The US Empire: rise, fall, and now what?

The US was the dominant world power, but has been failing, compounded by desperate plans for hegemony and appalling errors and lies over a long period. Will President Trump overpower the Deep State and restore the US in a unipolar world, perhaps in conjunction with President Putin and Chairman Xi?

Scroll down to read the most recent articles.  Links to previous articles  follow.

It’s not Russia that’s damaging American democracy – it’s money

It’s not Russia that’s damaging American democracy – it’s money Danielle Ryan, RT, 5 November 2018

It is estimated that over $5.2 billion will be spent on the US midterm elections and it’s no secret that hundreds of millions of those dollars are supplied by billionaire donors. This system is incompatible with real democracy.

In a piece for The Guardian last week, Chuck Collins wrote that the three wealthiest families in the US — the Waltons of Walmart, the Mars candy family and the Koch brothers — own a combined fortune of $348.7 billion — a sum which is 4 million times the median wealth of a normal American family.

recent study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University found that despite the popular narrative of the so-called ‘philanthropic’ liberal billionaire in the style of Bill Gates, most of these super rich mega-donors are“extremely conservative” in their political views. They believe in cutting taxes for the rich and abolishing the estate tax. They are opposed to banking and environmental regulation — and they aren’t overly enthusiastic about social programs upon which millions of Americans rely.

 

Instead of being loud and proud about these views, however, they practice what the study authors called “stealth politics” — in other words, they rarely speak publicly on politics, but spend massive amounts of money lobbying politicians on the quiet.

This is not to imply that conservative billionaire donors are bad and liberal billionaires donors are good, which is what mainstream liberal media would seemingly like us to believe when they promote the likes of George Soros as a paragon of goodness while lamenting the influence of the Koch brothers. It is, however, a simple fact that America’s wealthiest billionaires are overwhelmingly conservative — and very rarely are they interested in creating a society that is fairer and better serves the average working American.

 

But, regardless of the politics of those doling out the dosh, this is a rotten and corrupt system of legalized bribery and one that is completely incompatible with true democracy. How could it be? Politicians are beholden not to the people, but to wealthy donors and special interests. Don’t just take it from me. Former congressman Mick Mulvaney, who is now the White House budget director, was remarkably candid about all this during a speech back in April.

“We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress. If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”

Rich donors and lobbyists shovel obscene amounts of money into political campaigns knowing that politicians will serve their interests in Congress. Conservative billionaire Sheldon Adelson, for example, has funneled more than $100 million into the 2018 midterms. If you’re wondering why people like Adelson, who have billions in hoarded wealth, would even bother with elections the answer is simple: abject greed. As Collins wrote in the Guardian, they are “spending millions to save themselves billions” down the road. Meanwhile, normal Americans, despite how politically active they may be, have a near-zero impact on public policy.

Yet, getting money out of politics and taking back control of their democracy does not seem to be as big a focus as it should be for most Americans. Instead, super-rich elites, aided by the mainstream media, have been massively successful in distracting the population with conveniently constructed narratives.

For the Democrats, so-called Russian ‘collusion’ and ‘interference’ has acted as a successful distraction tactic since Donald Trump was elected. For Republicans and Trump himself, over-the-top fear-mongering about immigration while ignoring its root causes (often destabilizing US foreign policy) has been a wonderful distraction tactic.

When Americans are talking non-stop about Russians and migrants coming to get them, they’re not focused on the fact that the political system in which they are operating is corrupt to the core and serves only a tiny minority of mega-rich citizens who reside in ivory towers. Actress Marsha Warfield summed it up perfectly in a tweet last week:

“Why the hell are you mad at immigrants seeking a better life and not the tiny percentage of greedy f*cks hoarding the world’s resources while we fight amongst ourselves for crumbs?”

In 2016, about $6.5 billion was spent on presidential and congressional campaigns. That’s about enough to give every teacher a $2,000 pay rise. Aside from the many ways such money could clearly be put to better use, there’s also the fact that money is a huge barrier to entry for any American trying to get into politics. If you can’t raise the money, you can’t run a campaign — and if you do manage to raise the money (thanks to wealthy donors), you are beholden to them later. Only very rarely does a candidate manage to build a successful grassroots campaign without accepting big donor and corporate money. Democrats often pay lip-service to the idea of getting money out of politics, but in reality, they’re just as happy as Republicans to take money from anyone who wants to throw it at them.

More than $1 billion has been spent by outside groups (independent of and not coordinated with campaigns) to influence the midterm elections. Nearly $128 million has been spent by“dark money” groups which do not disclose who their donors are. And, consider this: Only 0.42 percent of Americans have given $200 or more to elections this year. Yet, miniscule as that number is, those people account for more than 66 percent of all campaign donations.

This is not democracy in action. Until Americans realize that choosing between corporate Democrats and Republicans is like choosing between a slap in the face or a punch in the nose, nothing will be any different. When the ballots are counted on November 6, whether it’s a victory for the Democrats or Republicans, it will still be a tiny minority of elites who hold all the power.

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Putin Lays Down The Law At Valdai

Putin Lays Down The Law At Valdai  By Tom Luongo, Zerohedge, 22 October 2018

 Every year Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the Valdai Economic Forum.  And each year his talk is important.  Putin isn’t one to mince words on important issues.

With tensions between Russia and the West reaching Cold War levels, Valdai represented the first time we’ve heard Putin speak in a long-form discussion since Helsinki and the events thereafter — IL-20, Khashoggi, etc.

So, this talk is worth everyone’s time.  And when I say everyone’s I mean every single person who could be affected by the breakdown of the U.S. political system and how that spills over onto Russia’s shores.

In other words, pretty much everyone on the planet.

Because what Putin did at Valdai was to lay down the new rules of conduct in geopolitical affairs.  He put the U.S. and European oligarchs I call The Davos Crowd on notice.

There is a limit to your provocations and attempts to undermine Russia.  So don’t cross that line.

Peace Through Strength

The big quote from his talk is the one everyone is focusing on, and rightly so, Russia’s policy about using nuclear weapons.

It’s not that Putin’s stance was any different than in the past. Russia will strike back at an aggressor under any circumstance where the future of Russia is at stake.  It was his assurance that in doing so 1) it would be just and righteous “dying like martyrs” and 2) so swift and brutal the aggressors would “die like dogs” bereft of the chance to ask for salvation.

Those are strong words.  They are the words of a meek man.  And the word meek, as Jordan Peterson reminds us, describes someone who has weapons, knows how to use them and keeps them sheathed until they have no other option.

The reaction from the audience (see video at https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-10-20/putin-lays-down-law-valdai ) was nervous laughter, but I don’t think Putin was having one over on anyone.

He was serious.  This is the very definition of meek.

It is really no different than the attitude of Secretary of State James Mattis who said, “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f$*k with me, I’ll kill you all.”

Men like this are not to be tested too hard.  And Putin’s response to the shooting down of the IL-20 plane and its crew was to cross a bunch of diplomatic lines by handing out S-300s to Syria and erecting a de facto no-fly zone over Western Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Notice how there have been no attacks or even harsh language coming out of Israel or the U.S. in the past few weeks.  The failure of the British/French/Israeli operation to sucker Trump into an invasion of Syria is now complete.

And I’m convinced that Nikki Haley paid the price.

All of this highlights the major theme that came out of Putin’s comments.

Strength through resolve.  Resolve comes as a consequence of defending culture.

Putin wasn’t boasting or grandstanding about Russia’s hypersonic weapons capability.  He told everyone they are deployed.  He did this to shut up the U.S. neoconservative chattering class who he rightly says whisper in President Trump’s ear that they can win a nuclear conflict with Russia.

They are insane.  And you have to treat them that way.

Culture First

Putin sees himself, quite rightly, as the custodian of the Russian people and, as such, the Russian state as the reflection of Russian culture.  If you are going to have a state and someone is going to be the head of it, this is the attitude that you want from that person.

In his dialogue with an Orthodox priest Putin wholeheartedly agreed with the idea that “the state cannot dictate culture” but rather, at best, be the facilitator of it through its applications of law.

In a back and forth with a very enthusiastic Russian dairy farmer, who was quite proud of his cheese, Putin reminded the man that while he loved sanctions (from European competition) protecting his business today he should not get used to them. They will be removed at some point and the farmer would have to stand on his own wits to survive in the international market.

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Putin understands that subsidies breed sloth.  That was a message he made loud and clear.

It’s why when the sanctions first went into effect in 2014 over the reunification of Crimea and during the Ruble crisis Putin shifted state subsidies away from the petroleum sector which had thrived and gotten soft during years of $100+/bbl oil and shifted that money to agriculture.

The fruits of that successful policy shift he confronted head on at Valdai.   Russia’s food production across all sectors is flourishing thanks to a cheap ruble, which the U.S. keeps beating down via sanctions, and the Russian state getting out of the way of investment.

At the time he incurred the wrath of Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin and Putin ignored him, much to everyone’s surprise.  The message was clear, we’ll help you out of your current troubles but it’s time to do business differently.  Because it was Rosneft that needed the biggest bailouts in late 2014/early 2015 having tens of billions in dollar-denominated debt which couldn’t be rolled over thanks to the sanctions.

The Limits of Empire

Ultimately, Putin looked resigned, if confused, to the insanity emanating from U.S. policy.  But it’s obvious to him that Russia cannot get caught up in the tit-for-tat nuisances put up to derail Russia’s future.

He mentioned the Empire loses its way because it believed itself invulnerable or as my dad used to say about certain athletes, “He reads his own press clippings too much.”

There is a solipsism that infects dominant societies which creates the kind of over-reactions we’re witnessing today.  Power is slipping away from the U.S. and Trump is both helping the process along while also trying to preserve the core of what’s left.

And no interaction during Putin’s talk was more indicative of his view of the U.S. empire than his interaction with a Japanese delegate who asked him about signing a peace treaty with Japan.

And Putin’s answer was clear.  It’s Japan’s pride and political entanglements that preclude this from happening.  Signing the peace treaty is not necessary to solving ownership of the Kuril Islands.  Russia and Japan are both diminished by having this obstacle in the way.

The issue can resolve itself after the peace treaty is signed.  The current state of things is silly and anachronistic and keep the divide between Russians and Japanese from healing.  Create trust through agreement then move forward.

That’s what is happening between Russia and Egypt and that is why Putin is winning the diplomatic war.

And it’s why Trump is losing the diplomatic war.  Putin knows where Trump is.  He was there himself seventeen years ago, except an order of magnitude worse.  The problems Trump is facing are the same problems Putin faced, corruption, venality, treason all contributing to a collapse in societal and cultural institutions.

Putin knows the U.S. is at a crossroads, and he’s made his peace with whatever comes next.  The question is, have we?

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Kavanaugh survival a triumph over mob will

Kavanaugh survival a triumph over mob will  By Nick Cater, The Australian, 8 October 2018

Having satisfied a Senate committee he is neither a witch nor consults with familiar spirits, Brett Kavanaugh enters the US ­Supreme Court to advance the blessed cause of common sense.

The crumbling of the sexual ­assault allegations against Kav­a­naugh is a serious blow to #MeToo, the creep-shaming campaign that empowers anyone with a Twitter account to be their own chief prosecutor.

The weekend confirmation of Kavanaugh’s appointment could be a turning point, like the one in Salem, Massachusetts, when the public realised that witch-hunting was getting out of hand.

The evidence that Kavanaugh tried to remove Christine Blasey Ford’s clothes at a drunken high school party is so weak that it was effectively on life support. Ford can tell us neither the house nor the neighbourhood where the misdemeanour took place. She cannot remember who drove her there nor who drove her home, and no one has identified him or herself as her driver.

None of the three fellow party­goers she named can tell us where the party was held. Indeed, none of them can remember a party being held.

She is unable to jog their memories with the date. In one account Ford said it happened in the “mid-eighties”, in another she said she was in her “late teens”. Finally she settled on 1982, when she was 15.

We do know, however, the date Ford broke her silence to name her assailant. It was July 6 this year as news firmed that Kavanaugh would be President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court choice.

Ford named him, she tells us, out of a “sense of urgency to relay information to the Senate and the President”. She relieved her sense of urgency by placing a call not to the White House or the Senate but to the news tip hotline at The Washington Post.

As corroborating evidence, she supplied to the Post’s unsceptical reporter her therapy notes. They were evidence not of what happened but what Ford felt had happened, and how she felt about what she felt had happened, and how she felt those feelings might have contributed to her issues, ­issues she undeniably has.

The reporter seemed to feel she had the evidence. Her editor seemed to feel so too, and felt it should be published in the hope the Senate committee too might feel Ford’s pain and the pain of any other victim of a man they felt was a lascivious little creep.

In the search for truth, Ford’s therapy notes are as reliable as the spectral evidence accepted by the Massachusetts court that tried citizens accused of the capital crime of witchcraft.

Spectral evidence consisted of accounts of dreams and visions in which witnesses had been tormented by a witch’s spectrum. The witch would frequently appear as the figure of a black cat, raven or other menacing beast clearly recognisable as the guilty figure standing in the dock.

Evidence was corroborated by the fits of anguish witnesses would break into in the court, outbursts not dissimilar from the behaviour of the “believe her” protesters outside the Senate last week.

The banning of spectral evidence by the Massachusetts magistracy reduced the conviction rate to zero. All the convicted witches were released, save for the six men and 14 women who ­remained in the unconsecrated ground in which their executed bodies had been buried.

Justice, Salem-style, throws light on the careless destruction of reputations by uncorroborated ­allegations of sex crimes in today’s accusatory world. The laying of an allegation, whether in Salem, The Washington Post or the Royal Commission into Institutional ­Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, costs nothing. Defending an allegation can cost your life savings and reputation, with scant hope of recompense.

The accusations of children ­remain inviolate and accusers can expect a sympathetic ear. ­Contradictory evidence for the prosecution is explained away as the result of trauma; all evidence from the defendant is rigorously interrogated.

The crime under investigation, be it witchcraft or sex abuse, is placed in a special category, so ­serious that the normal rules of evidence are waived. Distinctions are blurred and proportion is lost. Drunken teenage groping ­becomes as serious as rape.

A sexual allegation is the ­nuclear option in the armoury of ad hominem warfare. Trump’s progressive opponents have no qualms about deploying it, and no respect for the ­presumption of innocence or the rule of law.

They are fighting a bigger cause in defence of righteousness against the forces of evil. The witch-hunts of the 17th century, like creep hunts of the 21st, satisfy an instinct to separate the saved from the damned. It is a desire as strong on today’s progressive Left as it was among North America’s Calvinist early settlers.

“The co-existence of the contradictory notions of certainty as to who was saved, and ultimate ­uncertainty on the subject, helped produce that characteristically New England Puritan mix of smugness and fear,” wrote the American historian Frances Hill in A Delusion of Satan. “Tolerance was not a virtue but laxity.”

There is hope that Kavanaugh’s survival in the face of these allegations shows that neo-puritanical intolerance may be close to exhaustion.

Among Republican supporters and fair-minded Democrats, ­Kava­naugh’s reputation has been enhanced, just as Trump’s was by the swivel-eyed campaign to brand him a predator. Even critics, such as The New York Timescolumnist Bret Stephens, have sided with the President and backed his nominee on the grounds that letting the mob win would be worse.

His appointment encourages the hope that political correctness will eventually succumb to the laws of gravity by collapsing under the weight of its own absurdity.

The lesson for Trump haters is contained in Newton’s third law: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The President’s support is galvanised by their overreach and grubby politics. If they want to refill the swamp, they must first climb out the mud.

Nick Cater is executive director of the Menzies Research Centre.

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About Peter Senior

I'm a very experienced and pragmatic management consultant. I've reviewed and led the restructuring of many organisations - large and small corporations and Government Departments, much of the time as President of the New Zealand Institute of Management Consultants. Before that I was General Manager of a major NZ newspaper; earlier, an analyst for IBM UK. I gained an honours degree in engineering at London University, and studied management at Cambridge University. This wide range of experience has left me frustrated: I continue to see too many examples of really bad management. Sometimes small easily fixed issues; sometimes fundamental faults; and sometimes really tricky problems. Mostly these issues can be fixed using a mixture of common sense, 'management 101' and applying lessons from years of management experience. Unfortunately, all too often, politics, bureaucracy and daft government regulations get in the way; internal factors such as poor culture and out-of-date strategies are often evident. So what's gone wrong, and why, and most importantly, how to fix 'it'? I hope there are like-minded people 'out there' who will share their thoughts enabling 'us' to improve some significant management failures that affect the general public. If you just accept bad management, you don't have the right to complain! If you'd like to share thoughts on any aspects of management, send me an email to petersenior42@gmail.com . My latest project has the interim title 'You’ve been conned. Much of what you were taught and read is largely irrelevant, misleading or plain wrong – this is the REAL story of life: past, present and our possible future.' The working paper so far comprises 105 pages, many listing references and interim conclusions. The main problem is finding sufficient credible evidence, and realising the more Iearn, the more I realise I don't know!
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