Thursday, March 23, 2017

High Nunes & Other Forgettable Westerns

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The Shoeless Centipedes Brotherhood: We shit in private, but we are transparent about our fuckery. (In honor of Senator John McCain)

A Deliricum of Wisdom

Terrorism is a serious threat to security of states all over the world, not just the West. If there’s an existential component to that threat it will not be felt in Western states but in countries where ruling regimes are often involved in terrorizing their own people, not to mention fleecing them. Countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, France and Belgium, with their long history of democratic rule (the current turbulence notwithstanding) and their strong law enforcement institutions can withstand the current terrorist onslaught and will emerge triumphant, unless they fall victim to the lies perpetrated by the throngs of populist fear-mongers now emerging from the rotted woodwork. For if there is an existential threat to the West at this stage, it is not posed by terrorism or increasing demographic diversity, but by indigenous illiberal forces that often weaponize these issues in order to detract attention from their corruption and promote their authoritarian agendas. 

The Delirynth

The Merkeling continues:

President Trump’s Tweets that followed his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel led to a natural indignant pushback from Germany:

Germany rejects Trump's claim it owes NATO and U.S. 'vast sums' for defense. "There is no debt account at NATO," von der Leyen said in a statement, adding that it was wrong to link the alliance's target for members to spend 2 percent of their economic output on defense by 2024 solely to NATO. "Defense spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against IS terrorism," von der Leyen said.

For her part, the Chancellor felt it necessary to Merkel another world leader, this time, the quarrelsome Turkish President Reçep T. Erdogan:

Merkel tells Turkey's Erdogan to stop Nazi taunts. "My remark that the Nazi comparisons from Turkey must stop still applies. No ifs, no buts," Mrs Merkel said at a news conference in Hannover on Monday with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe… Mrs Merkel said that such comments were "breaking every taboo, without consideration for the suffering of those who were persecuted and murdered" by the Nazis. She added that appearances by Turkish politicians in Germany "can only take place on the basis of the principles of German constitutional law".

The Old Tap & Hack gets more aggressive

The new twist in this old energetic dance started with Adam Schiff masterfully connecting the dots between Trump and Russia. It was damning all right. “Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated, and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence? Yes, it is possible,” he said. “But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated, and that the Russians used the same techniques to corrupt U.S. persons that they have employed in Europe and elsewhere. We simply don’t know, not yet, and we owe it to the country to find out.”

But for those who still entertain some doubts in this regard, CNN lists 80 times Trump talked about Putin. And here’s an essay that connects the dots in an even more aggressive manner: “We know Trump is heavily invested in Russia, because he said so to a group of investors in 2008. We know his businesses became increasingly reliant on Russian financing after conventional banks ceased lending to him following his many bankruptcies. And we know Trump broke a longstanding presidential tradition in refusing to release his tax returns, which would reveal the nature and extent of his investments.”

Then a White House tweet appears to suggest Obama could be behind Flynn leaks. "FBI Director Comey refuses to deny he briefed President Obama on calls made by Michael Flynn to Russia," the tweet posted to the official @POTUS account read.

Just as FBI Director was testifying to the effect that Trump campaign, Russia ties were indeed being investigated, and that no wiretap evidence was found. Comey's comments represented his most explicit intervention yet in the controversy over what US intelligence agencies have assessed was a Russian attempt to disrupt the election -- and a string of counter-claims against the previous administration leveled by Trump himself… "They wanted to hurt our democracy, hurt her, help him. I think all three we were confident in at least as early as December," Comey said.

President’s Trump’s decision to hide behind Andrew Napolitano led to a decision by Fox News to sideline the latter. In reality, however, and if the people at Fox News are really serious about combatting fake news, they really have to sidelines themselves – an unlikely development at the current evolutionary stage of their sense of decency. 

On Wednesday, and just a terrorist attack unfolded in London, the Man Tasked With Investigating Trump’s Ties To Russia Makes Friendly Visit To White House to update the possible culprit on the progress of the investigation into his own culpability – a sort of surprise blitz on that whole constitutional concept of separation of powers. In follow-up press conference, Rep. Devin Nunes said that the “names of Trump associates — and perhaps even Trump’s own name — appeared in surveillance reports compiled by U.S. intelligence agencies in the final months of the Obama administration.

Contrary to how these revelations are being spun by Trump supporters, they do not in the least vindicate him. For one, he did not rely on intelligence sources when he made his allegations, but on Fox News – an un-presidential behavior to say the least. As Nunes himself pointed out, the agencies were acting on the basis of FISA warrants and whatever information were collected on Trump staffers, and perhaps, Trump himself, were incidental to their surveillance activities. This raises numerous questions on the kind of contacts the Trump Camp had with people who were under surveillance. Moreover, Nunes’ decision to report to the President on the course of the investigation and on the information he obtained from his source in the intelligence community even before updating his follow committee members lend strong support to the calls for empowering an independent investigation committee.

For his part, Mr. Trump seems to really believe that might is right, a sentiment reflected in his statement to the Time: “Hey look, in the mean time, I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not.

Putin Is In

Putin simply discovered the not-so-hidden Achilles Heel of the liberal democratic order: corruption.

Francois Fillon 'was paid $50,000 to arrange meeting with Vladimir Putin'. “The former Prime Minister allegedly used his contacts to facilitate two meetings for Fouad Makhzoumi in 2015; one with the Kremlin leader and another with Total CEO Patrick Pouyanné, satirical weekly newspaper Le Canard enchaîné is expected to report. The latest allegations follow claims by the Mediapart journal that Mr Fillon’s consulting firm 2F Conseil signed a contract with Future Pipe Industries in 2015, a company owned by the Lebanese businessman.”

Manafort Accused of Money Laundering in Ukraine. “In documents released by Serhiy Leshchenko, a journalist and lawmaker, Manafort is alleged to have laundered $750,000, via a Belize-based company, in October 2009. That would have pre-dated Manafort's work for the Trump campaign.”

AP Exclusive: Before Trump job, Manafort worked to aid Putin. Before signing up with Donald Trump, former campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly worked for a Russian billionaire with a plan to "greatly benefit the Putin Government," The Associated Press has learned. The White House attempted to brush the report aside Wednesday, but it quickly raised fresh alarms in Congress about Russian links to Trump associates.”

Exclusive: Powerful Russian Partner Boasts Of Ongoing Access To Trump Family. “Among Agalarov’s most striking claims: that he and his billionaire developer father, Aras, had plans to build a Trump Tower in Russia that would now likely be under construction had Trump not run for office; that he has maintained contact with the Trump family since the election, and has exchanged messages with Donald Trump Jr. as recently as January; and that President Trump himself sent a handwritten note to the Agalarovs in November after they congratulated him on his victory. “Now that he ran and was elected, he does not forget his friends,” Agalarov says.

That why we need those tax returns and we should keep asking for them.

Bank that lent $300m to Trump linked to Russian money laundering scam. “Deutsche Bank among western institutions that processed billions of dollars in cash of ‘criminal origin’ through Latvia.”

And that’s why we should not stand by and let nepotism get further entrenched.

First daughter Ivanka Trump gets West Wing office. Jamie Gorelick, an attorney and ethics adviser for Ivanka Trump, said Monday that the first daughter will not have an official title, but will get a West Wing office, government-issued communications devices and security clearance to access classified information. Gorelick said Ivanka Trump would follow the ethics rules that apply to government employees.”

But let’s not get too hysterical about it. After all, there will be no official title here, just a lot of unofficial power. Just as is the case with her brand: Despite Trust, Ivanka Trump Still Wields Power Over Her Brand.

We all known of course that unofficial power is the most transparent of them all, just as Bashar Al-Assad cousin, Rami Makhlouf. He holds a lot of unofficial power.

To some, the move to get Ivanka an office at the White House raises Questions About Ethics. As they should.

But, to me, Ivanka and Jared remind me more of the characters of Joanna and Tyrell in Mr. Robot than of Bond movies. Indeed, just like Joanna, and in the face of all these reports, Ivanka would like to ask us “Do you want to say no to me?”

Well, “do you, punk?”

But not all things are cheery for the branch of the Trump Family.

Jared Kushner Struck Out in His First Foray Into Middle East Diplomacy. “His task: get Britain to help scuttle a U.N. Security Council resolution denouncing Israeli settlements. His outreach was part of a broader effort by the president-elect’s transition team — which included public denunciations of the settlements resolution by Trump, and back-channel lobbying of U.N. diplomats by his not-yet-then-and-now-former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, to derail the resolution vote. It ultimately failed, as the council’s 15 members, including Britain, dismissed the Trump team’s appeals and voted 14-0, with a U.S. abstention, in favor.”

Indeed, if any progress is to be made in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, it’s seasoned diplomats who will have to do the actual work, not blaggards like Jared.

On His First Visit to the Middle East, Trump’s Envoy Jason Greenblatt Surprises Everyone. “Greenblatt leaped effortlessly from a Palestinian refugee camp to meeting settler leaders, making positive impressions on all, along with a clear message: Trump's serious about peace, and Israel ought to be too.”

That Thing In Syria

US joins first air assault 'behind enemy lines' against ISIS in Syria. Securing the Tabqa Dam is extremely important in order to prevent any possible attempt by ISIS to sabotage it. The involvement of America troops was unavoidable. But, the risk is that the U.S. is getting more blood on its hand: Strike on Raqqa school 'kills displaced civilians'. This is the second such an incident in less than a week.

U.S. allies are demanding that the U.S. clarify its strategy at this stage.

Meanwhile, Russia summons Israeli diplomat over Syria strike, as the two countries keep “negotiating” their arrangement in Syria.

Amidst all this noise, one development is going under the radar:

9/11 victims suing Saudi Arabia: report. JASTA allows U.S. citizens to sue nations like Saudi Arabia in American courts even if they lack a state sponsor of terror designation. Obama charged that the measure could produce reciprocal legislation overseas, exposing U.S. diplomats and military service members to similar legal action. The Senate ultimately overrode Obama’s veto last September in an overwhelming 97-1 vote.

No Wasta (Arabic for influence peddler) on JASTA: The Saudis are hoping Trump will manage to reverse JASTA. For this, they will throw a lot of business his family’s way. In exchange, Trump might offer words and assurances, but, unless the Congress changes its bipartisan position on this matter, he can do little to deliver on this. That’s quite convenient for him. The notion that Trump is a 'true friend of Muslims,' as the Saudis want us to believe, is absurd considering a variety of his public statements, not to mention some of his proposed policies, such as the Muslim Ban. Saudis and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council need to engage the Trump administration, but they need to do this while knowing how deep and wide of a chasm that separates them from it. Enmity towards Iran is an insufficient common ground. In the Trump-Bannon worldview, Sunni Jihadism poses a far greater danger than Shiite Iran. That makes Saudi and other GCC states suspect. No amount of business deals can change this worldview. As such, Saudi needs to decrease its reliance on the U.S. Ideally, the GCC states should move towards close integration of their militaries and security apparatuses. But that’s not going to happen, considering the prevailing cultural attitudes. As such, Saudi needs to find ways to become more self-reliant when it comes to its security. That too is a tall order. Yet, that’s the challenge.

Saudi foreign minister says that Donald Trump 'is a friend to everybody.' In practice, however, people who claim to be or are claimed to be friends to everybody, end up proving to be friends to nobody.

As such, Trump, Saudis might have hit the reset button, but, as reset button goes these days, this doesn’t say much.

As for the new ban… US bans electronic devices on flights from eight majority-Muslim countries. “No American carriers are impacted by the ban, which involves devices larger than a mobile phone.”

According to the Washington Post, security may not be the real reason behind the electronics ban:

It may not be about security. Three of the airlines that have been targeted for these measures — Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways — have long been accused by their U.S. competitors of receiving massive effective subsidies from their governments. These airlines have been quietly worried for months that President Trump was going to retaliate. This may be the retaliation.

These three airlines, as well as the other airlines targeted in the order, are likely to lose a major amount of business from their most lucrative customers — people who travel in business class and first class. Business travelers are disproportionately likely to want to work on the plane — the reason they are prepared to pay business-class or first-class fares is because it allows them to work in comfort. These travelers are unlikely to appreciate having to do all their work on smartphones, or not being able to work at all. The likely result is that many of them will stop flying on Gulf airlines, and start traveling on U.S. airlines instead.

As the Financial Times notes, the order doesn’t affect only the airlines’ direct flights to and from the United States — it attacks the “hub” airports that are at the core of their business models.

While engaging Saudi, the U.S. should be wary of Iran.

Rouhani, the Deceiver. “Allowed to run its course over the next 10 to 15 years, the JCPOA portends a rather ominous future for anyone who really cares to see: An unreconstructed Islamic Republic boasting not only a highly advanced, industrial-size nuclear infrastructure, but a far richer, more resilient economy; a vastly stronger conventional military; and a ballistic missile arsenal — already the largest in the Middle East — free to expand even further, including by developing ICBMs capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the United States.”

Indeed, at this stage, Iran offers practically no leader with whom America can do business. The Obama administration has chosen to ignore this fact in order to buy some time and delay what’s increasingly becoming inevitable, barring some serious policy reversal on part of the Trump administration, namely: the emergence of Iran as a regional nuclear power in about a decade, and the onset of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Even so, the current policy towards Iran should be one of political and military containment not simple diplomatic engagement. Under the cover of diplomatic activity, Iran expanded its regional role by stoking conflicts in Syria and Yemen while further strengthening its position in Iraq and Lebanon. Yes, this is “a natural impulse” for a state with Iran’s potential, but that does not make it legitimate. Iran’s adventurism is destabilizing. Some will point out that Saudi’s role may not so positive as well at this stage, but Saudi’s role has been more reactive. It’s Iran at this stage that is busy projecting power and behaving aggressively, in the hope of creating a new regional order. But it seems that the proposed new order is the same as old order but under new management, one whose behavior reflects the same old mentality of infantilizing the citizenry, ignoring their basic aspirations, and imposing on them by force rules and laws with which many of them do not agree. This is not a recipe for stability and progress, but for more conflict and mayhem.

ЯeveЯsed Polarity (ЯP)

Iraqi prime minister jokes with Trump about wiretaps. After reporters shouted questions about wiretaps, Abadi grabbed Trump's arm and said, "We had nothing to do with the wiretap.” Trump did not respond to Abadi, nor did he answer the journalists' questions.

Trump’s Team Said It Didn’t Ask For Military Vehicles At Inauguration. Emails Show It Did. “Such support would be out of guidelines,” one Pentagon official wrote.

Yet, ludicrousness seems to be a Trump family trait: Donald Trump Jr called 'a disgrace' for tweet goading London mayor Sadiq Khan.

The Deliricon

The Tap & Hack: 1) A traditional Russian folkdance characterized by energetic feet-shuffling, hand-wringing and pelvis-thrusts interspersed by pauses of loud ululation meant to awake the old Kievan god, Dažbog, a known heavy-sleeper, in the hope that he can join the people in their ongoing battle against the PoorPutin. 2) A political maneuver that involves doubling down on an already bad bet in the hope of enticing opponents to do the same thus drowning all in shit and obscuring culpability. 3) The name of a famous bar near Dupont Circle in Washington D.C. often frequented by White House staffers, Washingtonian policy experts and foreign diplomats. 4) A sexual position favored by the more energetic types and often considered to be a mild form of S&M.

The Exotic Observations & Propositions of Delirian Mundi

* The only Faustian deals we make are the ones we make with ourselves allowing us to surrender to our darker impulses while absolving us of guilt, if only for a while. 

The Cauldron

Theatrum Deliria

Tanks for the Chief

Excerpt from the latest novel by American author Edgar Maxwellson whose experimental writing style was often compared to that of Henry Miller. The novel is based on a long and intricate series of email exchanges between a number of troubled protagonists most of whom seem to suffer from the recently diagnosed Up-Yours Syndrome, and who include: staff members of a certain presidential campaign, high ranking military officials, foreign diplomats, psychiatrists, suicide hotline operators, fake news purveyors, hackers and an assortment of prostitutes with perennially full bladders.

While most critics tend to focus on exchanges related to the Golden Shower Scene, the excerpt below from Chapter 2 focuses on the email exchange between X and Y just at the start of their complicated affair.

Chapter 2
Campaign Staffer X
… On a related note, the President Elect was also wondering if he could have tanks and missile launchers on display during the Inauguration parade. He really wants to give his ego a further boost, and our enemies a real scare. In fact, he wants to send a clear message to one and all that, despite the unfortunate size of his hands, he’s actually far more endowed than all of them put together, and he wants to do it by speaking to them in the only language that they understand: unnecessary military spending.
Pentagon Official Y
… As regarding your request, made on behalf of the President Elect, for displaying military gear during the Inauguration, including tanks and missile launchers, it’s been our long-standing policy at the Pentagon to avoid wagging our dicks in public unless there’s an actual war going on. We’ve learned the value of this the hard way after having our balls busted by journalists, comedians, psychiatrists and other members of the civilian community. Primarily, then, this is meant both as a cost-cutting and ego-trimming measure, on the one hand, and a public embarrassment avoidance tactic on the other. Our long-range missiles aren’t what they’re use to.
Campaign Staffer X
… So, I guess there’s no question of allowing us to execute members of the other campaign while waving our dicks in the air like we don’t care. I mean in effigy of course… Not.
Pentagon Official Y
… Hey, I don’t mean to sound inappropriate, but, I really appreciate your sense of humor. It’s sooo perverse. Just like I could be, sometimes, you knonw, with my dick. Wink, wink. Nod, nod.
Sergey Kislyak
Dear X and Y,

First, one of you guys seems to have hit the Reply All button.

Second, how many times do I have to tell you, you incompetent American nincompoops, that you should BLIND copy me. That is, insert my email in the BCC line NOT the CC line.

Third, speaking of “insert,” you two should really get a room. Seriously. And stream the video on the SECURED connection.


This email was sent to you via secured Russian Embassy servers. Should you leak this email, an assortment of our Russian prostitutes will leak all over your grave.
© Ammar Abdulhamid , 2017

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