TBR News July 26, 2017

Jul 26 2017


The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., July 26, 2017:” An actual posting on Ebay!


2010 HER or the CAR?

Your Choice…

But The Car is Better Looking & A Whole Lot Cheaper!


2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS
As much as this car & my wife are loved and will be missed. I am forced to part with both, So my loss is your gain here. The car has less than 10,000 miles on it, her- a little more-just saying. The car has never seen snow, she can be as cold as ice. The car was garage stored when not in use, she is making me move out to the garage. This car has extraordinary acceleration with the 6.2L V8, superior handling, excellent value, head-turning looks, unique interior design, great fuel economy, and a throaty boasting exhaust, which beats a bitchy mouth any day.



Lets Compare Spec’s

2010 Chevrolet Camaro Soon To Be Ex-Wife
Muscle Car Pretentious Witch
SS Model Snob Model
High Performance Motor Motor Mouth Low performance brain
Extraordinary Acceleration Wants Reparations
6.2L LS3 V8 producing 426 hp @ 5900 rpm 36 27 39 @ 5”8’
Produces 420 lb·ft at 4600 rpm Produced My Kids
6-Speed Manual Transmission 1-Speed… Slow
Active Fuel Management Active Micro Management
Independent Four-Wheel Suspension System Fully Dependant Decision Making System
StabiliTrak electronic stability/traction control Unstable & No Control
Competitive/Sport modes Vindictive Modus Operandi
Launch Control Launches argument at every opportunity
6 Standard Air Bags Mother In Law Windbag
RS Appearance Package Gave Up on Appearance
RS-Specific Taillamps and Wheels used rear end needs clearence lights
Spoiler Spoiled
HID Headlamps with Integrated Halo Rings Devil Horns Glowing red eyes and sags in all the wrong places
Variable-Rate Power Steering Variable-Rate Bitch Mode
Throaty Exhaust Throating Nothing Ever
Precision Handling Loose on entry
Under 10k Miles Over 10k Miles
Supercar Performance Winning Drama Performance
Neon Trim Lighting Color Matched To Interior Carpet does not match the drapes
16 cty/24 hwy mpg 2 hours between Tim Hortons
Rally Stripe package in inferno orange Baby Stripe package-in Stretch Mark White
Competitive/Sport modes Passive/Aggressive Modes
Brembo Four Piston Disc Brake Systems Doesn’t Know when To Stop
Two Tone Leather Interior To Tan Leather Exterior
Never had any problems Too Many to list
Full Onboard Diagnostic System OBD-II Unable to Diagnose Problem
Rack and Pinion Steering Armpit Rack


Table of Contents

  • America’s Militarized Police
  • Trump slams Attorney General Sessions, FBI in latest tweets
  • If Trump wants to fire Jeff Sessions, let him – it would be a gift to America 
  • Obamacare: First Republican healthcare bill fails in US Senate
  • Palestinians reject new Israeli security measures at Jerusalem holy site
  • The Hidden Costs of “National Security”
  • Conversations with the Crow
  • ‘America 1st doesn’t mean Europe last’ – EU lashes out at US sanctions against Russia
  • Russia, EU bristle at proposed new U.S. sanctions on Moscow, warn of action
  • Interview with Michael Bloomberg:’We Should Help’ Donald Trump


 America’s Militarized Police

Made in Israel?

July 25, 2017

by Philip Giraldi

The Unz Review

The horrific execution by police of an Australian woman in her pajamas that took place last week in Minneapolis has again produced a torrent of criticism over killings initiated by law enforcement in situations in which the officers are in no way threatened. America has always been a violent place relative to much of the rest of the world, but even so there has been a noticeable shift in how, since the trauma of 9/11, some policemen believe themselves to be superior to and detached from the society they are supposed to be protecting. And the public is reciprocating, seeing the police frequently as a force that is no longer there to serve the people and instead something that should be feared. Even in the upper middle class predominantly white county that I live in, residents not infrequently discuss the increasingly visible and aggressive police presence. It is widely believed that arguing with cops or showing even the slightest attitude in contacts with them is done at one’s peril.

Even in low crime parts of the country, the police are able to deploy fully armed and equipped swat teams that are more military than civilian in their threatening demeanor as well in the body armor and weapons they carry. Many cities and counties now have surplus military armored vans for crowd control even if they have no crowds. Armed drones are increasingly becoming part of the law enforcement arsenal and it sometimes appears as if the police are copying the military as a model of “how to do it.”

The various levels of government that make up the United States seem to be preparing for some kind of insurrection, which may indeed be the case somewhere down the road if the frustrations of the public are not somehow dealt with. But there is another factor that has, in my opinion, become a key element in the militarization of the police in the United States. That would be the role of the security organs of the state of Israel in training American cops, a lucrative business that has developed since 9/11 and which inter alia gives the “students” a whole different perspective on the connection of the police with those who are being policed, making the relationship much more one of an occupier and the occupied.

The engagement of American police forces with Israeli security services began modestly enough in the wake of 9/11. The panic response in the United States to a major terrorist act led to a search for resources to confront what was perceived as a new type of threat that normal law-and-order training did not address.

Israel, which, in its current occupation of much of Palestine and the Golan Heights as well as former stints in Gaza, southern Lebanon and Sinai, admittedly has considerable experience in dealing with the resistance to its expansion manifested as what it describes as terrorism. Jewish organizations in the United States dedicated to providing cover for Israeli’s bad behavior, saw an opportunity to get their hooks into a sizable and respected community within the U.S. that was ripe for conversion to the Israeli point of view, so they began funding “exchanges.”

Since 2002 there have been hundreds of all-expenses-paid trips including officers from every major American city as well as state and local police departments. Some have been sponsored by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has also been directly funding trips since 2008, explaining that “As a people living under constant threat of attack, the Israelis are leading experts in security enforcement and response strategies.” The intent? To “learn” and “draw from the latest developments” so the American cops can “bring these methods back home to implement in their communities.”

AIPAC has several pages in its website dedicated to security cooperation between the two countries. It asks “Did you know? In May 2010, 50 retired Generals and Admirals wrote to President Obama, highlighting the value of U.S. Israeli cooperation.” It goes on to cite an Alabama sheriff who enthuses that “There is no other country [Israel] that shares the same values and overarching goal to allow others to live in peace.” Regarding airport security, it also quotes a U.S. “security expert” who states “We should move even closer to an Israeli model where there’s more engagement with passengers…We’ve just stated to do that at TSA…” Indeed. That’s called profiling and pre-boarding interrogations.

Even the federal government has gotten onto the Israel bandwagon, perhaps not a surprise given the number of Israel Firsters in Congress. In 2003, the Department of Homeland Security established a special Office of International Affairs to “institutionalize the relationship between Israeli and American security officials.” The New York City Police Department has a branch in Israel and carries out frequent exchanges.

It should be noted from the git-go that Israel is no more knowledgeable about possible responses to acts of terror than is anyone else. The techniques employed to create physical barriers, to develop sources for intelligence gathering, and to train in tactical responses are quite familiar to anyone who has studied modern-style terrorism since it emerged in Western Europe in the 1970s.

Most countries that have a high or even moderate risk level deriving from terrorists, either domestic or foreign, have recruited and trained special police and paramilitary forces that are familiar with the basic techniques and are quite capable of responding. Ironically, even though the United States government and local police forces have tended to look at the “real pro” Israelis for guidance, state of the art resources for learning about how to deal with terror are available right here at home. JSOC has teams that are every bit as effective – and lethal – as anything the Israelis can muster and the CIA and FBI together know far more about terrorists and how they behave than do the ideologically driven Mossad and Shin Beth.

The American policemen who go on the “exchanges” are probably only dimly aware that what they are being shown is part of Israel’s military justice system, which has nothing to do with Israeli criminals, but instead is designed to keep the lid on the millions of Palestinians who live in what has become a virtual outdoor prison camp. It is an apartheid police state that uses deadly force as a form of crowd control. And the Palestinian former residents of the lands Israel now holds are the “terrorists” that Israel is protecting itself against.

You can bet that the American guests for their part clearly do not realize that they are being trained as prison guards and you also can be sure that they never catch so much as a glimpse of the 300 child prisoners that Israel continues to hold without charges.

Israel’s reputation for “dealing with” terrorism has in any event been glamorized by the Israel-friendly media and entertainment industry while also being promoted by Jewish organizations. It has meant in practical terms that many of the contract security firms operating at airports in the United States and Europe are Israeli. They have also infiltrated state Homeland Security agencies and corporate security in the U.S. Many of the Israeli companies with offices in the United States work closely with Mossad and might reasonably be considered arms of the Israeli government.

Where Israel really excels is in its willingness to kill large numbers of Arabs of all ages and genders using the excuse that they are terrorists. It does so with impunity because Israeli courts almost never hold the army and police accountable for whatever they do. It might reasonably be suggested that when American police officers go through their training in Israel they acquire at least a bit of that attitude from their instructors.

Recognizing that Israel is not exactly a model to be emulated when it comes to the human rights of its Palestinian victims, there is alternative viewpoint which suggests that American law enforcement might just be learning the wrong things when it travels to Israel. Amnesty International asks “With Whom are Many U.S. Police Departments Training? With Chronic Human Rights Violator Israel.” It notes that last August when the Department of Justice documented numerous violations by the Baltimore Police Department the report failed to mention that policemen from that city had received training in Israel.

Amnesty makes clear what we are dealing with when our policemen are being trained – “…military, security and police systems that have racked up documented human rights violations for years…carrying out extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, using ill treatment and torture (even against children). Suppression of freedom of expressions/association, including through government surveillance, and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.”

And actually, it is worse than that. The American visitors will be welcomed to contemplate the Potemkin village miracle of a democratic, multicultural, inclusive, clever Israel. They will not be allowed to see how the soldiers training them, representatives of “the most moral army in the world,” force Palestinian women to give birth at military checkpoints and watch their babies die, shoot Palestinian teenagers as they are running away for throwing stones, drag men and women out of their beds and kill them while terrorizing their children and dragging them off to jail during midnight raids.

Amnesty’s article documents many of the abuses by Israeli security forces and concludes that using “Public or private funds spent to train our domestic police in Israel should concern all of us. Many of the abuses [in the U.S.] parallel violations by Israeli military, security and police officials.” I would also add that the training provided by JINSA, ADL and the AJC is also partly on the American taxpayers’ dime as the organizations are all tax exempt.

Finally, Israel’s ability to market its state sponsored brutality has even become a form of light entertainment. A company in Israel called Caliber 3 that was set up by a reserve colonel in the Israeli army is offering what has been described as a two hour “boot camp” counter-terrorism experience. It includes a life size target consisting of a man in Arab attire holding a cell phoneThe mostly Jewish American audience ponders if he should be shot, but the instructors eventually intervene and declare that he does not quite meet the standard for being killed. Visitors are also treated to simulations of Israeli commandos taking down terrorists and can even shoot live rounds from a semi-automatic weapon at a firing range. Ironically, the Caliber 3 gated compound camp is located in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc on the West Bank, land that was stolen from the Palestinians.


Trump slams Attorney General Sessions, FBI in latest tweets

July 26, 2017


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday struck out at Jeff Sessions in a fresh round of tweets, criticizing the U.S. attorney general for keeping the acting FBI director and renewing accusations about past investigations of his former presidential rival, Hillary Clinton.

“Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got … big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!” Trump wrote in a pair of tweets referring to former FBI Director James Comey, whom he later fired.

McCabe’s wife ran for a seat in Virginia’s state senate and received campaign donation funds from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton ally.

Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe



If Trump wants to fire Jeff Sessions, let him – it would be a gift to America 

Far from opening the door to a more loathsome attorney general, Sessions’ dismissal would probably mean more headaches for Trump – and relief from persecution for millions

July 26, 2017

by Trevor Timm

The Guardian

Donald Trump has spent the past few days publicly throwing his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, under a bus, apparently furious that Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation shortly after he was confirmed for the job.

As a result, everyone is speculating that Trump is trying to force Sessions to resign, or will eventually fire him directly if Sessions does not act himself. Strangely, many Democrats seem to be worried that Trump will actually pull the trigger, when they should be welcoming this development with open arms. Sessions leaving the justice department would be a gift to the American public on multiple levels.

The argument for Sessions remaining in office centers on the fact that Trump could attempt to install a new attorney general who would have a free hand to fire the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and thwart the Russia investigation. But this argument is both wrong and short-sighted.

Trump probably has other avenues to get rid of Mueller that don’t necessarily require a new attorney general, as the former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal wrote in May. They would be politically risky, but that has not stopped Trump before. In addition, since Trump has absolutely no qualms about violating norms of the presidency, he could also pardon those who are under investigation and undercut the criminal element of Mueller’s mandate anyway.

But even if that weren’t the case, viewing Sessions solely through the lens of the Russia investigation is an insult to the countless Americans who will suffer under Sessions’ extremist reign as attorney general.

Think about all the abhorrent policies Sessions has already put into motion in his five short months at the helm. He has provided legal backing for Trump’s extreme immigrations policies. He has argued that authorities can keep grandparents apart from their family when enforcing Trump’s controversial travel ban. He is laying the groundwork to crack down on the millions of people who use recreational marijuana in states where it is now legal. He has planned a crackdown on leakers and whistleblowers, while also refusing to rule out prosecuting news organizations directly for doing their job.

He plans on essentially dismantling the vital civil rights division at the justice department and giving local police officers a free hand to continue to discriminate against African Americans. He wants to reverse the Obama-era policy on mandatory minimum sentences and press for still longer terms, whose impact is so extreme they are rightly seen as racist. Sessions has rejected scientific findings about improving the forensic evidence process that has led to countless innocent people being thrown in prison. The list goes on.

Sessions is exerting more power over millions of Americans than any other Trump cabinet member and is an unmitigated disaster for civil rights, civil liberties and criminal justice reform. If Trump wants to fire him, then good!

Now I’m sure people will argue: “But what if the person who replaces Sessions is worse?” It’s hard to imagine how anyone could do more damage in that position than Sessions. This is not the same situation as that of James Comey: Comey was problematic but the prospect of having an FBI director who could politicize the agency even more was very probable. Sessions is the worst of the worst on a dozen or more issues – which is why so many progressive groups were vehement in their opposition to him in the first place.

Furthermore, if Sessions is forced out, it will probably, at minimum, gum up the works for months and forestall the justice department from implementing any more of the reactionary policies that Sessions is known for. Trump is going to have a significant problem getting an attorney general confirmed at all after he fires Sessions. Even Republicans, as shameless as they are on pretty much all other issues, will probably be forced to require the next attorney general make assurances about Mueller and the Russia investigation – especially since Sessions was their colleague for two decades and they may be insulted by how Trump has treated him.

And if Trump can’t get an attorney general through the Senate confirmation process, Democrats can block a recess appointment, just as Republicans did during the Obama administration for a host of nominees. This could leave a temporary justice department official in charge of the agency in the interim, which could mitigate a lot of the more extreme policy changes that Sessions has already started.

On top of all this, if firing Sessions is seen by Mueller and Congress as another move by Trump that could be viewed as obstruction of justice, it only strengthens the case against him if impeachment is ever on the table.

Sessions leaving office leads to the best of all worlds: a uniquely horrible Trump cabinet official who is making life miserable for millions of Americans is gone; it will be incredibly tough for Trump to get a new attorney general confirmed; he won’t be able to make a recess appointment; and it might further the obstruction of justice case against him.

Far from warning Trump, Democrats should be trying to goad him into firing Sessions.


Obamacare: First Republican healthcare bill fails in US Senate

July 26, 2017

BBC News

The US Senate has rejected a Republican plan to replace President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare policy.

The 57-43 vote defeat marks the start of a days-long debate on a sweeping overhaul that critics fear could deny healthcare to millions of Americans.

The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BRCA) was crafted over two months but attention now turns to other options.

President Donald Trump has urged senators to pass a bill, without indicating which one he supports.

A repeal-only bill, which would consign so-called Obamacare to history in two years, to give time to Republicans to devise a replacement, could be debated and voted on next.

But that measure – which non-partisan analysts say will take health insurance from more than 30 million people – has already failed to win enough support in the Republican party.

Other attempts to replace Obamacare have collapsed in recent weeks due to divisions in the party.

President Trump had made scrapping the policy a key campaign pledge. He says the system is “torturing” Americans.

He secured a victory on Tuesday when the Senate agreed to allow the debate on health care legislation reform to go forward, but only after Republican Vice-President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote in support of the bill.

Senator John McCain, who was recently diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour, received a standing ovation as he returned to Congress to cast his “Yes” vote.

President Trump tweeted his thanks to the Arizona senator for playing “such a vital role” in the vote.

But in an early morning tweet on Wednesday, Mr Trump lambasted Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska for opposing the Republican plan.

What bills could come forward?

The key repeal-and-replace bill, the BCRA, has fallen by the wayside.

Next could be a repeal-only bill with a two-year delay, in the hope of finding agreement before that time elapses.

But senators will also consider a “skinny bill”, a far narrower measure that would scale back some of the more controversial elements in an effort to get a wider consensus.

A special Senate-House of Representatives committee would then be tasked with finalising a bill that could still see changes during negotiations.

If successful, the full House and Senate would again have to approve the measure.

US Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told CNBC on Wednesday that Senate Republicans should aim for the “lowest common denominator” to secure the 50 votes need to pass a bill.

What have Republicans proposed?

Republicans have long railed against Obamacare as government overreach, criticising the system for introducing government-run marketplaces, where premiums have risen sharply for some people.

The party’s proposed alternative includes steep cuts to Medicaid, a healthcare programme for the poor and disabled.

And it removes Obamacare’s individual mandate requiring all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

About 20 million people gained health insurance under former President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

The non-partisan Congressional Budgetary Office (CBO) found the bill would strip 22 million Americans of health insurance over the next decade.

If Republican senators elect to repeal key provisions of the law without immediately replacing it, the CBO estimates about 32 million consumers would lose insurance over the next 10 years.


Palestinians reject new Israeli security measures at Jerusalem holy site

Israel has removed metal detectors at the al-Aqsa Mosque, but Palestinians are still unhappy with the new security measures. The Jerusalem Muslim community has continued to boycott the site.

July 26, 2017


Leaders of the Jerusalem Muslim community continued their boycott despite Israel removing some of the security equipment at the entry ways to the Al-Aqsa mosque.

The Waqf, a Jordanian controlled Muslim religious authority that runs the Islamic sites at the Al-Aqsa compound, said worshippers would continue to pray in the streets outside the marble and stone plaza. Ikrema Sabri, head of the Waqf’s Supreme Islamic Committee, said that protesters were demanding that Israel opens the gates of the compound, remove an an iron bridge and metal railings and take down the newsly installed cameras near the mosque.

“We will not enter the mosque until these things are implemented,” he told The Associated Press. “Now we are awaiting the response of the police.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the removal of metal detectors but also accused the Israeli authorities of trying to “destroy the Islamic character of Jerusalem.”

“Israel took the right step to remove the metal detectors to help lower tension,” Erdogan said.”But is it enough according to our wishes? No, it is not,” he added in a statement from Ankara, stressing that Turkey “cannot tolerate” constraints placed on Muslims.

Israel installed metal detectors at the 37-acre esplanade – known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary – after two security guards were killed by three Israeli Arabs on July 14. Violence ensued upon their installation, killing four Israelis and three Palestinians last Friday and Saturday.

To try to diffuse the tensions, Israeli security cabinet said it would replace the intrusive metal detectors with “smart checking” devices that can detect hidden objects. The new security system is to be installed in the next six months and cost 100 million shekels (24 million euros, $28 million).

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and the top Muslim cleric who oversees the al-Aqsa Mosque both dismissed the new Israeli measures and demanded all of them be removed. Abbas also said the coordination between Israeli and Palestinian security forces will remain on hold until the security situation at the site is restored.

“All new Israeli measures put in place since [July 14] must be removed so things can go back to normal in Jerusalem and we can resume our work regarding bilateral relations,” Abbas said at the beginning of a meeting with his political and security cabinet in Ramallah on Tuesday.

United States praises Israel

The Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary site is important to both religions. It not only houses the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock Islamic Shrine, but is also the ruins of the Biblical Jewish Temple. Palestinians have accused Israel of seeking to expand control at the holy site through security measures, a claim Israel denies.

The White House said in a statement it “applauds the efforts of Israel to maintain security while reducing tensions in the region.”

Last week’s violence also prompted a session of the United Nations Security Council to consider ways of resolving the conflict.

“All parties should work to reduce these tensions and we offer whatever assistance we can in helping to do this,” Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council in New York. “At the holy sites, it’s vital that both access and security be ensured.” Washington has already held talks with Israel and Jordan to help resolve the crisis.


The Hidden Costs of “National Security”

Ten Ways Your Tax Dollars Pay for War – Past, Present, and Future

by William D. Hartung


You wouldn’t know it, based on the endless cries for more money coming from the military, politicians, and the president, but these are the best of times for the Pentagon. Spending on the Department of Defense alone is already well in excess of half a trillion dollars a year and counting. Adjusted for inflation, that means it’s higher than at the height of President Ronald Reagan’s massive buildup of the 1980s and is now nearing the post-World War II funding peak. And yet that’s barely half the story. There are hundreds of billions of dollars in “defense” spending that aren’t even counted in the Pentagon budget.

Under the circumstances, laying all this out in grisly detail – and believe me, when you dive into the figures, they couldn’t be grislier – is the only way to offer a better sense of the true costs of our wars past, present, and future, and of the funding that is the lifeblood of the national security state. When you do that, you end up with no less than 10 categories of national security spending (only one of which is the Pentagon budget). So steel yourself for a tour of our nation’s trillion-dollar-plus “national security” budget. Given the Pentagon’s penchant for wasting money and our government’s record of engaging in dangerously misguided wars without end, it’s clear that a large portion of this massive investment of taxpayer dollars isn’t making anyone any safer.

1) The Pentagon Budget: The Pentagon’s “base” or regular budget contains the costs of the peacetime training, arming, and operation of the U.S. military and of the massive civilian workforce that supports it – and if waste is your Eden, then you’re in paradise.

The department’s budget is awash in waste, as you might expect from the only major federal agency that has never passed an audit. For example, last year a report by the Defense Business Board, a Pentagon advisory panel, found that the Department of Defense could save $125 billion over five years just by trimming excess bureaucracy. And a new study by the Pentagon’s Inspector General indicates that the department has ignored hundreds of recommendations that could have saved it more than $33.6 billion.

The Pentagon can’t even get an accurate count of the number of private contractors it employs, but the figure is certainly in the range of 600,000 or higher, and many of them carry out tasks that might far better be handled by government employees. Cutting that enormous contractor work force by just 15%, only a start when it comes to eliminating the unnecessary duplication involved in hiring government employees and private contractors to do the same work, would save an easy $20 billion annually.

And the items mentioned so far are only the most obvious examples of misguided expenditures at the Department of Defense. Even larger savings could be realized by scaling back the Pentagon’s global ambitions, which have caused nothing but trouble in the last decade and a half as the U.S. military has waged devastating and counterproductive wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and elsewhere across the Greater Middle East and Africa. An analysis by Ben Friedman of the conservative Cato Institute estimates that the Pentagon could reduce its projected spending by one trillion dollars over the next decade if Washington reined in its interventionary instincts and focused only on America’s core interests.

Donald Trump, of course, ran for president as a businessman who would clean house and institute unprecedented efficiencies in government. Instead, on entering the Oval Office, he’s done a superb job of ignoring chronic problems at the Pentagon, proposing instead to give that department a hefty raise: $575 billion next year. And yet his expansive military funding plans look relatively mild compared to the desires of the gung-ho members of the armed services committees in the House and Senate. Democrats and Republicans alike want to hike the Pentagon budget to at least $600 billion or more. The legislative fight over a final number will play out over the rest of this year. For now, let’s just use Trump’s number as a placeholder.

Pentagon Budget: $575 billion

2) The War Budget: The wars of this century, from Iraq to Afghanistan and beyond, have largely been paid for through a special account that lies outside the regular Pentagon budget. This war budget – known in the antiseptic language of the Pentagon as the “Overseas Contingency Operations” account, or OCO – peaked at more than $180 billion at the height of the Bush administration’s intervention in Iraq.

As troop numbers in that country and Afghanistan have plumetted from hundreds of thousands to about 15,000, the war budget, miraculously enough, hasn’t fallen at anywhere near the same pace. That’s because it’s not even subject to the modest caps on the Pentagon’s regular budget imposed by Congress back in 2011, as part of a deal to keep the government open.

In reality, over the past five years, the war budget has become a slush fund that pays for tens of billions of dollars in Pentagon expenses that have nothing to do with fighting wars. The Trump administration wants $64.6 billion for that boondoggle budget in fiscal year 2018. Some in Congress would like to hike it another $10 billion. For consistency, we’ll again use the Trump number as a baseline.

War Budget: $64.6 Billion

Running Total: $639.6 Billion

3) Nuclear Warheads (and more): You might think that the most powerful weapons in the U.S. arsenal – nuclear warheads – would be paid for out of the Pentagon budget. And you would, of course, be wrong. The cost of researching, developing, maintaining, and “modernizing” the American arsenal of 6,800 nuclear warheads falls to an obscure agency located inside the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA. It also works on naval nuclear reactors, pays for the environmental cleanup of nuclear weapons facilities, and funds the nation’s three nuclear weapons laboratories, at a total annual cost of more than $20 billion per year.

Department of Energy (nuclear): $20 Billion

Running total: $659.6 billion

4) “Other Defense”: This catchall category encompasses a number of flows of defense-related funding that go to agencies other than the Pentagon. It totals about $8 billion per year. In recent years, about two-thirds of this money has gone to pay for the homeland security activities of the FBI, accounting for more than half of that agency’s annual budget.

“Other Defense”: $8 Billion

Running Total: $677.6 billion

The four categories above make up what the White House budget office considers total spending on “national defense.” But I’m sure you won’t be shocked to learn that their cumulative $677.6 billion represents far from the full story. So let’s keep right on going.

5) Homeland Security: After the 9/11 attacks, Congress created a mega-agency, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It absorbed 22 then-existing entities, all involved in internal security and border protection, creating the sprawling cabinet department that now has 240,000 employees. For those of you keeping score at home, the agencies and other entities currently under the umbrella of DHS include the Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, the Transportation Security Agency, the U.S. Secret Service, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), and the Office of Intelligence Analysis (the only one of America’s 17 intelligence agencies to fit under the department’s rubric).

How many of these agencies actually make us safer? That would be a debatable topic, if anyone were actually interested in such a debate. ICE – America’s deportation force – has, for instance, done far more to cause suffering than to protect us from criminals or terrorists. On the other hand, it’s reassuring to know that there is an office charged with determining whether there is a nuclear weapon or radioactive “dirty bomb” in our midst.

While it’s hard to outdo the Pentagon, DHS has its own record of dubious expenditures on items large and small. They range from $1,000 fees for employees to attend conferences at spas to the purchase of bagpipes for border protection personnel to the payment of scores of remarkably fat salaries to agency bureaucrats. On the occasion of its 10th anniversary in 2013, Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC) excoriated the department as “rife with waste,” among other things, pointing to a report by the DHS inspector general that it had misspent over $1 billion.

DHS was supposed to provide a better focus for efforts to protect the United States from internal threats. Its biggest problem, though, may be that it has become a magnet for increased funding for haphazard, misplaced, and often simply dangerous initiatives. These would, for instance, include its program to supply grants to local law enforcement agencies to help them buy military-grade equipment to be deployed not against terrorists, but against citizens protesting the injustices perpetrated by the very same agencies being armed by DHS.

The Trump administration has proposed spending $50 billion on DHS in FY 2018.

Homeland Security: $50 Billion

Running Total: $717.6 Billion

6) Military Aid: U.S. government-run military aid programs have proliferated rapidly in this century. The United States now has scores of arms and training programs serving more than 140 countries. They cost more than $18 billion per year, with about 40% of that total located in the State Department’s budget. While the Pentagon’s share has already been accounted for, the $7 billion at State – which can ill afford to pay for such programs with the Trump administration seeking to gut the rest of its budget – has not.

Military Aid at the State Department: $7 Billion

Running Total: $724.6 Billion

7) Intelligence: The United States government has 16 separate intelligence agencies: the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); the National Security Agency (NSA); the Defense Intelligence Agency; the FBI; the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research; the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence Analysis; the Drug Enforcement Administration Office of National Security Intelligence; the Treasury Department Office of Intelligence and Analysis; the Department of Energy Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence; the National Reconnaissance Office; the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency; Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance; Army Military Intelligence; the Office of Naval Intelligence; Marine Corps Intelligence; and Coast Guard Intelligence. Add to these the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which is supposed to coordinate this far-flung intelligence network, and you have a grand total of 17 agencies.

The U.S. will spend more than $70 billion on intelligence this year, spread across all these agencies. The bulk of this funding is contained in the Pentagon budget – including the budgets of the CIA and the NSA (believed to be hidden under obscure line items there). At most, a few billion dollars in additional expenditures on intelligence fall outside the Pentagon budget and since, given the secrecy involved, that figure can’t be determined, let’s not add anything further to our running tally.

Intelligence: $70 Billion (mostly contained inside the Pentagon budget)

Running Total: $724.6 Billion

8) Supporting Veterans: A steady uptick of veterans generated by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has dramatically increased the costs of supporting such vets once they come home, including the war wounded, some of whom will need medical care for life. For 2018, the Veterans Administration has requested over $186 billion for its budget, more than three times what it was before the 2001 intervention in Afghanistan.

Veterans: $186 billion

Running Total: $910.6 Billion

9) Military Retirement: The trust fund set up to cover pensions for military retirees and their survivors doesn’t have enough money to pay out all the benefits promised to these individuals. As a result, it is supplemented annually by an appropriation from the general revenues of the government. That supplement has by now reached roughly $80 billion per year.

Military Retirement: $80 Billion

Running Total: $990.6 Billion

10) Defense Share of Interest on the Debt: It’s no secret that the U.S. government regularly runs at a deficit and that the total national debt is growing. It may be more surprising to learn that the interest on that debt runs at roughly $500 billion per year. The Project on Government Oversight calculates the share of the interest on that debt generated by defense-related programs at more than $100 billion annually.

Defense Share of the Interest on the Debt: $100 billion

Grand Total: $1.09 Trillion

That final annual tally of nearly $1.1 trillion to pay for past wars, fund current wars, and prepare for possible future conflicts is roughly double the already staggering $575 billion the Trump administration has proposed as the Pentagon’s regular budget for 2018. Most taxpayers have no idea that more than a trillion dollars a year is going to what’s still called “defense,” but these days might equally be called national insecurity.

So the next time you hear the president, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or a hawkish lawmaker claim that the U.S. military is practically collapsing from a lack of funding, don’t believe it for a second. Donald Trump may finally have put plutocracy in the Oval Office, but a militarized version of it has long been ensconced in the Pentagon and the rest of the national security state. In government terms, make no mistake about it, the Pentagon & Co. are the 1%.


Conversations with the Crow

Telephone conversations between Robert T. Crowley and Gregory Douglas

Robert T. Crowley was once the deputy director of Clandestine Operations and head of the group that interacted with corporate America. A former West Point football player who was one of the founders of the original CIA. Crowley was involved at a very high level with many of the machinations of the CIA.


Conversation No. 110

Date: Saturday, November 1, 1997

Commenced: 8:45 AM CST

Concluded: 9:14 AM CST


GD: Good morning, Robert. Am I too early for you there?

RTC: No, you’re fine for now, Gregory but Emily wants to visit friends in an hour or so and I am obliged to tag along. I would much rather stay at home but wives have some authority so I go. How are you today?

GD: Functioning. I got up with the sun which is not usual hence the early call. I was going to extract some material from Malthus but decided to go to bed early. Even though Malthus is very, very important with what is coming up, I realize that even if I published his work, no one would read it or care. It’s true that population is increasing geometrically and food supplies arithmetically but no one would care about this, even though it is going to impact terribly on them very soon. And the Internet, such as it is, is so full of nut crap that the real issues are virtually swamped. Well, your people at the CIA can certainly control most of our media but they really can’t get at the Internet because it is far too diffuse. I predict that once the newer generations, who are freaking out over the Internet and the chance to be recognized by other pimple factories will stop reading the print media and read the very abbreviated but easy to digest news on the Internet. And you can’t control that, can you?

RTC: I’ve never given the subject any real thought. I’m out of service these many years and the future is not for me to worry about.

GD: Well then, consider the past and why we are heading over the cliff down into the quarry. America was a self-contained country before the First World War, isolationist in the inter-war years and activist during and after the Second. We had destroyed Japan and Germany because Roosevelt hated them. He hated the Japanese because his maternal grandfather was a smuggler of Chinese into this country and he also smuggled opium. The Japanese were in China and were very brutal so Roosevelt had family reasons for hating them. And back some years, Roosevelt’s family were German Jews and he hated Hitler for his persecution of his ancestor’s people. Hence his instigation of the war. After he was dead and rotting in his rose garden, Truman rebuilt the industry of both Germany and Japan and kept both countries as fiefdoms of this country. The new enemy? Russia. Why? As a unifying factor. Once beloved by the Roosevelt liberals, the Stalin people were now evil and were going to invade us. Naturally, we had to keep up a huge army and start a weapons race to protect the virgins of Topeka from brutal Slavic rapes. I knew Gehlen and I know the origins of the Cold War. Faked, of course, but then so much of what we do is faked. Your agency started out as a private information collector for Truman and now, like the Army, you are a state-within-a-state. Semi-autonomous, you set policies, lie to presidents, co-mingle and cooperate with major business and banking interests, control most of our news and so on. Admit it, why not?

RTC: I consider that to be a very one-sided and very unfair analysis, Gregory. It sounds like something in Pravda.

GD: Well, Pravda means truth in English so we can go from there. Yes, two sides to every issue and often more. But in turning this country into England of the nineteenth century, you have been empire-building all over the world. Yes, of course, we must defend ourselves against the evil Communists who are going to invade Alaska and rape moose. Your agency and the Army can get huge sums of money from a frightened Congress, money you never have to account for. If some populist like Mossadegh or Castro comes to power in an area where major American industry is threatened, the CIA rushed to the President with breathless, and entirely fictional, stories of Communist expansion and the Army and your people managed to foment rebellion in the country involved and save your friend’s huge investments. I give you United Fruit in Guatemala and certain oil in Sumatra, not to mention the deals you cut with the French Michelin rubber company to send our troops to protect their enormously valuable rubber plantations in Vietnam. Fifty thousand dead Americans are not worth the price, believe me. But the end of all this is that we are now the brutal policeman of the world, beating up people our bosses don’t like, despoiling their countries, killing their leaders. And the price of all this? Universal enmity and envy. If we stumble, as we did in Vietnam, others are watching to see if we fall from power. We have not, at least so far, but like England at the end of the nineteenth century, the price of keeping up the empire got to be too great and they fell until now they are of less importance than Iceland. That’s the price of empire, Robert, eternal vigilance but a fat citizenry grows too fond of their manifest pleasures so eventually, coalitions are formed and God knows how many revolts, massacres, terrorism and so on will be loosed on the land. The Bible says that he who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind and I have a strong feeling that this whirlwind will be coming. And we are ruled by arrogance, not common sense. Having outbid Russia and causing an internal collapse, we should have rushed to embrace the newly-freed Russians instead of installing your man, the drunken and obedient Yeltsin and trying to rape the country with great glee. That failed and left a terrible legacy of hatred. Make friends, Robert, not enemies. No one needs enemies. Study Bismarck who was brilliant in keeping his country safe from enemy plots and coalitions. Form a group here, another there, keep the enemies from uniting. But men like Bismarck are very rare and most of our leaders are very stupid people with no idea of history. History repeats itself, Robert, with slight variations but most people, and their leaders as well, don’t read history and if they did, it would be some pap by Barbara Tuchman. Now we have a huge empire, kept going by the threat of force, just as the British had. Not a broad based-empire but a narrow based one. If you allow world opinion to feed on itself, you will have a legion of petty enemies, all waiting for us to stumble and if we do, God help us all.

RTC: Gregory, you have just shown very clearly why our agency is so vital to the protection of American interests. Why, if it weren’t for the CIA, enemies would all gang up on us. Right?

GD: Yes, right, but can you keep it up? The Christian ninnies are after Clinton because they want to replace him with Pat Robertson and close all the businesses down on Sunday so the sheep can go to church and stuff the collection plates. They want a permanent Republican, very right-wing religious dictatorship here but it won’t work. No one on their side is smart enough to pull it off on a permanent basis. They have to get full public cooperation and they are far too stupid to do this. Yapping about moral majorities or the imminent arrival of Jesus won’t make it, believe me. Yes, I know you people view these nuts as useful tools and they are but only up to a point. Eventually the public will tire of looking for Jesus and turn to Saturday football games and cocaine. And sometimes beer. No wonder Americans are getting to be masses of jiggling blubber. Sitting on their couches, watching the trash on the idiot box and stuffing their faces with salted fat. Diabetes, heart attacks and what all right along with lung cancer and heart attacks from their cigarettes. And consider that while our population is booming, education has collapsed here. Teachers dare not instill curiosity in their pupils and just keep promoting them upwards and outwards to get rid of them. The idiots of the country breed and their worthless calves are so dumb most of them can barely read or write and are couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the directions were on the heel. And corporations are sending all the cheap jobs to Manila and Bombay because the greedy unions have forced wages up to the point where profits topple. Pretty soon, the enormous mass of semi-literate graduates who used to get jobs in industry will have no prospects and turn to rampant drug use and its attendant petty crime. No, we need someone with balls and so far, I haven’t seen anything on the political scene that have any. And of course, they have no brains either. We always get what we pay for, Robert, every time. And recall Genesis? ‘And slime had they for mortar…’


(Concluded at 9:14 AM CST)


‘America 1st doesn’t mean Europe last’ – EU lashes out at US sanctions against Russia

July 26, 2017


Brussels has fired back at the new US sanctions against Russia, saying an “America first” approach does not mean EU interests can come last. Germany and France have also voiced their opposition to the new set of sanctions.

In a harshly-worded statement, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, lashed out at Washington saying “America first cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last.”

He added the commission “concluded today that if our concerns are not taken into account sufficiently, we stand ready to act appropriately within a matter of days.”

The EU’s legislative body also argued the sanctions “could affect infrastructure transporting energy resources to Europe, for instance the maintenance and upgrade of pipelines in Russia that feed the Ukraine gas transit system,” according to a press release.

The sanctions bill has also caused a stir in Berlin. “This concerns not only German industry … Sanctions against Russia should not become a tool of industrial policy [pursued] in the US interests,” German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told a news conference on Wednesday, as cited by Sputnik.

“In our opinion, it is not in the Americans’ right to judge or stipulate which way European companies may engage in cooperation with any third parties – particularly, with Russian energy companies,” Schaefer said.

Speaking at the same briefing, government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer added Berlin believes “the European industry should not become the target of US sanctions.” She noted it was crucial “to continue close coordination between the US and the EU in the sanctions policy toward Russia.”

France has said the sanctions “contradict international law” due to their “extraterritorial reach,” according to a statement by the French Foreign Ministry.

“This bill, if it comes into force, would allow measures against European natural or juridical persons for situations that have no connection with the United States,” the statement read.

French and EU laws would need to be adjusted in response to the sanctions, she said, adding that discussions should be held at European Union level.

“To protect ourselves against the extraterritorial effects of US legislation [or any other legislation], we need to work to amend national legislation and perfect EU measures,” according to the statement.

The officials were commenting on the latest package of anti-Russian sanctions voted into law on Tuesday by the US House of Representatives. The restrictions, which come as part of a bill imposing sweeping sanctions also on Iran and North Korea, target Russia’s major defense, mining, shipping and railway industries.

They also include penalties on European companies engaged in joint EU-Russia energy projects, with the Gazprom-run Nord Stream 2 flagship pipeline being the most probable target of renewed sanctions.

Some media reports suggested Brussels was preparing countermeasures in the event that the sanctions enter into force after being signed by the US president. Should that happen, the EU will stand ready to act immediately, according to the Financial Times.

On Monday, the newspaper wrote that the European Commission had drafted an internal memo outlining possible options on the US sanctions, including invoking a ‘Blocking Statute,’ an EU regulation that limits extraterritorial US jurisdiction in Europe, as well as triggering a number of “WTO-compliant retaliatory measures.”

Moscow maintains the US sanctions are being imposed at the expense of European businesses. “There is very serious pressure from the US on European companies,” Russian Economy Minister Maxim Oreshkin was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

He asserted the restrictions cannot inflict substantial damage on Russia. “Our macroeconomic policy is shaped in such a way so that sanctions-related shockwaves coming from outside do not have significant impact on the Russian economy,” he said.

Some experts, however, doubted the EU’s readiness to go against its transatlantic ally. “I’m not sure if the European Union has courage to take actions against this,” Dan Kovalik, an American labor rights lawyer, told RT. “I’m worried that the US is able to impose the sanctions notwithstanding the EU opposition to it.”

“I’m sure this is not about protecting democracy, either the US democracy or someone else’s. This is more about the US wanting more of a share of markets in Europe for its natural gas,” Kovalik added. “These sanctions, which would be made permanent … are really tantamount to a declaration of war against these countries, particularly Russia.”

He said the measure is likely to diminish any progress made by Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Hamburg, as the US may be “forced into a more adversarial relationship with Russia.”


Russia, EU bristle at proposed new U.S. sanctions on Moscow, warn of action

July 26, 2017

by Andrew Osborn and Philip Blenkinsop


MOSCOW/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Russia warned it was edging closer to retaliation against Washington after the House of Representatives backed new U.S. sanctions on Moscow, while the European Union said the move might affect its energy security and it stood ready to act too.

The lower house of the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly voted to impose new sanctions on Moscow on Tuesday and to force President Donald Trump to obtain lawmakers’ permission before easing any punitive measures on Russia.

“This is rather sad news from the point of view of Russia-U.S. ties,” said Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman. “We are talking about an extremely unfriendly act.”

He said President Vladimir Putin would decide if and how Moscow would retaliate once the fresh sanctions became law, while Russia’s deputy foreign minister warned the move was taking bilateral relations into uncharted waters, killing off any hope of improving them in the near future.

The sanctions still need to be approved by the Senate and by President Donald Trump himself. But Bob Corker, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Wednesday the measure was likely to become law “very, very soon”.

Trump, who has found his presidency embroiled in a distracting row over his associates’ alleged ties to Moscow and is on the defensive over accusations Moscow helped him win election last year, has said he wants to mend relations with Russia that are languishing at a post-Cold War low.

Trump denies any collusion between his campaign and Russia.

Most White House watchers believe Trump will reluctantly sign off on the new sanctions, given deep support for them among U.S. lawmakers, including fellow Republicans, and his desire to avoid being accused of being soft on Moscow.

The U.S. sanctions move has rattled Russia, which fears that its economy, weakened by a 2014 batch of Western sanctions imposed over its role in the Ukraine crisis, will now find it harder to recover and grow. Foreign investors could be scared off and the original sanctions would remain in place longer.

The European Union frets the new U.S. move could pose obstacles to its firms doing business with Russia and threaten the bloc’s energy supply lines.


Interview with Michael Bloomberg:’We Should Help’ Donald Trump

In an interview with DER SPIEGEL, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg discusses his efforts to combat climate change and his political opponent Donald Trump, who he says should be given a helping hand to prevent a failing presidency.

July 26, 2017

Interview Conducted by Juliane von Mittelstaedt


Everything that one associates with the name Michael Bloomberg is larger than life. His skyscraper on Lexington Avenue is one of New York’s tallest. His career, which saw him morph from engineer to investment banker to mogul with his own media and data company. Personal wealth that has been estimated at around $50 billion. And then, of course, there’s the political career: He served as New York mayor from 2002 to 2013, as a United Nations special envoy for cities and climate change, as a man who has donated billions to health care, the environment and climate protection efforts. He’s been a member of both the Democratic and the Republican parties.

The only thing about Michael Bloomberg that isn’t outsized, it seems, is the man himself. His dry jokes about his height are frequent and well-rehearsed.

The interview with Bloomberg takes place in his modest office. It’s clearly a workspace rather than some flashy CEO spread. Bloomberg is usually on the go, anyway, either flitting about the building or traveling around the world. He wants to talk about his new book, “Climate of Hope,” which he wrote together with environmentalist Carl Pope. The subject of Donald Trump, of course, will be unavoidable. Bloomberg has decaffeinated coffee brought to him in a paper cup before starting the talk.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Bloomberg, the whole world was shocked by Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. But you have argued that it doesn’t actually matter that much. Why are you so optimistic?

Bloomberg: For sure I would prefer Trump had not withdrawn from the Paris Agreement. But the fight against climate change is really done at the local level — whether it’s cities, local governments or the private sector, corporate and individual. No matter what Trump says, nobody is going to go back and take the scrubber out or change back to polluting. The damage that Trump can do is if there are countries that are on the fence about whether they want to address the issue, this gives the naysayers, the doubters, those that don’t want to do anything, a little more ammunition.

SPIEGEL: But can the U.S. still achieve its commitment under the Paris Agreement of reducing emissions by roughly one-quarter by 2025?

Bloomberg: In terms of whether America will meet its goals, I don’t think there’s any question about that. We’ve continued progress in the six months since Trump got elected, and the good thing about what we’re doing is that success begets success. As we bring down greenhouse gases, for example, we’ve closed half of the coal-fired power plants in the country in recent years. There’s more impetus to try to close the other half because you can see that it is working. So, you know, I had hoped that Trump would not do that, and it doesn’t make any sense to me, but regardless, it is not as cataclysmic as it could be.

SPIEGEL: Your foundation has provided $100 million in support to the Beyond Coal campaign, and you also pledged $200 million to your recently launched American Cities Initiative. What is your goal?

Bloomberg: We are funding organizations that help convince the owners of coal-fired power plants that, from an economic point of view, they’d be better off with natural gas or renewables — also from a PR point of view. We continue to have campaigns to try to convince people to paint their roofs white or have green roofs or to switch from incandescent to LED (lighting). I mean, in the end, capitalism is a wonderful thing. It really does drive people to do what’s in their own interest. And that is often good with regard to climate change.

SPIEGEL: How much money would you be willing to spend to stop climate change?

Bloomberg: You tell me what it takes.

SPIEGEL: So you would pay what it takes?

Bloomberg: Well, let me rephrase that. We’ve given close to a billion dollars to fight smoking. We’ve given close to $2 billion to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a lot of it for its School of Public Health. We’ve shown that you can use the money intelligently and make a difference, and we will continue to do that.

SPIEGEL: You argue that it is the cities and not the federal government that play the key role in working to stop climate change. What brings you to that conclusion?

Bloomberg: Fifty percent of the world’s population lives in cities. In a couple of decades, 70 percent of the world’s population will be living in cities. Cities are where the problem is. Cities are where the solution is, where creativity exists to address the challenges and where they have most impact. This is why, in 2005, the C40 was founded, an organization of cities that address climate change. It started with 18 cities; now it’s 91. Cities simply are the key to saving the planet.

SPIEGEL: So, you’re saying that what the Trump administration decides in terms of climate change is irrelevant?

Bloomberg: Yes, and I never thought that it was the job of the federal or state level anyway. You know, it would help. I’d love to have a president who really was out there leading and traveling around the world campaigning for joint climate change action. Even the Chinese government is trying to get people to stop polluting. And I think the federal government level in China is acting more responsibly than the American government.

SPIEGEL: On the other hand, the Trump administration is currently rolling back a lot of regulations that aim to protect the environment and climate. Doesn’t that endanger the goal of reducing emissions?

Bloomberg: Generally speaking, I think no matter what the Trump administration does, companies are not going to go and say, “Oh, tally ho. Let’s put pollutants in the air.

SPIEGEL: What about Republican-governed states like Texas, in which many emissions are being generated through the production of oil and gas?

Bloomberg: The governor of Texas was a real climate change, well, “skeptic” would be a nice way of phrasing it. Still, though, Texas is a leader in renewables. So, what I care about is what they are actually doing, not what they are saying.

SPIEGEL: What drove you to become a climate change activist?

Bloomberg: I became interested in public health when I was chairman of the board of Johns Hopkins University. I started thinking, you know, it makes more sense to prevent than to cure. Other ways of looking at the environmental or climate change stuff is to frame it in the context that it is simultaneously a public health issue. One out of eight premature deaths worldwide happens because of air pollution. The worst power plant in America kills 278 people a year and causes 445 heart attacks. So, when we improve air quality we improve our lives, and at the same time we improve the climate as well. We must see climate policy from this perspective and not as an abstract threat that may threaten our survival in 100 years.

SPIEGEL: Why are people so obviously voting against their own interests? Why don’t they recognize that protecting the climate protects them as well?

Bloomberg: People do that all the time. But when you do the polling in the U.S., it has gone from less than 50 percent who thought climate change was real to 70-odd percent. And if you listen to the Republicans in Congress, they used to say, “Oh, climate change doesn’t exist.” Then they switched to “Well, it exists, but it’s not man-made,” to “Well, I’m going to address the issue.” Why? Because when they go home, the local constituent says, “Wait a second. What are you talking about? We just had a flood. We haven’t had rain in a long time.” They can’t get away from it.

SPIEGEL: Still, within the Republican Party, there continue to be a lot of climate change deniers. Is that why you left the party?

Bloomberg: It had nothing to do with it. I at one point thought that I was going to run for president of the United States as an independent. I became a Republican because the Democrats wouldn’t let me on the ballot for mayor of New York, but I’m not a partisan person. So, I left the party again.

SPIEGEL: You thought about running in 2016 as an independent candidate, but decided against it. Do you regret that you didn’t?

Bloomberg: No. We convinced ourselves, I think fully, that an independent can’t win in this country. The Constitution is structured for basically a two-party government, a two-party race.

SPIEGEL: Do you see Trump as a danger to American democracy?

Bloomberg: I hope not. I gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 and warned of Trump. America has survived for almost 250 years with its imperfect democracy, but, you know, maybe it’s a better democracy than elsewhere. And I am sure American democracy will survive.

SPIEGEL: One main driver for people to vote for Trump was their resentment of the establishment, the elites. Where is that coming from in your opinion?

Bloomberg: A lot of the Trump voters thought: “The current stuff has not helped me. I want a change.” Trump got elected partly because he had a message: “Vote for America.” “Make America Great.” “America” is a good word. “Great” is a good word. Hillary never came up with a message other than “Vote for me because I’m a woman.” I make no secret of the fact that I was not a big Hillary Clinton supporter, but I thought in the two-way race between her and Donald Trump, that she should have been the president. But Trump promised a lot of things. And now he’s six months in and hasn’t passed a piece of legislation yet. Now, I personally have said we should help him. I didn’t vote for him. I didn’t think he was the right person. But once we have an election and he gets elected, then we have a responsibility as citizens to help him.

SPIEGEL: To help him? I thought you would have a very different opinion on basically everything?

Bloomberg: Absolutely, I still don’t agree with him on most things. I disagree violently with a lot of things, for example regarding the elimination of Obamacare or cutting taxes. We need to have more taxes, not less, and we need the taxes we have, certainly, to provide services — for defense and education and health care. We should not cut money here in order to cut taxes.

SPIEGEL: So why wouldn’t you be happy if he fails with his agenda?

Bloomberg: Because in the end, the message will be: Oh, Trump tried to do what he promised. It was the “liberals” who wouldn’t let him. Forget about the fact that it’s in the Republican Party that he can’t get through the votes. And for sure I’d like to change his views — for sure I hate a lot of things he does. But I live here. My kids, my grandkids live here. I don’t want him to fail. That’s sick and not good for my kids. I want Trump to be successful. I don’t think he will be, and when he does things that I believe are harmful, I will certainly try hard to stop that. But I don’t think that we should do what (the Republican Senator) Mitch McConnell said. When Obama was elected

SPIEGEL: Do you think Trump is going to be elected for another term?

Bloomberg: First of all, I believe the probability of him finishing at least four years is very high. Impeachment is a political, not a legal process. And even in Nixon’s case, most of the Republicans didn’t vote to impeach him. It was the Democrats who were in power and impeached Nixon. He could have a heart attack, or he could do something that the public really gets up in arms about. If not, he’s likely to finish four years. And then I would say he has a 55 percent chance of getting re-elected. Why? Because incumbents always have an advantage. Plus, in 2020, the economy couldn’t be that bad, and there’s got to be 14 Democrats that have already said they’re going to run for office. So, you can see his opponents being very fractured.

SPIEGEL: Who would be the best candidate to beat Trump in 2020? Someone like Bernie Sanders?

Bloomberg: Sanders is very liberal, although Jeremy Corbyn in the United Kingdom (the chairman of the Labour Party) makes Sanders look like a capitalist. I don’t know whether Bernie will run again. People say he might. Elizabeth Warren might. She is very smart, and also very left wing.

SPIEGEL: You don’t want to run?

Bloomberg: Oh, no, I suspect that, you know, I’m not going to run for anything again. I’m 75 years old. But sometimes I think I can change more by what I am doing here anyway.

SPIEGEL: Do you not find it ironic that it is two billionaires from New York who are now deciding America’s climate policies?

Bloomberg: I don’t know if I would say it that way. Let me phrase this carefully so you get the message: I don’t know how wealthy other people are.

SPIEGEL: You mean that Trump may not be a billionaire?

Bloomberg: I didn’t say that; you said that.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Bloomberg, thank you for this interview.




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