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TM, ®, Copyright © 2015 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.


Articles on the USA published after 2016
Why Trump also means hope
Protest and Boycott
My thoughts after the election
My final thoughts on the 2016 presidential election
The three epic campaigns of Donald Trump
Let Silicon Valley stop North Korea
Let's make America Ridiculous like Never Before
Civil War: the real weapons of mass destruction
Pardon the heroes
Another Aviation Mystery
Democracy's Apocalypse
What Donald Trump represents
The US politicians terrorizing the world
Articles on the USA published before 2016

  • Click here for the articles on Donald Trump
  • (september 2016) Let Silicon Valley stop North Korea.
    North Korea's fifth nuclear test came just days after the highly-choreographed G20 meeting hosted by China. The West has long perceived North Korea as an "irrational" actor on the international scene, but, in retrospective North Korea's actions seem very rational In 2002 Bush coined to expression "axis of evil" to describe the totalitarian regimes of Iraq, Iran and North Korea. In 2003 Bush launched an invasion of Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Two years later North Korea announced that it had developed nuclear weapons, and in 2006 it carried out its first nuclear test. By becoming a nuclear state, North Korea got its life insurance: the USA cannot attack North Korea because North Korea would retaliate against South Korea, easily killing the 20 million South Koreans who live near the border (e.g. the whole of Seoul). North Korea did not stop there. They realized that they could achieve much more than safety if they managed to build long-range missiles capable of carrying a nuclear weapon across the Pacific Ocean. When they achieve that feat, they will be able to negotiate with the USA from a completely different position. The fifth nuclear test, coming right after the G20 meeting, was a signal sent to those 20 nations that one nuclear power is still excluded from the G20 group: North Korea wants a sit at that table.
    There is nothing irrational with North Korea's strategy. In fact, it is as rational as it gets in international politics.
    On the other hand, the actions of the USA seem highly irrational. The USA did not stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, and that was a very irrational decision. In the 1990s Russia was much weaker and China was still not strong enough: Bill Clinton could have hit North Korea's military installations with little or no international repercussions. In the 2000s George W Bush was so obsessed with destroying the regime of Saddam Hussein (who posed virtually no direct threat to the USA) that he ignored the one member of the "axis of evil" that was developing nuclear weapons. In the 2010s Barack Obama was so reluctant to get involved into international trouble that he de facto reassured North Korea of no retaliation of its continuing progress in nuclear and missile technology. The USA has been the irrational player. North Korea has been and is very rational.
    Now the USA has to wake up to a new world order, one in which a tiny and poor country like North Korea will soon have the means to blackmail the USA. In a few years North Korea will be able to strike California with nuclear weapons. Many will probably move out of California, starting an exodus back towards the eastern states after two centuries of western migrations. The value of properties in California will collapse. Silicon Valley (that now harbors three of ten largest companies in the world by market capitalization) will evaporate as businesses move to safer regions. North Korea's first missile capable of striking California will have a bigger effect on the USA than the two World Wars and the Cold War combined.
    California cannot hope that the inept presidents sitting in Washington, and entangled in complicated diplomatic dances with China, South Korea and Japan, will find a way to stop North Korea. California has Silicon Valley, and Silicon Valley has plenty of visionaries who are investing their billions of dollars in the most futuristic enterprises. The solution to the North Korean problem should come from them. They are the ones whose status quo will be threatened by North Korea and they are the ones who have the means, the speed and the vision to achieve the impossible. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are working on space technology. Mark Zuckerberg is donating 99% of his wealth to technological causes. Elon Musk is also launching an institute for Artificial Intelligence, Open AI. Many local philanthropists are helping out. If these people decided to disarm North Korea,they would probably be more successful than Washington diplomats. They have the technology, the brains and the money to find a way to stop North Korea. Like nobody else on this planet.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2016 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (july 2016) Civil War: the real weapons of mass destruction.

    The USA is rapidly descending into the civil war that i had predicted in The end of the USA . As predicted, the sheer number of guns deployed by the largest terrorist organization in the world (the National Rifle Association) is causing people to start shooting at each other. Not surprisingly, the civil war started in Texas, a state run by the NRA in which people are legally armed to their teeth and allowed to carry guns all the time. Tourists should be warned to wear bulletproof vests when they travel to the USA. Citizens should consider safer countries.
    The trigger (sorry for the pun) of the Dallas shootings (in which 5 police officers were killed) were the killings of two black men in Minnesota and Louisiana by white police officers, two killings caused by guns: in countries where people don't have guns the police officers don't shoot so easily. If you are a police officer in a country where people are armed to their teeth, of course you shoot to kill at the slightest sign of danger: your priority is to go home alive. It is easy to criticize the cops for using excessive force: the excessive force lies in the fact that US citizens own (and often carry) 200 million guns. It is not only cops who kill innocents: a lot of armed US citizens kill their family members, their friends, their neighbors and passers-by because they are surrounded by armed people.
    It is the principle of the Rwandan genocide: if you don't kill, you may be killed.
    In december two Muslims, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people in San Bernardino using weapons that they bought legally. In june another Muslim, Omar Mateen, killed 49 people at a gay club in Florida, again using weapons that he had bought legally. Almost everybody in the USA understood that these were Muslims but a lot of US citizens seemed to miss the most shocking part of these two events: they had bought their weapons in regular stores. The people who provide weapons to terrorists in Syria and Iraq are regularly bombed by coalition forces. Anyone in the world who sells guns to the Syrian or Iraqi terrorists is sent to jail. On the other hand, in the USA anyone can sell weapons that will be used by "terrorists" to carry out mass shootings. In other countries "Islamic terrorism" means car bombs and suicide bombers: in the USA it means people who buy guns in a store. You cannot make it any easier.
    Islamic terrorists have killed fewer than 100 people in the USA since 2001. On the other hand, during the same period, more than 200,000 people have been murdered for reasons unrelated to terrorism. The radical right-wing media and politicians focus their audience on those 100 victims to distract people from the other 199,900 victims. Obviously, it is not "radical Islam" (the favorite expression used by radical right-wing media and politicians) that kills. It is guns. Guns kill, period. Guns don't care what your reasons are. Guns are designed to kill. They kill because that's what they are designed to do, just like washing machines wash clothes and cars transport passengers.
    An incredible number of killings are even more tragic: they are "accidental" killings, not even triggered by a real cause. Millions of US citizens are arming themselves without having a proper training nor the psychological capacity to handle guns. They have zero chances to defend themselves from an attacker, but a very high chance of accidentally killing a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a passer-by. Today's weapons are way too deadly, even for specialists; they are weapons of mass destruction. let alone for the general public. You need to take classes in order to drive a car, and you will be rejected if you have the slightest mental or physical problem, but, thanks to the NRA, in the USA anyone can walk into a store and buy a gun: is it easier to kill 100 people with a car or with a gun?
    The civil war started in 2016 not because ISIS of the "Black Lives Matter" movement decided to attack the USA but simply because over the past four years 37 states out of 50 bent to pressure from the NRA terrorists and passed legislation that makes it easier to buy and carry a gun. The number of mass shootings has tripled during the same four years.
    Donald Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering the USA, but Islamic countries are actually safer than the USA: just compare the murder statistics of the USA with Indonesia or Morocco. The USA is even catching up rapidly with Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a few years the USA will pass Afghanistan, whose murder rate is 6.5 and declining versus the USA's 3.9 (World Bank data). Turkey is considered a dangerous place because of a series of terrorist attacks from ISIS, but its murder rate is still under 3.
    The USA still fails to understand that the NRA is no less murderous than ISIS. As long as the USA fails to classify the NRA as a terrorist organization (and deal with its leaders and supporters the same way it deals with ISIS leaders and supporters), the killings will keep increasing.
    Meanwhile, the places where guns are virtually non-existent have murder rates under 1: Germany 0.9, China 0.8, Japan 0.3. Unfortunately, these countries don't really welcome US immigrants, just like Donald Trump doesn't welcome Muslims and Hispanics.
    See also The end of the USA

    Reply to letters from readers after a man killed 84 people with a truck in France:

    You can certainly kill a lot of people with a car, but only during a parade. You can kill a lot of people with a semiautomatic gun any day in any mall, amusement park, casino, rock concert, night club, school,...
    I'll let you research how many people have deliberately been killed by cars over the last 20 years and how many people have deliberately been killed by guns over the last 20 years.
    Yes, i wrote "killed by guns". It is the gun that kills, not the killer, just like it is the hammer that drives the nail into the hole not me. I would never be able to nail these two wooden boards together. The hammer does it, not me.
    That said, if one wants to kill of course he will probably kill. But a lot of murders in the USA are carried out by people who did not intend to kill when they left their home. They killed because they had a gun. Had they had a knife or no weapon at all, most likely it would have ended with a fistfight or simply run away.
    piero from the garage
    P.S.: France has 600 murders a year (murder rate 1), so these recent terrorist attacks will significantly increase the murder rate in France (to maybe 1.5). Nonetheless, lo and behold, even so France remains a much safer country than the USA, where 12,000 people get murdered every year (and this does not include all the "gun accidents" that kill family members, friends, etc) Divide by the population (USA = 300 million, France = 60 m) and you get that the USA is 3 times more deadly than France in the middle of these 2016 terrorist attacks. Even if terrorists kill ten times more people in France, you will still be more likely to get killed in the USA than in the streets of Paris. US tourists who cancel their vacations in Paris should read their own city's statistics. We don't call it "terrorism" simply because we have a weird definition of terrorism: if he's inspired/armed by ISIS, then it's terrorism; if he's inspired/armed by the NRA, then it's not terrorism. For anybody who lives in a southern state, these numbers should be terrifying: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/homicide.htm It seems pretty obvious that the states with the highest murder rate are all in the south and the ones with the lowest murder rate are all in the north, with the exception of California. When Fox News (Fix News?) talks of Chicago as the murder capital of the USA or of San Francisco as a sanctuary city, they literally don't know what they are talking about. Among the big states of the USA, only Massachusetts (murder rate 1.6) is almost as safe as France is in the middle of these terrorist attacks.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2016 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (june 2016) Pardon the heroes.

    There is one international hero that the USA still considers a criminal because the criminal government of Barack Obama didn't like that this hero exposed one of the great abuses of power of the 21st century. Some of us cannot think of a greater living hero than Edward Snowden. In 2013 this humble employee of the NSA revealed details of a vast government operation to spy on citizens and on foreign leaders, including some of the US closest allies. Instead of being rewarded with a gold medal, he had to flee the country and is still living in Russia, where he was granted political asylum. It is simply embarrassing that one of the great defenders of individual freedom of our times is not a Russian dissident in exile in the USA but a US dissident in exile in Russia. Snowden's actions still reverberate in both the political and the high-tech world. We live in the Snowden age. We continuously debate the rights of government to spy on its citizens. We debate the right of corporations to track out behavior. These discussions are vital to define the words "democracy" and "republic" in the 21st century. Snowden has been more influential than any philosopher of the last 50 years. Books, conferences and, why not, government studies discuss the relationship between privacy and technology. Snowden was assailed like a traitor by the radical right-wing politicians and media, but a right-wing Congress has instead passed laws requiring a overhaul of the NSA. A court has ruled that the actions of the NSA were illegal, but no official of the NSA has ended up in jail or in exile: why is Snowden a criminal for reporting a crime while the people who committed the crime are not considered criminals? Other governments of the "free world" had to admit that they did the same to their citizens. And no terrorist organization or foreign enemy has benefited from Snowden's actions. We are all a lot safer than we were before 2013. The world is freer than it was. Technology is healthier. Lo and behold, the NSA can carry out more surveillance (not less) when needed without any need to break the law.
    Meanwhile, Bradley/Chelsea Manning has been in jail for six years and will be for 30 more years. This is a wildly disproportionate punishment for someone who has, quite simply, told the truth, and therefore helped the public get a little more control over the government that in theory it elected to represent it. By comparison, one of the most despicable humans in modern history, Dick Cheney, has never been in jail a single day. Cheney has done nothing to benefit the public and has done much to harm the public. Bradley/Chelsea Manning is guilty of providing WikiLeaks a wealth of top-secret information about world politics. That information was published by distinguished newspapers in the free world and literally rocked the world. We learned the truth about hundreds of shady political affairs. Simply put, Manning's revelations have helped the world politicians become more honest. Manning was widely accused by radical right-wing politicians and media of causing great harm to the USA. None of their predictions came through: not a single person was killed, and not many US personnel had to be replaced because of those leaks. Bradley/Chelsea Manning is in jail because the government is a vast evil bureaucracy that does not exist to serve the public but to sustain itself. One also suspects that "she" is in jail mainly for having changed sex, something that many radical right-wing people do not condone even if they would probably condone the "crime" she committed.
    Like all departing presidents, Obama is entitled to pardon people who have committed crimes. He should also pardon two people who have served the public.

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2016 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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    ==========================================
  • (june 2016) Another Aviation Mystery.
    In march 2014 a Malaysia Airlines airplane en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing (flight MH370) carrying 239 people mysteriously disappeared without sending any SOS. Debris have surfaced on the coasts of southeastern Africa, but to this day nobody has a valid theory of what could have caused the plane to crash in the ocean. That was a Boeing 777. No terrorist organization ever claimed responsibility for the attack.
    In may 2016 an EgyptAir airplance en route from Paris to Cairo (flight MS804) has mysteriously disappeared without sending any SOS. Debris have been found in the Mediterranean. US presidential candidates Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump rushed to blame Islamic terrorists (Trump actually shouted it on both tv and radio, ridiculing anybody who would hesitate to do likewise), but no terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for the attack, and satellite imagery shows no sign of an explosion. This time the plane is an Airbus A320. The similarities between MH370 and MS804, though, are striking.
    Donald Trump, certain that every accident on Earth must have to do with "radical Islamic terrorists", would probably take the similarity to be "both flights involved a Muslim crew", but we can add a third recent crash of a civilian airplane that had a purely Christian crew. In march 2015 a Germanwings airplane (flight 9525) en route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf crashed into a mountain in southern France, killing all 150 people on board. That was an Airbus A320, but the cause has been established beyond any doubt: co-pilot Andreas Lubitz (not a Muslim at all) decided to commit suicide and took all the passengers and crew with him.
    Further back in time, in 1980 an Italian passenger airplane was downed in mysterious circumstances in the Gulf of Ustica. The US navy is widely considered a suspect in that accident that killed 81 people. And we never really heard a convincing explanation of what took down an American Airlines over New York two months are the 2001 terrorist attacks.
    Finally, there is now quite a bit of certainty that the Malaysian airplane carrying 295 people, mostly Dutch, that crashed in July 2014 in Ukraine was shot down (accidentally) by Russian soldiers (of the Christian religion, presumably). See for example this Timothy Snyder article.
    Donald Trump and the mainstream media (Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc) have to learn that not all aviation accidents are caused by Muslims, and that banning Muslims does not save the world from all possible tragedies (except the tragedy of swelling the US population that believes in gods).
    I personally find more shocking the story of a man who kills 149 people because he has decided to end his life than the stories of suicide bombers who use terror as a weapon in their war against the West. (Alas, the USA has always used terror as a weapon, from Roosevelt's fire-bombings of Germany and Japan to Truman's atomic bombs, from Nixon's napalm campaigns in Indochina to George W Bush's "shock and awe" bombing of Baghdad, so "terrorism" per se is not necessarily "bad" - it depends on why it is done).
    But these don't seem to be acts of terrorism and the politicians who were quick to accuse "radical Islam" should admit that, at the least, they had no facts to back their opinion. Screaming hysterically against Islam is fine with me (i dislike the ideology, radical or not radical) but doesn't help solve the problem that air travel is still way too dangerous: your next flight may be shot down by Russia, North Korea or Iran (or the USA), your next flight might disappear with no reason (and no black box will be found), your next flight might have a suicidal pilot on board. These things cannot happen to high-speed trains.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2016 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (may 2016) Democracy's Apocalypse.

    Now it is official: Hillary Clinton will be the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, and Donald Trump will be the presidential candidate for the Republican Party And, no, this is not a late-tv skit. The USA is interrogating itself about how it ended up having two candidates for president who are both hated by the majority of the public. Is it democracy when the choice for voters is between two people whom the majority of voters do not want as president?
    In any civilized country Hillary Clinton would be disqualified from running for office. She is under investigation, and she has been before. The "mistakes" she committed while secretary of state would certainly bar her from employment in the US government, but now she wants to become the head of that government. If elected, she would probably set a new world record for head of state fighting the highest number of scandals. Hillary Clinton makes Putin, Erdogan and Netanyahu look like amateurs in terms of how arrogant and hypocritical she can be.
    Donald Trump is a little Berlusconi of North America, a congenital liar who would set another world record: the head of state who filed the highest number of bankruptcies. And probably also the head of the state who has been divorced by his wived the most times. His own party thinks that he should be disqualified from running for president. Trump has been bribing or bullying his very critics to force them to fall into line just like mafia bosses in Sicily do. There must be a filmmaker out there who senses a blockbuster: a man with the IQ of a chimp who sounds like a cross between Berlusconi and Vito Corleone. Trump must have Italian genes.
    If Clinton had a modicum of dignity, she would step aside. Besides not having a modicum of dignity, the problem is that she would be replaced by her nemesis Bernie Sanders, a cartoonish character who seems to come out of a 19th century Dickens novel.
    Meanwhile, in november 2015 the approval rating of the US congress/parliament hit an all-time low, 11%. Basically, US voters strongly dislike their representatives and strongly dislike the future president of the USA, regardless of which of the two evils will be.
    How did the US democracy collapse to this all-time low? A Supreme Court decision that corporations are persons (this is not a joke, it really happened) has something to do with it, because it made money even more important than politics. A failed educational system that has been declining for at least 50 years has something to do with it: when people know more about UFOs than Relativity, and a lot more about ancient superstitions than Darwin, you can't expect them to vote for geniuses. In 1946 the USA enjoyed the #1 high school graduation rate in the world. Today it rankes #22 among 27 industrialized nations. US students rank 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading (OECD, 2012). Only 46% of students finish college. When the voters have the highest high-school graduation rate in the world, they elect someone like Eisenhower. When they rank 22nd in the world, they end up with Trump the chimp and Clinton the hyena.
    These presidential elections are also laying the groundwork for a second civil war. Obviously, California and Massachusetts (the two high-tech powerhouses of the planet) have no intention of living under the rule of a chimp (Donald Trump). But, obviously, oil-producing Texas and coal-producing Wyoming (two bastions of the backward economy) have no intention of living under the rule of a hyena (Hillary Clinton). Obviously, New York (the world's powerhouse of finance) has no intention of living under a financial crook like Donald Trump the same way that Nebraska (an agricultural powerhouse) has no intention of living under a sneaky opportunist like Hillary Clinton; and Illinois (where nuclear power and the mobile phone were invented) has no intention of living under casino businessman Donald Trump the same way that Kansas (that doesn't even believe in Evolution, let alone Climate Change) has no intention of living under attorney Hillary Clinton.
    An impressive cast of idiots, crooks, fascists and (political) prostitutes is supporting Donald Trump for president: New Hampshire's senator Kelly Ayotte, New Jersey's governor Chris Christie, former Louisiana's governor Bobby Jindal, former Texas's governor Rick Perry, Kentucky's senator Mitch McConnell, Nevada's governor Brian Sandoval, Wisconsin's governor Scott Walker, former rival Ben Carson, former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin, former vicepresident Dick Cheney, radical tv commentator Sean Hannity, venture capitalist Peter Thiel, etc. (I forgot Putin, ISIS and the dictator of North Korea). At the same time, an impressive cast of ... nobody! is supporting Hillary Clinton: we haven't heard one single enthusiastic endorsement for Hillary Clinton. The most influential Democrats are technically supporting her, but hardly telling voters why anyone should vote for her other than to vote against Trump. Not a word from her husband's vicepresident, from the current vicepresident, from Nancy Pelosi, from just about any of the Democracts that we can name.
    It doesn't help that the two main parties seem to be so out of touch, almost surrealistically out of touch, with the issues that really matter to the public. The Republican Party's platform consists in saying "no" to anything that president Obama wants to do (even when Obama wants to do something that the Republicans originally proposed) and the Democratic Party... well, besides making sure that nobody offends Islam (offending all other religions is ok), it is currently focusing on transgender bathrooms...
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2016 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (january 2016) What Donald Trump represents.

    First of all, Donald Trump is NOT the Republican Party. The establishment of the Republican Party has been irritated by Trump's very exisitence as a Republican candidate. After he proposed a ban on Muslim immigrants, just about every Republican who matters denounced him as a racist. The National Review, close to the party, published a rare personal attack against Trump signed by several distinguished conservatives. Nonetheless, Trump's approval rating keeps going high. If you add Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, whose language might be more polite but whose views are very similar to Trump's, more than 50% of Republicans side with candidates whom the Republican Party does not really welcome. George W Bush is quoted as having said "I just don't like the guy" when asked about Ted Cruz. Who would have guessed that in 2015 George W Bush would have sounded like a leftist. What Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson represent is clearly a further shift to the right of the Republican base. What should worry the Republican Party establishment is precisely the nature of this base. Check the audience at a Trump event and you will easily realize that his base mostly consists of older white males. They don't wave smartphones with the latest Silicon Valley apps. They wave old-fashioned signs on wooden sticks. The reason they keep moving to the right of the political spectrum is that they feel under attack. These older white males are the ones who suffered most from the Great Recession. Their status is waning in the age of the Internet. Most of them have traditional, working-class jobs that have been under attack for decades. The Great Recession took a devastating toll on them. They dropped out of college and they are still convinced that the US economy is collapsing because for them it never got better. While they complain about unemployment and stagnating wages, a December 2015 report found that the average salary for software engineers in the San Francisco Bay Area was $136,000. They don't belong to that crowd and have no idea that kids just out of college can buy expensive apartments. They don't understand all the talk about "artificial intelligence", "virtual reality", "nanotech"... These are all mysterious words. They feel threatened, not empowered, by technology and automation. Their reaction is to be hostile to science, to defend the Bible against Darwin, and to treat Quantum Mechanics as mumbo jumbo, certainly less reliable than a radical Fox News commentator. They go to church. They stock guns. They rarely travel to other countries, and they know nothing of Asia's high-speed trains and skyscrapers. They don't understand climate change science, and view it as a plot by evil foreign powers like the United Nations. In other words, the 50% of Republican voters who likes Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is a species that will soon go extinct; certainly not the future of the country, and not the future of the planet.
    These older uneducated white male from the working class are clueless about how the global economy works and miss the good old days when "the economy" was limited to the main street of their town. During a speech at Liberty University in Virginia, Donald Trump proclaimed: "We're going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries" His supporters cannot understand that this can happen only if 1. the salary of the US worker gets as low as the salary of a Chinese worker; or 2. the US consumer is willing to pay 5 times more for that Apply computer; or 3. Apple replaces all workers with robots; or 4. the USA turns communist and subsidizes Apple to sell its products at a government-set price (the way most populist experiments end up in Latin America). It's a lose-lose proposition for Trump's very base of older uneducated white working males, but they don't have the education to understand anything other that the US anthem and the Bible.
    These older white males are also nostalgic about an era in which you could speak frankly and loudly about the problems of the country and in which politicians in Congress were actually getting things done. These days they perceive inaction in Congress, even regarding important and urgent issues, and they feel constrained into silence by increasingly obsessive rules of political correctedness. These days you can't open your mouth without being accused of being a bigot, sexist or a racist. Terrorism per se would not be a problem, but the fact that the president refuses to call it "Islamic" terrorism for fear of offending Muslims is a problem. Police discrimination against blacks might be real, but these voters are more irritated by the fact that nobody can blame young black males in public for being responsible for the vast majority of violent crime in the country. They are shocked not that the country accepted gay marriage but that it has become taboo to speak against homosexuality. These are all things that are obvious to them but that they cannot say aloud anymore outside of their homes. It does feel a little bit like a communist country, where the regime can be criticized only in the privacy of one's home.
    (This is a popular brand of toothpaste in China. It is called "Black Man" and clearly makes fun of black people's white teeth. In the USA this would be unthinkable:

    Hence, Donald Trump, insulting his way to the top the way Mussolini did in 1922, looks like a breath of fresh air: finally someone who can say what we always wanted to say but we are told it's politically incorrect to say.
    Then there's inaction: Congress has been debating for years about illegal immigration, and nothing has been done by Congress; the tax code is hated by everybody, but Congress has not found a way to simplify it; this new Congress, dominated by Republicans, promised to undo Obama's big programs, but hasn't delivered. The Republican Party keeps winning elections by promising to undo Obama's policies that are unpopular with older white males of the working class (a class that does vote, unlike younger people, college kids and minorities), but then the Republican Party does little to change Obama's policies. De facto, it has endorsed most of them even while it was denouncing them as treason. Trump's fans are uneducated but not stupid: they sense that the Republican establishment is treating them like idiots, and their reaction is to endorse the candidate who makes fun of the Republican establishment as weak and hypocritical.
    The Republican drift towards incivility is not a new phenomenon. We live in the age of Islamic terrorism inspired by Wahabi Islam, that actually shares many (anti-scientific and pro-religious) traits with the Trump movement, the age of xenophobic parties who keep winning more and more votes in all European countries, and the age of Putin, the Russian president who is immensely popular in his country thanks to a colloquial populism very similar to Trump's. Trump's inspiration comes from three success stories: Benito Mussolini, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, and Vladimir Putin. And also Juan Peron, Fidel Castro, and many other populist demagogues of Latin America.
    The "older white nostalgic Christian male" audience is the audience that turned radical tv network Fox News and radical radio commentator Rush Limbaugh into national sensations, and this is the audience that those conservative media in turn created. The likes of Fox News are responsible for the Donald Trump and Ted Cruz phenomena just like Al Jazeera is responsible for today's Islamic terrorism. In its zeal to attack the USA and the West in general, Al Jazeera ended up praising (directly or indirectly) pretty much anybody who stood up against the West, with the degree of praise being proportional to how staunch the opposition was. Al Jazeera created a fictional world in which the USA invaded Iraq to steal the oil and in which Osama bin Laden either didn't exist or was a nice dude. Al Jazeera ended up creating a mood of "jihad" that is the very reason why so many young people all over the world are willing to become "martyrs". The radical tv network Fox News did the same in the USA. It fueled hostility against the "liberals" who are supposed to steal the "American dream" and created a fictitional world of endemic crisis and decline of the USA. Fox News viewers have no idea that the economic crisis ended in 2012, that unemployment is falling to record lows, that Silicon Valley rules the world and that the dollar is again the strongest currency in the world. The average Fox News listener probably hasn't even realized that gasoline prices are the cheapest in a decade. Fox News relentlessly attacks anything that the Democrats do, and praises those Republicans who oppose the Democrats, with the degree of praise being proportional to how staunch the opposition was. Fox News has been hammering Hillary Clinton over the "email scandal" and over the "Benghazi terrorist attacks". Fox News specializes in creating these huge "scandals" out of nothing whose common goal is to spread the feeling that the USA is on the verge of an apocalyptic economic and military collapse. (Fox News does not mention that Hillary Clinton's Republican predecessors Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice used the same practice for their emails, and that there has been a lengthy and costly inquiry into the Benghazi attacks that killed a handful of US citizens but no inquiry into the 2001 terrorist attacks that killed 3,000 US citizens). No wonder that Fox News ended up creating the same attitude towards "martyrdom" transposed in a democratic system. The Tea Party is the Al Qaeda and ISIS of Fox News. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are the Osama bin Laden and Al Baghdadi of Fox News. The Republican Party won elections thanks to the cunning propaganda unleashed by Fox News 24 hours a day, but now it has to deal with the monsters created by that very propaganda. As Jason Easley wrote: "Fox News has lost control of zombie army that they created. Donald Trump uses the same strategies as Fox News, but in many ways, he does them better."
    Make what you want of it, but this demographic group also happens to coincide with the group for which life expectancy has been decreasing. A Princeton Univ study presented at the National Academy of Sciences in September 2015 ( http://www.pnas.org/content/112/49/15078 ) revealed that the death rate for white men aged 45 to 54 has risen sharply since 1999, counter the general, nation-wide and world-wide trend of longer life expectancy. The causes are varied, but one stands out: suicide.
    Candidates of either party have a realistic shot at winning a presidential election only if they can capture the vote of the independents; but 50% of Republican voters (the Republicans who are likely to go and cast a vote) prefer candidates like Trump and Cruz who sound too radical (and perhaps too ignorant) to appeal to the independents.
    What the other 50% of Republicans likes is not clear because none of the other candidates (the candidates favored by the Republican establishment and the ones who are more likely to get the vote of the independents) has truly found his or her voice. They are too busy defending their record against Trump's insults. They are too busy trying to match Trump's and Cruz's populist rhetoric among that angry base of actual voters. What we can guess is that the other 50% (the moderates) shares an equally strong albeit rational hostility towards the Democratic Party and its "liberal" policies. But who is going to speak out for this 50% if it becomes a minority and the Republican Party gets dominated by the quasi-racist, quasi-fascist, warmongering demagogues?
    Trump can win the nomination of the Republican Party only if he gets all of the 50% who are angry and some of the 50% who are moderates; not a terribly likely scenario (eventually the moderate votes will coalesce around one moderate candidate instead of being disperse among so many) but certainly a growing possibility. If he doesn't win the nomination, Trump is likely to run as an independent, regardless of what he pledged (he specializes in changing his mind and finding perfectly popular excuses for doing so). Whether he gets the Republican nomination (thereby alienating the independents and mobilizing the liberals) or runs as an independent (thereby splitting the conservative ticket), his presence looks increasingly like a gift to Hillary Clinton, which explains why she and the Democratic Party establishment have refrained from attacking him. The Democratic strategists probably see Trump as the best gift they could get. Even better: those angry older white males who support Trump and Cruz have moved so much to the right that they will not vote for a moderate candidate chosen by the Republican establishment. The Democrats feel that, barring a last-minute miracle (like a Mitt Romney resurrection), this presidential election ended the day Trump entered the fray.
    The Republican Party has been happy to win Congressional elections thanks to the emergence of the Tea Party, but the Tea Party may end up sinking not the Democratic Party but the Republican Party itself.
    This is not because Hillary Clinton is popular. In fact, this may be the first election in history in which the two most famous candidates are very unpopular. Both Trump and Clinton score sky-high negative ratings (number of voters who have a negative view of them). That too explains Trump's success: this is an age in which voters are much better at deciding what they don't like than what they like. The world has become too complex, and the media have become too noisy, for older uneducated males to understand it. They are nostalgic of a simpler era, when you didn't need a master in business administration or computer science to get a well-paying job.
    Donald Trump has a record of going after his critics whenever he has the power. He is not shy to threaten publicly the people who attack him, even conservatives like Fox News commentators Megyn Kelly and Glen Beck. He is basically broadcasting loud and clear the message that, should he be elected, he will remember who fought against him and will find ways to damage their careers. And viceversa. That's Mussolini's way, that's Putin's way. It does work. Some get scared (senator John McCain, whom Trump mocked for being taken prisoner during the Vietnam war instead of hailing him as a hero) and others get enticed (like aging radical right-wing celebrity Sarah Palin, who seized the chance to resurrect her waning career).
    In the end, nobody has been able to truly define what Donald Trump represents. Politicians like him tend to seize power during harsh economic times or in war time; but the USA is not in a recession (in fact, unemployment is reaching an all-time low) nor is it at war (there is no military draft). It could be that this is a phenomenon that has more to do with the media than anything else. People resent the media's sensational stories, but at the same time people are influenced by the media's sensational stories and give the media what the media uses to create sensational stories. People dislike that the media creates unworthy celebrities but then the same people tend to follow the celebrities, who are indeed mostly unworthy, and thus people make celebrities even more famous. This is a vicious loop that tends to create a constant sense of dissatisfaction, anger and even panic. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the two leading candidates in this presidential campaign are both unworthy celebrities (Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump). Celebrity is created by the media, and the media are funded by the people; thus the people are getting what they pay for. It has been noted (by mediaQuant) that Donald Trump spent a mere $10 million in paid advertising but received media attention worth about $2 billion. A famous magazine made fun of Sarah Palin's endorsement of Donald Trump, but forgot to mention that both were made famous by the domestic media, not by some obscure conspiracy or by some evil foreign power.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2016 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (january 2016) The US politicians terrorizing the world

    I started writing this article in China, where my website is banned but where i can read about the Republican debates. I just read a summary of the latest Republican debate on foreign policy. Yesterday i was visiting a big city and a young woman was my escort/guide/interpreter. I was comparing notes. On one hand were the smiling, peaceful, friendly, hospitable citizens of this town, everybody happy to meet the Westerner and ready to help out. My friend was singing a simple Buddhist litany while playing with cats and dogs. When asked what she wants from life, she replied "A quiet park where people from all over the world can meditate, meet and have fun". We walked among ordinary families taking a stroll by the lake. There was a general sense of peace and polite coexistence. On the other hand were the speeches of those Republican politicians (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, etc) who are competing to prove who will be tougher on foreign policy, i.e. who will drop the most bombs on other countries. They all agreed that the USA does not spend enough on weapons, when in fact the USA already spends a mindboggling amount on arms, more than the next eight countries combined (those eight countries include China and Russia). The world seen from China is a different world: The USA has military based all around China (Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Pakistan) and a nuclear treaty with India: imagine if China had military bases in Cuba, Jamaica, Canada and a nuclear treaty with Mexico... The Republican candidates seem to compete on the number of foreign civilians that they are ready to kill: Iranians, Chinese, Russians, Afghans, and, of course, especially Muslims. It felt stunning to me that the dictatorship of China has created a population that aspires to peaceful coexistence with the rest of the world and politely welcomes the foreigner, whereas the democracy of the USA has created 1. a generation of warmongering politicians with an insatiable appetite for meddling into the affairs of the rest of the world and 2. a generation of voters who enthusiastically support their blood-thirsty ideologies. The leaders of China think that the best credential to become president is to guarantee peace and prosperity to the Chinese people. The Republican candidates think that the best credential to become president is to kill as many foreigners as possible.
    I am horrified by how the Republican candidates keep demonizing Iran. No matter what Iran does, they keep insisting that the USA should terrorize Iran. Iran is a 4,000-year old country of 80 million people, most of which happen to like the USA, but most of which have suffered because of sanctions that were imposed mostly because of pressures from Iran's enemies, namely the genocidal and racist state of Israel and the medieval theocratical dictatorship of Saudi Arabia, both of which happen to be strong supporters of the Republican Party's military and oil establishments.
    I left China just after a new appalling record was set in the USA: a record number of yearly mass killings. No wonder. I am not sure what the biggest threat to ordinary families of this planet is: Islamic terrorists or ordinary Republicans?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2016 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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