The Evening Blues - 8-22-17



eb1pt12


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Robert Shaw

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Texas barrelhouse piano player Robert Shaw. Enjoy!

Robert Shaw - The Ma Grinder

"Never underestimate the ability of political leaders to misread history on a monumental scale. The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan have both served to hasten western decline: they have both failed to achieve their objectives and in the process demonstrated an underlying western impotence."

-- Martin Jacques


News and Opinion

With No Timetable for Withdrawal, Trump Expands War in Afghanistan While Threatening Pakistan

Donald Trump’s New Afghanistan Plan Promises More Killing — And Little Else

President Donald Trump was set to announce an escalation of 4,000 troops in Afghanistan during a primetime address Monday night, where he planned to clarify his policy on the 16-year war he inherited from the two previous presidents. Trump, however, did neither. His audience was left with nothing but excuses and contradictions. Trump refused to say how many troops he was sending, or set any goals or timetables for withdrawal. “We are not nation-building again,” he stressed, boasting that “we are going to participate in economic development to help defray the cost of this war to us.”

Amid all the contradictions, though, Trump did make one aspect of his policy absolutely clear: The U.S. would kill more people in Afghanistan. “We are killing terrorists,” he said. “Retribution will be fast and powerful as we lift restrictions and expand authorities.” Trump has already expanded U.S. bombing campaigns throughout the Middle East, authorizing drone strikes at five times the rate of his predecessor, Barack Obama. Civilian casualties in the war against the Islamic State are on track to double under Trump, according to research by Airwars, which tracks coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

But in Afghanistan, Trump’s plan for more killing — and little else — ignores a crucial point: The frenzied pace of killing under the Bush administration was what led to a nearly defeated Taliban’s resurgence, bogging the U.S. down in an endless war. Trump is either forgetting the mistakes of recent U.S. history in Afghanistan or, worse, he simply doesn’t care.


You're the puppet: Breitbart attacks Trump's Afghanistan proposals

Breitbart News issued a scathing response to Donald Trump’s speech on Afghanistan, accusing the president of becoming little more than a puppet of generals in the White House after he pledged to boost troop levels to try to counter the growing strength of al-Qaida and Taliban fighters.

One headline on the far-right news site, which has been re-energized as the de facto mouthpiece of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, was aimed at a familiar target, the president’s national security adviser: “His McMaster’s Voice: is Trump’s Afghanistan policy that different from Obama’s?”

Bannon left the Trump administration last week, a year after he left Breitbart to supervise Trump’s surge to the White House on a tide of populist, nationalist and isolationist opinion.

On Monday night, Breitbart also made sarcastic reference to “President McMaster” and “General Jared [Kushner]” and warned that Trump’s support base would be the “biggest loser” from the switch in strategy, which it called a clear “flip-flop” that contradicted a campaign pledge to limit US intervention abroad.

Pffffttt!!! Now she tells us!


Will Steve Bannon's war tear apart the Republican party?

The proverbial ink on Bannon’s resignation was barely dry when the media began reporting his plans to mount an insurrection against the “Republican establishment” in Congress and the “globalists” in the White House. Bannon has now decamped to Breitbart to wage “war” – his words – on the forces in Washington that have prevented Trump from turning the Republican party into a populist movement of economic nationalism, and even on Trump if he strays from the path. A source close to Bannon analogized the coming struggle to the French Revolution. ...

With his departure, Bannon claims “the Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over”. Trump’s “ability to get anything done – particularly the bigger things, like the wall, the bigger, broader things that we fought for,” he adds, is “gonna be that much harder.” But that narrative of his exit disguises how pyrrhic Bannon’s victory has been, from the very beginning. Virtually none of the signature elements of the populism Bannon claimed to be fighting for – the border wall, massive infrastructure, higher tax rates on the wealthy, trade wars with China, higher tariffs – is anywhere near coming to fruition. And while Trump has managed to ramp up hardcore immigration measures (though his deportation rate is nowhere near what Obama’s was, even at its nadir), his legislative proposal to cut immigration in half is, by most accounts, dead on arrival, even among Republicans.

In the wake of the Charlottesville controversy, Bannon laughed at liberals and leftists who called for taking down Confederate statues. ... As he explained to the American Prospect, “the longer [the Democrats] talk about identity politics, I got ‘em. I want them to take about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.” Ironically, as the Republicans flounder in their attempt to get anything done – much less enact a program of economic nationalism – Trump emits tweet after plangent tweet about “the removal of our beautiful statues.” It is the Republicans, in other words, and not the Democrats, who are saddled with identity issues, while their economic program (on healthcare, the debt, and taxes) remains stalled.

The right-wing racial populism that once served the conservative cause so well is now, as even the most conservative Republicans are acknowledging, getting in its way. Whatever the outcome of the civil war Bannon intends to fight, it’ll be waged against the backdrop of a declining rather than an ascendant movement, with the tools of yesterday rather than tomorrow.

American Prospect Editor Robert Kuttner on His Extraordinary Interview with Steve Bannon

Photo of Afghan women in miniskirts reportedly helped flip Trump on war

When National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster needed to convince Donald Trump to send more troops to Afghanistan, he reportedly pulled out the big guns: “a black-and-white snapshot from 1972 of Afghan women in miniskirts walking through Kabul, to show him that Western norms had existed there before and could return,” according to the Washington Post.

The Post reports that McMaster’s photo, and other warnings from Secretary of Defense James Mattis and newly installed Chief of Staff John Kelly (both former generals), successfully persuaded Trump that the fight in Afghanistan was not “hopeless.”

State Dept. Official Who Quit in 2009 over U.S. War in Afghanistan Speaks Out on Trump’s Troop Surge

Jeremy Scahill has a good piece up on the Intercept. Here's a teaser:

Trump May Not Finish His Term But the Assassination Complex Will Live On

Donald Trump's speech on Afghanistan will briefly turn the media spotlight onto America’s longest war. Much of the media analysis will undoubtedly be about how the speech impacts Trump politically. ... The reality that Trump may not even finish a full term as president, either due to removal or resignation, means that the palace intrigue must be reported on thoroughly by the press. But a dangerous consequence of the overwhelming, obsessive focus on the daily Trump affairs is a virtual dearth of coverage on the permanent, unelected institutions of U.S. power, namely the military and the CIA.

Spend just a moment studying moves of the Pentagon and Langley during the Trump era, and you will find that very little has changed in their post-9/11 course. Covert operations continue unabated throughout the Arab world and, increasingly, in Somalia. The U.S. remains in Iraq and Afghanistan and is becoming entrenched more deeply in Syria. If anything, the military and CIA are less restrained and are in greater control of decisions — that arguably create policy rather than implement it — than they were under Obama. And civilians are being killed at a greater rate under Trump, particularly in Iraq and Syria. There are reports that Trump has delegated more unilateral authority to the commanders than his predecessor and has relaxed rules ostensibly put in place to minimize civilian deaths. ...

Years from now, when honest historians and scholars examine the Trump moment, it is certain that among the greatest beneficiaries of his presidency will be the military and CIA. But it would be a mistake to attribute this exclusively to Trump. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump, Hillary Clinton — and yes, even Bernie Sanders — all made clear that they supported and would continue the “targeted killing” program.

George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney used 9/11 to take the leash off the most unsavory forces in the military and CIA. They empowered the elite Joint Special Operations Command to wage a global, covert war replete with operations kept secret even from U.S. ambassadors and the State Department. The CIA set up black sites and conducted heinous acts of torture with the White House’s blessing. While Barack Obama did roll back some of the most blatant activities enthusiastically endorsed by Bush and Cheney, he was also a careful manager of empire and in key ways, served as a launderer for operations of some of the most aggressive forces in the U.S. arsenal. He used his credibility among liberals — and the derision hurled at him by conservatives who characterized him as an Islamic-radical-friendly socialist — to legitimize assassination and covert offensive military actions as lawful, moral, and necessary.

An excellent analysis worth a full read:

Israel’s Alarm over Syrian Debacle

There’s a rumor going around that the Syrian civil war is finally winding down and that the Baathist government is nearing its goal of driving out thousands of ISIS-Al Qaeda head-choppers financed and supplied – directly or indirectly – by the U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the other Persian Gulf oil monarchies. It would be good news if true. But most likely it’s not. While one stage in the Syrian conflict is coming to an end, another is beginning, and this time the results could be even worse.

The reason is Israel, until now the odd man in the latest Mideast wars. Despite intervening sporadically on the rebel side in Syria, the Jewish state generally held itself aloof from the conflict in the belief that events were breaking its way regardless of whether it stepped in or not. After all, why go to war when your enemies are doing a fine job of tearing each other apart on their own? ... But then the unthinkable happened. Assad not only survived but prevailed. Backed by Russia, Iran and the Lebanese Shi‘ite militia Hezbollah, he has bottled up Al Qaeda in East Ghouta and Idlib province in the extreme northwest and is racing to lift ISIS’s siege on Deir-Ezzor along the Euphrates. If successful, the effect will be to clear a path straight through to the Iraqi border some 30 miles to the east. U.S. military enclaves may remain in the northeast and in the southern border town of Al-Tanf. But it’s hard to see how they’ll have much of an impact as the Damascus regime tightens its grip on the country as a whole.

But rather than making a wider war less likely, the upshot is to make it even more. Having bet on the wrong horse, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now finds himself facing a nightmare scenario in which Iran takes advantage of Assad’s winning streak to extend its reach from Iraq and Syria into Lebanon beyond. It’s not just a question of political influence, but of the emergence of a powerful Iranian-led military bloc. Eleven years after fighting a vicious 34-day war in southern Lebanon, Israel thus finds itself facing not only Hezbollah but the Syrian Arab Army, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards, and Iraqi Shi‘ite militias – all backed by Russian military might – in a front extending across its entire northern border. All are battle-hardened after years of combat, better armed, better led, and more self-confident to boot. Israel finds itself confronting a new threat that is many times more powerful than Hezbollah (or Syria) alone.

Israeli consternation is not to be underestimated. One news outlet says the official attitude is one of “grave concern” while an anonymous government minister heaped blame on the U.S. for sacrificing Israeli interests - “The United States threw Israel under the bus for the second time in a row. The first time was the nuclear agreement with Iran, the second time is now that the United States ignores the fact that Iran is obtaining territorial continuity to the Mediterranean Sea and Israel’s northern border. What is most worrisome is that this time, it was President Donald Trump who threw us to the four winds – though viewed as Israel’s great friend. It turns out that when it comes to actions and not just talk, he didn’t deliver the goods.”

Netanyahu is meanwhile off to the Black Sea resort of Sochi to confer with Russian President Vladimir Putin while, in Washington, Israeli military and intelligence officials are meeting with top Trump officials such as National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and special Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt. ... Influential neoconservatives are joining the me-too chorus. At the Atlantic Council – the hawkish Washington think tank partly funded by the United Arab Emirates and pro-Saudi interests that functioned as an arm of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign – former Obama administration official Frederic C. Hof recently argued that the U.S. wouldn’t be in such a pickle if it had invaded Syria years ago. ... With the Zionists and their neocon yes-men agreeing that something must be done, it seems that something WILL be done sooner rather than later.

Trump’s Pentagon wants to spend almost $500 million on Guantánamo construction

Behind the scenes, the U.S. military is planning for nearly a half-billion dollars in new construction during the Trump administration, including a Navy request to build a $250 million, five-bed hospital here that has been singled out for study by a Senate committee.

Despite President Donald J. Trump’s campaign promise to reduce costs at the remote U.S. Navy base — at one point he mused that his new Cuba policy might import cheap, local labor from across the minefield — the Pentagon’s appetite to spend at this outpost of about 5,500 residents and 41 wartime prisoners continues unsated.

In two other major projects, Congress is poised to give the Army $124 million to build a new barracks for 848 prison troops to be ready four years from now. And on a different corner of the base, the Pentagon is soliciting bids of up to $100 million to build a skeletal structure for a 13,000-migrant tent city and housing for 5,000 U.S. forces.

But it was the hospital plan that prompted the Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee to ask Defense Secretary James Mattis to conduct an analysis of “remote locations with high family support costs” — noting the “proposed $250 million replacement hospital at Guantánamo Bay would cost $50 million per bed.”

Has Your Local Lawmaker Pledged to Support Medicare for All? Have You?

As support for single payer continues to surge following the GOP's failed attempt to strip healthcare from millions, Justice Democrats, Brand New Congress, and other groups launched a week of action on Monday imploring the public and lawmakers to pledge their support for Medicare for All.

So far, over 100,000 people have taken the pledge. The push to get lawmakers to follow the lead of the public on this issue, however, is far from over, the groups observe.

"Because of your pressure, 43 members of Congress decided to co-sponsor Rep. John Conyers' (D-Mich.) house bill for Medicare for All," the coalition's website declares. "But as the healthcare debate rages, many of these same co-sponsors have publicly been advocating for half-measures like increasing subsidies for insurance companies or simply playing defense against Medicaid cuts."

In an effort aimed at ensuring that current and prospective lawmakers remain committed to their public pronouncements, progressive groups are pushing lawmakers to "go on video pledging to stand up for Medicare for All in any public appearances and statements addressing our country's healthcare crisis."

Many lawmakers and congressional candidates have taken up the challenge.

US companies spent $4T buying back their own stock

It’s the “shock” market rally —  cash-rich US companies have plunged nearly $4 trillion of their cash into buying back their stock since 2008, which is why all the stock indexes are hovering near record territory. “It has massively manipulated the market,” said Richard Bowen, the former Citi executive who blew the whistle on the bank during the subprime mortgage crisis, and noted how these share buybacks in the open market were once deemed illegal. The Securities and Exchange Commission eased the rules in the early ’80s. ...

In this low-interest environment, many companies, including Apple, are borrowing money to buy back shares, not even dipping into their own coffers. “We’ve been in a market bubble for a long time, and share buybacks are a big part of the bubble made possible by artificially low interest rates that still exist today,” said financial commentator Peter Schiff. ...

Bowen says he’s worried, because for most Americans, the stock market is a display of public confidence. But it may all be a huge fantasy, Bowen added, a Ponzi scheme that will end in tears. Schiff says that could occur if interest rates keep rising, ensnaring corporations that financed stock repurchases with debt. “They are going to have to sell their stock to repay the debt they can’t afford,” he said. “That’s going to end up destroying a lot of shareholder value if corporations have to sell equity into a bear market.”

Massive Protests Planned in Phoenix to Condemn Trump Agenda and Racist Rhetoric

At least ten anti-Trump resistance groups are expected to greet President Donald Trump Tuesday when he arrives in Phoenix, Arizona for a rally with his supporters there.

A variety of groups concerned with Trump's response to this month's white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, his immigration policies, and the broader White House agenda will hold marches and demonstrations ahead of and outside of Trump's evening event at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Since his inauguration, Trump has held campaign-style rallies in several states he carried in 2016—uncommon for presidents in the first months of their terms. This will be his first rally since he shocked many across the country and around the world by insisting there were "very fine people" who attended the neo-Nazi rally on August 11 and 12 in Virginia where one counter-protester was killed by a suspected white supremacist.

Protesters are also planning to demonstrate against Trump's possible pardon of Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County who was convicted last month of contempt of court, when he refused to obey a judge's order to stop detaining suspected undocumented immigrants. Before being voted out of office last year Arpaio spent much of his tenure racially profiling Latinos and mistreating detainees according a Justice Department report.

Polls shows majority of Americans think Confederate statues should remain

A majority of Americans think Confederate monuments should be preserved in public spaces, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll, a view that is at odds with efforts in many cities to remove them.

The 18-21 August poll found that 54% of adults said Confederate monuments “should remain in all public spaces”, while 27% said they “should be removed from all public spaces”. Another 19% said they “don’t know”.

Responses to the poll were sharply split along racial and party lines, however, with whites and Republicans largely supportive of preservation. Democrats and minorities were more likely to support removal. ...

31% of Americans described the [Charlottesville "Unite the Right"] rally as “an even mix” of rioting and intimidation by white supremacists and left-wing counter-protesters, a viewpoint that roughly lines up with Trump’s comments. Another 28% saw the white supremacists as the aggressors and 10% mostly blamed the left-wing counter-protesters. The remaining 32% said “other” or “don’t know”.

Two white players join Cleveland Browns in NFL's largest anthem protest

More than a dozen Cleveland Browns players staged the largest national anthem protest yet, and were joined by white players for what’s believed to be the first time, before a preseason game on Monday against the New York Giants.

The group, which included veterans, rookies, starters and backups, gathered in front of some water coolers and behind their teammates who stood on the sideline shortly before the Browns hosted the New York Giants in a preseason game.

“There’s a lot of racial and social injustices in the world that are going on right now,” rookie safety Jabrill Peppers told ESPN. “We just decided to take a knee and pray for the people who have been affected and just pray for the world in general.” ...


The demonstration was the largest so far in a movement started last season by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is currently out of the NFL. In recent days, Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett and Philadelphia defensive back Malcolm Jenkins also have called attention to what they feel is racial injustice in the country.

Charlottesville to cover Confederate statues to mourn Heather Heyer

Charlottesville, Virginia, will cover statues of Confederate generals Robert E Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson in black fabric to mourn Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman who was killed when a car rammed into a group of people protesting a white nationalist rally in the city. ...

The Daily Progress newspaper reported that the Charlottesville city council voted unanimously early on Tuesday to shroud the statues. The vote came after anger boiled over at the first city council meeting since the rally. Some residents screamed and cursed at councillors and called for their resignations.

The Charlottesville mayor, Mike Signer, read a resolution to commemorate the three people who died, the Daily Progress reported, after a member of the crowd accused him of being responsible for the loss of life.

A police spokeswoman said three people were arrested and released on summons for disorderly conduct.



the horse race



Glenn Simpson, key figure behind million-dollar 'dossier,' to face questions

A key figure behind the so-called “dossier” featuring uncorroborated and salacious allegations about then-candidate Donald Trump’s ties to Russia will be questioned by investigators from the Senate Judiciary Committee today about the funding and sources for the document.

During last year’s heated Republican primary race, Fusion GPS, a private research firm founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson, was initially paid about a million dollars by wealthy Republicans and then later worked for Democrats, all of whom wanted to dig up dirt on Trump and plant negative news stories, according to political operatives.

Simpson, who will appear in a closed session on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, hired the former MI6 agent Christopher Steele to compile the now infamous “dossier,” which alleged that members of the Trump campaign had colluded with Russian agents to damage Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent.

Republicans in Congress are stepping up their efforts to uncover the funders of and sources for that controversial document and its, so far, largely unverified claims as special counsel Robert Mueller’s high-profile probe of those alleged ties heats up.



the evening greens


Giving Middle Finger to Appalachian Communities, Trump Kills Study of Mountaintop Removal Health Impacts

Outrage has followed the Trump administration's decision late last week to put the brakes on a study into the health impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining in Central Appalachia. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said Monday it received a letter from the Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement ordering it to put a halt on its two-year project "largely as a result of the Department’s changing budget situation."

"The OSM," as journalist Ken Ward Jr. writes at the West Virginia Gazette-Mail, "had committed more than $1 million to the study, which was launched last year after a request from officials from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the state Bureau for Public Health" in light of scientific research linking "mountaintop removal to increased risks of birth defects, cancer, and premature death among residents living near large-scale surface coal mines in Appalachia."

Bill Price, senior Appalachia organizing representative for Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, called it "infuriating that Trump would halt this study on the health effects of mountaintop removal coal mining, research that people in Appalachia have been demanding for years. Trump has once again shown the people of Appalachia that we mean nothing to him. From his proposed budget cuts to the Appalachian Regional Commission, to pushing to take away healthcare from thousands of Appalachian people, to now stripping doctors and scientists of the ability to warn us about the health effects of mountaintop coal removal, Trump's showing that he's only been pretending to care about our communities."

Taxpayers Pay Cost for Coal Companies to Pollute

Moms' Group Sounds Alarm Over Worst GOP Bill "You've Never Heard Of"

The environmental group Clean Air Moms Action released a new ad campaign Monday urging voters to fight back against two pending Republican anti-regulation laws. The ad is being run in five states where Democratic incumbent senators will be up for re-election in highly-anticipated races in 2018. It features car safety advocate Janette Fennell, who shares a personal story of how an automobile regulation saved her life—the kind of regulation that could be at risk if Congress passes the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA) and the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act. ...

The RAA and REINS Act were both passed by the House earlier this year, and the Senate may vote after Congress returns from its August recess. The RAA would impose strict new rules on federal agencies trying to introduce new regulations aimed at everything from food safety to clean air and water. Agencies would be required to hold "adversarial hearings" as they consider potential regulations, allowing corporations that would be affected to weigh in on the proposed rules, and to impose the cheapest regulations possible for corporations. The REINS Act would require Congressional approval for any regulation that would cost affected corporations more than $100 million per year.

Both measures were passed under the pretense of protecting corporations from rampant, costly regulation, but critics including Clean Air Moms Action say it would make it harder for federal agencies to protect Americans.


Also of Interest

Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.

All the Times Donald Trump Said the U.S. Should Get Out of Afghanistan

The New Trump: War President

We can’t ban killer robots – it’s already too late

Wall Street Banks Sued Again for Conspiring to Control a Market

The Latest Red Flag For U.S. Shale

The Ludicrous Prepper Plans of the Super Rich

hat tip to studentofearth:

A 911 plea for help, a Taser shot, a death - and the mounting toll of stun guns


A Little Night Music

Robert Shaw - Fast Santa Fe (Bear Cat)

Robert Shaw - People, People

Robert Shaw - The Cows

Robert Shaw - Jim Nappy

Robert Shaw - Hattie Green

Robert Shaw - Blues

Robert Shaw - She Used to Be My Baby

Robert Shaw Here - I Come With Dirty Dirty Duckins On

Robert Shaw - Groceries On My Shelf

Robert Shaw - The Clinton


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Another Great American Grifter.

I'm waiting for Hillary to chime in.

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divineorder's picture

@LaFeminista
Her talking couple of decades ago...

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture

@divineorder

a lovely bit of revisionist history from hillary. how she can talk about afghanistan and us strategic involvement with mujahideen and not mention jimmy carter and zbigniew brzezinski - putting the blame for that onto reagan, is quite an amazing obfuscation.

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divineorder's picture

@joe shikspack @joe shikspack

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture

@divineorder

i suspect that bernie would support the mic's current wars of choice and would be just as susceptible to the sort of pressure that neocons and their allies in the press can bring to bear in behalf of military adventurism, imperialism and/or full spectrum dominance.

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joe shikspack's picture

@LaFeminista

yeah, i have a hard time picturing ann coulter as a committed antiwar activist, deeply concerned about the power of the mic. funny she never spoke up about it before.

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divineorder's picture

War Profiteers were off in the darkness watching, licking their lips with anticipatory glee after the Commander in Chief's propaganda presentation last night?

042 (1280x853).jpg

Read an interesting piece that reminded me of times when the military was too close to the presidency. I REALLY did not ever want to remember Haig .
Edited for spelling

Trump’s Entourage Of Generals, And What It Means For The Country
http://www.nationalmemo.com/three-powerful-generals-surrounding-trump-me...

Here's a taste:

In the absence of strong presidential leadership, the danger is not merely Trump’s policies, but the military mindset that seeks absolute obedience. In a war zone, that approach makes sense. In democratic politics, it is a formula for tyranny.

“If lawmakers do not like the laws they’ve passed and we are charged to enforce, then they should have the courage and skill to change the laws,” Kelly said about immigration in April. “Otherwise they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines.’’

Behold a trifecta of militarism: impatience with elected government, equation of dissent with disloyalty and expectation of deference. These are the real perils of Trump’s militarized presidency.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

lotlizard's picture

@divineorder

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divineorder's picture

@lotlizard trial in the Hague .

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture

@divineorder

i remember him well. i think that the new batch of military dictators on the make recognize that it's easier to run things with a puppet in the awful office. so far, trump seem to be following their commands well enough to stay in place.

oh, and gorgeous photo of mr. cat.

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

late last evening--thanks for posting it. Didn't know anything about that, so, 'Googled' and located the bill.

Gotta run out for a while, but will post the link to the bill when I get back. The bill sets up a 'Social Security Commission' to formulate a plan to make the program solvent for the next 75 years. IOW, to slash benefits!

Mollie

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

divineorder's picture

@Unabashed Liberal to it. Another Catfood Commission, oh great.

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A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture

@divineorder

damn if i ain't tired of them frisky little congressmen pissing in the kibble and trying to convince us it's canned tuna.

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

@divineorder

Security--by setting up another Catfood Commission.

H.R.3423 - Social Security Commission Act of 2017
115th Congress (2017-2018)

115th CONGRESS
1st Session
H. R. 3423

To establish the Commission on Long Term Social Security Solvency, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
July 26, 2017

Mr. Delaney (for himself, Mr. Cole, Mr. Peters, and Mr. Trott) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committee on Rules, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

A BILL

To establish the Commission on Long Term Social Security Solvency, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “Social Security Commission Act of 2017”. . . .

I thought that I'd already posted this, but don't see it--hope this isn't a duplicate.

Mollie

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

Unabashed Liberal's picture

versus Traditional Medicare (TM), Mimi's comment about her premiums, etc., reminded me of the vast differences in costs, per region. Whoah! She's very fortunate that she can get much of her care in Germany. Heck, I know that Hawaii and Alaska are considerably more expensive to live in than the contiguous or Continental United States--we lived in Alaska, and received an untaxed 25% COLA in addition to our base/regular salary to offset the cost deferential of living in this area of the country. Still, the difference in what she's paying monthly (compared to us) is striking.

One reason we're switching our primary stateside residence is to minimize this type of extra expense, since most insurance premiums, and many forms of 'taxes' are based upon one's main residence. Several months ago, I researched not only the difference in the various health, and property and casualty insurance premiums, but federal and income taxes, local and state property taxes, etc. Also, while I didn't put a whole lot of weight into the availability of various programs for seniors, I did look into what the several states had to offer seniors--like the 'Meals-On-Wheels' program, which is a fee-based service open to all seniors (not income- or asset-tested). I found that some states have very tight restrictions on this program, since it is funded mostly by federal block grants. It's so bad, that in some locales you have to wait until someone 'passes away' to participate in it--meaning, there are waiting lists!

Regarding hospital networks, when I get back with 'the B,' I'll post the one line out of the PNHP piece about Medicare Advantage's limitations (regarding cancer providers).

Later.

Mollie


"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."--Lao Tzu

"I think dogs are the most amazing creatures--they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive."--Gilda Radner

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

joe shikspack's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

heh, if you could stand the winters, south dakota has a pretty low cost of living, low taxes and they don't tax pension or ss income.

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Unabashed Liberal's picture

@joe shikspack @joe shikspack

I was only considering where we already have a place. IOW, I didn't mean that I'd researched the entire US--I'm not that ambitious. Pleasantry Anyhoo, if things work out, we'll spend some time outside of CONUS every year, so it wouldn't be worth it to relocate to a place where we'd have to start from scratch. (Plus, we have Family, and other community ties that we wouldn't want to leave/break, altogether.)

Regarding South Dakota, I probably would like the weather better, but I've never been particularly taken by the Northern tier or plains states. As it is, we've got some very pretty scenery both places, and that really does matter to us.

By the way, I did run across a table of 'best places to retire' about two years ago--it was based on much of what I was talking about upthread--taxes, seniors services, etc. If I can dig it up, I'll post it.

Mollie

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

lotlizard's picture

in the way it blithely reports government and corporate press releases as fact.

Headline: “FaceBook is fighting fakes” (in partnership with the German government). What a bunch of baloney, with a big fat censorship cherry on top.
http://www.sz-online.de/nachrichten/facebook-kaempft-gegen-fakes-3755598...

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joe shikspack's picture

@lotlizard

it doesn't sound like the german mainstream media are much different from the us msm in terms of their failure to note that they are eager to participate in censorship (particularly in concert with google and facebook) in order to sideline competitors.

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enhydra lutris's picture

a con or not. Corporations have been indulging in stock buy-backs for quite some time, (even back before the Fed drove the interest rates below the rate of increase in the cost of living.) The babble about rising interest rates forcing them sell sounds like a prelude to a scam, but I can't figure out what it is going to be.

Rising interest rates are irrelevant if the debt is fixed rate or if it is hedged as to rate risk. Any significant interest rate risk would be hedged, these people are not amateurs.

If shit goes south and wrecks consumer confidence, btw, it would be a good thing, the market is not rational and it is seriously overvalued. It is a big crap shoot and people should know about that.

Lastly, there is this bit:

“That’s going to end up destroying a lot of shareholder value if corporations have to sell equity into a bear market.”

A ton of that shareholder value and equity is pure fiction. The concern over it is part of why I sense some con coming down the road, as well as the silliness about debt and interest rates. Balance sheets have been overvalued since the eighties, and companies as well.

It all goes back to the LBO and the M&A mania. The buyers were using other people's money, often the sellers' or the shareholders thereof. Accordingly, they didn't give a shit what they paid, and bid prices up well above any realistic value, betting on the come and valuing things based not on market but on some crazy projected discounted cumulative return value using arbitrary and egregious "earnings multiples". Where did that excess purchase price wind up? Balance sheets.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

snoopydawg's picture

After decades of setting our foreign policies, Bibi is saying that this country threw Israel under the bus. Again.

Israel's alarm over the Syrian debacle

“The United States threw Israel under the bus for the second time in a row. The first time was the nuclear agreement with Iran, the second time is now that the United States ignores the fact that Iran is obtaining territorial continuity to the Mediterranean Sea and Israel’s northern border. What is most worrisome is that this time, it was President Donald Trump who threw us to the four winds – though viewed as Israel’s great friend. It turns out that when it comes to actions and not just talk, he didn’t deliver the goods.”

~~~snip~~~

Israel has also engaged in saber-rattling with regard to a missile factory that it says Iran is building in the Syrian port city of Baniyas. Gadi Eisenkot, the Israeli military’s chief of staff, said that stopping efforts by Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah to equip themselves with accurate missiles capable of striking deep inside the Jewish state “is our top priority.”

Notice that Bibi isn't upset with our military building 8 bases in Syria. This is okay because that means that our military is closer to Iran if we want to put troops into it.

This article states that Israel rarely has skin or money in the game during the 6+ years that our military has been involved with overthrowing Assad. ( he's upset about Assad staying in office)
How many wars have we fought for Israel that have cost us trillions and thousands of our soldier's lives? How many soldier has Israel lost during this time frame? Not nearly enough. Maybe if Israelis start seeing their troops coming home in coffins, they might start to wonder if the costs are too high.

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The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

Suffering only makes you a great guy if you come away from it with empathy, a quality that Biden lacks any trace of.