We Have a Deal!

Closing Thought–16Dec19

Just in time for the beginning of the process to pick our next president it has been announced that Xi and Trump have reached a deal on ending our trade war…..

Do not let the peasants dance just yet….they have agreed on only one phase of the deal…..

China and the U.S. agreed on the text of a phase one trade deal that includes the removal of tariffs on Chinese goods in stages, Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said, as President Donald Trump confirmed that some levies will be reduced and said the next round of talks will start immediately.

China will increase imports from the U.S. and other countries, Wang said at a briefing in Beijing Friday. Vice Chairman of the National Reform and Development Commission Ning Jizhe added that the specifics of agricultural purchases would be released later, as the text of the agreement is still under review.

The comments were China’s first response to a deal signed off by Trump on Thursday that would halt higher tariffs planned for Dec. 15 and represent the first phase in defusing the trade war that’s shaken the global economy.

https://outline.com/9fvXqt

Just in time to help the markets rise a bit and make the economy look better than it is……but the markets did bite this time from Trump….

Stocks are closing at more record highs as traders hope that the US and China can make enough progress on trade to avoid new tariffs kicking in over the weekend, the AP reports. Banks and technology companies led the gains. The S&P 500 rose 26 points, or 0.9%, to 3,168. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 220 points, or 0.8%, to 28,131. The Nasdaq rose 63 points, or 0.7%, to 8,717. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are at record highs. Traders dumped safe-play investments like utilities and real estate companies and moved money into riskier assets. Bond prices also fell, sending yields sharply higher.

I still question the timing of this “deal”….not that Trump is doing anything different from any other president looking for a boost for the next round of voting.

Personally, I feel that we need a more “progressive” trade policy….we are giving too much a way to other nations…..

It is clear that these trade and investment policies no longer even benefit the signatory countries, but rather line the pockets of global elites at the expense of ordinary people and the planet we share. Backlash to these policies has peaked and waned, peaking 20 years ago with the fight against the MAI and the Seattle WTO protests, and again reemerging in the past decade, against the FTAA and, again, against the TPP more recently.

As the right has increasingly taken up opposition to trade policies from a protectionist and often xenophobic angle, the need to distinguish a left, internationalist critique of corporate globalization has never been more urgent. The chauvinist policies of the Trump administration and its imitators need to be strongly condemned. But if the progressive movement is simply reacting to the neoliberal trade agenda and its right-wing disruptors, it is unlikely to achieve meaningful change.

So, progressive politicians and policymakers — from AMLO to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — must unify around a progressive vision of trade to guide an international system that places people and planet over profits. That is why a bold new vision for international economic cooperation and global development is so crucial.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/12/12/we-need-progressive-alternative-trade-and-nafta-20-isnt-it

Trade should be our focus to save our family farms….and our industries as a whole….not some idle campaign slogan.

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

What Is Wrong With The GOP?

As I listen to the babble around the impeachment I am reminded that this is NOT the GOP of 15 years ago….they seem to have given up ideas that were big and sweeping…..they are NOTHING like the GOP of say 1956/

All this leads one to ask….what has happened to the GOP?

New York Times reported that viewership of those “boring” hearings was proving to be “as big as Monday Night Football.” That was the week when the world heard from, among others, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman on Donald Trump’s July 25th “perfect” phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky; from ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland on how “everyone was in the loop” when it came to the Ukrainian quid pro quo (not to speak of his “Zelensky loves your ass” exchange with the president); and from the steely former Trump adviser on Russia, Fiona Hill, on how that country promulgated the fiction that Ukraine had interfered in the 2016 American election.

That should have been enough to convince anyone paying attention that the president had indeed attempted to trade a Zelensky White House visit and U.S. military aid for an announcement that Ukraine was investigating its own (fictitious) interference in that election and the (equally fictitious) corruption of Joe Biden via his son Hunter. Clearly, however, the Republicans in Congress were anything but convinced.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/12/05/whats-wrong-republicans

I have not supported the GOP in past election but at least they held to some beliefs that I could appreciate if not support….but these days the GOP seem to hold conspiracy theories and BS as their rallying points for the base…and the base sucks it up…..

How do the horrific events of Charlottesville, the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and a similar hate crime in California directly relate to the eye-rolling pronouncements by Devin Nunes, Rudy Giuliani, and other Republicans in defense of President Donald Trump?

The answer can be found in the Republican id, where a toxic brew of conspiracy theory, urban legend, photoshopping, and comment-board trollery self-organize into an alternate reality. While this alt-reality has only burst into wider public view during the Trump presidency, like the monstrous space alien exploding out of the bodies of the infected scientists in John Carpenter’s The Thing, I was in a position to observe its germination, more than two decades ago.

It is therefore refreshing that finally, a former national security council employee, Fiona Hill, has given widely publicized testimony to the House intelligence committee decisively exposing as a lie one of the linchpins of the conspiratorial Republican world view—the assertion that it was Ukraine, not Russia, behind disruption of the 2016 election. Previously, the media had sporadically raised the conspiracy theory, disjointedly explained it, and weakly dismissed it, allowing it to hang like an incubus in the air for the credulous to half believe.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/12/05/protocols-elders-republican-party-0

NOTE:  For those that read every other word…this “protocol” has NOTHING to do with the anti-Semite publication of a 100 years ago…The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” or something like that…..so please DO NOT equate it with that despicable publication.

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Afghanistan: They LIED!

Before I go into the “Afghanistan Papers”……news has come out that the US bombed a hospital….and the most pathetic of excuses…..

Pentagon officials are trying to spin the aftermath of Wednesday’s Bagram attack, in which US airstrikes did major damage to an under renovation hospital near the air base. They are now saying they had no choice but to bomb the hospital to get the Taliban.

The attack saw the Taliban use a suicide car bomb to force their way onto the site, and they dug in defensively for a 10 hour battle. Airstrikes were clearly the most convenient way for the US to kill those Taliban, but given the damage inflicted, it may not have been the most ideal for the construction project.

That’s why the Pentagon is now so eager to blame the Taliban for what happened, which is a go-to reaction, but very much beside the point. The Afghanistan Papers reports about failures in US reconstruction in Afghanistan, after all, wasn’t just lacking a scapegoat. The inability to construct sites without getting the unbearable urge to airstrike them is part and parcel to why nothing ever gets built in US-occupied Afghanistan.

Moreover, the problems don’t stop at the destruction of the site. The Pentagon emphasized how valuable to hospital would’ve eventually been to locals, but it was built right on the outskirts of a US military base, which probably wasn’t the most convenient for the locals, and also made the site a particular target for the Taliban to occupy, and one for US forces to airstrike.

(antiwar.com)

The first US response was to further delay the peace process by pausing the Doha talks to protest the attack, and the second response is to blame the Taliban for the damage done. Neither of these is a solution to a problem, and rather reflect why the Afghan War has gone on so long with no progress.

Now fast forward to the “Afghanistan Papers”……

For 15 years now us antiwar people have been questioning our involvement in Afghanistan beyond the crushing of AQ and the Taleban and now we “peace-niks” have been vindicated…

A new release of “Papers” like the now famous Pentagon Papers points to all the lies and deception the government would sink to to propagate a war.

As I said us antiwar protesters were right in our opposition….while about 80% of the American people feel under the lying spell of the Pentagon…..we protesters would not be swayed…..

The 80 percent of Americans who supported the war in Afghanistan back in 2001 were wrong. And the tiny anti-war faction that opposed the conflict was correct in warning that an invasion and occupation would turn into a bloody quagmire.

That was my thought as I read the long-suppressed war documents that the Washington Post published Monday after a three-year fight to make them public. Officials under Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump “failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign,” the Post showed, “making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.”

https://outline.com/LavwVS

One of the things that I wrote against was the supposed building projects that would make Afghanistan move into the 21st century….I thought then it was crap and it is proven to be just that……

Since 2001, Washington has spent more on nation-building in Afghanistan than in any country ever, allocating $133 billion for reconstruction, aid programs and the Afghan security forces.

Adjusted for inflation, that is more than the United States spent in Western Europe with the Marshall Plan after World War II.

Unlike the Marshall Plan, however, the exorbitant nation-building project for Afghanistan went awry from the start and grew worse as the war dragged on, according to a trove of confidential government interviews with diplomats, military officials and aid workers who played a direct role in the conflict.

Instead of bringing stability and peace, they said, the United States inadvertently built a corrupt, dysfunctional Afghan government that remains dependent on U.S. military power for its survival. Assuming it does not collapse, U.S. officials have said it will need billions more dollars in aid annually, for decades.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/wasteful-spending-and-half-baked-ideas-us-officials-reveal-how-massive-rebuilding-projects-in-afghanistan-backfired/ar-BBXYeRI

To illustrate just how arrogant the Pentagon is when lying to the American people…..

Washington Post reporter Craig Whitlock first brought to light that several top officials acknowledged to the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction that the war was going badly despite their optimistic public statements. The report, based on extensive interviews and internal government data, also found that U.S. officials manipulated statistics to create the public perception that the U.S. military was making progress in Afghanistan.

But on Thursday, Chief Pentagon Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said he “would quibble with the idea” that the U.S. military had provided inaccurate information about Afghanistan in the past.

https://taskandpurpose.com/pentagon-downplays-afghanistan-papers

Finally, why are we still in Afghanistan?

Good question when most Afghans want the US out.

Foreign military occupations are known to increase resentment among the local population. After 18years of war, Afghans experience similar levels of fear when encountering American-led international forces as they do Taliban forces. At the same time, they are increasingly optimistic about the prospects for peace but don’t see the foreign forces as important to that process, according to the latest iteration of the Asia Foundation’s Survey of the Afghan People. For the United States, this raises serious questions about the utility of its continued military presence in Afghanistan.

The intent of the survey is to gauge the opinions of the Afghan people over time and provide useful data for policymakers and stakeholders. This year’s survey conducted in-person interviews with over 17,000 Afghans in all 34 provinces from July 11  to August 7 of 2019. Significantly, this year’s survey included, for the first time, questions related to the ongoing negotiations with the Taliban. An overwhelming majority of the Afghan people support the negotiations (89.0 percent

Survey Finds Afghans Want U.S. Troops to Leave

Time to pack up our kit bags and come home…..if we are no longer wanted then why push agony and hatred?

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Professor’s Classroom

Monday again…this quiz is for those that are interested in the American Civil War…..enjoy!

Learn Stuff!

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

In Saner Thought

Yet another Monday and another test! A good dose of mental masturbation is good for the soul.

OK class this week’s question is about the Civil War.

Who was the last Southern general to surrender? Date and location of surrender?

Good luck and may the farce be with you!

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Greco-Turkic Drama

Is it possible that we have bitched and moaned about our endless wars that we may have missed another eruption that could very well draw the US into the fray?

I warned about this possibility about one year ago……https://lobotero.com/2018/12/28/greco-turkish-mindset/

And the sad thing is it looks like after some success in the peace talks it has all gone to shit…..armed conflict looms large….

Greece and Turkey have come closer to armed conflict after Turkey’s surprise delineation of an Exclusive Economic Zone with Libya, experts tell Al Jazeera.

The agreement, signed on November 27 and unveiled on Thursday, maps out a corridor of water stretching across the eastern Mediterranean between the coasts of Turkey and Libya, cutting across a swath that is also claimed by EU member Greece.

EEZs allow countries exclusive rights to exploit natural resources including mineral wealth.

Turkish energy minister Fatih Donmez has announced that, once the agreement is ratified by both sides, Turkish drillships will begin to search there for oil and gas.

Although the Hellenic Navy neither confirms nor denies it, two experts tell Al Jazeera that Greece has dispatched naval forces to the disputed area southeast of Crete.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/12/greece-turkey-closer-armed-conflict-experts-191205214345751.html

This bears watching basically because of the closeness of Erdogan and Trump….they seem to admire and support each other with some minor differences….but nothing major that I can see.

Will the US accept a war between the two nations?

I Read, I Wrote, You Know

“Lego Ergo Scribo”