Dec 312023

Camille Pissarro Rue Saint-Lazare, Paris 1897


2024 Could Be When West’s Liberal Elites Lose Control Of World Order (Lukyanov)
Will 2023 Be Known As The Last Year Of Global US Hegemony? (Fomenko)
Russia Enters 2024 In A Better Position Than It Was In 12 Months Ago (Timofeev)
US Wants to Use South Caucasus to Open 2nd Front Against Russia – Moscow (Sp.)
Argentina’s Choice Not to Join BRICS ‘Ideological’ – Top Diplomat (Sp.)
DC Deeply Concerned That Trump May Have Copies of His Declassified Binder (ET)
The Continuing Plot to Silence Trump’s 2024 Comeback (Attkisson)
Comer Says He Expects More States To Try To Boot Trump From Ballot (JTN)
CO, ME Just The Start Of Trump Ballot-Blocking (ZH)
Massie Warns States Barring Trump That House Will Certify Their Electors (JTN)
Tulsi Gabbard Says Democrats ‘Will Stop at Nothing’ to Keep Trump Off 2024 Ballot (ET)
Disbarred Michael Cohen Admits to Sending Fake Case Citations (Turley)
EU Governance Is ‘Anti-Democratic’: European Lawmaker (ET)










Former Israeli PM








Tucker Belfort







“..In the leading countries of the West, a serious battle is being fought between the “populists” and the establishment, the main arena being, of course, America itself..”

2024 Could Be When West’s Liberal Elites Lose Control Of World Order (Lukyanov)

The current proliferation of conflicts is a symptom of the weakening of the modern international power structure. This was exercised in the form of a “liberal world order” (more recently called a “rules-based order”). The basis of it was the confidence of a group of countries in their righteousness and the truth of their ideology, gained through victory in the Cold War. Liberal democracy and the market economy defeated the Soviet regime and its planned economy. But soon democracy as the power of the majority, taking into account the opinion of the minority, was transformed into a liberal scheme in which the minority is given more moral and political rights than the majority.

Case in point: in almost all G7 countries the ratings of ruling parties/coalitions are now extremely low, i.e. governments represent the interests of a smaller part of the population. Alternative forces that challenge the current government are labelled as populist. This term (which, incidentally, comes from the word populus – “people”) has become almost a swear word, and the mainstream is instructed to fight those who are tarred by this brush. The idea is that the current elites do not need to be changed. As a result, the establishment now presents almost every vote as a battle for democracy. The implication is that democracy is the victory of the forces that maintain the “correct” continuity. Accordingly, those who want to change course are declared enemies of democracy, even if they have a majority on their side.

The concept of the “world majority” (i.e. countries outside the Western community), which has entered the Russian political lexicon this year, fits with the delineation between processes in individual countries and at the global level. The role of the global establishment is played by the West. There is no single “populist” force opposing it. But there is a huge space (the very “world majority”) which believes that the minority (the West) is abusing its power. What is emerging is not a rigid opposition, but rather a coagulated – albeit growing – resistance that is reducing the effectiveness of the policies of the US and its allies. Within the Western community itself, we see increasing demand from “populists” to reduce involvement in world affairs because the costs outweigh the benefits. This does not have a direct and immediate effect, but rather a lasting indirect one. But as history moves faster and faster, the meaning of “lasting” is changing.

2022 was a turning point, because for the first time the ruling minority was directly challenged. Not by the majority, of course, because Russia has been in a kind of “neither here nor there” position. But a precedent has been set. This year was a time of getting used to the fact that the old restrictions, the very “rules” on which the order is based, are disappearing and the space of possibilities is expanding for everyone. 2024 will be “the year of the great decisions”. Literally, the majority of the world will vote (just add up the populations of India, the US, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa, Indonesia, Russia, Egypt, and the European Union (there will be a vote for its European Parliament), etc. In the leading countries of the West, a serious battle is being fought between the “populists” and the establishment, the main arena being, of course, America itself.

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“..Washington’s decision to give Israel free rein to destroy Gaza is a strategic setback in multiple domains. The US will have to commit to a new chapter of violent struggle across the Middle East to sustain its position, whether it wants to or not.”

Will 2023 Be Known As The Last Year Of Global US Hegemony? (Fomenko)

[..] US unipolarity began to wane by the 2010s following the resurgence of Russia, as well as the rise of China. The years of 2018-2023 have been exceptionally consequential in opening a new period of geopolitical turmoil and struggle, as the US pivoted its foreign policies to confront both powers with a view to containing them and sustaining its dominance over the entire planet. No hegemony, of course, goes down without a fight. Britain fought both World Wars precisely for this reason but was exhausted to the point it was forced to pass the baton on to the US. Similarly, in the modern day, neither will America go down without a fight.

And this is why the year 2023 has been immensely significant in this regard. First, the war in Ukraine has continued, with the US aiming to encroach on Russia’s strategic space and impose a strategic defeat on Moscow with NATO containment. However, while Russia suffered initial setbacks in 2022, this year saw Ukraine fail to make any progress despite immense media hype, and the war has started to turn against Kiev as the West loses the political will to continue backing it in an unwinnable conflict. This will ultimately shape the future security architecture of Europe, and Russia will now be looking to impose nothing less than a total defeat on the far-right puppet state in Kiev.

But beyond this, what has been more important to this year, and ultimately what lies ahead, is the fate of the Middle East. In October, war broke out after Hamas decided to launch a full-scale assault on Israel from Gaza. The war was triggered by US appeasement of Israel’s hardline policies through the Abraham Accords, as well as the emerging multipolarity providing more political space for Hamas to resist. Israel responded with an overwhelming bombardment and invasion of Gaza, invoking strong condemnation from around the world. It aims to militarily occupy the strip, a series of decisions which will push the Muslim world’s relations with the Zionist state to the point of no return and therefore pose consequences for the entire region, which in turn will impact the West’s engagement with the Global South and the power struggle there with Russia and China. Ultimately, the war is also a marked failure of the hardline US policies on Iran and unsuccessful attempts to try and contain it by force.

Although Tehran is not a competitor for hegemony, it is nonetheless a formidable regional adversary for Washington, boasting significant power and population, with growing military capabilities, and is fighting to force the influence of the US and Israel out of the Middle East. To this end, Washington’s decision to give Israel free rein to destroy Gaza is a strategic setback in multiple domains. The US will have to commit to a new chapter of violent struggle across the Middle East to sustain its position, whether the it wants to or not.

Then of course, there is the top priority of American foreign policy, the ongoing struggle with China. Washington seeks to contain the rise of Beijing as a military and technological superpower, and militarily encircle it in the region it calls the Indo-Pacific. Although presently the two sides are undergoing a detente after Xi Jinping met Joe Biden in San Francisco, with the Taiwan issue likewise less critical in 2023, the relationship nonetheless remains the overall driver of the strategic environment we live in today, and there is little expectation the US will relent. Beijing is patient and prefers to play ‘the long game’ but is certainly rising to the challenge, which enables every other actor to assert its position, and thus further stretch the international order.

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“..Ideologically, Russia and the West have become principled rivals. There are no compromise solutions to their contradictions. Each side expects to impose its own conditions on the other.”

Russia Enters 2024 In A Better Position Than It Was In 12 Months Ago (Timofeev)

[..] what are the parameters of this new reality? The first is relations between Russia and the West. In 2022, they entered a format of acute confrontation. It was marked by the delivery of large-scale military and financial aid to Ukraine, a fresh expansion of NATO and a course towards the remilitarization of Europe. Right now, the bloc’s members fear direct military conflict with Russia because of the risk of nuclear escalation, but see little risk in increasing the quantity and quality of arms supplied to Ukraine. The deliveries include both Soviet-era weapons and ammunition left in stockpiles, and Western-made gear. However, the increase in stocks has so far been limited by financial and industrial capacity. As the conflict drags on, these may be overcome over time. Ideologically, Russia and the West have become principled rivals. There are no compromise solutions to their contradictions. Each side expects to impose its own conditions on the other.

The West does it by exhausting Russia with sanctions, sending direct aid to its military opponent, using information warfare and evoking its influence with neutral or friendly countries. Russia does it by inflicting a military defeat on Ukraine and demilitarizing Kiev, as well as by asymmetric retaliation. The parties do not have the capabilities to destroy each other, but they are counting on victory. The West assumes vulnerabilities in the Russian economy and the theoretical possibility of internal upheavals could lead to a radical change in foreign policy and the country’s defeat. Russia believes that the increasing number of conflicts in which the US, and the West as a whole, will be forced to become involved in will put too much of a strain on their resources, and it’s also counting on disagreements within the Western bloc itself.

The second is the military situation in Ukraine. 2023 began with much-hyped expectations from Kiev’s planned counteroffensive. It was fueled by informational and political statements by Western leaders and its success was supposed to justify, among other things, large military and financial injections by Ukraine’s Western partners. The failure of the offensive can be considered one of the most important military results of 2023. The Russian army did not opt for an immediate retaliatory attack, instead exerting pressure along the entire front line. Right now, Western diplomats have rational reasons for exploring the ground for ceasefire talks, even if their government’s positions have not officially changed. Moscow, on the other hand, has no good reason to agree to a halt in the fighting. A pause will allow Ukraine to rearm, increase the capacity of its military-industrial complex and resume the conflict at a moment favorable to Kiev. Obviously, Russia believes that only a painful and large-scale defeat of Ukraine can lead to the consideration of Russian demands and interests. Moreover, such a defeat can be either a crushing blow or from attrition. The second option appears to be the fundamental one.

The third is sanctions against Russia. The year 2022 was marked by a “sanctions tsunami,” when a wide range of restrictive measures were imposed in a very short period of time. These included the blocking of sovereign assets and financial sanctions against systemically important companies, export controls, import bans on oil, coal, steel, gold and other goods, transport and other restrictions. In 2023, all these measures were extended. They caused damage, but they didn’t crush the economy. The shock effect hung in the air in 2022 and was replaced by a plateau in 2023. The US, the EU and other sanctions initiators have tried to combat evasion of the restrictions. Secondary sanctions are being introduced and criminal cases are being opened against alleged violators, including Russian citizens. But even these measures do not radically increase the campaign’s effects. Also, Moscow shows no interest in raising the issue of sanctions relief in response to political concessions.

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“..the Kremlin underscored that “Russia is an absolutely integral part of this region, so it cannot go anywhere..”

US Wants to Use South Caucasus to Open 2nd Front Against Russia – Moscow (Sp.)

Amid the NATO-led proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, the United States is considering using the South Caucasus as a springboard for opening a “second front” against Moscow, Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin said in an interview with Sputnik. Washington has long made no secret of its plans regarding Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, he said, adding that “all this fundamentally contradicts the genuine interests of the people of the region.” After Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine in February 2022, the West’s pressure on Russia’s neighbors, allies, and partners has dramatically escalated. Thus, Washington has been muddying the waters between Moscow and Yerevan, especially in the wake of the recent Nagorno-Karabakh flare-up. In September 2023, Azerbaijan took control over Nagorno-Karabakh in a lightning offensive, prompting almost all local residents to flee to Armenia.

Over 100,000 people of Nagorno-Karabakh’s estimated 120,000 Armenian population had left the region by the end of September. The Nagorno-Karabakh authorities declared that the unrecognized state would cease to exist on January 1, 2024. During the flare-up of Karabakh tensions, senior US officials, including the chief of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Samantha Power, and Yuri Kim, acting assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian affairs, were quick to converge on Armenia’s capital Yerevan to “affirm US support for Armenia’s sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and democracy.” The Armenian Defense Ministry announced in September it would carry out joint military exercises with the US, dubbed “Eagle Partner 2023,” that would involve “stabilization tasks between conflicting parties during the peacekeeping mission.”

Yerevan also signaled readiness to continue cooperation with NATO within the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), while Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, in an interview with Italian outlet La Repubblica, claimed Russia’s peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh had “failed,” and that Russia was “leaving” the South Caucasus.In response, the Kremlin underscored that “Russia is an absolutely integral part of this region, so it cannot go anywhere,” with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasizing that the US-Armenian drills caused concern, “especially in the current situation.” Earlier in the year, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted that Armenia has been demonstrating its intention to radically “reorient” its foreign policy.

“In my opinion, this is being done clearly at the suggestion or prompting of the West,” Zakharova said at a briefing in November. Commenting on a statement by Secretary of Armenia’s Security Council Armen Grigoryan, who said that Armenia “is not aware of Moscow’s proposals” on a peace treaty between Yerevan and Baku, as well as the delivery of military equipment such as Bastion armored personnel carriers to the country by France, Zakharova said that “Yerevan appears eager to negotiate a peace treaty in Washington, Brussels, although neither the US nor the EU can be considered bona fide intermediaries for a variety of reasons.” The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman emphasized that the actions of the United States and the European Union were aimed at “ousting Russia from the South Caucasus.”

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“If you participate in all organizations, then when do you find time to work?” Huh?

Argentina’s Choice Not to Join BRICS ‘Ideological’ – Top Diplomat (Sp.)

Argentina’s decision not to enter the BRICS bloc is an “ideological” one, the Foreign Minister Diana Mondino has acknowledged. “It is an ideological and practical decision, but more practical,” Mondino argued in an interview on LN+. According to the official, Buenos Aires already has trade agreements with all members of the bloc. “Argentina has very big economic problems and the BRICS states have one goal: trade,” she stated, adding that it was a “matter of simplification,” and optimization of the use of time. “If you participate in all organizations, then when do you find time to work?” she queried.

Weighing in on the move by President Javier Milei to reverse the country’s entry into BRICS, which was previously announced by former President Alberto Fernandez before concluding his term, Mondino noted that international blocs will be mainly with “Western democracies,” such as the United States, Canada, European countries, and Israel. “We will trade with those who pay more. This decision will not be made by the state. Our task is to create conditions for trade,” the minister said. Mondino also said that the government was working to promote the MERCOSUR agreement with Singapore, and another with the European Union, which is currently stalled.

Earlier in December, ministers from the four MERCOSUR member states – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay – and Foreign Minister Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan signed the MERCOSUR-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (MCSFTA). Argentine President Javier Milei officially rejected the invitation to become a member of the BRICS in a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Infobae news portal reported on Friday. Milei sent his letter to the Russian and Chinese leaders several days ago and also informed South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of his decision, according to the news portal.

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Or files that are not yet in the binder.

DC Deeply Concerned That Trump May Have Copies of His Declassified Binder (ET)

A recent CNN article titled “The mystery of the missing binder: How a collection of raw Russian intelligence disappeared under Trump” discusses, albeit in roundabout fashion, former President Donald Trump’s declassified binder. According to CNN: “A binder containing highly classified information related to Russian election interference went missing at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, raising alarms among intelligence officials that some of the most closely guarded national security secrets from the US and its allies could be exposed, sources familiar with the matter told CNN. “Its disappearance, which has not been previously reported, was so concerning that intelligence officials briefed Senate Intelligence Committee leaders last year about the missing materials and the government’s efforts to retrieve them, the sources said. “In the two-plus years since Trump left office, the missing intelligence does not appear to have been found.”

All very breathless and conspiratorial sounding. Which, of course, is the entire point. But the problem for CNN is that there never was any Russian collusion. It was all a giant hoax. Nor was there any real Russian election interference. No more so than any other year. And no more than what the United States does in Russia. It was all part of a giant fraud that CNN helped to perpetrate in order to hamstring the Trump presidency. So when CNN claims, “The binder contained raw intelligence the US and its NATO allies collected on Russians and Russian agents, including sources and methods that informed the US government’s assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to help Trump win the 2016 election,” what they are really referring to is the proof that Trump amassed of the FBI’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.

The “sources and methods that informed the US government” is precisely what they don’t want anyone to see. It was never Russian collusion. It was collusion on the part of DC’s entrenched bureaucracy. That’s where the real scandal lies. And the DC establishment is very worried that President Trump has proof of that collusion in his possession. And that’s what this is all really about—information that President Trump has in his possession that proves the involvement of the FBI, Department of Justice (DOJ), and other establishment agencies in their effort to tarnish him with their construction of the Russian collusion lie. Which is why CNN all but gave away the entire premise behind the DOJ’s directed FBI raid on President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in their article. As they note, “The binder was not among the classified items found in last year’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, according to a US official familiar with the matter, who said the FBI was not looking specifically for intelligence related to Russia when it obtained a search warrant for the former president’s residence last year.”

Their need to insert that disclaimer gives the game away. We didn’t find the binder when we launched a politically motivated shock raid on the house of a former president, but we also weren’t looking for it. Right.

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“The real meaning of what’s being done to Trump is: They think he’s going to win.”

The Continuing Plot to Silence Trump’s 2024 Comeback (Attkisson)

Donald Trump has been slandered and libeled thousands of times. Each time a news reporter, media commentator, or judge refers to Trump as an “insurrectionist,” or claims he’s guilty of “insurrection,” it’s another blatant case of defamation. Same with the other January 6 attendees and participants. Insurrection is a serious federal crime punishable by up to ten years in prison under Title 18 U.S. Code 2383. Even with Trump’s enemies in charge at the Department of Justice and other law enforcement bodies, and with all of the scheming and operations they’ve mounted against him, nobody has convicted him of “insurrection.” Under our system of governing, no judge or election authority has the power to unilaterally accuse and convict any American of a crime, let alone with the accused denied any opportunity to present a defense or to appeal. Yet that’s just what’s happening when courts and officials in Maine and Colorado remove Trump from presidential election primary ballots for “insurrection.”

It’s the ultimate defamation. And many are supporting it because, well, they don’t like Trump. Looking at the evidence today, it is reasonable to hypotheisize that, among all the other consipracies Trump’s enemies have proven to devise, they also conspired in advance to set up his January 6, 2021 rally as an “insurrection” that could serve as their insurance policy to provide grounds to keep him from ever running for president again. Such hypotheses might have been once far-fetched, but no more. Let’s not forget that then-FBI agent Peter Strzok and his alleged lover, FBI attorney Lisa Page, texted each other in 2016 that they could not permit Trump to be elected president. According to their messages, discussions about the threat of a Trump presidency had taken place with the FBI’s then-assistant director, Andrew “Andy” McCabe. “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected,” texted Page, “but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before 40.”

The theory that Trump’s enemies set the stage for January 6 to be called “an insurrection” as a spoiler for his 2024 run could help explain why all of the law enforcement agents and informants planted in advance and among Trump supporters on January 6 didn’t serve their usual purpose of preventing crimes and de-escalating events. Instead, by many accounts, they observed and even took part, let crimes happen, and declined to separate the instigators and organizers as they would ordinarily do to defuse tensions and control the crowd. The agents and informants served the odd role of standing down during the event, and identifying alleged perpetrators after-the-fact.Yet, in the end, there was no insurrection— at least according to prosecutors, who would be the ones to charge such crimes and haven’t. And Trump helped destroy the chance to officially charge him with insurrection by specifically directing his followers that day to “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

Trump’s opponents, found in both the Democrat and Republican ranks, are so delighted to see him persecuted, they are so utterly threatened by a repeat performance of a Trump presidency outside the traditional power and money interests, they are encouraging of the defamation and other acts against him. With few exceptions, like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., those who would normally criticize actions like the ones being mounted against Trump, remain silent for fear of being called a Trump supporter in an environment where that opens them to ostracization and worse. The media and those who control our information are so conflicted by their respective biases, nobody is left to stop the madness. The real meaning of what’s being done to Trump is: They think he’s going to win.

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“And I hate to say it….but I fear we’re gonna see more blue states pull stunts like this.”

Comer Says He Expects More States To Try To Boot Trump From Ballot (JTN)

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky. says he expects more states to try to boot former President Donald Trump from the ballot following the recent Maine decision. “Well, I’m not surprised. I fear we’re going to see this happen in more states,” Comer said during an interview with Fox News. He also alleged in the interview that the Maine Secretary of State’s move was “election interference.” On Thursday, Trump was removed from Maine’s primary ballot under the Constitution’s insurrection clause. The decision was made by Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, whom Trump’s legal team requested be disqualified from ruling whether or not Trump is eligible for the 2024 ballot.

In other states, plaintiffs have sued regarding Trump’s eligibility, but in Maine, the Secretary of State first weighs in and the decision can be challenged in court. Comer predicted more Democrat states would attempt to remove Trump in order to disrupt the “GOP momentum.” “So I think that the Democrats are trying to do everything they can, in a last-ditch effort to disrupt the Republican momentum right now heading into the presidential election. I think this is another example of that,” he said, according to The Hill. “And I hate to say it….but I fear we’re gonna see more blue states pull stunts like this.”

Blacks for Trump

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“Together, the states where Trump’s status is under active challenge account for 269 electoral votes — in a game where you need 270 to win. ”

CO, ME Just The Start Of Trump Ballot-Blocking (ZH)

As jarring as it’s been to witness the anti-democratic, one-two punch in which a court in Colorado and an unelected bureaucrat in Maine decided Donald Trump cannot appear on primary election ballots, there are many more states where litigation is underway to ban the candidate who’s currently leading the national race. In addition to Colorado and Maine, there are currently active lawsuits challenging Trump’s eligibility in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming, according to a New York Times survey of the situation. Together, the states where Trump’s status is under active challenge account for 269 electoral votes — in a game where you need 270 to win.

While there’s a lot of red on that map, it understates the scope of the phenomenon. These are only the states where either officials have decided Trump can’t appear on a ballot, or where litigation is currently underway. Expect other states to turn “red” in a bad way. Some of them are states like Michigan and Minnesota, where challenges to Trump’s appearance on primary ballots have been dismissed. Those rulings didn’t cover the general election, so look for those plaintiffs to crawl out of their litigation graves after the GOP primaries. That is, unless a Supreme Court ruling first puts an end to all this madness, in which Democratic judges and officials are banning Trump on the bogus basis that he engaged in an insurrection against the United States government on Jan. 6, 2021, and is therefore barred by the 14th Amendment.

Written to block Confederate officials from US government service, here’s the full text of the provision at issue: “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability. ”

Trump has never been charged, much less convicted, of engaging in insurrection. Aside from that due process dimension, and the fact that Jan 6 didn’t even begin to approach an “insurrection” in the first place, there’s an argument to be made that the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply to the office of President.

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“..the U.S. House of Representatives is the ultimate arbiter of whether to certify electors from those states..”

Massie Warns States Barring Trump That House Will Certify Their Electors (JTN)

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., warned states acting to bar former President Donald Trump from the ballot that the House of Representatives will decide whether to certify states’ electors. “Maine, Colorado, and other states that might try to bureaucratically deny ballot access to any Republican nominee should remember the U.S. House of Representatives is the ultimate arbiter of whether to certify electors from those states,” Massie said on X Friday. Elon Musk, owner of X, replied to Massie’s comment, saying, “Interesting.”

Colorado’s Supreme Court earlier this month determined that Trump engaged in an insurrection against the U.S. on Jan. 6, 2021, during the Capitol riot, which, the court decided, makes him ineligible for the 2024 presidential ballot under the 14th Amendment. On Thursday, Maine’s Democratic Secretary of State Shenna Bellows removed Trump from that state’s primary ballot using the same reasoning. Trump has denied the accusations and vowed to appeal the decisions to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Colorado Secretary of State has said that Trump will be on the primary ballot. The GOPs of both Maine and Colorado are also appealing the decisions to the Supreme Court.

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“They have no qualms about doing whatever they feel is necessary to hold on to power..”

Tulsi Gabbard Says Democrats ‘Will Stop at Nothing’ to Keep Trump Off 2024 Ballot (ET)

Former Democratic congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, responding to efforts to keep former President Donald Trump off the 2024 ballot, said Democrats “will stop at nothing” to maintain power. In a candid interview on Fox News’s “Hannity” on Thursday, the Democrat-turned-Independent former congresswoman raised an alarm over what she described as a concerted effort by Democrats to sideline President Trump from the 2024 ballot. She described the decision by Maine’s top election official, a Democrat, to remove President Trump from the state’s ballot as a dangerous precedent and urged Republicans and Democrats alike to “stand up for our democratic process” and the right of voters to pick their president. “This is the MO of the Democrat elite,” Ms. Gabbard said. “They will stop at nothing to try to maintain their power, even if it means taking away the right to vote of Americans.”

Furthermore, Ms. Gabbard charged that Democrats “have no issue taking Trump off the ballot,” including by “pursuing him and persecuting him through a weaponized and politicized Department of Justice.” “They have no qualms about doing whatever they feel is necessary to hold on to power,” she added. The former Hawaii congresswoman pointed out the “ridiculous” hypocrisy in the eagerness of some Democrats, whom she referred to as “war hawks,” to intervene in foreign countries when political candidates face similar actions to those experienced by President Trump. “We’ve seen how the war hawks in Washington, they will see this happen in another country, and they’ll be very quick to say we must go and intervene; we must go and topple this banana republic or this dictatorship,” said Ms. Gabbard. Many of the congressional lawmakers who advocate along those lines, she added, “are the people who are driving” these efforts against President Trump.

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“..Cohen asks for understanding that he is only a layperson, not a lawyer. He was, of course, disbarred as a lawyer after pleading guilty to various federal crimes..”

Q: how did this guy become Trump’s lawyer? What an awful choice. Right up there with Mike Pompeo and John Bolton.

Disbarred Michael Cohen Admits to Sending Fake Case Citations (Turley)

Michael Cohen, former President Trump’s onetime fixer and lawyer, has admitted to a federal court that he was the source of fake case citations used to support his effort to end his supervised release from his earlier criminal convictions. He blamed Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the error, he also seemed to throw his own attorney under the bus for not checking his work. U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman was a bit peeved when his clerks checked the authority cited by Cohen, including such cases as “United States v. Figueroa-Flores, United States v. Ortiz and United States v. Amato.” None existed. In fairness, Cohen is not the first person to be burned by AI. Of course, critics have noted that the faux authority is perfectly consistent with Cohen’s legal career, which is a litany of misrepresentations and outright lies.

Cohen now says that the culprit is Google Bard, an AI service, and that he was only the latest victim of AI invention. However, one of the most interesting aspects of the statement is that Cohen asks for understanding that he is only a layperson, not a lawyer. He was, of course, disbarred as a lawyer after pleading guilty to various federal crimes. Cohen told the court: “As a non-lawyer, I have not kept up with emerging trends (and related risks) in legal technology and did not realize that Google Bard was a generative text service that, like Chat-GPT, could show citations and descriptions that looked real but actually were not. Instead, I understood it to be a super-charged search engine and had repeatedly used it in other contexts to (successfully) find accurate information online.”

He then put part of the blame on his non-AI lawyer, David Schwartz, and emphasized that it was in the end Schwartz’ filing, not his: “It did not occur to me then and remains surprising to me now—that Mr. Schwartz would drop the cases into his submission wholesale without even confirming that they existed. I deeply regret any problems Mr. Schwartz’s filing may have caused.” Cohen’s current counsel E. Danya Perry, asked that his client “not suffer any collateral damage from Mr. Schwartz’s misstep.” The problems with AI are well-known, but so is Cohen’s checkered history with the courts. As I have previously written, Cohen has a long history of alleged lies and half-truths in dealing with the government or courts.

In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to various charges, including tax evasion, campaign finance violations, lying to Congress and several banks to obtain campaign financing and was sentenced to three years in prison. He unsuccessfully sued Trump on the basis of a verbal contract that again put his own dubious veracity at issue. As noted in earlier proceedings in Manhattan, Cohen has continued to misrepresent his criminal background and, after assuring the court that he was remorseful for his crimes, was regularly going on the air to deny that he committed tax fraud and suggesting that he was railroaded by prosecutors. Prosecutors cited his numerous media appearances as containing false accounts of himself and his case: “while Cohen is free to write and say what he wants, he cannot simultaneously distance himself from his conduct on cable news, while cloaking himself in claims of acceptance of responsibility in court filings.”

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“We need that if we want to save all the peoples around the world from this tyrannical system they’re about to impose on us.”

EU Governance Is ‘Anti-Democratic’: European Lawmaker (ET)

In a recent interview with The Epoch Times’s Jan Jekielek, host of American Thought Leaders, Christine Anderson, a member of the European Parliament representing the Alternative for Germany party, explained how the EU’s model of governance bypasses adequate representation for citizens. Ms. Anderson underscored the inappropriate division of power that member nations have experienced, saying it violates fundamental principles in democracies. Members of the government can bypass its democratically elected representatives and seek approval for laws at the EU level, the German politician explained. This is how it works: “Let’s say the German government wanted to pass a law, and the Bundestag, which is the democratically elected representation of the German people, said, ‘No … we will not vote for that.’

“The story wouldn’t be at an end right then and there. But now the German government, all it has to do is pretty much take that law [and] bring it to the EU institutions, because in the council … they will pass the law on EU level. She explained that this structure creates a system where “there is no division of power,” and officials are able to implement “the very same law” that failed to pass through the elected legislative body. This undemocratic structure raises questions about accountability, she said, as politicians can deflect responsibility by passing legislative authority to agencies and experts. Speaking about the options available to citizens, Ms. Anderson said, “The only way that I can change anything is by going after the elected officials. … I elected these people. They are responsible. “They’re accountable to me, but I don’t know who’s above that, whoever it is.”

To ensure that elected officials remain responsible for the laws and policies that impact their citizens, Ms. Anderson stressed the need for transparency and accountability in EU governance. A member of the European Parliament since 2019, she also discussed several other troubling trends that have been seen in her country and throughout the EU. They include labeling anyone who dissents from progressive ideology as “far right.” Mr. Jekielek asked whether the EU is seeing the same trend as the United States, where dissenting voices are maligned by legacy media. Several prominent names were brought up to illustrate the recent political mood, including newly elected Argentinian President Javier Milei and tech mogul Elon Musk. Confirming the mood of her home country and the EU, Ms. Anderson asserted that the term “right” was being misused. “Everyone that is not in support of whatever globalist agenda is being advocated for or pushed at the moment” is given that label.

[..] Part of her hope lies in the United States, Ms. Anderson said, despite the fact that the country is facing some of the same struggles within government. “My hope also lies actually with it, with the American people. Because the American people, they have [more] of a concept of freedom,” she said, adding what “an honor” it was to be asked to speak to the American people about freedom. Near the end of her comments, Ms. Anderson made a plea to Americans, saying, “I really need the American people to just stay American people and uphold that concept of freedom that is deeply rooted within the Americans. “We need that if we want to save all the peoples around the world from this tyrannical system they’re about to impose on us.”

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Nov 252017
 November 25, 2017  Posted by at 1:48 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »

Zao Wu-Ki The red sun 1950


Once again, to my delight, we’re back with former British diplomat and MI6 ‘ranking figure’ Alastair Crooke and his Conflicts Forum organization. We posted a few of his articles this year and last. This time, Alastair writes a reaction to one of his own articles posted at Consortium News, which I included in the November 18 Debt Rattle at the Automatic Earth. My short comment then: “Former (and current?!) TAE contributor Alastair Crooke draws his conclusions.” This morning, the Conflicts Forum reached out again:

Dear Raul, We took the hint on a recent posting your site that referred to one of Alastair’s articles! …. and below is a comment piece he has done. It is an attempt to be strategic at where we’re going.

Anytime, guys! My first reaction to that piece was that Alastair makes Donald Trump and Jared Kushner’s role in the Saudi crackdown seem very large, which makes the role played by deep state America look small in comparison. And I’m not so sure about that. The riddle of ‘who’s playing who?’ is not a straightforward one. But that’s by no means a criticism (I ain’t criticizing no MI6!). It’s a question.

First, here are two paragraphs of that article to ‘get in the mood’:


Trump’s Saudi Scheme Unravels

Aaron Miller and Richard Sokolsky, writing in Foreign Policy, suggest “that Mohammed bin Salman’s most notable success abroad may well be the wooing and capture of President Donald Trump, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.” Indeed, it is possible that this “success” may prove to be MbS’ only success. “It didn’t take much convincing”, Miller and Sokolski wrote: “Above all, the new bromance reflected a timely coincidence of strategic imperatives.” Trump, as ever, was eager to distance himself from President Obama and all his works; the Saudis, meanwhile, were determined to exploit Trump’s visceral antipathy for Iran – in order to reverse the string of recent defeats suffered by the kingdom.

So compelling seemed the prize (that MbS seemed to promise) of killing three birds with one stone (striking at Iran; “normalizing” Israel in the Arab world, and a Palestinian accord), that the U.S. President restricted the details to family channels alone. He thus was delivering a deliberate slight to the U.S. foreign policy and defense establishments by leaving official channels in the dark, and guessing. Trump bet heavily on MbS, and on Jared Kushner as his intermediary. But MbS’ grand plan fell apart at its first hurdle: the attempt to instigate a provocation against Hezbollah in Lebanon, to which the latter would overreact and give Israel and the “Sunni Alliance” the expected pretext to act forcefully against Hezbollah and Iran.

Since the crackdown seems to have had limited success so far on an international level, this is certainly an interesting issue to delve deeper into. MbS has reportedly, assisted by US mercenaries, hung members of his own family upside down from ceilings in posh hotels and palaces to break them into submission and steal their fortunes, but if the international part of his plan falls short, this becomes a very unpredictable story.

But this new article has a much broader scope. I’ve often said that the falling apart of the American, European and global political systems is caused one-on-one by deteriorating economies (even if 90% of media and politicians stick the recovery narrative). Alastair agrees, and even quotes me again.



Alastair Crooke: Robert Kagan first called attention to the fact that America would need to awake from its ‘dream’ a decade ago in End of Dreams: The Return of History, and would have to manage the rise of ‘other’ powers, (some greater than others), with adroitness, if it were to avoid a bad road-crash as emerging competitors clashed with the waning dominant power.  

This meant that the US no longer would be able to assert its will everywhere, and on everything – and would have to give ground – especially to China and Russia.  “There’s going to have to be some very painful horse trading”, historian Sir Max Hastings suggests, adding that its pain will be none the less traumatic, since – like Germany after WW1 – America, does not feel itself defeated: Quite the converse, it sees itself having emerged from the Cold War wholly vindicated: in terms of its societal, governmental and capitalist models.

The American-shaped globalist order, in which three American generations have been steeped, had seemed so naturally to flow out from the Cold War, that the onset of world ‘order’ dissolution seems – shockingly, for many – to have struck out of the blue – as it were – with Brexit, and the election of Mr Trump. 

Commentators speak of America needing to be wary of the Thucydides’ Trap (when the then aspiring power, Athens, threatened the primacy of the established hegemon, Sparta, leading to war). But ‘the trap’ today is not simply just about who’s rising ‘up’, and who’s heading ‘down’, in the great-power stakes – for, as Josh Feinman, chief economist for Deutsche Bank, last year  warned, the problem is not just great power competition. But rather: “We’ve seen this movie before. The first great globalization wave, in the half-century or so before World War I, sparked a populist backlash too, and ultimately came crashing down in the cataclysms of 1914 to 1945.”  In short, the two world wars were not just about Germany challenging British hegemony, but were also about globalization ‘backlash’ too – something that is often overlooked. 

In other words, in the wake of WW2, America has been backing itself into the corner of an ‘American-shaped’ (imposed), second wave ‘globalisation’, and that is the major risk posed today (as much as rising China), with ‘populism’ again markedly on the up. And ‘second wave globalisation’ is again yielding predictable political volatility (i.e. in ‘unexpected’ election results).  However, as Max Hastings  suggests, (quoting former UK politician Michael Howard), “we must recognize that the élites, of which he [Howard] himself freely admits to having been a part, have failed to sustain the consent of electorates for this [Euro-centralisation and for globalisation]. This ignoring the need to sustain the consent of the electorate, bears a considerable responsibility for getting us into this mess”.

Further, as Andrew Bracevich underlines globalism has its distinct social ‘flipside’: “[A] war [has been waged] on (genuine) culture: Under whatever guise, liberal-market globalism is hostile to tradition, community, established norms, and the very idea of a common culture – all of which impinge [adversely] upon the operation of the market, or claims of radical individual autonomy”.


The Thucydides’ Trap for America, rather, as Professor Lears of Rutgers writes, then, is not just the rising of Russia and China, but that of Americans being backed into the corner of not recognizing “that ‘they’ [the liberal globalists] are no longer defending either liberalism or democracy; [these] forms of élite rule – that provoke [such] popular anger – are merely the husk of liberal democracy: The once-vital discourse of liberal democracy has been hollowed out, and transformed into a language of managerial technique … Within this discourse, freedom has been reduced to market behaviour; citizenship to voting; and, efficiency for the public good to efficiency for profit. The rich civic culture that gave rise to popular American politics in the past—unions, churches, local party organizations—has been largely replaced, in both parties, by élites who have benefited from the ‘technocratic turn’”.

“As long as prosperity continued to increase as it has since 1945, western electorates were willing to give élites a very considerable measure of discretion about what they did, [whether in creating the EU], or whatever it might be. They were willing to acquiesce. Now, prosperity is being squeezed, wages are stagnant, and for many people unlikely to rise much in real terms.   It is going to be much more difficult to sustain the consent of Western electorates for purposes which the élites might consider as [somehow] ‘enlightened and unselfish’”. (Hastings again – with emphasis added).

And here lies the real ‘trap’: it is not that “prosperity is being squeezed” as per Hastings, but that the economy has rather, been divaricated into the ‘squeezed 60%’ and the asset-holding, and enriched 40% (as Ray Dalio describes it). Last month Dalio, the billionaire founder of top hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, posted a new article, “The Two Economies: The Top 40% and the Bottom 60%”.  He believes it is a serious mistake to think you can analyze or understand “the” economy because we now have two of them. The wealth and income levels are so skewed between top and bottom that “average” indicators no longer reflect the average person’s experience or living conditions. Dalio explains with this chart:



The red line is the share of US wealth owned by the bottom 90% of the population, and the green line is the share held by the top 0.1%. Right now they are about the same, but notice the trend. The wealthiest 0.1% has been increasing its share of wealth since the 1980s, while the bottom 90% has been losing ground. But it would be a mistake to understand this phenomenon – ‘populism’ as it is labelled in Dalio’s chart – or, the push to recover national culture and sovereignty – as simply a gripe about inequity. It has become since 2009 much more than that: it has become a matter of survival for a major segment of the American and European population (especially, as it coincides with a pensions crisis, which will leave many impoverished in their old age): 

“Prior to 2009, debt was able to support a rising standard of living…”, Raúl Ilargi Meijer says, “but less than a decade later, [personal debt], can’t even maintain the status quo. That’s what you call a breaking point.” (Alastair: Or, even, a precursor to civil violence?)

“To put that in numbers, there’s a current shortfall of $18,176 between the standard of living and real disposable incomes. In other words, no matter how much people are borrowing, their standard of living is in decline. 

“Something else we can glean from the graphs is that after the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-9, the economy never recovered. The S&P may have, and the banks are back to profitable ways and big bonuses, but that has nothing to do with real Americans in their own real economy. 2009 was a turning point, and the crisis never looked back”.



And Max Hastings’ point is that with austerity gone, early popular acquiescence has turned to anger against the élites – for having so taken them for granted in their utopian globalist projects.

Now the wider point: what we have here is the intersection of geo-politics with geo-finance. Both are now wholly contingent on the ‘saving of appearances’.  One co-constitutes the other.  One is the saving of appearance that America is not losing ‘respect’, or being disdained in the international arena, as it attenuates its global commitments (that is the Thucydides ‘syndrome’), and two, saving the appearance that ‘recovery’ and ‘prosperity for all’, are continuing to unfold nicely in the economy (the world converging globally to western values ‘syndrome’). 

Both these aspects to the dissolution of today’s western ‘modernity’ are intertwined, and co-constituting, and therefore likely to march in tandem – at least for now:  western ‘prosperity’ underwrites the global order, and the global order underwrites American ‘prosperity’.  The American and European élites therefore find themselves painted into a globalised ‘rules-based order’ corner, geo-politically, just as the Central Bankers have been backed into their QE, low or negative interest rate corner – from which there is no easy escape, either. 

The term ‘globalisation’ has been used to paint a landscape that is both inevitable, and beneficent: “free trade floats all boats; everywhere” is the meme. Devotees of globalisation however, never examine rigorously whether David Ricardo’s comparative advantage theory still holds good in the contemporary world (Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, however, being a notable exception). There just has been no point in asking the fundamentally political (as opposed to technical) question: Has the resulting off-shoring of supply lines, truly been in our interest – politically, as well as financially?  And has the concomitant – globalist disembedding of humans from national culture, community and sovereignty, and the rise of the apolitical, neo-liberal, chameleon-identity ‘Self’, been in the general political and societal interest, too?

It may be objected that Trump is not a globalist.  Whilst it is true that he does not favour America shouldering the claims of a world order; he – himself – protests loudly that he is a globalist – but it is just that he is a hard-nosed, New York businessman, type of globalist: that’s all.  Globalisation (in the neo-liberal mode), remains as a western totem, rightly, or not, according to political taste.


Where now? In the domestic field, the Central Banks’ easy ‘group think’ on QE, low or negative interest-rates, and ballooning public and private debt, has been pursued now for so long and so extensively, that it has both given us Dalio’s Two Economies, and no way back.   It has become a vicious circle: as high debt, to GDP ratios, low-interest zombification of entities and shrinking personal disposable income in the 60%, have depressed growth. Yet, paradoxically, never has the need for more of the same – QE, low or negative interest rates, or even ‘helicopter’ income – been so widely extolled — and, at the very moment when their drawbacks have become so widely identified, even by central bankers, themselves.

So here we are: there is a messy, and bitter, divorce taking place in our societies between the 60% and the 40% ‘tribes’. Asset valuations indeed have never been higher. Yet growth by contrast, has, on average, been ratcheting down, decade by decade – and for some, the situation has become truly existential (those for whom even additional debt cannot sustain their non-discretionary outgoings).

Where do we go from here?  A continuation of the existing financial paradigm is what everyone believes; what everyone expects (wants) – and is what we likely will get.  It might even be deepened a little, in the wake of a market hiccough (S&P down by more than 2%).  And in the case of a financial black swan, we may witness the system literally ‘hosed down’ with newly created ‘money’.  But essentially, the business and trade cycle will continue to be heavily repressed – volatility slammed down – and the S&P be the metric of national well-being.

Not only do the markets ‘believe it’, President Trump needs it: geo-politically he likes to do his style of negotiating from a position of strength (and not from one of economic crisis); and internally, he is at ‘war’ with the Establishment.  With the S&P touching records daily, he is immune from taunts of incompetence (regardless of whether not the highs have anything to do with the President).  His base likes it too: their meagre retirement portfolios at least are rising in value. And in any event, it is not surprising if Trump is a low interest, plentiful liquidity, expanding balance sheet, man globally:  It is how he made his billions, personally.


Of course, the flip side to continuing the ‘easing’ paradigm is the ongoing hidden transfer of wealth from general taxpayers (the 60%) to the 40%: more populism; more unexpected election outcomes in Europe; more fake-ness; quicker dissolution of the glue holding society together; more political process, less outcome; less ability to address the needs of collective purpose, etcetera — rising rancour and push-back, in a word. This is the implication.

In parallel, the saving of appearance in geo-politics seems to require its slamming down of volatility too (and in the EU, not least – i.e. Catalonia).  People want to believe it (in American power); important sectors of the economy want it, (need it): the appearance of America’s global standing must be preserved.  Repressing North Korea, ‘slamming down’ Iran can save appearances (America is strong), but the flip-side is the increased danger of war – whether inadvertently triggered, or by the US cornering itself into it.  Actually, ebbing power is something that you smell: false bravura only heightens the odour of weakness.

So, continuance of the paradigms (financial and geopolitical), and the continuance of ‘populist push-back’ (i.e. volatility) seem set. Is Josh Feinman of Deutsche Bank then right when he says: “We’ve seen this movie before. The first great globalization wave, in the half-century or so before World War I, [it] sparked a populist backlash too, and ultimately came crashing down in the cataclysms of 1914 to 1945.” Is a financial crisis inevitable – ultimately?  Is war – a confrontation with either Russia, China or N. Korea – unavoidable?

Who can say, for sure?  But the repeating of history is not inevitable.  Financial re-set at some point, has become inevitable, it would appear. It has taken time for the old meme to fade, and weaken its hold sufficiently. Hemingway famously said about bankruptcy (his), that it starts only very slowly, but ends lightningly fast.  The political impulse for a change in the social and cultural paradigm however does seem to be unfolding at an accelerating pace. ‘Populism’ and ‘unexpected’ election results are acting as its accelerant. And the intellectual context for a seismic economic policy shift, is in place too:  monetary policy is seen to be bust, and the economic ‘models’ have been seen to be plain wrong. TINA (there is no alternative) is wobbling on her pedestal, and seems poised to topple over.

Of course there are alternatives.  But will they arrive in time?  Perhaps the existing paradigms are destined to endure a while yet … ’til Hemingway’s observation about bankruptcy sliding unstoppably fast towards the end is further proven as a truism?  In the meantime: we wait; shackled by inertia, and backed into a corner.