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TBR News January 7, 2016

Jan 07 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 7, 2016: “There is an article claiming that Saudi Arabia is America’s poodle and always does her bidding. From my own experiences, I can refute this completely. The Saudis and Americans have worked together over the past and the 

Saudis have been involved in such deadly matters as the 9/11 attacks and in setting up the lunatic ISIS. Now that the Saudis are on the verge of bankruptcy and running out of oil, they are stirring up as much trouble in the Mid East as they can, both as a diversion and a plan to gain control over Sunni Muslim countries, like Turkey and Egypt. Washington is being very careful to neither annoy the Saudi royal family nor to support a Sunni takeover. This reluctance will annoy the Saudis and, like fat Bibi, they will come to Washington to force the US to obey their wishes. Bibi went home empty-handed and so will the Saudis.”

 

Conversations with the Crow

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal , Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment. Three months before, July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md. After Corson’s death, Trento and his Washington lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever

After Crowley’s death and Trento’s raid on the Crowley files, huge gaps were subsequently discovered by horrified CIA officials and when Crowley’s friends mentioned Gregory Douglas, it was discovered that Crowley’s son had shipped two large boxes to Douglas. No one knew their contents but because Douglas was viewed as an uncontrollable loose cannon who had done considerable damage to the CIA’s reputation by his on-going publication of the history of Gestapo-Mueller, they bent every effort both to identify the missing files and make some effort to retrieve them before Douglas made any use of them.

Douglas had been in close contact with Crowley and had long phone conversatins with him. He found this so interesting and informative that he taped  and later transcribed them.

These conversations have been published in a book: ‘Conversations with the Crow” and this is an excerpt.

http://www.amazon.com/Conversations-Crow-Gregory-Douglas-ebook/dp/B00GHMAQ5E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1450147193&sr=8-1&keywords=conversations+with+the+crow

Conversation No. 36

Date: Sunday, September 15, 1996

Commenced: 11:15 AM CST

Concluded: 11: 37 AM CST

RTC: Ah, good morning, Gregory. Been to church early today? GD: No, haven’t been to church for some time. Yourself? I mean someone who lives on Cathedral Avenue ought to have some nearby inspiration.

RTC: No, I get out very seldom these days what with my hip problem and I do have a balance issue. Asthma  makes me short of breath sometimes. Never mind that. Anyway, I was looking for some papers on the Vietnam business….for addition to my book on that sorry time…and I found an analysis of the flying saucer business we talked about.  I pulled it out for you. On the Vietnam business, I’ve finished the manuscript long ago but I keep thinking that I ought to put more documentation with it. Stupid dreams because I can never publish it. Had to sign that paper, you know. Bill has looked at it and thinks it would become a best seller but I am not going to give it to him in spite of what he thinks. Trento would love to lay his hands on it. He wouldn’t publish it, of course, but would run to Langley for that pat on the head and another nice pen set. Joe does love to collect pen sets and get those loving pats on the head.

GD: Could I look at it, Robert?

RTC: Ah….I might consider it but you couldn’t use any of it while I am still kicking. But anyway, this Roswell business…and oh yes, one in Montana about three years later…now the Company had nothing to do with any of this but we did get a copy of an official and very secret report, not because we cared about a spaceship wreck or little green men but because of the methodology used in containing and negating the story. Too many people knew about this so the cover-up had to be through and intense. It was a sort of primer for us. We improved on it, of course, but it was an excellent foundation for other matters.

GD: Such as?

RTC: Now, now, Gregory, one thing at a time. Yes, an excellent primer.

GD: I used to live in Las Cruces which is close by that area and from talking with people down there, it is almost universally believed. I believe a space ship crashed there and the Air Force was involved. The locals are still afraid of the threats they got back in ’47-’48 so I feel that where there is smoke, there must once have been fire.

RTC: What is your understanding of the incident? GD: There was a big thunderstorm then and much lightening and one of the farmers or ranchers found debris all over his landscape. The Air Force people descended on the place and in essence shut everyone up. I was told repeatedly that bodies of aliens were found. Is that in your paper? Make a wonderful story.

RTC: Yes, as I recall, about four dead ones and one living.

GD: Little green men? RTC: As I read it, not green but a sort of grayish green or gray. About four feet in height with no body hair, fewer fingers than ours and large eyes. I mean no question because there are original photographs attached. And the dead ones started rotting right away and the stink was monumental. There were complete autopsies, of course, but not in situ. Flew them out, iced up, for work at Wright.

GD: And the live one? RTC: Died a little later. They were not of this world, Gregory but it was, and is, amazing how they at least resembled humans.

GD: That alone would drive the religious freaks nuts. Human forms from outer space? RTC: Yes and that’s why in the movies you see giant crabs or whatever. Can’t look like us.

GD: Such closed minds. Darwin was basically right and someday, they will discover the so-called missing link that proves him right. Would that get suppressed, do you think? RTC: Depends who is in power in the White House at the time. But let me send the report off to you to evaluate. I personally don’t see this as tabloid news about green men but how the story was contained and essentially countered. The one in Montana was much safer because this one crashed into a mountain, way up, with no busybody farmers and local hicks around to pick up dangerous souvenirs

GD: What was the determination there? RTC: Essentially the same as Roswell. Unworldly metals and other debris, crisped remains of small people…I guess four feet was general…and so on. Again, lightening storms in the area. These things can be detected by a certain form of radar but not by most so there was a fix and that’s how the wreckage was found. The metal in both sites was odd enough. Very light but impossible to bend or even cut into. Equipment containers that were impossible to open or even open. That drove them all crazy because if we could construct aircraft, or even tanks, from such a metal, the advantages would be obvious. No shell could penetrate and the light weight would be a huge advantage in combat. As I understand it, no one could ever figure the composition out.

But again, the methodology…the mixture of threats of death and the cover stories are what this report was mostly about. Of course the press does just as it’s told as do the local police and so on. And no one in the Air Force is going to talk or they’ll end up taking a long walk on a very short pier. Time goes by and everyone but a few forget and that’s the end of it.

GD: Did they have any idea where these things came from? RTC: No, they never did and therein lies another factor. Truman ordered silence, or rather approved the order on it because no one wanted a panic. The Cold War was just starting and they were afraid of the Orson Wells business all over. No, there could be no mass panic. My God, every attention-starved nitwit in the country would chime in with fictional stories about landings in their yard and so on. That no one wanted so rather than stifle any talk about genuine sightings, they rigged thousands of fakes ones until the public thought it was all too funny for words and went back watching baseball games on the idiot box. We took this and refined it. I wrote some suggestions on this and I will attach them for you. Sometimes we can’t cover up some nasty action so the best way to hide it is to magnify it so much and pass it to so many gabbling idiots that the public is quickly bored. I recall the business of people vanishing and that is true so the story goes out about flying saucers landing in cow pastures and kidnapping cows or fake stories about this or that child vanishing, and then his turning up later in a local candy store. A few dozen like this every year gets the public accustomed to disbelieving abduction stories. Or we could throw in a child molester from time to time just to spice up the pot. Hell, we, and the Pentagon, among others, have full-time departments handling fake stories. We leak them to the supermaket press.

GD: Or one of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid rags…

RTC: Yes, Rupert can be so accommodating.  He keeps the trailer park crowd in a state of perpetual excitement. Bread and circuses. Always the same.

GD: Do you know how many actual incidents got investigated? RTC: I know of the two specifically. The one in New Mexico in ’47 and then the Montana one about two years later. I am sure there are more. The Russians had their own problems but they have much better control over the media that we do. They had less running around and creative writing issues.

GD: Nothing hostile?

RTC: Not that I ever heard about. I think just recon trips. That’s the educated guessing. Roswell was near some of our more sensitive A-bomb areas but I can’t figure out Montana.

GD: Maybe they were looking to kidnap some mountain goats for sexual escapades.

RTC: As I recall, they had no sex organs. I think goats would be out.

GD: No organs? How could they reproduce the species? RTC: I don’t think the Pentagon was interested in that question. Maybe they just came out of a big machine somewhere, did their routines and died. I understand that they rotten very quickly and the stink when they did made it really impossible to do effective autopsies.

GD: I had that problem with floaters. Or abdominal cancer. God, what stenches from both. I used to wear a mask soaked in bay rum but I have seen techs puke on the spot. You just have to blot it out. A little like waking up after a drunken party and finding yourself in the sack with a really ugly woman. Never happened to me but did to a friend. A quiet departure. And a quick one too. And the forlorn cries of ‘Oh Honey, where are you going?’ echoing behind him. ‘Why outside to puke, my lovely one” might be an appropriate answer. Later, send her flowers you filched out of a cemetery and a zucchini in remembrance of things past. I don’t think Marcel would like that. I think he liked sailors.

RTC: Who?

GD: Marcel Proust. Wrote a book called that. Well, at this point either the visitations have stopped or the little gray men with no dicks have all gone into Congress. Except those thieves stink before they are dead. Well, send it all on and I promise to read it with interest….

RTC: Yes, and keep quiet indeed.

GD: A given.

(Conclusion at 11:37:AM CST)

Blogging Madness

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

Dr. Melbourne Fong of the dread Hidden Hand has surfaced again. Since many newspapers have stopped carrying a comics section, one is always searching for early morning humor. Here is an example of high good humor from one of the lunatic bloggers:

Eaglenews has just received a packet of documents from our source in Madigascar that reveals the real truth about the disappearance of Flight MH370.

We now know that a special United States killer satellite shot down Flight MH 370 after it disabled all of its communications with a special Tesla energy ray.

This was done so that we could blame the Russians for the deed. Our government, of course, wants to keep all of this a secret so they have paid rival blogs to put out stories about the plane being caught with a Control Beam from Illuminati Central (run by the dread Dr. Melbourne Fong of the Hidden Hand) and forced to land in Iran.

And we have learned that it was planned that all the Chinese citizens on board were subsequently to have been eaten by their Iranian captors.’

Saudi-Iranian spat: Another skirmish in the oil war

January 6, 2016

by Pepe Escobar

RT

Saudi Arabia is a beheading paradise. But this PR nightmare is the least of all problems in an oil crisis. Once again, the heart of the matter is – what else – black gold.

So far, the House of Saud’s whole energy strategy has boiled down to shaving off its oil production no matter what it takes, even issuing bonds to cover its massive deficits.

Now the strategy has been moved one step ahead via a flagrant provocation: the execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

The House of Saud believes that by stoking the flames of a Riyadh-Tehran confrontation it may raise the fear factor in the oil supply sphere, leading to higher oil prices (which it needs), while maintaining the Holy Wahhabi Grail of keeping imminent Iranian oil off the market.

From the beginning, Riyadh bet on the possibility of extra energy-related sanctions on Iran in case Tehran forcefully responded to its beheading provocation. Yet Iranians are too sophisticated to fall for such a crude tap.

Persian Gulf traders have confirmed the 2016 Saudi budget is based on an average crude oil price of only $29 per barrel, as first reported by Jadwa Investment in Riyadh.

From the House of Saud’s budget dilemma perspective, this is absolutely unsustainable. The House of Saud is the biggest OPEC oil exporter. Yet their supreme hubris is to deny Iran any leeway in exports, which will be inevitable especially in the second half of 2016. Moreover, the low oil price strategy doesn’t apply solely to Iran: it’s still part of the oil war against Russia.

Somebody though is not doing the math right in Riyadh. The Saudi low oil price strategy has been punishing Russia – the number two global oil producer – badly. The Saudis cannot possibly expect that their beheading provocation will simultaneously scotch an OPEC-Russia deal on cutting production and also lead to higher oil prices, which would mostly benefit – guess what – Iran and Russia.

Six months to destroy Russia

A case can be made that the House of Saud’s low oil price strategy has been a slow motion Wahhabi hara-kiri from the start (which, by the way, is hardly a bad thing.)

The House of Saud budget has collapsed. Riyadh is financing an unwinnable, mightily expensive war on Yemen, financing and weaponizing all manner of Salafi-jihadists in Syria, and is spending fortunes to prop up al-Sisi in Egypt against any possible Daesh (Islamic State) and/or Muslim Brotherhood offensive. As if this were not enough, internally the succession is a royal mess, with King Salman’s 30-year-old warrior-in-chief, Mohammad bin Salman, stamping his toxic mix of arrogance and incompetence on a daily basis.

Predictably, Riyadh once again is following Washington’s orders.

The United States government is frantically trying to hold the oil price down to destroy the Russian economy, using their proxy Persian Gulf producers who are pumping all out. That amounts to no less than seven million barrels a day over the OPEC quota, according to Persian Gulf traders. The US government believes it can destroy the Russian economy – again – as if the clock had been turned back to 1985, when the global glut was 20 percent of the oil supply and the Soviet Union was bogged down in Afghanistan and internally bleeding to death.

Oil went down to $7.00 a barrel in 1985, and that low figure is where the US government is now trying to drive the price down. Yet today the global glut is less than three percent of the oil supply, not 20 percent as in 1985.

The surplus today is only 2.2 million barrels a day, according to Petroleum Intelligence Weekly. Iran will bring on initially around 600,000 barrels a day of new oil in 2016. That means later this year we will have a 2.8-million potential surplus.

The problem is, according to Persian Gulf traders, an annual oil depletion of seven million barrels a day, and that cannot be replaced with the collapse in drilling. What this means is that all surplus oil could be wiped out in the first or second quarters of 2016. By mid-2016, oil prices should start surging dramatically, even with additional oil from Iran.

So the US government strategy has now metastasized into trying to destroy the Russian economy before the oil price inevitably recovers. That would give the US government a window of opportunity spanning only the next six months.

How this could have been pulled off so far is a testament, once again, to the irresistible force of Wall Street manipulators using cash settlement; they are able to create a crash where there is hardly any surplus oil at all. Yet even as the Empire of Chaos frantically manipulates the oil price down, it may not go down fast enough to destroy the Russian economy.

Even Reuters was forced to admit briefly the oil surplus was less than two million barrels a day, and may even be alarmingly less than a million barrels a day before returning to the usual oil-at-an-all-time-low story. This information on the real oil surplus so far had been completely censored. It confronts head on the hegemonic US narrative of surpluses lasting forever and the imminent collapse of the Russian economy.

As for Saudi Arabia, it’s just a mere pawn in a much nastier game. Common sense now rules that it’s essentially a matter of Black Daesh (the fake “Caliphate”) and White Daesh (the House of Saud). After all, the ideological matrix is the same, beheadings included. It’s the next stage of the oil war that may well decide which Daesh will be the first to fall.

Saudi Arabia’s troubled economy could bring down ruling House of Saud

Economic View: The collapse of the global oil price since the summer of 2014 has destroyed the Kingdom’s public finances

Januarfy 7, 2016

The Independent/UK

The smoke from the Middle Eastern firestorm ignited by Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shia cleric has served to obscure the Kingdom’s economic crisis. On Wednesday, the US Secretary of State John Kerry launched a frenetic round of telephone diplomacy to attempt to persuade leaders in Saudi Arabia and Iran to step back from edge. But in the medium term, it might well be the economic crisis that matters more.

The collapse of the global oil price since the summer of 2014 has destroyed the Kingdom’s public finances – hardly surprising given it relies on oil sales for 90 per cent of state revenues. The Kingdom’s budget deficit for 2015 ballooned to 15 per cent of its GDP.

The IMF estimated last year that Saudi Arabia needs a global oil price of around $106 (£72) a barrel to balance existing levels of expenditure with revenues. On Wednesday the price dipped below $35 a barrel and shows no signs of recovering – with a glut of Iranian supply expected this year after the sanction-lifting deal between Tehran and Western powers.

To cover its deficit, the Kingdom has been selling its stock of foreign exchange. Reserves worth $746bn in August 2014 have now fallen to $646bn. The IMF predicted last year that it would run out of foreign exchange reserves in just five years.

The Kingdom has finally taken corrective action. Last year it issued debt for first time and in December it unveiled an “austerity” budget. But austerity is a relative concept; Saudi citizens pay no income tax. Petrol and energy are dirt cheap, thanks to state subsidies. The Saudi government’s savings were dominated by cuts in planned building projects.

Many argue high welfare spending is needed to keep a lid on tribal dissent. Saudi also has a potential generational powder keg to worry about. Youth unemployment is high, with almost a third of 15 to 24-year-olds out of work. And with almost half of Saudi’s 31 million population under 24, the potential for unrest if living standards are squeezed is obvious.

Amid the cuts, defence spending been protected. It has been growing strongly ever since the 2011 Arab uprisings as Saudi anxiety over rising Iranian influence in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen has grown.

The currency is the most exposed financial pressure point. Some warn that the Saudi riyal’s three-decade-old peg with the US dollar will come under unbearable pressure if it continues to lose foreign exchange reserves at the current rate. Other oil producers such as Azerbaijan and Russia have had to abandon their pegs since the oil price collapse. Traders have been selling the Saudi currency short in expectation of a rupture.

There are doubts over economic strategy too, with rumours of a government rift over the long-standing policy of maintaining the Kingdom’s oil production to keep the oil price low and to push high-cost American shale oil producers out of business. The policy is unpopular with Sunni allies in Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE.

There is uncertainty about who is calling the shots – and where things are going. The veteran head of the oil ministry, Ali Al-Naimi, is due to retire. He is a technocrat, not a Saudi royal family member. But there is chatter that he could be succeeded by Abdulaziz bin Salman, one of King Salman’s sons – whose brother, Mohamed bin Salman, 30, is already seen as the real power in the Kingdom.

You might see oil markets getting worried that ruling family politics could start to impinge on oil decisions,” argues Jane Kinninmont of the Chatham House think tank. “What is it that keeps their relations with the US on such a harmonious basis? It’s the perception that they are responsible players in the international oil market – that they’re not going to go back to the 1970s and use oil as a weapon.”

Losing US support would be an economic catastrophe – one that could consume the House of Saud

One Map That Explains the Dangerous Saudi-Iranian Conflict

January. 6 2016

by Jon Schwarz

The Intercept

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia executed Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday. Hours later, Iranian protestors set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

On Sunday, the Saudi government, which considers itself the guardian of Sunni Islam, cut diplomatic ties with Iran, which is a Shiite Muslim theocracy.To explain what’s going on, the New York Times provided a primer on the difference between Sunni and Shiite Islam, informing us that “a schism emerged after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632” – i.e., 1383 years ago.

But to the degree that the current crisis has anything to do with religion, it’s much less about whether Abu Bakr or Ali were Muhammad’s rightful successor and much more about who’s going to control something more concrete right now: oil.

In fact, much of the conflict can be explained by a fascinating map created by M.R. Izady, a cartographer and adjunct master professor at the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School/Joint Special Operations University in Florida.

What the map shows is that, due to a peculiar correlation of religious history and anaerobic decomposition of plankton, almost all the Persian Gulf’s fossil fuels are located underneath Shiites.

This is true even in Sunni Saudi Arabia, where the major oil fields are in the Eastern Province, which has a majority Shiite population.

As a result, one of the Saudi royal family’s deepest fears is that one day Saudi Shiites will secede, with their oil, and ally with Shiite Iran.This fear has only grown since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq overturned Saddam Hussein’s minority Sunni regime, and empowered the pro-Iranian Shiite majority.

Nimr himself said in 2009 that Saudi Shiites would call for secession if the Saudi government didn’t improve its treatment of them.As Izady’s map so strikingly demonstrates, essentially all of the Saudi oil wealth is located in a small sliver of its territory whose occupants are predominantly Shiite. (Nimr, for instance, lived in Awamiyya, in the heart of the Saudi oil region just northwest of Bahrain.)

If this section of eastern Saudi Arabia were to break away, the Saudi royals would just be some broke 80-year-olds with nothing left but a lot of beard dye and Viagra prescriptions.

Nimr’s execution can be partly explained by the Saudis’ desperation to stamp out any sign of independent thinking among the country’s Shiites.The same tension explains why Saudi Arabia helped Bahrain, an oil-rich, majority-Shiite country ruled by a Sunni monarchy, crush its version of the Arab Spring in 2011.

Similar calculations were behind George H.W. Bush’s decision to stand by while Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons in 1991 to put down an insurrection by Iraqi Shiites at the end of the Gulf War.

As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman explained at the time, Saddam had “held Iraq together, much to the satisfaction of the American allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Of course, it’s too simple to say that everything happening between Saudis and Iranians can be traced back to oil. Disdain and even hate for Shiites seems to be part of the DNA of Saudi Arabia’s peculiarly sectarian and belligerent version of Islam.

In 1802, 136 years before oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia, the ideological predecessors to the modern Saudi state sacked Karbala, a city now in present day Iraq and holy to Shiites.

The attackers massacred thousands and plundered the tomb of Husayn ibn Ali, one of the most important figures in Shiite Islam.Without fossil fuels, however, this sectarianism toward Shiites would likely be less intense today. And it would definitely be less well-financed.

Winston Churchill once described Iran’s oil – which the U.K. was busy stealing at the time — as “a prize from fairyland far beyond our brightest hopes.”Churchill was right, but didn’t realize that this was the kind of fairytale whose treasures carry a terrible curse.Reporter Murtaza Hussein contributed to this article.

For a Return to Normalcy: How imperialism distorts everything

January 6, 2016

by Justin Raimondo

AntiWar

I had someone comment to me on Twitter to the effect of “Why don’t you stick to foreign policy?” It came from someone who disagreed with my piece on the Oregon stand off, a reader of this site who is apparently sympathetic to my anti-interventionist views but doesn’t get it when I apply the same principles to the American scene. There were also more than a few remarks in the comments section of that piece reflecting the same cluelessness: what does any of this have to do with Antiwar.com’s mission of abolishing the Empire?

Let’s start with the basics. In a normal country, it is entirely possible to separate domestic policy from foreign policy – because the latter is strictly limited to the goal of protecting its citizens from foreign invasion, which means, in large part, protecting the territorial integrity of the nation, i.e. its borders. But the United States isn’t a normal country. We haven’t been a normal country since World War II.

One could even go back farther and date our descent into abnormality to the end of the nineteenth century, when William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt first succumbed to the temptations of empire. The conquest of the Philippines, the subjugation of Cuba and Puerto Rico, and American incursions into Central and South America were driven by domestic factors: the investment bankers who successfully utilized the US military as their enforcers, the economic and political interests that fueled the influence of Alfred Thayer Mahan’s doctrine of naval supremacy, and the millenarian spirit of the post-millennial pietism that energized the progressive movement of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Although there was a brief respite in the interval between the two world wars, these domestic factors fueled the drive to establish the US as a global power, a world empire that would take the place of Britain as the alleged guarantor of “world order.” As a corollary to and in tandem with this we saw the rise on the home front of the American corporate state, the advent of crony capitalism, and the concomitant centralization of political authority and economic power. Imperialism and statism interacted symbiotically: the triumph of bigness at home created a dynamic that reinforced and celebrated gigantism abroad, especially the gigantism of ambition that imbued our leaders with a messianic certainty that they could solve the world’s problems. Woodrow Wilson’s crusade to “make the world safe for democracy” led us into the bloody slaughter of the Great War, which destroyed European civilization at the apex of its cultural flowering – and set the stage for an even greater slaughter to come.

Emerging from the Great War economically drained and spiritually disillusioned, the nation turned to Warren G. Harding, a Republican, for respite. Harding had campaigned for President promising a “return to normalcy,” and while the pundits criticized him for his supposed grammatical illiteracy, his rhetoric had a powerful effect on a citizenry exhausted by the war cries of the crisis-mongers:

America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality.”

Although derided by modern historians, who favor more dramatic figures such as the warmonger FDR, the crusading Wilson, and the authoritarian Lincoln, Harding presided over a period of peace and prosperity. He repaired our relations with Latin America, where Wilson’s promiscuous interventions had alienated the natives, cut military spending, beat back the naval lobby, and energetically pursued disarmament initiatives. He rejected the meddlesome ambitions of the League of Nations, and kept the US focused on solving its problems on the home front rather than trying to export “democracy” to the farthest darkest corners of the globe.

His successor, Calvin Coolidge – another chief executive hated by liberal-left historians – pursued a similar policy of avoiding entanglements in overseas conflicts while cutting the power and scope of the federal government. It was under Herbert Hoover, however, that this post-Wilsonian interregnum began to unravel.

As Murray Rothbard pointed out in America’s Great Depression, it was Hoover who constructed the policy template later expanded by Franklin Roosevelt into the alphabet soup bureaucratization of the American economy. Hoover’s policies exacerbated a recession which morphed into a full-scale downturn, thus paving the way for the New Deal – and FDR’s march to war.

The ascension of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to four terms of the presidency marks the passing of our old republic and its replacement by an empire, a centralized state that seeks to expand its influence on every continent and into every American household. It meant the end of normalcy, the return of the eternal “crisis” that empowered Washington to act in the name of meeting the “emergency” – and from that day until the present, the “crisis” has been perpetual.

The economic “emergency” required that we surrender the very concept of economic freedom, the foreign “crisis” meant we had to mobilize the nation, impose conscription, institute rationing, and turn industry over to the cartels. The social and economic life of the country was militarized, and dissent was crushed, along with the Constitution: hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans were interned, antiwar activists were prosecuted for “sedition,” and the Supreme Court itself was besieged by the enemies of liberty.

As the country stepped out on the world stage, it was a changed America that made its bid for empire. The forms of the old republic remained, but they were a dry husk ready to be discarded. The new “crisis” was the cold war, a face-off with our former ally, the Soviet Union, that inspired conservative leader William F. Buckley, Jr., to abandon the traditionalist stance on behalf of constitutionalism and embrace the Leviathan. In 1952 he wrote that the alleged threat posed by the ramshackle Russian empire required conservatives to endorse “the extensive and productive tax laws that are needed to support a vigorous anti-Communist foreign policy” because the “thus far invincible aggressiveness of the Soviet Union imminently threatens U.S. security,” and that therefore

“[W]e have got to accept Big Government for the duration – for neither an offensive nor a defensive war can be waged … except through the instrumentality of a totalitarian bureaucracy within our shores.”

This meant: “large armies and air forces, atomic energy, central intelligence, war production boards and the attendant centralization of power in Washington – even with Truman at the reins of it all.”

The culture of crisis not only subverted the economic order, but also distorted the political culture, aborting the development of an effective conservative opposition that could stand up to the collectivist juggernaught pounding away at the last remnants of the constitutional order. The Buckleyized conservative movement, castrated at birth, could not reproduce the principled passion of its pre-New Deal forebears, only managing a seldom effective holding action not quite up to “standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop!’”

And so it came to be that the Empire lorded over us all, invading the Middle East at the turn of the twenty-first century just as Teddy Roosevelt, the first of the empire-builders, had invaded the American West on behalf of the federal government, annexing practically all of Nevada, half of Utah, Oregon, California, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Arizona, and at least thirty percent of Montana and Colorado. And, by the way, creating the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, where today a brave band of dissenters are engaging in an act of civil disobedience against the depredations of the Empire.

An Empire, I would remind you, that slaughters foreigners and Americans with equal impunity, restrained only by the domestic political consequences of its murderous proclivities.

America hasn’t been a normal country since December 7, 1941, when Franklin Roosevelt finally succeeded in provoking the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor. What is needed now is a return to normalcy, a rejection of the “generational conflict” that is the “war on terrorism” – and the kind of leadership capable of overthrowing the culture of perpetual crisis that has dominated our politics for seventy-five years.

 

Saudi Arabia’s troubled economy could bring down ruling House of Saud

Economic View: The collapse of the global oil price since the summer of 2014 has destroyed the Kingdom’s public finances

January 7, 2016

by Ben Chu

The Independent/UK

The smoke from the Middle Eastern firestorm ignited by Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shia cleric has served to obscure the Kingdom’s economic crisis. On Wednesday, the US Secretary of State John Kerry launched a frenetic round of telephone diplomacy to attempt to persuade leaders in Saudi Arabia and Iran to step back from edge. But in the medium term, it might well be the economic crisis that matters more.

The collapse of the global oil price since the summer of 2014 has destroyed the Kingdom’s public finances – hardly surprising given it relies on oil sales for 90 per cent of state revenues. The Kingdom’s budget deficit for 2015 ballooned to 15 per cent of its GDP.

The IMF estimated last year that Saudi Arabia needs a global oil price of around $106 (£72) a barrel to balance existing levels of expenditure with revenues. On Wednesday the price dipped below $35 a barrel and shows no signs of recovering – with a glut of Iranian supply expected this year after the sanction-lifting deal between Tehran and Western powers.

To cover its deficit, the Kingdom has been selling its stock of foreign exchange. Reserves worth $746bn in August 2014 have now fallen to $646bn. The IMF predicted last year that it would run out of foreign exchange reserves in just five years.

The Kingdom has finally taken corrective action. Last year it issued debt for first time and in December it unveiled an “austerity” budget. But austerity is a relative concept; Saudi citizens pay no income tax. Petrol and energy are dirt cheap, thanks to state subsidies. The Saudi government’s savings were dominated by cuts in planned building projects.

Many argue high welfare spending is needed to keep a lid on tribal dissent. Saudi also has a potential generational powder keg to worry about. Youth unemployment is high, with almost a third of 15 to 24-year-olds out of work. And with almost half of Saudi’s 31 million population under 24, the potential for unrest if living standards are squeezed is obvious.

Amid the cuts, defence spending been protected. It has been growing strongly ever since the 2011 Arab uprisings as Saudi anxiety over rising Iranian influence in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen has grown.

The currency is the most exposed financial pressure point. Some warn that the Saudi riyal’s three-decade-old peg with the US dollar will come under unbearable pressure if it continues to lose foreign exchange reserves at the current rate. Other oil producers such as Azerbaijan and Russia have had to abandon their pegs since the oil price collapse. Traders have been selling the Saudi currency short in expectation of a rupture.

There are doubts over economic strategy too, with rumours of a government rift over the long-standing policy of maintaining the Kingdom’s oil production to keep the oil price low and to push high-cost American shale oil producers out of business. The policy is unpopular with Sunni allies in Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE.

There is uncertainty about who is calling the shots – and where things are going. The veteran head of the oil ministry, Ali Al-Naimi, is due to retire. He is a technocrat, not a Saudi royal family member. But there is chatter that he could be succeeded by Abdulaziz bin Salman, one of King Salman’s sons – whose brother, Mohamed bin Salman, 30, is already seen as the real power in the Kingdom.

You might see oil markets getting worried that ruling family politics could start to impinge on oil decisions,” argues Jane Kinninmont of the Chatham House think tank. “What is it that keeps their relations with the US on such a harmonious basis? It’s the perception that they are responsible players in the international oil market – that they’re not going to go back to the 1970s and use oil as a weapon.”

Losing US support would be an economic catastrophe – one that could consume the House of Saud.

 

Oregon residents say it’s time for the militia to pack it up and go

For days Ammon Bundy and his band of armed militia have laid claim to the federal land by arguing they have the community’s support, but not anymore

January 7, 2016

byJohn M Glionna in Burns, Oregon

The Guardian

The local sheriff policing the occupation of a wildlife refuge in Oregon said he has received numerous death threats since armed militia took over the remote government outpost over the weekend.

Harney County sheriff David Ward told local residents on Wednesday that his wife had left town for her safety after strangers followed her home one night and someone slit her car tire. He said he had received anonymous letters with numerous misspellings that included death threats.

Worst still, the sheriff said, strangers had come to town to harass his elderly parents.

Mom and Dad, stand up,” he said at the packed meeting. He introduced his parents, saying they were both in their 70s with heart issues and pacemakers and that they were scared. “You can’t just come into our community and intimidate our elderly,” Ward said to a round of applause.

For days Ammon Bundy and his band of armed militia have laid claim to the federal land by arguing they have the support of the nearby community.

Yet that claim received a formidable rebuke on Wednesday night when, one by one, residents of Oregon’s rural Harney County stood before a microphone at the county fairgrounds to denounce the occupation on their doorstep.

Some 500 working-class men and women who packed into the memorial hall expressed an overwhelming consensus. It’s time, they said, for Bundy and his anti-government rabble-rousers to pack up and go home.

This county is a united family and we don’t need people to come here from someplace else and tell us how to live our lives,” Ward said to a standing ovation.

The meeting was a collective response from a community who for weeks has endured the presence of out-of-state militia members who arrived to show support for two ranchers they believe had been unjustly convicted of arson.

Then, this weekend, following a rally for two jailed local ranchers, father and son Dwight and Steven Hammond, two-dozen militia discreetly took over a scattering of buildings at the nearby Malheur national wildlife refuge, refusing to leave until federal authorities accede to a list of demands that includes releasing the ranchers and relinquishing control of Oregon’s open country to state and local interests.

On Wednesday evening, Ward received a throaty standing ovation from residents who over-packed the meeting hall built for a capacity of 400. His voice often breaking with emotion, Ward told his friends, neighbors and constituents the twin towns of Burns and Hines, located closest to the occupied U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge, were under siege.

For an hour before the meeting started, county residents poured into the meeting hall. One man said he’d never before seen so many people there, even during the popular county fair.

One woman turned from her seat to survey the crowd: “I think the whole town is here.” The meeting began only after men removed their farm hats and Stetsons to recite the Lord’s Prayer.

Another man said he estimated the standing-room-only crowd to be well over 500 people. “At least that many,” said retiree Jim Campbell. “As a guy who counts sheep, I know. You just got to clump them in groups.”

Rich Mingus and his wife Deborah were one of the first to arrive. Mingus, 66, a nomadic helicopter fueling technician for the U.S. Forest Service, admitted that he shared some of the frustrations with an overbearing federal government voiced by the militia.

Mingus, who sat holding Deborah’s hand, said he had to leave his wife at home and travel the country to find work. He’d rather stay right here in southern Oregon, but there aren’t enough jobs – because the U.S. government won’t let state residents log their forests or harvest the land around them, he says.

Those Bundys had some good points, but they went about them the wrong way,” he said. “Our government hasn’t been listening to us rural people for a long time – we all know that.”

He said Harney County, the state’s biggest, should be better off. “We’re not getting any of the money,” he added.

You need to talk to the environmentalists about that,” his wife added.

But both are afraid now – over the specter of violence that has happened in similar armed standoffs between militia-types and federal law enforcement in the past.

These Bundys have put fear in our community,” Deborah says. “All it takes is one crazy … ” Her husband finished her sentence: “ … to light it up.”.

In a rambling speech, Ward told the audience that he wanted the outsiders to go home and let the country solve its own problems.

One gray-haired man in a white Stetson stood up.

Sheriff, why don’t you go out there tomorrow morning and tell those people that,” he said as the crowd applauded. “If you want, I’ll go out there with ya.”

Then local resident Mitch Stegner stood before the microphone to surface an alternative view.

He said he had been out to the protest site and that the men and women there were polite. He invited others to go there as well.

The Bundys, Stegner said, had given Harney County the best gift it has ever received.

Whether you agree with them or not, those Bundys have given us our biggest and best platform to get our message to the federal government that they have to pay attention to us.”

There was murmur passed through the room as residents considered the point. Some of them seemed to agree.

Not long after, the sherif took a straw poll. “How many people want these people to leave?” he asked.

The response was almost unanimous. “Go home!” many people shouted. From the back, however, there was the voice of dissent. “Let ’em stay!”

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