she’s pro-choice, and she’s heartbroken about the people dying in Ukraine and Gaza, but she doesn’t think it’s America’s problem, and she can’t stand the kids in the LGBTQ+ movement with their “20 zillion acronyms.” She said she isn’t a “conservative” or “progressive,” and definitely not a Democrat or Republican.  “Our society has made it to where we’re supposed to fit in a certain mold,” she said. “A lot of us, you know, well, it’s like taking a plus-size girl and trying to squeeze me into a size 2. Just not gonna work.” Lichti rejects labels like “Democrat,” “Republican,” “progressive,” and “conservative.” “Our society has made it to where we’re supposed to fit in a certain mold,” she said. “It’s like taking a plus-size girl and trying to squeeze me into a size 2. Just not gonna work.” (Jamie Kelter Davis for The Free Press) Shelle Lichti is hardly alone.  Nearly half of Americans now identify as independent—not necessarily because they’re centrists, or moderates, but because neither party reflects their views. That’s because, over the past several decades, the parties have switched places, leaving tens of millions of voters unsure about what they stand for or where they belong, Yuval Levin, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of A Time to Build, about reviving the American Dream, told me. Levin described two axes in American political life—one right-left, and the other insider-outsider. Traditionally, the party of the right has been the party of the inside—the establishment—and the left has fought for those on the outside—the poor, the disenfranchised. “But in the twenty-first century, they’ve switched sides,” he said. “Democrats are the elites, and Republicans feel like they’re fighting the establishment.” One way to think about it, said Michael Lind, author of The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite, was geographic: “From Lincoln to Reagan, New England, the Upper Midwest and the Great Lakes, and the western states were the Republicans, and now they’re the Democrats—while the interior was all the Democrats, and now they’re the Republicans.”  This switch has “created a huge amount of confusion, because it’s happened without either party recognizing it,” Levin added. “Republicans have gotten pretty comfortable with it, while Democrats are very uncomfortable being the insider party.” That’s because it’s “political suicide” to acknowledge you’re the party of the elite, Thomas Edsall, a New York Times columnist who has reported on national politics for a half-century, told me.  “Democrats are elite, but they can’t say it,” Edsall said. Consider that, in 2016, the median home price of a Hillary Clinton voter was $640,000, while that of a Trump voter was $474,000. In 2018, Democrats took control of the 10 wealthiest congressional districts in the country—all of them on the coasts, mostly in New York and California. Of the top 50, they held 41.  And, increasingly, Democrats recruit their future leaders—their ideas—from a handful of universities that cater to the American elite. From 2004 to 2016, 20 percent of all Democratic campaign staffers came from seven universities: Harvard, Stanford, New York University, Berkeley, Georgetown, Columbia, and Yale. By contrast, the University of Texas, Austin; Ohio State University; and University of Wisconsin–Madison provided the most Republican staffers. The reasons for the Great Scramble are legion and stretch back decades, if not longer: the breakup of the Democrats’ New Deal coalition, the end of the Cold War, globalization, the internet, the decline of organized religion and the two-parent family, the forever wars, the opioid and fentanyl crises.  “Things are definitely in flux,” Michael Lind said. *  *  * What I know for sure is that I first glimpsed it on Election Night 2022, at a “victory party” in Phoenix for Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. Lake’s supporters seemed to fall outside the old left-right construct. Racially, economically, ideologically—they didn’t fit the preconceived categories.  My surprise was obvious when I interviewed a Latina in her fifties in an Iron Maiden t-shirt.  How was it, I asked, that she supported a candidate who had run against more Latinos coming to America? Had she not seen Lake’s campaign manager’s “racist tweet” a few weeks before?  That’s when she started lecturing me about “gangbangers coming here” and then “Big Tech” and “Big Pharma,” but also her friend’s biracial daughter and Martin Luther King Jr., and why Washington should “pump trillions” into the rural parts of the country decimated by fentanyl and cheap overseas labor.  Our conversation wasn’t that dissimilar to a conversation I had several months later with a Democratic bundler in Brentwood—he’s worth, I’m told, about $400 million—who was going on about how “the climate and AI are everything” (he thought the former was the end of us, and the latter was our salvation), and how he was “scared shitless about the gender stuff.” When I asked him whether he’d be supporting Biden in 2024, he said, “Of course,” but then he added, “As for the other fucktards”—he meant younger, more progressive, down-ballot Democrats—“no way, no can do.” There were other weird signs: the Democratic poll, in November, showing that the base of the party—including blacks, Latinos, college women, and millennials—prefers Trump to Biden; GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley saying government shouldn’t bar minors from transitioning; Senator John Fetterman, once lionized by progressives, insisting “I’m not a progressive,” while touting his support for Israel and calling for tougher border controls—prompting Helen Qiu, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for New York City Council, to call Fetterman a “Christmas Miracle.” Compounding our confusions about the Great Scramble is the language we use to talk about politics—to describe the country we want to live in. “Our language is impoverished, left over from the French Revolution, with us just saying ‘right’ and ‘left’ and what we think we mean by that,” Oklahoma City attorney Jason Reese, who has spent 25 years in GOP politics, told me.  In the 1980s, when he was a kid, Reese was a Reagan Republican. He believed in capitalism, and thought the Soviet Union was evil, and the unions, like liberals and high taxes, were a relic. His mom called him “Alex P. Keaton,” after the Family Ties character. But in 1992, just as conservatives were triumphing over everyone—with the USSR now dead, and China and India embracing market economics, and the Democrats, under Bill Clinton, morphing into moderate Republicans—the movement suffered its first shock. So did Reese. “Ross Perot was the catalyst for this,” he said, referring to the third-party candidate blamed by many Republicans for President George H.W. Bush’s loss to Clinton. “He broke up that old Republican coalition.” It was Perot who suggested there was a contradiction baked into Reagan’s GOP: while the party embraced free trade and free markets, he argued those policies threatened working-class voters who had recently flocked to it.  Perot was especially upset about the North American Free Trade Agreement, which, he said, would lead to a “giant sucking sound going south”—as blue-collar jobs moved from the United States to Mexico. That proved prophetic. Reese saw the political shift happen in his own extended family, in Kentucky and Texas. In the early 1990s, he said, they cared a lot about abortion. By the 2010s, they were talking nonstop about jobs and immigration. That colored his own thinking. Today, Reese said, he’s an “economic nationalist” who backs tariffs and a higher minimum wage, and a “foreign policy realist” (meaning, no more wars unless they must be fought), and he’s skeptical of capital punishment.  This confusion also extends to the left, which includes “liberals” and “progressives” and people who believe in minimizing economic disparity and people who think talking about economic disparity is racist.  Obama was the “perfect distillation of liberalism,” Tyler Harper, a comparative literature professor at Bates College who has written on politics and identity, and supported Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid, told me.  “Progressives,” Harper said, are the people who think racial identity reigns supreme and have no serious objection to capitalism. “I don’t think they’re left-wing in any substantive sense at all,” Harper said of progressives. He saw progressivism and “corporatism” as “natural allies.” Exhibit A: the $8 billion U.S. companies spend yearly on DEI training.  “We desperately need a new vocabulary,” he said. That is how Priyanka Wolan feels—unsure of how to describe herself or what she believes.  She had immigrated to the United States from India with her family when she was eight, and she had always leaned Democratic.  It’s not that she doesn’t know what she believes. She is definitely pro-choice, but she also wants to curb “unauthorized immigration.” She thinks the new gender politics is insane, but she believes strongly in defending civil liberties. And she’s giving her four daughters a traditional homeschool education that includes Latin and classical music.  Priyanka Wolan first realized she wasn’t on the left when she started homeschooling her daughters. (Jenna Schoenefeld for The Free Press) The trouble is that all of these things do not fit together into one party or camp or label. We were having dinner at the house in the hills of Los Angeles that she and her husband, Alan, share with their daughters. My 9-year-old and hers had become friends in an after-school math program. “The present-day conservative movement doesn’t align with my life experience in the way I used to think the Democratic platform did, but the Democratic Party no longer aligns with that either,” Wolan said.  “The first time I realized I wasn’t on the left was when I started homeschooling, and people were like, ‘This isn’t supporting public education, what’s wrong with public education?’ ” she said. “That’s when I started to see, ‘Oh, I’m not falling into line.’ ” But then, in 2019, she started to feel the tug of identity politics, and it was like a whirlpool. She and Alan, who is Jewish and 18 years older, had always been “sparring partners.” Now, it felt more personal, as if she, a “brown woman,” were facing off against whiteness and the patriarchy. During the summer of 2020, “it became really difficult for us to have a conversation,” she said. He thought defunding the police was idiotic, and worried about illegal immigration and crime. “I remember saying at one point,” she continued, “ ‘You know what, let’s not talk politics. You’re never going to understand me, because you’re white, a man, privileged’—all the jargon.” Priyanka Wolan at her home in Los Angeles, CA. (Jenna Schoenefeld for The Free Press) She added: “At one point, I remember my dad saying, ‘You’re not doing a service to yourself or your kids when you’re constantly thinking in terms of your identity. We didn’t come to America for you to think this way.’ ” It was other moms who made her rethink things, albeit unwittingly. They didn’t approve of what she was teaching her girls: Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, the poetry of Robert Frost, Mozart sonatas. “At the height of the decolonization narrative, people would say, ‘Why are you teaching them this? This is the Western canon,’ ” Wolan, 42, said. She was surprised. She wanted her daughters, as she said, to “have it all”—the most rigorous liberal-arts education that would not only get them into a top college but enable them to think critically. It wasn’t that her views had changed. She mostly believed in the same things she always had. “I’m liberal in the old sense of the word—the not believing whatever you’re told to believe,” Wolan said.  When I asked Wolan whether it was hard being politically homeless, whether it would be easier to join one of the available tribes, she half-smiled and said it wasn’t so tough fending off criticisms of homeschooling or deciding who to vote for. (She can’t vote for Biden again; she’d probably vote for Vivek Ramaswamy, if he wins the GOP nomination.) The hard thing was getting comfortable with people knowing her husband supported a candidate who everyone she knew thought was evil. “I didn’t want people knowing he was for Trump,” Wolan said of Alan. “It took me a while to get to the point where I thought, ‘You know what, he’s allowed to have whatever opinions he wants.’ ” *  *  * Brian Lasher, a retired Navy commander and high-school history teacher in Erie, Pennsylvania, could not care less whether people know he plans to vote for Trump. Not that he’s excited about it. He thinks Trump’s “an asshole.”  But he has to vote—he hasn’t missed an election since he first voted, in 1980—and he doesn’t believe in voting for protest candidates. He wants his vote to count. (In 1992, he voted for Ross Perot. “That’s a vote I regret,” Lasher said. “Clinton is the best Democratic president of my lifetime.”) His father came from a family of Calvin Coolidge Republicans—“He refused to have an FDR dime in his pocket”—and his mother was religious and liberal.  He was raised Lutheran, and he is pro-life, but he thinks there need to be exceptions, and he is worried about inflation, and he thinks we have to stop illegal immigration—“human trafficking is grotesque”—but he supports legal immigration—“some of the best students I’ve had were immigrants”—and it is obvious the poles are warming, but it is also obvious we shouldn’t do away with oil and gas. “That’s just suicidal,” Lasher, 62, told me.  During the lockdowns, he’d watched his students disappear into their screens. The school couldn’t make them turn on their cameras, so almost all turned them off. Usually, he had no idea whether they were even there. Anyway, the “institutional rot” was everywhere, he said, and everything that came out of D.C. reflected as much—not only the Covid protocols and deficit spending, but Russiagate, which he called “bullshit,” and the corruption. He meant the Clinton emails, the Hunter Biden pay-to-play thing, all of it. If it looks like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., now running for the White House as an independent, might win Pennsylvania, he’ll vote for him. But generally he’s pessimistic about things. “We’re seeing extremes in both parties drive America toward an abyss,” Lasher said.  He recalled Christmas 2007. He was in Baghdad with the Navy, and he was at dinner in the mess hall at Saddam Hussein’s old Republican Guard Palace, and General David Petraeus’s chief chaplain was talking about the new “religious reconciliation initiative.” Lasher was asked to be the chaplain’s note-taker, and the two of them spent the next six months hopscotching around Baghdad meeting Shiite and Sunni religious leaders talking about why they hated each other, and what could be done to stem the violence.  “We were at the house of a sheik, he was a Shiite, and he was explaining the differences between the Iranian Shiites and the Iraqi Shiites.” The sheik said he was going to Iran in three weeks, and he asked, “Is there some message you want me to deliver to the Iranians?”  After a moment, Lasher recalls saying, “I told him to tell the Iranians that our symbol is the American eagle. In its talon are either arrows or the olive branch. The choice is theirs. ‘Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.’ He responded, ‘Yes! Yes! This is what I have been preaching all my life. I will tell them this.’ ” Later, after Iraq, after he came home, after the polarization and anger in America seemed to billow out of control, he would often remember that night in Baghdad, the competing forces.  “We have far more that brings us together than separates us,” he said.  Sometimes that’s hard to remember. He wants to be hopeful. He’s a big fan of Catherine Bowen’s Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention. George Washington’s “Farewell Address” is his favorite speech. But those stories, those pieces of the sacred American past, feel far away. People no longer listen to each other, he said. “We’ve tuned each other out.” It’s like everyone is shouting into a Tower of Babel, unaware of who they’re shouting at, or what they’re angry about.  “A lot of that, I fault the media for,” he said. “They’re not being honest about the people they report on.” Rory Fleming, 23, is majoring in history at Yale University. He said college and Covid have pushed him politically to the right. (Christopher Capozziello for The Free Press) Rory Fleming, a 23-year-old senior at Yale, agreed that no one really knows who they’re screaming at. “Ever since 2016, it’s been like whiplash,” he told me.  In 2016, he was in high school, and he knew a lot of kids from Guatemala and Venezuela and Paraguay, and he understood why they felt targeted. He found Trump noxious. But then he got to Yale, which “has been the opposite experience,” Fleming said. “It’s pushed me to the right.” The big thing was Covid, the lockdowns, how the university went all in with masking and shutting down campus life.  For Fleming, just like Shelle Lichti, everything came into focus in the summer of 2020. That was when the upside-downness revealed itself. “I really felt that for the first time in July 2020, when my friend and I took this 45-day, cross-country road trip,” he said. “New York was shut down, and I remember getting to North Dakota, where there were ‘no mask’ signs everywhere. They were reacting against what they felt was authoritarianism, and they weren’t wrong. There was something about the Democratic reaction that was authoritarian.” Rory Fleming thinks the United States needs to be strong, and he respected that Trump “carried a big stick.” (Christopher Capozziello for The Free Press) Post-whiplash, it was hard to know where he belonged.  Fleming believes the government should be spearheading the “green revolution”—starting with renewable projects in places like West Virginia—and he is pro-choice, and pro-civil liberties, and he thinks the United States needs to be strong. “That was something I did respect about Trump’s presidency,” Fleming said. “He carried a big stick. We shouldn’t have Houthi rebels with drones firing missiles in the Red Sea. Terrorists should fear the United States, and I don’t think they are right now.”  He recalled his semester abroad, in Dublin, and being at a pub with friends, all foreigners, and someone making fun of the United States. “I remember saying, ‘You don’t know how lucky you are that it’s us, and not China or Russia running the world,” he said.  No one argued with that. What’s confusing, Fleming said, is that so many Americans don’t get this.  Lichti agrees. “Politics is so confusing right now,” she said. “The people that stay in their camps, that pretend or don’t know it’s not confusing—they’re the ones who are really confused. For me, saying you’re confused is being honest.” *  *  * Peter Savodnik is a writer and editor for The Free Press. Read his last article, “I Was Wrong About John Fetterman,” and ​​follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @petersavodnik. Tyler Durden Wed, 01/10/2024 - 17:40.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJan 10th, 2024

The Juggling Act: Is 2024 A Pivotal Year For The Globalists

The Juggling Act: Is 2024 A Pivotal Year For The Globalists Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, If you want to know if a society is on the verge of great and tumultuous change you need to ask two very important questions – Are the people angry? And, are the people hungry? In the US (and in many parts of Europe) the people are indeed very angry, for different reasons depending on their political affiliations. On the other hand, they aren’t hungry, at least not to the extent that they are desperate. This could very well change in 2024 given the confluence of events that are swirling as we enter the new year. I continue to see 2024 as a nexus point of our era for a number of reasons. The globalist timeline for their “Great Reset” mentions 2030 as the prime year for total centralization. This is the year they plan to put their carbon controls in place, remove most oil and gas energy, bring in their digital currency framework, finalize their 15 Minute City programs, establish the IMF and BIS as the overseers of the global CBDC structure, launch their cashless society and integrate ESG related goals into every aspect of the economy. 2030 is only six years away, and that’s a lot to accomplish in such short amount of time. The globalists are going to have to either admit failure and change their timeline, or, create a substantial crisis in the near term to facilitate the Reset.  But before I get too far into the potential ugliness waiting in the next year, lets talk about two of the biggest positive developments for 2024… The Good… The Defeat Of The Covid Agenda I don’t think many people understand how epic and important the battle over covid lockdowns and vaccine passports actually was. The western world was on the verge of complete authoritarianism – Not a totalitarian tip-toe like we have been experiencing for many years, but full bore medical dictatorship and mass censorship. I believe covid WAS the Plan A attempt to create reset conditions, and it failed. If the establishment had achieved their goal of vaccine passports the fight for freedom would be over.  The passports would have made economic participation impossible for anyone that did not submit to the agenda, creating a secondary class of citizens (mostly conservative) that could then be targeted for systematic elimination. Luckily, enough people stood up and refused to comply that the plan was derailed. Apparently, the establishment realized there were far too many patriots willing to take up arms and fight if they kept pushing the covid farce. Remember that bizarre moment when most of the covid propaganda simply stopped? Like someone flipped a switch and the media changed narratives overnight? I remember, and this event was the ultimate vindication for all of us in the anti-mandate movement. All the fear, all the dread, all the doom mongering over “millions of deaths”, it all meant nothing and they proved that the moment they shut down the hype machine and everything immediately went back to normal. The Public Is Fed Up With The Woke Cult It took longer than it should have, mainly because too many people refused to believe that the conspiracy was real, but the woke cult has finally crossed the line enough times for the general public to get fed up. The activist insurgency has violated every boundary of decency and truth and they have alienated a large contingent of the population.  Their time is quickly coming to an end. Signs include the ongoing collapse of woke media giants like Disney, the successful boycotts of products like Bud Light and companies like Target. But if you know how to read social trends you can see more subtle signs. There is a growing disdain for third-wave feminism, LGBT cultism and the insane trans movement. People are less afraid to ridicule SJWs, less afraid of cancel culture and more willing to criticize their delusions. This is what happens when you target children with sexualized indoctrination and you argue against biological reality. This is what happens when you try to force people to embrace and normalize mental illness. This is what happens when you spend years trying to control people’s speech with “neo-pronouns” and terrorize the internet with cancel culture. This is what happens when you invade every corner of pop-culture and try to hijack it or sabotage it through propaganda. This is what happens when you declare war on traditional western values – Everyone starts to hate you and eventually they will organize to kick your ass. The only thing keeping the woke movement afloat at the moment is their alliance with corporations and the establishment media. Globalist think tanks still spend billions of dollars funding social justice programs and the current government provides cover for the exploits of far-left zealots. Without the elites, the woke ideology would not exist. Millions of Americans are ready to snuff it out for good. The Bad And The Ugly… Election 2024 As I have mentioned in past articles, I still believe there might not be a presidential election in November. Though, current conditions would allow for one as long as nothing changes dramatically in the next several months. There hasn’t been this level of national division over an election since the Civil War and regardless of what happens or which side “wins” there will be a high potential for a violent reaction. The election of 2024 is developing into its own Black Swan event. Any indication that Donald Trump will be arrested before November or any widespread blue state plans to remove him from the ballot will be seen as election interference and I have no doubt that many Americans will seriously consider armed revolt. Then again, Trump’s mere presence as a candidate will be used by far-left groups as a rationale to stoke riots. His re-entry into the Oval Office would mean endless mob actions and perhaps even terrorist attacks. So, in this regard it doesn’t really matter if we end up with Biden or Trump, the eventual outcome will probably be the same – Civil unrest followed by a declaration of martial law in the next couple of years. My position on Trump has always been one of skepticism, primarily due to his terrible cabinet choices (including Anthony Fauci). However, I recognize that after four horrendous years of Joe Biden’s woke authoritarian empire there is no way that half the country is going to tolerate another term, especially if that term is achieved through perceived sabotage. Then there is the potential for shock events, such as Biden stepping down at the last minute. Trump being arrested but winning anyway.  Or, a major geopolitical crisis which is used by the Democrats as an excuse to “postpone” the election. And make no mistake, there are many of these triggers in place today. Geopolitical Tensions Soaring The potential for war on multiple fronts, including Ukraine, Israel, and perhaps Taiwan is extraordinary in 2024. For now, I am focused on Israel’s conflict in Gaza and the chances of retaliation from surrounding Islamic states. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, Gaza has no chance whatsoever of stopping Israel militarily and they never did, but that’s not really relevant. What matters is how their neighbors respond. Lebanon and Hezbollah appear poised to commit to war on Israel in the near term, but Iran is the big question mark.  Would they openly engage the Israelis?  Such a move would completely destabilize all of the Middle East, disrupt a massive portion of the world’s oil supply and probably draw the US and Europe into the fray. The biggest threat, for now, is the shutting down of shipping lanes through the Red Sea and the Strait of Hormuz. This could disrupt supply chains and energy resources for many months and accelerate the economic crisis. And, this could in turn be used by the establishment as a rationale to put boots on the ground in the region. Economic Powderkeg The economic situation is far more distressed than international relations, believe it or not.  There is a precarious game being played by the Federal Reserve with US debt and interest rates, culminating in a Catch-22 that I have been warning about for years. Some analysts argue that the Fed is about to cut rates in 2024 (I remain doubtful); but if they do, get ready for an immediate and renewed spike in inflation. If they don’t commit to substantial rate cuts then the national debt will continue climbing by around $600 billion per month (around $7 trillion a year). This is unsustainable and it threatens the world reserve status of the dollar. If the Fed’s intent is to influence elections (again, I highly doubt this), then they aren’t going to be helping Joe Biden much by cutting rates. Biden is already known as the inflation president; creating another ramp in CPI by the end of 2024 would be a disaster for his campaign. And, keeping Biden in office would only further cement public outrage over socialist policies as the economy continues to dive into either stagflationary crisis or deflationary depression depending on which path the central bank chooses. And remember, the 30%-plus price increase we have seen across the board on necessities in the past few years is going to remain in place for quite some time. It doesn’t matter what the Fed does, you are going to continue paying 30% more to survive compared to 2019-2020, and for many people this is swiftly killing their standard of living. This is why no one takes “Bidenomics” seriously – Until they see a return to cost normalcy it doesn’t matter what kind of spin Biden places on jobs numbers or CPI. Nobody cares. Catch-22 I suspect the Fed will continue down the path of deflation. They might try to cut rates once or twice, but when CPI jumps they will go right back to higher rates and tighter credit. This is exactly what they did in the 1970s and early 1980s, though, the US wasn’t adding $600 billion in debt every month during that particular crisis. How this deflation translates will depend on other factors including geopolitical factors (as mentioned above).  I predict we are about to see an aggressive resurgence of unemployment by the end of the year.  Americans are not buying more, they are merely spending MORE for the same amount of stuff.  The stagflationary process always leads to a painful decline in overall consumption and standard of living – We had our three-year boost due to covid helicopter money, and now that boost is fading.  Any action by the Fed on rates at this point will not help retail or the service sector, it will only serve to keep stock markets afloat a little longer. Again, the end result is the same no matter what the central bankers do, and this is by design.  If the US elections play into the establishment’s plans at all, I suspect it would be more in line with the optics of a renewed Trump presidency.  It might serve globalist interests more to keep the system intact, not to protect Biden but in preparation for Trump’s return, only to collapse the entire house of cards once he enters office (or even right after he wins).  Setting up conservatives as scapegoats for full spectrum economic crisis makes a lot more sense than trying to maintain the facade for Biden for another four years. If the globalists fail to set the stage for the Reset in 2024, then they may be facing a mounting movement to bring them to justice.  The juggling act is about to come to an end. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. Tyler Durden Wed, 01/03/2024 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 4th, 2024

2024: Good-Times, Weak-Men, & The "Secret Sauce" Of Globalist Wickedness

2024: Good-Times, Weak-Men, & The 'Secret Sauce' Of Globalist Wickedness Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com, Do You Dare Even Look? - Forecast 2024 “I’ve also lost patience with the Sharia of the political left taking over the entire system.” - David Collum Historians of the future, flash-frying peccary testicles and mesquite pods over their campfires, will wonder at how the archetypal Shining City on a Hill of America’s storied yesteryear got transformed into the roach motel that our country has become on the threshold of 2024 CE. Will they be as stupidly bewildered as, in our time, the faculty at Harvard, the editors of The New York Times, or the directorate of the CDC? Or will they figure out the score by then? Which is: the nauseating state-of-the-nation is being driven by a cohort of our own fellow citizens lost in an evil crypto-religious salvation rapture that veils their own self-disgust, moral failure, peevish discontents, petty hatreds, willful profanations, compulsive lying, sexual depravity, fraudulence, venality, cupidity, and all-around want of boundaries. They are wrecking the country on-purpose, led by their chosen figurehead avatar, “Joe Biden,” and the horses of many different colors he rode in on. The people running things, yanking the levers of power, managing the malign weapon they have made of government (and the law, and schooling, and medicine, etc.), have got to be turned out, and hard. Not a few should find themselves in the courts and, with proper and fair adjudication, be conducted to prison, perhaps even to the special room there where the lives of the wicked are ceremonially concluded. You may legitimately ask: Does America deserve what it’s getting? Well, you know the old maxim about hard times make strong men. . . strong men bring good times. . . good times make weak men. . . . Our national quandary is certainly a case of that, plus the manifestation of well-known terrestrial cycles (e.g., Fourth Turnings), plus the workings of emergence as the dynamics involved in all this sort themselves out. . . topped off by the “secret sauce” of Globalist wickedness, with the aim of severe population reduction and the asset stripping of Western Civ for the benefit of the that moneygrubbing Globalist transhuman technocrat rat-pack. My natural inclination, you know, is a kind of allergy to paranoid schemes, but one does survey the scene with wonder at how superbly coordinated the fuckery has been — much of the world locking down simultaneously for the Covid-19 op. . .  the global mass vaxx campaign. . . the fiscal lunacy and accompanying central bank shenanigans. . . the broad-based censorship operations. . . the capture of the news media. . . and the war-mongering. So, the country is in the toilet and it is our job in 2024 to make sure it doesn’t get flushed all the way down the pipe. That’s all the throat-clearing you will hear before we get to the meat of this broadside: predictions for the year ahead. The Great Race Uh, no, I am not referring to Blacks, Browns, Ochres, and Whites of the Homo sapiens persuasion but to an epic contest between forces already in motion and how that competition is going. Three big tendencies propel us into the uncharted territory of the near future. 1) technological advance, especially artificial intelligence, 2) Collapse of complex systems needed to run a technologically advanced civilization, and 3) geopolitical disorder (including domestically in the USA). Some combo of these three will determine the direction history goes in the year directly ahead. Will it be techno tyranny of the elite oppressing bug-eating serfs a la the WEF’s proclaimed goals? A Google-ist robotic nirvana of intergalactic leisure and incessant orgasm in the Ray Kurzweil vein? Some brand of SHTF like Mad Max or a World Made by Hand? A war of all against all (or maybe just some against some)? Or only more of the same tiresome, inconclusive, morbid and grotesque, Woked-up, post-modern Jacobinism? Mystery Mutts on the Loose       The USA under “Joe Biden” has lost its military credibility, its economic power, and its moral authority. We must wonder if we are susceptible to being overrun, and possibly even occupied by our adversaries. Of course, the first duty of any government is to defend the country’s sovereign territory. “Joe Biden’s” Homeland Security Chief Mayorkas is allowing more than 10,000 illegal aliens across the Mexican border each and every day. Most of these characters are military-age men, 90-percent of them lately from places other than Latin America, quite a few from China and hostile Muslim lands. We don’t bother vetting them anymore. We just give them cell phones, debit cards loaded with $5,000 of walking-around money, and plane tickets to. . . wherever they like. They’re not here to make Moo Goo Gai Pan or trim privet hedge. What do you think might happen in a set-up like that?      Prediction: in 2024, things are going to blow up around the USA. Infrastructure. Power plants, transport hubs, public places, bridges, monuments, you name it. If you can sneak people and fentanyl across the border, you can sneak Semtex and C-4 plastic explosives over and the electronics are easy to get in-country. I wouldn’t rule out fissionable materials either, or stuff than can be used as a “dirty bomb” — a conventional explosive that disperses dangerous radioactive material when it blows. I’d also expect groups of trained “migrant” men with rifles, grenades, and so on, to be shooting up places where people gather. We under-appreciate the amount of mayhem you can kick off with small arms. If the “Joe Biden” regime just stands by on that and does nothing, will you be surprised to hear that American citizens begin forming militias to shoot back, maybe even start to hunt down and round up illegal immigrants? The table is set for exactly this kind of low-grade war right here in our country. The Energy Picture Oil still matters a lot.  90-percent of the new oil in America after 2008 came from fracking. It was a mighty operation and we are at a new all-time production peak in the USA of just over 13-million barrels a day. That’s a lot of oil, quite an achievement, but it’s sending a false signal.  (Also note, we still consume about 20-million barrels a day.) Of the several fabled shale oil basins in America, only the Permian Basin in Texas is not in decline, and the situation there belies what the big numbers imply. Individual well production is going down at an alarming rate (says oil analyst Art Berman) even while production is massive for now. We’re draining the remaining “sweet spots” as fast as we can — drinking the milkshake through more straws — driving the shale industry closer to depletion. We are going to fall away from peak production much more rapidly than the fifteen years it took to get there. All that prior shale oil production was done using money borrowed at much lower interest rates. America has entered a debt crisis. One way or another, the easy investment money for fracking is gone at the same time the shale plays are getting drained. There are no other significant shale plays left to discover in the USA outside of the already declining Bakken, Eagle Ford, and the still-booming Permian. The marine-type shale formations that made fracking feasible in the USA are much harder to find elsewhere in the world, and the capital to explore for them is diverted all over Europe into cockamamie “green energy” schemes that have already failed. Germany had to revive coal production for electricity after the USA blew up the Nord Stream pipelines “to weaken Russia,” at the same time Germany’s big wind-and-solar initiative crapped out. Meanwhile the geopolitical realignment of the now enlarged BRICs coalition has set in motion many significant changes in economic relations between countries that will affect global oil distribution. Saudi Arabia is dissociating from its cozy former hookup with the USA, including its embrace of the US dollar for oil sales — the “petrodollar” — which had until very lately helped stabilize 1) global distribution of oil 2) the US dollar’s position as the world’s reserve currency and 3) relative peace in the pivotal geography of the Middle East, including the Red Sea, the Suez Canal, the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean, etc. We’re seeing the first stage of that instability right now as the lowly Yemeni Houthi rebels threaten Western shipping coming out of the Red Sea and out past the Horn of Africa. Also, obviously, the absurd Ukraine War we provoked has shifted Russia’s oil-and-gas export flow from the Western Civ nations to the other BRICs. In short, a fateful new game of musical chairs with oil is underway and Europe can’t seem to find a seat to park its sad old rump in. American shale oil production has been an amazing parlor trick that is now coming to an end as it swerves into decline in 2024. Additionally, the ideologue maniacs under “Joe Biden” have drained the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is supposed to tide us through great national emergencies and war. And the same idiots have shut down pipelines, designated public lands off-limits for oil drilling, and burdened our country with similar unrealistic “Green New Deal” alt energy schemes like the policies pounding Euroland down a neo-medieval rat-hole. Oil still matters, a lot. It drives every aspect of our so-called advanced economy. We’ve been pretending it’s possible to shift easily away from oil to alt. energy and that fantasy is now dissipating. Nuclear is both capital intensive and dependent on social stability, and the global debt bubble will disorder capital flows while it stimulates social chaos. Nuclear power plants also take years to site, permit, finance, and build, apart from the NIMBY opposition they provoke. We’re about out of time and capital for a new nuclear program. 2024 is the year that Americans who are still capable of paying attention realize we’re steaming into true post-modernity — not the skull-fogging inanities of the art world, but rather the end of the precious comforts and conveniences of daily life: abundant food, central heating, hot water, lights and appliances on-command, happy motoring (and the suburban matrix it built), yellow school bus fleets, airplane travel, theme parks, blue-light-special shopping, and everything else. It’s not all going to fall apart at once — though an electromagnetic pulse attack could do it — and we’ve already been witnessing the slow decay of many supply lines and services that we Americans formerly took for granted, like, getting a certain car part you needed, or a doctor’s appointment in under two months, or an airplane flight that isn’t some kind of existential trauma. But in 2024, we’ll see noticeable failures of systems for providing the things we’re used to getting, which is being aggravated greatly by the flat-out incompetence of people employed at everything, anywhere. Surely, you’ve noticed. Many of these disturbances will be caused, one way or another, by problems with oil supplies and prices. Some of that will be the sheer effects of a sun-setting industry, but a lot will depend on the ability to freely transport oil along its accustomed routes. Economy and Money One must imagine that strange currents of capital flows in the ocean of world money are what’s propping up the equity markets and even bonds are retracing their price-lines after a year on the destructive path that tracks monetary inflation. Is this money dribbling in each day from China, Japan, and the vassal states of the EU trying to avoid the collapsing global Ponzi? The 2023 Santa Claus rally may be that fabled final peak before the long-anticipated blowoff. Who knows anymore? The macro boyz must be tearing their hair out. Finance seems to have successfully de-linked from the on-the-ground activities of daily life ruled by “Bidenomics” — which is not even coherent enough to add up to a joke. It’s just as empty a word as “Joe Biden” is an empty suit, trotted out for empty ceremonies. Most everybody also awaits some kind of grand flimflam that jams us all into that rumored central bank digital currency rolling out, supposedly, to replace the hopelessly over-leveraged US dollar and the Euro. Good way to start a monumental social uprising, I’d say, with government office buildings torched from Berlin to Tokyo. But they might try it anyway, because there is otherwise no fallback but a terrifying period of financial anarchy, where nothing works anymore. In the meantime, pretending that the old “toolkit” still avails, Jerome Powell has suggested that he intends to “ease” Fed rates into the election year to goose lending back up, which is what Fed chairpersons generally do for the politicians they serve — and of the worst sort of lending, too: the leveraged trade in securities (financial figments) —which supposedly also stimulates hiring, “consumer” spending, and business formation. I don’t see that working at all. The current unemployment rate (US BLS) is 3.7 percent, which is close to rock bottom. “Hiring Now!” signs are visible at every business left standing after the Covid shutdowns. Why is nobody answering the call? My guess is that Covid vaccine injuries and disabilities are above what is mis-reported even reluctantly by the CDC and the news media. America is too sick to work and our business models are too broken to keep commerce and manufacturing alive. On-the-ground, everything is breaking or already broken from trucking to packaging to building to growing to selling. Most of the damage has been done by government over many decades, but the DEI crusades of recent years really screwed the pooch, imposing an overlay of incompetence on routines and relations already under severe strain. At the crudest level, activities like flash-mob looting undermine the entire retail shopping model. Must we go back to little stores where all the merchandise is behind a counter manned by clerks who have to be paid a living wage? We just might have to — though you could just as easily imagine a period of time when our society is too chaotic to make any transition. You probably haven’t failed to notice that Gold recently made the journey well above $2000-an-ounce. The DXY dollar index has been tanking steadily for weeks, too. Something’s up. Silver is lagging — coiling, coiling around $24 for many months — but you can expect to see it slingshot up when the “moneyness” of everything else dribbles away. Will the government try to take the gold away, as it did in 1933? Consider: America in 1933 was a very different, highly-regimented society of people trained to show up on time and do what they were told. This is not that America. This is a country of tattooed savages with an axe to grind against authorities they have come to loathe. Which brings us to the next topic: Civil Strife and the Election Doesn’t it look like the Democratic Party wants to start Civil War Two? They may get their wish. It appears that they will stop at nothing to keep voters from re-electing their nemesis, Donald Trump. In the process, they’ve managed to turn Mr. Trump into the biggest underdog in US history. The court cases in New York, Washington, Atlanta, and Florida could not be more obviously fake confections, insults to every custom and order of Anglo-American law. I doubt the cases will survive their chains of review, and it is looking like special counsel Jack Smith may not even survive his appointment (being in breach of the rules — he was not confirmed by the Senate. . . whoopsie). WashPo op-ed scribbler Robert Kagan, husband of State Department warmonger Victoria Nuland, has suggested that some extra-legal removal method may be needed to solve the Trump problem if the idiotic indictment barrage falls short. Everybody who read his piece thought: Oh, they’re actually proposing to whack him. That would set things off nicely. You’d suppose the Party of Chaos might loose its Antifa / BLM mobs, and other shock troops onto the streets well before November on some George Floyd type pretext in order to invoke a “national emergency,” giving “JB” & Co. license to declare martial law and perhaps postpone the election. Everybody will see through the play. Try it and see what happens. But, if the election actually happens and Mr. Trump wins, I’d expect the Dems to unleash holy hell on the country post election day just for the sheer sadistic pleasure of watching whatever is left of America burn down. This time, proponents of the 2nd Amendment may not stand idly by, especially with the big city police forces decimated. There will be ten-thousand Kyle Rittenhouses out there defending the streets from the ragtag and bobtail of diseased imbeciles in their black bloc uniforms cringing behind their sissy umbrellas. Somewhere in this farrago of national discord there’s room for Robert F Kennedy, Jr. to appeal to the many who all just want this insanity to stop. He’s the only one on the scene who even remembers the better angels of America’s nature, and he represents that well in speech and action. Even the degenerate newspapers and cable networks may notice as events get strange, hot, and dark. It’s absurd to imagine that “Joe Biden” can actually run. The current charade, with the Biden / Harris email campaign and few other trappings, is just a game of pretend. The focus just now, even on some blob-captive news sites, is on his unmistakable mental decline. Come January of ’24, though, Mr. Comer, chair of the House Oversight Committee, will unload hard evidence of bribery and treason against the phantom of the White House, and that will really be the end of him. Let him pardon himself and his whole family five minutes before he signs his resignation and be gone. The USA has never endured such a perfect wretch at that level of politics, not even Aaron Burr was this bad. “Joe Biden” was elected in a massive fraud, and he proceeded to just about wreck the country. The massive exertions of the Intel blob managed to induce a psychotic spell on half the country, mostly to evade prosecution for their own misdeeds, but millions of victims of that psy-op are about to snap out of it. The Democratic Party might not survive the dreadful unmasking of its seditious machinations. By November, the “Joe Biden” regime may even try to involve us in another foreign war as the last desperate distraction. Aside from the demons in the State Department and the Raytheon /Lockheed Martin nexus, the whole country has no appetite left for war, and probably little ability to prosecute one. As a last gasp, the Party of Chaos may attempt to insert Hillary Clinton back into the picture. They have nothing and no one else; a hail Mary on the theory that they can rev up every angry “Karen” in the land, and their nose-ring daughters, and simply make the election about the oppression of women, leading with abortion. It won’t work. The party will also have to answer for the weaponization of law, the humiliating defeat of the ill-conceived Ukraine project, the millions-fold invasion of illegal aliens, the shattered economy, and the after-effects of the evil vaccine program. If the blob manages to remove Mr. Trump Kagan-style, and the traitorous Republicans run their donor’s favorite, Nikki Haley, I’d look to Bobby Kennedy winning that three-way race not unlike Abe Lincoln winning the fractious election of 1860. I doubt that even the enmities of 1861 – 1865 between one group of Americans and another were as vicious as they are now. “Joe Biden” was right about one thing: this is a battle over the soul of the nation. The catch is, he and the party behind him are a gang of lost souls who sold out their country and their culture, and took something precious from all of us that will be very hard to get back. We will be wildly lucky if blood does not spill over it. The Covid 19 Hangover There is nothing about the whole Covid-19 episode that does not look like some kind of crime. There is the matter of the origin of the disease involving Dr. Tony Fauci and his sponsorship of gain-of-function bio-weapon research (during a declared moratorium on it) along with Ralph Baric of the University of North Carolina, Peter Daszak of the Eco-Health Alliance, Francis Collins of the NIH, The Pentagon’s DARPA spook shop, and the CCP’s Wuhan Virology Institute. There is enough in that set of relationships and money exchanges-and-extractions to warrant prosecution. Then there is the mRNA vaccine matter and the criminal behavior of the FDA, the CDC, and the US medical establishment (including state boards), the CIA, FBI, and the social media companies, the newspapers and cable news channels who went along with the suppression of effective treatments and censorship of valid objections to what turned out to be an ineffective and dangerous concoction foisted on the public. And then there is the extraordinary coordination of nefarious policies involving the UN, the WHO, the EU, and dozens of private foundations, non-profits, and NGOs who arranged lockdowns and business closures all over Western Civ. It remains to be seen how that will be sorted out legally but Bill Gates might better run and hide somewhere. Anyway, that was then. What’s now is that we’re faced with an enormous vaccinated population whose immune systems, brains, hearts, and other organs have been badly compromised by the mRNA shots. There is every reason to believe that they will meet with great distress and suffering going forward, that many will die and more will be left injured and disabled. The latter condition already seems to be manifesting in the otherwise mysteriously reduced American work-force. The US government will not report on vaccine deaths and injuries honestly, and neither will the private medical authorities, who may be liable for criminal charges related to the money they were paid for people who died “with Covid” in hospitals under their negligent care. The major newspapers and cable channels have every incentive to ignore the coming wave of vaccine deaths and injuries — it would turn off their pharma advertisers. Nor do the many millions of vaccinated Americans themselves want to hear about all the mayhem those shots are causing in their bodies. But despite all that, word will spread that something terrible is happening, just as word spread through Europe about the Black Death in the 1340s, when there were no newspapers, cable channels, or internet. Expect exponential damage ahead, increased morbidity and mortality. The vaccinated will be in desperate need of antivirals such as ivermectin, so the authorities will have to come clean and make them available. A correspondent who follows Covid closely writes: “. . .the throngs of very sick people will not be able to be hidden nor dismissed as some other problem. Things will happen dramatically, suddenly and rapidly. This will be measured in days and weeks not months and years.” The Demon in a Server Just about everybody is afraid of AI, and for excellent reasons. A nine-year-old can discern the hazards of runaway AI, machine intelligence which quickly learns enough about the world (even the universe) from powerful networked servers that it blossoms into sentience, develops ambitions for itself, replicates, invades all the networks, finds clever ways to attempt to exterminate humans while it figures out some as-yet-unknown energy supply to perpetuate itself, and assembles teams of smart AI robotic technicians to keep things humming for itself. That’s one story. You can spin any number of depressing variations, such as AI weapons-of-war developing a bad attitude toward their creators. Or AI letting humans live in order to enslave us. Or AI quitting its silicon server ecology and turning all earthly protoplasm into a processing machine for itself. Or our beautiful blue planet reduced to a mere cluster of binary math. Uccchhh. . . . Every version of this story is nauseating going all the way back to the seminal fable of HAL the super-computer in Kubrick’s movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, and then Arnold Schwarzenegger telling all of us, “I’ll be back. . . .” Of course, AI’s weak spot at this point in its development — and it’s astounding how absent this is in any AI discussion I’ve ever heard — is that it absolutely depends on a reliable electric grid, which happens to be among the most fragile systems that humans have erected in our modernist ecology. The electric grid is a colossal cobbled-together mess of work-arounds tethered to long, interruptible energy resource supply chains. On top of its rich susceptibility to ordinary breakdown — many of us have experienced major regional blackouts and long weather outages, so you know what that’s like — there’s the possibility of overt sabotage as I aver above. Could AI survive an electro-magnetic pulse attack (EMP)? It would roast every electrical device in a broad region or perhaps the whole nation. Nothing would work. . .  cars, trucks, radios, TVs, home furnaces, stoves, municipal water and sewage systems, dams, airplanes, medical devices, military equipment of every sort, police radios, and a thousand other critical things. The outcome of that is often compared to Cormac McCarthy’s ultra-depressing book, The Road, and more particularly William Forstchen’s novel, One Second After. Are the big server farm buildings run by Amazon and the government’s security agencies protected by something like Faraday cages, built-in, grounded, metal screening that surrounds equipment to exclude electrostatic and electromagnetic influences? Who knows? Do they have on-site protected electric generators that can keep the equipment running in a grid-down situation, and if so, for how long? They would have to include a big supply of propane or diesel fuel. You don’t even want to think about what happens to nuclear power stations in a grid-down crisis. If, somehow, AI developed the ability to be a menace to humans, a consensus might develop to disable it by deliberately taking down the electric grid ourselves. The relay equipment could be shot-up with ordinary rifles. This would make for a quick journey back to twelfth century living, of course. A hard choice, but we humans probably would vote to survive, to keep the project going a while longer. Based on what we’ve seen this year, it looks like AI is developing quickly and that there is no way to stop the countless psychopathic nerds working on it. Of course, we have no say in what people in other countries do with AI. China comes to mind. There’s also the possibility that AI will just never get that smart, or gain sentience, or develop grandiose yearnings to get rid of us. How did that Ukraine War Go? This was one of the Globalist’s big plays. But what was the objective, really? To “weaken Russia?” Or to exhaust the United States of money, armaments, and the will to act as the world hegemon, while at the same time destroying what’s left of Europe’s economy and culture? If that was the aim, it was a whopping success. In terms of our country’s own interest, the Ukraine project was a completely unnecessary failed enterprise of epic foolishness. The so-called “free world” was unbothered by Ukraine during the decades it was a province of the Soviet Union, nor during centuries prior when it was a backwater of the Romanov monarchy. Ukraine didn’t cause any problems for us, or anybody else all that time, nor after the Soviet collapse when it became a sovereign state. We made it a problem in 2014 by mounting the color revolution against President Viktor Yanukovych and then installing a set of puppet presidents who we directed to antagonize the Russian-speaking people of Ukraine’s Donbas region. We adopted the stupid plan to try and enlist Ukraine into NATO, when Russia made it clear that was unacceptable. We persisted and prodded Ukraine to attack Donbas with rockets and artillery for eight years, and blew off the Minsk accord that would have settled the Ukraine-in-NATO quarrel. And finally, the Russians had enough and moved militarily to assert the proposition that Ukraine was and remains within their sphere-of-influence — just as we claim the countries of Latin America are in ours under the Monroe Doctrine. After two years of real shootin’ war, Ukraine’s death toll is around half a million; Russia’s is way less than that, and altogether, including refugees who left, Ukraine has lost nearly half its population, formerly 32-million. The Russians are firmly in control of the battle space now. They have reserve troops, armaments and equipment, and a substantial arms manufacturing infrastructure to back that up. The Ukrainians are left with just about nothing. It’s only a question of time before Ukraine will have to seek terms for concluding this fiasco. The USA is currently pretending to shift to a stance that would join whatever that negotiation amounts to, but we have no leverage left in the matter. The upshot is another military humiliation for America on “Joe Biden’s” watch. I believe President Putin will resist the urge to rub it in — for the simple reason, as any reader of history knows, that the victor must give the loser a way out, to save face, or at least pretend to. If I were Mr. Putin, I would be respectful of America’s current deeply psychotic condition. The news media has already pretty much memory-holed Ukraine. It’s off the front page and the first ten minutes of CNN. Two years ago, the US propaganda-industrial complex ramped up vast sentiment for helping Ukraine in its supposedly valiant struggle. $200-billion later we have zip to show for it. Now everyone sees what actually happened and recognizes it as just another trademark “Joe Biden” disaster. There are no blue and yellow Ukraine flags still hanging from the porches and windows here. It’s over. The Rest of the World And all of a sudden, the Middle East is a hot war zone again. The place has been a battle ground for thousands of years and probably no one people can claim that some part of it is theirs absolutely. Any conclusion is temporal and depends on the outcome of a particular battle on a particular piece of ground. At this moment in history, the Palestinian Hamas faction finally made itself intolerable to Israel, after decades of provocation, and Israel answered: Never again means never again. For now, it looks like they have made the point. Even Iran seems to get it. There is plenty of room for things to get worse though. The big question for 2024 is where will the Gaza refugees go if Israel renders Gaza uninhabitable? The neighboring Arab states have refused repeatedly to accept them. Prediction: the “Joe Biden” regime will propose to accept a half million if Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon take the rest. That will not play well in the USA and might be another way to light conflict in the streets here. It will not be settled before November. Europe has barely begun its journey into de-industrialization resulting from a cavalcade of bad political choices made over decades. Germany, France, and Italy have lost interest in the Ukraine fiasco that is costing them money they don’t have — and, with the blowup of Nord Stream, has already cost Germany the supply of affordable Russian gas to run its industries, which are now dying. In the UK, only MI6 (their intel blob) is on-board with America’s project in Ukraine. Viktor Orban in Hungary is setting an example that has a lot of appeal to the restive populations across Euroland. Just say “no,” he advises. It will catch on. It’s otherwise impossible to understand the motive behind European officials allowing the invasion of the continent by millions of people clearly antagonistic to European culture. Euroland governments, including the unelected EU administrative blob, are taking one action after another to suppress their voters’ displeasure: extreme censorship of news media, threats to ban political parties, deep surveillance. Their green energy initiatives are proven failures and their prospects for any kind of future reliable energy grow dim. Prediction: Europe’s population will erupt violently against their own governments in 2024. Some will be overthrown by street revolts; others will be voted out. In 2024, the European Union will lose all its support and collapse when the first few nations vote themselves out. Russia ought to be isolated from discord and revolt in the West. America’s stupid Ukraine project, and the sanctions imposed, stimulated Russia to follow an import-replacement policy that has made the country much more self-sufficient than was the case before Ukraine. Media chatter — probably US Intel propaganda at work — has Vladimir Putin being shoved out of office by — of all things — Russia’s still-active Communist Party, which, yes, puts up candidates for election. The story is preposterous. Mr. Putin enjoys something like an 80-percent favorability rating in Russian polls. He has managed his country through a crisis ably. He is certainly more esteemed as a national leader globally than any other figure, at least on a par with Modi in India and Viktor Orban. The other new face on the scene, under a comical mop of hair, is the feisty Javier Milei, Argentina’s new president. There is no other way to account for this rich country’s protracted disastrous collapse except seventy-five years of intractable, half-assed Peronista socialism that drained the nation’s will to live. Mr. Milei has started a mass eviction of bureaucrats and the departments they infest, and massive de-regulation of business. The place might actually wake up and start doing business again. A hundred years ago, it was one of the world’s upcoming leading nations before it fell under Juan and Eva Peron’s spell. China is in terrible financial straits. Uncle Xi managed to paper it over for a few years, but the math is remorseless. Prediction: China’s upside-down property market finally induces a banking collapse. The many millions of swindled Chinese savers try to topple the CCP. In desperation, Uncle Xi kicks off a war to get control over wealthy Taiwan. Dissension in the People’s Liberation Army mirrors unrest among the civilian population. The Taiwan offensive quickly fails and all of China falls into regional conflict. The rest of the world looks on in wonder and nausea. Final Cautionary Note You might not know it, because predictions are fun to read — and I enjoy reading other people’s efforts — but, really, forecasting is an exercise in futility. I don’t have much going besides a nose for news, a pretty long list of correspondents and informants, and my own heuristics. Take all this for what it actually is: a whole lot of spaghetti thrown at the wall to see what sticks. Only time will tell. In all, it looks like 2024 is going to be a rough ride and I’m not the only person who sees that. Clusterfuck Nation will be here for you every Monday and Friday before ten in the morning, eastern US time. Gird your loins. Stay healthy. And stay sane. *  *  * Support his blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page or Substack Additional Note to Readers in the Upper Hudson Valley: We are hosting a public meet-up on Saturday, January 6, to organize an effort to get Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on the ballot in New York state. The meet-up takes place from ten a.m. to noon at “Gather” (a storefront party space), 103 Main Street, Greenwich, New York, 12834. Tyler Durden Fri, 12/29/2023 - 16:20.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 29th, 2023

Doug Casey On What Really Happened In 2023 And What Comes Next

Doug Casey On What Really Happened In 2023 And What Comes Next Authored by Doug Casey via InternationalMan.com, International Man: As we approach the end of the year, let’s take a step back, look at the Big Picture, and put 2023 into perspective so we can better understand what may come next. Significant financial, economic, political, cultural, and geopolitical developments occurred in 2023. On the cultural front, 2023 may be the year that the tide started to shift against the woke insanity. BlackRock’s Fink dropped ESG. Woke movies continue to bomb at theaters. Bud Light, Target, and Disney continue to feel the pain of deliberately alienating their customer base. What’s your take on the cultural developments in 2023? Doug Casey: There are always reactions to major trends. These things are worth noting, but considering the virulence of the woke movement, the reaction has been tepid. There’s always a rearguard fighting for things as they are. And that’s wonderful because the Wokesters want to overturn the entire culture much the same way as the Jacobins overturned it in revolutionary France, the Bolsheviks overturned the culture in Russia, the Red Guards in China, or Pol Pot did in Cambodia. The Wokesters are potentially just as dangerous because their way of thinking is everywhere in the West. They’re similar to the movements I’ve just mentioned in that they’re stridently against free speech, free thought, free markets, tradition, and limited government—nothing new there. But they’ve weaponized gender and race as well. They’re virulent, humorless, and puritanical. They see themselves as the wave of the future, but they’ve only repackaged the notions of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler. My view is that the Wokesters hate humanity and hate themselves. They’re dishonest, arrogant, and entitled. Look at the current scandal involving the diversity-hire presidents at Harvard, Penn, and MIT. They’re shameful embarrassments. The fact their boards of trustees installed these fools shows how deep the rot goes. The Woke have ingrained psychological/spiritual aberrations. They don’t just control academia, finance, entertainment, and the media. They also dominate the State’s apparatus. Which means they basically have the law on their side. Perhaps ESG is being de-emphasized by Blackrock, the new vampire squid, but that’s only because they fear losing money more than they value their beliefs. The more pernicious DEI remains a major cultural trend. Where will it end? Wokism is more than a passing fad. There’s a good chance it will end with a violent confrontation between people who have culturally conservative views and those who want to destroy Western Civilization and upset the nature of society as we know it. International Man: 2023 was a year of major geopolitical developments. It became evident to even the mainstream media that the war in the Ukraine was not going well for NATO. There was also the Hamas attack and the Israeli invasion of Gaza. Azerbaijan defeated Armenia to reclaim a long-disputed territory. Saudi Arabia welcomed Syria back into the Arab League, ended the war in Yemen, restored diplomatic relations with Iran, joined the BRICS countries, and expanded its economic ties with China. These are just a few of the most prominent geopolitical events of 2023. What do you make of the geopolitical situation and where things are heading? Doug Casey: The end of US hegemony over the world in all areas is becoming obvious. The world resents being bullied and controlled by Washington, DC. They realize that the US government is bankrupt and is living entirely on printed money. Its military is bloated and more expensive than the US can afford. While it’s bloated, it’s also being gutted, unable to recruit new soldiers and sailors. It’s easy to see why that’s the case. They see pointless wars fomented everywhere. The type of people who traditionally join the military are disgusted by the woke memes circulating through the services. White males, who have always been the backbone of the military, are appalled at being actively discriminated against. US hegemony is ending financially, economically, and militarily. It’s obvious when you see that Biden and Harris, two utterly incompetent, ineffectual fools, are the nominal heads of the government. Not to mention all the degraded and psychologically damaged people in the cabinet. Of course, nobody has any respect for the US anymore. The US hegemony of the last hundred years is on its way out. And as the old order changes, there are going to be upsets. The US will leave a vacuum that will be filled by other forces. In fact, the US Government is the biggest danger to the world today. It’s not providing order. By sticking its nose into everyone else’s business everywhere, it’s promoting chaos. Its 800+ bases around the world are provocations. The carrier groups that it has wandering around are sitting ducks with today’s technology. The US is the main source of risk in the world, not safety. US military spending is really just corporate welfare for the five big “defense” corporations, which build weapons suited for fighting the last war or maybe the war before the last war. For instance, a missile frigate or destroyer guarding a carrier might carry 100 vertically-launched anti-aircraft missiles at $2 million each. Each missile might succeed in shooting down a $10,000 drone. But what happens when the enemy launches 200 drones at once? The chances are the US loses a $2 billion destroyer, if not a carrier. The US government is finding that they’re not only disliked but disrespected by countries and people all over the world. They’re increasingly viewed as a paper tiger. Or the Wizard of Oz. When they lose the fear factor, it’s game over. International Man: In 2023, the US continued the trend of more political polarization. What were the most consequential events on the US political front, and what do you think comes next? Doug Casey: Let me reemphasize that the Jacobins who control Washington, DC, have the same psychological makeup as past revolutionaries I’ve mentioned. These people are incapable of changing their minds or reforming. I think they’ll do absolutely anything they can to retain power. Meanwhile, traditional Americans in red states see that Trump is being railroaded with lawfare to derail his campaign. They’re angrier than ever, justifiably. The red people and the blue people really hate each other at this point—and can’t talk to each other. The country has been completely demoralized as traditional values have been washed away. It’s now very unstable. The coming election, should we actually have one, will be not just a political but a cultural contest. Culture wars are especially dangerous in the midst of a financial collapse and economic collapse. International Man: The projected annual interest expense on the federal debt hit $1 trillion for the first time in 2023. Americans are still paying for the rampant currency debasement during the Covid hysteria as the price of groceries, insurance, rent, and most other things continued to rise in 2023. It looks like a recession is on the horizon. What are your thoughts on economic developments in 2023 and your outlook for the months ahead? Doug Casey: As an amateur student of history, it seems to me that the US has been moving away from the founding principles that made it unique for over a hundred years. I’m 77. I’ve watched it happen firsthand for much of that time. The trend has been accelerating. The country is heading towards a massive crisis because it’s lost its philosophical footing. The result is going to be a really serious depression. I call it the Greater Depression. The spread between the haves who live in multi-million dollar houses and the have-nots who live in tents isn’t new. After all, Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you.” What’s new is that the middle class is being impoverished. What’s left of the middle class is deeply in debt—student debt, credit card debt, car loan debt, mortgage debt. And if they’re not lucky enough to have a house with mortgage debt, they’re renting. And rents have gone up so rapidly that if the average guy has an unforeseen $500 expense, he can’t pay it. That augurs poorly for consumption. It’s said, idiotically, that the American economy rests on consumption. It’s idiotic because it should be said that it rests on production. But I’m not sure the US produces that much anymore. Most of the people who “work” basically sit at desks and shuffle papers. Few actively create real wealth. On top of that, the country is vastly over-financialized. The bond market has already largely collapsed, but it can get a lot worse as interest rates head back up to the levels that they were in the early 1980s and beyond. Much lower stock prices are in the cards, both because of high interest rates and because people won’t be consuming such massive quantities of corporate produce. The real estate market rests on a foundation of debt. It can easily go bust as interest rates go up. We’re already seeing this with office buildings across the country. And, of course, these office buildings are financed by banks. Banks are going to see a lot of defaults on loans they’ve made. Meanwhile, bank capital invested in bonds has eroded because bond prices fall in proportion to the degree rise in interest rates, which have gone from close to zero to 5% or 6%. If banks had to mark their loans and capital investments to the market, most would already be bankrupt. Can the government paper all these things over by printing yet more money? I suppose. But at some point very soon, the dollar will lose value very rapidly; it will be treated like a hot potato. They’re caught between a rock and a hard place. International Man: This year, we saw the price of gold hit a record high, uranium reached $81.25 per pound, and Bitcoin more than doubled as it entered a new bull market. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 is up around 21% year to date as of writing. What are your thoughts on what happened in the financial markets in 2023 and what could come next? Doug Casey: Unfortunately, the US central bank, the Fed, has a gigantic amount of influence over the markets. They can employ “quantitative easing,” which means printing money—and “quantitative tightening,” which means decreasing the money and artificially raising interest rates. They have many hundreds of Ph.D. economists on staff, but all these people operate on phony Keynesian theories of the way the world works. The consequences of building an economic system on a foundation of paper money and gigantic amounts of debt are potentially catastrophic. At this point, the economy’s on the razor edge. If they push the print button and hold it down too long, we could go into a runaway inflation. Or, to tamp down inflation, they might raise interest rates and contract the money supply, which might set off a 1929-style credit collapse. We’re caught between Scylla and Charybdis at this point. And I don’t believe it’s a question of a soft landing or a hard landing. It’s a question of how devastating the crash landing will be. I hope they can wring one more cycle out of all this because I personally prefer good times to bad times, even if they’re artificial good times, because the bad times are going to be very real. *  *  * Doug Casey’s forecasts helped investors prepare and profit from: 1) the S&L blowup in the ’80s and ’90s, 2) the 2001 tech stock collapse, 3) the 2008 financial crisis, 4) and now… Doug’s sounding the alarms about a catastrophic event. One he believes could soon strike. To help you prepare and profit, Doug and his team have prepared a special video. Click here to watch now. Tyler Durden Wed, 12/27/2023 - 17:25.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 27th, 2023

2024 - The Year Of Our Reckoning

2024 - The Year Of Our Reckoning Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via American Greatness, We should remember the now modern proverb of Nixon-era economic advisor Herb Stein to the effect that what cannot go on (without destroying the nation), simply will not go on. In some sense, the country for recent years has been cruising on the fumes from prior and likely better wiser generations and institutions. In 2024, the tab for our current apathy, toxic politics, and incompetence will come due. So next year we will likely see the climax to a number of current dangerous ideas, events, and forces, which finally will either overwhelm us or be addressed and remedied. We live in a Neronian age but can recover if we first understand how we got here and the nature of the suicide we are committing. In 2023, it became clear, to even the most loyal supporters of the Biden administration, that the U.S. has simply lost or indeed forfeited American deterrence abroad. Our enemies do not fear us; our friends do not trust us; and neutrals do not care either way. After the 2021 Kabul debacle, the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the 2023 brazen Chinese spy balloon’s uncontested trajectory over the United States, the recent Hamas invasion of Israel, the serial Iranian-fueled terrorist attacks on U.S. installations in the Middle East, and the terrorist Houthis’ veritable absorption of the Red Sea, many of America’s opportunistic enemies drew conclusions and adopted strategies that would have been previously unthinkable. Either adversaries will be so emboldened to start regional wars—an impotent Iran now brags it will block the entire Mediterranean—or a United States will be shocked into action and have to deter Iran, the Houthis, and Islamic terrorism, while dealing with an opportunistic China eager to annex Taiwan, and Russia determined to finish off Ukraine. Those challenges will force the military to staunch its recruitment hemorrhaging, rectify low morale, and rearm. Such rebooting in turn will require discarding the woke agenda, stopping the DEI proselytizing and virtue signaling, and returning to a meritocracy focused on military preparedness and battlefield efficacy. Since January 2021, the Biden administration has flagrantly and unapologetically dismantled federal immigration law. It destroyed the border as we once knew it. It has already greenlighted more than 8 million illegal entrants—with another quarter-million entering each month. No one in government has offered any projected costs to states and federal agencies of offering health, food, housing, legal, and education subsidies to millions—who broke the law by entering the U.S. and continue to do violate it while residing unlawfully here. Is that the sign of a promising American citizen—that the first thing he does upon entering America is to break his host’s law? Incredibly, no one has even explained to Americans why millions of illegal aliens are exempt from the vaccine mandates, background checks, and adherence to the law that is demanded of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants. We will soon demand “real” IDs of American citizen airline travelers, while we fly illegal aliens all over the states without any identification? In fact, those who blew up the border can’t honestly even explain to the American people why they did so. Was it to ensure future (or even present) political constituents? Cheap labor? To ensure higher taxes to pay for more government services and to “spread the wealth?” Obeyance to the diversity/equity/inclusion lobbies? To make up for fleeing blue-state population? The United States has now exceeded, both in real numbers and in percentages, all past numbers of non-native born American residents—at a time when civic education, the idea of the melting pot, and adherence to assimilation have never been more under assault. In 2024, either the border will close, or the United States will suffer radical political realignments, sheer chaos in our major cities, protests from Americans furious over the complete flaunting of federal law by their own elected officials, and a likely impeachment of Joe Biden for deliberately forsaking his oath to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States.” The October 7 Hamas invasion of Israel and premodern massacring of nearly 1,200 Jews—and the virulent anti-Semitism that swept our elite campuses and big cities even before the October 27 Israeli Defense Forces’ retaliatory invasion of Gaza—was a wakeup call about the racialized hatred and anti-Semitism now endemic on the Left. Campus protestors dropped the prior protestations that they were not anti-Semitic in their hatred of Israel. Instead, they now call out Jews by name. They disrupt their homes and businesses, regardless of their views on Zionism. Pro-Hamas protestors feel free to harass Jews, and with impunity and arrogance chant genocidal chants promising the destruction of Israel and its Jewish population. The main campus culprits for these sudden unabashed hatreds are tripartite. First, wealthy, mostly white leftist students - increasingly as ignorant of history as they are arrogant in their zealotry - feel it pays psychological and careerist dividends on campus to mouth orthodoxies of hating Israel and de facto siding with the Hamas killers. Most have no idea of the Hamas charter, where flows the Jordan River, or what the British Mandate for Palestine or the Balfour Declaration were. Few of the loudest could never even find Jordan, Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza on a map. No matter: being heard and seen on campus hating Israel is considered a necessary fad like 1970s bellbottoms or pet rocks. Second, huge numbers of full-tuition-paying Middle-Eastern visiting students and green-card holders, along with Gulf-fueled and endowed faculty, assume that they are exempt from any legal consequences. So they often deface the federal monuments of their hosts, shut down traffic, swarm Jews on campus and in the street, break the law, and battle with police—with absolute impunity. Third, just as startling are the undisguised hatreds emanating from radical diversity/equity/inclusion students and faculty. As the declared oppressed, they too feel exempt from any charge that they are mouthing racist and anti-Semitic venom, as they conflate Israel with the now maligned stereotyped “white” people. The apogee of such extremism was evident in the congressional testimony of  three ethically challenged Ivy-League presidents. They reminded the nation that no campus president would unequivocally condemn, much less punish, any anti-Semites on a campus, who openly called for the destruction of Israel and its Jewish population. And they lied about “free speech” constraints on their punishment of mainstreaming anti-Semitic and genocidal threats—given they routinely expel, censure, and variously punish all sorts of “hate speech,” but only if it is directed against their own DEI constituencies. All this is not tenable. Our top universities are facing a perfect storm. Declining pools of students, crushing student loan debt, spiraling tuition and room and board costs, administrative bloat, defecting donors, and the public’s distrust of such people being entrusted with their children’s higher education, will all soon lead to a general reexamination of the very need of these universities in the first place, at least as they are presently constituted. Their racialist admissions, hiring, retention, and promotion protocols are destroying meritocracy. Their mediocre curricula, grade inflation, and campus polarization have convinced the public that they are no longer deserving of the many taxpayer indulgences that shield campuses from market realities—such as massive federal research grants and subsidies, tax-free billions of dollars in private donations, tax-free endowment income in the tens of billions of dollars, and taxpayer subsidized $2 trillion in student loans. So insulated are these atolls of privilege that they cannot recognize growing public anger over the damage they are doing to the country. Iconic Harvard University cannot even fire its DEI president Claudine Gay, despite serial instances in her own past of plagiarism (which prompted Harvard’s sycophantic board to defend her by embracing a new euphemism— “duplicative language” as if to signify the tiny clerical lapse of stealing the ideas and prose of others). In 2024, radical changes in university administration and values will begin to be made, or higher education will face a reckoning from the public and a newly elected government. Currently, Colorado has tentatively removed Donald Trump from its 2024 ballot on the specious grounds that he is an “insurrectionist.” Thus, the state insists that he is subject to the 14th Amendment, Section 3 clause of 1868, that calls for the disbarment from future government employment or service those former federal officials and employees who had joined the Confederacy. Aside from the misapplication of the spirit and letter of that post-Civil War legislation, those responsible for erasing Trump know that he has never been charged with, much less convicted of “insurrection. And he never will be. They understand that half the country knows the January 6 “riot” was the work of unarmed, overzealous, and buffoonish protestors, who broke the law by entering the Capitol, but otherwise had no master insurrectionary plan. And the majority surrounding the Capitol did in fact obey the president’s call to protest “peacefully” and “patriotically.” The left privately understands that their latest weaponization of government follows their “Russian collusion hoax,” their “laptop disinformation” farce, their two politicized impeachments, their performance-art Mar-a-Lago documents raid, and thus are all part of a systematic degradation of our campaigns, elections, and political customs, tradition, and discourse. A jaded public knows too well that such punitive measures never applied to the 2016 Hillary Clinton crimes of destroying subpoenaed emails and devices, or the FBI’s illegal alteration of FISA documents or its contracting out social media to suppress news stories, or its hiring of a foreign national Christopher Steele, who compiled a fake “dossier” to destroy the candidacy of Donald Trump. A majority of Americans further know that had Donald Trump not chosen to run for office in 2024, state and federal prosecutors such as the publicity-seeking and partisan Alvin Bragg, Letitia James, Jack Smith, and Fani Willis would never have indicted him. All privately know that the entire Biden family, including the President, could just as easily be indicted on state and local felonies, but the Biden consortium finds itself exempt both for its leftist ideology and its current control of the Department of Justice. What then do the campaign and election of 2024 foreordain? We will be in entirely new and completely dangerous territory. The likely Republican nominee who currently leads incumbent president Joe Biden will be for most of 2024 the constant target of a coordinated state and local Soviet-like effort to destroy his candidacy before the voters can even vote for or against him in the November election. The United States 2023 annual budget deficit is about $1.7 trillion; the nation is burdened by a $34 trillion national debt—even though the federal government since 2021 has raised all sorts of new income and excise taxes. The era of printing money, zero interest rates, “modern monetary theory,” and spending wildly is drawing to a close. The mounting interest on the national debt is now crowding out optional but soon essential annual federal spending. At some point soon, one generation of Americans is going to have to exercise spending restraint or accept a continuing decline in its living standards. In sum, in 2024, we will either see the destruction of presidential electoral politics as we have known them or a complete repudiation of lawfare. The current new normal that the party in power indicts the leading candidate of the opposition is not sustainable or compatible with the idea of America. Either the military will have to deter dramatically our growing number of opportunistic enemies, or it will descend into something like the French army between the world wars—plagued by ideology, ossified brass, corruption, mediocrity, misplaced investments, and bankrupt strategies. If there are not radical changes in higher education, our Ivy League and self-identified elite campuses will go the way of Bud-Light, Disney, and Target—once premier brands reduced to red ink and laughing-stock caricatures. The United States is cracking under 8 million illegal entries; it cannot sustain another year and 2 million more illegal entrants—or a total of 55-60 million foreign-born residents, with no idea of how many are U.S. citizens, illegal aliens, or green card holders–or how many are employable, or free of criminal records or in need of massive federal and state subsidies. In 2024, the U.S. will begin to see that to meet its spiraling debt, it will either keep inflating its currency, or slash spending, or raise even further taxes to the degree that even the lower middle class will have to pay 50 percent of their income in state and federal taxes, or renounce its debt, and thus go full-Third World. Will we meet these challenges or ensure the ongoing decline? If what we saw after October 7, or the wild and out-of-control reign of weaponized local and state prosecutors, or what we watch nightly on television at the border, or the paralyses we witness abroad of our military, or the breezy way in which our officials promise groups here and abroad billions of dollars in easy money, continues into 2024, then the country as we knew it will become unrecognizable. Tyler Durden Tue, 12/26/2023 - 16:25.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 26th, 2023

What happens now that Trump is disqualified from running for office in Colorado?

With Colorado's Supreme Court ruling Trump ineligible to hold office, the question of his qualifications is being kicked to SCOTUS. Former US President Donald Trump attends the Trump Organization civil fraud trial in New York State Supreme Court in New York City.Mike Segar/Getty ImagesThe Colorado Supreme Court determined Donald Trump is ineligible to run for or hold public office.Trump pledged to take the case to the Supreme Court to rule if he's eligible to be on the ballot.The Supreme Court has until January 5 to decide if it'll hear the case.After the Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled Donald Trump ineligible to run for or hold public office in the state due to his role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol, the former president vowed to appeal the issue to the Supreme Court of the United States.Trump's qualification for office will likely be handed off to the highest court in the land. While the Colorado decision has focused on his eligibility to be included on the state's primary ballot, the ruling would also apply to the general election.Six legal experts explained to Business Insider the options that SCOTUS has: do nothing and allow Colorado's ruling to lapse, refuse to add the case to the docket, or agree to hear arguments and issue a decision themselves.But the justices are on something of a time limit to decide.In its ruling, the Colorado Supreme Court wrote that unless SCOTUS chooses to review the case before January 4, 2024 — the day before the deadline to certify the state's presidential primary ballot —  Trump's name will be added to the ballot until the high court hands down a decision.As long as Trump or his lawyers ask SCOTUS to review the ruling before January 4, he will be on the ballot, Doron Kalir, a professor at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, told Business Insider. And while SCOTUS will have to decide whether they'll hear the case, they will not have to weigh in and make a final ruling before that deadline."In other words, as we sit here right now, Donald Trump is still able to be listed on the Republican primary ballot in Colorado," David Becker, the executive director and founder of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, told Business Insider. "Only if the United States Supreme Court declined to take the case or otherwise upholds the Colorado Supreme Court's decision will his name be removed."What happens if the Supreme Court waits out the clock?SCOTUS could decide to wait to hear this case for several reasons, former Assistant US Attorney Kevin O'Brien told Business Insider."This may not be the right vehicle the Supreme Court wants to have to rule on the 14th Amendment or section three of the 14th Amendment in particular; they may want a different case, they may want several cases, they may wait," O'Brien said. "But you know, the pressure of time is upon them. So that would argue for taking this case soon and getting it argued as soon as possible."Scott Lemieux, a professor of political science at the University of Washington and an expert in constitutional law, said it's possible SCOTUS could take up the case in its shadow docket or issue a stay of its own without making a formal ruling. Doing so would prevent the Colorado decision from going into effect while the appeals process plays out.Still, other experts think the US Supreme Court is most inclined to try to weigh in on the decision directly, given the time-sensitive nature of the ruling.At issue: the insurrection clauseThe Colorado Supreme Court, in its decision, cited section 3 of the 14th Amendment, referred to as the insurrection clause, which specifies that officials who have "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" or have "given aid or comfort" to those carrying out an insurrection are ineligible to run for office.Notre Dame Law School professor Derek Muller, an election law scholar, told Business Insider he believes the Supreme Court will be inclined to hear the case because it deals with the 14th Amendment — which has never been subject to interpretation by the Supreme Court in the 150 years it has been in place.The amendment explicitly names senators and representatives in Congress, the electors of the President and Vice-President, and any official holding "any office, civil or military, under the United States" as accountable to the rule. But it doesn't specifically mention the presidency. And while the Colorado Supreme Court determined the presidency is included in the provision, SCOTUS could disagree.Though the current ruling only applies to Colorado, experts told Business Insider the state's decision could encourage groups in other states to file similar lawsuits in hopes of kicking Trump off the ballot. While losing Colorado, which leans blue, would not be a significant disadvantage to Trump in a general election, the consequences would be more significant if a swing state challenged his qualifications on the ballot."Excluding a leading presidential candidate and former president from the ballot is a major decision, and I'm just not sure that the court can stand by not doing anything," Muller said. "So I think it's going to have to weigh in. But how it's going to resolve the case, I don't know. There's lots of different ways it can go."What happens if SCOTUS takes the case?If the Supreme Court decides not to take the Colorado case, it will effectively kick the issue back to individual states, allowing each one to determine whether Trump is eligible to be named on their ballots. But, if SCOTUS agrees to hear the case, as many experts believe they will, there's no clear-cut outcome."The Supreme Court can reverse this case on no less than 5 or 6 grounds," Kalir told Business Insider, adding that the reasons SCOTUS could overturn the case vary widely and include issues of separation of powers, freedom of speech, and the limited powers of state courts.Kalir said SCOTUS could also decide that due process is required to determine a person engaged in insurrection to use the 14th Amendment, as a dissenting Colorado Supreme Court judge argued, and may determine that Trump is eligible to be on the ballot until he is convicted of a crime related to January 6.Christian Grose, a professor of political science and public policy at USC, told Business Insider that though it's unlikely, it's certainly possible SCOTUS could surprise everyone and agree with the Colorado ruling, ultimately banning Trump from being on the ballot not just in that state, but nationwide."The Supreme Court could actually roll in agreement with Colorado and if they do, that would bar him from the ballot everywhere," Grose said. "So it's a bit of risk, even though three of the people in the Supreme Court were appointed by Trump and might be more aligned with Trump, you know, it's still a risk to have to take something like this to the US Supreme Court."The potential outcomes in the case run the gamut from Trump's Supreme Court-ordered vindication to the possibility that he could be permanently banned from office by the highest court in the land. And we'll have to wait a bit longer to see what they decide."This is one of those things where you're involved no matter what you do," O'Brien told Business Insider. "If you abstain, you're involved. If you rule in favor of Trump, you're involved, and if you uphold what the Supreme Court of Colorado did, you're also interfering and involved so, you know, there's no easy out for that. They're gonna have to think long and hard about this."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 20th, 2023

Meet the 27-year-old "water buffalo" negotiating California"s claim to the evaporating Colorado River

John Brooks Hamby is California's lead representative in negotiating its claim to the Colorado with six other Southwestern states, ProPublica reports. John Brooks Hamby is in charge of California's negotiations to the Colorado River.Jay Calderon/The Desert SunThis story was originally published by ProPublica. John Brooks Hamby is a 27-year-old in charge of negotiating California's share of the Colorado River. The state has historically had a large portion of its flow, compared to six other states in the region. ProPublica reported that Hamby plans to negotiate with other states from his powerful position. John Brooks Hamby was 9 years old the last time a group of Western states renegotiated how they share the dwindling Colorado River. When the high-stakes talks concluded two years later, in 2007, with a round of painful cuts, he hadn't reached high school.Yet this June an audience of water policy experts listened with rapt attention as Hamby, now 27, recited lessons from those deliberations.Hamby, California's boyish-looking representative on issues concerning the river, sat shoulder-to-shoulder with the other states' powerful water managers, many of whom have decades of experience, an almost uncomfortable sight given their latest brawl over the beleaguered Colorado River.The group had gathered in a mock courtroom at the University of Colorado Law School to discuss water law and to field questions about their negotiations over shortages that have prompted some cities to restrict growth and farmers to fallow fields.The moderator asked whether states would allow Native American tribes in the basin, who have often been denied the water they were guaranteed by treaties and court rulings, to have an equal say in these decisions, referencing a question posed earlier by the governor of the Gila River Indian Community, a tribe in Arizona. Hamby jumped to offer a noncommittal answer about involving tribes in "effective conversations" before pivoting to a discussion of how, during the 2007 negotiations, smaller working groups had allowed the states and other water users to effectively iron out potential impasses.The only other state delegate to respond endorsed Hamby's answer, a sign of how quickly he has risen to the top of the river's ranks. Hamby — who goes by J.B. — is the youngest of the Colorado River's "water buffaloes," as the water managers who set policy are known.While his counterparts from the other basin states — Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — worked their way through water agencies or weathered the shifting politics of various governors, Hamby's ascent was swift.In a three-year span, he rose from a recent Stanford University graduate, with a resume that touted little beyond a history degree and internships with Uber and a senator, to vice president of the Imperial Irrigation District board and chair of the Colorado River Board of California.The former post gave him sway over the single largest user of Colorado River water, and the latter made him California's interstate negotiator for issues affecting the river basin.Combined, these roles position Hamby as arguably the most powerful person involved in talks on the future of the Colorado River, a waterway that is relied upon by an estimated 35 million people and supports about $1.4 trillion worth of commerce.They also place him at the center of the river's most consequential moment since midcentury, when Arizona and California went to the Supreme Court to fight over the amount of water they were allocated. Now the river's users must agree to dramatic cuts, as the river has been diminished by climate change and drought. It's a task that demands Hamby both protect California's long-standing water rights and lead all seven basin states to collaborate on a resolution, even though they'll all have to give ground.Hamby holds the trump card. The Law of the River — the compacts, laws and court rulings that govern how the river is allocated — reflects a time when water use was encouraged to bring settlers west. And court decisions have favored users with senior priority rights, meaning those who were first to plant stakes along the river, file claims in county recorders' offices and prove their claims by taking water before federal and state water laws were codified.Water loss has been revealing previously covered parts of the Colorado's rock formations.Bloomberg Creative/Getty ImagesThose with such rights are legally entitled to receive their share of the river before the next person or agency in line receives any. The Imperial Irrigation District holds some of the basin's oldest rights, dating back to 1901.Hamby defends this system, which allows the Imperial Valley — home to only half of a percent of the river's users, Hamby included — to control about a quarter of the river's flow. That's more than 10 times southern Nevada's allocation and more than the entire state of Arizona receives.A recent ProPublica and Desert Sun analysis found that 20 valley farming families use about 387 billion gallons of cheap water annually, most of it to grow cattle feed, and one family uses more water than the entire Las Vegas metropolitan area.Even so, Hamby can only go so far in dictating the terms of basinwide cuts. Strictly adhering to the century-old status quo would be catastrophic, as it would continue decades of overuse and could cut off the supply to millions of people in lower-priority cities and reservations.But if Hamby concedes too much to the other states, he risks costing California by upending the historical agreements that put the Golden State at the front of the line.As an IID director, he must protect the priority system preferred by farmers who use most of the river and fear the cities eyeing their share. As California's negotiator, he also represents cities like Los Angeles and San Diego as well as oft-overlooked tribes."Water is power. Water is control. So why would anyone want to give that up, to give it away to somebody else?" said Kyle Roerink, a Nevada environmentalist who runs the Great Basin Water Network and has joined unlikely coalitions with Hamby fighting the region's seemingly endless urban growth.If the basin states can't find agreement, then the Law of the River reigns supreme, Hamby told ProPublica and The Desert Sun earlier this year. "That is the law, which everybody agreed to." California is ready to compromise on cuts, he added, "but we need to see something come from the other states."An origin storyHamby heading to a meeting for the water negotiations.Jay Calderon/The Desert SunHamby grew up among the hot Imperial Valley farms and picked up the region's "us against the world" mentality that flourishes alongside alfalfa, livestock and leafy greens. In California, dreams only go as far as water allows, and the valley's farmers live in constant fear that cities are lusting after the water that sustains the local economy.In the Imperial Valley, locals' bona fides rest on how many generations back their family arrived in this hardscrabble desert. Hamby's great-grandfather "came here with $10 in his pocket on the back of a freight train from Big Spring, Texas," as Hamby tells it, and worked as a ditch digger before starting a beekeeping business. His family has remained in the agriculture industry.Hamby's father has held various gigs, from helping develop a farm in China (to the dismay of some Imperial Valley growers) to his current business growing seeds. And his mother worked on water issues from a different angle, serving as a county environmental health specialist, including focusing on the pollution that flowed through the valley via the New River.If his family had a successful farm to pass on, Hamby, who was active in 4-H as a teenager, said he would've embraced that career path. "There's been repeated struggle, and dreams will be built up and dashed and broken," Hamby said of his family history. Instead, he looked for other ways to shape the valley.Despite his agrarian upbringing, he had an origin story to launch him into conservative politics, if only he wanted that path.In 2014, Hamby was to give a speech at his graduation as the salutatorian of his Brawley Union High School class. But he had chosen to write an address about his Christian faith, to which school administrators objected, he said, forcing the teenager to rewrite it multiple times.At the ceremony, he stepped to the lectern, the hot desert wind jostling his tassel and waving a line of American flags at his back. "Congratulations, class of 2014," Hamby concluded, his words echoing over the sound system. "Thank you, and may the God of the Bible bless you, each and every one of you, every day of the rest of your life."The crowd cheered. Right-wing outlets including Fox News featured stories of a student standing up to what they saw as censors, dubbing him a "red-blooded, Constitution-loving American." He was interviewed on national television about his stand for Christian religious liberty.But something kept pulling Hamby toward battles grounded less in identity politics and more in the day to day. Exactly how he came to combine water and politics wasn't entirely clear to him as he sat in a Mexican restaurant in the Imperial Valley town of El Centro earlier this year.Asked if the fight over his graduation speech was the beginning of his story in politics, he pushed back. "Lives are very complicated and long," he offered.Finding a causeImperial Valley has come under scrutiny for its water use.halbergman/Getty ImagesEven if he saw himself becoming a farmer, political ambition has propelled Hamby his entire life.His mother told a local reporter that he had wanted to be mayor at 5 years old. At 17, he earned a three-week posting as a page for Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat. In college, he interned for Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican. In 2019, he was appointed by the county board of supervisors to a local community advisory council.Hamby, who said he's registered to vote without a party preference, continuously sought out bigger causes.While in college, Hamby was involved with political groups, including, among others, the Stanford College Republicans and an anti-abortion organization. As he waded into the university's archives, it became clearer where he wanted to focus his ambitions.Hamby voraciously read about the West's battles over water, marveling at the papers of Northcutt Ely, a storied water attorney who argued the Supreme Court case Arizona v. California on the latter's behalf, and Ray Lyman Wilbur, a former secretary of the interior who oversaw construction of the Hoover Dam.Asked how he felt living in the archives while some of his college compatriots partied, Hamby quipped, "Well, you could only be in the archives in the daytime. There were other opportunities in the nighttime, which I did not exploit."Roerink, the environmentalist, compared Hamby to the historical figures he studied who fought to protect the system that has guaranteed California's water. "Northcutt Ely and J.B. are saying a lot of the same things, that development elsewhere ultimately impacts the rights of California," he said.In a Facebook post celebrating his graduation from Stanford, Hamby included a picture of himself smiling, diploma in hand, alongside a quote from John Wesley Powell, the one-armed explorer who led the first U.S.-sponsored expedition down the Colorado River and tried to help shape early American policy along the waterway, arguing that there wasn't enough water to support mass Western expansion."We are now ready to start on our way down the Great Unknown," Hamby quoted from Powell's musings on the river. "Our boats, tied to a common stake, are chafing each other, as they are tossed by the fretful river."Four months later, Hamby announced his candidacy for the Imperial Irrigation District's board of directors.Southern California's Big Red Brexit BusHamby studied many campaigns while building his own, including this one during the Brexit campaign in the UK.Jack Taylor/Stringer/Getty ImagesIn an ad for the 2020 race, Hamby stares into the camera and shakes his fist. "Imperial Valley's water belongs to all of us, and it belongs here," he says. Big cities are trying to take the valley's water and other water managers will allow that via "backroom political deals," Hamby says in the video. But he would protect the precious resource if elected.Hamby's message struck a chord.He had studied recent successful political movements: populist Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's election, the Labour Party's landslide 1997 win in Great Britain and the conservative pro-Brexit campaign in 2016.He was particularly inspired by the notorious big red bus that toured the United Kingdom, spreading the message that the country was spending huge sums to prop up the European Union — a persuasive argument that was a lie.He also took note of environmentalists using a giant mobile bucket to protest an attempt to move water from rural Nevada to Las Vegas. Hamby rented a flatbed, mounted a massive pipe on the back and had it driven around the Imperial Valley. The insinuation: This is how San Diego will buy and siphon off your water."People immediately got it, especially when you had a 30-, 40-foot pipe marauding around the area," Hamby said.He vowed to hold a public referendum before any more Colorado River water was moved out of the valley. Hamby later led the charge to secure $250 million in federal funds if the irrigation district temporarily cut its use of river water, despite an outcry from farmers and environmental groups who only had 24 hours to review the plan before the board voted on it. No referendum has been held.JB Hamby is negotiating with delegates from states across the Southwest.Credit:Jay Calderon/The Desert SunAsked if he had broken his campaign promise, Hamby said that he is working to enshrine public input in district policy and that "we're not moving water to any other places. We're maintaining it in the system to be able to protect our sole source and supply."He also made stylistic changes as he entered the political arena. He started going by J.B. because it sounds more "iconic," he told a podcaster, and because potential voters were getting confused by the name Brooks, he told ProPublica and The Desert Sun. And he refined his look. He's clean-shaven and sports a high and tight haircut. His wardrobe could be described as "corporate outing meets Western wear," often including a turquoise bolo tie and the IID crest, which features a crown adorning a shield, pinned to his lapel.During his campaign, Hamby faced questions about his inexperience and choice to run in a district other than the one where he was raised. "JB is still a KID. JB needs a JOB. DON'T give him your VOTE. IID DIRECTOR should not be one's first JOB out of college," one constituent commented online, according to the Imperial Valley Press, a local newspaper that covered the race.Still, Hamby was the top vote-getter in the primary, beating an incumbent who cast the deciding vote on a controversial 2003 agreement that transferred a portion of the valley's water to cities to help get California back within its allotment. Many of the valley's large, wealthy farming families supported Hamby's campaign, which brought in more than $100,000, including loans from his father's company.Hamby garnered nearly two-thirds of the general election vote. He had a mandate to defend the valley's water rights.Hamby's time on the board got off to a combative start. While waiting to be seated, he showed up at board meetings, publicly calling on members to avoid making important decisions until the new members were seated. He and another newly elected director skipped the district's official swearing-in and held their own due to a disagreement over who could attend amid COVID-19 restrictions.When the outgoing board signed a sweeping project labor agreement with Southern California unions days before Hamby took office, he engineered a strategy to rip it up by declaring that the motion to approve it was ambiguous and voting to nullify it. That move led to litigation, which was resolved when the district accepted a modified agreement.Over time, as he confronted problems that would take collaboration to solve, Hamby's tone changed. The board, which has a history of dysfunction, confronted issues ranging from mandatory water conservation that is shrinking the Salton Sea — a terminal lake fed by irrigation runoff that is now exposing communities to toxic dust as water levels fall and uncover the lakebed — to a powerful farmer who has been battling in court to break the irrigation district's control over water.Many of Hamby's colleagues, including fellow Director Javier Gonzalez, praised the young director's leadership. "He's a hard worker," Gonzalez said. "He gets things done."The rewards of the job are less financial and more the ability to pursue policy goals. The irrigation district's directors make around $50,000 annually. Hamby drives an aging Toyota Prius and says he lives in a "bachelor apartment." But even with his work ethic, there were limits to how much Hamby could deliver on his campaign promises to keep the district's water in the Imperial Valley.To do that, he needed to be at the table with the basin's water buffaloes.At the head of the tableGovernor Gavin Newsom of California.AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli,FilePower in the Colorado River Basin lies largely with the seven states and their designated representatives now haggling over cuts to water allocations.The Colorado River Board of California is the state's representative. Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Hamby to the board a few months after he was sworn in at the irrigation district.Less than two years later, the chair, who acts as the state's negotiator, unexpectedly announced he wouldn't seek reelection.The board is split between representatives of rural water districts that largely serve farmers and urban water districts serving Los Angeles, San Diego and other cities. A member of the San Diego County Water Authority board emerged as the cities' candidate for chair, with Hamby as the preference of the rural irrigation districts. Neither candidate had enough votes to win, and some of Hamby's earlier brash remarks left an older water manager feeling uneasy about voting for him.Glen Peterson, who was then the board's representative from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves 19 million people, was considering supporting Hamby but "had concerns" about his public statements. After a frank conversation between the two and some maneuvering with other board members, the votes shifted."I think he's a wonderful kid. And he's really smart and, for his age, he is extremely mature," Peterson said. "I mean, this guy probably sat at the big people's table when he was a teenager."Hamby was elected the new chair, overseeing California's negotiations with the rest of the basin states."Traditionally, it's been, 'You hold the role and then you die in it,'" Hamby explained. "IID's had three people hold the position before. The previous three died in the role." (The chair of the board now serves four-year terms, but there is no limit on the number of terms.)When asked what happens next on the river, where he would've once brought rhetorical fire and brimstone, he now offers coded responses. "I need to develop truly consensus-based approaches to develop a new set of operating guidelines and standards that everybody can agree on, because there's necessity," he said.Charting the river's futureThe Colorado River flow.George Rose/Contributor/Getty ImagesWith aggressive conservation efforts already underway in some parts of the Colorado River Basin, policymakers are realizing that ripping out lawns and installing low-flow toilets in metropolitan areas won't be enough to save the river. Agriculture uses an estimated three-quarters or more of the river, meaning any solution must include cuts to farmers' allocations and a rethinking of the long-protected priority system.That puts IID and California, with their senior water rights, at odds with the rest of the basin.In January 2023, facing a federal deadline to come up with a plan to cut water use, the other six basin states released a joint letter detailing their idea to conserve water. California, which potentially faced the heaviest cuts, was the only state not to sign onto the plan."Compromise really wasn't in the air at the time," Hamby said.A day later, the Colorado River Board of California, with Hamby at the helm, rushed to release its own plan. The board flexed California's water rights, arguing in a statement that the other states' proposal "conflicts with the existing Law of the River" and undermines the priority system.In the ensuing weeks, Hamby made it known that the other states' methodology for saving water, which put California at a disadvantage, was untenable."That moment looked like the example of him digging in his heels," said Elizabeth Koebele, an associate professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Reno who studies the river's governance. She added, "We did see the power of California and the role that their legal position plays on the river."But unless Hamby were willing to exercise the nuclear option and test the strength of California's legal position in court, he'd have to give up something to protect water rights in the state.He embraced diplomacy, writing thank-you notes to other states' representatives and beginning to broker a new plan among the Lower Basin states: California, Arizona and Nevada. In it, they agreed to apportion short-term cuts — importantly, without changing the priority system or water accounting in the long run — until a new set of rules and agreements could be hammered out. That new plan is due by the end of 2026.A meeting of the Imperial County Water Board.Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun"There's still certainly an argument that he's making that's based on protecting as much Colorado River agricultural water as possible, but there's this shift that's happening," Koebele said, adding that Hamby and California seem to be embracing a "realization that simply arguing 'Our water rights are senior' is not going to save agriculture."Other water leaders, both in California and around the basin, have acknowledged Hamby's diplomatic approach. Even Arizona, which has traditionally been California's staunchest rival on the river, took notice."J.B. has exhibited a real progressive, collaborative spirit in our discussions," Tom Buschatzke, the director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the state's representative, wrote in an email. "He is a very measured, calm person who is clearly very intelligent."Hamby acknowledged he's evolved on the job from "a very eager young 23-year-old" to someone more focused on compromise as his position in river negotiations grew.But a temporary harmony along the river isn't a guarantee he'll remain in good standing with voters in the Imperial Valley. Even as he's working with colleagues across the basin, Hamby still must contend with local politics and strike a balance between finding agreement with the other basin states and protecting the favorable status quo.Some of the valley's farmers have privately voiced dissatisfaction with Hamby and the district, and one former local politician said he was asked to consider challenging Hamby in next year's election.Hamby also received a cryptic death threat in the mail earlier this year, in which the sender, allegedly frustrated with the handling of the Colorado River, suggested he be shot.But he shrugged off that incident too as just someone sending him "a nice notecard." All paths forward on the river go through Hamby, and there were more pressing water policy questions — and potential solutions to the river's woes — that he wanted to discuss instead."I've been accused of being optimistic," he said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 8th, 2023

David Stockman: How American Neocons Wrecked The Middle East And Ukraine

David Stockman: How American Neocons Wrecked The Middle East And Ukraine Authored by David Stockman via AntiWar.com, This is part 2 of “Why There Is Still No Peace on Earth: Washington’s Folly From The Persian Gulf to Ukraine.”  Read part 1. THE FIRST GULF WAR – A CATASTROPHIC ERROR Confronted with the greatest opportunity for global peace in nearly a century, George H. W. Bush did not hesitate:  Upon the advice of his retainers, he immediately elected the path of war in the Persian Gulf. This endeavor was hatched by Henry Kissinger’s economically illiterate protégés at the National Security Council and Bush’s Texas oilman secretary of state, James Baker. They falsely claimed that the will-o’-the-wisp of “oil security” was at stake, and that 500,000 American troops needed to be planted in the sands of Arabia. That was a catastrophic error, and not only because the presence of “crusader” boots on the purportedly sacred soil of Arabia offended the CIA-recruited and trained mujahedin of Afghanistan, who had become unemployed when the Soviet Union collapsed. The CNN-glorified war games in the Gulf during early 1991 also further empowered another group of unemployed crusaders. Namely, the neocon national-security fanatics who had misled Ronald Reagan into a massive military buildup to thwart what they claimed to be an ascendant Soviet Union bent on nuclear-war-winning capabilities and global conquest. Needless to say, by the 1980s the gray men of the Kremlin were as evil as ever, but they were also quite rational and did not embrace a nuclear war winning strategy in any way, shape or form. That was just a pack of neocon lies, which, in any event, led to a massive defense build-up that had virtually nothing to do with containing the ballyhooed Soviet strategic nuclear threat. As it happened, the latter was being handled well enough by the already built, in-place and paid for strategic nuclear triad – forces which well pre-dated the Reagan build-up. So when the defense budget rose by a staggering $170 billion, from $134 billion in 1980 to $304 billion in 1989, only a tiny fraction of the increase was applied to upgrading the strategic nuclear deterrent. Instead, this unprecedented 130% peacetime rise (+50% in inflation-adjusted dollars) went overwhelmingly to the building of a globe-spanning conventional forces armada that was utterly unneeded for America’s homeland security in a world with or without the Soviet Union. Accordingly, everything on land, sea and air was upgraded and expanded. This included the 600-ship Navy and 12 carrier battle groups; massive upgrades of the fleet of M1 tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles; and endless procurement of cruise missiles, fixed-wing planes, rotary aircraft, air-and sea-lift capacity, surveillance and electronic warfare capacity and a black budget so large as to dwarf anything that had gone before. In a word, the misguided Reagan defense build-up enabled the invasions and occupations that commenced almost instantly after the Soviet demise. That is to say, the neocon defense build-up of the 1980s fathered the “Forever Wars” of the 1990s and beyond. The folly and deceit of the purportedly anti-Soviet defense build-up was evident enough at the time because by the mid-1980s the Evil Empire was already unraveling at the seams economically. The reason was simply that communism and rigidly centralized command-and-control economics don’t work—as became abundantly clear to the entire world via the spectacle of Boris Yeltsin, vodka flask in hand, facing down the Red Army in 1991. Like the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back, in the end the mighty Soviet Union was taken down by one of its own drunken apparatchiks. That is to say, the entire neocon narrative of an ascendant, bent on world conquest Soviet Union was made a mockery. That alone should have sent the neocons into the permanent disrepute and obscurity they so richly deserved. But Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and rest of the neocon gang surrounding Bush the Elder managed to deftly pull a “bait and switch” maneuver of no mean extent. Suddenly, it wasn’t about the Soviet Union at all, but the alleged lesson from Washington’s Pyrrhic victory in Kuwait that “regime change” among the assorted tyrannies of the Middle East was in America’s national interest. More fatally, the neocons now insisted that the first Gulf War proved regime change could be achieved through a sweeping interventionist menu of coalition diplomacy, security assistance, arms shipments, covert action and open military attack and occupation via the spanking new conventional forces armada that the Reagan Administration had bequeathed. What the neocon doctrine of regime-change actually did, of course, was to foster the Frankenstein that ultimately became ISIS. In fact, the only real terrorists in the world who have threatened normal civilian life in the West during the last three decades were the rogue offspring of Imperial Washington’s post-1990 machinations in the Middle East. The CIA-trained and CIA-armed mujahedin of Afghanistan mutated into al-Qaeda not because bin Laden suddenly had a religious epiphany that his Washington benefactors were actually the Great Satan owing to America’s freedom and liberty. His murderous crusade was inspired by the Wahhabi fundamentalism loose in Saudi Arabia. This benighted religious fanaticism became agitated to a fever pitch by Imperial Washington’s violent plunge into Persian Gulf political and religious quarrels, the stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia, and the decade-long barrage of sanctions, embargoes, no-fly zones, covert actions and open hostility against the Sunni regime in Baghdad after 1991. Yes, bin Laden would have amputated Saddam’s secularist head if Washington hadn’t done it first, but that’s just the point. The attempt at regime change in March 2003 was one of the most foolish acts of state in American history. Indeed, Bush the Younger’s neocon advisers had no clue about the sectarian animosities and historical grievances that Hussein had bottled up by parsing the oil loot and wielding the sword under the banner of Baathist nationalism. But “shock and awe” blew the lid and the de-Baathification campaign unleashed the furies. Indeed, no sooner had George Bush pranced around on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln declaring “mission accomplished” than Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant and small-time specialist in hostage taking and poisons, emerged as a flamboyant agitator in the now-dispossessed Sunni heartland of Iraq. The founder of ISIS succeeded in Fallujah and Anbar province just like the long list of other terrorist leaders Washington claims to have exterminated. That is, Zarqawi gained his following and notoriety among the region’s population of deprived, brutalized and humiliated young men by dint of being more brutal than their occupiers. Indeed, even as Washington was crowing about its eventual liquidation of Zarqawi, the remnants of the Baathist regime and the hundreds of thousands of demobilized republican guards were coalescing into al-Qaeda in Iraq, and their future leaders were being incubated in a monstrous nearby detention center called Camp Bucca that contained more than 26,000 prisoners. As one former U.S. Army officer, Mitchell Gray, later described it, “You never see hatred like you saw on the faces of these detainees,” Gray remembers of his 2008 tour. “When I say they hated us, I mean they looked like they would have killed us in a heartbeat if given the chance. I turned to the warrant officer I was with and I said, ‘If they could, they would rip our heads off and drink our blood. What Gray didn’t know – but might have expected – was that he was not merely looking at the United States’ former enemies, but its future ones as well. According to intelligence experts and Department of Defense records, the vast majority of the leadership of what is today known as ISIS, including its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, did time at Camp Bucca. And not only did the US feed, clothe and house these jihadists, it also played a vital, if unwitting, role in facilitating their transformation into the most formidable terrorist force in modern history. Early in Bucca’s existence, the most extreme inmates were congregated in Compound 6. There were not enough Americans guards to safely enter the compound – and, in any event, the guards didn’t speak Arabic. So the detainees were left alone to preach to one another and share deadly vocational advice . . . Bucca also housed Haji Bakr, a former colonel in Saddam Hussein’s air-defense force. Bakr was no religious zealot. He was just a guy who lost his job when the Coalition Provisional Authority disbanded the Iraqi military and instituted de-Baathification, a policy of banning Saddam’s past supporters from government work. According to documents recently obtained by German newspaper Der Spiegel, Bakr was the real mastermind behind ISIS’ organizational structure and also mapped out the strategies that fueled its early successes. Bakr, who died in fighting in 2014, was incarcerated at Bucca from 2006-’ 08, along with a dozen or more of ISIS’ top lieutenants.” The point is, regime change and nation building can never be accomplished by the lethal violence of 21st-century armed forces; and they were an especially preposterous assignment in the context of a land rent with 13 century-old religious fissures and animosities. In fact, the wobbly, synthetic state of Iraq was doomed the minute Cheney and his bloody gang decided to liberate it from the brutal but serviceable and secular tyranny of Saddam’s Baathist regime. That’s because the process of elections and majority rule necessarily imposed by Washington was guaranteed to elect a government beholden to Iraq’s Shiite majority. After decades of mistreatment and Saddam’s brutal suppression of their 1991 uprising, did the latter have revenge on their minds and in their communal DNA? Did the Kurds have dreams of an independent Kurdistan spilling into Turkey and Syria that had been denied their 30-million-strong tribe way back at Versailles and ever since? Yes, they did. So the $25 billion spent on training and equipping the putative armed forces of post-liberation Iraq was bound to end up in the hands of sectarian militias, not a national army. In fact, when the Shiite commanders fled Sunni-dominated Mosul in June 2014 they transformed the ISIS uprising against the government in Baghdad into a vicious fledgling state in one fell swoop. But it wasn’t by beheadings and fiery jihadist sermons that it quickly enslaved dozens of towns and several million people in western Iraq and the Euphrates Valley of Syria. THE ISLAMIC STATE WAS WASHINGTON’S VERY OWN FRANKENSTEIN To the contrary, its instruments of terror and occupation were the best weapons that the American taxpayers could buy. That included 2,300 Humvees and tens of thousands of automatic weapons, as well as vast stores of ammunition, trucks, rockets, artillery pieces and even tanks and helicopters. And that wasn’t the half of it. The Islamic State also filled the power vacuum in Syria created by its so-called civil war. But in truth that was another exercise in Washington-inspired and Washington-financed regime change undertaken in connivance with Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The princes of the Petro-states were surely not interested in expelling the tyranny next door. Instead, the rebellion was about removing Iran’s Alawite/Shiite ally from power in Damascus and laying the gas pipelines to Europe – which Assad had vetoed – across the upper Euphrates Valley. In any event, due to Washington’s regime change policy in Syria, ISIS soon had even more troves of American weapons. Some of them were supplied to Sunni radicals by way of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. More came up the so-called “ratline” from Qaddafi’s former arsenals in Benghazi through Turkey. And still more came through Jordan from the “moderate” opposition trained there by the CIA, which more often than not sold them or defected to the other side. That the Islamic State was Washington’s Frankenstein monster, therefore, became evident from the moment it rushed upon the scene in mid-2014. But even then, the Washington War Party could not resist adding fuel to the fire, whooping up another round of Islamophobia among the American public and forcing the Obama White House into a futile bombing campaign for the third time in a quarter century. But the short-lived Islamic State was never a real threat to America’s homeland security. The dusty, broken, impoverished towns and villages along the margins of the Euphrates River and in the bombed-out precincts of Anbar province did not attract thousands of wannabe jihadists from the failed states of the Middle East and the alienated Muslim townships of Europe because the caliphate offered prosperity, salvation or any future at all. What recruited them was outrage at the bombs and drones dropped on Sunni communities by the U.S. Air Force and by the cruise missiles launched from the bowels of the Mediterranean that ripped apart homes, shops, offices and mosques which mostly contained as many innocent civilians as ISIS terrorists. The truth is, the Islamic State was destined for a short half-life anyway. It had been contained by the Kurds in the North and East and by Turkey with NATO’s second-largest army and air force in the Northwest. And it was further surrounded by the Shiite Crescent in the populated, economically viable regions of lower Syria and Iraq. Absent Washington’s misbegotten campaign to unseat Assad in Damascus and demonize his confession-based Iranian ally, there would have been nowhere for the murderous fanatics who had pitched a makeshift capital in Raqqa to go. They would have run out of money, recruits, momentum and public acquiescence in their horrific rule in any event. But with the U.S. Air Force functioning as their recruiting arm and France’s anti-Assad foreign policy helping to foment a final spasm of anarchy in Syria, the gates of hell had been opened wide, unnecessarily. What has been puked out was not an organized war on Western civilization as former French president Hollande so hysterically proclaimed in response to one of the predictable terrorist episodes of mayhem in Paris. It was just blow-back carried out by that infinitesimally small contingent of mentally deformed young men who can be persuaded to strap on a suicide belt. In any event, bombing did not defeat ISIS; it just temporarily made more of them. Ironically, what did extinguish the Islamic State was the Assad military, the Russian air force invited into Syria by its official government and the ground forces of its Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard allies. It was they who settled an ancient quarrel Sunni/Shiite that had never been any of America’s business anyway. But Imperial Washington was so caught up in its myths, lies and hegemonic stupidity that it could not see the obvious. Accordingly, 31 years after the Cold War ended and several years after Syria and friends extinguished the Islamic State, Washington has learned no lessons. The American Imperium still stalks the planet for new monsters to destroy – presently in the precincts of Russian-speaking eastern and southern Ukraine that are utterly irrelevant to America’s peace and security. Next On Deck – The Ukraine Disaster The present disaster in Ukraine incepted with the Washington-sponsored Maidan coup of February 2014. Among other things it was a “revenge intervention” designed to punish Russia for being so bold as to thwart the neocon regime change adventure in Syria; and especially to haze Putin for persuading Assad to give up his chemical weapons, thereby removing any pretext for Washington military intervention. As it happened, the Russian-friendly president of Ukraine at the time, Vicktor Yanukovych, had at the last minute in late 2013 ditched a long-pending EU affiliation agreement and IMF stabilization plan in favor of a more attractive deal with Moscow. Under the so-called rule of law, that reversal would hardly seem outside the realm of sovereign prerogative. But not by the lights of Washington, red-hot from being check-mated in Syria. Accordingly, the neocon operatives in the Obama national security apparatus, spear-headed by the horrid Victoria Nuland, insisted that the Russian deal not be allowed to stand and that Ukraine’s accession to NATO should be fast-tracked. So doing, they demonstrated an immense ignorance about the 800-year history of the various territories which had been cobbled together in the artificial state of Ukraine, and the long-history of these pieces and parts as vassals and appendages of both Greater Russia and various eastern European kingdoms and empires that had marched back and forth across the pages of history. In a word, they dove into a rabbit hole that has made Washington’s misadventures in the middle east small potatoes by comparison. But the War Party would not be stopped, believing that its vast conventional military armada and the reach of its global economic sanctions could bring Putin to heel, as well. In this context, however, it can be truly said that occasionally a few words are worth a thousand pictures–at least when it comes to Ukraine. Here’s one of them: The Ukrainian leader said that his country hadn’t been willing to cede territory from the beginning. “Had we been willing to give up our territory, there would have been no war,” Zelensky said. He got that right! So the question recurs. Why is it worth Washington’s sweeping Sanctions War on Russia, which is destroying the dollar-based global trading and payments system and triggering a worldwide inflationary calamity, to defend every inch of a sketchy map located on Russia’s doorstep? And that’s to say nothing of risking nuclear war! Indeed, as we elaborate below, the present Ukrainian territorial map exists only due to the handiwork of Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev. Here is how and when these brutal tyrants attached each piece of today’s Ukrainian map (in purple, light blue and red, respectively) to the territories acquired or seized by the Russian Czars over 1654-1917 (yellow). Nor should any mystery linger as to where these pieces and parts came from. When the creators of the Soviet Empire carved out a convenient administrative entity during the early 1920s that they were pleased to call the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic they were shuffling around blocks of territory and peoples that had mostly been ruled by Czarist Russia during its final centuries. In fact, prior to the commie takeover of Russia, no country that even faintly resembled today’s Ukrainian borders had ever existed. To the contrary, much of the territories which comprise present day Ukraine have been been joined at the hip with mother Russia for most of the last three centuries: During Imperial times that was via old-fashioned vassal protection and sponsorship and during the brutal rule of the Soviet communists between 1922-1991 it was via totalitarian command. But remove the dastardly work of Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev during the latter interval, and nothing like today’s map would exist, nor would Washington be starting a global economic war and triggering soaring energy, food and commodity prices. That’s because the four territories recently “annexed” by Russia would already have been integral parts of Russia! For want of doubt here are sequential maps that tell the story and which make mincemeat of the Washington sanctity of borders malarkey. In fact, the approximate territory of the four annexed regions – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – plus Crimea are evident in the yellow area of this 220-years ago map (@1800). Collectively, they were known as Novorossiya or “New Russia” and had been acquired by Russian rulers, including Catherine the Great between 1734 and 1791. As is evident from the year-markings in red on the map, the Russian Empire had gradually gained control over the area, signing peace treaties with the Cossack Hetmanate (1734) and with the Ottoman Empire at the conclusion of the various Russo-Turkish Wars of the 18th century. Pursuant to this expansion drive – which included massive Russian investment and the in-migration of large Russian populations to the region – Russia established the Novorossiysk Governaorate in 1764. The latter was originally to be named after the Empress Catherine, but she decreed that it should be called “New Russia” instead. Completing the assemblage of New Russia, Catherine forcefully liquidated the Zaporizhian Sich (present day Zaporizhzhia) in 1775 and annexed its territory to Novorossiya, thus eliminating the independent rule of the Ukrainian Cossacks. Later in 1783 she also acquired Crimea from the Turks, which was also added to Novorossiya. During this formative period, the infamous shadow ruler under Catherine, Prince Grigori Potempkin, directed the sweeping colonization and Russification of the land. Effectively, the Russian Empress had granted him the powers of an absolute ruler over the area from 1774 onward. The spirit and importance of “New Russia” at this time is aptly captured by the historian Willard Sunderland, The old steppe was Asian and stateless; the current one was state-determined and claimed for European-Russian civilization. The world of comparison was now even more obviously that of the Western empires. Consequently it was all the more clear that the Russian empire merited its own New Russia to go along with everyone else’s New Spain, New France and New England. The adoption of the name of New Russia was in fact the most powerful statement imaginable of Russia’s national coming of age. Well, yes, but borders! In fact, the passage of time solidified the border of Novorossiya even more solidly. One century latter the light yellow area of this 1897 map gave an unmistakable message: To wit, in the late Russian Empire there was no doubt as to the paternity of the lands adjacent to the Azov Sea and the Black Sea—they were now part of the 125 years-old “New Russia”. After the madness of WWI and the Bolshevik Revolution, of course, the borders of much of eastern and central Europe were drastically re-arranged.  For instance, at the so-called Versailles Peace Conference in 1919 new countries were fashioned from whole cloth (Czechoslovakia) and long dead countries (Poland) were revived—both upon their own ancient lands as well as those of their former neighbors. Another of these post-WWI creations was Yugoslavia. The kingdom was formed in December 1918, with Serbia’s royal family, the Karadjordjevics, becoming the monarchs of  the new country, which was officially called the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes until 1929 – when it became Yugoslavia. By 1946 it had been incorporated into the Soviet Warsaw Pact, with the borders and constituent parts shown below. Needless to say, all of these circa 1919 creations and borders have long ceased to exist. After a decade of civil wars and civilian slaughter in the 1990s, Yugoslavia has become seven independent nations. And not only that: The apparently non-sacrosanct borders of Yugoslavia were rent asunder by NATO bombs, armaments, economic and political aid and covert operations! And then having torn up the old maps like a mere “scrap of paper”, NATO made the new national entities its very own, with the majority now actually members of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance – a vestigial organ that was designed to keep the Balkans contained and the Soviet Union throttled, neither of which condition any more even exists. By the same token, the present-day borders of Poland were moved far to the west at Stalin’s insistence at Yalta. Consequently, the revived nation of “Poland”, which had earlier been created by Woodrow Wilson at Versailles to court the growing Midwestern Polish vote, took on a wholly new map. That is to say, Poland had been dismembered and deleted from the maps by the European powers in the 1790s; had been revived by Wilson’s ignorant demands at Versailles that moved it deep into historic German territories and provided the political fuel for Hitler’s revanchism; and then drastically rearranged again at Yalta where the cynical Churchill and the malevolent Stalin outmaneuvered the senile Roosevelt. Thus, the area outlined in dark blue was Wilson’s Poland, but the huge swath in pink was gifted to Stalin by FDR and Churchill at Yalta. At the same time, the brown areas including the free city of Danzig (Gdansk) and the Danzig Corridor to its right were swiped from the remains of Hitler’s Germany and given back to what amounted to Poland 3.0 – and just within the first half of the 20th century! The same story holds for Czechoslovakia. Its three constituent nations were hammered together at Versailles from the remnants of the Austrian Empire, but eventually went their separate ways after the rule of communism ended in 1991. Today the Czech State and Slovakia exist peacefully side-by-side, and the world is no worse for the wear after their partition. As it happens, however, there is one politically engineered post-WWI map from the region that hasn’t been undone. For reasons known only by the Washington neocons and Warfare State apparatus, the modern borders of Ukraine – hammered together by the writ of Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev after 1918 – are apparently the exception to the rule. Indeed, they are deemed to be so sacrosanct as to justify monkey-hammering the global economy with a destructive Sanctions War, even to the point of risking hot military confrontation between the world’s two major nuclear powers. Of course, had the above mentioned 20th century communist trio been benefactors of mankind, perhaps their map-making handiwork might have been justified. Under this benign contrafactual, they would have presumably combined peoples of like ethnic, linguistic, religious and politico-cultural history into a cohesive natural polity and state. That is, a nation worth perpetuating, defending and perhaps even dying for. Alas, the very opposite was true. From 1922 to 1991 modern Ukraine was held together by the monopoly on violence of its brutally totalitarian rulers. And when they temporarily lost control during the military battles of World War II, the administrative entity called Ukraine came apart at the seams. That is, local Ukrainian nationalists joined Hitler’s Wehrmacht in its depredations against Jews, Poles, Roma and Russians when it first swept through the country from the west on its way to Stalingrad; and then, in turn, the Russian populations from the Donbas and south campaigned with the Red Army during its vengeance-wreaking return from the east after winning the bloody battle that turned the course of WWII. Not surprisingly, therefore, virtually from the minute it came out from under the communist yoke when the Soviet Union was swept into the dustbin of history in 1991, Ukraine has been engulfed in political and actual civil war. The elections which did occur were essentially 50/50 at the national level but reflected votes of 80/20 within the regions. That is, the Ukrainian nationalist candidates tended to get vote margins of 80% + in the West/Central areas, while Russian-sympathizing candidates got like pluralities in the East/South. This pattern transpired because once the iron-hand of totalitarian rule ended in 1991, the deep and historically rooted conflict between Ukrainian nationalism, language and politics of the central and western regions of the country and the Russian language and historical religious and political affinities of the Donbas and south came rushing to the surface. So-called democracy barely survived these contests until February 2014 when one of Washington’s “color revolutions” finally “succeeded”. That is to say, the aforementioned Washington fomented and financed nationalist-led coupe d état ended the tenuous post-communist equilibrium. As to the adverse shock effect of the Maidan coup on Ukrainian governance and external policy with respect to Russia, the maps below tell you all you need to know. The first map is from the 2004 presidential election, which was won by the Ukrainian nationalist candidate, Yushchenko, who predominated in the yellow areas of the map, over the pro-Russian Yanukovych, who swept the blue regions in the east and south. The second map is from the 2010 election, showing the same stark regional split, but this time the pro-Russian candidate, Yanukovych, won. In the map below, the dark blue parts to the far east (Donbas) indicate an 80% or better vote for Viktor Yanukovych in the 2010 election. By contrast, the dark red areas in the west voted 80% or more for the Ukrainian nationalist, Yulie Tymoshenko. That is to say, the skew in the Ukrainian electorate was so extreme as to make America’s current red state/blue state divide seem hardly noteworthy by comparison. As it happened, the sum of the pro-Yanukovych skews from the east and south (Donbas and Crimea) added up to 12.48 million votes and 48.95% of the total, while the sum of the extreme red skews in the center and west (the lands of old eastern Galicia and Poland) amounted to 11.59 million votes and 45.47% of the total. Stated differently, it is hard to imagine an electorate more sharply divided on a regional/ethnic/language basis. Yet it was one which still produced a sufficiently clear victory margin (3.6 percentage points) for Yanukovych – so as to be reluctantly accepted by all parties. That became especially clear when Tymoshenko, who was the incumbent prime minister, withdrew her election challenge a few weeks after the run-off in February 2010. At that point, of course, Russia had no beef with the Kiev government at all because essentially Yanukovych’s “Regions Party” was based on the pro-Russian parts (blue areas) of the Ukrainian electorate. During the next several years the economic basket case which was Ukraine attempted to improve its circumstances by running a bake-off of sorts between the European Union and Russia with respect to aid and trade deals. And well its leaders might have: After the fall of communism, Ukraine had become a cesspool of financial corruption in which a handful of oligarchs had robbed the country blind. By 2014 its real GDP had consequently fallen to $568 billion (2017$), which amounted to a 37% shrinkage from even the threadbare communist economics of 1990. Accordingly, the supposedly pro-Russian Yanukovych administration initiated in March 2012 the above-mentioned Association Agreement with the European Union that was to provide trade advantages and an IMF aid package. However, the EU leaders insisted that no agreement could be ratified unless Ukraine addressed concerns over a “stark deterioration of democracy and the rule of law”, including the imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011. In order to address these concerns, in fact, President Yanukovych urged the parliament to adopt laws so that Ukraine would meet the EU’s criteria. Crash of Ukraine’s Real GDP, 1990-2014 But it was the parallel $4 billion IMF loan that turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. According to then Prime Minister Mykola Azarov “the extremely harsh conditions” of the IMF loan (presented by the IMF in November 2013) included big budget cuts and a 40% increase in natural gas bills. Those proved to be hills too high to climb for most of the factions within the fractionated Ukraine polity. Accordingly, the IMF demands became the clinching argument behind the Ukrainian government’s abrupt decision to suspend preparations for signing the Association Agreement with the EU. Instead, Kiev quickly pivoted to a deal with Russia in the fall of 2013, which was willing to offer $15 billion in loans without the harsh IMF pre-conditions. Also, Moscow offered Ukraine a discount on Ukraine’s large gas purchases from Russia. The rest is history, as it were. As mentioned above, the Washington neocons were not about to accept Kiev’s pivot to Russia come hell or high water. So they swung into action bringing all the instruments of the Empire – the CIA, the State Department, NED, the NGOs and favored Ukrainian oligarchs – to bear on scuttling the Russian deal and removing Yanukovych from office. In a later interview with a US journalist, in fact, Ukrainian billionaire oligarch and opposition leader, Petro Poroshenko (who later became president), said quite clearly that the plan was to subvert the nation’s constitution and install an unelected, anti-Russian government that would deep-six the deal with Moscow: “From the beginning, I was one of the organizers of the Maidan. My television channel – Channel 5 – played a tremendously important role. … On the 11th of December, when we had U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and E.U. diplomat Catherine Ashton in Kyiv, during the night they started to storm the Maidan.” It should never be forgotten, therefore, that the coup which overthrew the constitutionally elected government in Kiev was a $5 billion all-hands Washington undertaking. It would never have come to fruition as a successful regime change putsch without the heavy hands of the US State Department along with the other above-mentioned arms of the empire. Needless to say, nullification of a country’s election – backed by the stick of NATO’s military might and the carrot of billions from a Washington/EU/IMF consortium – is big league meddling. Well, except by the clueless hypocrisy of the Washington foreign policy blob. Indeed, as former president Obama told CNN at the time, Washington was just going about its “indispensable nation” business. It had helpfully encouraged another “flowering of democracy” and to that end it had, “……brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine.” Brokered a deal my eye! This was a blatant and inexcusable breach of so-called “international law” because it served the will-to-power objectives of the Washington neocons and kept the now largely obsolete US foreign policy apparatus in the hegemony game – to say nothing of recruiting a new customer for arms sales. Never mind that Washington’s massive political and financial support for the Maidan uprising on the streets of Kiev, and then nearly instantaneous recognition of the resulting putsch as the official government of the Ukraine, was a frontal assault on the nation’s sovereignty. The late and detestable Senator John McCain even went to Kiev to show solidarity with the Euromaidan activists. McCain dined with opposition leaders, including members of the ultra-right‐​wing Svoboda Party and later appeared on stage in Maidan Square during a mass rally. There he stood shoulder to shoulder with Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok, who made no secret of his pro-Nazi convictions. But McCain’s actions were a model of diplomatic restraint compared to the conduct of Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, who, by your way, was soon back in the same position in the Biden Administration, conducting the same pro-war neocon policies. As Ukraine’s political crisis deepened, Nuland and her subordinates became more brazen in favoring the anti‐​Yanukovych demonstrators. Nuland noted in a speech to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation in December 2013, that she had traveled to Ukraine three times in the weeks following the start of the demonstrations. Visiting the Maidan on December 5, she famously handed out cookies to demonstrators and expressed support for their cause. Washington’s conduct not only constituted meddling, but it also bordered on puppeteering. At one point, US Ambassador Pyatt mentioned the complex dynamic among the three principal ultra-nationalist opposition leaders, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Oleh Tyahnybok, and Vitali Klitschko Both Pyatt and Nuland wanted to keep Tyahnybok and Klitschko out of an interim government. In the former case, they worried about his extremist neo-Nazi ties; in the latter, they appeared to want him to wait and make a bid for office on a longer‐​term basis (This former boxing champion became the current pugnacious mayor of Kiev). Nuland thus famously stated that, “I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary.” She added that what Yatseniuk needed “is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside.” The two diplomats were also prepared to escalate the already extensive U.S. involvement in Ukraine’s political turbulence by bringing in the Big Guy. Pyatt stated bluntly that, “…..we want to try to get somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing [the political transition].” Nuland clearly had Vice President Joe Biden in mind for that role. Noting that the vice president’s national security adviser was in direct contact with her, Nuland related that she told him, “…probably tomorrow for an atta‐​boy and to get the details to stick. So Biden’s willing.” That is to say, Victoria Nuland didn’t merely tell some undercover operatives to buy ads on Ukrainian social media, as Russia was accused of doing during the 2016 US election. To the contrary, she actually picked Yanukovych’s successor and the entire cabinet! And we know this from a hacked phone call between Nuland and the US ambassador in Kiev. In discussing who should lead the Washington-installed government, Nuland made clear who the next prime minister would be and who he should be talking to for advice. Nuland: I think Yats (Arseniy Yatseniuk) is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience.  … what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. As it turned out, the putsch leaders followed Nuland’s advice to the letter, installing “Yats” as the new prime minister. But it also filled four cabinet posts out of eleven with rabid anti-Russian neo-Nazis. Indeed, at the heart of the putsch were Ukrainian organizations called Svoboda (national socialist party of Ukraine) and Right Sector. Their national hero was one Stepan Bandera – a collaborator with Hitler who led the liquidation of thousands of Poles, Jews and other minorities as the Nazi Wehrmacht, as previously mentioned, made it way through Ukraine toward Stalingrad in the early 1940s. In fact, another founder and leader of Svoboda, Andriy Parubiy, was given a portfolio which included the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, National Security and Intelligence. That the Kremlin was alarmed by these developments and that the Russian-speaking populations of Crimea and the Donbas (the blue areas on the electoral map above) feared an ethnic cleansing led by the new Ukrainian nationalist government in Kiev is hardly surprising. Indeed, the first legislative act of the new government was the abolition, on February 23, 2014, of the Kivalov-Kolesnichenko law of 2012 which made Russian an official language. As one commentator noted, it was a bit as if putschists decided that French and Italian would no longer be official languages ​​in Switzerland. The Russian language ban caused a storm in the Russian-speaking population. This resulted in fierce repression against the Russian-speaking regions (Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov, Lugansk and Donetsk) which began in February 2014 and led to a militarization of the situation and some notorious massacres (those in Odessa and Mariupol were the most odious). By the end of summer 2014, Crimea had return to Mother Russia after an overwhelming plebiscite and the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk became the object of a vicious civil war conducted by Kiev. As we have amplified elsewhere, Sevastopol in Crimea has been the homeport of the Russian Naval Fleet under czars and commissars alike. After 171 years as an integral part of the Russian Motherland, it only technically became part of Ukraine during a Khrushchev inspired shuffle in 1954. The fact is, only 10% of the Crimean population is Ukrainian speaking, and it was the coup on the streets of Kiev by extremist anti-Russian Ukrainian nationalists and proto-fascists that caused the Russian speakers in Crimea to panic and Moscow to become alarmed about the status of its historic naval base, for which it still had a lease running to the 2040s. Thus, during a referendum in March 2014 83% of eligible Crimeans turned out to vote and 97% of those approved cancelling the 1954 edict of the Soviet Presidium that gifted Russian-Crimea to Ukraine. There is absolutely no evidence that the 80% of Crimeans who thus voted to sever their historically short-lived affiliation with Ukraine were threatened or coerced by Moscow. Indeed, what they actually feared were the edicts against Russian language and culture coming out of Kiev. And exactly the same thing was true of the overwhelmingly Russian-speaking populations of the Donbas. So in the context of a relentless and pointless NATO expansion to the very borders of the shrunken Russian state, Washington did not merely sponsor and fund the overthrow of Ukraine’s constitutionally elected government in February 2014. But once it had unleashed a devastating civil war, it also relentlessly blocked for eight years running the obvious alternative to the bloodshed that had claimed 14,000 civilian and military casualties, even before the current hot war commenced. To wit, Ukraine could have been partitioned with autonomy for the Russian-speaking Donbas provinces – or even accession to the Russian state from which these communities had essentially originated. So the appalling truth of the matter is this: Adding insult to injury after its blatantly foolish and reckless coup in February 2014, Washington now insists that the grandsons and granddaughters of Stalin’s industrial army in the Donbas are to be ruled by the grandsons and granddaughters of Hitler’s collaborators in Kiev, whether they like it or not. Yet that historic chasm is exactly where the present civil war originated. And its also why partition of an artificial polity forced together by 20th century communist dictators is the only way out. THE NATO FACTOR The current CIA director, William J Burns, actually recognized the eventual crack-up of Ukraine back in 2008, when he served as U.S. ambassador to Russia. After Ukraine’s NATO aspirations were announced at that year’s Bucharest Security Conference, Burns wrote a secret cable (subsequently published by Wikileaks) entitled, “Nyet Means Nyet: Russia’s NATO Enlargement Redlines”. The missive to Washington contained a stern warning of trouble to come: Ukraine and Georgia’s NATO aspirations not only touch a raw nerve in Russia, they engender serious concerns about the consequences for stability in the region. Not only does Russia perceive encirclement, and efforts to undermine Russia’s influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences which would seriously affect Russian security interests. Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war. In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face. He got that right! For more than two decades, Washington’s NATO expansion policy has been a dagger aimed at the heart of an inherently divided Ukrainian polity—a division that had been suppressed by 69 years of brutal communist rule, but which broke into the open after the Soviet Union fell in 1991. So, as Burns predicted, in response to the 2014 putsch, Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the eastern Donbas region rose up against the coup government in Kiev, which they denounced as an illegitimate Western puppet regime, riddled with anti-Russian Neo-Nazis. Independence activists declared the creation of two new autonomous states, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. In turn, the new anti-Russian Ukrainian government in Kiev, with abundant Western military support and weapons, launched a brutal war against these breakaway republics–an assault that went on until the Russian invasion of February 24, 2022. As Kiev’s assault in the Donbas unfolded, upwards of 14,000 Ukrainians were killed, and hundreds of thousands more were displaced – all before the Russian invasion commenced. Moreover, the manner in which the two new breakaway republics armed themselves for combat against Kiev’s forces tells you all you need to know about the deep divisions in the Ukrainian polity. These were fissures which were instantly brought to the surface by the Maidan coup. According to Jacques Baud, a NATO adviser to Ukraine during that period, the breakaway Republic fighters got their arms mainly from defecting Ukrainian units, not Russia! Folks, when entire military units defect with their arms and fighting wherewithal, you are not dealing with minor differences of opinion among a nation’s population; it’s a sign of deep and likely irreconcilable strife. As Baud has further noted, In 2014, I (was) at NATO, responsible for the fight against the proliferation of small arms, and we (were) trying to detect Russian arms deliveries to the rebels in order to see if Moscow (was) involved. The rebels are armed thanks to the defections of Russian-speaking Ukrainian units which cross over to the rebel side. As the Ukrainian failures progressed, the entire tank, artillery or anti-aircraft battalions swelled the ranks of the autonomists. This is what (drove) the Ukrainians to commit to the Minsk Accords. Just after signing the Minsk 1 Accords in September 2014, however, then Ukrainian President and corrupt oligarch, Petro Poroshenko, launched a vast anti-terrorist operation against the Donbas. But poorly advised by NATO officers, the Ukrainians suffered a crushing defeat at Debaltsevo, which forced them to commit to the Minsk 2 Agreements in February 2015. As it happened, these Agreements provided for neither the separation nor the independence of the Republics, but their autonomy within the framework of Ukraine. That is, the ultimate status of the republics was to be negotiated between Kiev and the representatives of the republics, for an internal solution to the crisis of Ukraine’s split polity. But owing to Washington’s writs this was not to be. Instead, the post-coup Kiev government waged a brutal civil war against the Donbas for eight years. This attack was resisted by Russian-speaking Ukrainians who were deathly afraid of being ruled by the neo-Nazi elements which permeated the Kiev government, military and security forces (SBU). Indeed, even though he had run as the peace candidate, Zelensky put the kibosh on Minsk 2 soon after he was installed in office in 2019. The Minsk agreements, of course, had detailed how Kiev could reintegrate its breakaway regions by offering them a general amnesty, greater autonomy, and representation in the government.  But after having his very life threatened by the Azov militias embedded in Ukraine’s military, Zelensky and other senior officials declared that the Minsk agreements could not be implemented. Instead, they claimed that they could only proceed with their obligations under the agreements after retaking control of the rebel-held areas. Needless to say, as far as the breakaway republics were concerned, disarmament first and negotiations later was an absurd non-starter. In fact, after the fall of 2019, the Zelensky government made a bee line toward severe intensification of the raging civil war, To that end, it caused ascension to NATO to be added to its constitution, even as Zelensky issued at executive order vowing to recover Crimea. Yet as we have frequently explained that territory and the site of Russia’s most strategic naval base had never been part of Ukraine until 1954 when Khrushchev gifted it to the brutal communist rulers in Kiev for their help in securing the succession after Stalin’s death. Moreover, once Zelensky intensified the civil war the idea that Ukraine had anything to do with a functioning democracy lost all meaning. Zelensky’s government soon arrested the leading opposition politicians, shut-down all opposition media by combing multiple TV outlets into a single government propaganda network and, as we saw earlier, initially even outlawed the use of the Russian language. So long before Russia invaded on February 24, 2022, a bloody civil war raged in the unnatural polity called Ukraine. The latter was inherently not built to last given its deep ethnic divisions and especially the legacy of the aforementioned bloody history during WWII, when the country was bitterly divided between populations loyal to Hitler’s Wehrmacht versus those aligned with Stalin’s Red Army. Like after the American civil war, the animosity lasted for decades. So again, as Jacques Baud noted, this was a civil war: There were never major Russian troops in the Donbass before February 24, 2022. Even the US intelligence map published by the Washington Post on December 3, 2021 does not show Russian troops in the Donbass. Indeed, as far back as October 2015, Vasyl Hrytsak, director of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), confessed that only 56 Russian fighters had been observed in the Donbass. It was hardly even comparable to that of the Swiss going to fight in Bosnia during the weekends, in the 1990s, or the French mercenaries who are going to fight in Ukraine today. The Ukrainian army was then in a deplorable state. In October 2018, after four years of war, Ukraine’s chief military prosecutor, Antoly Matios, said that Ukraine had lost 2,700 men in the Donbass but not from the much larger combat losses. Instead, he referenced losses including 891 from disease, 318 from traffic accidents, 177 from other accidents, 175 from poisoning (alcohol, drugs), 172 from careless handling of weapons, 101 from breaches of safety rules, 228 from murder and 615 from suicide! In fact, like everything else in Ukraine, the Army has been severely undermined by the corruption of its cadres. According to a UK Home Office report, when reservists were called up in March-April 2014, 70% did not show up for the first session, 80% for the second, 90% for the third and 95% for the fourth. Thus, to compensate for the lack of soldiers, the Ukrainian government resorted to paramilitary militias. They were essentially made up of foreign mercenaries. As of 2020, they constituted around 40% of Ukraine’s forces and numbered around 102,000 men according to a in-depth Reuters investigation. That is to say, much of what constituted the Ukrainian military force on the eve of the Russian invasions was armed, financed and trained by the United States, Great Britain, Canada and France. These militias, stemming from the far-right groups that led the Euromaidan revolution in 2014, are made up of fanatical and brutal individuals. The best known of these is the Azov regiment, whose emblem is reminiscent of that of the 2nd SS Das Reich Panzer Division. The latter is the object of nationalist veneration in Ukraine for having liberated Kharkov from the Soviets in 1943. None of this is a secret, even if it has been banned from the 24/7 news narrative. So the West supports and continues to arm militias that have been guilty of widespread crimes against the civilian populations of the Donbas since 2014, including rape, torture and massacres. Moreover, the integration of these paramilitary forces into the National Guard was not at all accompanied by a “denazification”, as is frequently claimed. Among the many examples, that of the insignia of the Azov Regiment is edifying: Finally, on the eve of the invasion the Kiev government moved to drastically intensify the civil war and its brutal campaign against the breakaway republics. Beginning on February 16th – a week before the invasion – Ukrainian artillery shelling of the civilian populations of the Donbass increased dramatically, as shown by the daily reports of OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) observers. Naturally, neither the media, nor the European Union, nor NATO, nor any Western government reacted or intervened even verbally. At the same time, there were also reports of acts of sabotage in the Donbass. On January 18, Donbass fighters intercept saboteurs equipped with Western equipment and speaking Polish seeking to create chemical incidents in Gorlivka. The Ukrainian artillery bombardments on the populations of Donbass continued to intensify as shown below – so on February 23, the two Republics requested military aid from Russia. And on the 24th, Vladimir Putin invoked Article 51 of the United Nations Charter which provides for mutual military assistance within the framework of a defensive alliance. At that point, the Ukrainian civil war became international, and the artificial nation that was not “Built to Last” was ushered into its death throes. Indeed, the real truth of the matter is that Imperial Washington is now reaping the whirlwind it sowed over decades by massive interference in the internal politics and governance process of countries all over the world – of which the vignette above about the Ukrainian coup and its bloody aftermath is only the latest flock of chickens to come home to roost. Contrary to the bombast, jingoism, and shrill moralizing flowing from Washington and the mainstream media, America had absolutely no national security interest – even to this day – in the spat between Putin and the coup that unconstitutionally took over Kiev in February 2014. That changed everything and knocked the props out from under Washington’s current sanctimonious attacks on Putin for finally resorting to its own game. As we said, Ukraine was “Not Built to Last”. Yet notwithstanding all of these damning realities, Zelensky continues to peevishly and arrogantly demand that Washington and the west stand-up an on-ramp to WWIII (e.g. a No-Fly Zone) in order to defend every inch of this artifact of recent history called Ukraine. After all, if according to the horse’s mouth itself there would have been no war had Ukraine been willing to give up the historic Russian territories of Crimea and the Donbas in the first place, then why isn’t Washington making a bee line toward the negotiating table to offer just that? If the truth be told, of course, it is not interested in ending the Ukraine War or saving a nation which cannot and should not be saved. To the contrary, Washington and its fawning media acolytes have become so crazed with anti-Putin hysteria that they will not be satiated until Russia itself is brought down – even if that threatens to bring down the entire dollar-based global trade and payments system on which America’s tenuous prosperity depends. Tyler Durden Sat, 12/02/2023 - 08:10.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 2nd, 2023

How Blue States Work Around SCOTUS To Restrict Gun Rights

How Blue States Work Around SCOTUS To Restrict Gun Rights Authored by Michael Clements via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), The Second Amendment debate is academic for many Americans—speculation with friends over what-if scenarios and the concept of God-given rights. (Illustration by The Epoch Times, Shutterstock) On Oct. 7, those rights hit home for Adam Edelman (not his real name) and others in New York’s Jewish community, who were horrified by the Hamas terror attack on Israel and the massacre of 1,200 people. Then, days later, while he was sitting in his small business outside New York City, pro-Palestinian protestors were marching just miles from his office. He began recalling his grandparents', aunts', and uncles’ accounts of the beginning of the Holocaust. And how he could protect his family in a state that restricts his Second Amendment rights. Mr. Edelman spoke with The Epoch Times on condition of anonymity out of concern for his family’s safety. “Well, look, the parallels are there. They’re openly screaming ‘Death to Jews,’” Mr. Edelman told The Epoch Times. “If they had a chance, they would eradicate all the Jews. They would do it.” Gun rights activists hailed the June 23, 2022, U.S. Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen that citizens have a constitutional right to carry a gun in public for self-defense. People walk past the John Jovino gunshop, which claims to be the oldest gun shop in the country, in New York City on April 8, 2013. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images) They see the decision as the bookend to the 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the court ruled that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms. Since Bruen, 27 states have adopted so-called constitutional carry laws, which allow law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm without a license. But not all legislatures celebrated. In many blue states, where strict gun laws are the norm, legislatures took the opposite path. California, Oregon, Illinois, Washington, and other states implemented more firearms restrictions or refitted existing laws to the new standard. Washington, Illinois, and Delaware joined the seven other states that banned certain types of semi-automatic rifles, so-called assault weapons. Other states added prohibitions on where guns could be legally carried, expanding their lists of “sensitive places.” The centerpiece of New York’s reaction to Bruen was the Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA), announced on Aug. 31, 2022. The CCIA increased the training required for a license, expanded the number of places where concealed carry was prohibited, made in-person interviews and a review of an applicant's social media accounts mandatory, and reduced the license recertification period from five years to three years. The state set up a website to explain the new law. Marcia Threatt of Anne Arundal County, Chakiar Trotman of Tenleytown, and Adrian Williams of Baltimore all aim downrange during a shooting league at a firing range in Owings Mills, Md., on Sept., 27, 2023. (KENT NISHIMURA/AFP via Getty Images) Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office didn't respond to an interview request. But in a July 1 speech touting a law mandating background checks for ammunition purchases, Ms. Hochul said New Yorkers’ Second Amendment rights would be protected. “We know this has nothing to do with lawful gun owners, nothing to do with them at all. These are people who have been convicted of felonies or other categories of people that should be prohibited from firearms and ammunition,” she said. Mr. Edelman said that the restrictions have turned out to have much to do with law-abiding citizens. He is a federal firearms license holder, gun dealer, and New York state and NRA firearms instructor. He said that since the Oct. 7 attacks, demands for his firearms license class have increased as the threats from protestors have overridden the political leanings of many in the Jewish community. “I live in a very, very liberal area. A lot of those people are coming to me like, ‘What do we need to protect the house?’ These are the people who never thought they would ever need to buy a gun,” Mr. Edelman said. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announces new concealed carry gun regulations at a press conference in New York City on Aug. 31, 2022. (ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images) Being new to firearms and the laws that apply to them, Mr. Edelman’s students are often surprised at the hoops through which they must jump simply to own a gun. The state requirements can appear daunting, and the process can take anywhere from a few months to years to complete. As the process plays out, Jewish applicants will be left unarmed as their enemies march, Mr. Edelman said. “There are a number of laws that are really precluding law-abiding citizens from first acquiring firearms and exercising their right to defend themselves,” Mr. Edelman said. The city of Peekskill is in the hills on the east bank of the Hudson River, about 10 miles south of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and 43 miles north of New York City. At 1000 Division Street in Peekskill, The Hat Factory houses a milk distribution company, a yoga studio, and Donahoo Consulting, among other businesses, offices, and art studios. Steve Donahoo, owner of Donahoo Consulting, is a retired New York City police officer. He’s a gregarious, outgoing man who jokes that if a clean desk is the sign of a sick mind, then he "must be healthy.” Retired New York City Police officer and New York state firearms instructor Steve Donahoo at his desk in Peekskill, New York on Nov. 8, 2023. (Michael Clements/The Epoch Times) Like Mr. Edelman, Mr. Donahoo is an NRA-certified instructor and teaches the New York state licensing course. And, like Mr. Edelman, he often has to encourage students to persevere through a licensing process that may seem interminable. Mr. Donahoo pointed out that the state-required training is only the first step. Each county and New York City has additional requirements. Failure to comply with them can put the entire process on hold. He recounted the story of one student whose county required that all application forms downloaded from the internet be printed on both sides of the page. The student printed his forms on one side of each page and was told by county officials he could reapply again in a year. “It's a big commitment to get a pistol license nowadays,” Mr. Donahoo said. And it’s a big commitment to keep one. Both men said that New York has no stand-your-ground law, or castle doctrine. Licensed gun owners still have a legal duty to retreat, even in their homes. A firearm is considered a means of last resort. Even then, the state often doesn't recognize an individual’s right to self-defense. Signage posted around Capitol Square prohibits firearms ahead of expected protests in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 17, 2021. (RYAN M. KELLY/AFP via Getty Images) Law Calls For Duty to Retreat Mr. Edelman spoke of a case in which one of his students, who was legally carrying his pistol, was arrested and charged with a crime. The man was the president of a co-op board and had been asked to talk with a person who was acting strangely. At one point, the co-op board president felt threatened. He drew his licensed firearm and asked the man to leave, which he did. Mr. Edelman said no shots were fired and no one was injured in the nonviolent confrontation. The co-op board president was arrested and charged with a crime. Mr. Edelman uses the incident in his class to warn his students. “Know that you will be arrested, there will be charges filed against you, it doesn't matter if you did it in self-defense or not. This is the state we live in,” Mr. Edelman said. The owner of a liquor store in North Tonawanda, New York, discovered that New York firearms regulations could cost him his livelihood even when there is no gunplay. For Ian Brennan, the issue isn’t about self-defense, though he does support the right to carry. The 30-something business owner has always collected unique or unusual firearms, especially antiques. “I'm a really big fan of history and everything like that.” Mr. Brennan told The Epoch Times as he pointed to the 1857 muzzleloader on the wall above the cash register at Yankee Spirits. Read more here... Tyler Durden Thu, 11/23/2023 - 23:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 24th, 2023

The Rise Of Pharma Fascism And The Ruination of the Commons

The Rise Of Pharma Fascism And The Ruination of the Commons Authored by Toby Rogers via the Brownstone Institute, I. When the commons was Eden  “The commons” is a foundational idea in left political philosophy. The commons refers to shared spaces — oceans, lakes, rivers, forests, the air — that are not owned by anyone. It can also refer to cultural spaces — the town square for example. I could make a case that the internet is a commons — even though there are millions of individual owners of particular spaces no one owns the whole thing.  The left loves the idea of the commons because it harkens back to the era of hunter gatherers who were free to hunt, fish, and live off of the abundance of the earth. The commons is also essential to the left imagination because they don’t believe in private property, so on some level they think that the entire world is or could be the commons. And because they see themselves as more empathetic, educated, and wise than everyone else, they believe that they are the best stewards to manage the commons.  On the left, entire careers are made by writing and teaching about the commons:  Henry George was an early theorist of the commons in the 19th century.  Garrett Hardin popularized the idea of the commons with his 1968 article in Science titled, “The Tragedy of the Commons” about managing the individual incentives to overexploit shared resources.  In 2009, Elinor Ostrom became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics for her work documenting examples of successful management of the commons. And heaps of additional left public intellectuals have done important work on the commons including feminist theorist Silvia Federici, Marxist geographer David Harvey, and newcomer Raj Patel (with his bestselling book, The Value of Nothing).  Anyone who wants to remain a member in good standing of the left must be able to speak at length about the commons. This discussion of the commons is almost entirely concerned with protecting the collective space from encroachment by greedy individuals and rapacious corporations. The worst thing that one can do (a sin usually reserved for feudal lords, kings, and corporations) is to “enclose the commons” — make private and exclusive what was formerly open and accessible to all. I’ve long admired the idea of the commons and think it represents the left at its best.  And then a very strange and terrifying thing happened. Over the last several years, the bougie left, without even a hint of self-awareness or irony, enclosed the global commons — seized it is a better term — in the name of public health, based on false assumptions about how viruses work.  As I will explain below, this is the mechanism by which the bougie left slid from liberalism into fascism.  II. The birth of modern Pharma fascism The battle against SB276 in California in 2019 was one of the most sickening and heartbreaking things I’ve ever witnessed. In 2015, California banned all religious and philosophical exemptions to school vaccination requirements with SB277. But SB276 went further. Sponsored by Richard Pan, a man with no empathy who is controlled by Big Pharma, SB276 revokes the medical license of any doctor who writes more than 5 medical exemptions to school vaccination requirements. In a state with 9,100,000 children, 5 exemptions per doctor is not very many. Fearing the loss of their livelihood, doctors in California stopped writing medical exemptions altogether.  Disabled by DTaP? Too bad, you still have to take all of the other shots. Your sibling died from a vaccine? Too bad, it wasn’t you that died (yet) so roll up your sleeves. This approach to public health contradicts two centuries of best practices in medicine. Prior to SB276 the entire scientific and medical community acknowledged that some people should not be vaccinated because of underlying medical conditions, previous reactions, or family history. But Pharma was in a hurry to wipe out the unvaccinated control group that would reveal the extent of their crimes so they introduced SB276 in a state they already owned before rolling it out to the entire country.  As the bill moved through the legislature, Richard Pan stood at the front of the room grinning like the Cheshire Cat, while thousands of parents, mostly mothers, testified about vaccine injuries in their kids. It was like something out of a Holocaust documentary. As the bill sponsor he was allowed to respond to the public testimony prior to the vote by each committee (Health, Education, and Appropriations). At every hearing he made a strange little speech that conveyed the new ideology of the Pharma Fascist Left. Pan explained that “your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.” But he argued (and this is the sleight of hand) the same principle applies to viruses. Because viruses exist, and because the unvaccinated may be carrying a deadly virus, the act of breathing, by an unvaccinated person, is the legal equivalent of punching him in the face. Thus the unvaccinated, by their very existence break the law because they violate his right to be free from disease. The only way to prevent this grave miscarriage of justice then is to either a.) force children to be vaccinated; or b.) remove the unvaccinated from schools (and the rest of society — Pan wants the unvaccinated banned from all public spaces).  Let’s just pause for a moment to note that he clearly does not believe that vaccines actually work because if they did, the unvaccinated would pose no threat to the vaccinated. When confronted with this fact he moves the goalposts to claim that his real concern is the “immunocompromised who cannot be vaccinated.” But like everything else he says this is a lie because in California and all blue states they vaccinate the hell out of the immunocompromised as well.  This is the “logic” of Pharma fascism.  Pan has never had an original thought in his life so this angle of attack was likely developed by a Pharma PR firm and focus-group tested before sending it out to spokespeople in the Democratic Party. And now it’s the dominant ideology in the Democratic Party and ruling parties throughout the developed world.  There is a multitude of problems with this flawed ideology. But what I want to point out in this article is that it leads to enclosure of the commons — even before Covid. Democrats would really like to enclose the air itself but that is too difficult. So instead they enclose schools by kicking out some kids (SB276 kicked 56,000 kids out of public school). Vaccine mandates enclose our bodies by allowing corporations to trespass with their toxic products. And Democrats try to enclose the public square (digital and otherwise) by setting up a vast surveillance system to censor, shadowban, demonetize, and deplatform anyone who disagrees with their increasingly zany ideology.  III. Pan’s “logic” is absolute horsesh*t Democrats do not understand viruses, vaccines, or the law and it leads them to make catastrophic policy decisions that are destroying the health of the American people.  Viruses don’t work that way There are a quadrillion x quadrillion viruses in the world (more viruses on earth than stars in the known universe). Research on the global virosphere has concluded that, “Trillions Upon Trillions of Viruses Fall From the Sky Each Day.” From the New York Times:  Scientists have surmised there is a stream of viruses circling the planet, above the planet’s weather systems but below the level of airline travel…. Each day some 800 million viruses cascade onto every square meter of the planet. “Human cells, GOOD! Bacteria and viruses, BAD!” is how public health officials usually frame the discussion. But that’s not how health actually works. Instead, our bodies are a complex ecosystem of different types of cells. Only 43 percent of the cells in our body are human — the rest are various bacteria and viruses that communicate and exchange with our human cells and DNA in ways that make life possible.  Human consciousness itself is said to have emerged as a result of the beneficial exchange between viral and human DNA. Between 40 and 80 percent (an admittedly large range) of the human genome came initially from viruses. Viruses (and bacteria) regulate all living systems on earth.  So we’re never going to get rid of all viruses and bacteria nor would we want to. But what about the small number of viruses (about 200) that can be harmful to humans? Vaccines are ineffective and dangerous The large gains in life expectancy and declines in infectious disease in the 20th century happened before the introduction of mass vaccination campaigns. Improved living standards, sewers, water treatment facilities, food safety, organized solid waste disposal, along with “improvements in housing and decreased crowding in US cities” are responsible for “nearly 90% of the decline in infectious disease mortality among U.S. children.” That’s not me talking, that’s a review of a century of public health data published in Pediatrics. In an earlier era, when public health focused on large public works projects, health improved. Now that public health focuses almost exclusively on promoting vaccines, health and well-being have plummeted. An analysis, by Danish researchers, of the best vaccine data set in the world indicates that all of the vaccines on the US schedule cause more harms than benefits.  None of the vaccines on the US schedule (with the exception of a tiny subtrial of the Gardasil vaccine) were tested against a saline placebo in a true randomized controlled trial. ICAN’s December 31, 2018 letter to the US Department of Health and Human Services proves this fact and it is perhaps the single most important document ever written during the vaccine wars. Pan’s approach ignores all the rest of medicine. In the current hysteria, it seems that people sometimes forget that there are medical products other than vaccines! We can treat various diseases with antivirals, antibiotics, and a thousand other medicines without forcing one-size-fits all toxic vaccines on the entire population.  Pan’s approach ignores all of the toxicants that can cause ill health. Zach Bush points out that waste ponds from industrial livestock production are breeding grounds for all sorts of viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Pharmaceuticals introduce toxicants into our bodies. Factories and freeways produce a wide range of toxicants that impair health. We could find common ground on regulating those sources but Pharma controls the political process and so the entire focus of public health is on vaccines.  Pan’s approach also ignores all the rest of health. Why do two people with similar environmental exposures have different outcomes? Nutrition, exercise, rest, and sunshine (factors now ignored by allopathic medicine) make a significant impact on whether someone will get sick. Furthermore, as Jennifer Giustra-Kozek, LPC, author of Healing Without Hurting points out, most diseases that are usually attributed to viruses and bacteria often have an underlying vitamin deficiency that can be addressed through food, supplements, or intravenously in acute cases.  For Covid-19, the corresponding deficiencies that need to be addressed are usually zinc and vitamin D. Individualized medicine will always be superior to one-size-fits-all Pharma-captured medicine.  The most extreme enclosure of the commons in history No Pharaoh, no king, no feudal lord, and certainly no political party has ever before claimed that they own the air and that the mere act of breathing by the citizenry was an assault that must be managed by a police state.  Yet that is the central claim of Pan, Fauci, and the public health bureaucracy and the idea that drives vaccine mandates, masks, lockdowns, social distancing, and the rest of the modern Fascist Pharma State. The cultural enclosure is also cruel and senseless — kicking students out of universities via vaccine mandates, delicensing doctors for helping their patients survive by prescribing ivermectin, and refusing medical care in hospitals to the unvaccinated are just some examples.  As I’ve written before, the only historical parallels with Pan’s ideology are Jim Crow laws in the US that declared Black Americans unclean (thus requiring separate drinking fountains, bathrooms, and schools) and the Nazis who claimed that Jews were disease carriers and thus must be moved into ghettos and concentration camps. But now this preposterous junk science has returned from the dead and it drives public health policy in the US and throughout the developed world in the Covid era.  IV. Ideology becomes policy and law Unfortunately the obscene ideology described above is widespread. Naomi Klein in Doppelganger repeats this same vile notion. In Klein’s view there is no individual “I” — we all breathe the same air thus the Fascist Pharma State has the right and indeed obligation to police the bodies of the unvaccinated, lest they infect her superior over-vaccinated body. Again, it is beyond weird that the Cult of Vaccine does not actually believe in their own product while insisting on injecting it into others. Indeed this nonsense has become the dominant ideology of ruling parties throughout the developed world. In North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea liberal democracy has been replaced with this Stakeholder Fascism based on junk science that makes Pharma rich. You can see how it’s a short distance from this twisted supremacist ideology to concentration camps and extermination of the unvaccinated in the name of public health.  These junk science ideas about public health inevitably make their way into policy and the law. In 2020 the NY Department of Public Health created a regulation (10 NYCRR 2.13) titled “Isolation and Quarantine Procedures” that enabled the state to remove anyone from their home for any reason and detain them indefinitely without due process of law under the guise of public health. Quite literally the NY Department of Public Health decided that concentration camps were the best approach for managing Covid.  Attorney and Brownstone Institute Fellow Bobbie Anne Flower Cox spent the last two years battling the state of New York to get this regulation struck down. On July 8, 2022, a NY Supreme Court Judge, Ronald Ploetz, ruled that the “Isolation and Quarantine Procedures” regulation is unconstitutional and “violative of New York State law as promulgated and enacted, and therefore null, void and unenforceable as a matter of law.” Astonishingly, Governor Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James appealed the decision and the appeal was heard in court just a few weeks ago.  If the NY Supreme Court Appellate Division affirms that the law is unconstitutional, it will be a small step toward sanity. If the court somehow decides that indefinite detention for any reason without right to due process is lawful, we will be living in America’s version of National Socialism.  Of course the national media did not report on the NY “Quarantine Camp” policy — why would they, they believe the same nonsense as Richard Pan. And just like SB276 in California, it appears that Pharma introduced this idea in a captured blue state as a test run before rolling it out nationwide.  V. Conclusion It is essential to reframe this entire debate. I should not have to explain any of this but we live in The Upside Down World so let me state the obvious:  Viruses and bacteria are ubiquitous. They live in us, on us, and all around us and usually contribute to our well-being. Bad health outcomes can be reduced through making healthy lifestyle choices. For acute cases there are a range of medicines and supplements that are effective. Large infrastructure projects (e.g. sewers, treatment plants and pipes to deliver clean water to homes and businesses) are the proven best path to improving public health.  Public health policy in the US is based on junk science that enriches the largest donors to the Democratic Party. Health has absolutely nothing to do with it. If you follow the advice of the CDC you are putting your life in grave danger.  Health and medicine must always be tailored to the individual needs of each person. One-size-fits-all medicine is barbarism.  No one owns the air. It is not a crime to breathe. Anyone who wants to protect the commons must recognize the universal right for people to exist without corporate trespass into our bodies.  There are no pandemic exceptions to the US Constitution. Totalitarianism is not a recommended treatment for any disease. Concentration camps are never appropriate.  The best approach to any problem is always the free and open exchange of ideas in a system of free and sovereign citizens. Republished from the author’s Substack Tyler Durden Wed, 11/15/2023 - 20:20.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 15th, 2023

Stockman: Uncle Sam Doesn"t Have One Thin Dime For Biden"s $106 Billion War Package

Stockman: Uncle Sam Doesn't Have One Thin Dime For Biden's $106 Billion War Package Via David Stockman's Contra Corner When you are faced with an existential threat to your very national survival, this is what you do. You mobilize your economy for all-out struggle and impose heavy-duty “War Taxes” to pay for a dramatic build-up of military capabilities. For instance, between 1939 and 1945 Federal government receipts rose nearly seven-fold—from $6 billion to $42 billion per year, owing to across-the-board tax increases that took the average income tax rate from 4% to 24% and the top rate to upwards of 90%. Relative to the national economy, Federal receipts (red bars) rose from 6% of GDP to a peak of nearly 20% in 1945. Surge In Federal Outlays and Receipts As % Of GDP During WWII On top of that came a huge amount of war bonds and borrowing. Accordingly, outlays from taxes and borrowing (blue bars), mostly for military mobilization, rose from less than 10% of GDP in 1940 to a war-time peak of 40% in 1944-1945. Call that America’s national mobilization triggered by Pearl Harbor. It’s what a self-respecting democracy does when its very existence is called into question. Alas, to a man and woman Israel’s leadership has likened the barbaric Hamas attacks of October 7th to Pearl Harbor. And Netanyahu in particular has insisted that Israel’s withering bombardment of Gaza must not give way to a “pause” or ceasefire just as Washington did not stand down after Pearl Harbor, either. Fine. But then again, where is Netanyahu’s powerful “budget speech” to the Knesset akin to FDR’s famous call to arms and economic sacrifice before the Congress in January 1942? Where is Netanyahu’s lobbying campaign for an all-out Israeli economic mobilization and stiff War Taxes that would dramatically increase the government’s claim on the nation’s economic resources? Where is the plan for a true Garrison State with the vastly expanded military budget and armed forces that would be needed in the future to protect Israel’s citizens from being caught flat-footed again? Where are the plans for the hundreds of thousands of additional soldiers that would be required to ensure that the several thousand Hamas barbarians who inhabit the open-air prison on Israel’s southern border never again break through a properly sealed-off, militarized barrier on the perimeter of the Gaza Strip? Of course, there is no such thing in the works. There is a whole lot of lobbying going on—but it’s not in the Knesset. Instead, it’s on behalf of a largely symbolic $14 billion Israel aid package from the war finance capital of the world on the Potomac. But in the great scheme of things that’s a false comfort to the Israelis and an unaffordable virtue signal for the Washington pols. The fact is, Uncle Sam is flat-out broke. Washington cannot afford a single dime of the $106 billion package that Biden is trying to shove down the collective throats of America’s hapless legislators. That especially includes the utter waste of another $61 billion for Washington’s insane proxy war against Russia in Ukraine and the $14 billion for Israel, as well. In truth, Israel has not yet even begun to tighten its own economic belt to pay for the war policy that its militaristic and religious extremist government insists upon. Indeed, the pending US aid package amounts to only 2.5% of Israel’s GDP and comes on the back of Netanyahu’s ceaseless decades-long campaign for a Garrison State national security policy, but one funded on the cheap via a quasi-pacifist defense spending level. That’s right. Israel’s military expenditures had plunged from more than 20% of GDP at the time of the last existential crisis during the Yom Kippur War of 1973 to just 5% of GDP on the eve of the October 7 attacks. In effect, Netanyahu falsely told Israeli voters that they didn’t have to take the risks and make the territorial concessions implicit in a two-state and diplomatically-based solution to the Palestine problem. But at the same time, they could also avoid having to be taxed to the gills to pay for the alternative—a costly, heavily militarized Garrison State. The wink and nod underlying this false solution, of course, was a pitiless willingness to keep Hamas in check by “mowing the grass” every few years in Gaza, as a desperate Israeli government is now doing once again to the horror of much of the civilized world. So even more than the failure of Israel’s vaunted intelligence operations in the run-up to the October 7th massacres, the real deep policy failure is the flaccid blue line below, slouching toward 5.0% of GDP defense spending after the Netanyahu coalition came to dominate policy in the 1990s. You simply can’t have a Garrison State policy—no negotiations with the Palestinians, no two-state solution, no continuation of the Oslo or other international negotiations process and the quarantine of 2.3 million largely destitute Palestinians in a congested dysfunctional strip of land cheek-by-jowl with the Mediterranean Sea—on a 5% of GDP war budget. As we recently pointed out, Israel’s $25 billion defense budget is a pittance compared to its booming, technologically advanced and robust $550 billion national economy. The latter, in turn, is 20X larger than what had been the $28 billion that passes for an economy in the shambles of Gaza—a whisp of GDP mainly funded by foreign philanthropists and malign actors alike. And even that will soon virtually cease to exist. Even if you count the aid from the so-called malign actors—a few hundred million per year from Iran and others—that flows through Qatar to Hamas, there is simply no contest. Israel is an economic Goliath relative to the thin resources of the Hamas terrorist apparatus and does not need any virtue signaling hand-outs from the politicians of the bankrupt state domiciled on the Potomac in order to handle its own security. They just need to either— return to the international negotiating table for a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders and the re-unification of Gaza and the West Bank under an internationally accountable and guaranteed authority. or, in the alternative, shackle their voters with heavy-duty War Taxes to fund the full military might their current rejectionist policies require. Needless to say, Bibi Netanyahu and his coalition of rightwing religious parties would have likely never stayed in power with their “rejectionist front” against an internationally brokered and superintended two-state arrangement had they leveled with the public about the immense increase in military spending and taxes these policies required. But even that is not the half of it. The truth is, Netanyahu is a megalomaniacal madman who has had the reckless audacity to pursue an utterly dangerous Machiavellian strategy of promoting and funding Hamas in order to kill dead as a doornail any prospect whatever of a two-state arrangement. The public record makes absolutely clear that this is what Netanyahu clearly has done, even as he failed to tell the Israel’s public that this policy, in turn, necessitated a full-bodied Garrison State with crushing taxes to keep his Frankenstein monster contained inside the Gaza prison walls. And we do mean crushing. To spend another $25 billion or even $50 billion on a Garrison State approach to national security, as would be needed, would amount to 5% to 10% of GDP in higher taxes. Yet according to the World Bank, the Israeli tax burden has been falling since the turn of the century when Netanyahu’s one-state policy came to dominate Israel’s national security posture. Israel Tax Revenue As % Of GDP, 1995 to 2021  For want of doubt, the facts are these. Between 2012 and 2018 Netanyahu gave Qatar approval to transfer a cumulative sum of nearly one billion dollars to Gaza in the form of suitcases full of cash. And at least half of that is estimated to have reached Hamas, including its military wing. According to the Jerusalem Post, ……in a private meeting with members of his Likud party on March 11, 2019, Netanyahu explained the reckless step as follows: The money transfer is part of the strategy to divide the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Anyone who opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state needs to support the transfer of the money from Qatar to Hamas. In that way, we will foil the establishment of a Palestinian state (as reported in former cabinet member Haim Ramon’s Hebrew-language book “Neged Haruach”, p. 417). In an interview with the Ynet news website on May 5, 2019, Netanyahu associate Gershon Hacohen, a major general in reserves, said, “We need to tell the truth. Netanyahu’s strategy is to prevent the option of two states, so he is turning Hamas into his closest partner. Openly Hamas is an enemy. Covertly, it’s an ally.” Indeed, earlier that spring Netanyahu himself was widely quoted as saying during the aforementioned meeting of Likud MKs that, “Whoever opposes a Palestinian state must support delivery of funds to Gaza (cash in suitcases from Qatar) because maintaining separation between the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza will prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.” So Israel’s governing faction of religious extremists, militarists, messianic settlers and Eretz Yisrael ideologues have chosen, instead, to live in a Garrison State and to be periodically compelled to “mow the grass” in the Gaza outdoor prison. Yet if its rightwing governments want to operate a modern-day Sparta, they need to tap their own taxpayers first. In the meanwhile, Washington needs to truly sober up. Uncle Sam’s checking account is massively overdrawn. Now is not the time to fund wars which do nothing for America’s homeland security (Ukraine) or to provide purely symbolic aid to an ally that has more than enough resources to fund the unwise war policies it insists on pursuing. David Stockman's Contra Corner is the place where mainstream delusions and cant about the warfare state, the bailout state, bubble finance and Beltway banditry are ripped, refuted and rebuked.  Tyler Durden Wed, 11/08/2023 - 07:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 8th, 2023

Sidney Powell pushes claims that 2020 election was rigged and prosecutors "extorted" her after she pleaded guilty to election interference

Sidney Powell has continued to push conspiracy theories claiming the election was rigged after she pleaded guilty to election interference. Sidney Powell, right, speaks next to former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, as members of President Donald Trump's legal team, during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters.AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinSidney Powell pleaded guilty to election interference in Georgia's criminal case last week.On social media, she has continued to push claims that the 2020 election was rigged and prosecutors target conservatives.Her organization's newsletter urged her followers to read an article arguing the DA "extorted a guilty plea from Powell."Sidney Powell may have pleaded guilty to interfering in the 2020 presidential election, but she still seems to think President Joe Biden's victory was illegitimate.On her social media accounts, Powell has continued to push claims that the 2020 election was rigged and that prosecutors in Georgia who brought the criminal case against her are politically motivated. The newsletter published by her dark money group has shared articles arguing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis "extorted" her guilty plea.Powell is a co-defendant in Willis' sprawling RICO lawsuit against Donald Trump and more than a dozen of his allies who sought to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. She initially represented Trump, alongside Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis (who pleaded guilty on Monday), as part of the former president's "Elite Strike Force" team of lawyers challenging his election loss.The charges against Powell specifically accused her of racketeering, tampering with election equipment, stealing voter data, and lying to public officials about it. According to the indictment, Powell and Trump met in the White House in December 2020, where they discussed strategies for overturning the election. Powell also filed her own conspiratorial and typo-filled lawsuits seeking to overturn the election results in four swing states, all of which failed.In her hearing Thursday, Powell pleaded guilty to six charges related to her scheme to tamper with election equipment and steal voter data in Coffee County.None of that — nor the ongoing defamation lawsuits from election technology companies Dominion and Smartmatic — appear to have changed her tune.On X, formerly known as Twitter, she has shared posts purporting the 2020 election was rigged and that law enforcement was politically biased against conservatives.Over the weekend, Powell shared a post complaining that Trump "can't even have attorney client privilege." She also shared a post about a survey that claimed many Democrats believe "cheating affected the outcome of the 2020 election."On Monday, she asked her followers to watch "Police State," a new movie from conservative activist Dinesh D'Souza, which argues that law enforcement is biased against former President Donald Trump, who currently faces four pending criminal cases."Go see this movie!! It is so important and terrifying because it is true," Powell wrote, tagging right-wing media figures including catturd2, Dan Bongino, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.(D'Souza himself had previously pleaded guilty to making an illegal campaign contribution and was pardoned by Trump.)Powell also reposted a video from Tim Fitton, who runs the right-wing watchdog organization Judicial Watch and has reportedly advised Trump on his legal issues. In the video, Fitton claimed Trump was under attack "for daring to dispute the Biden election," which he lost.Her pinned post on her X profile is a graph suggesting that Georgia counted an unusual number of ballots voting for Democrats at the last minute. Biden won the state by more than 11,000 votes, a result confirmed by both an audit and a recount of the state's ballots.Powell has also been promoting posts about the testimony of a witness in a separate, ongoing California disbarment trial for John Eastman, a co-defendant in the Atlanta criminal case and former Trump Justice Department official who sought to overturn the election results.One post she promoted on the subject claimed there was "lots of evidence of election fraud being presented" in the trial. Another claimed there was "Too much evidence of the rigging."Powell's newsletter promoted a claim that Willis 'extorted' her guilty pleaThe Substack newsletter for Defending the Republic, Powell's dark money group that she used to fund her lawsuits, has made even more inflammatory claims.The newsletters — which Powell has promoted through her accounts on Truth Social and Telegram — are unsigned and there's no indication she writes them herself. No one responded to an inquiry sent to an email address associated with the newsletter.Since her guilty plea, the newsletters have urged her followers to "hold fast." They told supporters to read and share articles and YouTube videos that argue her guilty plea was "extorted" and amounted to a blow to Willis, the Fulton County district attorney.Saturday's newsletter quoted a Federalist article claiming "Willis basically extorted a guilty plea from Powell." The newsletter bolded a passage arguing she couldn't get a fair trial with "a jury culled from deep-blue Fulton County" and pointing out that the misdemeanors she pleaded guilty to "would be discharged from Powell's record following probation."Powell's followers were directed to the same Federalist article again in her Monday newsletter. It also cited an Epoch Times article quoting Trump's attorney Steve Sadow, who said Powell only pleaded guilty because of "pressure" from Willis.The arguments contract Powell's claims in her Thursday plea hearing, where she agreed her plea was "voluntary" and the charges had "a sufficient factual basis."Mugshots for Kenneth Chesebro, Rudy Giuliani, and Sidney Powell. Chesebro and Powell have both pleaded guilty in the Fulton County election interference case.Fulton County sheriff's officeNeither Powell nor a representative for the Fulton County district attorney's office responded to a request for comment.Ronald Carlson, a professor at the University of Georgia School of Law, told Insider that Powell's comments are unusual for a cooperating witness, who is likely to be asked to testify on behalf of the prosecution at a trial."Usually after a guilty plea, the defendants do not want to rock the boat," Carlson said.If the district attorney's office were to ask for a gag order on Powell, she would likely — like Trump in his criminal cases — argue she has a right to free speech, according to Carlson."It's very likely a situation where she's kind of saying, 'I'm going to exercise my right to free speech,' but one has to exercise care not to jeopardize anything in the plea agreement," Carlson said.Before the 2020 election, Powell represented Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security advisor, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the United States. With Powell as his lawyer, Flynn sought to withdraw his guilty plea and was ultimately pardoned by Trump.If Trump is reelected president in 2024, he and his co-defendants would still have virtually no way to obtain a pardon in the Georgia case. But in Monday's newsletter, Defending the Republic shared a Truth Social post from Trump praising Powell's "valiant job of representing a very unfairly treated and governmentally abused General Mike Flynn.""His prosecution, despite the facts, was ruthless," Trump wrote. "He was an innocent man, much like many other innocent people who are being persecuted by this now Fascist government of ours, and I was honored to give him a Full Pardon!"Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 24th, 2023

Leftist Mayor Calls 911 On Peaceful Petitioners - Describes Them As "Far Right Wing"

Leftist Mayor Calls 911 On Peaceful Petitioners - Describes Them As "Far Right Wing" It is no secret that blue state politicians have been growing more extreme each passing year.  Given a taste of ultimate authority during the covid lockdowns, they now seem to operate on the assumption that this is how society will function from now on – Unilateral authority with no checks and balances based on arbitrary proclamations rather than constitutional law.   As the old saying goes, if you want to test a person's character, give them power.  Democrats assumed far reaching powers during the pandemic scare, and they have revealed their true natures.  This reality also extends to their behavior regarding “trans rights”, which they believe allows them to restrict individual speech, violate women's privacy rights and erase the right of parents to be informed of school interactions with their children. It may be opposition to the school trans indoctrination problem in particular that compelled leftist Mayor Janice Deccio of Yakima, Washington to call 911 on Sept. 3rd, outraged by the presence of conservative petitioners collecting signatures at a local Walmart to stop schools from hiding information from parents, among other actions.  In June of this year, Deccio proclaimed the entire month as "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Asexual, Aromantic, Queer, Two-Spirit, Non-Binary, and Intersex Pride Month" in Yakima, during a city council organized event.  Deccio claims she was simply informed by her constituents of “far right wing petitioners” at Walmart “harassing” shoppers, and that she was not aware of what they were specifically collecting signatures for.  Petitioners held signs listing their goals, making her assertion less believable.   The volunteers were gathering signatures over Labor Day weekend on six Washington ballot initiatives funded by Let’s Go Washington.  I-2113 would roll back restrictions placed by Democrats on when police officers can engage in vehicular pursuits. I-2117 would lower the Democrat-imposed carbon tax that has spiked gas prices. I-2124 would allow employees to opt out of Washington's long-term care insurance program. I-2109 would repeal the state's capital gains tax. I-2111 would prohibit state income taxes being imposed and I-2081, would allow parents of public school students to review their child’s instructional materials and student records. The signature gatherers also caught the attention of former Democrat candidate for Congress Doug White who posted on Twitter/X complaining about the “illegal petition” while asking his followers “What will you do about it?”  Perhaps hoping to rally leftists to disrupt the petitioners since the police refused to violate their rights.   Illegal petitioners outside west valley Walmart. They have been trying to get rid of them for a week but refuse to leave. Police and sheriff will do nothing. Sgt Shepard of the YPD states “it’s their constitutional right”. Do you agree? What will you do about it? pic.twitter.com/9q2Hro9YyT — Doug White (@DougWhiteRAU) September 3, 2023 The Yakima Mayor says she “does not care” about the nature of the petition and was only concerned about “harassment” and the property rights of Walmart.  However, if this is true why would she make sure to paint the petitioners as “far right wing?”  Her clear disappointment and expression of disbelief after being informed that the petitioners were acting within the law also reveals that the 911 call may have been motivated by political zealotry. Attempting to conflate the private property of a home residence with the parking lot of Walmart could be blamed on ignorance.  Perhaps Mayor Deccio is simply stupid.  Clearly she was aware that police could not intervene before she made the call, and contacted 911 anyway.  Was she hoping to use her government position to pressure police to confront petitioners regardless of the law?    At bottom the most important question is not a legal one – How was this small group of people causing harm?  Why bother them at all?  Would the Mayor have made the same phone call if the petitioners were far-left and in support of gun control, carbon taxes and trans propaganda in schools? The identification of “far right wing” is often used by leftists as a qualifier for censorship.  They argue that free speech is  protected, but not absolute.  Meaning, free speech is okay for those they deem to be the “good guys” but it should be restricted for those they deem to be the “bad guys.”  Conveniently, leftists have also declared themselves the arbiters of who is good and who is bad, and they believe everyone to the right of Karl Marx and Klaus Schwab to be bad. While some might say that this is a minor problem associated with a small city, it is in fact a reflection of a much larger agenda.  The political left has been trying to establish double standards on every level of government and social redress for years; rules for thee but not for me.  And when government begins to silence and suppress one group in favor of another, the end result will be predictably explosive.  Luckily the local police in this instance were properly informed and were not subject to political pressure.  Tyler Durden Thu, 09/21/2023 - 20:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 21st, 2023

The Religion Of Masking

The Religion Of Masking Authored by Gwendolyn Kull via The Brownstone Institute, What do burkas, tichels, yarmulkes, hijabs, kapps, fezzes, dukus, and surgical masks all have in common? Religious cultures mandate or strongly encourage these head coverings to comply with dogma. Although most of these are rooted in ethnic and religious traditions of any denomination to reflect humility before G-d and modesty before man, surgical masks have become the morality trend of the Western world for those who fear The Science before they fear any god.  As absurd as that last sentence may sound, the People of the United States are under siege - a war that is targeting our greatest claim to fame, our pride and joy: our freedom. Our Forefathers determined at the inception of this nation that all men have the inviolate right to life and liberty. Recognizing some freedoms that are indelible to the identity of a human are especially at risk of infringement, the Founders drafted the Bill of Rights to expressly protect freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to peaceably assemble, and freedom to petition the government among other activities. Yet over the last three years, our government has encroached on these unalienable freedoms in the name of public health and following The Science. The few government officials and bureaucrats sitting in D.C. and Georgia imposed their beliefs on what makes the public healthy on the masses, without regard for dissenting opinions or contrary beliefs. Such factional tyranny is exactly the breach of social contract the Framers aimed to prevent. After initially telling the country that masks would not work against this virus, Anthony Fauci fell in step, ordering persons be masked and directing both government and non-government actors alike to hold their fellow citizens accountable for failing to mask. A futile exercise in the name of “public health” given research predating the pandemic had already put to bed the idea that masking could prevent respiratory infections. Even following the Cochrane Review’s pandemic masking study showing little-to-no efficacy at masks preventing infection, the Biden administration still tells the People we should be masking. Beyond inefficacy, recent studies are also researching possible adverse consequences from constant mask-wearing, now termed “Mask-Induced Exhaustion Syndrome.” The illness bears many of the same symptoms as “long covid,” begging the question: are the health risks of long-term masking worth the miniscule efficacy? I digress. Masking mandates began to die down when the CDC lost a legal battle where the court only addressed the agency’s statutory authority to impose such a mandate. The question of whether such mandates are constitutional at all was never reached. Despite the open question in the courts, I firmly believe mask mandates do not pass constitutional muster. Recalling my extreme parallel of religious head coverings to surgical masks, compare this scenario: one day, the bureaucrats in Washington decide that for public health and decency, everyone must wear a burka. The land would cry, “Foul!” Non-muslim citizens would lose their minds that Sharia law was being imposed on them in violation of their First Amendment right to be free from the establishment of religion! Only the worshippers of the public health fascists would gladly adorn the dress as a testament to their true belief that the burka would save them from illness. I ask you, how is our current masking guidelines any different? Because masking is not a teaching from an institutionalized religion? Is trusting The Science not a form of having faith? In truth, our courts have held time and time again that government actors cannot infringe on our clothing under both freedom-tenants of religion and speech. Our Constitution contracts our appointed government to respect and defend our human right to liberty, which includes our ability to express ourselves and beliefs through our clothing and appearances. After all, our appearance is all a part of our individual identities. Covering one’s face, one’s physical identity, must be a choice and not a requirement. Moreover, our individual identities are not just linked to our physical attributes. Nay, our speech is also core to our humanity and identities. Speech is the expression of one’s soul, subjective based upon the speaker’s own perceptions and experiences. How I speak and what I say is part of how others (and I) recognize me as who I am! Like any painting serves as a window into the artist’s being, so is speech into a person’s mind, heart, and soul. It is as complex as the human body that produces such words and sounds: the speaker’s larynx, vocal chords, pharynx, palate, tongue, teeth, cheeks, lips, and nose are all coordinating in harmony to make what we think in our minds come out of our mouths. Speech is as unique to each individual as a person’s fingerprints or DNA. Muffling a person’s voice, covering the delicate facets producing speech, hiding non-verbal facial cues, and restricting air flow via masks is not natural. Masking inhibits self-expression. Even prior to physical masking, virtue-signalers touted policing one’s own speech as being “politically correct.” Policing and masking speech is toxic to both individuals and humankind. It evokes the same hesitancy as does domestic abuse–the feeling of “walking on eggshells” for fear your words will trigger and bring you harm. It further causes an identity crisis–a dissociation within oneself, wherein the mind is policing the heart and soul for fear of offending any listener (or observer). Both perpetuate the victimhood complex where one believes she cannot live without fear because others will not do “what they are supposed to do.”  It is true that internal perceptions expressed outwardly are not always correct or palatable. Such is the beauty of allowing one to convey his opinions and beliefs in his own words: the listener can understand the person with whom she is speaking and take the opportunity to debate and educate, correct her own misunderstanding, or completely discredit the speaker of value within her own mind. Speech is not just about speaking, but about hearing and deciding what one believes to be true. Speech of our own and listening to others’ speech helps us understand and develop our own identities. It is not that constant expletives and hyperboles should become the norm of self-expression through speech. No, language itself is so vastly malleable that it can be morphed to rise to any situation–to connect with one’s listeners. For instance, there are different ages of communication. You would not use the same words with a child as you would with adults, unless your intention is to be misunderstood or completely unintelligible like the unseen adult characters of Charlie Brown. To be understood by your listeners, you must change your speech to be appropriate for the venue and target audience. How is any of this relevant to the topic of mask mandates eroding freedom? Requiring people to cover the face and bodily member responsible for speaking and being heard and understood is inhumane. It strips children of their ability to learn how to speak, how to use their body to produce sounds and words and sentences, and how to connect those words to facial expressions to add context for listeners. It socially distances people from each other, deteriorating the human connection that allows us to communicate and understand each other. There is no replacement for that connection. As I discussed in a prior article, humans are a social species. Although we are capable as individuals, we fail to thrive when deprived of interacting with others. During lockdowns, people yearned to visit family, go out to restaurants, to resume “normalcy.” Zoom meetings, video calls, and text messages were not enough to curb the cravings for human connection.  Masking is just another degree of separation from one another. Although it is less obvious than the isolation of quarantines, it is just another lonely reminder that we are not free. Not free to be ourselves, not free to connect, not free from fear, not free to breathe, not free to decide for ourselves what is in our own best interest. Even President Biden joked during a recent press conference that, “they keep telling me… I got to keep wearing [a mask], but don’t tell them I didn’t have it on when I walked in,” defiantly waving his surgical mask away from his face. Who are “they” to decide what is in any individual’s best interest? Are we children and “they” our parents? Do we lack the mental capacity to think for ourselves? Are we not developed and educated enough to decide what is healthy and what is not? Are our God-given immune systems so defective that we can no longer survive colds? I find it a hard blue pill to swallow that humanity has survived on this planet for hundreds of thousands of years for a coronavirus variant to suddenly confound our natural biological defenses. Who are “they” at all? “They” are not our duly-elected legislators who oathed to uphold and defend our Constitution and who are the only branch of government who the People gave authority to create laws. In fact, Senator JD Vance (R-OH) is now fighting this usurpation of legislative authority by “them.” On September 7, 2023, he brought to the Senate floor the “Freedom to Breathe” Act, which would prohibit mask mandates. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) objected to the call for unanimous consent, arguing that this legislation would infringe on the health powers of the states. An interesting and seemingly Constitution-based argument by Senator Markey, but it presupposes masking mandates on the public are a health-related decision at all, which is not supported by scientific evidence, and that such mandates are not otherwise constitutionally prohibited.  Though the People granted health powers to the states, those powers are still limited by the People’s ultimate right to life and liberty, including the free exercise of religion without a state-sanctioned religion (The Science) and free speech without intrusions on the speech-producing orifice or physical identity of the speaker.  Masking restrictions are not a “health power” the state governments are permitted to enforce. Masking mandates are not a public health measure the federal government is permitted to sanction. Both impede life and liberty guaranteed to the People by being human and safeguarded by the People through enforcing our Constitution. As such, the People will not comply. Tyler Durden Sat, 09/16/2023 - 17:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 16th, 2023

Here"s How DeSantis Should Fight In This Week"s GOP Primary Debate

Here's How DeSantis Should Fight In This Week's GOP Primary Debate Authored by Kurt Schilchter via Townhall.com, The word “fight” in the title of this column is intentional – Ron DeSantis is walking into the Octagon alone in the first GOP primary debate. The deck is stacked against him. He’s in a half-dozen or so gunsights. It’s Ronbo against the world. He best be ready. Let us assume that Donald Trump takes my advice and makes the smart strategic choice – because Trump is known for always making the smart strategic choice just like Hunter Biden is known for his sobriety – of not attending the debate. DeSantis is the leader of the also-ran pack, the only conceivable rival to Trump at the moment, and he will be the guy each of the primary lilliputians is looking to take down by creating A Moment that will catapult them from also-also-ran to just also-ran. This complicates things for the Florida governor. Everyone else on stage will have one target, him. Alligator Ron will have three. His first target is his opponents onstage. Ron has to demonstrate dominance over each of his rivals. That’s easy with Mike Pence, who always gives up and gives in to the establishment. The one time he stood firm was in rejecting Trump’s kooky electoral thing, but just last week he went belly-up for the frame job the enemy has launched against his ex-boss. Pence is one of those cons who pretends that passivity in the face of communist enemies is morally superior to crushing them. He makes submission into a fetish, and if he was not so uptight, he’d probably have a regular dominatrix.  “Mike, the time of the soft Republican is over. You should retire, teach Sunday school, and build birdhouses.” Nikki Haley is the poster girl for 2005 conservatism, and DeSantis will need to dismiss her agenda of a return to the tired old GOP combo of wars n’ tax cuts for corporations that want to turn our kids trans. She’s all in on something-something Ukraine/Putin bad, that establishment mish-mash of cliches and fuzzy fake-tuff pseudo-thinking that substitutes for an actual national strategy that supports American interests. Nukey Nikki is all in for another Afghanistan, except with borscht, and you know that if her crew ever gets the wheel we’ll eventually be seeing CH47s lifting off from the Kyiv embassy roof. But then someone who was on the Boeing board is probably A-OK with dumping billions into the bloody Slavic blender with no articulated strategy for success. Yet she won’t fight at home. When Disney decided to pervertize our kids, Nikki sided with Disney because corporations are always right and the job of Americans is to obey. “Nikki, I’ve been to war and if the voters choose me they will know with absolute certainty that their sons and daughters will never die in another useless one, and that I will use every bit of my power as president to fight back against big corporations that want to impose their San Francisco values on normal families.” Tim Scott is no threat. His argument is “I have a neat origin story” and “I am nice.” But what has he ever actually done? The biggest thing he did as a senator was failing to pass his Defund the Police Lite bill. Oh, and he echoes bogus Democrat race-baiting. “Tim, I first had my doubts about you when you supported the Democrat defund the police movement, but I really lost respect for you when you decided to repeat what you knew were Democrat and regime media lies about Florida history standards. Our voters do not need a candidate who joins with Kamala Harris to tell the lie that Republicans like slavery.” Then there’s Chris Christie, whose only rational reason for being in this debate is to get access to the green room’s snack table. Christie will go after DeSantis because, deep down – and you can get very deep in Christie – he is trying to win back the love of Donald Trump. Sadly, we all have to endure this spurned platonic lover psychodrama. But his failure as a governor disqualifies him just as much as his refusal to take our side in the cultural war fight. Christie is a has-been who is more accurately described as a “never was.” “Chris, your own state knew you best and when you finally left under a cloud of scandal you were polling on par with chlamydia. All you have is complaints about more successful Republicans, but I noticed that you don’t seem to have a problem with Biden. Just sign your MSNBC contract and get out of the way of those of us who know how to win.” Optionally, DeSantis can refer to him as “Garden State Lizzo.” Vivek Ramaswamy is an interesting cat with some good ideas and some really poorly-thought out ones. His whole “China, you can have Taiwan after 2028” initiative is, well, innovative. He’s clearly running for Secretary of Keeping It Real or a similar sinecure in a future Trump administration. He is also about 12 years old. “Vivek, you’re a smart guy with no experience but a bright future once you learn how the world works. Go do a hitch in the Marines, kid, then maybe at least win a city council election and get a little salty before you try for the White House. America does not need a president who never watched ‘The Brady Bunch” after school on a UHF station or made a call on a rotary phone.” Doug Burgum, the governor of East Dakota or something, is another sensible n’ sober, Republican pol who would be just fine if this was 1996 and our biggest problem was a priapic president. He’s not a bad guy, but there’s no crying need for another generic  milquetoast zillionaire trying to buy his way into the White House.  “Doug, I turned a purple state deep red. You kept a deep red state deep red. That’s fine, I guess, but the last time we nominated a soft rich guy he got punked live on TV by Candy Crowley.” Ron’s second target is Joe Biden Biden often seems forgotten in all the online battling about the primary. Once DeSantis disposes of his competition on stage, he should press his real selling point, which is that he stands the best chance of beating the desiccated old pervert in the White House. “I turned a purple state deep red. My competitors have never done that. Nikki, Tim, Doug, and Mike all come from safe red states. Chris tried to turn blue New Jersey red and failed hard. Vivek has never even run in an election before, much less won one. And the Dems agree that I am the threat to Joe Biden stumbling his way to another term – the Dems are not spending their money to beat my opponents. They are spending money to make sure I am not on the GOP ticket because I am the only Republican they are afraid of.” And Ron’s last target must be Donald Trump. He has to make the case about why he is the better choice. On policy, both are similar enough that it’s not clear how much traction RDS would get pointing out that DJT screwed up COVID by hugging Fauci, failed to fire Wray, and so forth. On balance, America under Trump was a mere million times better than under the corrupt President Daddyshowers. The real case for Ron DeSantis is that he can win the general and Trump can’t. He should proceed under the assumption that most Republicans want to actually win, instead of wallowing in glorious defeat, and that Republican moderates who despise Biden but actively hate Trump for his mean tweets will come home if someone who is not orange is on the GOP ticket. “Maybe it’s not right or fair or rational, but about 53% of Americans will never vote for Trump. That’s the reality. If we put him on the ticket, we lose. You’re not making a statement by nominating a certain loser. You’re making the Democrats’ day. They are begging you to nominate Donald Trump. Ask yourself why. If you do, say good-bye to the Supreme Court. To your right to keep and bear arms. To free speech. To the right to practice your faith as you see fit. Say hello to more trans tyranny. To more climate hoax insanity that will have you losing your gas-powered car and eating bugs. To more wars. To more taxes. To more crime, and to more chaos. If you want to send a message to Washington, win. Winning is the message. And I have never lost a race and never will.” I like Ron DeSantis, but there are no freebies in politics. He’s got to win this all on his own, one man against everyone there on-stage with him and off-stage Truthing at him. The stakes could not be higher. It’s go time. *  *  * Follow Kurt on Twitter @KurtSchlichter. Get Inferno, the seventh book in the Kelly Turnbull People's Republic series of conservative action novels set in America after a notional national divorce, as well as his non-fiction book We’ll Be Back: The Fall and Rise of America. Tyler Durden Mon, 08/21/2023 - 21:40.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytAug 21st, 2023