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9/11 – A Cheap Magic Trick

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Tag: Pentagon

By Daniel Larison
March 3, 2017
The American Conservative

Andrew Bacevich comments on Trump’s address to Congress:

For U.S. military leaders, for the national security apparatus as a whole, for defense contractors, and for the Congress itself, Trump was the bearer of good news. As commander-in-chief, he will observe the agreement forged by his immediate predecessors: When it comes to war and basic U.S. national security policy, there will be no accountability and no awkward questions.

There will be no inquiry into the misjudgments and failures that have saddled future generations with a six-trillion-dollar bill. There will be no postmortem. Except at the most trivial level, there will be no learning. There will, however, be more war.

Trump scarcely mentioned our ongoing wars and said nothing about the reasons for any of them. If his predecessors used absurd ideological justifications for unnecessary wars that were soon discredited, Trump didn’t even bother to offer any justification. America’s longest war in Afghanistan received no attention at all, and virtually no one in Congress or the media even noticed. The shameful U.S. role in enabling the wrecking and starving of Yemen naturally went unmentioned, just as it has been carefully neglected by almost everyone in Washington. Even though that role is likely to increase in the months ahead, the public isn’t going to be alerted to this, and most members of Congress have nothing to say about it.

Trump did talk about “extinguishing” ISIS, but except for generic references to working with allies he had nothing to say about how or at what cost that would be achieved. There was certainly no hint that Trump thinks the war needs its own Congressional authorization, and so the illegal war in Iraq and Syria will continue without any debate or vote in Congress. That suits the vast majority of the members very well, since they evidently have no desire to go on the record one way or the other. Obama bestowed on Trump a legacy of waging unauthorized wars, and he demonstrated that neither Congress nor the public cares very much if the president starts and escalates wars on his own. Perversely, this is the one area where Trump most needs to be restrained and checked by his opponents in Congress, and it is the one where he has so far encountered the least resistance.

Bacevich found the exploitation of Ryan Owens’ death to be as distasteful as I did. He saw it as a symptom of the larger problem with our political leaders:

I found myself squirming at the way that Trump and members of Congress collaborated in exploiting the memory of a recently deceased U.S. service member. They used a grieving widow for their own purposes.

Yet the moment captured something essential about where we find ourselves today—political leaders who make a show of respecting those who fight on our behalf while neglecting their own most fundamental responsibilities. I don’t know whether to attribute that neglect to cynicism, corruption, moral cowardice, or simply an absence of imagination. But I do know that it’s contemptible.

It is contemptible, but unfortunately it will continue for as long as the public tolerates such shoddy leaders that shirk their duties while sending Americans to fight in unnecessary and unwinnable wars.

March 2, 2017
Paul Craig Roberts

According to official US economic data, the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has expanded for 22 quarters, raising real GDP 12.1% above its high prior to the 2008-09 economic contraction. Yet, US manufacturing output and US industrial production have not recovered to their pre-contraction high.

So what is driving the real GDP growth? In my opinion, the rise in real GDP is an illusion produced by the under-measurement of inflation.

As I have reported on many occasions, John Williams of shadowstats.com has concluded that changes in the way that the government approaches the measurement of inflation has, in effect, defined inflation away.

Formerly, if a price of an item in an inflation measure rose, the inflation rate would rise by the price times the weight of the item in the index. Today, if a price of an item in an inflation measure rises, that item is removed from the index, and a lower cost item substituted in its place.

A second way that government has contrived in order to undermeasure inflation is to declare price rises “quality improvements” and not count the higher price as inflation.

Using these methods, an 8% rate of inflation can, for example, be reduced to a 2% inflation rate.

The low inflation rate is what produces the appearance of real GDP growth. As GDP is measured in prevailing prices, in order to know whether the GDP number is the result of an increase in the output of goods and services or merely the result of higher prices or inflation, the nominal GDP figure is deflated by the inflation measure.

For example, if nominal GDP rises 5% this year over last year, and the inflation rate is measured at 2%, real GDP has grown by 3%. However, if the 2% inflation rate is the contrived result described above, and inflation is really 5% or 8%, GDP growth was zero or declined by 3%.

The main reason that the government revamped its measurement of inflation is to save money by denying Social Security recipients cost-of-living-adjustments. During the many years that retirees have had no interest income on their retirement savings due to the Federal Reserve’s low interest rate policy in support of the balance sheets of the “banks too big to fail,” retirees have also been denied cost-of-living adjustments to their Social Security pensions.

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February 27, 2017
by Paul Craig Roberts

“The U.S. intelligence community’s extraordinary campaign of leaks claiming improper ties between President Trump’s team and Russia seeks to ensure a lucrative New Cold War by blocking detente.” — Gareth Porter

It only required 24 days for the Deep State to castrate President Donald Trump and terminate the promise that the high tensions with Russia created during the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama regimes would be terminated by Trump’s presidency.
As Gareth Porter shows conclusively (http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46546.htm), the case against General Flynn, Trump’s 24-day National Security Adviser, and by implication against Trump himself, is a fake news creation.

Obama’s CIA director, John Brennan, planted fake reports, none of which contained any evidence whatsoever, on the CIA-compliant media whores known as “presstitutes.” The CIA’s media whores knew that the reports were a CIA response to the threat to the $1,000 billion annual budget of the military/security complex that desperately needs “the Russian threat” for its justification. But the media whores—-principally the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC—-and all the rest as well are more dedicated to serving their CIA master than they are to serving peace between nuclear powers. Interesting, isn’t it, that the US and Western media are more committed to conflict with Russia than they are to peace, despite the brutal fact that 10 percent of the nuclear arsenal of either the US or Russia is sufficient to terminate all life on earth.

As Patrick Lawrence says: “The lights upon us are dimming. We have been more or less abandoned by a press that proves incapable of informing us in anything approaching a disinterested fashion. As suggested, either the media are Clintonian liberals before they are newspapers and broadcasters, or they are servants of power before they serve us.” http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46532.htm

All we have left, says Lawrence, is the alternative media. “To put this simply and briefly, they and we must learn that they are not ‘alternative’ to anything. In the end there is no such thing as ‘alternative media,’ as I often argue. There are only media, and most of ours have turned irretrievably bad.”

The alternative media is the Internet media, websites such as this one, RT, the Intercept, USAWatchdog, Alex Jones, Information Clearing House, Global Research, Unz Review, etc. These independent news sites are under attack. Remember the list of 200 “Russian agents/dupes”? Every source of information that does not subscribe to the Deep States’ Matrix creation of “the Russian Threat,” which is the Deep State’s replacement for the orchestrated “Soviet Threat,” has been selected for shutdown. Apparently, Alex Jones is already having problems with Google. Several websites managed to get off the 200 List, and those that have seem to have collapsed as members of the opposition.

As the Nazis said, all it takes is fear, and the people collapse.

Trump’s presidency is effectively over. Even if he is permitted to remain in office,
he will be a figurehead for the Deep State’s presidency. President Trump has already fallen into line with the military/security complex. He has said Russia has to return Crimea to Ukraine, whereas in fact Crimea returned itself to Russia. He has rejected a new strategic arms limitations treaty (START) with Russia, stating that he wants supremacy in nuclear armaments, not equality. http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/02/27/president-trump-decries-new-start-treaty.html Obama’s one trillion dollar upgrade of the US nuclear arsenal is likely to get a boost from Trump.

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By Daniel Larison
February 21, 2017
The American Conservative

Michael Gerson complains about the “abandonment” of “American exceptionalism”:

During the Barack Obama years, the United States retreated from internationalism in practice. At first, this may have been a reaction against George W. Bush’s foreign policy. But Obama’s tendency became a habit, and the habit hardened into a conviction. He put consistent emphasis on the risks of action and the limits of American power.

One of the more tedious arguments from hawks over the last eight years is that the U.S. “retreated” under Obama. This was always false, and there was no real “retreat” from the world. Nonetheless, the lie became a habit and it has since hardened into conventional D.C. wisdom. Obama didn’t “retreat” from internationalism, but the purpose in promoting this falsehood was to identify internationalism with extremely meddlesome interventionism and to treat everything else as the rejection of internationalism. This nonsense made for a somewhat useful talking point so long as hawks didn’t get too specific about what they meant, but when forced to describe what Obama’s “retreat” was they had to acknowledge that they meant that he didn’t start or escalate enough wars to their satisfaction. According to them, Obama’s big failing is that he didn’t involve the U.S. enough in the killing of Syrians. To put it mildly, that is an odd understanding of what internationalism means.

The abuse of the concept of “American exceptionalism” has been similar. Once again, hawks insisted that Obama didn’t believe in it, misrepresented his words to shore up their garbage argument, and then repeated the lie for years until it became automatic. In the process, they ended up defining “American exceptionalism” so narrowly that no one except advocates for a very aggressive foreign policy could qualify as supporters. Gerson’s complaint that Obama emphasized risks and costs of direct military action in Syria reflects this. If a president doesn’t use American power to inflict death and destruction somewhere overseas, or if he even pays closer attention to what it will cost the U.S. to do so, Gerson thinks that amounts to an “abandonment” of what makes America unique. That’s profoundly warped, but unfortunately it is what passes for “idealism” in foreign policy commentary these days.

Feb. 22,2017

During a lively discussion centered on fears that President Trump is “trying to undermine the media,” MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski let slip the awesome unspoken truth that the media’s “job” is to “actually control exactly what people think.”

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By Patrick J. Buchanan
February 21, 2017
The American Conservative

Among the reasons Donald Trump is president is that he read the nation and the world better than his rivals.

He saw the surging power of American nationalism at home, and of ethnonationalism in Europe. And he embraced Brexit.

While our bipartisan establishment worships diversity, Trump saw Middle America recoiling from the demographic change brought about by Third World invasions. And he promised to curb them.

While our corporatists burn incense at the shrine of the global economy, Trump went to visit the working-class casualties. And those forgotten Americans in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin responded.

And while Bush II and President Obama plunged us into Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Trump saw that his countrymen wanted to be rid of the endless wars, and start putting America first.

He offered a new foreign policy. Mitt Romney notwithstanding, said Trump, Putin’s Russia is not “our number one geopolitical foe.”

Moreover, that 67-year-old NATO alliance that commits us to go to war to defend two dozen nations, not one of whom contributes the same share of GDP as do we to national defense, is “obsolete.”

Many of these folks are freeloaders, said Trump. He hopes to work with Russia against our real enemies, al-Qaeda and ISIS.

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Michael Springmann on The Corbett Report

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Who.What.Why.com
Feb. 16, 2017

Cyril H. Wecht, author. Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from WhoWhatWhy Org / YouTube, Prometheus Books, Penguin and Planet Ann Rule.

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was gunned down in the streets of Dallas in broad daylight. According to the Warren Commission (1964), the government’s first official investigative panel into the president’s death, JFK was shot by lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald from the 6th floor window of the Texas School Book Depository Building with an Italian Mannlicher-Carcano rifle. The Commission concluded that Oswald fired three shots: one that missed (the Commission said it was inconclusive which of the shots missed), one that hit both Kennedy and Governor John Connally (the “magic bullet”), and the final shot that hit Kennedy in the head.

The “magic bullet” is so named because it followed what seems to be an extraordinary trajectory: it penetrated JFK’s back, exited the throat, then proceeded to hit Connally (who was sitting in front of Kennedy), passing through his back, hitting a rib, exiting his chest, hitting his right wrist, and finally hitting his left thigh, leaving behind a small fragment seven millimeters beneath the skin. What was presumably this same bullet was later found on a stretcher in nearly undamaged condition.

The later House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) contradicted the Warren Commission by concluding that JFK’s death was probably the result of a conspiracy involving two shooters. Today, however, most newsmedia and government figures publicly accept the findings of the Warren Commission, even though polling consistently shows that the vast majority of Americans have serious doubts about its conclusions.

Dr. Cyril Wecht, for two decades the elected coroner of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (including Pittsburgh), is a nationally acclaimed forensic pathologist, and holds both a medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh (1956), and a law degree from the University of Maryland (1962). Forensic pathologists specialize in medically determining how and why someone died. In criminal murder cases this function is absolutely vital in helping to determine the guilt or innocence of a suspect — in no case more so than in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

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Neocon warmonger is fired before he’s hired

by Justin Raimondo
February 10, 2017
Antiwar.com

Despite a media campaign trying to offload neoconservative Elliott Abrams onto the Trump administration, and considerable pressure from within the cabinet to appoint him Deputy Secretary of State, President Trump has decided against including the controversial interventionist and Iraq war supporter in his administration.

Like virtually all of his fellow neoconservatives, Abrams disdained Trump’s unwillingness to kowtow to our alleged “allies” and sneered at him for his supposed “ignorance.”

Media accounts – see here and here – attribute this to Trump being “thin-skinned” – Abrams was highly critical of Trump during the presidential campaign, as I pointed out on Twitter. But this is a remarkably superficial analysis of what really went on, for Abrams’ critique of Trump was that of a globalist who is unalterably opposed to Trump’s “America First” foreign policy views.

As our regular readers know, we here at Antiwar.com have been conducting a campaign against Abrams, urging the President not to appoint him and telling our readers to call both the White House and their congressional representatives.

Sen. Rand Paul also signaled that he would oppose Abrams, who would have been subject to Senate confirmation.

by William J. Astore
February 10, 2017
Antiwar.com

Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value. Under the Trump administration, what is valued is spending on military weaponry and wars. The Pentagon is due to get a major boost under Trump, as reported by the Associated Press and FP: Foreign Policy:

Money train. It’s looking like it might be Christmas in February for the U.S. defense industry. The Pentagon has delivered a $30 billion wish list to Congress that would fund more ships, planes, helicopters, drones, and missiles, the AP reports.

And that might only be the beginning.

President Trump has already ordered the Pentagon to draft a “supplemental” budget for 2017 that would include billions more for the US military on top of the $600 billion the Obama administration budgeted for…

As FP’s Paul McLeary and Dan De Luce recently reported, there are proposals floating around for a defense budget as high as $640 billion for 2018, which would bust through congressionally-mandated spending caps that Democrats — and many Republicans — are happy to keep in place. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has been tasked with completing the supplemental request by March 1.

The Pentagon, which has never passed a financial audit and which has wasted more than two trillion dollars over the years (this figure came in 2001, when Donald Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense under Bush/Cheney), is due to be given even more money to spend, irrespective of past performance or future need.

Naturally, each military service is already posturing and clamoring for the extra money promised by Trump. Consider the US Navy, which, according to Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral William Moran, will be “Just Flat Out Out Of Money” without this supplemental funding boost from Congress.

According to the Navy and Marine Corps:

Five attack submarines would see their maintenance availabilities canceled this year and be put at risk of being decertified if no supplemental were passed out of Congress, Moran added, in addition to similar cuts to surface ship maintenance availabilities.

Assistant Commandant Gen. Glenn Walters said “we would stop flying in about July” without a supplemental. He clarified that forward forces would continue to operate, but for units training at home, “all training would cease without a supplemental, and that includes the parts money and the flying hour money.”

Even if the supplemental – which could total between $30 and $40 billion for all the armed services – is passed in a timely manner, the Navy and Marine Corps still face massive readiness issues that money can’t immediately address.

That last part is disturbing indeed. Even with billions in additional funding, the Navy still faces “massive readiness issues.”

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