Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Status Quo Revealed

In Your Face,

The United States of Weinstein, Complicity, Greed and Corruption is the Status Quo

FBI documents reveal for the very first time that the Obama administration was well aware of illegal bribery, extortion and money laundering schemes being conducted by the Russians to get a foothold in the atomic energy business in the U.S. before approving a deal that handed them 20% of America's uranium reserves...and resulted in a windfall of donations to the Clinton Foundation... In the run-up to the approval of the deal by the State Department, nine shareholders of Uranium One just happened to make $145mm in donations to the Clinton Foundation.  Moreover, the New Yorker confirmed that Bill Clinton received $500,000 in speaking fees from a Russian investment bank, with ties to the Kremlin, around the same time. 

Monsters Among Us, When can we blacklist the monsters who cause horrific wars across our world at a selfish whim, instead of the few, brave whistle-blowers, who may already be dead or imprisoned? Gordon Duff, USMC Vietnam Vet. Thanks Eleni.

The journalist who led the Panama Papers investigation into corruption in Malta was killed on Monday in a car bomb near her home... Her most recent revelations pointed the finger at Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan... “Everyone knows Ms Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine,” said Muscat at a hastily convened press conference, “both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way”. (He's asked the FBI to help cover-up, er... investigate the murder.)

Caruana Galizia's son, who was at the house as his mother drove away and was blown to pieces, says.
"My mother was assassinated because she stood between the rule of law and those who sought to violate it, like many strong journalists. But she was also targeted because she was the only person doing so. This is what happens when the institutions of the state are incapacitated: the last person left standing is often a journalist. Which makes her the first person left dead."... "A few hours later, while that clown of a Prime Minister was making statements to parliament about a journalist he spent over a decade demonising and harassing, one of the police sergeants who is supposed to be investigating her murder, Ramon Mifsud, posted on Facebook, “Everyone gets what they deserve, cow dung! Feeling happy :)” ... "Yes, this is where we are: a mafia state where you can now change your gender on your ID card (thank God for that!) but where you will be blown to pieces for exercising your basic freedoms. How did we get here?"

One week ago, Jesus Campos, the Las Vegas security guard who got shot just before everybody else got shot, was in a room, about to come out and give 4 interviews. He disappeared and has not been heard of since. Was he going to say something that would crash the official narrative, which is being patched together? Was Jesus murdered?

The True Danger of the North Korea Crisis, It could Cost America it's Allies (yeah, if they die...) Pulling the trigger that assures millions of Korean and Japanese deaths will make sure nobody trusts America again.

US-backed Arab and Kurdish fighters – supported by US airstrikes – has declared victory over ISIS in Raqqa, reclaiming the terror group’s de facto capital for the first time since ISIS first rose to prominence in 2014... Fighters managed to push the last remaining bastions of ISIS fighters out of a hospital and a stadium in the city. The stadium and hospital had become the last major positions held by Islamic State after the departure of some of the group’s fighters on Sunday, leaving only foreign jihadists to mount a last stand. (Paying both sides to fight in somebody else's house while it is being looted,)

"The Kurds have no friends, but the mountains." A free (not "separatist") Kurdish journalist is killed in Syria, his book advocating freedom-in-place, not movement of national boundaries to include oilfields, is unfinished. Making the individual community the basis of political action, while leaving national structures in place, is the goal of the Rojava movement. (Taking control of the oilfields in Kirkuk, Iraq, leaving ISIS to slaughter and rape unarmed civilians in Mosul, was the work of Masoud Barzani's gang, as below.)

The Kurdish independent zone in Iraq won't include the oilfields of Kirkuk. That's been swiftly dealt with by the Iraqi army. (Israel is quietly chuckling at their handiwork.)

Iran: "We will stick to the nuclear deal, if Europe does." US further marginalizes itself (un)diplomatically.

"Make Austria Great Again" and stuff. 31 year old Foreign Minister, Sebastian Kurz, is a charming right-populist-nationalist, soon to become Prime Minister, with a lighter right-populist agenda, than what did not quite fly in the last election. He wants to team up with Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, and keep Immigrant human-waves out. (Again, stop the damned wars in their countries!)

Pepe Escobar looks at "The Spanish Civil War" as the fencers are still circling each other with rapiers drawn and serious looks. No duel necessary. Who is served by this?

First, there is no "Nobel Prize for Economics".  Alfred Nobel never made that. (The Nobel Prize legacy should merely be tarnished, by giving it to Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama, not identity-thefted, by giving it to economists.)
Anyway, this guy Andrew Lo, rubbishes the "rational actor" model of economics. We are not rational, and we are full of tricks and deception, so let's use that to get people to do what we want... "Animal Spirits" with new intellectual instruction manual...

Comparing the amount of energy used for a bitcoin transaction to running his home in the Netherlands, Brosens says: "This number needs some context. 200 kWh is enough to run over 200 washing cycles. In fact, it's enough to run my entire home over four weeks, which consumes about 45 kWh per week costing €39 of electricity (at current Dutch consumer prices)."

Russia's Crypto-Ruble has already gone through a lot of development work and may be ready for prime-time:
"First-mover advantage is important here.  If Russia continues to develop blockchain technology and embrace it in a relatively tax-free way, it won’t matter that it is ‘regulating’ the beautiful decentralized market of cryptos. What will matter is that Russia treats its crypto-investors better than everyone else.  In the fight for global capital flows, you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be slightly better than everyone else.  Arbitrage will take care of the rest. And tax-free ruble/crypto exchange is the killer app that the crypto-market has been looking for to take it to the next level. Russia got there first."

Strange New World

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Externalizing Suffering For Profit

Pigs in a Poke,

Cat sends this story about 2 dying piglets, rescued from a Smithfield Farms horror factory, and their rehabilitation story. We are the same as these pigs to our corporate owners.
The Justice Department’s grave attention to a case of two missing piglets reflects how vigilantly the U.S. government uses extreme measures to protect the agricultural industry — not from unjust economic loss, violent crime, or theft, but from political embarrassment and accurate reporting that damages the industry’s reputation... As I described previously when reporting on the arrest of two young activists — who faced 10 years in prison for freeing minks from farm cages before the animals could be sliced to death and turned into luxury coats — nonviolent animal rights activists are often designated as “terrorists” under the AETA and are treated in the court system as such, even when no human beings are hurt and the economic loss is minimal... The primary purpose of the new 2006 law was to expand the scope of criminal offenses to include plainly protected forms of political protest, and to heighten the legal punishments and intensify social condemnation by literally labeling animal-rights activists as “domestic terrorists.”... Excessive, reckless use of antibiotics common at factory farms can create treatment-resistant bacterial strains capable of infecting and killing humans. There is also increasing awareness that industrial farming meaningfully exacerbates climate problems, with some research suggesting that it produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined... The irreconcilable contradiction of lavishing love and protection on dogs and cats, while torturing and slaughtering farm animals capable of a deep emotional life and great suffering, is becoming increasingly apparent... “Farm animals feel pleasure and sadness, excitement and resentment, depression, fear, and pain. They are far more aware and intelligent than we ever imagined … They are individuals in their own right.”... We consume the products of this barbaric and sociopathic industry.

Eleni sends ths article from Ellen Brown about Puerto Rican bond bankruptcy. The Fed can buy the useless paper at some deep discount. There. It's been done repeatedly in history, including when the Fed bought all the crap securitized mortgages for so many billions of bucks. Then Ellen goes on to make this Jab:  "If the Fed resists the QE alternative, here is another possibility: Congress can audit the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Defense, and retrieve some of the $21 trillion gone missing from their accountings. This massive black money hole, tracked by Dr. Mark Skidmore and Catherine Austin Fitts, former assistant secretary of HUD, is buried on the agencies’ books as “undocumented adjustments” – entries inserted without receipts or other documentary support just to balance the books. It represents money that rightfully belongs to the American people."

Weirdness around the Las Vegas shooting continues to boil. The timeline of when the hotel security guard got shot seems to be easily verified by his cellphone call and walkie talkie calls right afterward, but "these things take time to sort out", according to Police Chief (looking more and more rattled). Campos, the security guard, is hidden, not talking to anybody, nor is his family. This looks like a cover-up. Who shot Campos, and when? Stephen Paddock isn't talking. One plausible rumor is that Paddock was doing government gun-running, like "fast and furious", but to ISIS-USA, and that's where all his money came from. (Nobody can make money playing video poker, but it's a good way to LAUNDER money at a mild loss.)

North Korea is a "Death Ground", according to the classic "Art of War", by Sun Tzu. there is no retreat, only to fight and die and fail or prevail. The US is working to set up a real or "plausible" casus belli for massive military assault, and they know North Korea has had a chance to review some war scenarios and be on a hair trigger to respond.
“A plan to assassinate Kim Jong Un and preparations for a potential nuclear showdown with North Korea were among the trove of South Korean military documents reportedly stolen by Hermit Kingdom hackers.  South Korea’s Defense Ministry did not comment on the alleged hack, which reportedly occurred in September 2016 but was only revealed Tuesday. Rhee Cheol-hee, a lawmaker in South Korea, confirmed the data breach to the BBC. The hack consisted of 235 gigabytes of military documents and about 80 percent of what was stolen hasn’t been identified.

The World Trade Center as "Neutron Collimator", a Russian Nuclear Scientist lays out the physical evidence in support of mini-nuke controlled-demolition of the Twin Towers, including all the molten metal for many weeks later, and the underground "bathtub", melted smooth as glass, and photographed openly. Thanks Bill. Serious food for thought.

The Syrian War, How America Shot Itself In The Foot: Thanks Eleni (I think the point is that America shoots anybody anywhere, including itself, so don't become a target.)

Civilian Casualty

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Under Our Noses

Saving for Volcanic Winter,

Mobilizing 1000 cubic kilometers of magma since 2007, the Yellowstone Volcanic Caldera is ready for prime time. 
Wow, this is a lot different from what we have all been thinking! 
This looks pre-ejaculatory.

The Neolithic Revolution is when humans came out of the last ice age, full of life and energy, then got whacked a thousand years later by about 1200 years of another ice age, and were forced to do intensive farming and move and adapt, and breed the crops that were most responsive to breeding, and also produced a lot of calories that could be stored. The extended comment by helga Vierich provides an excellent fleshing out from a complimentary perspective, after the main article.

Jesse Ventura interviews Dennis Kuchinich on Ron Paul's website, about the duopoly that rules us with such murderous efficiency, Republicrats and Demoblicans and so on. (Can they survive the baptism of lava? Can we?)

The Las Vegas shooting. I don't know what happened. "The Mystery Deepens", by Paul Craig Roberts. Thanks Eleni. (This is like 900 pieces of three 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles poured out of a big box where they were mixed together.)

Russia says the US is not really fighting ISIS, more herding it and supporting it as it moves to keep Syrian armed forces out of Syria's best oilfields, and things like that.
 
North Korean hackers get a hold of US/South-Korean attack plans to decapitate and castrate North Korea. (This transcends Trumpian threats, and he may be stacking his threats on the knowledge of what the North Koreans are holding, just to scare them worse. To what degree was this hack allowed? Was it South Korea's initiative to curry brotherhood with the North, while holding back the US hand? Lots of possibilities...)

Dear Catalans, A Message from the Chairman (We control the EU. The EU owns Spain. Spain owns Catalonia. I'm not really supposed to have to tell you this.)

What's next for Catalan independence (a NATO-centric view of some possibilities for a new Mediterranean warfare-state.) Thanks Eleni

Blockchain is a New Model, that Makes the Existing Model Obsolete (Good explanatory article that assumes global internet functionality and supervolcano not exploding this century. Gold and silver are verifiable at low cost, and don't need the internet, so more viable in post-volcanic-apocalyptic-scenario)

...to the ridiculous, Eminem is Rachel Maddow in a hoodie.

Mansplainin'

Monday, October 9, 2017

Economy Of Lies

Somewhat Misled,

The US Army lost $6.5 Trillion in 2015, and has not yet cooked the books for 2016. Between 1998 and 2015 the Department of Defense and Department of Housing and Urban Development lost $21 Trillion,  Which is approximately the national debt. (Where is that much wealth being diverted?) 

Uncle Sam's Unfunded Promises, John Mauldin. 
Yes, politicians have promised that Social security will pay you  certain amount, but the government is not legally bound. You are legally bound to pay your taxes, and have done so, but the laws change periodically, as politically expedient. Social Security has always been pay-as-you-go, and a cash cow for other projects. $210 Trillion is the total promise-gap.

You may recall the lawsuit from the financial crisis, where large banks like JP Morgan had to pay fines for their longstanding illegal practices during the subprime mortgage fiasco, defrauding state and local governments, investors and home-buyers. They paid $1.4 billion of their fine in cash, as required. The rest was to be paid back to defrauded home-buyers to reduce their mortgages. Their mortgages were reduced. JP Morgan mostly reduced the mortgage payments of home-buyers, whose mortgages it had already sold to investors, letting the investors eat the losses. (If only we were all smart enough to be elite bankers...)

George Soros is funding and guiding the Catalan independence movement. (Now, things make more sense. George always likes to divide people against each other and control their money. It's his style. All that's missing is a color for this revolution.) Thanks Eleni.

Spanish PM Rajoy "will not negotiate", until Catalan independence advocates completely capitulate. That keeps the pot stirred up for Mr Soros. (Look! Tony Blair could mediate negotiations.)

Spanish government spokesman openly hints that Catalan President Puigdemont might end up like a previous president of Catalonia, Luis Companys, did in 1940, if he declares independence. Companys is the only incumbent democratically elected president in European history to have been executed.

Thierry Meyssan has the story of what is going on in Burma, why the Buddhists are exterminating Muslims, and why right-thinking Muslim governments like Saudi Arabia must send armed forces to restore peace, PRONTO. (Oh, it's to block Chinese access to some seaports, as their big investments in rail, pipelines, roads and ports are about to start paying off.) Thanks Eleni.

China used to be an oil exporting country until domestic use ramped up to feed industry and booming economy. China is now the largest global oil importer. All this time, China has pumped more Chinese oil every year. That will reverse or top out next year. China hits peak-Chinese-oil, just at the US hit peak-American-oil in 1971. (Recall the rough spot after that?)

Turkey is working with Al-Qaeda across the border in Syria, again, to block Kurdish consolidation of territory, and to chew up Kurdish, Syrian and Iranian lives in the meat grinder of war. Al-Qaeda in Idleb is called "Hayat Tahrir al-Sham this week. Same trusted contractor; new name. This violates a recent treaty, but it's a lot easier for Turkey.

60% of global biodiversity loss is due to meat based diets. Wow. (A modern chicken has 1/6 the omega-3 fats in it as a 1970s chicken, too.) 
With 23bn chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks and guinea fowl on the planet – more than three per person – the biggest user of crop-based feed globally is poultry. The second largest, with 30% of the world’s feed in 2009, is the pig industry.

For Thousands of years, the English countryside has never been so empty of people and animals as it is now. (Not a money making proposition to grow crops and raise animals the old, sustainable ways, so not happening.)

Costa Rica demonstrates that high quality of life and long life expectancy can be maintained decade after decade without economic expansion. (Heresy!)

My friend, Manuel, the MD in Puerto Rico, called this morning, to say it has been totally weird running a hospital without water. He expects electricity and water to be working very soon. He may be able to send some video of the mayhem eventually. No internet yet, and so on.

The case for wiping out Puerto Rico's debt: About 25% of the debt could have been serviced before Hurricane Maria hit. Spread out the losses...
"First, the large investment houses like Franklin Templeton, Oppenheimer, Citi and JP Morgan, which own large chunks of bonds. These investment houses, however, have vast and diverse holdings in the trillions of dollars that are hedged against just about every eventuality." 
"Second, a host of hedge funds that bought into the Puerto Rico bond market at a discount. These hedge funds have made extraordinary gains on this debt by way of interest-rate payments on the face value of the discounted bonds." 
"Third, small investors who live in Puerto Rico and elsewhere who stand to suffer the most. These investors have no hedges against these losses, and (unlike hedge funds) have not reaped extraordinary gains on Puerto Rican debt." 
"A considerable portion of these bonds are insured by MBIA, Ambac and Assured Guaranty, which are contractually obligated to take over payments, a reality that will cause some shock to their stock prices."

Half of Puerto Rico's 3.4 million people are covered under Medicaid, which gets much less federal funding than it does in states. Medicaid in Puerto Rico is on track to collapse at the end of this year.

Choosing Which Camp

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Paying Cash

Expecting Much Less,


Chris Hedges does a good job of examining the decay within the form of a red-giant type empire, such as the American empire now is. We can see the decay everywhere, but the form lives in our worldview, about like before, until it all starts crumbling fast in the final moments.
"The empire will limp along, steadily losing influence until the dollar is dropped as the world’s reserve currency, plunging the United States into a crippling depression and instantly forcing a massive contraction of its military machine."
Inline image 1

For China, Iran and Russia, as well as other countries, de-dollarization has become a pressing issue. The number of countries that are beginning to see the benefits of a decentralized system, as opposed to the US dollar system, is increasing. Iran and India, but also Iran and Russia, have often traded hydrocarbons in exchange for primary goods, thereby bypassing American sanctions. Likewise, China's economic power has allowed it to open a 10-billion-euro line of credit to Iran to circumvent recent sanctions. Even the DPRK seems to use cryptocurrencies like bitcoin to buy oil from China and bypass US sanctions. Venezuela (with the largest oil reserves in the world) has just started a historic move to completely renounce selling oil in dollars, and has announced that it will start receiving money in a basket of currencies without US dollars. (This is not to mention the biggest change to have occurred in the last 40 years). Beijing will buy gas and oil from Russia by paying in yuan, with Moscow being able to convert yuan into gold immediately thanks to the Shanghai International Energy Exchange. This gas-yuan-gold mechanism signals a revolutionary economic change through the progressive abandonment of the dollar in trade.

Russia and Saudi Arabia announce billions of (seems funny to say) "dollars" worth of deals, as Saudi monarch visits Russia, which is a first. Saudi Arabia will join Turkey, Iran and Syria in purchasing Russian S400 missiles, which can shoot down anything that flies (like most of those Tomahawk cruise missiles the US navy fired at that Syrian airfield in March)

Nicolas Maduro of beleaguered Venezuela, also under US sanctions, and refusing $US for oil, also meets with President Putin on business of mutual concern to their nations.

Russia issues third warning about US cooperation with terrorists in Syria, which is killing Russians and Syrians, and seeking to exclude Syrian forces from retaking their main oilfields from ISIS.

One day after King Salman meets with President Putin, the US announces a halt to joint military operations with Persian-Gulf allies (like Saudi Arabia...)

After reporting earlier in the week that Tillerson had privately criticized Trump, allegedly calling him a “fucking moron”, shortly before the former Exxon CEO was close to submitting his resignation, NBC reported late Thursday that the secretary had been summoned to the White House by Chief of Staff John Kelly for an impromptu meeting to discuss “a path forward.”

This season's hurricane #4, Nate, makes a beeline for New Orleans.

The New Reality of Old Age in America, "I'm gonna work til I die"  Thanks Charles. 

The evacuation of the rumbling and steaming volcanic island of Vanautu. Save your friends and neighbors, is the social norm. I miss that kind of feeling.

Helping Friends

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sorting Laundry

Laundromat Bound,

Florida Governor , Rick Scott declares a state of emergency, because so many Puerto Ricans are coming, any day now. (It actually is going to be really hard.)

Puerto Rico without electricity has no clean water, ATMs full of cash that won't turn on, gas pumps that won't pump, no way to communicate, no washers or dryers, no fans, let alone AC in the hottest season of the year. Ports and airports are running slowly and with increased risks. It will be like that anywhere that electricity goes out. We are all dependent on a functioning grid. It is completely assumed everywhere (except missile silos).

A lot of recriminations against the Trump white house about inadequate aid to Puerto Rico, were only partly deflected by the Twitter attack on NFL football players. The further defense presented here by a Navy Captain is factual and useful, A lot of what could be done had gotten underway before Maria hit. Ships are slower than smartphones. It has been so hard to get factual information about what is being done, that this article is unusually informative. (Neither Donald nor Hillary looks particularly above politics, or completely honest)

This other fairly detailed article, not sourced from an active duty military officer, says most of the armed forces that responded to Harvey and Irma took leave and went home as Maria approached Puerto Rico. The heavy choppers they used were parked. This asserts that high resource levels were provided twice, then mostly called off.

The appearance was meant to be tightly scripted, the Washington Post reported. But as is his custom, the president at the last minute decided to deliver some off the cuff remarks... As the Hill reports, the president appeared in good spirits  during the meeting as he circled the room praising officials in his administration and Puerto Rican officials. When he arrived at OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, Trump ribbed his budget director by saying “Mick is in charge of a thing called the budget.” "I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you've thrown our budget a little out of whack, because we spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that's fine. We saved a lot of lives."

This just in, sounds perfectly sensible, so how to interpret it?
“We are going to work something out. We have to look at their whole debt structure,” Trump said during an interview on Fox News Tuesday. “You know they owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street. We’re gonna have to wipe that out. That’s gonna have to be - you know, you can say goodbye to that. I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs but whoever it is, you can wave good-bye to that.” ... Adding fuel to the fire, Trump's Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has said that "we are not going to bail them out, We are not going to pay off those debts, we are not going to bail out those bond holders.” In an interview, Mulvaney added that "I think what you heard the president say is that Puerto Rico is going to have to figure out a way to solve its debt problem.” (2/3 of the debt is held by "retail investors", not Wall Street. It's unclear what Goldman still holds. Not much, I'd guess...)

President Trump briefs his White House staff and cabinet members on how to properly manage negotiations, while portraying him as a wild-and-crazy-guy. 
Cat's out of the bag. The Rational-Actor model remains in play...

3 participants in a high level meeting report that Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson referred to POTUS, Donald Trump as "a moron" this summer, when he was very close to resigning. Generals Mattis. Kelly and VP Pence really want Tillerson (`who had much higher global status than Trump 3 years ago) to stay, because...
While it is unclear whether Trump was told of Tillerson’s outburst after the Pentagon meeting or to what extent the president was briefed on Tillerson’s plan to resign earlier in the year, Trump will be fully aware now.  While it is certainly possible that Trump would let Tillerson, the question is whether such a move would elevate US foreign policy risks, which will be exposed to the aggressive nature of Trump's tweets without Tillerson to act as a potential buffer. According to NBC, administration officials speculate that Tillerson would be succeeded by Haley if Tillerson were to depart.

Jim Kunstler gives his weekly news update: The day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared that his office was in contact with North Korean officials, the Secretary’s boss, You-Know-Who, tweeted out: “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.” ... There is the matter of Puerto Rico... FEMA and the US Military may be doing all they can now, but they must be on watch for the ominous blossoming of tropical disease epidemics. The story there is far from over. Trump travels there this week. That may be exactly the moment that the Deep State moves to take him down.

This Spanish royal family was installed by Fascist Dictator, Francisco Franco, who trusted them enough that he died in office:
King Felipe VI said Catalan leaders who organized the referendum showed their "disrespect to the powers of the state" adding that "they have broken the democratic principles of the rule of law. "Today, the Catalan society is fractured," the king said, warning that the poll could put at risk the economy of the wealthy autonomous north-eastern region and the whole of Spain. He said that Catalonia’s authorities, “have placed themselves outside the law and democracy, they have tried to break the unity of Spain and national sovereignty”. Offering firm backing to the Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy, Felipe said it was the “responsibility of the legitimate powers of the state to ensure the constitutional order." Felipe also said the Catalan government had “systematically violated the law, demonstrating a disloyalty that is inadmissible” and “undermined the harmony and coexistence in Catalan society.” But he stressed that Spain "will overcome difficult times". (What a poseur!)

Then there is this Austin-Powers-Type Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, who was being followed by a Spanish Police chopper as he drove to the stadium to cast his vote. The turbo-cops were ordered to arrest him and prevent it. He slyly swapped the car he was riding in, when he was in a tunnel, and got to be seen by the world as he voted.

The US is one of the less-filthy dirty shirts in the basket, when it comes to retirement arrangements. This article by John Mauldin is  well researched and well composed, looking at the retirement commitments of the regions of the world, their population projections, and the impossibility of matching them.
We think people can spend 35–40 years working and saving, then stop working and go on for another 20–30–40 years at the same comfort level – but with a growing percentage of retirees and a shrinking number of workers paying into the system. I’m sorry, but that’s magical thinking. And it’s not what the original retirement schemes envisioned at all... As I have pointed out in past letters, when Franklin Roosevelt created Social Security for people over 65 years old, US life expectancy was about 56 years. If the retirement age had kept up with the increase in life expectancy, the retirement age in the US would now be 82. Try and sell that to voters.

Wearing Pajama Bottoms