He Said That? 4/24/17

From  Noël Coward (1899–1973), English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, Blithe Spirit (1941):

It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.

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Candidate Trump: ‘I Love Wikileaks.’ President Trump: ‘Arrest Assange!’ by Ron Paul

President Trump does a flip-flop 180 degrees the wrong direction. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

“I love Wikileaks,” candidate Donald Trump said on October 10th on the campaign trail. He praised the organization for reporting on the darker side of the Hillary Clinton campaign. It was information likely leaked by a whistleblower from within the Clinton campaign to Wikileaks.

Back then he praised Wikileaks for promoting transparency, but candidate Trump looks less like President Trump every day. The candidate praised whistleblowers and Wikileaks often on the campaign trail. In fact, candidate Trump loved Wikileaks so much he mentioned the organization more than 140 times in the final month of the campaign alone! Now, as President, it seems Trump wants Wikileaks founder Julian Assange sent to prison.

Last week CNN reported, citing anonymous “intelligence community” sources, that the Trump Administration’s Justice Department was seeking the arrest of Assange and had found a way to charge the Wikileaks founder for publishing classified information without charging other media outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post for publishing the same information.

It might have been tempting to write off the CNN report as “fake news,” as is much of their reporting, but for the fact President Trump said in an interview on Friday that issuing an arrest warrant for Julian Assange would be, “OK with me.”

Trump’s condemnation of Wikileaks came just a day after his CIA Director, Michael Pompeo, attacked Wikileaks as a “hostile intelligence service.” Pompeo accused Assange of being “a fraud — a coward hiding behind a screen.”

Pompeo’s word choice was no accident. By accusing Wikileaks of being a “hostile intelligence service” rather than a publisher of information on illegal and abusive government practices leaked by whistleblowers, he signaled that the organization has no First Amendment rights. Like many in Washington, he does not understand that the First Amendment is a limitation on government rather than a granting of rights to citizens. Pompeo was declaring war on Wikileaks.

To continue reading: Candidate Trump: ‘I Love Wikileaks.’ President Trump: ‘Arrest Assange!’ 

Liberals Want To Kill Free Speech, So We Patriots Must Fight Back, by Kurt Schlichter

Those who would use violence and force to stifle others’ freedom of speech and the press  (including governments) had better except the same from their putative victims. From Kurt Schlichter on a guest post at theburningplatform.com:

Guest Post by Kurt Schlichter

Liberals Want To Kill Free Speech, So We Patriots Must Fight Back

Understand that if America is stupid enough to let liberals take power again, they will persecute and prosecute normal Americans like us who dare to dissent. That’s not a guess or a prediction – that’s a commitment they have made to their fascist followers. They’ve seen what the truth can do to their schemes. After 2016, there’s no way they are going to take a chance on another electoral rejection by us normals, so they don’t even pretend to support free speech anymore. It will be one gender neutral being-one vote, one more time, and then never again.

Hold on. That’s clearly nuts, right? This is obviously crazy talk that’s talking crazy, isn’t it? Don’t liberals love free speech?

No.

We know they don’t love free speech because they tell us they don’t, in both words and deeds. The whole free speech thing lost a lot of its luster for the libs when people like us decided to try it out. The liberals didn’t count on that – free speech was supposed to be their jam, a way to offend, annoy, and outrage us squares, to blow our bourgeois minds with their transgressive, no-holds-barred free thoughtery and critical thinkery. But they never intended for it to allow those banjo-strumming rubes living between I-5 and I-95 to express wrong thoughts and thereby win elections.

So now the progressives are trying to do something about it. Recently, every single Democrat voted to effectively repeal the First Amendment. You see, the words “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech” were too expansive for liberals’ tastes because they prevented Congress from making laws abridging the freedom of speech.

This creepy idiocy was in response to Citizens United, a Supreme Court case that, to people who actually believe in free speech and not liberal fascism, conforms to the First Amendment by telling the federal government that no, you can’t put people in jail for making a movie critical of Hillary Clinton.

To continue reading: Liberals Want To Kill Free Speech, So We Patriots Must Fight Back

11 Facts That Prove That The U.S. Economy In 2017 Is In Far Worse Shape Than It Was In 2016, by Michael Snyder

How bad do things have to be before even puffed-up government statistics cannot hide the deterioration in the economy? Things are getting worse. From Michael Snyder at theeconomiccollapseblog.com:

There is much debate about where the U.S. economy is ultimately heading, but what everybody should be able to agree on is that economic conditions are significantly worse this year than they were last year.  It is being projected that U.S. economic growth for the first quarter will be close to zero, thousands of retail stores are closing, factory output is falling, and restaurants and automakers have both fallen on very hard times.  As economic activity has slowed down, commercial and consumer bankruptcies are both rising at rates that we have not seen since the last financial crisis Everywhere you look there are echoes of 2008, and yet most people still seem to be in denial about what is happening.  The following are 11 facts that prove that the U.S. economy in 2017 is in far worse shape than it was in 2016…

#1 It is being projected that there will be more than 8,000 retail store closingsin the United States in 2017, and that will far surpass the former peak of 6,163 store closings that we witnessed in 2008.

#2 The number of retailers that have filed for bankruptcy so far in 2017 has already surpassed the total for the entire year of 2016.

#3 So far in 2017, an astounding 49 million square feet of retail space has closed down in the United States.  At this pace, approximately 147 million square feet will be shut down by the end of the year, and that would absolutely shatter the all-time record of 115 million square feet that was shut down in 2001.

#4 The Atlanta Fed’s GDP Now model is projecting that U.S. economic growth for the first quarter of 2017 will come in at just 0.5 percent.  If that pace continues for the rest of the year, it will be the worst year for U.S. economic growth since the last recession.

To continue reading: 11 Facts That Prove That The U.S. Economy In 2017 Is In Far Worse Shape Than It Was In 2016

Ready, Set, Splat. by James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler talks about the coming debt crack-up, with which regular readers of SLL may already be acquainted. From Kunstler at kunstler.com:

As I write, the French stock market (the CAC 40), is doing a grand jeté (up 4.5 percent!) in celebration of Emmanuel Macron’s assumed slaying of the dragon Le Pen. But that was just the first round under the interesting French election system. Consider that two other candidates who were eliminated, Monsieurs Fillon and Mélenchon, got nearly 40 percent of the vote. Are we so sure about where their voters go in the second and final round two weeks from now?

I suspect that most Americans — even the ones who follow Rachel Maddow — are about as interested in French politics as differential calculus. Macron, 36, is a blank slate. He was finance minister under current president François Hollande, of the Socialist Party, but declared during the election campaign that he’s not a socialist, he only wanted to be of service to his country, and this time he ran under his own party, En Marche! He appears to represent the continuation of business-as-usual with the European Union, which seems to put him on the wrong side of history at this crucial moment — if you suppose, as I do, that the EU is so riddled with hopeless financial contradictions and centrifugal political tensions that it is unlikely to persist.

Yet, understandably, people are reluctant to change the system they’re living under. Le Pen wants to blow the EU up, especially the bureaucracy lodged in Brussels that has become a self-serving and self perpetuating monster. Blowing up the EU would necessarily, it seems, mean the end of the European Central Bank, and with it the scams and Ponzi schemes that have provided an appearance of normality, despite an official 10.5 percent unemployment rate in France and a constant chain of public massacres by resident Jihadistas of one sort or another, some of them perpetrated by radical refugees allowed in under EU policy.

To continue reading: Ready, Set, Splat.

 

The Honeymoon of the Generals, by Tom Englehardt

So far, President Trump’s warmaking looks identical to that of his predecessors. From Tom Englehardt at tom dispatch.com:

Or Why Trump’s Wars Should Seem So Familiar

MOAB sounds more like an incestuous, war-torn biblical kingdom than the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, aka “the mother of all bombs.” Still, give Donald Trump credit. Only the really, really big bombs, whether North Korean nukes or those 21,600pounds of MOAB, truly get his attention. He wasn’t even involved in the decision to drop the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal for the first time in war, but his beloved generals – “we have the best military people on Earth” – already know the man they work for, and the bigger, flashier, more explosive, and winninger, the better.
It was undoubtedly the awesome look of that first MOAB going off in grainy black and white on Fox News, rather than in Afghanistan, that appealed to the president. Just as he was visibly thrilled by all those picturesque Tomahawk cruise missiles, the equivalent of nearly three MOABS, whooshing from the decks of U.S. destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean and heading, like so many fabulous fireworks, toward a Syrian airfield – or was it actually an Iraqi one? “We’ve just fired 59 missiles,” he said, “all of which hit, by the way, unbelievable, from, you know, hundreds of miles away, all of which hit, amazing… It’s so incredible. It’s brilliant. It’s genius. Our technology, our equipment, is better than anybody by a factor of five.”
Call it thrilling. Call it a blast. Call it escalation. Or just call it the age of Trump. (“If you look at what’s happened over the last eight weeks and compare that really to what’s happened over the past eight years, you’ll see there’s a tremendous difference, tremendous difference,” he commented, adding about MOAB, “This was another very, very successful mission.”)
Anyway, here we are and, as so many of his critics have pointed out, the plaudits have been pouring in from all the usual media and political suspects for a president with big enough… well, hands, to make war impressively. In our world, this is what now passes for “presidential.” Consider that praise the media version of so many Tomahawk missiles pointing us toward what the escalation of America’s never-ending wars will mean to Trump’s presidency.

To continue reading: The Honeymoon of the Generals

US ‘Deep State’ Sold Out Counter-Terrorism To Keep Itself in Business, by Gareth Porter

As SLL has said repeatedly, the Deep State, the military-industrial-intelligence complex is a racket. It’s probably the world’s largest. From Gareth Porter at antiwar.com:

Since 2001, senior Pentagon and CIA officials have sacrificed American interests in weakening al-Qaeda to pursue their own interests

New York Times columnist Tom Friedman outraged many readers when he wrote an opinion piece on 12 April calling on President Trump to ”back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria”. The reason he gave for that recommendation was not that US wars in the Middle East are inevitably self-defeating and endless, but that it would reduce the “pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah”.

That suggestion that the US sell out its interest in counter-terrorism in the Middle East to gain some advantage in power competition with its adversaries was rightly attacked as cynical.

But, in fact, the national security bureaucracies of the US – which many have come to call the “Deep State” – have been selling out their interests in counter-terrorism in order to pursue various adventures in the region ever since George W Bush declared a “Global War on Terrorism” in late 2001. 

The whole war on terrorism has been, in effect, a bait-and-switch operation from the beginning. The idea that US military operations were somehow going to make America safer after the 9/11 attacks was the bait. What has actually happened ever since then, however, is that senior officials at the Pentagon and the CIA have been sacrificing the interest of American people in weakening al-Qaeda in order to pursue their own institutional interests.

‘The only game in town’

It all began, of course, with the invasion of Iraq. Counter-terrorism specialists in the US government knew perfectly well that US regime change in Iraq through military force would give a powerful boost to Osama bin Laden’s organization and to anti-American terrorism generally. Rand Beers, then senior director for counter-terrorism on the National Security Council staff, told his predecessor Richard Clarke in late 2002, “Do you know how much it will strengthen al-Qaeda and groups like that if we occupy Iraq?”

To continue reading: US ‘Deep State’ Sold Out Counter-Terrorism To Keep Itself in Business