The UK economy’s slowdown is clear to all. Except the Bank of England

Governor Mark Carney tells us time and time again that interest rates will rise, but will anyone believe him in the future?

Mark Carney is not so much an unreliable boyfriend as a schoolboy who keeps getting his homework wrong. The Bank of England governor gave his quarterly review of the economy last week and yet again confounded earlier expectations that he would increase the cost of borrowing.

Whereas in the past Carney has confidently predicted that the economy is robust and capable of absorbing increases in interest rates, only to find plausible excuses for not going ahead, this time he was unable to offer any coherent defence.

Continue reading…

Trump’s Pyrrhic Victory: The US Opts For A Path That Can Only Lead To War

Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Nearly everyone loses by President Donald Trump’s decision on Tuesday to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) relating to Iran’s nuclear energy program and to reinstate the “highest level” of sanctions while also threatening secondary sanctions on any country that “helps” the Iranians.

The whole world loses because nuclear proliferation is a disaster waiting to happen and Iran will now have a strong incentive to proceed with a weapons program to defend itself from Israel and the United States.

If Iran does so, it will trigger a regional nuclear arms race with Saudi Arabia and Egypt undoubtedly seeking weapons of their own.

Iran and the Iranian people will lose because their suffering economy will not now benefit from the lifting of sanctions and other economic inducements that convinced it to sign the agreement in the first place.

And yes, even the United States and Israel will lose because an agreement that would have pushed back by ten or fifteen years Iran’s timetable if it were to choose to develop a weapon will now be reduced to a year or less. And the United States will in particular lose because the entire world will understand that the word of an American president when entering into an international agreement cannot be trusted.

The only winners from the withdrawal are President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will enjoy the plaudits of their hardline supporters. But their victory will be illusory as the hard reality of what they have accomplished becomes clear.

Failure of JCPOA definitely means that war is the only likely outcome if Tel Aviv and Washington continue in their absurd insistence that the Iranians constitute a major threat both to the region and the world. A war that might possibly involve both the United States and Russia as well as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel would devastate the region and might easily have potential to escalate into something like a global conflict.

The decision to end the agreement is based on American domestic political considerations rather than any real analysis of what the intelligence community has been reporting. Deep-pocketed Iran-hating billionaires named Sheldon Adelson, Rebekah Mercer and Paul Singer are now prepared to throw tens of millions of dollars at Trump’s Republican Party to help it win in November’s midterm elections.

Those possessed of just a tad more foresight, to include the Pentagon and America’s European allies, have strongly urged that JCPOA be continued, particularly as the Iranians have been fully in compliance, but there is a new team in Washington. America’s just-confirmed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not exactly endorse the ludicrous Israeli claim made by Benjamin Netanyahu two weeks ago that Iran has a secret weapons of mass destruction program currently in place, but he did come down hard against the JCPOA, echoing Trump in calling it a terrible agreement that will guarantee an Iranian nuclear weapon. The reality is quite different, with the pact basically eliminating a possible Iranian nuke for the foreseeable future through degradation of the country’s nuclear research, reduction of its existing nuclear stocks and repeated intrusive inspections.

The failure of the JCPOA is not about the agreement at all, which is both sound and workable. There is unfortunately an Israeli-White House construct which assumes that Iran is both out to destroy Israel, for which no evidence has been revealed, as well as being singularly untrustworthy, an odd assertion coming from either Washington or Tel Aviv. It also basically rejects any kind of agreement with the Iranian government on principle so there is nowhere to go to “fix” what has already transpired.

The United States has changed in the past seventeen years. The promotion of policies that were at least tenuously based on genuine national interests is no longer embraced by either political party. A fearful public has allowed a national security state to replace a constitutional republic with endless war as the inevitable result. Presidents once constitutionally constrained by legislative and judicial balance of power have successfully asserted executive privilege to become like third world dictators, able to make war without any restraint on their ability to do so. If America survives, historians will no doubt see the destruction of the JCPOA as the beginning of something new and horrible, where the government of these United States deliberately made a decision to abandon a beneficial foreign treaty to instead opt for a path that can only lead to war.

The Deep State Mob Targets Nunes

Authored by Julie Kelly via The Center for American Greatness,

In an absurd tweet on Wednesday, Lawfare’s executive director suggested that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) should be replaced as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee:

That wasn’t even the most moronic tweet in Susan Hennessey’s arsenal. She went on to warn how “the intelligence oversight system is based on trust. Without trust it is irretrievably broken. The [Intelligence Community] and [Department of Justice] don’t trust Nunes and he cannot perform his job functions.” Get that? The Intelligence Community and the Justice department—which have proven to be as political and devious as a Chicago ward boss—are the white hats and Nunes is the black hat.

That is not ignorance on Hennessey’s part: it’s calculated deception.

Fortunately, it’s unlikely that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will heed an unreasonable demand from a political partisan tied to the left-leaning Brookings Institution.

But it does unveil the latest tactic of the Left (and some on the Right) to discredit and ultimately oust Nunes, the only Republican on Capitol Hill who appears to have his act together when it comes to exposing the players behind the Trump-Russia election collusion scheme.

The Deep State Mob is continuing to squeeze the California congressman after he again threatened to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for ignoring congressional subpoenas and withholding crucial documents from Congressional investigators. Nunes has minced no words about how the Justice Department and FBI have been “stonewalling” his committee’s investigation for months. And as Nunes inches closer to revealing the stinking core of what is potentially the biggest political corruption scandal in U.S. history, the Deep State Mob is trying to close in on him first.

Nunes and other House Republicans want to find out exactly how and why the FBI’s counterintelligence operation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government began in the summer of 2016, and what intelligence sources either aided or instigated that probe. The latest showdown, according to the Washington Post, is because Nunes has issued a subpoena demanding that the Justice Department provide information about an unnamed individual referenced in a classified letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month.

While there are few details about the individual in question, the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel intimates that the person could have been a mole inside the Trump campaign:

We know Nunes’s request deals with a “top secret intelligence source” of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. We might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.

Strassel, who has been carefully covering this scandal, has a hunch of who the source is but couldn’t confirm it.

The Justice Department is fighting Nunes’s request on the basis that any disclosure would “risk severe consequences, including potential loss of human lives, damage to relationship with valued international partners, compromise of ongoing criminal investigations and interference with intelligence activities.” While Justice officials met with Nunes and committee member Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) late Thursday, they did not allow them to see the information in question. Nunes indicated that he would continue to press the department to fulfill his request.

Now Nunes’s foes are portraying him as a rogue actor – perhaps even a traitor – who is willing to see intelligence assets killed in order to carry water for President Trump. CNN national security analyst Asha Rangappa echoed the Justice Department’s warning that Nunes is risking lives to achieve political ends.

In a one-two punch, Hennessey’s boss upped the attacks on Nunes during a discussion with former FBI Director James Comey on Friday. Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare’s editor and close Comey pal, rhetorically asked Comey, “what’s Devin Nunes gonna be able to tell his grandchildren? It’s a serious question. He is affirmatively acting in a fashion that some of us judged, you know, Edward Snowden very harshly for behaving in a fashion that puts at risk intelligence sources and methods when being told so by the senior levels of the Justice Department.” (Others have tried to get the “Nunes-Is-Literal-Snowden” trope going before. We’ll see if it finally takes off next week.)

Comey, the consigliere of the Deep State Mob, anguished to his buddy about the lost values of the Republican Party: “This is my hope for the Republicans as a whole, that they realize that only a fool would trade the institutions and the values that actually unite us for the policy gains they think they’re getting from a president who is eroding and attacking those values.” Sounds like some sour grapes from the guy who lost his battle against Nunes to keep his memos secret.

Fellow fired prosecutor Preet Bharara joined Comey in mocking Nunes this week. After a bogus storysurfaced that Nunes doesn’t read the intelligence information he receives, the former head of the DOJ’s Southern District of New York (yes, the same office assigned with investigating Trump lawyer Michael Cohen) tweeted this:

But it’s not just the Deep State Mob on the Left that is after Nunes: Their soulmates in the smoldering political ash heap that is the neoconservative movement are speaking out, too. In an egregiously flawed assist in Commentary, Noah Rothman gives aid and comfort to the Deep State Mob, incredibly by making Nunes the bad guy. Rothman accuses Nunes of causing the trust breakdown in the House Intelligence committee, the same committee whose ranking member is the despicable leaker Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Rothman smugly claims that “there is no impartial assessment of his tenure as House Intelligence Committee chair in which he comes off as a competent steward of American national security or capable of the dispassionate oversight of the institutions that safeguard U.S. interests at home and abroad.”

Rothman suggests that even Trump doesn’t trust Nunes and that’s why the president (for now) has acquiesced to the Justice Department’s stonewalling on the source subpoena. He wrongly claims that Nunes recused himself from the investigation early on, then calls Nunes an “obstacle in the way of truth” who should be removed.

Any close observer of the unfolding story of how the disaster of the Obama Justice Department exploited our most trusted federal agencies to hatch the Trump-Russia scheme is either on the floor laughing or smashing things at Rothman’s absurd accusation.

The Deep State Mob wants to destroy anything and anyone associated with Trump, particularly those who are brave enough to incur their wrath to get to the truth on behalf of the American people. Nunes isn’t a traitor: He’s a hero.

Giuliani Inserts Foot In Mouth, Says Trump “Denied” AT&T Merger

The ever-affable Rudy Giuliani has once again stuck his foot in his mouth regarding his old friend and new boss, Donald Trump.

In a Friday interview with the Huffington Post, Giuliani – seemingly in an attempt to defuse the Michael Cohen “consultancy” scandal – claimed that Trump “denied the merger” between AT&T and Time Warner, despite long-standing protocol designed to keep DOJ decisions independent from the executive branch in order to keep the department free of political influence by the White House. Apparently the previous administration didn’t get the memo either.

Giuliani’s statement comes on the heels of revelations that Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, accepted a $600,000 payment right after the inauguration for “insights” into President Trump’s thinking.

The president had no knowledge of it.” Giuliani told the Post, adding “Whatever lobbying was done didn’t reach the president… He did drain the swamp … The president denied the merger. They didn’t get the result they wanted.

Cohen received $600,000 from AT&T, $1.2 million from Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis and $500,000 from an investment bank affiliated with a Russian oligarch, all following Trump’s unexpected election win in 2016.

Giuliani said Cohen’s business relationships did not contradict Trump’s campaign promises to end “pay-to-play” schemes and to “drain the swamp” because Cohen did not get for his newfound clients what they wanted. HuffPo

Earlier in the week, AT&T said that they hired a company created by Cohen right after the inauguration – when it sorely needed government approval for the Time Warner deal, it hired a company created by Cohen in order to glean insights into the Trump administration.

AT&T’s top Washington executive, Bob Quinn, said that Cohen didn’t conduct any lobbying work for them – while CEO Randall Stephenson told employees that hiring Cohen was “a big mistake” in an internal memo circulated on Friday. While not-so coincidentally according to NBC News, was AT&T’s Friday announcement of Quinn’s sudden retirement.  

If in fact AT&T thought this would buy them an approval, one has to wonder if Cohen simply trolled AT&T for $600K and laughed all the way to the bank. They were about to acquire CNN after all – and in December of 2017 said they wouldn’t sell the network to satisfy a DOJ demand before trying to close the $85 billion deal.

On the other hand – had AT&T agreed to sell CNN and the merger been approved, the Cohen payment would have the appearance of a successful “pay-for-play” deal.

AT&T says it was contacted by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office in late 2017 and cooperated with the probe, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Our reputation has been damaged,” wrote Stephenson in the Friday memo. “There’s no other way to say it – AT&T hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake.”

The FBI raided Cohen’s office, hotel and home last month amid an active federal investigation. Since the raid, there have been several mysterious leaks of information from various media outlets – such as the release of his bank records, or the claim that he arranged a $1.6 million payoff to a former Playboy model in late 2017 who says she was impregnated by a top Republican fundraiser, “according to people familiar with the matter” (96 hours after the raid).

Elliott Broidy, a GOP donor, right, and his wife, Robin Rosenzweig (2014)

Michael Cohen, whose office, home and hotel room were raided by federal agents this week, arranged the payments to the woman on behalf of Elliott Broidy, a deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee with ties to Mr. Trump, the people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Broidy, a Los Angeles-based venture capitalist, works on the Republican committee with Mr. Cohen, who is also a national deputy finance chairman. –WSJ

Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and US Attorney of the office now investigating Cohen, assumed the lead on Trump’s private legal team handling the Mueller investigation in the hope of wrapping it up as soon as possible. He said on Friday that he doubts Trump would be able to speak with the special counsel investigation before his June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. 

He said the fact that Cohen has become involved in the probe shows that Mueller has been unable to make headway on the idea of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. He blamed much of Cohen’s involvement on adult film actress Stormy Daniels and her new lawyer, Michael Avenatti. They have been trying to break a non-disclosure agreement she signed promising not to discuss an affair she said she had with Trump a decade ago in return for $130,000. –HuffPo

Giuliani says that Cohen did nothing wrong. 

“They’re buying his advice. It can turn out to be good or bad,” he said. “There’s a lot of people in Washington who are paid for their advice.” Which, of course, is the reason why Washington is just one giant “swamp” which Trump once upon a time vowed to drain.