He Said That? 9/25/16

From Sir Norman Angell (1872–1967), British economist, lecturer, writer, Member of Parliament for the Labour Party, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1933, The Great Illusion (1910):

War has no longer the justification that it makes for the survival of the fittest; it involves the survival of the less fit. The idea that the struggle between nations is a part of the evolutionary law of man’s advance involves a profound misreading of the biological analogy.
The warlike nations do not inherit the earth; they represent the decaying human element….

The Great Divider, from The Burning Platform

http://www.theburningplatform.com/2016/09/25/the-great-divider/

He Who Hesitates Is Lost And Russia Hesitated, by Paul Craig Roberts

According to Paul Craig Roberts, the Russians fooled themselves, again, into believing that the US could be trusted. From Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

The Russian government deceived itself with its fantasy belief that Russia and Washington had a common cause in fighting ISIS. The Russian government even went along with the pretense that the various ISIS groups operating under various pen names were “moderate rebels” who could be separated from the extremists, all the while agreeing to cease fighting on successive verges of victory so that Washington could resupply ISIS and prepare to introduce US and NATO forces into the conflict. The Russian government apparently also thought that as a result of the coup against Erdogan, which was said to implicate Washington, Turkey was going to cease supporting ISIS and cooperate with Russia.

Alas, the Russians so fervently, or perhaps I should say feverishly, desired an agreement with Washington that they deceived themselves. If Finian Cunningham’s report is correct, Washington has taken advantage of Russia’s urging that Washington and Turkey join in the attack on ISIS by invading northern Syria under the guise of “fighting ISIS.”

Syria has now been partitioned, and the pretend or fake “moderate rebels” can be built up inside the US/Turkish occupied areas of Syria and the war against Syria kept going for as long as Washington wants. The western presstitutes will report that the Turkish/American forces occupying areas of Syria are not invaders but are attacking ISIS.

With US, Turkish, and, little doubt, soon other NATO troops operating inside Syria, the neoconservatives will have many opportunities to provoke a conflict with Russia from which Russia will have to stand down or reply with force. In the event of a Trump presidential victory, the neocons want to make certain Trump is embroiled in a war that will prevent an accommodation with Russia.

It is unclear whether US Secretary of State Kerry’s effort to arrange a Syrian ceasefire was sincere and he was sandbagged by the Pentagon and CIA. Regardless, if Kerry was sincere, he is obviously unable to stand up to the neocons, blessed as the State Department is with Victoria Nuland and a number of other warmongers.

Obama is equally weak, which is why he was chosen by the oligarchy as president. A person without experience and knowledge is an excellent tool for the oligarchy. American blacks and white liberals actually believed that an inexperienced candidate from nowhere without an organization of his own could make a difference. Apparently, the gullibility of a majority of Americans is endless. This American hallmark of gullibility is why a handful of neoconservatives can so easily lead the sheeple into endless wars.

The idiot Americans have been at war for 15 years and the morons have no idea what has been achieved. The fools are unaware that the US in its decades long accumulation of weakness now confronts two major nuclear powers: Russia and China.

Americans have been taught by the presstitutes serving the military/security complex that nuclear war is not all that different from ordinary war. Look at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two targets of American atomic bombs. Today, seven decades later, the cities are flourishing, so what’s the problem with nuclear weapons?

The atomic bombs that Washington dropped on these helpless civilian centers while the Japanese government was trying to surrender, were mere popguns compared to today’s thermo-nuclear weapons. One Russian SS-18 wipes out three-fourths of New York state for thousands of years. Five or six of these “Satans” as they are known by the US military, and the East Coast of the United States disappears.

To continue reading: He Who Hesitates Is Lost And Russia Hesitated

The War Against the Assad Regime Is Not a ‘Pipeline War’, by Gareth Porter

There is a widely held belief that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s refusal to allow a pipeline from Qatar provoked interested regimes to push for his ouster. SLL has posted several articles that make that argument. However, Gareth Porter says that’s not the case. From Porter at antiwar.com:

The reason put forward by the Obama administration for the war against the Bashar al-Assad regime – saving the Syrian people from suffering and death at the hands of Assad – has no credibility with anyone familiar with the record of US interventions for regime change around the world.

As has been the case with all the other wars the US has fought over the decades, opponents of the US war state have had to come up with their own explanations for the sponsorship of a sectarian bloodbath in Syria. The explanation that is rapidly gaining popularity is that the war in Syria is a “pipeline war,” fought to ensure that the natural gas from Qatar would go to Europe through Syria and would weaken Europe’s dependence on Russia for its energy.

That argument has been made in a number of places over the last few years, but the most widely republished version is an essay by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in Politico, arguing that the Obama administration began to lay the groundwork for overthrowing the Assad regime in 2009 after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rejected a pipeline proposed by Qatar. That planned pipeline agreed to by Qatar and Turkey, Kennedy argues, would have linked Qatar’s natural gas to European markets through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey, so it would have deprived Russia of Europe’s dependence on its natural gas.

But Assad not only prevented the realization of the Qatari plan but signed up with Iran for an alternative pipeline that would make Iran, not Qatar, the principal Middle East supplier of natural gas to European energy markets, according to the “pipeline war” account, so the Obama administration decided that Assad had to be removed from power.

It’s easy to understand why that explanation would be accepted by many antiwar activists: it is in line with the widely accepted theory that all the US wars in the Middle East have been “oil wars” – about getting control of the petroleum resources of the region and denying them to America’s enemies.

But the “pipeline war” theory is based on false history and it represents a distraction from the real problem of US policy in the Middle East – the US war state’s determination to hold onto its military posture in the region.

It is true that Qatar had proposed a pipeline to carry its natural gas to Turkey. But nearly everything else about the story turns out, upon investigation, to be untrue. There is no contemporaneous report of any such rejection by the Syrian government. It was only four years later, in August 2013 that an Agence France-Presse article recounting what happened in a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, claimed in passing, “In 2009, Assad refused to sign an agreement with Qatar for an overland pipeline running from the Gulf to Europe via Syria to protect the interests of its Russian ally, which is Europe’s top supplier of natural gas.” No source is given for the statement, but the main source for other information in the article was “a European diplomat who shuttles between Beirut and Damascus.”

That claim has no credibility for a very simple reason: there was no Qatari proposal for Syria to reject in 2009. It was not until October 2009 that Qatar and Turkey even agreed to form a working group to develop such a gas pipeline project.

To continue reading: The War Against the Assad Regime Is Not a ‘Pipeline War’

Dr. Lisa Bardack’s Faustian Bargain, by Jay Michaels

There are all sorts of holes in Dr. Lisa Bardack’s recent clean bill of health for Hillary Clinton. From Jay Michaels at americanthinker.com:

“Oh what tangled webs we weave, when we first practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott

When Dr. Lisa Bardack[*] was asked to become Hillary Clinton’s personal physician in 2001, it had to have been a crowning moment in the career of the Mt. Kisco internist. Dr. Bardack could have anticipated little downside. She already had the responsibility — and legal obligation under HIPAA — to protect the privacy of her patient. She and her staff would have to be especially scrupulous in the case of a senator with presidential ambitions, but this should not have posed a serious problem.

Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton corrupts everyone who serves her. And this year Bardack encountered difficulties she could not have foreseen in 2001:

1. Clinton developed serious medical issues.

2. The candidate was being videoed, not only during campaign stops, speeches, townhalls, and the rare press conference, but before and after events — by individuals with cell phones who were under no obligation to obey orders given to servile journalists to turn off their cameras.

3. The internet not only permitted the mass distribution of these videos and photos, but it enabled those who were curious to check Bardack’s reports against information available on reputable medical sites. It also enabled skeptical physicians to share their doubts with hundreds of thousands of readers.

In July 2015, the Clinton campaign asked Bardack to give the candidate a clean bill of health. She was to disclose, selectively, some of her patient’s medical history. But the letter was not widely analyzed until after the disturbing September 11 video by Zdenek Gazda, the Zapruder of 2016. It was no longer possible to dismiss those asking questions about Hillary’s health as right-wing conspiracy theorists, and the campaign now requested a second letter from Dr. Bardack explaining the event. The physician duly issued a report on September 14. Now her real problems began.

Let’s take a look at the two letters and some of questions doctors have asked about the diagnoses and treatment.

I. The letter of 12 July 2015

Bardack’s summary revealed a couple of major health problems that had not been previously disclosed. We had been told that Clinton suffered an elbow fracture in 2009 and a concussion in 2012. The fact that a woman in her mid-60s would fall twice ought perhaps to have raised some red flags. In particular, unless you’re being tackled or attacked, a concussion can usually be avoided by the body’s reflexes. Arms are extended to break the fall.

But now the public learned that some time in 2009 and in December 2012, the month of the concussion, Clinton had suffered blood clots.

She already had a history of clotting. Running for the Presidential nomination in the fall of 2007, Hillary gave an extended interview on her 60th birthday in which she disclosed that she’d had a life-threatening medical emergency in 1998. The crisis had been kept a secret not only from the public, but from her staff, who were told she had a sprained ankle. Clinton’s foot had swollen and she was in great pain. A White House doctor told her to rush to Bethesda Naval Hospital, where the diagnosis of a blood clot was made. “That was scary,” Hillary said, “because you have to treat it immediately — you don’t want to take the risk that it will break lose and travel to your brain, or your heart or your lungs. That was the most significant health scare I’ve ever had.” Clinton assured the reporter that she was no longer on blood thinners. This was probably the last time Hillary spoke candidly about her health.

To continue reading; Dr. Lisa Bardack’s Faustian Bargain

 

Obamacare “Death Spiral” Looms As Co-Op Losses Mount, by Tyler Durden

As predicted by SLL and many others, Obamacare is going down in flames. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Failing insurers. Rising premiums. Financial losses. As Bloomberg details, the deteriorating Obamacare market that the health insurance industry feared is here.

As concerns about the survival of the Affordable Care Act’s markets intensify, Bloomberg notes the role of nonprofit “co-op” health insurers — meant to broaden choices under the law — has gained prominence.

Most of the original 23 co-ops have failed, dumping more than 800,000 members back onto the ACA markets over the last two years.

Many of those thousands of people were sicker and more expensive than the remaining insurers expected — and they’re hurting results. With more of the nonprofits on the brink of folding, the situation for the remaining providers looks dire. Anthem Inc., for example, is facing an estimated $300 million in losses on its exchange business for individual plans this year, after turning a profit in 2014 and almost breaking even on the program in 2015, according to the company.

“These co-ops have attracted, we think, disproportionately high health-care utilizers,” Gary Taylor, an analyst with JPMorgan who follows the industry, said in a telephone interview. Their former members “are now enrolled in these for-profit health plans. That’s been a factor driving the deterioration in their profitability.”

In a death spiral:

As options for coverage shrink, insurers attract increasingly sick patients and suffer losses.

That forces them to raise rates, driving away healthy, profitable customers.

Facing more losses, they raise rates again, causing more healthy people to leave, and so on — until all that’s left are high premiums and a small pool of the unwell.

And that is what is occurring as some insurers may already be feeling the burden of increasingly sick patients.

Anthem’s then-Chief Financial Officer Wayne DeVeydt said in April the company was “disproportionately picking up market share” in states where co-ops had folded.

On a July conference call, Chief Executive Officer Joseph Swedish said that as the insurer had brought in new membership, its costs of caring for patients with heart disease, diabetes and especially dialysis had increased. Jill Becher, an Anthem spokeswoman, said the CEO’s comments referred to the company’s overall ACA membership.

The administration remains in denial...

People getting insurance in the ACA markets still have access to affordable plans, said Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees the health-care program.

“America is on stronger footing today because of the Affordable Care Act with 20 million gaining health coverage and the uninsured rate is at the lowest point on record,” he said in an e-mail. “Consumers are satisfied with their coverage, have better access to care, and greater financial security — core metrics of success.”

But, we already know what a health insurance death spiral looks like because we’ve seen them before, in states such as New York, New Jersey, and Washington. As we noted previously,

The experience in those states varied somewhat, but they all shared several essential qualities: The states put in place regulations requiring health insurers to sell to all comers (guaranteed issue), and strictly limiting the ways that insurance could be priced based on individual health history such as preexisting conditions (community rating). As a result, insurers ended up with large numbers of very sick customers who were very expensive to cover. Because they were subject to limits on how they could price health history, they responded by signficantly raising premiums for everyone. The new, higher premiums caused the healthiest, most price sensitive people to drop coverage entirely, which caused insurers to raise premiums further, resulting in yet more individuals dropping coverage, and so on and so forth, until all that remained was very small group of very sick, very expensive individuals.

To continue reading: Obamacare “Death Spiral” Looms As Co-Op Losses Mount

State Tax Revenues Plunge In Q2, by Tyler Durden

Tax revenues generally don’t plunge year-over-year when the economy is doing well. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

The latest confirmation that the US economy continues to deteriorate comes not from the Federal Government but from state-level data, where year-over-year growth in state tax revenues slowed in the first quarter to its lowest rate since the second quarter of 2014, according to the latest data published yesterday by the Rockefeller Institute of Government. Worse, preliminary data for the second quarter show an outright decline in state tax collections relative to the second quarter of last year.

As SMRA notes, state tax collections were up 1.6%, year-over-year, in the first quarter, the smallest increase since the second quarter of 2014. After adjustment for inflation, revenues were up 0.4%. Personal income tax collections, which account for roughly 36% of total state revenue, increased 1.8% in the first quarter, down from 5.1% in the fourth quarter. Sales tax collections – the second largest source of state revenue – increased 2.4% in the first quarter, up from 2.0% in the first quarter.

Corporate tax receipts, which account for less than 5% of state revenues, were down sharply for the second consecutive quarter, while motor fuel taxes, which also account for just under 5% of revenues, were up 2.0%, down from 3.5% increase in the fourth quarter.

According to preliminary estimates from Rockefeller, tax collections will be down 2.1% in the second quarter relative to last year, reflecting a decline of 3.3% in personal income taxes and a 9.2% plunge in corporate tax collections.

Sales tax revenue is estimated to have increased.

Rockefeller attributes the recent softness in personal income tax collections to a variety of factors, including weakness in the stock market, in both 2015 and the earlier part of this year, which has depressed tax collections related to investment income. Tax collections have been particularly weak in states with economies that are heavily reliant on oil or other natural resources. In the second quarter, growth in individual income taxes from withholding has slowed considerably.

The suddenly plunge in state income tax should not come as a surprise: the trend in individual income taxes at the state level in recent quarters tracks the sharp decline we have reported previously at the federal level.

For most states, the second quarter marks the end of the fiscal year and the current fiscal year began on July 1. According to Rockefeller, most states forecast weak income and sales tax growth for fiscal 2017. Also, in many states 2017 budget projections were prepared before the second quarter and don’t yet reflect the downside surprise in April tax receipts. In the words of the analysts at the Rockefeller Institute the outlook for state budgets in the 2016-2017 fiscal year “remains gloomy.”

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-09-24/state-tax-revenues-plunge-q2