Friday, March 23, 2018

Trump holds a gun to the economy's head

The market intensely dislikes two things - bad economics and unproductive war. 

Bad economics disrupts productivity - if there is an established flow of resources to production centers to points of sale - bad economics spoils that flow. There are all kinds of resources (physical/financial/information) and there are all kind of production centers. Most of these are linked in ways no one can predict or claim to know. Disrupting productivity in one stream produces non-trivial effects in other teams. 

Unproductive war (like the shooting wars of old or the civil wars of today) destroy production centers and consume manpower. This ends productivity in a very fundamental way as capital resources decline precipitously and control over those resources becomes contested at a very high level. 

By opening the door to a trade war with so many US international trade partners (China, Canada, Mexico, etc...) and simultaneously appointing John Bolton as the NSA - Trump has created both problems at once.

Everyone - even the smallest businessman - knows you can't overload the system like this. It falls apart completely and that outcome favors no one. 

I am guessing that Trump (and his patron Putin) know this all too well but with Mueller so much closer to putting them behind bars for the rest of their lives, Trump has decided to put a gun to the economy's head as a whole. 

I see the worried faces in the NatSec community - people know how bad this is and that millions will die from this deadly combination of events. 

It is easy at this point for people to say - "Well then have Mueller back off - that will calm Trump down and we don't have to do this" but that doesn't work either. As I had discussed in my earlier post,  ending the Mueller investigation will make Trump think he is emperor. When he thinks like that he will move aggressively to eliminate his liabilities (Nazis, 2A guys - this means you) at that point these "liabilities" will launch a civil war. So that outcome will be even more damaging to the economy than whatever trade wars Trump attempts to ignite and whatever real wars Bolton tries to set up.

A flip side to Trump putting a gun to the economy like this is that those rich Midwestern farmers who voted Trump in, will feel the pain that their Great Generation ancestors felt when the elected Hoover and he put Smoot Hawley into effect. The situation with Ag debt/asset ratios is already pretty bad, Trump's attempt at a trade war with China will backfire on his supporters. There is little one can do about that - one only gets what one puts in. 

The same is true for Bolton, he is in public service today because he skated responsibility for his role in triggering the Iraq war. A lot of people got away with that, but if he triggers another war, he may find himself being handed over an international criminal court as a war criminal. Again - the man loves war so much - he might actually enjoy the prospect of being the target of a Nuremberg style proceeding (yeah he is like that). One cannot protect people from the consequences of their own actions. 

By appointing Bolton (the poster child for Bush era Warmongering Elitist) as NSA and with the exposure of the "electronic brain washing" by Cambridge Analytica of old white men in the US, I feel a subtle fissure has opened up inside Trump's vaunted "base". We are not at the point where his base is openly questioning him, but even one question asked openly by those in the base - will cause his fragile ego to shatter. 

Trump really expects his base to follow him like sheep being to the slaughter. He no more expects questions from them - than a farmer expects questions from the pigs he is about to kill.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Mr Putin's big problem

The problem with pretending to be an omnipotent dictator greater than God is that people expect you to live up to the image you have created.

Per RUGov that 56M votes were cast for Putin and allegedly 74M voters turned up to vote. You see this is "slightly better" than Putin's own projections that he would make the "70-70" i.e. 70% turnout and 70% of the total votes cast.

But as Sergei Shpilkin's analysis indicates, 10 M votes were "ballot stuffed".

If you take this in conjunction with RUGov's figures - we see that 46M votes were cast for Putin in an election where candidates like Navalny were debarred, and only 64M voters actually turned up to vote.

This means Putin's numbers are really 58-68 when he said 70-70. And even with Navalny's name taken off the ballot he isn't able to make his count without outrageous ballot stuffing.

This is bad.

This means that people inside the Grand Duchy of Moscow now openly know that Mr. Putin has feet of clay.

The exact consequences of that are hard to predict, but most likely they will ask Putin for more "baksheesh" to keep him in power. As the RU economy continues to struggle due to the sanctions, the likelihood that Putin will have the money to pay them diminishes. This most likely means they will start pocketing more from "the take"*.

That kind of behavior creates problems. Problems that have no easy solutions.

All this will make Putin very uncomfortable in the time ahead. It is not clear whether he will attempt to use CBRN based terror strikes as a leverage tool to push for an end to sanctions. I suspect he will be tempted as the wallet dries out in Moscow.

* "the take" is a flow of cash inside RU. It makes its way to the top, but if greedy hands sink too deep into it, then there will be problems for the top.

Fall of the House of Trump

We knew it was long coming but we are at the point where the outer facade will begin to crumble.

The Cambridge Analytica interview with Channel 4 news is pretty damning. It is clear that while "micro-targeting" based marketing is not a viable technique, Cambridge Analytica was actually only posing as a "micro-targeting" firm. It was in fact a dirty tricks machine that was pursuing a no holds barred campaign to malign Trump's opponents. The money trail to Cambridge Analytica runs via Robert Mercer and the GOP, but its poisonous roots appear to be crawling with RIS operators. The exposure of Kushner and Trump to this is devastating. This is a direct charge of election tampering - a charge that is much worse than "collusion" or even obstruction. This is straight up treason.

Perhaps Trump will survive the fall of the House but "Javanka" and the boys will not. Neither will *any* of the enablers. This may explain why Trump Jr's wife chose a criminal defense attorney to litigate her divorce. The criminal attorney is there primarily to see that she is not embroiled as an accessory in whatever Trump Jr has been up to. She (like other "complicit" people) will seek to build a firewall between herself and the fall of the house. I do not know if she will succeed.

What exactly happens next for Trump himself  depends on the lawyers he chooses. And therein lies the rub. Trump is good at attracting gangster types like Cohen, he is not good at attracting competent people. This sort of legal-gangster stuff works real well in the private sector where corporations wrestle with each other and beat down the little guys, but IT DOES NOT WORK AT THE GOVERNMENT LEVEL.

 If one attempts the same stupid shit Trump pulls in his private business at the US Government level, everyone ends up in jail including the lawyers. So in his desperation, Trump is attracting the scum that are typically at the bottom of the barrel. The lawyers he is pulling on his team know exactly what I have said above. They will not do anything to actually defend him in court or before Mueller where it really matters. They will instead put on a show in the media and bill him a ton of hours. The end result will be that Trump will be completely blindsided by the OSC. His own lawyers will shake him down.

In this climate Trump will become even more mentally unfocused. He will drop commitments and obligations that he has towards his own stakeholders. He will be completely focused on his own survival and less and less so on the people he made promises to.

Trump was Putin's big investment in the US - he was Putin's last hope for getting the sanctions lifted. As that hope diminishes, and Putin runs out of money to keep his political machine running - he will become more and more erratic. The Skirpal attack is merely Putin's way of saying be nice to me or I will use CBW on your unprepared population. This is not as I had earlier suspected a desire to slap MI6 in the face, it is a warning to Trump. A warning that IMHO Trump will ignore cause he is too busy with saving his own skin.

As for the mass of supremacists that thought he would be their agent in the WH, well they are going to find out that he has no real interest in their well being. They will act out in ways that lead to more deaths and because of the peculiarity of the reporting system - the US itself will not recognize their actions as being coherent or coordinated until the violence levels are quite high.

So - expect more mass casualty incidents in the US.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Will the Trump problem solve itself if he is allowed to appoint himself President for Life?

We have witnessed a fantastic attrition in the WH in the last week. The most stunning of these dismissals of course Rex Tillerson, but I was quite impressed with the speed with which Trump's bodyman McEntee was kicked to the kerb for financial fraud. We are told McMaster, Kelly and Sessions are on the out as well. It is only a matter of time before they are all fired by Trump.

And then Trump bragged about how he made up facts at a head of state level meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau. Seeing as Canada is our biggest trading partner for food products - one can only wonder how the midwestern farmers that voted for Trump felt like after that little admission. I am sure Trump will walk that back amidst shouts of "Fake News" etc... but still you gotta wonder what's going through a Trumpers head these days as everything is visibly falling apart.

This brings me to my deepest insight of the day.

It was quite clear at the beginning of the 2016 electoral cycle that the mass of negative emotions triggered by Prez Obama's election (and re-election) among White baby boomers was going to play a major role in the outcome. The extent to which the GOP and Trump would collude with RIS to produce a desired electoral outcome was a bit of a surprise, but perhaps it should not have been.

In some ways this was necessary because with the pre-eminence of the millenial generation and the easily weaponized nostalgia of the White boomers, when the political contract was rewritten - the White boomers wanted it changed. Unfortunately there was no way to do it as it was too costly and White boomer productivity was not sufficient to cover the cost so the only way to do this was to get some stupid chumps in Russia to fund it.

That said - it came with a price, and that price tag has made me extremely uncomfortable.

I have watched with great concern as toxic ideas were deliberately vented to push Trump into the White House. As a result of such venting the GOP was devoured by its own pet Great White Shark - that beast which derives its strength from unrealistic supremacist expectations.

But that said I must wonder if it makes sense to allow Trump the maximum possible latitude to do his thing. He has indicated he wants to become Prez for Life. Let him think that is what he has achieved. If one does that - then he will become even more capricious and high handed in his behavior towards his own loyalists and like Tomi Lahren kicking her pet dog, Trump will eventually kick his pet Great White Shark.

That will most likely have one of three outcomes.

A) The Great White Shark will die as Trump's kick severs its last remaining brain cells.
B)  The Great White Shark will devour Trump.
C)  They will take each other down.

We have seen the Great White and Trump carefully circle around each other after the Charlottesville assassination. But at the time the The Great White Shark just swam around occasionally gnashing its teeth (recall that interview with the dude who said he would like to see a president whose daughter was not married to a "Jew"?) - and Trump mostly stood still slowly wandering his way through circular statements.

But if Trump thinks he has become Prez for Life, then he will not be willing to brook any kind of push back from people he thinks he has promoted via his brand (I mean seriously who would have heard of guys like Alex Jones, Matt Hiembach etc... if Trump hadn't promoted them?) He will demand complete loyalty and being who they are these folks will refuse it.

The same with the 2A types.

So this will probably create exactly the kind of pressure needed to resolve the complications created by the present situation.

Again this will not pay for the change the White boomers want - but allow Russia an exit from this disastrous investment. The White boomers will continue to pay the costs for cleaning up this carnage (The GOP will make sure that their social security/medicaid/IRAs are robbed to pay for the clean up) but at the very least RIS will be able to walk away from this*.

All one has to do right now - is allow Trump to believe he is an emperor. His fragile ego will do the rest.

* I say nothing about Putin - how could I do that? That is an internal Russian matter.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The Skripal Affair

A few comments on this Skripal assassination attempt in Britain.

My initial reaction to this was that perhaps Skirpal had violated the terms of his release and gone back to "active" status. But there is no indication that this was actually the case. Quite frankly he is too old to get back in the business.

It appears that a siloviki faction (what we call "securocrats" i.e. the caste of intelligence and security professionals who staff the IC) was keen to see him punished for revealing the names of active duty RIS agents during his time as a paid agent of the MI6. When we contrast this with the Siloviki behavior towards Skripal when he was held in their custody and then traded for an RIS asset in MI6 custody - it doesn't add up. If they hated him that much why wait so many years to do this?

Even if we assume that the RIS asset to be recovered was of greater intrinsic value to RIS than Skripal. The siloviki would only have kept him alive and well until they had their trade and then killed him right after the trade was over. The UK has been piss poor with protecting defectors against RIS hit squads, so again why wait so many years?

This "waiting period" issue pushes us towards three extremely worrisome possibilities

1) The siloviki were not aware of the extent of Skripal's treachery and became aware of it relatively recently. This would point to a breach of the UKIC. These are not unheard of, but to know the true nature of Skripal's contributions to MI6 would require a very highly placed agent inside the UKIC. We may be looking at another Philby level penetration.

2) There is a shift in siloviki thinking - perhaps someone has been recently promoted to a position of influence. It is not uncommon for intelligence communities to inbreed, i.e. recruit people who are relatives of serving or fallen officers. While such people are loyal to a fault, they are also capable of holding personal vendettas and grudges. If such a person is promoted, they may pursue a private agenda. These are not uncommon either, but to see it pursued in a place like Putin's Russia is odd. It suggests that Putin is not in control of his own siloviki caste. That opens the doors to all manner of unpleasant things.

3) Putin ordered the hit to send a message to other RU dissidents and anti-Putin forces that are sheltering in various parts of the world.  And the message reads "You cannot be safe if you oppose me, I will hunt you down and kill you." This is also plausible given how the Naytsa Rybka situation and the rate at which Trump advisers are shopping out RU contacts to OSC Mueller. The flip side of this would be that Putin feels threatened by external pressure points. Again this is to be expected, the RU election is a formality - he will be elected, the only question is whether there will be enough turnout for him ("70-70"). If his turnout is lower than projected, it will severely impair confidence in his ability to lead in the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Bearing in mind that the Russian election is merely a facade for a complex set of power rearrangements inside the Grand Duchy, Putin should feel pressured especially now that his flagship "Operation Elect Trump" is completely falling apart and the GRU is left holding the toilet seat!

I do not know which of these three possibilities is more likely to be the dominant dynamic. I am leaning towards the last possibility as I feel Putin's election is a farce but his continuation in power is a more nuanced affair - a balance between the cost of keeping him and the cost of replacing him. If I were a member of the Russian elite, I would be hard pressed to make a choice - both costs seem quite high and Russian economy is in a depression.

In any other country the easiest thing to do would be to wash the bad political debt in a hotly contested election where the loser was chosen in such a way as to carry the burden of the previous failure (what one calls "anti-incumbency") and the victor was decided long before the election took shape. But in Russia, that option is off the table. Centuries of autocracy have predisposed the elite to agreeing loudly with someone they privately would like to shoot out the mouth of a cannon.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

"Maybe we’ll give that a shot some day."

With this seemingly off the cuff remark - Trump once again declared his complete disregard for democracy.

While his supporters will jump to his defense saying "its a joke", or he's just saying that to "bait liberals" or support his dictatorship coz "we're stupid like that and he'll let us kill and rape all the dark skinned people we want"

And liberals will rage about his unsuitability of office, his declining mental health and his corruption.

.... but none of that will change the facts.

The facts are very simple.

Trump stands *effectively* accused of treason. Neither he nor his aides nor family will survive the Russia investigation. A best case scenario is they will end up in jail. A worst case scenario is that they will be slaughtered by Russian spies trying to cut off all visible links to Russia and avoid a nuclear confrontation that Russia cannot win*.

As Trump knows this better than any of his supporters or aides or family, he also knows that the only way to dodge this outcome is to declare himself "Emperor for Life". That is his ONLY way out. He cannot surrender to the FBI and sell out his own family before they sell him out (The Russians will still slit his throat if he does that). He cannot run retire (or switch places with Pence) and avoid the blow (there is no sacrificial goat he can offer that is big enough to appease both the USIC and the RIS which are very keen to reduce the risk of a global nuclear war).  He cannot keep spraying shit on FoxNews and hope that people will forget this treason. He cannot hope to keep dumping his follies on the GOP's political fortunes even though they would not have a penny to their name without his Russian helpers. These is NO WAY out but to push for dictatorial powers.

People think (IMHO foolishly) that dictatorial powers come from a legally visible break with constitutional law. There is no reason it has to be legally visible. It can all be done in a legally subterranean fashion - by using pliant bureaucrats, over-ambitious nobodies and a broken oversight mechanism.

Trumpers of the world will rejoice the destruction of the "swamp" by their God Trump. But as their God indicated in his comments on "Taking the guns away first and then doing the due process" - they will be the first to feel his wrath.

Surely 2A advocates realize that a dictator will *HAVE* to take guns away from the general population if he is to impose his will on them? 

I don't know if there is an appropriate time for this - so I am going to say it.

Dear Trumpers -

Kindly pull your heads out of your collective asses- Trump is coming for your Guns. 

You know - the guns you keep under your pillows to shoot black people ad FBI agents who want to ask you questions about what exactly you have in your "medicine" cabinets - yeah Trump is coming for those guns - 

He is coming for them and your NRA is more loyal to Trump than it is to you. 

Good Luck
ps. You can call me an IC/"Deep State" Stooge - but you know this is coming. Or were you dumb enough to think you can trust an NYC billionaire who "says stuff just like you want to hear".

* Putin's little show and tell about novel Russian nuclear weapons that defeat American NMD systems was so pathetic that I feel the worst I suspect about the accuracy of Russian inertial navigation systems must be true. I have long suspected the Russians never perfected their gyroscopy and gradiometry tools and this translated into a horrible CEP on the missiles. Add to this the persistent problems in Russian metallurgy and we have a very low OAR for Russian nuclear delivery platforms. This binds the Russians to large missiles with extremely high yield warheads. It is fine in practice but servicing them is problematic when your economy is smaller than that of the Netherlands. That is why Putin lied about his "nuclear powered cruise missile". That is why Putin used a seven year old animation about MIRVs striking Florida. By representing them as massive operational successes, Putin drew attention to his own failures to secure Russia from nuclear attack and exposed himself to political misfortune. He is like a wounded animal now, he has few options.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Significant Arctic Temperature Fluctuation

The temperature of the Arctic region has spike to 45C above normal.

What makes this exceptional is not just the scale of the fluctuation but the fact that this spike has occurred at a time when the Sun has not yet risen in the region. As most of you may be aware - the Sun does not rise above large parts of the Arctic during the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere - so to see the temperature rise 45C above normal is shocking (See below).

Based on our understanding of the interactions between the various Rayleigh Benard cells in the Northern Hemisphere, we can surmise that the Arctic temperature spike and the European cold wave. We call that kind of thing a "Polar Vortex" in the US.

Enhanced melting rates in the Arctic will bring the possibility of massive coastal flooding much closer. At the very least - all that moisture will have to go somewhere so we can expect torrential rain in places where it has never occurred before.

This will impose a major burden on the emergency response mechanisms and necessitate the investment of regular military personnel in humanitarian roles.

This Arctic temperature spike event should have triggered a massive national security review in the US and every last bit of data on emergent trends in climate data should be put under the microscope, but with Donald Trump still sticking his head in his ass - nothing is going to happen.

This is plain fucking nuts.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Deir Ezzor Event: Escalation likely

Two independent sources have now reported the presence of Su-57 stealth fighter at Khmeimim airbase.  This increases the likelihood that contemporaraneous reports of a buildup of RuAF air superiority assets in the region are correct.

These are the latest images from satellite.

and here is the video of the a/c on approach to Khmeimim. 

I am not sure if the a/c are being deployed there to boost RU morale after the Deir Ezzor fiasco or whether this is an attempt to challenge the US air superiority. 

Either ways - given the importance of Deir Ezzor in the grand scheme of things in Syria and how badly Putin now needs a victory in Syria to save face with the elite of the Grand Duchy of Moscow - a fresh assault on Deir Ezzor (or elsewhere is to be expected).

In light of that - the RuAF in Khmeimim may attempt to maintain a BARCAP. If the RuAF BARCAP can get into place before the US can deploy its CAP - then the Russians will have the upper hand in the escalation. Like a well positioned queen on a chess board they will deter the US from pursuing an effective air to ground role. 

This of course is over and above any stunts Trump might pull to compromise the US position from his perch in the White House. 

Situation is likely to escalate.