Monday Reads: The Official End of the American Century is Here

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Félix Vallotton, Landscape of Ruins and Fires, 1914

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I miss my Dad every day. I miss talking to him and the way he used to call out baseball games to me in his last days including the little league championship.  He was many things but perhaps more than any thing he was defined by his service in the Army Air Corps during World War 2 where he flew missions that sped the Allies movement on the ground to Berlin and Victory and freed the French and Belgian people from German Occupation.

He never spoke about it much but when he did the stories were fascinating.  My favorite was when his squad flew under Jimmy Stewart and he described how that rich voice filled the com.  He had a picture of his crew that he kept by his favorite reading chair along with family pictures. He would always tell me that the solider that took that picture never came back the day after he took the photo from a mission that was particularly harrowing. The unstated truth was that Dad’s bomber and crew were fortunate to get back to England.

I suppose it’s only fitting that we are seeing  the last of the so-called “greatest generation” during every patriotic event.  They are aging and dying as is the fate of all humans. The dynamics of the 20th century ended with a world order established by the dynamics of both World Wars but definitely the War against Fascism.  It’s odd that I always thought so much of what was dubbed the American Century would last through at least my lifetime if not my children with modifications and improvements.  I still figured that the US would be firmly planted as the standard bearer as more joined those ranks. As of this weekend, I no longer believe this to be the case.

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Michelle Possum Nungarrayi (Australian, b. 1968), Bush Fire Dreaming, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 120 x 91 cm

We currently have no standards to bear under the Trumpist regime and I now believe that we have fallen beyond any grace we may have earned during the American Century.  The world forgave us many sins from Vietnam to even the disastrous invasion of Iraq.  They may have actually had some hope for us as we signed with other nations agreements to trade, address climate change, and work with Iran to find a more stable situation with less fear of nukes.

We have lost whatever grace we earned now because we have allowed a group of aggrieved white nationalists with a twisted version of Christianity to grab power. They brought us Trump. They plotted and planned a cleansing of the Republican Party who rolled over with belly up to get their votes for policies supporting the rich and greedy.  Establishment appeasement failed and now End Timers and White Nationalists have that party wholesale.

As we lose our grip on world leadership, I can only hope that its future hands are not those of Russia and China although Chinese dominance of the global economy will only grow and the multilateral agreement to keep that in check was also one of the things Trump tossed out even though it was the product of a few administrations and not solely that of Obama’s.  Just as we left so many nuclear pacts, we have also left the Paris Accord and Australia is burning with no aid from us.  It is likely a harbinger to what may happen in California and other of our southwestern states.

I had this realization last night as some of the inevitable things happened as a result of Trump’s desperation to become a war time president to possibly boost his re-election chances and his ego during impeachment.  We–as a nation–must find a new way eventually but one that will not put us as a shining city on the hill.  Let us hope we will not stay firmly in pariah nation status.  I do know this.  A country should NEVER put into power a group of people whose vision of redemption and heaven includes the end of the world.  Iran chose that path 40 years ago.  We have joined them in that same messianic, deluded vision and Fuck Pence and Pompeo and all they stand for.

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Eugene von Guerard, Bush Fire between Mt. Elephant and Timboon, Australia, 1857

With those depressing thoughts on my mind, let’s get to my suggested reads.  My Thanks to author Rabih Aalameddine (@rabinhalameddine) whose tweets those morning provided these hellish versions of war and fire.

No one knows what’s coming next.  However, every one that’s every had anything to do with the markets the last four decades knows that when these things happen it will leader to higher oil prices and stock prices for defense firms.  Everything else will head downwards.  This is from Bloomberg via Yahoo Finance.

Oil extended its gains, briefly surpassing $70 a barrel in London for the first time since September, as Middle East tensions flared after the U.S. assassinated one of Iran’s most powerful generals.

Futures rose as much as 3.1% on Monday as the U.S. State Department warned of a “heightened risk” of missile attacks near energy facilities in Saudi Arabia. Prices later gave up some of the gains. President Donald Trump reiterated threats of retaliation should Iran “do anything” and vowed heavy sanctions against Iraq if American troops are forced to leave OPEC’s second-biggest producer.

The clash is fanning fears that a wider conflict could disrupt supply from the region, which provides almost a third of the world’s oil. Prices haven’t hit these levels since an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities in September — which the U.S. blamed on Iran — briefly halted about 5% of global output.

“Crude has some more risk pricing to do,” said Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group in Bethesda, Maryland, and former White House oil official under President George W. Bush. “We are going to grind through the $70s up toward $80 Brent as Iran calibrates and executes its retaliation.”

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John Martin, The Great Day of His Wrath, 1851

As I just said,  fuck Pompeo. a chief messianic delusionism advocate and all around horrid person.  This is from WAPO: “Killing of Soleimani follows long push from Pompeo for aggressive action against Iran, but airstrike brings serious risks”.

The greenlighting of the airstrike near Baghdad airport represents a bureaucratic victory for Pompeo, but it also carries multiple serious risks: another protracted regional war in the Middle East; retaliatory assassinations of U.S. personnel stationed around the world; an interruption in the battle against the Islamic State; the closure of diplomatic pathways to containing Iran’s nuclear program; and a major backlash in Iraq, whose parliament voted on Sunday to expel all U.S. troops from the country.

For Pompeo, whose political ambitions are a source of constant speculation, the death of U.S. diplomats would be particularly damaging given his unyielding criticisms of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton following the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and other American personnel in Benghazi in 2012.

But none of those considerations stopped Pompeo from pushing for the targeted strike, U.S. officials said, underscoring a fixation on Iran that spans 10 years of government service from Congress to the CIA to the State Department.

“We took a bad guy off the battlefield. We made the right decision,” Pompeo told CNN. “I’m proud of the effort that President Trump undertook.”

Pompeo first spoke with Trump about killing Soleimani months ago, said a senior U.S. official, but neither the president nor Pentagon officials were willing to countenance such an operation.

For more than a year, defense officials warned that the administration’s campaign of economic sanctions against Iran had increased tensions with Tehran, requiring a bigger and bigger share of military resources in the Middle East when many at the Pentagon wanted to redeploy their firepower to East Asia.

Trump, too, sought to draw down from the Middle East as he promised from the opening days of his presidential campaign. But that mind-set shifted on Dec. 27 when 30 rockets hit a joint U.S.-Iraqi base outside Kirkuk, killing an American civilian contractor and injuring service members.

On Dec. 29, Pompeo, Esper and Milley traveled to the president’s private club in Florida, where the two defense officials presented possible responses to Iranian aggression, including the option of killing Soleimani, senior U.S. officials said.

Trump’s decision to target Soleimani came as a surprise and a shock to some officials briefed on his decision, given the Pentagon’s long-standing concerns about escalation and the president’s aversion to using military force against Iran.

One significant factor was the “lockstep” coordination for the operation between Pompeo and Esper, both graduates in the same class at the U.S. Military Academy, who deliberated ahead of the briefing with Trump, senior U.S. officials said. Pence also endorsed the decision, but he did not attend the meeting in Florida.

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by Elbert Hubbard, published 1914

So, the push to assassinate an Irani general. was made by two proponents of heaven comes if we blow up the right people and then the world and a former Defense Lobbyist.  Isn’t that just ducky?  So, in game theory, we frequently speak of second and third order conditions which basically occur in a game that occurs over time when one party makes a move and then there are more moves to come. “Stategery” was never a strong point for any of the Neocons who just wanted to “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran”.  It continues to look the same way with the Trumpists.  This is from Axios  that is part of the media trying to chase the next moves that have so far included expulsion of US and allied troops from Iraq and Iran annoucing it will take revenge and it will ended its nuclear pause.

The Trump administration tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade top Iraqi officials to kill a parliamentary effort to force the U.S. military out of Iraq, according to two U.S. officials and an Iraqi government official familiar with the situation.

Why it matters: The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution today calling on the Iraqi government to expel U.S. troops from Iraq, after the U.S killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and a leader of an Iraqi militia with a drone strike near Baghdad airport.

  • This resolution could ultimately lead to the U.S. military being forced out of Iraq. But the outcome remains uncertain, and the prime minister who needs to sign it recently resigned.

“I think it would be inconvenient for us, but it would be catastrophic for Iraq,” said a U.S. official familiar with the Trump administration’s effort to block the vote. “It’s our concern that Iraq would take a short-term decision that would have catastrophic long-term implications for the country and its security.”

  • “But it’s also, what would happen to them financially,” the official added, “if they allowed Iran to take advantage of their economy to such an extent that they would fall under the sanctions that are on Iran?” (Countries can be subject to the sanctions if they engage in certain kinds of trade with Iran.)
  • “We don’t want to see that. We’re trying very hard to work to have that not happen,” the official said.

The United States is disappointed by the action taken today in the Iraqi Council of Representatives,” said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.

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Rufino Tamayo – Children Playing with Fire – 1947

The NYT has more information on the Iranian decision to ends its participation in Nuclear Restrictions.

When President Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, he justified his unilateral action by saying the accord was flawed, in part because the major restrictions on Iran ended after 15 years, when Tehran would be free to produce as much nuclear fuel as it wanted.

But now, instead of buckling to American pressure, Iran declared on Sunday that those restrictions are over — a decade ahead of schedule. Mr. Trump’s gambit has effectively backfired.

Iran’s announcement essentially sounded the death knell of the 2015 nuclear agreement. And it largely re-creates conditions that led Israel and the United States to consider destroying Iran’s facilities a decade ago, again bringing them closer to the potential of open conflict with Tehran that was avoided by the accord.

Iran did stop short of abandoning the entire deal on Sunday, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and its foreign minister held open the possibility that his nation would return to its provisions in the future — if Mr. Trump reversed course and lifted the sanctions he has imposed since withdrawing from the accord.

That, at least, appeared to hold open the possibility of a diplomatic off-ramp to the major escalation in hostilities since the United States killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the second most powerful official in Iran and head of the Quds Force.

But some leading experts declared that the effort to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions through diplomacy was over. “It’s finished,” David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that tracks nuclear proliferation, said in an interview. “If there’s no limitation on production, then there is no deal.”

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Paul Klee, Fire in the Evening, 1929

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced an initiative to address the Authorization of Use of the Military or the so-called War Powers Act today.  This is from the Speaker’s web page.

Last week, the Trump Administration conducted a provocative and disproportionate military airstrike targeting high-level Iranian military officials.  This action endangered our servicemembers, diplomats and others by risking a serious escalation of tensions with Iran.

As Members of Congress, our first responsibility is to keep the American people safe.  For this reason, we are concerned that the Administration took this action without the consultation of Congress and without respect for Congress’s war powers granted to it by the Constitution.

This week, the House will introduce and vote on a War Powers Resolution to limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran.  This resolution is similar to the resolution introduced by Senator Tim Kaine in the Senate.  It reasserts Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities by mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days.

The House Resolution will be led by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin.  Congresswoman Slotkin is a former CIA and Department of Defense analyst specializing in Shia militias.  She served multiple tours in the region under both Democratic and Republican Administrations.

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Henry Darger’s hands of fire

Here’s some news on the responses from Congress at NBC News: “Pelosi announces war powers resolution as tensions with Iran escalate. Pelosi said “the Trump administration conducted a provocative and disproportionate military airstrike targeting high-level Iranian military officials.”

On Sunday, Iraq’s Parliament voted to ask its government to end the presence of U.S. troops in the country, while Iranian state TV reported that Iran will no longer abide by any limits of the 2015 nuclear deal — an agreement Trump withdrew from in 2018.

In the Senate, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez, D-N.J., wrote to Trump asking him to “immediately declassify in full the January 4, 2020, war powers notification you submitted to Congress following the U.S. military operation targeting” Soleimani.

“It is critical that national security matters of such import be shared with the American people in a timely manner,” the senators wrote. “An entirely classified notification is simply not appropriate in a democratic society, and there appears to be no legitimate justification for classifying this notification.”

Speaking to reporters in the White House briefing room, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said members of Congress “will be briefed, but they should also calm down” and “celebrate” Soleimani’s death.

She said it was “fine” for Trump to order an airstrike killing Soleimani without congressional authority, comparing it to former President Barack Obama ordering the mission to kill al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

There’s some news from the Democratic Primary Front.  Former Candidate Julian Castro has endorsed Elizabeth Warren.

Mr. Castro announced his endorsement on Monday morning, just days after he ended his own bid for the White House. In a statement, Mr. Castro cast Ms. Warren as the logical extension of his campaign’s social-justice-driven message, which seeks to correct inequities through targeted policy proposals. He will campaign with Ms. Warren this week, joining her Tuesday night at a rally at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn.

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Ralph Albert Blakelock (American, 1847-1919), Forest Fire, ca. 1890

David Leonhardt argues that Amy Klobucher is the candidate that can beat Trump.  He likens her to Harry Truman of all people.

So where are you supposed to find a comfortably electable, qualified candidate who won’t turn 80 while in office?

Senator Amy Klobuchar has become an answer to that question in the final month before voting begins. She has outlasted more than a dozen other candidates and has two big strengths: A savvy understanding of how to campaign against President Trump and a track record of winning the sorts of swing voters Democrats will likely need this year.

Klobuchar, to be sure, is not a finished product as a presidential candidate. Too often, she sounds like a senator speaking in legislative to-do lists rather than a future president who can inspire voters. That tendency — along with too much needling of other candidates, instead of focusing on her own message — was evident in the most recent debate.

Yet she still emerged as one of the debate’s winners, and she is enjoying a burst of new attention. She raised more than twice as much money, $11.4 million, in the fourth quarter of 2019 than the third quarter. When I ask top Democrats which candidate has the best chance of beating Trump, Klobuchar is often their answer. If party leaders still chose nominees, she might now be the favorite.

In that way, she reminds me of another Midwestern senator who once seemed too ordinary to be president: Harry Truman. In the summer of 1944, an even more perilous time for global democracy than now, Democratic Party grandees chose Truman as vice president with the belief that he would soon be president, given Franklin Roosevelt’s declining health.

Truman was (as Klobuchar is) a loyal Democrat with populist leanings whom many Republicans, both senators and voters, nonetheless felt some affection for. He had a folksy manner and heartland accent. He was also a long shot for the nomination when the process began. The analogy extends to Klobuchar’s best-known weakness: Truman had a temper, too.

And it’s epiphany, you may now eat king cake!!!

I’m haunted by dreams of fire and animals.  It’s been three nights in a row now and the horror of Australia is getting to me.  Here are some suggestions on where you can donate funds if you feel so inclined and you are able.

And now, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?


48 Comments on “Monday Reads: The Official End of the American Century is Here”

  1. dakinikat says:

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    And the bottom line is the oil. It’s always the oil.

    Mix that up with hundreds of religious factions who carry grudges in that part of the world for centuries and you are required to tread most carefully.

    They hate us. And why not? We invaded a country on a tissue of lies, captured ordinary citizens, forced them into Abu Ghareib, and humiliated them. We cut off their electricity, gas, water supplies. We invaded their homes, shot at them indiscriminately, threw them in jail.

    We took potshots at women and children. Created “no entry” zones. Destroyed their homes. Put them out of work. We hurled abuse at them, threatened them, made their lives a living hell all because of a monumental lie that turned that entire country into a shooting gallery.

    We condemned them for fighting back. We dismissed their police force and as a result they gave us ISIS. Their hatred for Saddam was outflanked by their eventual hatred of us and we deserved it. Their hatred spread throughout the region and we never stopped to question the purpose of our being their in the first place.

    It only stood to reason that they would fight back, killing our own as we were doing to them. And here we are, years later, paying the piper for electing this bastard who has no understanding of where this will lead.

    We poked the hornet’s nest. We started this. We have no ending to what we created. Our failures are about to be exploited and we have no way of stopping whatever it is that will come.

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. dakinikat says:

    • dakinikat says:

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      I think that any Democrat who expects anything from John Bolton other than a stab in the back is crazy. He will do whatever best serves his neocon agenda. In other words he will try to screw the Democrats.

      • dakinikat says:

        There’s some speculation that he would prefer Pence in the Oval Office because Pence is more reliably hawkish on Iran and his form of crazy isn’t on the same level as Drumpf

  5. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Sorry to see him go. Glad he’s supporting another candidate, though I wish he’d gone with Amy Klobuchar.

      • dakinikat says:

        I actually think that Castro is more issues and social justice driven than any of the other candidates so that must’ve factored in some how. He’s also quite liberal.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Great but sad post. Thanks, Dak.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Evil Chelsea Clinton earned money from stocks!

    • NW Luna says:

      No doubt this complaint was made by the conservatives who say it’s the own fault of middle- and lower-class people if they don’t have enough to retire on because they never bought stocks.

  8. bostonboomer says:

  9. RonStill4Hills says:

    IL DOUCHEBAG collided with a hostile foreign power in public and in secret, obstructed justice, obstructed congress, violated emoluments clause, betrayed allies, revealed the secrets of allies, bragged about committing war crimes, and has made our foreign policy subservient to Moscow.

    In what universe would Twitler NOT believe he is above the law.

    Wake up and smell the Reichstag burning.

    We are effectively already in a dictatorship.

    The volume of unaddressed criminality coming from Orange Foolius can lead to no other conclusion.

    There is no rule of law.

    We are merely pantomiming democracy.

    The republic has fallen.

    I once feared what an acquittal in the Senate and a second term might give birth to, but the monster is already among us.

    • quixote says:

      The biggest monster is all the “innocent” bystanders who allowed this obvious cancer to take hold.

      When your immune system isn’t working, it’s all over.

      And so far I haven’t seen much evidence that it’s just in a coma and not dead. I mean Joe “Good Ole Boy” Biden to run against Dump? You have got to be kidding me.

      • NW Luna says:

        All the racist sexist Trump voters are responsible. So are the stay-at-home nonvoters, the Bernie-or-else-Trump voters, the both-parties-are-the-same idiots, and James Comey, and the NYT. I want to round them up and ship them off to join the Army in the Middle East so they may enjoy the fruit of their labors.

      • NW Luna says:

        Biden does have high support among blacks, so if the majority of blacks vote for Biden, I’ll go with them. Uncle Joe needs to pick someone like Amy Klobuchar as a younger, hard-working VP and turn everything over to her.

        • quixote says:

          What I mean by mentioning Biden is that he’s not going to do one single solitary thing to cure the country of the slavish devotion to business as usual, which is what got us here. Sure, he’s better than Trump. *I’d* be better than Trump. The white woolly dogs down the street would be better than Trump. The only people I can think of who wouldn’t be are Putin, Duterte, Erdogan, the NK one whichever version of Kim he is (Jong Un?), Xi, and anyway, you get the picture. And that’s only because they’re more intelligent.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I hope they bomb his properties!

      • Enheduanna says:

        I feel sorry for people living or working there though.

        All the Iranians would have to do is fly drones over his golf courses to scare away business.

    • quixote says:

      I keep thinking, “These are the people who invented chess.” The Dump is so far out of his league when it comes to psychological warfare, I can’t even think of an astronomical analogy.

      His wealth is just about his entire ego, and they’ve just quietly taken millions off its value and said, without even saying anything, that it’s quite defenseless.

      That’s going to downright torture him and they know it, and he knows they know it, which makes it spiral into worse and worse. And they’ve hardly begun.

      • NW Luna says:

        Hah! That’s right, chess became well-established in ancient Persia, though it is thought to have originated in India. Certainly it came to Europe thru the Middle East.

      • NW Luna says:

        If all the workers could be gotten out of Mar-a-Lardo before it was bombed!

  10. dakinikat says:

  11. dakinikat says:

    next level evil

  12. Virginia Holder says:

    Best articulated encapsulation of horrific events we have experienced. It’s poignant,too, your father’s history is similar…..and familiar. I grew up in post ww2 Italy,still recovering from the bombing campaigns. The people we lived with experienced the fascism first hand, Sophie’s Choice and The Sound of Music come to mind. As. Tear old,I experienced Epiphany , I realized I was privileged being an American and a Christian. Totally appropriate memory for today.

  13. dakinikat says: