stock market ride

The Fed is completely full of shit. It is terrified of the conditions it has set up and it has no idea what to do next. The “data” that it claims to be so dependent on is arrantly fake.

An interest rate rise of one percent, would drive the annual US debt higher by $190 billion.

trump-clinton-clowns

Idiocy and mendacity are a bad combo in the affairs of nations, especially in elections.  The elites operate in their own twilight zone of ignorance, only at a loftier level, flying on wings of sheepskin.

forward brick wall

What the world is witnessing, without actually paying much attention, is the death of our debt-based economy — that is, borrowing the means to thrive in the now from a future that can’t really furnish it anymore. The illusion that the future would always provide was a legacy of the cheap energy era. That era ended in 2005.

Image credit:  TruthStreamMedia.com
Image credit:  TruthStreamMedia.com

Image credit: TruthStreamMedia.com

TND Guest Contributor: James Howard Kunstler

The mighty Shakespeare in his direst night sweats could not have conjured up the Clinton family in all their sharp angles and dark corners, but we can try to reconstruct the scene last week on Loretta Lynch’s plane out on the Phoenix airport tarmac. Former president Bill steps aboard:

Loretta:   What the fuck are you doing here?

Bill:            I just had to tell you what Charlotte did last week.

Loretta:   Who the fuck is Charlotte?

Bill:           Our grand-kid. She’s turning into a good little earner.

Loretta:   We can’t meet like this. We’re about to depose your wife.

Bill:           Charlotte gave a speech to the whole Citibank C-suite.

Loretta:   I don’t give a fuck. Get off my plane right now!

Bill:           Well, I don’t know if ‘speech’ is the right word. She gurgles nice.

Loretta:     I guess you didn’t hear me.

Bill:             She pulled in fifty grand for that. Of course it was a hundred percent remitted to the foundation. Well, bye now. (Exits plane).

I have a theory about the Clinton family dynamic. Bill does not want Hillary to win because he doesn’t want to live in the White House again. For sure he does not want to live with The Flying Reptile, but he especially doesn’t want to be on display in that fishbowl where folks pretty much can see what you’re up to 24/7. For one thing, “The Energizer” can’t discreetly come and go. But he certainly doesn’t want to concern himself as “First Husband” or “First Gentleman” (title TBD) with deciding which fabric to choose in replacing the East Room draperies. So Bill decided to fix things for sure with that innocent visit to the US Attorney General’s airplane to talk about grand-kids.

It seems to be working. If there was any question that Loretta Lynch could just sit on her hands about Hillary’s email investigation through the November election, it went up in a vapor last week. It also left FBI director on the hot seat because now he will have to either cough up a referral to Justice Department prosecutors, or he’ll have some ‘splainin to do in the heat of a presidential election campaign. If you thought Watergate was a ripe peach, this one is beginning to look like a stinking durian (Durio zibethinus).

Both The New York Times and the WashPo are spinning the Hillary email scandal as being about security protocols, which is to say they are deliberately putting too fine a point on the matter as a ruse to deflect from the deeper issue: namely, did Hillary as Secretary of State use her office to shovel money from sources in foreign lands into her family foundation? It sure looks that way if you match the contributions from foreign lands to the arms sale deals she approved as part of her official duties. In any case, whatever connection there might be between those arms deals and the foundation revenue, is there not under any circumstances some obvious conflict of interest (and legal liability) about a secretary of state doing personal business with foreign governments?

This matter is swelling like an abscess ready to burst just as the Hon (?) Debbie Wasserman Schultz whacks the gavel to open the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Bernie’s troops will be ready to rock and roll both inside and outside the convention, with perhaps some diversionary skirmishes by the Black Lives Matter cadres. Throw in another “Lone Wolf” massacre, say, at a cheese-steak stand and you can kiss the Democratic Party goodbye.

Note that this convergence of bad karma will take place against the background of deteriorating events on the banking scene. The European banks in particular are melting away to nothing while European Union officials wring their hands in prayer. You can bet it’s going to affect all the global banks, daisy-chained as they are in counterparty obligations. Somewhere in a dark subterranean chamber, the magma of financial derivatives is getting ready to blow.

Happy Independence Day everybody! Who needs space aliens when we’ve got Hillary and Trump?

This week marks the official publication date of The Harrows of Spring, the fourth and final installment of the World Made By Hand series of novels about the post-petroleum American Future.

I’ll be making some bookstore appearances this week and next around the area where I live. Here’s the schedule. All events are at 7 p.m.

Thursday July 7 — The Book House, Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, New York

Friday July 8 — Battenkill Books, Cambridge, New York

Saturday July 9 — Northshire Books, Manchester, Vermont

Saturday July 16 — Northshire Books, Saratoga Springs, New York

Here’s a brief excerpt from the book for your reading pleasure: Click here!

# # # #

JamesHowardKunstler-70x70About James Howard Kunstler:

Mr. Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.  Mr. Kunstler authors a widely read blog, Clusterfuck Nation.  To access Amazon’s dedicated James Howard Kunstler page listing books available for purchase, click here.

TND full (1)

Follow All Of TheNewsDoctors.com’s Exclusive Articles:

http://thenewsdoctors.com/category/thenewsdoctors-exclusive/

OR

Subscribe To Receive All TND’s Exclusive Articles In Your RSS Feed:

http://thenewsdoctors.com/category/thenewsdoctors-exclusive/feed/

 

JamesHowardKunstler_colorThumb_By_CharlieSamuels

JamesHowardKunstler_colorThumb_By_CharlieSamuelsTND Guest Contributor: James Howard Kunstler

As I was leaving Detroit very early Sunday morning to catch a plane, I saw the breaking story about a “shooting incident” in an Orlando nightclub, but the first reports did not detail any fatalities. Only after we landed was the shocking news of 50 dead and as many wounded revealed on the concourse TV screens.

Just in the past six months: December, 137 dead at the Paris Bataclan Theater (and two other sites); March, 35 dead at the Brussels airport; now the massacre at the Orlando Pulse Club. Before that, San Bernardino, The Madrid train bombing, the London Subway bombings… not to mention the videotaped beheadings of sundry Western journalists and other non-combatants… or the foundational outrage of 9/11.  It gets more difficult for the democracies of the West to evade the recognition that a state of war exists between us and Islamic theocracy.

No one knows what to do about it , including, of course, the blowhard Trump. The perp in the Orlando slaughter, Omar Mateen, killed at the scene, was born in New York City, and many of the various European massacre perps were homegrown as well. Good luck trying to deport new wannabes like them. The mood for the moment, as in so many of these tragedies, is the awful combination of rage and impotence.

After many past atrocities, people of the Western nations under attack just sucked it up and moved on with daily life. These recent massacres, though, have stirred up the sleeping demons of Western politics. No sentient observer can fail to notice the extremities of feeling aroused in America’s 2016 election spectacle, which have overtaken dark trends underway for years already around Europe. One can only imagine that the sentiments will only get more extreme, as may the actions that follow

* * *

Jesus_Detroit

I was in Detroit last week for the annual congress of the New Urbanists, who hold their meet-up in a different city each year, more or less to keep up with developments around the country. The org was formed in 1993 to challenge the fiasco of suburban sprawl, which was defacing the national geography like some landscape-eating leprosy. The org has been most successful at changing the DNA of property development in hundreds of cities and towns: the laws and zoning codes that for decades made it illegal to build so much as a popsicle stand in America without supplying ten parking spaces. The New Urbanists are responsible in large part for the urban renaissance — not so evenly distributed around the country.

Detroit, of course, is the most extreme case of civic implosion in the USA. In 1950, it was the seventh-richest city in the world. By the turn of this century, it was left for dead and bankrupt. It’s creeping back now by small increments, which may seem like not quite enough, but is actually exactly the scale required for what is coming. The residue of the city’s skyscraper center still stands on Augustus Woodward’s disorienting semi-circular street grid. There’s a grand wish to bring it all back to life, but personally I think that giant office and apartment towers are not on the menu for The Long Emergency. Practically everyone I talked to about this issue thinks my view of the matter is nuts. But I reiterate: skyscrapers and mega-structures are already obsolete (we just don’t know it yet).

Our cities will come back as cities, just not at the scale of comic book gigantism they achieved at the height of the oil age, when Superman was leaping over The Daily Planet headquarters. And remember that most of our cities occupy very important sites, most particularly Detroit on its stretch of river between Great Lakes, on the border of Canada. It’s coming back now by small entrepreneurial gestures, hipster and hippie business start-ups, the “risk oblivious” art shock troops, a cadre of fearless homegrown architects, and some visionary urban designers. The ballparks and casinos have landed downtown, too, like UFOs from a planet of bygone utopian redevelopment fantasies, all crammed into the same sports ghetto where wild drinking and structured parking overwhelms anything like normal city life a few hours a week.           

The geographically huge city offers plenty of forsaken small-to-medium buildings, some of them very beautiful and built to last for the ages, that can be bought for almost nothing. There’s an awful lot of empty space between them, and for the moment enterprising gardeners are putting it to use while time bides itself waiting to find out where fate wants to take it.

* * * 

This website suffered a pretty severe Denial of Service (DoS) attack the past few weeks, culminating in a disabling shut-down last Monday. We don’t know who the culprits are. Readers may know that I boast of being allergic to conspiracy notions, but I can’t help thinking that some of Hillary Clinton’s wealthy friends out in Silicon Valley might have put their geeks and nerds up to the job. Another website unfriendly to the Clintons, Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism blog, suffered a very similar attack last week. We’ve made some changes to fortify this operation and hope to be back to the familiar layout this Monday, perhaps a little later than the usual 9:30 a.m. posting time. But we’ll be running on the alternative Patreon site too, just in case. Thanks for being patient about this problem.

# # # #

JamesHowardKunstler-70x70About James Howard Kunstler:

Mr. Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.  Mr. Kunstler authors a widely read blog, Clusterfuck Nation.  To access Amazon’s dedicated James Howard Kunstler page listing books available for purchase, click here.

TND full (1)

Follow All Of TheNewsDoctors.com’s Exclusive Articles:

http://thenewsdoctors.com/category/thenewsdoctors-exclusive/

OR

Subscribe To Receive All TND’s Exclusive Articles In Your RSS Feed:

http://thenewsdoctors.com/category/thenewsdoctors-exclusive/feed/

 

inclusive bathroom

inclusive bathroom

TND Guest Contributor: James Howard Kunstler 

If the Obama Justice Department was really honest about its “guidance” on transgender bathrooms, it would have stated clearly a requirement to provide a new, separate, third category of bathroom or changing room for people identifying themselves as transgender. This would have given such persons a safe, private place to perform their necessary bio-functions without making the other two categories of people, male and female, uncomfortable.

Actually, such a third option already exists in many public places: the handicapped bathroom. These could easily be relabeled “Handicapped and Transgender” — the main feature of them being that they allow for one-person-at-a-time occupancy, obviating any effect on others. And it wouldn’t require expensive renovation of public buildings.

But no, Mr. Obama’s DOJ decided to antagonize large numbers of males and females by coercing them to consort with transgender people, threatening to take away federal school funding if they didn’t allow persons of ambiguous sexuality to use whichever bathroom they felt like.

This reveals the fantastic smug certainty of the political Left in assuming that such matters as the nature of transgender behavior are adequately understood and settled — for instance, that transgender is actually a real sexual category rather than a psychological disturbance, a developmental problem, an extreme fashion statement, or a fantasy. I’m not at all persuaded that this is settled, despite the pervasive wishful thinking of the social justice corps that it were so.

It should be clear after some years of social justice hysteria in this country that coercion is now the method of choice on the Left side of the culture war battlefield: you must believe what we believe, or face punishment. As a Vietnam-era registered Democrat I hugely resent this oppressive political approach. I resent even more the supposed public intellectuals and thought leaders in government, academia, and the media who go along with this despotic conduct — which includes ruining the livelihoods and careers of respectable colleagues among them.

Though I am not generally sympathetic to the extreme political Right, especially its evangelical arm which adopted coercive and punitive tactics well before the Left did, I think the governors of North Carolina and Texas have a case in this new transgender bathroom dispute, though I hope their lawyers argue it on some basis besides scripture and sheer boobish obstinacy.

You may have noticed that more and more we live in a society where anything goes and nothing matters. We got there through the incremental eradication of boundaries, especially in social categories and behaviors. Some people find this exhilarating and others find this disturbing. I happen to believe that the elimination of boundaries is not altogether a good thing. We would probably benefit, I think, from more and firmer boundaries than squishier and fewer of them.

Despite the fact that a lot of people I associate with are arty types of what used to be called liberal inclination, I was not in favor of gay marriage, and said so — and was scalded with censorious opprobrium for it . Considering what I know, for instance, about the unintended consequences and diminishing returns of technology, I did not consider it a small thing to meddle with social institutions that are truly older than history. We don’t know what the eventual effects of gay marriage on the social order will be anymore than we knew that the consequences of “Atoms for Peace” would be Chernobyl and Fukushima. Things happen in history because they seem like a good idea at the time. Then time passes and we find out differently.

I was in favor of civil unions for gay couples, since the disposition of chattels and property is not a small matter in a broken partnership, as are medical issues and the care of children entailed in these partnerships, and some method of adjudication was obviously needed. But it was not necessary to call it marriage. Why make the distinction? For the basic reason that not all things and conditions of things are exactly the same. That is exactly the problem with the sort of extreme relativism that reigns on the Left these days. Anything goes.

In fact, I suspected then and still do that the crusade for gay marriage was more a seeking of official state approbation for homosexual behavior as much as a legal issue. In other words, it was about feelings — which has become the basis of argument for practically everything in our politics these days. Anyone disagreeing with those feelings was labeled a “homophobe,” and their ideas on the matter could be simply dismissed as a phobia, a terrible fear, a bad feeling rather than a reasoned position about the workings of society. I was not phobic or fearful about people who identified as gay. But I didn’t then and still don’t believe that we completely understand that behavior, and that it is a settled matter — contrary to the shibboleths of the moment.

The case is similar with transgender. We only pretend to know what it’s about because doing so affords comfortable feelings of superiority — that we are better people for going along with it because the transit of human progress is ever upward, and we are on the cutting edge of that journey to utopia. I don’t happen to buy that story, anymore than I believe that an “installation” of plastic vomit on the floor of the Whitney Museum is as much a work of art as Edouard Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass.

America has a boundary problem and boundary problems are disturbing both to individuals and societies. A common feature of societies in decline is a preoccupation with sexual freakishness, which is on display incessantly in this Republic of Twerking and in the much-valorized “sexual subversion” celebrated in the arts. The Obama government does a huge disservice to this dangerously declining nation by provoking even more dissolution of social boundaries at a time when we have so many other converging problems of polity to contend with.

This is the great contradiction, by the way, of Donald Trump. He has captured the attention of so many voters by invoking the case of our “broken border” with Mexico — a political boundary that is simple enough for most citizens to understand. But Trump himself actually operates by smashing the boundaries erected by his own party for acceptable political conduct. Thus, Trump perfectly personifies the nation’s essential predicament: America has a borderline personality. It is a danger to itself and others.
# # # #

JamesHowardKunstler-70x70About James Howard Kunstler:

Mr. Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.  Mr. Kunstler authors a widely read blog, Clusterfuck Nation.  To access Amazon’s dedicated James Howard Kunstler page listing books available for purchase, click here.

TND full (1)

Follow All Of TheNewsDoctors.com’s Exclusive Articles:

http://thenewsdoctors.com/category/thenewsdoctors-exclusive/

OR

Subscribe To Receive All TND’s Exclusive Articles In Your RSS Feed:

http://thenewsdoctors.com/category/thenewsdoctors-exclusive/feed/

 

Image credit:  TruthStreamMedia.com
Image credit:  TruthStreamMedia.com

Image credit: TruthStreamMedia.com

TND Guest Contributor: James Howard Kunstler

Spring unfolds at last in all its loveliness and Hillary sits back in repose like the matriarch of toads with a clear path to her toadstool throne, having swallowed the mouse-king Sanders. (She forgets that there are millions more mice under the thatched grass, including new mouse-kings awaiting.) And Trump with his bullfrog smile now casts his baleful eye on the two remaining gnats circling his lily pad. Yes, this magical week when the world bursts into leaf and flower, the life of our nation seems like a fairy tale.

Weeks from now when we’re used to the mild air and the greened world, going coatless and care-free, is when the storms of summer strike and the life of the nation turns from fairy tale to horror comic. Both Clinton and Trump are perfect representatives of the nascent forces moving towards some kind of civil war in comic book America.

Clinton perfectly embodies the fortress of the status quo, including especially her praetorian guard of black ghetto grandmothers, giving Hillary the false appearance of some sort of righteousness when, really, she has nothing to offer the greater crisis of black manhood, boxed into prison by the ancient crippling rules of federal welfare policy with its extreme penalties on active fathering. Otherwise, the stone wall of her status quo fortress conceals her privy council of Wall Street necromancers, and the fortune they have helped her lay up in the vaults of the Clinton Foundation.

All of which is to say that Hillary represents the forces that want to keep things just as a they are: rackets rampant. What can crush her triumph of fakery is the sudden manifestation of rackets collapsing under their own weight — a set of awful probabilities waiting to happen, ranging from riots at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia to an accident in financial markets jerry-rigged to mis-price everything for the purpose of funneling carry-trade gains into East Hampton. Look how she croaks about the triumph of the Affordable Care Act, as though it’s a great thing that Americans can shell out $10,000 a year for medical coverage that only kicks in after you rack up the first $6,000 in charges. (Forgetting for a moment that the costs are an hallucination of the “ChargeMaster” system designed to lavish six-figure salaries plus bonuses on the maestros in the hospital executive suites.) What a demonic fraud this woman is.

In terms of sheer persona on persona, Trump is not much better, a walking hood ornament on the faltering beater car that America has become. But at least he recognizes that the beater beneath him needs a complete overhaul, even if he can barely cobble up a coherent list of particulars, or name the mechanics who might be able to fix the damn thing. And, of course, a broad swathe of Americans whose lives have also come to resemble beater cars are very sympathetic to the impulses Trump radiates.

For example, I happen to agree that the nation needs to act on immigration, both on the problem of illegal immigrants and on limiting the quotas of legally admitted newcomers. The Left, sunk in its sentimental sob stories of “dreamers,” and its nostalgia for the Ellis Island romance of 1904, can’t conceive of any reason why the nation might benefit from, at least, a time-out on invitations. The idea undermines their world-saving fantasies. In my little corner of America, the computer chip factory run by Global Foundries (owned by the Emirate of Dubai) has just laid off the majority of its homegrown American technical labor force and replaced them with foreign technicians on H1B visas, thus creating x-number of new Trump voters among the laid-off, and rightfully so, I think.

Really, who says we have to invite every striver from other parts of the world where striving is more difficult? Let them improve the strive-osity of their own nations. Do the citizens already here not have any right to halt the influx and take stock of the nation’s circumstances for a period of time? If only Trump could speak clearly about these issues instead of simply issuing crude and rather dumb threats.

Enjoy this end-of-April lull in the action. Use the moment to gird your loins and perhaps get the hell out of the financial markets while the getting is good. I think you will see things liven up a lot as the heat rises and the seventeen-year locusts emerge from their long sleep underground in frightening storms.

# # # #

JamesHowardKunstler-70x70About James Howard Kunstler:

Mr. Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.  Mr. Kunstler authors a widely read blog, Clusterfuck Nation.  To access Amazon’s dedicated James Howard Kunstler page listing books available for purchase, click here.

TND full (1)

Follow All Of TheNewsDoctors.com’s Exclusive Articles:

http://thenewsdoctors.com/category/thenewsdoctors-exclusive/

OR

Subscribe To Receive All TND’s Exclusive Articles In Your RSS Feed:

http://thenewsdoctors.com/category/thenewsdoctors-exclusive/feed/

 

pax-americana empire

pax-americana empireTND Guest Contributor:  Wayne Madsen

The Obama administration will be remembered for the extension of American military bases to the most far-flung parts of the world in a manner not seen since the early days of the Cold War.

The Pentagon, under Obama, drew up a plan for a worldwide network of military «hubs» with smaller dependent bases or “spokes” coordinating their activity with the hubs. One such hub is a large airbase being constructed by the United States in Erbil, in what is the all-but-declared independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq.

In February 2015, the Peshmerga Ministry in Kurdistan, the aspirant nation’s de facto defense ministry, confirmed the establishment of the US base even as the Pentagon was denying it. The establishment of a US military base in a Kurdistan that is still recognized by the international community as a part of Iraq is a touchy subject for the Pentagon and Obama administration. The US has already gone down the slippery slope of establishing US bases in self-declared independent countries that are not recognized by the United Nations. For example, Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, which remains unrecognized by Serbia, from which it was carved; Russia; China; Hungary; and Spain, is one of the largest US bases in Europe.

Recently, it became clearer what «spoke» bases would be built in the Middle East that would coordinate their activities with the US Central Command installation in Erbil. Taking advantage of the battlefield success of the Syrian Kurds, the US built an airbase in Rmeilan, which is now part of the embryonic Syrian Kurdish state known as the Federation of Northern Syria – Rojava. The Rmeilan base is designed as one of the spokes from the Erbil hub. The United States justifies its military bases in the largely unrecognized Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) territory and Northern Syria-Rojava by claiming the bases are needed to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an organization of America’s making. However, anyone in the Middle East with common sense realizes that the new bases are to create zones of protection for US oil interests who want to exploit the oil reserves of both Iraq and Syria.

In a show of hypocrisy, the Pentagon maintains that it coordinated the establishment of the Erbil base with the Iraqi government in Baghdad. Yet, when it came to modernizing the 2600-meter-long runway at Rmeilan in northern Syria, it sought no permission from the central government of Syria in Baghdad. And many Iraqi officials scoff at the notion Washington asked Baghdad for prior permission to build its base in Erbil.

Another spoke for the Erbil hub is the not-so-secret US training base located in the northern Jordanian desert town of Safawi. At this base, US, Jordanian, British, French, and Turkish troops jointly trained Syrian rebel forces, many of which, when entering Syria, immediately defected to ISIL and its affiliates. Jordan’s King Abdullah, at a January 2016 meeting in Washington with congressional officials, bemoaned the fact that Turkey was aiding ISIL in Syria and that Jordanian Special Forces units were required to enter Syria to clean up the mess caused by the Turks. Obama, who continues to maintain his friendship with Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, canceled his previously scheduled meeting at the White House with Abdullah.

The Obama administration has had no desire to expose Erdogan as a supporter of ISIL, primarily because Washington wants to maintain its large airbase at Incirlik. Again, the maintenance of bases by the United States trumps all other concerns, diplomatic and even counter-terrorism issues included.

The United States Navy has long coveted the strategic Yemeni island of Socotra. Once part of the British Empire and more recently part of South Yemen, which permitted the Soviet Union to establish a key signals intelligence base on the island that sits right in the middle of the Gulf of Aden and the maritime routes through the Red Sea, Socotra is considered the crown jewel for any global empire. In February of this year, Yemen’s Saudi-supported puppet president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi reportedly offered the United Arab Emirates a 99-year lease for the control of Socotra. The UAE capital of Abu Dhabi is the headquarters for Reflex Reponses (R2), the private military company established by Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater USA, a company that provided services to the Central Intelligence Agency and State Department during the American military fiascos in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. Currently, US civilian paramilitary advisers command R2 mercenary units made up of Colombians, South Africans, and Chileans. These may be the first ground forces in Socotra to prepare the island for an American military presence.

Any agreement by the UAE to gain control of Socotra for 99-years, which suspiciously reminds one of the US 99-year lease on Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, a lease long since expired, would also open the island up to the problems usually associated with hosting American military bases. Aside from the people of Socotra suffering under a joint UAE-US suzerainty, at risk will be the island’s protected world natural heritage site status. One thing that is always certain after the US leaves a military base, which is rare, are the mounds of trash and toxic chemicals it leaves behind. Pristine Socotra could become a toxic waste dump while serving as a virtual American aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Aden.

From the deserts of the Middle East, the Pentagon is also refurbishing the largely abandoned NATO base at Keflavik in Iceland. The US Navy plans to station P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft in Keflavik to counter what NATO sees as a Russian threat. However, it is NATO that is expanding bases and building new ones, including American military personnel, in Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. In Asia, the United States is trying to convince the government of Okinawa to allow it to build a new air base on the Japanese island. However, Okinawa’s government, tired of animalistic US servicemen preying, for decades, on the girls and women of Okinawa, wants the US out – period. If they ever so unfortunate to host a US military base, the people of Socotra only need to ask the Okinawans what American troops bring to an island culture in the way of rapes, assaults, alcohol, sexually-transmitted diseases, drugs, theft, and pollution.

Other islands in the Indian Ocean are also not safe from being exploited by the Pentagon’s foreign base frenzy. The residents of the Cocos Islands, an Australian possession in the Indian Ocean located 2750 kilometers northwest of Perth, are concerned their pristine tropical corner of the planet will soon host a major military base, part of Obama’s «Pivot to Asia», which is directed against China. Eager to challenge China in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, the Pentagon is busy establishing new bases in Darwin, Australia; Singapore; and the Philippines, while maintaining its large base on Diego Garcia, an island ruthlessly stolen from the native Chagossians in order to make way for American nuclear submarines, cruise missiles, and B-52s.

The only good news about one new US base at Ice Camp Sargo in the Arctic is that it is located on an ice sheet. It will eventually be abandoned as the polar ice melts this summer.

# # # #

About Wayne Madsen:

Investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. Has some twenty years experience in security issues. As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. He has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and MS-NBC. He has been invited to testify as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club. Lives in Washington, D.C.

This article was published at the Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal www.strategic-culture.org and is reprinted with permission.

JamesHowardKunstler_colorThumb_By_CharlieSamuels

JamesHowardKunstler_colorThumb_By_CharlieSamuelsTND Guest Contributor: James Howard Kunstler

Beyond the Kubler-Ross maelstrom of denial, anger, depression, etc., besetting this spavined republic, lies the actual grief provoking it all — especially the shocking loss of national purpose embodied by the muppets and puppets onstage nightly vying to bring out the worst in us in an election season far from just silly. Judging from their demeanor in the so-called debates, the candidates seem not only sick of their opponents but of themselves, a fitting outcome perhaps in a nation that hates what it has become.

The moment that got me in Sunday night’s Democratic boasting contest, hosted by CNN, was Hillary crowing about the great achievement of Obamacare — getting thirty million uninsured Americans on some kind of health plan! The part she left out, of course, is that most of those plans have “deductable” ceilings in the multiple thousands of dollars, guaranteeing that the policy holder goes bankrupt if he/she seeks medical help. Who does she think she’s fooling, anyway? This sort of arrant lying is what drives millions into the camp of Trump.

Even valiant old Bernie muffs every opportunity to explain the death-grip that Wall Street crony politics has on this land: the US Department of Justice did nothing under six-plus years of Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute criminal misconduct in banking. And then President Obama, who is ultimately responsible, did absolutely nothing to prompt that Attorney General into action or replace him with somebody who would act. Obama’s lame excuse back in the days when informed people were still wondering about this, was that the bankers had done nothing patently illegal enough to warrant investigation — a claim that was absurd on its face.

Obama didn’t do any better with the regulating agencies that are supposed to make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, especially the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged with keeping financial markets honest. There was nothing that difficult about those criminal matters now fading in the nation’s memory: for instance, the bundled bonds (CDOs) of “non-performing” mortgages designed to pay off the issuers handsomely when they failed. A child of ten could have unpacked the Goldman Sachs Timberwolf bond caper. Eventually Goldman and others were slapped with mere fines that could be (and were) written off as the cost of doing business. What a difference it would have made if Lloyd Blankfein and a few hundred other bank executives were personally held accountable and sent to cool their heels in federal prison.

As the politicians are fond of saying, make no mistake: this was Barack Obama’s failure to act. Likewise, regarding the Citizens United Supreme Court’s decision that equated arrant corporate bribery of public officials with “free speech;” Mr. Obama (a constitutional lawyer by training) had a range of remedies at his disposal, foremostly working with the then-majority Democratic congressional leadership to legislate a new and clearer definition of so-far-alleged corporate “personhood,” its duties, obligations, and responsibilities to the public interest — and its limits! Not only did Mr. Obama fail to act then, but nobody in his own party even coughed into his-or-her sleeve when he so failed. And now, of course, nobody remembers any of that.

The effects of all this fundamental dishonesty have thundered through our national life to the degree that American society is now divided into the swindlers and the swindled, loosing the monster of collective Id known as Trump on the public. This is what comes of attempting to divorce truth from reality, which has been the principal business of American life for several decades now. When truth and reality become de-linked, a society literally doesn’t know what it is doing. With that goes the collective sense of purpose, replaced with bromides and platitudes such as Trump’s “make America great again,” and Hillary’s “In America, every family should feel like they belong.”

Unbeknownst to the cable news hustlers, events are in the driver’s seat, not the personalities of the puppets and muppets in the spotlight. Come July, there may not be anything that could be called the Republican Party. And Hillary is the first leading contender for the highest office with a possible indictment looming over her. Yes, it’s really there percolating on the FBI’s front burner. Even if the machinery of justice trips over itself again on that, imagine how the questions behind it will color the final battle for the general election. We also fail to appreciate how, if there is just a little more trouble in banking and financial markets before November 8, we can’t even be certain of holding the general election.

# # # #

JamesHowardKunstler-70x70About James Howard Kunstler:

Mr. Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.  Mr. Kunstler authors a widely read blog, Clusterfuck Nation.  To access Amazon’s dedicated James Howard Kunstler page listing books available for purchase, click here.

TND full (1)

Follow All Of TheNewsDoctors.com’s Exclusive Articles:

http://thenewsdoctors.com/category/thenewsdoctors-exclusive/

OR

Subscribe To Receive All TND’s Exclusive Articles In Your RSS Feed:

http://thenewsdoctors.com/category/thenewsdoctors-exclusive/feed/

 

JamesHowardKunstler_colorThumb_By_CharlieSamuels

JamesHowardKunstler_colorThumb_By_CharlieSamuelsTND Guest Contributor: James Howard Kunstler

There’s really one supreme element of this story that you must keep in view at all times: a society (i.e. an economy + a polity = a political economy) based on debt that will never be paid back is certain to crack up. Its institutions will stop functioning. Its business activities will seize up. Its leaders will be demoralized. Its denizens will act up and act out. Its wealth will evaporate.

Given where we are in human history — the moment of techno-industrial over-reach — this crackup will not be easy to recover from; not like, say, the rapid recoveries of Japan and Germany after the brutal fiasco of World War Two. Things have gone too far in too many ways. The coming crackup will re-set the terms of civilized life to levels largely pre-techno-industrial. How far backward remains to be seen.

Those terms might be somewhat negotiable if we could accept the reality of this re-set and prepare for it. But, alas, most of the people capable of thought these days prefer wishful techno-narcissistic woolgathering to a reality-based assessment of where things stand — passively awaiting technological rescue remedies (“they” will “come up with something”) that will enable all the current rackets to continue. Thus, electric cars will allow suburban sprawl to function as the preferred everyday environment; molecular medicine will eliminate the role of death in human affairs; as-yet-undiscovered energy modalities will keep all the familiar comforts and conveniences running; and financial legerdemain will marshal the capital to make it all happen.

Oh, by the way, here’s a second element of the story to stay alert to: that most of the activities on-going in the USA today have taken on the qualities of rackets, that is, dishonest schemes for money-grubbing. This is most vividly and nauseatingly on display lately in the fields of medicine and education — two realms of action that formerly embodied in their basic operating systems the most sacred virtues developed in the fairly short history of civilized human endeavor: duty, diligence, etc.

I’ve offered predictions for many a year that this consortium of rackets would enter failure mode, and so far that has seemed to not have happened, at least not to the catastrophic degree, yet. I’ve also maintained that of all the complex systems we depend on for contemporary life, finance is the most abstracted from reality and therefore the one most likely to show the earliest strains of crackup. The outstanding feature of recent times has been the ability of the banking hierarchies to employ accounting fraud to forestall any reckoning over the majestic sums of unpayable debt. The lesson for those who cheerlead the triumph of fraud is that lying works and that it can continue indefinitely — or at least until they are clear of culpability for it, either retired, dead, or safe beyond the statute of limitations for their particular crime.

Of course it says something about the kind of society we’ve become that such racketeering has become so normative and pervasive, and that evading responsibility for its consequences has been elevated to a sort of enviable skill-set. In fact, the art of evasion has taken the place of what used to be called honor. We live in a low time that honors only low men. Ironically, we affect to admire only “superheroes” because it has become impossible to imagine mere humans showing courage, fortitude, and respect for truth. All conduct is provisional and equivocal. Every law can be parsed to serve what it was created to oppose. Anything goes and nothing matters.

In this year’s go-round, I’ll try to describe what happened so far, where we stand, and where I think things are going. My method is emergent and heuristic. I’m allergic to charts and graphs, which are among the prime tools of the racketeers and the wishful thinking impresarios for bending the truth. Sadly, also, statistical analysis plays into the fantasy that if you can measure enough things you can control them. (And if you mis-measure things on purpose, you can pretend to be in control.) This illusion of control is the weakest ingredient in the financial system. When it does finally reach failure mode, it tends to produce calamity.

I’m more interested in the longer view than the moment-at-hand. The swirl of events generally includes more vectors and factors than any calculus can manage. Outcomes easily slip away from the linear. Ultimately this is a exercise that might be called a history of the future — that is, just a story.

Banking and Markets

The big event of the year past was the Federal Reserve’s Waiting for Godot act concerning the fed funds rate. When Godot finally showed up two weeks before year’s end, it was in the expected-but-pitiful form of a 25-50 basis point hike — which gives the impression of a possible 50 point rise, but with the way more likely probability of actually sticking to the lowest end of the gradient (and actual overnight lending rates were already a few basis points above zero, so the net was really less than 25 basis points.)

The background of this charade was pretty clear to anyone not brain damaged from the rigors of playing Candy Crush on their phone: the Fed was hiking rates into a wobbling global economy; they were forced to act at year’s end or surrender the last shreds of their credibility (i.e. being taken to mean what they say); and they left the door open to retreat in 2016 if necessary. But the damage to the Fed had already been done. They were unmasked as a propaganda machine powerless against the real tides of economy, creating only mischief and misunderstanding, and ultimately undermining all soundness in the relationship between money and real human activity. Anything they do in the election year ahead will be viewed with suspicion, specifically of pimping for Hillary Clinton’s coronation. And her relationship with the biggest banks is well-understood. So they had to make their grand gesture in December.

The stock markets skidded a little below sideways this year (except for the Nasdaq) which glided up more than 5 percent (techno-grandiosity rules!) — with one upchuck at the end of the summer that was remedied by China bailing out its own janky stock markets and playing games with its currency.

Gold and silver continued their four-year swoon thanks to repeated massive wee hour dumps of futures contracts before the traders in New York even got out of bed. The charts conclusively show this shady activity, raising the question: why would any seller want to hugely undercut the price of what he seeks to sell by selling into a market where no buyers are present… or even awake? The answer seems to be: to make the dollar appear more firm than it really is.

The many years of ZIRP (zero interest rate policy), combined with the previous accumulation of debt unlikely to be paid back has made it ever more difficult to issue new debt with any likelihood of being paid back. But ZIRP has also nullified the relationship between interest rates and risk. In a system unencumbered by central bank interventions, interest rates would have to go a whole lot higher on instruments with such poor prospects. Of course, higher interest rates would only make new bonds that much less likely to be serviced by their issuers, especially governments laboring under Himalayan-scale debt loads. The tension in this equation has been provisionally papered over by the use of interest rate swaps, reverse repos, and other abstruse machinations and derivatives aimed at suppressing true price discovery.

The corporate stock buyback fiesta of 2015 was the perfect example of an anything goes and nothing matters ethos. It happened in full view of everyone, and it happened solely to assure corporate executives that they would enjoy their bonuses and fringe benefits and nobody complained about it. Even so, it barely accomplished anything index-wise. The markets went sideways even with all that insider action because the fundamentals suck and the global economy was obviously sinking into a deflationary contraction.

My auditors derive no end of mirth from my attempts to predict the stock markets each year. So, to add to their enjoyment, I’ll be even more precise this time around. I predict that the S & P will top on January 15, 2016, at 2142, and then crumple below 1000 by June. Carnage at the margins of the bond market — high yield paper — will spread to the center and we’ll finally see the re-pricing of risk back in the European sovereign market. French, Spanish, UK, and Italian 10-year paper below 2.0 percent? What a colossal joke that’s been! Fasten your seat belts and check your pension funds.

Oil and Deflation

The oil picture has bamboozled both the broad public and the smaller cohort of supposedly sentient observers. I maintain that the deflationary contraction underway worldwide is largely due to the fact that the world has run out of a particular form of oil: affordable oil. Turns out the peak oil story is still true, just playing out differently than a lot folks predicted. We’re at the mercy of a pretty basic equation: oil over $75-a-barrel destroys industrial economies; oil under $75-a-barrel destroys oil companies. There is no “just right” Goldilocks place on the gradient.

The public got bamboozled by the Ponzi scheme of shale oil. It seemed like a fabulous techno-rescue: the “fracking miracle!” It operated by converting mountains of cheap leveraged capital into a very rapid bump-up in US oil production. It got full traction after a couple of years of $100 oil squashed economic activity — and then squashed demand for oil. Whoops. The problem was that shale oil was very expensive to produce even if reduced demand drove the market price very low. Back at $100-plus a barrel, hardly anyone made any profit on shale. At $40 a barrel shale was a laughable loser. So, in 2015, the shale oil companies laid off thousands of workers, idled the drilling rigs, and kicked back to pray that the price would go back up. Which it didn’t. Incidentally, all kinds of associated ventures went bust with that. The landscape of North Dakota is littered with unfinished garden apartment complexes that may never be completed, and the discharged construction carpenters and roofers drove back to Minnesota ahead of the re-po men coming for their Ford F-110s. Sad, I know….

The rapid ramp-up in shale oil production from 2010 to 2014 was intended as a demonstration project to convince Wall Street to stuff ever more investment capital into oil companies. It was also part of an enormous PR campaign to allow the people running things in business and government to pretend that America’s oil problems were behind us. The “shale miracle” was going to make us “Saudi America,” It was going to boost us into “energy independence.” It played into the Master Wish beneath all the wishful thinking in America: Please, God, let us be able to drive to WalMart forever. It wasn’t so much an evil conspiracy as a feckless collective effort in denial and self-delusion

It happened that a lot of that Wall Street finance came in the form of high-yield (junk) bonds issued by the oil companies — with fat commissions for the big banks to cream off in creating the bonds. So when the price of oil crashed below $50, a lot of oil companies — especially the smaller ones with no cash flow — couldn’t service the interest payments. What lies ahead in 2016 is a debacle of bond defaults and corporate bankruptcies in the US oil patches. What’s more, because of the peculiar geology of shale oil and the rapid depletion of the fracked wells, it is necessary to incessantly drill and frack new wells to keep production even level, let alone rising. That calls for evermore rounds of new financing. But since the current financial obligations can’t be serviced, new financing will not be not forthcoming. And so neither will additional production. All of which means that shale oil production is going to crash in 2016 when the backlog of previously-drilled but untapped wells runs out. I’ll predict that US oil production will go down a million barrels a day before 2017. That includes the roughly 5 percent annual decline of conventional oil.

Some might suppose that such a crash would drive prices back up again as the supply necks down. There are a couple of problems with that supposition. One is that the previous round of $100-plus oil did a lot of permanent damage to the economy, in particular to small businesses and households (i.e. middle-class workers). That damage looks more and more permanent, meaning a smaller aggregate economy and still-shrinking demand base as businesses and citizens go broke and stay broke. If oil prices do return to a level that would justify exploration and production of expensive, hard-to-get oil, (probably north of $110) it will only crash industrial economies again — and there are only so many times this can happen before the system is so damaged recovery is no longer possible. Another problem is that the oil price crash has done significant damage to the oil industry itself, including its credibility as a viable target for investment. Contrary to hopes and expectations, current low oil prices are doing nothing to re-stimulate economic activity. It all has the look of a self-reinforcing feedback loop, a downward spiral in a global complex networked system getting clobbered by the diminishing returns of its principal activities.

Hence I would predict that the price of oil will fall further in 2016, below the $30 mark, and that it will lead to more carnage in the oil industry, in banking and debt defaults, and to new manifestations of geopolitical trouble that could lead to profound oil scarcities and rationing. We can’t seem to face the fact that our techno-industrial paradigm was designed to run on cheap oil, which is just no longer available.

Geopolitics

People are getting very nervous. They can’t help harking back a hundred years to the mysterious lead-up of the First World War, which brought an end to the first iteration of globalism with a bang. The great nations of 1914 just seemed to get haplessly drawn into a debacle that no one had bargained for — the slaughter of the trenches, bankrupted national treasuries, the fall of three dynasties, the rise of the fascists and Bolsheviks… ugh!

Many people with more than half a brain are seeing similar motifs today — a general movement toward major war by way of sheer fecklessness. For instance, the ongoing effort led by the USA to antagonize Russia for no apparent good reason, dragging the dupes of NATO along with it. I won’t rehash our stupid operation to destabilize Ukraine. David Stockman covered that so nicely last week in his blog. Anyway, that Ukraine action was all back in 2013-14. Ukraine is now a failed state. I predict that in 2016 Ukraine will beg Russia to take it back into the Russian sovereign fold, to become once again a province of greater Russia. However, Russia will demur. Russia actually can’t afford such a woebegone, unreliable, and expensive ward. So Ukraine will then go begging back to the US and NATO to dole out financial life-support. By that time, the US and western Europe will be so economically distressed that they will only pretend to bail out Ukraine, just as they pretend to bolster their own economies via smoke-and-mirrors central bank shenanigans. Ukraine will sink into a World Made By Hand level of neo-medievalism, blazing the trail for everybody else in the world. Think: lawlessness, banditry, gangster autarky, neo-serfdom. Sounds harsh, I know, but it is what it is.

In 2015 the action between the US and Russia shifted to Syria. Our monumental blunderings in the Middle East, which included enabling the creation of ISIS, left us bereft of any coherent way to counter the barbarism and animus of radical Islam. So, our “adversary” Mr. Putin stepped in, on the premise that destabilizing what remains of the Syrian government under Mr. Assad was not such a good idea — as he explained very clearly to the UN General Assembly. It remains to be seen whether Russia will be able to pacify Syria, much of which lies in ruins now. But unlike the USA, Russia doesn’t have ambivalent intentions where ISIS is concerned. We’ve pretended that any old freelance gang opposing Assad is our friend. Russia’s aims are pretty straightforward: prop up Assad, rescue whatever governing institutions remain in Syria, and smash ISIS. In exchange they get a warm-water naval base on the Mediterranean. That’s supposed to be an existential threat to the USA.

The basic regional beef there, anyway, is between the Sunni and the Shi’ite, which is to say Arabian-sponsored Islamic maniacs versus Persian-sponsored Islamic maniacs. Unfortunately, that translates into the Saudi Arabia / USA and Iran / Russia contest of wills. Throw in some league wild-card players like Hezbollah and Israel and you have a pretty yeasty mix for rising animosities. Sadly, the US can’t seem to formulate a strategy that doesn’t make things worse for people in the region or for the US homeland (or for our allies in Europe, plagued by refugees they cannot comfortably absorb and the awful threat of terror events).

I expect in 2016 that Obama’s policy will be to just get out of the way of Putin and see what happens. He doesn’t have much left in the kit-bag for now. The worst thing to come out of this for Obama, really, is if Putin can succeed in pacifying Syria, America’s leaders will look bad — incompetent and foolish which is the actual case, of course. Maybe sometimes you just have suck up your mistakes. Much as Obama dislikes Hillary, I doubt he wants to upend the whole groaning Democratic Party Washington DC patronage pyramid, so he might be careful to not start World War Three during the election year. He can leave that to Hillary, should her coronation actually occur on Jan 20, 2017.

Anything might happen across the Islamic world in 2016. Every Islamic nation is grossly overpopulated, given the poor quality of the terrain. Most of them occupy territory that has been horribly degraded during the population explosion of the past hundred years, and stand to suffer hugely from climate and weather abnormalities ahead. Governments will fall and may not be replaced by anything resembling a coherent polity. Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Iraq (fuggeddabowdit), Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia are all only marginally stable for now. Afghanistan is hopeless. We will never control the terrain or the people who live there. But we will continue to maintain a garrison to defend Kabul, pretending that control of the capital city is enough.

And then there is the Big Kahuna: Saudi Arabia, with its dwindling oil income and growing multitude of dependant layabouts. King Salman’s misadventure in Yemen’s civil war has birthed another failed state and dented Saudi Arabia’s resources. If the other clans of Arabia, whoever they turn out to be, overthrow Salman, they will also create an opening for ISIS-flavored non-royals to incite a multi-dimensional civil war. An upheaval in KSA would surely produce profound disorder in the oil markets. The USA would get suckered into this tar-pit wrestling match. The attempt to stabilize our old “ally” with troops on the ground would probably work out about as well as our adventure next door in Iraq did. The further result will be more conflict in this broad swathe of the world over remaining scarce resources, especially water, along with hot war at various scales, and ever more massive movements of populations fleeing the turmoil. If they journey to Europe, they will be turned away. The Camp of the Saints becomes a reality show.

Turkey, with the second-largest military in NATO, could have been a force for stability in the Middle East, but strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an can’t get out of his own way. He can’t decide whether he’s on the side of the Islamists or the West and his attempts to play footsie with both, while piling up private booty, have left him suspect among both camps. Lately he has ventured into such misadventures as shooting down a Russian warplane and receiving stolen goods in the form of ISIS oil shipments from Syrian and Iraqi wells. He was unable to enlist NATO into joining the argument over Turkish airspace and has fatally alienated his western auditors by his actions. He’s lucky that Putin didn’t turn Ankara into an ashtray. The Kurds on Turkey’s southern border threaten to start a civil war by asserting their own nationhood, now just de facto. Meanwhile, the Turkish economy is faltering again, reinforcing its longtime status as “the sick man of Europe.”

Europe’s decades as the West’s delightful tourist theme park are over. The continent is back to being a dangerous free-for-all of nations, tribes, and factions, with the overlay of alien Islamic intruders making things worse. Who knows who or what will blow up next over there. When it becomes obvious in 2016 that the 2015 refugee influx was not a one-off that the Eurozone could comfortably absorb, the individual nations will commence the deportations. Getting to that has been a difficult road, with the headwind of the memory of the Holocaust. But then, unlike the Jews of the 1930s, the Islamists are slaughtering concert-goers, booby-trapping subways, shooting civilians in restaurants, beheading journalists, and explicitly threatening the existence of European society. This business with Islam is different and we are now four generations past Auschwitz. Europeans may just have to get real about defending their respective and collective cultures.

2016 will be the lead-up to the French presidential election of 2017. François Hollande has the whole of the coming year to demonstrate his weakness. But can the French stomach Marine Le Pen’s demi-fascist National Front. The French right wing is not for reduced government, just for pushing people around differently. As 2016 goes on, look for good ole Sarko (Nicolas Sarkozy) to flank them both. Sarko is a bit crooked, but as strong-willed as Le Pen, and not as crazy. French voters will be fed up Hollande-style squishiness, but unready for a female Hitler. Sarko is the Devil they know and they will want him back.

The same election time-line goes for Germany. Voters there will increasingly revolt against what Mutti Merkel represents: how she jammed a million Islamic refugees down Europe’s craw. They’re not shopping for another Hitler, either, but they will be looking for a strong-willed someone to protect the volk against the foreign hordes, of whom they are getting good and goddam sick. There is also the matter of Germany baby-sitting all the bankrupt nations to the south.

As 2016 unfurls, the PIIGS will spin back into financial intensive care. Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece will eventually have to face the absence of buyers for their bonds and the falsity of their low interest rates. Spain, for one, is not finished with the Catalonian secession problem. Portugal needs to return to the 18th century. The clowns in Brussels have no plan to repair the finances of Euroland beyond massive QE that cannot be endless. Whoever replaces Merkel as chancellor may be the one who senses that Germany ought to lead the way out of the Euro currency fantasy and all the awful liabilities it entails.

Great Britain is a basketcase in search of a basket to land in. It has no economy left besides the swindlers of “the City,” its version of Wall Street, and that janky establishment is losing its grip as a desirable financial capital after years of sharp practice, with much of its action moving to Shanghai. Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is a catamite for the big banks. The Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn is an old-school romantic unionist Leftie in a nation with little remaining industrial workforce. Unlike France or Germany, Britain’s parliamentary system can route a government on short notice. The debt implosion of 2016 and rescheduled Great Depression 2.0 will thrust UK Independence Party’s Nigel Farage into the spotlight to salvage what remains of Old Blighty.

The big question around Asia is whether China can navigate its way out of the blind alley it’s trapped in: a banking system steeped in crony corruption, bad debt everywhere, and malinvestment like unto nothing the world has ever seen before. The country is choking on excess industrial capacity just as the world enters its epic Peak Everything contraction. Can they keep on pumping out salad shooters and Han Solo dolls to a world drowning in plastic crap and too broke to buy more of it? They still have $3.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves to theoretically bail themselves out. But that starts affecting the value of their pegged currency, and their main trading partner (us) can play endless currency war games with them to dissuade them from dumping the rest of their accumulated US treasury paper, which, of course, only pisses them off more and makes them look for surreptitious ways to fight back — which is what currency war is all about. Which is also exactly why China (with Russia and others) has started up its own Asian version of the IMF, the BRICs Development Bank, and an alternative to the SWIFT international clearing system.

Chinese economic and financial statistics are even less reliable than the overcooked sludge offered up by the US agencies, but the tanking of commodity prices worldwide tells enough of a story: China is sure not expanding as much as the good old days, if at all. It’s been a great ride, but it was super-quick, and it happened just prior to the world reaching the bona fide limits to growth. China’s contraction may be as quick as its rise, and if that is the case, it will be rough ride into the same vortex of contraction that everybody else is entering.

My one wild-hair prediction about China for 2016: after Kim Jong-Un pulls some bonehead move against his neighbor to the south, China invades North Korea and installs a more rational management regime there. Kim Jong-Un ends up as a lounge singer in Macao. Lucky boy.

Homeland Frolics           

Be very afraid. Donald Trump isn’t funny anymore. He’s Hitler without the brains and the charm. But he’s gotten where he is for a reason. He expresses perfectly the depravity of the culture he springs from: narcissistic, morally rudderless, vulgar, shameless, lost in fantasy, and sadistic. Hillary (last name unnecessary) is not much better, but she’s not nearly as dumb, only more thoroughly corrupt. These are the avatars of our two major political parties. Be very afraid and weep!

The good news is that political parties do occasionally blow up and vanish from the scene, and that would be an interesting possible outcome of the 2016 national elections. Trump could accomplish this much more briskly with the Republicans. He’s made it clear already that he feels zero loyalty to the Red Team, and noises offstage can be heard that the party faithful would find some way to either expel or end-run the Donald Creature. Given our litigious society, one outcome of this would be an election held hostage by the courts. Oy vey is mir. Another possibility is that a message would be transmitted to the Trump Team from some combination of rogue elements in the NSA and the US Military that he’d better drop out or else. It would be done in such a way that Trump would not be able to use it for further narcissistic grandstanding. Were that not to happen, and were Trump somehow able to get elected, I predict there will be a coup d’état against him inside of April 2017. Hello constitutional crisis. Where it might go from there, no one can say.

Of Trump’s opponents for the Republican nomination, the only one I can grudge up any interest for is Rand Paul, who is a truly disruptive figure without being a maniac. In fact, I think he would make a good president, sober, thoughtful, unencumbered by obligation to the forces of racketeering. But he appears to have a near-zero chance of winning the party’s nomination.

Hillary is the opposite of a disrupter; she is the racketeer Godmother. As things proceed, however, she would merely preside over Great Depression 2.0. Unlike FDR in GD 1.0, Hillary would inspire no trust among a fractious population out for revenge against the very enablers of Hillary’s election, namely the Wall Street bankers. The nation would fall into factional fighting and possibly even regional breakup under Miz It’s-My-Turn. But I get ahead of myself…. The question at hand for 2016 is: Can Hillary be stopped. At this point, I don’t see how, given all the weight of the party machinery calibrated in her favor by the equally odious National Party Chairperson, Congressperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Bernie Sanders mounted a noble opposition campaign, and perhaps it is too early to write him off here before the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Perhaps something can happen and he can at least slay the candidacy of Rodan the Flying Reptile – my other nickname for the Hillary Creature. Apart from that is my basic aversion to Bernie’s political philosophy as a self-proclaimed “socialist.” I know it sounds like a glib dismissal of a cartoonish political label, but Bernie’s self-applied label implies ever more intrusion by ever bigger government into the life of this nation. History wants to take us in another direction now, away from so much hyper-centralized control, and we go against the flow at our peril. While I admire Bernie’s presence as a vocal opposition to Hillary, I’m not keen on what he’s actually selling.

I know that Martin O’Malley is still “out there,” but he appears to be a blank cartridge, or a six-pack in search of worldview, and I don’t believe as some observers have averred that this is the fault of the media. In the few Democratic “debates” held last fall he offered next to nothing outside a conventional punch-list of shopworn center-left ideology — that is, no recognition of the extraordinary problems this country faces in the climax of the techno-industrial idyll, and the long emergency that is following it.

And that’s all you get on the Democratic side for the moment: a powerful sense that the fix is in. Yet there is the very real problem of Hillary’s loathsomeness and how that would go down at the polls. There’s even a pretty good chance that many women would vote against her. So my provisional conclusion / prediction for the November contest is that Hillary runs and loses against some as-yet-unknown un-Trump person. President Cruz? Ach! Rubio? Back in the playpen! Christie? Leave the body, take the canoli…! Jeb? El pendejo supremo! To be continued….

Race Relations and the Cowardice of the Thinking Classes

2015 was sure a bad year for different groups of Americans trying (or not) to get along, especially black people and white people. American society is feeling the full force of the identity ideologies cooked up on the college campuses over the past several decades, now boiling over into an orgy of victim-pleading, identity grandstanding, sexual hysteria, scapegoating, intellectual despotism, juridical blackmail, and (let’s not forget) careerist posturing. The more irrelevant higher education gets, the more strenuously the social justice inquisitors mount their persecutions against those who don’t buy the race-gender-privilege party line. In 2015 it has morphed into a campaign against free speech and free inquiry. The “diversity” deans multiply like fruit flies.

I made the “error” last year of suggesting that black Americans would benefit if the teaching of spoken English were made a high priority of primary and secondary schooling — and I was vilified for saying that. My opponents have not offered any useful counter-ideas beyond name-calling. I suspect that many people of good intentions are running out patience with this racket — and it is a racket for extorting preferential treatment and money from guilt-tripped white people.

In the arena of crime and policing, the situation is especially bad. Black lives matter, but not so much for black people themselves, who are ardently slaughtering each other in places like Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit, Milwaukee, and “Chi-raq” at a rate proportionately much greater than other ethnic groups in the land. The martyrs of the movement act in ways likely to get them in trouble, for instance the hapless 12-year-old Tamir Rice, shot brandishing a BB gun designed to look exactly like the US Army 1911 issue .45 caliber ACP, Michael Brown thugging out on officer Darren Wilson, Trayvon Martin beating down George Zimmerman. The cops present at several notorious incidents include black officers; a black female sergeant who was supervising the action on the sidewalk in Staten Island when her colleagues choked Eric Garner. (she did nothing to intervene); the several black policemen in Baltimore who took Freddy Gray on his fatal ride in the paddy wagon. It’s a scene fraught with ambiguity, to be generous.

Where are we going with race relations in this country? For now, not in a favorable direction. The trend will be for police to regard certain neighborhoods as “no-go” areas — if only to avoid the gigantic multi-million dollar litigations that grow out of these ambiguous confrontations. Some may view that as a good thing, but it will only play into the decadent ethos that anything goes and nothing matters in this country. The larger question going forward is whether Black America will continue to insist on being an oppositional culture. That is what it has become, though the cowed thinking classes will not acknowledge it. They also will not recognize the need for a common culture in this nation, a set of truly shared values and standards of conduct.

Climate Change

This is the underlayment of despair that reflective persons cannot avoid thinking about when all the other petty issues of human relations and the project of civilization are disposed of. Weird weather? Biblical Floods? Melting icecaps? Sea level creep? It was 70 degrees on Christmas Eve here in upstate New York, dandelions blooming in the yard, just a week or so ago. Some people I know can’t stop thinking about climate change. Somehow I manage to put it out of mind and ruminate on other things, or even feel good about something that is happening in the present — a good meal, a gathering of friends, an evening of live music…. but it’s always lurking there in the background like some hooded reaper in a New Yorker cartoon.

Despite the hoopla of the Paris climate change talks, I’m not persuaded that national governments will really do anything, or even that anything they might do would avail to make things better. I’m not even so concerned about whether climate change is man-made or not. I just accept that something is up and that as things change, we will have to adjust. It seems to me that the adjustment will not be easy and five hundred years from now there will be far fewer human beings, if any, around. From the point of view of the planet’s well-being, that is probably a good thing.

In the mean time, let’s do the best we can to carry on and be as kind as possible to one another. Good luck in 2016!

Coming in 2016
World Made By Hand 4 (and final)

Harrow_cover_final

The third World Made By Hand novel

!! Is available !!

(The Fourth and final is complete
and in production for May 2016 publication)

Kunstler skewers everything from kitsch to greed, prejudice, bloodshed, and brainwashing in this wily, funny, rip-roaring, and profoundly provocative page- turner, leaving no doubt that the prescriptive yet devilishly satiric A World Made by Hand series will continue.” — Booklist

HistoryoftheFuture_Thumb

My local indie booksellers… Battenkill Books (Autographed by the Author) … or Northshire Books
or Amazon

Also: Published as an E-book for the first time!
The 20th Anniversary edition
With an entertaining new introduction by the author

GON_thumb

Bargain Price $3.99

Amazon Kindle …or … Barnes & Noble Nook …or… Kobo

 

# # # #

JamesHowardKunstler-70x70About James Howard Kunstler:

Mr. Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.  Mr. Kunstler authors a widely read blog, Clusterfuck Nation.  To access Amazon’s dedicated James Howard Kunstler page listing books available for purchase, click here.

TND full (1)

Follow All Of TheNewsDoctors.com’s Exclusive Articles:

http://thenewsdoctors.com/category/thenewsdoctors-exclusive/

OR

Subscribe To Receive All TND’s Exclusive Articles In Your RSS Feed:

http://thenewsdoctors.com/category/thenewsdoctors-exclusive/feed/