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Posts Tagged ‘Ukraine’

Putin Unleashes Strategic Hell on the U.S. — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on March 19, 2020

Putin just told the world he’s not riding his country’s oil and gas resources like a cash cow but rather as an important part of a different economic strategy for Russia’s development.

It’s like watching someone playing the first half of a game implying one strategy and making a critical shift to a different one halfway through, taking advantage of their opponents’ carelessness.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/03/15/putin-unleashes-strategic-hell-on-us/

 Tom Luongo

I am an avid board game player. I’m not much for the classics like chess or go, preferring the more modern ones. But, regardless, as a person who appreciates the delicate balance between strategy and tactics, I have to say I am impressed with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s sense of timing.

Because if there was ever a moment where Putin and Russia could inflict maximum pain on the United States via its Achilles’ heel, the financial markets and its unquenchable thirst for debt, it was this month just as the coronavirus was reaching its shores.

Like I said, I’m a huge game player and I especially love games where there is a delicate balance between player power that has to be maintained while it’s not one’s turn. Attacks have to be thwarted just enough to stop the person from advancing but not so much that they can’t help you defend on the next player’s turn.

All of that in the service of keeping the game alive until you find the perfect moment to punch through and achieve victory. Having watched Putin play this game for the past eight years, I firmly believe there is no one in a position of power today who has a firmer grasp of this than him.

And I do believe this move to break OPEC+ and then watch Mohammed bin Salman break OPEC was Putin’s big judo-style reversal move. And by doing so in less than a week he has completely shut down the U.S. financial system.

On Friday March 6th, Russia told OPEC no. By Wednesday the 11th The Federal Reserve had already doubled its daily interventions into the repo markets to keep bank liquidity high.

By noon on the 12th the Fed announced $1.5 trillion in new repo facilities including three-month repo contracts. At one point during trading that day the entire U.S. Treasury market went bidless. There was no one out there making an offer for the most liquid, sought-after financial assets in the world.

Why? Prices were so high, no one wanted them.

Not only did we get a massive expansion of the repo interventions by the Fed, but it was for longer duration. This is a clear sign that the problem is nearly without an end. Repos longer than three days are in this context a rarity.

The Fed needing to add $1 trillion in three-month repos clearly means they understand that they are looking out to the end of the quarter as the next problem and beyond that.

It means, in short, the world financial markets have completely seized up.

And worse than that…. It didn’t work.

Stocks continued to slide, gold and other safe-haven assets were hit hard by a reversal of capital outflows from the U.S. In the first part of the aftermath of Putin’s decision the dollar got whacked as European and Japanese investors who had piled into U.S. stocks as a safe-haven sold those positions and brought the capital home.

That lasted a few days before Christine Lagarde put on her dog and pony show at the European Central Bank and told everyone she didn’t have any answers other than to expand asset purchases and continue doing what has failed in the past.

This touched off the next phase of the crisis, where the dollar begins to strengthen. And that is where we are now.

And Putin understands that a world awash in debt is one that cannot withstand the currency needed to repay that debt rising sharply.

That puts further pressure on his geopolitical rivals and forces them to focus on their domestic concerns rather than the ones overseas.

For years Putin has been begging the West to stop its insane belligerence in the Middle East and across Asia. He’s argued eloquently at the U.N. and in interviews that the unipolar moment is over and that the U.S. can only maintain its status as the world’s only super power for so long. Eventually the debt would undermine its strength and at the right moment would be revealed to be far weaker than it projected.

This doesn’t sit well with President Trump who believes in America’s exceptionalism. And will fight for his version of “America First’ to the last using every weapon at his disposal. The problem with this ‘never back down’ attitude is that it makes him very predictable.

Trump’s use of sanctions on Europe to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was stupid and short-sighted. It ensured that Russia would be merciless in its response and only delay the project for a few months.

Trump was easy to counter here. Sign a deal with Ukraine, desperate for the money, and redirect the pipe-laying vessel back to the Baltic to finish the pipeline.

And with natural gas prices in Europe already in the gutter from oversupply and a mild winter, there isn’t much time or money lost in the end. Better to take the world oil price down well below U.S. production costs which ensure that Trump’s prized LNG stays off the European market as the myth of U.S. energy self-sufficiency vanishes in a puff of financial derivative smoke.

Now Trump is facing a market meltdown well beyond his capacity to fathom or respond to. While Russia is in the unique position to drive costs down for so many of the people while riding out the shock to the global system with its savings.

Because money flows to where the best returns on it come, high oil and gas prices stifle development of other industries. Lowering the oil price not only deflates all of the U.S.’s inflated financial weapons it also deflates some of the power of the petroleum industry domestically. This gives Putin the opportunity to continue remaking the Russian economy along less focused lines. Cheap oil and gas means lower return on investment in energy projects which, in turn, opens up available capital to be deployed in other areas of the economy.

Putin just told the world he’s not riding his country’s oil and gas resources like a cash cow but rather as an important part of a different economic strategy for Russia’s development.

It’s like watching someone playing the first half of a game implying one strategy and making a critical shift to a different one halfway through, taking advantage of their opponents’ carelessness.

It rarely works, but when it does the results can be spectacular. Game, Set, Match, Putin.

 

© 2010 – 2020 | Strategic Culture Foundation | Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture online journal www.strategic-culture.org.

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Things Get Interesting – Kunstler

Posted by M. C. on March 7, 2020

Pay close attention to democratic vice president nominee.

https://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/things-get-interesting/

James Howard Kunstler

They’re kidding, right? Joe Biden? The former vice-president and US champeen influence grifter came back from the dead this Super Tuesday to save the Democratic Party from Bernie Sanders Venezuelizing what’s left of America (after you subtract our awesome debt loads). Things that come back from the dead, of course, are generally not high-functioning, for instance: zombies. Isn’t that exactly what the party has got now in the person of front-runner Zombie Joe?

They are kidding, for sure — kidding themselves — for which they’ve practiced tirelessly the past three-plus years with RussiaGate, MuellerGate, ImpeachmentGate, and sundry extra delusional hustles, including sanctuary cities, cancel culture, the Green New Deal, free everything, and the transsexual reading hour. So, now they’re pretending that Joe Biden is capable when his every utterance suggests that he is gone in the head. That will work for about a week, I reckon. You know something hilariously idiotic will come out every time he mounts a podium unless his handlers duct-tape his pie-hole. And now that the spotlight is off that distracting crowd of also-rans, the cameras and iPhone recorders will catch his every gaucherie — as, for instance, when he declared in New Hampshire recently to a rally audience of ordinary (non-millionaire) voters, “Guess what, if you elect me, your taxes are gonna be raised, not cut.” It’s on video. Smooth move, there, Joe.

And then, there is that giant anvil hanging over Joe B’s head in the form of an investigation into, and possible prosecution for, his shenanigans with son, Hunter, in Ukraine, including a money-laundering trail featuring millions of dollars from Ukraine routed through obscure banks in Estonia and Cyprus to Hunter’s own bank accounts. The Ukies have opened an inquiry, and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee under Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) is ready to subpoena Biden father-and-son. That is, if Sen. Mitt Romney doesn’t stand in the way of a vote for that, as he threatens to do — and he has an interesting motive to do that since his former foreign policy advisor, ex-CIA agent Joseph Cofer Black, was on the board of the same Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings, that employed Hunter Biden at $83,000-a-month for years.

Of course, if Zombie Joe is so obviously non compos mentis before he’s even been nominated, what are the chances that he’ll be able to serve in office a year from now? Somewhere between zilch and nada, I’d say. So, the latest scheme launched this week in chatter from Progressive Hopesterdom has Zombie Joe picking either Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama as his running mate, and then resigning soon after inauguration day, giving this Republic-of-Firsts its first woman president at long, long last.

This is what it’s come to in our new politics of hustles and scams. Though every person over seven-years-old would see through this dodge, what else have they got? Well, a brokered convention, anyway, if Zombie Joe flops spectacularly in the weeks ahead just by showing up and running his mouth, leaving Bernie the Last Man Standing — and the party appears dead set on thwarting Bernie by any means necessary. It’s not impossible that the Dems could rustle up some dark horse candidate in a back room of the Milwaukee Convention Center. I can’t think of anyone just now from, say, the governors’ mansions across the land. And just imagine if they tapped someone from Congress, such as that lying caitiff Adam Schiff (D-CA), what opportunity for sport he would present. More likely, they’d draft some Hollywood celebrity: George Clooney… Oprah… Morgan Freeman (hasn’t he already been president, or did he just play one on TV?).

There’s not a small chance, at this juncture in the Corona Virus story, that the convention may not even be held. And then what? Gawd knows…. But a disruption so severe implies that a lot of damage would be done to the Potemkin economy that is the centerpiece of President Trump’s reelection quest. That damage is being done in real time as I write, with the S & P futures index down another three percent at the open today, Friday. The trend is not Mr. Trump’s friend. And an awful lot of other things are breaking up in the financialized fiasco that enfronts what’s left of the US economy. The bond market is cracking up, especially at the junk-grade margins. And one can only guess at the havoc being wreaked in derivatives by repeated 1000-point swings in the Dow Jones and other symptoms of extreme disequilibrium in indexed things, from securitized car loans to currency swaps.

All of which leaves the Golden Golem of Greatness, Mr. Trump, in not such a bulletproof position for a second term, after all. There’s a possibility that Corona Virus might interfere with the election itself. Viral contagions are known to work in waves. If this is the first wave now, then a second wave would arrive just about in time for election day, November 3. Second wave viral diseases can be more virulent than the first wave, which was the case with the so-called Spanish flu of 1918. And what if a substantial portion of voters don’t dare venture into public places full of their possibly infectious fellow citizens? Would Mr. Trump be forced to postpone the election, fulfilling his enemies’ fantasy that he seeks to become the American Caesar? It’s not a pretty picture from here as things get interesting.

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Google redraws the borders on maps depending on who’s looking

Posted by M. C. on February 15, 2020

But Google routinely takes sides in border disputes. Take, for instance, the representation of the border between Ukraine and Russia. In Russia, the Crimean Peninsula is represented with a hard-line border as Russian-controlled, whereas Ukrainians and others see a dotted-line border. The strategically important peninsula is claimed by both nations and was violently seized by Russia in 2014, one of many skirmishes over control.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/google-redraws-the-borders-on-maps-depending-on-whos-looking/ar-BBZZOHy

Greg Bensinger

 

SAN FRANCISCO — For more than 70 years, India and Pakistan have waged sporadic and deadly skirmishes over control of the mountainous region of Kashmir. Tens of thousands have died in the conflict, including three just this month.

Both sides claim the Himalayan outpost as their own, but Web surfers in India could be forgiven for thinking the dispute is all but settled: The borders on Google’s online maps there display Kashmir as fully under Indian control. Elsewhere, users see the region’s snaking outlines as a dotted line, acknowledging the dispute.

Google’s corporate mission is “to organize the world’s information,” but it also bends it to its will. From Argentina to the United Kingdom to Iran, the world’s borders look different depending on where you’re viewing them from. That’s because Google — and other online mapmakers — simply change them.

 

With some 80 percent market share in mobile maps and over a billion users, Google Maps has an outsize impact on people’s perception of the world — from driving directions to restaurant reviews to naming attractions to adjudicating historical border wars.

And while maps are meant to bring order to the world, the Silicon Valley firm’s decision-making on maps is often shrouded in secrecy, even to some of those who work to shape its digital atlases every day. It is influenced not just by history and local laws, but also the shifting whims of diplomats, policymakers and its own executives, say people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss internal processes.

“Our goal is always to provide the most comprehensive and accurate map possible based on ground truth,” Ethan Russell, director of product management for Google Maps, said in a statement sent through spokeswoman Winnie King. “We remain neutral on issues of disputed regions and borders, and make every effort to objectively display the dispute in our maps using a dashed gray border line. In countries where we have local versions of Google Maps, we follow local legislation when displaying names and borders.”

King declined to make any Google Maps officials available for an interview.

Now 15 years old, Google Maps has become one of the most-used and recognizable products for the search engine giant. Maps are a big business for Google, in line to generate as much as $3.6 billion in annual sales by next year, primarily through advertising, according to RBC analysts. Google also licenses its maps to any number of location-based companies like Uber and Yelp, widening its particular vision of the world to even more people. As Google packs its maps with ever more information, subtle changes can alter people’s daily lives. Software algorithms that reroute drivers away from freeways can cause traffic jams in residential neighborhoods or drive desired foot traffic away from retailers.

Apple Maps is the second most popular among mobile users, according to estimates, with about 10 to 12 percent of the market. Bing Maps, a division of Microsoft, controls a diminutive slice of the online map market.

Apple is responsive to local laws with respect to border and place name labeling, said Jacqueline Roy, a spokeswoman. “We are taking a deeper look at how we handle disputed borders in our services and may make changes in the future as a result.” Microsoft defers to the International Court of Justice, the United Nations or academics, among others, regarding borders, or it otherwise indicates a border is disputed, according to its cartographic policy.

In the more staid world of printed maps, which typically are changed quarterly at most, a board of cartographers, editors and staffers meet regularly to discuss world events and consider proposed alterations, said Alex Tait, geographer for the National Geographic Society. They may consult diplomats, bodies like the United Nations, historical charts, competing cartographers and news stories before reaching a consensus on any meaningful change, he said.

An important difference is that printed maps may contain text and other images for context that would otherwise muddle the clean look online maps strive for. “We have a method of applying a de facto way of approaching the issues,” said Tait. “We try to show as much information as we can, when we can, to help people understand what’s going on in a part of the world.”

“It’s part of our journalistic background. We want to show what the situation is, on the ground, to the best of our ability after we’ve done a lot of research,” he said.

Google’s maps are created through a combination of satellite imagery, computer modeling, and hand-drawn borders and landmarks, the company has said. It relies primarily on contract workers who specialize in, say, tracking the construction of new types of buildings or roadways, according to the company and those workers. Knowing precisely where the emergency room driveway is could make the difference in a life-or-death situation.

Unlike mapping geographical features, sketching the contours of towns or countries is ultimately a human construct. So Google consults with local governments and other official bodies to help make a decision about where to draw its lines, according to people familiar with the matter. And it refers to historical maps, news events and atlases, these people said. But changes are also made with little fanfare and can be done immediately, while physical maps are beholden to printing schedules.

When it comes to contested borders, people in different countries often see different things. Take the body of water between Japan and the Korean Peninsula. To almost all, it is known as the Sea of Japan, but for Google Maps users in South Korea, it’s listed as the East Sea. More than 4,000 miles away, the waterway separating Iran from Saudi Arabia may be either the Persian Gulf or the Arabian Gulf, depending on who’s looking online. And the line in Western Sahara marking the northern border with Morocco disappears for Moroccans seeking it out on the Web — along with the region’s name altogether. The sparsely populated northwest Africa region is disputed between Morocco, which seized it in 1975, and the indigenous Sahrawi.

a close up of a map: The line in Western Sahara marking the northern border with Morocco disappears for Moroccans seeking it out on the web — along with the region’s name altogether. The sparsely populated northwest Africa region is disputed between Morocco, which seized it in 1975, and the indigenous Sahrawi. (The Washington Post) The line in Western Sahara marking the northern border with Morocco disappears for Moroccans seeking it out on the web — along with the region’s name altogether. The sparsely populated northwest Africa region is disputed between Morocco, which seized it in 1975, and the indigenous Sahrawi. (The Washington Post) Sometimes that flies in the face of international consensus. Google Maps users inside Turkey can find the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, or TRNC, represented in the northern third of the Mediterranean island nation. The territory is not recognized by the United Nations, nor Google’s mapping competitors.

These aren’t mere trifles. Last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan called on the United Nations to mediate the escalating dispute with India, and President Trump offered to step in. And a Cypriot official’s comments this month that appeared to favor the island’s reunification drew the swift condemnation of Turkish officials.

“Country borders are inherently political, but it would probably surprise some Americans to learn that Google is effectively doing the bidding of autocratic governments on its maps,” said Elisabeth Sedano, a professor of spatial sciences at the University of Southern California. “Subtle changes may not seem so subtle to the people living there.”

One of Google’s contract employees who worked to fix or amend problems with its maps said he had worked weeks, collectively, drawing and redrawing borders, particularly along the Amazon River, in response to officials’ concerns over maritime concerns and the ever-shifting contours of the waterway. “Rivers and uninhabited forests are particularly tricky because there are no landmarks to rely on,” he said. He, like others who work on Google’s outsourced maps team in Bothell, Wash., spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from the search engine company.

These people said that they are often told to alter maps with no reason given and that their changes take effect almost immediately. That typically includes relatively minor adjustments like widening a path in a park or removing mentions of landmarks like a statue or traffic circle. But, these people said, Google has a special team employees refer to as “the disputed region team” that addresses more prickly matters, such as how to portray the Falkland Islands, whose ownership has been disputed between the United Kingdom and Argentina since the latter invaded in 1982 and claimed them (Google makes no mention of the Argentine name Islas Malvinas to English map surfers).

Google’s Russell said in a statement that the company’s “goal is always to provide the most comprehensive and accurate map possible based on ground truth.” The company consults the United Nations, international treaties and other government agencies, and its executives participate in conferences as part of its efforts.

“We remain neutral on geopolitical disputes and make every effort to objectively display disputed areas,” Russell said in the statement. “In countries where we have local versions of Google Maps, we follow local legislation when displaying names and borders.”

The company also responds to feedback, such as once changing the name of Native American tribal land to “nation” from “reservation,” according to a person involved in those discussions. Google’s maps can also be revised by a band of enthusiasts known as local guides who can submit suggestions for alterations, which often are implemented automatically. Pranksters during the 2016 election tricked Google’s software into renaming then-President-elect Trump’s Manhattan home “Dump Tower” before contractors were asked to fix it, for example.

In some cases, local laws dictate how Google and others must represent maps to avoid censure, as is the case in China or Russia, according to people familiar with the matter.

China, South Korea and other countries issue official guidance on how maps should be presented, and cartographers face penalties for not following the guidance, said a former Bing Maps executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the process. “For China, there’s a rigorous certification process, with details of sensitive areas being closely scrutinized,” he said.

Google is effectively banned from mainland China but offers its services in Hong Kong and Macao.

A cottage industry has emerged in forums on Reddit and in blogs of map enthusiasts documenting changes large and small on Google, Apple and Microsoft Bing maps. Their findings include a roughly 40-mile stretch between Chile and Argentina missing a border and, perhaps fanciful, the slightly offset intersection known as Four Corners where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet.

Demonstrating how the mapping companies’ policies are applied differently, Google said the missing border section is because Chile and Argentina haven’t agreed on where to draw the line, so it is left blank. Both Apple and Microsoft display a dotted border there.

But Google routinely takes sides in border disputes. Take, for instance, the representation of the border between Ukraine and Russia. In Russia, the Crimean Peninsula is represented with a hard-line border as Russian-controlled, whereas Ukrainians and others see a dotted-line border. The strategically important peninsula is claimed by both nations and was violently seized by Russia in 2014, one of many skirmishes over control.

a close up of a map: In Russia, the Crimean peninsula is represented on Google Maps with a hard-line border as Russian controlled, whereas Ukrainians and others see a dotted-line border. (The Washington Post) In Russia, the Crimean peninsula is represented on Google Maps with a hard-line border as Russian controlled, whereas Ukrainians and others see a dotted-line border. (The Washington Post) Under apparent pressure from Moscow, Apple revised its maps late last year to show Crimea as a territory of Russia when viewed within Russia. The alteration prompted an outcry from European officials who have condemned Russia’s annexation of the peninsula.

“Unfortunately, this legitimizes the illegal occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation,” said Oleksii Makeiev, the political director of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in an interview. “Apple and others should tell the world they were urged to make the changes and condemn it.”

“Otherwise, they are representing that this is part of their values and they are damaging heavily their image in Ukraine,” said Makeiev. He said he had met with Apple and Google officials to press the issue.

Nearly four years ago, a group of Palestinian journalists condemned what they mistakenly believed to be Google’s wiping of Palestinian territories from its map. Rather, Google had for years marked the disputed territory but not named it on its maps.

And by misplacing a portion of the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Google effectively moved control of an island from one country to the other and was cited as the justification for troop movements in the region in 2010. Google quickly fixed the mistake before any blood was shed.

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Wrongway Corrigan Map - fantastic drivelfantastic drivel

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Did Pelosi Just Tear Up the Fabric of the U.S.? — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on February 8, 2020

This primary season will spell the end of the Democratic Party as a viable political construct after this election cycle. Hillary is the stalking horse for the nomination. She’ll lose to Trump. They will alienate Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard in the process, all those voters will either jump to their potential independent ticket, back Trump or sit on their hands.

The most deeply despised members of Congress will now fall under investigation. Trump has the neocons happy right now. The Republicans who work for AIPAC will side with him as long as he keeps things as they are between now and November.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/02/07/did-pelosi-just-tear-up-the-fabric-of-the-u-s/

Tom Luongo

The annual theatre surrounding the President’s State of the Union address took another nasty turn in 2020. In times past with Nancy Pelosi (D-Shadow Gov’t) as Speaker of the House we’ve seen her grandstand on sending out the invitation.

She’s always there to take the spotlight onto herself, make herself the story to detract from President Trump. This year she didn’t disappoint against the backdrop of the greatest political defeat of her career.

Bookending Trump’s self-congratulatory speech where he took credit for a stock market he has nothing to do with and celebrating the starving and terrorizing the people of Iran, Pelosi first made a big show of Trump refusing to shake her hand and then tore up her copy of his speech after making sure the cameras were on her.

But what did she expect from someone who hasn’t spoken to her since October and who she hounded with an impeachment that garnered zero support from a single Republican? Flowers?

Remember, Trump called Nasty Nancy a “Third rate politician” before she stormed out of the room, again playing to the cameras with all the sincerity of your average 1990’s late night TV huckster selling steak knives. She’s certainly got the hair color and botox levels adjusted correctly for that gig.

And at this point she should actually apply to QVC for that gig. Because the longer she holds onto the ‘awesome power’ of the Speaker’s gavel the more damage she does not only to the U.S. and what’s left of its constitutional authority over its people but to the party she’s supposedly leading into the 2020 election in November.

In making the State of the Union all about her, Pelosi sent the very strong message to her party operatives that opposition to this President is now their number one priority. The impeachment was something that she knew would damage the party, but she went along with it and the lies it was built on because she was told to.

That much she betrayed by her flip-flopping on it. Remember, this time last year Pelosi was talking down impeachment. But, her inability to control the far left within her own party as well as Trump stepping on the third rail of Democratic corruption – the entrenched malfeasance in Ukraine – put her in no position but to try and turn it around on him.

It failed spectacularly.

There’s plenty not to like about Trump’s presidency but it is still his presidency, won against all odds and the kind of under-handed electioneering that was on full display in Iowa this week. And Pelosi acting like she doesn’t believe that is the height of tragi-comedy.

Because, as I said, she’s not that good an actress.

She knows the impeachment was garbage, but she can’t say that. The goal of propaganda is shame. Getting people to believe something that isn’t true puts them into a place where they have to defend it lest they admit to themselves and the world that they were 1) wrong and 2) a fraud.

We saw this clearly on display during Brexit where the hardest of hard-core Remainers were gaslit into believing things that were simply not true. And they used those fake facts as justification for treating everyone who wanted to leave the EU as sub-human.

In a remarkable moment, Nigel Farage took a phone call on his radio show the Monday after Brexit where the caller was ashamed of the person he’d become during the Brexit fight. He realized how vile his behavior had been and was self-aware enough and strong enough to admit it in public. Sure, he still didn’t agree with Brexit but that didn’t excuse his treatment of his fellow Britons.

Do we see anything like that coming from the Democrats in the U.S.? Even Tony Blair realized the fight was lost and asked everyone to put the bitterness behind them. Tony “Mr. Globalist Himself” Blair!

Does Pelosi, as leader of the party, realize the damage she’s doing? Does she understand what message she’s sending in her refusal to admit that she lost and that there are limits to the fight if you care at all about anything other than yourself?

No.

I don’t think she gives one whit about any of that. And that’s why the U.S. is headed for a real civil war not the internal power struggle of factions in D.C.

It’s clear the DNC bosses don’t want Bernie Sanders as their nominee. They will lie, cheat and steal delegates from him to ensure that happens. We saw this in Iowa as somehow they concocted the outcome they wanted – Pete Buttigieg gets the plurality of delegates while Bernie wins the popular vote and has no momentum coming into New Hampshire.

This much is a given. I laid out some of my early thoughts on this in my last article.

This primary season will spell the end of the Democratic Party as a viable political construct after this election cycle. Hillary is the stalking horse for the nomination. She’ll lose to Trump. They will alienate Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard in the process, all those voters will either jump to their potential independent ticket, back Trump or sit on their hands.

Pelosi has signaled her troops to go on the warpath but she also just sent all the centrists that Bernie supposedly has trouble with more forcefully back under Trump’s umbrella.

And with the impeachment’s end Trump will be free to enact revenge against those who have tormented him for the past three years. The most deeply despised members of Congress will now fall under investigation. Trump has the neocons happy right now. The Republicans who work for AIPAC will side with him as long as he keeps things as they are between now and November.

His speech was nothing if not grist for that mill and it’s a shame. It spoke to the civilizational fight that is the backdrop of U.S. foreign policy, which Alistair Crooke touched on in his latest piece here. It’s something that needs changing but it’s not going to happen on either Pelosi’s or Trump’s watch.

It’s our job to win that fight.

But what Pelosi did at the State of the Union tells us what comes next. She knows now that they cannot win in November on ideas, issues or facts. All they have is emotion and envy.

And envy never wins elections, persuasion does. So, violence and theft is all that’s left.

Pelosi’s lack of self-control is the cancer eating at the heart of the political left in the U.S. It overshadows their real and reasoned criticisms of Trump and the Republican party and it will destroy them.

What comes next is full on insurrection against Trump the Impeached. Nothing he says is valid. Nothing he wants is reasonable. And from here to November it will be every decent American’s duty to obstruct this illegitimate president and work for his removal from office.

Now you expect some of that metaphorically in an election year. But I think we’re far beyond metaphor and will be looking at outright thievery.

And the vestiges of the Democratic party still exist within the state and local governments. They exist, like Brenda Snipes the disgraced Supervisor of Elections in Broward County Florida, as wrenches to openly throw into the gears of an election to ensure their person wins.

If you think Brenda Snipes is bad, imagine multiplying her by a thousand in every ‘purple’ county in the U.S. This isn’t a conspiracy I’m talking about. This is pure naked hatred manifest as political action. This is the stuff pogroms are made of.

It is that which all dying empires face as ego and self-interest overwhelm the impulse to decency. Democracy exists, if it exists at all, on the principle of Loser’s Consent. Without that, societies tear themselves apart. Pelosi may as well have torn up a copy of the Constitution the other evening.

I’ve said for a long time that the U.S. is too big to govern as a single entity. Maybe Pelosi did us a favor here in the long run, but as a leader she had the opportunity and, frankly, responsibility to rise above this and be better. To find a way to communicate something other than vitriol and vindictiveness.

Now we all pay the price for her lack of humility.

© 2010 – 2020 | Strategic Culture Foundation | Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture online journal www.strategic-culture.org.

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Why Both Republicans and Democrats Want Russia to Become the Enemy of Choice — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on February 7, 2020

Schiff also unleashed one of the most time honored but completely lame excuses for going to war, claiming that military assistance to Ukraine that had been delayed by Trump was essential for U.S. national security. He said “As one witness put it during our impeachment inquiry, the United States aids Ukraine and her people so that we can fight Russia over there, and we don’t have to fight Russia here.”

Schiff, a lawyer who has never had to put his life on the line for anything and whose son sports a MOSSAD t-shirt, is one of those sunshine soldiers who finds it quite acceptable if someone else does the dying.

All this because Russia offered a MUCH better financial deal to bankrupt Ukraine than the EU.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/02/06/why-both-republicans-and-democrats-want-russia-to-become-the-enemy-of-choice/

 Philip Giraldi

One of the more interesting aspects of the nauseating impeachment trial in the Senate was the repeated vilification of Russia and its President Vladimir Putin. To hate Russia has become dogma on both sides of the political aisle, in part because no politician has really wanted to confront the lesson of the 2016 election, which was that most Americans think that the federal government is basically incompetent and staffed by career politicians like Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell who should return back home and get real jobs. Worse still, it is useless, and much like the one trick pony the only thing it can do is steal money from the taxpayers and waste it on various types of self-gratification that only politicians can appreciate. That means that the United States is engaged is fighting multiple wars against make-believe enemies while the country’s infrastructure rots and a host of officially certified grievance groups control the public space. It sure doesn’t look like Kansas anymore.

The fact that opinion polls in Europe suggest that many Europeans would rather have Vladimir Putin than their own hopelessly corrupt leaders is suggestive. One can buy a whole range of favorable t-shirts featuring Vladimir Putin on Ebay, also suggesting that most Americans find the official Russophobia narrative both mysterious and faintly amusing. They may not really be into the expressed desire of the huddled masses in D.C. to go to war to bring true U.S. style democracy to the un-enlightened.

One also must wonder if the Democrats are reading the tea leaves correctly. If they think that a slogan like “Honest Joe Biden will keep us safe from Moscow” will be a winner in 2020 they might again be missing the bigger picture. Since the focus on Trump’s decidedly erratic behavior will inevitably die down after the impeachment trial is completed, the Democrats will have to come up with something compelling if they really want to win the presidency and it sure won’t be the largely fictionalized Russian threat.

Nevertheless, someone should tell Congressman Adam Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, to shut up as he is becoming an international embarrassment. His “closing arguments” speeches last week were respectively two-and-a-half hours and ninety minutes long and were inevitably praised by the mainstream media as “magisterial,” “powerful,” and “impressive.” The Washington Post’s resident Zionist extremist Jennifer Rubin labeled it “a grand slam” while legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin called it “dazzling.” Gail Collins of the New York Times dubbed it “a great job” and added that Schiff is now “a rock star.” Daily Beast enthused that the remarks “will go down in history” and progressive activist Ryan Knight called it “a closing statement for the ages.” Hollywood was also on board with actress Debra Messing tweeting “I am in tears. Thank you Chairman Schiff for fighting for our country.”

Actually, a better adjective would have been “scary” and not merely due to its elaboration of the alleged high crimes and misdemeanors committed by President Trump, much of which was undeniably true even if not necessarily impeachable. It was scary because it was a warmongers speech, full of allusions to Russia, to Moscow’s “interference” in 2016, and to the ridiculous proposition that if Trump were to be defeated in 2020 he might not concede and Russia could even intervene militarily in the United States in support of its puppet. Schiff insisted that Trump must be removed now to “assure the integrity” of the 2020 election. He elaborated somewhat ambiguously that “The president’s misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box, for we cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won.”

Schiff also unleashed one of the most time honored but completely lame excuses for going to war, claiming that military assistance to Ukraine that had been delayed by Trump was essential for U.S. national security. He said “As one witness put it during our impeachment inquiry, the United States aids Ukraine and her people so that we can fight Russia over there, and we don’t have to fight Russia here.”

Schiff, a lawyer who has never had to put his life on the line for anything and whose son sports a MOSSAD t-shirt, is one of those sunshine soldiers who finds it quite acceptable if someone else does the dying. Journalist Max Blumenthal observed that “Liberals used to mock Bush supporters when they used this jingoistic line during the war on Iraq. Now they deploy it to justify an imperialist proxy war against a nuclear power.” Aaron Mate at The Nation added that “For all the talk about Russia undermining faith in U.S. elections, how about Russiagaters like Schiff fear-mongering w/ hysterics like this? Let’s assume Ukraine did what Trump wanted: announce a probe of Burisma. Would that delegitimize a 2020 U.S. election? This is a joke.”

Over at Antiwar Daniel Lazare explains how the Wednesday speech was “a fear-mongering, sword-rattling harangue that will not only raise tensions with Russia for no good reason, but sends a chilling message to [Democratic Party] dissidents at home that if they deviate from Russiagate orthodoxy by one iota, they’ll be driven from the fold.”

The orthodoxy that Lazare was writing about includes the established Nancy Pelosi/Chuck Schumer narrative that Russia invaded “poor innocent Ukraine” in 2014, that it interfered in the 2016 election to defeat Hillary Clinton, and that it is currently trying to smear Joe Biden. One might add to that the growing consensus that Russia can and will interfere again in 2020 to help Trump. Absent from the narrative is the part how the U.S. intervened in Ukraine first to remove its government and the fact that there is something very unsavory about Joe Biden’s son taking a high-paying sinecure board position from a notably corrupt Ukrainian oligarch while his father was Vice President and allegedly directing U.S. assistance to a Ukrainian anti-corruption effort.

On Wednesday, Schiff maintained that “Russia is not a threat … to Eastern Europe alone. Ukraine has become the de facto proving ground for just the types of hybrid warfare that the twenty-first century will become defined by: cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns, efforts to undermine the legitimacy of state institutions, whether that is voting systems or financial markets. The Kremlin showed boldly in 2016 that with the malign skills it honed in Ukraine, they would not stay in Ukraine. Instead, Russia employed them here to attack our institutions, and they will do so again.” Not surprisingly, if one substitutes the “United States” for “Russia” and “Kremlin” and changes “Ukraine” to Iran or Venezuela, the Schiff comment actually becomes much more credible.

The compulsion on the part of the Democrats to bring down Trump to avoid having to deal with their own failings has brought about a shift in their established foreign policy, placing the neocons and their friends back in charge. For Schiff, who has enthusiastically supported every failed American military effort since 9/11, today’s Russia is the Soviet Union reborn, and don’t you forget it pardner! Newsweek is meanwhile reporting that the U.S. military is reading the tea leaves and is gearing up to fight the Russians. Per Schiff, Trump must be stopped as he is part of a grand Russian conspiracy to overthrow everything the United States stands for. If the Kremlin is not stopped now, it’s first major step, per Schiff, will be to “remake the map of Europe by dint of military force.”

Donald Trump’s erratic rule has certainly dismayed many of his former supporters, but the Democratic Party is offering nothing but another helping of George W. Bush/Barack Obama establishment war against the world. We Americans have had enough of that for the past nineteen years. Trump may indeed deserve to be removed based on his actions, but the argument that it is essential to do so because of Russia lurking is complete nonsense. Pretty scary that the apparent chief promoter of that point of view is someone who actually has power in the government, one Adam Schiff, head of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

 

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The Most Egregious Series of ‘Corrupt Acts’ Ever – American Thinker

Posted by M. C. on February 5, 2020

Johnny Chung described the state of affairs a bit more colorfully. “The White House is like a subway,” he told the Thompson committee. “You have to put in coins to open the gates.” Chung admitted to funneling $100,000 from the Chinese Military to the Democratic National Committee.

https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2020/02/the_most_egregious_series_of_corrupt_acts_ever.html

By Jack Cashill

“The evidence points in the direction of the president inviting Ukraine to engage in the corrupt acts of investigating a US political opponent,” House manager Adam Schiff told the U.S. Senate about a thousand times last week.

A master dissembler, Schiff said whatever he had to in his effort to remove President Trump from office. However shameful, that was his job. The media had no excuse for enabling him. Those old enough to remember the Clinton years know what “corrupt acts” by a sitting president really smell like.

In 1997, the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs chaired by Sen. Fred Thompson laid out in broad terms the scope of corruption that President Bill Clinton orchestrated:

The president and his aides demeaned the offices of the president and vice president, took advantage of minority groups, pulled down all the barriers that would normally be in place to keep out illegal contributions, pressured policy makers, and left themselves open to strong suspicion that they were selling not only access to high-ranking officials, but policy as well. Millions of dollars were raised in illegal contributions, much of it from foreign sources.

Johnny Chung described the state of affairs a bit more colorfully. “The White House is like a subway,” he told the Thompson committee. “You have to put in coins to open the gates.” Chung admitted to funneling $100,000 from the Chinese Military to the Democratic National Committee.

In the runup to the 1996 election, the Clintons needed every dollar they could extort to rebound from their own scandalous missteps and the Democratic Party’s drubbing in the 1994 midterms.

I could cite a score of specific outrages during that campaign, but I will concentrate on one that, as Schiff was fond of saying, “endangered U.S. national security.” By comparison, anything the U.S. or the Ukraine suffered as a result of the celebrated funding “pause” was a trifling inconvenience.

Here are a few of the other, lesser outrages during that election cycle:

  • In February 1996, Clinton met with with Chinese arms dealer Wang Jun, a meeting greased by a $50,000 donation, a meeting even Clinton would admit was “clearly inappropriate” but only after Wang Jun’s company was caught flooding California’s inner cities with illegal semi-automatic weapons.
  • In April 1996 Clinton sent embattled Commerce Secretary Ron Brown to Croatia to broker a sweetheart deal between the neo-Fascists who ran that country and the Enron Corporation.
  • In April 1996, the Clinton White House sabotaged the investigation into the inexplicable USAF plane crash that killed Brown and 34 others.
  • In July 1996, the White House orchestrated a cover-up of the accidental missile strike on TWA Flight 800 that killed 230.
  • In September 1996 Clinton “unilaterally” declared a new 1.7 million-acre national monument in southern Utah, in the process handing his patrons, the Riady family of Indonesia, a monopoly on the world’s supply of low-sulfur coal.

Now for the bad stuff. In February 1996, a Chinese Long March 3B rocket carrying a Loral-built Intelsat 708 satellite crashed just after liftoff and killed or injured at least sixty people in a nearby village.

The Pentagon welcomed the news. Just a few months earlier, a Chinese military officer had warned American ambassador Chas Freeman, “If you hit us now, we can hit back. So you will not make those threats [about Taiwan].”

American technical advice was making Chinese missile rattling more than an empty threat. And yet in their relentless drive to raise money, the Clintons were fully prepared to broker that advice.

A month after the Long March’s failure, Clinton signed off on a “decision memorandum” that countered the State Department recommendations, voided Pentagon veto power, and awarded authority over satellite-export licensing to the deeply compromised Ron Brown at Commerce. Said an attached memo, ‘‘Industry should like the fact that they will deal with the more ‘user friendly’ Commerce system.’’

Soon after the Long March failure Loral CEO Bernard Schwartz dispatched a review team to China to assess the damage and suggest refinements. Schwartz paid for the privilege. In the 1996 cycle he gave $632,000 to the president’s reelection effort and emerged as the single largest donor to the Democratic Party.

A House Select Committee on National Security would later describe Schwartz’s actions as “an unlicensed defense service for the PRC that resulted in the improvement of the reliability of the PRC’s military rockets and ballistic missiles.”

So serious was the offense that in 1998 the Criminal Division of the Justice Department launched an investigation. Incredibly, while the investigation was in process, Sandy Berger, Clinton fixer and national security advisor, sent a memo to the president urging him to “waive the legislative restriction on the export to China of the communications satellites and related equipment for the Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) Chinasat 8 project.”

This waiver would present a huge problem for the prosecution. Berger admitted as much: “Justice believes that a jury would not convict once it learned that the president had found SS/L’s Chinasat 8 project to be in the national interest.”

But Berger was not about to let that stop him: “We will take the firm position that this waiver does not exonerate or in any way prejudge SS/L with respect to its prior unauthorized transfers to China.” Berger was blowing smoke, and he knew it. A waiver would make prosecution all but impossible.

The president could only issue a waiver, however, if it served America’s “national interest.” Berger made a comically specious case that it did, arguing satellite technology would give remote Chinese villagers access “to people and ideas in democratic societies.”

For its part, Loral had no greater cause than its own bottom line. “If a decision is not forthcoming in the next day or so, we stand to lose the contract,” Loral lobbyist Thomas Ross wrote Berger. “In fact, even if the decision is favorable, we will lose substantial amounts of money with each passing day.”

So much for the national interest. Ross then added the kicker, sure to win the president’s heart. “Bernard Schwartz had intended to raise this issue with you at the Blair dinner, but missed you in the crowd.” Schwartz knew he had a friend in the White House. The president approved the waiver, and the prosecution came to naught.

Democrats like Jerry Nadler and Nancy Pelosi were in Congress for all of this. Schiff was there for the tail end. If they were really concerned about acts that “endangered U.S. national security” they would have moved to impeach the traitor themselves.

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‘Nobody ever gets points for saying anything good about Russia’: Stephen Cohen says, as Rep. Schiff spreads ignorance about Putin — RT World News

Posted by M. C. on January 29, 2020

According to the researcher, Putin’s chief ambition is “to rebuild Russia from the disaster into which it fell in the 1990s” after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The last thing Putin wants is instability. He’s trying to build economy at home and economic relations with countries abroad because he sees that as a way to modernize Russia.

The Russia researcher said that Moscow is currently focused on ties with China, but Putin would like to have good trade relations with Europe and the US as well.

https://www.rt.com/news/479380-stephen-cohen-schiff-putin/

US Congress heavyweights like Adam Schiff deeply misunderstand Russia but keep on bashing Moscow because it has become “politically advantageous” in Washington, Russia researcher Stephen Cohen said.

“Being highly-critical of Russia is good politics in the United States,” Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies at New York University and Princeton University, told the Grayzone’s Aaron Mate in an interview, uploaded online on Monday.

Nobody ever gets any points for saying anything good about Russia – and only rarely for advocating any kind of partnership with Russia.

Cohen said that “politically it’s advantageous to a lot of people to bash Russia,” and even some of the “progressive” Democratic Party candidates in the 2020 presidential race employ rhetoric, which is hostile toward Moscow.

It has become an American way of life to blame Russia when things go wrong. Of course, sometimes Russia is to blame, but not all the time. And yet that’s become part of our discourse.

The US Democratic Party’s lead impeachment manager, Representative Adam Schiff, has invoked Russia a lot during the trial in the Senate. Democrats want to oust President Donald Trump because they believe he briefly suspended military aid to Ukraine while trying to pressure Kiev into investigating the dealings of his chief 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Sending weapons to Ukraine serves America’s “abiding interest in stemming Russian expansionism,” Schiff argued.

Cohen, however, said that shipping weapons to Kiev would effectively amount to the US turning its back on Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky’s efforts to resolve the conflict with Russia through peaceful means. Instead, he thinks Washington should focus on encouraging the neighbors to negotiate.

“If Zelensky had full American backing for his peace talks with Putin – that would help him a lot.”

Speaking on the Senate floor, Schiff accused Moscow of trying to undermine the faith in democracy and government institutions around the globe.

Cohen argued that the congressman misunderstands what Russian President Vladimir Putin actually “sees as his own historical mission,” and it is almost the opposite of what Schiff attributes to him.

According to the researcher, Putin’s chief ambition is “to rebuild Russia from the disaster into which it fell in the 1990s” after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The last thing Putin wants is instability. He’s trying to build economy at home and economic relations with countries abroad because he sees that as a way to modernize Russia.

The Russia researcher said that Moscow is currently focused on ties with China, but Putin would like to have good trade relations with Europe and the US as well.

“The notion that he wants to foster discord in the very countries, with which he wants what he calls ‘modernizing trade relations’ is just ignorance on the part of Adam Schiff. Because Schiff runs his mouth a lot about Russia, we get to hear the kind of ignorance… that dominates a large segment of policy-makers in Washington.”

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Adam Schiff’s Very Scary Warmongering Speech – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on January 24, 2020

The same goes for arguments that it’s actually NATO’s aggressive expansion to the east that has led to a needless buildup of tensions, not Russia’s drive to the west. Recent examples include an article in the National Interest arguing that NATO has “empowered some of the most historically anti-Russian elements in that region – Ukrainian Banderites [i.e. followers of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera], Polish nationalists, Balkan Islamists” – elements that, not unreasonably, have sparked Russia’s worst fears – or one in the Nation stating that NATO’s drang nach osten is “the primary cause for the new and very dangerous Cold War.”

Articles like those are verboten as well because they go counter to the new line that Russia is entirely to blame.

https://original.antiwar.com/daniel_lazare/2020/01/23/adam-schiffs-very-scary-warmongering-speech/

All the usual suspects are praising Adam Schiff’s marathon two-and-a-half-hour Senate speech on Wednesday to the skies. Neocon columnist Jennifer Rubin calls it “a grand slam” in the Washington Post. Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin describes it as “dazzling” on CNN. New York Times columnist Gail Collins says it was “a great job” and that Schiff is “a rock star” for pulling it off.

But in fact it was the opposite – a fear-mongering, sword-rattling harangue that will not only raise tensions with Russia for no good reason, but sends a chilling message to dissidents at home that if they deviate from Russiagate orthodoxy by one iota, they’ll be driven from the fold.

What is that orthodoxy? It’s that Russia invaded poor innocent Ukraine in 2014, that it interfered in the US presidential election in 2016 in order to hurt Hillary Clinton and propel Donald Trump into the White House, and that it’s now trying to smear Joe Biden merely because he had allowed his son to take a high-paying job with a notorious Ukrainian oligarch at a time when he was supposedly heading up the Ukrainian anti-corruption effort.

As Schiff put it with regard to Donald Trump’s famous July 25 phone call urging Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into Biden’s activities:

“This investigation was related to a debunked conspiracy theory alleging that Ukraine not Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. This narrative propagated by the Russian intelligence services contends that Ukraine sought to help Hillary Clinton and harm then-candidate Trump…. This tale is also patently false and, remarkably, it is precisely the inverse of what the US intelligence community’s unanimous assessment was that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in sweeping and systemic fashion in order to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.”

So even though the Financial Times reported during the 2016 election campaign that the threat of a Trump victory was spurring “Kiev’s wider political leadership to do something they have never attempted before: intervene, however indirectly, in a US election,” articles like that are now down the memory hole because Schiff says they’re Russian propaganda that US intelligence agencies have determined to be false.

The same goes for arguments that it’s actually NATO’s aggressive expansion to the east that has led to a needless buildup of tensions, not Russia’s drive to the west. Recent examples include an article in the National Interest arguing that NATO has “empowered some of the most historically anti-Russian elements in that region – Ukrainian Banderites [i.e. followers of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera], Polish nationalists, Balkan Islamists” – elements that, not unreasonably, have sparked Russia’s worst fears – or one in the Nation stating that NATO’s drang nach osten is “the primary cause for the new and very dangerous Cold War.”

Articles like those are verboten as well because they go counter to the new line that Russia is entirely to blame. Declared Schiff:

“Russia is not a threat … to Eastern Europe alone. Ukraine has become the de facto proving ground for just the types of hybrid warfare that the twenty-first century will become defined by: cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns, efforts to undermine the legitimacy of state institutions, whether that is voting systems or financial markets. The Kremlin showed boldly in 2016 that with the malign skills it honed in Ukraine, they would not stay in Ukraine. Instead, Russia employed them here to attack our institutions, and they will do so again.”

As for Biden, a New York Times editorial said about his son’s unfortunate new job back in 2015:

“Sadly, the credibility of Mr. Biden’s [anti-corruption] message may be undermined by the association of his son with a Ukrainian natural-gas company, Burisma Holdings, which is owned by a former government official suspected of corrupt practices…. Burisma’s owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, has been under investigation in Britain and in Ukraine. It should be plain to Hunter Biden that any connection with a Ukrainian oligarch damages his father’s efforts to help Ukraine. This is not a board he should be sitting on.”

We must all put such sentiments behind us now Russia is seeking to “weaponize” such information, according to Schiff, and deploy it “against Mr. Biden just like it did against Hillary Clinton in 2016 when Russia hacked and released emails from her presidential campaign.” If Russia wants to weaponize it, then it’s best for the rest of us not to breathe a word of it lest people think we’ve been weaponized as well.

Bottom line: we must impeach Trump, according to Schiff’s epic presentation, not only because he’s overstepped his proper constitutional bounds, but because he’s part of a grand Russian conspiracy to spread disinformation, undercut US security, undermine faith in US intelligence agencies, and “remake the map of Europe by dent of military force.” In order to counter this all-encompassing threat, it is our patriotic duty to do the opposite by believing the CIA and redoubling US defense. If anyone tells us that Biden was guilty of a flagrant conflict of interest, we must stop up our ears because that’s what Moscow wants us to think. If anyone says that the entire Russian-interference narrative is just a silly conspiracy theory based on a paucity of facts and an abundance of paranoid speculation, we must do likely because it’s just the Kremlin trying to worm its way into our minds.

When in doubt, just remember to bleat: America good, Russia baa-aa-aad.

But while it would be nice to dismiss this as a joke, it’s not. Schiff’s emergence as leader of the Democratic impeachment drive means that the party is re-grouping along the most retrograde Cold War lines. As reckless and appalling as Trump’s behavior is in the Persian Gulf, the emerging Democratic worldview is shaping up as no less extreme. Because it sees Russia as mounting a multi-pronged offensive, the clear implication is that the US must respond in kind. This means more troops deployments, more forces mobilized to counter Russian threats from Venezuela to the Middle East, more TV talking heads going on and on about this or that Kremlin conspiracy, and more labelling of people like Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein as Russian assets.

Remember, this is the Los Angeles neocon who backed the invasion of Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq, and Saudi Arabia’s unprovoked war against Yemen, an assault that, since March 2015, has cost 100,000 lives and brought half the country to the brink of starvation. He supported Obama’s war in Libya and called for the establishment of a no-fly zone in Syria and relies on arms manufacturers and military contractors for major financial support.

But while Bernie supporters may have thought that Democrats were edging away from such views, they’re plainly in the wrong. Schiff’s new-found prominence shows that the neocons are back in the saddle. Impeachment advocates should be careful of what they wish for because the anti-Trump forces are turning out to be no less dangerous than those helping him to remain.

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Making Sense of the Impeachment Charges – PaulCraigRoberts.org

Posted by M. C. on January 23, 2020

An unapproved President is simply not reelected.  He does not need to be impeached.  Obviousy, it is Trump’s reelection that Democrats fear, and they are using impeachment to try to prevent Trump’s reelection.  This is not the function of a political party.

https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2020/01/21/making-sense-of-the-impeachment-charges/

Paul Craig Roberts

Prior to the impeachment of Trump, not by Congress as presstitutes report but by self-interested House Democrats, during the entirety of US history there have been only two attempts to impeach a president—Andrew Johnson in 1868 and 130 years later Bill Clinton in 1998.

Clinton was impeached by House Republicans when he clearly lied under oath by denying his sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern.  The Senate refused to convict him.  Enough Senators had enough sense to know that lying about a sexual affair, even under oath, did not rise to a “high crime.”  Moreover, Senators understood that few men would be inclined to embarrass their wife and daughter, or few women their husband and daughter, by admitting publicly to a sexual affair.

Andrew Johnson, a Tennessee Democrat, stood with the Republican Union of Abe Lincoln. Consequently, Lincoln chose Johnson as his Vice President in his 1864 reelection campaign.  When Lincoln was assassinated, Johnson became president.

President Johnson took to heart Lincoln’s emphasis on restoring comity between North and South. Consequently, Johnson opposed the harsh, exploitative, and demeaning policies of the Republican Congress during Reconstruction.  He didn’t see how the Union could be restored on the basis of dispossession of Southerners, rape of Southern women, and the infliction of general humiliation on a conquered people.

The fanatical Republican Congress, however, was set on punishment and humiliation of the South. By blocking some of the most extreme Reconstruction measures, Johnson aroused the same enmity against himself as the Republicans had toward the South.  A series of disputes between the President and the Republican Congress led to a resolution of impeachment drafted by the Congressional Joint Committee on Reconstruction.

The charges against Johnson were contrived, a product of emotion, like the ones against Trump, and Johnson’s conviction failed by one vote in the Senate.  After his term ended in 1869, Johnson ran for the US Senate and won.

Bill Clinton is the only one of the three to be impeached by the House for cause, but enough Senators realized that the cause was not a high crime and refused to convict.

The three presidents who have been impeached are much less guilty of impeachable offences than many who have not been impeached.  For example, George W. Bush took America to war based on lies—for example, Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. These lies are much more serious than Clinton’s denial of a sexual affair.  Bush failed to uphold his duties and violated the US Constitution by suspending habeas corpus and detaining citizens indefinitely without evidence and due process of law.  Obama intended to invade Syria on the basis of a lie, for example, Assad’s use of chemical weapons, but was prevented by Russia. Obama escalated Bush’s attack on Constitutionally protected civil liberty by declaring his right to execute US citizens without due process of law.  Franklin D. Roosevelt kept knowledge of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor from the US Navy in order to have an infamous event that would allow him to enter the war against Germany. Even Lincoln was guilty of destroying states’ rights set out in the Constitution and launching a war of aggression in order to preserve the empire. There are more examples.

It is paradoxical that real crimes provide less inclination  for impeachment than orchestrated fake crimes.

There were 11 contrived articles of impeachment against Johnson.  Against Trump there are two.  One is that he abused his power as president by asking the president of Ukraine to reopen the investigation of the energy company, on which Obama’s Vice President Biden had placed his son as a very highly paid director.  Vice President Biden had forced the previous president of Ukraine to shut down the investigation by firing the prosecutor or otherwise forfeit $1 billion in US aid. 

The Democrats have no evidence that Trump offered the Ukrainian president US aid in exchange for political dirt against Biden, and the president of Ukraine said there was no such offer. What would be the point of Trump asking for dirt against Biden when Biden himself boasted before the Council on Foreign Relations that he had forced the Ukrainian President to fire the prosecutor or forfeit $1 billion. https://www.nysun.com/editorials/well-son-of-a-bitch-ukraine-scandal-is-about-biden/90846/  This is common knowledge.  Why should Trump have to pay Ukraine for it?

Vice President Biden’s clear, open admission that he did what Democrats falsely accuse Trump of doing is total proof of the utter corruption of the Democratic Party.

Now, let’s suppose the Democrats are correct in order to see how inconsequential and commonplace the charge against Trump would be even if true.  The United States government has historically, has always, and is forever telling foreign governments to do this or that or you won’t get any money.  This is the commonplace behavior of the United States in its foreign policy, which is not based on normal diplomacy but on bribes, sanctions, threats, and, if the country does not comply, bombings and invasions.

Trump did not tell Ukraine that he was going to sanction, bomb, or invade if Ukraine did not reopen an investigation that was closed entirely on the basis of Biden’s threat to withhold US aid money.  If anyone should be facing a charge, it is Biden.

The second charge in Trump’s impeachment is “obstruction of Congress.”  The US Constitution gives the President the power to obstruct Congress. Every time a President vetoes a bill, he obstructs Congress.  The idea that obstructing Congress is an impeachable offense is insane nonsense.  It works only because Americans are ignorant. They do not know what the Constitution says or anything about the balance of powers the Constitution establishes between executive, legislature, and Judiciary.

Similarly, Congress has the power to obstruct a President by refusing to ratify his treaties, by rejecting his budget and spending priorities and by refusing to confirm his appointees in office.

What is the real basis of the obstruction charge?  I will tell you.  It means that the House Democrats could not find anything on Trump, so they charge that Trump obstructed them by hiding the evidence and not letting executive branch officials testify who would have ratted him out.  That is all the charge means. The charge is that the exercise of executive privilege, which every president has used, is an obstruction of Congress.  That is all the charge means. How did such an absurd charge become an impeachable offense?

In the Senate the fight over “the rules” is a fight over whether Democrats will be able to reproduce in the Senate, in place of what is supposed to be a trial based on the evidence that led to the House’s impeachment charge, a continuation of the House circus with more witnessess, more charges, more orchestrated “evidence.”  In other words, the Democrats intend to use the trial as a continuation of the soap opera hoping to extend it long enough that some of the mud will stick to Trump and defeat his reelection.

We must ask ourselves how American politics has degenerated to such a comical level.  How can the US be taken seriously as a world leader when for the entirety of a presidential term one of the two political parties has done nothing but to try to destroy the President of the other political party? Is the US going to have its own Hutu-Tutsi genocide?

This question is unrelated to whether or not we approve of Trump or think that he is a good President. An unapproved President is simply not reelected.  He does not need to be impeached.  Obviousy, it is Trump’s reelection that Democrats fear, and they are using impeachment to try to prevent Trump’s reelection.  This is not the function of a political party.

A political party is supposed to represent the interests of its constituents.  At one time, the Democrats’ constituents were the working class.  The Republicans represented business interests.  There was countervailing power bewteen the two.  Sometimes business interests got the upper hand.  Sometimes the working class got the upper hand.  But the system worked and served both parties.

What, who, does the system serve today?

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PETER HITCHENS: The killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani was state murder. | Daily Mail Online

Posted by M. C. on January 6, 2020

For the first 40 years of my life we were supposed to be living on the brink of nuclear war. But it never came, because even the stupidest and most evil politicians could see that you could not win such a war. Now the nuclear threat has slipped away into the background.

Then bear in mind that this country has been supporting an Al Qaeda faction in Syria for several years. These are crazy times.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-7852247/PETER-HITCHENS-killing-Iranian-General-Qasem-Soleimani-state-murder.html

By Peter Hitchens for The Mail on Sunday

Did World War Three begin last Thursday night? I fear it may have done. Forgive my language, but on this occasion I think it justified. How can anyone possibly have been so bloody stupid?

We know from history that assassinations can have limitless effects. And when the President of the United States orders the state murder (for this, alas, is what it was) of an Iranian general, it is hard to see a good end.

When the President of the US ordered the killing of Qasem Soleimani (pictured, during an anti-US rally to protest his killing on January 4), it is hard to see a good end. History shows that assassinations can have limitless effects

When the President of the US ordered the killing of Qasem Soleimani (pictured, during an anti-US rally to protest his killing on January 4), it is hard to see a good end. History shows that assassinations can have limitless effects

There will be retaliation. Other countries will be drawn in. Our own ability to make moral objections to such acts is gravely weakened because Donald Trump’s action lies miles outside the laws of civilised war. Iran has no long-range drones (as far as we know), but can you begin to imagine the justified rage in the USA if a senior American general were shot dead on the steps of the Pentagon by an Iranian hit team? Yet what, in the end, would be the moral difference between the two acts? Now we can only tremble at what might come next.

People protest the US military involvement in the Middle East, in Times Square, New York, on January 4

People protest the US military involvement in the Middle East, in Times Square, New York, on January 4

Any fool can see that this action was perilous beyond belief. Anyone wise and mature enough to say ‘That’s enough!’ after the first retaliation would have had the sense not to start this in the first place.

For the first 40 years of my life we were supposed to be living on the brink of nuclear war. But it never came, because even the stupidest and most evil politicians could see that you could not win such a war. Now the nuclear threat has slipped away into the background. I am not saying it will not return. But a US President can now start a war, if he picks his enemy carefully, without needing to fear a nuclear exchange.

We have seen this already in Iraq, a continuing disaster, and in Afghanistan, where, as newly released secret papers show, nobody ever had a clue what they were doing. We see it in Ukraine, where American and EU aggression finally came up against hard resistance. We see it in Syria. Britain and France started their own war in Libya, so destroying that country and beginning one of the biggest waves of uncontrolled migration in human history, and unqualified disaster.

Pictures from Syria after the war we caused show a country that has truly been bombed and shelled back into the Stone Age

Pictures from Syria after the war we caused show a country that has truly been bombed and shelled back into the Stone Age

 

How odd it is that we persist with these follies.

Modern non-nuclear weapons are quite terrifying enough in themselves. I visited Baghdad soon after the 2003 invasion and was repeatedly astonished by the vast destruction caused by the power and accuracy of 21st Century conventional munitions. Ramadi and Fallujah later ended up as moonscapes. Pictures from Syria after the war we caused show a country that has truly been bombed and shelled back into the Stone Age.

A man pushes a bicycle while walking past burning cars in the aftermath of a car bomb explosion at the industrial zone in the northern Syrian town of Tal Abyad on November 23

A man pushes a bicycle while walking past burning cars in the aftermath of a car bomb explosion at the industrial zone in the northern Syrian town of Tal Abyad on November 23

And now we have drones, which turn murder into a video game. You can sit in front of a screen and arrange the killing of another human being, at no direct risk to yourself, thousands of miles away. Then you can lock up your office and go out for a beer or, if you don’t like beer, you can have a cheeseburger.

But above all, what is all this about? It does not defend us, but exposes us to danger that may reach our towns and cities.

At least in the past we could say we were defending liberty against a defined menace that would not stop threatening us until it was defeated in the field. But in these cases, what precisely are we fighting for? How will we know if we have won? Or are we heading for the permanent war envisaged in George Orwell’s 1984, in which we can switch from one enemy to the other in the blink of an eye, and pretend nothing has changed, but the fighting never stops?

You think this far-fetched? Then bear in mind that this country has been supporting an Al Qaeda faction in Syria for several years. These are crazy times.

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