To Know You Don’t Know, by Robert Gore

We’re all ignorant; few recognize it.

Aubrey’s deployment order came a week later. A conflict had waxed and waned in Syria and Iraq for the better part of three years. It was the typical Middle Eastern fracas: hapless governments and their armies; not-so-hapless sectarian brigades with colorful names waging guerrilla war, detonating bombs, promoting mayhem; shifting alliances; endless intrigue; diabolical duplicity; rampant disinformation; appearances masking antipodal realities; and machinations by outside string pullers, money honeys, and intelligence agencies who never seemed to realize—or if they did, never acknowledged—that they were the puppets, not the puppeteers. Despite the seeming complexity, the war boiled down to the usual two issues: oil and the centuries-old question of Muhammad’s rightful heir.

Governments couldn’t resist throwing matches on the gasoline. Sunni nations—Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the rich little monarchies scattered around the Persian Gulf—as well as a variety of sectarian brigades with colorful names, launched massive and coordinated maneuvers to “restore order” (Middle Eastern–speak for replacing a government with one more to your liking) to Shiite Syria and Iraq. The Shiite governments were not without friends. Russia, Iran, and various sectarian brigades with colorful names would not let them go down without a fight. So in a very short time, the corner of the world with the highest per capita concentrations of troops, terrorism, weapons, and warfare saw exponential increases in all four.

The US government urged all parties to come to the negotiating table. No parties came to the negotiating table. The US government consulted with its European allies. A resolution was submitted at the United Nations. The war intensified. The war lobby screamed: this was World War III, and the United States was not there! It was like missing your senior prom! The Europeans screamed. Refugees were streaming to Europe. Despite welcoming gestures, the only assimilating they seemed to be doing was slurping up government benefits. It was getting expensive. Some Europeans didn’t like their new guests. Some of their new guests didn’t like the Europeans, but they did like blowing people up. Voters were getting mad. Something had to be done!

The US government ultimately did what the US government does best: came up with a catchy name (Operation Restoration of Peace, Freedom, Hope, Democracy, and Dignity in the Middle East), parked aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf, dropped bombs, and deployed thousands of troops to “advise and assist” without a clear idea of whom they would be advising and assisting. It implored the Europeans to join its efforts, to staunch the refugee flow by making war, blowing things up, and creating more refugees. Back in the States, the groups that reflexively cheered every war distributed more Support Our Troops bumper stickers.

Prime Deceit, Robert Gore, 2016

This is satire, although not obviously so. Prime Deceit is dedicated To all those grown bone weary of the bulls**t. The novel’s main shortcoming is that it isn’t satirical enough. Only brutally savage satire is within field goal range of capturing the reality of the Middle East. Almost all of the mountain of journalism and propaganda focused on or emanating from that part of the world is pure twaddle, bulls**t that bone wearied most of us long ago. You can instantly recognize those who don’t have the first clue about the Middle East by their claims to understand it, especially if they claim they’re experts.

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IMPEACHMENT WEEK: It’s OK To Be Bored; Not OK To Be White, by Ann Coulter

Musings on the impeachment farce and race from Ann Coulter at anncoulter.com:

It’s weeks like this that make me wish I had a job and didn’t have to stay home watching TV. With the impeachment nonsense dragging into its 56th month, I have some random observations, only a few of which have anything to do with impeachment.

1) As tempting as it must be for Republican senators to make a headlong rush to the TV cameras at the conclusion of the day’s festivities, they would be well advised to say this, and only this, each night:

Here are the vital issues the United States Congress did NOT address today:

— Repairing our highways, bridges and border with a major infrastructure bill.

— Ensuring that all Americans can get jobs by cutting off the deluge of cheap foreign labor.

— Providing the public with quality services by not inviting the rest of the world to come partake of government benefits meant for Americans.

— Fixing the disaster of Obamacare, so that all Americans have access to quality health care (by activating the same mechanisms that give them quality food, housing and iPhones: the free market, contract law and occasional government subsidies).

— Passing a bill to defund all the pointless, expensive military deployments around the globe, so we can FINALLY address the hellfires in our own hemisphere.

— Ending the opioid crisis by declaring war on Mexican drug cartels and building a wall.

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The Future of What’s Called “Capitalism”, by Charles Hugh Smith

What now gets labeled capitalism often is not capitalism at all, and sometimes its the opposite. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

The psychotic instability will resolve itself when the illusory officially sanctioned “capitalism” implodes.

Whatever definition of capitalism you use, the current system isn’t it so let’s call it “capitalism” in quotes to indicate it’s called “capitalism” but isn’t actually classical capitalism.

Try a few conventional definitions on for size:

Capitalism allocates capital to its most productive uses. Does the current system actually do this? You must be joking.

Capitalism is based on private labor and capital freely choosing where to invest time/assets. Does the current system actually do this? You must be joking.

Capitalism enables comparative advantages which enrich everyone. Does the current system actually do this? You must be joking.

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Trump’s Katyusha Conundrum, by William Walter Kay

Katyusha artillery rockets are playing a substantial but virtually unnoticed role in the Middle East. From William Walter Kay at antiwar.org:

Katyushas are short-range, unguided artillery rockets typically fired in salvos from truck-mounted launch-tubes. Iraq’s insurgents deploy three types.

The smallest is 107 millimeters in diameter and 1 meter long. Its 19 kilogram weight includes an 8 kg high-explosive, shrapnel-bearing warhead. The 107mm is often fired from a 12-tube launcher, however, infantry-portable single-tube tripods are common. An experienced crew with a standardized weapon can hit a 400 X 400 meter target from 8 kilometers away. During the Vietnam War the US Army considered the 107mm to be their adversaries’ most formidable weapon.

The 122mm ‘Grad’ Katyusha is 3 meters long and weighs 75 kg. Its warhead spans a third of its length and weighs 18 kg. It has a 20-kilometer range and a 30-meter lethal radius.

220mm Katyushas hurl 100 kg warheads 30 kilometers.

Katyushas have advantages over mortars. They deliver the same payload twice the distance and they fire multiple ordnance more rapidly. The globally ubiquitous BM-21 Grad fires forty 122mm rockets in three minutes. Reloading takes 10 minutes. Thus, Katyushas excel at “shoot-and-scoot” operations. As well, Katyushas’ flat trajectories permit line-of-sight attacks and their 700 meter-per-second velocities provide unique anti-building potential.

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The Great American Shale Oil & Gas Bust: Fracking Gushes Bankruptcies, Defaulted Debt, and Worthless Shares, by Wolf Richter

The shale boom is over, but not the financial fallout. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Texas at the epicenter. We’re witnessing the destruction of money that loosey-goosey monetary policies encouraged.

Following the sharp re-drop in oil and natural gas prices in late 2018, bankruptcy filings in the US by already weakened exploration and production companies , oilfield services companies, and “midstream” companies (they gather, transport, process, or store oil and natural gas) jumped by 51% in 2019, to 65 filings, according to data compiled by law firm Haynes and Boone. This brought the total of the Great American Shale Oil & Gas Bust since 2015 in these three sectors to 402 bankruptcy filings.

The debt involved in these bankruptcies in 2019 doubled from 2018 to $35 billion. This pushed the total debt listed in these bankruptcy filings since 2015 to $207 billion. The chart below shows the cumulative total debt involved in these bankruptcies since 2015.

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THE ANGRY ARAB: US Violated Unspoken Rule of Engagement with Iran, by As’ad AbuKhalil

What sort of reprisals will the assassination of Qassem Soleimani lead to by Iran? From As’ad AbuKhalil at consortiumnews.com:

As’ad AbuKhalil analyzes the Trump administration’s decision to escalate hostilities with Iran and its regional allies.   

U.S. paratroopers deploy to the Middle East following the Baghdad airstrike, Jan. 4, 2020.(U.S. Army/Hubert Delany, Wikimedia Commons)

Something big and unprecedented has happened in the Middle East after the assassination of one of Iran’s top commanders, Qasim Suleimani.

The U.S. has long assumed that assassinations of major figures in the Iranian “resistance-axis” in the Middle East would bring risk to the U.S. military-intelligence presence in the Middle East.  Western and Arab media reported that the U.S. had prevented Israel in the past from killing Suleimani.  But with the top commander’s death, the Trump administration seems to think a key barrier to U.S. military operations in the Middle East has been removed.

The U.S. and Israel had noticed that Hizbullah and Iran did not retaliate against previous assassinations by Israel (or the U.S.) that took place in Syria (of Imad Mughniyyah, Jihad Mughniyyah, Samir Quntar); or for other attacks on Palestinian and Lebanese commanders in Syria.

The U.S. thus assumed that this assassination would not bring repercussions or harm to U.S. interests. Iranian reluctance to retaliate has only increased the willingness of Israel and the U.S. to violate the unspoken rules of engagement with Iran in the Arab East.

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Hubris, by Sven Henrich

The bull markets in bonds and stocks will not go quietly into that good night. From Sven Henrich at northmantrader.com:

One day this bull market will end and the age of the central banking enabled debt bubble will be exposed for the hubris that it is and all the sins of “potential side effects” that central bankers warn about but never do anything about will come back to haunt all of us. It’ll be the age of the great unwind. Nobody will tell us in the moment when it peaks and I suspect it will not start with a bang, rather a whimper, but only end with a bang.

And this great unwind will not last a month or a year, but many years as all the excesses will have to work themselves through the system and all the systematic buy programs will turn into systematic sell programs that will be just as relentless on the way down as they were on the way up.

They very notion of the permanent can kicking we are witnessing now will reveal itself to have been a fantasy. People forget that 2019 and into 2020 came about because of systemic failure of epic proportions. The single one time central bankers tried to tighten blew up in their faces. And the Fed’s forced re-expansion of their balance sheet has now bestowed this blow-off top that has pushed asset prices the farthest distance above the underlying size of the economy that we’ve ever seen. A perversion of the financial system that has created wealth for the few not seen since the 1920s.

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On the 70th anniversary of Orwell’s death: The danger of third parties “curating” and “fact checking” our info, by Sharyl Attkisson

There are all sorts of official, semi-official, and private busybodies who want to protect us from “fake news.” We’re all just too stupid to sort through it on our own. From Sharyl Attkisson at sharylattkisson.com:

Political writer George Orwell, who died Jan. 21, 1950

It is a dangerous practice: Government, corporations, universities, news outlets and “experts” curating our information so that we cannot access, see or believe that which they determine we should not access, see or believe.

If anyone had suggested to Orwell, or the American founders, that we would invite this sort of manipulation and control of our information, they wouldn’t have believed it.

The idea was first introduced on the national stage by President Obama in October of 2016 right before the presidential election. He insisted that somebody needed to step in and “curate” our information in the “Wild, Wild West” internet environment.

Nobody had been clamoring for any such thing.

So the challenge for those who came up with this bright idea– in my opinion in an effort to control news and information– was to convince the public to accept something very un-American: their information being shaped and censored by others.

Watch Attkisson’s Tedx talk: Astroturf and Manipulation of Media Messages

This feat was accomplished in concert with the anti-fake news effort, started in September 2016 through a nonprofit called First Draft. (First Draft was funded by Google, owned by Alphabet, run by Eric Schmidt, a major Hillary Clinton funder and supporter.) The anti-fake news effort was also an effort by special interests to step in and control news and internet information.

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