A week ago we reported news that Middle East veteran aircraft carrier CVN-74 Stennis was ending its brief sabbatical prematurely, and far earlier than previously expected, and heading right back into the field, er sea, of action. As Kitsapsun reported, "Bremerton-based aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis is returning to the Middle East much sooner than expected. The Navy hasn't officially announced the new deployment plan for the Stennis, said spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Zach Harrell." The ship came home to Naval Base Kitsap on March 2 after seven months of launching planes into Iraq and Afghanistan. Generally, it wouldn't go back to the Fifth Fleet area of responsibility for four to five years, after a deployment to the Western Pacific and a maintenance period. But with Iran making threats, crew members learned Saturday they'll be leaving again in late August for eight months." We concluded that shortly, Stennis will be the third carrier accompanying Lincoln and Enterprise. As it turns out, a third carrier was already en route, and as of today, CVN 69 Eisenhower is either at the opening of the Straits of Hormuz, or just past it. That makes 3 aircraft carriers in the middle east, 2 in the Gulf and the Arabian Sea and one just off the coast of Syria. And technically, the LHD 7 Iwo Jima Big Deck Amphibious ship, which is also just off the coast of Iran region, makes three and a half. Which means that a 5th one (rounded up) - Stennis - is coming in 1-2 months. Good luck Iran.
The last time the US navy sent three aircraft carriers into the Arabian Sea/Persian Gulf was just a few short weeks before WTI broke above $110, and aggressive military tensions, coupled with concerns of an imminent invasion of Iran by Israel and/or 'others', were running high. Then summer arrived, as did the need to lower the price of gas and crude ahead of a veritable cornucopia of central banks easing into June and July, not to mention the need to keep gas as low as possible into the July 4th holiday. Now that the peak summer months are behind us this is all changing, and 4 months ahead of the presidential election, the need to have the "Wag the Dog" put option to round up the troops, not to mention votes, has arrived, as has the need to return to an outright aggressive military stance where Iran is concerned. Which is why we were not very surprised to learn that that Middle East veteran aircraft carrier, the CVN-74 Stennis, is going right back into Mordor, a few short months after it came back from its long stint in the Fifth Fleet, and will shortly complete the trio of aircraft carriers stationed within miles of Iran.
- Euro zone fragmenting faster than EU can act (Reuters)
- Wall Streeters Lose $2 Billion in 401(k) Bet on Own Firms (Bloomberg)
- Eurozone crisis will last for 20 years (FT)
- Chuckie Evans: "Please suh, can I have some moah" (Reuters)
- Quote stuffing and book sales: Amazon ‘robo-pricing’ sparks fears (FT)
- Situation in Egypt getting worse by the minute: Egypt parliament set to meet, defying army (Reuters)
- Chinese goalseek-o-tron speaks: China’s inflation eased to a 29-month low (Bloomberg)
- A contrarian view: "Barclays and the BoE have probably saved the financial system" (FT)
- Flawed analysis: Dealers Declining Bernanke Twist Invitation (BBG) - Actually as shown here, ST Bond holdings have soared as dealers buy what Fed sells: more here
- Obama team targets Romney over taxes, Republicans cry foul (Reuters)
- And all shall be well: Brussels to act over Libor scandal (FT)
- Bank of England's Tucker to testify on rate rigging row (Reuters)
Journalism is about asking questions that corporations, governments and establishments don’t want to answer. It’s about reporting the full-story, no matter how many toes you step on. It’s about opening up power to real scrutiny. And that is something that the propagandists in big media are often incapable of — which of course is why big media is slowly dying. We need to know the depth and width of Fast and Furious and the programs which preceded it: how was it authorised, how was it designed, how did it go wrong, who was to blame for it going wrong. We need to know whether or not the widely-spread allegation that the Obama administration has sold guns directly to Los Zetas is true. We need to know whether or not El Chapo and the Sinaloa Cartel are working with the DEA and the Mexican government. (Both of these allegations are widely accepted as fact in Mexico). We need to know why Obama has chosen to continue the failed drug war, even in spite of overwhelming evidence that the illegality of drugs is the very thing that empowers the criminal cartels, and in spite of the fact that Obama is a former drug user.
Forty five years after the War on Poverty began, there are 49 million Americans living in poverty. That’s a solid good return on the $16 trillion spent so far. It’s on par with the 16 year zero percent real return in the stock market. We have produced a vast underclass of ignorant, uneducated, illiterate, dependent people who have become a huge voting block for the Democratic Party. Politicians, on the left, promise more entitlements to these people in order to get elected. Politicians on the right will not cut the entitlements for fear of being branded as uncaring. The Republicans agree to keep the welfare state growing and the Democrats agree to keep the warfare state growing -bipartisanship in all its glory. And the middle class has been caught in a pincer movement between the free shit entitlement army and the free shit corporate army. The oligarchs have been incredibly effective at using their control of the media, academia and ideological think tanks to keep the middle class ire focused upon the lower classes. While the middle class is fixated on people making $13,400 per year, the ultra-wealthy are bribing politicians to pass laws and create tax loopholes, netting them billions of ill-gotten loot. These specialists at Edward Bernays propaganda techniques were actually able to gain overwhelming support from the middle class for the repeal of estate taxes by rebranding them “death taxes”, even though the estate tax only impacts 15,000 households out of 117 million households in the U.S. The .01% won again.
Despite already being engaged in drone wars in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and still occupying Afghanistan, the U.S. is being duped into yet another war based on shaky evidence and at the behest of deep-pocketed special interests. This is coming even while a secretive cyber war already being waged to damage Iran’s nuclear capability. According to the Pentagon, “computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war.” Not only that, but the draconian sanctions thus far placed on Iran are doing enormous harm to the citizens who hardly have a say in what their government does. The Belgium-based SWIFT payment system that facilitates most international payments has already denied service to many Iranian banks. With the imposing of an oil embargo from the European Union just around the corner (July 1st) that will all but make it impossible for oil tankers to be insured by Lloyd’s of London, an actual naval blockade is being floated by U.S. lawmakers. Much like the Antebellum South and Japan, Iran too is being pushed into a corner.... Then and now, wealthy special interests are a driving force behind American imperialism. Lies will be spun till they are seen as facts. When the truth comes out, the irreparable damage will already be done. Like anything the state lays its filthy hands on, war is a racket. The beneficiaries of the ruling class’s gleeful foray into mass murder are few in number. The masses, still brainwashed into feverish nationalism, end up paying the costs with their pilfered income, eroded liberty, and, ultimately, their own lives.
America is spending more today drone-striking American citizens in Yemen, drone-surveilling Mexican drug lords and “turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia-Pacific region“ than she was during the cold war when a hostile superpower had thousands of nukes pointing at her. Military contractors have nothing to fear. Whether it is the Pacific buildup to contain Chinese ambition, or drone strikes in the horn of Africa or Pakistan, or the completely-failed drug war, or using the ghost of Kony to establish a toehold in Africa to compete with China for African minerals, or an attempted deposition of Bashar Assad or Egypt’s new Islamist regime, or bombing Iran’s uranium-enrichment facilities, or a conflict over mineral rights in the Arctic, or (as Paul Krugman desires — and what the heck, it’s 2012, why not?) an alien invasion, or a new global conflict arising out of a global economic reset, it’s springtime for the military contractors. It’s everyone else who should be worried.
Coming into the weekend, most were focusing on key events coming out of Greece and France, possibly Egypt, but nobody expected that Saudi Arabia would be thrown into the fray. That just happened, however, following news that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud has died in Geneva, according to Saudi state television, citing a royal court statement. The news has sent Saudi shares sliding, because now 89-year-old King Abdullah must nominate a new heir for the second time in nine months. And the last thing the middle-east region needs, not to mention the world's biggest oil producer, needs is more geopolitical uncertainty.
So the military-industrial complex — the lobbyists, the weapons makers, the media — may accept it if Obama kills 14 women and 21 children to get one suspected terrorist. More terrorism means more weapons spending. For the lucky few it’s a self-perpetuating stairway to riches. Yet for wider society it means spending time, money and effort on war, instead of on domestic prosperity. It means the constant threat of terrorism. And it means the loss of our liberty, as the security state adopts increasingly paranoid anti-terrorism measures. We should do to others as we would have done to ourselves. That means — unless we are comfortable with the idea of ourselves living under military occupation and drone strikes — getting out of the middle east, and letting that region solve its own problems — forget another costly and destructive occupation in Syria. Slash the war and occupation spending, and redirect the money to making America independent of middle eastern energy and resources.
You can’t watch the mainstream media propaganda channels for more than ten minutes without a talking head breathlessly announcing that gas prices have dropped for the 24th day in a row and are now back to $3.55 a gallon. Wall Street oil analysts, who are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to tell us why prices rose or fell after the fact, are paraded on CNBC to proclaim the huge consumer windfall from the drop in price. This is just another episode of a never ending reality show, designed to keep the average American sedated so they’ll continue to spend money they don’t have buying crap they don’t need. The brainless twits that pass for journalists in the corporate mainstream media never give the viewer or reader any historical context to judge the true impact of the price increase or decrease. The government agencies promoting the storyline of those in power extrapolate the current trend and ignore the basic facts of supply, demand, price and peak oil. The EIA is now predicting further drops in prices. Two months ago they predicted steadily rising prices through the summer. What would we do without these government drones guiding us?
One of the great absurdities of our modern financial system is that a nation living within its means, i.e. spending less than what it confiscates in tax revenue, is no longer the norm. Living within your means is now considered ‘austerity’. And unfair. Whether in the UK, Europe, or North America, many voters have become so accustomed to the government’s massive role in the economy, they can’t begin to imagine how it could be scaled back. The more insolvent governments become, the more they’re going to be forced to axe all the things they can’t afford. We’re already starting to see this in places from California to England that can no longer hide from their fiscal reality. With the government monopoly out of the way, the private sector will mop up every service that it can turn a profit on– trash collection, security, fire, prisons, libraries, etc. This forces competition, higher quality service, and lower prices for everyone. The people who protest against austerity, or think it’s a tragedy when a courthouse closes down due to budget constraints, are really missing the larger point: the sooner this corrupt house of cards collapses, the better off we’ll all be.
One of breakout standup routines from the late, great George Carlin was his 1972 monologue “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” In the presence of polite company, I shall not repeat them… but rest assured, the routine is still hilarious to this day. I wish I could say the same about the Department of Homeland Security… I wish I could say this is all a big joke… that the government’s “377 words you can never use online” is just some stupid comedy routine. But it’s not. And you just can’t make this stuff. After vigorous resistance, the Department of Homeland Security was finally forced into releasing it’s 2011 Analyst’s Desktop Binder. It’s a manual of sorts, teaching all the storm troopers who monitor our Internet activity all day which key words to look for.
The word "sacrifice" has been sacrificed on the altar of expediency. The politicians we elect (those who dare speak the truth of our impoverishment and complicity don't get elected--we abhor and fear the truth) have ground the word "sacrifice" into meaningless with overuse; it now means nothing but yet another clarion-call to swallow lies and artifice to protect our share of the loot. The government can't be the problem, because the government issues me a nice check every month. And so we cling to easy falsehoods... The problem is our consumerist, Central-State dominated society/economy that depends on ever-rising debt and and leverage is unsustainable, and placating ourselves with expedient simplicities that shift the accountability and responsibility from ourselves to someone or something else solves nothing. This reliance on excuses, denial and expediency is the hallmark of adolescence; in adulthood, these are the hallmarks of failure and pathology.
Is this what we've become, brittle, simulacra "grown-ups" who are incapable of acknowledging the truth of our situation? If we cannot dare acknowledging reality, then how can we solve our problems? If we cannot bear an awareness of our systemic rot and unsustainability, then how can we move past denial and expediency? If we have lost the ability to live within our means and to acknowledge difficult facts, then we have lost everything: our national integrity, our ability to problem-solve, our vigor and our future.
As Americans mindlessly celebrate another Memorial Day with cookouts, beer and burgers, the U.S. war machine keeps churning. As we brutally enforce our will on foreign countries, we create more people that hate us. They don’t hate us for our freedom. They hate us because we have invaded and occupied their countries. They hate us because we kill innocent people with predator drones. They hate us for our hypocrisy regarding democracy and freedom. Just when we had the opportunity to make a sensible decision by leaving Iraq and exiting the Middle East quagmire, Obama made the abysmal choice to casually sacrifice more troops in the Afghan shithole. We have thrown over $1.3 trillion down Middle East rat holes over the last 11 years with no discernible benefit to the citizens of the United States. George Bush and Barack Obama did this to prove they were true statesmen. The Soviet Union killed over 1 million Afghans, while driving another 5 million out of the country and retreated as a bankrupted and defeated shell after ten years. Young Americans continue to die, for whom and for what? Our foreign policy during the last eleven years can be summed up in one military term, SNAFU – Situation Normal All Fucked Up. These endless foreign interventions under the guise of a War on Terror are a smoke screen for what is really going on in this country. When a government has unsolvable domestic problems, they try to distract the willfully ignorant masses by proactively creating foreign conflicts based upon false pretenses. General Douglas MacArthur understood this danger to our liberty.
“I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.”