Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Donald Trump’s chief strategist and ideologue will be party to all discussions on the White House National Security Council unlike military and intelligence chiefs

The White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, far right, sits alongside the national security adviser, Michael Flynn, in the Oval Office with President Donald Trump.
The White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, far right, sits alongside the national security adviser, Michael Flynn, in the Oval Office with President Donald Trump. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The formal inclusion of Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist and ideologue in the small circle of top officials who decide US national security policy, sparked alarm among former officials who described it as an unprecedented politicisation of decisions that could mean the difference between peace and war.

Bannon, a former executive of the rightwing Breitbart news site, will be a permanent fixture of the “principals committee” of the National Security Council (NSC), the White House announced, but said that the director of national intelligence and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff would only attend if the “issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed”.

David Rothkopf, author of a history of the NSC, said the turbulence of Trump’s foreign policy, intricately connected to the deliberative processes that led to it, was already creating a crisis with international reverberations.

“We have an escalation of chaos as a consequence of White House decision-making, made without consultation with the federal bureaucracy, that has no precedent in modern history and now has people taking to the streets in numbers and ways that is evocative of the 1960s,” Rothkopf said.

“It is not an overstatement to say we have a brewing crisis.”

Placing Bannon on the NSC, with his lack of national security experience, was a “radical” step, Rothkopf said, as the former Breitbart media chairman had shown himself to hold “racist, misogynist and Islamophobic” views. His seat on the NSC principals committee was “essentially putting a thumb on the scale of deliberation in the direction of that kind of thinking”.

Trump, Rothkopf said, was building a security apparatus “with the wrong people at the table and the wrong person at the head of the table” – Trump himself.

Foreign governments, seeing the diminished influence of the established pillars of national security decision-making in the US, were likely to begin dealing with Bannon and his cohort directly to secure their influence with Trump, he continued.

The White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, insisted that the composition of the National Security Council’s principals committee under the Trump administrationwas no different than it had been under Bush or Obama and waved sheaves of paper to prove his point as television screens showed highlighted text on either side of him.

He said the chairman of the joint chiefs and the director of national intelligence were welcome to attend, but did not have to if the issues under discussion were not directly part of their brief.

The announcement of Bannon’s national security role came at the end of the Trump administration’s first week in office, during which Bannon was increasingly seen as the most powerful figure in the White House after the president himself, spurring on the issuance of a string of executive orders culminating in the radical immigration ban on travellers and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries.

As more details emerged about the chaotic launch of Trump’s flagship immigration ban, it emerged the White House office of management and budget, responsible for coordinating executive action with the rest of the government, was told not to put the ban through the normal review process with the justice, state, homeland security and defense departments, so it was as surprised as everyone else about the announcement.

The newly confirmed homeland security secretary, John Kelly, was airborne when it took effect on Friday and only discovered the president was signing the order on Friday because an aide he was talking to by phone saw the signature ceremony on television, according to the New York Times.

Although the defense secretary, James Mattis, was standing at Trump’s shoulder at the Pentagon when the order was signed, the defense department was also not consulted on its contents beforehand.

Trump’s choice for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who is expected to be confirmed in the Senate this week, was also not consulted, according to a source he spoke to at the annual Alfalfa Club dinner in Washington, an event which brings the country’s mega-rich together with top politicians. Tillerson, as a former oil executive, is both.

Tillerson, who will be America’s top diplomat, appeared unruffled by the executive order and by a purge of top career officials at the state department, the source said, but made it clear he had not been consulted on either issue.

He will inherit a department in turmoil, in the wake of the dismissals of top administrative staff and a growing mutiny over the refugee ban among diplomats, who were circulating a draft cable dissenting from the executive order on Monday.

Steve Bannon: his appointment to the NSC was ‘a radical departure from any national security council in history’, according to Senator John McCain.
Steve Bannon: his appointment to the NSC was ‘a radical departure from any National Security Council in history’, according to Senator John McCain. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The elevation of Bannon, who ran a media organisation that offered itself as a platform for the far right and promoted fake news during the election, has alarmed European capitals as he is a fervent opponent of the European Union. It has also provoked unease about how the new administration will take decisions on intelligence and national security issues, among former officials with experience of the way the NSC functions at the heart of Washington.

“What is striking about it is it is such an explicit rejection of the well-entrenched principle that when it comes to matters of national security that politics doesn’t have any place in the room,”

said James Steinberg, former deputy national security adviser in the Clinton administration.

“It is a flat rejection of what has been a shared view of Republican and Democratic administrations.”

National security professionals considered Bannon’s placement on the NSC an indicator that the institutional disarray following Trump’s immigration halt would be replicated in future policy decrees.

The leadership of the influential Senate armed services committee appeared stunned and appalled by the Trump White House elevating Bannon and diminishing the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the director of national intelligence.

The Senate armed services committee chairman, John McCain, who as recently as Thursday lavished praise on Trump’s security team at a Republican retreat, saidBannon’s appointment was

“a radical departure from any National Security Council in history”.

His Democratic colleague, Jack Reed, called it “outrageous and potentially dangerous” and said Trump was turning the NSC into

“an entity that is without a non-partisan military voice”.

With the senior, non-partisan US military officer or the US intelligence chief absent for critical deliberations, presidents are more likely to stumble into unforced errors with significant global repercussions, said Kori Schake, a defense analyst at the Hoover Institution who has advised McCain and co-edited a book with the defense secretary, Mattis.

“Any president should want their intel and military advisers in on the decisions for the same reason you want a lawyer present: they keep you from making mistakes,” Schake said.

“A president would not, for example, want to find out after issuing an executive order banning immigration from countries fighting alongside us that those countries would reciprocally ban Americans, to great detriment for the war effort.

“Evidently the president’s political advisers lacked the judiciousness to see that coming; the experience it takes to make it to the top of the intelligence or military leadership would easily have been able to call that in advance.”

Stephen Hadley, national security adviser in the last Bush administration, argued that the new administration’s guidelines for the new National Security Council were “not very dissimilar from other orders that other administrations have adopted”.

He said that George W Bush had vetoed the participation of his own closest political adviser to the NSC principals committee, but that the Obama administration had not observed such a distinction between politics and national security. “Karl Rove at one point wanted to participate in the NSC meetings and I ran it by President Bush, who said no. He did not want to suggest in any way that national security decisions are made on domestic politics, which is something that I respect,” Hadley told the Guardian.

“David Axelrod, [who] was President Obama’s political person in the first term, I am told attended a number of NSC meetings. This is something where there is no rule written in stone. Presidents basically make the decisions on who they want at their meetings. You can make a stronger case for Bannon because he is not just political adviser … So I can see why the president would want him at the NSC meetings.”

A huge swathe of Trump’s voter base are non college educated blue collar workers who he’s enticed and inveigled into his right wing ideology because they have the same limited understanding of political machinations as their new messiah has.
It’s not a personal triumph to vote for a failed (4 times bankrupted) businessman and reality TV Celeb to laud over you, but simply a sign of your lack of education and how you’ve bought into the cult of personality.
It would be a false syllogism to say ‘all republicans are morons; he’s a republican therefore he must be a moron’ this is a fallacy, as I’m sure there must be some republicans out there that are decent, it’s just I’ve yet to meet any.
Tragically, many of his fans don’t have a great deal of education and feel he’s offering them hope to make something out of their pathetic lives but the sad reality is they’re still going to be bottom of the heap whichever demagogue is preaching politics of division at them.
In the meantime, Trump has signed multiple Executive Orders that will have dire consequences for the World’s climate and the environment for many decades to come.
This is a kleptocracy, a Kakistocracy on steroids, and has to be fought every step of the way!
This demagogue is in position as an environmental terrorist who will instigate a deliberate Ecocide to ruin the Earth for generations to come!

NantLlesg_towardpond

Today myself and 9 comrades met a UN Special Rapporteur on Hazardous Substances and Waste and impacts of pollution and also a lady who is UN Special Rapporteur to the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights.

It was an excellent meeting that lasted for two and a half hours and could’ve gone on longer. We really can talk for hours about our 10 year fight against Miller Argent Ffos Y Fran opencast and the proposed and failed application to remove the mountaintop and quarry Nant Llesg.

I think we overwhelmed them with information and they were very shocked.

Which is both good and bad isn’t it?

The lady who answers to the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights said:

“What we are hearing from you is more like what we are familiar with in “developing countries” apart from an absence of violence against the protesters.

Says it all really doesn’t it?

#‎UntilWeWin badge 4cm.jpg

What a bunch of complete idiotic ignorant fools we are in Wales?

Totally indolent, apathetic and inept.

No-one to blame but our own clueless selves. Not retired folk from over the border. Us, and us alone. And unless we begin to get to grips with this basic inexcusable inadequacy in our own political culture, as a people, we will die.

Percentage of exports going to the EU from different parts of the UK.

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And of course this is the other image which goes with the one above.

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Economic dependency is not desirable but it is a fact of LIFE.

Those advocating greater self rule from Westminster do so because, for Wales to be so neglected by the dominant English culture is an unsatisfactory state of affairs which needs to be addressed by a more rigorous approach to that which can be provided by current structures.

Whilst ‘dependency’ on EU regional funding again is not desirable it is a current reality, and it also represents a degree of redistribution of wealth which the bottom heavy British state has consistently failed to undertake when left to its own devices.

In more general terms the UK is a unitary state in which Wales has no sovereignty as a polity whatsoever – one which sees its wishes often outvoted by the dominant group even when it is united and feels strongly about an issue. (But this is an experience also experienced by poorer regions of Wales who are constantly ignored by the talking shop in Cardiff Bay, i.e. The Senedd!)

The EU on the other hand is an international organization which enables participating members to voluntarily share aspects of common interest and responsibility according to the principle of subsidiarity whilst sovereignty is retained by state parliaments at all times.

I would like to be wrong, but, with my experience of a lifetime thus far, I fear Wales will be so much worse off outside the EU than anything experienced post-WWII, and Westminster, and specifically the Conservative party, does not give a toss about the Welsh, seeing us as a mendicant nation there to be exploited!

Brexit is going to happen – and I can’t think of any other way to soften the blow other than down upon the thick skulls of us Welsh?

When this all fails. For fail it surely will. In which direction will the media barons and right wing spin doctors turn you to direct your hate?

Via @chunkymark The Artist Taxi Driver

Award winning investigative journalist John Pilger nails it – yet again.

This is a superb articlehttp://theduran.com/journalist-film-maker-author-john-pilger-gives-best-description-obamas-presidency-will-ever-hear/

Pilger : Ultimate ambition of hawks in Washington was regime change in Russia

RT’s Rory Suchet asks all the right questions to Pilger…and Pilger does not disappoint (jump to the 12:30 mark to watch Obama’s “legacy” demolished).

“Obama has been one of the most violent presidents. He initiated a worldwide terrorist campaign with Hellfire missiles being fired by drones at so called terrorists…certainly at weddings and funerals…in some of the poorest countries in the world.”

“What I find personally some of the most anxious and almost shameful descriptions are those from so called intellectuals in the west…writers, journalists, people in the liberal establishment who have had all the privilege that they ought to know better, fawning in sycophancy to this man who has done what he was meant to do.”
“He served the power…He was meant to serve.”

 

#ThingsTheDogLickedNext is a return to my 2013 street art museum Project “a Fecal Matter”

The subject matter was dog shit and the transfer of the parasite Toxicara Canis into the human food chain and eventually, children. See link:

https://discordion.wordpress.com/my-art/self-directed-ap3-degree-project-exhibition-may-2013/2013-foundation-degree-museum-project-a-fecal-matter/

December is here, along with the dark nights I’m sure all of you have experience of our neighbourhood dog walkers leaving “secret Santa” packages dotted around our pedestrian walkways?

So, I’d love to reciprocate and give our secret Santas something back in the way of our suggestions to the question; What are the Things The Dog Licked Next?

Please add your “thing the dog licked next” to the Twitter hashtag.

Depending on how this goes I may set myself further goals such as building an artwork from #ThingsTheDogLickedNext

 

 

1918

Posted November 2014


Looking back at the years of fury and carnage, Colonel Angelo Gatti, staff officer of the Italian Army (Austrian front), wrote in his diary: “This whole war has been a pile of lies. We came into war because a few men in authority, the dreamers, flung us into it.”

No, Gatti, caro mio, those few men are not dreamers; they are schemers. They perch above us. See how their armament contracts are turned into private fortunes—while the young men are turned into dust: more blood, more money; good for business this war.

It is the rich old men, i pauci, “the few,” as Cicero called the Senate oligarchs whom he faithfully served in ancient Rome. It is the few, who together constitute a bloc of industrialists and landlords, who think war will bring bigger markets abroad and civic discipline at home. One of i pauci in 1914 saw war as a way of promoting compliance and obedience on the labor front and—as he himself said—war, “would permit the hierarchal reorganization of class relations.”

Just awhile ago the heresies of Karl Marx were spreading among Europe’s lower ranks. The proletariats of each country, growing in numbers and strength, are made to wage war against each other. What better way to confine and misdirect them than with the swirl of mutual destruction.

Then there are the generals and other militarists who started plotting this war as early as 1906, eight years before the first shots were fired. War for them means glory, medals, promotions, financial rewards, inside favours, and dining with ministers, bankers, and diplomats: the whole prosperity of death. When the war finally comes, it is greeted with quiet satisfaction by the generals.

But the young men are ripped by waves of machine-gun fire or blown apart by exploding shells. War comes with gas attacks and sniper shots: grenades, mortars, and artillery barrages; the roar of a great inferno and the sickening smell of rotting corpses. Torn bodies hang sadly on the barbed wire, and trench rats try to eat away at us, even while we are still alive.

Farewell, my loving hearts at home, those who send us their precious tears wrapped in crumpled letters. And farewell my comrades. When the people’s wisdom fails, moguls and monarchs prevail and there seems to be no way out.

Fools dance and the pit sinks deeper as if bottomless. No one can see the sky, or hear the music, or deflect the swarms of lies that cloud our minds like the countless lice that torture our flesh. Crusted with blood and filth, regiments of lost souls drag themselves to the devil’s pit. “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’entrate.” (Abandon all hope, ye who enter).

Meanwhile from above the Vatican wall, the pope himself begs the world leaders to put an end to hostilities, “lest there be no young men left alive in Europe.”
But the war industry pays him no heed.

Finally the casualties are more than we can bear. There are mutinies in the French trenches! Agitators in the Czar’s army cry out for “Peace, Land, and Bread!” At home, our families grow bitter. There comes a breaking point as the oligarchs seem to be losing their grip.

At last the guns are mute in the morning air. A strange almost pious silence takes over. The fog and rain seem to wash our wounds and cool our fever. “Still alive,” the sergeant grins, “still alive.” He cups a cigarette in his hand. “Stack those rifles, you lazy bastards.” He grins again, two teeth missing. Never did his ugly face look so good as on this day in November 1918. Armistice embraces us like a quiet rapture.

A big piece of the encrusted aristocratic world breaks off.
The Romanovs, Czar and family, are all executed in 1918 in Revolutionary Russia.
That same year, the House of Hohenzollern collapses as Kaiser Wilhelm II flees Germany.
Also in 1918, the Ottoman empire is shattered.
And on Armistice Day, November 11th, 1918, at 11:00 a.m.—the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month—we mark the end of the war and with it the dissolution of the Habsburg dynasty.

Four indestructible monarchies: Russian, German, Turkish, and Austro-Hungarian, four great empires, each with millions of bayonets and cannon at the ready, now twisting in the dim shadows of history.

Will our children ever forgive us for our dismal confusion?
Will they ever understand what we went through?
Will we?
By 1918, four aristocratic autocracies fade away, leaving so many victims mangled in their wake, and so many bereaved crying through the night.

Back in the trenches, the agitators among us prove right. The mutinous Reds standing before the firing squad last year were right. Their truths must not be buried with them. Why are impoverished workers and peasants killing other impoverished workers and peasants?
Now we know that our real foe is not in the weave of trenches; not at Ypres, nor at the Somme, or Verdun or Caporetto. Closer to home, closer to the deceptive peace that follows a deceptive war.

Now comes a different conflict. We have enemies at home: the schemers who trade our blood for sacks of gold, who make the world safe for hypocrisy, safe for themselves, readying themselves for the next “humanitarian war.” See how sleek and self-satisfied they look, riding our backs, distracting our minds, filling us with fright about wicked foes. Important things keep happening, but not enough to finish them off. Not yet enough.

_______

Michael Parenti’s most recent books are The Face of Imperialism (2011); Waiting for Yesterday: Pages from a Street Kid’s Life (2013); and Profit Pathology and Other Indecencies (forthcoming January 2015).