Links 1/3/2020

Teach Your Cat to Sit, Stay, and Fetch Cleveland Scene. From 2015, still germane. There are no military or drug-sniffing cats. That’s one reason I like them.

Goldman Sachs Misled Energy Regulators, Concealed Its Links to Corporation Seeking to Sell Electric Power Public Citizen

I Was Google’s Head of International Relations. Here’s Why I Left. Ross LaJeunesse, Medium

Interpol issues ‘red notice’ for Carlos Ghosn as Turkey detains 7 FT

Mallacoota Escapes Obliteration, but Australia’s Terrifying Bushfire Season Rolls On Weather Underground

Food and fuel are running out in parts of the country as raging bushfires push Australia toward a humanitarian crisis. Here’s what you need to know. Business Insider (KW).

The 5 most important races for the Arctic Politico

Bad Planet Counterpunch

Brexit

U.K. Manufacturing Output Contracts as New Orders Plunge Bloomberg

Why detached Macron thinks he’s winning Politico

Syraqistan

For obvious reasons, today’s links will be a bit heavy on Iran/Iraq:

US kills Iran’s most powerful general in Baghdad airstrike AP. “Most powerful general” understates Soleimani’s position.

Iran Loses Its Indispensable Man The Atlantic and (from 2013) The Shadow Commander The New Yorker

Well, that escalated quickly Foreign Exchanges. Good summary.

Trump Warns Iran as Risk of Wider Armed Conflict Grows NYT. The lead, before the strike: “Administration officials say they are restoring ‘deterrence’ against Iran, but the president’s reluctance to use force in the Middle East may be creating an opening for Tehran.” Usual suspects gotta usual suspect.

* * *

Cavalcade of priors (some better priors than others):

Trump:

Ben Rhodes (Obama administration):

Biden:

Warren:

Ro Khanna:

Sanders:

* * *

Background, recalling that Soleimani was in Iraq when we whacked him. As are we:

Our Embassy in Baghdad – TTG Sic Semper Tyrannis

Wearing Out a Welcome in Iraq Responsible Statecraft (Re Silc).

How The US Was Hoist By Its Own Petard In Iraq And The Wishful Thinking Of Its Thinktanks. Elijah J. Magnier. Published before Trump’s strike.

Is Iran’s Military the Model for America’s Adversaries? Military.com. Capabilities for Iranian retaliation. For example:

The whole thread is worth a read.

* * *

Libya conflict: Turkish MPs approve bill to send troops BBC. Let me know how that works out…

Israel inks mega gas pipeline deal with Greece, Cyprus Times of Israel. Did they paint a target on it?

The Syrian conflict is awash with propaganda – chemical warfare bodies should not be caught up in it Robert Fisk, Independent

The Terrifying Rise of the Zombie State Narrative Craig Murray. See also.

Lockheed Martin, Boeing among the 20 companies profiting the most from war USA Today (Nippersmom).

The US military ran the largest stress test of its sealift fleet in years. It’s in big trouble. Defense One

India

India Superpower 2020: Tracing the brief history of a spectacularly incorrect prediction Scroll.in

Big city, small farmers, and a dying river People’s Archive of Rural India

China?

HSBC forced to close Hong Kong branches as protests intensify FT

Exclusive: China halts British stock link over political tensions – sources. Reuters

A Bumpy Road Ahead for China in South Asia The Diplomat

New Cold War

Russia’s Resurgence: Prospects for Stability in U.S.-Russia Relations Council on Foreign Relations

Hypersonic Missiles Are a Game Changer NYT

Trump Transition

Republican senators and congressmen ask Supreme Court to consider overturning Roe v. Wade CBS (KW).

Trump administration says it will approve largest U.S. solar farm Los Angeles Times

Backlog of toxic Superfund clean-ups grows under Trump Associated Press

Impeachment

‘Devastating blow’: Schumer says newly revealed emails show why Senate GOP needs to allow impeachment witnesses NBC (Furzy Mouse).

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Mysterious drones are flying around the Midwest, Great Plains, and no one has answers Des Moines Register

Why Are You Publicly Sharing Your Child’s DNA Information? NYT

Imperial Collapse Watch

New Year in Los Angeles Yasha Levine

Class Warfare

Why “Free Stuff” Is Good Current Affairs

Why the world’s first robot hotel was a disaster Economist

2019 National Movers Study Reveals Idaho as a Top Moving Destination United Van Lines. Handy map:

Antidote du jour (via). Upping my cat game:

No box available, I guess. And a bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

262 comments

  1. Kevin C. Smith

    “It’s never likely to be good news for the markets when ‘World War III’ is trending on Twitter,”

    Reply
      1. Lee

        On behalf of the rednecks, hillbillies, poor white trash. and deplorables from whom I am on both sides of my family descended, I thank you. All the best to you and yours as well.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          I’m 50.0001% Czech, which is where I get my blackened humor from & 49.9999% Slovak, where my hillbilly derives.

          Now, how would one say ‘cracker’ in the lingua franca?

          Reply
          1. inhibi

            50% czech as well! I think Czech humor as more satirical than black comedy.
            Czech comedic movies to watch:
            Hory Ma Panenko/Fireman’s Ball
            Teorie Tigre/Theory of Tiger

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Fireman’s Ball

              …a parting shot from Milos Forman

              I asked my mom what everybody stealing from one another in the film was all about, and she told me that at the time it was almost a national sport, the pursuit of others loot.

              Reply
            2. ambrit

              I’d say go all the way back to Capek’s “R. U. R.” From which play we got the word robot.
              Middle Europe has never received the appreciation it deserves.

              Reply
      2. ChrisFromGeorgia

        Yes it is definitely lost on most of team red and team blue that besides making life miserable for the neo-cons, Soleimani’s resume included taking out a lot of ISIS bad guys in Syria (presumably they were financed by Israel and the Saudis.)

        Definitely a stocking stuffer for ISIS and Israel.

        Reply
        1. Plenue

          I’ve seen some of the Twitter ‘discourse’, not because I sought it out but because some of it has crept into the threads of people who know what they’re talking about, like Magnier. I’ve since bookmarked some MAGA types and will be keeping an eye on them as this all continues and escalates in the months ahead, because I want to see if their triumphant tone changes.

          Both the degree and low caliber of the ‘rah-rah, USA! USA!’ is horrifying. I remember the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and it was bad, but without Twitter we weren’t subjected to an endless stream of asnine vox pop received opinions.

          Two clear things emerge: one is that many people are convinced that this Soleimani guy, who I can guarantee most of them had never even heard of just 24 hours ago, was an evil terrorist who deserved to die, and that the strike was a totally proportional and reasonable response to the ‘attack’ on our embassy, that Soleimani also orchestrated*. And the second is that they’re convinced Iran will not, and cannot, hit back. They’re convinced we aren’t at war, and that there will be no war. They are incapable of seeing that this is the start, not an end.

          *this meme and framing has already been entirely accepted into the public consciousness. And that has as much to do with the NYT as it does with Fox. ‘Iran attacked out embassy, we responded’ is now the set in stone narrative. The reality that it was family and supporters of 25 Iraqi military personnel we murdered protesting their deaths is completely lost in the churn. The wider context has been suppressed, and the ‘truth’ of Iran’s involvement in the embassy incident simply manufactured and asserted.

          Reply
          1. JBird4049

            Too many Americans are still thinking like Karl “Turd Blossom” Rove did, at the start of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, that we truly can create our own reality; nice to know that my country is acting like some homeless people I walk by on the street who have created their own reality.

            Maybe it is because the country is falling apart, what with the various governments going zombie, the moneyed classes are almost untouchable no matter what they do, and the nation itself is increasing despairing, and hungry, and homeless, and so on. People need something to be proud of. So we’rrrreee number ONE!

            Reply
            1. RMO

              Well, the people in DC who make these decisions seen to be living in their own reality and never have to suffer any consequences from the catastrophic real world effects they have – at least so far.

              Either this latest assassination is going to be forgotten quickly (in the US I mean) or things are going to start snowballing from that point. Hard to tell really. I would hazard a guess that it will be the latter if Trump finds ginning up a war to be to his immediate benefit personally and electorally – and let’s face it, most of the Dem elite and mainstream media will cheer on any warmongering enthusiastically even if it’s the hated Trump doing it. Killing the “bad” foreigners is the one thing that’s never wrong for those people.

              Reply
      1. Procopius

        Funny you should say that. Juan Cole (Informed Comment) suggested that the US may be planning a coup in Iraq, because otherwise the Iraqi parliament has no choice but to demand the Americans remove all their forces. Makes sense to me.

        Reply
        1. Plenue

          How exactly do the (theoretical) coup planners think that’s supposed to work? The public displeasure that will likely force the Iraqi Parliament (though I’m sure plenty of the MPs are themselves outraged and don’t need public pressure to decide their vote) to expel the Americans isn’t going to go away with a coup. In fact it will intensify, probably massively.

          After the vote, if the US doesn’t willingly withdraw I expect the militias, government and otherwise, would be mobilized. If there’s a coup then they certainly will be. And it won’t be the coup government controlling them.

          Reply
  2. Larry

    Re: United Van Lines Story.

    I find it hard to believe that Vermont is a high inbound state. It suffers from a dwindling population like the other Northern New England states. They even put in a policy to pay remote workers to move to the state with their families.

    https://www.thinkvermont.com/remote-worker-grant-program/

    My understanding is that the program has not had great uptake and was met with mixed reactions over whether it was successful in attracting new residents, or just drawing people planning to move to VT anyway.

    https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/money/2019/11/19/vermonts-10-000-pay-move-remote-worker-program-does-work/4189358002/

    Reply
    1. Shonde

      Is Vermont getting lots of retired? Don’t younger now mostly use PODS or rent Budget or other trucks themselves to save money?

      Reply
      1. VT

        This shows 16% of inbound for jobs vs. 50% of outbound. Even with 3x more inbound in total, this dataset shows the state as a net loser in this respect

        Of course this doesn’t reflect people too young, too poor, or too dead to hire movers, among other limitations. Census data show that Vermont is in no danger of losing its status as an old, rapidly aging state with consistent net outmigration.

        Reply
        1. epynonymous

          I have family in their 30’s who are moving to Lake Champlaign for college, etc.

          They’re practically ex-pats.

          Reply
    2. cgregory

      With global warming Vermont is going to start to look like Galt’s Gulch to the 1%. There won’t be a lot of people moving in, but they will have a LOT of the money. It’ll become very much like Switzerland, with the majority of workers being, say, Turkish HB-1’s.

      The first attempt to do this was a couple of years ago when a Utah millionaire, David Hall, began secretly buying up adjacent parcels in a few towns west of White River Junction with the idea of creating the state’s fourth-largest city. He could have pulled it off. I don’t know why he stopped. It wouldn’t stop Charles Koch. It will happen again.

      Reply
    3. JP

      I am reminded of the story of the farmer on the border between Vermont & New Hampshire. When a survey readjusted the state line he found himself in a different state and said he was glad to be in New Hampshire because he was gettin tired of those Vermant wintas.

      Reply
    4. Louis Fyne

      If one uses United Van Lines, much higher than normal odds that it’s a company-paid for move.

      U-Haul rentals probably are more reflective of census data—dunno if such data is publicized.

      Reply
  3. c_heale

    The photos from Australia remind me of Bladerunner 2049. My heart goes out to those affected by the bushfires. Scott Morrison is inhuman.

    Reply
  4. voteforno6

    Thanks for the link on the problems with the U.S. military’s sealift capabilities. This should be a huge warning for anyone who thinks that it would be a good idea to go to war with Iran. I suspect that these sustainment issues aren’t just isolated to sealift – does the U.S. have the capability to engage in a protracted air campaign?

    Reply
    1. John

      Sunday, January 19, 2003:
      –Q: Mr. Secretary, on Iraq, how much money do you think the Department of Defense would need to pay for a war with Iraq?
      –A (Rumsfeld): Well, the Office of Management and Budget, has come up come up with a number that’s something under $50 billion for the cost. How much of that would be the U.S. burden, and how much would be other countries, is an open question.

      America has spent $6.4 trillion on wars in the Middle East and Asia since 2001, a new study says

      Call me ignorant but we could have just bought the oil (which we have done anyhow) and saved the American taxpayers almost 7 trillion dollars. But that way, the MCC, the Military Criminal Complex wouldn’t be nearly so rich.

      Get ready to fill their offshore accounts with trillions more.

      And my god if we don’t have the capability to engage in a protracted air campaign you have to wonder what the hell we are paying for with the 738 billion a year MCC budget.

      Reply
      1. D. Fuller

        Military Sealift Command is having an issue. The Navy spent $13.6 billion on a new super-carrier, The Gerald R. Ford class… and they are combat incapable. While building two more. Add that to the cost of the F-35 and various failed (but very profitable – for defense contractors) programs (from software to weapon systems)… and it is no wonder the OTHER equipment (such as sealift or check out the falling-apart F-18s) are decrepit.

        The things that do work were designed 40 years ago… except for the F-22.

        As for Military Sealift Command? They the Gerald R. Ford SUPER-CARGO-TARGET. Lots of hold space if you leave the planes out.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          It has been about 3 months since i’ve heard the telltale sign of the loudest fighter jet ever overhead, emanating from Naval Air Station Lemoore.

          What if our wildfire fighting aircraft were as shitty as the F-35, from a reliability standpoint?

          A H20 helo could only scoop water from seasonal ponds, and never on Tuesdays, Fridays or Monday.

          A 737 capable of dropping retardant could only pull it off with a crew of 8 in the bomb bay doors with buckets, ladling it out one bucket at a time. Said jet could also only linger over smoke for no more than 20 seconds, for the engines couldn’t take exposure to it for any longer than that span.

          Reply
        2. Ignacio

          US contractors compete to take as much money as possible without any reasonable objective in mind. What results can be expected? A lot of money waste.

          Reply
          1. xkeyscored

            The modern, neoliberal US economy is centred around taking money with no other objectives. Taking as much money as possible is the goal, the method, and the ideology. That is what the US military is protecting and its propaganda promoting.

            Reply
      2. John C.

        Yup! Could have bought the oil, saved the taxpayers $$$$$, and btw, saved over four thousand young American lives. And the lives of hundreds (?) of thousands in the Middle East.

        And yes, that 738B DoD budget is a moral and fiscal atrocity.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          On the home front (war being everywhere, any more, and war fever amongst those who don’t know it first hand and the cohort of veterans who still follow the Flag), gas prices this am jumped from $2.31 yesterday to $2.49. Expect more upward movement later today. Elasticity of demand, eh? Fungibility of product and all that.

          At the coffee shop this am, one lady said she is really scared after yesterday’s decapitation Hellfiring, “All those rockets that are coming to get us!” implying all sources, Iran, North Korea, Russia, China. One ex-hippie offered reassurances (the disease of “hope?”). Most common opinion was “those people are born into war, it’s all they do, for thousands of years — nuke the whole place (except democratic Israel), turn it to glass, start over from scratch.” Lots of grim faces in favor of Moar War.

          “We’re an Empire…”

          Reply
        2. Wendys

          They should have done a Manhattan type project with the goal of replacing oil and other fossil fuels with renewable energy sources. That would have had a variety of benefits including good jobs, better global climate change outcomes and we could have gotten out of the Middle East all together.

          Reply
          1. RMO

            Come now! That’s just crazy talk. Making the world a better, happier place? Completely insane! Besides, the Manhattan Project cost about $25 billion in today’s money. Clearly we can’t afford an exorbitant sum like that for something as frivolous as assuring the Earth continues to be habitable. /s

            Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      I read somewhere that a major problem with these ships was their age. I think that the youngest ship was about fifteen years old and the oldest about fifty or sixty years old.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        They have a range of specialist ships, but the core work is done by the Ro-Ro military craft, and I believe that the last of these was launched in 2002, so its unsurprising that they are having trouble keeping them maintained.

        Reply
  5. John A

    Warren: Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans.

    Soleimani was a soldier and commander. Killing is what soldiers and commanders are trained to do. Not sure in what sense Warren means murderer in the sense that murder is usually defined as the unlawful killing of another human without justification or valid excuse. How would Warren describe the various US soldiers and commanders in the Middle East other than as murderers? Or is she simply yet another hypocritical US politician who thinks the US is the indispensible nation that can do no wrong, commit no crime, etc etc?

    War is a beastly business, and if the US were to close all its hundreds of foreign bases and take its troops home, there would be a lot less war in the world and hopefully, a lot fewer deaths of any people, Americans or otherwise. Then and only then, if and when the US neverending warmongering ends, and nobody need engage in war, we can start thinking about redefining such killers and killings as murderers and murders.

    Reply
      1. David Mills

        IIRC the IRGC was designated a terrorist organization some years ago. However, the AUMF only covers Al-Qaeda (Al-CIA-Duh) and affiliated forces. So there appears to be scant legal basis for Soleimani’s assassination. Further, if he was traveling in Iraq with diplomatic immunity then the US has breached the Vienna Conventions in addition to the articles of the 4th Geneva Convention. Thus, the Trump administration has violated the US constitution rendering Orange Bad Man (OBM, funny that that is close to OBaMa) vulnerable to IMPEACHMENT… WOO HOO. Sadly, no coverage of Tulsi Gabbard’s articles of censure after her courageous vote of “present”.

        Biden’s statement – not awful. Warren’s statement – shows her to be a foreign policy muppet. Sander’s statement – weaker than Biden’s, but brings it back to the cost of war.

        This stinks like a Mossad operation with the CIA pulling the trigger (with a required clean up by the army). My guess (hope) is that the Iranians are not dumb enough to take the bait (create a casus belli); but there will be a reckoning and it will be UGLY.

        Reply
        1. xkeyscored

          Biden’s statement – not awful?
          “He deserved to be brought to justice … He supported terror and sowed chaos.”
          If it’s such a good idea to assassinate those who support terror and chaos, the USA could save itself a lot of money by aiming its weapons at home rather than abroad. Might get a lot of support from the rest of the world, and help the USA promote itself as a moral beacon.

          Reply
          1. Karla

            “He deserved to be brought to justice … He supported terror and sowed chaos.”

            Nice description of himself, one of the authors of the Iraq fraudwar, now working on polishing and rebranding his 17 year old shit-show, as of our March 2003 invasion.

            “U.S. out of The Middle East”

            Reply
          2. Plenue

            He didn’t support ‘terror and chaos’ anyway. This is just more of the ‘Iran is the world’s biggest supporter of terrorism’ meme, which is simply a straight up lie the media parrots endlessly.

            Among other things he helped direct Iraq’s anti-ISIS operations.

            Reply
          3. Tom Bradford

            Biden’s statement – not awful?
            “He deserved to be brought to justice … He supported terror and sowed chaos.”

            “Brought to justice”? This was the same small coterie being judge, jury and executioner. Where was the “justice”?

            And who else was in the car, and in the vicinity. Probably a driver at least, who likely had a family depending on his income. Did he – and they – deserve to be “brought to justice”? Did people who might just have been passing and were caught in the blast by deserve to be “brought to justice’?

            Yes, Soleimani might have deserved to be ‘brought to justice” but this wasn’t it. This was the US throwing its weight around because it can, and tough if you’re in the way..

            Forget Martin Neimoller at your peril, Americans. First they came for the Soleimanis “because they deserved it” and you did not speak out. How long before ‘they’ come for you?

            Reply
        2. anon in so cal

          Was that designation made in April 2019? There were some compelling articles suggesting this entire event had been in the planning stages and that, in hindsight, that was a key step / clue.

          Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      I find this “he was a very bad man but……” reaction to the assassination of Soleimani pretty strange. After poking Iran in the eye with a stick relentlessly since 1953, THIS is the bridge too far?

      msnbc is actually saying, with a straight face, that this will result in Iran “destabilizing the region,” and wondering what the “plan” is.

      Is that some sort of a freakin’ joke?

      Reply
      1. Grant

        It is hard for me to stomach us pretending we are in a morally superior position to the countries we attack. We killed millions of people in SE Asia, supported and currently support dozens of coups and right wing dictatorships, economically strangle countries that pose no threat to us, destabilize countries through the NED, CIA, USAID and other organizations, killed hundreds of thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan, displaced massive amounts of people, spilled depleted uranium all over the country, and destabilized a region. In regards to Iran, who has been the aggressor? The coup, the support of the Shah, giving Iraq weapons that were used against Iran, economic sanctions, and this. I realize that there are some bad guys in Iran, but those in power in this country are monsters and war criminals. They and their supporters can’t pretend to be in a morally superior position, and if this is justified, does it not then justify violence against people in this government? It’s madness, and those that ordered this should be held responsible, including the president.

        Pelosi argued against impeaching Bush, even though she recently admitted that she then knew he lied about the intelligence, but then led the impeachment against Trump. Same woman, mind blowing. She and the other Democrats will be predictably worthless in stopping further escalation, they gave him the money to do this anyway.

        https://www.globalresearch.ca/depleted-uranium-and-radioactive-contamination-in-iraq-an-overview/5605215

        Reply
    2. D. Fuller

      Bush is a nice guy in person. And responsible for over 4,000 US soldiers dying by his Administrations lies. Along with Centrist Democrats like Hillary Clinton who parroted Cheney.

      Knowingly lying resulting in death is to drag the US into the Iraq War (2003), in my book, first degree murder. Add in 500,000 to 1,000,000 Iraqi deaths… and Bush should be tried, convicted, and hung.

      However, soldiers are supposed to act in times of war to lawful orders(!). Unofficially, one could consider the US and Iran to be at war in which Soleimani would be a lawful combatant. If one takes that route.

      However, there is no declaration of war. Only an illegitimate authorization for use of military force, showing how much Congress – Republicans and Democrats – tend to agree with Trump regarding unlawful and undeclared war.

      Next stop, Tehran? Or perhaps some limited military strikes such as Operation Preying Mantis (Reagan) for Trump to get wargasm on. Which should satisfy his base (war porn) and turn out the votes for a win this year. Unless it goes badly.

      A bit on the conspiracy side? PNAC or CNAS or whoever they are nowadays sure could use another “Pearl Harbor” right about now. Even if they have to allow it to happen or actively encourage such. Wouldn’t be the first time a government has “helped” to foment a conflict. At this stage, I wouldn’t be surprised if a “terrorist attack” was used to justify attacking Iran.

      Sad to say, that is.

      Reply
        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          They know this, so the objective (as always) will be to maximize taxpayer wallet $$$ flow short of a ground war, surely there will be some new programs we need because of the special challenges on Iranian terrain, Raytheon is probably already burning up the phone lines to Liz, telling her they have a supersecret missile designed just for Iranian skies, if only we can borrow and spend a few tril more to get our hands on it. Look for US GDP to take a slight upward spike, as we gear up to fight Israel’s America’s main enemy.

          Reply
      1. Louis Fyne

        Inauguration Day 2009 there should have been a Truth and Reconciliation Committee set up by Team Dem in Congress to clean house of the GOP and Dem. neocons over the Iraq War.

        Wishful thinking I know.

        But obviously Obama chose Clinton as his Secretary of State and the rest is history—-as if there was any chance Obama would be the transformation agent he claimed to be.

        Reply
      2. workingclasshero

        As in 2003 the war drums started banging at the start of congressional election season and the repubs raked it in on election day.now it’s two days into 2020.my,how convenient.

        Reply
      1. D. Fuller

        I should have included Obama in that post. He’s as about as guilty as Bush and Trump. Then again, so is most of Congress who voted for the wars. As well as being aware of the CIA torture through briefings provided to select US Congress Critters.

        A LOT of politicians would be going to prison if The US ever held a Truth Commission regarding the criminal conduct of our ruling and business classes.

        On a side note, after Roberts, Scalia (deceased), Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy made their rulings in McKutcheon v FEC and Citizens United? The US is becoming more like Ukraine or South Africa regarding corruption. The US, in decline. Decrepit, decaying, and morally suspect.

        Such is the sad state of affairs regarding America and many of our citizenry (who turn out to be politically schizophrenic) regarding issues and what they want or don’t want.

        We used to stand for something, even with our history. Now? $$$$$$. Just like every other two-bit corrupt country. Most people don’t even realize yet. They are still living in fantasyland or NeverNever Land.

        Reply
        1. pjay

          I had just opened my laptop and read this news. As I sat stunned thinking of the possible consequences, my young grandchildren who had spent the night with us came down the stairs bright and ready for a new day.

          It’s hard to express the degree of sadness and fear I have for this country — and for them. Somehow Yasha Levine’s story of mourning fits well with this one.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Such an act would be a strike directly against the ruling elite in America. An act of “Class War.” Not that many Americans would shed a tear, even of the crocodile variety, over such ‘unfortunate demises.’
            We are entering “interesting times.” (And you thought that the previous decade was ‘interesting!?)

            Reply
            1. polecat

              When I mentioned on the eve of the new decade that it would be the begining of the ‘Tumultuous 20s’ … I honestly didn’t think that the turbulence would fly in with so soon a vengence !

              Silly me .. I shouldv’e typed in ‘Terrafrying’ instead.

              … and i don’t mean trial by forest fire either !

              Reply
          2. Wukchumni

            The Sacklers have killed over 200,000 American Citizens.

            That’s approx amount of American soldiers killed in battle in the European theater in both World Wars.

            Reply
          3. turtle

            This is the exact same thought I had when I heard some doofus (former assistant secretary of state?) on TV say “but he killed 600(?) American soldiers…” early this morning.

            Reply
        2. human

          The “economy” is in the doldrums, socialism is seeing a rebound, and the fear/greed index is pegged high (greed). Of course it’s time for another war!

          Reply
          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            They’ve got us well desensitized to the “winning” part, so it’s OK if we start wars even if we don’t win them, because, as we heard in the coup impeachment hearings “we have to fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here”.

            Reply
    3. polecat

      I would wager her response is due to your question #2 … she is trolling in shallow campaign waters for which there will be little gain, which only the hypocritically faithful will boast !
      And really .. not to leave Trump and/or whatever neocons are behind this as blameless .. but you can’t tell me, that if the Blues were astraddle on the Dias .. that they wouldn’t be jumping up and down in glee, slaveriing for moarrr. They most likely aready ARE …. behind some very closeted doors !! As for Biden ….?? How much more transparently condescendingly phony can he be ?!!

      Reply
    4. Stillfeelinthebern

      Wasn’t Osama Bin Laden’s primary initial conflict with Saudi Arabia the decision to allow American military on Saudi soil?

      Didn’t Ronald Reagan pull American military out of Lebanon after a deadly bombing?

      Reply
    5. ChrisFromGeorgia

      It’s depressing how alike Team Blue and Team Red are when it comes to warmongering isn’t it?

      The character assassinations on Tulsi Gabbard make a lot of sense now. Cannot have a democratic presidential candidate getting all peace-nik on us, now.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        So I suppose we should be cheering any time Trump makes a warlike move because Team Dem will instantly pivot 180 degrees so they are against it?

        Vandalay Industries school of foreign policy

        Reply
    6. Plenue

      “Killing is what soldiers and commanders are trained to do.”

      America generally doesn’t like to focus on this. Here the military is almost always framed in terms of sacrifice, risking your own life, etc. Exceptions exist, like Patton’s “make the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country!”, or how the USMC is unapologetic about their job being to kill people.

      I’m sure every culture does this to some extent, but the US takes it to an extreme. I think it manifests itself in the, to my mind downright pathological, focus the US puts on itself when weighing the costs of our warmaking. Everyone, up to and including Tulsi Gabbard, puts the focus on our casualties, which number in the thousands. The casualties of those we make war on, which number in the hundreds of thousands, if not more, are lucky to get even a secondary mention.

      There are plenty of Americans to this day who do not know the human cost of the Iraq war. I’ve seen people guess that it killed 10,000 people.

      Reply
  6. PlutoniumKun

    Hypersonic Missiles Are a Game Changer NYT

    Interesting foreshadowing….

    Moreover, hypersonics are a weaponized moral hazard for states with a taste for intervention, because they erase barriers to picking fights. Is an adversary building something that might be a weapons factory? Is there an individual in an unfriendly country who cannot be apprehended? What if the former commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Qassem Soleimani, visits Baghdad for a meeting and you know the address? The temptations to use hypersonic missiles will be many.

    Hypersonics also push us toward a slippery slope. They blur the line between conventional and strategic weapons, and their easy, justifiable use — say, to kill a single terrorist leader in a crowded city — could make it easier to accept their widespread use, with much more destructive consequences.

    Reply
    1. D. Fuller

      The US developed hypersonic weapons including the concept of the lifting body vehicle used in the Russian missile.

      In the 1950’s and 1960’s. Culminating in Sprint missile defense. A little redesign and a small investment – relatively? All sorts of hypersonic weapons. Where do you think the Russians and Chinese got their designs and research from, only to modify it? The US.

      Of course, defense contractors are happy. They know most Americans are ignorant of science and prior technology. That way, contractors can justify spending trillions of dollars on “new hypersonic weapons” since we have a hypersonic weapons gap now.

      Oh, Sprint? Reaced Mach 10 in 5 seconds. In 1975.

      FYI? The OLED in those shiny televisions? US Government research… 1979.

      Reply
      1. Watt4Bob

        I see what you see, with one elaboration;

        The USA didn’t build on its hypersonic technology back then because we aren’t ‘threatened’ by an enemy with aircraft carriers off our coasts.

        Of course, the MIC will now make a ton of money, just as you envision, leveraging this new ‘threat’.

        I believe the most important take away from this story is one that the article carefully ignored, the world is gearing up to put an end to our bullying, and we would be well advised to take the hint.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          The Military Times story linked builds on your point. Iran is essentially showing the rest of the world how to block the US through low level asymmetrical warfare, and lots of other countries are paying a lot of attention. Reading between the lines of the articles, its quite clear that US military planners have no real idea how to counter this.

          Reply
    2. Watt4Bob

      IMHO, hypersonic misses are the antidote to America’s ability to project power via aircraft carrier battle groups.

      The article seems to envision every sort of nefarious purpose except the obvious, that these are anti-ship weapons, able to get past the Navy’s Phalanx guns that can shoot down slower, less maneuverable anti-ship weapons.

      I would predict that due to our nation’s leaderships inability to accept that the world has had enough of our shock-and-awe tactics, the first use of this new weapon will end up being its defensive use against an aircraft carrier engaged in active attack.

      These new hypersonic weapons are an obvious reaction to American belligerence, and are both tactical and strategic as opposed to nukes which are nearly unusable in any reality-based scenario.

      Reply
      1. James O'Keefe

        Apparently the SM-3 already travels at Mach 8.8 to 13.2, albeit for intercepting ballistic missiles and not hypersonic cruise missiles. SM-2/6s go at Mach 3.5, some what faster than the Brahmos anti-ship cruise missile, but slower than Russia’s Zircon cruise missile. The US Navy seems to think lasers are the solution to hypersonic missiles.

        Reply
        1. Watt4Bob

          IMO, the problem is the MIC/Big Oil run the USA, so the Defense Dept.’s purpose is to produce private wealth, and American armed forces deploy what ever systems the MIC makes the most profit building.

          Other country’s defense establishments are for the purpose of actually defending their countries from invasion and subjugation, mostly by the USA.

          It looks like many of those countries are now in the process of deciding that weapons provided by Russia, or China provide the highest level of protection from American aggression.

          Reply
        2. Plenue

          The thing with counter-measures is that even if they work, will they work against a swarm?

          I have no idea what the cost of a hypersonic missile is, but it can’t possibly be more than a fraction of the cost of a capital warship. If one missile won’t work, use two. Or twelve. Or fifty.

          And if those numbers are too expensive for hypersonic munitions, then don’t use them. Just use more conventional missiles. A quick internet search says the cost of a Harpoon anti-ship missile is $1.2 million. A Tomahawk cruise missile for use against land targets is only slightly more expensive at $1.4 million. You can get more than 6,000 of either for the cost of a single shiny new Ford-class nuclear supercarrier.

          I don’t care what countermeasures a US carrier strike group carries, or how many defenses you put around your base. They won’t stop 6,000 missiles. Or even ‘just’ 500 of them.

          The more I think about this, the more I have a sneaking suspicion that missiles, going back decades, have always overmatched countermeasures, at least in the numbers major powers could afford to bring to bear. We’ve just (fortunately) never seen a full fledged battle between major powers. Perhaps carriers being useless floating targets isn’t new; maybe they’ve been that way for a long time. But it just wasn’t an issue because we made a point of not picking fights with anyone who could afford the cost of drowning us in a barrage.

          Reply
          1. RMO

            I remember a conversation I had years ago with a then recently retired RCN submarine officer – he served when the RCN was using Oberon class submarines. I’ve never been able to find any confirmation of it (or anything contradicting it for that matter – info is sparse) but he told me that in the NATO wargames that took place during his service it was a rule that carriers could not be sunk – no matter what happened. He said there were numerous times the aggressor submarines managed to get into a position in which a hit from a torpedo would have been certain, and that in a real war the torpedoes would be nuclear armed, but the rules of the games disallowed putting the carriers out of action. So the carriers have likely been rather vulnerable to any enemy with a submarine force for years anyways. I also have read the results of various NORAD air defense cold-war wargames where the rules for the aggressor bombers were set up so as to make things look good for the defense. The times they were allowed to fly the way they would have in a real war (most of these exercises involved US aircraft as the aggressors but at least one used an RAF Vulcan flight) the percentage of the “enemy” bomber that were ostensibly “shot down” before reaching their targets was rather low.

            Reply
    3. David

      The NYT author seems a bit confused. Avangard is not a “missile” but a new type of re-entry vehicle, mounted, according to media reports, on an existing SS-19 missile body. It’s USP, apparently, is that instead of falling passively towards the target, it can maneuver at high speed, thus evading short range and point defence missiles. Strategically, it’s not much of a game-changer because no country has the kind of short-range defenses against missile attack which the maneuvering capability of Avangard would be needed to overcome. (The Russians have a small operational ABM system around Moscow but that’s all). What it does do, as I’ve suggested before, is make it fairly pointless to develop such a system.
      Whether it could have a tactical application depends overwhelmingly on its accuracy. Nobody actually knows how accurate standard ICBM warheads actually are, not least because no-one has launched one in anger over the North Magnetic Pole. But let’s be generous and say that today’s systems are accurate to within a few hundred meters, which with nuclear warheads is presumably good enough. An independently maneuvering warhead is obviously going to be a lot less accurate than that, and I’ve seen nothing to suggest that this new technology has any kind of independent terminal guidance system. It might be able to take out facilities, such as airfields, which are very large and also have point defence systems, but I rather suspect that that if the US had such technology and had used it yesterday they would have been lucky to hit the right square mile of Baghdad from the continental US.

      Reply
      1. Steelyman

        Russia demonstrated the Avangard to US military observers last month. The linked article says the weapon successfully hit a practise target 6000 km from its launch site.

        I don’t think hitting a target successfully means just sort of landing it within “a few hundred meters”. I believe the Russians are claiming their hypersonic weapons are truly capable of precision targeting.

        https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/12/avangard-russia-commissions-intercontinental-hypersonic-weapon-191227142922561.html

        Please note that the Russians also appear to have solved the technical issues of incredible heat generated at those Mach 27 speeds and the materials required to survive that heat. I think that puts them ahead of both the US and the Chinese.

        Reply
        1. David

          I don’t doubt that Avangard can hit its target from a long distance, because we can assume that the Russians have reasonably good guidance systems. But with nuclear warheads, (the missile is generally thought to carry a single 2MT warhead), ‘hit’ means arriving close enough to destroy the target. It doesn’t mean being able to target two speeding cars on a motorway from the other side of the world when you don’t know exactly where they are. That’s science fiction. If you have any information on the accuracy (technically the Circular Error Probable) of a typical ICBM warhead, I’d be interested to know what it is, and also how you would compensate for the errors induced by sudden changes of high speed direction near the target.

          Reply
          1. Steelyman

            The Avangard can be armed with both nuclear and conventional warheads. Most of the Russian hypersonic missile arsenal seems designed to carry a conventional warhead so precision targeting, especially for those missiles classified as anti ship weapons, is very essential and with a high degree of accuracy.

            How advanced is the Russian ability to track a moving target over very long distances? I’m no insider or expert but it’s probably better than you think and no – they’re not trying to hit a couple of speeding cars on the freeway but large naval vessels traveling at speeds of around 20-30 knots.

            Reply
  7. PlutoniumKun

    Why “Free Stuff” Is Good Current Affairs

    Excellent overall points:

    What’s so bad about means-testing? It’s inconvenient, inefficient, and cruel. It places the burden on people who can’t afford the program to prove that they can’t afford it. Whereas universal programs place the parallel administrative burden on the wealthy through the tax system, means-testing makes the poor—who have less time, energy, and money—constantly prove and recertify their impoverished status to indifferent bureaucrats. Whether means-testing exists or not, the wealthy still have to pay their taxes, of course, but under the pressure of means-testing many poor people might rather just not go to college instead of spending years (like I did) fighting to make FAFSA work. And they might choose not to go to the library rather than fill out library fee waivers, not go to the park to avoid the annoyance of the park fee waivers, etc. We must always ask: who carries the burden, both payment-wise and administratively? Who has to do the work, and is the work necessary? As Nathan Robinson wrote recently, we should be making things easier for people.

    I remember sitting in frustration in economics classes as a student hearing moronic arguments put forward as to why charging for services was more efficient because of free-riders, etc., etc. It didn’t seem to occur to the esteemed professors that the actual cost of putting in places charges, or means testing, etc., was frequently enormous and there are pretty easy and sensible means of reducing free-riding.

    There is of course a political reason for this, in that ‘subsidising’ certain utilities is a means by which the wealthier can be persuaded that they are giving money to support layabouts, rather than actually benefiting personally from public investments (as they would under MFA, or free college education, etc).

    I would take issue with one part though from personal experience:

    The problem with fare-free systems, you see, is that the riders are not “choice riders” and that these non-”choice” riders were rowdy and did vandalisms. Note that these results come from three fare-free experiments: one year programs in Denver and Trenton in the 1970s (but only for off-peak hours) and a full fare-free experiment in Austin from October 1989 until December 1990. So, if pearl-clutching about non-”choice” riders and young hooligans doing graffiti sounds straight out of the 1970s The Warriors fanfic, or a product of “super-predator” politics, that’s because it is.

    Notice what else is going on here. “Vagrants” onboard buses bothered other riders. Ridership overall went up, which is viewed as a negative because the city failed to accommodate the increase with more service. So the reasons we shouldn’t have fare-free transit are: (1) we have made it illegal and/or untenable to exist in so many physical places as a houseless person that people with nowhere else to go will spend their time on free buses; and (2) more people rode transit overall. Because we have failed to house our neighbors (despite there being more empty houses than houseless people, even on a city by city basis), and because we don’t want to actually meet demand with funding, the report concludes that we have to keep our horribly regressive transit funding model.

    While I’m a strong supporter of free public transport (at the very least at times of lower usage), its not so easy to dismiss the problem of anti-social behavior. In Ireland, the unemployed get subsidised public transport, a well meaning policy to help them get about and find jobs, etc. But it created a nasty problem on some public transport routes, in particular at night, when street alcoholics and drug addicts simply decided that sitting in trains all day was more attractive than the alternatives, making life pretty much hell for other users. It is of course something that should be addressed through security and proper management, but the reality is that this proved very difficult, and in the case of my local light rail system, meant that most trams are now accompanied by aggressive looking private security people. It more or less solved the problem, but it created a high security environment which itself is unpleasant.

    Reply
    1. GramSci

      It seems to me that such a “hell for other users” is the kind of problem that should be addressed through comprehensive social services. Blaming free transport for this hell is just another example of an externality charged against the wrong account, a subtle policy of blaming the victim that is not very different from mean means testing.

      Reply
    2. SOMK

      Small correction, but I am almost certain that the unemployed get no transport subsidy in Ireland, students and workers get subsided public via discounts and tax breaks (you can claim a good chunk of public transport fees against tax), the merely unemployed pay full fare. The free public transport cards in Ireland are generally for people suffering medical conditions, their carers (for those who can’t travel alone), or those aged over 66. Employed Irish people are also perfectly capable of being annoying and boorish (the later buses serving the commuter belt (a roughly 50 mile ring around Dublin) are often delayed leaving due to hassle caused by drunken fools boarding & arguing with the driver) more so these days as many Dubliners have moved to the commuter belt since the so-called recovery, but still socialise in Dublin, making headphones and 30% phone battery a must if you are getting a late bus home on a Friday night, lest you wish to spend two hours at the end of a long day being serenaded by a gaggle of obnoxiously loud, drunken, jackeens.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Its not generally available to all unemployed, but most addicts and those with various social/mental issues will be on additional disability allowance which automatically qualifies them for free travel, as will any family members who qualify as ‘carers’. Both allowances have historically been given out quite freely as a way of keeping headline unemployment figures down.

        Reply
    3. Karla

      Destroying public property is not a substitute for social services. They are not “victims”, they are criminals. You want to combat global warming with transit? Then make it more tenable.
      Banning people criminally convicted for incidents on transit for life from free transit is an option.
      BART, Bay Area Rapid Transit, has attempted to do this, but it is only for 30 day periods.
      If people can get restraining orders to stay 1,000 away from others, the same can apply to all transit for repeat offenders. The criminals can then drive, bike or walk.
      F* em!, we’ve seen too many public and civic benefits destroyed by a small number of people, enabled by their social service non-profit tax subsidized parasitic and public employee apologists and enablers.

      Reply
      1. JBird4049

        Perhaps, just perhaps, we should not let someone take the almost always small number of abusive users as a reason to deny the often necessary, and individually expensive for them, needs of the poor, disabled, homeless, or unemployed.

        Most people want to do right, but there are always a user or three, usually among the well-off, kvetching about thieves and moochers, when the wealthy and powerful create the very poor, disabled, homeless, or unemployed that are so obnoxious. Does not excuse the belligerent drunk or somebody taking three seats, but really, for such individuals, just chuck them out.

        Sure, the occasional visit by cops might be annoying, but if we want to have to have 2% of San Francisco homeless or the encampments, often of employed people, living in the hills, or isolated roads, around the Bay Area sacrifices will have to be made. Right?

        Reply
  8. Olga

    If he was all that – according to the one to be anointed – than what does that make the US? Which – let’s remember – attacked without any cause and under false pretenses a number of ME countries, killed in the millions, and continues to kill and maim. Ms W. likely lack a mirror (or, is getting lessons from HRC).

    Reply
  9. Olga

    Goldman Sachs Misled Energy Regulators, Concealed Its Links to Corporation Seeking to Sell Electric Power Public Citizen

    Must be contagious – as JP Morgan is finally un-masked:
    https://prospect.org/environment/jpmorgan-concedes-trying-to-buy-an-electric-utility/

    “The Prospect wrote in October about the proposed purchase of El Paso Electric, a utility with 429,000 customers in Texas and New Mexico. After the $4.3 billion deal was announced in June, Public Citizen raised concerns about IIF’s deep, obvious ties to JPMorgan, demanding an evidentiary hearing to untangle the relationship. Among its findings: the IIF’s 48 executives were all paid employees of JPMorgan, and its “owners” appeared to be selected members of a board of directors with documented ties to the mega-bank.

    It appeared that JPMorgan was laundering the El Paso Electric purchase through an affiliated fund. A mega-bank in possession of an electric utility could enable information advantages exploitable in energy trading markets. JPMorgan has previously been fined for manipulating electric power markets for its own profit, paying $410 million in 2013.”

    Reply
    1. D. Fuller

      From 2013…

      The Goldman Sachs Guide To Manipulating Commodities
      https://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/economic-intelligence/2013/07/24/how-goldman-sachs-and-wall-street-manipulate-alumnimum-and-other-commodities

      Cancer Capitalism. Capitalists who work at G.S. or JPM or DB or any of those outfits want risk-free investing: NO-RISK, ALL REWARD.

      With The Federal Reserve solely being the cause of the stock market levitation that shovels money into the bank accounts of the wealthiest? The wealthy turn around and buy hard assets just in case the dollar goes into the toilet. The wealthiest expect other countries (think, China) to respect property rights, etc.

      The mantra, “The market is self-correcting” is for children. Otherwise, the market – people who act as agents in the market – would not keep repeating the same mistakes and scams. That mantra is the most disprovable mantra of all time. Just open the paper on any given day or go online, to find more evidence of criminal corporate behavior repeating themselves.

      Reply
      1. JEHR

        I did not think that Goldman Sachs could get any more despicable than it already is. I was wrong. I think they would do anything for profit–and I mean anything.

        Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I wonder how deep these rabbit holes go. A series of changes in the recent sequence of Federal energy acts were contrary to the interests of the utility companies. Some of those changes opened the door for large scale solar and wind energy generation. Some of those big solar and wind energy suppliers and some aspects of the Green New Deal hoopla have an odor of dark backing from some large players. Maybe I’m just paranoid. The news about Goldman-Sachs and your reference to JP Morgan’s play on a utility company do little to quell my sense of dark shapes moving behind the curtain.

      Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    “Mallacoota Escapes Obliteration, but Australia’s Terrifying Bushfire Season Rolls On”

    It’s not over yet. Firefighters in this region are bracing for tomorrow where there will be high temperatures combined with high winds which could result in another inferno. In short, it’s going to be a b******. There are at least 28 people missing and the death toll is slowly rising. Evacuations are proceeding but the numbers are too great do it with any speed.

    Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison aka “Scotty from Marketing”, has been mostly MIA since returning from his Hawaiian holiday. A visit to Cobargo was cut short when he was given a heart-felt Aussie reception instead of the usual obsequious rituals expected for a man of his position-

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-03/scott-morrison-got-bushfire-welcome-he-deserved-says-liberal-mp/11838476

    Reply
    1. avoidhotdogs

      Terrible. After Balmoral burnt to the ground my mum asked “oh no, that’s where we went to the beach wasn’t it when I visited you?” I had to explain that Balmoral Town is different from the suburb of Sydney. If there were to be a WW2 like fire-storm that hit Balmoral suburb then Aus really would be in the endgame :-(

      I don’t like to engage in idle speculation but the maps and fire services/meteorologists confirm they can’t predict anymore due to the fire sizes. The fires create their own weather and if the two big fires to the west of Sydney join up all family blog could break loose. We know from Dresden/Hamburg/Hiroshima/Nagasaki how fires can “suck up” things from miles away and “go wild”. This could be horrible. I just hope the wind and temperature don’t enable the fires further.

      Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        The rabbit hole goes deep, one story not being told is how Australia’s water has been sold off to the highest bidder. Big ag gets private dams at taxpayer expense, runoff is diverted using a broad interpretation of the word “floodplain”, never to return to aquifers and streams, further drying the place out. Recently the Canadian pension fund paid $426M for permanent water here, that’s an eye-popping amount for some good ol H20 so you know the stakes are as high as can be. Combine this with firefighting budget slashing even before this escalated, 12 billion liters of water (no vote) and millions for a private train line to get coal, which nobody seems to want to finance, out of Adani. Our Accidental PM famously brought a lump of coal to Parliament a year ago. But hey he’s probably an improvement on prior PM Abbott, who sold out the nation’s broadband internet to Rupert’s inferior solution because “the internet is just a bunch of digital graffiti”.

        Starting to think the old radical cry “first kill everyone over age 30” makes sense.

        Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers have been melting out for some time now.

        We went on a guided walk to Fox in 2006 & 2011, and that’s not possible anymore, the only hiking access is via helicopter.

        Reply
    2. Ignacio

      In spanish public TV that reception was underlined.
      My condolences for aussies, this is horrible. I do not pray but wish weather conditions change ASAP to control the fires.

      Reply
    3. Clive

      What I don’t understand is that Morrison (and y’all) live in Australia. Australian for goodness’ sake. We all dream of going to Australia on holiday. Okay, maybe not just now. But usually. And Morrison went somewhere else on holiday. Couldn’t he have, like, found somewhere he’d liked to have gone there?

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe Scotty from Marketing could have taken his holidays in Mallacoota. It is usually lovely this time of year and a very popular place to visit.

        Reply
  11. petal

    Warren vows to fight corruption, tax wealthy at event in Hanover
    “HANOVER — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on Thursday framed her run for president as a fight against corruption and big business interests hampering middle-class prosperity.

    In a roughly 1½-hour town hall event, she promised to “end lobbying as we know it,” beef up regulation of big banks and polluters, and force politicians to disclose their donors.

    “I’m in this fight because I see a Washington that for decades now has worked just a little bit better, and a little bit better, and a little bit better for a thinner and thinner slice at the top,” she told about 600 people gathered at the Hanover Inn.

    Warren, 70, went on to declare that “it is time for a wealth tax in America,” one capable of funding a more robust education system and wiping out student loan tuition.

    Warren’s “ultra-millionaire tax” would charge the wealthiest Americans 2 cents on every dollar they make over $50 million. She says it can bring in more than $3 trillion to rebuild the middle class.” …it goes on. Looks like the same spiel she gave in the Fall.

    Reply
    1. timbers

      A big step towards doing what Warren talks about (but I’m a bit fuzzy how small token taxes on wealth would accomplish much of what she says), would be for her as President to but the Supremes itno indefinate detention (it’s legal they said so themselves) just like say, Julian Assange or Chelsea Manning….all President Liz would have to do is assert they are enemies of the State and a threat to national security. Or maybe she could just drone bomb them.

      If anyone objects, that would just be a disagreement on the interpretation of the law, and we’ll have to first make sure those who do object have standing, of course.

      Then President Liz could quick pass a law defining corporations are not People but cockroaches…ok not cockroaches, but constructs of law which have no rights what so ever any more than a parking law has free speech or constitutional right – and corporations will now be used to serve the people.

      As the Supremes would be in indefinate detention, no one could overturn the law because we’d get stays until the Supreme Court could rule on it…which of course they could not.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        Or maybe she could just drone bomb them.

        Easiest. Obama already set the precedent and created the “threat matrix.” I think that was what the President* used as justification for assassinating Suleiman. Actually, I have read passing mention that Trump has ordered more drone strikes already than Obama did in eight years, and Obama ordered a lot. I do not know why we don’t hear about them the way we did under Obama. The owners of the media must profit from suppressing the information somehow.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          This might give Trump ideas about solving some other problems that he has. You might see him coming out with the following statement after an explosion outside the Capitol Building-

          “Pelosi and Schumer were plotting imminent and sinister attacks on the American Government and the President, but we caught them in the act and terminated them,” Trump said.

          Reply
  12. Wukchumni

    New Year in Los Angeles Yasha Levine
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Having been reared along the banks (not those kind) of El Río de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula, and now nearing 60, my visits to the City of Angels are infrequent, once every 3 months or so to see my mom, and its more interesting that way watching the homeless crisis unfold there, for it allows ‘plot’ development to build in places that heretofore were untrammeled ground, it’s a mess in a city where oftentimes neighbors don’t know one another, a very anonymous metropolis indeed.

    Here’s my Leaving L.A. story…

    The housing bubble was our ticket out of dodge, we knew we wanted a life led living cheek by jowl next to nature, and getting closer to the holy grail where money doesn’t matter hardly had oh so much appeal.

    When we bought our house in an upscale area 5 years prior and lived at the top of a cul de sac, we went knocking on our neighbors doors on the entire surrounding area, every house within 5 of ours, “Hi we’re your new neighbors” that sort of thing. A few were really hesitant to let us get past the threshold of the door, as if we were pesky Jehovah Witnesses, it felt weird. In the intervening years about the only time we’d see them was when they raised the drawbridge to leave or enter their fortresses, and if pressed they might offer a furtive hand wave from their jalopy en route, about as good as it got.

    Fast forward to us putting our pretty much un-updated 1967 tract home on the market, and we had an open house and you’re not supposed to be there-so we weren’t, and in the aftermath our realtor told us it was mostly our neighbors who showed up, funny that.

    We were close with our neighbors across the street, a retired airline pilot and his wife, great people, and it took about a month to sell the house, and one fine day my wife and I were on the driveway talking to our neighbor
    Bob from across the way, and the ‘SOLD’ sign had been added to the for sale shingle on the front lawn, we were almost gone.

    And then a newish BMW came roaring up from the bottom of the cul de sac and came to a sudden stop in the middle of the street laden with mom & dad and a couple kids, and the passenger side window lowered, and the mom told us how much they were going to miss us, and uttered nothings like nobody ever uttered them before, as we smiled a bit, and finally she ran out of platitudes and the window raised up and they were gone.

    I knew Bob and his wife had been the original buyers of their home in 1966, and I asked him “Bob you’ve been living here for nearly 40 years, who were those people?”

    Bob says “I have no idea”

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sounds like what Bob said about the BMW neighbor was being said by the same BMW driver (and other neighbors) about Bob.

      “I don’t know them.”

      “I don’t know them.”

      “I don’t know them.”

      “I don’t know them.”

      No one knows anyone, except the one guy who is leaving and he writes a ‘My Leaving LA’ story. Maybe others will write similar stories when they move.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        In the aftermath of a decidedly unlucky 8.8, that’d be a real awkward time to need your neighbor’s help or vice versa, with neither knowing each other’s names after 22 years of living next door.

        Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      @Wukchumni
      That a helluva story that. The vibes on it were so – weird. It sounds like you made the smart move and got out of there in time. Something tells me that if things get really bad – say after a major earthquake – these are not the sort of neighbours you want to be anywhere near. In such a case I think that you would be wanting to watch your back.

      Reply
    3. Jeff W

      That story somehow reminds me of a vignette in one of my all-time favorite New Yorker humor pieces, Bruce McCall’s 1985 “In the New Canada, Living is a Way of Life,” which mimics perfectly, to clueless—and hilarious—effect, the “anthropological” reportorial style of the mid-1970s (think Hedrick Smith’s The Russians) in “observing” life in “the new Canada” (whatever the heck that is):

      The sight is far from uncommon: uniformed men are removing the furniture from a suburban house and manhandling it piece by piece into a huge van parked on the street nearby. No one protests or attempts to restrain them—not even the family whose possessions these are.

      The house is soon stripped bare. The van is bolted and locked and rumbles away. A few minutes later, the former occupants of the now deserted house are bundled into a waiting red Volvo station wagon, and it, too, moves off down the street and out of sight.

      “Well,” sighs a neighborhood woman who has been watching all along, “we’ll never see them again.”

      Reply
  13. Phillip Allen

    The sweet kitten seems to be badly infested with ticks. That’s what I’m interpreting those bumps along its ear margins to be. :-(

    Reply
  14. timbers

    Liz Warren:

    “Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands…”

    Thank goodness no can say that about us, only using the number millions about either Bush Presidents, Hillary, Or Obama, or anyone in America because “Please forgive me. I forgot this is America, where everything is Good and Right.”

    (Countess Olenska played by Michelle Phiefer in The Age of Innocence)

    Reply
    1. anon in so cal

      Yeah, Warren is finished. So is Trump. The whole CIA coup /Ukrainegate / impeachment charade is moot. The CIA / permanent war state won yesterday. Trump is its poster person now. The US is irredeemable.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Pretty much agree. If there’s one ray of light it is that the press and the Dems hate Trump so much that they may actually turn antiwar. Can Trump really go to war with Iran with only the Blob–and not even all of that–behind him?

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          The unacknowledged 800 pound anthropoid in the Policy Room is the distinct possibility that America could lose this next war.
          All bets are off.

          Reply
            1. ambrit

              Recent moves by the Neo-cons to ‘rehabilitate’ Theatre Nuclear Weapons as ‘legitimate’ tools make that fear more valid.
              Also, America is not the only power in the region that possesses nuclear weapons. Not just the Western theocracy, but also Pakistan. Pakistan could inconveniently “lose” a nuclear warhead. A false flag attack on Americans by one of our ostensible ‘allies’ in the region could set off all sort of fireworks.
              Speculating freely here, but a re-invasion of Kuwait by Irak, with tacit Iranian support is well within the realm of possibility.

              Reply
          1. Carolinian

            I’m not usually a Sanders supporter but he is starting to look a lot better. We need someone running the country who is not nuts. Unlike the foolish Warren he has strongly denounced what Trump did.

            Reply
            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              I’m not sure what Trump was supposed to do. Bush decides we will have a war with Iraq, 10 million people take to the streets to say “No!”. Biden whips the Dem support into shape so off we go. Obama does nothing, Hilary does nothing, war business as usual for 8 years. Meantime a $1B embassy gets built (ka-ching). As Afghanistan is showing, endless delay is seen as better than admitting defeat and negotiating the terms of America’s surrender. So Trump could either 1. replay Benghazi; 2. replay Saigon (choppers on rooftops), or 3. Start bombing something.

              Of course I would prefer to see Trump give his version of the “Gyokuon-hoso”, the “Jewel Voice Broadcast” that Hirohito made in August 1945, when he told his nation “the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage”. He could do it in one of his casinos, have a giant Oriental gong that he strikes three times, Melania I’m sure would look fabulous in a slinky little silk number. If “only Nixon could go to China” and “only Obama could keep bankers out of jail” then maybe “only Trump could end nation building policy”?

              Reply
              1. Yves Smith

                Huh? The US was already set to be kicked out of Iraq. This assassination stunt will make that happen faster AND push any fence-sitters in Iraq toward Iran. Pray tell how does that make any sense?

                Plus it isn’t even clear that that Iran or its buddies were behind the embassy attack. The Kurds were very likely perps. Iranian proxies were on the list of suspects but not at the top.

                Reply
    2. mpalomar

      “One reason we don’t generally assassinate foreign political officials is the belief that such action will get more, not less, Americans killed,” the Democratic senator Chris Murphy said on Twitter. “That should be our real, pressing and grave worry tonight.”

      Mafia state parlance about a handy, sanitized and now quite legitimate tactic, ‘Hey fellas, let’s try to keep those assassinations down.’

      Reply
    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s a dangerous world and, reading the quote above by Magnier, to be safe, it is better to be prepared (because, instead of ‘no one can say that about us,’ those ready to hurt the US are saying that).

      Reply
  15. Wukchumni

    Sudan circa impeachment (Operation Infinite Reach): ‘Wag the dog’

    Baghdad circa impeachment (Operation Infantile Reach): ‘Flag the dog’

    Reply
  16. The Rev Kev

    The implications for these murders are like one of those Russian Matryoshka dolls. You have layer after layer as you go into it. Those protesters in Iran recently? They will stand with their country and are now gone. The anti-Iran protesters in Iraq? They will sink into the background as those attacks recently were not only on Iraqi territory but on Iraqis as well. To put the boot in, they were taking off from US bases in Iraq as well. No Iraqi leader will defend the right of Americans to be in Iraq anymore. That idea is toast.

    Domestically the Democrats sound sour but that is probably because they were not allowed in on the whole thing. The Republicans have been going all macho-man with too much “oorah” (https://www.axios.com/qassem-soleimani-death-reactions-iran-85bd4b62-85f4-4e29-a0ec-1e6376534f03.html) and a conviction that there will be no price tag to pay. Lindsay Graham actually said that the US should destroy Iran’s oil refineries forgetting that would mean the total loss of Saudi oil refineries as well.

    One Fox commentator named Michael Pregent came up with a series of suggestions (https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/michael-pregent-us-must-stop-iran-from-making-iraq-its-puppet) which amounted to ‘Let’s re-occupy Iraq, break up the country a bit more and fight a war with Iran from its territory.’ Of course in his little world, Iraq would get no say in the matter.

    Iran would see this differently. The US has just announced that if there is the possibility that US forces might be attacked, the US has the right to attack first. But that could extend to the leadership in Tehran as well – or Damascus for that matter. Any country hosting a US base would now be wondering if this might get them involved with a war with a neighbouring country due to a hasty American attacked launched from a base there.

    I honestly believe that we are in for a Admiral Yamamoto moment. Yamamoto was in charge of Japan’s Fleet and ordered the attack on Pearl Harbour. When results were being celebrated of the number of US ships destroyed or damaged, he told those fellow officers “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

    Reply
    1. funemployed

      Speaking of multifarious implications:

      1) if, as seems not terribly unlikely, Iran and/or affiliates respond in kind, by assassinating one or several US officials of rank…

      2) and if those assassinations occur prior to November, 2020

      3) and if the mainstream US/UK/Euro media responds to said assassinations in the way we all know they would

      4) and if the Democratic party nominates an imperialist-lite candidate

      I honestly don’t see how Trump could lose.

      Reply
      1. neo-realist

        This could backfire on Trump: If asymmetrical war from the Iranians starts to get ordinary Americans killed, e.g., exploding planes, assassinations of tourists, Americans could start to really get angry over the shoot from the hip foreign policy that puts them in danger in any foreign land and take it out at the ballot box in November 2020 such that even a weak tea anti war neoliberal dem could defeat him, short of massive electoral fraud.

        They’ve already seen the previous rally around the flagpole movie in Iraq and Afghanistan and they now know that it only results in a lot of dead and wounded Americans.

        Reply
    2. jefemt

      Perpetual war as we Wag the Dog.

      Oil closed at $61 yesterday evening. Why it ever got to $140 (commodity trading and Tulipmania) in relatively ‘stable’ mid-east in the late 2000’s, and why it’s not at $100 right now, with declining frac’d output in the shale-resource plays, US domestic demand up from 18 Million bbl/day to 20 million– almost an exact offset to increased domestic production– it’s all waaay beyond me and a head-spinner.

      I am reading Yergin’s The Prize— presently mid-tome circa post-WW2 early 50’s, when US production gets usurped by mid-east imports.

      I observe, with very little evident change (other than newer vehicle fleet with increased fuel efficiency– this is nothing to sneeze at!) one-person per car, 95% Internal combustion oil-powered– oblivious consumers dithering from shopping mall to gym to schools–everywhere I look- at home and abroad. We are addicted and dependent on oil- we eat it!

      Now ready to go hypersonic missiles, North Korea saber-rattling. Lest we forget how many Iraquis and Iranians died when they most recently squabbled.

      Perhaps it may, in the long run, be a good thing that Putin is Trump’s mentor-has his ear-as the little feller sits in Vlad’s lap is regaled with narratives of the History of the World and Great Game. Divide, conquer, share the spoils on the pirate ship HMS Oligarch.

      What’s your narrative?

      Reply
    3. ObjectiveFunction

      Read the ‘Shadow Commander’ piece.

      I’ll leave the ‘what the hell are we doing there’ discussion to others, but looked at from a purely military point of view, killing Soleimani seems like a significant ‘win’, far bigger than whacking bin Laden or Baghdadi. The IRG is a core Iranian institution, a paramilitary-criminal-commercial empire controlling over half Iran’s external commerce.

      Your mention of Yamamoto is also apropos, since Japan’s best admiral was assassinated in a targeted strike on his aircraft in 1943 by USAAF Lightning long range interceptors. Yup, Uncle Sam dot mil has a long history of this kind of operation. Our tax dollars at work.

      (Again, this is just militarily speaking here, and ignoring that ‘collateral damage’, we droned some folks, etc.)

      And assuming it doesn’t in fact lead to a US invasion of Iran, which I strongly doubt, it also feeds Trump’s core 2020 case: like him or not, the Man does something other than talk.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        A significant ‘win’? The guy had just flow into Baghdad Airport on a commercial flight and hadn’t even left the airport. Would that not suggest that the US must have cleared him to come into the country? That in fact it was an elaborate hit with a side serving of betrayal?

        It could even be that there was going to be clandestine meetings with US officials while there. In any meetings to negotiate an agreement with Iran he would have been a significant player. Think that Iran is interested in what the US has to say anymore?

        How would the US take it if Bernie went on a visit to Iraq to visit the troops and the Iranians killed him because they felt ‘threatened’ by him. The US has just racked up a tactical win while suffering a strategic defeat and the consequences will be years in the making. For the Iranians, I would imagine that the gloves are off.

        And why not. You would have a bunch of ISIS thugs launch a rocket attack on an American base and kill a few Americans. Instead of wiping this lot out, the US will from now on simply say ‘Ahah! It must be Iranians responsible!’ and proceed to sink an Iranian ship or kill a few Iranians. This will not end well.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Who uttered this?

          “On this occasion, I am not going to mention the number of the infidels who were killed and the number of destroyed vehicles. The operation continues. Today we slaughtered them in the airport. They are out of Saddam International Airport. The force that was in the airport, this force was destroyed.”

          Reply
        2. ambrit

          I have read that Soleimani was in Irak enjoying diplomatic immunity. This has just exposed American and other Western nation’s diplomats to attack anywhere in the world. Iran doesn’t need to kill a few Americans and leave a “Made in Tehran” card on the bodies. They can get some proxies, which was Soleimani’s specialty, by the way, to do the dirty work. Secondly, this strike just exposed the Imperial mindset of the American nomenklatura. Now the Irakis have to run the Americans out or suffer a major loss of face in the region.
          By this act America has painted itself into a corner.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            If you look at Mike Pompeo’s twitter account, you see the use of the words “de-escalation.” A lot. Maybe some Pentagon briefer got to him and said:

            “Sir. Our reports say that the Iranians will kill someone on the same level as Soleimani and initial reports say that that it will probably be you as SecState. Good luck, sir.”

            Reply
            1. hunkerdown

              “Okay, don’t hurt us, we’ll reactivate your bank account, oh and here’s $20 in coupons at the company store.”

              “We want Pompeo in Tehran. Alive.”

              Reply
    4. James O'Keefe

      It would seem that Trump has adopted the escalate to deescalate policy long ascribed to Russia. That the Iranians were deescalating was ignored.

      I don’t see how this helps existing US policy in the region, unless the policy is to bring the troops home by getting US forces kicked out of Iraq and Syria.

      Reply
    5. TroyIA

      The US has just announced that if there is the possibility that US forces might be attacked, the US has the right to attack first.

      The US forces were already under attack – US strikes 5 facilities in Iraq and Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia

      While there were multiple strikes, the sites being hit were relatively small, the official told CNN. Whether the US decides to strike further will depend on the activities of the militia, they said, and whether it conducts additional attacks against US interests.
      American officials have blamed the group for attacks like one on Friday on a base near Kirkuk, Iraq, that killed a US civilian contractor and injured four other US service members.
      . . .Over the past two months, however, US officials have grown increasingly concerned as the threat to US and coalition forces became more immediate. In the last several weeks, a series of rocket attacks have targeted military installations in Iraq where US and coalition personnel are stationed. US officials linked them to Kataib Hezbollah, citing similarities in the attacks.

      The airstrikes on December 29th were a warning shot to Iran to stop with the attacks on US forces in Iraq. Iran responded by seizing an oil tanker on December 30th and then attacking the US embassy. This killing of Soleimani is just another point in the ongoing conflict between Iran and the US that has been happening since the 70’s if not earlier.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘The US forces were already under attack’. Yeah, about that. Those attacks as it turned out were a response to multiple US attacks on them throughout the past year. Mostly US attacks but the US lets Israelis stage through American bases in Iraq and Syria to do the job as well. And I notice that those major attacks the US did were on the area where there is a border crossing that the US does not have control. How about that.

        Reply
      2. Procopius

        The airstrikes on December 29th were a warning shot to Iran …

        It is by no means clear that Iran had anything to do with the rocket attacks. The Kata’ib Hezbullah, after all, has agency. They are Iraqi, not Iranian, although they do have connections to Iran. The killing of Suleiman (or “his martyrization,” as some Iraqi sources have it) is not just another point in the ongoing conflict. We did it without authorization from what we claim is a sovereign government, and he was the second highest figure in the Iranian military. In addition he was extremely popular in Iran. No good will come from this.

        Reply
  17. rd

    Re: Credit cycles and asset returns

    It is really hard to justify deregulation and lax enforcement if you acknowledge that rapidly increasing debt of poorer quality causes economic and equity busts. So it is far better to simply ignore that and assume that the markets are all-knowing and that these vastly superior beings in the markets would never be insane enough to kill the goose laying the golden eggs. Just because those events happened before, doesn’t mean that they will happen this time because people are so much smarter now.

    Reply
  18. John C.

    Trump & Iran/Iraq: well, the American War Machine (and its dependent economy) was almost slowing down there, for a little bit. But the jumper cables have been applied, and the engine is once again humming. Lubricant is, as always, the blood of young Americans, and the young of many other lands.

    Reply
    1. D. Fuller

      Bibi could use some war to solidify his grasp on the RW Israeli government, that is for sure. Trump looks to deliver. Trump merely represents a differing faction of the so-called “Deep State” than Obama or Bush represented, with many members of that faction being members of other factions.

      The world has marched Right-ward significantly since the 1990’s and the death of The Left political party – The Democratic Party – with Clinton and The DLC-Third Way Democrats.

      Why, even Roe v Wade is now up for over-turning, more so now than 20 or 30 years ago. I find some on the Left (well, The Far-Far Left instead of sensible Leftists) to be delusional about how far Right The US and world have gone since 1992.

      Reply
      1. GramSci

        I don’t follow you. Do “sensible leftists” believe the US has gone so far right that only a small step left is warranted?

        Reply
        1. nippersdad

          It would appear so. I take the term “sensible Democrat” or “real Democrat” to be synonymous with the Reagan Dems who only see occasional tactical retreats as a means to consolidate their rightward march.

          It was just days ago that they deliberately dropped any restraints upon the Trump Administration from attacking Iran in their most recent defense bill. Any potential pearl clutching by the usual suspects at this point should be seen as what it is; a transparently failed attempt to achieve plausible deniability.

          Reply
  19. anon in so cal

    Re: “Syria Awash in Propaganda”:

    Robert Fisk manages to include some anti- Russia propaganda at the end of this article. The most dangerous and insidious propaganda is the kind that gets smuggled in to an otherwise accurate account.

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      He also seems to assume that the OPCW’s censorship was of its reports into the 2018 Douma incident. If that is what his NATO source meant, there’s nothing in the article to confirm it. I’ve always found the OPCW’s reports into previous poison gas incidents extremely dodgy, and these could well be what the NATO officer was referring to.

      “But at the end of my talk, a young Nato officer who specialises in chemical weapons – he was not British – sought me out for a private conversation. “The OPCW are not going to admit all they know,” he said. “They’ve already censored their own documents.” …
      And here I might myself have abandoned the trail had I not received a call on my Beirut phone shortly after the Henderson paper, from the Nato officer who had tipped me off about the OPCW’s apparent censorship of its own documents. “I wasn’t talking about the Henderson report,” he said abruptly. And immediately terminated our conversation. But now I understand what he must have been talking about.”

      The rest of the article focuses exclusively on the 2018 Douma incident. Even if that was what the officer had in mind, surely it still casts doubt – extreme doubt – on its previous findings relating to other incidents.
      In short, does Fisk understand what his source was talking about, or was it something much wider?

      Reply
  20. rd

    The killing of Soleimani is pretty staggering to me. This was an official of a foreign government that was on the tarmac of an airport in another country visiting that that country. This is equivalent to the military of a foreign power bombing the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the tarmac of Frankfurt Airport in Germany on his way to meetings. I can’t even comprehend how the US would react to something like that but it would be viewed as a massive violation of international norms, well outside the relatively normal use of proxies to do dirty things.

    Reply
  21. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Mysterious drones are flying around the Midwest, Great Plains, and no one has answers Des Moines Register

    To recap, squadrons of unidentified drones are flying over american territory nightly, and supposedly no “authority”–not “the Federal Aviation Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Air Force [or] the U.S. Army Forces Command”–knows who owns them or what their purpose is, but don’t shoot them down because they are federally “protected” and that would be a crime. Riiiiiight.

    “Russia, if you’re listening…….”

    Reply
    1. turtle

      Yes, after a few days of this same story going on, it’s become a bit ridiculous. If anyone really wanted to find out who is flying these they would. The drones don’t disappear into thin air. Someone would just have to follow the drones to where they land and are collected and find out who was flying them. Especially if they follow a similar pattern every day. Ridiculous is actually a weak word to describe this supposed “mystery”.

      Reply
      1. Acacia

        Exactly. One more drone joins the swarm, follows them home, and reports GPS. There’s probably even an app for that.

        Reply
  22. The Rev Kev

    “The Terrifying Rise of the Zombie State Narrative”

    This has got to be one of Craig Murray’s best articles. He lays it all out which is precisely why you will never see him writing for the New York Times or the Washington Post – or most newspapers for that matter.

    Reply
  23. Cuibono

    Seems to me that we had a chorus of voices thst claimed trump would be less likely to pursue NEOCON aims…
    Was I just imagining that?

    Reply
    1. Eureka Springs

      Less likely was a very low bar, but accurate. Considering it took Trump years and HRC would have been much worse much sooner. It does feel like HRC is President today.

      Reply
      1. Cuibono

        i for one dont think it was accurate. I thiink that was wool being pulled over eyes or wishful thinking or even worse delusional like the 4chan gang

        Reply
      2. marym

        While we can’t say for sure what imaginary president HRC would have done, we know Trump has maintained or increased troops in the ME, air strikes, civilian casualties, and arms trafficking. He’s decreased transparency about civilian casualties, hired torture proponents to head the State Dept. and CIA, pardoned war criminals, and withdrawn from the Iran nuclear agreement. So it’s been a productive few years for the war machine.

        Reply
        1. anon in so cal

          Trump conned a lot of anti-war voters and now he’s brought the world to the brink of WW3. He and his entire admin are a scary, dangerous menace. Who knows where this will end. Will the US use nukes? Trump is that reckless and irresponsible. That said, has the civilian casualty count reached 3 million as under Bush and Obama? We know what HRC had already done: turned stable, secular Libya into a terrorist hellhole with slave markets, left Syria in ruins, contributed to the escalation of violence in Honduras, militarized Colombia, coached Nuland as Nuland supported (engineered) the putsch in Ukraine, etc. Pretty sure HRC was planning a hot war with Russia, sooner rather than later. Hence her NFZs in Syria. At least Trump ended Brennan’s Timber Sycamore: billions to terrorists to destroy Syria. But that’s all trivial, now.

          https://consortiumnews.com/2018/04/25/how-many-millions-have-been-killed-in-americas-post-9-11-wars-part-3-libya-syria-somalia-and-yemen/

          Reply
  24. Craig H.

    > Interpol issues ‘red notice’ for Carlos Ghosn as Turkey detains 7

    I wonder how hard they are going to try and catch this guy. It’s kind of interesting how he got away.

    Private jet firm says it was duped over Carlos Ghosn escape (Guardian)

    How would you like to be the fellow who made the decision house arrest should suffice for now and then your boss and his boss and his boss’s boss call you in for a meeting the next day? Do they still do ritual shame suicide when they screw up big time in Japan?

    Reply
  25. jo6pac

    I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this. It made Amerikas hard liners happy and gave more power Iran’s hard liners also. I guess this is like pouring gas on a smoldering fire. I would think the EU is a little nervous about now. How Sad. Will Russia and China rush more weapons into Iran?

    More to come with the trumpster bragging about this on twitter like only he can do:-(

    I also read were Sadr is getting the band back together once is shape and heavy armed will join forces with Iraq army and go after the Amerikan troops there. There won’t be safe place for Amerikans or our EU lackeys’ anywhere.

    Cuibono

    I guess the neo-conns won but then again the trumpster very close to israel.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Apparently our President was quiet as a evangelical church mouse in the runup to Bibi’s election in terms of endorsements, and we know how he adores a ‘winner’, which is what happened, and all is forgiven now?

      Reply
  26. JohnnyGL

    I’m trying to play out this Middle East situation in my head.

    A pretty smart play from Iran might be to give Saudi Arabia another whack. It’s got strategic value to the imperialists and war profiteers, but US public will have no appetite to go to war to defend it.

    They might also try to push the US out of Iraq by making the Green Zone untenable in it’s current state. They could force us into a choice between 1) major escalation against the wishes of the Iraqi government or 2) a Fall of Saigon-style evacuation which would look humiliating to President Trump and all the hawks in DC, even if the US public might not penalize Trump all that much for doing so (he’d probably take a small hit in support, just from the loss of face).

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      And yes, others have pointed out, taking a whack at Israel’s new gas field looks like a tempting target, too. However, I think the pressure on Trump to go to war if Israel’s attacked would be MUCH greater than if Saudi Arabia was attacked. Israel’s PR operation is much stronger in DC than Saudi Arabia’s, as is general public support. MBS looks pretty indefensible and the country’s a full-blown monarchy, whereas Israel at least has elections (even if Palestinians get excluded).

      So, if I’m Iran, and I want to twist the US in knots, I’m considering taking a whack at Saudi oil infrastructure again, maybe a more serious one this time around. Iran, itself, could use the boost to external revenues from rising prices.

      Reply
      1. John

        Funny you should mention that.
        That’s exactly what Sean Hannity was saying today:
        For the U.S. to bomb Iran’s oil fields.

        And you know who listens to him.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Sean Hannity was just repeating what Lindsay Graham was saying. I wonder how the world would cope if, in a retaliatory strike, all of the Saudi oil fields were destroyed.

          Reply
    2. a different chris

      > but US public will have no appetite to go to war to defend it.

      Correct, as this glorious “US is self-sufficient thanks to fracking!!!” BS will now backfire big time on the war-mongering elites, as people will say “hey I thought we didn’t need ME oil anymore, so why spend money&lives on protecting Saudi Arabia for chrissakes?”.

      Not that it will stop them, however. What a mess.

      Reply
    3. PlutoniumKun

      The main pushback will almost certainly be in Iraq. As Elijah Magnier has reported, there is absolute fury in Iraq over the contempt shown for their sovereignty. The Iranians aren’t stupid, they know that scenes of US enclaves in Iraq under siege from civilian protestors will put Trump under intolerable domestic strain. They remember what happened to Carter.

      And keeping things within Iraq increases the chance that the Europeans/Japanese etc., will keep well out of it – if they attack SA then oil dependent powers will feel they have no choice but to back the US. China in particular will not look kindly at their oil supplies being cut off.

      Reply
      1. nippersdad

        It would be ironic to see airlifts of personnel from the roof of the embassy in Baghdad; shades of Teheran in ’79. Embarrassments like that, as we have seen ever since, just don’t go away and Muqtada Al Sadr is prolly just the man to arrange something like that.

        Only last week Al Sadr was protesting Iran’s involvement in their politics, but if there is one thing that we can count on the blob to do it is to bring together and empower the enemies they have worked so hard to create.

        Reply
  27. Wukchumni

    The greatest oscillation of orange colored metal I ever witnessed was when Reagan was shot and it waxed & waned as news of his condition slowly leaked out over the course of the day, and I want to say there was a $100-120 swing, with the spot price ending up near the previous close as it became evident he wasn’t going out like Gipp.

    We’ve assassinated the equivalent of Eisenhower, could get a bit hinkey although you’d never know it based on the yeah whatever rise of a couple of sawbucks today.

    Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          I would guess that in the same way that Grant turned the tide against the Confederacy with his strategic ideas and logistical planning, Soleimani turned the tide against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria, especially with his persuading the Russians to come in with their equipment, people and expertise.

          Reply
  28. salvo

    that’s it, I don’t think I’ve ever read this basic truth in a more concise way

    But it is indeed possible, probable, and arguably even inevitable because the climate crisis, née global warming, is embedded in a mostly white, liberal, humanist civilization whose peoples, at least since the middle of the fifteenth century, have privileged the appropriation of land, labor and geological resources over an ecological accommodation of the rest of the planet. It is this ideology, rooted in capital accumulation, that now manifests as extreme weather events. Their remediation requires not just political action, but an almost unimaginable civilizational reboot. We refuse to make this leap because making it threatens the accustomed terms of our existence.

    quoted from the CounterPunch article Bad Planet

    Reply
  29. Wukchumni

    My nights are very restful and i’m finally getting used to the daymares that come more frequently as I absorb the outer orb beyond my ken to the point where nothing fazes me, kind of similar to how experienced frontline soldiers in WW2 could distinguish outgoing or incoming artillery rounds and proximity.

    Reply
  30. Ignacio

    And well, regarding the assasination of the Iranian general… what to say. Trump keeps crossing dangerous lines, this is a bad beginning for the decade.

    Reply
  31. Camelotkidd

    One single rushed decision emanating from inexperienced US policymakers, evidently following the advice of think tanks, has dealt the US a setback in the region. Was the advice of neocon think-tank analysts shaped by incompetence, or simply by their agenda? They are indeed separated by a great distance from realities on the ground in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, and US policymakers are clearly not getting sound advice on the region.
    The US is making Iran stronger, demonstrating the truth of Sayyed Ali Khamenei’s comment: “Thank God our enemies are imbeciles”.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      >Was the advice of neocon think-tank analysts shaped by incompetence, or simply by their agenda?

      I believe it was shaped by comic-books and TV shows.

      Reply
    2. Louis Fyne

      most established think tanks have been co-opted by one form of agenda or another.

      Internal hiring = policy. And follow the trails of funding

      Reply
  32. Helios

    Count me skeptical that this will lead to war. For all his rhetoric, Trump has given Iran more breathing space to operate in the region than any recent predecessor. Hezbollah is gaining strength broadly, the US has ceded a lot of influence in Syria back to the SAA, Trump de-escalated tensions after the UAV shoot down, and the Houthi have been given a lot of room to embarrass MBS, MBZ, and all of their sycophants (though the Houthi are more enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend for Iran, rather than directly controlled like Hezbollah).

    Trump did a contained strike hundreds of miles away from Baghdad with limited casualties as a reminder the US still has influence. Iran/IRGC completely overreached by allowing the attack on the US embassy and the twitter threats that Trump couldn’t do anything about this. They made Trump look weak personally, which is the only way to get a real response out of him.

    So I would expect Iran to take a step back and not act rashly. The fact that there hasn’t been a response yet means they have not planned for this kind of response from the US. But they have achieved a lot of gains recently, and regardless of how much they could hurt the US, they would hurt those gains more by responding in kind and without already having understood how it fits strategically.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think one difference between the present day and “the guns of August” is that today, all the chancellories don’t want war (truly amazing, the number of warmongering second-raters running the show in summer 1914. Not to say that we are not, but we have counter-parties who are capable of patience and rational calculation — unlike “the interagency process”).

      Reply
      1. rd

        War in Europe was still viewed as “romantic” and it was believed it would be over by Christmas in 1914. They clearly had not paid attention to the the US Civil War 50 years earlier which was a harbinger of industrialized total war. Grant was the first 20th century general and by 1863 was ahead of most of the 1914 European generals in understanding modern warfare in the Industrial Age.He was the son of a merchant and didn’t grow up with the concept of noble chivalry and romance in warfare. He quickly understand it was brutal logistics that would win.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Grant was the first 20th century general and by 1863 was ahead of most of the 1914 European generals in understanding modern warfare in the Industrial Age.

          I agree (though even Grant ordered frontal attacks on trenches). So much of the 20th Century is prefigured in the Civil War and Reconstruction (including, IMNSHO, fascism).

          Reply
      2. JohnnyGL

        Fair point. Austria Hungary seemed to be itching for a fight, perhaps even more so than Germany. They really seemed to want to teach a lesson to those ‘uppity Serbs’. Ironically, it turned out their military performed among the worst of all the countries involved.

        Even the ‘sick man of Europe’, the Ottoman Empire did the one job they were tasked with: Stop the Brits at Gallipoli

        Also, no one has the equivalent of the “Schliffen Plan” like Germany had which was based on a rapid knockout of a big opponent via a quick strike through a neutral country.

        I don’t think anyone involved has a defense dept planning a strategy around winning, and winning really fast where the speed and size of the move, and the element of surprise is central.

        Reply
    2. The Historian

      I will I could believe you, but the death of Soleimani is quickly becoming a national pride issue in Iran. The Iranian government is going to have to do something. They are going through three days of mourning for Soleimani so I wouldn’t expect anything to happen immediately. And I would assume that Iran is going to wait to see how public opinion plays out on this and assess their options very carefully before they act. But they will respond eventually. The fact that Trump is sending more troops to Iraq means that our military expects a response, most likely in Iraq, but I am doubtful that is where it will happen.

      So, for the time being, I am just holding my breath and waiting for the next shoe to drop.

      Reply
  33. bob

    “There are no military or drug-sniffing cats. That’s one reason I like them.”

    Don’t think they didn’t try!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustic_Kitty

    “Acoustic Kitty was a CIA project launched by the Central Intelligence Agency Directorate of Science & Technology, which in the 1960s intended to use cats to spy on the Kremlin and Soviet embassies. ”

    “… said that the project was abandoned due to the difficulty of training the cat to behave as required,”

    Freaks

    Reply
  34. Wukchumni

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/OLD-CALIFORNIA-300-PHOTO-ALBUM-CCC-SEQUOIA-NATIONAL-PARK-VAREITY-1920-1947/233454067951?hash=item365af260ef:g:7SgAAOSwgPReDuDV
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Historic photos of the area are interesting to me, and even more so with juicy content, such as this ebay listing where the seller wants $500, and that’s perhaps the worth to a collector i’d guess, but think of the inestimable value it would have to an enthralled audience of all of us if you had them all scanned and put online instead?

    Reply
    1. marym

      Thanks.

      In addition to the tweet in the links from his personal/campaign account Sanders has the statement below on his official account, along with a brief video on his anti-war history.

      @SenSanders @SenSanders
      “I was right about Vietnam.

      I was right about Iraq.

      I will do everything in my power to prevent a war with Iran.

      I apologize to no one.”

      https://twitter.com/SenSanders/status/1213063708043366400

      Reply
  35. David

    The Politico article on Macron contains a number of correct facts, but filtered through a standard elitist neoliberal presentation. The strikes are having a substantially greater effect than the article implies, and much of France is heavily impacted . If you want to take a train to Lyon tomorrow, for example, one of the most popular TGV routes, then only about half the trains are running – more than usual because it’s a weekend. But those are the prestige long distance TGVs: on shorter distance services and local trains the situation is much worse. In Paris, many Metro stations are partly closed, and on most lines are operating at between 25 and 50% of capacity. The long-distance commuter lines are only operating at certain times of the day.
    Macron may, of course, win a glorious victory by starving people back to work. He certainly hasn’t won the battle for public opinion: he’s widely distrusted, not least because of his links to the finance industry, and it’s widely accepted that his stubbornness is an attempt to punish the unions for their past successes in holding off attempts to destroy the pension system.
    Which makes his wooden and condescending performance on Tuesday all the more interesting. The key phrase was that he had asked “the government” to “find a comprise .” In French political speak, “the government” is a separate entity, of which the President is not part. He’s therefore, as expected, throwing the ball to the Prime Minister: you fix it. If Philippe succeeds, it will be Macron’s victory, if he fails it’s his fault. Nobody really knows what Macron is up to, except that he’s clearly out of his depth, and has no strategy other than attrition. The next few weeks will tell if that’s enough.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The Politico article on Macron contains a number of correct facts, but filtered through a standard elitist neoliberal presentation. The strikes are having a substantially greater effect than the article implies, and much of France is heavily impacted

      Thanks very much for keeping us informed.

      Reply
  36. WestcoastDeplorable

    Yves I am SO disappointed with your post “we are already well past the point of no return on climate change”. Why join the ranks of climate fear-mongers when if you could open yourself up to the truth that Earth’s climate is constantly changing, and that the predictions of sea-level and temperature rises did NOT come to pass. AND that CO2 in the atmosphere isn’t a death knell for Humans and IS very good for plant growth (think higher yields from crops). AND that Micheal Mann’s famous “hockey stick” graph was only possible with cherry-picked numbers and has been proven a fraud, and now Mann will have to pay Ball’s court costs! Yves I respect you & your time, but I thought you were smarter than this!

    https://climate.news/2019-08-26-climate-change-hoax-collapses-as-michael-mann-bogus-hockey-stick-graph.html

    From the link:
    “Michael Mann refuses to turn over the data behind the graph, insisting on secrecy instead of transparency
    This court decision reportedly stemmed from the fact that Michael Mann refused to turn over “R2 regression numbers” to the court, which would have revealed the data manipulations that led to the rigging of the hockey stick graph. This unwillingness to disclose the graph algorithm and data points reveals the total lack of transparency and scientific integrity that has plagued Mann’s supposed “science” work for decades. As American Thinker explains:

    Real science, not the phony “consensus” version, requires open access to data, so that skeptics (who play a key role in science) can see if results are reproducible.”

    Reply
    1. Angie Neer

      West, out of respect for this site I’ll assume you are writing in good faith. But climate.news is an Onion-level sick joke. I got a kick out of the headline that’s on the front page right now: ““Decarbonize” means DEPOPULATION, because humans are carbon-based organisms… AOC, Bernie Sanders are actually promoting extermination of humans.” I had to look at the story to make sure they weren’t kidding. They’re not. That site is a one-stop nut shop.

      If you’re interested in serious information sources, I recommend starting with https://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2006/01/climate-is-always-changing, and following links from there.

      Reply
      1. divadab

        agnotology implies bad faith – IMHO westcoastdeplorable is sincere, if badly misled in aid of denialism.

        Whatever. It will take a cascade of crises to wake people up because they just can;t bring themselves to admit that their comfy magic carpet ride automobile lifestyle is wrong and bad and doomed.

        Ask any Australian if they’ve changed their views…..

        Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      If you are correct, then you have a real contrarian investment opportunity laid out before you. If the sea level is actually NOT rising and will actually NOT rise, then you will have a chance to pick up underpriced coastal assets as desperate future-flood-escapers sell at a loss just to get away. At the very least you might be able to invest in REITs or bussinesses or etc. which do all their investing and activity in coastal cities like Miami, New Orleans, Houston, etc.

      Be bold! Your fortune awaits you!

      Reply
  37. BoyDownTheLane

    I doubt seriously that military logistics by sea or air will matter much in a global confrontation that is fought through economic warfare, currency warfare and cyberwarfare. If the transition of malware can shut down power systems, communication systems or target a specific operational center, then how much freight can be trans-shipped is meaningless. And the idea that ANYONE would think to use a hypersonic weapon for the assassination of a single individual or even the decapitation of a government is insane.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I doubt seriously that military logistics by sea or air will matter much in a global confrontation that is fought through economic warfare, currency warfare and cyberwarfare.

      Until drones start taking out the data centers…

      Reply
  38. smoker

    an incredibly horrid day. I don’t even want to be a fly on walls the likes that Bipartisan Operation Northridge and PNAC sorts are currently brainstorming™ at.

    there are those, thankfully few but many horridly powerful and treacherous, who have no regard for life except their own.

    Reply
  39. richard

    Hey everyone, here is my short message I sent to my congresscritter on Iran and I threw impeachment in there too.
    Dear Congressmember Jayapal,
    I have two things I’d like to communicate with you. Firstly, I’d like to add my voice to many others who condemn the drone murder of the Iranian military and political leader Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. This is not only illegal, it is reckless. There will be a response by the way, and we don’t now get to act all shocked and outraged when it happens. But many among us will anyway, and will clamor for more war, and more devastation unleashed. The callousness to the human cost of these stupid games is sickening. Distance yourself from it. Condemn President Trump’s action.
    That leads us to point number 2. I warned you months ago that impeaching Donald Trump on such silly and self-incriminating terms as the defense of Joe and Hunter Biden was a big mistake. There is no way this weak case appeals to independent voters, or even to democrats who refuse to drink your damn koolaid (pardon my mild curse). This is not to say there aren’t terms on which to impeach trump. He sold hundreds of millions of $ worth of weapons to the Saud royal family for gods sakes, after they drop a couple hundred thousand in one of his hotels. In addition, he helps coordinate their own illegal attack on Yemen and facilitates genocide. This widely reported information sounds pretty impeachable to me.
    You are helping elect Donald Trump to a 2nd term with this impeachment nonsense. What you’ve already said and done, is said and done. His numbers actually went up during the House’s case for impeachment, and he will see another spike when the senate acquits him. There is literally no way to avoid that now.
    The best you can do going forward is lowkey this as much as possible, and keep the focus on Trump’s crimes against the US people and the world, not his crimes against Joe and Hunter Biden (and Hillary Clinton).

    Best regards, etc

    PS – As I’ve mentioned before, I do much appreciate the work you did in writing the new Med4all bill, which by all accounts was done very well. Thanks for that!

    Reply
    1. xkeyscored

      I can’t imagine why the Dems didn’t decide to impeach The Don for flogging weapons to the Saudi gangsters and helping them bring Yemen to the verge of humanitarian catastrophe. /s

      Reply
    2. inode_buddha

      Didn’t the Democrats arrange hundreds of billions in arms sales to the Saudis when Hillary Clinton was Sec. of State? And didn’t the Saudi family give hundreds of millions to the Canadian arm of the Clinton Foundation right around the same time?

      If i remember right, they are in it up to their necks…

      Reply
      1. richard

        well, yes :)
        it is analogous to the probable real reasons why pelosi refused to consider impeaching bush jr
        by the time that was a possibility
        she had already known for years about torture, so that couldn’t be used
        and had known the war was entirely constructed out of lies, so lying us into war couldn’t be used either
        we have to conclude from the sorry, sorry mess not that we have a president free from impeachable crimes, but that we have an opposition far too corrupted to ever be credible prosecutor. That’s if you want to get all lofty and constitutional about things. In plain english you could just say: we don’t have the votes and we never did.

        Reply
  40. Plenue

    This entire thing is making me genuinely resigned and depressed. Syria was finally, however haltingly, on its way back to stability, something Soleimani played a role in. We’d managed for years to avoid starting World War 3 in Syria. And now we’ve gone and murdered Soleimani, at minimum starting Gulf War IV, and possibly leading us all to armageddon in the long-term.

    And here, 19 years after Afghanistan, 17 after the lies of Iraq, and 9 after Libya, once again many Americans are gleefully baying for the blood of brown Ay-rabs (Persians aren’t even Arab, but none of these troglodytes cares). Screw this goddamn country.

    Reply
  41. xkeyscored

    I’d like to thank all those who recently recommended the 2013 Australian movie “These Final Hours.” While our coming climate catastrophe is slow, long-term, and arguably still avoidable, unlike the movie’s scenario, I could really see my reactions and coping strategies, and those of many others, in the characters’ different and changing approaches to imminent doom.
    If, like me, you see this climate thing turning out badly, very badly, or disastrously, and find yourself oscillating between despair, depression and exasperation as a result, this film offers much to aid in reflecting on an appropriate attitude for these times. (Plus it’s exciting and watchable!)
    My congratulations to the Australian film industry.

    Reply
  42. rusti

    On the Soleimani killing, I was booked on an international flight that was canceled at the last minute yesterday and re-booked for the same time today. Today there was tons of extra security in the form of men with machine guns outside and bomb-sniffing dogs, clearly intended to make a show of “doing something”.

    As we walked in pairs past the bomb-sniffing dogs, the woman walking with me suggested it was probably “due to that Iran thing”. At first I thought it was ludicrous that someone in a position of power would associate the clumsy and uncoordinated attacks by ISIS-affiliated idiots at airports with IRGC and beef up security, but after a bit more reflection I can see that this would serve to be a very effective propaganda tool for conditioning people for a war with Iran by making them associate with IRGC with acts of domestic terrorism in the US. Most of the leading Liberals will react with a stupid lawyerly sounding messages that will have no impact and Trump will “look Presidential”.

    I’m not sure if the beefed-up security is just a kneejerk reaction automatically set in motion when there is a big news splash like this or if it was planned intentionally, but if it really is an element of a cynical plot then I have to tip my hat to the moustache-twirling Bond villain types who orchestrated it. May they rot in hell.

    Reply
    1. jo6pac

      It’s all in the messaging and I think what you saw wasn’t a mistake but then that’s just me.
      The propaganda machine will be working 24/7 on just that message. Be afraid be very afraid as your govt. takes away more of our rights.

      Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The conclusion of the Packer article (nice metaphor):

      A crisis acts like a barium test—it reveals the nature and health of a system. The Soleimani crisis shows a rash and vain president for whom everything is personal; a government that follows no coherent strategy because its leadership can’t provide one; and a Congress and public too irreconcilably divided to rally around a national goal. In this condition, we don’t know how to think about a war with Iran, let alone win one, and it’s not at all clear why we should try. For this reason, killing Soleimani was a blunder—briefly satisfying, possibly catastrophic.

      The underlined parts were all true in 2003, as well, with different players, though perhaps the symptoms are further advanced today. (Back after 9/11, there was a “a national goal”; I’m wondering, now, if the results had the same sort of corrosive effects as “hope and change.” (“How’s that workin’ out for ya?”)

      One thing is clear in terms of “wider war” in the Middle East: The United States has form. It will lose the war (while slaughtering a large number of civilians).

      Reply
      1. xkeyscored

        The United States has form. It will lose the war
        That depends a bit on the USA’s aims. Its interventions this century (Afghanistan-Iraq-Libya-Syria-Yemen to name a few) have resulted in little more than death, chaos, and instability. To do this once, even two or conceivably three times, might be seen as some kind of misguided but well-intentioned mistake. To do so repeatedly, and now go after another country on the hit list, strongly suggests that death, chaos and instability are the aims. Which, unfortunately, they may be able to achieve.

        Reply
        1. CoryP

          This. So many people seem to underestimate how awful these policymakers are. The death and destruction is the goal. As well as the $$$$ funnelled to contractors. We aren’t losing. We’re “winning” by the only metrics that matter.

          Reply
  43. Winston Smith

    The Iranians can start by sending a clear signal that anyone staying at Trump properties is taking a risk…are there many outside the US?

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If they wanted to make it personal, various “people” could do just enough at just enough random times to make all the Trump properties into “no go” areas and keep them that way long enough for every dollar invested in them to be irretrievably lost. Roach motel bankruptcy might be the goal.

      If governments where Trump properties are located wish to express disapproval of the Suleiman hit, they could regulatoraly and administratively obstruct and harass every Trump property into inoperability. They could also deny all applications for seawalls, re-wiring, plumbing upgrades and repairs, etc.

      Hackers might well decide to attack TrumpCo computer networks into extinction. Stop Trump hotels from being able to book guests, make reservations, co-ordinate the purchasing of food and drinks and other hotel supplies, etc.

      Since Trump values money, pride and image . . . . perhaps deep fakers might want to make and release all kinds of fake compromat . . . . pee tape videos starring Trump himself, starring Melania, starring Ivanka, etc. Make every member of the family cry. Etc.

      Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      On the run from authorities? Probably being sheltered by the high-level authorities. Anyone with enough Deep Authority to murder Epstein in America’s “highest security jail” and order all the Fake Stream Media to call it a suicide . . . has the Deep Authority to keep Maxwell hidden forever in its network of Safe Houses . . . safe from lower level police people who might not fully understand how very Protected a person she is.

      If she is hiding in Israel, she didn’t get there on her own. The Deep Authorities green-lighted her safe departure from here and her safe arrival there, just as the Deep Authorities rounded up all the bin Ladens and certain other Highest Level Saudis from all around America and gave them Safe Passage back to Saudi Arabia before lower level law enforcement would have a chance to interfere.

      And fast enough to stop the FBI from interviewing them on their way out of the country.

      Reply

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