Category Archives: Government

Into the Cold and Dark, by James Howard Kunstler

The fake reality so much of Washington and the media is caught up in can’t obscure actual reality: we’re on track for a prodigious fiscal train wreck. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

It amuses me that the nation is so caught up in the sexual mischief of a single Hollywood producer when the nation as a whole is getting fucked sideways and upside down by its own political caretakers.

Behind all the smoke, mirrors, Trump bluster, Schumer fog, and media mystification about the vaudeville act known as The Budget and The Tax Cut, both political parties are fighting for their lives and the Deep State knows that it is being thrown overboard to drown in red ink. There’s really no way out of the financial conundrum that dogs the republic and something’s got to give.

Many of us have been waiting for these tensions to express themselves by blowing up the artificially levitated stock markets. For about a year, absolutely nothing has thwarted their supernatural ascent, including the threat of World War Three, leading some observers to believe that they have been rigged to perfection. Well, the algo-bots might be pretty fine-tuned, and the central bank inputs of fresh “liquidity” pretty much assured, but for all that, these markets are still human artifacts and Murphy’s Law still lurks out there in the gloaming with its cohorts, the diminishing returns of technology (a.k.a. “Blowback”), and the demon of unintended consequences.

Many, including yours truly, have expected the distortions and perversions on the money side of life to express themselves in money itself: the dollar. So far, it has only wobbled down about ten percent. This is due perhaps to the calibrated disinformation known as “forward guidance” issued by this country’s central bank, the Federal Reserve, which has been threatening — pretty idly so far — to raise interest rates and shrink down its vault of hoarded securities — a lot of it janky paper left over from the misadventures of 2007-2009.

I guess the lesson is that when you have a pervasively false and corrupt financial system, it is always subject to a little additional accounting fraud — until it’s not. And the next thing you know, you’re sitting in the rubble of what used to be your civilization.

To continue reading: Into the Cold and Dark

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Which Rotten Fruit Falls First? by Charles Hugh Smith

The question may be irrelevant, because once one rotten fruit falls, the tree is so full of such fruit that the rest will follow. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

I predict the current investigations will widen and take a variety of twists and turns that surprise all those anticipating a tidy, narrowly focused denouement.
The theme this week is The Rot Within.

To those of us who understand the entire status quo is rotten and corrupt to its core, the confidence of each ideological camp that their side will emerge unscathed by investigation is a source of amusement. The fake-progressives (fake because these so-called “progressives” support Imperial over-reach and a status quo whose only possible output is soaring wealth and income inequality) are confident that a “smoking gun” of corruption will deliver their most fervent dream, the impeachment of President Trump, while Trump supporters are equally confident there is no “smoking gun.”
One camp is confident that the wily Clintons and their army of enablers, from former FBI Director Comey on down, will finally be brought to long-evaded justice for their various perfections of corruption and collusion: pay to play, and so on.
Clinton supporters are equally confident that there is no “smoking gun” that will bring down the House of Clinton, and by proxy, the organs of the Democratic Party.
The implicit historical model each camp is anticipating is of course Watergate, which unfolded with a dramatic inevitability that in retrospect almost seems scripted: a minor burglary led to the hubris of cover-up which led to the destruction of the Nixon presidency.
Often overlooked in this history is the key roles played by insider informants (such as Deep Throat) and the wider political demands for greater transparency the scandal triggered. The Church Committee ended up investigating the illegal campaigns of the FBI and CIA against the anti-war and civil rights movements (COINTELPRO etc.), and a small dent was made in the federal government’s decades-long reliance on official secrecy to cover up official corruption, collusion, malfeasance, lies, etc.– the ugly underbelly of agencies protecting the Empire from any inconvenient leaks of truth.
I submit that Watergate will not be the template for the multiple investigations being pursued in the present. It seems highly likely to me that who and what gets taken down by the investigations is much less predictable than in the Watergate template, which distilled down to an escalating campaign of cover-ups and stonewalling which simply compounded the crimes previously committed.
To continue reading: Which Rotten Fruit Falls First?

Judiciary Committee calls on former FBI informant to testify about Uranium One, by Sara A. Carter

If this FBI informant is allowed to testify, it could blow the Uranium One scandal wide open. From Sara A. Carter at circa.com:

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley asked the attorney of a former FBI informant Wednesday to allow her client to testify before his committee regarding the FBI’s investigation regarding kickbacks and bribery by the Russian state controlled nuclear company that was approved to purchase twenty percent of United States uranium supply in 2010, Circa has learned.

In a formal letter, Grassley, an Iowa Republican, asked Victoria Toensing, the lawyer representing the former FBI informant, to allow her client, who says he worked as a voluntary informant for the FBI, to be allowed to testify about the “crucial” eyewitness testimony he provided to the FBI regarding members of the Russian subsidiary and other connected players from 2009 until the FBI’s prosecution of the defendants in 2014.

Toensing’s client was an American businessman who says he worked for four years undercover as an FBI confidential witness. Toensing said he was blocked by the Obama Justice Department, under then Attorney General Loretta Lynch, about testifying to Congress about his time as an informant for the FBI. He contends that he has pertinent information that the Russian’s were attempting to gain access to former President Bill Clinton and his wife, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to influence the Obama administration’s decision on the purchase of Uranium One, Toensing said.

“Reporting indicates that “the informant’s work was crucial to the government’s ability to crack a multimillion dollar racketeering scheme by Russian nuclear officials on U.S. soil” and that the scheme involved “bribery, kickbacks, money laundering, and extortion,” Grassley states in his letter. “Further, the reporting indicates that your client can testify that ‘FBI agents made comments to him suggesting political pressure was exerted during the Justice Department probe’ and ‘that there was specific evidence that could have scuttled approval of the Uranium One deal.’ It appears that your client possesses unique information about the Uranium One/Rosatom transaction and how the Justice Department handled the criminal investigation into the Russian criminal conspiracy.”

Grassley added that “such information is critical to the Committee’s oversight of the Justice Department and its ongoing inquiry into the manner in which CFIUS approved the transaction. Accordingly, the Committee requests to interview your client.”

Toensing, who formerly worked under the Reagan Justice Department and is the former chief counsel of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said told Circa Tuesday that she was attempting to get Congress to persuade the Trump Justice Department or the FBI to free her client of a non-disclosure agreement he signed with the FBI so that he can talk to lawmakers.

To continue reading: Judiciary Committee calls on former FBI informant to testify about Uranium One

 

 

Winning in Africa, by Brian Cloughley

How many Americans know that the US military has 46 bases in Africa? What are they doing there? From Brian Cloughley at strategic-culture.org:

On October 4 in Niger in central Africa four American special forces soldiers were killed in an ambush by “fifty fighters, thought to be associated with ISIS [Islamic State], a US official said.” In the course of the attack, one US soldier was left behind when the others withdrew, and was subsequently found dead. Nigerien soldiers were also killed, and it is interesting to examine how US media outlets recorded this aspect of what was obviously a disaster for US Africa Command, AFRICOM, the organisation headquartered, bizarrely, in Germany, that has 46 military bases (that we know of) in that continent. (Niger, incidentally, is twice the size of Texas.)

ABC News reported that “a soldier from Niger also died from the attack” while CBS thought that “four Nigerien soldiers died,” and Stars and Stripes went with “several.” CNN’s tally was five but the New York Times didn’t mention Nigerien soldiers at all. Fox News, surprisingly, said that four were killed, as did the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, which even expanded to record that there had been eight Nigerien soldiers wounded.

It isn’t to be expected that the US media would ever concern themselves with deep research into how many foreign soldiers are killed in any of the countries in which the US is involved in armed conflict, but the sloppy reporting is a good indicator of the shrug factor.

And the western media continues to shrug about the deep involvement of the US military and the CIA in countries throughout Africa.

President Donald Trump claims he would win an IQ contest against his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson (how bizarre and nationally demeaning that a President of the United States of America can stoop to such childish yah boo behaviour), but it’s a fair bet he would not be able to identify on a blank map of Africa the countries in which his armed forces are at present engaged in various degrees of conflict. As recorded by Alexis Okeowo in the New Yorker, “Publicly, Africa may not be on the radar of the Trump Administration, but it is a priority for the US military. At the moment, seventeen hundred members of the Special Forces and other military personnel are undertaking ninety-six missions in twenty-one countries, and the details of most are unknown to Americans.”

To continue reading: Winning in Africa

McCain As Metaphor, by Justin Raimondo

Insanity may not be repeating the same thing and expecting a different result, but it’s certainly idiocy, an idiocy of which John McCain is the living embodiment. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

Some people are living symbols, sheer embodiments of a concept that fits their persona as snugly as their skin: e.g. the Dalai Lama personifies Contemplative Piety, Harvey Weinstein is the incarnation of Brazen Vulgarity, and John McCain’s very person exudes the sweaty blustery spirit of Empire. His entire history – born in the Panama Canal zone, son of an admiral, third-generation centurion, the War Party’s senatorial spokesman – made it nearly impossible for him to be other than what he is: the country’s most outspoken warmonger and dedicated internationalist.

As George Orwell remarked, “After forty, everyone has the face they deserve,” and in McCain’s case this is doubly true. That Roman head, fit for a coin of high denomination, looks as if it might sprout a crown of laurel leaves at any moment:  Grizzled brow, wrinkled with the tension of an inborn belligerence, eyes alight with a perpetual flame of self-righteous anger, McCain is Teddy Roosevelt impersonating Cato the Elder. In the extreme predictability of his warlike effusions, he’s become a bit of a cartoon character. Who can forget his enthusiastic rendition of “Bomb bomb bomb Iran!” to the tune of “Barbara Ann”?

The Senator from Arizona represents something relatively new on the American scene: the emerging class of colonial administrators, Pentagon contractors, and high-ranking military personnel, and their families, many of them stationed overseas. These people have a material interest in the expansion of our role as global cop, they number in the tens of thousands, and they are strategically placed in the social order, with enough social power to constitute an influential lobby.

To continue reading: McCain As Metaphor

GDP Is Bogus: Here’s Why, by Charles Hugh Smith

The title is not hyperbole. GDP is in fact bogus, and the article offers a concise and easy to understand explanation why. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

Here’s a chart of our fabulous always-higher GDP, adjusted for another bogus metric, official inflation.
The theme this week is The Rot Within.
The rot eating away at our society and economy is typically papered over with bogus statistics that “prove” everything’s getting better every day in every way. The prime “proof” of rising prosperity is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which never fails to loft higher, with the rare excepts being Spots of Bother (recessions) that never last more than a quarter or two.
Longtime correspondent Dave P. of Market Daily Briefing recently summarized the key flaw in GDP: GDP doesn’t reflect changes in the balance sheet, i.e. debt.
So if we borrow money to pay people to dig holes and then fill them with the excavated dirt, GDP rises to general applause. The debt we took on to fund the make-work isn’t accounted for at all.
Here’s Dave’s explanation:
Once I learned about accounting, I figured out why the GDP metric wasn’t sufficient. What is missing?
The balance sheet.
Hurricanes are a direct hit to your nation’s balance sheet. The national income statement goes up because of increased spending to replace lost assets, but the “equity” part of the national balance sheet ends up taking a hit in direct proportion to the damage that occurred.
Even if you rebuild everything just the way it was, your assets remain the same, while your liabilities have increased.
We know this because we use the balance sheet equation: equity = assets – liabilities. Equity is another word for wealth.
Before hurricane:
wealth = (house + car) – (home debt + car debt)
After hurricane, you rebuild your house, and buy a new car, using borrowed money:
wealth = (house + car) – (2 x home debt + 2 x car debt)
Wealth (equity) has declined by the sum (home debt + car debt)
So when you see pictures of a hurricane strike, you can now look through all that devastation and see the impact on the balance sheet. National equity (wealth) just dropped by the amount of damage inflicted by the hurricane. Whether it is ever rebuilt doesn’t actually matter; that equity is just gone. Destruction is always a downside for equity – even if there is a temporary positive impact on the income statement.
To continue reading: GDP Is Bogus: Here’s Why

Is Hollywood sitting on a pedophilia scandal?, by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

There have been rumors and allegations for years about Hollywood and pedophilia. It’s a rock few want to turn over. With the spotlight shining on Harvey Weinstein and other sexual predators, it’s also time to get to the bottom of pedophilia. From Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry at theweek.com:

The flurry of sexual harassment and assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein confirms an unsettling truth that deep down we already knew. There’s a reason “casting couch” has become a grotesquely ubiquitous term. We have long quietly assumed that big-time movie producers exploit their power to sexually exploit women. We should have heeded the warning signs. The smoke has been there for a long time. Of course the faint plumes were evidence of a fire raging, a fire we both did not imagine and yet knew was burning.

How could we have been so blind?

The answer to this question will also give you the answer to the next question: Can we seriously doubt that Hollywood is also turning a blind eye to a very real child sex-abuse scandal?

The evidence is there, just as it was in the cases of Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein. In 2011, former child star Corey Feldman warned that pedophilia in Hollywood was “the big secret” and “the number one problem.” Feldman alleged that he was abused and that his friend was raped on a movie set at the age of 11. But he didn’t just talk about instances of abuse. In a later interview, he described a system whereby young children were groomed by powerful older men who formed an organized network, with “publicists” providing cover. He would “love to name names,” but feared the legal risks, he said.

Precisely such an organized system for grooming and abusing children is described by a documentary; one molester described in the film pleaded no contest to two counts of child molestation, but the rest of the network has never been named, let alone investigated or charged. The title of the documentary? An Open Secret.

Former child star Elijah Wood made global headlines after saying in an interview last year that there was “something major” in Hollywood. “It was all organized,” he said. “There are a lot of vipers in this industry, people who only have their own interests in mind. There is darkness in the underbelly,” adding that Hollywood can “squash” the victims so that they “can’t speak as loudly as the people in power.” (He later issued a carefully worded clarification that he had no “firsthand experience or observation,” which still leaves room for being aware of an open secret.)

These stories fit a pattern, and not just the pattern common to all sex crimes allegations — the shame, the gas-lighting, the fear you won’t be believed — but also the pattern common to testimonies about a systemic problem: the coordination, the law of silence, the coverups.

And just as striking as these allegations is the deafening silence that surrounds them.

To continue reading: Is Hollywood sitting on a pedophilia scandal?