Showing posts with label Ruh-Roh. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ruh-Roh. Show all posts

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Dog In The Night-Time

For Your Edification
Gregory: “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”
2017

(February - November = North Korea test-fires 16 missiles of various types, including ICBMs)

Early 2017
A CIA source, highly-place in the Kremlin and close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had provided up to 10 year's worth of intelligence, is secretly extracted from Europe and resettled in the United States.

Friday January 20
Trump inaugurated as President.

Tuesday, May 9
Trump fires FBI Director James Comey.

Wednesday, May 10
In an Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Kislyak and Ambassador to the United States Sergey Lavrov, Trump revealed a telling detail about a completed covert operation which (when traced back by the Russians) would implicate Israeli intelligence.

2018

Wednesday, July 25
White House announces it is stopping the practice of releasing weekly summaries of any telephone calls between Trump and other heads of state (known as 'readouts').

Thursday, December 13
The U.S. Senate votes 56-41 to pass a bill which ends American military support for Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen. The bipartisan bill is authored by Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont).  A few minutes later, the Senate unanimously passes a resolution to hold Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia personally responsible for the death of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

Wednesday, December 19
In a rambling video announcement posted on Twitter, Trump states he will order all U.S. troops stationed in Syria withdrawn as soon as possible, claiming the Islamic State had been defeated.  Criticism by American allies, and senior Republicans in Congress, was almost immediate.

Sunday, December 30
Trump announces that his announced withdrawal of troops from Syria would be slowed.

2019

Tuesday, January 29
America's intelligence agencies release their combined, annual 'Worldwide Threat Assessment' report. The document directly contradicts public utterances by Trump regarding Iran, China, North Korea, Russia, and the continuing Islamic State threat.

The chiefs of the intelligence agencies, and Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence (appointed by Trump in January, 2017), testify before the Senate Intelligence committee and are questioned about the differences between Trump's statements and the assessments of their agency's analysts.

Wednesday, January 30
Trump fires off a series of angry Tweets, firing back at public contradiction from the Intel agencies. "The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong! ... [Tehran] is coming close to the edge! ... Perhaps intelligence should go back to school!"

Thursday, January 31
The U.S. Senate passes, 68 to 23, a bipartisan amendment to a broader bipartisan Middle East policy bill, and authored by Mitch McConnell, stating Senate opposition to Trump's plan to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.

Wednesday - Thursday, February 27 - 28
Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un meet in Hanoi, Vietnam for what was a planned, multi-day summit -- however, the talks end abruptly when Trump announced the summit over after one day; no deals regarding an end to North Korea's nuclear weapons program were reached.

Wednesday, March 13
U.S. Senate votes, again, to end American military assistance for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen and to curtail Executive war powers.

Monday, April 22
Secretary of State Pompeo announces that the United States would move to increase sanctions against sale of Iran's oil by blocking five of its biggest customers from buying it -- which would particularly affect China, but also India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey.

     (Saturday, May 4 = North Korea test-launches short-range missile.)

Monday, May 6
National Security Advisor John Bolton announces an additional aircraft carrier, B-2 bombers and an new antimissile battery would be sent to the Gulf region in response to "troubling and escalatory indications and warnings" from Iran.

     (Thursday, May 9 = North Korea test-launches two short-range ballistic missiles.)

Saturday - Sunday, May 11-12
Four oil tankers, at anchor near the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, are apparently damaged in a series of attacks.

Wednesday, June 5
A serious fire breaks out at Shahid Rajaee, Iran's largest port for shipping containers, just north of the Strait of Hormuz leading into the Persian Gulf. Apparently a vehicle used to transport shipping containers short distances caught fire, and subsequently spread due to a series of explosions.

Friday, June 7
Six, 50-foot trading vessels burn in the southern Iranian port of Taghi due to 'fires of unknown origin'.

Tuesday, June 11
At an impromptu 'helicopter presser', Trump is asked about (then) recent reports that Kim Jong Un's brother, assassinated in Singapore, had been a CIA asset.

Trump replied, "I did receive a beautiful letter from Kim Jong-un …A very warm, very nice letter. I think North Korea has tremendous potential. I appreciated the letter.... I saw the information about CIA with respect to his brother, or half-brother. And I will tell him that will not happen under my … I wouldn’t let that happen.”

Thursday, June 13
Two oil tankers under contract to Western firms and traveling through the Gulf of Oman catch fire, sustaining significant damage.  One ship's captain claimed to have been "hit by a flying object".

The same day, U.S. Central Command releases surveillance footage taken from a US Navy helicopter of what appeared to be an Iranian Revolutionary Guard patrol boat, with men retrieving what appeared to be a magnetic 'Limpet Mine' from the side of an oil tanker in the Gulf.

Sunday, June 30
Trump travels to South Korea and meets North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in the demilitarized zone at Panmunjom. Both agree to restart the previously-aborted Hanoi talks in October.

Monday, July 1
A Russian Losharik AS-12 submarine (type identified as a probable deep-submersible, nuclear-powered intelligence boat) catches fire in or near the Siberian port of Severomorsk. 14 sailors on board the sub die -- unusually, over half of them are Captains, two with high military decorations -- and rumors circulate that there was a radioactive breach during the fire.

Tuesday, July 2
Vice-President Pence, en route in Air Force 2 to a public appearance at the Granite Recovery Center in New Hampshire (an addiction rehabilitation franchise), is abruptly recalled to the White House while in mid-flight.  Members of the public waiting in Salem, NH were told at 11:30 AM the event had been cancelled.

Spokespersons at the White House denied any emergency had brought Pence back to Washington and generally downplayed the incident.

Sunday - Friday, Week of July 7 - 12
CNN reports that Trump and "advisers" hold discussions about replacing DNI Dan Coats.

Thursday, July 18 
Iran's Revolutionary Guard announce they have seized an oil tanker -- matching the description of the UAE ship declared missing two days earlier -- in the Gulf for carrying "contraband fuel".

Friday, July 19
The Revolutionary Guard Corps announce seizure of a second oil tanker.

Week of July 21 - 27
Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, meets with Trump and Pence at the White House, and advises he will resign as DNI effective August 15.  Coats drafts his resignation letter during this week.

     (Thursday, July 25 = North Korea test-launches two short-range ballistic missiles.)

Thursday, July 25
Trump calls Vlodoymyr Zelensky, comedian-turned-politician and recently elected as President of Ukraine. Apparently, Trump presses Zelensky during the call to assist his personal attorney,  Rudy Giuliani, in his investigation of the business activities of Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Giuliani was in Ukraine at the time of Trump's call, and had been trying for montths to get Ukrainian officials to investigate both Hunter and Joe Biden.

Zelensky's response is not known -- however, an American shipment of military equipment to Ukraine had been delayed by the Trump administration, making its delivery appear to be a possible quid pro quo -- help Giuliani, and you get your arms.

If true, pressuring another state leader to cooperate in developing information damaging to one of Trump's political opponent would easily be an impeachable offense.

Sunday, July 28
Coats submits his letter of resignation to Trump, who announces in a Tweet of Coats' departure, and replacement with hard-right Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas -- who has no experience in government beyond service in the House since 2014, and no intelligence experience.

     (Wednesday, July 31 = North Korea test-launches two short-range missiles.)

Wednesday, July 31
Per White House records, Trump calls Russian Vladimir Putin.

     (Friday, August 2 = North Korea test-launches two short-range ballistic missiles.)

Thursday, August 8
Sue Gordon, a career CIA official and Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, is conducting a meeting in her offices on election security in the United States.

Dan Coats, outgoing DNI, interrupts the meeting; speaking privately with Gordon, he urges her to submit a letter of resignation to Trump.  Reasons for Coats' interruption request are unclear.  Unusually, Gordon wrote a brief letter of resignation to Trump by hand, which closed, "I offer this letter as an act of respect & patriotism, not preference. You should have your team."

"Shortly after ... Gordon submitted her letter of resignation to Vice President Mike Pence, though the document itself was addressed to Trump, according to officials, a highly unusual move that prompted some confusion among some West Wing officials..." (CNN)

Later that day, Trump announces in a Tweet both Gordon's departure and the appointment of  Vice-Admiral (ret.) John Maguire, current director of the US National Counterterrorism Center, as interim DNI.

This same day, An accident occurs at the main rocket test site for the Russian navy, at Nyonoska in northern Russia. At least five persons are killed, and at least three others injured. A spike in radiation levels at the site occurred immediately after; two of the injured were flown to Moscow for treatment but died of radiation poisoning on the way.  A Norwegian nuclear safety expert stated later that isotopes detected in the area after the incident proved a nuclear reactor was likely involved.
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[Note: Following entry quotes heavily from a specific post on LawFareBlogMargaret Taylor, "The Mysterious Whistleblower Complaint: What Is Adam Schiff Talking About?", 9/17/19.]
Monday, August 12
An employee in a U.S. intelligence agency files a formal 'whistleblower complaint' -- a disclosure, intended for the Intelligence committees of the U.S. Congress as part of its oversight capacity.  The complaint is filed with the DNI's office of the Intelligence Community Inspector General, Michael Atkinson.

(Note: This indicates the whistleblower is likely an employee of the DNI; the CIA, NSA, NRO, DIA or ONI have their own Inspectors General.)
  • The complaint apparently involves Trump having multiple phone conversations with another, unnamed world leader over a period of time. During one or more of these calls, Trump made a "promise" to the foreign leader -- the substance of which they believed was disturbing enough to make a formal complaint.
  • 50 U.S.C., Sec. 3033 of the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (1998) states that "An employee of an element of the intelligence community, an employee assigned or detailed to an element of the intelligence community, or an employee of a contractor to the intelligence community who intends to report to Congress a complaint or information with respect to an urgent concern may report such complaint or information to the Inspector General." [Emphasis added.]
The "urgent concern" of the whistleblower's complaint is critical. The Act defines it as
  • "(i) A serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law or Executive order, or deficiency relating to the funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity within the responsibility and authority of the Director of National Intelligence involving classified information, but does not include differences of opinions concerning public policy matters;
  • "(ii) A false statement to Congress, or a willful withholding from Congress, on an issue of material fact relating to ... an intelligence activity.
  • "(iii) An action, including a personnel action ... constituting reprisal or threat of reprisal prohibited under ... this section in response to an employee’s reporting an urgent concern ..."
  • Atkinson's IG office had a statutory 14 calendar days to report the complaint to Interim DNI Maguire.  Once advised, Maguire "shall, within 7 calendar days... forward such transmittal to the congressional intelligence committees..."
  • This gave Maguire until Tuesday, September 3 to inform the two Congressional Intelligence committees of the information in the whistleblower's compliant.
However, IG Atkinson and/or Jason Klitenic, the DNI's General Counsel, apparently sought an opinion from the Justice Department's Office Of Legal Counsel.

     (Saturday, August 24 = North Korea test-launches two short-range missiles.)

Saturday, August 24 - Monday, August 26
Trump attends the meeting of G7 nations in Biarritz, France.

Monday, September 9
IG Atkinson writes a letter (which has not been made public) directly to House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff and the GOP ranking member, Devin Nunes, advising them the DNI was not going to forward the complaint to the committee.

The September 3 deadline for Maguire to report the complaint had passed.  It's possible that Schiff  was alerted privately to the whistleblower's complaint, and Atkinson knew it.  It seems likely he wrote to Schiff to give an appearance that the DNI was complying with the spirit of Congressional authority and statute.

This same day
CNN breaks the story on the extraction of the CIA asset close to Putin in 2017, reporting it had been decided to remove them out of concern that Trump might blow the source's cover.

A media source hints that the ex-CIA asset may have been one of the sources of the so-called Steele Dossier. While that may be possible, the source had confirmed for American intelligence, from direct knowledge, that Vladimir Putin had personally ordered efforts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election in 2016, on behalf of  then-candidate Trump.

For that reason alone, the CIA believed it likely Trump would blow the asset's cover  -- which would have been a death sentence if he were still in Russia.

The former CIA asset, apparently traced by the media to a home purchased in the suburban D.C. area, flees with their family and disappears.
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[Note: Following entries draw heavily on a specific post on LawFareBlog, Margaret Taylor, "The Mysterious Whistleblower Complaint: What Is Adam Schiff Talking About?", 9/17/19.]
Tuesday, September 10
Schiff writes a letter to Interim DNI Maguire, advising Maguire had not followed the law and demanding that he forward the whistleblower transmittals from the IG to the congressional intelligence committees “without delay and in their entirety.”

Schiff makes clear that if Maguire does not comply, the committee would issue a subpoena. He also demanded Maguire provide the whistleblower any necessary directions on appropriate security procedures the whistleblower might follow in order to contact the committee directly.

Thursday, September 12
Apparently, Rep. Schiff and Interim DNI Maguire hold a conversation about the situation.

Friday, September 13
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff writes a second letter to Maguire, as cover for the subpoena (which has also not been made public), and references their discussion the day before.

Schiff states Maguire has “neither the legal authority nor the discretion to overrule a determination” by his inspector general, doesn't “possess authority to withhold from the Committee a whistleblower disclosure from within the Intelligence Community that is intended for Congress". [Paragraphing added for clarity:]
"Even though the disclosure was made by an individual within the Intelligence Community through lawful channels, you have improperly withheld that disclosure on the basis that... the complaint concerns conduct by someone outside of the Intelligence Community and because the complaint involves confidential and potentially privileged communications.
In a further departure from the statute, your office consulted the Department of Justice about the complaint, even though the statute does not provide you discretion to review, appeal, reverse, or countermand in any way the [intelligence community inspector general]’s independent determination, let alone to involve another entity within the Executive Branch in the handling of a whistleblower complaint.
Your office, moreover, has refused to affirm or deny that officials or lawyers at the White House have been involved in your decision to withhold the complaint from the Committee. You have also refused to rule out to me that the urgent concern, and underlying conduct, relates to an area of active investigation by the Committee.
Late that night, officials in Maguire’s office acknowledged Schiff’s subpoena, indicating that “[w]e are reviewing the request and will respond appropriately” and that “[t]he ODNI and Acting DNI Maguire are committed to fully complying with the law and upholding whistleblower protections and have done so here.”

[See Schiff's letters here.]

According to Schiff, he received a response from Maguire, where he indicated that he was not responding based on a command from a “higher authority” because it involves an “issue of privileged communications.” Schiff surmised that it involves the president, people around the president, or both.

On this same day, as the whistleblower story goes public in the media -- the armaments and equipment shipment for Ukraine which had been badly delayed is released and the shipment sent for delivery.

Tuesday, September 17
Interim DNI Maguire refuses to comply with the House committee's subpoena and will not appear to testify.  DNI General Counsel Klitenic sends a letter sent to congressional leaders, saying that the activity at the root of the whistleblower's complaint “involves confidential and potentially privileged communications.”

Thursday, September 19
DNI Inspector General Atkinson appears in closed-door session with the House Intelligence committee.  It's announced that Interim DNI Maguire will testify, probably in camera as well, next week.
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Friday, September 13, 2019

Reprint Heaven: Instructions Pour Populations Dans La Zone Occupée

Random Barking Friday

[From October 10, 2017]
Now is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
--  Winston Churchill, November 1942

What's next? Disneyland??
-- Bill Murray, Speaking To Ghost Of Christmas Future; "Scrooged" (1988)
(I began this post before [what at the time was] the most recent mass shooting episode [link via Digby], and though much of its focus is on our Dear Leader, what follows should also be read with recent events in mind. And the Bill Murray quote, just because; and as is said at the Soul Of Americathe Fuck, Man?)
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Obligatory Animal Photo At Beginning Of Blog Thing

It's hard going in These Days. The quote from Churchill is occasionally used to sound a positive note in the midst of a struggle -- a way of saying, as Gandhi did, that the upward progress of Humankind continues. That Truth will triumph and Justice, eventually, will be done.

I have conversations about The State Of Things. One thing I hear continually repeated is, This Can't Continue. Some think a Deep State will remove Trump. Or Robert Mueller and 'The Russia Thing' will uncover enough to force him from office. And, it's always possible that [mention of extremely bad thing redacted].

But it isn't even about this bloated peacock of a man. He's just a symptom, it's deeper than that. Our politics are an illusion of choice. Everyone I talk with at some point will shake their heads: the America we see isn't sustainable and has not been for some time now. Surely this can't go on.

But what if it can?

What if, like the citizens of occupied Europe seventy-seven years ago, we come awake to the sounds of loudspeakers, broadcasting instructions of the new authorities? That like the Danes, Belgians, Norwegians, the Dutch and the French, we're at the beginning of over fifteen hundred days of being at the mercy of persons who are simple as children in their greed, and a desire that all America satisfy their every whim?
YOSSARIAN:  We're never gonna see those replacements. We're never gonna see those coconuts. They're just gonna keep making us fly until we're all dead.
DOBBS:   Aw; Cathcart wouldn't dare raise the number of missions again!
YOSSARIAN:  Who's gonna stop him?
DOBBS:  [Pauses] Somebody will.
-- Alan Arkin (Yossarian) and Martin Sheen (Dobbs) / Catch-22 (1970)
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The executive branch of the American government is bent to the ego and whimsy of a seventy-year-old child. All that occasionally blunts his narcissistic tantrums are three former U.S. Generals (until he decides to fire them, or they leave in disgust ahead of being fired) [Wow -- called that one, didn't we?].

Their influence is limited by Trump's character, but it's worth noting that their military perspective will be a serious factor in how the Executive functions: When every problem they see is a nail, the only solution they'll offer is a hammer. 

As Trump has done things since January 20th, journalists and commentators have reacted with expressions of social opprobrium -- the nerve; the unspeakable rudeness! A President can't do that! --  as if collective social disapproval will force Trump to behave differently, even leave office.

Additional Obligatory Tubby Animal Photo

I've joked that Trump could have sex with a goat on live television, and no one would be surprised: nothing would happen. Now, I actually wonder if that might be true [No. I don't wonder any longer; I know].

Trump and the creatures which slouched into government behind him are dismantling the political structure of the United States in ways the Right has dreamed of doing for generations. Pundits report it; neutral analysts detail their budgeting plans for education, healthcare, taxation, human rights. All are disastrous, everyone can see it coming -- and nothing happens.

Read Charles Blow's outrage at Trump's racism. Read Paul Krugman's outrage at Trump's fiscal incoherence. Read the reports in Jeff Bezos' Washington Post about mendacity and malfeasance in Trump's cabinet, and about Robert Mueller's investigations. There have been a tidal surge of reports, invective, observations and opinion about him since the inauguration. His popularity is the worst of any president in America's history -- and still, nothing happens.

But what if all the outrage no longer matters? After just eight months, the country appears to be getting used to the idea of Trump; what if he's the 'new normal'? The collective disapproval of the majority of America's adult population doesn't appear to matter.

I read or hear news commentary about Trump that now seems to carry an almost an apologetic note, as if saying Ah; whadya gonna do, huh? Even with the sheer volume of evidence showing Trump a witless sociopath, unfit to hold office, having no empathy for others, even when Puerto Rico almost literally writhes at his feet -- nothing happens.

Some people say, Just wait until the midterms -- but in key states, nearly twenty years of gerrymandering (Karl Rove's blueprint for a Forever GOP majority) has ensured that even if we had a third party in the country, nothing will happen.

No matter how many rallies Bernie holds to push single-payer healthcare, how many interviews Hillary gives, no matter how much gets said about changing the demographics of America's allegedly Left party -- it's plain the Republicans and Democrats are whores of the Rich. 'Bipartisan cooperation' is just a code for maintenance of the status quo, in service to Our Owners.

It's true that the worst Democratic politician doesn't sink to the level of the worst Republican, but their whoring is no less true. It's the reason the Democrats can't effectively combat fascism -- they are morally impotent because their core values have already been compromised. There is no organized, viable political alternative to the Racist, -phobic, lovin'-our-guns Nationalism of the American Right, or the Neoliberal Globalism of what passes for the American Left.

Unless (and perhaps, even if) future events take a different turn, the collective American Right will continue to throw their feces into our faces and revel in our sputtering responses. Trump will remain The Leader; the outrages will continue, and the dismantling of society. And, with the assistance of Democrats, our politics will continue to reflect an engineered inequality, the obvious rule of Wealth.

Borrowing an image from Orwell -- imagine a $38,000 pair of A.Testoni monk-strap loafers, stomping on a human face, forever.
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But, things are happening -- all on the political right. The apotheosis of Trump is occurring against a backdrop of what amounts to two groups of Klansmen, fighting over who gets to paint a huge Starz-n-Barz flag on the White House.


The Left and Center of our politics don't control any branch of government. Because they're in the minority, they seem even more fragmented than the Right, which is saying something -- because America's government is dominated by a GOP in the middle of a civil war between old-school Crazy Right, and the Crazier Alt-Right. 

The old-school Right wants privatization of everything, including education; an end to 'coddling of welfare queens'; an end to regulation of business and the financial markets; larger Pentagon budgets (a bigger stick, because China); more Austerity for everyone (except the Fabled Rich), and more of the Surveillance State. It's a Chamber Of Commerce, Country-Club America.

The Crazier Alt-Right wants all that, too -- but they want a Breitbart America, where you can't tell fact from fiction. The Alt-Right wants Muslims to leave, and all other non-white people will only be seen occasionally (in a hotel corridor, or a vegetable field) and not heard. Get uppity with the Po-lice and see what happens. Women? Well of course they will be "seen", but they'd better submit to Men in all ways, as the bible teaches. There will be no gay people, ever, anywhere; get in the right bathroom and get right with god. Remember so-called 'rights' can be changed by friendly Justices.  And, the Alt-Right must have Guns, and their Jesus. More Jesus. And more Guns. Amen.

 Perfect Teeth: All The Better To Chew You Up With

Actually, the Crazier Alt-Right is what the Kochbrudern, and other aging, Bundist billionaires, want. The old-school GOP was not conservative enough, not responsive to The Bundist's desires (and you piss off Oligarchs like them at your peril), so the Oligarchs paid to create the Tea Party, fund the Alternate Right, and conduct a hostile takeover of the Republican party and American conservatism. Expect to see more right-wing politicians of the stripe of Texas' Ted Cruz or Alabama's Roy Moore at an election near you.

They've paid billions into this effort since the early 2000's, and people with teeth that perfect want a return on their investment: setting fire to the GOP, replacing it with Bannon and Breitbart and the Tea Partei or all manner of smoke and mirrors.

This isn't about Trump, some rust-belt 'forgotten Americans', or any Americans; The Brothers don't care about you. This is all about the Great Game -- manipulating an entire nation's politics, just because they can. Because they wish it.

And they aren't the only rich, crabbed and malicious sociopaths at play. Consider Murdoch, and his issue. Think of the Mercers. The Mellons and Scaifes and Rockefellers. And think about the 'good', "Liberal" wealthy -- the Bezos' and the Zuckbergs and Gates' and Musks.

Give a moment to consider an entire layer of persons who, as the statistics show, own 90% of everything. Think about what that statement actually means.

Then consider: How much longer do you want to be owned by these persons?
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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Leader

Kulturschande

In another mass shooting incident at the Pittsburgh, PA, Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill, there are multiple fatalities. The suspect, wounded and taken into custody by police, is a WM, Robert D. Bowers, age 46. The local CBS affiliate reported (per TPM) that the shooter walked into the synagogue, shouting "anti-semitic slogans/slurs (“All Jews must die”) as he opened fire on worshipers."

Rush Transcript: Trump's Remarks At Andrews Air Force Base,
October 27, 2018 (via Vox):
TRUMP:  We’ll be making a major statement. It’s a terrible, terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country frankly and all over the world. And something has to be done. Something has to be done.
It looks like results are coming in, they’re more devastating than anybody thought in the morning. In the morning they thought it was the shooter but they had the shooter, they soon would, but the results are very devastating. You’re seeing the numbers come in. 
So we’ll be speaking to you at the conference, the future farmers of America, conference, and it’s just a shame to watch this, to see this. For so many years, so much of it, absolutely a shame.  Have any questions?
Reporter:  Mr. President, do you think you need to revisit gun laws?
TRUMP:   Please?
Reporter:  Gun laws, Mr. President. Gun laws.
TRUMP:   Well, again, this has little to do with it if you take a look. If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better. This is a dispute that will always exist I suspect. If they had some kind of protection inside the temple, maybe it could have been a very much different situation. They didn’t. And he was able to do things that unfortunately he shouldn’t have been able to do.
I hear the police were outstanding. I hear the police did an incredible job. As you know, numerous police were badly injured. But, again, law enforcement did a fantastic job. We’re going to have a very complete statement for you. Results are coming in of what took place, how it took place. Again, law enforcement was outstanding. As always. I mean, as usual, and as always, law enforcement was really outstanding. They stepped up to the plate.
But Pittsburgh, great community, incredible people. I spoke to the governor. I spoke to the mayor. To see this happening again and again and again is just a shame.
Reporter: Mr. President -- [inaudible] Instead of seeing it happen again and again, end this kind of violence?
TRUMP:   Well, it’s a violence -- you look at the violence all over the world. I mean, the world has violence. The world is a violent world. And you think when you’re over it, it just sort of goes away, but then it comes back in the form of a mad man, a wacko.
I think one thing we should do is stiffen up laws in terms of the death penalty. When people do this, they should get the death penalty and shouldn’t have to wait years and years. Now the laws lawyers will get involved and everybody’s going to get involved and we’ll be ten years down the line.
I think they should stiffen up laws and I think they should very much bring the death penalty into vogue. Anybody who does a thing like this to innocent people in temple, in church. We had so many incidents with churches. They should be -- they should really suffer the ultimate price. They should pay the ultimate price. I felt that way for a long time. Some people disagree with me. I can’t imagine why. This has to stop. We’re going to have a statement at our stop with the young farmers.
Reporter:  Towards the beginning of your presidency, you met with the NRA. You said maybe you were the president who can help solve this. Do you see that now as a possibility?
TRUMP:  It’s a case where -- again, nobody knows exactly what took place yet. It’s too soon. This is a case where they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately. This had been a case where if there were an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop them. Maybe there would have been nobody killed except for him frankly. So it’s a very, very -- very difficult situation. When you look at it, we can look at it two ways. Again, if he had somebody to protect people. Now, isn’t it a shame you even have to speak that way? That we even have to think of that inside a temple or inside of a church? But certainly the results might have been far better.
Reporter:  Do you think all churches and synagogues should have armed guards?
TRUMP:  I hate to think of it that way. I will say that. So we’ll see you with the future farmers.
Reporter: Is that what you’re suggesting?
TRUMP:  I mean, in this world, this is a world with a lot of problems. And it has been a world with a lot of problems for many years. Many, many years. You could say, frankly, for many centuries. You’re looking at what goes on, but certainly you want protection. They didn’t have any protection. They had a maniac walk in. They didn’t have any protection. That is just so sad to see. So sad to see. Results could have been much better. It is a very, very difficult thing. 
For me, as president, to watch any of this go, you know, before I ran for office, I’d watch incidents like this with churches and other things and think, what a shame, what a shame. But it’s even tougher when you’re the president of the United States and you have to watch this kind of a thing happen. It is so sad to see. So we’ll see you at the -- with the young farmers. 

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Friday, October 26, 2018

Random Barking Friday

This Will Not Contain Leavening Humor

April 30, 1945, in the Reichschancellery's Führerbunker: the Red Army was closing in quickly and less than a quarter-mile away. Hitler and Eva said goodbye to a line of their old retainers and True Believers, and were on their way into Hitler's study to kill themselves.

Outside the study stood Heinz Linge, Hitler's principal valet. The two shook hands. Hitler told Linge that the situation in Berlin was lost, and that he should try to leave the city and escape to the West.

Linge later said he had asked, "For whom shall we fight on?" Hitler replied, "For the coming man."
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What makes my skin crawl about what's occasionally described as living through the Assholeocene isn't the daily, drop-by-drop absorption of new outrages Trump and his minions commit. 

Weird how predictably that happens, now. Mornings, Trump watches Fox 'n Friends, and tweets. Sarah fantasizes and lies to a room full of adults. Afternoons, we learn about more corruption, more sociopathic abuse of immigrant children; another right-wing judge appointed for life; the awesome lives of our fabled Business Leaders and Owners, and Celebrities; more peasant-fucking.

In the evening, Trump flies to some rural district which voted overwhelmingly for him in 2016, and spews about his greatness, the threat of the liberal and the Other, before an ecstatic crowd. He preens and complains that he is unfairly attacked, victimized -- that, just like them, he is "under threat". They wear hats, and chant. Their identification with Trump provides them with an almost carnal frenzy and release.

Faultlines of race, class, gender and inequality in America have always been there; Trump's appearance puts them under serious stress. Other factors (extreme climate events [see below and follow the link]; unstable financial markets; mass shootings) increase the noise of uncertainty and fear, always in the background.

A large number of people appear to be on short fuses, the Crazy looking for a way out; "everybody angry (peculiarly angry ... [as] normal is changing color, tenor)"; meanwhile, a bloated, raving old man is a role model for the boundaries of permitted speech and behavior.

Trump is giving permission to cross boundaries -- not in and of itself a bad thing; it all depends on who's doing it, with what intent. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering a speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial is one way of crossing a boundary. Trump's public speeches are another. The difference in intent is clear.
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What makes me uneasy is not the experience of the present, so much. What Trump and his slavish GOP supporters have done in just 21 months makes increased social disintegration more likely (it certainly makes a society where Our Fabled Wealthy will be comfortable, while the rest of us are not). That can lead to a rising tempo of political violence -- and a more authoritarian state would seem attractive by comparison.

Trump might be that one-party dictator of an "illiberal democracy", an Orban or Erdogan, but I don't believe he's the personification of the end state I'm worried about. It's someone who would capitalize on Trump's shattering of political norms, take it to a new level: the "coming man"
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What Chris Hedges Said:
While it is true that the United States under Trump is not Hitler’s Germany, Trump has tapped into America’s worst impulses... his ultra-nationalism, white supremacist views, and racist diatribes coupled with his attack on immigrants, the media, African-Americans, and Muslims are indicative of a politics right out the fascist playbook. If the public and media keep denying this reality, the endpoint is too horrible to imagine... 
Trump has emboldened and legitimated the dire anti-democratic threats that have been expanding under an economic system stripped of any political, social, and ethical responsibility. This is a form of neoliberal fascism that has redrawn and expanded the parameters of the genocidal practices and hate filled politics of the 1930s and 40s in Europe in which it was once thought impossible to happen again. ...
What Margaret Sullivan Said (via Digby)
... At a raucous rally in Montana last week, a Trump supporter — juiced up by the president’s crude praise of a congressman who body-slammed a reporter — looked directly at CNN reporter Jim Acosta. Then he ran his thumb across his throat. And laughed. 
Later, Acosta described “the Trump effect.” “It has normalized and sanitized nastiness and cruelty in a way that I just never thought I would see,” he said, shortly after that Montana rally. 
The Trump effect is a straight line from years of his hateful rhetoric to real-world danger. It’s a line that goes directly from disrespect to pipe bomb. And — almost inevitably — it will eventually go from failed attempt to spilled blood... 
Ann Coulter tweeted that bombs have been... "a liberal tactic.” And radio behemoth Rush Limbaugh... [said] that Republicans don’t do this sort of thing, and a Democratic operative was the more likely culprit. 
But let’s get real. Everyone targeted by the pipe bombs had been the subject of endless hours of Fox News commentary. The list of targets read like Sean Hannity’s pre-broadcast crib notes: Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and former CIA chief John Brennan — and, as the representative of evil mainstream media — CNN. 
As usual, Trump himself projected blame everywhere but where it belongs...  he combined swipes at the news media and Democrats with a call to “come together in peace and harmony.”
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What Ian Welsh Said ("...IPCC Report Version"):
... There are quite a number of scenarios where this stuff happens faster... What will actually happen is that we’ll get some feedback loop like arctic or permafrost methane release and that will lead to parabolic increases. When it breaks, it will break hard. 
At that point a lot of other problems could also blow up, the most serious of which would be the Oceans losing their ability produce oxygen. If that happens, well, we’re dead. 
Even if it doesn’t, things like the thermohaline currents flipping or shutting off are possible. Europe could, in the middle of everyone else getting hot, have a mini-ice age. 
... And it isn’t that we are decelerating. Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, who will likely win election, has essentially promised to chop down what remains of the Amazon jungle as fast as possible (and also, to commit genocide on the remaining indigenous tribes. No, don’t pretend, that’s what he means.)
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MEHR, MIT BOOM BOOM:

A suspect is in custody in Florida, charged with being the individual who mailed explosive devices to prominent Democrats and liberals.

Cesar Sayoc, Jr., was described by the New York Times as a Republican who had been active on a variety of right-wing social media sites, with several prior arrests for fraud, robbery, and charges associated with explosives.

Police had seized Sayoc's van in connection with the arrest, and removed it from Sayoc's home under a blue tarp. Later, they removed the tarp -- and Mark Lancia, a local freelance journalist, took a number of pictures which are, as they say, worth a thousand words:

(©Mark Lancia; via TruthDig)
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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

After You've Gone

Echoes

South 8th Street, NYC; September 11, 2001 (Toby Amies / UK Guardian)

Lil' Boots: Feared And Bigger Than Daddy, At Last
We're not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen their kind before... the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends -- in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies.
-- George W. Bush, Joint Speech To Congress, 9/20/01
(Al Jazerra, 2006)

From the moment the towers fell, the authorities told us no one could ever relax again. The implication was that only a continually expanding regime of extreme vigilance could successfully fight this new menace.

Americans agreed. They were so terrified by the sight of falling towers and dead civilians on their own territory that they gave a thumbs-up, or at least didn’t protest much, at each request for expanded power the military and the government made during this time. Secret prisons? Sure. Torture? Sure. Warrantless surveillance? Sure. Need to read our library records, toss out habeas corpus? Sure and sure. The press, too, rolled over ...

And it went without saying that showing videos of Americans killing Iraqi civilians became particularly taboo in major media, to the point where the broadcast of the chilling “Collateral Murder” video via Wikileaks led to actual espionage charges against Chelsea Manning.

It can’t be underscored how important that series of events was. It was proof that the lesson we learned from places like Vietnam was that the real enemy did not live in bushes and hamlets, but in front of TVs in places like Oklahoma and Pennsylvania...

The Democrats will tell you they were genuinely convinced voting for the war was politically necessary, and/or that they really believed the intelligence about Saddam’s weapons programs. It was just a big misunderstanding, all of it. An “oops“ moment, as some commentators called it even back then.

Bullshit. The invasion was no mistake, and nobody above the age of eight believed the WMD story. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. We all knew what was going on.

--  Matt Tabbibi, "Legacy Of The Iraq War"Rolling Stone, March 21, 2018
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Obama and Chief Finance Advisor Larry Summers At The White House, 2009 (Jim Young / Reuters)
Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer. “Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail,” he said. “That’s your whole story right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write the rest of it. Just write that.” 
I put down my notebook. “Just that?” 
“That’s right,” he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. “Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there.” 
-- Matt Tabbibi, "Why Isn't Wall Street In Jail?", Rolling Stone, February 16, 2011
(Larry Belcher / CNN)
One of the basic premises of the Occupy movement is the idea that democracy exists for most Americans as little more than an unhappy choice between two sides of the same corporate coin. “We’ve been so alienated from our own sense of agency that being asked to be part of any real decision is exciting,” a woman in her late thirties who calls herself Beatrix tells me. She’s one of the old hands, close to the core of nearly every major radical action in New York of the past decade. So she’s a little jaded, but even so, she’s startled by what’s happening: “Movements usually spend a lot of time on education, telling people why they need to come to the demonstration. This is exactly the opposite. The people came. Now we’re all deciding together what happens.” 
-- Jeff Sharlet, "Inside Occupy Wall Street", Rolling Stone, November 10, 2011
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U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday there is no doubt that civilians have been killed in U.S. drone strikes targeting suspected terrorists, and procedures are constantly evaluated. 
He told a news conference at the end of a nuclear security summit that there had been “legitimate criticism” of the legal framework for the drone strikes and “there is no doubt that civilians were killed that shouldn’t have been.” 
“In situations of war, you know, we have to take responsibility when we’re not acting appropriately.” 
-- President Barack Obama, April 2016 (Reuters)
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Republican presidential candidate and real estate mogul Donald Trump said the U.S. ought to “take out” the families of terrorists in the fight against the self-described Islamic State. 
Asked in a Wednesday morning interview on Fox News whether he was concerned about the possibility of civilian casualties, Trump said he would “do my best... I mean, one of the problems that we have and one of the reason that we’re so ineffective, is they’re trying to, they’re using them as shields,” Trump said on Fox and Friends. “A horrible thing. They’re using them as shields. But we’re fighting a very politically correct war.” 
“And the other thing is with the terrorists, you have to take out their families,” he added. “When you get these terrorists you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don’t kid yourself. But they say they don’t care about their lives. You have to take out their families.” 
(Huffington Post, December 2, 2015)
Young Republicans And Young Publicans: November 2016  (Somodevilla - Ratcliffe / Getty)
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At a recent Pentagon press briefing, Task & Purpose’s Jeff Schogol asked General Joseph Votel, former SOCOM commander and the current chief of U.S. forces in the Greater Middle East, if “a new generation of children will grow up to have to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Votel largely punted on the issue of how generational the war on terror might prove to be, but his answer was still a telling one. “I do recognize we’ve certainly been in Afghanistan for a long time — and of course, we’re back in Iraq for a second/third time addressing some of these problems,” he replied. “I think this is a reminder that these things often take time.”

-- Chris Hedges, "The Legacy Of Infinite War"Truthdig, August 6, 2018
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After nearly tripling since the post-financial crisis spring of 2009, last year the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose magically again by nearly 24%. Why? Because despite all of his swamp-draining campaign talk, Trump embraced the exact same bank-coddling behavior as President Obama. He advocated the Fed’s cheap-money policy and hired Steve Mnuchin, an ex-Goldman Sachs partner and Wall Street’s special friend, as his Treasury secretary. He doubled down on rewarding ongoing malfeasance and fraud by promoting the deregulation of the banks, as if Wall Street’s greed and high appetite for risk had vanished.

--  Nomi Prins, "Donald Trump And The Next Crash"; Le Mond, April 27, 2018 [inside link to Prins, "The Next Financial Crisis Will Be Worse That The Last", Truthdig]

(See also, too: "The Next Financial Calamity Is Coming"NYT, September 12, 2018)
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The lake of ice is divided into four concentric rings (or "rounds")... This final, deepest level of hell is reserved for traitors, betrayers and oathbreakers. 
-- Wikipedia, Font Of All Knowledge; 9th Circle Of Hell In Dante's 'Divine Comedy'
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MEHR, WAS ES FÜR ALLES GEWESEN HAT:

Why We Have Fought To Make An Empire: A seven-pound, bacon-and-bratwurst-burger, being served at the Arizona Cardinal stadium. This is why we have suffered and struggled since 9-11 and The Crash and The Forever War.

This is the Good Life. It is one of your birthrights as an Amrican. It is why our Four Fathers forged a valley. They made a Fake Valley. They fought in a War about being Civil, and they got Gettysburgers. Yay! It's why they landed on Omaha, back in the Dee Day -- because Nebraska. Because Freedom. 

Remember: Illegal People want to come to Amrica and take your seven-pound, bacon-and-bratwurst from you. Your sons and daughters will be denied their chance for high cholesterol and stupendously high percentages of body fat. We need that wall! USA! USA!

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

1.)  To Avoid the Collapse Of Western Civilization.
In der offiziellen Version ist das Huhn ein beklagenswerter Feigling, vor der Glorreichen Zukunft davonläuft und falsche Nachrichten verbreitet. (In the official version, the chicken is a deplorable coward who runs away from the Glorious future and creates fake news.) 
There are, at a global level, two “mainstream” forms of hegemonic politics, each with their own oligarchical backing. One of these is the Clintonian-Merkelist-Obamist-Sorosian politics that is a confluence of at least overt social-liberalism and a variety of economic neoliberalism.  The other one is a Trumpian-Putinian-Bannonite-Orbánist instrumentalization of parochial nationalism. 
The former represents an oligarchic politics, democratically unrestrained trans-national capitalism, that has the potential to do great harm to the world if left unchecked.  The latter represents a con game that starts out with cotton candy for the True People and eventually ends up with states under the control of local and not-so-local looters who instrumentalize nationalist conflict for crony enrichment — this too, is oligarchy.
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2.)  To Challenge A Corrupt Patriarchal Power Structure.
"I'm not exactly sure why the chicken crossed the road... I attempted to question the chicken but he wasn't really communicating with me." (The Dodo, July 12, 2018)
(Actual Quote:) "I recently uncovered the nature of reality from a man on a flaming pie, who handed me a[n] herbal cigarette. I now know that previously I was a body in a vat being poked by a malignant demon. I was only an ape then, but after millions of years I evolved so that I could have the brain power to lasso the demon with my electrode and thus escape. I was chased by a large white balloon, but made my getaway from the Island. Since then, I have set up my own very successful religion in the U.S.  So, all in all, make sure you always trust your senses, never question organised religion, and don’t engage in any philosophy beyond The Matrix 1-3. 
Simon Maltman, Bangor"
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3.)  To Express Incredulity At The Level Of Malevolent Stupid Which Is Allowed. 
At the Friday propaganda session, when Missy Sarah told Another Big Fib, she was immediately shamed by the Chicken. All the Boys and Girls laughed at her because she was such a Big Fibber.
Some reporters will outright call Sanders a liar. Others are more reluctant to break out the L-word but still become frustrated at the way she regularly obfuscates and bends the truth. Whereas [Sean] Spicer was known for big blowups, reporters say that with Sanders it feels more like a million small things. “There’s almost sometimes an exhaustion writing the stories of the daily briefing because the number of things she says that are patently false are too many to let your story be weighed down with them,” one White House reporter says. 
-- Jason Schwartz, "The Puzzle Of... Sanders"; Politico, May/June, 2018 -- the puzzle, of course, being how a government based on such obvious boldfaced lies and illusion can continue. 
We mean utterly baseless and over-the-top lies, not the standard obfuscations and misdirection we're used to in Aremica -- but real, Foxy Murdoch-style, verging-on-Joseph-Goebbels-type lying.
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4.)  To Maintain Its Balance In An Uncertain Future. 
Don't Drive Angry.
Essentially, businesses have been in a sweet spot for years, in which profits have gradually risen while interest rates have stayed low by historical measures. If either of those trends were to change, many companies with higher debt burdens might struggle to pay their bills and be at risk of bankruptcy. 
...If inflation were to get out of control and the Fed raised interest rates sharply, companies that can handle their debt payments at today’s low interest rates might become more strained. Moreover, with federal deficits on track to rise in the years ahead, the federal government’s borrowing needs could crowd out private borrowing, which would result in higher interest rates and even more challenges for indebted companies. 
The International Monetary Fund included a warning about this run-up in global corporate debt in its most recent Global Financial Stability Report. If inflation were to rise more quickly, Tobias Adrian, an I.M.F. official, said in a news conference, it could “trigger a sudden tightening in financial conditions and a sharp fall in asset prices,” which is I.M.F.-speak for [Ruh-Roh]. 
-- Neil Erwin, "What Will Cause The Next Recession..."; New York Times
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MEHR, MIT EINE KLEINE ANFRAGEN: A message for the three humans, and the Superintelligent Parakeet, who read this blog:

Please go here and do whatever you can to help Arthur. You can click on the "donate" button on his site; or, use the following link, because this is a request that you donate money. 

It doesn't have to be a huge amount. For the price of a couple of lattes and a Boo-Boo Burger, you can do the needful for another person.  Twenty bucks -- ten bucks. Just your pocket change, even.  

This is someone who should have a listing on Go Fund Me! just to keep them alive and in their home -- but they don't; it's just us. Come on; it's a mitzvah, for Christ's sake. 

I never ask you three reprobates to do anything, ever (and, hey; you approach the Parakeet at your peril) -- but I'm not kidding. Please give Arthur some help.  

Please feel free to pass these links around to others.  C'mon, do it.  Thank you.
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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Reprint Heaven: Edge Of The Volcano Edition

Unraveling

(Originally From 2016)
Cousin Ignatz, Asleep At Princip's Post: Sarajevo, 2014 (Matthew Fisher / Postmedia News)

Roughly twelve hours and 104 years ago, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, the Grand Duchess Sophie, were shot by Gavrillo Princip, a member of an assassination team sent to the Bosnian city by the government of Serbia.

Collectively, the team was the gang which couldn't shoot straight: armed with crude grenades, a few pistols, and carrying some form of suicide pill, they waited along the route Franz Ferdinand's car would take as it drove beside the Miljacka river, which cuts through Sarajevo (local Austro-Hungarian authorities had helpfully published the Archduke's route beforehand).

Most of the team either was poorly positioned, or chickened out at the last moment.  One conspirator did throw a bomb at the Archduke's car, which bounced off its folded-back fabric top and exploded near a second car traveling just behind. Several people in the car had minor injuries and it continued on to a local hospital.

The Archduke's driver, Leopold Lojka, continued to Sarajevo city hall. When Franz Ferdinand arrived, he effectively unloaded on the hapless administrators about the state of their local security ("I come to your city and am greeted with bombs!"). Meanwhile, back at the river, the would-be bomber had jumped into the Miljacka and swallowed his suicide pill -- which he promptly threw up. The police arrested him, barely managing to keep him from being lynched a mob of pro-Austro-Hungarian citizens, and so save him for later trial and execution.

At approximately 12:30 PM, having finally accepted the thanks of the Sarajevo city fathers, Franz Ferdinand and his wife got back into their car, planning to go to the local hospital to see those wounded in the bomb attack that morning. They used the same route, in reverse, that they had taken into the city, driving along the river. But when the Chauffeur, Lojka, came to a particular intersection -- to his left, a street; to the right, a bridge over the Miljacka river -- he was confused.

 The Royal Couple (Seated, At Rear) Leaving City Hall: Fifteen Minutes Left

Believing it to be the route he needed to take to drive to the hospital, Lojka slowed and turned left into the street.  Almost immediately, he realized he'd made a mistake and stepped on the brakes. The car came to a stop a few yards into the street, and Lojka moved to put it in reverse gear.

 The Intersection, 2014: The Archduke's Car Turned Left, Into This Street;
The Restaurant Where Princip Bought Lunch, Now A Museum (Photo: CNN)

At that same intersection was a small restaurant. Gavrillo Princip, last member of the Serbian assassination squad, had gone inside to buy a sandwich, angry and dejected after the team's failure that morning. Standing on the sidewalk outside the cafe, he saw a large, dark-green automobile turn out of the boulevard and come to a stop directly in front of him. In the very rear seat were the Archduke and his wife.

The heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne had been delivered, less than ten feet away, from an armed assassin who had come to the city specifically to kill him. If you were writing a novel or screenplay, anything that coincidental would be branded as implausible. No one's gonna believe that.

Princip didn't hesitate. He dropped his sandwich, pulled a pistol out of his jacket and stepped towards the car, firing several shots, managing to mortally wound both the Archduke and his wife. Lojka, the driver, was ordered to rushed the royal couple to the local military governor's residence. Sophie died on the way. A military officer in the car, checking on the Archduke's condition, asked the wounded man how he was; Ferdinand said, "Nichts (It's nothing)", and died.

Just over a month later, Europe was at war. Over the next four-plus years, the entire social fabric of the continent and much of the world changed irrevocably. Monarchies ended; millions died; the map of the world changed as the victors annexed territory from Germany and Austria Hungary, and new countries were created. New technology was developed -- and, in the Versailles Treaty, the groundwork was laid for a second, even more horrible war to begin by 1939.

(And, in 1918-19, the Spanish Influenza infected 500 million people, killing 40 million, worldwide. It was the largest number of fatalities due to pandemic disease since the 'Black Death': the coming of  Bubonic Plague to Europe in the 14th century [which killed an estimated 200 million].  In the U.S., millions were made sick, and 675,000 died [0.6-plus per cent of America's population at the time, 103 million]. It's often referred to as the "forgotten epidemic" -- just one more terrible event in an ocean of violence and atrocity.)

 Cousin Ignatz, Worn Out By All The History
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Why the history lesson? We're living through history. When we read about events in Europe during the Interwar Years (1918 - 1933 or so), there's a feeling of being slowly pulled down into a drain of inevitability -- revolving-door failures of parliamentary governments in France; Britian's declining empire; the manic Totentanz of global capital leading to 1929; the rise and fall of Weimar; Italian, German and Japanese fascism. Regional war and civil war. 

Like the story of the Titanic or the Hindenburg, you know where the story is going. You know it will end in Nanking, Kristalnacht, Dunkirk; Auschwitz; Stalingrad; the Warsaw Ghetto; D-Day; the Führerbunker; Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But you read about the years leading up to all that with a mounting sense of horror, because we all know how it ends.

While the Brexit may be not have been a "shot heard 'round the world", the Tories are hanging on by their fingernails in the UK; the Scots still wonder about independence; the Greek, French and Italian economies are still at risk. Putinland, the Great Bear, still pushes the envelope here and there -- Ukraine and Syria. As IS loses on battlefields in the continuing slow-motion atrocity that is the Middle East, suddenly they appear in a Philippine city, on a London street. Disproportionate numbers of Black people are shot in major American cities on a routine basis. Climate change is not fake news.

America, ruled by Babbitry, greed and illusion, retreats from the world stage; its leader is Bloated, Sick, and Raving, surrounded by car-wash dilettantes. Other nation-state players, great and small, are happy to rush into the vacuum we leave behind, and any of them could easily start a larger conflict -- India, Pakistan; Kim Jong Fat Boy's Fun People's Republic Of Chuckles, and South Korea; Iran and Saudi Arabia.  

And no matter how you want to characterize it, there's a confrontation -- between those who want a globalist, centralized world (unfortunately, organized around the goals of international finance and business principals, together with the most powerful nation-state actors), and those who don't. The balances in the old alliances created after WWII have all but unraveled.  Kleiner Mann; Was Nun?

Hope you're not looking for an answer. I am, after all, only a Dog, and no one listens to me.
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