Who is Argentina"s new chainsaw-wielding, libertarian president?

"Anarcho-capitalist" Javier Milei is Argentina's next president. His fiery TV persona and far-right politics have attracted comparisons to Trump. Self-described "anarcho-capitalist" Javier Milei is Argentina's new president. His fiery television persona and far-right political stances have attracted comparisons to Donald Trump.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 20th, 2023

Election Of Milei, Wilders, & Cogswell Has The Left Worried

Election Of Milei, Wilders, & Cogswell Has The Left Worried Authored by Roger Kimball via American Greatness, Is there a disturbance in the force? I think there might be. In just the last week, the chainsaw-wielding “anarcho-capitalist” Javier Milei won the presidential election in Argentina, the Freedom Party of Islamo-realist Geert Wilders trounced its opponents in the snap general election in the Netherlands, and, here at home, a Republican was elected mayor of Charleston for the first time since 1877. The Zeitgeist would seem to be awake and on the move. What is it waking from? I agree with those who say it is waking from wokeness. In this context, it is not irrelevant to point out that Donald Trump, who has consistently been leading in almost all GOP polls since the 2024 election campaign began, has surged even further ahead. As I write, an Emerson poll has Trump ahead of his competition by 64 to 8 for DeSantis, and 9 for Nikki Haley. The hoary meme of conventional wisdom cautions that even if Trump wins the nomination it won’t matter because he is unpopular with the American people. Alas for that scrap of anti-Trump prognostication, the former president has also pulled ahead of his likely opponent Joe Biden. Some earlier polls had Trump tied or ahead by a fraction of a point. The current polls have him ahead in the general election by some 4, 6, or more points. Are these phenomena related? I say yes. They are all part of a growing revulsion against the real-world, reality-show version of The Camp of the Saints, the dystopian novel, originally published in French,  about what happens when mass immigration from the third-world overwhelms Europe and America. I will not be giving anything away when I note that the result is the collapse of civilization. If you look up “Camp of the Saints” on Wikipedia, you will be told that the book has been criticized “for conveying themes”—odd locution—of “racism, xenophobia, nativism, monoculturalism, and anti-immigration.” “The novel,” we read, “is popular within far-right and white nationalist circles.” It is popular with me, too. But good luck, if you don’t already know the book, finding out for yourself. Camp of the Saints has been out of print for years and efforts to prise loose the rights from its publisher have been for naught. Currently, a paperback copy of the English version sells for about $200 on Amazon; the hardcover will set you back $4,155.15. (I think the 15¢ is a nice touch). Of course, the fate of Camp of the Saints is but one thread in the larger tapestry we see being woven in world politics now. What makes that thread important is its underlying theme. Which is—what? The superficial, but not incorrect, answer is immigration. Push a little on “immigration” and you wind up talking about such things as national identity, the location of sovereignty, and the lineaments of political legitimacy. What makes a regime legitimate? What tends to undermine that legitimacy? Ponder that and you will find yourself contemplating the role of political elites in the metabolism of Western “democracy.” I supply air quotes because in many cases we are not talking about the rule of the people, which of course is what democracy means, but rather rule of the bureaucrats, not all of whom are made or can be unmade by elections. This is where “the administrative state” comes in, a phrase that did not gain general circulation (though the reality it names is decades older) until the advent of Donald Trump. In the United States, as I have often observed, the people who are really in charge of the governmental apparatus implicitly believe that “democracy” means “rule by Democrats.” Anything else they regard as contra naturam, against the nature of (virtuous) things, and therefore beneath  consideration. All of that is background to the dramas unfolding in places like the Netherlands and Argentina. The Guardian, an old-school repository of leftwing sentiment, claims to be agitated by the unexpected triumph of Geert Wilders in the recent Dutch general election. Wilders’s victory, The Guardian warns, “threatens to take the normalisation of nativist populist politics in Europe to a dangerous new level.” The bit about the “normalisation of nativist populist politics” is correct, if impolitely phrased,  but the question is: is it proper to describe that as “dangerous”? Maybe “salvific” would be closer to the truth? The Guardian complains that Wilders campaigned on “a nakedly Islamophobic manifesto.” But is “Islamophobia” the correct term? Back when Islamists were steering airliners into skyscrapers, beheading journalists, and murdering filmmakers in broad daylight, I was fond of pointing out that “Islamophobia” was a striking misnomer. A “phobia” describes an irrational fear. But what is irrational about fearing people who loudly, repeatedly, ostentatiously declare their intention to destroy you and then follow up on those declarations with murderous actions? Just to stick with the post-9/11 world, I am thinking of such things as the Bali bombing of 2022 (204 dead, 240 injured), the Madrid train bombing of 2004 (192 dead, 2,050 injured), the London bombings of 2005 (52 dead, nearly 800 injured), the Mumbai train bombings of 2006 (209 dead, 700 injured), and more, so many more. Wilders made a name for himself combatting the murderous rage of Muslim extremists. The Guardian doesn’t like what it describes as his “anti-migrant agenda.” But since most of those “migrants” are Muslim, a good many of whom have indicated their preference for establishing Sharia law in the Netherlands, I think that Wilders has political reality, if not progressive ideology, on his side. Will he actually be able to form a government? That remains to be seen. I’d say the odds were in his favor, especially at a moment when lunatic jihadists groups like Hamas have not only indulged in their favorite kinetic sport of killing Jews en masse but have also mobilized anencephalic progressive ideologues on campuses across the Western world. We don’t have to wait to to discover the political fate of Javier Milei. He handily won the presidential election on November 19, 56 percent to 44 percent, and will take power on December 10. I think Milei is one of the most refreshing figures to appear on the political scene in a long time. I suspect that his flamboyant style makes him easy to underestimate. How appalling, for example, that this son of a bus driver should dismiss the Argentinian political establishment as “shit socialists” and “libtards,” “collectivists” who want to destroy  their opponents. “You can’t give them an inch,” he warns, “you can’t negotiate with leftards   because they will kill you.” Impolitic, yes.  But is it untrue? In a remarkable speech he gave on November 24, Milei used burgeoning power to speak truth to power.  He has not come, he said in a phrase he has used often, to “guide lambs but to awaken lions.” A new Argentina is impossible with “the same old people.” But the party is over, Milei warned. Henceforth, politicians, formerly the privileged elite, will be treated like ordinary honest Argentine citizens. The people, he said, are those awakening lions who will “devour the thieving politicians. They will devour the prebendary businessmen. They will devour the unionists who betray their people.” Milei believes that a turning point has been reached and that change of the sort he envisions is inevitable. “This works just like an exponential function,” he said. “At some point, there was a turning point and now they cannot stop it!” I hope that he is right. The forces of inertia, to say nothing of the forces of entrenched interest, are still with the establishment and they are powerful. But the point is that figures like Milei, Wilders, and William Cogswell, the new Republican mayor of Charleston, show that a counter-narrative is brewing. Will it prevail over the dominant “progressive” dispensation?  No one knows for sure. I take the panic sweeping like a tsunami through the fetid corridors of the Left as a good sign. They are worried, which means that the rest of us have grounds for hope. Tyler Durden Mon, 11/27/2023 - 17:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 27th, 2023

Argentina"s Trump-like presidential candidate, who proposed making the US dollar the country"s official currency, wins election after his opponent concedes defeat

Argentina's Economy Minister Sergio Massa has conceded defeat to populist Javier Milei, an "anarcho-capitalist" often compared to Donald Trump. Presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition Javier Milei arrives to vote in the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023.(AP Photo/Matias Delacroix) A self-described "anarcho-capitalist" candidate often compared to Donald Trump claimed victory in Argentina's presidential election.  Javier Milei's win comes as his opponent, Argentina's Economy Minister Sergio Massa, conceded defeat. With a Milei victory, the country will swing to the right amid discontent over soaring inflation and rising poverty. Argentina's Economy Minister Sergio Massa conceded defeat to populist Javier Milei in Sunday's fiercely polarized presidential runoff even before the country's electoral authority released official results.Massa congratulated his opponent, a right-wing economist who has promised a dramatic shake-up for many of the nation's institutions and welcomed frequent comparisons of him to former U.S. President Donald Trump.Immediately after Massa's concession speech, the Argentine electoral authority released partial results: With 86.6% of votes tallied, Milei had 55.95% and Massa 44.04%.With a Milei victory, the country will swing to the right amid discontent over soaring inflation and rising poverty, and empower a freshman lawmaker who describes himself as an anarcho-capitalist and got his start as a television talking head blasting what he called the "political caste."Inflation has soared above 140% and poverty has worsened while Massa has held his post. Milei, a self-described anarcho-capitalist, has proposed to slash the size of the state and rein in inflation, while the government minister he was running against warned people about the negative impacts of such policies. The election forced many to decide which of the two they considered to be the least bad choice.Milei's screeds resonated widely with Argentines angered by their struggle to make ends meet, particularly young men."Money covers less and less each day. I'm a qualified individual, and my salary isn't enough for anything," Esteban Medina, a 26-year-old physical therapist from Ezeiza, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, told The Associated Press on the sidelines of a Milei rally earlier this week.Massa, as one of the most prominent figures in a deeply unpopular administration, was once seen as having little chance of victory. But he managed to mobilize the networks of his Peronist party and clinched a decisive first-place finish in the first round of voting.His campaign cautioned Argentines that his libertarian opponent's plan to eliminate key ministries and otherwise sharply curtail the state would threaten public services, including health and education, and welfare programs many rely on. Massa also drew attention to his opponent's often aggressive rhetoric and openly questioned his mental acuity; ahead of the first round, Milei sometimes carried a revving chainsaw at rallies.Speaking after casting her vote at the stately University of Buenos Aires Law School, Jenifer Pio, 36, told the AP that she fears a Milei victory would risk the return of dictatorship."Milei doesn't have the faintest idea of how to govern," said Pio, a homemaker. "It isn't bad that he's prideful, but he would need to have a bit more stability. He's unstable emotionally and psychologically. He's unwell."Ana Iparraguirre, a partner at pollster GBAO Strategies, said Massa's "only chance to win this election when people want change ... is to make this election a referendum on whether Milei is fit to be president or not.""We're starting a new chapter in Argentina, and this chapter requires not only goodwill, intelligence and capability but above all, dialogue and the necessary consensus for our homeland to traverse a much more virtuous path in the future," Massa told journalists Sunday after casting his ballot.Milei accused Massa and his allies of running a "campaign of fear" and he walked back some of his most controversial proposals, such as loosening gun control. In his final campaign ad, Milei looks at the camera and assures voters he has no plans to privatize education or health care."We did a great job despite the fear campaign and all the dirty tactics they used against us," Milei told journalists after he voted amid a large security operation as dozens of supporters and journalists gathered at his polling place.One of his supporters is María Gabriela Gaviola, a 63-year-old entrepreneur doing everything she can to avoid shuttering her company, which manufactures veterinary products, amid surging prices for materials. And the government hasn't helped, including Massa who has held his ministerial post for over a year."The productive sector of this country isn't considered. How long can a country that doesn't produce be OK?" said Gaviola, who has taken on two side jobs to keep her company afloat. "Truth is, I don't know Milei. I've heard him a bit. I don't know him, but the one who I already know doesn't help me. I prefer to try something new."Most pre-election polls, which have been notoriously wrong at every step of this year's campaign, showed a statistical tie between the two candidates. Voters for first-round candidates who didn't make the runoff will be key. Patricia Bullrich, who placed third, has endorsed Milei.Underscoring the bitter division this campaign has brought to the fore, Milei received both jeers and cheers on Friday night at the legendary Colón Theater in Buenos Aires.Those divisions were also evident Sunday when Milei's running mate, Victoria Villaruel, went to vote and was met by protesters angry at her claims that the number of victims from Argentina's bloody 1976-1983 military dictatorship is far below what human rights organizations have long claimed, among other controversial positions.The vote took place amid Milei's allegations of possible electoral fraud, reminiscent of those from Trump and former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Without providing evidence, Milei claimed that the first round of the presidential election was plagued by irregularities that affected the result. Experts say such irregularities cannot swing an election, and that his assertions were partly aimed at firing up his base and motivating his supporters to become monitors of voting stations.Such claims spread widely on social media and, at Milei's rally in Ezeiza earlier this week, all those interviewed told the AP they were concerned about the integrity of the vote.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 19th, 2023

Javier"s Milei"s Populist Strategy In Argentina Is Working

Javier's Milei's Populist Strategy In Argentina Is Working Authored by Philipp Bagus via The Mises Institute, The Austro-libertarian movement has the better ideas. They continue to be discussed, elaborated, and intellectually defended. But how can the right ideas be implemented? What good is it to be right if the reality is left-wing? In fact, most of the population, or at least public opinion, seems to be drifting further and further to the left, with cancel culture, climate hysteria, a sprawling welfare state and ever higher taxes and levies. The right ideas and theories are there, but they have not yet been put successful in practice. How can this be changed? Of course, ideas are important, they must also be disseminated, from below, from the grassroots up. It's an arduous process. And there has been undeniable progress in recent years. Nevertheless, the left-wing zeitgeist is rolling over the freedoms of citizens almost unhindered; most shockingly during the Covid crisis. The left tries to paint anyone who stands in the zeitgeist´s way as an extremist or even a Nazi. Against this background, what can a successful strategy look like? Murray Rothbard addressed this question in an article in the Rothbard-Rockwell Report entitled Right-Wing Populism: A Strategy for the Paleo Movement. His contribution is groundbreaking and forward-looking. He anticipates the successes of Donald Trump in the United States and, more recently, of Javier Milei in Argentina. Javier Milei is making a splash on all sides, because on August 13, 2023, he won the primaries for the presidency in Argentina. In the German media, he is described as ultra-right and ultra-libertarian. Recently, the Financial Times dealt with the self-confessed anarcho-capitalist in a column, in which the author insinuated that the libertarian Milei would follow the strategy of right-wing populism designed by Murray Rothbard in 1992. This gives rise to the question if that claim is true and what exactly is this right-wing populism? According to the paleo-libertarian Rothbard, the program of right-wing populism includes 8 main points: Radical tax cuts Radical reduction of the welfare state Abolition of privileges for "protected" minorities Crushing criminals Getting rid of bums Abolition of the Federal Reserve A program of America First (anti-globalist and isolationist) Defending traditional family values Indeed, Milei's election manifesto is very much in line with Rothbard's right-wing populism and paleo-libertarianism. Milei wants to radically reduce taxes. He never tires of calling taxes what they are, theft. He also wants to radically grind down the welfare state and likes to illustrate the reduction in government spending and his proposal of reducing Argentinian ministries from 18 to 8 with a chainsaw. His "Chainsaw Plan" is intended to radically trim the state. Milei repeatedly speaks of equality before the law as a fundamental liberal principle and wants to abolish privileges for minorities. As a result, he repeatedly clashes with radical feminists who defend legal privileges for women. The imprisonment of criminals is also on Milei's agenda. Gun freedom is in his program so that victims can defend themselves against criminals. Those who refuse to work are no longer supported by the state in his Argentina. Milei also has the 6th of Rothbard's points in his agenda: Milei wants to abolish the central bank of Argentina. Using right-wing populist rhetoric he aims to physically blow up the central bank. In doing so, he would wipe out the power of one of the most inflationary central banks, which willingly financed all Peronist and Kirchnerist spending programs. He wants to dollarize the country and open it up to currency competition. Milei also puts his own country first: Argentina first. Right-wing populism opposes the globalist agenda. It cuts development aid, climate programs and military adventures. Milei likes to point out that Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world at the beginning of the 20th century thanks to classical liberal policies and was destroyed by socialism in the 20th century. In 35 years, Milei promises, Argentina can be a superpower again. The prerequisite for this to happen is a return to libertarianism. Finally, Milei also defends traditional family values and opposes the state takeover of family responsibilities. The vehement opponent of abortion has defended the right to life several times in debates with radical feminists. Milei used to be chief economist at various institutions and a professor of economics. He is a follower of the Austrian School of Economics. One of his dogs is named Murray. He contributor a chapter two-volume Festschrift in honor of Jesús Huerta de Soto edited by David Howden and myself. A couple of years ago he was guest via zoom in my seminar in our Master's degree in Austrian Economics that we offer in Madrid, and spoke about his strategy. In short, Milei is one of us. And he can win the election. He can become president of Argentina. An Austrian. An anarcho-capitalist. With an openly radical libertarian election program. In a country that has paid homage to socialism for decades. Amazing. Milei has been very present in the public debate in Argentina for years. He gained fame as a polarizing and fiercely arguing talk show guest. Later, he decided to create his own party to lead the culture war against socialism and statism more effectively and to bring the right ideas to more people. His rhetorical strategy in debates is vociferous, belligerent, and is sometimes perceived as offensive (if the truth can be offensive at all). He does not allow himself to be intimidated or belittled by left-wing opinion-makers. In a debate, he simply shouts louder than the leftists, whom he calls "Zurdos", and interrupts them to tell them to their faces that they are saying an absolute stupidity and have no idea what they are talking about. You should read Hayek, Mises and Rothbard first, Milei recommends to them. He also calls leftists and politicians parasites and thieves, in a debate. For taxes are theft.  In keeping with Rothbard's strategy of right-wing populism, he clearly names the profiteers of the state apparatus. He rails again and again against the caste of politicians and bureaucrats. He calls them parasites that live at the expense of the hard-working and decent citizens. Politicians are completely useless and could not live without the productive Argentinians. Politics is not the solution, but the problem. And politicians form part of the problem. In this way, Milei wins over those decent Argentinians who suffer most from the yoke of the state. Equally clear are his remarks on the concept of social justice. So-called social justice is a monstrous injustice because it means unequal treatment of people before the law. It is a fig leaf for envy and resentment. Milei's emotional and polemical nature resonates with many, especially among young people. After winning the primaries in mid-August, he has legitimate hopes for the Argentine presidency. Milei's successes have become a topic of everyday conversation, especially in the Hispanic world. One speaks of Milei with astonishment and appreciation. Acquaintances and friends send short videos of his rhetorical gems. Libertarian ideas are back in vogue. People are venturing forward with libertarian opinions, everywhere and unexpectedly. The window of public and permissible opinions is shifting in the direction of freedom. Thanks to Milei. Regardless of whether the charismatic Milei ultimately wins the election, his campaign has sparked a young and powerful libertarian movement. His triumph in the primaries may be more significant than the Ron Paul Revolution of 2008 and 2012. The incredible fact is that he is successful. With a right-wing populism that Rothbard recommended, in a run-down country, with his charismatic personality, with aggressive rhetoric. Nothing is impossible. Even a libertarian can win a democratic election. It's the strategy that counts. ¡Vamos Javier! ¡Viva la libertad, carajo! Tyler Durden Wed, 09/20/2023 - 21:00.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytSep 20th, 2023

Blake Masters says the GOP isn"t John McCain"s party anymore. Now, he"s taking on Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly for McCain"s old seat.

"John McCain, rest his soul," Blake Masters, the GOP Arizona Senate nominee once said. "It's not his Republican Party in Arizona anymore." Arizona Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters in Williams, AZ on July 6, 2022.Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images Blake Masters won the Arizona GOP Senate primary by embracing Trump and the party's right fringe. But he now faces an uphill battle against Mark Kelly for the seat once held by John McCain. "John McCain, rest his soul," Masters once said. "It's not his Republican Party in Arizona anymore." APACHE JUNCTION, Arizona — It was 20 minutes into the monthly meeting of the Superstition Mountain Republican Club, and Blake Masters was running late. The host, a local constable named Ted Gremmel, had informed attendees in a large room at Avalon Elementary School on July 14 that the Republican Senate candidate was tied up with an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Masters, a towering, lanky figure, eventually walked in wearing a navy blue suit and what looked like a face full of TV makeup."Mark Kelly is the worst US senator. He's the single worst!" Masters began his pitch, skewering the Democratic senator whose seat he hopes to take. He went on to solicit the crowd's nominations for the title of "worst US Senator."One attendee shouted out the name of Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the vice-chair of the January 6 committee."Liz Cheney's in the House, but she's pretty, pretty bad!" Masters replied, adding: "What about Bernie Sanders? Chuck Schumer? Chuck Schumer's got a heck of a face! He looks like an Ayn Rand villain, right? He just looks like an evil guy."Masters eventually made the case that Kelly, the Democratic incumbent who won his seat in a special election in 2020, was the worst US senator because he "votes just as badly as Bernie Sanders," but is, according to Masters, pretending to be a moderate.Endorsed by Trump, Masters won the GOP nomination for US Senate in Arizona last week.Over the next three months, Masters will take on Kelly for the prize of a Senate seat held for 31 years by the late Sen. John McCain, a Republican with a record of bucking his party, championing bipartisan initiatives like campaign finance reform, and drawing the ire of Trump even after his death in 2018. And even as he rejects the mantle of McCain, Masters will have to woo middle-of-the-road voters in a state that's trending purple and has generally sent moderates to the Senate.A 36-year-old first-time candidate, Masters has a history of violating political taboos, hopes to establish an "America First Caucus" in the Senate, and would represent a stark departure from a 2008 GOP presidential candidate who famously defended his opponent from Islamophobic attacks."John McCain, rest his soul," Masters said during a March interview with a New York radio station. "You know, it's not his Republican Party in Arizona anymore."But observers warn that this political positioning could come back to bite Masters in the general election, when both independent voters and the Republicans he failed to win over during the primary are up for grabs."McCain absolutely does still have sway in Arizona," said Mike Noble, an Arizona pollster who leads OH Predictive Insights. "It's one of the contributing factors as to why Trump came up short in Arizona in the last presidential election."Blake Masters speaks to the Superstition Mountain Republican Club in Apache Junction, AZ on July 14, 2022.Bryan Metzger/InsiderFrom Trumpian Thiel protege to general-election 'independent'After growing up in Tucson and getting a bachelor's and a law degree from Stanford, Masters spent the majority of his professional life working in Silicon Valley. He is a close associate of conservative tech billionaire Peter Thiel, serving as the chief operating officer of Thiel's investment firm and the president of his foundation until March of this year. Masters was a student of Thiel's at one point, taking notes on the tech entrepreneur's lectures about building startups that would eventually become their co-authored book, Zero to One. Thiel's idiosyncratic brand of politics — which have evolved from an escapist libertarian tendency toward a more populist, nationalist ideology — are now part and parcel with the "New Right," a reactionary political ideology that makes critiques of capitalism, social progressivism, and other aspects of modernity. As with JD Vance, the GOP Senate nominee in Ohio, Thiel has bankrolled Masters' bid, spending at least $15 million on a political action committee backing the candidate's campaign.But while Masters has certainly gestured towards some of the economic aspects of New Right ideology, he's leaned harder into its socially conservative cultural prescriptions, which land much more comfortably with a Republican base in line with Trump, Fox News, and other influential right-wing figures. During his appearance at the Republican club meeting in July, he launched into a speech rife with incendiary claims about the country's immigration system, pitching a symbolic impeachment of President Joe Biden over border policy while arguing that the Democratic Party is waging an assault on the nuclear family and American values. He also spent considerable time on education policy, leaning into familiar GOP complaints about critical race theory and the New York Times' 1619 Project on the history of slavery."I think what's worse than this crazy racial stuff, and this crazy fake history project, is this perverse gender ideology," he said. "The progressive left, they want to teach your 5-year-old, or your 5-year-old grandchild, that he or she can change their gender, encourage these kids to change their gender. I'm sorry, but I think that is child abuse."Masters secured Trump's endorsement — and roughly 40% of the primary vote — by fully embracing the former president's false claims of a stolen 2020 election. Masters' attendance at a screening of the Dinesh D'Souza film "2000 Mules" at Mar-a-Lago in May reportedly gave him an edge as he and other Senate candidates sought to curry favor with Trump."The power of documentary — it's on video!" Masters exclaimed before the crowd in Apache Junction, urging them to watch the broadly-debunked film that makes several false claims about the 2020 election.But Masters' intentional violation of liberal pieties and political taboos is what makes him Trumpian, and it's seemingly a consistent aspect of his personality. He's chided former GOP Sen. Martha McSally for allegedly avoiding criticizing Kelly's position on guns because Kelly's wife, former Rep. Gabby Giffords, was shot and badly wounded by a gunman in Tucson in 2011."Mark Kelly is a gun-grabber, and we need to run a candidate who's bold enough to say, like, hey, I'm sorry about what happened to your wife," Masters said on the Charlie Kirk Show in June. "Like, it's truly horrible, like his family and Gabby Giffords, a real victim of a horrible gun crime, right?" "That doesn't give you the right, though, to disarm Arizonans," he continued.Spokespeople for both Kelly and Masters declined Insider's interview requests.Masters has also described supporters of abortion rights as "demonic" and likened the practice to a "religious sacrifice" for progressives, suggested that the FBI instigated the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, described the country's political leadership as "psychopaths," tweeted out a clip of an interview in which he articulated the "great replacement" theory just hours after a mass shooter inspired by similar ideas opened fire at a Buffalo grocery store, and referred to Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson as the "affirmative action pick." After the New York Times reported on Masters' years-old incendiary posts on a CrossFit forum, Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii — one of 10 Jewish members of the body in which Masters hopes to serve — called Masters anti-Semitic.But while taking controversial and unorthodox positions may play well among GOP voters, Masters still has to convince the rest of his purple state's electorate to support him.The late Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona at the Capitol on July 13, 2017.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images"That'll get you the Republican nomination, but it's not going to win you a general election," said Chuck Coughlin, a long-time political consultant in Arizona who's worked primarily for Republicans. "So he's gonna have to choose on how to narrate the campaign, and I just don't see him moving. I don't see him moving away from that narrative line, I see him doubling down on it."Ryan O'Daniel, an Arizona lobbyist and campaign consultant who managed McCain's final Senate campaign in 2016, offered a more optimistic view of Masters' chances, saying that the fundamentals of the national environment may matter more than anything else. But he also warned that the so-called "pivot" to the general election, in which candidates seek to moderate their image and appeal to a broader audience, might not be so easy for Masters."There's nowhere to hide because they've spent a year on the trail, they're all over YouTube, they're all over Twitter," he said. "There's much more of a record of things now than there used to be seven years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago. So you almost can't pivot anymore."Masters is now attempting to make that pivot. His first TV ad since winning the primary is far less dark than some of his primary campaign ads and he's now pitching himself as "independent."But he's also continued to be combative. When Tucson Mayor Regina Romero announced a press conference highlighting several Masters' controversial statements, he responded with a press release calling her a "Low IQ Activist."A 'young and dynamic' America First caucus?When asked who he'd seek to emulate as a senator, Masters has repeatedly pointed to Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, a man with a history of his own provocations. "Josh Hawley is calling me saying, 'give me some backup!'" Masters told attendees in Apache Junction while condemning Big Tech. "He's the only one in the US Senate who really understands this stuff."Masters talks up the idea of an "America First Caucus" made up of other "young and dynamic" senators including Hawley, Vance (if he wins his election), and curiously, Rand Paul. Perhaps intentionally on Masters' part, the proposed caucus shares the name of an ill-fated idea that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was forced to abandon last year: a caucus that would have been organized in part around "uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions."Asked about Masters' caucus idea at the Capitol in July, Hawley demurred."Well, I — listen, I would, first of all, I welcome more Republicans next Congress to the Senate," Hawley told Insider. "I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch."But he offered praise for the first-time Senate candidate, who he endorsed earlier this year ahead of the primary election."I think Blake is thoughtful. I think that he is a tireless worker," said Hawley. "I think that he's really smart, and we agree on the — I think where he is on the issues, I really, you know, I agree with him on much of it, I'm sure not all, but, you know, much."Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ohio GOP Senate nominee JD Vance, both of whom Masters names as potential "America First" caucus-mates.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty ImagesBut Coughlin described Masters' politics as "dystopian" and drawing on people's sense of alienation from existing power structures. And he argued that having a more hardline, Hawley-esque senator from Arizona would be a "substantive break" from the state's history of electing moderates."I mean, if you really, truly understand Arizona's success as a state, you understand it as a cooperative relationship with the federal government," said Coughlin, pointing to both border security, water management issues, and military installations as key avenues where a more cooperative, compromising approach is needed. "So now, we're gonna send somebody to Washington, and all they want to do is take a sledgehammer to all those relationships? That's never been the case in the history of Arizona politics," he added.O'Daniel, meanwhile, suggested that Masters' penchant for speaking openly about his beliefs — even if it means calling the Unabomber an "underrated thinker" in the midst of an electoral campaign — could actually appeal to voters."That's part of what made Trump successful in 2016," said O'Daniel. "You know exactly what you're gonna get."'All he did was badmouth other people'During the question-and-answer portion of Masters' address to the Superstition Mountain Republican Club in Arizona, a 79-year old woman named Charlene Lockwood rose to decry the back-and-forth "football game" of Washington. She challenged Masters on whether he had read the US Constitution while praising the work of legislators who work across the aisle."I am proud of Senator Sinema. I am proud of Senator Manchin," she said, citing the two Democrats' opposition to removing the Senate's 60-vote filibuster, which has proven a formidable obstacle to passing Biden's agenda.Though Masters offered praise for Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's frequent spurning of her party — "give credit where it's due: we still have a country," he said — he largely avoided the substance of the question, seizing on a comment Lockwood had made about term limits for members of Congress to make his argument that "unelected bureaucrats" in Washington need term limits.After the event, Lockwood told Insider she would "never even consider voting for Masters" after what she witnessed."All he did was badmouth other people," she said, later adding that Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska was her favorite senator. "I don't think Blake Masters even knows what the Constitution is really, just from the way he acted."Blake Masters speaks at a campaign event on August 1, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesSeeking to capitalize on Masters' far-right politics, Kelly rolled out a list of Republican endorsements last month. And observers generally agree that Kelly's incumbency and fundraising prowess offer him a head-start in the race, despite a national environment likely to favor Republicans. "If one could give an award for best strategy and navigation of these incredibly turbulent political waters for Democrats, Mark Kelly should get a gold medal," said Noble."He's done a really, really great job of not really being in the fire, and kind of hitting the issues most important to Arizonans, and just staying planted squarely in the middle from a perception standpoint," Noble added. "Because his voting record is obviously very different."And Democrats may have something of a wild-card opportunity in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, particularly after voters in conservative Kansas rejected an anti-abortion constitutional amendment earlier this month. To that end, Kelly's first attack ad against Masters highlights the Republican's comments on abortion.On some level, the shape of the race will likely be determined by both the broader national environment and by Biden's approval ratings. In a statement to Insider, RNC Arizona spokesman Ben Petersen previewed the GOP's line of attack on Kelly, calling him a "lackey" for Biden while arguing that he "could be wielding a one-vote veto in the Senate right now."But in many ways, Sinema has embraced the mantle of McCain more than Kelly, publicly taking positions that put her at odds with the Democratic base — most prominently on the Senate filibuster and a party-line spending bill that Democrats recently passed —  while Kelly has largely voted with his party. As a result, Sinema's approval ratings are higher with Republicans than Democrats in Arizona. "I'd be hugging the shit out of her right now," said Coughlin.Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona walks with Cindy McCain, the wife of the late Sen. John McCain and the current US Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture, at the Capitol on August 4, 2021.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesOne prominent Mesa Republican, outgoing speaker of the Arizona House Rusty Bowers, told Insider he's "not a fan" of Masters, citing his "lack of self awareness" and "lack of sensitivity."Bowers lost a state Senate primary to Trump-backed former Sen. David Farnsworth last week after testifying before the January 6 committee about Trump's efforts to overturn Arizona's election results.Asked directly in July how he would vote in a Kelly vs. Masters general election, Bowers stopped short of declaring his support for Kelly, but heaped praise on the incumbent Democratic senator."It's probably best to say: I'm going to vote for somebody for Senate that has got character, has got history, has got experience, who's got maturity," said Bowers. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytAug 11th, 2022

David Stockman: How American Neocons Wrecked The Middle East And Ukraine

David Stockman: How American Neocons Wrecked The Middle East And Ukraine Authored by David Stockman via, This is part 2 of “Why There Is Still No Peace on Earth: Washington’s Folly From The Persian Gulf to Ukraine.”  Read part 1. THE FIRST GULF WAR – A CATASTROPHIC ERROR Confronted with the greatest opportunity for global peace in nearly a century, George H. W. Bush did not hesitate:  Upon the advice of his retainers, he immediately elected the path of war in the Persian Gulf. This endeavor was hatched by Henry Kissinger’s economically illiterate protégés at the National Security Council and Bush’s Texas oilman secretary of state, James Baker. They falsely claimed that the will-o’-the-wisp of “oil security” was at stake, and that 500,000 American troops needed to be planted in the sands of Arabia. That was a catastrophic error, and not only because the presence of “crusader” boots on the purportedly sacred soil of Arabia offended the CIA-recruited and trained mujahedin of Afghanistan, who had become unemployed when the Soviet Union collapsed. The CNN-glorified war games in the Gulf during early 1991 also further empowered another group of unemployed crusaders. Namely, the neocon national-security fanatics who had misled Ronald Reagan into a massive military buildup to thwart what they claimed to be an ascendant Soviet Union bent on nuclear-war-winning capabilities and global conquest. Needless to say, by the 1980s the gray men of the Kremlin were as evil as ever, but they were also quite rational and did not embrace a nuclear war winning strategy in any way, shape or form. That was just a pack of neocon lies, which, in any event, led to a massive defense build-up that had virtually nothing to do with containing the ballyhooed Soviet strategic nuclear threat. As it happened, the latter was being handled well enough by the already built, in-place and paid for strategic nuclear triad – forces which well pre-dated the Reagan build-up. So when the defense budget rose by a staggering $170 billion, from $134 billion in 1980 to $304 billion in 1989, only a tiny fraction of the increase was applied to upgrading the strategic nuclear deterrent. Instead, this unprecedented 130% peacetime rise (+50% in inflation-adjusted dollars) went overwhelmingly to the building of a globe-spanning conventional forces armada that was utterly unneeded for America’s homeland security in a world with or without the Soviet Union. Accordingly, everything on land, sea and air was upgraded and expanded. This included the 600-ship Navy and 12 carrier battle groups; massive upgrades of the fleet of M1 tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles; and endless procurement of cruise missiles, fixed-wing planes, rotary aircraft, air-and sea-lift capacity, surveillance and electronic warfare capacity and a black budget so large as to dwarf anything that had gone before. In a word, the misguided Reagan defense build-up enabled the invasions and occupations that commenced almost instantly after the Soviet demise. That is to say, the neocon defense build-up of the 1980s fathered the “Forever Wars” of the 1990s and beyond. The folly and deceit of the purportedly anti-Soviet defense build-up was evident enough at the time because by the mid-1980s the Evil Empire was already unraveling at the seams economically. The reason was simply that communism and rigidly centralized command-and-control economics don’t work—as became abundantly clear to the entire world via the spectacle of Boris Yeltsin, vodka flask in hand, facing down the Red Army in 1991. Like the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back, in the end the mighty Soviet Union was taken down by one of its own drunken apparatchiks. That is to say, the entire neocon narrative of an ascendant, bent on world conquest Soviet Union was made a mockery. That alone should have sent the neocons into the permanent disrepute and obscurity they so richly deserved. But Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and rest of the neocon gang surrounding Bush the Elder managed to deftly pull a “bait and switch” maneuver of no mean extent. Suddenly, it wasn’t about the Soviet Union at all, but the alleged lesson from Washington’s Pyrrhic victory in Kuwait that “regime change” among the assorted tyrannies of the Middle East was in America’s national interest. More fatally, the neocons now insisted that the first Gulf War proved regime change could be achieved through a sweeping interventionist menu of coalition diplomacy, security assistance, arms shipments, covert action and open military attack and occupation via the spanking new conventional forces armada that the Reagan Administration had bequeathed. What the neocon doctrine of regime-change actually did, of course, was to foster the Frankenstein that ultimately became ISIS. In fact, the only real terrorists in the world who have threatened normal civilian life in the West during the last three decades were the rogue offspring of Imperial Washington’s post-1990 machinations in the Middle East. The CIA-trained and CIA-armed mujahedin of Afghanistan mutated into al-Qaeda not because bin Laden suddenly had a religious epiphany that his Washington benefactors were actually the Great Satan owing to America’s freedom and liberty. His murderous crusade was inspired by the Wahhabi fundamentalism loose in Saudi Arabia. This benighted religious fanaticism became agitated to a fever pitch by Imperial Washington’s violent plunge into Persian Gulf political and religious quarrels, the stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia, and the decade-long barrage of sanctions, embargoes, no-fly zones, covert actions and open hostility against the Sunni regime in Baghdad after 1991. Yes, bin Laden would have amputated Saddam’s secularist head if Washington hadn’t done it first, but that’s just the point. The attempt at regime change in March 2003 was one of the most foolish acts of state in American history. Indeed, Bush the Younger’s neocon advisers had no clue about the sectarian animosities and historical grievances that Hussein had bottled up by parsing the oil loot and wielding the sword under the banner of Baathist nationalism. But “shock and awe” blew the lid and the de-Baathification campaign unleashed the furies. Indeed, no sooner had George Bush pranced around on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln declaring “mission accomplished” than Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant and small-time specialist in hostage taking and poisons, emerged as a flamboyant agitator in the now-dispossessed Sunni heartland of Iraq. The founder of ISIS succeeded in Fallujah and Anbar province just like the long list of other terrorist leaders Washington claims to have exterminated. That is, Zarqawi gained his following and notoriety among the region’s population of deprived, brutalized and humiliated young men by dint of being more brutal than their occupiers. Indeed, even as Washington was crowing about its eventual liquidation of Zarqawi, the remnants of the Baathist regime and the hundreds of thousands of demobilized republican guards were coalescing into al-Qaeda in Iraq, and their future leaders were being incubated in a monstrous nearby detention center called Camp Bucca that contained more than 26,000 prisoners. As one former U.S. Army officer, Mitchell Gray, later described it, “You never see hatred like you saw on the faces of these detainees,” Gray remembers of his 2008 tour. “When I say they hated us, I mean they looked like they would have killed us in a heartbeat if given the chance. I turned to the warrant officer I was with and I said, ‘If they could, they would rip our heads off and drink our blood. What Gray didn’t know – but might have expected – was that he was not merely looking at the United States’ former enemies, but its future ones as well. According to intelligence experts and Department of Defense records, the vast majority of the leadership of what is today known as ISIS, including its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, did time at Camp Bucca. And not only did the US feed, clothe and house these jihadists, it also played a vital, if unwitting, role in facilitating their transformation into the most formidable terrorist force in modern history. Early in Bucca’s existence, the most extreme inmates were congregated in Compound 6. There were not enough Americans guards to safely enter the compound – and, in any event, the guards didn’t speak Arabic. So the detainees were left alone to preach to one another and share deadly vocational advice . . . Bucca also housed Haji Bakr, a former colonel in Saddam Hussein’s air-defense force. Bakr was no religious zealot. He was just a guy who lost his job when the Coalition Provisional Authority disbanded the Iraqi military and instituted de-Baathification, a policy of banning Saddam’s past supporters from government work. According to documents recently obtained by German newspaper Der Spiegel, Bakr was the real mastermind behind ISIS’ organizational structure and also mapped out the strategies that fueled its early successes. Bakr, who died in fighting in 2014, was incarcerated at Bucca from 2006-’ 08, along with a dozen or more of ISIS’ top lieutenants.” The point is, regime change and nation building can never be accomplished by the lethal violence of 21st-century armed forces; and they were an especially preposterous assignment in the context of a land rent with 13 century-old religious fissures and animosities. In fact, the wobbly, synthetic state of Iraq was doomed the minute Cheney and his bloody gang decided to liberate it from the brutal but serviceable and secular tyranny of Saddam’s Baathist regime. That’s because the process of elections and majority rule necessarily imposed by Washington was guaranteed to elect a government beholden to Iraq’s Shiite majority. After decades of mistreatment and Saddam’s brutal suppression of their 1991 uprising, did the latter have revenge on their minds and in their communal DNA? Did the Kurds have dreams of an independent Kurdistan spilling into Turkey and Syria that had been denied their 30-million-strong tribe way back at Versailles and ever since? Yes, they did. So the $25 billion spent on training and equipping the putative armed forces of post-liberation Iraq was bound to end up in the hands of sectarian militias, not a national army. In fact, when the Shiite commanders fled Sunni-dominated Mosul in June 2014 they transformed the ISIS uprising against the government in Baghdad into a vicious fledgling state in one fell swoop. But it wasn’t by beheadings and fiery jihadist sermons that it quickly enslaved dozens of towns and several million people in western Iraq and the Euphrates Valley of Syria. THE ISLAMIC STATE WAS WASHINGTON’S VERY OWN FRANKENSTEIN To the contrary, its instruments of terror and occupation were the best weapons that the American taxpayers could buy. That included 2,300 Humvees and tens of thousands of automatic weapons, as well as vast stores of ammunition, trucks, rockets, artillery pieces and even tanks and helicopters. And that wasn’t the half of it. The Islamic State also filled the power vacuum in Syria created by its so-called civil war. But in truth that was another exercise in Washington-inspired and Washington-financed regime change undertaken in connivance with Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The princes of the Petro-states were surely not interested in expelling the tyranny next door. Instead, the rebellion was about removing Iran’s Alawite/Shiite ally from power in Damascus and laying the gas pipelines to Europe – which Assad had vetoed – across the upper Euphrates Valley. In any event, due to Washington’s regime change policy in Syria, ISIS soon had even more troves of American weapons. Some of them were supplied to Sunni radicals by way of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. More came up the so-called “ratline” from Qaddafi’s former arsenals in Benghazi through Turkey. And still more came through Jordan from the “moderate” opposition trained there by the CIA, which more often than not sold them or defected to the other side. That the Islamic State was Washington’s Frankenstein monster, therefore, became evident from the moment it rushed upon the scene in mid-2014. But even then, the Washington War Party could not resist adding fuel to the fire, whooping up another round of Islamophobia among the American public and forcing the Obama White House into a futile bombing campaign for the third time in a quarter century. But the short-lived Islamic State was never a real threat to America’s homeland security. The dusty, broken, impoverished towns and villages along the margins of the Euphrates River and in the bombed-out precincts of Anbar province did not attract thousands of wannabe jihadists from the failed states of the Middle East and the alienated Muslim townships of Europe because the caliphate offered prosperity, salvation or any future at all. What recruited them was outrage at the bombs and drones dropped on Sunni communities by the U.S. Air Force and by the cruise missiles launched from the bowels of the Mediterranean that ripped apart homes, shops, offices and mosques which mostly contained as many innocent civilians as ISIS terrorists. The truth is, the Islamic State was destined for a short half-life anyway. It had been contained by the Kurds in the North and East and by Turkey with NATO’s second-largest army and air force in the Northwest. And it was further surrounded by the Shiite Crescent in the populated, economically viable regions of lower Syria and Iraq. Absent Washington’s misbegotten campaign to unseat Assad in Damascus and demonize his confession-based Iranian ally, there would have been nowhere for the murderous fanatics who had pitched a makeshift capital in Raqqa to go. They would have run out of money, recruits, momentum and public acquiescence in their horrific rule in any event. But with the U.S. Air Force functioning as their recruiting arm and France’s anti-Assad foreign policy helping to foment a final spasm of anarchy in Syria, the gates of hell had been opened wide, unnecessarily. What has been puked out was not an organized war on Western civilization as former French president Hollande so hysterically proclaimed in response to one of the predictable terrorist episodes of mayhem in Paris. It was just blow-back carried out by that infinitesimally small contingent of mentally deformed young men who can be persuaded to strap on a suicide belt. In any event, bombing did not defeat ISIS; it just temporarily made more of them. Ironically, what did extinguish the Islamic State was the Assad military, the Russian air force invited into Syria by its official government and the ground forces of its Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard allies. It was they who settled an ancient quarrel Sunni/Shiite that had never been any of America’s business anyway. But Imperial Washington was so caught up in its myths, lies and hegemonic stupidity that it could not see the obvious. Accordingly, 31 years after the Cold War ended and several years after Syria and friends extinguished the Islamic State, Washington has learned no lessons. The American Imperium still stalks the planet for new monsters to destroy – presently in the precincts of Russian-speaking eastern and southern Ukraine that are utterly irrelevant to America’s peace and security. Next On Deck – The Ukraine Disaster The present disaster in Ukraine incepted with the Washington-sponsored Maidan coup of February 2014. Among other things it was a “revenge intervention” designed to punish Russia for being so bold as to thwart the neocon regime change adventure in Syria; and especially to haze Putin for persuading Assad to give up his chemical weapons, thereby removing any pretext for Washington military intervention. As it happened, the Russian-friendly president of Ukraine at the time, Vicktor Yanukovych, had at the last minute in late 2013 ditched a long-pending EU affiliation agreement and IMF stabilization plan in favor of a more attractive deal with Moscow. Under the so-called rule of law, that reversal would hardly seem outside the realm of sovereign prerogative. But not by the lights of Washington, red-hot from being check-mated in Syria. Accordingly, the neocon operatives in the Obama national security apparatus, spear-headed by the horrid Victoria Nuland, insisted that the Russian deal not be allowed to stand and that Ukraine’s accession to NATO should be fast-tracked. So doing, they demonstrated an immense ignorance about the 800-year history of the various territories which had been cobbled together in the artificial state of Ukraine, and the long-history of these pieces and parts as vassals and appendages of both Greater Russia and various eastern European kingdoms and empires that had marched back and forth across the pages of history. In a word, they dove into a rabbit hole that has made Washington’s misadventures in the middle east small potatoes by comparison. But the War Party would not be stopped, believing that its vast conventional military armada and the reach of its global economic sanctions could bring Putin to heel, as well. In this context, however, it can be truly said that occasionally a few words are worth a thousand pictures–at least when it comes to Ukraine. Here’s one of them: The Ukrainian leader said that his country hadn’t been willing to cede territory from the beginning. “Had we been willing to give up our territory, there would have been no war,” Zelensky said. He got that right! So the question recurs. Why is it worth Washington’s sweeping Sanctions War on Russia, which is destroying the dollar-based global trading and payments system and triggering a worldwide inflationary calamity, to defend every inch of a sketchy map located on Russia’s doorstep? And that’s to say nothing of risking nuclear war! Indeed, as we elaborate below, the present Ukrainian territorial map exists only due to the handiwork of Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev. Here is how and when these brutal tyrants attached each piece of today’s Ukrainian map (in purple, light blue and red, respectively) to the territories acquired or seized by the Russian Czars over 1654-1917 (yellow). Nor should any mystery linger as to where these pieces and parts came from. When the creators of the Soviet Empire carved out a convenient administrative entity during the early 1920s that they were pleased to call the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic they were shuffling around blocks of territory and peoples that had mostly been ruled by Czarist Russia during its final centuries. In fact, prior to the commie takeover of Russia, no country that even faintly resembled today’s Ukrainian borders had ever existed. To the contrary, much of the territories which comprise present day Ukraine have been been joined at the hip with mother Russia for most of the last three centuries: During Imperial times that was via old-fashioned vassal protection and sponsorship and during the brutal rule of the Soviet communists between 1922-1991 it was via totalitarian command. But remove the dastardly work of Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev during the latter interval, and nothing like today’s map would exist, nor would Washington be starting a global economic war and triggering soaring energy, food and commodity prices. That’s because the four territories recently “annexed” by Russia would already have been integral parts of Russia! For want of doubt here are sequential maps that tell the story and which make mincemeat of the Washington sanctity of borders malarkey. In fact, the approximate territory of the four annexed regions – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – plus Crimea are evident in the yellow area of this 220-years ago map (@1800). Collectively, they were known as Novorossiya or “New Russia” and had been acquired by Russian rulers, including Catherine the Great between 1734 and 1791. As is evident from the year-markings in red on the map, the Russian Empire had gradually gained control over the area, signing peace treaties with the Cossack Hetmanate (1734) and with the Ottoman Empire at the conclusion of the various Russo-Turkish Wars of the 18th century. Pursuant to this expansion drive – which included massive Russian investment and the in-migration of large Russian populations to the region – Russia established the Novorossiysk Governaorate in 1764. The latter was originally to be named after the Empress Catherine, but she decreed that it should be called “New Russia” instead. Completing the assemblage of New Russia, Catherine forcefully liquidated the Zaporizhian Sich (present day Zaporizhzhia) in 1775 and annexed its territory to Novorossiya, thus eliminating the independent rule of the Ukrainian Cossacks. Later in 1783 she also acquired Crimea from the Turks, which was also added to Novorossiya. During this formative period, the infamous shadow ruler under Catherine, Prince Grigori Potempkin, directed the sweeping colonization and Russification of the land. Effectively, the Russian Empress had granted him the powers of an absolute ruler over the area from 1774 onward. The spirit and importance of “New Russia” at this time is aptly captured by the historian Willard Sunderland, The old steppe was Asian and stateless; the current one was state-determined and claimed for European-Russian civilization. The world of comparison was now even more obviously that of the Western empires. Consequently it was all the more clear that the Russian empire merited its own New Russia to go along with everyone else’s New Spain, New France and New England. The adoption of the name of New Russia was in fact the most powerful statement imaginable of Russia’s national coming of age. Well, yes, but borders! In fact, the passage of time solidified the border of Novorossiya even more solidly. One century latter the light yellow area of this 1897 map gave an unmistakable message: To wit, in the late Russian Empire there was no doubt as to the paternity of the lands adjacent to the Azov Sea and the Black Sea—they were now part of the 125 years-old “New Russia”. After the madness of WWI and the Bolshevik Revolution, of course, the borders of much of eastern and central Europe were drastically re-arranged.  For instance, at the so-called Versailles Peace Conference in 1919 new countries were fashioned from whole cloth (Czechoslovakia) and long dead countries (Poland) were revived—both upon their own ancient lands as well as those of their former neighbors. Another of these post-WWI creations was Yugoslavia. The kingdom was formed in December 1918, with Serbia’s royal family, the Karadjordjevics, becoming the monarchs of  the new country, which was officially called the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes until 1929 – when it became Yugoslavia. By 1946 it had been incorporated into the Soviet Warsaw Pact, with the borders and constituent parts shown below. Needless to say, all of these circa 1919 creations and borders have long ceased to exist. After a decade of civil wars and civilian slaughter in the 1990s, Yugoslavia has become seven independent nations. And not only that: The apparently non-sacrosanct borders of Yugoslavia were rent asunder by NATO bombs, armaments, economic and political aid and covert operations! And then having torn up the old maps like a mere “scrap of paper”, NATO made the new national entities its very own, with the majority now actually members of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance – a vestigial organ that was designed to keep the Balkans contained and the Soviet Union throttled, neither of which condition any more even exists. By the same token, the present-day borders of Poland were moved far to the west at Stalin’s insistence at Yalta. Consequently, the revived nation of “Poland”, which had earlier been created by Woodrow Wilson at Versailles to court the growing Midwestern Polish vote, took on a wholly new map. That is to say, Poland had been dismembered and deleted from the maps by the European powers in the 1790s; had been revived by Wilson’s ignorant demands at Versailles that moved it deep into historic German territories and provided the political fuel for Hitler’s revanchism; and then drastically rearranged again at Yalta where the cynical Churchill and the malevolent Stalin outmaneuvered the senile Roosevelt. Thus, the area outlined in dark blue was Wilson’s Poland, but the huge swath in pink was gifted to Stalin by FDR and Churchill at Yalta. At the same time, the brown areas including the free city of Danzig (Gdansk) and the Danzig Corridor to its right were swiped from the remains of Hitler’s Germany and given back to what amounted to Poland 3.0 – and just within the first half of the 20th century! The same story holds for Czechoslovakia. Its three constituent nations were hammered together at Versailles from the remnants of the Austrian Empire, but eventually went their separate ways after the rule of communism ended in 1991. Today the Czech State and Slovakia exist peacefully side-by-side, and the world is no worse for the wear after their partition. As it happens, however, there is one politically engineered post-WWI map from the region that hasn’t been undone. For reasons known only by the Washington neocons and Warfare State apparatus, the modern borders of Ukraine – hammered together by the writ of Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev after 1918 – are apparently the exception to the rule. Indeed, they are deemed to be so sacrosanct as to justify monkey-hammering the global economy with a destructive Sanctions War, even to the point of risking hot military confrontation between the world’s two major nuclear powers. Of course, had the above mentioned 20th century communist trio been benefactors of mankind, perhaps their map-making handiwork might have been justified. Under this benign contrafactual, they would have presumably combined peoples of like ethnic, linguistic, religious and politico-cultural history into a cohesive natural polity and state. That is, a nation worth perpetuating, defending and perhaps even dying for. Alas, the very opposite was true. From 1922 to 1991 modern Ukraine was held together by the monopoly on violence of its brutally totalitarian rulers. And when they temporarily lost control during the military battles of World War II, the administrative entity called Ukraine came apart at the seams. That is, local Ukrainian nationalists joined Hitler’s Wehrmacht in its depredations against Jews, Poles, Roma and Russians when it first swept through the country from the west on its way to Stalingrad; and then, in turn, the Russian populations from the Donbas and south campaigned with the Red Army during its vengeance-wreaking return from the east after winning the bloody battle that turned the course of WWII. Not surprisingly, therefore, virtually from the minute it came out from under the communist yoke when the Soviet Union was swept into the dustbin of history in 1991, Ukraine has been engulfed in political and actual civil war. The elections which did occur were essentially 50/50 at the national level but reflected votes of 80/20 within the regions. That is, the Ukrainian nationalist candidates tended to get vote margins of 80% + in the West/Central areas, while Russian-sympathizing candidates got like pluralities in the East/South. This pattern transpired because once the iron-hand of totalitarian rule ended in 1991, the deep and historically rooted conflict between Ukrainian nationalism, language and politics of the central and western regions of the country and the Russian language and historical religious and political affinities of the Donbas and south came rushing to the surface. So-called democracy barely survived these contests until February 2014 when one of Washington’s “color revolutions” finally “succeeded”. That is to say, the aforementioned Washington fomented and financed nationalist-led coupe d état ended the tenuous post-communist equilibrium. As to the adverse shock effect of the Maidan coup on Ukrainian governance and external policy with respect to Russia, the maps below tell you all you need to know. The first map is from the 2004 presidential election, which was won by the Ukrainian nationalist candidate, Yushchenko, who predominated in the yellow areas of the map, over the pro-Russian Yanukovych, who swept the blue regions in the east and south. The second map is from the 2010 election, showing the same stark regional split, but this time the pro-Russian candidate, Yanukovych, won. In the map below, the dark blue parts to the far east (Donbas) indicate an 80% or better vote for Viktor Yanukovych in the 2010 election. By contrast, the dark red areas in the west voted 80% or more for the Ukrainian nationalist, Yulie Tymoshenko. That is to say, the skew in the Ukrainian electorate was so extreme as to make America’s current red state/blue state divide seem hardly noteworthy by comparison. As it happened, the sum of the pro-Yanukovych skews from the east and south (Donbas and Crimea) added up to 12.48 million votes and 48.95% of the total, while the sum of the extreme red skews in the center and west (the lands of old eastern Galicia and Poland) amounted to 11.59 million votes and 45.47% of the total. Stated differently, it is hard to imagine an electorate more sharply divided on a regional/ethnic/language basis. Yet it was one which still produced a sufficiently clear victory margin (3.6 percentage points) for Yanukovych – so as to be reluctantly accepted by all parties. That became especially clear when Tymoshenko, who was the incumbent prime minister, withdrew her election challenge a few weeks after the run-off in February 2010. At that point, of course, Russia had no beef with the Kiev government at all because essentially Yanukovych’s “Regions Party” was based on the pro-Russian parts (blue areas) of the Ukrainian electorate. During the next several years the economic basket case which was Ukraine attempted to improve its circumstances by running a bake-off of sorts between the European Union and Russia with respect to aid and trade deals. And well its leaders might have: After the fall of communism, Ukraine had become a cesspool of financial corruption in which a handful of oligarchs had robbed the country blind. By 2014 its real GDP had consequently fallen to $568 billion (2017$), which amounted to a 37% shrinkage from even the threadbare communist economics of 1990. Accordingly, the supposedly pro-Russian Yanukovych administration initiated in March 2012 the above-mentioned Association Agreement with the European Union that was to provide trade advantages and an IMF aid package. However, the EU leaders insisted that no agreement could be ratified unless Ukraine addressed concerns over a “stark deterioration of democracy and the rule of law”, including the imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011. In order to address these concerns, in fact, President Yanukovych urged the parliament to adopt laws so that Ukraine would meet the EU’s criteria. Crash of Ukraine’s Real GDP, 1990-2014 But it was the parallel $4 billion IMF loan that turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. According to then Prime Minister Mykola Azarov “the extremely harsh conditions” of the IMF loan (presented by the IMF in November 2013) included big budget cuts and a 40% increase in natural gas bills. Those proved to be hills too high to climb for most of the factions within the fractionated Ukraine polity. Accordingly, the IMF demands became the clinching argument behind the Ukrainian government’s abrupt decision to suspend preparations for signing the Association Agreement with the EU. Instead, Kiev quickly pivoted to a deal with Russia in the fall of 2013, which was willing to offer $15 billion in loans without the harsh IMF pre-conditions. Also, Moscow offered Ukraine a discount on Ukraine’s large gas purchases from Russia. The rest is history, as it were. As mentioned above, the Washington neocons were not about to accept Kiev’s pivot to Russia come hell or high water. So they swung into action bringing all the instruments of the Empire – the CIA, the State Department, NED, the NGOs and favored Ukrainian oligarchs – to bear on scuttling the Russian deal and removing Yanukovych from office. In a later interview with a US journalist, in fact, Ukrainian billionaire oligarch and opposition leader, Petro Poroshenko (who later became president), said quite clearly that the plan was to subvert the nation’s constitution and install an unelected, anti-Russian government that would deep-six the deal with Moscow: “From the beginning, I was one of the organizers of the Maidan. My television channel – Channel 5 – played a tremendously important role. … On the 11th of December, when we had U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and E.U. diplomat Catherine Ashton in Kyiv, during the night they started to storm the Maidan.” It should never be forgotten, therefore, that the coup which overthrew the constitutionally elected government in Kiev was a $5 billion all-hands Washington undertaking. It would never have come to fruition as a successful regime change putsch without the heavy hands of the US State Department along with the other above-mentioned arms of the empire. Needless to say, nullification of a country’s election – backed by the stick of NATO’s military might and the carrot of billions from a Washington/EU/IMF consortium – is big league meddling. Well, except by the clueless hypocrisy of the Washington foreign policy blob. Indeed, as former president Obama told CNN at the time, Washington was just going about its “indispensable nation” business. It had helpfully encouraged another “flowering of democracy” and to that end it had, “……brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine.” Brokered a deal my eye! This was a blatant and inexcusable breach of so-called “international law” because it served the will-to-power objectives of the Washington neocons and kept the now largely obsolete US foreign policy apparatus in the hegemony game – to say nothing of recruiting a new customer for arms sales. Never mind that Washington’s massive political and financial support for the Maidan uprising on the streets of Kiev, and then nearly instantaneous recognition of the resulting putsch as the official government of the Ukraine, was a frontal assault on the nation’s sovereignty. The late and detestable Senator John McCain even went to Kiev to show solidarity with the Euromaidan activists. McCain dined with opposition leaders, including members of the ultra-right‐​wing Svoboda Party and later appeared on stage in Maidan Square during a mass rally. There he stood shoulder to shoulder with Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok, who made no secret of his pro-Nazi convictions. But McCain’s actions were a model of diplomatic restraint compared to the conduct of Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, who, by your way, was soon back in the same position in the Biden Administration, conducting the same pro-war neocon policies. As Ukraine’s political crisis deepened, Nuland and her subordinates became more brazen in favoring the anti‐​Yanukovych demonstrators. Nuland noted in a speech to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation in December 2013, that she had traveled to Ukraine three times in the weeks following the start of the demonstrations. Visiting the Maidan on December 5, she famously handed out cookies to demonstrators and expressed support for their cause. Washington’s conduct not only constituted meddling, but it also bordered on puppeteering. At one point, US Ambassador Pyatt mentioned the complex dynamic among the three principal ultra-nationalist opposition leaders, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Oleh Tyahnybok, and Vitali Klitschko Both Pyatt and Nuland wanted to keep Tyahnybok and Klitschko out of an interim government. In the former case, they worried about his extremist neo-Nazi ties; in the latter, they appeared to want him to wait and make a bid for office on a longer‐​term basis (This former boxing champion became the current pugnacious mayor of Kiev). Nuland thus famously stated that, “I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary.” She added that what Yatseniuk needed “is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside.” The two diplomats were also prepared to escalate the already extensive U.S. involvement in Ukraine’s political turbulence by bringing in the Big Guy. Pyatt stated bluntly that, “…..we want to try to get somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing [the political transition].” Nuland clearly had Vice President Joe Biden in mind for that role. Noting that the vice president’s national security adviser was in direct contact with her, Nuland related that she told him, “…probably tomorrow for an atta‐​boy and to get the details to stick. So Biden’s willing.” That is to say, Victoria Nuland didn’t merely tell some undercover operatives to buy ads on Ukrainian social media, as Russia was accused of doing during the 2016 US election. To the contrary, she actually picked Yanukovych’s successor and the entire cabinet! And we know this from a hacked phone call between Nuland and the US ambassador in Kiev. In discussing who should lead the Washington-installed government, Nuland made clear who the next prime minister would be and who he should be talking to for advice. Nuland: I think Yats (Arseniy Yatseniuk) is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience.  … what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. As it turned out, the putsch leaders followed Nuland’s advice to the letter, installing “Yats” as the new prime minister. But it also filled four cabinet posts out of eleven with rabid anti-Russian neo-Nazis. Indeed, at the heart of the putsch were Ukrainian organizations called Svoboda (national socialist party of Ukraine) and Right Sector. Their national hero was one Stepan Bandera – a collaborator with Hitler who led the liquidation of thousands of Poles, Jews and other minorities as the Nazi Wehrmacht, as previously mentioned, made it way through Ukraine toward Stalingrad in the early 1940s. In fact, another founder and leader of Svoboda, Andriy Parubiy, was given a portfolio which included the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, National Security and Intelligence. That the Kremlin was alarmed by these developments and that the Russian-speaking populations of Crimea and the Donbas (the blue areas on the electoral map above) feared an ethnic cleansing led by the new Ukrainian nationalist government in Kiev is hardly surprising. Indeed, the first legislative act of the new government was the abolition, on February 23, 2014, of the Kivalov-Kolesnichenko law of 2012 which made Russian an official language. As one commentator noted, it was a bit as if putschists decided that French and Italian would no longer be official languages ​​in Switzerland. The Russian language ban caused a storm in the Russian-speaking population. This resulted in fierce repression against the Russian-speaking regions (Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov, Lugansk and Donetsk) which began in February 2014 and led to a militarization of the situation and some notorious massacres (those in Odessa and Mariupol were the most odious). By the end of summer 2014, Crimea had return to Mother Russia after an overwhelming plebiscite and the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk became the object of a vicious civil war conducted by Kiev. As we have amplified elsewhere, Sevastopol in Crimea has been the homeport of the Russian Naval Fleet under czars and commissars alike. After 171 years as an integral part of the Russian Motherland, it only technically became part of Ukraine during a Khrushchev inspired shuffle in 1954. The fact is, only 10% of the Crimean population is Ukrainian speaking, and it was the coup on the streets of Kiev by extremist anti-Russian Ukrainian nationalists and proto-fascists that caused the Russian speakers in Crimea to panic and Moscow to become alarmed about the status of its historic naval base, for which it still had a lease running to the 2040s. Thus, during a referendum in March 2014 83% of eligible Crimeans turned out to vote and 97% of those approved cancelling the 1954 edict of the Soviet Presidium that gifted Russian-Crimea to Ukraine. There is absolutely no evidence that the 80% of Crimeans who thus voted to sever their historically short-lived affiliation with Ukraine were threatened or coerced by Moscow. Indeed, what they actually feared were the edicts against Russian language and culture coming out of Kiev. And exactly the same thing was true of the overwhelmingly Russian-speaking populations of the Donbas. So in the context of a relentless and pointless NATO expansion to the very borders of the shrunken Russian state, Washington did not merely sponsor and fund the overthrow of Ukraine’s constitutionally elected government in February 2014. But once it had unleashed a devastating civil war, it also relentlessly blocked for eight years running the obvious alternative to the bloodshed that had claimed 14,000 civilian and military casualties, even before the current hot war commenced. To wit, Ukraine could have been partitioned with autonomy for the Russian-speaking Donbas provinces – or even accession to the Russian state from which these communities had essentially originated. So the appalling truth of the matter is this: Adding insult to injury after its blatantly foolish and reckless coup in February 2014, Washington now insists that the grandsons and granddaughters of Stalin’s industrial army in the Donbas are to be ruled by the grandsons and granddaughters of Hitler’s collaborators in Kiev, whether they like it or not. Yet that historic chasm is exactly where the present civil war originated. And its also why partition of an artificial polity forced together by 20th century communist dictators is the only way out. THE NATO FACTOR The current CIA director, William J Burns, actually recognized the eventual crack-up of Ukraine back in 2008, when he served as U.S. ambassador to Russia. After Ukraine’s NATO aspirations were announced at that year’s Bucharest Security Conference, Burns wrote a secret cable (subsequently published by Wikileaks) entitled, “Nyet Means Nyet: Russia’s NATO Enlargement Redlines”. The missive to Washington contained a stern warning of trouble to come: Ukraine and Georgia’s NATO aspirations not only touch a raw nerve in Russia, they engender serious concerns about the consequences for stability in the region. Not only does Russia perceive encirclement, and efforts to undermine Russia’s influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences which would seriously affect Russian security interests. Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war. In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face. He got that right! For more than two decades, Washington’s NATO expansion policy has been a dagger aimed at the heart of an inherently divided Ukrainian polity—a division that had been suppressed by 69 years of brutal communist rule, but which broke into the open after the Soviet Union fell in 1991. So, as Burns predicted, in response to the 2014 putsch, Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the eastern Donbas region rose up against the coup government in Kiev, which they denounced as an illegitimate Western puppet regime, riddled with anti-Russian Neo-Nazis. Independence activists declared the creation of two new autonomous states, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. In turn, the new anti-Russian Ukrainian government in Kiev, with abundant Western military support and weapons, launched a brutal war against these breakaway republics–an assault that went on until the Russian invasion of February 24, 2022. As Kiev’s assault in the Donbas unfolded, upwards of 14,000 Ukrainians were killed, and hundreds of thousands more were displaced – all before the Russian invasion commenced. Moreover, the manner in which the two new breakaway republics armed themselves for combat against Kiev’s forces tells you all you need to know about the deep divisions in the Ukrainian polity. These were fissures which were instantly brought to the surface by the Maidan coup. According to Jacques Baud, a NATO adviser to Ukraine during that period, the breakaway Republic fighters got their arms mainly from defecting Ukrainian units, not Russia! Folks, when entire military units defect with their arms and fighting wherewithal, you are not dealing with minor differences of opinion among a nation’s population; it’s a sign of deep and likely irreconcilable strife. As Baud has further noted, In 2014, I (was) at NATO, responsible for the fight against the proliferation of small arms, and we (were) trying to detect Russian arms deliveries to the rebels in order to see if Moscow (was) involved. The rebels are armed thanks to the defections of Russian-speaking Ukrainian units which cross over to the rebel side. As the Ukrainian failures progressed, the entire tank, artillery or anti-aircraft battalions swelled the ranks of the autonomists. This is what (drove) the Ukrainians to commit to the Minsk Accords. Just after signing the Minsk 1 Accords in September 2014, however, then Ukrainian President and corrupt oligarch, Petro Poroshenko, launched a vast anti-terrorist operation against the Donbas. But poorly advised by NATO officers, the Ukrainians suffered a crushing defeat at Debaltsevo, which forced them to commit to the Minsk 2 Agreements in February 2015. As it happened, these Agreements provided for neither the separation nor the independence of the Republics, but their autonomy within the framework of Ukraine. That is, the ultimate status of the republics was to be negotiated between Kiev and the representatives of the republics, for an internal solution to the crisis of Ukraine’s split polity. But owing to Washington’s writs this was not to be. Instead, the post-coup Kiev government waged a brutal civil war against the Donbas for eight years. This attack was resisted by Russian-speaking Ukrainians who were deathly afraid of being ruled by the neo-Nazi elements which permeated the Kiev government, military and security forces (SBU). Indeed, even though he had run as the peace candidate, Zelensky put the kibosh on Minsk 2 soon after he was installed in office in 2019. The Minsk agreements, of course, had detailed how Kiev could reintegrate its breakaway regions by offering them a general amnesty, greater autonomy, and representation in the government.  But after having his very life threatened by the Azov militias embedded in Ukraine’s military, Zelensky and other senior officials declared that the Minsk agreements could not be implemented. Instead, they claimed that they could only proceed with their obligations under the agreements after retaking control of the rebel-held areas. Needless to say, as far as the breakaway republics were concerned, disarmament first and negotiations later was an absurd non-starter. In fact, after the fall of 2019, the Zelensky government made a bee line toward severe intensification of the raging civil war, To that end, it caused ascension to NATO to be added to its constitution, even as Zelensky issued at executive order vowing to recover Crimea. Yet as we have frequently explained that territory and the site of Russia’s most strategic naval base had never been part of Ukraine until 1954 when Khrushchev gifted it to the brutal communist rulers in Kiev for their help in securing the succession after Stalin’s death. Moreover, once Zelensky intensified the civil war the idea that Ukraine had anything to do with a functioning democracy lost all meaning. Zelensky’s government soon arrested the leading opposition politicians, shut-down all opposition media by combing multiple TV outlets into a single government propaganda network and, as we saw earlier, initially even outlawed the use of the Russian language. So long before Russia invaded on February 24, 2022, a bloody civil war raged in the unnatural polity called Ukraine. The latter was inherently not built to last given its deep ethnic divisions and especially the legacy of the aforementioned bloody history during WWII, when the country was bitterly divided between populations loyal to Hitler’s Wehrmacht versus those aligned with Stalin’s Red Army. Like after the American civil war, the animosity lasted for decades. So again, as Jacques Baud noted, this was a civil war: There were never major Russian troops in the Donbass before February 24, 2022. Even the US intelligence map published by the Washington Post on December 3, 2021 does not show Russian troops in the Donbass. Indeed, as far back as October 2015, Vasyl Hrytsak, director of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), confessed that only 56 Russian fighters had been observed in the Donbass. It was hardly even comparable to that of the Swiss going to fight in Bosnia during the weekends, in the 1990s, or the French mercenaries who are going to fight in Ukraine today. The Ukrainian army was then in a deplorable state. In October 2018, after four years of war, Ukraine’s chief military prosecutor, Antoly Matios, said that Ukraine had lost 2,700 men in the Donbass but not from the much larger combat losses. Instead, he referenced losses including 891 from disease, 318 from traffic accidents, 177 from other accidents, 175 from poisoning (alcohol, drugs), 172 from careless handling of weapons, 101 from breaches of safety rules, 228 from murder and 615 from suicide! In fact, like everything else in Ukraine, the Army has been severely undermined by the corruption of its cadres. According to a UK Home Office report, when reservists were called up in March-April 2014, 70% did not show up for the first session, 80% for the second, 90% for the third and 95% for the fourth. Thus, to compensate for the lack of soldiers, the Ukrainian government resorted to paramilitary militias. They were essentially made up of foreign mercenaries. As of 2020, they constituted around 40% of Ukraine’s forces and numbered around 102,000 men according to a in-depth Reuters investigation. That is to say, much of what constituted the Ukrainian military force on the eve of the Russian invasions was armed, financed and trained by the United States, Great Britain, Canada and France. These militias, stemming from the far-right groups that led the Euromaidan revolution in 2014, are made up of fanatical and brutal individuals. The best known of these is the Azov regiment, whose emblem is reminiscent of that of the 2nd SS Das Reich Panzer Division. The latter is the object of nationalist veneration in Ukraine for having liberated Kharkov from the Soviets in 1943. None of this is a secret, even if it has been banned from the 24/7 news narrative. So the West supports and continues to arm militias that have been guilty of widespread crimes against the civilian populations of the Donbas since 2014, including rape, torture and massacres. Moreover, the integration of these paramilitary forces into the National Guard was not at all accompanied by a “denazification”, as is frequently claimed. Among the many examples, that of the insignia of the Azov Regiment is edifying: Finally, on the eve of the invasion the Kiev government moved to drastically intensify the civil war and its brutal campaign against the breakaway republics. Beginning on February 16th – a week before the invasion – Ukrainian artillery shelling of the civilian populations of the Donbass increased dramatically, as shown by the daily reports of OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) observers. Naturally, neither the media, nor the European Union, nor NATO, nor any Western government reacted or intervened even verbally. At the same time, there were also reports of acts of sabotage in the Donbass. On January 18, Donbass fighters intercept saboteurs equipped with Western equipment and speaking Polish seeking to create chemical incidents in Gorlivka. The Ukrainian artillery bombardments on the populations of Donbass continued to intensify as shown below – so on February 23, the two Republics requested military aid from Russia. And on the 24th, Vladimir Putin invoked Article 51 of the United Nations Charter which provides for mutual military assistance within the framework of a defensive alliance. At that point, the Ukrainian civil war became international, and the artificial nation that was not “Built to Last” was ushered into its death throes. Indeed, the real truth of the matter is that Imperial Washington is now reaping the whirlwind it sowed over decades by massive interference in the internal politics and governance process of countries all over the world – of which the vignette above about the Ukrainian coup and its bloody aftermath is only the latest flock of chickens to come home to roost. Contrary to the bombast, jingoism, and shrill moralizing flowing from Washington and the mainstream media, America had absolutely no national security interest – even to this day – in the spat between Putin and the coup that unconstitutionally took over Kiev in February 2014. That changed everything and knocked the props out from under Washington’s current sanctimonious attacks on Putin for finally resorting to its own game. As we said, Ukraine was “Not Built to Last”. Yet notwithstanding all of these damning realities, Zelensky continues to peevishly and arrogantly demand that Washington and the west stand-up an on-ramp to WWIII (e.g. a No-Fly Zone) in order to defend every inch of this artifact of recent history called Ukraine. After all, if according to the horse’s mouth itself there would have been no war had Ukraine been willing to give up the historic Russian territories of Crimea and the Donbas in the first place, then why isn’t Washington making a bee line toward the negotiating table to offer just that? If the truth be told, of course, it is not interested in ending the Ukraine War or saving a nation which cannot and should not be saved. To the contrary, Washington and its fawning media acolytes have become so crazed with anti-Putin hysteria that they will not be satiated until Russia itself is brought down – even if that threatens to bring down the entire dollar-based global trade and payments system on which America’s tenuous prosperity depends. Tyler Durden Sat, 12/02/2023 - 08:10.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 2nd, 2023

Argentina Will Now Run A Very Pro-Israel And Pro-US Foreign Policy

Argentina Will Now Run A Very Pro-Israel And Pro-US Foreign Policy By Michael Every of Rabobank Nu, so it doesn't whistle I start today by referring readers to two classic Jewish jokes. The first has the punchline, “That’s funny, you don’t look Jewish.” The second ends, “Is that all you people ever think about?” Together, they are a warm-up for the not-a-joke Bloomberg headline that ‘Milei’s Conversion to Judaism Seals Pro-Israel Push by Argentina’, replete with a picture of the eccentric new president-elect wearing a kippah after seeing a Chabad rabbi in New York. Although Bloomberg is unclear about when Milei chose to convert, Tablet magazine noted weeks ago that he began, but hasn’t completed, a formal conversion in 2021 after starting “to read the Torah as part of his nerdy approach to economic theory.” Well, if he’s looking for nerdy economists, Milei has come to the right place: the list of (not a real) Nobel Prize Laureates for Economics does the talking, even if he hates what nearly all of them have to say given his libertarian views. (I can also report the initial collated ‘Home Team’ reaction to the above news is: ‘How nice to have some support; let’s hope he drops the meshuga schtick; and that he knows what he’s doing, because we need another problem right now like a hole in the head – don’t you know there’s enough antisemitism that Elon Musk needs to be seen in Israel, and 105,000 people just marched against it in London, the largest such protest since the 1930s?’) Argentina will clearly now run a very pro-Israel and US foreign policy, a stark contrast to the rest of Latin America and, with the exception of India, most of the Global South. Indeed, Buenos Aires is officially dropping out of the BRICS11 – and, geopolitically, what is it going to drop into instead? That remains to be seen. So does what happens when the Israel-Hamas ceasefire, now extended to Thursday, ends; and with inflation and rates in 2024; and with all the key elections; and all that as Hal Brands warns of a global future of “small 'hot' wars” as big as Vietnam or Korea(!) that will define our new, Cold War 2.0; and as both OPEC+ and COP28 meetings loom, with possible further commitments to reductions in oil supply and staggering climate spending. Against this all, traditional econometrics; markets thinking rate cuts loom, and are the answer to our problems if they do; Chinese banks extending unsecured loans to bail out struggling developers to complete housing units that nobody will buy; and crypto websites reporting the UAE has stopped using the USD for oil trades when its own currency is pegged to the USD, all reminds me of the logic of Chelm, the apocryphal Ashkenazi Jewish hometown of fools. A man in Chelm once thought up a riddle nobody could answer: “What’s purple, hangs on the wall and whistles?” When everybody gave up, he announced the answer: a white fish. “A white fish?” people said. “A white fish isn’t purple.” “Nu,” replied the jokester, “this white fish was painted purple.” “But hanging on a wall? Who ever heard of a white fish that hung on a wall?” “Aha! But this white fish was hung on the wall.” “But a white fish doesn’t whistle,” somebody shouted. “Nu, so it doesn’t whistle.” It might behove Milei, and the rest of our global leaders at the Chelm, to focus on what does and doesn’t really whistle before the crowds start cheering and booing. Because nobody is laughing. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/28/2023 - 09:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 28th, 2023

Argentine Election Fallout: 3 Assets to Benefit

If Argentine president-elect Javier Milei can turn around the struggling Argentine economy, crisis will lead to opportunity in these 3 assets. Early last century, Argentina was amongst the wealthiest countries worldwide. In fact, it once was dubbed “The Paris of Latin America” because of its beautiful architecture that resembled the fancy European style. However, years of socialist policies caused rampant hyperinflation. Hyperinflation is typically caused by a rapid and excessive increase in the money supply, often driven by unsustainable government spending, deficit financing, or the printing of currency without adequate economic backing. In fact, as of the last reading, Argentina has the world’s highest inflation (143% YoY), behind only Venezuela’s 362% rate.Image Source: Charlie Bilello, Creative PlanningLast week, Argentina’s presidential election shocked the world and flipped the fledgling Latin American country’s politics on its head by electing libertarian outsider candidate Javier Milei. Javier Milei is an eccentric Argentine economist, author, and political commentator known for his outspoken and controversial views. A shift away from socialist policies can transform Argentina from uninvestable to chock full of opportunity. Below are three assets that should benefit from a turnaround in Argentina:MSCI Argentina ETF (ARGT)ARGT is an exchange-traded fund that tracks the performance of the Argentine stock market. If you believe in a turnaround in Argentina, ARGT allows US investors to hold a diversified portfolio of stocks from companies listed on the Argentine stock exchange. In reaction to last week’s election, ARGT soared 16% on volume four times the norm. Because power and distance are often correlated in the stock market, a 16% move on massive volume in a country’s stock market is very rare and indicative of the beginning of a move, not the end. Furthermore, simply surviving could mean a massive reversion to the mean trade is in store. For example, when Carvana (CVNA) avoided bankruptcy, it led to breathtaking gains of more than 1,000%Image Source: TradingViewYacimiento Petroliferos Fiscales (YPF)YPF is the largest Argentine energy company. Founded in 1922, YPF plays a crucial role in the exploration production, refininment, and distribution of petroleum and natural gas in Argentina. Though Argentina has struggled economically recently, the company is blessed with abundant natural resources. At ~2.5 billion barrels, Argentina has the fifth largest crude oil reserves in Latin America. A rebounding economy, more investment, and open trade should contribute to YPF’s prospects. YPF has beaten Zacks Consensus Analyst Estimates in six of the past eight quarters.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchBitcoin & Bitcoin ProxiesDue to the unrelenting inflation in Argentina, Milei’s radical plan in office is to eliminate the Central Bank and “dollarize” the country. The economist believes that because of the poor reputation of the peso, it’s of little use in getting the country back on its feet economically. The result may be a monetary system in which a competition of currencies authorizes citizens to choose their preferred monetary system. Because Bitcoin already has a built-in, non-inflationary monetary system (only 21 million Bitcoin will ever exist), many Argentinians may decide to move in that direction. Bitcoin moved up 3% on the election news and recently hit all-time highs against the Argentine peso.Image Source: TradingViewBitcoin proxies such as MicroStrategy (MSTR), ProShares Bitcoin ETF (BITO), and the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) are good ways to play continued strength in Bitcoin.Bottom LineIf Argentine president-elect Javier Milei can turn the economy around in Argentina, the crisis will lead to opportunity for investors. ARGT, YPF, and Bitcoin stand to benefit the most. Zacks Names #1 Semiconductor Stock It's only 1/9,000th the size of NVIDIA which skyrocketed more than +800% since we recommended it. NVIDIA is still strong, but our new top chip stock has much more room to boom. With strong earnings growth and an expanding customer base, it's positioned to feed the rampant demand for Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Internet of Things. Global semiconductor manufacturing is projected to explode from $452 billion in 2021 to $803 billion by 2028.See This Stock Now for Free >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report YPF Sociedad Anonima (YPF): Free Stock Analysis Report MicroStrategy Incorporated (MSTR): Free Stock Analysis Report Global X MSCI Argentina ETF (ARGT): ETF Research Reports Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC): ETF Research Reports ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO): ETF Research ReportsTo read this article on click here.Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 27th, 2023

Milei And Wilders Elected: Is The Libertarian Moment Finally Here?

Milei And Wilders Elected: Is The Libertarian Moment Finally Here? Authored by Roger Simon via The Epoch Times, It used to be said that conservative guys just called themselves “libertarian” so girls would talk to them at cocktail parties. At least one well-known conservative talk show host called them “losertarians” since they didn’t always toe the line and vote Republican. Nevertheless, many of us are still convinced Henry David Thoreau, sounding very libertarian, was correct when he wrote in his 1849 book “Civil Disobedience” that “the best government is that which governs least.” Thomas Jefferson and John Locke earlier had said much the same and now, after a couple of hundred years, that libertarian view seems to be growing globally. Much of this is a reaction to the obvious: Marxism or quasi-Marxism does not work economically and, worse, it has engendered horrendous totalitarian oppression with a massive death count in China, Russia, North Korea, and Cambodia, among others. Libertarianism has started to look a lot better, especially—and ironically—in the eyes of Karl Marx’s beloved proletariat, unlike the so-called “elites,” who are a protected class. Here, in the United States, the MAGA movement that now dominates the Republican Party tilts libertarian. Its leader, 2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump, has also done so in most of his recent pronouncements. Meanwhile, in South America and Europe, even more overtly libertarian candidates have won their country’s elections. First it was economist, professor, and sometime rock musician Javier Milei in Argentina, who in reaction to the catastrophic 134 percent inflation and a concomitant rise in poverty in his country, has become the new president-elect. Then in the Netherlands, longtime political libertarian and strongly anti-immigration gadfly Geert Wilders out-paced all predictions in their elections and will attempt to form a government. Mr. Wilders success is partly due to the Dutch farmers who were fed up with new “climate change” regulations that would make it impossible for them to make a living—and therefore for many of their countrymen to eat. The corporate media and their political allies in the European Union and the United States immediately branded Mr. Milei and Mr. Wilders with their now-favorite designation “far-right,” though these men are no more far-right than Jefferson, Locke, and Thoreau, the very figures these so-called liberals and progressives—though they prefer to ignore or “forget”—once considered their intellectual heroes. What is transpiring now globally is a fight between these rising libertarians of various stripes and the incumbent statists. In recent years, despite the Trump interregnum, the statists have seemed to be in the ascendancy. The Davos/globalist set, Klaus Schwab et al., was almost assumed to have already taken power under the mantra “You’ll own nothing, and you will be happy,” a phrase that originated in a 2016 video from the World Economic Forum. It was a new supposedly benign form of communism, though oddly reminiscent of the “three rounds and a sound” (bicycle, watch, and sewing machine plus a radio) deemed sufficient for life in the Communist China of the 1950s. Meanwhile, those advocating this mantra, the aforementioned globalist set, flew in and out of that glamorous Davos resort on private jets to deliver speeches on global warming while their desired constituents, who rarely had a chance to fly business and felt lucky when they were admitted to an over-crowded airport lounge, looked on via television and internet with increasing skepticism. Globalism was a shell game taking place before their eyes. Bill Gates would never be happy “owning nothing.” He was buying up all the farms in America (that weren’t already bought by the Chinese). He and his cronies had found a new way get rich (or richer) and stay rich. Globalism was just a mask for oligarchic power, with that oligarchy extending into a one world-wide state. Why think small? National borders are so 20th Century. So a battle has been joined between these mega-statists and the libertarians (again of various stripes, often nationalist), but for the first time the latter seem to be ascendant. Mr. Wilders and Mr. Meili are not far-right or “hard-right,” to use the term adopted by The Economist, which called the Dutch leader a “headache for Europe.” (Actually men like Mr. Wilders will be Europe’s salvation, if allowed.) They are not Nazis, as they are sometimes called, or nearly so. The Nazis were socialists—the National Socialist Party—it is always worth reminding ourselves. Mr. Milei and Mr. Wilders are not far-anything. They are a return to the values enshrined in the United States’ “Declaration of Independence,” the importance of the freedom of the individual. We are seeing this new ascendancy domestically in the renewed popularity of President Trump as his poll numbers continue to rise. But is the MAGA movement truly libertarian? In the largest sense, yes, because, after all, "libertarian," like most political terminology these days, is rather vague. To some, a libertarian is a self-indulgent, pot-lover. (I’m not. I despise pot, though I used to smoke it. There are a number of things about some libertarians I don’t like.) But MAGA stands firmly against the Deep State, and nothing is more libertarian than that. Cut the bureaucracy, cut the regulations, deep six as many government agencies as possible. If fact, deep six the Deep State in its entirety. That sounds pretty libertarian to me. And while we’re at it, keep the government out of our cars, our refrigerators and stoves, our bank accounts, our medical care, our security systems, our reading material, our cable connections, our emails and text messages, internet, social media, cellphones, or anything to do with our private lives. It’s a safe bet Mr. Milei and Mr. Wilders would agree. Tyler Durden Sun, 11/26/2023 - 22:10.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytNov 26th, 2023

Los Angeles Leads 2023 National Shoplifting Spree

Los Angeles Leads 2023 National Shoplifting Spree Authored by John Seiler via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Shoplifting in Los Angeles spiked 109 percent in the first half of 2023, according to a new study by the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ), “Shoplifting Trends: What You Need to Know.” The CCJ is a nonpartisan and independent think tank supported by grants from philanthropies. That was the highest rise of any city, with Dallas in second place at 73 percent. On the positive side, shoplifting dropped 35 percent in San Francisco, similar to a 31 percent drop in Seattle. Unfortunately, Los Angeles and San Francisco were the only two Golden State cities monitored of 24 nationwide. The study included several interactive graphs. This screenshot isolates the two California cities. Los Angeles is the black line, and San Francisco the brown one: (Council on Criminal Justice/Screenshot via The Epoch Times) Notice San Francisco’s spike in late 2021 and early 2022, just before left-wing District Attorney Chesa Boudin was recalled by voters on June 7, 2022. Then look at the black line for Los Angeles. The rise began in the middle of 2021, sparking another recall effort against another radical, District Attorney George Gascón. But that effort failed in August 2022 when proponents failed to gather enough signatures. After that, as the graph shows, shoplifting just kept going up and up to its current heights. However, Mr. Gascón is facing a tough reelection bid next year. A poll released Nov. 6 by FM3 Research showed Mr. Gascón losing, 48 percent to 23 percent, to Eric Siddall, a career Los Angeles prosecutor. It concluded, “In sum, this survey shows Eric Siddall to be well-positioned for the LA County District Attorney March primary election. In a large field of candidates that includes an incumbent that most voters regard negatively and do not support, Siddall’s profile distinguishes him.” A FiveThirtyEight survey of FM3’s polls found its forecasts for the 2022 election were 68 percent accurate, which is pretty good. On his campaign website, Mr. Siddall pledges, “I'll make it clear to any and all criminals that the George Gascón party is over. Too many working families, seniors, women, young people and marginalized communities are living in fear for their safety.” Other Los Angeles Crime Rates The CCJ study also produced this graph of five crime factors since 2018. Los Angeles is isolated from the other cities. Again, shoplifting (green line) stands out for its sharp rise after the drop during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, when most stores were closed. Other larceny (black line) rose in the middle of 2021, but since has declined. Holding steady or declining a little during this period were vehicle theft (purple line), robbery (gold line), and burglary (gray line). Here’s something else interesting the CCJ study found. In New York and other cities, there’s a seasonality to shoplifting. It rises in the spring and summer, I think because the weather becomes nice, then drops in the winter. Criminals don’t want to ply their trade any more than honest folks when it’s zero degrees outside and the wind is howling with a snowstorm. “In Los Angeles, by contrast, there is no clear seasonality,” the study found. That also was true for another generally warm coastal city, “In Virginia Beach, there is also no clear seasonal pattern.” What Causes Crime Increases? As to causes, here’s what the study suggested: “Bail reform is one possible explanation, yet the timing of the reform (at least in New York) does not align with the shoplifting increase, and research suggests that bail reform likely has no association with increased larceny. “Another possibility is a change in the rate at which stores report shoplifting to police. This analysis is based solely on reported shoplifting incidents; the underreporting of shoplifting has yet to be systematically analyzed. However, data from the Anaheim (California) Police Department indicate that a major retailer reported 8 percent of shoplifting incidents in 2022 and 20 percent in 2023. According to one report, a spike in San Francisco shoplifting may have resulted from increased reporting.” That seems to me an inadequate explanation. If stores are closing, or locking up all their goods, then there’s not just a “reporting” problem, but a real problem. Guns and Crime I suggest a different reason, which needs more investigation: The lack of an increase in crime in some of these areas has something to do with America’s strong gun culture. Robbery and burglary involve violence, which can be thwarted by gun-wielding victims shooting the assailants. Criminals know this, and when gun ownership increases, they switch to easer crimes, such as looting drug and grocery stores. The June 2022 Bruen decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the personal right to carry a firearm. Since then, gun ownership has soared. According to an NBC poll released Nov. 21, “More than half of American voters—52 percent—say they or someone in their household owns a gun, per the latest NBC News national poll. That’s the highest share of voters who say that they or someone in their household owns a gun in the history of the NBC News poll, on a question dating back to 1999.” That’s up from 43 percent in 2013. Gov. Gavin Newsom has been attacking Americans’ Second Amendment “right to keep and bear arms” during his five years in office. Despite the Bruen decision, he signed six more anti-gun bills on Sept. 26. And he has proposed a 28th Amendment to eviscerate the Second Amendment. He’s clearly out of step with Californians, and certainly with the national electorate. Conclusion: Voters are Taking Action Even in liberal California, voters don’t like getting mugged, or seeing their stores close from shoplifting. And they’re taking action. They’re arming themselves with guns. And they’re ousting district attorneys who tolerate lawlessness. At the state level, Mr. Newsom is term limited and is now running a shadow campaign for president. So all his actions are directed there. California crime goes in cycles. The “permissiveness,” as it was called, of the 1960s and 70s led to the crackdowns of the 1980s and 90s, especially 1994’s Proposition 184, the Three Strikes and You’re Out Law. That cut crime, but it also led to a large prison overpopulation problem, leading to the intervention of federal courts starting in 2009. In the past decade, the state has passed such reforms as Proposition 47 in 2014, which reduced sentences for many crimes. Currently, it seems the need is to get rid of the radical district attorneys, replacing them with officials who enforce the current laws. We’ll see in a few years how that works. Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times or ZeroHedge. Tyler Durden Fri, 11/24/2023 - 15:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 24th, 2023

Trump Set To Visit Argentina In Light Of Javier Milei"s Presidential Win

Since libertarian Javier Milei was elected president of Argentina with nearly 56% of the votes, world leaders have reached out to him. China President Xi Jinping and El Salvador President  read more.....»»

Category: blogSource: benzingaNov 23rd, 2023

The Milei-nnial Generation: Fury, Desperation, And A Recognition That Nothing Works Anymore

The Milei-nnial Generation: Fury, Desperation, And A Recognition That Nothing Works Anymore By Michael Every of Rabobank Milei-nnials and no Gen Zzz As noted yesterday, the weekend saw “another political earthquake” as radical conservative libertarian Javier Milei, who dresses as a superhero, publicly attacks “leftards”, and wants to “burn down” the central bank and shut down most government ministries, was elected president of Argentina. Milei also wants to dollarize – with no dollars. Where one could once argue Argentina is a radical economic and political outlier, it now looks like a potential precursor: now, DM = EM. Yes, it’s no surprise that in a two-horse presidential race, the incumbent who saw inflation hit 143% y-o-y lost, and it’s no shock Argentina continued a LatAm tradition of political swings from one extreme to the other in the hope that it might help the public live slightly better. Yes, given Milei doesn’t have a Congressional majority, he may not be able to achieve what he wants to do. Yet the extreme policy being embraced --dollarization, massive austerity, and “burning down” the central bank, so ceding monetary and most fiscal sovereignty-- is remarkable. It speaks to fury, desperation, and a recognition that nothing traditional works anymore, so taboos must be broken. The same is true elsewhere, as a ‘Milei-nnial’ generation emerges. Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is also proposing to fire 50% of the federal bureaucracy if he were to win, and Republican front-runner Trump wants to impose uniform tariffs on all imports, deport millions of illegal aliens, and remake the education system – this time with an organised parallel bureaucracy to ensure he can do what he says, rather than pressing a button and watching nothing happen. In Europe, the far right party of Geert Wilders is expected to do very well in the Dutch election; Germany is now talking about deporting people en masse; populist Meloni is already in power in Italy; Spain is seeing huge street protests against its new government; and the UK continues to gaze radically at its political navel, with a government that presses buttons and watches nothing happen. Meanwhile, after ‘Milei-nnials’ there is no Gen ‘Zzz’. The West’s streets and universities echo with Cliché Guevara calls for the end of racism, imperialism, colonialism, and capitalism - and cheers for Hamas. Recall T-shirt staple Che killed hundreds of people, by the way. Outside the West, China is embracing Marxist Common Prosperity, which US executives are prepared to give a standing ovation to at $40,000 a head dinners, as Russia tries to make itself great again on the map. It’s not the only one - Iran has its own regional agenda. (Note Iran-backed Houthis seized an Israel-linked commercial ship; and Turkey is planning a 1,000-ship civilian flotilla from 40 nations, including Russia, to blockade Israel’s port of Ashdod.) In short, we see not just emerging radical libertarianism but nationalism, fascism, imperialism, Marxism, and Islamism – and radical fusions of many of the above into a new angry melange. The sensible center that repressed such 20th, 19th, 18th, 17th (and  9th, 8th, and 7th)-century thinking for a few decades is now unable to help us. Indeed, you can’t repress ‘-isms’ with inappropriate policy any more than you can repress market volatility with inappropriate state interventions, as Milei would no doubt argue. Both attempts just change volatility’s form, and it comes back even worse. Understand that our new, old ‘-isms’ didn’t come roaring back randomly; people didn’t just get tired of winning; history might run in circles or waves, but not on autopilot; and you can’t keep blaming Trump or Brexit in a vacuum. Instead, as I’ve argued since 2016, the sensible center’s policy utopianism ensured other ‘-isms’ would re-emerge eventually. And now what once worked as policy no longer does: Fiscal austerity? Great! Except the welfare state is already collapsing, radicalising voters, as the Climate Policy Initiative says green spending needs to be TEN TIMES what it is now to hit crucial targets. And defense spending needs to leap everywhere too. Indeed, on Bloomberg yesterday, Niall Ferguson asked, ‘What if we had a new cold war — and we were the Soviets?’, as he warned, “For some months, I had been worried that, despite reassuring words from my Chinese sources, a plan was being hatched in Beijing to impose such a blockade in January, using the Taiwanese election to furnish a pretext.” That’s something to consider as the KMT/TPP alliance for the Taiwanese presidential election unraveled since Ferguson wrote his article. Rate cuts? Great! Except it could mean a surge in commodity prices and higher structural inflation given the political and geopolitical state of play. Argentina may be walking away from joining the BRICS now, but a Great Game with BRICS commodities and Chinese goods vs. Western financialisation and the US dollar is clearly underway. Make house prices rise again? Great! If we want to entrench emerging feudalism and ensure Gen Z who already moved from being fans of Harry Potter to Hamas next move to ISIS. Free trade? Great! Except it often means deindustrialisation, inequality, openness to coercion, and military weakness. Dedollarise? Great! Except that will shatter the global system entirely. Dollarise? Great! Except you lose most key forms of economic sovereignty. Reverse Brexit? Great! But the UK would still be a member of an EU grappling with mass legal and illegal immigration, unaffordable housing, crumbling civil services, high public debt, high inflation, high rates, weak economic growth, an energy crisis, deindustrialisation, two nearby wars, social and political polarisation, and structural geopolitical weakness leading to long-run economic decline. Of course, markets try to ‘find a way’. Argentinean assets traded in New York soared Monday despite (or because of) the radical policy proposed. The same thing happened when Trump won in 2016: initial shock and sell-off, then a rally. Clearly sometimes the sensible center is not what people really want even when they say they do. Then again, sometimes there is no way to find good news. Markets haven’t liked China’s Common Prosperity, and wait for Western Keynesianism that won’t arrive. Wall Street is shocked social justice can end up in antisemitism even when measuring which demographics make up what percentage of which professions was always a trapdoor to it. Wait until they grapple with what “dekulakisation” implies as it re-emerges in the circles backing “decolonisation”. In Argentina’s case, @RobinWigg tweets: “I never thought leopards would eat MY face," says investor who bet on the Leopards Eating Faces Party's president-elect turning around an economic basket case with policies out of a teenage libertarian's notebook.” In short, expect more radical populism and more radical market volatility as Milei-nnials and no Gen Zzz grapple with which way to yank the policy steering wheel to try to avoid what they see as a cliff ahead. (And, in the background, enjoy the clown-show drama around OpenAI: how can so much artificial intelligence be shrouded by so much lack of human intelligence?) Tyler Durden Tue, 11/21/2023 - 12:55.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 21st, 2023

Argentina oil company YPF spikes 40% as investors cheer president-elect Milei"s promises to revamp the economy

Argentine stocks rallied broadly on Monday following the election victory of Javier Milei, who has said he would work to privatize industries. Presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition Javier Milei arrives to vote in the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023.(AP Photo/Matias Delacroix) Shares of state-oil firm YPF soared 40% on Monday after Javier Milei's presidential victory. Milei has promised to revamp the Argentine economy, and also said he would seek to privatize YPF. Milei won the Argentine presidential election Sunday against Economy Minister Sergio Massa. Argentine state energy company YPF saw its New York-listed shares spike more than 40% on Monday, following Javier Milei's presidential election victory on Sunday.Around 2:00 p.m. EST, the stock hovered at $14.90, up 38.82% on the day.Right wing libertarian candidate Milei, who beat out Economy Minister Sergio Massa by a wider-than-expected margin, has promised to revamp the ailing Argentine economy largely through promoting the local use of the US dollar, and said he would consider a sale of YPF and other state-controlled firms to boost public accounts. The president-elect said in a radio interview, per Reuters, his administration will "create value" for companies in order for them to "be sold in a very beneficial way for Argentines." The country nationalized 51% of YPF more than a decade ago, seizing control from Spain's Repsol, and the energy company now oversees massive shale gas and oil reserves. YPF wasn't alone in its rally on Monday. Other Argentina-linked equities saw gains too, as did Argentina's dollar bonds.Shares of both Grupo Financiero Galicia and Banco Macro climbed more than 20%, and the Global X MSCI Argentina ETF was up more than 11.6% shortly after midday in New York."The model of decadence has come to an end, there's no going back," Milei said in a post-election speech.Investors and markets will be monitoring the exchange rate between the peso and the dollar, as Milei's bold economic plan includes deprioritizing the local currency in favor of the greenback in a bid to tame historic inflation.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 20th, 2023

3 Reasons Bitcoin"s Momentum is just Beginning

Bitcoin is up 125% year-to-date versus the US Dollar. However, Stock Strategist Andrew Rocco explains why the momentum is just starting. Whether it be a game of pool, a “2-minute drill” for a football team, or the stock market, momentum can play an integral role in technical and fundamental outcomes. On Wall Street, one can trace the heart of price trends to fundamental momentum. For stocks, this usually means increasing earnings expectations, leading to more investor interest. For other assets, it can mean scarcity and a better use case. Either way, all price trends are birthed when buying pressure outweighs selling pressure and momentum picks up. Bitcoin, which is up ~125% year-to-date and is the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, is one such asset class gaining momentum. Below are three reasons the Bitcoin momentum may just be beginning:International Adoption & Real-World Use is on the RiseLast night, hyperinflation-plagued Argentina shocked the world by electing a wild-haired, chainsaw-wielding Libertarian candidate named Javier Milei. After embracing socialism for years, an inflation rate of more than 100% a year pushed citizens of South America’s second-largest economy to move in a completely different direction and try something new politically. Years of money printing, currency devaluation, and corruption have collectively brought the country to a tipping point, disrupting the delicate balance between money supply and economic output. Investors cheered the news and sent domestic juggernauts like oil juggernaut YPF (YPF) higher by ~34% and the MSCI Argentina ETF (ARGT) higher by more than 10% in volume which tracked 9,800% above average in early trading.Image Source: TradingViewAs is the case throughout history, crisis tends to lead to opportunity for investors. In the case of Argentina, the real opportunity may be in Bitcoin. Because Argentina is in such financial trouble, the economic picture remains muddled regardless of who’s in office. However, the election results are bullish for Bitcoin for two main reasons. First, Milei is the second pro-Bitcoin presidential candidate in Latin America to gain office (El Salvador’s Nayib Bukele was the first).Between the two shocking election outcomes and a wave of US politicians embracing Bitcoin, the momentum is shifting politically on a grand scale. Second, and most importantly, Bitcoin is being used in the real world to stave off inflation. The evidence? Following the election news, Bitcoin hit new highs in three inflation-plagued countries, including Nigeria, Turkey, and, of course, Argentina. The evidence is clear: world citizens are gravitating toward Bitcoin because of its inflation-resistant protocol (there will only ever be 21 million coins, while countries around the world print money endlessly). Year-to-date, Bitcoin is up a robust 351% versus the Argentine Peso.Image Source: TradingViewBitcoin Supply is StagnantOver the weekend, Bitcoin analyst Will Clemente pointed out that “88% of Bitcoin supply hasn’t moved in at least three months.” In other words, many investors seem to be shifting to a long-term mindset. Because Bitcoin has a fixed supply, as the remaining supply wanes and investor demand increases, Bitcoin should rally further.Image Source: Glassnode, Will ClementeInstitutional AppetiteLong-awaited approval of ETFs will likely mean a quantum leap for the Bitcoin asset class. With juggernauts such as Fidelity and BlackRock (BLK) applying for ETFs, demand will soar from both institutions and retail investors should the ETFs be approved (they likely will be). In the meantime, Bitcoin proxies such as the ProShares Bitcoin ETF (BITO), Coinbase (COIN), and MicroStrategy (MSTR) should benefit dramatically.  Zacks Names "Single Best Pick to Double" From thousands of stocks, 5 Zacks experts each have chosen their favorite to skyrocket +100% or more in months to come. From those 5, Director of Research Sheraz Mian hand-picks one to have the most explosive upside of all. It’s credited with a “watershed medical breakthrough” and is developing a bustling pipeline of other projects that could make a world of difference for patients suffering from diseases involving the liver, lungs, and blood. This is a timely investment that you can catch while it emerges from its bear market lows. It could rival or surpass other recent Stocks Set to Double like Boston Beer Company which shot up +143.0% in little more than 9 months and NVIDIA which boomed +175.9% in one year.Free: See Our Top Stock And 4 Runners UpWant the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report BlackRock, Inc. (BLK): Free Stock Analysis Report YPF Sociedad Anonima (YPF): Free Stock Analysis Report MicroStrategy Incorporated (MSTR): Free Stock Analysis Report Global X MSCI Argentina ETF (ARGT): ETF Research Reports Coinbase Global, Inc. (COIN): Free Stock Analysis Report ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO): ETF Research ReportsTo read this article on click here.Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 20th, 2023

: Argentina stocks and bonds surge after Milei’s victory. Can the party continue?

Argentina stocks surged and bonds rallied following news that radical libertarian economist Javier Milei will become Argentina’s next president after an unexpected electoral win.  .....»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchNov 20th, 2023

Argentina"s new far-right president Javier Milei winning is a triumph for Tucker Carlson

The ex-Fox News host has boosted far-right candidates globally on his show on X. Tucker Carlson interviews Argentinian far-right presidential candidate Javier Milei in September 2023.Tucker on XTucker Carlson interviewed Javier Milei in September, boosting his candidacy. Milei is a far-right firebrand and showman, compared by some to Donald Trump. Carlson's is trying to promote collaboration among conservative movements around the world After the election of far-right outsider Javier Milei as Argentina's president Sunday, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson took a victory lap.Carlson posted a picture of himself posing with Milei, whose candidacy he boosted by interviewing him for his show on X in— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) November 20, 2023 In the interview, Milei echoed the rhetoric of former US President Donald Trump, questioning the climate crisis, urging right-wingers to wage culture wars with liberals, and pledging to cut government spending to reduce Argentina's spiking inflation.The interview was part of Carlson's wider plan to promote collaboration among conservatives around the world, A. J. Bauer, an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Alabama, told the Reuters Institute.Milei, a libertarian economist and TV personality, was considered an outsider when he launched his bid to lead South America's second-biggest nation.His victory was propelled by conspiracy theories, media stunts, and a pledge to crack down on Argentina's spiraling economic woes with radical measures, such as adopting the US dollar as the national currency.His candidacy was compared early on to that of Trump, another outsider with an outlandish persona who overcame the odds to win in 2016's US presidential election.Since being fired by Fox News in 2022, Carlson has been building his own media brand on X, interviewing far-right candidates and leaders including Hungary's Viktor Orbán, Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, and El Salvador's Nayib Bukele.Though he doesn't command the mainstream conservative audiences he did during his time at Fox, he's still among the most influential far-right media figures in the world, with his interview with Milei viewed 423 million times at the time of publication."He probably knows that he's reaching a more niche audience," Bauer told the Reuters Institute. "Even in this role, he can still play a really important role in setting the agenda by saying: 'Hey, you may not have heard of what's going on in Argentina but this guy's got some interesting ideas that maybe we should apply here in the US.'"Carlson retains close ties with Trump, who's seeking to make a political comeback in 2024 and opted to be interviewed on Carlson's show instead of taking part in the Republican primary debate in August.As he seeks to fan the flames of the global far right, Carlson will likely be hoping that Milei's is the first of a new wave of victories akin to that which swept Trump to power in 2016.But critics say that Milei's sweeping solutions are unlikely to survive contact with reality. He may end up suffering the same political fate as his allies and political soulmates Trump and Bolsonaro, and be swept out of office after one term."Hang on to your hat," Benjamin Gedan, director of the Latin America Program at the Washington-based Wilson Center, told The Associated Press."Milei has toned down his anti-establishment rage lately and downplayed his more outlandish proposals, but it's going to be a wild ride, given his combative style, inexperience, and the few allies he has in Congress."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 20th, 2023

Anti-Woke Central Bank Nemesis Javier Milei Wins Argentina"s Presidential Election

Anti-Woke Central Bank Nemesis Javier Milei Wins Argentina's Presidential Election Javier Milei, the outsider libertarian candidate with radical solutions to Argentina’s economic crisis, has just won Sunday’s presidential runoff against Economy Minister Sergio Massa. In a surprise outcome, Massa conceded in a speech to supporters in Buenos Aires on Sunday even before the official results were released, saying he called Milei to congratulate him on his victory. Javier Milei, a 53-year-old far-right economist and former television pundit with no governing experience, claimed nearly 56 percent of the vote, with more than 80 percent of votes tallied. It was a stunning upset over Sergio Massa, the center-left economy minister who has struggled to resolve the country’s worst economic crisis in two decades. Voters in this nation of 46 million demanded a drastic change from a government that has sent the peso tumbling, inflation skyrocketing and more than 40 percent of the population into poverty. And with Milei, Argentina takes a leap into the unknown — with a leader promising to shatter the entire system, which the locals now correctly realize, is broken. Milei, who two months ago was interviewed by Tucker Carlson, has promised to fix Argentina’s perennial economic problems by making drastic budget cuts, replacing the battered peso with the US dollar and shutting down the central bank.  He will take office on Dec. 10. Ep. 24 Argentina’s next president could be Javier Milei. Who is he? We traveled to Buenos Aires to speak with him and find out. — Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) September 14, 2023 Massa, from the ruling Peronist coalition, placed first in October’s first round, a remarkable comeback after losing a primary election two months previously. But the dire state of Argentina’s economy, plagued by 143% hyperinflation and a looming recession, posed a challenge too far to his presidential bid. “Argentines chose another path,” Massa said in a speech to supporters. Polls before the vote showed Milei with a slight edge over his rival. For those unfamiliar with Milei's unique style, the following clip should be rather informative: THE JAVIER MILEI MUSICAL IS GONNA BE WAY MORE FIRE THAN EVITA. — INVESTMENT HULK (@INVESTMENTSHULK) August 18, 2023 Commenting on Milei's victory, Elon Musk predicted that "Prosperity is ahead for Argentina." Prosperity is ahead for Argentina — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 19, 2023 A Milei presidency will have profound implications for not only the third-largest economy in Latin America, but also the region and the world. In a continent dominated by leftist leaders, Milei could create tensions with governments he has attacked, including crucial trading partner and neighbor Brazil. In an era of growing Chinese influence in Latin America, Milei could become the region’s most vocal antagonist to a country he once called “an assassin.” Milei made a name for himself as a television pundit who insulted other guests, and has shown a tendency to fight with the news media. In presidential debates, he has cast doubt on the widely accepted tally of murders during the country’s Dirty War from 1976 to 1983. He has branded Pope Francis, an Argentine, an “evil” leftist. Climate change, he says, is a “socialist lie.” He would hold a referendum to undo the three-year-old law that legalized abortion. Wielding chain saws on the campaign trail, the wild-haired Milei vowed to slash public spending in a country heavily dependent on government subsidies. He pledged to dollarize the economy, shut down the central bank and cut the number of government ministries from 18 to eight. His rallying campaign cry was a takedown of the country’s political “caste” — an Argentine version of Trump’s “drain the swamp.” Massa was emblematic of that ruling elite — “the king of the caste,” said political analyst Pablo Touzón. The career politician attempted to distance himself from the leftist government of Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the heirs to the populist dynasty first launched by Juan and Eva “Evita” Peron in the 1940s. Along with a grassroots campaign of activists, Massa sought to stoke fear over a Milei presidency they argued could threaten Argentina’s democracy and way of life. But ultimately, anger won over fear. For many Argentines, the bigger risk was more of the same. “We don’t have anything to lose,” Tomás Limodio, a 36-year-old business owner who voted for Milei in Buenos Aires on Sunday. “We’ve had this type of government for so many years, and things are only getting worse.” * * * Earlier: Argentinians return to the polls on Sunday, November 19 to elect the next president in a consequential runoff election. Voters will choose between incumbent Finance Minister Sergio Massa and right-wing libertarian Javier Milei. The election results will shape Argentina’s social and macroeconomic outlook in coming years. As Goldman writes in its election preview note, polls point to a tightly contested race, with a majority showing Milei having a slight edge in voter preferences. A significant fraction (around one third of polls), however, suggests that Massa is in the lead. In general, polls in Argentina have a poor track record and in this electoral process they have systematically failed to capture shifts in voters’ sentiment. To add to the uncertainty, Massa was seen as outperforming Milei in the final presidential debate last week. In the August primary elections (PASO), Javier Milei’s La Libertad Avanza party surprised by taking the lead, followed by the center-right coalition Juntos por el Cambio whose presidential ticket would be led by Patricia Bullrich. Massa’s left-leaning Peronist coalition, Unión por la Patria, finished third. In the October first round election, in turn, Massa topped most expectations with an improved performance and finished first. Milei came in second place without a significant change in support, and Bullrich disappointed and finished a distant third. After the first-round election, part of the Juntos por el Cambio coalition, the faction led by Ms. Bullrich and former President Mauricio Macri, announced their support for Mr. Milei. While the bloc represented by the Radical Party decided not to formally endorse any of the candidates, some members have publicly sided with Mr. Massa. Following Sunday´s results, investors will turn their attention to economic policy announcements. In the short term, the highly managed exchange rate will be a critical variable to follow. After the August primary elections, the government weakened the exchange rate by about 22% to 350 ARS per Dollar. Subsequently, the exchange rate was kept frozen at this level until this week, when a crawl resumed (1.0% so far this week). Nevertheless, pass-through was high and inflation accelerated considerably after the post-PASO devaluation and as a result, the real exchange rate is now even more overvalued than before the August devaluation. Parallel exchange rates, for their part, continue to trade at a significant spread over the official rate (162% for the informal market exchange rate and around 145% for the bond (MEP) and equity (CCL) implied rates) and the futures market anticipates a meaningful depreciation in the months ahead. Pressures in both markets, however, eased after the first-round election showed Massa first, having increased significantly following Milei’s outperformance in the August PASO. Likewise important, in the coming months there are significant payments scheduled to the IMF (around US$0.9bn in December and US$1.9bn in January) and foreign currency bond holders (approximately US$1.5bn due in interest payments in January). In the meantime, the EFF program with the IMF remains off track, and in our view its realignment will take time. Regardless of the election winner, Goldman writes that a swift change in economic policies is imperative. The accumulated imbalances in the economy have grown too large and must be addressed promptly. The bank expects the economy to contract for the second year in a row in 2024, annual inflation is tracking at close to 150% and is expected to continue to rise in the coming months, the exchange rate is overvalued, international reserves are at critical levels, net reserves are significantly negative (around -US11bn), the fiscal imbalance persists, sovereign bonds trade at distressed levels, and the government lacks access to international financial markets. All in, if policymakers do not steer macro policy in a more orthodox direction, the macro adjustment could impose itself sooner or later, bringing a loss of control of the process and even higher social and economic costs. Tyler Durden Sun, 11/19/2023 - 18:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 19th, 2023

This is the world"s next major election. The winner has to fix chronic hyperinflation and halt a 6th recession in 10 years.

Argentina is set to elect a new president next weekend, but neither candidate is likely to be able to fix the country's broken economy. Javier Milei and Sergio Massa are set to square off in a run-off vote to elect Argentina's next president on November 19.Rodrigo Abd/Gustavo Garello/AP Photo Argentina is set to elect a new president next weekend. Neither candidate is likely to be able to fix the country's broken economy. Politicians have failed to rein in triple-digit inflation, while the value of the peso has plummeted. Argentina is getting ready to choose its next president — and the country's economy is a mess.The ruling Union for the Homeland coalition's nominee Sergio Massa will square off against the far-right libertarian candidate Javier Milei in a run-off election next Sunday, with the vote deciding who has the right to govern the South American nation for the next four years.Whoever wins will have to try to tackle chronic hyperinflation, stabilize currency markets, and prevent the country from slipping into its sixth recession of the past 10 years.Here are seven reasons why Argentina's economy is such a disaster.1. Triple-digit inflationSoaring prices are perhaps the best-known problem plaguing Argentina's economy, but far from the only issue that policymakers are battling.In February, year-on-year inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index topped 100% for the first time in three decades. The rate has held above that level since, steadily climbing to hit 138% in September, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses.!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(a){if(void 0!["datawrapper-height"]){var e=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var t in["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 11th, 2023

Peter Thiel says the Trump administration "couldn"t get the most basic pieces of the government to work"

Thiel says he won't give money to any campaigns in 2024, a blow to the former president. Billionaire Peter Thiel holds cash during a cryptocurrency conference.Marco Bello/Getty ImagesPeter Thiel says he's done giving money for GOP candidates for the 2024 cycle.Thiel told the Atlantic that he hopes his comments will "lock me out of the cycle for 2024."Thiel has given tens of millions to GOP candidates in recent years.Billionaire Peter Thiel is scaling back his political spending ahead of next year's presidential election, a sign that the libertarian mega-donor is clearly dejected after previously giving millions to candidates, including former President Donald Trump.Thiel told the Atlantic that he has no intention of giving money to Republican politicians in advance of next year's elections after playing a major role during the midterms. Thiel gave over $30 million to just Blake Masters and JD Vance's US Senate campaigns in Arizona and Ohio respectively, according to federal campaign finance records. Masters, a Thiel protege, failed to oust Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. Vance won an open seat after Trump's endorsement catapulted him to a primary win."There's always a chance I might change my mind. But by talking to you, it makes it hard for me to change my mind," Thiel told the Atlantic. "My husband doesn't want me to give them any more money, and he's right. I know they're going to be pestering me like crazy. And by talking to you, it's going to lock me out of the cycle for 2024."While Thiel said he does not regret supporting Trump, journalist Barton Gellman describes Thiel as a mixture of both reassigned and nihilistic after watching how the Trump presidency unfolded."There are a lot of things I got wrong," Thiel said. "It was crazier than I thought. It was more dangerous than I thought. They couldn't get the most basic pieces of the government to work. So that was—I think that part was maybe worse than even my low expectations."Thiel endorsed Trump during the 2016 GOP national convention. He later worked on Trump's transition team. Thiel even left Meta's board so he could support more candidates who were aligned with Trump. But now, Thiel struggles to explain his disappointment."I have to somehow give the exact right answer, where it's like, 'Yeah, I'm somewhat disenchanted,'" Thiel said. "But throwing him totally under the bus? That's like, you know—I'll get yelled at by Mr. Trump. And if I don't throw him under the bus, that's—but—somehow, I have to get the tone exactly right."What is clear is that Thiel does not subscribe to Trump's long-debunked claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him due to widespread election fraud."Look, I don't think the election was stolen."In terms of Trump's efforts to later overturn the results and thwart the certification of Biden's victory, Thiel said, "I'll agree with you that it was not helpful."Elsewhere in the interview, Thiel declined to comment on Insider breaking the news that he was an FBI informant.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 9th, 2023

25 Movie Sequels That Are Better Than the Original

When a Hollywood film achieves blockbuster success, its sequel often seems more or less inevitable. Yet with the attempt to repeat a formula successfully comes the risk of redundancy, along with a potential drop in quality. Indeed, there was once a time when the average sequel was more or less expected to be inferior to […] The post 25 Movie Sequels That Are Better Than the Original appeared first on 24/7 Wall St.. When a Hollywood film achieves blockbuster success, its sequel often seems more or less inevitable. Yet with the attempt to repeat a formula successfully comes the risk of redundancy, along with a potential drop in quality. Indeed, there was once a time when the average sequel was more or less expected to be inferior to its predecessor. There were always exceptions to the rule, but it was a common phenomenon nevertheless, made only worse when key actors or creatives didn’t return to the fold. (These are the 25 worst movie sequels of all time.) Times have changed, however, and so too has Hollywood’s approach to franchise-building. Studios now realize that serious talent leads to qualitative results and many sequels no longer feel like mere cash grabs as a result. Visionaries such as Peter Jackson and Christopher Nolan don’t just make one film and call it a day, for example, but stick around for entire trilogies. In the case of Marvel Studios, its president, Kevin Feige, actively pursues top directors and blue-chip actors while guiding the so-called Marvel Cinematic Universe’s overall architecture so as to keep the content fresh and consistent. (Here’s a ranking of the best action movie of all time.) Does that mean a sequel is guaranteed to please or even succeed? Of course not. But there is a newfound focus on keeping the quality bar high and even experimenting with the tone and formula of a given franchise from one entry to the next. There are also, though, classic sequels from previous eras, which similarly managed to upend expectations and even outshine their predecessors. To determine the movie sequels, whether old or new, that are better than the original, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, weighting all ratings equally. We considered only movies with at least 5,000 audience votes on either IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes. In one instance, the film listed is technically a “prequel,” but was considered as a sequel since it came after the original. For franchises that have been rebooted with new lead actors, such as “Spider-Man” and “James Bond,” we compared only films starring the same lead actor. Spider-Man 2 (2004) > Original in franchise: Spider-Man (2002) > IMDb user rating: 7.3/10 (sequel), 7.3/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (sequel), 90% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 82% (sequel), 67% (original) Sam Raimi returned to the director’s chair for this beloved sequel, in which Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) squares off against Doctor Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina). It was a critical and commercial benchmark for the superhero sub-genre before films such as “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight” came along. X-Men: First Class (2011) > Original in franchise: X-Men (2000) > IMDb user rating: 7.7/10 (sequel), 7.4/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 86% (sequel), 82% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 87% (sequel), 83% (original) From the director of “Kingsman: The Secret Service” came this thrilling prequel, which takes viewers back to the early days of the X-Men. Against the backdrop of the Cold War, future foes Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) unite against a formidable enemy. ALSO READ: 25 Movie Sequels That Are Better Than the Original From Russia with Love (1963) > Original in franchise: Dr. No (1962) > IMDb user rating: 7.4/10 (sequel), 7.2/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 95% (sequel), 95% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 84% (sequel), 82% (original) The second James Bond film was shot on twice the budget as its iconic predecessor, “Dr. No.” Its action-packed set pieces, casual misogyny, and crafty gadgets would remain franchise stalwarts for decades to come. This time around, Agent 007 (Sean Connery) must retrieve a precious encryption device from the evil organization SPECTRE. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) > Original in franchise: The Hunger Games (2012) > IMDb user rating: 7.5/10 (sequel), 7.2/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 90% (sequel), 84% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89% (sequel), 81% (original) Hunger Games victors Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are thrust back into the arena in this blockbuster sequel. “This is Empire Strikes Back stuff. It has that second Star Wars movie’s kick of confidence,” wrote critic Wesley Morris for Grantland. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) > Original in franchise: Rise of the Planet of Apes (2011) > IMDb user rating: 7.6/10 (sequel), 7.5/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 90% (sequel), 82% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 88% (sequel), 77% (original) The second installment of the rebooted “Planet of the Apes” franchise put director Matt Reeves behind the camera for the first time in the series. In a world where intelligent apes and desperate humans coexist, trouble brews between the two primate species. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015) > Original in franchise: Mission: Impossible (1996) > IMDb user rating: 7.4/10 (sequel), 7.1/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (sequel), 66% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 87% (sequel), 71% (original) This popular franchise took on a new style and tonality with its fifth installment, which pits Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) against the powerful Syndicate. It’s one among numerous collaborations between Cruise and filmmaker Christopher McQuarrie. The two reunited for 2018’s “Fallout” and for the upcoming “Dead Reckoning Part One.” Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) > Original in franchise: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) > IMDb user rating: 7.9/10 (sequel), 7.6/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 90% (sequel), 81% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 86% (sequel), 82% (original) The one and only Harry Potter film from Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón is the franchise’s third overall. Upon their return to Hogwarts, Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his peers find themselves in the crosshairs of escaped prisoner Sirius Black (Gary Oldman). “Cuarón brought to the Potter franchise a quality curiously missing from the two previous films: magic,” wrote critic Christopher Orr for The Atlantic. ALSO READ: 25 Movie Sequels That Are Better Than the Original 18. Captain America: Civil War (2016) > Original in franchise: Captain America: the First Avenger (2011) > IMDb user rating: 7.8/10 (sequel), 6.9/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 90% (sequel), 80% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89% (sequel), 74% (original) An Avengers movie in all but name, this blockbuster entry calls upon the franchise’s most essential characters. When political protocols force oversight upon superheroes, it creates a deep rift between Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr). As the tension escalates, everyone must choose a side. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) > Original in franchise: Captain America: the First Avenger (2011) > IMDb user rating: 7.7/10 (sequel), 6.9/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 90% (sequel), 80% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 92% (sequel), 74% (original) The second Captain America film takes cues from classic political thrillers and represents a major step up from its uneven predecessor. Set in Washington D.C., it thrusts the titular superhero and his allies into the heart of a deadly conspiracy. This was the first Marvel movie directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, who went on to helm some of the MCU’s most vital entries. Thor: Ragnarok (2017) > Original in franchise: Thor (2011) > IMDb user rating: 7.9/10 (sequel), 7.0/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (sequel), 77% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 87% (sequel), 76% (original) The Thor series found its groove with this third installment, in which the hammer-wielding superhero (Chris Hemsworth) must save his home planet from destruction. Director Taika Waititi injects a colorful palette and comic touch when bringing the adventure to life. Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019) > Original in franchise: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) > IMDb user rating: 7.5/10 (sequel), 7.4/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 90% (sequel), 92% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (sequel), 87% (original) More or less on par with its predecessor (2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming”), this smash sequel follows Peter Parker (Tom Holland) on a class trip to Europe. What’s supposed to be a fun vacation becomes something far more consequential when elemental forces wreak havoc all over the continent. Alas, a superhero’s job is never done. Creed (2015) > Original in franchise: Rocky Balboa (2006) > IMDb user rating: 7.6/10 (sequel), 7.1/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 95% (sequel), 77% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89% (sequel), 76% (original) The seventh installment of the Rocky franchise – technically the first in a spinoff series – hands the story off to Adonis “Donnie” Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), son of former champion Apollo Creed. Stallone appears in a supporting role as a mentor and trainer, thereby filling the shoes of series icon Mickey Goldmill. Director Ryan Coogler carries the torch but also updates the material for modern audiences. 24/7 Wall St. 25 Movie Sequels That Are Better Than the Original X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) > Original in franchise: X-Men (2000) > IMDb user rating: 7.9/10 (sequel), 7.4/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 90% (sequel), 82% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 91% (sequel), 83% (original) This star-studded X-Men installment opens in a dystopian future, where powerful Sentinels are hunting down mutants in droves. So begins a time-traveling adventure that features mainstay characters along with their younger counterparts. With over $746 million in global box office receipts, it was the third highest-grossing entry of the overall franchise. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) > Original in franchise: Mission: Impossible (1996) > IMDb user rating: 7.7/10 (sequel), 7.1/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 97% (sequel), 66% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 88% (sequel), 71% (original) Following a failed mission, Ethan Hunt and his team must race against time to prevent the activation of a nuclear weapon. Still performing his own stunts at the age of 55, Tom Cruise famously injured his ankle during production. This is the highest-rated “Mission: Impossible” movie to date. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) > Original in franchise: Batman Begins (2005) > IMDb user rating: 8.4/10 (sequel), 8.2/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 87% (sequel), 84% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 90% (sequel), 94% (original) Christopher Nolan’s trilogy concluded with this sprawling entry, in which Gotham is terrorized by the masked villain Bane (Tom Hardy). Sent into exile, Batman (Christian Bale) must overcome both personal injury and psychological doubt if he wants to save the day. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) > Original in franchise: The Bourne Identity (2002) > IMDb user rating: 8.0/10 (sequel), 7.9/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 92% (sequel), 83% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 91% (sequel), 93% (original) The second Bourne film from Paul Greengrass (and the third overall) continues the director’s propulsive hand-held camera style. Still trying to uncover his mysterious origins, Bourne (Matt Damon) embarks on a global adventure with various enemies hot on his heels. Goldfinger (1964) > Original in franchise: Dr. No (1962) > IMDb user rating: 7.7/10 (sequel), 7.2/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 99% (sequel), 95% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89% (sequel), 82% (original) The James Bond franchise honed its style and formula with the third installment, which pits Agent 007 (Connery) against criminal magnate Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe). Everything from the extended pre-credits sequence to the abundance of gadgetry to the cheeky one-liners would become series staples for decades thereafter. ALSO READ: 25 Movie Sequels That Are Better Than the Original Logan (2017) > Original in franchise: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) > IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (sequel), 6.6/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (sequel), 37% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 90% (sequel), 58% (original) A somewhat lackluster trilogy concluded on a high note with this R-rated entry from director James Mangold. It takes place in a future wasteland and finds the titular hero (Hugh Jackman) living in a weary state of isolation. With the emergence of a mutant child (Dafne Keen) and evil corporation comes a reason to bare the claws one last time. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II (2011) > Original in franchise: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) > IMDb user rating: 8.1/10 (sequel), 7.6/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 96% (sequel), 81% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89% (sequel), 82% (original) The final battle between good and evil plays out in this blockbuster Harry Potter adventure. Directed by franchise stalwart David Yates, it delivers thrilling action sequences while landing its emotional punches. “Easily the best of the series,” wrote critic David Nusair for Reel Film. Avengers: Endgame (2019) > Original in franchise: The Avengers (2012) > IMDb user rating: 8.4/10 (sequel), 8.0/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (sequel), 91% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 90% (sequel), 91% (original) This Marvel epic clocks in at just over three hours and picks up five years after the catastrophic events of “Infinity War.” Utilizing a time travel loophole, the Avengers take on Thanos once again in their attempt to restore universal order. It’s the second highest-grossing film of all time (unadjusted for inflation). Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) > Original in franchise: The Terminator (1984) > IMDb user rating: 8.5/10 (sequel), 8.0/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (sequel), 100% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (sequel), 89% (original) Director James Cameron was an ambitious auteur when he made the first “Terminator” and an industry titan by the time he released this game-changing sequel. Armed with a much bigger budget, he employed both groundbreaking CGI and top-tier practical effects. Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as the T-800 cyborg, who must protect the future resistance leader (Edward Furlong) in the war between man and machine. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) > Original in franchise: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) > IMDb user rating: 8.3/10 (sequel), 7.4/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (sequel), 92% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 98% (sequel), 87% (original) A spell gone awry kicks open the multiverse in this modern superhero movie, the first to cross the $1 billion mark during the pandemic era. Spider-Man (Tom Holland) must contend with various villains from the franchise’s own past, with a little help from his interdimensional counterparts. It opened to rave reviews and a massive fan following. 24/7 Wall St. 25 Movie Sequels That Are Better Than the Original The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) > Original in franchise: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) > IMDb user rating: 8.7/10 (sequel), 8.8/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 95% (sequel), 91% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (sequel), 95% (original) The journey to Mordor continues in this hit sequel from Peter Jackson, often dubbed the best film of the entire series. It features a shifty creature named Gollum (Andy Serkis) and one of the most extensive battle sequences of all time, among other things. On IMDb’s list of the Top 250 Movies, it currently lands at #14. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) > Original in franchise: Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) > IMDb user rating: 8.7/10 (sequel), 8.6/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (sequel), 92% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 97% (sequel), 96% (original) Creator George Lucas and company dialed up the special effects and the emotional story arcs for this beloved sequel. It opens on a hostile planet and builds toward a legendary showdown between Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones). Writing for the Denver Post, critic Rena Andrews called it “the ultimate in fantasies, a visual wonder and a movie that should be recommended highly if only because it makes you feel good.” The Dark Knight (2008) > Original in franchise: Batman Begins (2005) > IMDb user rating: 9.0/10 (sequel), 8.2/10 (original) > Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (sequel), 84% (original) > Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (sequel), 94% (original) Fewer sequels demonstrate the power of authorship more than this one from Christopher Nolan, who brings genuine gravitas to a traditionally buoyant sub-genre. Heath Ledger drives the vibe home with his nihilistic performance as the Joker. It earned him a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now. The post 25 Movie Sequels That Are Better Than the Original appeared first on 24/7 Wall St.......»»

Category: blogSource: 247wallstNov 3rd, 2023

A phone call between Trump and conservative tech billionaire Peter Thiel reportedly turned "pretty contentious"

Trump reportedly had some choice words for Peter Thiel after the tech billionaire and Republican mega-donor pulled back on his public support. Thiel, once a loud and proud conservative, has grown quiet on his support for former President Donald Trump, and now Trump is fighting back.Drew Angerer/Getty Images Tech investor Peter Thiel had a heated phone call in recent months with Donald Trump, Puck reported. Thiel was a vocal Trump supporter and rallied voters at the Republican National Convention in 2016.  Thiel's public support for Trump wavered in recent years, and apparently, Trump noticed. Billionaire Peter Thiel has reportedly pulled back from the political spotlight as a Republican mega-donor, and apparently, former President Donald Trump had a few choice words for him about it.Thiel, a conservative tech investor and billionaire best known for co-founding PayPal and investing early in Facebook, had a heated phone conversation earlier this year with former President Donald Trump, Puck's Theodore Schleifer recently reported. The conversation started out fine but became "pretty contentious," Puck reported. Apparently, Trump was "fuming" because the former president had supported Thiel-backed candidates like J.D. Vance and Blake Masters in the 2022 midterm election and felt that Thiel had "screwed" him by not doing anything to thank him in the time since, according to the report.In the past, Thiel — a libertarian who has said he doesn't view democracy and freedom as compatible — was a public Trump supporter and used his voice and his wallet to back Trump's 2016 presidential run. He spoke on Trump's behalf at the 2016 Republican National Convention, telling the audience he was "proud to be gay," and donated $1.25 million to Trump's campaign.Thiel's public support of Trump reportedly wavered in 2020 when Thiel declined the opportunity to speak at the RNC and didn't donate to Trump's campaign. Thiel thought that Trump's political reign wouldn't survive re-election due to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Wall Street Journal.But he continued to play the part of mega-donor, supporting "hard-right" candidates who espoused conspiracy theories. Thiel even left Facebook's board of directors to give his full attention to supporting Republican candidates, including mentees J.D. Vance and Blake Masters.A year later, however, Peter Thiel took a step back from politics and no longer planned to support candidates in 2024.Apparently, the phone call between Trump and Thiel, which took place "a few months ago," according to Puck, was the first interaction the two had had in a while.Neither Trump nor Thiel immediately responded to Insider's request for comment ahead of publication.Now, Trump is apparently backing away from supporting Thiel's ally Blake Masters, who ran to represent Arizona in the US Senate during the 2022 midterm election. Masters is considering a run for Kyrsten Sinema's seat in 2024. However, Trump said he would rather endorse Kari Lake, who ran for Arizona governor in 2022 and is also considering a 2024 senate run, according to The New York Times.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytSep 25th, 2023