The results of the New Hampshire primary are in, and the big winner is the new populism: that mysterious pro-“outsider” phenomenon that has the political class in a panic, and which no one has adequately defined – including its current practitioners. Donald Trump’s vote total of nearly 35 percent is impressive enough, but his two-to-one margin over the closest runner-up, John Kasich, underscores the triumph of his brand of Jacksonian populism over both the Romney-esque center right (Kasich-Bush) and “movement conservatism” (Cruz-Rubio). In spite of a concerted effort by the conservative punditariat and the mainstream media to marginalize Trump as toxic, he handily crushed them, and is now in a position to barrel into South Carolina and beyond, steamrollering the “Establishment lane” candidates who are as divided as ever. Even more stunning is Bernie Sanders’ victory over Hillary Clinton: while the polls told us that the former was headed for a win, the numbers – as I write Hillary is barely holding on to 40 percent – augur trouble for Mrs. Clinton’s much anticipated coronation. While the Clintonian “firewall” in the south is supposed to be impregnable, one can easily imagine it turning into the electoral equivalent of the Maginot Line. It’s that kind of election year. The other big story of this election is the implosion of Marco Rubio, the fair-haired boy of the neoconservatives. His third place finish in Iowa was touted so loudly by his fanboys in the conservative media that one would have thought he taken first prize. Yet his cringe-worthy performance in the debate – it looked like his neoconservative handlers programmed him with the wrong software – and now his relegation to a humiliating fifth place in New Hampshire has almost certainly sunk his campaign. He will probably continue into Super Tuesday and perhaps beyond, but that’s only because he doesn’t seem to have an “off” button, or maybe it’s just stuck: in any case, it’s far too late to send him back to the factory for repair. Read the entire article
A nightmare scenario of U.S. geopolitical strategists is coming true: foreign independence from U.S.-centered financial and diplomatic control. China and Russia are investing in neighboring economies on terms that cement Eurasian integration on the basis of financing in their own currencies and favoring their own exports. They also have created the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as an alternative military alliance to NATO. And the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) threatens to replace the IMF and World Bank tandem in which the United States holds unique veto power. More than just a disparity of voting rights in the IMF and World Bank is at stake. At issue is a philosophy of development. U.S. and other foreign investment in infrastructure (or buyouts and takeovers on credit) adds interest rates and other financial charges to the cost structure, while charging prices as high as the market can bear (think of Carlos Slim’s telephone monopoly in Mexico, or the high costs of America’s health care system), and making their profits and monopoly rents tax-exempt by paying them out as interest. By contrast, government-owned infrastructure provides basic services at low cost, on a subsidized basis, or freely. That is what has made the United States, Germany and other industrial lead nations so competitive over the past few centuries. But this positive role of government is no longer possible under World Bank/IMF policy. The U.S. promotion of neoliberalism and austerity is a major reason propelling China, Russia and other nations out of the U.S. diplomatic and banking orbit. On December 3, 2015, Prime Minister Putin proposed that Russia “and other Eurasian Economic Union countries should kick-off consultations with members of the SCO and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on a possible economic partnership.” Russia also is seeking to build pipelines to Europe through friendly secular countries instead of Sunni jihadist U.S.-backed countries locked into America’s increasingly confrontational orbit. Read the entire article
In New Hampshire, TV Station Partners With Interest Groups That Push Candidates on War and Austerity
A New Hampshire television news network owned by a former Republican candidate for Senate is working closely with conservative interest groups that are pressuring presidential candidates to take more aggressive positions on use of military force, entitlement reform, and tax cuts. One group, Americans for Peace, Prosperity, and Security, was formed last year on behalf of military contractors to hold events in early primary states with the explicit goal of pushing the candidates to support military engagement abroad. And while local television stations regularly work with non-partisan, non-ideological groups to host and broadcast events such as candidate debates, the NH1 News network, owned by Bill Binnie, has gone a step further, providing its on-air talent to press the candidates on issues championed by its interest group partners. Binnie’s NH1 News network, which operates WBIN-TV and includes over a dozen radio stations, also hosts a special interview series called “Fiscal Fridays” on behalf of Fix the Debt and the Concord Coalition, two groups bankrolled by billionaire Pete Peterson. Both groups encourage candidates to adopt the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles commission — which in practice translates into pushing for corporate tax cuts and reductions in Social Security and Medicare. Read the entire article
Want Endless War? Love the U.S. Empire? Well, Hillary Clinton Is Your Choice
Like Obama, Clinton touts American exceptionalism, the notion that the United States is better than any other country. In his State of the Union addresses, Obama has proclaimed America “exceptional” and said the U.S. must “lead the world.” Clinton wrote in her book “Hard Choices” that “America remains the ‘indispensable nation.’ ” It is this view that animates U.S. invasions, interventions, bombings and occupations of other countries. Under the pretense of protecting our national interest, the United States maintains some 800 military bases in other countries, costing taxpayers tens of billions of dollars annually. Often referred to as “enduring bases,” they enable us to mount attacks whenever and wherever our leaders see fit, whether with drones or manned aircraft. Obama, who continues to prosecute the war in Afghanistan 15 years after it began, is poised to send ground troops back to Iraq and begin bombing Libya. His aggressive pursuit of regime change in Syria was met with pushback by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to Seymour Hersh. The president has bombed some seven countries with drones. But besides moving toward normalization of relations with Cuba, his signature foreign policy achievement is brokering the agreement to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Read the entire article
The U.S. Intervention in Libya Was Such a Smashing Success That a Sequel Is Coming
The immediate aftermath of the NATO bombing of Libya was a time of high gloating. Just as Iraq War advocates pointed to the capture and killing of Saddam Hussein as proof that their war was a success, Libya war advocates pointed to the capture and brutal killing of Muammar el-Qaddafi as proof of their vindication. War advocates such as Anne-Marie Slaughter and Nicholas Kristof were writing columns celebrating their prescience and mocking war opponents as discredited, and the New York Times published a front-page article declaring: “U.S. Tactics in Libya May be a Model for Other Efforts.” It was widely expected that Hillary Clinton, one of the leading advocates for and architects of the bombing campaign, would be regarded as a Foreign Policy Visionary for the grand Libya success: “We came, we saw, he died,” Clinton sociopathically boasted about the mob rape and murder of Qaddafi while guffawing on 60 Minutes. Since then, Libya — so predictably — has all but completely collapsed, spending years now drowning in instability, anarchy, fractured militia rule, sectarian conflict, and violent extremism. The execution of Saddam Hussein was no vindication of that war nor a sign of improved lives for Iraqis, and the same was true for the mob killing of Qaddafi. As I wrote the day after Qaddafi fled Tripoli and Democratic Party loyalists were prancing around in war victory dances: “I’m genuinely astounded at the pervasive willingness to view what has happened in Libya as some sort of grand triumph even though virtually none of the information needed to make that assessment is known yet, including: how many civilians have died, how much more bloodshed will there be, what will be needed to stabilize that country, and, most of all, what type of regime will replace Qaddafi? … When foreign powers use military force to help remove a tyrannical regime that has ruled for decades, all sorts of chaos, violence, instability, and suffering — along with a slew of unpredictable outcomes — are inevitable.” But the much bigger question was when (not if, but when) the instability and extremism that predictably followed the NATO bombing would be used to justify a new U.S.-led war — also exactly as happened in Iraq. Back in 2012, I asked the question this way: How much longer will it be before we hear that military intervention in Libya is (again) necessary, this time to control the anti-US extremists who are now armed and empowered by virtue of the first intervention? U.S. military interventions are most adept at ensuring that future U.S. military interventions will always be necessary. Read the entire article
Congress is Writing the President a Blank Check for War
While the Washington snowstorm dominated news coverage this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was operating behind the scenes to rush through the Senate what may be the most massive transfer of power from the Legislative to the Executive branch in our history. The senior Senator from Kentucky is scheming, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, to bypass normal Senate procedure to fast-track legislation to grant the president the authority to wage unlimited war for as long as he or his successors may wish. The legislation makes the unconstitutional Iraq War authorization of 2002 look like a walk in the park. It will allow this president and future presidents to wage war against ISIS without restrictions on time, geographic scope, or the use of ground troops. It is a completely open-ended authorization for the president to use the military as he wishes for as long as he (or she) wishes. Even President Obama has expressed concern over how willing Congress is to hand him unlimited power to wage war. President Obama has already far surpassed even his predecessor, George W. Bush, in taking the country to war without even the fig leaf of an authorization. In 2011 the president invaded Libya, overthrew its government, and oversaw the assassination of its leader, without even bothering to ask for Congressional approval. Instead of impeachment, which he deserved for the disastrous Libya invasion, Congress said nothing. House Republicans only managed to bring the subject up when they thought they might gain political points exploiting the killing of US Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi. It is becoming more clear that Washington plans to expand its war in the Middle East. Last week the media reported that the US military had taken over an air base in eastern Syria, and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that the US would send in the 101st Airborne Division to retake Mosul in Iraq and to attack ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, Syria. Then on Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden said that if the upcoming peace talks in Geneva are not successful, the US is prepared for a massive military intervention in Syria. Such an action would likely place the US military face to face with the Russian military, whose assistance was requested by the Syrian government. In contrast, we must remember that the US military is operating in Syria in violation of international law. Read the entire article
Emancipating the Military, Containing the Citizenry
Those who try to understand military policy often confuse themselves by focusing on minor matters such as strategy, tactics, logistics, and armament. Here they err. For years the central goal of the military, the brass ring, has been independence from control by civilians. It has been achieved. In time of war, the first concern of the command is to limit the flow of information to their publics. The actions of the enemy are an important but secondary consideration. Thus militaries strive to prevent the dissemination of photos of mutilated soldiers or, as in Washington today, of governmentally tortured prisoners. In the United States, which characteristically fights wars unrelated to the safety of the country, the Pentagon must also keep soldiers from being told that they are being sacrifice for the benefit of arms manufacturers and imperialist ambitions. In wars before Vietnam, this was adroitly effected. You could go to jail for criticizing a war. In Vietnam, something new happened. The press covered the war freely. Reporters went where they pleased, beyond the control of the military. Their publications ran the results. National magazines printed horrific photographs of what was really happening. Truth tells. The coverage was one of the two factors that forced Washington to quit the war. The other was the passionate unwillingness of young men to be forced to fight a war in which they had no interest. The war, a source of meaning for Washington’s thunderous hawks and fern-bar Napoleons, was getting them killed. Read the entire article
Corporate Philanthropism: Who Exactly Benefits Most from the “Global Giving” by Billionaires?
As the world’s political and economic elite gather to discuss their top concerns at the annual Davos summit in the Swiss Alps and with attention this week focused on the scourge of economic inequality, a new report begs questions about the potentially disastrous role the super-wealthy are playing when it comes to addressing key problems of global inequity, endemic poverty, and international development. Released on Wednesday, the study by the UK-based social justice group Global Justice Now takes a specific look at the impact of the world’s largest philanthropic charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), to assess how large-scale private giving may be “skewing” how international aid works. In its conclusion, the report argues that what may look like altruism on a grand scale may actually mask a sinister reality about how the billionaires of the world insulate their personal fortunes while using their out-sized influence to project their private ideologies and further financial interests. The result, the report suggests, is that many of the people and communities who such charities purport to be helping, may actually be worse off in the long run. With more than $43 billion in assets, the Gates Foundation is often lauded as a global force for social good that uses its vast financial resources to launch initiatives and support existing projects in order to, according to its mission, “help all people lead healthy, productive lives.” The new report, however—entitled Gated Development: Is the Gates Foundation Always a Force for Good?—argues that regardless of good intentions or motivations, the foundation’s “concentration of power is undemocratically and unaccountably skewing the direction of international development” which in turn is “exacerbating global inequality and entrenching corporate power internationally.” Read the entire article
"Worse Than 2007" Warns Top Level Banker as Central Banks Out of Options!
Is Iran Taking the China Road?
Is the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, a RINO — a revolutionary in name only? So they must be muttering around the barracks of the Iranian Republican Guard Corps today. For while American hawks are saying we gave away the store to Tehran, consider what ayatollah agreed to. Last week, he gave his blessing to the return of 10 U.S. sailors who intruded into Iranian waters within hours of capture. He turned loose four Americans convicted of spying. And he gave final approval to a nuclear deal that is a national humiliation. Ordered by the U.S. and Security Council to prove Iran was not lying when it said it had no nuclear weapons program — an assertion supported by 16 U.S. intelligence agencies “with high confidence” in 2007 — the ayatollah had to submit to the following demands: Read the entire article
RUSSIAN MILITARY FOCUSING ON LONG-DISTANCE AIR DEFENSE, TROOP DEPLOYMENT
Pat Buchanan Says Donald Trump is the Future of the Republican Party
As I’ve watched and listened to Donald Trump’s campaign pitch over the past few months, I am regularly reminded of the Republican presidential primary campaigns that Pat Buchanan ran in the 1990s. Buchanan ran as a “pitchfork populist” in those elections, an outsider fed up with the way both parties did their business in Washington. He also championed slowing immigration into the United States and voiced skepticism about international trade deals. Sound familiar? I reached out to Buchanan to talk about Trump’s similarities and differences with him and the broader state of the Republican Party. Our conversation, conducted via email and edited only for grammar, is below. FIX: Is Donald Trump the logical heir, issues-wise and tonally, to your presidential campaigns? Why or why not? Buchanan: Trump is sui generis, unlike any candidate of recent times. And his success is attributable not only to his stance on issues, but to his persona, his defiance of political correctness, his relish of political combat with all comers, his “damn the torpedos” charging in frontally where others refuse to tread, as in that full retaliatory response to Hillary Clinton’s stab at him for having a “penchant for sexism.” Trump shut her down. These clashes have elated a party base that is sick unto death of politicians who never fight. On building a fence to secure the border with Mexico, an end to trade deals like NAFTA, GATT, and [most favored nation status] for China, and staying out of unwise and unnecessary wars, these are the issues I ran on in 1992 and 1996 in the Republican primaries and as Reform Party candidate in 2000. Read the entire article
Hillary Could Be Indicted Within 60 Days!
The State of the Nation: A Dictatorship Without Tears
There’s a man who contacts me several times a week to disagree with my assessments of the American police state. According to this self-avowed Pollyanna who is tired of hearing “bad news,” the country is doing just fine, the government’s intentions are honorable, anyone in authority should be blindly obeyed, those individuals who are being arrested, shot and imprisoned must have done something to deserve such treatment, and if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t care whether the government is spying on you. In other words, this man trusts the government with his life, his loved ones and his property, and anyone who doesn’t feel the same should move elsewhere. It’s tempting to write this man off as dangerously deluded, treacherously naïve, and clueless to the point of civic incompetence. However, he is not alone in his goose-stepping, comfort-loving, TV-watching, insulated-from-reality devotion to the alternate universe constructed for us by the Corporate State with its government propaganda, pseudo-patriotism and contrived political divisions. While only 1 in 5 Americans claim to trust the government to do what is right, the majority of the people are not quite ready to ditch the American experiment in liberty. Or at least they’re not quite ready to ditch the government with which they have been saddled. As The Washington Post concludes, “Americans hate government, but they like what it does.” Indeed, kvetching aside, Americans want the government to keep providing institutionalized comforts such as Social Security, public schools, and unemployment benefits, fighting alleged terrorists and illegal immigrants, defending the nation from domestic and foreign threats, and maintaining the national infrastructure. And it doesn’t matter that the government has shown itself to be corrupt, abusive, hostile to citizens who disagree, wasteful and unconcerned about the plight of the average American. Read the entire article