Monday Reads: The Official End of the American Century is HerePosted: January 6, 2020
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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?