Friday, December 31, 2021

Forecast 2022 — Dumpster Fire Blazing on the Frontier of a Dark Age | Kunstler

 If 2021 was the year of maximum corruption, political decadence, and mind-fuckery in US history, 2022 is looking like a convulsive snap-back to the harrowing rigors of reality, spiked with shocking losses, reckonings, and not a little retribution for the rogues and reprobates who drove our country into a ditch. Quandaries abound now in the wreckage of economy, culture, and polity. The years of anything-goes-and-nothing-matters have ended — though you might not know it yet, at this very advent of Twenty-Double-Deuce. Welcome to the banquet of consequences. Soup’s on!

The American people have been played backwards and forwards, inside and out, through and through, and up and down; driven to the very edge of national suicide by a combine of enemies within and without. If China’s CCP wanted to take maximum advantage of a weakened, confused USA, they couldn’t have found more zealous help-mates than the seditious Democratic Party, along with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s treasonous public health empire, the murderous pharmaceutical companies, the recklessly dishonest news media, and a demonic host of federal agencies, especially the three-stooge “Intel Community” — the CIA (Moe), DOJ (Larry), FBI (Curley) — plus the many secret horror chambers in the Pentagon. Throw in the Big Tech tyrants, the Marxist mandarins on campus, and the satanic narcissists of Hollywood. Oh, and let’s not forget the evil principality of grift and swindling that is Wall Street.

We still don’t know exactly what role the CCP and its Peoples’ Liberation Army played in the origins of Covid-19, and we don’t know because the US government doesn’t want us to know — because they had a role in it — and the news media won’t lift a finger to find out, either, because they are the propaganda arm of the regime in power. We do know an awful lot about the operations of Dr. Fauci and his colleagues in funding the development of the virus in Wuhan for the purpose of introducing a wildly profitable set of “vaccines” which, if anything, prolonged and exacerbated the pandemic, and harmed or killed millions all over the world.

We also know that this same set of players in public health and Big Pharma gamed the clinical trials that preceded the emergency use authorizations that loosed the “vaccines” on the people, and that they deliberately obstructed and suppressed proven treatments with inexpensive off-patent drugs that would have saved many hundreds of thousands of lives if they had been allowed within so-called standards-of-practice that rule medicine these days. The same gang fudged their statistical reporting wherever possible, especially by failing to fix the kludgy CDC VAERS website for listing adverse reactions to the “vaccines,” but also in creating conditions that made it impossible to discern actual Covid deaths from “vaccine” deaths, and deaths either caused by co-morbidities or extraneous occurrences such as highway accidents or gunshot killings.

In 2021, a mountain of evidence was accumulated about all this criminal mischief, capped by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s massive book about Dr. Fauci’s unholy career at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a virtual prosecution manual, meticulously annotated, that will be used in countless lawsuits against Dr. Fauci, his colleagues who outlive him, and the many agencies and NGOs — and perhaps in actual criminal trials of these very well-known perps.

This is where things stand at the turning of the new year 2022. Who doesn’t want to know where this historic game goes from here? A lot of story-lines are changing and quickly. It’s obvious that the “Joe Biden” admin wants to run the pandemic for at least one more year, most particularly to keep in place the “emergency” mail-in ballot scam that perverted the 2020 election. But more than half the country is onto that con and I predict that we’ll see more rigorous voting rules and regs in place — or, if those reforms meet resistance, a battle so fierce over them that the elections may not even take place on schedule.

Just now, too many Americans are already fed up with being pushed around by public officials supposedly for their own good. They see through the evils of the Covid-19 racket. They’ve watched the rape of the public interest. They understand that the “vaccines” were a disastrous experiment run lawlessly. They’ve witnessed the harms done to themselves and their loved ones. They’re appalled at the hijacking of science by people as scientifically profane as the necromancers, astrologasters, and inquisitors of yore.

They won’t submit to any more lockdowns, to any more attempts to interfere with and destroy small business. They’ve had enough of the race-and-gender hustles that have disordered society, ruined cities that were already struggling, traduced the basic principle of public safety, and forced people to play pretend around obvious psychopathology and depravity. They are not going to play along anymore. They are going to resist and fight — in the city councils, in the school boards, in the courts, and on battlefields, if it comes to that.

Ol’ Man Pandemic

He just kept rollin’ along. The weaker but more infectious Omicron variant of coronavirus currently ripping through global populations looks like a signal that the end of this vicious melodrama is in sight. Let’s predict that the actual disease phase of Covid-19 burns itself out by spring at the latest, unless malign actors have more lab-grown monsters they can release into the general population whenever they feel like it. But the demonically-installed harms built into the vaccines will keep killing and disabling people for a long time to come.

We know that the spike proteins have been clinically observed lurking in human bodies as much as fifteen months after a shot of mRNA, and that they induce a lot of damage to blood vessels, organs, and immune systems. We’re just coming into the first anniversary of the vaccines — not to mention that millions have gotten additional shots and then boosters right up to this week — so those harmful spike proteins will be working their hoodoo all of 2022 and beyond.

As the Thai-German doctor Sucharit Bhakdi warned recently, the compromised immune systems of the vaxxed may provoke a large-scale revival of age-old killer diseases like tuberculosis that are ever-present in small amounts in our bodies and usually suppressed. The people of Asia and Africa are particularly susceptible because public sanitation and clean water there is sketchier. The vaccines are also said to provoke the expression of lurking cancers, especially among those in remission from illness. The residual mortality from the vaccines may end up being greater than the deaths from the virus itself.

In the background of all that lurks that ominous prediction made by the Deagle military analysis company several years ago that estimated the population of the USA would crash to 99-million in 2025 — down from over 330-million now. Deagle never even explained that, and they took down the web page last year when their alarming forecast suddenly started looking plausible. Just sayin’.

Any way you cut it, the Covid-19 episode will thunder through the lives of many millions of people, especially in the nations of Western Civ, which has taken the hardest hits in terms of self-destructive government policy. The pandemic has accelerated the collapse of industrial economies, a process I call the long emergency, and eventually it will end up affecting all nations, even if the West happens to go down first. Societies will be propelled through a period of disorder, surely longer and more difficult in some places than others, depending on local resources. The destination of this journey is a place where the human project is run at much lower scale and pitch than we have gotten used to in our time, with far fewer “modern” comforts and conveniences, and shocking losses in knowledge and applied science. It won’t be the first time this has happened in human history, but the wreckage will be much greater.

Economy, Finance, and Money

Our economy is hitched to our energy resources. The business model for providing fossil fuels to the global economy is broken in many ways, and therefore the business model of a high-tech industrial production economy is also broken. The shale oil industry was launched on a high tide of near-zero financing and over a decade since then it produced an enormous quantity of oil (though less-than first-rate, short on heavy distillates such as diesel and heating oil). In the process, shale oil producers proved they could not make any money on these very expensive operations, and we now enter a period of capital scarcity that will make it harder for them to attract new investment and continue performing. Besides that, they are exhausting the “sweet spots” for drilling and fracking.

What’s left after you subtract shale oil are the conventional fields that were in steep decline in 2008 when the shale campaign got underway. In 2022, expect US oil production to fall below 9-million barrels a day. We consume just under 20-million barrels-a-day, and import the difference. You would have every reason to expect that a more disorderly world scene may interfere with our oil imports in 2022. Expect consumption to drop too, as economic activity weakens. Let’s predict consumption will fall to 15-million barrels-a-day. The oil markets will therefore be disorderly, with price oscillation as shortages and demand destruction push and pull each other. Remember the basic equation: oil over $75-a-barrel weakens economies; oil under $75-a-barrel crushes oil companies.

The wish persists that we can run the complex systems of modern life on alternative energy sources, but that wish is just not panning out. The realization that this is so will spread through western civ in 2022 and create more anxiety, more disordered thinking, cultish behavior, and breakdown of social norms. For now, the public arena is entirely occupied by the mass formation psychosis that first erupted around Donald Trump and then shifted to Covid-19. The stresses and tension of these demoralizing dynamics may lead in 2022 to the outbreak of political violence that will make it even harder to reach consensus on a way through our economic quandaries.

Let’s agree to compress our recent economic history, since I’ve rehearsed it many times in weekly blogs at Clusterfuck Nation: We replaced our on-the-ground goods manufacturing activities with so-called financialization, essentially the manufacture of debt — borrowing from the future to run our complex systems today, to compensate for the losses accrued by our broken energy business model. It was all a swindle, since you can’t create prosperity with the sheer management of instruments purporting to represent wealth if there is no real production of material wealth behind it. Debt is not wealth. You can play games with it in financial markets, buy and sell it, manipulate interest rates and prices to give the appearance of things functioning. But that only goes so far — specifically to the point where reality overcomes artifice, and that’s where we are now. Substituting debt for wealth introduced perversities into the economy. Now you can’t tell the real value of anything — “price discovery” is disabled — and that bleeds into socio-economic behavior, too. Now, many business activities, including the supposedly self-consciously ethical fields of higher-ed and medicine, have become dreadful rackets, which is to say efforts to make money dishonestly. We can’t pretend that all this okay anymore. We’re left with a gigantic edifice of debt that will never be paid back and a whole lot of bad behavior that is corroding our humanity.

After two decades of papering over our inability to pay for running our society, the Federal Reserve has finally achieved old-school inflation — the destruction of money itself — not just the pumping up of share prices, their specialty for so many years. They kept inflation at bay all that time by exporting it to other countries who sent us real stuff in exchange for our paper promises: treasury bills, notes, bonds. Covid lockdowns and the destruction of business finally killed that longstanding equilibrium and then growing ill feeling between the US and China starting killing supply chains. Now, globalism is on the ropes and with it our ability to export US treasury paper. All the “helicopter money” flushed into the system during Covid now chases goods that have a tougher journey to their points-of-sale. Parts of machines, cars, and many other things become hard to get. Prices go up. Systems break down and their failures ramify in other systems.

With inflation running officially around 8 percent, and unofficially more like 15 percent, the real interest rate on a ten-year treasury bond is the nominal 1.49 percent minus between 8 and 15 percent, a deeply negative number. Owning that paper is a dead loss. If the rate of inflation continues merely apace of 2021 in 2022, the loss will steepen. If inflation continues greater than apace of 2021, treasury paper will be like so many smallpox blankets on the global bond market and America will be verging on Weimar-style runaway inflation. We won’t be able to offer any more bonds in return for stuff. The Fed will have to eat them. We’ll be importing inflation, the prices of goods will  keep going up. America is in a hole of our own digging. What can be done?

The Fed has two choices, both of them unpromising. 1) “Tightening.”  By measured increments, the Fed quits QE, (quantitative easing, buying bonds, a.k.a. “monetizing debt”) not just US treasury paper, but also corporate bonds, and mortgage-backed securities. They move to raise interest rates to above par with real inflation rates to give people back the old reality-based incentive for buying bonds in the first place, which is a reliable stream of interest greater than inflation. The last time inflation threatened America, 1981, Fed Chairman Paul Volker jacked up fed fund (short-term) rates to 20 percent, which put the schnitz on borrowing for a time, caused a recession, but got-er done. The catch is, the national debt and the balance sheet of the Fed were minuscule then compared to the incomprehensible trillions on-board now. And there was still a lot of actual productive industry left in the country.

An end to quantitative easing combined with raising interest rates would recalibrate markets to equilibrium — which is to say, crash them, because the end of near-zero interest would mean no more using leverage (borrowed money) to buy stocks, which are wildly overvalued after years and years of these shenanigans. The bid on stocks would end. Not enough buyers to meet sellers. Markets go down. That prompts more selling… a rush to the exits… look out below….

Tightening would crash the value of bonds, too, because bond value has an inverse relationship to interest rates — as they rise, the tradable price of bonds goes down. So, bond-holders would take a bath. Tightening actually makes money disappear — phhhtttt! — because it causes defaults (people not paying off their debts). In our system, money is loaned into existence and welshed-on loans sends money out of existence. People and corporations go broke. Higher interest rates also will make corporations default on their bond payments. Without access to more debt, many big companies may have to shut down, go out of business, perhaps forever. Government, buried under massive debt, would choke on higher interest payments. As money goes out of existence, capital becomes scarce and small business, which desperately depends on revolving credit, goes broke. The net effect of all this damage in financial markets is of deep economic depression, in this case, the long emergency case, probably a depression that becomes permanent since the basis of this particular high-energy economy, the oil industry, collapses along with everything else.

The Federal Reserve’s choice number 2) is: Don’t tighten. Rather, continue to print money like crazy, maybe even more than before, and keep trying to suppress interest rates. Keep buying bonds, notes, whatever debt paper the system pukes up. This is just the tired old scheme called kicking the can further down the road. The problem is, we’re at the end of the road. Old-school inflation had already kicked off in 2021 from two decades of QE, which was then greatly aggravated by the massive government spending to mitigate Covid. There’s no more jiggering with bond-buying and finagling the interest rates, and playing hide-the-salami with bank reserves, and stashing money in “special purpose vehicles” and other banking hidey-holes that will avail to keep things stable and happy. From here on, printing money like crazy only destroys the value of our money. You’ll have plenty of money, only it’ll get more worthless by the day — which is just another way of going broke.

Then, as the dollar purchases less and less stuff, dollars held overseas get dumped in exchange for whatever stuff is on offer: ores, grain, finished products, US real estate, precious metals, other less-damaged currencies, what-have-you. Better to own things of actual value than dollars that are fast-losing their purchasing power. Foreigners dump US treasury bonds, too, since inflation destroys their value. As foreigners do this, the dollars return home to the US provoking yet more inflation. Before long, America is awash in dollars and short on goods that you can buy with those dollars. You’re rich in dollars yet broke at the same time.

The outcome in both cases is substantially the same: the standard-of-living in America goes way down. What I predict for 2022 is that the Federal Reserve will embark on a much-heralded tightening program — and then abandon it at the first sign of trouble, the inevitable stock market downturn. Then the Fed will be back to buying our own debt paper and attempting to stuff interest rates back down, if they can, which may not be possible anymore. The Fed soon loses all control over American money. They may try to retire “old” dollars and replace them with “new” dollars backed by something, gold and silver being the obvious candidates. That will lead to a severe upward re-pricing of both metals. Let’s predict gold at $5,000 and silver at $200 by the end of 2022.

There may be a half-assed attempt to establish some kind of official US digital currency (this has been rumored for years.) The experiment will fail. Americans will resist being herded into that corral where their every financial transaction is traceable, taxable, and punishable. They will have learned their lesson about that from the Covid-19 tyrannies. They are sick of being pushed around. They no longer trust the authorities in money, government, medicine, or anything else. Anyway, as a practical matter, too many Americans operate on the fringes of the system already and depend on cash for doing all their business. Many of these are what’s called “un-banked.” They cannot participate in computerized payment systems. They will remain outside the digi-loop doing business with silver, gold, or various kinds of stuff. They’ll operate like 14th century Venetians.

I kind of doubt Bitcoin and its imitators will survive a whole lot longer after the financial system is forced to recalibrate to reality. They have thrived solely as targets of speculation. The block-chain is very clever, but ultimately Bitcoin and its ilk represent… nothing… no-thing(s). They attracted a lot of money that was just sloshing around the system during the years of artificial pseudo-prosperity, and that’s over. Anyway, they depend utterly on a stable Internet and electric grid to function and you’d be surprised at the fragility lurking in both those systems. Early 2022 may be your last chance to get out of Bitcoin with anything to show for your adventures in it.

Politics and Society

The mass formation psychosis described by Mattias Desmet of the University of Ghent is behind much of what we’ve been seeing in US politics for some years now. It was apparently triggered by the election of Donald Trump. But it seems to me the syndrome was groomed and cultivated by America’s “deep state” security, surveillance, and intelligence apparatus for decades before. Liberal Democrats didn’t have to go batshit crazy over Trump. Rather, they were manipulated into it by the deep state’s agents in the major media, starting with the preposterous RussiaGate collusion psy-op and extending through four years of nefarious schemes to disable and oust Mr. Trump. Though portrayed as the arch-enemy of the pets and pet projects of the Left — identity Marxism, open borders — as president, Mr. Trump was really much more a threat to the deep state itself, and to its matrix of wealth, power, and privilege, and they pulled out all the stops except assassination to shove him off the game-board.

His perseverance and resilience in the face of all that, was remarkable. But in the end, his enemies engineered an election marinated in various flavors of fraud, and managed to get rid of the Golden Golem of Greatness. How “Joe Biden,” the empty husk of a grifting, ward-heeling pol, came to be nominated by the Democratic Party is one of the abiding mysteries of modern times. His victory in the Super Tuesday primary, which cinched the nomination for him, was surely rigged by the DNC. His campaign, from start to finish, was a sham of hiding from the public. If the voters had been allowed to see the material on his son, Hunter, and the slime-trail of bribes recorded in hundreds of emails, contracts, and other documents on the “laptop from Hell,” “Joe Biden” would be in federal prison rather than the White House. But Facebook, Twitter, and Google conspired to censor all mention of that, and the people never got the news. So, now what?

Well, moving into the early winter of 2022, Americans are discovering just how badly they have been played on Covid-19, and how badly “Joe Biden” & Co. have handled economic matters and other things, like the daily invasion across the Mexican border, and how poorly “JB” & Co. have managed our foreign relations — the Afghan withdrawal fiasco, etc — and generally what a pathetic a figure “JB” presents to the world… and all this is looking like the ghost dance of the Democratic Party. Let’s predict the party will not survive the 2022 midterm elections intact as a coherent political faction.

I’ll give 70 / 30 odds that “Joe Biden” steps aside “for health reasons” well before the midterm election. He’s falling apart before our eyes. He can barely utter a comprehensible sentence. He embarrasses himself and the country every day. His poll numbers are in the sub-basement…. So, okay, he basically takes a dive and retires from the scene. Kamala Harris is sworn in. President Harris nominates Barack Obama as vice-president. Say, what…!

Mr. Obama is back in charge — like, was he ever not in charge since Jan 20, 2021, really? — going so far as to brazenly occupy the Oval Office as Veep for daily business — consigning Ms. Harris to a broom closet. Democrats clamor for Ms. Harris to resign and officially hand the reins to Mr. Obama. (Presidents are limited to two elected terms in office, but the constitution does not stipulate such a circumstantial appointment to office.) Kamala graciously steps aside. For the sake of “unity” and gender balance, Mr. Obama nominates Liz Cheney as the new vice-president. That’s one possible scenario. Rewrite that play with Hillary Clinton instead of Barack Obama. The Democrats are going to have to try some desperate move to retain power.

Even so, it’s hard to imagine any circumstances in which the Democratic Party retains effective control of the government. In the event that the midterm election is actually held, let’s predict Republicans regain majority control of the House and Senate, with many new faces of the MAGA persuasion among them. The Dems hopes and dreams for transformative change get flushed down the toilet. Government at the national level becomes impotent, ineffectual, unable to discharge its duties or manage anything — all this predicted explicitly, by the way, in The Long Emergency (Grove-Atlantic, 2005). Will our foreign adversaries take advantage of the situation? Can the fifty states manage their affairs without subsidies from Washington DC? Governors had better be planning for strange times.

The political right has been careful and cautious since the debacle of the January 6, 2021 march on the Capitol building. The poor boobs cajoled by FBI plants to break into the joint have been treated abominably by their government, and probably extra-legally. But mainly, the Jan. 6th caper put a damper on any more right-wing street action during “Joe Biden’s” year in office. That may change in 2022. The mood of politically-motivated people on either side of the spectrum has got to be aggravated by the tanking economy. And as the year rolls on, it will just be hungry, angry Americans of all sorts raising hell because they don’t know what else to do.

All the anxiety driving the mass formation psychosis that had first focused on Trump, and then on Covid-19 (and the unvaccinated), may now finally shift its energy at the actual source of our woes and sorrows: the DC establishment. The decline and fall of Covid-19 is going to leave a big hole in the nation’s anxious, wasted soul, and it will have to be filled with something. We’re thrust into a scene that resembles Civil War, but it becomes harder and harder to determine who is on what side, or what the sides even are — or as Mick Jagger famously hollered at Altamont CA in. ’69, “Who’s foit-ing an’ whut faw?” It’s sheer clusterfuck. Murphy’s Law meets Zombieland during Seven Days in May.


    Gawd, who knows…? The Russians are sorely pissed because thirty years ago after the Soviet system clocked out, and eventually Vlad Putin tried to paste some kind of functioning nation back together out of the debris, we promised them in plain talk to not expand NATO, and then, year after year, we proceeded to add more countries to NATO including former Soviet Republics hedging right up to Russia’s border. Then, the US under Mr. Obama ran the “color revolution” in Ukraine, attempting to strong-arm that pathetic punching bag of a state to come over to our side… and having done that, we’re now threatening to bring them into NATO, meaning we would like to station rockets and perhaps troops and all kinds of other military stuff on what has been the doormat for every attempted invasion of Russia in modern history. Are you surprised that Russia has drawn a line in the sand there?

One can’t have a whole lot of confidence in Anthony Blinken’s State Department or in General Milley’s Woked-up, transsexual army that calling Russia’s bluff on this might work out well for the USA. Considering how economically weak we are now, how tragically disunited we are, how pussified and squishy we’ve become, maybe starting a war over Ukraine isn’t such a hot idea. One can only hope.

On the other side is China, Uncle Xi’s re-born Middle Kingdom, with gleaming skyscrapers, dazzling new airports and highways, the fabulous social credit system for controlling her huge population Orwell-style. China has a lot going for her, but what’s going against her isn’t so obvious, starting with the fact that she’s hurting for long-term fossil fuel supplies. China just doesn’t have that much oil or natgas, and she’s using ever-lower quality coal to drive her industry. Her oil imports have to travel through two global choke-points, the Straits of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca. In short, despite China’s great strides moving from the twelfth century into dazzling modernity, she might stumble on the energy quandary — like all the other “advanced” nations.

It’s no secret that under the ambitious Marxist emperor Xi Jinping, China wants to occupy the World Hegemon role that America is struggling not to abandon. Hegemon-ship usually requires geographical expansion. We’re certainly concerned about a takeover of Taiwan, which is, effectively, America’s offshore microchip facility. China could conceivably gain control over Taiwan by a thousand tiny steps without firing a shot — as the CCP has infiltrated US politics, media, and education — or by force, if only to make a theatrical point, but why invite the possibility of a nuclear exchange?

China has been adventuring in many remote parts of the world for years without drawing much international attention, buying farmland and mining sites throughout East Africa, and now she is eyeing openings in several resource-rich South American nations that recently elected friendly socialist presidents. China was awarded contracts to operate ports at both ends of the strategically important Panama Canal over twenty years ago, and Panama signed a memorandum of agreement to join China’s Belt-and-Road initiative in 2017. That got the attention of the Trump administration, which was meeting China’s expansionism with tariffs and sanctions. Mr. Trump caused several Chinese infrastructure projects for bridges, high-speed rail, and port improvements in the Canal Zone to be suspended. “Joe Biden,” a major Chinese client, is now looking the other way.

Can China actually control the unruly lands of Central Asia vital to her Belt-and-Road ambitions. For instance, Afghanistan, where China looks to establish giant mining operations, but has yet to tangle with the feisty Taliban. Let’s predict that China in 2022 is stymied in expansion and hamstrung by her energy problems. And add to that trouble in her export markets of the USA and Europe, as they begin to implode financially and the demand for Chinese manufactured goods declines.

Then there is China’s banking morass, bazillions of loans gone bad, giant businesses wobbling, and collateral in the form of a thousand skyscrapers built out of cement so inferior that it’s a miracle the buildings still stand up. How will China’s fragile banking system contend with contagion from the financial problems of the US and Europe? Let’s predict that China finds herself in enough economic difficulty that domestic disorder breaks out, the government over-reacts to it, and she becomes too paralyzed with internal political problems to make any mischief beyond her border for now.

Finally, Europe. Oh, lovely Europe, the tourist theme-park of my lifetime with its beautiful cities, tidy landscapes, its cafes, cathedrals, girls on motorbikes, its fabulous deep culture. Looks like the whole shebang is going down the chute now, with intimations of a return to 20th century political upheaval. Somehow, Covid-19 has provoked Austria and Germany to return to behavior that smells a little bit like what went on in the Hitler years. Hard to believe, I know, but look at them! Police state tactics! Forced vaccinations! Lockdowns! Harsh punishments for those who resist. It’s sickening, and looks like it’s getting entrenched.

Euroland’s economy is a mess. Its energy problems are worse than China’s. Except for Norway, with its dwindling North Sea oil fields, and some played-out coal mines, Europe has next to nothing for fossil fuels. Germany’s feckless “green” wind-and-solar project hasn’t worked out. She is more and more dependent on Russian oil and gas, and Germany’s position in NATO subjects her to the machinations of the USA against Russia, which has stymied the opening of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline across the Baltic Sea. They may end up freezing this winter, and starving the following winter. The European banking system is a laughable fraud, since the EU has no control of the fiscal decisions made by member governments that issue increasingly worthless bonds. It’s going to be a rough year there with governments coming and going — stumbling as they go. Perhaps France gets a little lucky. The maverick journalist Éric Zemmour wins the election as president and spurs a revival of French national spirit. He’s still stuck with the rot in financials, but at least he bolsters the country’s morale. And unlike the Germans, France did not choose to close down its nuclear power industry, so the lights stay on there.

There you have it, ye denizens of Clusterfuck Nation. I can do no more with this. I wish you all fortitude in the twelve months ahead, and courage, and kindness, and all the good things that we are capable of. We’ll need that. There is still a lot to cherish about this country of ours, the good old USA, and I believe we’ll rediscover that in Double-deuce, along with some ability to tell ourselves the truth about things that matter and act consistently with it! Excelsior, brave hearts! 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Last War: How a US-Russia Conflict Would Play Out - By Alexey Gryazev

(Before or after you read the article, you might review this:

Who Wants War? - CL)


A showdown between Washington & Moscow would be the worst outcome for both sides, and they know it

Hundreds of formidable tanks rolling down hills, thousands of high-caliber guns unleashing devastating artillery barrages, apocalyptic nuclear explosions, millions of deaths and indescribable suffering: that would be how any potential military conflict between US and Russia would play out.

RT explains why direct military confrontation between the two countries would not help solve a conflict, but instead be likely a world-ending catastrophe.

From escalation to détente

A Ukrainian drone hits targets in Donbass, the part of eastern Ukraine under the control of breakaway rebels. In an unexpected turn, the local Moscow-backed militias retaliate with greater force than usual, and Kiev’s forces suffer heavy losses. This inspires Ukraine to launch a large-scale military offensive. After the first major air strike, Russian troops cross the eastern border, ostensibly  to prevent a humanitarian disaster. Dozens of videos showing military hardware moving through cities and villages turn up on social media.

An American military instructor is killed by Russian artillery fire near Debaltseve, and the ‘cold war’ between NATO and Russia is quickly sliding into a hot one. The world is spiraling into chaos, as two massive military forces are getting ready for a long-feared confrontation…

This is, more or less, the picture that has gripped the imaginations of some of the more extreme people braying for a Moscow-Washington showdown.

For several years now, relations between Russia and the United States have left much to be desired, and warnings a potential military confrontation between the two most powerful militaries on the planet have been popping up with increasing regularity. Another surge started in November this year, when Bloomberg alleged that Russia may be preparing to invade Ukraine.

The narrative was quickly picked up by The New York Times, CBS News, and other major outlets. They talked about the threat of military action growing with the coming of the cold season; the US discussing potential response to a military conflict with its allies; and even the potential involvement of NATO member-states.

Russian officials have repeatedly denied any hostile intentions on the part of Moscow, but that did not help defuse the situation. In fact, as the war narrative spread across the information space, politicians started to sound more and more alarmed – one even went as far as to urge President Joe Biden to consider the possibility of using nuclear weapons against the enemy.

Military action could mean that we stand off with our ships in the Black Sea… It could mean that we participate, and I would not rule that out, I would not rule out American troops on the ground. We don’t rule out first use nuclear action

The online meeting between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden on December 7 relieved some of the tension. At the very least, the parties agreed to continue the dialogue. A week later, Moscow contacted the US side through official channels, presenting draft agreements with US and NATO on mutual security guarantees, which were soon made public.

Washington’s reaction has been a diplomatic one. First, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that the United States will discuss Europe’s security issues with its allies. Then, Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that Washington is open to dialogue.

We are fundamentally prepared for dialogue. Russia has now put on the table its concerns with American and NATO activities; we’re going to put on the table our concerns [with Russia]”, he said at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Equally important, Sullivan stressed that, at the moment, the US government assumes that Russia has not made any major decisions regarding Ukraine.

Why did the US turn to dialogue with Russia?

“The shift to constructive dialogue comes from the fact that Moscow and Washington are well aware of the consequences of a potential military clash between the two countries,” explains Russian military observer and retired colonel Mikhail Khodarenok.

Russia’s Armed Forces are considered one of the world’s strongest. In the annual Global Firepower report, which ranks the military power of 140 countries across the globe, Russia regularly ranks second, surpassed only by the US military.

In some areas, Moscow is well ahead of the competition. For example, the Russian Armed Forces have 13,000 tanks, which is more than twice as many as the US military (6,100). Most of them are Soviet-era antiques, but the backbone of the tank fleet consists of T-72, T-80, and T-90 tanks, which are perfectly capable machines. Modifications of the latter, according to Mikhail Khodarenok, “are very much on par with the latest versions of the M1 Abrams.”

The same applies to self-propelled artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems – in terms of their numbers, Russia leaves its competitors far behind.

However, military experts warn against making claims about military parity between Russia and the United States.

“The issue is, clearly, not that the Russian Army poses any serious threat to the United States. They have advanced so far technologically that, should they conduct warfare by conventional means, the US would overwhelm and defeat any adversary. They would raze it all to the ground,” Mikhail Khodarenok told RT.

Dmitry Stefanovich, Research fellow at the Center for international security at the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO RAS), does not believe that the situation for the Russian military is entirely hopeless. In an interview with RT, he suggested that on a regional or even sub-regional level, Russia could achieve parity with the United States “or even a certain degree of superiority for a short period of time.” However, he added, in the event of a full-scale conflict, this temporary advantage would not be a decisive one.

“In principle, our ground troops could, in certain aspects, especially in missile forces, artillery, and air defense, surpass the Americans, but since the enemy would have an overwhelming advantage on sea and in the air, this wouldn’t be enough to achieve strategic objectives,” Stefanovich noted.

A battle of titans

In fact, all the strengths of the Russian Army are offset by multiple other factors, the most obvious of which is funding. US military spending is 17 times higher than that of Russia, in raw dollar terms. Moreover, every year the US spends more on defense, breaking records every time: in 2019-2021, the numbers were $685 billion, $738 billion, and $741 billion, respectively.

Russia has also increased its military budget over recent years, but not on the same scale as the US. In 2019, Moscow spent 3 trillion rubles on defense, another 3.09 trillion rubles in 2020, and 3.2 trillion rubles in 2021 (more than $40.77 billion, $41.99 billion, and $43.48 billion in dollar terms). However, because of the ruble’s volatility, the size of the Russian military budget in US dollar equivalents has not increased and is, in fact, falling (by about $200 million each year). In 2021, Russia’s defense budget was only $43 billion (more than 3.16 trillion rubles).

The difference in spending affects the strength of the two countries’ armed forces. According to The Military Balance 2021, the United States has just under 1.4 million active military personnel, while Russia has about 900,000. As for the individual branches of the armed forces, the difference between the two powers can sometimes be more than double: the US Navy has 346,000 servicemen, while the Russian Navy only has 145,000. Similarly, the US Air Force has a strength of 331,400 compared to the Russian Air Force, which is 165,000 strong; in terms of ground troops, the numbers are 485,400 and 280,000, respectively.

“In terms of hardware, the US Air Force and Navy are far ahead of Russia – Washington has ensured its lead in this area for years to come. Consider the Navy alone: the US has 11 aircraft carriers – we have one,” said Khodarenok.

He also reminded that alliances should not be taken out of the equation. In that respect, Russia’s chances don’t look too good, either. The US is part of NATO, a bloc of 30 countries. Russia, in turn, is one of just seven members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), others being Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

America has allies outside NATO, while Russia has none. Even Beijing, described by US journalists as an adversary that could team up with Russia in a potential World War III, has no binding ties with Moscow.

Finally, Russia, unlike the US, has its military presence in a limited number of territories: mainly in the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, in unrecognized Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria, as well as Syria. Belarus and Kazakhstan host Russian radar stations, and there are plans to open a Russian naval base in Sudan. With a network of allies that small, Moscow can hardly pose any threat to Washington.

“There is no parity between Russia and the US in terms of conventional warfare, and there can hardly be any global parity, given the difference in economic weight, scientific and technical potential and the size and structure of respective alliances,” said Stefanovich.

In what way, then, could Russia threaten the US?

“In theory, Russia could sink carriers or strike American bases in Europe, the Middle East or Asia with high-precision long-range conventional arms,” Stefanovich noted.

He also believes that, in a hypothetical conflict, Washington is unlikely to view such losses as unacceptable.

“The enemy’s retaliation would be much more destructive, even in the case of a reciprocal response. Annihilating Russian bases in Syria or sinking Russian ships outside our territorial waters would be a trivial task for the US Navy and Air Force. Going back to conventional arms, striking American critical infrastructure using non-nuclear weapons would not achieve any strategic goals, and the US ability to respond is insurmountably bigger. It would also be shortsighted and unprofessional to hope that they wouldn’t retaliate,” Stefanovich added.

All of the arguments outlined above are often brought up by the Western media when talking about a potential conflict between Russia and NATO. However, this is only true if we consider conventional arms, which exclude weapons of mass destruction. And it is Russia’s nuclear capabilities that make it the world’s second military power. According to SIPRI, Moscow has 6,255 nuclear warheads, while the US has 5,550. Needless to say, Russian warheads are many times more destructive than Little Boy and Fat Man, which were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the final weeks of World War II.

Hypothetical conflict scenarios spell swift defeat to Russia; so, according to Khodarenok, any armed confrontation between the two powers “could easily escalate to an exchange of nuclear strikes.”

“That’s the only way. First off, the US wouldn’t confront Russia alone; there will surely be a coalition with the European Union, and the military superiority of US and NATO would make nuclear weapons the only means for Russia to defend itself. But that could hardly be called a war,” said Khodarenok.

Both governments are fully aware of this and probably don’t want to bring things to the boiling point. As the well-known quote by Albert Einstein goes, no matter what weapons World War III is fought with, World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. Russian military analysts are even more specific, saying that “a nuclear war with a country like Russia will be the last in human history.” 

That said, it’s very likely that humankind doesn’t entirely comprehend the fallout from a potential nuclear war. In October 2021, the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres published an article by US researchers explaining that a nuclear war would be much more devastating than anyone previously believed.

They estimate that a potential nuclear conflict between Russia and the US will not only result in millions of deaths, but also lead to catastrophic environmental changes across the globe. Nuclear strikes will inject 150 megatons of soot into the atmosphere, causing global fires and eventually a nuclear winter. Moreover, UV Index values will become extreme, reducing the ozone layer by as much as 75% globally.

“A war between Russia and the US might happen only if one or both countries continuously misinterpret the intent of their respective opponent and misjudge their own ability to control the escalation. Still, I’m pretty much positive that even if there are incidents resulting in deaths of Russian or US soldiers or destruction of ships or planes, Moscow and Washington will do everything in their power to prevent the situation from escalating any further,” Stefanovich said.

Although experts don’t believe there could really be a war between Russia and the US, speculation on the subject is unlikely to cease unless there is some kind of détente. Washington and NATO allies agreed to discuss Moscow’s proposals on mutual security guarantees: first round of negotiations will happen in Geneva in January. “We hope that no one else views conflicts as a desirable scenario. We will toughly ensure our security by those means that we deem appropriate,” said Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, summing up Moscow’s view on the subject.

Reprinted from RT News.

The Deep State and Its Tentacles - By Andrew P. Napolitano

Two recent and unconnected revelations demonstrate that the deep state remains engaged, deceptive and dangerous.

Here is the backstory.

The deep state consists of those parts of the government that do not change in response to elections and are not transparent or answerable to voters.

This generally includes the intelligence and law enforcement communities, the military and diplomatic communities, and central bankers. Each has its private sector collaborators.

Some would include the judiciary. As a former member of the judiciary from one of the four states that grant life tenure to judges, I do not consider judges to be in the same category as CIA, FBI and other thugs — armed, or flush with cash — who have their own secret agendas.

With the sole exception of the unconstitutional Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, judges operate in public courtrooms, and whatever they do is reduced to writing and subject to appeal or public criticism.

The deep state is well below the visible parts of government and rarely subject to public scrutiny. Its budgets are secret. And its power is rarely subject to appeal of any sort. Its two most notorious members — and the two that tormented former President Donald J. Trump — are intelligence and law enforcement. And the two best known in those communities are the CIA and the FBI.

Readers of this column know that the CIA tortures people in foreign lands, believing that somehow torture committed outside the United States cannot subject its officers to prosecution. We know this because of recent revelations in hearings in the military courtrooms at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

There have been no full jury trials there since the inception 20 years ago of this George W. Bush-inspired modern-day Devil’s Island, but there have been hearings with juries to determine the punishment of those who have pleaded guilty to federal crimes.

In one of those hearings, we learned of four years of torture of a foreign national at the hands of the CIA, only to have its officers reveal their opinion that the torture was useless as the victim was telling the truth before, during and after they repeatedly invaded his body cavities and nearly froze him to death in a walk-in refrigerator/freezer.

These revelations were not challenged by the military and civilian prosecutors.

There are many CIA actions that the agency wishes we did not know about, such as the wars it has fought, its physical presence in every statehouse in the U.S., and its domestic spying on Americans without search warrants. When Gen. David Petraeus was the director of the CIA, he admitted in a talk he thought was secret, but which was secretly recorded, that the CIA has access to all microchips in your home.

Thus, if you own a microwave oven, the CIA is quite literally in your kitchen. If you use a cellphone or drive a car, the CIA quite literally goes wherever you do.

No statute authorizes CIA torture or domestic spying. In fact, the Constitution and treaties to which the U.S. is a signatory and federal statutes prohibit both types of behavior. Yet, CIA agents engage in criminal behavior because they can — and because they know that they can get away with it.

Over the Christmas holiday, CIA officials leaked to friendly reporters at CNN their determination to overhaul their network of spies, cease paramilitary actions — which presumably include torture — and return to the “quiet statecraft” of spying on “adversaries” like China and Russia. Then the CIA learned that it has failed to recruit enough Mandarin- and Russian-speaking agents to do so. Criminal and inept.

We also learned shortly before the Christmas holiday from testimony at Guantanamo Bay that nine FBI agents were formally transferred to the CIA so that they’d be free to engage in torture themselves without damaging the reputation of the FBI. CIA agents apparently don’t care about their employer’s reputation the way their bosses do.

During the Christmas holiday, former FBI agents revealed that they and others had secretly gone undercover and pretended to be part of the mobs that engaged in the riots in 2020 in Portland, Oregon. There, 200 folks were arrested in a six-month period and charged with various crimes, which ranged from unlawful assembly to obstruction of justice to using violence to destroy government property.

When FBI agents go undercover, their task is to blend in with the folks they are secretly monitoring. That often means committing the same crimes as these folks. Thus, 100 of the 200 cases were dropped because the FBI agents who were sent to join the mob and who pretended to be part of it failed adequately to chronicle what they saw.

Or so their now-retired former colleagues say. We will, of course, never know the true reasons why these cases were dropped. Nor will we know which of these crimes where actually provoked or committed by FBI agents.

We know from reports by the inspector general of the Department of Justice for 2020, and from courtroom files in the FBI-created conspiracy to kidnap the governor of Michigan, that the FBI never prosecutes its own when they are undercover and commit crimes and, in fact, regularly permits its undercover sources to commit crimes with impunity.

What’s going on here?

What’s going on is the destruction of personal liberty in America by the very folks we have hired to protect it. CIA and FBI agents have all taken the same oath as I did when I became a judge — to abide by the Constitution. The folks who torture, spy without warrant, and create and participate in criminal behavior have become a law unto themselves as they decide what laws to break, what laws to uphold and whom to permit to get away with lawless behavior.

This will bring us to ruination. Why do we tolerate it?