Monday 25th of January 2021

transition...

transition

Barak Obama has written his autobiography. It’s a bit of a whitewash. The review in The New York Times is a current whitewash of this retrospective whitewash. We did not expect less.


"…

The White House groundskeepers are “the quiet priests of a good and solemn order.” He questions whether his is a “blind ambition wrapped in the gauzy language of service.” There is a romanticism, a current of almost-melancholy in his literary vision. In Oslo, he looks outside to see a crowd of people holding candles, the flames flickering in the dark night, and one senses that this moves him more than the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony itself.

And what of that Nobel? He is incredulous when he hears he has been awarded the prize.

“For what?” he asks. It makes him wary of the gap between expectation and reality. He considers his public image overinflated; he pushes pins into his own hype balloons.

Obama’s thoughtfulness is obvious to anyone who has observed his political career, but in this book he lays himself open to self-questioning. And what savage self-questioning. He considers whether his first wanting to run for office was not so much about serving as about his ego or his self-indulgence or his envy of those more successful. He writes that his motives for giving up community organizing and going to Harvard Law are “open to interpretation,” as though his ambition were inherently suspect. He wonders if he perhaps has a fundamental lazinessHe acknowledges his shortcomings as a husband, he mourns his mistakes and broods still on his choice of words during the first Democratic primaries. It is fair to say this: not for Barack Obama the unexamined life. But how much of this is a defensive crouch, a bid to put himself down before others can? Even this he contemplates when he writes about having “a deep self-consciousness. A sensitivity to rejection or looking stupid.”


…….
Read more:https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/12/books/review/barack-obama-a-promised-land.html



At this stage this self-serving autobiography seems to be in good company, joining those of Bush, Blair and John Howard… the Trilogists... Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the reviewer for the New York Times — a media forever in love with the Barak, the perfect being — fails miserably in tackling the real issues of foreign policies which followed on the nasty foot-steps of George W Bush: Bomb something somewhere… Here, we are talking of Libya, Syria, Yemen (not a single mention in the review) and a few others glorious moments, such as the assassination of Osama Bin Laden.

And this is the first of two volumes which start with Obama's early life, charting his initial political campaigns, and ending with a meeting in Kentucky where he is introduced to the SEAL team involved in the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Beaut… The Bin Laden saga has thus been firmly cocooned in glorious US mirages. Bin Laden should have been taken to La Hague and be properly judged, rather than assassinated on the decree of a president of the United States…. But this would have been fraught with opening a lot of US secrets on US dirty wars and on a lot of US bad deeds: Osama knew too much since the days he was the darling of the West, while fighting the Russians. If Osama wrote a memoir as well, this would have been destroyed in the raid to make sure the official US narrative was the only one available to accept on this subject. 

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin feels honored she is mentioned in Obama’s memoirs:

Through Palin, it seemed as if the dark spirits that had long been lurking on the edges of the modern Republican Party — xenophobia, anti-intellectualism, paranoid conspiracy theories, an antipathy toward brown and Black folks — were finding their way to center stage,” Obama wrote.

After poopooing Obama for his book title, “A Promised Land”, Palin points out that Obama seemed not to have left the 2008 trail behind.


Well, first — I think that’s the first time I’ve heard the title of the book,” she said. “That’s pretty offensive. Who does he think he is, Moses? God? Yeah, he sure tries to make this all sound so scary and spooky. And he’s so still 2008. It’s funny because with the price of rent today, it’s kind of pleasurable to know I’ve been living rent-free in his head for 12 years. The movement that he still cannot accept nor understand evidently that began in our campaign that he now blames me for — so many Republicans being so active and elected lately — that movement was all about giving the voiceless a voice, empowering people who [were] fed up, want accountability in their government, want a smaller, smarter government — things he just hasn’t been able to grasp. And all these years later, it is like — jeez, get over it.

Fair enough, but Palin being Vice-President nominee to McCain's shot at the presidency, peace was not going to be a priority. McCain was the bombing bomber by excellence. 

Thus Obama gets the peace Prize…. "For what?” he asked. He sees his public image overinflated. He can’t walk on water like Jesus, so "he pushes pins into his own hype balloons”. This comment is weak as piss. At this level, humility is a "sin”. It’s like inverse deprecation, hoping to find a soulmate to tell him it’s okay… Obama’s presidential humility is retrograde and back pedals through the real history of wars to find some flowers to smell, next to the bomb sites. The people whose lives got destroyed by Obama’s little wars would argue little, about what Obama should do with his peace prize. 

Yes... for what???? He should actually demand to be judged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his war crimes. He’s up there with the best of the trilogy...

Mourning mistakes is akin to demanding redemption for craps we knew were going to be craps. They were not mistakes, but deliberate choices. If these choices proved to be “wrong” or not bearing the fruit of success, PLEASE, do not mourn nor beg for forgiveness, even so subtly sub-conscientiously. Just say your decisions were shit. 

Joe Biden comes in with a similar baggage. We can hope that he will be more reasonable… The first bomb he throws on the world will erase all the good will he has promised...

For the transition between Trump and Joe see: the ballade of a departing president...


Gus Leonisky
Peace Mongerer

up there with the best...

best

 


the adults are coming back like elephants in the room...

wars

 

By Scott Ritter 

 

 

The US establishment, and the world, has spent the last four years trying to adapt to the disruptive policies of a childish president. Now the Democrats’ ‘adult’ leadership team will return. Watch out, folks.

To those watching the drama unfolding in Washington, DC around the stalled efforts on the part of nominal President-elect Joe Biden in forming a transition team, the parallels are eerily familiar: a bitterly contested election between an establishment political figure and a brash DC ‘outsider’, a controversial outcome delaying the implementation of the transition between administrations, and an openly condescending atmosphere where the incoming team postured as comprising a return to ‘adult’ leadership. 

That time was December 2000, when a Republican team led by President-elect George W. Bush stood ready to install a cabinet composed of veteran spies, diplomats, and national security managers who had cut their policy teeth during the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. With Colin Powell as secretary of state, Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense, George Tenet as director of central intelligence, and Condoleezza Rice as national security advisor, the foreign policy and national security team that Dubya surrounded himself with upon assuming the presidency was as experienced a team as one could imagine. 

And yet, within two years of assuming their responsibilities, this team of ‘adults’ had presided over the worst terrorist attack in American history, and the initiation of two wars (in Afghanistan and Iraq) that would forever change both the geopolitical map of the world and America’s role as world leader.

Twenty years later, the roles have reversed, with an experienced team of veteran ‘adults’ hailing from the eight-year tenure of President Barack Obama preparing to transition the US away from four tumultuous years of the presidency of Donald J. Trump. While Biden has not finalized his foreign policy and national security team, there is a consensus among experienced political observers about who the top contenders might be for the ‘big four’ foreign and national security policy positions in his administration. 

While there is no doubting the experience and professional credentials of these potential nominees, they all have one thing in common: a proclivity for military intervention on the part of the US. For anyone who hoped that a Biden administration might complete the task begun by President Trump of leading America out of the ‘forever wars’ initiated by the ‘adults’ of the administration of George W. Bush, these choices represent a wake-up call that this will not be the likely outcome. 

Moreover, a potential Biden cabinet would more than likely complement the existing predilection on the part of the president-elect for military intervention, pointing to a foreign and national security policy which not only sustains the existing conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere, but increases the likelihood of additional military misadventures. The Biden team will almost certainly seek to shoehorn the president-elect’s aggressive “America is back” philosophy into a geopolitical reality that is not inclined to accept such a role sitting down.

So who’s likely to fill what role?

Secretary of State

The hands-on favorite here is Susan Rice, who served as both national security advisor and US ambassador to the United Nations under Barack Obama. Biden knows her very well, and they have a great working relationship. With a history of promoting US intervention in Syria and Libya, Rice would more than likely support any policy suggestions concerning a re-engagement by the US in Syria in an effort to contain and/or overthrow Bashar al-Assad, and would be reticent to withdraw US forces from either Afghanistan or Iraq. 

She would also most likely seek hardline ‘confrontational’ policies designed to ‘roll-back’ Russian influence in Europe and the Middle East, as well as China’s claims regarding the South China Sea. Rice would seek to strengthen the military aspects of NATO to better position that organization against Russia in Europe, and China in the Pacific.

A Rice nomination could run afoul of a Republican-controlled Senate, where a source close to the current Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has noted that a “Republican Senate would work with Biden on centrist nominees” but would oppose “radical progressives” or ones who are controversial among conservatives. 

While Rice is not a “radical progressive,” the Republicans continue to condemn her actions while serving as the US ambassador to the UN in response to the 2012 terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans – including the US ambassador to Libya – dead. This controversy prevented her from becoming secretary of state during Obama’s second term, and one can expect a very contentious Senate hearing if she is nominated, with no guarantee that she would pass.

Secretary of Defense

An equally qualified, but far less controversial, woman is the likely nominee for this position. Michele Flournoy, if nominated and confirmed, would become the first female secretary of defense in the history of the US. Given her extensive resume, which includes several previous appointments in senior policy positions in the Department of Defense during both the Clinton and Obama administrations, she would provide an experienced hand in the management of the Pentagon. 

Flournoy once famously told the New York Times that “warfare may come in a lot of different flavors in the future.” In her previous postings in the Pentagon, she took a hardline stance against both Russia and China, encouraged military intervention in Libya and Syria, and sustained military operations in Afghanistan. Her proclivity to seek military solutions to challenging foreign policy issues would reinforce the similar inclinations of Biden. With Flournoy at the helm of the Pentagon, America can expect to experience a full menu of war “flavoring.”

 

Director of the CIA

While the above two positions represent the ostensible heads of US foreign and defense policy, the reality is that the US has become increasingly reliant upon the covert action capabilities of the Central Intelligence Agency when it comes to influencing diplomatic and military outcomes. While news reports have on occasion lifted the veil of secrecy surrounding covert CIA activities, allowing Americans and the world a small measure of insight into their scope, scale and effectiveness, the reality is that the vast majority of the work of the CIA remains classified, revealed only decades after the fact, if at all. 

As the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and later as vice president, Biden is intimately familiar with these covert activities, and of the potential of the CIA to impact American foreign and national security policy. One of the names being bandied about for the role of director is Michael Morell. He is a retired career CIA officer, having worked his way up the ranks over the course of a 33-year career, finishing in 2013 having twice served as the acting director under President Obama. 

Morell would no doubt manage the agency in a professional manner. He is a CIA man, seeped in the dark arts. Insight into how this experience might manifest itself in a Biden administration was provided through comments Morell made about Syria while appearing on PBS in 2016. “What they need is to have the Russians and Iranians pay a little price,” he said. “When we were in Iraq, the Iranians were giving weapons to the Shia militia, who were killing American soldiers, right? The Iranians were making us pay a price. We need to make the Iranians pay a price in Syria. We need to make the Russians pay a price.” 

By “paying a price,” Morell meant “killing.” Russians and Iranians, he said, should be killed “covertly, so you don’t tell the world about it, you don’t stand up at the Pentagon and say ‘we did this.’ But you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran.”

National Security Advisor

If state, defense and the CIA are the three principal tools available to Biden in the conduct of foreign and national security policy, the person responsible for making these three players – along with a host of other departments and agencies – come together as a single team falls to the national security advisor. Here, Biden seems to be leaning toward another experienced hand, Antony Blinken. 

Blinken’s resume includes stints at the State Department and National Security Council during the Obama administration. Like the other potential nominees, Blinken possesses the kind of experience necessary to hit the ground running. As someone who knows and is well known by all the major policy players that could populate a Biden administration, including the president-elect himself, Blinken would be able to coordinate policy formulation and implementation in a seamless fashion.

Therein, however, lies the rub – Blinken would serve as a facilitator of interventionist policy positions that he is inherently inclined to agree with. Like Biden’s other potential nominees, Blinken supported the Obama interventions in Syria and Libya, two events that serve as a litmus test for ascertaining potential interventionist scenarios in the future. 

Whereas a national security advisor should insulate the presidency from the more focused, hardline policy proposals put forward by state and defense, and provide balance when it comes to considering covert action proposals from the CIA, Blinken would function more as a superhighway of interventionist policy options between these entities and a president whose own background can be defined as never having seen an opportunity for US intervention that he didn’t like.

As things stand today, one cannot predict the composition of a Biden cabinet with absolute certainty; it is likely that one or more of the potential candidates listed here will fall by the wayside, their path blocked by the unpredictability of a Senate confirmation at the hands of a hostile Republican Party. 

But the predilection for military intervention and covert action will define any Biden-led cabinet, regardless of exactly who ends up seated there. In the end, the likelihood that this iteration of ‘adult’ leadership ends up getting America embroiled in excessive interventions that further disrupt the global geopolitical balance in the US’s disfavor while costing its people precious blood and treasure is high.

 

Read more:

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/506674-obama-biden-administration-ruin/

 

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of 'SCORPION KING: America's Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.' He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

 

 

repairing the bicycle...

The US faces a huge task in reversing a culture of "crazy conspiracy theories" that have exacerbated divides in the country, Barack Obama says.

In a BBC interview, the former president says the US is more sharply split than even four years ago, when Donald Trump won the presidency.

And Mr Obama suggests Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 US election is just the start of repairing those divisions.

"It'll take more than one election to reverse those trends," he says.

Tackling a polarised nation, he argues, cannot be left only to the decisions of politicians, but also requires both structural change and people listening to one another - agreeing on a "common set of facts" before arguing what to do about them.

However he says he sees "great hope" in the "sophisticated" attitudes of the next generation, urging young people to "cultivate that cautious optimism that the world can change" and "to be a part of that change".

 

Read more:

https://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2020-54910344

 

 

Hello? the US has been fed on crap, including Obama's crap, since Washington... To change this culture, one needs a new vision — and Obama ain't got it... He failed. Had Obama "been good", Trump would not have been elected... Simple enough.

 

 

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Oh and the division works both ways. The Dems did everything to undermine Trump AND DIVIDE THE COUNTRY...

the flat tires of the US economy... 2 views...

 

By Paul Krugman

 

We all knew that Donald Trump would react badly to defeat. But his refusal to concede, the destructiveness of his temper tantrum and the willingness of almost the entire Republican Party to indulge him have surpassed even pessimists’ expectations.


Even so, it’s very unlikely that Trump will manage to overturn the election results. But he’s doing all he can to wreck America on his way out, in ways large and small. Among other things, his officials are already trying to sabotage the economy, setting the stage for a possible financial crisis on Joe Biden’s watch.


To the uninitiated, the sudden announcement by Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, that he’s terminating support for several emergency lending programs created back in March might not seem like that big a deal. After all, the financial markets aren’t currently in crisis. In fact, defying Trump’s prediction that “your 401(k)s will go to hell” if he were to lose, stocks have risen substantially since Biden’s win.


Furthermore, much of the money allocated to those programs was never actually used. So what’s the problem?

Well, the Federal Reserve, which administers the programs, has objected strenuously — for good reason. You see, the Fed knows a lot about financial crises and what it takes to stop them — and Mnuchin is depriving the nation of tools that could be crucial in the months or years ahead.


In the old days, what we now call financial crises were generally referred to as “panics” — like the Panic of 1907, which was the event that led to the Fed’s creation. The causes of panics vary widely; some have no visible cause at all. Nonetheless, they have a lot in common. They all involve a loss of confidence that freezes the flow of money through the economy, often with dire effects on growth and jobs.


Why do such things happen? Panics don’t necessarily reflect mob psychology, although that sometimes plays a role. More often we’re talking about self-fulfilling prophecy, in which individually rational actions produce a collectively disastrous result.

In a classic bank run, for example, depositors rush to get their money out, even if they believe that the bank is fundamentally sound, because they know that the run itself can cause the institution to collapse.


Which is where public agencies like the Fed come in. We’ve known since the 19th century that such agencies can and should lend to cash-starved players during a financial panic, stopping the death spiral.


How much lending does it take to stop a panic? Often, not much at all. In fact, panics are often ended simply by the promise that cash will be provided if needed, with no need to actually write any checks.


Back in 2012 there was a runaway financial crisis in much of southern Europe. Countries like Spain saw their ability to borrow collapse and the interest rates on their debt soar. Yet these countries weren’t actually insolvent; Spain’s fiscal position was no worse than that of Britain, which was able to borrow at very low interest rates.


But Spain, which doesn’t have its own currency — it uses the euro — was the subject of a self-fulfilling panic attack, as investors fearing that it would run out of cash threatened to provoke the very outcome they feared. Britain, which can print its own money, was immune to such a crisis.


In July 2012, however, Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank — the Fed’s counterpart — promised to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro, which everyone interpreted as a commitment to lend money to crisis countries if necessary. And suddenly the crisis was over, even though the bank never did end up doing any lending.


Something similar happened here this past spring. For a few weeks in March and April, as investors panicked over the pandemic, America teetered on the edge of a major financial crisis. But the Fed, backstopped by the Treasury, stepped up with new programs offering to buy assets like corporate bonds and municipal debt. In the end, not much of the money was used — but the assurance that the money was there if needed stabilized the markets, and the crisis faded away.

So far, so good. But in case you haven’t noticed, the pandemic is back with a vengeance; hospitalizations are already much higher than they were in the spring, and rising fast.


Maybe the new coronavirus surge won’t provoke a second financial crisis — after all, we now know that a vaccine is on the way. But the risk of crisis hasn’t gone away, and it’s just foolish to take away the tools we might need to fight such a crisis.


Mnuchin’s claim that the money is no longer needed makes no sense, and it’s not clear whether his successor will be easily able to undo his actions. Given everything else that’s happening, it’s hard to see Mnuchin’s move as anything but an act of vandalism, an attempt to increase the odds of disaster under Trump’s successor.


The thing is, until this latest move, it looked as if Mnuchin might be one of the few officials who managed to emerge from their service under Trump without completely destroying their reputations. Well, scratch that: He’s joined the ranks of Trump loyalists determined to trash the nation on their way out the door.

 

Read more:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/23/opinion/trump-mnuchin-federal-reserve.html

 

 

 

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By Graham Cunningham

 

Billionaires were said to be getting nervous in the early stages of the Democratic primary. Now that we have a Democratic presidency, should they still be nervous? Anti-capitalism is currently on the back-burner as a media story. The Occupy Wall Street crusade, still newsworthy in 2015 has, since then, more or less petered out for lack of attention. And this despite an, apparently, ever growing concentration of extreme wealth in the hands of the wealthiest 1% or 0.1%. But Progressive virtue signalling has, of late, been largely otherwise engaged. The Donald Trump presidency was greeted with mesmeric horror; like a scary creature emerging from some alien spaceship suddenly landed on American soil. The entire gamut of bien pensant opinion has been simultaneously bewildered, outraged…and obsessed by this strange, uncouth Beast, so untutored in the correct ways of political-media-speak. The perceived need to beat it back has been all consuming. But there has palpably also been a delicious–and addictive–aspect to all this outrage and Wokedom is going to miss it. Post-Trump–and with an ongoing pandemic blame-game–the big-media brands might soon find themselves in need of new bogeyman fixes. This recent Time magazine article gives a clue as to the form this might take.

According to Time: “in addressing the causes and consequences of this pandemic – and its cruelly uneven impact – the elephant in the room is extreme income inequality. How big is this elephant? A staggering $50 trillion. That is how much the upward redistribution of income has cost American workers over the past several decades.” Economics as a zero sum game in other words. Given enough media encouragement, few things are more guaranteed to arouse outrage than media reports comparing the wealth of billionaires and zillionaires to that of ordinary folk. For some it will be born of envy and, for others, a reaction to the ‘unfairness’ of it all. Censoriousness about the excesses of princes and plutocrats is nothing new. In essence it probably goes right back to the dawn of civilisation and, in moderation, is understandable and mostly harmless. But when coupled to the superficially plausible notion that the billionaire’s billion dollars has been ‘taken from’ the rest of us (and that the rest of us are a billion dollars less well off as a consequence) it has the potential to foster a political climate that would impoverish us all. 

To illustrate the fallacy in this kind of thinking, a game of If I Were a Rich Man can be illuminating; i.e. imagining oneself as a billionaire. (Such fantasies are, of course, another ubiquitous human emotion; albeit a more light-hearted one than the smouldering envy kind). So…if you had all the money in the world, you would…?? Yes, what would you do? Well, you would of course have a string of luxury homes dotted around various plutocrat hotspots of the globe….and a staff to run them all. And let’s suppose you would also commission for yourself a luxury yacht and a private jet to ferry you, at a whim, from one home to the next. Plus of course so many luxury motor cars you wouldn’t even be able to count them all. Add to all this luxury hardware and fixed overheads (insurance, staff, etc.) a great army of other people to manage your luxurious lifestyle for you…to fawn over you and handle all the boring stuff:  tax consultants, style consultants, health consultants…and bodyguards of course. You’d have parties, the finest wines, caviar and so on. You’d spoil all your sexual partners with largesse to keep them sweet on you. You might indulge yourself with a stratospherically expensive personal art collection and you might buy yourself a football club as well. You’d indulge yourself in fact with every last thing you could think of.

Two truths emerge from this What If fantasy but they are truths that can be somewhat counter-intuitive.  The first truth is that no human being, however greedy, can possibly personally consume billions of dollars. It cannot disappear down their throats in other words–or into their safe. I suspect that many people do not–not consciously anyway–fully comprehend this truth. What the billionaire’s wealth does give them is a large degree of control over other people’s livelihoods. It does this both directly as described above plus indirectly in the way they choose to invest their huge capital assets. 

The second truth is that every cent of the billionaire’s wealth, whatever they decide to do with it, is, at the end of multiple lengthy transactional chains, someone else’s livelihood. This applies to every piece of hardware and services consumed by them, whether directly or indirectly. And the greater part of those myriad transactions will be the salaries of countless thousands of employees in various manufacturing and service industries. All the way from relatively well-healed professionals, to office workers, factory workers, shopkeepers, waiters and cleaners. Even the millions paid for the private art collection will release capital that will end in someone else’s pocket, somewhere in the world; ultimately millions of pockets.

Not all indictments of extreme wealth inequality are fallacious of course.The billionaire’s billions will not benefit only, or even primarily, his or her own countrymen. An understandable, if romantic, ethic of economic patriotism persists not far below the surface in most societies. But the would-be economic patriot should reflect on the fact that, in a globalised economy, this is going to also be true of their own personal spending decisions whether they like it or not. They will have benefitted someone somewhere on the planet

 

Read more:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/blaming-it-on-the-billionaire/


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"yes, we nearly could"... but we didn't...

 

THE LONG, CHILLING LEGACIES OF ‘RUSSIAGATE’ AND ‘OBAMAGATE’


For four years, the endlessly dogmatic and conspiratorial presentation of these scandals has obscured clear abuses of power by the Obama administration while intensifying real existential threats.

 

See more:

https://therealnews.com/the-long-chilling-legacies-of-russiagate-and-obamagate

 

 

OBAMA KNOWS SOMETHING ABOUT SLOGANS THAT DISAPPOINT PEOPLE


Mr. All Hope And No Change says ‘defund the police’ is a mere slogan and not an explicit policy demand (which it is).


Sociologist Taure Brown and editor from Hood Communist, Onyesonwu Chatoyer join us to set the record straight on Obama’s flimsy attempt to rewrite his own legacy and his dogged insistence on crushing leftist movements. 

 

 

See more: https://therealnews.com/obama-knows-something-about-slogans-that-disappoint-people

 

 

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