Leonardo da Vinci Lady with an Ermine c. 1489-91
@RealPepeEscobar Waiting list for BRICS+: at 25 – and counting.
Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi, Senegal, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkiye, UAE, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.
Ret. Col. Douglas Macgregor: "Bakhmut became to Zelensky, in many ways, what Stalingrad became to Hitler." pic.twitter.com/GOUGIaSMhM
— COMBATE |🇵🇷 (@upholdreality) May 22, 2023
For months, the 'Battle for Bakhmut' has been a main point in Zelensky's fundraising pitch, as he gallivanted across NATO territory in search of more lethal aid.
But now that the Russian Wagner Group has taken control of the city, the "fortress" Zelensky once touted that was… pic.twitter.com/QkFabV2GGp
— Rachel Blevins (@RachBlevins) May 22, 2023
When the globalist establishment realize they do not control the narrative anymore…….. pic.twitter.com/o30WQpRmyt
— Richard (@ricwe123) May 22, 2023
It's here: The Official Great Awakening Trailer! The themes of this movie have evolved over the past year, as it’s become increasingly clear that the plandemic was not the agenda, but rather a way to accelerate the agenda.
As we face this darkness, a worldwide awakening is… pic.twitter.com/tFuvvIEFoL
— PLANDEMIC (@Plandemic3Movie) May 23, 2023
As America gears up for a presidential election which promises to test levels of political anger & disillusionment. I sat down with democratic presidential candidate @RobertKennedyJr to discuss his life, family, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, British royals, and why he’s… pic.twitter.com/QrDesTt1O4
— Noel Phillips (@Noel_Phillips) May 15, 2023
@WarClandestine: As Bakhmut falls and Ukraine’s air defenses are depleted, you’ll notice Zelensky is STILL not in Ukraine. Since May 3rd, he has been in Finland, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, and now off to Japan for the G7 Summi.t He’s hiding.
Warmonger midget Sunak.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has shot down calls for a ceasefire in Ukraine, declaring that Kiev should keep fighting for as long as it takes to get the peace “it deserves.” Ukraine’s British and American backers have rejected calls for peace on multiple occasions before. In a session of parliament on Monday, Sunak was asked by former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn whether he agreed with a ceasefire initiative put forward by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and backed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Pope Francis. Corbyn added that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva stated earlier on Monday that “a ceasefire is not a peace,” but without one, “this war will go on and get worse and worse.”
“I could not disagree with him more,” Sunak replied. “A ceasefire is not a just and lasting peace for Ukraine. Russia has conducted an illegal and unprovoked invasion … and the right and only response to that is for Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine.” “All plans masquerading as peace plans,” he continued, “are in fact attempts just to freeze the conflict where it is, are absolutely wrong and they should be called out.” Sunak’s position is in line with that of the US, where Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in December that any ceasefire that involved freezing battle lines would lead to “a phony peace.” At the time, Sunak stated that a ceasefire would be “completely meaningless,” and that the UK would only accept the withdrawal of Russian troops from “conquered territory.”
Ukraine considers the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporozhye – which voted to join the Russian Federation last year – its territories, and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has vowed to bring all four back under Kiev’s control. Zelensky has also promised to recapture Crimea, which voted to join the Russian Federation in 2014. However, American military officials have publicly stated that retaking Crimea is beyond Ukraine’s capability, and Kiev’s long-anticipated spring counteroffensive against Russian forces has thus far failed to materialize. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military suffered the destruction of more than two dozen of its brigades in the city of Artyomovsk/Bakhmut since last October, only to lose the city to the Wagner private military company over the weekend. Nevertheless, Sunak claimed in parliament that Russian forces are “failing on the battlefield,” and declared – as he and US President Joe Biden have on many occasions – that he would “stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
“..Vienna continued to communicate with Moscow through informal channels..”
Vienna maintains an informal channel of communication with Moscow and calls for dialogue with Russia despite the Ukrainian conflict, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said. “The West should continue talking with Russia the way the US government is doing,” he pointed out in an interview with Germany’s Die Welt newspaper published on Monday. According to Schallenberg, international platforms such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations should be used for further talks with Russia. Austria’s top diplomat sees it as “the global responsibility” of Western countries. Schallenberg emphasized that Vienna continued to communicate with Moscow through informal channels. “Russia has not disappeared from the map, remaining the EU’s biggest geographical neighbor and the world’s major nuclear power,” he added.
Keep your foot down this time.
Budapest opposes a number of key provisions in the 11th package of sanctions on Russia developed by the European Commission and will not support giving any additional military assistance from the European Peace Facility until its OTP Bank is taken off of Ukraine’s list of international war sponsors, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday. He recalled that EU countries want to increase military assistance to Ukraine from the European Peace Facility to the tune of 500 million euro. “We demand the Ukrainians remove OTP from the list of international war sponsors. Until that happens, we will not give our consent to allocate these 500 million euro to EU countries as compensation for their spending on weapons to Ukraine,” he told Hungarian journalists during a break in the meeting of the EU foreign ministers in Brussels.
The top diplomat’s press conference was broadcast live on his Facebook page (Facebook is banned in Russia due to its ownership by Meta, which has been designated as extremist). On May 4, Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention put Hungary’s OTP Bank Group, which continues to operate in Russia, on the list of international sponsors of war. Szijjarto slammed this decision as “scandalous and unacceptable.” As of today, he stressed, Hungary’s largest bank, OTP, “had not violated a single national or international law” and its blacklisting in Ukraine is absolutely illegal. The top Hungarian diplomat also recalled that his country’s government was against weapons supplies to Ukraine in general and would not budge from this position. “Weapons supplies are fraught with the risk of escalating the war and the longer this war continues, the more people will die,” he stressed.
Touching on the 11th package of anti-Russian sanctions, which was also a topic of discussion for the EU foreign ministers, the Hungarian minister noted, “Brussels should have learned a lesson from the consequences of the sanctions.” “Sanctions are more harmful to Europe than they are to Russia and I think that the 10th package of sanctions should not be followed by an 11th, which would turn out to be a true test for Europe in general and the economy of European countries,” he said, adding that Hungary opposed additional restrictions for European companies in terms of trading in Russian goods, as well as sanctions on Chinese companies suspected of cooperating with Russia. He also reiterated that Hungary will oppose any EU sanctions that would restrict cooperation with Russia in the field of nuclear energy. “Despite the pressure that’s being exerted on us, we will strongly oppose any kind of sanctions affecting the nuclear industry, because that concerns Hungary’s energy security. In no case will we risk the security of Hungary’s energy supply,” he said.
Apart from that, Szijjarto stressed that Budapest will continue to demand that the Ukrainian authorities restore the rights of the Hungarian minority in the Zakarpattia Region. Until this problem is settled, Hungary will not support Kiev’s aspirations to integrate into the European Union, he pledged. Summing up the results of the ministerial meeting, the Hungarian minister noted that no decision had been made about using the European Peace Facility to further finance weapons supplies to Ukraine. “No decision on sanctions was made either,” he said. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said earlier on Monday that the 11th package of sanctions could be agreed before the next EU ministerial meeting in June. Talks on this topic continue. At the same time, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has admitted that not only Hungary but a number of other countries object to the 11th package.
The Germans are not ready to declare war on Russia.
Ukraine will most likely not be able to become a NATO member state in the foreseeable future as it does not meet a number of requirements for admission yet, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said. Earlier this month, the head of the US-led military bloc, Jens Stoltenberg, declared that all member states had agreed to welcome Kiev, but only if and when it vanquished Moscow’s forces. In an interview with Germany’s Die Welt published on Monday, Scholz assessed that, for the time being, Ukraine’s Western backers should focus on helping the country “defend its land.” In the future, security guarantees for Kiev will also need to be discussed. “But we are a long way away from there,” he added.
When asked whether he would theoretically support Ukraine’s accession to NATO after its military conflict with Russia was over, the chancellor claimed that it was “clear to everyone that this doesn’t stand on the agenda anytime soon.” One of the reasons for that, according to Scholz, is that “there is a whole range of requirements belonging to NATO’s criteria that Ukraine can’t fulfill at present.” Earlier this month, dpa news agency, citing a YouGov poll, reported that some 54% of Germans oppose the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO, with only 27% in favor. Meanwhile, also this month, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the Washington Post that “all NATO allies agree that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance.” He, however, refused to offer any timeline for this.
According to the official, the US-led military bloc is currently helping Kiev “transition from Soviet-era equipment, doctrines and standards” and become “interoperable with NATO forces.” In April, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky claimed that most Europeans would disapprove if NATO did not extend a “well-deserved invitation” to join the alliance. The Ukrainian leadership made it clear that it expected to see progress on the issue during an upcoming NATO summit in Lithuania in July.
“..our country is bypassing the banana republic stage of dissolution and depravity and steaming quickly into a Hieronymus Bosch dystopia..”
Well, the folks running things in America — that is, the scores of unelected bureaucratic satraps guarding their nests throughhout the Okefenokee inside-the-Beltway, especially the gator-pit known politely as the Intel Community — decided to subject Mr. Trump to a one-man version of the exquisite torment intended for Russia, Russia, Russia: pain, ignominy, and ruin. They’re still at it six years later, since the relentless Mr. Trump will not give up his crusade to take back the White House and defenestrate all those attempting to defenestrate him. His enemies have captured all the levers of legal power, and yet, amazingly, they can come up with nothing but the most rinky-dink charges to railroad him in captured jurisdictions.
This internal political conflict in the USA has driven the populace plumb insane, while it has rendered our institutions rancid and left us subject to a pathocracy hiding behind a laughably fake chief executive. After a year-plus of America’s genius scheme to maintain world dominance, Russia is doing really well, thank you, in constructing a geo-economic framework for trade that will not be subject to the pranks of USA-led Western Civ. Russia is a nation of people who regard themselves as men and women, the toils of gender confusion happily absent. Ditto race hustles. Ditto banking Ponzis. After two-plus years of “Joe Biden” — well, our country is bypassing the banana republic stage of dissolution and depravity and steaming quickly into a Hieronymus Bosch dystopia of financial, social, psychological and moral ruin. Every official utterance is a lie. Everything’s broken or breaking. And seemingly, on-purpose.
The nagging question, of course, is on whose purposes? And why is Mr. Zelensky flitting from one country to another the past month? Because the game of Let’s You and Him Fight is drawing to a close and Mr. Z may find himself fatally unpopular back on the home-front. He has managed to send upward of a hundred-thousand young Ukrainian men to their deaths in the meat-grinder, and perhaps a million more have hightailed it for other countries. Ukraine will now be a land of mostly women, children, and old folks — with just enough surviving soldiers left looking to hunt down the comedian who turned Ukraine into another one history’s sick jokes.
“The high-profile security talks, which are held annually, are an “integral and in-demand element of the Russian-Chinese comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation..”
Top Russian and Chinese security officials met in Moscow on Monday to discuss cooperation between the two nations in various areas, the press service of Russia’s Security Council has said. “The prospects for joint efforts in the law enforcement sphere, in various areas of operational and service activities have been considered. Special attention was paid to plans for cooperation between the Russian Guard and the People’s Armed Police of China, as well as between financial intelligence [services],” the statement said.The talks involved an unspecified number of representatives of various ministries and government agencies of the two countries, according to the Russian side. The two sides discussed various issues, including “international information security,” as well as “contacts between supervisory and investigative bodies” of the two nations.
The Chinese delegation was led by Chen Wenqing, a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo. He was recently named secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, the country’s top security post with oversight of judges, police, and intelligence. Russia’s delegation was led by Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev. The high-profile security talks, which are held annually, are an “integral and in-demand element of the Russian-Chinese comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation,” the press service said. This was the second major Russia-China security event in just over a month. In mid-April, China’s newly appointed Defense Minister Li Shangfu visited Moscow, where he met his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu, President Vladimir Putin, and other top officials during a three-day stay in Russia.
Li said at the time that the trip was intended to underscore Beijing’s “firm determination to strengthen strategic cooperation between the militaries of China and Russia.” “After my appointment as the defense minister, my first visit is made to Russia in order to demonstrate to the outside world the high level of Chinese-Russian relations,” he said ahead of the talks with Shoigu.
“..the intelligence service does not see that the conflict has somehow shaken the authority of the Russian state.”
Russia is capable of continuing its military operation in Ukraine ‘for a long time’, President of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) Bruno Kahl said. “Russia, as before, remains capable of leading <…> [its special military operation] for a long time,” the DPA news agency quoted the intelligence chief as saying. Kahl also noted that the intelligence service does not see that the conflict has somehow shaken the authority of the Russian state. When asked whether the BND was aware that a military operation would certainly begin, he said: “Fourteen days before the start <…> [of the conflict] we recorded phenomena that could hardly be interpreted in any other way.”.
Keep the questions alive. Forever.
No intelligence agency is currently able to clearly name those responsible for the Nord Streams sabotage, President of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) Bruno Kahl said. “No country, no intelligence agency in the world is currently able to attribute this (the Nord Streams sabotage – TASS) to anyone in particular,” he said, “Maybe this will change, there are some notable successes in the investigation.” Kahl recalled that the site of the sabotage is a seabed, which makes the work of investigators much more difficult. According to him, the investigation is being conducted “in different directions.” “I do not exclude that there will be a success that will make one of the options more likely and the others less likely,” the intelligence chief added. On May 21, the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung reported that at least two Ukrainians may have been involved in the explosions at the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 pipelines.
The German Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office on Monday did not comment on this information when asked by TASS. The agency said that the investigation is working on all the evidence to establish the facts, but it is impossible to provide additional data at the moment. In turn, State Secretary Steffen Hebestreit, commenting on the information of the Suddeutsche Zeitung, said that the German government does not intend to speculate about the perpetrators of the Nord Stream sabotage. On September 27, 2022, Nord Stream AG reported “unprecedented damage” on three strings of the offshore gas pipelines of the Nord Stream system. Later, Swedish seismologists said they had identified two explosions on the route of the Nord Stream pipelines on September 26, 2022. Following the incident, the Russian prosecutor general’s office opened a case on charges of international terrorism.
Allegedly they sent in 50 men. 39 were killed, 5 arrested.
A Ukrainian sabotage group infiltrated the Grayvoron District of the Belgorod Region on Monday, regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said. According to the latest data, the Russian military and security forces are taking measures to eliminate the enemy and are driving it away from the Russian territory. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been briefed about the situation. TASS has put together the highlights of what has been reported about the attack as of now.
– The infiltration by Ukrainian saboteurs was reported by Gladkov. He said the Russian military, border guards and the servicemen of the National Guard and the Federal Security Service are taking “necessary measures to eliminate the enemy.” – Before that, the governor said two people were injured in a shelling of the village of Glotovo of the Grayvoron District. He said one of the casualties, a woman, who suffered wounds from a mine explosion, had been taken to a hospital in serious condition. The other person, a man, was in a condition of medium gravity. – The Kremlin later confirmed that a Ukrainian sabotage group had tried to force its way into the Belgorod Region, and the group is now being driven away from the Russian territory and eliminated. – Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there are sufficient forces and equipment on the scene to combat the saboteurs. He said Putin had been briefed about the incident.
– Peskov said the goal of the sabotage attack is “to divert attention from the Bakhmut area and reduce to a minimum the political effect from the loss of Artyomovsk by the Ukrainian side.” The Russian Defense Ministry said into the night of May 21 that the town in Donbass had been fully liberated. – The Russian Defense Ministry has regularly reported stopping Ukrainian sabotage attacks in Russia’s new regions: The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. – The previous sabotage attack took place in the Bryansk Region on March 2. Two people were killed, and a boy with the date of birth in 2012 was wounded at the time. The boy was able to lead two girls that were nearby out of harm’s way. – Putin then called the attack on villages outside Bryansk a terrorist attack.
“Given their losses in men and materiel defending Bakhmut, the surrender of the city to the Russians will be a great blow to Ukrainian fighting morale when it is finally admitted..”
Midday yesterday, 20 May, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group which did most of the fighting for Bakhmut on the ground, claimed total victory. In the evening, President Vladimir Putin announced to the Russian public that Bakhmut was taken. Joyous messages of congratulations filled the internet message services in Russia as the broad public celebrated a victory as iconic as the Battle for Stalingrad. Meanwhile, the defenders of the Western public against Russian “disinformation” were hard at work, straining their brains to find what to say. This morning’s New York Times still speaks of the battle for Bakhmut as undecided, pointing yet again to the Ukrainian hold on the flanks.
Given their losses in men and materiel defending Bakhmut, the surrender of the city to the Russians will be a great blow to Ukrainian fighting morale when it is finally admitted. So will the fate of their Commander in Chief General Zaluzhny who, according to Russian sources, has been hospitalized for the past two weeks and remains in critical condition after falling victim to a Russian strike on a provincial command center which killed most of the high officers around him. If nothing else, this speaks to the amazing success of Russian military intelligence directing their firepower.
Meanwhile, Western media attention to Ukraine is conveniently redirected at the nonstop travels of President Zalensky who went from his European tour on to the Middle East, where he attended the meeting of the Arab League, and thence via French military jet to the G7 gathering in Hiroshima where he held talks with fellow heads of state and joined them for the obligatory group photos. All the talk was about when the U.S. will formally give its consent to the dispatch of F16s to Kiev. For the disseminators of Western disinformation this is a wonderful distraction from a war that clearly is going badly for Kiev and in particular a distraction from the counter offensive that looks less likely with each passing day of Russian military strikes on the command centers and weapons stores of the Ukrainian side.
The plume of radioactive smoke and ash that rose from the Khmelnitsky store of British depleted uranium artillery shells in Western Ukraine after a Russian missile strike, just like the extensive damage to the Patriot air defense installation near Kiev by a Russian Kinzhal hypersonic missile tell us all what will be the fate of future Western arms deliveries to Ukraine. It is an interesting question how much longer the Ukrainian military or politicians will put up with their high flying, good life President while the country is well on its way to hell.
If Kiev attacks Crimea, Russia will flatten Kiev.
Russia has issued another stern warning related to further potential Ukrainian attacks on Crimea. “Strikes on this territory are considered by us as an attack on any other region of the Russian Federation. It is important that the United States is fully aware of the Russian response,” Moscow’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, warned Sunday. This was in response to an earlier weekend statement by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to CNN. He said while speaking from the G7 summit in Japan over the weekend, “we have not placed limitations on Ukraine being able to strike on its territory… What we’ve said is that we won’t enable Ukraine with US-systems to attack Russia. And we believe Crimea is Ukraine.” However, the US has consistently denied that it has OK’d Ukraine using US-supplied advanced weaponry to mount such attacks.
Antonov further stated on Telegram in response that “the unconditional approval of strikes on Crimea using American and other Western weapons” alongside the move among Western allies to supply Ukraine with jets “clearly demonstrate that the United States has never been interested in peace.” He warned the US administration against “thoughtless judgments on Crimea, especially in terms of ‘blessing’ the Kiev regime for air attacks” on the peninsula. Per Russian state media, other Kremlin officials weighed in even more forcefully, warning that even nuclear disaster could be the result: “Sullivan’s remarks likewise triggered outrage from Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Georgy Muradov, who opined that by allowing Ukraine to use US-made planes to target the peninsula, the White House had “agreed to unleashing a nuclear war.”
“The official recalled that Crimea hosts Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. “An attack on one of the pillars of Russia’s strategic security legally obliges our country to use all available means to prevent it from being undermined.” Russia has also recently accused Ukrainian forces of using UK-supplied long range rockets which are capable of hitting inside Russia. This is also a cause for concern in terms of possible Russia-NATO direct escalation: “Storm Shadow missiles, which have a range of more than 250 kilometers, give Ukraine the capacity to strike well behind Russian front lines and as far as Moscow-occupied Crimea,” US state-funded RFERL underscores, while adding that “British media reports said Kyiv had promised not to use the missiles to strike inside Russia’s territory.”
“Congress has raised borrowing limits 78 times since 1960.”
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has doubled down on her warnings about the nation’s debt ceiling, saying the federal government will run out of money to pay its bills as soon as June 1 unless Congress enables it to increase borrowings. “It is highly likely that Treasury will no longer be able to satisfy all of the government’s obligations if Congress has not acted to raise or suspend the debt limit by early June, and potentially as early as June 1,” Yellen said on Monday in a letter to US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Yellen has repeatedly warned that Washington is headed for default on its financial obligations, barring additional borrowing authority from lawmakers, after the national debt soared to its $31.4 trillion statutory limit. The US Treasury is running out of cash after the national debt reached the cap in January.
“If Congress fails to increase the debt limit, it would cause severe hardship to American families, harm our global leadership position and raise questions about our ability to defend our national security interests,” Yellen told McCarthy, a California Republican. The Treasury secretary said it’s impossible to predict the exact date when the money will run out. The government will likely have to start choosing which bills go unpaid by June 15, if not sooner, Yellen said on Sunday in an NBC News interview. Major obligations include interest payments on existing borrowings, Social Security payments to elderly and disabled Americans, bills from defense contractors, and the paychecks of US military personnel and other government employees. The US government has a projected deficit of $1.4 trillion this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office, meaning its outlays exceed revenue by around $117 billion each month. The nation ran up $6.2 trillion in debt in its first 226 years of existence, then saw the total balloon fivefold in just the past two decades. Congress has raised borrowing limits 78 times since 1960.
McCarthy and President Joe Biden resumed talks on Monday, but so far failed to resolve the debt impasse. Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, have proposed increasing the debt cap by $1.5 trillion while reducing growth in federal spending to address the root cause of the crisis. The president has countered that he’s unwilling to negotiate on the debt ceiling, but he’s open to having a separate conversation about spending once the borrowing cap is raised. Past political clashes over the debt ceiling have shown that waiting until the last minute to reach a settlement can rattle markets, reduce consumer confidence, raise borrowing costs and threaten the nation’s credit rating, Yellen said in Monday’s letter. In fact, the Treasury’s debt costs have already increased for bonds maturing in June. “I continue to urge Congress to protect the full faith and credit of the United States by acting as soon as possible,” Yellen said.
“These are rational leaders whose desire to nullify their own existence would have seemed entirely implausible to the Framers.”
Roughly 25 years ago, many of us were shocked by the discovery of a home full of bodies of dozens of people laying in bunk beds, wearing jumpsuits and identical black-and-white Nike Decade sneakers. They were the members of the Heaven’s Gate cult who, with their leader, drank a lethal mix of phenobarbital and vodka to gain entry to “Heaven’s Gate” with the passing Hale-Bopp comet. Few of us could understand how rational people could believe their leader that it was necessary to shed their earthly bodies to gain access to an orbiting alien space craft. Few would buy such a pitch, but these people did. Some of the men even castrated themselves as a sign of their faith.
This week, Heaven’s Gate came to mind as I watched members of Congress line up to take a step that runs against every assumption of self-preservation in Madisonian democracy: They sought to make themselves nonentities. They called upon President Joe Biden to reject their very institutional existence, discard the separation of powers and unilaterally borrow and spend federal money. At one event, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) released a letter to Biden on behalf of himself and nine Democratic senators “to urgently request that you prepare to exercise your authority under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.” He was joined in this by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), among others. Obviously, these are not Nike-wearing cultists, but that only makes their actions all the more inexplicable. These are rational leaders whose desire to nullify their own existence would have seemed entirely implausible to the Framers.
A presidential “power of the purse,” however, is a fiction, only marginally more credible than the Hale-Bopp comet’s power to whisk human souls away into space. Their argument for it is based on Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, which states, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” The drafters of this amendment did not want Congress to simply dismiss its obligations to pay off the Union’s debts from the Civil War. Although the amendment is not limited to those debts, it has nothing to do with debt ceilings set by Congress. Default, after all, is not a denial of the validity of debt, but rather a refusal or failure to pay debts in time despite their validity.
Courts have long left it to the political branches to work out such differences in what is often a game of chicken with default. Moreover, as University of Virginia law professor Saikrishna Prakash recently pointed out, there is more than enough federal revenue coming in each month for Biden to avoid default by paying the interest on the debt under existing federal law. That may cause temporary problems for other spending priorities — acute problems, even — but it hardly rises to the level of a constitutional crisis. Instead, these senators are suggesting that a president does not need congressional approval to borrow and spend trillions of dollars, even though the Constitution explicitly grants both of those powers to Congress alone. They also claim that, by demanding budget cuts as a condition of permitting further borrowing, the House is violating the 14th Amendment.
“The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned”
Can we stop with the crazy? Here’s the clause that has CNN and a bunch of other wide-eyed nuts salivating: Section 4: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.” Key: Authorized by law.
All spending must originate in the House (per the Constitution.) However, Congress is the source of such limitation as well, and nothing in that clause — or anywhere else in the Constitution says that Congress may not bind the execution of said spending based on the receipt of taxes to offset any debt that may otherwise be required. This is the same thing your bank does. You have $100,000 of income. You also have a credit card with a $20,000 credit line. If you keep invading it on the premise that you expect to earn $110,000 this year, because you are paid partially on commission or bonus, the bank can refuse to increase the line if that income does not materialize. Thus, when you reach the $20 large that’s all there is.
Likewise you can execute a Will that says “you get $1 million dollars provided you take care of my dog, including anything it may require to be healthy and live its best life, until its natural death.” This a two-part test and it is perfectly legal. This sort of clause is literally all over estate plans and business contracts: You get X provided you do both Y and Z. If you do not wish to do either of Y or Z then you don’t get X. Congress has done this by enacting the debt ceiling. Neither Congress or the Executive can accurately predict how much tax revenue will come in. Taxes, of course, come from economic activity; no activity, no taxes. The CBO projects that revenue will be “X” and so does Treasury, but those are guesses because they rely on things that have not yet occurred and as such are inherently inaccurate.
Congress has set in place a two-part system for this. The first is Appropriations, which are authorizations to spend and levies to be taxed. The second is the debt ceiling, which is a hard limit on the difference between the two over time. No, Treasury cannot go around this by claiming something in the 14th Amendment makes the Appropriation sacrosanct. Congress has the authority under the Constitution, and has exercised it, to control the purse. To be enabled by law and thus immune from being questioned, debt that is issued by Treasury must be (1) issued for an appropriated purpose AND (2) be within the debt ceiling in effect at the time of said issue. If it is then under the 14th Amendment it is valid.
Does the WHO really think it can push this through?
House Republicans took to the podium on May 17 to condemn the Biden administration’s negotiation of global pandemic agreements that they say will grant additional power to the World Health Organization (WHO) and centralize authority in an organization they say failed the American public during the COVID pandemic. Shortly thereafter, on May 19, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a report to member nations stating that, while the “re-emergence of epidemic-prone diseases continues to accelerate,” the WHO’s mandate regarding “health emergencies” must extend beyond pandemics to include hunger, poverty, ecological degradation, climate change, and social and economic inequalities.
The Director General wrote that member nations must establish a “global architecture for health emergency preparedness, prevention, response, and resilience (HEPR),” which includes “global governance, financing and HEPR systems.” But GOP lawmakers disagreed with the WHO. “International law does not trump our Constitution,” Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) said at a Capitol press conference. “Biden cannot force Americans to follow laws and regulations not passed by our own federal government.” “The World Health Organization pandemic treaty is very vague, it affects our sovereignty, and it could be exploited to tell Americans what kind of health care they need in the event of a global pandemic,” Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) said. The public forum was organized by Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) and included 18 House members.
Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto, on behalf of the United States, is currently negotiating terms of the WHO Pandemic Accord, which is scheduled to be signed by the 194 WHO member nations in 2024, as well as amendments to International Health Regulations (IHRs), also under the auspices of the WHO. In sum, these negotiations are intended to produce legally binding treaties and agreements that will coordinate a united response among member nations during a “health emergency,” with much of the decision-making authority vested in the WHO. According to these agreements, the WHO would have the authority to, for example, declare when a pandemic is in effect and to coordinate medical supply chains to ensure equitable distribution among member nations. The agreements also speak to global coordination between the WHO and national health authorities like the CDC to set health policies, and coordination among governments on issues like fighting “misinformation.”
Heliconia rostrata (also known as hanging lobster claw or false bird of paradise) is an herbaceous perennial plant with peculiar downward-facing flowers
Casual cat walk.. 😅 pic.twitter.com/6t1DRApmzI
— Buitengebieden (@buitengebieden) May 22, 2023
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