Thursday, May 31, 2018

Strategic variants of the fable of the Lion, the Bear and the Fox

There is an ancient tale of the Lion, the Bear and the Fox  - the Lion kills a deer, the Bear fights the Lion for it and two battle it out until both are exhausted. The Fox comes in and takes the deer as its dinner. The Bear and the Lion die of exhaustion.

The strategic variant of this idea was first exposed in a statement by Secy Robert Gates in 2010 when he said "The Saudi's want to fight Iran down to the last American" [1].

A most topical variant of this is the present day struggle for ownership of Jerusalem.

The Israelis led by Bibi Netanyahu are attempting to solidify their ownership over the city and ending up in a death match with the Palestinians. Unsurprisingly Israel which is militarily stronger than the Palestinians is being egged on by elements of the US based Evangelical Christian movement. Per the American Evangelicals who support Israel, (c.f. the Omega Code), the whole point of assisting Israeli ownership of Jerusalem is to spark the Apocalypse - when Christ will return and slay all unbelievers (include most Jews) and lead the Chosen ones (i.e. Born Again Christians) to his newly established kingdom. The exceptionally brilliant piece in Vice News brings this out in vivid detail.

While this sounds like nonsense to most who hear it - and a non evangelical Christian (especially an ancient orthodox one) might say "Gee, I just don't see Christ as a real estate agent or property developer", it is important to see this action by American Evangelical groups as a variant of the strategy laid out in the ancient fable of the Lion, the Bear and the Fox.

Essentially - American Evangelicals seem keen to fight Muslims down to the last Israeli. And I venture that since historically no one group has every held power in Jerusalem for a large period of time, this is likely a common pattern in history. (I am not that well versed in regional history - so it is more appropriate for someone with better understanding than me to comment on that aspect).

I have long felt that Bibi and his friends in the Yesha council are keen to develop property in Judea and Samaria - but the target may not be limited to Jews in the New York - New Jersey - Skokie belt as I had earlier guessed. There final intended market may be Evangelicals in Texas.

Again - I like a property development as much as anyone else but this whole business of fighting Muslims down to the last Israeli does not seem very kosher to me.

I also find the idea of a Aliyah of European Jews (frightened of Muslims "taking over Europe") kind of absurd. If all the Jews retreat to Israel, they will be one nuclear strike away from complete extinction. The idea of tilting the population balance of Israel in favor of the Jews by encouraging immigration out of Europe and Russia is strategically flawed. It really does not make sense to put all of ones eggs in one basket.

I cannot help stress this enough - there is NO SENSE in precipitating the Apocalypse (c- Barnett Rubin). 

I don't see the point of provoking Hamas into a wider confrontation when all it does is make the IDF jumpy and everyone in the coastal belt stressed out beyond belief.  No good will come from that - this way madness lies*.

* Yes I heard Hezbollah's threats too - but quite frankly - Bibi's inability to remain Prime Minister does not constitute an existential threat to Israel.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Estate Tax Evasion, Trade Wars and Ag Debt Collapse - all tied together.

As most of you may be aware, unlike the average Asian or African farmer who is a product of five or more generations of farmers - the average American farmers professional heritage is only a two or three generations deep. This reflects in the deeply unsustainable nature of US agriculture (Ag). While Americans celebrate the "taming of the land" as a great national achievement - few ask the true cost of this.

Today US Ag is stuck in a cycle that expands the size of land holdings in a bid to produce higher yields that struggle to keep ahead of falling produce prices. A relatively simple flag of this growing crisis is the perception about the viability of Ag debt. Farmers in the US today keep planting higher yield varieties on larger and larger pieces of land and using ever more expensive equipment to cultivate it while struggling to sell their produce in a market where the surplus of food drives prices ever lower. They keep having to borrow more and more money to keep this vicious cycle going and most farms today struggle to keep a balance of payment situation that makes sense.

One major issue that cropped up during the 2016 election was the farmers concerns about estate taxes. By enlarging the size of their holdings, and adding expensive equipment (bought on loan) to their asset lists - the full market market value of the average farm had risen to several million. Despite the fact that the asset itself was only marginally productive and in many cases the farmers were really not making enough money to cover their costs. As the Boomer generation of farmer sought to transfer their farms to their children - the high value of the farms exposed them to Estate Tax. This meant that their kids would be on the hook for 45% of the full market value of the farm as tax. And neither the Boomers nor their kids wanted to pay that.*

So in hundreds of interviews with dozens of different news media - these farmers openly admitted that they supported Trump only because he promised to relieve their estate tax burden. As these people are usually the core of the rural economy and the "red state" political districts are ruthlessly gerrymandered to give their areas a disproportionate representation, these farmers were able to drag their family, friends and farm associated businesses (everyone who would be affected by the profitability of the farm) along with them. Despite warnings from everyone else that Trump was not who he claimed to be, these people voted for Trump.

It seems they have gotten their "thirty pieces of silver" (it only seems that way because if you read the fine print - nothing has really changed - but they don't make 'em smart back there so...). But the predictions of the others have come true. Trump is out to get rich - which means he is trying to shake down China. Unlike Trump - China actually knows what it is doing. So when Trump shakes down China for brand royalties for himself, China will pass the costs to the US Ag sector.

By reducing orders from the US Ag, China will boost its domestic Ag sector *and* create a surplus in the US markets. While avoiding all talk of a "trade war" which will tank the market immediately, the Chinese will be able to quietly force the US Ag sector into a situation where the falling soft-commodity prices will degrade the quality of US Ag debt.

US Ag debt is a complex entity - but it is a large part of the overall debt in the US and it feeds in complicated ways into the derivatives markets as commodities trade is usually carried out with a set of futures. So any decline in Ag debt will be felt in numerous other sectors even if we don't address the issue of any direct securitization of the same.

These things are all tied together - which means the likelihood of Trump or any of his guys getting it - is extremely low. These people don't have the ability to comprehend that level of inter-connectivity- if they did they wouldn't be such useless folks.

And remember folks - stupid is as stupid does.

* I don't understand why they didn't want to pay it. There are ways around this which would easily reduce the burden to the point where the burden could be easily shouldered. But I guess no one likes to pay taxes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

GOP/Trump strategy heading into the 2018 mid-terms.

We are seeing the outlines of the GOP/Trump strategy in the run up to the 2018 mid-terms.

While the detailed discussion of who exactly is "the Boss" - Trump or the GOP - remains unresolved at this time, the broad set of ideas about how they will defeat the Democratic Party's "Blue Wave" are out in the open. 

From a Democratic perspective - the overall strategy of playing it quiet appears to have paid off - The GOP/Trump folks have shown their hand. It remains to be seen if Democratic Party can leverage this in their favor in the upcoming elections.

The 2018 elections were always stacked against the Democrats due to three main factors*
  1. The districts are massively gerrymandered to ensure that GOP gets a large number of seats even if it only gets a small number of votes. In order to swing these low population density seats - the Democratic party will have to run a massive and costly outreach program and ensure every last vote turns out. 
  2. The Trumper base knows they chose badly when they voted for Trump. They would rather face death at the hands of Trump than choose political humiliation by their liberal enemies. This is understandable, to the Trumpers, the prospect of death by Trump** is a distant future whereas facing their liberal opponents on dinner tables, in coffee shops, supermarkets etc.... and dealing with their looks of disapproval is a daily affair. This perceptual disparity will ensure that the base turns out to vote for Trump. Trump can literally murder their children on their White House lawns and it will not move support for him by even one point. 
  3. Trump has done nothing to actually secure the election machinery. The RIS + Bibi interference machinery*** is still active. By making subtle edits to voter registrations, in "Red" states, the GOP can asymmetrically suppress voter turnout - i.e. run a hacking based anti-GOTV operation (cf. CrossCheck). 
Overcoming these factors is extremely challenging. As the Democratic Party base is liberals - consolidating liberals has always been like herding cats. It is very hard to educate liberals on the idea of political consolidation and unity. This message is much easier to single issue voters that usually fill the conservative vote banks.  This lack of unification - is the systemic weakness of the Democratic Party. 

We are seeing the result of even the slightest misalignment in CA48 and CA49 where there are simply too many people still running on the Democratic party side. Without a major consolidation, the Democratic Party will not be able to take the seats held by Darrell Issa and Dana Rohrabacher. 

We are seeing a major upswing in theatrical absurdity by the Trump/GOP machine in the last three weeks. This is preparation for a multi-pronged attack on the Democratic Party's weakest point. 


* I leave out the possibility of deliberately inserting distraction candidates into the ballot (example Jill Stein, Libertarian etc...) as a means of polarizing the anti-GOP vote as I feel it is a second order effect compared to the others. 

** Death by Trump - a situation where you support Trump at great cost to your own life but he doesn't support you when you need it to survive. (c.f. the "estate tax" or the "China" issue)

*** RIS+Bibi Machinery - the money comes from Israel (via dark money and Adelson), the hacking and "boots on the internet" come from RIS. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

SPYGATE - flaw in the narrative

It appears that Trump is claiming that the IC launched a secret surveillance on his campaign before it informed him of the risk posed by suspected RIS operatives. This is bullshit - but let's review the facts.

The FBI was investigating Page from 2013, there were suspicions about Micheal Flynn going back to 2014. The Trump campaign began in mid 2015. Flynn was recruit to the Trump campaign because of his public disagreements with the Obama Admin and the rest of the IC. Page started wandering around the Trump campaign in late 2015 and he was interviewed last in March of 2016. He joined the Trump campaign soon after with Sam Clovis hiring him.

Trump and Hillary Clinton were formally briefed in August 2016 by the FBI of the RIS threat to their election campaigns.

In October 2016 Trump openly on TV asked Russia to hunt for Hillary's missing emails.  Later laughs it off as a joke.

We also know no - from Micheal Cohen's email exchanges with Felix Sater that all the time that Trump was publicly assuring us that he was not in business with Russia, his lawyer Cohen and fixed Slater were busy trying to set up a major hotel deal in Moscow.

So this claim that Trump was

a) unaware of RIS threats to his campaign is bullshit. If he was trying to get into bed with RU investors on a hotel deal and his fixers were burning shoe leather trying to get meetings with Putin, then it stands to reason that he was acutely aware of RIS interests. No one does business in Russia without being aware of Siloviki interests.

b) not sufficiently alerted by FBI/IC about the RIS infiltration of his campaign is also bullshit because even after he was briefed in August 2016 - he clearly disregarded the advice and explicitly sought help from Russia to win the election.

The FBI is under no obligation to ask Trump (who everyone knows had deep business interests in Russia) about who it investigated as RIS provocations.

Until it was clear that the targeted individuals like Page and Papadopoulos etc..   were actually up to no good and deeply entrenched in the Trump campaign - there was no need to tell Trump of anything.

So this whole thing is IMHO a canard.

The objective here to deflect attention from the story about Cohen and Sater were negotiating with Putin's guys to get Trump a sweet hotel deal in Moscow while he was campaigning and publicly lying about having "No ties to Russia".

If the mainstream media had identified the issue correctly with Trump and educated voters about the extraordinary nature of his lies on key national security issues, I believe we would not be in this mess.

However as the media attempted to keep an even keel between GOP and Democratic groups, it slipped up on the original mission to educate the public on real threats posed to national security.

It is a separate matter that the education would produce no change in the GOP "base" which is hostage to its cataclysmic stupidity.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

SPYGATE - Trump's attempt to stave off an impeachment & get rich quick.

When Trump's scandals began to pour out last year, I commented that there was a weird equilibrium in place that would prevent the GOP from impeaching him until it was politically convenient to do so.

I stand by that remark.

It was not politically convenient for the GOP to impeach Trump while he had not yet passed their tax cuts or appointed the judges they so badly desire (without pliable judges to help shrug off the accountability for their sins - the GOP might be a less criminal enterprise). But once he passed the tax cuts they wanted and appointed the judges they wanted - Trump's utility for the GOP was diminished.

His leverage with the GOP basically ended as soon as he passed the tax cuts. Ideally he would like to delay that as much as possible, but with the OSC Mueller probe nipping at his heels and his overall administrative performance (as seen by the extremely high turnover) hitting rock bottom, he didn't have a choice but to give in to the GOP demand for a tax cut.

Now the 2018 elections are upon us and the GOP has to consider what is the best strategy to ensure some kind of electoral fund-raising (or more correctly the flow of funds into their personal coffers continues until the election results are announced).  If Trump can't give the GOP what they need by way of funds through his own efforts - they will have to sacrifice him on the alter of electoral politics.

That is why Trump seems to be having the TweetShits lately. He knows he has to shore up the finances from his base to keep the GOP from crawling up his rear.

The idea of holding Trump to the sword like this is a good one. For one the "base" which is really attached to him will be very scared of seeing him impeached. Trumpers know they chose poorly when they voted for Trump, but as they are too embarrassed to admit it, they are constantly in search of a fig leaf to cover their true feelings. The racist dog-whistle politics, the slandering of the IC and national institutions, the routine incompetence at mundane matters (i.e. pandering to stupidity) are all tools Trump uses to give Trumpers a notion of saving face. Just a little something to make them feel a tiny bit less stupid than they already do. Without that daily pick-me-up from Trump these Trumpers would have nothing.

And that is what the GOP could reasonably hold over them. The threat to impeach Trump comes from the GOP itself. When Trump rants and raves against "Democrats" and "FBI spies" etc... he is actually complaining in code about the GOP establishment. He knows they will impeach him if he doesn't arrange enough funds for them. Trump has to be careful to couch this in the usual "Obama is a Kenyan" or "Lock her Up" rhetoric or he risks exposing his followers to humiliation. So in his bizarre cryptospeak - Trump vilifies the GOP establishment.

By threatening to impeach Trump, the GOP can coerce Trumpers to support GOP campaigns and pour cash into their pockets. Trump for his part can hope to make out like a bandit in the upcoming election as the fear in his "base" induces donations to be made to his "cause". Who knows what the election will bring - perhaps a blue wave or perhaps not - this way at least Trump and the GOP will be too rich to give a shit.

All in all, I have to say this is working well. I can't see a way this approach could possibly fail.

With Posobiec et al suggesting that the GOP will "Impeach Obama" if brought to power and the Democrats will "Impeach Trump" if the GOP is not elected - you can see how the average Trumper is now faced with no choice but to keep supporting Trump & the GOP.

And in exchange for this support - what will the Trumper get besides a few more days of face saving? Nothing really - like Harley Davidson, his/her employer will leave town and set up shop in China and that will only increase his desire for the daily pick-me-up from Trump. If they complain - Trump and the GOP will simply remind them to stop whining because this entire thing was about giving older white men a sense of potency by pretending that the rules didn't apply to them and that there was no accountability for their misconduct - clearly that has bee achieved.

The Democrats however must be wondering how to turn this situation to their advantage, but the thing is - with the entire investigation under the control of the Republicans - there is little room for the Democrats to maneuver. Their only hope right now lies in their outreach programs to produce a shift in the traditional apathy associated with Democratic voters.

Otherwise the 2018 mid-terms will be easy victory for the GOP.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Trump's people are turning on him

Like more rich and stupid people, Trump has surrounded himself with people that agree with whatever he says.

These enablers are not what I would call "good people" - as they are into Trump only because so far he has helped them get rich off all sorts of shady stuff.

I think these people are slowly realizing that supporting Trump's bid for President was a bad idea - as the scrutiny his organization came under was too intense. The FBI for its part picked up that a bunch of Trump guys were in bed with Russia and they were going around making promises to end sanctions in exchange for support during the election. When the FBI's guys went and poked around "Motel Trump", they found it was full of roaches.

Now the roaches are making a run for it.

As most of his close allies are realizing that the FBI has sunk claws deep into this investigation, they are jettisoning Trump and turning witness for the state. The public exposure of the UAE, KSA, Qatari and Israeli financial channels has rattled Trump's friends. The public knowledge of Cambridge Analytica, Wikileaks-RIS ops and the Israeli Black Cube "private intelligence agency" role in Trump's election is making it hard to associate with Trump's platform for too long.

Trump knows this too well.

That is what prompted the yesterday's tweet storm.

Trump knows that even if he promises people like Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump a presidential pardon, it will be difficult for him to actually arrange that in the face of public exposure. Once OSC Mueller starts nibbling away at the lower players - they will all give up the next person up in the chain in order to secure a sense of immunity from prosecution. If nothing else they will blame their own actions / lack thereof on the guy above them.

This will eventually limit Trump's ability to negotiate anything more than a jail-free departure from the Presidency. The ability to protect loyalists will decline precipitously and that in turn will provoke all manner of blowback. It will be very difficult for brand "Trump" to survive this situation.

And then there is the anger of the betrayed Trumper - the MAGA moron who nuzzles his AR-15 to bed each night. How badly will he feel to be betrayed like this? and what will he do?

Unless Trump is able to discredit the Mueller investigation - there is no way he can hope to stay out of jail.  His own kids will shop him out if they are put in a position where they have to decide between him and their own welfare.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Its not rocket science... c'mon people.

It really really is not rocket science.

Trump is attacking the FBI and IC because they have evidence that he committed treason*. Unless he is able to paint the FBI and IC as being corrupt and vile, there is no way he will be able to dodge those charges in a court because the evidence is too strong. Every criminal tries this strategy in court - accusing the Police of personal bias against him/her -  it never works. That has never stopped any criminals from trying. And since the media is carrying both sides of the message, Trump can't hope to escape the comparison to common criminals - so he is spreading venom about the Media as well. And when that all fails to distract from his actual crimes.

Trumpers are latching on to the anti-FBI/IC rhetoric from Trump because they don't want to face up to the fact that they were duped by a slick RIS backed NYC conman. Most Trumpers see themselves as the socially dominant caste in America. They would lose their psychological strength instantly if they were to admit that a guy they deemed as their own savior (despite everyone else warning them that he is not who he claims)  is actually someone who is destroying them. I don't think these people are ever going to come around to a more sensible position.*

For the liberals - there is little choice.  To hold Trump to account for his crimes will not make the Trumpers come to their senses - they will stand by their idol regardless and try to initiate a civil war. To allow Trump to continue his attacks on the United States and its defensive machinery would be a bad idea as the Trumpers will try to set up a genocide of Liberals. Either ways its bad news for Liberals - fight a civil war or be killed in vast numbers by AR15 toting Trumpers high on FoxNews/NRA/Breitbart/Circa/RT crap.

For realists like me - perhaps this too should be expected. The Boomers are carrying unsustainable amounts of debt on their heads. They have borrowed so much from the future that there is nothing they can do to ever pay it off. This fundamental lack of productivity will present in different ways - and will have the same consequences - i.e. a degradation of the debt quality. One way or another - we are going to have to write off this as bad debt. And since we (the generations to follow the boomers) are on the hook for coping with the aftermath of that regardless of the specifics of what happens. I guess this is how the Silent Generation (i.e the Greatest Generation) must have felt.

* Treason is technically defined only in times of war where the definition of an enemy of the United States exists.

** Even if the Democrats and Liberals go to great lengths to save the country from Trump's actions, these Trumpers will still find reason to hate the liberals. The bulk of this Trumper population is the most entitled generation in human history. Their collective Affluenza will stop them from admitting responsibility for this fiasco. They will continue to paint themselves as heroes and their "libtard" enemies as total villains.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The reasons behind moving the embassy to Jerusalem

Historically the city of Jerusalem has always been important to people of many faiths, and for that reason alone the US foreign policy has tried to stay clear of the who exactly owns it. Any move to make it look like one faith "owns" the city makes interactions with people of the other two faiths particularly difficult.

Given that Israel militarily seized the city in the war of 1967, the US approach has been to refrain from legalizing Israeli control over the city and the West Bank. While the US recognizes that Israeli national security argument regarding the lack of strategic depth for its coastal belt are correct, it is difficult to determine what if anything will ever give Israel enough depth. It seems as if every time a measure of depth is achieved, some new catastrophic vulnerability asserts itself.

In the decades past when the bulk of US/European oil came from Iran or Saudi Arabia, getting this oil through the Suez was critical for US and European economic security. Engaging Israel provided the US (and Europe) with a way to discourage nations like Egypt from getting too grabby with the Suez Canal. Today this is no longer the case. With Russian, North Sea and US oil sources well developed - the critical nature of the Suez has declined.

As the importance of the Suez to oil shipment has declined, so has Israel's position in Washington DC. Gone were the days of Yitzhak Rabin. The memory of the Holocaust faded from American minds and with it the guilt for having stood by as such a horror took place. The wars of Israel were a distant annoyance at best - something to not get mixed up in.

As Israel is very strongly dependent on a combination of expatriate remittances (or financial support of the diaspora) and US military and economic aid to remain viable - there was little choice in the matter. The two flow private financial support and US govt support are correlated and the toehold in DC was a way to ensure that there are no sudden cash flow issues.

For Israel, projecting the Islamist threat out of the Middle East has been crucial for keeping it's toehold in Washington DC. While I completely agree with Gen Ehud Barak's perspective on Bibi's actions vis-a-vis engaging the GOP, I have to also accept that there is a reason behind it that goes beyond Bibi's "dangerous intellectual" framework.

Bibi continuously tried to entice the Obama Admin with visions of oil under the Golan Heights and the same approach was attempted with Congress in the last decade with continuous whispering about the Leviathan oil and gas field but to no avail. The US was flush with fracked hydrocarbons and there was no need for them to engage Israel's inaccessible and unknowable reserves. The failure of Bibi's efforts with the Obama Admin and Congress in the last two decades drove the Adelson engagement with Trump. This is why the Kushners and Friedmans suddenly became big shots.

That said I feel that the engagement with the GOP hasn't produced any visible result for Israel. The Israeli position in Washington DC seems to be in a decline. There is pressure inside Israel on Bibi (and his supporters) to show visible results for all the money pumped into the GOP. So far the only thing one has seen is the empowerment of American Nazis as a result of Bibi's engagement with Trump.

To counter this complete failure - Bibi pushed for a visible gesture of support for Israel. Trump resisted Bibi's charms until he needed to pay hush money to stall the Mueller investigation and that is when the "Move the Embassy" idea came into being. What Trump's true political leanings are should have been obvious in his choice of the preacher to lead the prayer at the opening of the new embassy.

While Bibi intended to celebrate the opening of the embassy as the start of a new age of influence for Israel in Washington DC, he was reduced to watching as Trump's evangelical supporters celebrated the day as a step towards the second coming of Christ. So while Bibi cheered, the Trump-vangelicals celebrated the beginning of a conflict which would lead to the extinction of Jews and Muslims and the eventual return of Jerusalem to Christian control.

I am reminded of the testimony of Hauptstrumfurher Franz Stangl during his trial for genocide. As the Camp Commandant at Treblinka, Stangl had the path from the undressing chambers to the gas chambers made to seem as peaceful and calming as possible. The entire camp was deliberately camouflaged as "Transit Station" and a "Red Cross First Aid Station" to fool the Jewish prisoners into thinking they were being led to a place of safety and peace. That is not where they were being taken.

I get the sense that is where modern Israel finds itself.

Unless a way is found to defuse the crisis caused by this mess - I fear Israeli security has been permanently and irreparably fractured.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The common enemy is Nazism

I am trying desperately to find a way to stem the bleeding out of the mess in Gaza.

Today Millenarist cults in Israel and the US are in a race to precipitate an Apocalypse from which each believes they *alone* will emerge as the "Chosen" ones. As I have indicated earlier - every Kamikazi pilot, every SBVIED driver in every conflict believes exactly this same shit and being "Chosen" isn't anything like what is advertised.

Israel and Palestine are both victims of the same tragedy. While each may grieve differently - their suffering stems from Nazism and its horrific consequences. When Adolf Hitler and his gang set the Holocaust in motion, they also effectively set in motion the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Recall the Hawara agreement which sought to "repatriate" German and European Jews to Israel in exchange for the Reich seizing the property? - given the existence of heightened levels of anti-Jewish sentiments in Islamic lands - IMHO the Nazi intention there was to effectively ghettotize the Jews in Israel itself so that they would present a compact target for extermination with advanced weapons at a later date.

I do not believe Nazism died out in 1945. I feel it lived on - hiding itself in other forms of right wing extremism. We are seeing its re-emergence in various contexts and as we are so tuned to seeing it in only one form - with Hugo Boss fashions - we are missing how it is oozing out of the woodwork.

Exacerbation of conflict between Israel and Palestinians is very much part of a Nazi agenda. The Nazi agenda always had backers in both the extremist fringe in Christian and Islamic lands which sought to liberate Jerusalem of the Jews. It would not surprise me in the least if the Nazi fraction of Trump's political spectrum see the move of the embassy as a technical affair aimed at sparking a long conflict that is fatal to Israel and the Palestinians.

Given Israel's technological powers, it is difficult to see how a disorganized Palestinian mob could overwhelm it. However it is easy to see how the minds of Israelis could be turned towards Nazi visions of humanity - how ordinary Israelis could be made to think of the Palestinians as sub-human vermin. It is also very easy to stoke Nazi ideas of exterminating Jews in minds of Palestinians when their beloved Jerusalem is taken from them.

By amplifying the sense of alert in Israel that exists over the possibility of an Iranian nuclear strike on its coastal cities, a concurrent Intifada in the Occupied Territories (yes there are still that legally) - one could easily lure the IDF into a scenario where it commits a genocide. This will be the biggest victory for Nazism.

There are always evil people of the Rumkowski variety - and we can debate who the current Israeli leadership are really like but I can guarantee you that the same Trump supporting Evangelicals celebrating the move of the embassy will turn on Israel. It is no accident that Jeffress was asked to lead the prayer consecrating the Embassy.

Is there any way that the sane people left in Tel Aviv can reach out to the sane people in WB or Gaza and reach a meaningful agreement on limiting escalation? 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Trump's PR war on the USIC

As I have stated earlier, Trump was most likely used as a USIC asset to spy on RU conflict capital being moved on to Wall Street. As the KGB realized that the Soviet economic collapse was imminent it began to off-shore capital into Wall Street/London/Paris etc... There was no way for the USIC to know if this was a genuine capital flight or a hostile provocation aimed at destabilizing the US economy, so I feel it is likely that they engaged a number of people to keep an eye on things.

I strongly suspect Trump was one of their informants. This is the only way I can explain how he was able to get so deep into bed with the various mobsters in NYC, Jersey and Mogilovich without getting fried by the FBI-NY office or by the Treasury Department or the Manhattan DA. Absent this connection, I am at a complete loss to explain how numerous DOJ people going back into several admins - Democrat and Republican - continually vouched for guys like Felix Sater. My only explanation is that the dog didn't bark because it was told that the visitor was a friend. In Trumper terminology - Trump is as much a part of the "Deep State" as anyone else is. Perhaps it helps to think of this as an analogy to the Whitey Bulger scenario.

However unlike most other CIs I feel Trump did not understand what came with the CI status. Unfortunately in this kind of work, the CI has no expectation of rights, the CI's life itself is the property of the handler/case officer. This would be a very difficult fact for someone like Trump to swallow, especially if he was recruited via an appeal to his ego or if the conduct of his CI duties put him in a position where his ego was constantly polished.

I also suspect that if a CI goes rogue and tries to reset their relationship with their handler or case officer, then the move will backfire tremendously on the CI. I think Trump is currently suspected of attempting that kind of reset. There is ample evidence in the public realm that suggests that Trump went off-script in his meetings with the Putin side of the RIS in 2013. There is also significant suggestions of a similar off-script relationship with the Bibi side of things in Israel. This is just a suspicion at this time and it cannot be said that there is not a foreign influence in the critical processes of the US government.

Unfortunately IMHO neither the Putin side of RIS nor the Bibi side of things in Israel capture the real perspective in Moscow or Tel Aviv. Their perspective is quite myopic and it is difficult to see how Trump acting in their interests even briefly works for USIC. Sure providing a portal for the views of these governments to the USIC would be a positive development but a very narrow portal with more short term commercial interests doesn't seem that useful.

From this POV - this Trump thing - is simply an ongoing intelligence operation. It is now an attempt to defeat unintentionally adverse or actively hostile influence operations that degrade the US national security scenario or generally impair the ability of the USIC to do its job properly.

The Mueller inquiry is a way to put Trump under the microscope. Trump's response to being put under the microscope is not the response of an innocent man. An innocent man would declare his innocence and hire competent legal representation. Instead Trump has chosen to attack the USIC and the Mueller inquiry itself.  It is impossible to see this as anything but a hostile action by the agent of a foreign power. In this kind of climate - it seems irrelevant to even continue the inquiry as the CI has already confessed to the crime that he is accused of.

However the inquiry itself is needed to ensure that the public at large is informed of the nature of the criminal conduct. At the present time there is sufficient evidence to impeach Trump on grounds that he has violated a number of emoluments and campaign finance rules. There is a pervasive stench of organized crime and corruption around his people.

The GOP will naturally fight this impeachment process as most of the electoral financing comes from outside the US (hence all the dark money payments) and their legislators will burn up tremendous amounts of social capital doing this. This is as bad as it sounds.

The Democrats (like the USIC) will have to balance the need to impeach Trump with the need to secure against future political adversities. So my guess is that while the Democrats will be keen to launch an impeachment process, they will be unwilling to conclude it until their wider political survival parameters are met.

From the liberal perspective, this is not ideal but we know now from events yesterday in Israel that hard right wing forces all over the World are driven to precipitate an Apocalypse in the hope that their are "chosen" to survive*. So it may reflect an immediate political reality of our times.

* perhaps due to cultural barriers they don't quite realize that every ISIS SVBIED driver has identical ideas and the outcome of being "chosen" is quite different from what is naively anticipated.

Monday, May 14, 2018

As Gen. Yair Golan said...

The greatest asset that Israel has in its national security calculation is the ability to be seen as the David in the story.

There is no doubt that a technologically superior and disciplined military force will prevail over disorganized civilian protesters, but if Israel is seen as the Goliath ... it will be a loss for Israel.

One might be tempted to think that "It's okay - no one gives a shit about dead Palestinians - People will come around to the Israeli POV", but when you combine what is happening today with the way in which Bibi's son amplified anti-Semitic remarks against George Soros, and the distasteful saga of Rafi Eitan's pro AfD utterances (yes I haven't forgotten that) - and you can see how people might come to see this picture

Source [1]
whenever they think of Israel.

That is NOT good. One cannot recover lost ground like that. The same Nazis of the AfD and Trumper RIS spectrum will turn this hatred of Israel into a wider hatred of Jews among the target populations and the main bulwark to a global re-emergence of Nazism i.e. public sympathy for Israel will not be available. 

Far more than anything buried underground at Dimona, the key thing that keeps Israel safe is the goodwill it earns with nations across the world. There is no sense in losing that goodwill in this way. 
One has to find a better way of carrying out the necessary security operations without causing such massive failures on a wider front. 

The Bibi government really has no excuse for this. They have known for over a year that the US embassy move was going to happen and that there would be massive opposition from the Palestinians. I do not understand why this entire saga had to be orchestrated - but leaving that aside for a moment, I wonder why the IDF was not prepared to handle this better. It is not like you didn't know this was going to happen. 

Tomorrow is a fresh day - lets hope that things are handled better (with NLWs and fewer casualties).*

I also recognize that the lion's share of the blame for this rests with Bibi and his guys, but once that goodwill towards Israel declines - everyone who matters will start talking like Gen. Yair Golan.

* Shooting below the waist doesn't work the way it is supposed to if there are cripples and kids in the crowd. The whole point of using snipers is to avoid this kind of thing. 

"Precipitating the Apocalypse"

The phrase was coined (to my knowledge) by Barnett Rubin in a conversation with David Rothkopf

This conversation was in the context of Bibi's actions in Israel and vis-a-vis the Iran deal but I feel it may be appropriate for discussing the situation in various other places.

It is possible that a provocative strategy that deliberately precipitates the Apocalypse (perhaps in the fond hope that the ensuing carnage will be more acceptable than an Apocalypse that just  waltzed in on us) - is an attractive proposition to some groups. 

For example in India - a group of RW zealots are taking apart the framework of constitution and laws that protect the nation from tyranny. This is being done in the belief that it will be possible to kill all "others" (Muslims, Christians, Dalits etc...) and keep the India's dwindling resources for exclusive exploitation by their own community. 

We see a similar pattern in the US where aging White voters are convinced that they face an extinction threat and unless they subscribe to Nazi ideas of wiping out POC and minorities - these people will drink all the social security & medicare benefits and leave them to die of illness and old age.  

And I am sure you readers can construct similar such cases in other contexts. 

Generally a group might choose such an option in the hope that it retains a sense of self-control while everything it values falls apart (like the average Trumper in the US who wants Trump to burn everything down - because it makes him feel powerful and he feels its okay because he has no further use of it). 

Unfortunately for the rest of the world, which may or may not be clued into whatever this group of people is doing - the experience will be like that of those orphaned kids walking around the markets scrounging for food when the suicide bomber strikes a nearby ANA check point. It will be very unpleasant - and unwelcome.

A likely consequence of this may be a growing sense of distaste for this group of people and a complete reversal of public attitudes towards the small special interest group. This in turn will most likely lead to a sharp decline in the strategic outcomes for that group. Rather than surviving the Apocalypse - this group may find its chances of surviving its self made Apocalypse declining rapidly as those of every other peer competitor group rise equally rapidly. 

It's possible for this "precipitating the Apocalypse" strategy to blow up in the face of the people pushing for it. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Targeting civilian flights transporting IRGC to Syria

In my previous post, I had mentioned that Iran could simply reciprocate the Israeli interference in the JCPOA by ramping up pressure using proxies and irregulars in Syria.  This would impose an asymmetric challenge to the IDF as they would be essentially swatting these low threshold irregular attacks using expensive air support and guided munitions.  While the initial results of such IDF operations in the near term would seem good - over time a law of diminishing returns would set in and marginal costs of each IDF operation would rise.

A key part of this strategy would be to transport IRGC irregulars to Syria for use in such operations. The most expedient way of doing that is use civilian air flights to move these people from Mehrabad to Damascus.

It is tempting to suggest that these flights be treated as military targets but unless Bibi wants to declare open war on Iran or on Syria - it is exceedingly unwise to target civilian airliners with Iranian or Syrian flags.

Bluntly put - the idea of Israel going to war with Iran is absurd. It is not cost effective to indulge in this kind of nonsense. The damage to Israeli national security goals is too high and it is much cheaper to ask for Bibi's resignation.

Attacking Iranian airliners suspected of carrying IRGC operators is an open invitation to Iranian attacks on ELAL flights. A number of ELAL flights routinely transit within shooting range of Iranian guns. It is fantastically stupid to believe that Iran will not reciprocate an attack on it's civilian airliners.

From a global perspective - this Iran-Israel-US conflict is largely about keeping Bibi-Trump and their IRGC business partners free of accountability for mistakes. It is best not to add to that list of mistakes by starting wider conflicts that kill more innocents.

It is reasonable to declare unacknowledged IRGC/Al Qods irregulars who actually attack Israeli positions in Golan and elsewhere as enemy combatants. In the same fashion IDFAF air assets physically attacking Syrian territory are legitimate targets for SYAAD and IRGC air defense.

It is beyond unreasonable to declare mass transportation infrastructure as part of the target list.

There have to be some boundaries in this madness otherwise we are going to have a war NO ONE wants on our hands.

I understand there are significant challenges facing Israeli military planners when it comes to defining productive goals in the context of the Syrian civil war, but for the sake of the rest of the world, please don't do things that are obviously stupid.

It is bad enough that Bibi did whatever he did in the context of the JCPOA - there is no sense in making it much much worse.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Iranian options after the US violation of the JCPOA

Iran is home to a very strategic culture, it is a very young country with a population of about 80M which is 10x the population of Israel. Historically it has been the dominant cultural force in the region and even today it has huge oil reserves and a vast pool of technically trained labor. While the Qom regime has stilted the economic development of Iran with its emphasis on Islam over innovation and economic growth, Iran has largely recovered from the dire straits that followed the Islamic revolution and the Iran-Iraq war.

The Iranian decision to enter the JCPOA was based on the costs associated with scaling up enriched Uranium production via its existing centrifuge technology. Given the low MBTF on the rotors, there the likelihood of producing enough HEU to be a credible deterrent was limited especially against the backdrop of the unreliable propulsion systems and poor INS capabilities. The Pu route which was tentatively explored in Arak, posed its own set of challenges and the leadership in Qom and Tehran were dissatisfied with the technical solutions at their disposal. The JCPOA was their way of ridding themselves of the bad technical baggage.

Like the Israelis, the Qom leadership feels extinction pressures from Sunni neighbors. With largely Sunni Pakistan having a nuclear bomb, and Israel claiming nuclear weapons state level abilities (without actual proof) - the Iranian threat perception is heightened. In that context - Bibi derailing JCPOA is not a strategic surprise to them by any means. They would have expected this from the instant that Trump began campaigning.

Even if Trump went into this with his fly unzipped - Iran did not. The Iranian establishment is too deeply rooted in reality to be unsettled by Trump's "unpredictability". Perhaps the most ominous sign of this sense of preparation is the "we will outlive Trump" comment from the Iranian leadership. This suggests Iran has a deeper knowledge of Trump's health record than most Americans who voted for him. While that may seem insignificant, it is important to note how fragile Trump's ego is when it comes to the release of information that damages his public facade of strength *. This small comment by Iran - was IMHO - a way for the Qom/Tehran regime to flash one of the aces in its sleeve.

As with most international observers, Iran knows that Trump (like Bush before him) has no real support. They know that none of his voters can or want to fight a prolonged insurgency campaign in "American Occupied Iran". Having fed his followers with hatred of George Bush and his Iraq War, Trump can't now expect them to support his desire to occupy Iran and hold the land with the blood of his own followers. The Iranians of course are well versed in insurgency tactics, having used them  with considerable effect to keep Sunnis on the back foot in Iraq in the last decade. The Iranians therefore know that the US will be unlikely to involve itself in an air attack on Iran unless there is a strong provocation (such as a departure from Iranian commitments to the JCPOA or a departure from the NPT).

This IMHO creates a major problem for Bibi's provocation strategy. Given that the Israel cannot actually hit Iran directly without US assistance, Iran has relatively little to do to resist Israeli provocations. The IDFAF strikes on IRGC operators and any SRBMs they bring with them are ultimately counter-productive as they do more to raise Iran's stature in the Islamic World as "a deadly foe of the dreaded Zionist" than they do to actually further the improvement of the physical security of the Israeli coastal belt.

Given that Iran has an attrition reserve - which Israel does not, Iran can simply afford to play a waiting game. IDF can only maintain high alert status for so many days before it loses military effectiveness and as every Popeye, Delilah, etc... costs money which Israel does not have infinite amounts of either - the strain will tell on Israel relatively quickly. Those missile attack imminent alarms will take a deeper toll on Bibi's political capital than they will on IRGC conflict reserves even in Syria itself.

And then there is the Palestinian angle. I was surprised to hear Abbas suddenly make open ended statements about the Holocaust. It was odd for the Palestinian leader to such a thing when all of the West Bank and Gaza depend on Israeli desalinated water supplies. And yet - he did it. My only guess here is that pro-Iran factions of the Palestinian population are raring to help Iran reach its strategic objectives.

If Iran does not respond "visibly" to Bibi's provocative gestures in Syria and internationally - I suspect Bibi's entire strategy falls apart. By that I mean - Bibi will not be able to get a political rise out of getting IDFAF to drop million dollar munitions on $20 Iranian clones of old Russian missiles.

A "visible" Iranian response would involve any of the following

1) distancing itself from JCPOA
2) distancing itself from the NPT

An "invisible" Iranian response would be one where Iran

1) accepts IRGC losses in Syria and by doing so expresses direct support for the Assad regime (which would be more than what Russia is currently doing for him).
2) continues to maintain low level military pressure on IDF in the region and degrades IDF surveillance and electronic warfare capabilities while keeping the Israeli population on its toes with constant incoming missile warnings (basically have various parts of Israel feel like they are in Beaufort Castle every hour of the day**).

Maybe I am missing something - but is there some reason why Iran won't be able to implement this? Perhaps my readers from Tel Aviv can tell me why I have missed. Is there some reason why Bibi's support inside Israel for anti-Iran agendas is stronger than the Qom/Tehran regime's support for actions against Israel?

* Trump is the only guy I know who will admit to having AIDS because he is afraid that some people will think he might possibly have you know - AIDS?... or something like that...

** And since the average Israeli will have no way of knowing if Bibi just made up the Iranian missile threat or if there is actually an Iranian missile coming their way - they will not know who to blame. They will however know that the whole point of the JCPOA was to prevent exactly this sort of thing from happening right now - and that Bibi put a lot of effort and money into getting Trump to violate the JCPOA.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Will Trump allow Bibi to take out Assad?

As was expected by observers of the Micheal Cohen saga, the gradual exposure of Russian financial contributions of the Trump Campaign hush money accounts and Giuliani's utter failure to distract from it has led to Trump putting pressure on Iran by withdrawing from JCPOA.

This goes some distance in helping with Bibi's strategy for provoking Iran. IMHO Bibi wants to provoke Iran into saying that it will leave the NPT. This move will allow Israel to conduct exploratory tests of novel physics packages and an end-to-end test of the Popeye Turbo SLCM system. Having conducted such tests, Israel will be in a position of regional military dominance for the next twenty five years or so.

There is a wrinkle in this story - and that has to do with the fact that KRG oil is currently transferred covertly from the Ceyhan port to Ashkelon via small tankers that change their IMS codes mid journey. This allows them to look like they are going to Cyprus but then head largely undetected to Ashkelon. The Israeli navy is too small to protect this lifeline.  I suspect that if you look at the deployment of Allied Naval units - they will be positioned due east of the path of these tankers, i.e. between them and the RuNAV forces sitting in the Syrian ports Latakia and Tartus. As long as the NATO navies remain in such positions, Bibi can do what he wants without fear of a crippling blow to the Israeli economy.

A possible way for Bibi to provoke Iran is to take out Assad. This is an ideal move in some sense as the Alawaites have always had positive relations with Iran and they have used that to leverage against powerful Sunni neighbors that seek to displace them. Extending that alignment with Iran to offend Israeli interests is a natural thing for Assad to do. Taking out Assad would create a post Saddam like climate inside Syria and rival factions within the Alawaite community would vie for power making deals everywhere. That would jam up Iranian plans to position missiles or other anti Israeli assets in Syria. If such assets are positioned inside Syria, the entire sense of security created by the capture of the Golan Heights will evaporate and the mountain country will no longer be a bulwark for the highly populated Israeli coastal belt. It actually makes a lot of sense from the Israeli POV to take out Assad.

Unfortunately taking out Assad will also offend Russian interests in the region. The Russians have cultivated the Alawaites for decades now. It is unlikely that RuAF would commit its expensive assets to combat IDFAF operations over Syria (that is why I suspect this "IDFAF stole NATO IFF codes" story is doing rounds - it is RU excuse for dragging its heels on defending Syrian airspace).  Whatever help is extended to Assad on the ground is done via Russian PMCs (like Wagner) and that help will be of a limited nature. That being said - the Russians don't want to do the work of having to find an Assad replacement. It is too much work and there is no guarantee that the replacement will be as pliable as Assad was.

If Bibi decides to take out Assad - he will be risking Putin's ire. Putin might ask RuNAV to stop the transit of Ashkelon bound tankers from Ceyhan. The only thing deterring this will be NATO naval forces that prevent RuNAV from advancing on the relevant SLOCs.

Even more specifically - RuNAV submarine forces could launch interdiction patrols in the path of the tankers unless there are ASW patrols or other countervailing NATO forces in the region.

The position of these countervailing forces in the region offers NATO (and Trump) a key control lever over Bibi's actions. NATO and Trump might not agree on everything but there is no reason to rule out a convergence of interests*.

So at this point - the question on my mind is - will Trump allow Bibi to take out Assad? 

From Trump's POV this idea has merits, putting RU on the back foot in Syria will go a long way in improving his leverage v/s President Putin. It seems Putin has (quite naturally) lost interest in Trump after the Russian election. And at this point there is little to prevent Putin from tightening the screws on Trump by selectively leaking information about Trump and trying to leverage an end to the sanctions on Russia that way.

There are obvious demerits to Trump confronting Putin's ambitions in Syria. Trump's domestic legal problems will escalate as the RIS reveals its Trump files. Given that Trump has a mediocre legal team (given the scale of the problems facing him) - this new flow of information will not be manageable.

* For example Trump might be able to hold back post JCPOA sanctions if the NATO countries agree to let him have his way in the eastern Mediterranean.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

My best guess about what Bibi is doing... (And I don't approve it - obviously)

As you all know, I am not a fan of Bibi. He reminds me too much of the kind of "Dangerous Intellectuals" I dislike in India and the US. But as he is Israeli, I will accept the possibility that there is a method to his madness (Unlike India or the US where it is just madness). Maybe I know too many Israelis and I am just trying to find some way this is all going to work out okay - so this might just be my imagination, but I have a pretty fertile imagination.

Of all the nations that have nuclear weapons capabilities, only Israel has not conducted overt nuclear tests. No one doubts that Israel has designs, materials, fabrication capabilities, to make advanced nuclear weapons, but there has been no demonstration of either an Israeli physics package or warhead or full-up delivery system. And that means there is no such thing as an Israeli OAR (Over All Reliability) rating*.

They can't be certain that they know how many of these weapons launched at a target will deliver a fixed minimum yield. Without that kind of OAR - you have a really hard time deciding the size of the arsenal and determining detailed aspects of how the deterrent will work against a nuclear armed adversary (even one that is just emerging as a state with nuclear weapons). The reason Israel has not tested is because it is worried about the implications for its international trade. Too many people will see such an Israeli action as being needlessly provocative. Most of Israel's emerging trading partners like MbS' Saudi Arabia will be forced to view such a gesture as part of a wider Israeli plan to evict all Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. So the Israelis have stopped short of pulling the trigger on that test.

Back in 2006 when DPRK conducted its first nuclear test, I was snagging some free pizza at a physics students society lunch. I mentioned to our Israeli visitor from Dimona that I had heard rumors that there were Iranian and Pakistani observers at the DPRK tests. I also said that if that were true, then it seemed there was a bizarre kind of parity between Israel and Iran in that both had witnesses to a test on foreign soil, both had delivery platforms with unknown reliability, and both had fissile material production facilities. I pointed out (to a lot of raised eyebrows) that there was a dangerous consequence to this - that Iranian backed groups (like Hezbollah) may feel protected and empowered and attack Israel in ways they had not done so earlier. Ofcourse my visitor was a cool cat and simply said "hmm really" (This is not uncommon in physics departments - grad students and post-docs will say shit that makes you go "hmm... really" all the time - kinda comes with the job description).

Anyway - that problem of the apparent parity between Iran and Israeli deterrents has gotten worse as Iranian fissile material stockpiles grew. Now it turns out that the Iranians realized that the cost of using the P1/P2 (IR1/IR2) centrifuges was too high (too little MTBF) and their whole HEU based route to a deterrent was a fail given how high their delivery systems failure rates were. The Iranians had not put into place a Pu program of sufficient size and so they decided there was more to be gained leveraging their EU ties to get a nice IUCNA type deal. That idea became the JCPOA. There was internal debate in Iran with IRGC types opposing the JCPOA for obvious political reasons (i.e. "but I want America to pay attention to me") but the scalability concerns won out.

This IMHO put Israel in an awkward position. With Iran playing nice - there is less of a reason for IL to test. With the clock running, it is a matter of time before the missile capability gap between Iran and IL is bridged. So eventually the OAR of the Iranian BMs will rise to a level where with their fissile material production capabilities will be sufficient to pose a credible deterrent to an Israeli strike. This is even if the Iranian's don't test their design.

So if Israel tests - they can showcase their dominance in OAR and yield and effectively draw a line above with Iran will have to piss in order to be seen as a credible deterrent. Once that line is up there - the Israelis will end to any talk of "wiping Israel off the face of the Earth" from Iran or anyone else (because Iran is the most tech savvy nation in that region) for several decades at least.

So it becomes in Israel's interest to provoke an Iranian test or at least a march towards one. The idea of invading Iran and occupying it is absurd. That isn't cost effective and the risks are unacceptable that something goes wrong with that (unlike Iraq - where Saddam didn't have the bomb at all). So a cheaper option now is to provoke Iran by getting Trump to cancel the JCPOA (which I suspect is one of the few reasons that Israelis and Jewish supporters of Trump put up with his Nazi bullshit). The Iranians will then signal their desire to leave the NPT and that can be used by Israel to test its capabilities and report a visibly high OAR and yield. This doesn't get into the sticky bits about about true costs of Israeli stockpile stewardship etc... but at least for the foreseeable future it ends the possibility of Iran seizing the high ground.

If this is what Bibi has in mind - then all I can say is that this is an extremely high risk strategy. 
The likelihood of an Israeli test driving proliferation incentives in the region and beyond is large and that will impose downstream costs on the Israeli economy. 

I understand that the Middle East is a difficult place with too many people too much desert, and you have to be a real asshole from time to time, but I can't help wondering if there is really no alternative to this way of thinking.

* Yes I know about the RSA cooperation back in the day and the Vanunu disclosures, but honestly that doesn't cut it as credibility goes. If you can't own up to your tests and you can come up with a real OAR, then people are going to find your claims less than credible.