sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Starting a War with Russia?

John McCain and Lindsay Graham are beating the drum for a cold war with Russia in the US Senate. It's as good of a reason to build more and better war machines as any other, but before we start the war, we need to take a long look in the mirror.

The USA has been engaged in a cyber war with Russia for a long time. In fact, we're engaged in cyber espionage every single day of the year not only in Russia but elsewhere in an effort to *covertly engage our 'enemies' and reduce their economic capacity. 
*A covert operation differs from a clandestine operation in that emphasis is placed on concealment of identity of sponsor rather than on concealment of the operation.
TAMPERING WITH CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE

This example, cited by Curt at the Daily Time Waster: A CIA operation to sabotage Soviet industry by duping Moscow into stealing booby-trapped software was spectacularly successful when it triggered a huge explosion in a Siberian gas pipeline. 

There is an article today that suggests that the Russians have been intruding into a Vermont power company's computer system and we see OUTRAGE. However we allegedly blew up their gas pipeline in 2004

TAMPERING WITH ELECTIONS

Barack and others are howling about how Russia collected information from e-mail and made it public through Wikileaks. Assuming that's correct and it was Russian national actors rather than a false flag operation conducted from Ft. Meade by people who don't like Clinton, how is it so different from Secretary Clinton's gambit to delegitimize Vladimir Putin's election in 2011?
(NY Times) MOSCOW — Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin accused Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday of inciting unrest in Russia, as he grappled with the prospect of large-scale political protest for the first time in his more than decade-long rule. 
In a rare personal accusation, Mr. Putin said Mrs. Clinton had sent “a signal” to “some actors in our country” after Sunday’s parliamentary elections, which were condemned as fraudulent by both international and Russian observers. Anger over the elections prompted a demonstration in which thousands chanted “Putin is a thief” and “Russia without Putin,” a development that has deeply unnerved the Kremlin. 
Speaking to political allies as he announced the formation of his presidential campaign, Mr. Putin said that hundreds of millions of dollars in “foreign money” was being used to influence Russian politics, and that Mrs. Clinton had personally spurred protesters to action. The comments indicate a breakdown in the Obama administration’s sputtering effort to “reset” the relationship between the United States and Russia. 
“I looked at the first reaction of our U.S. partners,” Mr. Putin said. “The first thing that the secretary of state did was say that they were not honest and not fair, but she had not even yet received the material from the observers.” 
“She set the tone for some actors in our country and gave them a signal,” Mr. Putin continued. “They heard the signal and with the support of the U.S. State Department began active work.”
SPIES AND TRADECRAFT

Barack closed 2 Russian facilities, now denounced as nests for spies, that the US has known about and condoned since the 1970's - or maybe before that, and publicly PNG'd 35 Russian diplomats suspecting of being part of their clandestine service, here in the US under diplomatic cover.

Under most circumstances, the Russians would close the USGOV dacha outside Moscow and would expel 35 American diplomats, suspected of being part of our clandestine service, in Russia under diplomatic cover.

THOUGHTS

I understand clandestine activity and the need for an aggressive HUMINT service. However, before we stand on a podium and wrap ourselves in the flag, we need to acknowledge that we do the same things to the Russians that we are accusing them of

Senator John McCain's outrage may be real, but come on, John. One way to avoid this is to agree with the Russians to scale it back. We don't screw with them and they don't screw with us. We'll still conduct espionage and steal secrets as will they but we don't blow up their gas pipelines and they don't take down our electric grid. We leave their elections alone and they do likewise. This can be managed. The Russians are as reasonable as we are. We agreed many decades ago not to kill their clandestine officers and they don't kill ours. 

Russia has signaled a willingness to do this and I think that we need to try and take them at their word. Despite what popular media would have you believe, we've been able to do this with the Russians in the past. Why start a war that we don't need to start? Unless you want to use it to justify building more and better war machines...



Draining the Swamp?

Will it be possible for President Trump's Administration to drain the swamp during a four-year term in office? The answer to the question is that he may be able to chip away at it, but the business of America is government. The monster is just that big.

How big? (I hear you ask)

Federal government spending accounts for about 22% of the total economy. The states add another 11% of direct spending. To get a clearer picture, we must include the government-driven health industry (12%), the government-driven defense industry (3%) or the government-driven banking and insurance industries (4%). That's 52% of the total US economy. If you include the time/cost that businesses must endure to comply with federal regulations, the cost of government is far higher than 52%. Some experts put the spending and expense of government at about two thirds of the total economy. 

It takes a lot of employees to regulate 2/3 of the national economy.

The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) accounted for the 22,213,000 government employees in August 2016 in this way:  2,790,000 federal employees, 5,120,000 state government employees, and 14,303,000 local government employees.

BLS shows that manufacturing jobs peaked in June 1979 at 19,553,000. From August 2015 to August 2016 seasonally-adjusted manufacturing employment declined by 37,000--dropping from 12,318,000 last August to 12,281,000 this August.

Government employees in the United States outnumber manufacturing employees by 9,932,000, according to data released in September 2016 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The first step in making America great again is reversing that hugely lopsided number. But they are horribly out of balance.

Entitlements alone stagger the imagination with 65,000,000 Americans receiving food stamps (EBT). As others have suggested on this blog, standing in the line at the grocery store and watching people pay for fancy steaks and lobster tails with their EBT card is frustrating beyond belief. Scandal after scandal shows that if it wasn't for people paying for lap dances at the local strip club with EBT cards, some of those institutions would go out of business.

Since the business of America is government, there is little incentive for the government to reduce the number of people receiving benefits --- since the very employment of the social justice warriors requires that there be armies of people taking benefits. And EBT is only the very tip top of the iceberg.

It's a very very deep swamp.