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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Saudi Arabia is a fanatical, retrograde theocracy, the world's worst. Why does Friedman put his reputation on the line for a miscreant like Salman? He knows the Saudis are funding extremist madrassas around the world. He knows they're arming and training jihadists to fight in Syria, and prosecuting a genocidal war of annihilation in Yemen. He also knows that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9-11 came from Saudi Arabia, the home of all Salafist terrorism emerges. He knows all of this but still provides cover for the man by writing a Homage to a Saudi Dictator in the Times. Why?

The Trump administration, US military and intelligence apparatus have made the Saudi monarchy a lynchpin for their confrontation with Iran, threatening a region-wide war that will dwarf the devastation heaped on Iraq. Friedman is just the public relations make-over, like lipstick on a pig. He did the same thing before the invasion of Iraq. read more


The White House has developed a plan to force out Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, whose relationship with President Trump has been strained, and replace him with Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, perhaps within the next several weeks, senior administration officials said on Thursday. Pompeo would be replaced at the C.I.A. by Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas who has been a key ally of the president on national security matters, according to the White House plan. Cotton has signaled that he would accept the job if offered, said the officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive deliberations before decisions are announced. It was not immediately clear whether Trump has given final approval to the plan, but he has been said to have soured on Tillerson and in general is ready to make a change at the State Department. read more


What made the United States and Germany the leading industrial nations of the 20th century, and now China, has been public investment in infrastructure. This lowers the cost of living and doing business by providing basic services on a subsidized basis or freely. By contrast, U.S. privatizers have brought debt leverage to bear on Third World countries, post-Soviet economies and southern Europe to force selloffs.

The past century's global fracture between creditor and debtor economies has interrupted what should be Europe's democratic destiny to empower governments to override financial and other rentier interests. Instead, the EU is following U.S. diplomatic leadership back to the age when Kings and inherited wealth ruled governments. This conflict between creditors and democracy, between oligarchy and economic growth will remain the defining issue of our epoch over the next generation, and probably for the remainder of the 21st century. read more


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The United States military has spent more than $5.6 trillion on conflicts since 2001, more than three times the Pentagon's actual estimate, according to a new study. The Department of Defense reported earlier this year that it had spent around $1.5 trillion on conflicts, including putting troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, air raids in Syria and Iraq to battle the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and a drone campaign and raids against extremists in Pakistan. But that figure appears to underplay the real cost of war for the American taxpayer, at least according to the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University. It puts the total cost at $5.6 trillion, or $17,000 for every man, women and child. The $5.6 trillion does not include U.S. military assistance outside of the war against ISIS, such as Tunisia, the Philippines or Egypt. read more


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sheldon Wolin exposed our bankrupt democracy, the causes behind the decline of American empire and the rise of a new, terrifying creation of corporate power he calls "inverted totalitarianism."

He was one of the first to explain the transformation of our capitalist democracy into a new form of totalitarianism. He warned us of the consequences of unbridled empire or superpower. He called on us to rise up and resist.

Inverted totalitarianism is different from classical forms of totalitarianism. It does not find its expression in a demagogue or charismatic leader but in the faceless anonymity of the corporate state. Our inverted totalitarianism pays outward fealty to the facade of electoral politics, the Constitution, civil liberties, freedom of the press, the independence of the judiciary, and the iconography, traditions and language of American patriotism, but it has effectively seized all of the mechanisms of power to render the citizen impotent. read more


Comments

Trump's donors are among the most venal in creation. Since rational deliberation and debate have come to count for nothing in American politics, it is their money that talks, and therefore their support that he cares about.

It has become hard to remember a time when each new day's batch of tweets didn't make it harder for anyone who is neither certifiably deluded nor utterly loathsome to be fooled by Trump or to remain in denial about how awful he is.

The GOP must realize that whether they manage to legislate successfully matters less than legislating an extremely unpopular bill. And if they aren't morons, like Trump, they would also realize that tax reforms that are idiotic on their face, that will exacerbate poverty and inequality, harm workers and others in the so-called "middle class," and that will damage the public sphere while leaving only the rich better off, are not likely to put them in good stead with the voting public.

Schumer and Pelosi are holding out for three pieces of "bipartisan" legislation in exchange for cooperation in avoiding a government shutdown. They are demanding a bill to "fix" Obamacare, a bill to restore the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, and a bill to extend the now expired health care program for children, SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program).

Public opinion and common decency are on their side, but there are Republicans in the House and Senate who could care less about such niceties. If Trump concedes anything to the Democrats, they will see to it that he will have a rebellion on his hands. Therefore, deal or not, Trump loses.

The beauty of this moment is that unless Pelosi and Schumer blunder spectacularly, by their own ineptitude or by rightwing Democrats and dillydallying liberals, Trump loses whether he makes a deal or not. Once Republican donors start deserting Trump's sinking ship like the rats they are, the Age of Trump will enter its terminal stage. (Andrew Levine)

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