|Contents||Bulletin||Scripting in shell and Perl||Network troubleshooting||History||Humor|
Skepticism and Pseudoscience > Who Rules America > Neoliberal Brainwashing
|News||An introduction to Neoliberalism||Recommended books||Recommended Links||Neoliberalism war on organized labor||Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich||Globalization of Financial Flows|
|Brexit as the start of the reversal of neoliberal globalization||Neoliberal rationality||Neoliberal "New Class" as variant of Soviet Nomenklatura||Neoliberalism and Christianity||Key Myths of Neoliberalism||Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult||Anti-globalization movement|
|Zombie state of neoliberalism and coming collapse of neoliberalism||Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism||Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure||Definitions of neoliberalism||Neoliberal Brainwashing||Neoclassical Pseudo Theories||US Presidential Elections of 2016 as a referendum on neoliberal globalization|
|Media-Military-Industrial Complex||Neocons||New American Militarism||Casino Capitalism||Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism||War is Racket||Inverted Totalitarism|
|Financial Crisis of 2008 as the Crisis of Neoliberalism and shift to neo-fascism||Neoliberal corruption||Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy||Corruption of Regulators||"Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries||Deconstructing neoliberalism's definition of 'freedom'||Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization|
|Alternatives to Neo-liberalism||Elite Theory||Compradors||Fifth column||Color revolutions||Key Myths of Neoliberalism||Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners"|
|If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths||IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement||Gangster Capitalism||Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA||Neoliberalism and inequality||Blaming poor and neoliberalism laziness dogma||Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime|
|Peak Cheap Energy and Oil Price Slump||The Deep State||Predator state||Disaster capitalism||Harvard Mafia||Small government smoke screen||Super Capitalism as Imperialism|
|The Great Transformation||Monetarism fiasco||Neoliberalism and Christianity||Republican Economic Policy||In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers||Ronald Reagan: modern prophet of profligacy||Milton Friedman -- the hired gun for Deification of Market|
|Libertarian Philosophy||Media domination strategy||Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few||YouTube on neoliberalism||History of neoliberalism||Humor||Etc|
Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare. “There’s class warfare, all right, "Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning."
Make no mistake, the neo-Liberal fuckers are just as bad as the Stalinists
GB: once a great cultured nation, now a poorly-educated gangster mafia state, ruled by oligarchs and inhabited by soccer hooligans
Neoliberalism is a very interesting social system which by-and-large defeated and replaced both New Deal capitalism and socialism (and facilitated the dissolution of the USSR). It is the only social system in which the name of the system is somehow is prohibited by MSM to mention. It is also unstable social system which led to impoverishment of lower 80% of the society and the rise of far right nationalism. After approximately 40 years of global dominance is shows cracks. Backlash against neoliberal globalization became really strong and demonstrated itself in Brexis, election of Trump is defeat of Italian referendum.
It can be defined as "socialism for the rich, feudalism for the poor" or, more correctly "Trotskyism for the rich"("Elites of all countries unite !" instead of “Proletarians of all countries, Unite! ...). Due to the size the introduction was moved to a separate page -- Neoliberalism: an Introduction
|Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2017||Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2016||Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2015||Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2014||Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2013||Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2011||Neoliberalism Bulletin 2009||Neoliberalism Bulletin 2008|
Jun 25, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.comPosted on June 25, 2017 by Lambert Strether
Probably most readers have heard the catchphrase "the Thucydides Trap" used; unsurprisingly, since, like "The Bourne Identity," or "The Andromedra Strain" it's virulently memetic. It was popularized by Kennedy School professor, policy entrepreneur, and fully paid up Blob member Professor Graham Allison (a fervent though maladroit self-publicist) in his book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap? . The Kennedy Center's Belfer School boosts Allison's book as follows:
Today, an irresistible rising China is on course to collide with an immovable America. The likely result of this competition was identified by the great historian Thucydides, who wrote: "It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable."
But the point of Destined for War is not to predict the future but to prevent it. Escaping Thucydides's Trap is not just a theoretical possibility. In four of the 16 cases, including three from the 20th century, imaginative statecraft averted war.
Can Washington and Beijing steer their ships of state through today's treacherous shoals? Only if they learn and apply the lessons of history.
In Destined for War , eminent Harvard scholar Graham Allison explains why Thucydides's Trap is the best lens for understanding the most critical foreign policy issue of our time.
("The best lens"? Really? How would we even know?) Allison, with less heavy breathing, explains in Foreign Policy :
[A]s China challenges America's predominance, misunderstandings about each other's actions and intentions could lead them into a deadly trap first identified by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides. As he explained, "It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable." The past 500 years have seen 16 cases in which a rising power threatened to displace a ruling one. Twelve of these ended in war.
Of the cases in which war was averted - Spain outstripping Portugal in the late 15th century, the United States overtaking the United Kingdom at the turn of the 20th century, and Germany's rise in Europe since 1990 - the ascent of the Soviet Union is uniquely instructive today. Despite moments when a violent clash seemed certain, a surge of strategic imagination helped both sides develop ways to compete without a catastrophic conflict. In the end, the Soviet Union imploded and the Cold War ended with a whimper rather than a bang.
There are only two problems with Allison's thesis: He's wrong about Greece, and he's wrong about China. But before I get to that, two sidebars:
First, The Blob has taken to defending itself by pointing to its role in America's victory over the U.S.S.R. in the Cold War, way back in the '90s; the Belfer Center's call for "imaginative statecraft" and Allison's call for a "surge of strategic imagination" amount to a call to reinforce The Blob's hegemony on China policy based on its track record (which would be why Allison recently briefed staffers at the White House ). My concern is that the same class saying "We got this" on China also said "Hold my beer while we take down Iraq," so I'm very much in "What have you done for us lately?" mode. To be fair, Allison's faction seems determined to use the history of the Peloponnesian War to avoid conflict, while the Kagans, like the good neo-cons they are, used that same history to foment it. Bringing me to my next point:
Second, Allison seems determined to avoid war, which, given our track record setting the Middle East on fire - and the constant beating of war drums by Clintonites and others - comes as a welcome relief. Politico summarizes :
A U.S. military conflict with China would be a global disaster. But while Allison believes it is entirely possible, he does not call it inevitable. His book identifies 16 historical case studies in which an established power like Sparta (or the United States) was confronted with a fast-rising rival like Athens (or China). Twelve of those cases led to war. Four were resolved peacefully. Allison hopes that readers-including officials in the Trump administration-can draw from the latter examples. "I am writing this history to help people not make mistakes," he says.
Mistakes that could occur on the scale of World War I. Allison writes in The Atlantic (2015):
When Barack Obama meets this week with Xi Jinping during the Chinese president's first state visit to America, one item probably won't be on their agenda: the possibility that the United States and China could find themselves at war in the next decade. In policy circles, this appears as unlikely as it would be unwise.
And yet 100 years on, World War I offers a sobering reminder of man's capacity for folly. When we say that war is "inconceivable," is this a statement about what is possible in the world-or only about what our limited minds can conceive? In 1914, few could imagine slaughter on a scale that demanded a new category: world war. When war ended four years later, Europe lay in ruins: the kaiser gone, the Austro-Hungarian Empire dissolved, the Russian tsar overthrown by the Bolsheviks, France bled for a generation, and England shorn of its youth and treasure. A millennium in which Europe had been the political center of the world came to a crashing halt.
And millions dead . Back to Allison on China and Greece. In essence, Allison's critics charge that his rising vs. ruling power paradigm is oversimplified (although, if Allison's intended audience was White House decision makers, especially those who fancy themselves deep thinkers, like strategist Steven Bannon, that may be a good thing).
So, let's ask ourselves two questions:
1) Is China really a "rising power"? (At least as Allison understands the term as applied to Athens.)
2) Was the Peloponnesian War really a conflict between a "rising" Athens and a "ruling" Sparta?
Is China Really a "Rising Power"?
A controversial point, but the University of Pennsylvania's Arthur Waldron argues that China is not, at least, "rising" as Athens was "rising" with respect to Sparta. He writes , aggregating material that NC readers will be familiar with:
China's tremendous economic vulnerabilities have no mention in Allison's book. But they are critical to any reading of China's future. China imports a huge amount of its energy and is madly planning a vast expansion in nuclear power, including dozens of reactors at sea. She has water endowments similar to Sudan, which means nowhere near enough. The capital intensity of production is very high: In China, one standard energy unit used fully produces 33 cents of product. In India, the figure is 77 cents. Gradually climb and you get to $3 in Europe and then - in Japan - $5.55. China is poor not only because she wastes energy but water, too, while destroying her ecology in a way perhaps lacking any precedent. Figures such as these are very difficult to find: Mine come from researchers in the energy sector. Solving all of this, while making the skies blue, is a task of both extraordinary technical complexity and expense that will put China's competing special interests at one another's throats. Not solving, however, will doom China's future. Allison may know this on some level, but you have to spend a lot of time in China and talk to a lot of specialists (often in Chinese) before the enormity becomes crushingly real.
What's more, Chinese are leaving China in unprecedented numbers. The late Richard Solomon, who worked on U.S.-China relations for decades, remarked to me a few weeks before his death that "one day last year all the Chinese who could decided to move away." Why? The pollution might kill your infants; the hospitals are terrible, the food is adulterated, the system corrupt and unpredictable. Here in the Philadelphia suburbs and elsewhere, thousands of Chinese buyers are flocking to buy homes in cash. Even Xi Jinping sent his daughter to Harvard. For the first time this year, my Chinese graduate students are marrying one another and buying houses here. This is a leading indicator ..
Forget the fantasies, therefore, and look at the facts. In the decades ahead, China will have to solve immense problems simply to survive. Neither her politics nor her economy follow any rules that are known. A military solution offers only worse problems.
Perhaps not war, but cultural and political synergy, is what is, in fact, "destined."
In other words, Allison's "ruling" vs. "rising" paradigm is greatly over-simplified. Surely, then, China has "vulnerabilities" that are nothing at all like those of Athens?
Was the Peloponnesian War Really a Conflict Between a "Rising" Athens and a "Ruling" Sparta?
Waldron also aggregates material on a compelling alternative to Allison's paradigm (citing, ironically enough, the Kagans):
Allison's argument draws on one sentence of Thucydides's text: "What made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian Power and the fear which this caused in Sparta." This lapidary summing up of an entire argument is justly celebrated. It introduced to historiography the idea that wars may have "deep causes," that resident powers are tragically fated to attack rising powers. It is brilliant and important, no question, but is it correct?
Clearly not for the Peloponnesian War. Generations of scholars have chewed over Thucydides's text . In the present day, Kagan wrote four volumes in which he modestly but decisively overturned the idea of the Thucydides Trap. Badian did the same.
The problem is that . The Spartans, Kagan tells us, wanted no war, preemptive or otherwise. Dwelling in the deep south, they lived a simple country life that agreed with them. They used iron bars for money and lived on bean soup when not practicing fighting, their main activity. Athens's rival Corinth, which also wanted a war for her own reasons, taunted the young Spartans into unwonted bellicosity such that they would not even listen to their king, Archidamus, who spoke eloquently against war. Once started, the war was slow to catch fire. Archidamus urged the Athenians to make a small concession - withdraw the Megarian Decree, which embargoed a small, important state - and call it a day. But the Athenians rejected his entreaties. Then plague struck Athens, killing, among others, the leading citizen Pericles.
Both Kagan and Badian note that the reason that the independent states of Hellas, including Athens and Sparta, had lived in peace became clear. Although their peoples were not acquainted, their leaders formed a web of friendship that managed things. The plague eliminated Pericles, the key man in this peace-keeping mechanism. Uncontrolled popular passions took over, and the war was revived, invigorated. It would end up destroying Athens, which had started it. Preemption would have been an incomprehensible concept to the Spartans, but war was not, and when the Athenians forced them into one, they ended up victors. The whole Thucydides Trap - not clear who coined this false phrase - does not exist, even in its prime example.
("Then, as his planet killed him, it occurred to Kynes that his father and all the other scientists were wrong, that the most persistent principles of the universe were accident and error" –Frank Herbert.) Again, Allison's "ruling" vs. "rising" paradigm is greatly over-simplified, if only because Athens already had an empire.
In conclusion, and FWIW, I'm all for a "realist" foreign policy (which to me would involve at the very least a drastic pruning of the imperial project, since self-licking ice cream cones and blowback mean it doesn't net out positive except for a very few 10%-ers (in The Blob) and 1%-ers on up (ka-ching). And, well, the Pentagon and the arms merchants, who would otherwise have to find honest work , but you know what I mean ). I'd also be happy not to go to war with China; that would be bad, and if Allison's White House briefing reins in whatever crazypants faction is in control over there (as opposed to the different crazypants faction in control of the Clintonites), then some good will have been done in the world. And I'm all for informing realism with a careful reading of history; in fact, I don't think there's another way to be realist. I just don't think "The Thucydides Trap" is that reading.
 The New Yorker : "[Allison's] book would be more persuasive, however, if he knew more about China. Allison's only informants on the subject appear to be Henry Kissinger and the late Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, both of whom he regards with awe. This leads to some odd contradictions and a number of serious historical howlers. On one page, quoting Kissinger quoting the ancient military strategist Sun Tzu, Allison assures us that China likes to outclass its enemies without using force. On a later page, he warns us that Chinese leaders may use military force 'preemptively to surprise a stronger opponent who would not have done likewise.' Allison says that he wishes, with 'my colleague Niall Ferguson,' to set up a council of historians to advise the U.S. President, and yet his own grasp of history appears to be rather shaky." "Niall Ferguson." Eeew .
 That is, Allison is one of the "several hundred" bureaucrats and, presumably, Flexians who form the de facto "national security directorate" identified by Michael J. Glennon .
 It's worth noting that Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that he doesn't believe the Thucydides Trap applies:
[T]he phrase was coined by Graham Allison, a political scientist at Harvard, in reference to an observation by the Athenian historian Thucydides that the growth in Athens' power led to the fear in Sparta and made war inevitable. Mr. Xi said on Tuesday that "there is no Thucydides Trap" and that the promotion of mutual understanding would help avoid strategic misjudgment by the United States or China.
(Then again, the Rice-Davies Rule applies, does it not?) Other Chinese officials accept the frame, but argue that the trap can be avoided ; as indeed Allison would wish to do.
 I'm leaving out the section where Waldron essentially accuses Allison of "appeasement." dk , June 25, 2017 at 2:19 pmsusan the other , June 25, 2017 at 2:58 pm
So basically, the Thucydides Trap is not a trap, it's a Thucydides Excuse.Thuto , June 25, 2017 at 2:34 pm
+100Quentin , June 25, 2017 at 2:47 pm
I'm not sure if the elucidation of China's vulnerabilities is meant to water down the narrative of China as a rising threat to the pre-eminence of the US as a sole imperialist power. If it is, then the warhawks in the whitehouse could read this article then think they could somehow "ask somebody to hold their beers while they deal with China", which would of course amount to a serious and potentially lethal (on both sides) miscalculation of the situation. Secondly, if outsiders could, with diligent research, become aware of these vulnerabilities, I'm pretty certain the chinese themselves are acutely aware of them and are working actively to devise mitigating strategies. My reading of the situation is that China (add to this its alliance with Russia) is every bit the rising power/threat that it's made out to be and war between the resident and the rising power will only be averted by the dynamic present in the current power struggle which previous historical standoffs lacked: by waging war on China, America would lay waste to much of its, and its western allies, industrial manufacturing infrastructure. If shenzhen lay in ruins from American bombing, wall street would bleed as companies like apple have their value wiped out by having their offshore manufacturing bases flattened. This, imho, is what will avert war between China and the USgnatt , June 25, 2017 at 2:53 pm
Well, would't an Athenian want to put the onus on the fabricated enemy, Sparta? Maybe Thucydides would have pinpointed Russia as Sparta instead of China. No matter, I find the whole idea pretentious goofiness.Lambert Strether Post author , June 25, 2017 at 11:47 pm
nothing you wrote has any bearing on the possibility of a mistake militarily between two military powers maneuvering for power in, say, the south china sea. both allison and you have gotten hung up on concepts such as "rising power" and the weak analogy to ancient greece. Xi Jinping has had himself named "core leader," the first since mao to choose that title. in trump we have the most unstable leader in my lifetime (and this has nothing to do with the warlike hillary or the deep state. this is about egomaniacal and unstable personalities, both of whom feel they have something to prove. an internally messy china is all the more reason for the leaders to look for outside victories, military or economic.if china has proved conciliatory so far in pronouncements on korea for example or in buying american beef, this doesn't mean they will back down in a direct military challenge, which given our current leader, is entirely possible. and in that he might well be backed by the blob. isn't this at least possible? if not, why not.etudiant , June 25, 2017 at 2:57 pm
> nothing you wrote has any bearing on the possibility of a mistake militarily between two military powers maneuvering for power
Consider reading the post:
("Then, as his planet killed him, it occurred to Kynes that his father and all the other scientists were wrong, that the most persistent principles of the universe were accident and error" –Frank Herbert.)
After quoting Allison on how accident removed Pericles from power, "invigorating" war advocates.
I don't know where you got the idea I buy into the "rising"/'ruling" dichotomy. If I implied that, I wrote carelessly.Synoia , June 25, 2017 at 2:59 pm
China currently enjoys the fruits of empire, global access to raw materials and markets, while bearing very little of the burdens. It is doubtful China wants to change that. Indeed, the whole China Sea brouhaha seems deliberately designed to lead the US to discourage a greater and more costly international role by China.
So I'd expect China to remain a peaceful power, increasingly focused on internal problems, which are very substantial, as Waldron highlights above.Tony Wikrent , June 25, 2017 at 3:04 pm
How the Sparta – Athens analogy is relevant is questionable because many of the conditions are very different.
The scale of the US and China vs two very old Cit States, the degree of interconnected trade, and the cross border money flows, all very different between Sparta and Athens.
Nor is the forced (by the US) entry of China into the WTO analogous, the desire to move work to cheap Chinese labor, and China's drive to embrace the US' own trade policies for their own benefit.
In addition, modern economic belief (or dogma) embraces the item of faith that trade ties are key to ending war, by intertwining dependence among economies.
The situations are only parallel when using poor measurements.Mark P. , June 25, 2017 at 3:12 pm
First, I think I know what you mean by "the Blob" but I would be better tuned in with an explanation. Is it the Ivy League educated establishment, clustered around the Council on Foreign Relations? Is it the Eastern Establishment? Does the Blob include Silicone Valley? Does it include elements of the Deep State?
Second, I think that USA surpassing the British Empire at the beginning of the 20th century did result in war, just not between USA and UK. I accept the interpretation that the first war with Germany and the Great Depression resulted from London's desperate maneuvering to maintain British power, particularly the dominance of the Pound as the world's reserve currency. And, of course, the debris of the first war and the Depression led to the Second World War.
Third, the mention of the statistics of capital intensity of production is very interesting. Since the cutbacks in the federal bureaucracy under Reagan in USA, official national income accounting and statistics have become highly suspect, and lack the power to provide an accurate picture of economic health.ennui , June 25, 2017 at 3:16 pm
In essence, Allison's critics charge that his rising vs. ruling power paradigm is oversimplified
To say the least. Allison's 'Thuycdides Trap' is his 'pop' narrative/Cliff Notes version of two rather more sophisticated analytic approaches to this general problem, both of which have occupied better minds than Allison's for decades.
One is Power Transition Theory, in the international relations realm -
The other is in game theory, where there's been lots of work done on Challenger-Defender scenarios as, forex, here -
'Sequential Analysis of Deterrence Games with a Declining Status Quo'
Nobody should buy these two approaches without scepticism either. But Allison's take is, essentially, the equivalent of a Deeprak Chopra self-help book about International Relations.WobblyTelomeres , June 25, 2017 at 3:52 pm
Both Kagan and Badian note that the reason that the independent states of Hellas, including Athens and Sparta, had lived in peace became clear. Although their peoples were not acquainted, their leaders formed a web of friendship that managed things.
I don't know the context this comes from but, on it's face, it's a bizzarely tendentious reading of ancient Greek history. Any basic reading of Thucydides and Herodotus would conclude that the Greek city-states were in an almost constant state of war with each other. Whenever one side got too powerful, the rest would gang up, back and forth and over and over. Add into that the Greek death-cult ie. the belief in the absolute value of an honorable death and you begin to see what the ancient Persians ran into in Greece: a host of cities, with professional, regularly exercised military forces and a desire to die well.
But then, the great irony of the Kagans is how they cheered on America's own expedition to Syracuse, using Thucydides! However, this is Washington DC where reading a book, any book, makes you an intellectual.Tom Stone , June 25, 2017 at 3:42 pm
"this is Washington DC where reading a book, any book, makes you an intellectual."
Well, THAT explains Ted Cruz.I Have Strange Dreams , June 25, 2017 at 3:52 pm
Ennui, does Trump have an autographed copy of "My pet goat"?IowanX , June 25, 2017 at 4:47 pm
If Sparta had 7,000 nuclear warheads and Athens 300, and Thebes 6,000 and well you get the picture. Comparisons to bronze age states' international relations is just a wanking exercise for neocon dickheads with a classical education and no creativity.SufferinSuccotash , June 25, 2017 at 5:41 pm
+100. Thank you IHSD, and Lambert for the post. As Tom Ricks has pointed out, our general officers are not up to snuff. Neither are our "public intellectuals" which is why sites like NC are so important!Steven , June 25, 2017 at 6:06 pm
The 5th century BCE was well past the Bronze Age, but Allison still furnishes a prime example of why you should never get your history from political scientists any more than you should get it from graphic novels or Hollywood.jo6pac , June 25, 2017 at 6:11 pm
This goes beyond "pretentious goofiness". It is an attempt to use history to obscure the present, not to learn from it (history). I don't pretend to be a China scholar or be able to read what's in the minds of its leaders. But it is a pretty safe bet at least some of that leadership is looking for ways to escape the exploitative relationship in which it finds itself with Western nations, especially the United States.
Those huge environmental problems China faces are in large part the product of producing the detritus of products used to sustain the 'American lifestyle' in exchange for more of what Michael Hudson succinctly describes as "debts that can't be repaid (and) won't be".
What's at stake for Western elites is not simply victory in some 'Great Game'. It is an economic relationship in which those elites can continue grabbing the world's resources and wealth by just writing more hot checks (AKA 'financial engineering', backed when required by 'sovereign debt'), more exploitation of the global economy's need for money, for a reserve currency.
Both China and Russia know it is the resources and ability to produce real wealth – not gold-plated weapons and large bank accounts for an elite few – that is the ultimate source of national power.Steven , June 25, 2017 at 6:34 pm
Yes and here's few articles that show what is going inside of China today. China is over 4000yrs old and they and Russia are playing the long game and Amerika is still playing quarter to quarter.
- https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/china-solar-energy/jo6pac , June 25, 2017 at 6:47 pm
China and Russia are playing the long game
That pretty well sums it up. Let's just hope there will be a long game. Especially with Trump, I keep hearing the lyrics of the old Joan Baez song "Blessed Are" (the stay at home millions who want leaders but get gamblers instead).Blennylips , June 25, 2017 at 8:00 pm
Thanks as a Joan Baez lover who can't listen to her voice without crying the song nails it.jo6pac , June 25, 2017 at 11:33 pm
Remarkable, no mention of pollution in your list some fly in that ointment!
2008, just prior to the Olympics, traveled Beijing to Urumqi by bus and train (total solar eclipse). Pollution levels mind numbing and debilitating and deadly.
way underestimatedAndrew Watts , June 25, 2017 at 6:12 pm
At lest China is working on it as my last link points out. Yes they have a long way to go but something tells me they will b there before Amerika and that goes for Russia also. If you look around there is even more on China and energy.hush / hush , June 25, 2017 at 7:14 pm
The whole concept of the Thucydides Trap is in essence a mythological truth. Like virtually any other myth it tells small lies in the course of revealing a greater truth. Nothing is inevitable until it actually happens.
It's appealing to people who are not avid zealots of the school of historical determinism and equally repulsive to believers of that creed. It's a curious dichotomy at any rate.H. Alexander Ivey , June 25, 2017 at 9:40 pm
I find it interesting how much of the broader story of the Peloponnesian War seems to be overlooked in this whole narrative of a "Thucydides Trap":
1) Athens gained its empire by leading the sea contingent of Greek forces against the vastly superior forces of an invading Persian army and, against all odds, winning. This unlikely success led Athens to form the Delian League to defend against future Persian incursion. Only gradually did the Delian League become an implement of Athenian empire and even then
2) The "empire" was more of a treaty organization and a pretty loose and self-contradictory one. Eventually, it got to the point where Athens (mostly) built, maintained and manned the entire Greek navy while the other cities and colonies paid taxes to sustain it. When Persia's power wained Greek city states and western colonies got tired of paying Athens to maintain this huge navy (when most of the specific benefits accrued to Athens) but the Ionian colonies - many of which were actually in Asia - still feared Persian (Eastern) intervention and were content with the status quo. It was a recipe for catastrophe
3) The Peloponnesian War was tragic and potentially avoidable but there was a lot going on internally in the Greek world that fed it and I surely do not see anything resembling such a simple dynamic as "a rising power vs. established power."
4) Athens and Sparta never really beat each other and generally avoided direct engagement Athens only lost when it tried to invade and humble the powerful colony of Syracuse in today's Sicily (which paid a lot to help maintain that huge Greek navy and saw little benefit and did not fear Eastern intervention and thus became a huge thorn in Athens' side.) The Greek (Athenian) navy was destroyed in Syracuse by a combination of hubris, bad choices and acts of God. Only after Syracuse were the Spartans able to take the fight to Athens and win.
5) The outcome of the Peloponnesian War(s) were mixed. The defeat of Athens and the retreat of Sparta into its customary isolation meant the end of Greek independence. Within a generation Greece was conquered by the Macedonians, never to be independent again. But following on the triumphs of Alexander the Great, Greek culture and art has been present and incredibly important throughout the West and Near East ever since.Disturbed Voter , June 25, 2017 at 7:42 pm
If I could get this kind of executive summary in Wikipedia, I would be estatic. But I don't so one day I'm going to get a complete set of Encyclopedia Brittania, hardcopy , and go back to the old days of "checking out things" at the library.hush / hush , June 25, 2017 at 10:21 pm
Historical myopia. The Peloponnesian War wasn't a two way contest Persia was involved as a third party, first financially supporting one, then the other. It wasn't just the disaster in Syracuse that did Athens in it was the Persians paying for a Spartan fleet that could face down a weakened Athenian fleet.
And Athens not only lost their early leader to plague, but had a traitor in their midst, the original sociopathic grifter Alcibiades. In what way is there a third party in this modern analogy?
Russia. Russia won't want either China or the US to be too powerful. Who is playing the role of Alcibiades?VietnamVet , June 25, 2017 at 8:02 pm
Good points. My understanding is that Persia was certainly looking for advantage but that it is not clear that their intrigue was decisive. Alcibades is an interesting character. He strikes me as a consummate opportunist less than a "sociopathic grifter" or 5th columnist.
I find it interesting that Athens had enough of a functioning and confident democracy to (effectively) ostracize Alcibades in the first place.
I can't imagine our democracy forcing any of our oligarch's to stop all involvement in politics, to preclude them from contributing money to political causes and to legally restrain them from meeting or conversing with politicians and lobbyists which was, essentially, the role ostracism was meant to play.
Maybe we should bring ostracism back! It would be revealing to see which of our "patriotic job creators" would flee America to work with the Saudis or Chinese, or any number of foreign actors with their power and prestige cut off domestically. Plague was an important factor all around. A wild card, kinda like climate changeOregoncharles , June 25, 2017 at 8:09 pm
There is the problem of comparing China to Greece. China was already an Empire in 500 BC. I do think humans and society act according to clichés. "Grass is greener on the other side of the hill." Cultures move and clash. Wars are fought over resources.
The West is a newcomer. Its culture was ascendant from the 17th to 20th century thanks to engineering and science but that advantage was sold to the Chinese so a few western oligarchs could get wealthier. The problem isn't the Chinese or the Communist Party. The Chinese are on the move like they always have been.
The Atlantic Alliance has seven thousand hydrogen bombs. When the West collapses due to the people withdrawing their consent to be governed due to the forever wars and austerity, it could well take the rest of the world with it.RBHoughton , June 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm
Something I've wondered about for a long time:
" China is poor not only because she wastes energy but water, too, while destroying her ecology in a way perhaps lacking any precedent. Figures such as these are very difficult to find: Mine come from researchers in the energy sector. Solving all of this, while making the skies blue, is a task of both extraordinary technical complexity and expense that will put China's competing special interests at one another's throats. Not solving, however, will doom China's future."
China has no margin; its resource base isn't up to its population, and if this is right, neither is its technological base. Granted, the Netherlands and Japan have similar ratios, but both are much smaller and less diverse, and neither is a world power in the sense China is rising toward. (frankly, I don't know how either country does it.)
Essentially, the margin beyond dire necessity is what you use to project power. China is so huge that even a small margin amounts to a lot, but that's also a very shaky construct, the other aspect the quoted author points out. I wouldn't count on China becoming a full-scale world power, or even on the regime lasting much longer. They've had a remarkably good run as it is.Damson , June 25, 2017 at 9:07 pm
There is something from ancient Greece that we might revisit – the adoption of democracy was one part of a two-part initiative. The other was the creation of theatre in which Sophocles and Euripides were able to explore the hard choices of politics and put them before the newly empowered people. We have mostly lost that today but one gets an inkling of its force in "The Trojan Women" which was filmed in 1970sThe Rev Kev , June 25, 2017 at 9:18 pm
What about OBOR, BRICS, SCO (the latter has India and Pakistan, historical foes now in the fold)?
This is where the perception of 'China rising' is coming from, as a Eurasia leader in a geopolitical shift that bypasses US maritime hegemony.
It's internal problems are significant, but no more so than the US.
Arguably considerably less so, since OBOR is a huge investment plan to project Chinese tradecraft far beyond its own borders.
With cheap gas from its strategic economic and military partnership with Russia, and a network of transport infrastructure transfiguring McKinder's 'world child' – from Vladivostok to Lisbon – OBOR is a geopolitical seismic game changer.
Not for nothing are the drums of war being beaten by the Blob .surtt, June 25, 2017 at 11:54 pm
For some 70 years now the US Navy has been treating the Chinese coastline as its own personal boating lake. It is only now that the Chinese has developed its own missile defense grid and pushed them back out to sea that this whole concept of the 'Thucydides Trap' has been dredged out of the history books as a lens for viewing US/Chinese relations with.
Probably the Punic Wars might be a more worrying comparison when you think about it but nobody wants to talk about that because of what happened to Carthage whereas Athens was treated magnanimously by the victorious Spartans.
It is no secret that the US military have for a long time thought of themselves as the new Spartans (except for the gay bits) which may be why you see US tanks sport the Spartan Λ symbol. Culturally, however, the US is much more like the Athenians as can be seen in hush / hush's account as well as that of Kagan in this post. Sorry, but the current approach of surrounding China with US bases and parking THAAD missiles in Korea will not work to keep China down. The Chinese have already set up island bases to outflank this chain of bases and they are not going away.
Instead of dragging some ancient war out of the textbooks and forcing all current events to fit through the lens of this event (or should that be a Procrustean bed?) how about we simply see things as they are. I think that it was Bismarck that said that if you showed him a map of a country that he would tell you the foreign policy of that country. The map the Chinese are seeing is their country surrounded by hostile military bases hence their push back which we now call aggressiveness and arrogance – huh? China has a great future as part of the world community but treated as a always hostile enemy may end up making the perception the reality.
Sure hubris could turn the Chinese hostile down the track but trying to lock them up militarily will only ensure so.I think everyone is missing a huge point. China is not fast-rising rival like Athens, it was grow by US companies.
Jun 25, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.comPosted on June 24, 2017 by Yves Smith The lead story at the Wall Street Journal describes how Uber, with its top ranks decimated and the company now run by an unwieldy 14 member committee, is begging employees to stay. From the Journal :
In the days after Travis Kalanick stunned Uber Technologies Inc.'s more than 15,000 employees by resigning as chief executive, the company's senior leaders made impassioned pleas reassuring them it is worth sticking around .
Months of unflattering headlines and an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and sexism at Uber have taken a toll. In interviews, some employees expressed sadness over the company's now-tainted reputation, while others said they were upset with management for allowing its dirty laundry to be aired. Some said they were hopeful Uber could restore its reputation after adopting nearly 50 changes to improve its culture that resulted from an internal investigation into workplace conduct by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's law firm
Some employees said the uncertainty has made it hard to work, especially as they have watched co-workers pack up their desks. Others said they are considering leaving, fearful that Uber could face a struggle to raise new funds. On the other hand, some worry about missing on out a big payday if they leave before their stock options fully vest, which takes four years, or before a reinvention of the company culture.
"People are leaving because they feel like it's on fire," said Nora Hamada, a recruiter with Mirus Search, who said she has helped a handful of Uber employees find work at other startups.
The Wall Street Journal pointed out that waiting for stock options to vest could lead some workers to stay on, but that Uber made them less juicy as its valuation skyrocketed. From a New York Times story earlier this month :
Since at least 2015, Uber has offered employees different versions of the share buyback program. In general, employees who have worked at the company four years and have been granted stock options meaning the ability to buy a certain number of shares from the company at a low price - may sell part of those options back to Uber at a locked-in price. Uber pays the employee for those options over several months.
The idea behind the program is that employees can turn some of their paper wealth into cash while still working at Uber. If they quit before the entire amount is paid, the payments stop.
Such a buyback targets early employees because participants must have worked at Uber four years or more. About two years ago, when Uber had fewer than 2,000 full-time employees, it stopped issuing stock options in compensation packages and instead issued restricted stock units, which the company is not permitted to repurchase. Uber now has about 14,000 employees.
As Lambert demonstrated this week in Links, none of the initial stories on Kalanick's ouster as CEO questioned Uber's business model or lack of a credible path to profits. That's starting to change. From a Financial Times story, Can Uber ever make money? :
the challenge now will be to shift Uber's model from one that has been very successful at revenue growth, to one that is more financially sustainable and, eventually, profitable.
Some economists say there was no obvious way to do that
"There is no clear pathway I can see for Uber to go from a high-revenue growth company to a profitable company," says Aswath Damodaran, a professor of finance at the Stern School of Business. "Normally the story for start-ups is that as revenues grow economies of scale will kick in, but that story is tough to tell with Uber." .
Uber has between $6.5bn and $7bn of unrestricted cash in the bank, with a further $2.3bn untapped line of credit. This could cover the company's cash needs for roughly three more years, extrapolating from its losses during the first quarter of this year .
The fact that switching costs are so low between one service and the other - both drivers and riders can easily flip between the apps - means that it can be hard for Uber to defend its market dominance.
In comments, reader Nick Name pointed out:
It is just an app, nothing more. Amazon have built a formidable distribution machine, Google's IP is unassailable, even Netflix is now creating some unique content, but Uber could be replicated by a proficient teenager.
Even beyond that the fundamental flaw in their model is that there is no inherent penalty in a driver working for multiple networks nor for the customer using multiple networks. In fact it makes economic sense for the drivers to do this as they can play the networks against each other. In the world where uber owns a fleet of autonomous vehicles first mover advantage would have been huge and unassailable. This is decades away however and I doubt uber will still be around then (not to mention the fact that the motor giants are probably perfectly capable of running their own fleets).
The Journal described in some detail how Liane Hornsey, chief of human resources, and Frances Frei, senior vice president of leadership and strategy, both of whom recently joined the company, are shaking up performance reviews and other policies. For instance:
Rather than numerically ranking employees against one another based on performance and potential career trajectory, and linking the ranking directly with pay, Uber is encouraging managers to help their teams set three or four business goals and broader "citizenship" goals for the company, employees said. Other changes include training in diversity and adopting a version of the "Rooney Rule," which requires hiring managers to interview diverse candidates for all open positions .
Who gets paid and who gets promoted send the strongest signals to employees as to what a company really cares about. But it's way too early to tell how these new programs will relate to pay. Moreover, younger workers famously want very specific feedback and individual assessment. A lot of workers may be less than keen about team-based approaches, not just because it's by design a big departure from what management hopes will be the old Uber, but also because it seems to go against the grain of the preferences of self-perceived tech stars. Plus with so many top slots open, particularly that of the CEO, who knows how many of these new initiatives will turn out to be provisional or wind up being treated as corporate eyewash.
And on top of that, there's a rearguard action underway:
Some employees are standing by Mr. Kalanick. More than 1,000 signed an internal petition demanding that the board reinstall him. "Employees, we need to revolt this!" read the petition, reviewed by the Journal.
Some employees also have friends and colleagues urging them to quit:
"There's a lot of peer pressure to quit Uber to work at a more ethical company," Ms. Hamada said. Female employees she has spoken with in particular feel pressured by friends and peers at other tech firms to leave, she said.
And this Mercury News story Friday, Uber sanctioned for refusing to comply with Moraga sexual battery investigation, judge calls company's record "horrific" , sure won't help:
Uber was sanctioned Friday for its failure to comply with a search warrant for records on a driver suspected of sexually battering a female passenger for more than 10 minutes, with a judge calling its reputation for dealing with law enforcement "horrific."
Before imposing a $1,000 sanction, which takes effect Monday if Uber hasn't submitted the records by then, Judge Clare Maier blasted the ride hailing company for its history of failing to cooperate with law enforcement, and said she was "very concerned" the company had an "ulterior motive" for its noncompliance in the Beker case.
$1,000? No wonder the company is thumbing its nose at the judge. But now is one of the few times that a story like this can do actual harm to the local ride company.
So Uber drama will continue to keep reporters busy. Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch.Ignacio , June 24, 2017 at 3:40 amPlutoniumKun , June 24, 2017 at 8:33 am
This is why NC is my favourite site for news and analyses. Having followed the excellent series of articles by Hubert Horan about UBER, this doesn't come as a surprise for me.
I want to mention an off topic, but related issue regarding Airbnb and regulatory issues around these new business models based on internet services. In this case, home rental is being abused by many parties.
Barcelona to fine Airbnb and HomeAway €600,000 each for offering 'illegal' accommodation
Watch Airbnb's answer:
In response, Airbnb slammed "outdated rules that protect existing industries and threaten what is an economic lifeline for thousands of citizens".
Outdated rules means that a municipality cannot exert control on the destiny of its buildings/houses and drive the general arrangement of uses, services etc. to facilitate city management, avoid decay of particular zones, fiscal abuses etc.
This shows that companies like Airbnb represent, more than many other companies, the ultraliberal stablishment. Somehow, the new bussiness models try to bring the oldest, outdated, laissez-faire principles of early capitalism. I agree that some rules are outdated. We need NEW, modern rules and controls adapted to properly regulate these services. I feel that the tide is changing for these companies and in general the neoliberal current is loosing stream. For instance, the spanish socialists have recently joined other european socialist parties to reject CETA (the Canada-UE "free-trade" treaty).
Hey Yves, Hubert. Good job!!!
Thats increasingly the attitude of private owners too. Some apartment owning companies ban short lets and sub-lets outright. I'm on the management committee of my building (every apartment owner is a voting member), and there is no demand for an outright ban – some people are away for months of the year due to their work and want the right to sub-let – but nobody wants an AirBNB activity, its too much of a security threat. The general consensus of members is that if people manage tenants closely, its not a problem, but holiday lets are too high a risk. I've no doubt that this consensus may change if further problems arise.
I should say that that the biggest problem we've had are not holiday lets – its from irresponsible landlords who don't keep an eye on longer term tenants. This is the number one issue that keeps getting raised in board meetings.
May 04, 2000 | economistsview.typepad.com
The other day I was surprised to learn that Jeffrey Sachs, the creator of "shock therapy" capitalism, who participated in the looting of Russia in the 1990s, is now NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo's top adviser for health care. So we in NY will get shock therapy, much as the Russians did two decades ago.
Here is a story I wrote for The Wanderer in 2000:
How Clinton & Company & The Bankers Plundered Russia
by Paul Likoudis
In an ordinary election year, Anne Williamson's Contagion would be political dynamite, a bombshell, a block-buster, a regime breaker.
If America were a free and democratic country, with a free press and independent publishing houses (and assuming, of course, that Americans were a literate people), Williamson's book would topple the Clinton regime, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the rest of the criminal cabal that inhabits the world of modern corporate statism faster than you could say "Jonathan Hay."
Hay, for those who need an introduction to the international financial buccaneers who control our lives, was the general director of the Harvard Institute of International Development (HIID) in Moscow (1992-1997), who facilitated the crippling of the Russian economy and the plundering of its industrial and manufacturing infrastructure with a strategy concocted by Larry Summers, Andre Schliefer (HIID's Cambridge-based manager), Jeffrey Sachs and his Swedish sidekick Anders Aslund, and a host of private players from banks and investment houses in Boston and New York - a plan approved and assisted by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Contagion can be read on many different levels.
At its simplest, it is a breezy, slightly cynical, highly entertaining narrative of Russian history from the last months of Gorbachev's rule to April 2000 - a period which saw Russia transformed from a decaying socialist economy (which despite its shortcomings, provided a modest standard of living to its citizens) to a "managed economy" where home-grown gangsters and socialist theoreticians from the West, like Hay and his fellow Harvardian Jeffrey Sachs, delivered 2,500% inflation and indescribable poverty, and transferred the ownership of Russian industry to Western financiers.
Williamson was an eyewitness who lived on and off in Russia for more than ten years, where she reported on all things Russian for The New York Times, Th e Wall Street Journal, and a host of other equally reputable publications. She knew and interviewed just about everybody involved in this gargantuan plundering scheme: Russian politicians and businessmen, the new "gangster" capitalists and their American sponsors from the IMF, the World Bank, USAID, Credit Suisse First Boston, the CIA, the KGB - all in all, hundreds of sources who spoke candidly, often ruthlessly, of their parts in this terrible human drama.
Her account is filled with quotations from interviews with top aides of Yeltsin and Clinton, all down through the ranks of the two hierarchical societies to the proliferating mass of Russian destitute, pornographers, pimps, drug dealers, and prostitutes. Some of the principal characters, of course, refused to talk to Williamson, such as Bill Clinton's longtime friend from Oxford, Strobe Talbott, now a deputy secretary of state and, Williamson suspects, a onetime KGB operative whose claim to fame is a deceitful translation of the Khrushchev Memoirs. (A KGB colonel refused to confirm or deny to Williamson that Clinton and Talbott visited North Vietnam together in 1971 - though he did confirm their contacts with the KGB for their protests against the U.S. war in Vietnam in Moscow. See especially footnote 1, page 210.)
The 546-page book (the best part of which is the footnotes) gives a nearly day-by-day report on what happened to Russia; left unstated, but implied on every page, is the assumption that those in the United States who think what happened in Russia "can't happen here" better realize it can happen here.
Once the Clinton regime and its lapdogs in the media defined Russian thug Boris Yeltsin as a "democrat," the wholesale looting of Russia began. According to the socialist theoreticians at Harvard, Russia needed to be brought into the New World Order in a hurry; and what better way to do it than Sachs' "shock therapy" - a plan that empowered the degenerate, third-generation descendants of the original Bolsheviks by assigning them the deeds of Russia's mightiest state-owned industries - including the giant gas, oil, electrical, and telecommunications industries, the world's largest paper, iron, and steel factories, the world's richest gold, silver, diamond, and platinum mines, automobile and airplane factories, etc. - who, in turn, sold some of their shares of the properties to Westerners for a song, and pocketed the cash, while retaining control of the companies.
These third-generation Bolsheviks - led by former Pravda hack Yegor Gaidar, grandson of a Bolshevik who achieved prominence as the teenage mass murderer of White Army officers, now heads the Moscow-based Institute for Economies in Transition - became instant millionaires (or billionaires) and left the Russian workers virtual slaves of them and their new foreign investors.
When Russian members of the Supreme Soviet openly criticized the looting of the national patrimony by these new gangsters early in the U.S.-driven "reform" program, in 1993, before all Soviet institutions were destroyed, Yeltsin bombed Parliament.
Ironically, when Harvard's Sachs and Hay started identifying Russians they could work with, they ignored - or shunned - the most capable talent at hand: those numerous Russian economists who for 20 years had been studying the Swiss economist Wilhelm von Roepke and his disciple, Ludwig Erhard, father of Germany's "economic miracle" in anticipation of the day when Communism would collapse.
Somewhat sardonically, Williamson notes that one, probably unintended, benefit of Gorbachev's perestroika was the recruitment of these Russian economists by top U.S. universities.
In the new, emerging global economy, it's clear that Russia is the designated center for heavy manufacturing - just as Asia is for clothing and computers - with its nearly unlimited supply of hydroelectric power, iron and steel, timber, gold and other precious metals.
This helps explain why America's political elites don't give a fig about the closing down of American industries and mines. As Williamson observes, Russia is viewed as some kind of "closet."
What is important for Western readers to understand - as Williamson reports - is that when Western banks and corporations bought these companies at bargain basement prices, they bought more than just industrial equipment. In the Soviet model, every unit of industrial production included workers' housing, churches, opera houses, schools, hospitals, supermarkets, etc., and the whole kit-and-caboodle was included in the selling price. By buying large shares of these companies, Western corporations became, ipso facto, town managers.
On another level, Contagion is about the workings of international finance, the consolidation of capital into fewer and fewer hands, and the ruthless, death-dealing policies it inflicts on its target countries through currency manipulation, inflation, depression, taxation and war - with emphasis on Russia but with attention also given to Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, the Balkans, and other countries, and how it uses its control over money to produce social chaos.
Those who read Williamson's book will find particularly interesting her treatment of the Federal Reserve, and how this "bank" was designed to plunder the wealth of America through war, debt, and taxation, in order to maintain what is nothing more nor less than a giant pyramid scheme that depends on domination of the earth and its resources.
Williamson is of that small but noble school of economics writers who believe that the academic field of economics is not some esoteric science that can only be comprehended by those with IQs in four digits, and she - drawing on such writers as Hayek and von Mises, Roepke and the late American Murray Rothbard - explains in layman's vocabulary the nuts and bolts of sound economic principles and the real-world effects of the Fed's policies on hapless Americans.
Contagion also serves up a severe indictment of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the other international "lending" agencies spawned by the Council on Foreign Relations and similar "councils" and "commissions" which are fronts for the big banks run by the Houses of Rockefeller, Morgan, Warburg, et al.
The policies inflicted on Russia by the banks were cruel to the Nth degree; but the policy implementers - Williamson employs the derogatory Russian word m yakigolovy ("soft-headed ones") applied to the Americans - were a foppish lot, streaming into Russia by the thousands (the IMF, alone, with 150 staffers) with their outrageous salaries and per diem allowances, renting out the finest dachas, bringing in their exotic consumer goods, driving up prices for goods and rents, spurring a boom in the drug and prostitution businesses, and then watching, cold-heartedly, the declining fortunes of their hosts as they lost everything - including the artistic heritage of the country.
Williamson describes brilliantly that heady atmosphere in Moscow in the early days of the IMF/USAID loan-scamming: a 24-hour party. There were bars like the Canadian-operated Hungry Duck, which lured Russian teenage girls into its bar with a male striptease and free drinks, "who, once thoroughly intoxicated, were then exposed to crowds of anxious young men the club admitted only late in the evening."
The Third Level
At a third and more intriguing level, Contagion is about America's criminal politics in the Clinton regime, and, inevitably, the reader will put Williamson's book down with the sense that Al Gore will be the next occupier of the White House.
Gore, who was raised to be President, has impeccable Russian connections. His father, of course, was Lenin financier Armand Hammer's pocket senator, and it was Hammer who paid for Al Jr.'s expensive St. Alban's Prep schooling; and, as Williamson reports, Al Jr.'s daughter married Andrew Schiff, grandson of Jacob, who, as a member of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., underwrote anti-czarist political agitation for two decades before Lenin's coup, and congratulated Lenin upon his successful revolution.
Williamson also documents Gore's intimate involvement with powerful Wall Street financial houses, and his New York breakfast meeting with multibillionaire George Soros (a key Russian player) just as the Russian collapse was underway.
Williamson tells an interesting story of Gore's response to the IMF/World Bank/USAID plunder of U.S. taxpayers for the purpose of hobbling Russia.
By March 1999, Russia was now a financial basket case, and billions, if not tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer-backed loans had vanished into the secret bank accounts of both Russian and American gangster capitalists, and the news was starting to make little vibrations on Capitol Hill. "The U.S. administration's response to the debacle was repulsively similar to a typical Bill Clinton bimbo-eruption operation: Having ruined Russia by cosseting her in debt, meddling ignorantly in her internal affairs, and funding a drunken usurper, his agents denied all error and slandered ('slimed') her," writes Williamson.
"Pundits and academics joined government officials in bemoaning Mother Russia's thieving ways, her bottomless corruption and constant chaos, all the while wringing their soft hands with a schoolmarm's exasperation. Russia's self-appointed democracy coach Strobe Talbott ('Pro-Consul Strobe' to the Russians) would get it right. An equally sanctimonious Albert Gore - the same Al Gore who'd been so quick to return the CIA's 1995 report detailing Viktor Chernomyrdin's and Anatoly Chubais' personal corruption with the single word 'Bullshit' scrawled across it - took the low road and sniffed that the Russians would just have to get their own economic house in order and cut their own deal with the IMF. . . ."
The cost to the American taxpayers of Clinton regime bailouts in a three-and-a-half-year period, Williamson notes, is more than $180 billion! The "new financial architecture" Clinton has erected, she writes, "isn't new at all, but rather something the international public lenders have been wanting for decades, i.e., an automatic bailout for their own bad practices."
As the extent of the corruption of the Clinton-Yeltsin "reform" plan for Russia unfolded last year, with the attendant Bank of New York scandal, the mysterious death of super banker Edmond Safra in his Monte Carlo penthouse, the collapse of the Russian stock market, and the whiplash effect in Southeast Asia, Congress was pressed to hold hearings.
What resulted, as Williamson accurately narrates it, was just a smoke screen, show hearings that barely rose above the seriousness of a Gilbert and Sullivan farce - though they did result in proposed new domestic banking laws that, if passed, will effectively make banks another federal police force responsible for reporting to the U.S. government the most minute financial transactions of U.S. citizens.
In this regard, it is instructive to quote Williamson at length: "If the FBI, [Manhattan District Attorney] Robert Morgenthau, or Congress were serious about getting to the bottom of the plundering of Russia's assets and U.S. taxpayers' resources, they would show far more professional interest in exactly what was said and agreed in the private meetings [U.S. Treasury secretary] Larry Summers, Strobe Talbott, and [former Treasury Secretary] Robert Rubin conducted with Anatoly Chubais [former Russian finance minister, who oversaw the distribution and sale of Russian industries], and Sergie Vasiliev [Yeltsin's principal legal adviser, and a member of the Chubais clan], and later Chubais again in June and July of 1998.
"Instead of allowing Larry Summers to ramble casually in response to questions at a banking committee hearing, the Treasury secretary should be asked exactly who suckered him - his Russian friends, his own boss [former Harvard associate Robert Rubin, his boss at Treasury who was once cochairman at Goldman Sachs], or private sector counterparts of the Working Committee on Financial Markets [a White House group whose membership is drawn from the country's main financial and market institutions: the Fed, Treasury, SEC, and the Commodities & Trading Commission]. . . . Or did he just bungle the entire matter on account of wishful thinking? Or was it gross incompetence?
"The FBI and Congress ought to be very interested in establishing for taxpayers the truth of any alleged 'national security' issues that justified allowing the Harvard Institute of International Development to privatize U.S. bilateral assistance. It too should be their brief to discover the relationship between the [Swedish wheeler-dealer and crony of Sachs, Anders] Aslund/Carnegie crowd and Treasury and exactly what influence that relationship may have had on the awarding of additional grants to Harvard without competition. On what basis did Team Clinton direct their financial donor, American International Group's (AIG) Maurice Greenberg (a man nearly as ubiquitous as any Russian oligarch in sweetheart public-funding deals), to Brunswick Brokerage when sniffing out a $300 million OPIC guarantee for a Russian investment fund. . . . And why did Michel Camdessus [who left the presidency of the IMF earlier this year] announce his sudden retirement so soon after Moscow newspapers reported that a $200,000 payment was made to him from a secret Kremlin bank account? . . .
"American and Russian citizens can never be allowed to learn what really happened to the billions lent to Yeltsin's government; it would expose the unsavory and self-interested side of our political, financial, and media elites. . . . Instead, the [House] Banking Committee hearings will use the smoke screen of policing foreign assistance flows to pass legislation that will effectively end U.S. citizens' financial privacy while making them prisoners of their citizenship. . . . The Banking Committee will use the opportunity the Russian dirty money scandal presents to reanimate the domestic 'Know Your Customer' program, which charges domestic banks with monitoring and reporting on the financial transactions in which middle-class Americans engage. This data is collected and used by various government agencies, including the IRS; meaning that if a citizen sells the family's beat-up station wagon or their 'starter' home, the taxman is alerted immediately that the citizen's filing should reflect the greater tax obligation in that year of the sale. . . . Other data on citizens for which the government has long thirsted will also be collected by government's newest police force, the banks. . . ."
You see, as this book explains, the Clinton's Russia policy did not just plunder Russians, leaving them destitute while creating a new and ruthless class of international capitalist gangsters at U.S. taxpayer expense; it had the double consequence of bringing all Americans deeper into the bankers' New World Order by increasing their debt load, decreasing their privacy, and restricting their civil rights. If only Americans cared.
Jun 25, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Christopher H. June 25, 2017 at 07:01 AMhttps://lanekenworthy.net/2017/06/23/in-work-poverty-in-the-us/
Lane Kenworthy's article shows how America is already great, with many more people working in poverty than in the UK, Ireland or Australia. Maybe the robots stole better paying jobs? Maybe they need more education and to skill up?
Christopher H. , June 25, 2017 at 07:02 AMhttps://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/23/universal-basic-income-ubi-welfare-state?CMP=share_btn_twChristopher H. -> Christopher H.... , June 25, 2017 at 07:06 AM
Love the idea of a universal basic income? Be careful what you wish for
Ellie Mae O'Hagan
Friday 23 June 2017 10.36 EDT
Yes, UBI could be an important part of a radical agenda. But beware: its proponents include neoliberals hostile to the very idea of the welfare state
For some time now, the radical left has been dipping its toes in the waters of universal basic income (or unconditional basic income, depending on who you talk to). The idea is exactly as it sounds: the government would give every citizen – working or not – a fixed sum of money every week or month, with no strings attached. As time goes on, universal basic income (UBI) has gradually been transitioning from the radical left into the mainstream: it's Green party policy, is picking up steam among SNP and Labour MPs and has been advocated by commentators including this newspaper's very own John Harris.
Supporters of the idea got a boost this week with the news that the Finnish government has piloted the idea with 2,000 of its citizens with very positive results. Under the scheme, the first of its kind in Europe, participants receive €560 (£473) every month for two years without any requirements to fill in forms or actively seek work. If anyone who receives the payment finds work, their UBI continues. Many participants have reported "decreased stress, greater incentives to find work and more time to pursue business ideas." In March, Ontario in Canada started trialling a similar scheme.
Given that UBI necessarily promotes universalism and is being pursued by liberal governments rather than overtly rightwing ones, it's tempting to view it as an inherently leftwing conceit. In January, MEPs voted to consider UBI as a solution to the mass unemployment that might result from robots taking over manual jobs.
From this perspective, UBI could be rolled out as a distinctly rightwing initiative. In fact it does bear some similarity to the government's shambolic universal credit scheme, which replaces a number of benefits with a one-off, lower, monthly payment (though it goes only to people already on certain benefits, of course). In the hands of the right, UBI could easily be seen as a kind of universal credit for all, undermining the entire benefits system and providing justification for paying the poorest a poverty income.
In fact, can you imagine what UBI would be like if it were rolled out by this government, which only yesterday promised to fight a ruling describing the benefits cap as inflicting "real misery to no good purpose"?
Despite the fact that the families who brought a case against the government had children too young to qualify for free childcare, the Department for Work and Pensions still perversely insisted that "the benefit cap incentivises work". It's not hard to imagine UBI being administered by the likes of A4e (now sold and renamed PeoplePlus), which carried out back-to-work training for the government, and saw six of its employees receive jail sentences for defrauding the government of £300,000. UBI cannot be a progressive initiative as long as the people with the power to implement it are hostile to the welfare state as a whole.
What's needed is not the arbitrary adoption of UBI, but a conversation about what a welfare state is for. In their incendiary book Inventing the Future, the authors Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek argue for UBI but link it to three other demands: collectively controlled automation, a reduction in the working week, and a diminution of the work ethic. Williams and Srnicek believe that without these other provisions, UBI could essentially act as an excuse to get rid of the welfare state.
What's needed is not the arbitrary adoption of UBI, but an entirely different conversation about what a welfare state is for. As David Lammy MP said, after the Grenfell Tower disaster: "This is about whether the welfare state is just about schools and hospitals or whether it is about a safety net." The conversation, in light of UBI, could go even further: it's possible for the welfare state not just to act as a safety net, but as a tool for all of us to do less work and spend more time with our loved ones, pursuing personal interests or engaging in our communities.
UBI has this revolutionary potential – but not if it is simply parachuted into a political economy that has been pursuing punitive welfare policies for the last 30 years.
On everything from climate change and overpopulation to yawning inequality and mass automation, modern western economies face unprecedented challenges. These conditions are frightening but they also open up the possibility of the kind of radical policies we haven't seen since the postwar period. UBI could be the start of this debate, but it must not be the end."In January, MEPs voted to consider UBI as a solution to the mass unemployment that might result from robots taking over manual jobs."Julio -> Christopher H.... , June 25, 2017 at 08:41 AM
MEPs stands for Members of the European Parliament.One of the reasons I support UBI is that it refocuses political discussions to some of the fundamental issues, as this article points out.libezkova -> Julio ... , June 25, 2017 at 11:21 AM> "One of the reasons I support UBI is that it refocuses political discussions to some of the fundamental issues, as this article points out."
I agree. UBI might probably be the most viable first step of Trump's MAGA. But he betrayed his electorate. Similarly it would be a good step in Obama's "change we can believe in" which never materialized. The level of automation that currently exists makes UBI quite a possibility.
The problem is the key idea of neoliberalism is "socialism for rich and feudalism and/or plantation slavery for poor." So neither Republicans, nor Clinton Democrats are interested in UBI. It is anathema for neoliberals.
Jun 25, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
im1dc -> Fred C. Dobbs... June 25, 2017 at 12:05 PMNo it is not possible, the Republican Party in D.C. is wholly owned by Daddy Big Bucks and Trump supporters do not see it, in fact they see the opposite b/c that's what he tweets and says when he stands before a microphone.
His behavior however tells the real story which is 'destroy the Federal Safety Net and other protections of the 99% as much and as fast as possible while I'm in office.'
Facts not Fiction.im1dc -> im1dc... , June 25, 2017 at 12:06 PMCorrectionlibezkova -> im1dc... , June 25, 2017 at 04:42 PM
Trump votersTrump voters were taken for a ride. He proved to be even worse than Obama as for "bait and switch" propensity.
Also while there was rumors, now it is an established fact that he is a vain and mediocre politician, inclined to theatrical gestures like his Tomahawk missile attack after a primitive "false flag" operation by Syria rebels.
Jun 25, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.comlibezkova -> im1dc... , June 25, 2017 at 09:29 AM> Define "neoliberal" as you mean it otherwise it is a meaningless wordanne -> im1dc... ,
Let my try.
Like a communist is the person who subscribed/is indoctrinated/brainwashed into Marxism as an ideology (which is actually different from Marxism as a political economy; Marx claimed that he is not a Marxist), neoliberal is the person who subscribed/is indoctrinated/brainwashed to neoliberalism as an ideology.
Neoliberalism as an ideology was formulated mainly by Mont Pelerin Society with academic criminals of Chicago School such as Milton Friedman playing outsize role.
Typically neoliberalism is imposed on the society via coup. One of the first experiments of imposing neoliberalism on the society was military coup in Chile. In the USA it took the form of "quiet coup" https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/the-quiet-coup/307364/
We can assume that neoliberals are in power, and neoliberalism is enforced as the dominant ideology in the USA since 1980. Since 9/11 it took a new form called "inverse totalitarism" (Sheldon Wolin) -- a flavor of national security state without mass repression of opponents. The suppression is performed mainly by exclusion and silencing of the opponents. But the level of surveillance of citizens probably exceeds the level typical for GDR with its STASI.
Neoclassic economics is the major tool for the indoctrination into neoliberalism in the US universities. Ann Rand objectivism is another pillar of neoliberalism ("creators myth").
The main points of neoliberal ideology include:
1.THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating "free" enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers' rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say "an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone." It's like Reagan's "supply-side" and "trickle-down" economics -- but somehow the wealth didn't trickle down very much.
2.CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply -- again in the name of reducing government's role. Of course, they don't oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.
3.DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminsh profits, including protecting the environmentand safety on the job.
4.PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.
5.ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF "THE PUBLIC GOOD" or "COMMUNITY" and replacing it with "individual responsibility." Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves -- then blaming them, if they fail, as "lazy."
The unofficial manifest of neoliberalism is "Capitalism and Freedom" by Milton Friedman (1962, University of Chicago Press). In foreign policy neoliberalism is defined by so called Washington consensus (Wikipedia):
1.Fiscal policy discipline, with avoidance of large fiscal deficits relative to GDP;
2.Redirection of public spending from subsidies ("especially indiscriminate subsidies") toward broad-based provision of key pro-growth, pro-poor services like primary education, primary health care and infrastructure investment;
3.Tax reform, broadening the tax base and adopting moderate marginal tax rates;
4.Interest rates that are market determined and positive (but moderate) in real terms;
5.Competitive exchange rates;
6.Trade liberalization: liberalization of imports, with particular emphasis on elimination of quantitative restrictions (licensing, etc.); any trade protection to be provided by low and relatively uniform tariffs;
7.Liberalization of inward foreign direct investment;
8.Privatization of state enterprises;
9.Deregulation: abolition of regulations that impede market entry or restrict competition, except for those justified on safety, environmental and consumer protection grounds, and prudential oversight of financial institutions;
10.Legal security for property rights.
Neoliberalism is closely connected (but is not identical) with the Neoconservatism in the USA (Trotskyism for the rich). Simplifying, neocons are just neoliberals with the gun.
Like Trotskyism and Bolshevism before, neoliberalism creates its own form of perverted rationality called "neoliberal rationality" http://lchc.ucsd.edu/cogn_150/Readings/brown.pdf Here are some quotes from Wendy Brown interview "What Exactly Is Neoliberalism" to Dissent Magazine (Nov 03, 2015):
"... I treat neoliberalism as a governing rationality through which everything is "economized" and in a very specific way: human beings become market actors and nothing but, every field of activity is seen as a market, and every entity (whether public or private, whether person, business, or state) is governed as a firm. Importantly, this is not simply a matter of extending commodification and monetization everywhere-that's the old Marxist depiction of capital's transformation of everyday life. Neoliberalism construes even non-wealth generating spheres-such as learning, dating, or exercising -- in market terms, submits them to market metrics, and governs them with market techniques and practices. Above all, it casts people as human capital who must constantly tend to their own present and future value. ..."
"... The most common criticisms of neoliberalism, regarded solely as economic policy rather than as the broader phenomenon of a governing rationality, are that it generates and legitimates extreme inequalities of wealth and life conditions; that it leads to increasingly precarious and disposable populations; that it produces an unprecedented intimacy between capital (especially finance capital) and states, and thus permits domination of political life by capital; that it generates crass and even unethical commercialization of things rightly protected from markets, for example, babies, human organs, or endangered species or wilderness; that it privatizes public goods and thus eliminates shared and egalitarian access to them; and that it subjects states, societies, and individuals to the volatility and havoc of unregulated financial markets. ..."
"... with the neoliberal revolution that homo politicus is finally vanquished as a fundamental feature of being human and of democracy. Democracy requires that citizens be modestly oriented toward self-rule, not simply value enhancement, and that we understand our freedom as resting in such self-rule, not simply in market conduct. When this dimension of being human is extinguished, it takes with it the necessary energies, practices, and culture of democracy, as well as its very intelligibility. ..."
"... For most Marxists, neoliberalism emerges in the 1970s in response to capitalism's falling rate of profit; the shift of global economic gravity to OPEC, Asia, and other sites outside the West; and the dilution of class power generated by unions, redistributive welfare states, large and lazy corporations, and the expectations generated by educated democracies. From this perspective, neoliberalism is simply capitalism on steroids: a state and IMF-backed consolidation of class power aimed at releasing capital from regulatory and national constraints, and defanging all forms of popular solidarities, especially labor. ..."
"... The grains of truth in this analysis don't get at the fundamental transformation of social, cultural, and individual life brought about by neoliberal reason. They don't get at the ways that public institutions and services have not merely been outsourced but thoroughly recast as private goods for individual investment or consumption. And they don't get at the wholesale remaking of workplaces, schools, social life, and individuals. For that story, one has to track the dissemination of neoliberal economization through neoliberalism as a governing form of reason, not just a power grab by capital. There are many vehicles of this dissemination -- law, culture, and above all, the novel political-administrative form we have come to call governance. It is through governance practices that business models and metrics come to irrigate every crevice of society, circulating from investment banks to schools, from corporations to universities, from public agencies to the individual. It is through the replacement of democratic terms of law, participation, and justice with idioms of benchmarks, objectives, and buy-ins that governance dismantles democratic life while appearing only to instill it with "best practices." ..."
"... Progressives generally disparage Citizens United for having flooded the American electoral process with corporate money on the basis of tortured First Amendment reasoning that treats corporations as persons. However, a careful reading of the majority decision also reveals precisely the thoroughgoing economization of the terms and practices of democracy we have been talking about. In the majority opinion, electoral campaigns are cast as "political marketplaces," just as ideas are cast as freely circulating in a market where the only potential interference arises from restrictions on producers and consumers of ideas-who may speak and who may listen or judge. Thus, Justice Kennedy's insistence on the fundamental neoliberal principle that these marketplaces should be unregulated paves the way for overturning a century of campaign finance law aimed at modestly restricting the power of money in politics. Moreover, in the decision, political speech itself is rendered as a kind of capital right, functioning largely to advance the position of its bearer, whether that bearer is human capital, corporate capital, or finance capital. This understanding of political speech replaces the idea of democratic political speech as a vital (if potentially monopolizable and corruptible) medium for public deliberation and persuasion. ..."
"... My point was that democracy is really reduced to a whisper in the Euro-Atlantic nations today. Even Alan Greenspan says that elections don't much matter much because, "thanks to globalization . . . the world is governed by market forces," not elected representatives. ..."Define "neoliberal":libezkova -> anne... , June 25, 2017 at 12:37 PM
Neoliberal means let there be markets everywhere and let governments leave markets alone. There is no other word of definition needed.This is wrong. You completely misunderstand the role of government under neoliberalism. Under neoliberalism it is the government that impose markets on people via deregulation. Impose "from above" like socialism in socialist states. So it is the government that is an instrument for "imposition of markets everywhere". And, if necessary, by brute force.
Unlike libertarian ideology, under neoliberalism the government is not passive, it is an active player which forcefully "opens markets" everywhere.
In foreign countries this takes the form of neocolonialism, and color revolutions or direct military intervention are typical tool for bending "not so democratic as we would like" countries, especially with oil or other valuable deposits. In this sense, it is very similar to Islamic fundamentalism and can be called "market fundamentalism."
In other words this more vicious ideology then just promotion of "markets" as in "socialism for the rich and feudalism or plantation slavery for the poor"
Jun 25, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova, June 24, 2017 at 11:06 PMThis is a warning to several prominent commenters of this blog: it is quite possible that Faustian bargain of alliance with the deep state to depose Trump might backfire and produce completely opposite result -- strong and durable alliance of Trump and the deep state on the basis of the same model that existed from 2003 -- inverted totalitarism introduced by Bush II. In this case you can kiss hopes not only for impeachment, but also for 2020 reversal goodbye.
Many "never-Trumpers" see the deep state's national security bureaucracy as their best hope to destroy Trump and thus defend constitutional government, but those hopes are misguided.
After all, the deep state's bureaucratic leadership has worked arduously for decades to subvert constitutional order.
As Michael Glennon, author of National Security and Double Government, pointed out in a June 2017 Harper's essay, if "the president maintains his attack, splintered and demoralized factions within the bureaucracy could actually support - not oppose - many potential Trump initiatives, such as stepped-up drone strikes, cyberattacks, covert action, immigration bans, and mass surveillance."
Inverted totalitarism is completely compatible with Trumpism ("bastard neoliberlaism"):
Princeton University political theorist Sheldon Wolin described the US political system in place by 2003 as "inverted totalitarianism." He reaffirmed that in 2009 after seeing a year of the Obama administration. Correctly identifying the threat against constitutional governance is the first step to restore it, and as Wolin understood, substantive constitutional government ended long before Donald Trump campaigned. He's just taking unconstitutional governance to the next level in following the same path as his recent predecessors.
However, even as some elements of the "deep state" seek to remove Trump, the President now has many "deep state" instruments in his own hands to be used at his unreviewable discretion.
JohnH -> kurt... , June 23, 2017 at 07:05 PMJohnH -> sanjait... , June 23, 2017 at 07:48 PM
Jun 25, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.comObama basically decided against marketing his healthcare plan. In February, 2009 the Obama campaign contacted campaign workers and asked them to convene neighborhood groups to make suggestions for the plan. My wife and eye convened such a group. We believed it was to be part of a national grass roots push to overwhelm the naysayers.
We sent in the neighborhood's suggestions. We were told they would get back to us. They never did. Grassroots organizing was eliminated. There was no grassroots push. Obama hardly marketed his plan, letting Republicans define it for him.
That was when I began to smell a rat..."It's the Message, Stupid"JohnH -> mulp ... , June 23, 2017 at 08:06 PM
Back in 2009, Greenberg, Carville and Bauman developed a strategy for selling healthcare reform to the public...most of which Democrats just ignored. http://www.democracycorps.com/wp-content/files/dcorps-healthcare-062509.pdf
Much of it still applies today, but Democrats are clueless...they fear their big donors would revolt if they actually stated what the American people want and need."actually works" is in the eye of the beholder.pgl , June 23, 2017 at 12:04 PM
Numbers of economists defended Bernie's proposals...but establishment ones linked with the Democratic Party did not.
Bill Black and Jaimie Galbraith were among the most prominent...but you never heard about their push-back because the liberal media blocked it out.Steve Beshear who was the Democratic Kentucky Governor who did a great job of implementing Obamacare for his state was asked about the stances of his state's two Senators. He really laid in McConnell which was no surprise. His comment re Rand Paul? Senator Paul wants to take our nation back to the 18th century.jonny bakho -> Lee A. Arnold ... , June 23, 2017 at 05:12 PMPlease... Susan Collins is just as bad as the rest of them. Her carefully crafted public image is all show.JohnH -> kurt... , June 23, 2017 at 04:05 PM
GOP moderates always cave because they are not moderates, they just play to the tastes of their purple states
The GOP will throw a few crumbs, make a big show about the "moderates" improving the bill and then they will be free to vote for it.
Trump, ever the con artist will sell it as Trump steakOh, BS. That the party is corrupt was made evident to anyone who watched Bubba sign away Glass-Steagall, just in time for Hillary to announce her run for Senator from New York/Wall Street. Of course, Bubba insists that there was no quid quo pro. Those who believe him would be good customers for buying the Brooklyn Bridge...
Since then, it's only gotten worse.
Jun 24, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Christopher H, June 23, 2017 at 01:23 PMhttp://robertreich.org/post/162168911075
The Secret Republican Plan to Unravel Medicaid
by Robert Reich
FRIDAY, JUNE 23, 2017
Bad enough that the Republican Senate bill would repeal much of the Affordable Care Act.
Even worse, it unravels the Medicaid Act of 1965 – which, even before Obamacare, provided health insurance to millions of poor households and elderly.
It's done with a sleight-of-hand intended to elude not only the public but also the Congressional Budget Office.
Here's how the Senate Republican bill does it. The bill sets a per-person cap on Medicaid spending in each state. That cap looks innocent enough because it rises every year with inflation.
But there's a catch. Starting 8 years from now, in 2025, the Senate bill switches its measure of inflation – from how rapidly medical costs are rising, to how rapidly overall costs in the economy are rising.
Yet medical costs are rising faster than overall costs. They'll almost surely continue to do so – as America's elderly population grows, and as new medical devices, technologies, and drugs prolong life.
Which means that after 2025, Medicaid will cover less and less of the costs of health care for the poor and elderly.
Over time, that gap becomes huge. The nonpartisan Urban Institute estimates that just between 2025 and 2035, about $467 billion less will be spent on Medicaid than would be spent than if Medicaid funding were to keep up with the expected rise in medical costs.
So millions of Americans will lose the Medicaid coverage they would have received under the 1965 Medicaid act. Over the long term, Medicaid will unravel.
Will anyone in future years know Medicaid's unraveling began with this Senate Republican bill ostensibly designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act? Probably not. The unraveling will occur gradually.
Will future voters hold Republicans responsible? Again, unlikely. The effects of the unraveling won't become noticeable until most current Republican senators are long past reelection.
Does anyone now know this time bomb is buried in this bill?
It doesn't seem so. McConnell won't even hold hearings on it.
Next week the Congressional Budget Office will publish its analysis of the bill. CBO reports on major bills like this are widely disseminated in the media. The CBO's belated conclusion that the House's bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would cause 23 million Americans to lose their health care prompted even Donald Trump to call it "mean, mean, mean."
But because the CBO's estimates of the consequences of bills are typically limited to 10 years (in this case, 2018 to 2028), the CBO's analysis of the Senate Republican bill will dramatically underestimate how many people will be knocked off Medicaid over the long term.
Which is exactly what Mitch McConnell has planned. This way, the public won't be tipped off to the Medicaid unraveling hidden inside the bill.
For years, Republicans have been looking for ways to undermine America's three core social insurance programs – Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. The three constitute the major legacies of the Democrats, of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. All continue to be immensely popular.
Now, McConnell and his Senate Republican colleagues think they've found a way to unravel Medicaid without anyone noticing.
Don't be fooled. Spread the word.
Jun 24, 2017 | original.antiwar.com
Douglas Valentine has once again added to the store of knowledge necessary for American citizens to understand how the U.S. government actually works today, in his most recent book entitled The CIA As Organized Crime . (Valentine previously wrote The Phoenix Program , which should be read with the current book.)
The US "deep state" – of which the CIA is an integral part – is an open secret now and the Phoenix Program (assassinations, death squads, torture, mass detentions, exploitation of information) has been its means of controlling populations. Consequently, knowing the deep state's methods is the only hope of building a democratic opposition to the deep state and to restore as much as possible the Constitutional system we had in previous centuries, as imperfect as it was.
Princeton University political theorist Sheldon Wolin described the US political system in place by 2003 as "inverted totalitarianism." He reaffirmed that in 2009 after seeing a year of the Obama administration. Correctly identifying the threat against constitutional governance is the first step to restore it, and as Wolin understood, substantive constitutional government ended long before Donald Trump campaigned. He's just taking unconstitutional governance to the next level in following the same path as his recent predecessors. However, even as some elements of the "deep state" seek to remove Trump, the President now has many "deep state" instruments in his own hands to be used at his unreviewable discretion.
Many "never-Trumpers" of both parties see the deep state's national security bureaucracy as their best hope to destroy Trump and thus defend constitutional government, but those hopes are misguided. After all, the deep state's bureaucratic leadership has worked arduously for decades to subvert constitutional order.
As Michael Glennon, author of National Security and Double Government, pointed out in a June 2017 Harper's essay, if "the president maintains his attack, splintered and demoralized factions within the bureaucracy could actually support - not oppose - many potential Trump initiatives, such as stepped-up drone strikes, cyberattacks, covert action, immigration bans, and mass surveillance."
Glennon noted that the propensity of "security managers" to back policies which ratchet up levels of security "will play into Trump's hands, so that if and when he finally does declare victory, a revamped security directorate could emerge more menacing than ever, with him its devoted new ally." Before that happens, it is incumbent for Americans to understand what Valentine explains in his book of CIA methods of "population control" as first fully developed in the Vietnam War's Phoenix Program.
Hating the US
There also must be the realization that our "national security" apparatchiks - principally but not solely the CIA - have served to exponentially increase the numbers of those people who hate the US.
Some of these people turn to terrorism as an expression of that hostility. Anyone who is at all familiar with the CIA and Al Qaeda knows that the CIA has been Al Qaeda's most important "combat multiplier" since 9/11, and the CIA can be said to have birthed ISIS as well with the mistreatment of incarcerated Iraqi men in US prisons in Iraq.
Indeed, by following the model of the Phoenix Program, the CIA must be seen in the Twenty-first Century as a combination of the ultimate "Murder, Inc.," when judged by the CIA's methods such as drone warfare and its victims; and the Keystone Kops, when the multiple failures of CIA policies are considered. This is not to make light of what the CIA does, but the CIA's misguided policies and practices have served to generate wrath, hatred and violence against Americans, which we see manifested in cities such as San Bernardino, Orlando, New York and Boston.
Pointing out the harm to Americans is not to dismiss the havoc that Americans under the influence of the CIA have perpetrated on foreign populations. But "morality" seems a lost virtue today in the US, which is under the influence of so much militaristic war propaganda that morality no longer enters into the equation in determining foreign policy.
In addition to the harm the CIA has caused to people around the world, the CIA works tirelessly at subverting its own government at home, as was most visible in the spying on and subversion of the torture investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The subversion of democracy also includes the role the CIA plays in developing and disseminating war propaganda as "information warfare," upon the American people. This is what the Rand Corporation under the editorship of Zalmay Khalilzad has described as "conditioning the battlefield," which begins with the minds of the American population.
Douglas Valentine discusses and documents the role of the CIA in disseminating pro-war propaganda and disinformation as complementary to the violent tactics of the Phoenix Program in Vietnam. Valentine explains that "before Phoenix was adopted as the model for policing the American empire, many US military commanders in Vietnam resisted the Phoenix strategy of targeting civilians with Einsatzgruppen-style 'special forces' and Gestapo-style secret police."
Military Commanders considered that type of program a flagrant violation of the Law of War. "Their main job is to zap the in-betweeners – you know, the people who aren't all the way with the government and aren't all the way with the Viet Cong either. They figure if you zap enough in-betweeners, people will begin to get the idea," according to one quote from The Phoenix Program referring to the unit tasked with much of the Phoenix operations.
Comparing the Phoenix Program and its operatives to "Einsatzgruppen-style 'special forces' and Gestapo-style secret police" is not a distortion of the strategic understanding of each. Both programs were extreme forms of repression operating under martial law principles where the slightest form of dissent was deemed to represent the work of the "enemy." Hitler's Bandit Hunters: The SS and the Nazi Occupation of Europe by Philip W. Blood describes German "Security Warfare" as practiced in World War II, which can be seen as identical in form to the Phoenix Program as to how the enemy is defined as anyone who is "potentially" a threat, deemed either "partizans" or terrorists.
That the Germans included entire racial categories in that does not change the underlying logic, which was, anyone deemed an internal enemy in a territory in which their military operated had to be "neutralized" by any means necessary. The US military and the South Vietnamese military governments operated under the same principles but not based on race, rather the perception that certain areas and villages were loyal to the Viet Cong.
This repressive doctrine was also not unique to the Nazis in Europe and the US military in Vietnam. Similar though less sophisticated strategies were used against the American Indians and by the imperial powers of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries, including by the US in its newly acquired territories of the Philippines and in the Caribbean. This "imperial policing," i.e., counterinsurgency, simply moved to more manipulative and, in ways, more violent levels.
That the US drew upon German counterinsurgency doctrine, as brutal as it was, is well documented. This is shown explicitly in a 2011 article published in the Journal of Military and Strategic Studies entitled German Counterinsurgency Revisited by Charles D. Melson. He wrote that in 1942, Nazi commander Heinrich Himmler named a deputy for "anti-bandit warfare," (Bevollmachtigter fur die Bandenkampfung im Osten), SS-General von dem Bach, whose responsibilities expanded in 1943 to head all SS and police anti-bandit units and operations. He was one of the architects of the Einsatzguppen "concept of anti-partisan warfare," a German predecessor to the "Phoenix Program."
It wasn't a coincidence that this "anti-partisan" warfare concept should be adopted by US forces in Vietnam and retained to the present day. Melson pointed out that a "post-war German special forces officer described hunter or ranger units as 'men who knew every possible ruse and tactic of guerrilla warfare. They had gone through the hell of combat against the crafty partisans in the endless swamps and forests of Russia.'"
Consequently, "The German special forces and reconnaissance school was a sought after posting for North Atlantic Treaty Organization special operations personnel," who presumably included members of the newly created US Army Special Forces soldiers, which was in part headquartered at Bad Tolz in Germany, as well as CIA paramilitary officers.
Just as with the later Phoenix Program to the present-day US global counterinsurgency, Melson wrote that the "attitude of the [local] population and the amount of assistance it was willing to give guerilla units was of great concern to the Germans. Different treatment was supposed to be accorded to affected populations, bandit supporters, and bandits, while so-called population and resource control measures for each were noted (but were in practice, treated apparently one and the same). 'Action against enemy agitation' was the psychological or information operations of the Nazi period. The Nazis believed that, 'Because of the close relationship of guerilla warfare and politics, actions against enemy agitation are a task that is just as important as interdiction and combat actions. All means must be used to ward off enemy influence and waken and maintain a clear political will.'"
This is typical of any totalitarian system – a movement or a government – whether the process is characterized as counterinsurgency or internal security. The idea of any civilian collaboration with the "enemy" is the basis for what the US government charges as "conspiracy" in the Guantanamo Military Commissions.
Valentine explains the Phoenix program as having been developed by the CIA in 1967 to combine "existing counterinsurgency programs in a concerted effort to 'neutralize' the Vietcong infrastructure (VCI)." He explained further that "neutralize" meant "to kill, capture, or make to defect." "Infrastructure" meant civilians suspected of supporting North Vietnamese and Vietcong soldiers. Central to the Phoenix program was that its targets were civilians, making the operation a violation of the Geneva Conventions which guaranteed protection to civilians in time of war.
"The Vietnam's War's Silver Lining: A Bureaucratic Model for Population Control Emerges" is the title of Chapter 3. Valentine writes that the "CIA's Phoenix program changed how America fights its wars and how the public views this new type of political and psychological warfare, in which civilian casualties are an explicit objective." The intent of the Phoenix program evolved from "neutralizing" enemy leaders into "a program of systematic repression for the political control of the South Vietnamese people. It sought to accomplish this through a highly bureaucratized system of disposing of people who could not be ideologically assimilated." The CIA claimed a legal basis for the program in "emergency decrees" and orders for "administrative detention."
Valentine refers to a paper by David Kilcullen entitled Countering Global Insurgency. Kilcullen is one of the so-called "counterinsurgency experts" whom General David Petraeus gathered together in a cell to promote and refine "counterinsurgency," or COIN, for the modern era. Fred Kaplan, who is considered a "liberal author and journalist" at Slate, wrote a panegyric to these cultists entitled, The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War. The purpose of this cell was to change the practices of the US military into that of "imperial policing," or COIN, as they preferred to call it.
But Kilcullen argued in his paper that "The 'War on Terrorism'" is actually a campaign to counter a global insurgency. Therefore, Kilcullen argued, "we need a new paradigm, capable of addressing globalised insurgency." His "disaggregation strategy" called for "actions to target the insurgent infrastructure that would resemble the unfairly maligned (but highly effective) Vietnam-era Phoenix program."
He went on, "Contrary to popular mythology, this was largely a civilian aid and development program, supported by targeted military pacification operations and intelligence activity to disrupt the Viet Cong Infrastructure. A global Phoenix program (including the other key elements that formed part of the successful Vietnam CORDS system) would provide a useful start point to consider how Disaggregation would develop in practice."
It is readily apparent that, in fact, a Phoenix-type program is now US global policy and - just like in Vietnam - it is applying "death squad" strategies that eliminate not only active combatants but also civilians who simply find themselves in the same vicinity, thus creating antagonisms that expand the number of fighters.
Corraborative evidence of Valentine's thesis is, perhaps surprisingly, provided by the CIA's own website where a number of redacted historical documents have been published. Presumably, they are documents first revealed under the Freedom of Information Act. A few however are copies of news articles once available to the public but now archived by the CIA which has blacked-out portions of the articles.
The Bloody Reality
One "sanitized" article - approved for release in 2011 - is a partially redacted New Times article of Aug. 22, 1975, by Michael Drosnin. The article recounts a story of a US Army counterintelligence officer "who directed a small part of a secret war aimed not at the enemy's soldiers but at its civilian leaders." He describes how a CIA-directed Phoenix operative dumped a bag of "eleven bloody ears" as proof of six people killed.
The officer, who recalled this incident in 1971, said, "It made me sick. I couldn't go on with what I was doing in Vietnam. . . . It was an assassination campaign . . . my job was to identify and eliminate VCI, the Viet Cong 'infrastructure' – the communist's shadow government. I worked directly with two Vietnamese units, very tough guys who didn't wear uniforms . . . In the beginning they brought back about 10 percent alive. By the end they had stopped taking prisoners.
"How many VC they got I don't know. I saw a hell of a lot of dead bodies. We'd put a tag on saying VCI, but no one really knew – it was just some native in black pajamas with 16 bullet holes."
This led to an investigation by New Times in a day when there were still "investigative reporters," and not the government sycophants of today. Based on firsthand accounts, their investigation concluded that Operation Phoenix was the "only systematized kidnapping, torture and assassination program ever sponsored by the United States government. . . . Its victims were noncombatants." At least 40,000 were murdered, with "only" about 8,000 supposed Viet Cong political cadres targeted for execution, with the rest civilians (including women and children) killed and "later conveniently labeled VCI. Hundreds of thousands were jailed without trial, often after sadistic abuse." The article notes that Phoenix was conceived, financed, and directed by the Central Intelligence Agency, as Mr. Valentine writes.
A second article archived by the CIA was by the Christian Science Monitor, dated Jan. 5, 1971, describing how the Saigon government was "taking steps that could help eliminate one of the most glaring abuses of its controversial Phoenix program, which is aimed against the Viet Cong political and administrative apparatus." Note how the Monitor shifted blame away from the CIA and onto the South Vietnamese government.
But the article noted that one of the most persistent criticisms of Phoenix was that it resulted "in the arrest and imprisonment of many innocent civilians." These were called "Class C Communist offenders," some of whom may actually have been forced to commit such "belligerent acts" as digging trenches or carrying rice. It was those alleged as the "hard core, full-time cadre" who were deemed to make up the "shadow government" designated as Class A and B Viet Cong.
Yet "security committees" throughout South Vietnam, under the direction of the CIA, sentenced at least 10,000 "Class C civilians" to prison each year, far more than Class A and B combined. The article stated, "Thousands of these prisoners are never brought to court trial, and thousands of other have never been sentenced." The latter statement would mean they were just held in "indefinite detention," like the prisoners held at Guantanamo and other US detention centers with high levels of CIA involvement.
Not surprisingly to someone not affiliated with the CIA, the article found as well that "Individual case histories indicate that many who have gone to prison as active supporters of neither the government nor the Viet Cong come out as active backers of the Viet Cong and with an implacable hatred of the government." In other words, the CIA and the COIN enthusiasts are achieving the same results today with the prisons they set up in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Valentine broadly covers the illegalities of the CIA over the years, including its well-documented role in facilitating the drug trade over the years. But, in this reviewer's opinion, his most valuable contribution is his description of the CIA's participation going back at least to the Vietnam War in the treatment of what the US government today calls "unlawful combatants."
"Unlawful combatants" is a descriptive term made up by the Bush administration to remove people whom US officials alleged were "terrorists" from the legal protections of the Geneva Conventions and Human Rights Law and thus to justify their capture or killing in the so-called "Global War on Terror." Since the US government deems them "unlawful" – because they do not belong to an organized military structure and do not wear insignia – they are denied the "privilege" of belligerency that applies to traditional soldiers. But – unless they take a "direct part in hostilities" – they would still maintain their civilian status under the law of war and thus not lose the legal protection due to civilians even if they exhibit sympathy or support to one side in a conflict.
Ironically, by the Bush administration's broad definition of "unlawful combatants," CIA officers and their support structure also would fit the category. But the American public is generally forgiving of its own war criminals though most self-righteous and hypocritical in judging foreign war criminals. But perhaps given sufficient evidence, the American public could begin to see both the immorality of this behavior and its counterproductive consequences.
This is not to condemn all CIA officers, some of whom acted in good faith that they were actually defending the United States by acquiring information on a professed enemy in the tradition of Nathan Hale. But it is to harshly condemn those CIA officials and officers who betrayed the United States by subverting its Constitution, including waging secret wars against foreign countries without a declaration of war by Congress. And it decidedly condemns the CIA war criminals who acted as a law unto themselves in the torture and murder of foreign nationals, as Valentine's book describes.
Talleyrand is credited with saying, "They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing." Reportedly, that was borrowed from a 1796 letter by a French naval officer, which stated, in the original language: Personne n'est corrigé; personne n'a su ni rien oublier ni rien appendre. In English: "Nobody has been corrected; no one has known to forget, nor yet to learn anything." That sums up the CIA leadership entirely.
Douglas Valentine's book is a thorough documentation of that fact and it is essential reading for all Americans if we are to have any hope for salvaging a remnant of representative government.
Todd E. Pierce retired as a Major in the US Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps in November 2012. His most recent assignment was defense counsel in the Office of Chief Defense Counsel, Office of Military Commissions. This originally appeared at ConsortiumNews.com .Read more by Todd E. Pierce Inciting Wars the American Way – August 14th, 2016 Chicago Police Adopt Israeli Tactics – December 13th, 2015 US War Theories Target Dissenters – September 13th, 2015 Ron Paul and Lost Lessons of War – September 1st, 2015 Has the US Constitution Been Lost to Military Rule?– January 4th, 2015
Jun 24, 2017 | www.unz.com
Paging Professor Becker
"For all practical purposes history is, for us and for the time being, what we know it to be." So remarked Carl Becker in 1931 at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association. Professor Becker, a towering figure among historians of his day, was president of the AHA that year. His message to his colleagues amounted to a warning of sorts: Don't think you're so smart. The study of the past may reveal truths, he allowed, but those truths are contingent, incomplete, and valid only "for the time being."
Put another way, historical perspectives conceived in what Becker termed "the specious present" have a sell-by date. Beyond their time, they become stale and outmoded, and so should be revised or discarded. This process of rejecting truths previously treated as authoritative is inexorable and essential. Yet it also tends to be fiercely contentious. The present may be specious, but it confers real privileges, which a particular reading of the past can sustain or undermine. Becker believed it inevitable that "our now valid versions" of history "will in due course be relegated to the category of discarded myths." It was no less inevitable that beneficiaries of the prevailing version of truth should fight to preserve it.
Who exercises the authority to relegate? Who gets to decide when a historical truth no longer qualifies as true? Here, Becker insisted that "Mr. Everyman" plays a crucial role. For Becker, Mr. Everyman was Joe Doakes, John Q. Public, or the man in the street. He was "every normal person," a phrase broad enough to include all manner of people. Yet nothing in Becker's presentation suggested that he had the slightest interest in race, sexuality, or gender. His Mr. Everyman belonged to the tribe of WHAM.
Memories, whether directly or vicariously acquired, are "necessary to orient us in our little world of endeavor." Yet the specious present that we inhabit is inherently unstable and constantly in flux, which means that history itself must be pliable. Crafting history necessarily becomes an exercise in "imaginative creation" in which all participate. However unconsciously, Everyman adapts the past to serve his most pressing needs, thereby functioning as "his own historian."
Yet he does so in collaboration with others. Since time immemorial, purveyors of the past - the "ancient and honorable company of wise men of the tribe, of bards and story-tellers and minstrels, of soothsayers and priests, to whom in successive ages has been entrusted the keeping of the useful myths" - have enabled him to "hold in memory those things only which can be related with some reasonable degree of relevance" to his own experience and aspirations. In Becker's lifetime it had become incumbent upon members of the professoriate, successors to the bards and minstrels of yesteryear, "to enlarge and enrich the specious present common to us all to the end that 'society' (the tribe, the nation, or all mankind) may judge of what it is doing in the light of what it has done and what it hopes to do."
Yet Becker took pains to emphasize that professional historians disdained Mr. Everyman at their peril:
"Berate him as we will for not reading our books, Mr. Everyman is stronger than we are, and sooner or later we must adapt our knowledge to his necessities. Otherwise he will leave us to our own devices The history that does work in the world, the history that influences the course of history, is living history It is for this reason that the history of history is a record of the 'new history' that in every age rises to confound and supplant the old."
Becker stressed that the process of formulating new history to supplant the old is organic rather than contrived; it comes from the bottom up, not the top down. "We, historians by profession, share in this necessary effort," he concluded. "But we do not impose our version of the human story on Mr. Everyman; in the end it is rather Mr. Everyman who imposes his version on us."
Donald Trump as Everyman's Champion?
Becker offered his reflections on "Everyman His Own Historian" in the midst of the Great Depression. Perhaps because that economic crisis found so many Americans burdened with deprivation and uncertainty, he implicitly attributed to his everyman a unitary perspective, as if shared distress imbued members of the public with a common outlook. That was not, in fact, the case in 1931 and is, if anything, even less so in our own day.
Still, Becker's construct retains considerable utility. Today finds more than a few White Heterosexual American males (WHAM), our own equivalent of Mr. Everyman, in a state of high dudgeon. From their perspective, the specious present has not panned out as it was supposed to. As a consequence, they are pissed. In November 2016, to make clear just how pissed they were, they elected Donald Trump as president of the United States.
This was, to put it mildly, not supposed to happen. For months prior to the election, the custodians of the past in its "now valid version" had judged the prospect all but inconceivable. Yet WHAMs (with shocking support from other tribes) intervened to decide otherwise. Rarely has a single event so thoroughly confounded history's self-assigned proctors. One can imagine the shade of Professor Becker whispering, "I warned you, didn't I?"
Those deeply invested in drawing a straight line from the specious present into the indefinite future blame Trump himself for having knocked history off its prescribed course. Remove Trump from the scene, they appear to believe, and all will once again be well. The urgent imperative of doing just that - immediately, now, no later than this afternoon - has produced what New York Times columnist Charles Blow aptly calls a "throbbing anxiety" among those who (like Blow himself) find "the relentless onslaught of awfulness erupting from this White House" intolerable. They will not rest until Trump is gone.
This idée fixe , reinforced on a daily basis by ever more preposterous presidential antics, finds the nation trapped in a sort of bizarre do-loop. The media's obsession with Trump reinforces his obsession with the media and between them they simply crowd out all possibility of thoughtful reflection. Their fetish is his and his theirs. The result is a cycle of mutual contempt that only deepens the longer it persists.
Both sides agree on one point only: that history began anew last November 8th, when (take your pick) America either took leave of its senses or chose greatness. How the United States got to November 8th qualifies, at best, as an afterthought or curiosity. It's almost as if the years and decades that had preceded Trump's election had all disappeared into some vast sinkhole.
... ... ...
...my sense is that many Americans have an inkling that history of late has played them for suckers. This is notably true with respect to the post-Cold War era, in which the glories of openness, diversity, and neoliberal economics, of advanced technology and unparalleled U.S. military power all promised in combination to produce something like a new utopia in which Americans would indisputably enjoy a privileged status globally.
In almost every respect, those expectations remain painfully unfulfilled. The history that "served for the time being" and was endlessly reiterated during the presidencies of Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama no longer serves. It has yielded a mess of pottage: grotesque inequality, worrisome insecurity, moral confusion, an epidemic of self-destructive behavior, endless wars, and basic institutions that work poorly if at all. Nor is it just WHAMs who have suffered the consequences. The history with which Americans are familiar cannot explain this outcome.
... ... ...
The author of several books, including most recently America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History , Andrew Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular , is currently trying to decipher the history of the post-Cold War era. (Reprinted from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative) ← Forbidden Questions? RSS Category: Ideology Tags: Donald Trump , TomDispatch Archives , White Americans
Robert Magill Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 12:57 am GMTCarlton Meyer Website Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 5:14 am GMT
The Mandate of Heaven, which members of my tribe once took as theirs by right, has been cruelly withdrawn. History itself has betrayed us.
How did we manage to sleepwalk for two plus centuries with dreams of "the city on a hill", our "exceptional nation" etc etc and quite freely disparage others for their war making proclivities without getting wise to it all?
This line from D.H.Lawrence in his graphic novel "Quetzalcoatl" charges Mexico and other governments with encouraging our nefarious actions.
"Of course money-lovers will want the United States Government, because it's the one government that exists simply and solely to protect money. "
robertmagill.wordpress.comMiro23 Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 6:44 am GMT
Trump only exists because the two political parties have become so corrupt and arrogant they don't give a damn about working people. In theory, the Democratic party represents workers, but as profane lefty Jimmy Dore recently explained, the Dems are worse than Trump:
When that happens, when promises of American greatness restored prove empty, there will be hell to pay. Joe Doakes, John Q. Public, and the man in the street will be even more pissed. Should that moment arrive, historians would do well to listen seriously to what Everyman has to say.
Some thoughts on this would be that American greatness needed 1) a high level of national unity 2) a lot of discipline and hard work. There's a tendency to look back to the 1950′s when talking about "American Greatness", but in reality this was a very unusual time. America lacked industrial competitors. After WW2, Germany and Japan were in ruins. China was still an economic basket case and Europe was recovering with the help of US multi-nationals and US investment.
Rather than start partying, the US needed an awareness of the coming challenges and needed from the 1950′s to develop a modern industrial base in new technologies with top class technological skills among its workforce as a national project. The aim should have been to build a world class education system at least to match the STEM results of the best Europeans and N/E Asians.
In the event, the US disappeared into counter cultural Hippiedom and sent all its industries to Asian for cheaper and more efficient production. A government stuffed with commercial special interests is obviously going to do what is best for their bottom lines i.e. produce in Asia and sell in the US – they're not in business to look after the US public. The public are Consumers and they are Vendors.The Alarmist Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 8:09 am GMT
Greg Bacon Website Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 8:32 am GMT
Nah, they'll put a few more bricks in the wall, reinforce the gates, and hire more guards so they can rest well at night while bathed in the glow that they continue to advance the best interests of human-kind over the objections of the unwashed masses on the other side of the wall.War for Blair Mountain Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 12:40 pm GMT
"Are we any better off than we were 50 years ago? Absolutely . . . White dominance is on the decline as the demographic white majority heads for oblivion over the course of the next 30 years."
Mark Potok in an August 2013 column for the white-hating SPLC. http://en.metapedia.org/wiki/Mark_Potok#Quotes Us WHAMs are in the bulls eye of many a group who would like to see us join the dinosaurs.War for Blair Mountain Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 1:26 pm GMT
There is very strong trans-species-trans phylum evidence for what is going to happen in response to betrayal-deception .and it ain't pretty as they say. Harvard biologist Robert Trivers I believe Comrade Unz mentioned that he was a research assistant for Robert Trivers at Harvard wrote a book about the biology of betrayal and revenge using a massive amount of trans-species and trans-phylum evidence-data
So I recommend that you read Robert Triver's book I also recommend that you read the conversation betwern Noam Chomsky and Robert Trivers ..where Trivers discusses the overwhelming ethnological evidence for this which you can very easily google for
Larger point being made by Noam Chomsky these days: White Males are dying at an historically unprecedented rate .worse than if there was a plague-epidemic at higher rate than WW2
Donald Trump's MAGA!!! Jobs Program for Working Class Native Born White Teenage Males from economically distressed Native Born White Working Class Families from the American Heartland=a Tour of Duty on patrol with a US Army issued M-16 in Afghanistan .Iraq Syria .coming back to their Mother's as limbless freaks .human sausages .canon fodder for Donald Trump's precious Jew only Israel .
"War is a Racket" ..as USMC General and two time Congressional Medal winner .Smedley Butler wrote over 75 years agoCorvinus Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 4:05 pm GMT
I'm a big fan of the late Dick Winters and 101 Airborne Easy Company Band of Brothers WW2. But I just found out recently that Easy Company members Ronald Spiers and Robert "Burr" Smith were at a high level actively involved in the destruction of Laos which was bombed back to the Stone Age by the USAF
Interestingly Robert "Burr" Smith trained the US Army Delta Force Team that died in the Iranianian desert in 1980 .Smith avoided dying in that desert crash when the CIA yanked him out of this doomed mission at the last minute out of fear that if Smith a CIA Operative .was captured .risk of spilling the beans to the Iranians about what the CIA was up to Robert "Burr" Smith was the embodiment of "Invade the World-Invite the World with his role in the destruction of Laotian Society and his adopted Laotian teenage "son" .Wally Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 4:48 pm GMT
"We only want to be life as easy as it was under Eisenhower (to be fair, from Truman to LBJ)."
Nostalgia has a funny way of warping our sense of reality. Life for some people was "easy" in the 1950′s, but for a number of people, it was cold, hard, and dark.anonymous Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 5:35 pm GMT
@Greg Bacon But then who will pay the bills?
Another of the usual enemies of free speech & Israeli citizen, Potok, supports strict Israeli immigration laws which specify JEWS ONLY, while he demands massive 3rd world immigration into the US & Europe.edNels Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 5:44 pm GMT
@Corvinus Life--has NEVER been easy!
For anyone!Anon Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 6:03 pm GMT
Interesting post, I've read it through twice, but it has complicated issues.
Wherever corporate CEOs,] . etc.etc.etc.--, [politicians, and generals congregate to pat each other on the back, you can count on WHAMs -reciting bromides about the importance of diversity!
some of my brethren - let's call them one percenters -
YEah, SOME "brethren"! THat tiny fraction of a %point, that lives large!
Some Brethren to the name WHAMs! they are.
Sociopaths who some kind of way masquerade as W H A M. And what they do is done in the name of the W H A M , which is my sticking point.
That small fraction of a %point does all the bad , and shifts the blame ( from the World!!) on to the real WHAMs, what's left of 'em, ( what's left of the White Hetero part
of 'em, ) who aren't polluted from the social scientist/ ongoing war to turn WHAMs into WIAMPs! (White Inverted American Male/Tranny Punks.)!! That the world will hate, and eventually probably be encouraged to completely get rid of, while the fraction of the %point rides off into the sunset! Then you can see the real perverts in action!Anonymous Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 6:26 pm GMT
@Wally Potok is an Israeli citizen? Prove it.Priss Factor Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 7:10 pm GMT
I've been saying this for two years now:
What happens if you get rid of Trump? The people who voted for him will most likely replace him with someone very similar in almost every way, but more competent. Probably a professional politician version of him. Is that what you want?Sean Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 7:27 pm GMT
On the surface, it may seem like changes took place.
But power is firmly in hands of Deep State. Look at the continuing mess in Syria.
Look at never-ending 'new cold war' with Russia and globalist hysteria.
And ACOWW or Afro-Colonization-of-White-Wombs continues all over the West.
While morons worry about Russian jets and North Korean missiles, it is Negro dongs that are destroying the white race by conquering white wombs.
And just when black males are emasculating white males and conquering white wombs(the source of life), what do white males have as their new faith?
The Police Department, bastion of male power and security, is celebrating the New 'Pride' of Homo Poo-Ride.
In the past, babies and things used to be Christened.
Now, they are Fruitsened.restless94110 Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 10:47 pm GMT
Yes, in ancient Greek history Trump is analogous to the Tyrants of Athens, who were a transition from aristocratic to truly democratic rule. Of course once democracy was installed the common people of Athens demanded and got wars against a variety of enemies. Trump rise is an alarming portent. A few decades from now George W. Bush will be regarded as the last of the cautious Skull and Bones aristocrats. It is a bit silly to talk of WHAMS, as if the displacement of white gentiles is less important that open acceptance of homosexuality. It is WASPs, gay or straight, who have lost.davidd Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 11:09 pm GMT
As was said above, so many words, so little content.
Bacevich has gone off the deep end. Truly.
The idea that white males were sitting around lording it up with their privilege is absolutely preposterous. No white male ever has done that, and Bacevich certainly know that. Andrew? Exactly how many times in your long lifetime have you been slapping backs with other white men laughing about how great you have it because of your gender and your race?
I'll help you out. It's zero, Andrew. You know it. I know it. We know it.
So this writing is horseshit. Col. Bacevich, you do really great military anlysis and opinion.
Stop with the virtual signalling fairy tales.
As a white male nothing was ever easy. Yeah, perhaps I did not get my head beat a few times and avoided some jail. Maybe.
And that makes how much difference in anyone's life?
You really need to get back to the military analysis, bud. You are sounding like a lunatic with this stuff. But more than that. Dishonest.Wally Website Show Comment Next New Comment June 23, 2017 at 11:27 pm GMT
I tuned out when he started saying WHAMS misguidedly didn't consider non-WHAMS in their history, which was completely rational considering before very recent times there was no reason to.Anon Show Comment Next New Comment June 24, 2017 at 12:33 am GMT
You have got to be the thickest person at this forum.
But then leave it to a racist Zionist to attempt to cover for another racist Zionist.
'quotes from Gerard Menuhin: Revisionist Jew, Son of Famous Violinist'
https://forum.codoh.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=10013Che Guava Show Comment Next New Comment June 24, 2017 at 12:48 am GMT
@Wally So you have no proof. Thought so.
Funny that you use the word "racist" but claim you don't know what it means.Anon Show Comment Next New Comment June 24, 2017 at 2:08 am GMT
Interesting but nowhere near your better pieces, too meandering. Although I only hit the H in the WHAM formulation you have. WHAM doesn't work on two counts.
i. The pop band, Wham, still well-known due to pop music being in stasis, and they had one great single and a few others that tasteless people like.
ii. H also stands for homosexual. It is funny how that word is not goodspeak in English of now, and heterosexual almost has a pejorative quality but is widely used. The sickness of western culture. The equivalent in Japanese of homosexual is used to refer to people who are, well, homosexual. The equivalent of heterosexual is just about never heard. That is not discrimination, simply that it is naturally, as it should be, seen as the norm.ANON Show Comment Next New Comment June 24, 2017 at 2:16 am GMT
@restless94110 The traditional role of the white male is to support a family by bringing home the bacon; be courageous when things get rough and defend your family and friends with your blood; fix everything that's broken; build everything you need with your hands, or build the machines necessary to build everything; run everything with competence and man up and take the blame if you screw up; teach your children how to deal with life; teach people right from wrong and set the example for them to follow; create high-level science, medicine, art, physics, math, engineering, etc.
It's a very tall order, and anyone who thinks it's easy, is a fool.Backwoods Bob Show Comment Next New Comment June 24, 2017 at 2:43 am GMT
@anonymous Do you really mean NEVER?
What about the likes of my aunt who was the second wife of a childless mega millionaire who died when she was 38 leaving her to enjoy 50 healthy years as a rich woman until she suddenly died in her sleep?Wizard of Oz Show Comment Next New Comment June 24, 2017 at 3:02 am GMT
The first paragraph was enough social justice warrior crap to make it unnecessary reading the rest. Yet, I did try for another five paragraphs and it's just more of the same tripe.
Yeah, all of us stand in line and get free hand-outs. White people at the front of the line. Nobody works for what they have. Everyone has the same IQ, the same work ethic, the same adherence to law. I'm upset because the color of my skin is supposed to dictate my place in the line for free hand-outs and I am no longer at the front of the line. God what arrogant, malicious crap.
We just went through IQ scores by country in homeschool today. My kids are muti-racial, SE Asians, who occupy the top five spots worldwide. They have the highest average income in this country, the highest academic performance, and the lowest crime rates.
Of course, we sat around talking about their "privilege" as SE Asians and how everything is handed to them for free. How they just go up to any line and cut in front. Right? No.
What I just did was show them your article as a perfect example of why we don't go to government school.
We are not your "peeps" for the white blood in us and you are not some hero of ours for having the arrogance to speak for our non-white blood either.
You are disgusting and worthy of nothing but contempt. I'm majority white, not pure blood (Seneca Indian) but don't buy into the cult of victimology where I am supposed to get job preferences, school preferences, etc. because I am quantum blood Indian. That doesn't make me an "Indian". I am an American. Our kids are Americans.
The idea that we should knock off "whitey" because we're mixed blood, like it's "our" turn now – how nonsensical and revolting.restless94110 Show Comment Next New Comment June 24, 2017 at 4:36 am GMT
@Backwoods Bob You are obviously a slow reader but apparently handicapped in dealing with numbers too. If you had actually read "another five paragraphs" you would have read the author's "All of which is nonsense of course" at the beginning of his sixth par.
Fortunately I didn't waste time on many of your paragraphs.Bruce Marshall Show Comment Next New Comment June 24, 2017 at 6:07 am GMT
@Anon The traditional role of ANY male is to support a family by bringing home the bacon, etc.
It's just what males do, anon.
Bacevich's idiotic virtue signaling nonsense that posits that all white males knew this and knew that. and that we all had secret meetings in the basement of the church is ridiculous.
I've known whites who had racist views on black people. I've also known blacks who have racist views on white people.
But even racists never had any thought that they were suddenly privileged because of their skin color and/or they were smirking about it in secret or whatever it is that this guy is claiming in his long, long, long, overly long piece.
In other words, men did those things, anon, white ones, black one, etc.
This white privilege stuff is just bullshit. It has to go. Andrew B., let it die it's own irrelevant death.
@Stogumber Yes if you want life as it was in the 1950′s, then you need to recognize that we got out of the Great Depression because we started to pay farmers their fair share. Today they only get 35% of the Parity Dollar, the dollar that provided for the prosperity across the nation, because it was not stolen from the producer of that which keeps us alive, literally, and literally kept the economy afloat, because it was based upon real wealth properly monetized, meaning not stolen as is the system today .but we lost that when we stopped Parity, which created earned income at sufficient levels to not have to borrow as we are now addicted .. as the "interests whose interest is interest" intend.
Here is a letter to Trump with an important chart.
Jun 24, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
Konrad Lorenz and Desmond Morris , or anthropologists such as Lionel Tiger . They linked studies of animal behaviour to the idea of Darwinian evolutionary principles to tell readers just how very like the beasts we were in our sex lives, our workplaces and our recreational behaviours. We were advised to look at chimps and other primates and derive understanding of ourselves from their apparently culture-free activities and traits. Underneath all our fancy culture and language, we were simply naked apes enacting primitive territorial imperatives.
The reading public lapped it up as both a neat, satisfying narrative, and as an excuse for all manner of not-so-civilised behaviours for which we no longer had to take personal and moral blame. We go to war – well, so do baboons; it's in our genes, we can try to overcome it, but in the end as in the beginning we're all just animals. By 1976 we didn't even have to blame the animal in ourselves: Richard Dawkins gave us the selfish gene, whose sole reason for existence was to reproduce itself. And we, that is the body and brain of you and me, were nothing but vehicles for these genes which compelled us to optimise their chances of replicating. Talk to the gene, the conscience isn't listening.
Much of this was based on algebraic theories of altruism developed by WD Hamilton , who shifted the mechanism of evolution from making groups fitter to survive to a new insistence on individual inclusive fitness. This was via kin selection, which drills down deeper than the inter-relatedness of individual organisms, to the separate alleles (of which genes are made) in every organism: these preferentially promote only those vehicles which contain alleles most closely related to themselves. Genes were responsible, somehow, for you fighting the whirlwind to save your sister, but probably not your less related cousin, and certainly not the stranger from down the road.
Some people were not crazy about this view of the human race. Genes doing algebra didn't suit a more macrocosmic idea of a fallible but responsible humanity.
Robert Trivers was the man who produced the unifying theory of kin selection and altruism. Now, decades on, he has arrived at a big, new universal theory, also essentially based on the arithmetic of gene selection. Deceit is useful where telling the (unpleasant) truth would hamper your progress. Progress towards what? Trivers would say your fitness, which is defined as raising the chances of replicating your genes into the next generation.
Your genes, apparently, would agree with him; but they would, wouldn't they? That is if they were capable of agreeing. I want to hang on to the fact that the building blocks of ourselves do not want or intend anything. Chemicals aren't conscious, although by amazing chance they can combine to make a conscious organism.
Once self-conscious humans begin to do science, and with the benefit of language, start to describe the nature of the chemicals that make them what they are, but having to use regular language if they want a large audience (maths is a much better language, but fewer people can read it), they cannot help but slide into the notion of intention. Dawkins's selfish gene gained an absurd life of its own because most people don't speak arithmetic.
The biological mechanism by which we conceal inconvenient truths from ourselves and others is shown, says Trivers, in functional MRI scans of blood flow associated with neural activity in the brain: "It is estimated that fully ten seconds before consciousness of intent, the neural signals begin that will later give rise to the consciousness and then the behaviour itself." Freud, who always believed that neurology would discover a physical basis for the unconscious, would be delighted, though according to Trivers, psychoanalysis is nothing more than a money-grabbing hoax. Yet there remains a void between brain chemicals doing what they do and the emergence of the sense we all have of possessing a mind.
Trivers's theories of deceit and self-deceit are based on multiple gleanings from experimental psychology. A trial with rats shows this, another with students suggests that. The actual experiments are referenced, rather minimally, in page-related endnotes, but Trivers's writing is full of halting phraseology as he slips from findings in the lab or questionnaire to the generality of human social behaviour.
He suggests from relatedness theory that fathers should show a "slight genetic bias towards their daughters", but "no one knows if this is true". General assertions about human behaviour are peppered with such phrases as "One is tempted to imagine ", "in mice at least ", "work still in its infancy ", "first speculations ", "Whether any of my speculations are true I have no idea ". And, really, if he doesn't, I certainly don't.
Once he has laid out his evidence, our biologically determined deceit behaviour is ready to account for just about everything Trivers doesn't like about the world, such as the false justifications for the invasion of Iraq, the self-deceiving use, by the US and UK, of 9/11 to declare war on oil-rich countries and on to torture, religion and stock-market trading. It so happens that Trivers and I dislike much the same things but, though I daresay knowledge is generally better than lack of it, I'm not convinced of the benefits of offering us the excuse of having been manipulated by our genes for our repeatedly scurrilous behaviour.
While the first part of the book explains the theory, and the second part discusses how deceit was responsible for all the political and social injustices both he and I perceive in the world, there is a third element woven through both. An actual individual life, that of Trivers himself, emerges, like a gene in the organism, offered perhaps as a consciously self-deprecating example of what evolutionary pressure to deceive can do to a person. Somehow, though, it comes across as back-handed boasting.
The man whom Trivers calls "I" is a compulsive thief who can't go into a room without coming away with a trophy. He talks of his "'inadvertent' touching of women", which occurs exclusively with his left (unconscious) hand. Apropos chimps turning their backs to hide an erection from a dominant male, he explains that he finds it very hard "in the presence of a woman with whom I am close, to receive a phone call from another woman with whom I may have, or only wish to have, a relationship, without turning my back to pursue the conversation".
He understands the male/female gender split by recollecting "trying to poison the minds of my three daughters against their mother". He nearly killed his girlfriend and nephew by driving the nephew's "cool car" too fast on a precipitous road, when he noticed her interest in the younger man. And after pages and pages on biological selection, evolutionary pressure and the dangerous deception that is religion, it not only turns out that he prays regularly, but he gives a short lecture on the proper way to say the "Lord's Prayer" (emphasise "thy"). I wasn't surprised to discover that he is on prescription antidepressants, as well as using ganja and cocaine.
There will be Iron Johns who read this book and cheer, and although he explains that each sex (abhorring the word "gender", which he calls a euphemism) contains both male and female genes, my male genes are just too wimpy to find any charm in Trivers's display of self-disclosure – machismo and pet peeves – dressed up as an important new evolutionary understanding of humanity.
Jenny Diski's What I Don't Know About Animals is published by Virago.
frustratedartist , 11 Oct 2011 03:20@greaterzoggreatherzog , 10 Oct 2011 15:57
Oh dear- could you then...disentangle your own behaviour from your 'human nature".
In general- Yes. Human behaviour changes rapidly and depends on culture and individual choices. Human nature changes very very slowly, in 'evolutionary time'. Too slowly for it to be observed.
On the level of the individual -- No. I can't disentangle my personal choices from my inherited tendencies. To what extent does my behaviour (or my character)reflect my genes or upbringing, to what extent is it my own free will? Nature, Nurture, or Nietzsche?, as Stephen Fry would say. I can't say- except that I believe that we all have free will and are therefore in most cases responsible for our actions.
As for 'my' human nature, that is a meaningless phrase. Human nature I would define as the (evolved) psychological traits humans have in common .
In his article Pinker gives (I think) quite a convincing explanation of how human behaviour can be changing for the better, while human nature (perforce) remains the same.
Oh dear- could you then-with the help of Pinker's pseudo-scientific, deterministic, eurocentric tosh and/or Dawkins overly simplistic, to the point of idiocy take on genes and evolution- disentangle your own behaviour from your 'human nature.' I am really curious.
Jun 01, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. Matt Stoller anticipated the situation Michael Hudson describes, the use of debt as a primary weapon in class warfare. From a 2010 post :
A lot of people forget that having debt you can't pay back really sucks. Debt is not just a credit instrument, it is an instrument of political and economic control.
It's actually baked into our culture. The phrase 'the man', as in 'fight the man', referred originally to creditors. 'The man' in the 19th century stood for 'furnishing man', the merchant that sold 19th century sharecroppers and Southern farmers their supplies for the year, usually on credit. Farmers, often illiterate and certainly unable to understand the arrangements into which they were entering, were charged interest rates of 80-100 percent a year, with a lien places on their crops. When approaching a furnishing agent, who could grant them credit for seeds, equipment, even food itself, a farmer would meekly look down nervously as his debts were marked down in a notebook. At the end of a year, due to deflation and usury, farmers usually owed more than they started the year owing. Their land was often forfeit, and eventually most of them became tenant farmers.
They were in hock to the man, and eventually became slaves to him. This structure, of sharecropping and usury, held together by political violence, continued into the 1960s in some areas of the South. As late as the 1960s, Kennedy would see rural poverty in Arkansas and pronounce it 'shocking'. These were the fruits of usury, a society built on unsustainable debt peonage.
Today, we are in the midst of creating a second sharecropper society
Today, the debts do not involve liens against crops. People in modern America carry student loans, credit card debt, and mortgages. All of these are hard to pay back, often bringing with them impenetrable contracts and illegal fees. Credit card debt is difficult to discharge in bankruptcy and a default on a home loan can leave you homeless. A student loan debt is literally a claim against a life - you cannot discharge it in bankruptcy, and if you die, your parents are obligated to pay it. If the banks have their way, mortgages and deficiency judgments will follow you around forever, as they do in Spain.
Young people and what only cynics might call 'homeowners' have no choice but to jump on the treadmill of debt, as debtcroppers. The goal is not to have them pay off their debts, but to owe forever. Whatever a debtcropper owes, a wealthy creditor owns.
And as a bonus, the heavier the debt burden of American citizenry, the less able we are able to organize and claim our democratic rights as citizens. Debtcroppers don't start companies and innovate, they don't take chances, and they don't claim their political rights. Think about this when you hear the calls from ex-Morgan Stanley banker and current World Bank President Robert Zoellick and his nebulous mutterings pining for the gold standard. Or when you hear Warren Buffett partner Charlie Munger talk about how the bailouts of the wealthy were patriotic, but we mustn't bail out homeowners for fear of 'moral hazard'.
Or when you hear Pete Peterson Foundation President and former Comptroller General David Walker yearn nostalgically for debtor's prisons.
Focusing on students, Hudson shows how much "progress" has been made in a mere seven years.
By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is J is for Junk Economics
Students usually don't think of themselves as a class. They seem "pre-class," because they have not yet entered the labor force. They can only hope to become part of the middle class after they graduate. And that means becoming a wage earner – what impolitely is called the working class.
But as soon as they take out a student debt, they become part of the economy. They are in this sense a debtor class. But to be a debtor, one needs a means to pay – and the student's means to pay is out of the wages and salaries they may earn after they graduate. And after all, the reason most students get an education is so that they can qualify for a middle-class job.
The middle class in America consists of the widening sector of the working class that qualifies for bank loans – not merely usurious short-term payday loans, but a lifetime of debt. So the middle class today is a debtor class.
Shedding crocodile tears for the slow growth of U.S. employment in the post-2008 doldrums (the "permanent Obama economy" in which only the banks were bailed out, not the economy), the financial class views the role industry and the economy at large as being to pay its employees enough so that they can take on an exponentially rising volume of debt. Interest and fees (late fees and penalties now yield credit card companies more than they receive in interest charges) are soaring, leaving the economy of goods and services languishing.
Although money and banking textbooks say that all interest (and fees) are a compensation for risk, any banker who actually takes a risk is quickly fired. Banks don't take risks. That's what the governments are for. (Socializing the risk, privatizing the profits.) Anticipating that the U.S. economy may be unable to recover under the weight of the junk mortgages and other bad debts that the Obama administration left on the books in 2008, banks insisted that the government guarantee all student debt. They also insisted that the government guarantees the financial gold-mine buried in such indebtedness: the late fees that accumulate. So whether students actually succeed in becoming wage-earners or not, the banks will receive payments in today's emerging fictitious "as if" economy. The government will pay the banks "as if" there is actually a recovery.
And if there were to be a recovery, then it would mean that the banks were taking a risk – a big enough risk to justify the high interest rates charge on student loans.
This is simply a replay of what banks have negotiated for real estate mortgage lending. Students who do succeed in getting a job hope to start a family, or at least joining the middle class. The most typical criterion of middle-class life in today's world (apart from having a college education) is to own a home. But almost nobody can buy a home without getting a mortgage. And the price of such a mortgage is to pay up to 43 percent of one's income for thirty years, that is, one's prospective working life (in today's as-if world that assumes full employment, not just a gig economy).
Banks know how unlikely it is that workers actually will be able to earn enough to carry the costs of their education and real estate debt. The costs of housing are so high, the price of education is so high, the amount of debt that workers must pay off the top of every paycheck is so high that American labor is priced out of world markets (except for military hardware sold to the Saudis and other U.S. protectorates). So the banks insist that the government pretends that housing as well as education loans not involve any risk for bankers.
The Federal Housing Authority guarantees mortgages that absorb up to the afore-mentioned 43 percent of the applicant's income. Income is not growing these days, but job-loss is. Formerly middle-class labor is being downsized to minimum-wage labor (MacDonald's and other fast foods) or "gig" labor (Uber). Here too, the fees mount up rapidly when there are defaults – all covered by the government, as if it is this compensates the banks for risks that the government itself bears.
From Debt Peons to Wage Slaves
In view of the fact that a college education is a precondition for joining the working class (except for billionaire dropouts), the middle class is a debtor class – so deep in debt that once they manage to get a job, they have no leeway to go on strike, much less to protest against bad working conditions. This is what Alan Greenspan described as the "traumatized worker effect" of debt.
Do students think about their future in these terms? How do they think of their place in the world?
Students are the new NINJAs: No Income, No Jobs, No Assets. But their parents have assets, and these are now being grabbed, even from retirees. Most of all, the government has assets – the power to tax (mainly labor these days), and something even better: the power to simply print money (mainly Quantitative Easing to try and re-inflate housing, stock and bond prices these days). Most students hope to become independent of their parents. But burdened by debt and facing a tough job market, they are left even more dependent. That's why so many have to keep living at home.
The problem is that as they do get a job and become independent, they remain dependent on the banks. And to pay the banks, they must be even more abjectly dependent on their employers.
It may be enlightening to view matters from the vantage point of bankers. After all, they have $1.3 trillion in student loan claims. In fact, despite the fact that college tuitions are soaring throughout the United States even more than health care (financialized health care, not socialized health care), the banks often end up with more education expense than the colleges. That is because any interest rate is a doubling time, and student loan rates of, say, 7 percent mean that the interest payments double the original loan value in just 10 years. (The Rule of 72 provides an easy way to calculate doubling times of interest-bearing debt. Just divide 72 by the interest rate, and you get the doubling time.)
A fatal symbiosis has emerged between banking and higher education in America. Bankers sit on the boards of the leading universities – not simply by buying their way in as donors, but because they finance the transformation of universities into real estate companies. Columbia and New York University are major real estate holders in New York City. Like the churches, they pay no property or income tax, being considered to play a vital social role. But from the bankers' vantage point, their role is to provide a market for debt whose magnitude now outstrips even that of credit card debt!
Citibank in New York City made what has been accused of being a sweetheart deal with New York University, which steers incoming students to it to finance their studies with loans. In today's world a school can charge as much for an education as banks are willing to lend students – and banks are willing to lend as much as governments will guarantee to cover, no questions asked. So the bankers on the school boards endorse bloated costs of education, knowing that however much more universities make, the bankers will receive just as much in interest and penalties.
It is the same thing with housing, of course. However much the owner of a home receives when he sells it, the bank will make an even larger sum of money on the interest charges on the mortgage. That is why all the growth in the U.S. economy is going to the FIRE sector, owned mainly by the One Percent.
Under these terms, a "more educated society" does not mean a more employable labor force. It means a less employable society, because more and more wage and consumer income is used not to buy goods and services, not to eat out in restaurants or buy the products of labor, but to pay the financial sector and its allied rentier class. A more educated society under these rules is simply a more indebted society, an economy succumbing to debt deflation, austerity and unemployment except at minimum-wage levels.
For half a century Americans imagined themselves getting richer and richer by going into debt to buy their own homes and educate their children. Their riches have turned out to be riches for the banks, bondholders and other creditors, not for the debtors. What used to be applauded as "the middle class" turns out to be simply an indebted working class.HBE , June 1, 2017 at 8:21 amnycTerrierist , June 1, 2017 at 8:42 am
In today's world a school can charge as much for an education as banks are willing to lend students – and banks are willing to lend as much as governments will guarantee to cover, no questions asked.
Banks are (debt) slave owners, but universities are the (debt) slave merchants and overseers. Which is probably why campuses aren't filled with groups fighting for labor rights or discussing the abysmal economic reality they face.
Instead virtue signalling, woke IdPol is the dominant focus, which is just fine with the overseer, and nurtured by the comfortable tenured faculty, who are often quite happy having little debt slave house servants of their own (grad students, adjuncts).
And even worse the overseers (universities) don't put the revenue generated by slaves into improving classes, hiring more full time faculty, or a host of other factors that improve the quality of education.
They funnel it into aesthetics to make things look more appealing on tours, and materials, they use to attract more slaves, all the while crapifying quality of education. Which is the moat odious aspect of their role, they arent using the slaves to build a better educational system, but to get more slaves. The number of useless PowerPoint lectures I sat through makes me angry when I think about it.
Universities are the wives (or husbands) that look on and enable child abuse Almost, if not more disgusting than the abuser (banks).
And this is coming from a lucky grad who managed to stay out of the gig economy.hemeantwell , June 1, 2017 at 5:59 pm
Well put. Outstanding posts by Stoller and Hudson. A must-read primer on debt peonage and how universities are basically real estate hoarders and debtor magnets for the banks.Stephen Gardner , June 1, 2017 at 9:05 am
Credit where it's due: I'm a fan of both Stoller and Hudson, but I believe Hudson has been emphasizing debt in his writings far longer than Stoller. From Wikipedia:
Hudson [aged 78] devoted his entire scientific career to the study of debts: both domestic (loans, mortgages, interest payments) and external. In his works he consistently advocates the idea that loans and exponentially growing debts that outstrip profits from the economy of the "real" sphere are disastrous for both the government and the people of the borrowing state: they are washing money (going to payments to usurers and rentiers) from turnover, not leaving them to buy goods and services, and thus lead to "debt deflation" of the economy "justanotherprogressive , June 1, 2017 at 10:09 am
The rentier class is just a bit out over its skis on this. First, college debt is not "out of sight our of mind" the way rural poverty in the deep south is and was. The victims of the banks are geographically well distributed and numerically much greater than southern sharecroppers. I don't think the demographics of the Bernie Sanders movement is any accident. Young people in this country are not illiterate farmers. They often are well educated. Furthermore an education is something that cannot be confiscated by a bank in lieu of payment on a loan. Geographic distribution of victims is very important from the point of view of networking. As much as we have become more isolated as individuals due to some of the forces present in American society, victims of the rentier class are in close proximity to one another and in contact. They are also present all over the US. Like a fire fed by uncut underbrush in a forest the flames may spread quickly. When it happens, none of the prognosticators will have seen it coming–not even those of the left.UserFriendly , June 2, 2017 at 12:30 am
While I agree with your post, I quibble with your first line. I don't think the rentier class is "over its skis" with this one any more than the airline industry is "over its skis" with what it has been doing. As long as people are willing to put up with these tactics, they will continue .and get worse. There is no incentive for them to stop or slow down .David , June 1, 2017 at 10:36 am
It's not that people put up with it I know dozens that just have no hope, faith, or sense that change is even possible; so crippled with anxiety over their finances that they are utterly useless, myself included. When there is no light at the end of the tunnel it is almost impossible to muster the effort to do anything.Allegorio , June 1, 2017 at 12:22 pm
"Furthermore an education is something that cannot be confiscated by a bank in lieu of payment on a loan."
..which is why the government guarantee exists – coupled with the fact that the "education" for most is largely a myth – a degree is not an education.
As widely reported in NYC public schools last year – the graduation rate is 86%, but tests show less than 4% comprehension for math and english as reported in the NYP last year – same is largely true for higher education except for the price tag. The sharecroppers at least had tangibles to show from the financing exercise however meager they might be at the end of the day – the degree is largely worthless.
The banks will do .. fineDanB , June 1, 2017 at 11:43 am
Not to mention the incredible amount of cheating that goes on at universities. I guess cheating at college is training for joining the Kleptocracy.LT , June 1, 2017 at 12:16 pm
The question to ask, I think, is about the sustainability of this inversion of the dream of education as the path to upward mobility. People do not need to fully, or even partially, intellectually grasp the causes of their misery and sense of failure and futility to overthrow the status quo. This is the ideal -typically coming from the left- where informed citizens will recognize class conflict in its current form, neoliberal policies enriching the 1% and impoverishing most of the rest, and take over the government by voting out corrupt and captured politicians.
What is far more likely is that scapegoats are offered -a la Trump or some other demagogue. (But scapegoating leaves exploitation unresolved.) Whichever occurs, the current system of exploitation cannot go on, especially when all the other factors associated with hitting the limits to growth are considered.Dead Dog , June 1, 2017 at 10:20 am
Once the difference between education and indoctrination is learned, thee student and debtors in general can be "woke." How many students even think they should put themselves through a process of de-institutionalization, especially if they've followed the course of 1st grade to college graduation without a break?Grumpy Engineer , June 1, 2017 at 10:21 am
Thank you Michael. I studied economics at ANU and went through the period when Australia considered the cost of a university education, which back in the early 80s was free (I think we paid around $150 by way of Union subs). One of the new questions for students was the issue of education being a private or public good.
The Labor Treasurer at the time (and later Prime Minister), Paul Keating, made it quite clear that education had more of the characteristics of a private good and the benefits (public good aspect) of a quality education for the country were erased and have never been seen (discussed) again.
Money changed university and that change has not been positive for the institutions or the citizens they serve.diptherio , June 1, 2017 at 11:05 am
This article is a little misguided. I absolutely agree that excess student debt is becoming a major problem in American society that is causing all sorts of real problems, but to blame "the bankers" is to point a finger at the wrong culprit.
The true culprit is grotesque symbiosis between the colleges & universities and the US Department of Education , which issues over 90% of student loans. If you want to know who the predatory lender is here, look to Washington. The banks are just participating at the edges of our student loan fiasco.
Part of the problem is the popular concept of "good debt" vs. "bad debt", as espoused by economists such as Jared Bernstein. "Good debt" helps increase your earning potential, so the more good debt the government pushes on the populace, the better. Right? It's a popular concept in DC.
And it's crap. And the government is crushing an entire generation of students with excess debt in the process. I think Michelle Singletary summarized it well: Yes, All Debt is Bad Debt .Grumpy Engineer , June 1, 2017 at 11:34 am
So you think that the banksters are only profiting on this by accident? Who do you think is lobbying to have student loan debt made non-dischargeable? Who do you think is lobbying the Dept. of Ed. to guarantee all those loans?
For sure, there is more than enough blame to go around, and multiple actors have earned their share. But to place the majority of the blame outside the financial sector that, as Hudson points out, always profits MORE from debt than the people whose products that debt is used to buy, is a bit on the bizarre side.
Banks make money by creating debt and getting their victims er, customers to take that debt on. Therefore, bankers have an interest in increasing the overall level of debt in an economy. When you see debt skyrocketing, look around for an unscrupulous banker.Eleanor Rigby , June 1, 2017 at 12:21 pm
Your understanding of student loans is behind the times. The federal government hasn't guaranteed any privately-issued student loans since June of 2010. That was seven years ago.
This was Obama's great "improvement" to student lending. Cut the bankers out of the loop and have the government issue loans directly. And somehow the total amount of debt being carried by students managed to skyrocket anyway. It actually accelerated . And the government routinely employs debt collection practices (like seizing Social Security checks) that were rightly outlawed in the private sector. Those evil debt-collection companies that you regularly hear about in the news? Hired by our government for purposes of collecting on federal student loans.
Private banks only hold $150 billion out of $1.44 trillion in total student debt. That's barely 10%. Sure, the banks make some profit here. But the bulk of the problem is the federal loans. It's our own government that is crushing an entire generation of students with excess debt.Allegorio , June 1, 2017 at 12:38 pm
If I understand correctly, this change was implemented as a part of Obamacare. "We won't know what is in it until we pass it." I wonder what else is in that bill.Alejandro , June 1, 2017 at 2:50 pm
Your comment does not contradict Hudson's assertion that student debt creates compliant employees, making it difficult to change employment or stand up to employers. Likewise all the surveillance makes people afraid to protest and demonstrate, in case they lose their jobs.
The true evil is compound interest where the interest on a loan far exceeds the original loan. Economic activity increases linearly, interest geometrically. Does risking x dollars entitle you to x^n compensation. It is interesting to note, that in the ancient world the majority of slaves were not due to conquest but default on debt. The revival of slavery and serfdom is an obsession with the .001%ers. No robot can ever match the service of a subjugated human being. This country is ruled by murderers and thieves, sad to say.Left in Wisconsin , June 1, 2017 at 3:29 pm
In this latest mutation, how and who does the loan servicing?Grumpy Engineer , June 1, 2017 at 4:25 pm
Someone else may know better but I believe the govt hired 4 of the former loan originators/servicers to do all of the servicing nationwide.Sam Adams , June 1, 2017 at 1:21 pm
The Department of Education has contracted out the loan servicing, a practice that has led to even further abuse of borrowers. I found this list of about a dozen different servicers, but it's from 2013 and is likely out of date:
http://thecollegeinvestor.com/9892/the-complete-list-of-federal-student-loan-servicers/Paul art , June 1, 2017 at 3:35 pm
Uncle Joe Biden.
Contribute to the Joe Biden (student debt peonage fund) 2020 PAC.PhilM , June 1, 2017 at 6:41 pm
Marvelous hijack of the thread here buddy. Start talking about lousy Government instead of everything else. Brilliant move. You should apply to some Right Wing Think Tanks. I reckon they will pay handsomely for a brain like yours.djrichard , June 1, 2017 at 11:30 am
Yeah, buster, don't be going and confusing people with interesting facts and points of view that haven't already been expressed thousands of times! What do you think this is, an anechoic chamber?Lynne , June 1, 2017 at 10:34 am
the US Department of Education, which issues over 90% of student loans
Usually something like this would trigger hand waving about the Fed Gov crowding out the private sector. But in this case, crickets. I wonder why.
In a related note, presumably any loans issued by the Fed Gov do not actually increase the monetary base. So in a way, the Fed Gov is at cross purposes with the Fed Reserve which is doing everything in its power to create private debt inflation (increase of the monetary base). Banks to indebted students: "wake me up when you paid off Uncle Sam and we can do bidness."
Which triggers my suspicion on why the banks are pro immigration – because I believe immigrants would more or less be free of debt. Banks to themselves: "what's not to love? Oops, I mean give us your down-trodden, your poor".Grumpy Engineer , June 1, 2017 at 10:57 am
Today, the debts do not involve liens against crops. People in modern America carry student loans, credit card debt, and mortgages
Hard to say just how angry this makes me. I know most of the county likes to sneer at farmers, even more than others in flyover country. But to read this statement in a supposedly thoughtful article makes my blood boil. Given the vast consolidation in land ownership (Zuckerberg's attempt to strong arm Hawaiians was merely an attempt to follow the example of Ted Turner, after all), and the way Tyson destroyed whole segments of the market, crops are a large lever. Used to be crops and equipment, but John Deere has done its best to make farmers captives as well. But no, they don't exist (except to pay outrageous tuition to ag and vo-tech colleges) and MODERN Americans eat food that springs magically into existence in Trader Joe's. Bah, a plague on their houses. /sarc
Maybe the student loan debtors should start picketing the home of that Democratic hero, Joe Biden. Or take a look at just why post grad tuition has skyrocketed.diptherio , June 1, 2017 at 11:21 am
Why has post-graduate tuition skyrocketed? Because federal loan limits for graduate school are higher:
$57,500 for undergraduates and $138,500 for graduate or professional students, per https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/loans/subsidized-unsubsidized .
The objective of this game is for schools to extract as much money as possible from the government, with the students being held responsible for paying it back. Higher loan limits are the cause of higher tuition rates, not the effect.Allegorio , June 1, 2017 at 12:49 pm
Being from MT and a (one-time) ag family, I hear you on the issue of farmer indebtedness that is a serious problem, as it always has been. I've been hearing forever about the realities of farming - go into debt during planting and hope you get enough at harvest to pay it off and still have a little left over to live on.
However, as you point out, land consolidation by the likes of Cargill and their ilk has greatly reduced the number of family farms and the amount of family farm debt along with it. Total student loan debt right now is over $1.4T, whereas total ag debt is only $395B i.e. there is 4 times as much student loan debt as ag debt.
I'm pretty sure that Hudson wasn't trying to downplay the plight of family farmers in this country, or the crushing amounts of debt that they, individually, often end up taking on. I think he's just pointing out that on the macro-level, student debt has become the main contributor to overall indebtedness (along with mortgages).shinola , June 1, 2017 at 10:39 am
Not that all that money goes to hiring teaching staff. The majority of courses are taught by poorly paid adjutants and grad students. There is however an ever burgeoning class of college administrators all with six figure incomes pensions and medical care. It is jobs program for the well connected and ethnically privileged. Try getting a job at a university, not if you don't know somebody. The level of corruption at universities is truly astounding. I guess it is par for the course in our mafia culture. Free tuition would certainly increase pressure on cleansing the Stygian Stables, but until the electoral system is reformed and publicly financed there can be no reform of our education system. Finally, I second the emotion, may Joe Biden rot in hell.Off The Street , June 1, 2017 at 7:59 pm
I am reminded of an old coal miners song:
Ya load 16 tons and what do ya get
Another day older and deeper in debt
St. Peter don't ya call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company storeJesper , June 1, 2017 at 10:42 am
I came across the term leet-man the other day. That was in reference to John Locke, yes, that John Locke . He used the term in reference to his work on the South Carolina constitution of a few centuries ago. That was a bad idea then, and has gotten worse in the current context.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Locke's preamble stated: "that we may avoid erecting a numerous democracy;" Locke's "constitution" established the eight lords proprietors as a hereditary nobility, with absolute control over their serfs, called "leet-men":
"XIX: Any lord of a manor may alienate, sell, or dispose to any other person and his heirs forever, his manor, all entirely together, with all the privileges and leet-men there unto belonging .
"XXII: In every signory, barony and manor, all the leet-men shall be under the jurisdiction of the respective lords of the said signory, barony, or manor, without appeal from him. Nor shall any leet-man, or leet-woman, have liberty to go off from the land of their particular lord, and live anywhere else, without license from their said lord, under hand and seal.
"XXIII: All the children of leet-men shall be leet-men, and so to all generations."Grumpy Engineer , June 1, 2017 at 11:08 am
& the risk versus reward is completely skewed . The risk of default is (should be) based on the best credit rating of the borrower or the guarantor. In this case it seems that the risk premium is based on the worst credit rating so difference between risk and reward is completely off.
Personally I'd never ever guarantee someone elses debt – I'd rather borrow the money and lend it myself to whoever wanted me to be guarantor as in effect the risk would be the same as being a guarantor and the costs would be less as the middle man would be cut out.
Therefore I consider this:
banks insisted that the government guarantee all student debt
an unsurprising ask by banks but agreeing to it is idiocy. "Yes we can" does (or should not) mean saying yes to everything
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama_presidential_campaign,_2008#SloganAllegorio , June 1, 2017 at 12:53 pm
Aye. Saying "yes" to somebody who wants to borrow $120k for a masters in "motivational speaking" from a crappy knockoff of Trump University isn't exactly doing them a favor. But the US government will do it anyway. They pretty much say "yes" to everything when it comes to student borrowing, regardless of how likely it is that the student will be able to repay.
Assessing a potential borrower's ability to repay (a.k.a., underwriting) and sometimes saying "no" is an important part of lending. Keeps people from getting in over their heads. Well, it used to be. Nobody seems to bother these days. Especially the US government.PhilM , June 1, 2017 at 6:44 pm
The point being that the banks and the government want people to get in over their heads to feed the beast and to marginalize them with debt.Yves Smith Post author , June 1, 2017 at 7:20 pm
There's another way to look at it. If the government takes on all this debt, then forgives it, hasn't it given a tuition-free education "by the back door"? This could have been an outrageously ingenious move by Obama to slide free education in via the MMT back door.jerry , June 1, 2017 at 10:48 am
Coming off as an ideologue isn't a way to persuade people.
No one here likes making students borrow to pay for education. Even the Fed has found tuition subsides will lower default rates. But you don't get what the objective is. It is ostensibly to get more people educated, which of course allows for the continued inflation of college costs.
The Fed article pointed the issue of what the apparent real aims are:
Our results suggest that if the goal of education policy is to improve aggregate welfare, then merit-based tuition subsidies are preferable to both need-based subsidies and higher government borrowing limits, as merit-based subsidies promote college investment without increasing default rates in the student loan market. However, if the goal is to deliver high college enrollment rates, then need-based subsidies are preferable to merit-based subsidies and higher government borrowing limits, but come at the cost of higher default rates on student loans.
And the payoff to having a degree is even higher than before given rising income inequality (one of my buddies was just at an investment conference where this was a prominent point made). So if you can't get a college education, you will be left out of what is left of the middle class. But one of many problems is only something like 57% of the students complete their degrees even in 6 years.
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-mcpherson-complete-college-20160822-snap-story.htmlLT , June 1, 2017 at 12:07 pm
Any bankruptcy attorneys out there who can give me a good reason not to declare chapter 7 with 10-15k in unsecured debt, low income, and no medium term (5-10 years) prospects of needing a good credit score? Seems like the only tool left in the toolkit for us wage slaves these days?WeakenedSquire , June 1, 2017 at 12:46 pm
In the 90s, a radio promotion man from a music label was the first person to explain the the sharecropper analogy to me during a discussion about recording artist contracts. And the internet (or the information people give in service of it) has not changed the dynamic in music or any other industry because it concentrated power and made creditors and credit reporting agencies more powerful.JustAnObserver , June 1, 2017 at 1:40 pm
A student loan debt is literally a claim against a life - you cannot discharge it in bankruptcy, and if you die, your parents are obligated to pay it.
No. The second half of that is a flat-out wrong statement. Student loans are discharged upon the borrower's death. Every time I read Hudson, I find myself incredibly frustrated that a man of such brilliance resorts to lazy and hyperbolic exaggerations to make a point when there is no bloody need to do so. Reality is grotesque enough.nycTerrierist , June 1, 2017 at 12:48 pm
Perhaps Michael Hudson is – somewhat sloppily – referring to the IIRC typical case where getting the loan requires someone to sign on as guarantor, normally the student's parents.
Q for those who know: Am I right in thinking this ?Gordon , June 1, 2017 at 12:50 pm
As if it isn't bad enough, enter Betsy Devos:
http://www.prwatch.org/news/2017/01/13207/betsy-devos-ethics-report-reveals-ties-student-debt-collection-firmWisdom Seeker , June 1, 2017 at 3:16 pm
Here in the UK today's undergraduates are graduating with a debt in the high £40ks. That is getting on for twice the per capita national debt (around £27k if memory serves) so, given that about half now go to university, that will in time nearly double the national debt – except it will have been privatised so that's ok (/sarc).
Actually, it's not ok. After buying or renting (mostly renting) ridiculously expensive houses and paying off their student loans, today's graduates will not/cannot possibly generate enough economic surplus to pay the pensions of their parents. Somehow/sometime this is going to break.bob , June 1, 2017 at 7:43 pm
One aspect of this needs additional consideration: one person's debt is another person's asset. But whose asset? Blaming "rentiers" is insufficiently precise; we ought to know who lent the money. Demand for "bonds" comes from many sources, including retiree pensions, 401Ks, and so on.
Most of the student loans are federally guaranteed, but are the principal and interest payments actually going to Uncle Sam, or to Sallie Mae bond tranche owners? Are the boomers – at least those with pensions and 401ks – enslaving students through their ravenous demand for income-producing assets to fund their retirements?
Most people are blindly funding "life cycle" retirement funds, not realizing that those very "investments" are enabling all the behavior they decry as exploitative. The huge national debt, student loan, housing and auto loan bubbles are all funded by people who think of themselves as "investors", but are actually ENABLERS.
I fear the abuses won't end until people wake up and realize that their 401K retirement fund is abetting all the evils they abhor, and start demanding better investment options. But many simply won't care, and the finance industry will fight tooth and claw to prevent reform of their gravy train
P.S. In past years, when I searched I was not able to easily find a single bond mutual fund or ETF of any size that doesn't fund either the national debt, the TBTF banks, the housing, student loan or auto bubbles. One would think there would be some funds investing in bonds issued by non financial productive corporations; are there any? I would give good coin to a 401K or IRA-compatible fund or ETF which indexed non-financial corporate bonds, especially if it used a socially-responsible overlay to screen out the other forms of corporate abuse (monopolies, pollution, slave-labor practices etc.).VietnamVet , June 1, 2017 at 7:08 pm
Are the boomers – at least those with pensions and 401ks – enslaving students through their ravenous demand for income-producing assets to fund their retirements?
– YES –
Two industries not yet outsourced are education and healthcare. Rural college towns are the only oases of prosperity in mid-America. This article explains why. All the money being spent there is coming from the student's future earnings. It is unsustainable. The percentage of middle class families have fallen from 62% in 1970 to 43% in 2014. This is why government took over student loans. To keep the scam going. Debt that can't be paid back won't be. Healthcare has likewise been finanicizlized. Housing is well into its second bubble blown in part by Chinese flight capital. Something will pop. The prick could be as simple as a successful soft coup by the global media and the intelligence community that forces Donald J Trump to resign.
Jun 24, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.comlibezkova , June 24, 2017 at 06:19 AMYes, this is a pure class warfare. No question about it.libezkova -> libezkova... , June 24, 2017 at 06:28 AM
Neoliberals here want us to believe that it is corrupt GOP which spoil Obamacare, which was, in itself, simply great. That a lie. Obamacare was a horrible compromise by corrupt Obama with medical-industrial complex.
Neoliberals like Krugman pretend that history began anew last November 8th. As if the years and decades that had preceded Trump's election had all disappeared into some vast sinkhole. That's a typical neoliberal trick. They are notable ahistoric.
So his anger at current actions of GOP is fake. How about Clinton's corrupt deregulation and the money spend by Clinton-Bush-Obama on stupid wars ? From which only MIC and multinationals benefitted, as they should.
So now the elite feels that there are no longer money necessary to support disadvantaged and elderly even on the level the Obamacare. So they will be thrown under the bus (with classic betrayal of Democrats at the last moment) and money withdrawn (and redistributed up in best neoliberal tradition). This is what is happening. Krugman fake surprise is just disgusting. He was instrumental in creating the current situation. He is a neoliberal.
In theory, the Democratic party at least partially should represents workers, but as Jimmy Dore recently explained, the Dems are actually worse than Trump. They are just more hypocritical. Both parties are essentially two slightly different Mafias. They are reformable to exactly the same expect as mafia is. Trump only exists because the two political parties have become so corrupt and arrogant they don't give a damn about working people, or disadvantaged groups. Only lip service.
"Yet my sense is that many Americans have an inkling that history of late has played them for suckers. This is notably true with respect to the post-Cold War era, in which the glories of openness, diversity, and neoliberal economics, of advanced technology and unparalleled U.S. military power all promised in combination to produce something like a new utopia in which Americans would indisputably enjoy a privileged status globally. "
"The Mandate of Heaven, which members of my tribe once took as theirs by right, has been cruelly withdrawn. History itself has betrayed us."Reminded me an old song:Sanjait -> libezkova... , June 24, 2017 at 10:40 AM
Ya load 16 tons and what do ya get
Another day older and deeper in debt
St. Peter don't ya call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company storeOnly on planet wingnut can a big expansion of Medicaid for working families be considered a corrupt neoliberal bill.libezkova -> Sanjait... , June 24, 2017 at 12:41 PM
Guess what wingnuts? Medicaid is America's single payer insurance program.
Are you guys for single payer or just against whatever Dems propose?Don't try to obscure the issue.Christopher H. , June 24, 2017 at 08:28 AM
Expansion of Medicare was net positive. But this not what Obamacare is about. It is just a small, net positive part of it.
The rest is mostly about uncontrolled profiteering of the medical industrial complex and Big Farma.
There was no real cost controls and the level of corruption guarantees a big rip off for working families.
As PGL explained in his post there are three measures that can be taken to make Obamacare more palatable:
pgl -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 13, 2017 at 06:14 AM
There are 3 ways we could reduce what we pay for health care:
(1) Ending the oligopoly power of the health insurance companies;
(2) Ending the doctor cartel;
(3) Reducing the monopoly power of Big Pharma.
Alas, the Republicans have no intention in doing any of this. So when they tell people they want to lower their costs, they are talking to rich people. The cost to the rest of us will go up if they have their way.EMichael, PGL, kurt, weak tea centrists, please you're not fooling us...
Centrist Democrats are now the great defenders of social justice? Please.
June 23, 2017
The left half of the American political spectrum is in the middle of a big fight between the left and the center-left, which will surely get more intense as the midterms approach. Much of the battle, writes Franklin Foer in a very long piece at The Atlantic, will be between economic issues and social justice ones: "Two of the party's largest concerns - race and class - reside in an increasing state of tension, a tension that will grow as the party turns toward the next presidential election."
This way of framing things is utterly mistaken, both on the history and on the policy merits. There is no trade-off between race - or any other social justice issue - and class. This is an idea the center-left invented to beat back the leftist challenge to their dominance of the Democratic Party.
To see why, let's review some history.
Before about 2015, everyone knew that it was the left, broadly speaking, that was in favor of more aggressive policy to achieve social justice. It was leftist academics, activists, and politicians that decried racist mass incarceration, sexism, abuse of immigrants, oppression of LGBT people, and so on.
Until very recently, the center-left either nodded rhetorically to these problems while insisting that more moderate policy was a more realistic, achievable approach, or actively made them worse. It was center-left Bill Clinton who went out of his way during his first campaign for president to insult a leftist black woman and personally oversaw the execution of a mentally handicapped black man. It was Bill Clinton who signed a viciously racist welfare reform, instituted Don't Ask Don't Tell, signed the homophobic Defense of Marriage Act, and signed a mass incarceration bill - championed by more center-left Democrats like then-Sen. Joe Biden, and justified by racist agitprop about young black "super predators" from Hillary Clinton.
It's not just a '90s phenomenon, either. For instance, it is center-left Barack Obama who has the worst record of deportations of any president, by far. The multifaceted horror of this record is part of why leftists have often charged that Democrats are barely better than Republicans.
As time passed, the left won more and more of these arguments, and the center-left has backed down on gay marriage, criminal justice reform, police brutality, and so on. But many of these surrenders are extremely recent. Center-left Barack Obama did not support gay marriage in 2008, and only came out for it in 2012. Hillary Clinton ran a race-baiting primary campaign against Obama in 2008, and only changed her view on gay marriage in 2013, the same year that Obama finally slowed the mass deportation machine.
All this was not even disputed prior to the primary campaign between Clinton and Bernie Sanders. But when it looked as though Sanders might actually threaten Clinton's nomination, the center-left reached for social justice issues as a way to beat him back, by casting his left-wing economic ideas as somehow in tension with social justice - and therefore Sanders and his supporters as blind on race, if not actively racist.
This idea has taken root in the center-left, and led to a revisionist history of the last few years where centrists are the radical social justice champions, and the leftists are the ones who would somehow sacrifice minorities to get economic reforms. This is a story somewhat akin to Kevin D. Williamson's hilarious attempt to cast Republicans as the party of civil rights. (To be fair, Foer does mention some of the center-left's dark past.)
Sanders proved vulnerable to this preposterous argument, both because he is from lily-white Vermont and had virtually no ties with the black community, and because he tends towards a laser-focused rhetoric on economic injustice. But his voting record on social justice issues is extremely good - and at the very least, superior to Clinton in every respect save arguably gun control. (And as the campaign progressed, he realized his weakness and introduced strong social justice rhetoric and policy into his campaign.)
This finally brings me to economics. In addition to social justice, leftists do support the traditional program of massive economic restructuring to favor the working class and the poor. They do this because there is no trade-off between those two agendas. On the contrary, economic deprivation is a gigantic part of how American bigotry is structured.
It follows that there is no way to achieve a full measure of justice for all downtrodden groups without a huge left-wing economic reform. Full employment and a completed welfare state would strike a massive blow against racism and sexism - and even protect against police brutality. Strong protections for workers' rights would help prevent abuse of immigrants. An attack on monopolies and Wall Street swindlers would help minority businesses and work against racist banking practices.
Left-wing economics would not completely solve social justice problems, of course. Much else would need to be done. But it would help a lot - and better still, it would help virtually every oppressed group simultaneously.
This matters not because of the cynical appropriation of left-wing arguments by centrists (as maddening as that is), but because attacking class policy as useless for social justice rules out half of a proper agenda. Elite voices on the center-left have done this, one of them being Hillary Clinton, who once sneered that breaking up the banks would not end racism, sexism, or anti-LGBT discrimination. To drain class policy out of a social justice agenda is to drain much of its vitality.
(The fact that elite center-left politicos who do downplay class tend to start a corporate consulting or buckraking career immediately after they leave politics is, I'm sure, merest coincidence.)
Now, of course the left, like any political faction, has its problems with race, gender, and so on. But in terms of history, theory, and practice, it has been the left that has fought most consistently in favor of social justice, and the center-left which has not. Actual leftist organizations, like the Democratic Socialists of America, have stringent policies to ensure adequate representation and good treatment of women and minorities, both at the chapter and national level. It's a live issue, but they are unquestionably doing better than the Democratic Party.
But fundamentally, when it comes to actually making America a more decent place, there is no getting around the desperate need for strong class policy. Don't let center-left dissembling obscure this truth.
Jun 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.comBy Peter Temin, Elisha Gray II Professor Emeritus of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website
Mass incarceration in the United States has mushroomed to the point where we look more like the authoritarian regimes of Eastern Europe and the Middle East than the democracies of Western Europe. Yet it vanished from political discussions in campaigns in the 2016 election. In a new INET Working Paper , I describe in detail how the US arrived at this point. Drawing on a new model that synthesizes recent research, I demonstrate how the recent stability in the number of American prisoners indicates that we have settled into a new equilibrium of mass incarceration. I explain why it will hard to dislodge ourselves from this damaging and shameful status quo.
Mass incarceration started from Nixon's War on Drugs, in a process described vividly by John Ehrlichman, Nixon's domestic-policy adviser, in 1994:
The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.
This was the origin of mass incarceration in the United States, which has been directed at African Americans from Nixon's time to today, when one third of black men go to prison (Bonczar, 2003; Baum, 2016; Alexander, 2010).
Federal laws were expanded in state laws that ranged from three-strike laws to harsh penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The laws also shifted the judicial process from judges to prosecutors, from the courtroom to offices where prosecutors pressure accused people to plea-bargain. The threat of harsh minimum sentences gives prosecutors the option of reducing the charge to a lesser one if the accused is reluctant to languish in jail awaiting trial-if he or she is unable to make bail-and then face the possibility of long years in prison. And the shift of power was eased by the pattern of financing. Prosecutors are paid by localities, while the costs of prisons are borne by states. The trip to the penitentiary does not cost prosecutor at all. "Instead of juries and trial judges deciding whether this or that defendant merits punishing, prosecutors decide who deserves a trip to the nearest penitentiary (Stuntz, 2011, 286; Pfaff, 2017, 127)."
In a recent book, Pfaff minimized the role of drug laws in mass incarceration on the grounds that most state prisoners were convicted of violent crimes; only federal prisoners were predominantly convicted of drug violations. But the importance of public prosecutors and plea bargains contaminates this inference because the listed crimes in state prisons were produced in plea bargains. Since drug laws contain so many minimum sentences, plea bargains were driven toward lesser charges that did not fall under the drug laws. The results of the plea bargains do not indicate why prisoners were originally arrested and charged (Pfaff, 2017).
Both political parties were engaged at different times in legislation that gave rise to mass incarceration. It would seem likely that they could get together to try to reduce the rate of incarceration, but the prospects are not good in our current political impasse. The reduction of incarceration always has some risks, and political figures are very risk averse. Some people want to reduce the cost of prisons to help fund other government programs, but they have not produced many proposals to accomplish this goal or how to allocate the gains.
As Todd Clear stated in his 2007 book, Imprisoning Communities: How Mass Incarceration Makes Disadvantaged Neighborhoods Worse :
Imprisonment in America is concentrated among young, poor-dominantly minority-men and (to a lesser extent) women who come from impoverished communities. The way these young people cycle through our system of prisons and jails, then back into the community, leaves considerable collateral damage in its wake. Families are disrupted, social networks and other forms of social support are weakened, health is endangered, labor markets are thinned, and-more important than anything else-children are put at risk of the depleted human and social capital that promotes delinquency. After a certain point, the collateral effects of these high rates of incarceration seem to contribute to more crime in these places. Crime fuels a public call for ever-tougher responses to crime. The increasing way in which the face of criminality is the face of person of color contributes to an unarticulated public sense that race and crime are closely linked. The politics of race and justice coexist malignantly, sustaining an ever-growing policy base that guarantees new supplies of penal subjects in a self-sustaining and self-justifying manner (Clear, 2007, 175).
We seem to be in a new equilibrium. It took forty years to get to this point, and it may take at least that long to get back to what we can consider a normal incarceration rate typical of advanced economies. We have not yet started down that road.
See original post for references
paul , June 23, 2017 at 7:01 amfunemployed , June 23, 2017 at 7:25 am
Anyone who thinks it will take 40 years to undo a stroke of the pen, which the war on drugs was, is pissing (in a humanitarian direction) into the wind.
Removing the prison population would give janet yelllen an enormous migraine.
Metrics!QuarterBack , June 23, 2017 at 7:40 am
I'd add that the distinction between violent crime and drug violations misses the mark in another way too. The massive scale of the US black market, the cruelty of life in US prisons, the massive distrust and animosity between law enforcement and many communities, the disruption caused to families and communities by mass incarceration, and our high rate of violent crimes are hardly unrelated phenomena.
I'd wager decriminalization of drugs would lead to a pretty large decrease in supposedly unrelated violent crimes.TheCatSaid , June 23, 2017 at 7:42 am
True enough, but I'm sure the Prison Industrial Complex loves the idea of long term studies on impact followed by long term debates on methodology and findings. IMO, it is the monopolistic profitability of corporations like UNICOR that split their profits and governance with the very same people who control the mass incarceration and competitive bidding laws and policies, that far outweigh any other factor. Without substantial changes to the monetization and conflict of interest laws at the top, all the findings in the world are just noise to the entrenched system.
Consider this 2003 Fortune article Business Behind Bars Former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese has a way to slow the exodus of jobs overseas: Put prisoners to work
Prominent conservatives have been encouraging prisons to put inmates to work for years. Led by Edwin Meese, the former U.S. Attorney General and head of the Heritage Foundation, and Morgan Reynolds, one of the first President Bush's economic advisors, they have lobbied for real prison employment by the private sector–not just make-work projects like stamping license plates or building courthouse furniture. The benefits are difficult to ignore: Businesses get cheap, reliable workers; inmates receive valuable job training and earn more than they would in traditional prison jobs; and the government offsets the cost of incarceration and keeps jobs and tax dollars in the U.S.
Who do you think legislators are going to take their guidance from? Former AGs (who just happened to build and grow the prison workforce), or scholarly studies?cnchal , June 23, 2017 at 8:04 am
Social engineering described in this post was also a continuation of corporate / elite commercial interes. Free labor–what's not to like? Legal slavery, more profits from multiple directions of all kinds–legit, corrupt and criminal. Plus serving as a method to keep the downtrodden unable to respond in a way to create change (COINTELPRO and its contemporary descendants). . .
No way out but through but what will that look like? Comes down to individual understanding and action, no single uniform "solution". I gradually become more conscious of what I create. It's not a process that can be urged on others. "Be the change . . ."David , June 23, 2017 at 9:39 am
. . . The politics of race and justice coexist malignantly, sustaining an ever-growing policy base that guarantees new supplies of penal subjects in a self-sustaining and self-justifying manner (Clear, 2007, 175).
I am pissed at Ford. What a golden opportunity missed. Instead of moving Ford Fusion production to China, it could move production to a few prisons and use homegrown slaves instead of Chinese ones.cnchal , June 23, 2017 at 9:50 am
"The increasing way in which the face of criminality is the face of person of color contributes to an unarticulated public sense that race and crime are closely linked."
so no drug laws means no black inmates?
even if drugs were legalized – the same people would be in jail for something else.
There are no jobs – 40%+ UE Rate for this demographic – so what do you expect them to do?
Eric Gardner was selling cigarettes "for money" – joke crime – yet five cops descended on him.HotFlash , June 23, 2017 at 11:02 am
> so what do you expect them to do?
Globalization is a disaster wherever you care to look.kurtismayfield , June 23, 2017 at 11:38 am
even if drugs were legalized – the same people would be in jail for something else.
I have read your comment 4 times, so far, and still cannot see how you can say this. Pls explain.Michael Fiorillo , June 23, 2017 at 12:26 pm
The reason why the people are getting arrested and jailed for drug crimes is poverty. These people lack the economic opportunity to bring them out of it, so they drift to illegal enterprises. Even if you made all drug use and distribution/sales legal, this does not change the economic realities that make people choose an illicit activity in the first place. So they would be arrested for something else that is illegal.Ptolemy Philopater , June 23, 2017 at 3:49 pm
If there's the political will and power to repeal abusive drug laws, why wouldn't it be (theoretically) possible to do the same with laws that target the poor?
When I was growing up in the "bad old days" of '70's NYC, police officers would have rightfully laughed in the face of of a superior or elected official who told them to go after people selling "loosies" (a la Eric Garner).
I'm not saying it will happen, but popular revolts could go a long way toward loosening the vise on poor communities.Disturbed Voter , June 23, 2017 at 12:22 pm
Recreational Cannabis is legal in Colorado. It is a state granted monopoly. Already Colorado is cracking down on home grown weed production. There is legalization, and there is state granted monopoly legalization. The outcome for poor people is the same. Cigarettes are legal, yet Eric Gardner was murdered for selling them. Go figure.
Minority Heroin dealers are given intolerable sentences, but Perdue Pharmaceuticals floods the market with opiates with an ever increasing death toll, yet Raymond and Mortimer Sackler are billionaires. Go figure.
We live in a mafia culture. It's called ethnic privilege. Drugs are already legalized for the ethnically privileged. Mass incarceration, Genocide by Other Means, for the ethnically unprivileged. Go figure!Allegorio , June 23, 2017 at 3:51 pm
Unfortunately it take an outbreak of Black Death to make labor more valuable ;-(Kevin Horlock , June 23, 2017 at 12:40 pm
Or a revolution. Talk is cheap, action is not.clarky90 , June 23, 2017 at 6:31 pm
Police and prison guards' unions = sweet spot of the Dem base (particularly in California)
"Law and order" and disproportional impact on minorities = sweet spot of the Rethuglican base.
To me, all analyses of this issue pretty well begins right there.
I believe that we, the 80% , are being classed as the present day, Neo-Peasants and Neo-Kulaks. (Hillbillies, working class, uneducated, not woke, Nazis, deplorables, reactionaries, homeless, right-wing, religious bigots, addicts, petty criminals, progressives, Bernie-bros, conspiracy nuts ..) by the Neo-Apparatchiks.
There is a Revolution going on! It is being waged against us .
"During 1920–50, the leaders of the Communist Party considered repression to be a tool that was to be used for securing the normal functioning of the Soviet state system, as well as for preserving and strengthening their positions within their social base, the (The 20%) Working Class. (The Bolshevik Leadership were not really "working class", but usually, "Intellectuals"!) ( peasants , who were NOT considered "working class", represented 80%!!!! of the USSR population then ).
The GULAG system was introduced in order to isolate and eliminate class-alien, socially dangerous, disruptive, suspicious, and other disloyal elements, whose deeds and thoughts were not contributing to the strengthening of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Forced labor (was used) as a "method of reeducation" ."
Terrorism and Communism: A Reply to Karl Kautsky
"But terror can be very efficient against a reactionary class which does not want to leave the scene of operations. Intimidation is a powerful weapon of policy, both internationally and internally. War, like revolution, is founded upon intimidation. A victorious war, generally speaking, destroys only an insignificant part of the conquered army, intimidating the remainder and breaking their will. The revolution works in the same way: it kills individuals, and intimidates thousands." Leon Trotsky, 1920
Jun 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.comPosted on June 23, 2017 by Yves Smith By Gaius Publius , a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius , Tumblr and Facebook . GP article archive here . Originally published at DownWithTyranny
... ... ..
Protecting Their First Class Seats on the Titanic
The quote in the title of this piece is from Bernie Sanders , said in a recent interview with David Sirota. Here's just a part (emphasis and paragraphing mine):
Sirota: The Democratic Party leadership has lost the White House, Congress, 1,000 state legislative seats and many governorships. Why is the party still run by the same group of people who delivered that electoral record?
Sanders: Because there are people who, as I often say, would rather have first class seats going down with the Titanic, rather than change the course of the ship . There are people who have spent their entire lives in the Democratic Party, there are people who've invested a whole lot of money into the Democratic Party, they think the Democratic Party belongs to them . You know, they own a home, they may own a boat, they may own the Democratic Party.
I mean, that's just the way people are, and I think there is reluctance on some, not all, by the way - I mean, I ran around this country and I met with the Democratic Party leaders in almost every state in the country. Some of them made it very clear they did not want to open the door to working people, they did not want to open to door to young people. They wanted to maintain the status quo.
On the other hand, I will tell you, there are party leaders around the country that said, "You know what, Bernie? There's a lot of young people out there who want to get involved. We think that's a great idea, and we want them involved."
Those who said "You know what, Bernie? There's a lot of young people out there who want to get involved. We think that's a great idea" - they don't run the Party when it comes to its top layers of leadership. Not by a very long shot.
For the Message to Change, the Leadership Must Change
So what's a progressive to do? It should be obvious. The Democratic Party has to change its policy offering, from "You can't have what all of you want" to "If the people want a better life, we will give it to them."
Yet this is not so easily done. For the message to change, the leadership must also change.
Which raises the critical question: How do we depose Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and the rest of their kind and make people like Bernie Sanders and Jeff Merkley the Party leaders instead?
After all, if someone like Bernie Sanders isn't Senate Majority Leader, if a Sanders-like politician (Ted Lieu perhaps) isn't Speaker of the House, what's the point of electing more back-bench progressives, more "supporting cast" players?
If there's no way to do that - and soon, given the ticking clock - we're Sisphus pushing the same heavy bolder up the same high hill, year after year, decade after decade, till we die or the game is finally truly over. 2018 is around the bend. 2020 is coming. Après ça, le déluge . Not much time to solve this one.
Completely filling the Second Class cabins on the Titanic with our people (that is, populating Congress with progressives who are nevertheless kept from leadership and control) won't change what goes on in the Captain's cabin and on the bridge.
Put more simply, we need to control the Party , or when the clock truly runs out, all this effort will truly have been pointless. I'm not fatalistic. I assume there's a way. So here's my first shot at an answer.
Elected Progressives Must Openly Rebel Against Their "Leaders"
In order for the revolution inside the Democratic Party to work, our elected progressive congressional representatives senators, must work to depose Pelosi and Schumer (etc.) and take power. More - they must do it visibly, effectively and now , in order to convince the 42% of voters that someone inside the Party is trying to knock these people out of the Captain's chair.
We voters and activists have our own challenges. This is the challenge for the electeds we've already put in place. If our elected progressives don't do this - or won't do this - "tick-tick-tick" says the world-historical clock on the wall. And we can all go down together, steerage and First Class alike.
It's time to step up, elected progressives. It's also time to be seen to step up . Read the Paul Craig Roberts quote at the top again. If the Party's failed leaders aren't deposed, the revolution will have failed.
It's a moment for real courage, and moments of courage bring moments of great fear. I understand that this kind of open rebellion, open public confrontation, a palace coup in front of the TV cameras, is frightening.
It's also necessary.
My ask: If you agree, write to your favorite elected progressive and say so. No more gravy train for Democratic elites. Meat and potatoes for voters instead. Complete the Sanders revolution by changing House and Senate leadership - now.
I know this puts some very good people on the spot. But maybe that's a feature, yes?
Isotope_C14 , June 23, 2017 at 12:42 amxxxx, June 23, 2017 at 9:04 am
Though I believe climate change is well past the point that it can be mitigated, the attempt to depose the corporate democrats is a noble enough endeavor. Stephen Jaffe is running against Nancy Pelosi, a very thoughtful and progressive candidate.
David Hildebrand is running against Feinstein. Also very progressive and well worth some research. https://twitter.com/David4SenateCA
I'm sure these guys could use any help anyone is willing to offer. I believe they are both against PAC money, but they can accept donations through actblue.Vatch , June 23, 2017 at 11:07 am
Yeah but so we have two white men running against women, and on top of that if my google is correct Jaffe is > 70yrs old?
No disrespect to the quality of the candidates, but . seems like more wheel spinning. Like I keep saying, I don't trust Tulsi as far as I can throw my gas guzzler, but she has the kind of profile we need.Kim Kaufman , June 23, 2017 at 1:43 am
[Tulsi Gabbard] has the kind of profile we need.
Yes, she does. But she's from Hawai'i, and a 50 state strategy is needed. Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein are both Californians, and they're a couple of phonies. Despite the difficulties, any progressive Democrats who oppose them in the primaries deserve to be seriously considered for support. Here are some more web sites for these candidates:
David Hildebrand http://www.davidforcalifornia.com/
Stephen Jaffe https://jaffe4congress.com/
Tim Canova, who opposed Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the 2016 Democratic primary, has endorsed Stephen Jaffe:
Jaffe is 6 years younger than the 77 year old Pelosi:
http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-meet-the-liberal-who-is-trying-to-1494004055-htmlstory.htmljefemt , June 23, 2017 at 9:01 am
I love the spike in 2007 from Dems to Independents. That would be about the time Pelosi said "impeachment is off the table." They came back to vote for Obama and have been cratering ever since. And Pelosi is still there. But the problem is: the leadership has not been developing any new leaders. Pelosi is a disaster but whoever might replace could easily be worse.B1whois , June 23, 2017 at 12:59 pm
I shake my head in wonder at how 'middle America" seems to have been suckered by Trump, and continues to vote against its self-interest. Yet I see a comment with a 'conditional but(t) about Pelosi, and I think, "Well, that is just as inane?"
We need to dump BOTH sides of the same neocon , self-interested corrupt to the core coin, BOTH parties, and completely re-tool.
The collective 'we' must come up with a simple platform, over 300 new candidates for congress, as many candidates as there are for the upcoming Senate seats, in the next 18 months. Tall order, but, it really is up to 'us'. We 'the people'.
The platform that would rally the votes, or a Constitutional convention and re-work that would satiate the broad center of America is daunting if even possible.
I have trotted out some ideas, and they just don't resonate with closest like-minded friends, so how am I going to gain traction with folks that are of a deeper opposite philosophical perspective?
– Single payor, one system, NOT insurance, but care: same one for congress, the president, the military, and lowly tax mules like me
– No-deduction, simplified flat-rate income tax with four tiers, 5% 12% 20% top rate 40%- you tell me where we draw the gross income lines between the % rates
-Tax return has taxpayer- directed check boxes in front of a simplified matrix of 'government' , where individuals choose where they want their money to go. Initial 10 year period of a declining sliding scale- 90% goes general fund first year, 80% 2nd year, and so on so that by year 10 each taxpayor only gives 10% to the general fund, 90% is taxpayor-directed (direct democracy?) Allows lead time for the government to see the direction the nation, and not the elected officials, want to see their money go (infrastructure? Bombs and depleted uranium bullets destined for distant shores and brown people? National Parks and monuments? Starving disabled widows and children? Public universities and Community College/ Trade Schools?
-Currency tied to BTU/ energy– value of BTUs based on full-life cycle costs- including carbon or waste management externalities (Coal, oil/gas, nukes, hydro) analyzed energy units– incentivize individuals to print their own money with rooftop solar, wind, conservation, etc ( a new Gold standard :This is where all the displaced accountants and insurance/ medical staff can go after the tax code is simplified )
-Reintroduce The Draft, with mandatory service to include civilian work corps, get parents involved in directing our elected 'reps' to ponder the slelf licking ice cream cone of perpetual war
I'm sure I am missing many things but boy, between Trump. Pelosi, McConnell, Schumer, Ryan, Gianforte, we are according to my values and preferences headed in a 180 degree wrong direction!jrs , June 23, 2017 at 2:12 pm
Honestly, at this point, every single vote cast in the presidential election could be argued as being "against one's best interests". This hackneyed phrase needs to subsume under real qualitative analysis.Crazy Horse , June 23, 2017 at 3:40 pm
it's going to be against one's self interest in all likelihood as the system one lives in is against most of our self-interest (including our corrupt money drenched political system). Some votes can at best be damage control, which I suppose is in one's self interest to a degree, but only to a degree.Johnny Pistola , June 23, 2017 at 6:33 pm
This entire discussion is based upon the false premise that there are two political parties in the United States. Objectively there is only one party- the War Party, Empire Party, Kleptocracy Party- call it whatever you wish. Within it are two factions with slightly different players and ownership, but both are totally unrepresentative of the real interests of 99.99% of the citizens.
From the standpoint of the commoners, the two parties are similar to football teams where fan support is based upon social conformity and quasi-religious delusion. Loyalty is fostered by staging huge circuses where the two contestants compete to see which one can fabricate the most appealing set of lies which they never intend to try to implement.
"Change cannot occur if the displaced ruling class is left intact after a revolution against them" The idea that one of these "political parties" can be captured and transformed into something other than its very essence is ludicrous. What exactly does the displaced ruling class (not being) left intact mean? Nancy Pelosi finally succumbing to old age? Pelosi, Obama, or Trump are hardly the ruling class- merely its' hired servants who can be replaced. Having the ruling class overthrown is more likely to mean the Buffets, Bezos', and Dimons of the world thrown into a maximum security cell In Guantanamo or burned at the stake than a mere shuffling of political actors.
And Gaius, what basis do you have for calling Trump the worst presidential candidate in modern history? In order to achieve that honor he will have to outperform Obama, he of the silver tongue who ruled for 8 years as a "progressive" while overseeing the destruction of the middle class, enabling the financialiization of the economy and the greatest transfer of wealth in history, and becoming the world's most prolific assassin using a fleet of remote controlled drones. Or be more evil than George Bush, who sat in the back row of an elementary classroom while Dick Cheney stage managed the false flag attack upon New York and the Pentagon and used that to turn the country into a Homeland Insecurity police state. Granted, Trump is trying hard to be even more destructive than his predecessors, but he hasn't yet succeeded.Rhondda , June 23, 2017 at 6:45 pm
You effectively echo my thoughts, Mr Horse. The children of the American Revolution are afraid to revolt perhaps they fear they will be demoted to economy class on the Titanic if they rebel?redleg , June 23, 2017 at 1:51 pm
Excellent comment.jrs , June 23, 2017 at 2:18 pm
Missing 2 big ones:
1. MONEY IS NOT SPEECH, and shall be subject to regulation by legislation and/or administrative rules;
2. Corporations ARE NOT PEOPLE and have absolutely ZERO inherent rights. Any rights assigned to corporations by legislation shall be subordinate to those of living beings.
Yes, I'm shouting.UserFriendly , June 23, 2017 at 2:00 am
The U.S. Constitution IS ONE F'D UP DOCUMENT, that makes things so hard to change.
But really since it seems this requires an amendment to change these things, and that is nearly impossible to achieve (well we haven't had a new amendment in 45 years unless you count congressional pay – yea approaching near half a century without one), it does just underscore what a screwed up political construct we live under.Kim Kaufman , June 23, 2017 at 2:05 am
I could not agree more if you paid me to.Lambert Strether , June 23, 2017 at 2:10 am
And here's something to listen to on the good ship Titanic:
Gavin Bryars – The Sinking Of The Titanic (1975, Obscure)
I've always liked Gavin Bryars but just read the above is on Tom Waits' top ten list of music favorites. So here's something he did with Bryars, also part of the sinking of the Titanic:
Gavin Bryars Feat. Tom Waits – Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet (Long version)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gT0wonCq_MYIgnacio , June 23, 2017 at 3:13 am
> They've totally had it.
Exactly.WobblyTelomeres , June 23, 2017 at 9:54 am
This article shows that the Democratic party, all political parties with possibilities, are run like corporations. Period.allan , June 23, 2017 at 11:14 am
Or a crime syndicate.I Have Strange Dreams , June 23, 2017 at 3:23 am
Or a lobbying firm. A flexian lobbying firm:
Prominent Democratic Fundraisers Realign to Lobby For Trump's Agenda [Intercept]
[ Long laundry list horror show of Obama/Clinton bundlers lobbying to advance Trump agenda. At the end:]
The Intercept spoke to several progressive activists who expressed outrage that leading Democratic Party officials are now advancing the Trump agenda, but were reluctant to comment on the record, for fear of angering powerful Democrats. But a few activists, like Democracy Sping's Newkirk, decided to speak on the record.
Becky Bond, an activist and former Bernie Sanders adviser who also spoke out, said, "When Democratic insiders team up with Comcast and the private prison industry, they make it pretty difficult to see how the party can recruit relationships with the voters it needs to bring back into the fold."
"Destroying the internet and maximizing the profitability of mass incarceration," she added, "is not what I would call a winning strategy for Democrats who want to take back power in 2018."
If the DNC wanted input from granola crunchers, they would ask for it.
Or, rather, have Blue State Digital ask for it and bill the DNC six figures.HotFlash , June 23, 2017 at 8:56 am
The doctor has correctly diagnosed the disease, but there is no cure; the prognosis is terminal. The D party are American to the core: grifting, hustling, murdering, stealing, tech-douchebaggery, vagina-hatted buffoonery, egotistical, self-obsessed anti-social psychopathic angry drunks of selfish parents. I.e, all-American.relstprof , June 23, 2017 at 3:29 am
There is a lot of truth in what you say. But perhaps you could make some new friends?relstprof , June 23, 2017 at 3:36 am
"By my count, with the Georgia election Democrats have just blown their fifth chance in a row to make a new first impression"
Direct and simple. Publius has it right, like Hillel:
"There was an incident involving a Gentile who came before Shammai and said to him: 'Convert me to Judaism on condition that you will teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot.' Shammai pushed the man away with the building rod he was holding. Undeterred, the man then came before Hillel with the same request. Hillel said to him, 'That which is hateful unto you, do not do unto your neighbor. This is the whole Torah, all the rest is commentary.'" ( Shabbat 31a)
Imagine this scenario with a fast-food worker, a coal miner, an adjunct professor, a docks trucker. (Evidently Ossoff didn't imagine this, as reports surface that he didn't campaign for these kind of voters.)
Do not exploit. Single-payer. Debt relief. Free tuition. It's not going to be easy, but there's no need for fear.HotFlash , June 23, 2017 at 10:47 am
Edit: fearmongering ought to be the last word above.Carla , June 23, 2017 at 7:53 am
I think leaving it at 'fear' is better.cripes , June 23, 2017 at 3:47 am
"Do not exploit. Single-payer. Debt relief. Free tuition. It's not going to be easy, but there's no need for fearmongering."
As long as we keep bombing the shit out of Syria, Yemen, and anywhere else we please?
Oh, I forgot. "Do not exploit" only applies to AmuricansHayek's Heelbiter , June 23, 2017 at 5:19 am
As much as I would like to see a viable third party that owes nothing to the POS legacy Dems, it does seem like the more likely scenario is a takeover of the entire party apparatus and leadership.
The hour is getting late. (hat tip J Hendrix)ratefink , June 23, 2017 at 10:56 am
Actually, the line is by Nobel Laureate, Bob Dylan, from "All Along the Watchtower." which was, importantly, preceded by the line, "There's no reason to talk softly now."voteforno6 , June 23, 2017 at 6:28 am
"Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."Johnny Pistola , June 23, 2017 at 6:41 pm
Actually, hat tip B. Dylan (b. R. Zimmerman).Eureka Springs , June 23, 2017 at 8:17 am
Yeah, but I still like Jimi's version better.Eclectic , June 23, 2017 at 4:59 am
I like PCR's quote.
"Change cannot occur if the displaced ruling class is left intact after a revolution against them .
I don't even detect this as a sincere goal among progressives/demos which is yet another reason I'm not d partying.
If anyone takes over the party without changing nearly every process then they are just seeking the same results by new faces.
Binding platform/policy established and maintained by as many people/votes as possible. And this should be done by nearly anyone but candidates/office holders. Officeholders should represent with instructions much like a jurist.
True party membership.
No more caucus. Individual private votes on paper ballots for all party processes. All off which must be counted immediately. Votes should be scheduled far in advance, with no last minute changes to questions/issues as we witnessed when given glimpses of inner party shenanigans.
Transparent, real time monitoring of all incoming and outgoing funds. Down to the office pencils and after hours beers if on party or contracted dimes.
Otherwise it's a private anti-democratic exclusionary party and you ain't in it.wellclosed , June 23, 2017 at 5:38 am
Being in control of the losing party is still being in control: deals can be made, hands can be shaken, backs can be rubbed. A reformed progressive party means that the current elite lose their relevance, influence and power. And they will have none of that.habenicht , June 23, 2017 at 6:26 am
"Change cannot occur if the displaced ruling class is left intact after a revolution against them." Dems have been running away from Henry Wallace (Roosevelt too) since way before my time.Moneta , June 23, 2017 at 7:41 am
Michael Hudson said this back on this site in March:
"It seems that only a new party can achieve these aims. At the time these essays are going to press, Sanders has committed himself to working within the Democratic Party. But that stance is based on his assumption that somehow he can recruit enough activists to take over the party from Its Donor Class.
I suspect he will fail. In any case, it is easier to begin afresh than to try to re-design a party (or any institution) dominated by resistance to change, and whose idea of economic growth is a pastiche of tax cuts and deregulation. Both U.S. parties are committed to this neoliberal program – and seek to blame foreign enemies for the fact that its effect is to continue squeezing living standards and bloating the financial sector."
Further I find it hard to conclude that the Democratic party is salvagable reading the post here. They have proven time and time again where their interest lie.
Unless there is a mutiny on the horizon for the democrats, maybe it is better to abandon ship!Susan the other , June 23, 2017 at 11:21 am
Donor money attracts the status seekers pushing for the status quo, guaranteeing low voter turnout. Leaders probably love it when the dissenters just give up and become even more individualistic.
A new party needs to get started promoting:
– pension protections
– universal healthcare
– affordable post secondary educationMoneta , June 23, 2017 at 11:45 am
Interesting how Macron managed to recruit enough members of parliament to make his EM party viable – just that easily he ousted and replaced people. I thought it was all too smooth. Here it's a cat fight all the way. And in the end party politics gets corroded anyway. I'm thinking a party is secondary to policy, because it is always shifting. Whereas some bedrock policy, regardless of which "party" might be marching for it, can survive all the ups and downs of sack-of-potato politics. What we need is a movement that demands human rights. A constitutional convention would just be another cat fight – we need to start demanding the basics, as you list them and maybe a few more like a jobs guarantee program – the right to work for a living wage.Moneta , June 23, 2017 at 11:50 am
IMO, the manifesto has to list requests that are
Human rights are too nebulous: one could see walking down the street holding a gun a god given right while the other sees being able to walk in a gun free city
a god given right.
Job guarantees are just as nebulous. Instead of offering job guarantees, you'd have to guarantee the creation of specific jobs: cleaning polluted areas, universal daycare, research into X, etc.Rhondda , June 23, 2017 at 6:53 pm
Very specific.Carolinian , June 23, 2017 at 7:47 am
I don't think you can compare the situ with the Dems to Macron's feeble sweep up. He's a Globalist banker construct, a cutout. Obama v 2.0 a la Français. IMHO, of course.a different chris , June 23, 2017 at 9:11 am
Thank you. The Dems are never going to change unless challenged from outside the party. Sanders' Titanic analogy isn't particularly valid since the first class passengers in this case have their own private lifeboats. Of course you can get melodramatic and claim the fate of the world is at stake and therefore the planet itself is the Titanic due to AGW but that's a problem much bigger than political parties and changing one for the other isn't likely to make much of a difference.
Since the article brings up Walmart and Amazon perhaps they could serve as better analogies. They aren't really monopolies of course since they fear competition including each other and that may be all they fear. I see this in my own town as new competitors move in and Walmart cleans up its stores, offers new services etc.
So Michael Hudson had it right. Sanders would have made far more of a difference if he had started a third party rather than sheepdogging for the Dems. The barriers are huge and designed to be so but the people running the Dem party are not going to step aside for our convenience. It's the duopoly system itself that needs to be overturned and not this perpetual suggestion–that we've been hearing forever–that the Dems somehow reform themselves. Their idea of reform is to bring on somebody like Obama to fix the p.r.a different chris , June 23, 2017 at 9:16 am
Lifeboats? They have manned helicopters.DanB , June 23, 2017 at 11:09 am
>Sanders would have made far more of a difference if he had started a third party
Not sure I agree with this. Now you can possibly convince me that he should, but I feel strongly that the initial attack right in the belly of the beast was necessary. Now everybody's heard of him, know who he is. He's on the TeeVee, he brings them eyeballs.
If he started a third party he would have just been ignored in the media, and the media is all.Vatch , June 23, 2017 at 11:16 am
He could have started a third party with the justification that the DNC sabotaged him. We'll never know what would have been the outcome in 2016, but since I see Bernie as a "first pancake" (don't eat it but it's necessary to get things going) breaking with the Dem. Party would have been important on several levels.UserFriendly , June 23, 2017 at 2:09 pm
You are absolutely correct - as a third party candidate, Sanders would have received even less media coverage than he did get from the mainstream media. I think he would have done better than the Greens, but he still would have lost badly. One of the major lessons of 2016 is that the deck is heavily stacked against third parties in the United States; neither the Greens nor the Libertarians in combination could muster 5% of the Presidential vote. To ignore that lesson would be tragic.charles leseau , June 23, 2017 at 2:21 pm
At the end of the primary this poll came out.
In a 4-way election for President of the United States today, 06/10/16, with Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Gary Johnson all candidates on the ballot, Trump defeats Clinton 35% to 32%, with Sanders at 18% and Johnson at 4%, according to SurveyUSA research conducted for The Guardian. Of those who vote for Sanders if his name is on the ballot, 73% say theirs is a vote "for" Sanders, 19% say theirs is a vote "against" Trump, and 7% say theirs is a vote "against" Clinton.
In a 4-way election for President with Sanders' name not on the ballot, Clinton defeats Trump 39% to 36%, with Johnson at 6% and Jill Stein at 4%. 5% of all voters tell SurveyUSA they would "stay home and not vote" in this ballot constellation. Of those who vote for Sanders when Sanders' name appears on the ballot, 13% say they will stay home if Sanders name is not on the ballot, 41% vote for Clinton, 15% vote for Johnson, 11% vote for Stein, and 7% defect to Trump.
I can't help but think that as Sanders got to put his message out at the debates, when most voters are just starting to tune in, and then with comey and pussy grabbing there would be a significant shift to the only not insane candidate with a shot. That is if the media didn't go ape shit on him for 'handing the election to trump' as soon as he decided to go 3rd party. That is a big IF, but now I wonder how much of an effect that would have had with how much everyone loves the media ..HotFlash , June 23, 2017 at 9:46 am
If he started a third party he would have just been ignored in the media, and the media is all.
Exactly.EricT , June 23, 2017 at 10:18 am
The Dems are never going to change unless challenged from outside the party.
Sanders' Titanic analogy isn't particularly valid since the first class passengers in this case have their own private lifeboats.
To your point the first, it is not an either-or situation. And think how effective it would be if the Dem Party leadership was challenged from *both* inside and outside!
To your point the second, the *very* first class passengers feel assured that they have lifeboats (and they could be wrong), but the hangers on? Not really. They have not adequately prepared, they are as few paychecks from disaster as the rest of us are, they are riding on their employers' ticket, and that is why they are hanging on to the "donor class" like grim death. The actual "donor class" doesn't pull the levers of power, they have staff to do that. It is the staff that we are after.Jeremy Grimm , June 23, 2017 at 12:18 pm
Pelosi, Schumer, Clinton, Hoyer. They are all old. In 5 years time, the whole Democratic party could change. There is a saying attributed to Max Planck, "Science advances one funeral at a time.", I suggest the same applies to politics.Adam Eran , June 23, 2017 at 1:53 pm
The history of third parties in the U.S. is not encouraging. Much as I respect Michael Hudson's writings on economics I tend to adhere to the writings of G. William Domhoff for analysis of power. [ http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/class_domination.html ] From the section "The Power Elite and Government":
" there can be only two main parties due to the structure of the government and the nature of the electoral rules."
"The fact that Americans select a president instead of a parliament, and elect legislators from "single-member" geographical areas (states for the Senate, districts for the House) leads to a two-party system because in these "winner-take-all" elections a vote for a third party is a vote for the person's least desired choice. A vote for a very liberal party instead of the Democrats, for example, actually helps the Republicans."
This last election cycle the Democratic Party too plainly exposed its empty hull within. It appears vulnerable to take over by mutiny or pirates from within.
Abandoning ship? - That sounds like a good way to drown. Neither of the main alternative parties show promise and riding the currents of the present seas will not carry us to a new island home.Chronic Illness , June 23, 2017 at 7:02 am
The current situation is an echo of the post-Civil-War elections when the Farmers' Alliance and Peoples' Party actually elected officials from local to Federal. They lost, ultimately, to J.P.Morgan and his interests, but sparked genuine change (a central bank, among other things).
Hard to say we'll do much better now.HBE , June 23, 2017 at 10:08 am
I'm not sure how you look at the last election cycle and conclude that the 'Democrat' party is even remotely capable of reform from within. For all of Mr. Sanders laudable goals, I think he is still suffering from the delusion that enough people in the party have the courage and moral conviction to do the right thing rather than looking out for their own skin. The money suggests otherwise.
I think it has been proven rather conclusively that political animals are first and foremost self-serving creatures. That being said, it's probably time people take the bull by the horns and proceed with forming a party that actually represents their collective interests rather than "the system".
I have been involved in a discussion group with some highly intelligent people (mostly PhD types here), and it is fascinating how many of them will apologize for the destruction created by the previous administration's policies. These people aren't necessarily wealthy, but they see themselves as the "resistance" when they are part and parcel part of the problem.
They, like many in the 'Democrat' party, still cling to the Hamiltonian principles that have alienated so much of the country. Obama was a perfect example of how destructive this mindset can be. These closet elitists espouse popular progressive policies on their face, but when push comes to shove they will happily throw a few people under the bus if it means they won't have to wait in line for their morning latte at Starbucks. These faux progressives see themselves as the thinkers and leaders in modern society (much like Orwell's Animal Farm pigs), and they have no intention of letting the peons without proper pedigrees institute change which would level the playing field for a more just and humane social and economic structure.Michael Fiorillo , June 23, 2017 at 11:46 am
These closet elitists espouse popular progressive policies on their face, but when push comes to shove they will happily throw a few people under the bus if it means they won't have to wait in line for their morning latte at Starbucks.
This is a perfect definition of a dem tribalist, in all but words they are the exact same as those suburban republicans the dem party so desperately longs for, but will never have for the simple reason they are tribalists as well.
Dems are enraged enough to don little pink hats and march by the millions, not because of gross inequality, injustice or global warming, but because their moderate Republican lost.
They say they hate racists and racism, but they steadfastly support the policies that institutionalize racism. Mass incarceration, economic injustice, global war, the biggest drivers are just fine with them. The racism they don't like is the crass kind displayed by individuals that they see or here. Not really because it's racist but because it tarnishes their virtue bubble.
Dems are moderate suburban Republicans who don't have stiff enough constitutions to see, and own the effects of the policies they support. They are delusional hypocrites.
Third party please.oh , June 23, 2017 at 4:45 pm
" they are they exact same as those suburban republicans the dem party so desperately longs for "
Freud, referring to nationalism. called it "the narcissism of superficial differences." It seems to apply very well here, too.David, by the lake , June 23, 2017 at 7:04 am
The crooked leadership in the DimRat party are only interested in fooling people so they can collect campaign contributions which they promptly lop off for their personal gain. They don't if they win or lose an election as long as they can fool people and loot campaign money. They'll swindle the honest people who stay within the DimRat party and throw them away like used rags. The people who desire to change the party from within are deluded. Bernie might have meant well and spoken some truths but when push came to shove, he ran back to Momma! Let's get with the program and support a third pary like the Greens who already have registration in ove 40 states.David, by the lake , June 23, 2017 at 9:02 am
I washed my hands of the Democrat Party and national politics after the primary, with the exception of a possible Constitutional convention, which I see as the best chance we have to dismantle the American empire peaceably. I'll still vote, as disruptively as I can, but I'm not investing my energy in national issues only to be left a dry husk. Rather, that energy is being focused on my garden, my community, and my family.Arizona Slim , June 23, 2017 at 9:40 am
Your comment is appreciated, perhaps more than you realize. One can feel quite alone in a decision like this when the massed crowd insists on marching off the cliff and expects me to not only go along, but to agree that it is a good idea. Thank you.ErnestMold , June 23, 2017 at 10:44 am
You're very welcome.
And, shhh, don't tell anyone, but there are many more people like us. Our numbers are growing.freedeomny , June 23, 2017 at 2:16 pm
Yep. Many, many more. We should create a secret handshake to identify one another in public. Or maybe we identify our comrades by the dirt under their fingernails, or the beet left dangling from their back pocket as a sign of solidarity.Johnny Pistola , June 23, 2017 at 7:19 pm
I don't think you are alone at all. I have been planning similarly for the past 3 years and know several other people who are doing the same. We have paid off mortgages, pinched pennies and are living a simple, anti-materialistic life with the end goal of moving to a rural/small town where we can be largely self-sustaining, focus on our communities and make due with a much smaller income.
That being said-I will continue to use my voice (in any way that I can) to express my outrage at the current state of the USA .Vatch , June 23, 2017 at 11:19 am
Yes! And you can find us at the local community food and music festivals across North America. National politics has become a toxic playground for futile argument.Jeremy Grimm , June 23, 2017 at 1:14 pm
I'm not investing my energy in national issues only to be left a dry husk. Rather, that energy is being focused on my garden, my community, and my family.
Simply voting in the Democratic primary doesn't take a lot of energy. Your family and your community could benefit if you do so (I'm not sure about your garden).Michael Fiorillo , June 23, 2017 at 12:00 pm
I strongly second this view! Independents and the alienated [David, by the lake you seem "alienated"] should register to one of the two parties - preferably Democratic. Registering for a party means you can vote in that party's primary and it means you might be called by pollsters and receive requests for contributions - all offering great potential for disrupting which are not otherwise available to Independents and the alienated.Jeremy Grimm , June 23, 2017 at 1:25 pm
Not that I'm happy with what he does or plans to do, but isn't Trump already doing a pretty good job of dismantling the American empire?
Given our circumstances, and the patterns of history, isn't it a delusion for the anti-imperialist Left to think that the empire will shrink/dissolve into something resembling its preferred model, whatever that is? In fact, doesn't history show cronies/grifters/looters/shitheel relatives (think Kushner) as the ones who inherit a failing empire, and get their skim from the excess energy/capital generated by it collapse?
I've no patience at all for the "Putin did it" memes, but according to the Caligula/Nero model of imperial decline, he'd have been wise to do everything in his power to get Trump elected, since Donnie is likely to do more to undermine the empire than anyone imaginable.redleg , June 23, 2017 at 2:47 pm
In the BBC series "I Claudius" - Claudius believed favoring Nero would help bring a return of the Republic.
My chief hope from Trump was that he might draw down our Military and stop a few of our ruinous wars. Instead he seems to have "outsourced" control and direction of the Military to the Military. And Trump's domestic agenda seems oriented toward reducing most of the population to the condition of self-supporting slaves transferring what wealth they still hold into the hands of the very wealthy. I suppose this is one way to dismantle the American Empire.FWX341844 , June 23, 2017 at 7:15 am
Trump and the GOP are doing exactly what they do. This might be dismantling (privatizing) society, but this is what they are and have been so for many years. They are malevolent, but relatively honest about it.
The Dems, however, speak through their hats. They are also malevolent, but do not broadcast it. They are masters of scapegoating and rationalization. They have been moving right since at least the Carter Presidency (yes, Carter) and appear to covet the GOP so much that they have effectively become the GOP of 5 to 10 years ago on a sliding scale. Since every election is The Most Important EVAH ™, they have kept those attempting to move the party back to the left unhappily in the party as "they have nowhere else to go". But the results over the last 50 years reveal the Dems as liars, and eventually the lessor of 2 evils strategy (not a typo – they are for lease) stops working as people slowly realize that the benefits of voting blue no matter who are minimal. Thus the increase in independents on the above graph.
We have hit the point, globally IMO, where people have had enough. "Vote GOP/fascist, and those empty-promise Dems/liberals will suffer with us- and we get to keep our guns." Or don't vote at all. Schadenfreude is a powerful motivator.
The Dems were the party of conservatives back in the 1800s (remember slavery?), took a little detour in the 1930s, and have reverted to what they were. The left (not the vichy-left that is left only relative to the GOP, but the progressive left) has no representation in US politics. The future for progressives lies outside of the Dem party – let the aristocratic Dems and GOP become one party with 2 factions discriminated by the amount of bible thumping they do.
Progressives need to start over very publicly, and the sooner the better. They need to clearly, loudly describe what they will do, how they intend to do it, and how it will benefit people. Corbyn and Sanders have demonstrated that there is a significant fraction of the population that will support this. It also uses the existing Schadenfreude as a political tool.
\rant)Kokuanani , June 23, 2017 at 7:19 am
"For the message to change, the leadership must change."
For the Democratic-Party leadership to change, we have to get the new message [we will give you a better life] through to them. They're not listening to that new [old-school] message, because roughly half of us will vote for them no matter what the message is [say, the alternative is worse, ya' know] and the other half of us don't vote at all [read: what difference does it make?].
Let's address that last part first. We should be able to convince the people that their votes would make a difference if only they'd cast them for at least five consecutive election cycles. That might entail electing more of the same sort of Democrats that we have today. But if voter participation on the Democratic side of the choice increased sufficiently and persistently, then even the worst of the Democrats would have to remove the tampons from their ears to hear the people demanding a better life.
Be advised, though, that when the better life arrives–as it briefly did following the GI Bill, The Interstate Highway Act, the expansion of the suburbs, the era of urban decay and municipal budget crises wrought by bond down-grading–a fair number of the people will become Republicans and the great cycle of rent-seeking expropriation will begin anew.Northeaster , June 23, 2017 at 8:44 am
The foolish Democrats continue to send our house "surveys" as part of their begging. Usually I just throw them out or write a brief, nasty message in red marker. This time, with the two that are awaiting my action, I'm going to add a more detailed "get rid of Pelosi, Schumer, Hoyer etc." message.
Having worked in a Congressional office, I know that I'm not really "communicating" with anyone, but perhaps if they get a few more of these specific "suggestions," a light will go on in their lizard brains.Arizona Slim , June 23, 2017 at 9:45 am
Bernie Sanders? Really? He is a hypocrite and a Socialist – GTFO of here with that nonsense.
This country may just have to duke it out and see what's left after the ashes fizzle out. It won't be Bernie Sanders, that's for sure.IsotopeC14 , June 23, 2017 at 9:54 am
You are saying "socialist" like it's a bad thing. Ever gone for a drive? To the library? You just dealt with two socialist entities, roads and libraries. I could go on, but the hour is getting late.tegnost , June 23, 2017 at 10:49 am
Fascinating stuff really, how in America Socialism=USSR=Stalin=Terrorism=Obama. Reminds me of that excellent wikileaks document talking about how they are content to have erased civics and worked to create a clueless populationBig River Bandido , June 23, 2017 at 10:29 am
Bernie played it masterfully, disrupting the democrat party and exposing the fraud, while maintaining an operational voice as a senator. The aforementioned elites would like nothing more than seeing him go away.roadrider , June 23, 2017 at 8:57 am
The entrenched power within the Democrat Party in Washington lies with the campaign committees (DNC, DCCC, DSCC) who are under the thumb of some of the most sleazy, corrupt people in politics - Democrat "consultants".
There will be no kind of change without decapitating the party of those scumbags. They, in turn, owe their jobs to the members of Congress who are elected by their caucus to "oversee" those campaign committees. DCCC is headed by Pelosi apparatchiks Lujan and Israel. Israel, in particular, is a poster child for the corrupt, antideluvian Democrat Party hack. Similar dynamics apply in the Senate, although the caucus "leaders" are not always what they appear to be on paper. (Feinstein has long been the "leader" of the Senate Democrats, though she has never held the title.)a different chris , June 23, 2017 at 9:29 am
You might as well try to reform the Mafia.
The Democrats are dead to me and have been since 2006 when they "took impeachment off the table" and acquiesced to the "surge" in Iraq. Whatever inclination I might have had to remain with them was shattered in the 2008 primaries when any candidate voicing actual progressive thoughts was shunted aside by the party leadership and their media sycophants in favor of the two most conservative, war mongering (take another look at the second Obama-McCain debate if you think only Hellary was a war monger) , corporate/MIC lackeys.
It doesn't matter how many elections Pelosi, Schumer, et. al. lose or how hollowed out their representation in Congress and state houses become, They will continue to be supported by the mega-rich neoliberal establishment, celebrities, tech elites and the coastal intelligentsia. Without an outside challenge from the left nothing will change inside the party since they are correct in their observation that the left "have nowhere else to go", well except to stay home (like they did in 2016). This will result in more Trumps (who are smarter and more competent than the original model) and then the Dems will play the "unity" and "resistance" cards.lyman alpha blob , June 23, 2017 at 2:00 pm
I agree with 99% of what you say but, if they continue to lose then they will not be supported by the mega-rich etc.
The sad thing is we now have the Imperial Presidency, and I'd still probably bet (lightly) against Trump in 2020 so the Dems will probably get the Presidency again without Congress and the country will continue to spin its wheels.RenoDino , June 23, 2017 at 8:57 am
They have been losing for decades now and yet they do continue to be supported by the mega rich. That's not going to dry up any time soon as those types do like to hedge their bets.
The Imperial Presidency didn't start in January. And I'll remind you that statusquObama had a Democrat majority in the House and a supermajority in the Senate when he took office. He had no need to compromise with the other side and could have pushed through any truly progressive reforms that he and the Democrats wanted to and yet the wheels continued to spin. All that came of that was a pro-corporate health insurance scam that is now on its last legs.
Please don't continue to labor under the delusion that if only they controlled more branches of government things would be different. If they actually wanted to help out the working class in this country they would have done so already. That they'd rather lose than help the 'deplorables' has become abundantly clear.PKMKII , June 23, 2017 at 9:20 am
It's ALL one party with a scrum at the margins. St. Bernie stands atop the burning dumpster, railing about the injustice of it all, while being consumed by its flames. This is an Empire backed by a full-blown Police State. Nobody is going anywhere.
You are now free to go about your business enjoying the benefits of our consumer society. Thank you.Arizona Slim , June 23, 2017 at 9:52 am
Democratic consultants are to politics as mutual fund managers are to Wall Street: Put on fronts of intelligence, talent, and insight well beyond their abilities, act like their expertise is crucial for success when their actual track record is mixed at best, act like their much more important to the process than they really are, and it doesn't matter if they win or lose, they get their hefty fees regardless.Daniel F. , June 23, 2017 at 9:47 am
I know such a consultant. He is oh-for-two with his last couple of candidates.
An acquaintance just hired this consultant to manage his campaign. Said acquaintance reminds me of Ossoff. And not in a good way.
Methinks that the well-paid consultant is about to go oh-for-three.Louis Fyne , June 23, 2017 at 9:49 am
Reforming the so-called Democratic Party is impossible in my opinion. It's torn between a corporate leadership (appeal progressives) and its regressive fringes. Let it burn to the ground and make a new party, for true progressives (am I going in the direction of a "no true Scotsman"?), who would represent the interests of "We, the people".
Then you have the real radicals, BLM, AntiFa, and the n th wave intersectional feminists, respectively crying about "systemic oppression", "goddamn nazis everywhere", "the Patriarchy", and collectively: "fugg da po-pos!". Yes, the Republicans also have their corporate leadership and fringes, but actual nazis and delusional AnCaps seem a lot less vocal or significant (at least from Europe) compared to any riot or the madness at the Evergreen State College. Then again, this is coming from someone living in Europe, so my perspective isn't very good. Still, I don't feel really good about the self-proclaimed Leader of the Free World (which it actually used to be) devolving further.Carolinian , June 23, 2017 at 10:01 am
That's why as small donors, people need to starve the beast--no contributions to the any DC-based organization (to culturally appropriate Ronald Reagan). Support local individuals. Even $20 spent on a losing well-chosen local state rep. is better spent than $10 for the DNC.Left in Wisconsin , June 23, 2017 at 1:37 pm
Some relevant observations from St. Clair https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/06/23/democrats-in-the-dead-zone/DJG , June 23, 2017 at 10:09 am
I like the description of the Ossoff race as a Pyrrhic loss – so much invested by Dems into a candidate with so little to offer, that the loss looms larger than it would otherwise.
I'm for trying anything that might work, inside or outside the D Party. I am convinced the rules of the game in the US make it almost impossible for a 3rd Party to succeed. But there is no permanent reason the D Party has to be one of the two.
The problem/difficulty with taking over the D Party is not just the handful of leaders in DC. By my count, there are maybe 20 truly left-progressive Dems in the House and no more than 5 in the Senate (being truly charitable to people like Warren). So changing the nature of D representation in DC with require primary-ing the vast majority of current DC Dems. So the question is, does it make more sense to try to do this in D primaries and try to take over the D Party apparatus – no doubt against virtually the entire existing apparatus – or to run a complete slate of 3rd party candidates in Nov elections. I used to think the former strategy has a much higher likelihood of success. Now I am not so sure.justanotherprogressive , June 23, 2017 at 10:30 am
One concept that may help here is "party system." We are in the sixth party system of the U S of A. And it sure looks like we are opening the door to the seventh party system. So ruling out "third parties" isn't a great idea: Both of the political parties (D and R) are structures that are dry-rotted. One kick may send either or both tumbling. In some respects, Trump won the nomination because Republican voters perceived how corrupted the Republican party is. (He may be the stereotypical spoiled American businessperson, but to Republican voters, he was somehow more "real" and "new" than Romney, the well-scrubbed spoiled Republican businessperson.)
The parties aren't permanent. Is anyone nostalgic for the Whigs? Should we argue that there was no way to get rid of the American Party (the Know-Nothings)?Mike , June 23, 2017 at 11:08 am
Sanders: "Because there are people who, as I often say, would rather have first class seats going down with the Titanic, rather than change the course of the ship."
And then there are those propaganda-gulping people who think that someday they too will get one of those 1st class berths if they just keep going along with what the elite wants
I can't believe some of the people I meet who think that somehow that the neoliberal game plan is going to make their lives better somedaytegnost , June 23, 2017 at 11:27 am
Many here commenting upon G. P.'s post truly hope and wish for change (heard this one before?), both within the Democratic Party and outside. In both cases, the answers and suggestions given are very innocent.
To cleanse the entire nation of the influence of corporate cash, corrupted lackeys, and warmongers is absolutely necessary to accomplish both of those goals, and we often do not see this nor do we see any method to be used. How can anyone have the slimmest belief that the moneyed interests, their toadies, and the hired hands at DoD, State, the Fed, and NSA, FBI, CIA, etc. will go peacefully into the night when we challenge their puppets within the twin parties of death? Will they not double down on preserving this system that promises so much to them? Have they not killed those opposing them in other countries, as well as here in the good ol' USA? What do we do when we go to phase two (sorry- a wannabe poet)?
I'd like to see a discussion based upon that reality, with backup plans to initiate and defend a strategy that knows a "win" in one area of division of this system guarantees nothing until total victory over the entire ball of wax is accomplished. In short, we have no global ideology, no encompassing
My gut feeling is that the working poor know, deep in their bones, it was never as simple as presented by radicals of the sixties or those of us who have not thought this through to its conclusion. That is why they "oppose" such ideas and presentations (and, partly, due to well-earned suspicion that some ideas are meant to rope the poor into a losing proposition, all the better to hang them out to dry, eh?).
Plan piecemeal, if you must, but "act locally, think globally" means more than just a surrender to local politics and school board elections. It can also mean your whole philosophical outlook and approach to the question " after this, what do we do?".Carolinian , June 23, 2017 at 12:10 pm
"around here" it's long been known that the reality is the dems can't win a school board election. You don't need a gut feeling. Their demise is as certain as their inability to see it coming.Left in Wisconsin , June 23, 2017 at 1:46 pm
OK I'll bite .what do we do?
The sad truth is that history's lurches and spurts are usually the result of great violence–wars, revolutions. The Russian revolution shaped the history of the 20th century because the western oligarchs were so afraid that would happen to them that they had–temporarily it seems–to make concessions to the welfare state. Their other tactic was to try to destroy the source of the infection. Hitler and those backing him really had eliminating the Commies as their principal concern. Lots in the west were hoping he'd do it and this carried on into the Cold War.
At any rate while waiting for the cataclysm we can at least nibble at the edges and try to revive the Left to a degree. Sitting around worrying about what's going on with the hopeless Dems probably isn't all that useful.casino implosion , June 23, 2017 at 11:17 am
All true. But we are a young species still, and the world has changed so much in the last 100 years that I'm not sure how much of what happened before sets limits on what we can achieve going forward.
OTOH I certainly agree with Mike that electoral politics is just the tip of the iceberg. OTO we won't really know what we are up against until we have some electoral power. But, just as one example, I am not at all convinced that the grunts in the military would back a soft (or hard) coup against a left populist with a real strategy and political operation to improve the lives of most people. (I do think most cops probably would.) And it is still the case that corporations need customers to make money – in both the 1910's and 1930's, there were important splits in the world of big business that provided openings for left politics. One of our biggest problems is that a huge proportion of the remaining manufacturing in this country feeds the MIC and it will be hard to get working people to oppose that.Susan the other , June 23, 2017 at 11:34 am
I did my part for the Sanders revolution by voting for Trump, who campaigned far to the left of Clinton. But I'm just a het white male brocialist, so what do I know.Left in Wisconsin , June 23, 2017 at 1:48 pm
Just one quibble. I don't want us to be at cross purposes. We have a global way of doing things – for lack of a better description it is "capitalism" but it falls way short of replacing government – even tho' it has been trying to do just that for a century. Government is basically a distribution system – the more equitable the better – and we still rely on Government to deliver. That is one side of the coin. And it is, so far, all about money. The other side of the coin is the planet, which has been polluted and exploited almost beyond recovery by a human population that is way too big and a blind faith in capitalism and trade. We are already living a contradiction. And we need to fix it quickly. In order for policies to do us any good they have to repair the planet while they keep us all alive at some level of comfort. An angry revolution that has all sides talking past each other won't help anybody. It will just waste precious time. And I submit that politics is the art of talking past each other. We need to get above it.Bobby Gladd , June 23, 2017 at 3:00 pm
Gov't is more than just distribution – it also structures the whole capitalist market system – there is no capitalism without limited liability, bankruptcy, contract law, etc. None of that should be taken as given or unchangeable.Oregoncharles , June 23, 2017 at 2:21 pm
Nice. Depressing that you have to point that out.
"If there were only one man in the world, he would have a lot of problems, but none of them would be legal ones. Add a second inhabitant, and we have the possibility of conflict. Both of us try to pick the same apple from the same branch. I track the deer I wounded only to find that y ou have killed it, butchered it, and are in the process of cooking and eating it.
The obvious solution is violence. It is not a very good solution; if we employ it, our little world may shrink back down to one person, or perhaps none. A better solution, one that all known human societies have found, is a system of legal rules explicit or implicit, some reasonably peaceful way of determining, when desires conflict, who gets to do what and what happens if he doesn't "
David Friedman, "Law's Order: What Economics Has to Do with Law and Why It Matters"Cujo359 , June 23, 2017 at 4:02 pm
", unless one wishes to scale the mountain of deliberate, structural impediments to forming a viable, 50-state third party."
Excuses, excuses. You'd rather scale the mountain of impediments to reforming the "Democrat" party?
After many years of mountain climbing (figurative), and many, many discussions with apologists for repeating what didn't work before, I've concluded the real determinant is not a rational calculation implied by Gaius' above quote; it's personality. Some people have a much lower tolerance for betrayal, and a lower attachment to institutions, than others. Personally, I walked away in disgust when Slick Willy was president and I realized he was really a Republican – only worse, because of the betrayal. So did others.
Others don't react that way; instead, they stay attached to the institution and hope to overturn its power structure. I think Bernie's extremely impressive campaign demonstrated the essential futility of that approach. So did thousands of Bernie supporters who turned around and joined the Green Party as soon as he lost. (Oregon has other more-or-less leftwing parties, so I don't think we caught them all.) The proportion changes over time because it depends on the severity of the provocation; deliberately choosing the weaker candidate, and cheating to do it, even in the face of a Trump candidacy, was a very severe provocation.
OTOH, I'm beginning to wonder what it will take to finish the job; the total self-immolation of the Dems – or maybe of the country? Just as individuals have breaking points, so do populations; where is it? My worst fear, and I now consider it quite likely, is that we shoot right past overturning the party structure to outright violent insurrection. It's easy to joke about torches-and-pitchforks, but I'm getting too old for that sort of thing, and the human costs are truly forbidding.Synoia , June 23, 2017 at 6:04 pm
Politicians, like most people, do difficult things for only two reasons. Either they have to do them, or they really want to do them. No one does them because they think it would be a fine idea if someone does them someday.
This means that any strategy like the one proposed in this article needs to explain how we're going to convince our congress people that they have to oppose their leaders, not that it's a good idea. When progressives are willing, in sufficient numbers, to either vote for and support someone else or keep their votes and support in their pockets will those politicians think that what we want them to do this. Short of that, no amount of pleading or shaking our fists is going to matter.
If enough progressives in each Democratically-controlled district are willing to publicly state they'll withhold their votes and support until this happens, it has a chance of happening. Otherwise, I don't see how it's going to be any more of a priority than all the other things we want that aren't being done.Ed , June 23, 2017 at 6:14 pm
Change the funding: Candidates can only accept money from natural people in the constituency they wish to represent.
I think most voters are very wary of the government's ability to deliver anything in terms of actual services what they want is money from them in some form or another.
People will vote Democrat again and then they will vote Republican but there isn't going to be some sea change in the actual policies either way.
Jun 22, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne , June 21, 2017 at 05:02 AMhttp://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/playing-games-with-drugs-at-the-wall-street-journal
June 20, 2017
Playing Games with Drugs at the Wall Street Journal
A column * in the Wall Street Journal by Dana P. Goldman and Darius N. Lakdawalla presents a case for high drug prices by making an analogy to the salaries of major league baseball players. They ask what would happen if the average pay of major league players was cut from $4 million to $2 million. They hypothesize that the current crew of major leaguers would continue to play, but that young people might instead opt for different careers, leaving us with a less talented group of baseball players. Their analogy to the drug market is that we would see fewer drugs developed, and therefore we would end up worse off as a result of paying less for drugs.
This analogy is useful because it is a great way to demonstrate some serious wrong-headed thinking. It also leads those of us who had the privilege of seeing players like Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Henry Aaron, and Willie Mays in their primes to wonder if there somehow would have been better players 50 years ago if the pay back then was at current levels.
But the issue is not just how much we should for developing drugs, but how we should pay. Suppose that we paid fire fighters at the point where they came to the fire. They would assess the situation and make an offer to put out the fire and save the lives of those who are endangered. We could haggle if we want. Sometimes we might get the price down a bit and in some occasions a competing crew of firefighters may show up and offer some competition. Most of us would probably pay whatever the firefighters asked to rescue our family members.
This could lead to a situation where firefighters are very highly paid, since at least the ones who came to rich neighborhoods could count on payouts in the millions or even tens of millions of dollars. Suppose someone suggested that we were paying too much for firefighters' services and argued that there we could drastically reduce what we pay for a service we all recognize as tremendously important. Well, Goldman and Lakdawalla would undoubtedly respond with a Wall Street Journal column telling us that fewer people will want to be firefighters.
But this is really beside the point. Just about everyone agrees that it does not make sense to be determining firefighters' pay when they show up at the fire. We pay them a fixed salary. While they sit around waiting most of the time, occasionally they provide an incredibly valuable service saving valuable properties from destruction or even more importantly saving lives.
No one thinks that firefighters get ripped off because they don't walk away millions of dollars when they save an endangered family. They get paid their salary (which we can argue whether too high or too low) for work that we recognize as dangerous, but which will occasionally result in enormous benefits to society.
In the case of developing drugs, we are now largely in the situation of paying the firefighters when they show up at the burning house. As a result of historical accident, we rely on a relic of the medieval guild system, government granted patent monopolies, to finance most research into developing new drugs. These monopolies allow drug companies to charge prices that are several thousand percent ** above the free market price.
This leads to all the corruption and distortion that one would expect from a trade tariff of 1000 or even 10,000 percent. These markups lead drug companies to expend vast resources marketing their drugs. They also frequently misrepresent the safety and effectiveness of their drugs to maximize sales. They make payoffs to doctors, politicians, and academics to enlist them in their sales efforts. And, they use the legal system to harass potential competitors, often filing frivolous suits to dissuade generic competitors.
This system also leads to a large amount of wasted research spending. This is in part because competitors will try to innovate around a patent to share in the patent rents. In a world of patent monopolies it is generally desirable to have competing drugs, however if the first drug was selling at its free market price, it is unlikely that it would make sense to spend large amounts researching the development of a second, third, and fourth drug for a condition for which an effective treatment already exists, rather than researching drugs for conditions for which no effective treatment exists.
Patent monopolies also encourage secrecy in research, as drug companies disclose as little information as possible so that they prevent competitors from benefiting from their research. This also slows the research process.
The obvious alternative would upfront funding, just like firefighters are paid a fixed salary for their work. Under this system a condition of the funding would be that all the research findings are posted on the web as quickly as practical to maximize the ability of the scientific community to benefit. We already do this to some extent with the $32 billion a year that goes to the National Institutes of Health, although this amount would likely have to be doubled or even tripled to make up for the research currently supported by government granted patent monopolies. (I outline a system for this in my book "Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Have Been Structured to Make the Rich Richer" *** - it's free.)
Anyhow, it would be good if we could be having a debate about how we finance drug research rather than just telling silly stories about baseball players salaries. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, Sherrod Brown and thirteen other senators have already introduced a bill that would have the government pick up the tab on some clinical trials and then putting the rights to successful drugs in the public domain so they can be sold at generic prices. The bill also has a patent buyout fund that would accomplish the same goal.
It is absurd that we charge people hundreds of thousands of dollars for life-saving drugs that cost a few hundred dollars to produce. Too bad the Wall Street Journal has so little creativity that it cannot even imagine an alternative to a grossly antiquated institution when it comes to financing prescription drug development.
-- Dean Baker
Jun 22, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Christopher H., June 21, 2017 at 06:56 AMhttp://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2017/06/free-markets-need-equality.htmlChristopher H. -> Christopher H.... , June 21, 2017 at 07:02 AM
June 21, 2017
FREE MARKETS NEED EQUALITY
by Chris Dillow
These are dark times for free marketeers. Voters are only lukewarm about the virtues of capitalism; the Grenfell disaster is widely regarded as showing the case for greater regulation; and, as Sam Bowman says, even the Tories "have totally failed to make a broad-brush case for free markets."
I share some of their disquiet. Flawed as they are, markets have virtues as selection and information-aggregation mechanisms.
What, then, can be done to strengthen the case for markets?
There's one thing that's crucial – equality of power. For free markets to have public acceptance, the worst-off must have bargaining power. Without this, "free" markets merely become a device for exploitation.
Imagine, for example, that we had overfull employment and/or high out-of-work benefits. Workers would then be able to reject low wages and bad working conditions. Market forces would then deliver higher wages and good, safer, conditions simply because employers that didn't offer these wouldn't have any workers. Equally – though it's harder to imagine – if we had an abundance of housing, landlords who offered shoddy or dangerous accommodation would either have to refurbish their property to acceptable standards or suffer a lack of tenants.
We wouldn't, therefore need "red tape." The market would raise working and living standards.
We don't need thought experiments to see this. We have empirical evidence too.
Philippe Aghion and colleagues have shown that there's a negative correlation across countries between unions density and minimum wage laws. Countries with strong unions have less stringent minimum wage laws – because greater bargaining power reduces the need for such laws. Remember that the UK adopted minimum wages in the 1990s, when unions had been emasculated. In the 60s and 70s, when unions were strong, the market raised wages.
Also, there is a negative correlation across developed countries between inequality (as measured, imperfectly, by Gini coefficients) and business freedom. Egalitarian Denmark and Sweden, for example, score better on the Heritage Foundation's index of freedom than the unequal US. There's a simple reason for this. Working people want what they regard as a fair deal. If they can't get it through bargaining in free markets, they'll seek it through politics and regulation.
The inference here is, for me, obvious. If you are serious about wanting free markets you must put in place the conditions which are necessary for them – namely, greater bargaining power for tenants, customers and workers. This requires not just strong anti-monopoly policies but also policies such as a high citizens income, full employment and mass housebuilding.
In short, free markets require egalitarian policies. Free marketeers who don't support these are not the friends of freedom at all, but are merely shills for exploiters."Egalitarian Denmark and Sweden, for example, score better on the Heritage Foundation's index of freedom than the unequal US. There's a simple reason for this. Working people want what they regard as a fair deal. If they can't get it through bargaining in free markets, they'll seek it through politics and regulation."RGC -> Christopher H.... , June 21, 2017 at 07:18 AM
Hillary Clinton famously said "we're not Denmark" to distinguish herself from the "unserious" Bernie Sanders in the primary debates.
She was trying to appeal to meritocratic Democrats and Republicans. As Josh Marshall wrote of yesterday's special election:
"The district is relatively diverse for a GOP district and educated and affluent. In other words, it's made up of just the kind of Republicans who proved most resistant to Trump."
Hillary was trying to appeal to the affluent and indoctrinated and educated meritocrats. The "non-deploreables."
And she lost. Corbyn running on an anti-austerity platform and a manifesto that pointed more in the direction of Denmark pulled off a biggest swing in votes since 1945.
Of course the center left, PGL and Krugman were silent about Corbyn's great showing and complained about people who wanted to discuss it. But it's okay to discuss the disappointing outcome in yesterday's special election.Free markets need "a comprehensive socialization of investment":Paine -> RGC... , June 21, 2017 at 06:09 PM
"In some other respects the foregoing theory is moderately conservative in its implications. For whilst it indicates the vital importance of establishing certain central controls in matters which are now left in the main to individual initiative, there are wide fields of activity which are unaffected. The State will have to exercise a guiding influence on the propensity to consume partly through its scheme of taxation, partly by fixing the rate of interest, and partly, perhaps, in other ways. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that the influence of banking policy on the rate of interest will be sufficient by itself to determine an optimum rate of investment. I conceive, therefore, that a somewhat comprehensive socialisation of investment will prove the only means of securing an approximation to full employment; though this need not exclude all manner of compromises and of devices by which public authority will co-operate with private initiative. But beyond this no obvious case is made out for a system of State Socialism which would embrace most of the economic life of the community. It is not the ownership of the instruments of production which it is important for the State to assume. If the State is able to determine the aggregate amount of resources devoted to augmenting the instruments and the basic rate of reward to those who own them, it will have accomplished all that is necessary. Moreover, the necessary measures of socialisation can be introduced gradually and without a break in the general traditions of society"
-J M Keynes
The path to Keynesian futures turned out to have a long back traverse
From 1973 to 2008 and beyond
As yet we have not moved forward
but at least the power
driving the back traverse is over
We can recommence the advance toward greater socialization of net investment
Jun 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
DrDick -> Paine ... , June 21, 2017 at 08:33 AMAlso historically moronic, since China had become increasingly isolationist from the 16th century on. This is not to say that China has not been deliberately annoying their neighbors lately, especially in the South China Sea, however. Clearly China has been extending its influence, mostly economically, around the world, especially in Africa, for a couple of decades now, but I do not see this as any different from what we do in the same regions. It is certainly not nearly as troubling as what Russia has been doing under Putin.libezkova said in reply to DrDick... , June 21, 2017 at 09:09 PMCompare your viewpoint with Forbes:libezkova -> libezkova... , June 21, 2017 at 09:13 PM
In Final Oliver Stone Interview, Putin Predicts When Russia-US Crisis Ends
Jun 20, 2017 | www.forbes.com
But with Trump in the White House, the Trump-Putin conspiracy theory is one reality TV show the news media can't shake. Stone's love for foreign policy intrigue at least makes him a Putin kindred spirit here. America's age old fear of the Russians, has made Putin public enemy number one and Stone his sounding board. For some unhappy campers, like John McCain, Putin has " no moral equivalent " in the United States. He's a dictator , a war criminal and tyrant .
"You've gone through four U.S. presidents: Clinton, Bush, Obama and now Trump. What changes?" Stone asks him.
"Almost nothing. Your bureaucracy is very strong and it is that bureaucracy that rules the world," he says. Then, solemnly, "There is change...when they bring us to the cemetery to bury us."
In the last installment of the Putin interviews, the Russian leader admitted to liking Trump. "We still like him because he wants to restore relations. Relations between the two countries are going to develop," he said. It's a sentence very few in congress would say, and almost no big name politicians outside of Trump would imagine saying on television. On Russia, you scold. There is no fig leaf.
In a recent sanctions bill in the senate, only Republicans Rand Paul and Mike Lee voted against it, making for a 97-2 landslide in favor of extra-territorial sanctions against Russian companies, namely oil and gas.
Stone asked him why did he bother hacking the Democratic National Committee's emails if he believed nothing would change on the foreign policy front.
STONE: Our political leadership and NATO all believe you hacked the election.
PUTIN: We didn't hack the election at all. It would be hard to imagine any country, even Russia, being capable of seriously influencing the U.S. election. Someone hacked the DNC, but I don't think it influenced the election. What came through was not a lie.
They were not trying to fool anybody. People who want to manipulate public opinion will blame Russia. But Trump had his finger on the pulse of the Midwest voter and knew how to pull at their hearts. Those who have been defeated shouldn't be shifting blame to someone else....We are not waiting for any revolutionary changes.
Just then, editors cut to a video of Trump talking about Putin.
TRUMP: I hope I get along with Putin. I hope I do. But there is a good chance that I won't.
PUTIN: It almost feels like hatred of a certain ethnic group, like antisemitism. They are always blaming Russians, like antisemites are always blaming the Jews.
The editors then flashed to footage of John McCain on the floor of the Senate ranting and raving about Putin. Then Joseph Biden in the Ukrainian parliament, ranting about Russia. Putin tells Stone all of this is unfortunate. He thinks their view is"old world." He reminds Stone that Russia and the U.S. were allies in World War I and World War II. It was Winston Churchill that started the Cold War from London, despite having respect for Russia's strongman leader at the time, the real dictator, Joseph Stalin.
The point is the Americans have a blind spot on the actions of the USA.
That's natural. But that produced pretty idiotic comments in this blog even from commenters that are able to discuss intelligently other topics.
Jun 22, 2017 | www.unz.com
lavoisier Website June 21, 2017 at 10:27 am GMTannamaria June 21, 2017 at 12:34 pm GMT
@Sam J. "...In the end, it is the American people who decide whether Israel is to be or not to be a vital American ally and friend..."
To make informed decisions you have to have information. The American people don't have that. So they really haven't made a decision at all. They've been tricked into doing things that are covered up in lies. The American people are responsible even if they are being manipulated by the MSM.
Too many Americans are woefully ignorant about the world, particularly about the extent that Jewish interests have manipulated so many aspects of our government and our culture. If you even bring this issue up you are immediately branded a hater and your arguments dismissed.
In short, many Americans are happy to drink the kool aid.
It is a much deeper problem than simply our American Pravda.
Many of us have chosen to be blind, refusing to even consider the possibility that we are being manipulated, and in the process fail as responsible citizens.
One can choose to be red pilled today. This is ultimately the choice to go through life with an open mind and to have a high regard for reality, however uncomfortable that reality may be.annamaria June 21, 2017 at 2:53 pm GMT
@Sam J. "...The source of Jewish power in the US is their brokerage of voter bias and federal entitlements between the federal government and the public..."
There may be a little bit of that but it's not the main reason. The main reasons are:
1. They own practically all media in the US.
2. They own the FED providing almost limitless cash to their preferred people.
3. They're blackmailing huge numbers of our Representatives with little Boys and little Girls.
4. They'll kill you if they don't get their way.
So if you run against them in the primary you will have extremely well funded opponents and the press will savage you. If that doesn't work they will try to redistrict you out of a job. If that doesn't work they will frame or kill you like they did to Ohio Congressman James Traficant. "1. They own practically all media in the US.
2. They own the FED providing almost limitless cash to their preferred people.
3. They're blackmailing huge numbers of our Representatives with little Boys and little Girls.
4. They'll kill you if they don't get their way."
And this has been leading the States – and Israel along with the States – to the demise. The US governing institutions have lost their ability to respond to reality and instead they respond to personal desires only. Hence the approaching danger of a hot war.@Sam Shama"You fail to understand most Americans view Iranians as a nation of people which took hostage American diplomats."Is this the one?
Don't look for the exchange with Colbert on YouTube. CBS deleted it from its broadcast and website, demonstrating once again that the "I" word cannot be disparaged on national television.
If so, you'll need to issue a retraction of your statement and all the other insinuations you derived from it. If it is not the video, I issue my apologies in advance.......he was assassinated, which was a lucky break for Israel, particularly as Kennedy was replaced by the passionate Zionist Lyndon Baines Johnson.With this slander which others commented on earlier, it does deserve repeating emphatically, you've submerged yourself in conspiracies for reasons which appear to be occult Jew hatred impossible to contain just under the surface. It beggars belief that statement was written tongue in cheek; excessive cheek, tongue impossible to pry unstuck. An attempt at humour? Poor taste, really.The Israelis know what is going on all the time.Pure nonsense at some level. At another level, it is well-known we know more about our allies than their respective governments do and vice versa.......but it also included an astonishingly large number of Democrats who describe themselves as progressive, including Corey Booker and Kamila Harris,So they are progressives, what of it? You fail to understand most Americans view Iranians as a nation of people which took hostage American diplomats. These congressmen are doing no more than what their constituents want.
The readership of UR, a collection of a few excellent thinkers, overwhelmed by a larger group of lunatics, do not reflect the sentiment of the vast majority. They could not care what you or I think of Iranians. They remember Nov 1979.And there's still more. Bill HR 672 Combating European Anti-Semitism Act of 2017 was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives on June 14th.Antisemitism is a serious matter and it is well for it to bear scrutiny in some cases where through their actions overzealous elements[some in the judiciary] trivialise its intent. But you seem to favour an environment where mere vigilance through a bill deserves defeat. Unanimously.President Donald Trump traveled to the Middle East claiming to be desirous of starting serious negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, but it was all a sham. Benjamin Netanyahu took him aside and came out with the usual Israeli bullshit about the Palestinians "inciting" violence and hatred of Jews and Trump bought into itIt's comical to behold the "select" group which voted for Trump now complain on these pages of the UR about what the man said he was going to do from the very beginning on the Israel-Palestine issue. It is not a sham. Trump never believed the "bullshit" coming from the U.N. [a body which has over 40 Muslim and Arab members] on the contrary, attacking the solitary Jewish nation state. He required no "taking aside" by Bibi. One needn't travel to the West Bank to find Jew hatred; a few months' worth of reading your columns being quite sufficient.
Such a Senate resolution requires convincing senators of its necessity. No one is stopping anyone.
I might note in passing that there has been no Senate resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of the bravery exhibited by the officers and crew of the USS Liberty as they were being slaughtered by the Israelis at the same time as Jerusalem was being "liberated"
I understand you feel Jerusalem is better in the hands of Palestinians and Arabs. We disagree.
A gem of an article all things considered.
You feign ignorance of the USSLiberty. The American servicemen were not just hostages for Israel – American servicemen were murdered by Israelis: https://theintercept.com/2017/06/06/fifty-years-later-nsa-keeps-details-of-israels-uss-liberty-attack-secret/
Most Americans are also aware that the US Congress has become Israel-occupied Congress, with the horrific consequences for the global insecurity.
"Israel Has Been Secretly Funding Syrian Rebels For Years:" http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-06-19/israel-has-been-secretly-funding-syrian-rebels-years
"The Kagans Are Back; Wars to Follow:" https://consortiumnews.com/2017/03/15/the-kagans-are-back-wars-to-follow/
There was an enormous sympathy for Jewish victims of the WWII; the sympathy and goodwill for Israel have been completed squandered by the bloody ziocons. Only opportunists stay loyal to Israeli agenda, whereas honest people look with horror on the transformation of a victim into an amoral villain.
Jun 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova, June 21, 2017 at 07:25 PMOver 33K people in US died of opiates overdoses in 2015 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Not only unemployed abuse opioids, but more and more college students and recent graduates are abusing the opioids as well, according to a survey of 1200 college aged adults commissioned the same year by Christie foundation.
Federal law does not require colleges to report drug death unless they are deemed criminal. But fatal overdoses have been rising at schools nationwide underscoring and horrifying reality of for administrators: in addition to binge drinking and marijuana, they have another crisis firmly entrenched on campus.
Now losing 30K people in one year is like small scale civil war (like the one they have in Ukraine) and in a way it is: war of wealthy and medical industrial complex against those in difficult circumstances, with dreams crashed and, especially, unemployed.
== quote ==
CHICAGO (AP) - Accidental overdoses aren't the only deadly risk from using powerful prescription painkillers - the drugs may also contribute to heart-related deaths and other fatalities, new research suggests.
Among more than 45,000 patients in the study, those using opioid painkillers had a 64 percent higher risk of dying within six months of starting treatment compared to patients taking other prescription pain medicine. Unintentional overdoses accounted for about 18 percent of the deaths among opioid users, versus 8 percent of the other patients.
"As bad as people think the problem of opioid use is, it's probably worse," said Wayne Ray, the lead author and a health policy professor at Vanderbilt University's medical school. "They should be a last resort and particular care should be exercised for patients who are at cardiovascular risk."
His caution echoes recent advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, trying to stem the nation's opioid epidemic. The problem includes abuse of street drugs like heroin and overuse of prescription opioids such as hydrocodone, codeine and morphine.
The drugs can slow breathing and can worsen disrupted breathing that occurs with sleep apnea, potentially leading to irregular heartbeats, heart attacks or sudden death, the study authors said.
In 2014, there were more than 14,000 fatal overdoses linked with the painkillers in the U.S. The study suggests even more have died from causes linked with the drugs, and bolster evidence in previous research linking them with heart problems.
The study involved more than 45,000 adult Medicaid patients in Tennessee from 1999 to 2012. They were prescribed drugs for chronic pain not caused by cancer but from other ailments including persistent backaches and arthritis.
Half received long-acting opioids including controlled-release oxycodone, methadone and fentanyl skin patches. Fentanyl has been implicated in the April death of Prince, although whether the singer was using a fentanyl patch, pills or other form of the drug hasn't been publicly revealed.
Long-acting opioids remain in the body longer. The study authors noted that the body's prolonged exposure to the drugs may increase risks for toxic reactions.
The remaining study patients had prescriptions for non-opioid drugs sometimes used to treat nerve pain, including gabapentin; or certain antidepressants also used for pain.
There were 185 deaths among opioid users, versus 87 among other patients. The researchers calculated that for every 145 patients on an opioid drug, there was one excess death versus deaths among those on other painkillers.
The two groups were similar in age, medical conditions, risks for heart problems and other characteristics that could have contributed to the outcomes.
The results were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association .
The study involved only Medicaid patients, who include low-income and disabled adults and who are among groups disproportionately affected by opioid abuse.
Ray noted that the study excluded the sickest patients and those with any evidence of drug abuse. He said similar results would likely be found in other groups.
Dr. Chad Brummett, director of pain research at the University of Michigan Health System, said the study highlights risks from the drugs in a novel way and underscores why their use should be limited.
Jun 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
pgl, June 21, 2017 at 01:36 AMreason, June 21, 2017 at 02:17 AM
Re: Fisticuffs Over the Route to a Clean-Energy Future - NYTimes"It is critically important to bring this debate into the open. For too long, climate advocacy and policy has been inflected by a hope that the energy transformation before us can be achieved cheaply and virtuously - in harmony with nature. But the transformation is likely to be costly. And though sun, wind and water are likely to account for a much larger share of the nation's energy supply, less palatable technologies are also likely to play a part."
Eduardo Porter on the debate as to whether 100% of our energy needs can be met by renewables. OK - it may involve certain costs increasing this from a mere 10% to something closer to 100% even if we do not entirely get to 100%. But not trying would be very costly.One thing that certainly annoys me about this, is that to me the incentives must be wrong.reason -> reason ... , June 21, 2017 at 02:26 AM
I see the German railway building solar banks on perfectly good land (which could for instance grow trees), and the railways rolling past large numbers of houses with south-facing roofs and no solar panels.
I see electric cars being built without solar panels on the roof, parked in the sun. I sort of wonder - something is wrong here, why?
I read in the scientific American that people are thinking of locating solar panels to provide shade to irrigation canals. Or we could use solar panels to provide weather protection to bike lanes (shade + rain + snow protection). There are so many two-fers out there - why are we missing all these opportunities?Think of another possibility (a sliding solar on the roof of an electric car - so it could provide windscreen shade when parked and have extra collecting area as well).libezkova -> reason ... , June 21, 2017 at 08:26 PM
Ok, ok it is summer and 34 degrees C here today, so solar energy is everywhere.One thing that certainly annoys me about this, is that to me the incentives must be wrong.
I see the german railway building solar banks on perfectly good land (which could for instance grow trees), and the railways rolling past large numbers of houses with south-facing roofs and no solar panels.
I see electric cars being built without solar panels on the roof, parked in the sun. I sort of wonder - something is wrong here, why?
I read in the scientific American that people are thinking of locating solar panels to provide shade to irrigation canals. Or we could use solar panels to provide weather protection to bike lanes (shade + rain + snow protection). There are so many two-fers out there - why are we missing all these opportunities?
That's a great comment !!!
Thank you so much.
Jun 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RGC Reply , June 21, 2017 at 06:52 AMWe Are Inches From A New World War, And Clintonists Are To BlameRGC - , June 21, 2017 at 07:46 AM
Published June 20, 2017 by Caitlin Johnstone
"This is your fault, Clinton Democrats. You created this, and if our species is plunged into a new world war or extinction via nuclear holocaust, it will be your fault. You knuckle-dragging, vagina hat-wearing McCarthyite morons made this happen."
https://counterpropa.com/inches-new-world-war-clintonists-blame/Five takeaways from Iran's missile strike in SyriaRGC, June 21, 2017 at 07:58 AM
Tehran's strike was targeted at Islamic State but it also puts US bases in the region on notice and exposes the flimsiness of the Trump Administration's Middle East policy
From all accounts, the missiles hit their target with devastating precision. Simply put, Iran has notified the US that its 45,000 troops deployed in bases in Iraq (5,165), Kuwait (15,000), Bahrain (7,000), Qatar (10,000), the UAE (5,000) and Oman (200) are highly vulnerable.
http://www.atimes.com/article/five-takeaways-irans-missile-strike-syria/Unlike the US military, Iran appears to put effectiveness ahead of private profit.Paine, June 21, 2017 at 03:51 PMNo. Iran is hardly foolishPaine, June 21, 2017 at 03:54 PM
Hell truck bombs aimed at marine barracks aren't any longer on Iran's to do list . Even thru their junior partners Hezbollah
Assad might want them to clobber a syrian Kurd stronghold. But not even that gets the green light by the mad mullahs of TeheranUncle is the clear aggressor against Iran. Just as he is against Venezuela. The Shia Arabs are a strategic target for uncles containment horse play. Iran is their steadfast allyilsm, June 21, 2017 at 04:29 PMThe Wahhabi coalition funded, armed and equipped by Uncle Sam killed 300 women and children last month in its quest to use ISIS as an excuse to give Syria and upper Iraq to al Qaeda.Paine, June 21, 2017 at 05:57 PM
It also shot down a Syria jet trying to push US' jihadis who are making Turley mad back toward ISIS to fight them rather than occuoy Syria.The Saud family are up there with the Walton's. And they outnumber the Walton's ten thousand to 4. There will be an awful reckoning....some dayilsm - , June 21, 2017 at 06:43 PMUS presidents since Nixon have not committed one (1.0) of the US' 2.5 planned wars to the welfare of the Saudi family's palaces.RGC - , June 21, 2017 at 08:12 AMThe Growing U.S.-Iran Proxy Fight in Syria. The scramble for Islamic State territory is raising the risks of escalationilsm - , June 21, 2017 at 04:34 PM
https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/06/iran-syria-trump-saudi-arabia-escalation-isis/530844/While we are talking about the Wahhabi invasions of Syria:Paine - , June 21, 2017 at 03:46 PM
The Syrian government is pushing against the Israeli supported branch of al Qaeda in the Daraa governate. Israelis interest is the Golan which it grabbed in 1973.
While in al Tanf, Syria in the middle of no where related to fighting ISIS US F-15E shot down an armed drone allegedly attacking the US run training center for future jihadis who will go after the US and Europe like bin Laden. All the conditions for US tied down supporting evil like 1964..........I like johnstone. She wrote a lot on Serbia v croatia. And then Bosnia Kosovo. The national elements of deliquescent Yugoslavia. That former hot spot of humanist outrage. But keep your pants on girlilsm, June 21, 2017 at 04:37 PM
Nothing anywhere now threatens catastrophic collisions between great powers. Uncles just too strongThe legacy of Sarajevo and the East German armor US facilitated to Croatia is the US maintains an oversized "NATO" mechanized brigade plus extras in Camp Bonesteel......ilsm, June 21, 2017 at 04:40 PM
Keeping dissected Kosovo county free unlike Iraq......"Uncles just too strong"Paine , June 21, 2017 at 06:00 PM
not really, it is less. risky to do Vietnams..... Syria has the potential to make Vietnam type counter insurgency experiments look new again. Until US runs out of lenders!
too strong......puleeezeOf course. Vietnams are always possible. In fact they keep great powers busy. Bleeding each other by proxyilsm , June 21, 2017 at 06:38 PMIraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Djibouti, Sudan are all Vietnams sans draftees and no hippy music. What is Neil Young and Joani Mitchell up to?libezkova - , June 21, 2017 at 07:53 PMThere is probably a silver lining in the alliance of neocons and liberal interventionists (which actually are the same as DemoRats -- Clinton's wing of Democratic party) attempt to impeach Trump on faked charges.
It might delay the war. Looks like Trump is hell bent to crush Iran.
Which is a theocratic state, but still not as bad as KAS and some other US allies in the region.
Jun 21, 2017 | www.unz.com
lavoisier June 21, 2017 at 10:14 am GMT
Disgusted "liberal". Am I even a "liberal" anymore? I loathe the I-word and the J-word now with a purple passion. If I see an article from Wapo or NYT or any of the other "msm", I don't read it. I stopped watching ANY tv, and exclusively read those who didn't lie about Iraq 2003. What the hell AM I? I despise Republicans, but the Dems didn't oppose their wars. Now I despise the Dems, and the right-wingnuts are starting to make sense. Is this cognitive dissonance? Bizzaro-world? I am one CONFUSED puppy.
Thank you PG Thoughtful comment.
The Democrats are every bit as much on board with the wars and the destruction of the working class as are the Republicans.
Where are the respectable liberals in this country?
I despise Democrats as you despise Republicans.
Now I despise them both. I have little loyalty for my government and do not trust anything that they do.
Our Republic is on life support.
Jun 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.comlibezkova , June 21, 2017 at 11:55 AM" This pattern suggests that existence of unions, one way or another, may be less important for economic outcomes than the way in which those unions function. "
This is a typical neoliberal Newspeak. Pretty Orwellian.
In reality atomization of workforce and decimation of unions is the explicit goal of neoliberal state.
Neoliberalism war on organized labor started with Reagan.
Neoliberalism is based on unconditional domination of labor by capital ("socialism for rich, feudalism for labor").
American scholar and cultural critic Henry Giroux alleges neoliberalism holds that market forces should organize every facet of society, including economic and social life, and promotes a social Darwinist ethic which elevates self-interest over social needs.
That means maintaining the unemployment level of sufficiently high level and political suppression of workers rights to organize.
A new class of workers, facing acute socio-economic insecurity, emerged under neoliberalism. It is called 'precariat'.
Neoliberal policies led to the situation in the US economy in which 30% of workers earn low wages (less than two-thirds the median wage for full-time workers), and 35% of the labor force is underemployed; only 40% of the working-age population in the U.S. is adequately employed.
The Center for Economic Policy Research's (CEPR) Dean Baker (2006) argued that the driving force behind rising inequality in the US has been a series of deliberate, neoliberal policy choices including anti-inflationary bias, anti-unionism, and profiteering in the health industry.
Amazon, Uber and several other companies have shown that neoliberal model can be as brutal as plantation slavery.
Central to the notion of the skills agenda as pursued by neoliberal governments is the concept of "human capital."
Which involves atomization of workers, each of which became a "good" sold at the "labor market". Neoliberalism discard the concept of human solidarity. It also eliminated government support of organized labor, and decimated unions.
Under neoliberalism the government has to actively intervene to clear the way for the free "labor market." Talk about government-sponsored redistribution of wealth under neoliberalism -- from Greenspan to Bernanke, from Rubin to Paulson, the government has been a veritable Robin Hood in reverse.
Jun 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RGC, June 21, 2017 at 06:44 AMThe New York Times steps up its anti-Russia campaignRGC -> RGC... , June 21, 2017 at 06:47 AM
The CIA's principal house organ, the New York Times, published a lead editorial Sunday on the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election that is an incendiary and lying exercise in disinformation aimed at whipping up support for war with Russia.
Not a single one of the reports in the Times or Post is the product of a genuine investigation by journalists. Instead, the main reporting on the "Russian hacking" affair consists of taking dictation from unidentified intelligence officials. In not a single case did these officials offer evidence to substantiate their claims, invariably made in the form of ambiguous phrases like "we assess," "we believe," "we assess with high confidence," etc. Such claims are worth no more than previous assertions that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction-a lie used to justify a war that has killed more than one million people.
Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul Buck Party Consensus on Russia and Iran Sanctionssanjait -> RGC... , June 21, 2017 at 10:55 AM
Investigative journalist Max Blumenthal explains that these sanctions punish Russia and Iran and unnecessarily intensifies the conflict between the US and these countries
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=19337Dead wrong about Bernie:RGC -> sanjait... , June 21, 2017 at 11:26 AM
Nice try though!Thursday, June 15, 2017anne -> RGC... , June 21, 2017 at 07:25 AM
WASHINGTON, June 15 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement Thursday after he voted against a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran and Russia:
"I am strongly supportive of the sanctions on Russia included in this bill. It is unacceptable for Russia to interfere in our elections here in the United States, or anywhere around the world. There must be consequences for such actions. I also have deep concerns about the policies and activities of the Iranian government, especially their support for the brutal Assad regime in Syria. I have voted for sanctions on Iran in the past, and I believe sanctions were an important tool for bringing Iran to the negotiating table. But I believe that these new sanctions could endanger the very important nuclear agreement that was signed between the United States, its partners and Iran in 2015. That is not a risk worth taking, particularly at a time of heightened tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia and its allies. I think the United States must play a more even-handed role in the Middle East, and find ways to address not only Iran's activities, but also Saudi Arabia's decades-long support for radical extremism."
https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-statement-on-iran-and-russia-sanctionshttps://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/17/opinion/mr-trumps-dangerous-indifference-to-russia.htmlanne -> anne... , June 21, 2017 at 01:21 PM
June 17, 2017
Mr. Trump's Dangerous Indifference to Russiahttps://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/17/opinion/mr-trumps-dangerous-indifference-to-russia.htmlilsm -> anne... , June 21, 2017 at 04:22 PM
June 17, 2017
Mr. Trump's Dangerous Indifference to Russia
A rival foreign power launched an aggressive cyberattack on the United States, interfering with the 2016 presidential election and leaving every indication that it's coming back for more - but President Trump doesn't seem to care.
The unprecedented nature of Russia's attack is getting lost in the swirling chaos of recent weeks, but it shouldn't be. American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia took direct aim at the integrity of American democracy, and yet after almost five months in office, the commander in chief appears unconcerned with that threat to our national security. The only aspect of the Russia story that attracts his attention is the threat it poses to the perceived legitimacy of his electoral win.
If not for the continuing investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians - and whether Mr. Trump himself has obstructed that investigation - the president's indifference would be front-page news.
So let's take a moment to recall the sheer scope and audacity of the Russian efforts.
Under direct orders from President Vladimir Putin, hackers connected to Russian military intelligence broke into the email accounts of...Not to worry Trump is doing all Obama did and more to sell Syria to al Qaeda.anne -> anne... , June 21, 2017 at 01:24 PM
Too busy keeping the Wahhabis happy to want to mess with Russia over a few millions Balts' desires.
The US is not offering the last drop of US soldiers' blood to the Balts it is already committed to the Wahhabis.https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/17/opinion/mr-trumps-dangerous-indifference-to-russia.htmlPaine -> RGC... , June 21, 2017 at 08:45 AM
Under direct orders from President Vladimir Putin, hackers connected to Russian military intelligence broke into the email accounts of...
[ Interesting passage. ]Why critique this campaign against RussiaPaine -> Paine ... , June 21, 2017 at 08:47 AM
As if the kremlin may to have interfered and even collaborated with trump operatives to do it
Anything less would be dereliction of duty by a great powers leadership
Point out the motivation
Which is indeed a new forward policy on Russian containment by the deep state
As we now call the corporate planted cultivated and coddled security apparatus
With its various media cut thrus cut outs and compadres
Yes the NYT and the WP
Both are working with the deep state
Once called the invisible government
Much as they have in he past
Why I like he color revolution analogy
These media titans are working with the DS
Because they want to topple trump like they wanted to topple Nixon
And to a lesser extent wobble ReaganTypo hazardilsm -> Paine ... , June 21, 2017 at 04:23 PM
Russia is obviously tampering as much as optimal
Hence my suggesting putin is jut acting like all great powers must act to be great powersIt would have been appeasement for Putin to stand by and let the Hillary neocon take over America and offer the last drop of US soldiers' blood to the Balts.Paine -> ilsm... , June 21, 2017 at 04:37 PM
Ignoring Clinton was like letting Hitler have Prague!anne -> Paine ... , June 21, 2017 at 09:08 AM
IndeedImportant, incisive perspective or argument, but a direction seldom taken. A Cold War sort of atmosphere makes us wary of using any such argument, and we have been forming a Cold War environment for several years now. This atmosphere by the way involves the way in which China is generally regarded, and I believe colors economic analysis even among academics.
Jun 19, 2017 | www.counterpunch.org
We have had a certain amount of success in exposing the amorphous and mendacious term "Fake News" for what it is: a tool in a major campaign of propaganda against dissenting independent journalism and political writing, a campaign perpetrated by governments and corporate media. The wealthy and powerful forces which control both of those influential centers in the formation of public opinion were desperate to regain control of the narrative, which has been slipping away from them at an increasing velocity since the advent of social media, and since the parallel growth of a broad spectrum of information networks with absolutely no interest in currying favor with the mighty, or in defending the status quo.
As soon as the term "Fake News" appeared, Barack Obama pounced on it, and in a joint appearance in 2016 with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, used his worldwide microphone and bully pulpit – if only he had done so occasionally to sound the alarm about the approaching environmental crisis, or to express outrage about racism or police brutality, or to challenge war profiteers! – to announce his deep concern that "Fake News" was making it "difficult to govern" (for more on this and the struggle against corporate/government presstitute propaganda, see my article "Hope Is Our Enemy: Fighting Boiling Frog Syndrome").
This clumsy and panicky maneuver has deservedly met with far less success than Obama's incredibly successful propaganda sally against Russia and Vladimir Putin, which has captivated the paranoid fantasies of many millions of Americans and Europeans who desperately want to believe that NATO countries are virtuous and innocent, and are threatened by ruthless and aggressive foreigners who are responsible for the spreading chaos in the West.
As one of his final acts in office, President Chameleon slapped new sanctions on Russia and deported Russian diplomats: after eight years, his transformation from Nobel Laureate and supposed apostle of peace to McCarthyite New Cold Warrior was complete, and vast numbers of angry Hillaroids were quickly on board the Blame Russia Express, full of self-righteous anger and the conviction that someone had stolen the election and that the usual suspects were obviously the guilty party.
Things haven't gone so well for the "Fake News" campaign, however. Too many people could and can see disturbing patterns that ring true, if they spend enough time looking at truthful, objective analysis of the world around us, and there is quite a lot of it available via the internet.
More people are spending more and more time on the internet and social media, where presstitute media lose the natural advantages they once had in a world dominated by government-regulated, corporate-financed TV, radio, and print news.
It turns out that many of the best-informed writers see the world utterly differently than do the corporate and government shills who determine the "news" content in mainstream media.
Which brings us to one of the latest victims in the assault on language by the 1% and their pawns in the presstitute media: the word "extremism".
Here in the European Union where I live, this word is currently heard so often in the traditional media – along with another victimized word being brutalized almost non-stop, "populist" – that even poorly-educated persons who aren't sure exactly what is meant can understand that they must mean something very, very bad.
If any such confused persons should take the time to pay closer attention and attempt to ascertain what it is that makes these "extremists" and "populists" so deplorable and dangerous, they may soon notice that at least one of these words, "extremist", has a pretty nebulous field of application. According to major sources of conventional wisdom in the EU, terrorists are "extremists". But "extremism", more generally, is also applied casually to nearly any political parties and interest groups to the Left and the Right of the large (if shrinking in some countries like France) parties called "people's parties" (Volksparteien) here in Germany: the no-longer-socialist Social Democrats who are allegedly center-left, the pseudo-Christian Christian Democrats who portray themselves as center-right, and even the thoroughly compromised and faded-to-brown Green Party , which has gone to great lengths and engaged in stupendous contortions of deliberate conformism to achieve its modern status as a pillar of the established order, a long journey from its radical roots in the 1980s.
As you may have deduced from my snarky tone, I find myself firmly ensconced among the so-called "extremists" of the Left.
What, one may legitimately ask, are the views which have led to this branding as a dangerous individual? Do I advocate keeping a stock of Molotov Cocktails handy for quick use when the shit starts to fly? I do not.
- Do I engage in plots to overthrow the "legitimate" government and spread chaos throughout the EU? Do I support terrorism? I do not. While I have grave reservations about the ostensible "legitimacy" of a number of the governments named, and have major issues with the extent to which they are in thrall to American imperial foreign/military policy and the destructive austerity policies of the IMF and World Bank and Big Finance, you will find no blueprints for violent revolution at my house. I pay taxes and comply with bureaucratic governmental requirements. And as far as terrorism goes, I would even argue that it is NATO countries' complicity in American imperial designs and hegemony which is the source of most terrorism and is thus, in reality, "extreme" (see my recent article "Russia Didn't Do It").
- Am I armed? I am not. I have never owned a gun. My only weapon is the keyboard at which I now write.
- Do I support dangerous political organizations? I support the German party "Die Linke" (The Left), which is the largest opposition party in Germany's Parliament, the Bundestag, and a full participant in the national electoral process, having won around 14% of the vote in the last election. AHHH now we're getting somewhere. "Die Linke" is accused quite regularly in the corporate and government media of being "extreme".
- And why? What positions does the party hold which are considered dangerous?
Okay I guess I'll have to come clean. Here are the radical, dangerous, "extremist" positions I support when I advocate more influence for this political party:
- An end to weapons exports from Germany, especially into crisis regions, but more broadly, in principle.
- The disbanding of NATO, which was formed as an allegedly defensive alliance against the "Warsaw Pact" or communist military bloc led by the Soviet Union – which no longer exists. An end to German participation in overseas military intervention (such as the current activity in Afghanistan).
- A more extensive social system which builds more low-cost housing and offers greater protection for the rights of workers and less affluent citizens – rights which were scaled back by the program "Agenda 2010" to make the German economy more "competitive".
- Active measures by government to stop the widening of the gap between rich and poor which, although not yet as profound in Germany as in the USA, is heading in the same direction.
- Higher taxes on the wealthy.
- A much more independent position on the world stage for Germany and the EU, with an end to EU servility to the USA.
- Fundamental reform of the EU, with less power for Big Finance in its deliberations and economic policies, which have created great hardship in Greece, Spain, Portugal and elsewhere.
In addition, there is my allegedly "extreme" position on the environment, which is not so much a priority for "Die Linke" but is the most important issue of all for me personally. I am convinced that only a radical transformation of the world economy can save this planet, including most life on Earth. I believe this can only come about through an end to industrial capitalism: a ban on most fossil fuels, an end to the production of most plastics, an end to most beef production and strict organic regulation of all meat production, and worldwide mandatory measures to clean up the poisonous residue of the current system which is killing the planet. This will necessarily involve huge cuts in most military structures and war-making as well. The US military is by far the greatest polluter on Earth.
For these views, and my concomitant rejection of the large political parties in the EU and the USA which have done almost nothing to save the planet that was not outweighed by massive destruction – parties which thus, in the name of "realism", have sold our future to the rich and may have doomed all life on this planet, as scientific opinion is near unanimous that time is short – for these views I am labeled an "extremist".
I consider that an Orwellian assault on language. "Extremism" is what I oppose. Extreme wealth. Extreme greed. Extreme militarism. Extreme suicidal and ecocidal environmental destruction. Extreme governmental authority. Extreme stupidity.
Jun 20, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
me name=By Jemimah Steinfeld, deputy editor of Index on Censorship magazine. This article appeared in the summer issue of the magazine. Click here for more information on Index . Cross posted from Open Democracy
People see propaganda as a modern problem – manipulation by mass media. But the story is far older, and the tactics are timeless. While the game has moved on, the rules remain the same.
The EU's police agency, Europol, recently revealed evidence that Isis is creating its own social media platform for the purpose of disseminating propaganda. It may be connected to Facebook and Google ramping up efforts to curb extremist material and "fake news". In May, according to Reuters, Europol director Rob Wainwright said it showed "some members of Daesh, at least, continue to innovate in this space". But while technological innovation might still be possible, will there be anything original on this new platform?
Until the reign of Augustus, no one in Rome had come close to creating a personality cult.
A striking image, a catchy phrase, shocking material – these are the bread and butter of propaganda. It turns out these tactics stretch right the way back through history. From etchings in caves to the Bayeux Tapestry, pushing out messages that seek to persuade and influence – the basic definition of propaganda – is as old as mankind. There was one figure, though, who really cracked it.
"Augustus is probably the supreme master of the art of propaganda in the entire history of the West. No one has rivalled him and everyone has since been in his shadow," said historian Tom Holland, author of bestselling books on Rome, in an interview with Index on Censorship magazine.
Until the reign of Augustus, no one in Rome had come close to creating a personality cult. Rome was built on the idea that it was a republic and that no single man should dominate all others. When Caesar's vanity led to his face appearing on coins, his demise quickly followed. Augustus, coming straight after Caesar, used hindsight to his advantage. He cast himself as essentially a normal person, even adopting the title princeps (first citizen), and would partake in entertainment with the masses, like racing, boxing and watching gladiators. But he also positioned himself as exceptional, using the title divi filius (son of the god), and his portraits echoed those of Apollo. Augustus's face was everywhere, from statues, friezes and coins to writings and poems, and most famously in his appearance in Virgil's Aeneid.
"He promotes himself with absolute genius," Holland said. "He is simultaneously a figure who is an everyday guy and a figure of supernatural potency he appeals to every aspect."
Augustus perfected propaganda and his influence can be seen clearly in Napoleon, Mussolini and Hitler. The careful crafting of Mao's image – clad in a simple "Mao suit", with sunbeams resonating off his body – was straight out of the Roman ruler's playbook.
The Bayeux tapestry: the death of King Harold of England at the Battle of Hastings, 1066. Trevor Huxham/Flickr. Some rights reserved.
So Augustus provided the template, but technological change has undoubtedly improved the means. The birth of the modern printing press was a godsend for propaganda. It was during World War I, when there was a need to recruit, that Wellington House in London established a secret propaganda bureau, and from this the political poster was born. Driven by similar motives, President Woodrow Wilson in the USA formed the Committee of Public Information, which produced posters, films and other material that sought to champion home security and democracy against a foreign enemy. The committee attempted to convince millions of people that they should support the war, and those that still rallied against it, such as socialist publications, were silenced in the process.
The demands of the Russian Revolution quickly gave birth to a whole new genre, socialist realism or constructivism ("production art"), in which smiling peasants and strident factory workers were portrayed in bold colours and geometric shapes, pithy slogans slapped on top. Anatoly Lunacharsky, who was in charge of the People's Commissariat for Education shortly after the Bolsheviks took charge, believed that by depicting the perfect Soviet man, art could create perfect Soviets.
Propaganda did not work just on what was shown; it worked also on what was omitted. Stalin was a master of this. Long before the advent of Photoshop, technicians in Russia manipulated photos so much that they became outright lies. David King, in The Commissar Vanishes: The Falsification of Photographs and Art in Stalin's Russia, wrote that during the Great Purges, in the 1930s, "a new form of falsification emerged. The physical eradication of Stalin's political opponents at the hands of the secret police was swiftly followed by their obliteration from all forms of pictorial existence". The book highlights classic cases of "now you see me, now you don't". It includes a series of images featuring the same backdrops but with rotating casts, depending on who was or wasn't in favour at the time.
"At the heart of authoritarian propaganda is the manipulating of reality. The authoritarian must undermine this," said Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley , author of How Propaganda Works, in an interview with Index.
The birth of mass media meant that propaganda didn't need to confine itself to unmoving imagery. Instead, people's minds could be influenced in a far more interactive way. Lenin called the radio "a newspaper without paper and without boundaries" and used it to promote the Bolshevik message. And the revolution was televised, first at the cinema and then on TV. Sergei Eisenstein's most famous films – October , Battleship Potemkin and Alexander Nevsky – were huge successes precisely because they fused technical brilliance with politically correct storylines.
The myriad possibilities of propaganda were not lost on Hitler, either. He devoted two chapters of Mein Kampf to it and, once in power, recruited a minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, who declared that with enough repetition and understanding of the human psyche, people could be convinced that a square was a circle.
Propaganda once again changed with the advent of the internet as information, or misinformation, could be spread with a simple click. Yet even though the game has moved on, the rules remain the same. Whether it's a fabricated blog post, a viral video of North Korea bombing Washington or tirades of tweets telling everyone you're going to Make America Great Again, these are all timeless tactics repackaged for the modern day.
"Everything you read in the newspapers, it's age-old," said Stanley, who added that "tech people" see this as a modern problem that they can solve. People are misinformed about the past, he said.
Misinformed, yes, but also manipulated by people and industries that can look to history's masterminds for best practice when it comes to propaganda.Synoia , June 18, 2017 at 12:28 pmFor_Christ's_Sake , June 17, 2017 at 6:58 am
The Roman propaganda machine included their version of TV, the Theater, and the head of household imposing the propaganda on the whole household.
Attending Theater was a head-of-household privilege, and attendance also identified exactly where you were in the Civic Strata, based on the position of one's seat in the Theater. No pressure there, no, none at all.Enquiring Mind , June 17, 2017 at 11:37 am
The photo of the Syrian boy in the back of the ambulance is one example of the power of media coverage. It, in istself, wasn't the most striking or compelling of the myriad photo coverage to date, yet it received a disproportionete amount of coverage in the media, and at a crucial time when the Syrian forces loyal to Bashar al Assad were making considerable gains in the Aleppo area.integer , June 18, 2017 at 1:06 am
There are various sites , some tending toward tin-foil territory and others closer to what used to be thought of as journalism, where inquirers may learn more about what is not being presented in our media. The public may be deceived by the Grey Lady and her fellow-travelers, but there are still those who seek the truth.thoughtful person , June 17, 2017 at 9:16 am
MintPress Meets The Father Of Iconic Aleppo Boy, Who Says Media Lied About His SonWillem , June 17, 2017 at 1:58 pm
I remember reading a copy of the Pike Report (1976, spokesman books). What impressed me was that most of the CIA budget appeared to be going to propaganda around the world – manipulation of reality as it were. Including a hot topic right now, spending millions on influencing elections. History certainly rhymes. Thanks for the article, will check out the links!rfdawn , June 17, 2017 at 2:31 pm
The pharmaceutical industry does a similar thing: it spends millions on drug trials that cannot be replicated by doctors, because such trials are too expensive to be conducted by independent doctors. And then the pharma even spends more millions on advertisements (propaganda) to convince doctors and patients alike that the new drug works better than the old one. What would be more rational than spending money on PR is when the pharma would replicate their studies, preferably by independent researchers, but they seldom do this, or only at the time when their 'new' drug runs out of patent and they need yet a newer drug to compare to the 'new' drug. Etc, etc.
It is time that people see through this propaganda, but unfortunately those who should see through this first (doctors in pharma, journalists in news, economists in banking) often have a conflict of interest that makes them deaf blind and stupid. Either because they receive money from corporations or information, or titles, or it could be as simple as receiving a penn from a company that people with a conflict of interest sincerely start to believe that these companies can't be that bad.
And those who do not have a conflict of interest are seldom heard in corporate media.
But fortunately there are other channels too.Procopius , June 19, 2017 at 1:01 am
Good point about the CIA. Propaganda benefits greatly from surveillance providing feedback, so having both in one agency sounds like amazing public sector efficiency. The links didn't get me anywhere much so I still don't know how Augustus got his feedback – the acclaim of the mob? That's important considering the failure of the similar Julian personality cult just prior.Mike , June 17, 2017 at 9:21 am
As I understand it he had quite a large secret police machine.Disturbed Voter , June 17, 2017 at 9:33 am
I have no proof, but isn't it propaganda when a weak argument upholding the governments position gets commented upon by "cranks", "crackpots", and wild "conspiracy theories" that can easily be used a straw men to be assaulted whenever "proof" of the governments side can't be presented? We have seen countless websites and blogs arise around the 9-11 story, spouting holograms, energy waves, and scientifically hazy plot lines. When "conspiracy theory" has to be kicked, these are the ones presented, while building science and physics are truly denied in the official explanation, and needs no proof because the "nuts" are the only argument against.
Is it possible that the spurious or questionable postings/books/articles are MEANT to obfuscate, meant to create rejection, or at least doubt as to the reality of any position? I don't wish to attribute more power to this than necessary, but we have been hoodwinked before by more and less.
Also, as a side note, Stalin sure did his job is discrediting Communism. Love those monastery students turned apparatchiksProcopius , June 19, 2017 at 1:09 am
You took the wrong pill. You know too much. Is Alex Jones COINTELPRO?
In the Cold War, the ends justified the means. Not that Communist regimes weren't a threat, but making a big deal about them, certainly served those who wanted to act on "the ends justify the means". The fascist elements in the US weren't gone by 1945 .. they were just getting started.
Basically we little people will never know, even people closer to the events probably have contextual bias that prevents real knowing. Whether 9/11, or the death of Meriwether Lewis. Traditional and PC historical narrative is propaganda too. Even about Washington and Lincoln.JTMcPhee , June 17, 2017 at 10:31 am
I guess I've always been contrarian. When I was in high school (the McCarthy years) I noticed our school library did not have one single book that described Communism. Not one that reported what Marx and Engels had said. Not one copy of a speech by Lenin. Not even a description of the famine caused by Stalin's collectivization of the farms. Nor was there a single such book in the town public library. I think the Detroit Public Library had a copy of Kapital, but it was in the locked section, and you had to have academic credentials to access the material there. On the other hand, our library had two copies of Mein Kampf. I suppose the owners decided that danger was already passed, and Nazis would automatically hate Communists (Prussian Socialism was something very different).Norb , June 17, 2017 at 12:31 pm
In case any of us missed it, "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt" (FUD) is a "thing," and one can read up on, and take classes in, how to generate and use FUD to promote any dishonorable and deceptive notion or product, or denigrate any decent thought or thing: "How to Market with FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, & Doubt," https://strategypeak.com/fud-fear-uncertainty-doubt/Carla , June 17, 2017 at 11:45 pm
After reading your link, there is no mention as to whether the new computer software was able to actually achieve the stated goal of backwards compatibility. The lost trust was regained by a bold claim playing on the clients fears and desires.
The article has a self-congratulatory tone that clearly shows what is wrong with current social relations. A clever marketing guy figures out a way to "beat" a competitor with lies and deceit. ( no evidence is given contrary) The executives making the decision are probably well paid either way with no downside for failure.
My wife is an ER nurse, and even in that environment, they are given coaching by management to repeat certain phrases to patients during treatment to ensure positive perception. It's really quite disturbing when you consider the ubiquitous nature of the brainwashing by corporate powers. You can refuse to cooperate, but then you are branded as a troublemaker- not a team player.Norb , June 18, 2017 at 8:53 am
"My wife is an ER nurse, and even in that environment, they are given coaching by management to repeat certain phrases to patients during treatment to ensure positive perception."
This is tragic. The profound element of the tragedy is that we all kinda know this goes on, in every area of our lives, including the most intimate ones, and yet we do nothing. Of course, we feel completely overwhelmed and inadequate in the naked face of this POWER.
Norb, honestly, the main things that help me get through the day are Naked Capitalism and the Move to Amend the Constitution with a 28th amendment abolishing corporate personhood and money as speech.
Last November 8, we had local citizen petition initiatives on the ballot in two suburbs of Cleveland: Shaker Heights and South Euclid, Ohio. Both had similar ballot language, stating that the electorates of those communities support and want to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution stating that only human beings are entitled to constitutional rights; and money is not equivalent to speech, and therefore money spent on election campaigns can be regulated.
These local initiatives passed, with 78% voting yes in South Euclid and 82% voting yes in Shaker Heights. They were the 10th and 11th cities to pass such ballot measures in Ohio.
For a look at the 28th amendment we support, see:
Also just search on Move to Amend (I'm trying to avoid moderation by giving another link).Blennylips , June 17, 2017 at 11:17 am
Thanks for sharing the link Carla. Resisting corporate power in any way possible is now the duty of every citizen. That cognitive shift is the main tipping point to bring about social change. What is good for corporations is not good for citizens.
That point has to be repeated over and over.
The message is getting through.Angry Panda , June 17, 2017 at 10:01 am
Thank you Mr. Snowden: The Art of Deception: Training for a New Generation of Online Covert Operations
And thank you WashingtonsBlog: How to Spot – and Defeat – Disruption on the Internet
But what have the romans done for us, lately ? Aside from the aquaduct, sanitation, and the roadsDJG , June 17, 2017 at 12:04 pm
Aaaaaand the article falls apart the moment it veers into actual history. Or, rather, a highly distorted picture thereof. The old Internet-debate principle of why should I listen to your argument if you're getting some tangential facts wrong. [And the fun bit, I'd be the first to agree with the premise that propaganda dates back to at least Sumer and Egypt, which are the first civilizations we have any writings from so far as I know.]
For example, specifically to Rome, before Caesar there was Sulla, for example. And Caesar wasn't killed for his "vanity" but rather by the "wealthy conservative" faction that wasn't happy he, Caesar, cut them off from power and was finally getting stuff done, including for the poor, and wanted to get back to the "good old days" (explicitly saying as much). And even the early-middle Republic saw plentiful propaganda, but especially late Republic when you had a whole conservatives-vs.-demagogues dynamic for many election cycles straight.
I realize that this is meant to be a brief excursus to prove a point ( which could have been expressed in three sentences in lieu of a whole "article", but whatever), however that isn't really an excuse. Also, too, the whole "printing press" to "World War I" segue feels at best rushed (what, no propaganda in the 1500s-1600s? the 1700s? Franklin owned what again?), and at worst misleading (as in – the printing press must have been invented just before World War I ). Also, too, again, fun that the Russian Bolsheviks get top billing while the Nazis get a footnote. Although curiously there is a bit more accuracy in the Russian Bolshevik paragraphs than in the Roman ones.Synoia , June 18, 2017 at 12:33 pm
Angry Panda: Maybe. I tend to doubt that Sulla qualifies as a personality cult. He was a brute during the brutal Roman civil wars.
Julius Caesar may qualify as the first personality cult, regardless of his end. The Gallic Wars and the subsequent "book contract." The symbolic crossing of the Rubicon. Then there is the episode that may seem more bizarre now but was remarkable for its social / religious significance: Mark Anthony, naked from participating in the sacred races of Lupercalia, offering the crown to Julius Caesar, who turned it away three times. That's personality cult! (Although, admittedly, some of the Persian kings had had even more mythical rises to power.)
But only Augustus Caesar, the former Octavian, succeeded in some minor propaganda efforts like renaming the months, eh–and we still use the names July and August (for his putative father Julius Caesar and himself).
Another aspect of the perfection of propaganda under Augustus Caesar: The mystery of why the poet Ovid was sent into exile. Unlike Virgil, who was more flexible about his patriotism, Ovid was genuinely disruptive, and Ovid wrote erotic poetry that didn't fit well with official sexuality. And off he went to farthest Romania, living out his days unhappily.Susan the other , June 17, 2017 at 10:05 am
And off he went to farthest
RomaniaDacia, living out his days unhappily.JTMcPhee , June 17, 2017 at 10:19 am
Also recently revealed by Erdogan himself is a "platform" of sorts which Turkey is promoting across Europe. It is meant to disseminate Islam's political views and influence elections. And it is very interesting that Europol is referring to something similar and calling it propaganda, with an intent to censorship. No? How did Isis get the headline and not Erdogan? It's all propaganda, that's how.lyman alpha blob , June 17, 2017 at 10:36 am
The vector of despair that is propaganda rot is old news, though always, always topical, And still interesting and informative, for those wanting to try to armor themselves against DYSinformation and aim to "try to make things better in the world."
It may be a feckless effort, given the ubiquity of DYSinformation:
"our"the CIA has been at it, on the massive offense against honesty and decency, via all the mechanisms we mopes, or too many of us, have thought worthy of "trust." Here's a telling review of a long form book on the subject of "Who Paid The Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War," https://ratical.org/ratville/CAH/CIAcultCW.pdf
Who would have thought that all those organs of public thought and the writers and artists that fed "content" into the public consciousness, people lionized for their "progressive" and/or "liberal" credentials, were actually, both consciously and in so many cases for pay out of CIA Secret Funds, filling the public mind and channels of political and "cultural" thought and debate with a particularly ancient and murderous set of poisons?
So it is left up to each of us individuals, as Promethean actors and consumers and sorters and selectors of "information," to try to render ourselves sufficiently perceptive and skeptical and disbelieving and wise, to be discerning enough to separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the polished turds from the real gems of insight and event. Because NOTHING and NO ONE can be trusted to tell the truth, when even the concept of "truth" has been rendered meaningless in the Bernays Bouillabaisse of "ideas" and "information" that sloshes about and seeps and leaks into every corner and crevice of "our" political economy.
Always, there are the Fifth Columnists (like Krauthammer and Krugman and the rest), and subtle little Iagos who infiltrate any kind of decency-based collective action (Occupy, NoDAPL, etc.) who will happily troll with Shakespearean "subtility" and betray and work full time to fiddle the rest of us, short-circuiting and defeating any efforts at collective action that might promote "the general welfare "
Interesting that in so many of the pop cultural video dreck I waste time viewing, so many of the plots involve a supposedly Trustworthy Character warning the protagonist to "Trust no one." And we discover that the TC's phrase included an arch and covert warning that the protagonist should not have trusted the corrupt or murderous TC, who is actually part of the category "No one."
But of course the CIA manipulators and masters know that some public awareness and knowledge of their shenanigans on behalf of corporate globalism, and the CIA as its own fortress of advancement and career and corruption, and the REAL Neos (-liberalism and -conservatism, both sic), only helps build the myth, and reality, of the agency's reach and clout and invulnerability and impunity. So they let us bloggers talk and fulminate about what they have done, to increase the sense of futility and debility that all of us have to feel, in some measure, about the nature and reach of the
DeepREAL state They don't even have to put a lot of active, positive effort into pushing onto our consciousnesses the phrase "Resistance is futile," made iconic via Star Trek (that set of glimmering promises of Wonderful Technology and the triumph of the human spirit and innovation even in seemingly hopeless circumstances - if only we hold to the Federation's principles http://memory-beta.wikia.com/wiki/Kobayashi_Maru_scenarioglib , June 17, 2017 at 11:01 am
Same it it ever was with propaganda and with political smears as well. The Romans were pretty good at those too with a favorite being that a political figure had buggered one of his family members. Even the contemporary historians had no idea if these rumors were true, but modern historians are still talking about them.
Back then it was Nero screwing his mother, today we have the Trump 'dossier' and piddling prostitutes.John , June 17, 2017 at 11:18 am
The Romans also imposed wheat on the Empire, to the point of killing those who refused. Many reasons, some related to propaganda: wheat was the fuel of war, so it was good to have it everywhere (not related), but also due to the opioids in wheat and the poorer health of the citizens, they had figured out that wheat eating populations were easier to conquer and hold. Totally unlike the Germans, the Scots and other tribes originating from the steppes.Yves Smith Post author , June 17, 2017 at 11:25 am
You fail to mention one of the biggest purveyors and origin of the use of the word the Congregatio Propaganda Fide established by Pope Gregory XV in 1622.Altandmain , June 17, 2017 at 11:28 am
As Edward Bernays pointed out in his 1926 book Propaganda, the word once had positive connotations precisely because it was seen as being about the legitimate spreading of the religious word. Bernays in his book tried hard, and unsuccessfully, to depict propaganda as positive and benign.Bullwinkle , June 18, 2017 at 8:17 am
Closer to home, all the recent American Presidents and candidates have created their own cults of personality.
The Obama Presidency: His cult tells us that he is a selfless community organizer and constitutional lawyer who will make America a post-racial society. He is a speaker who is very persuasive and charismatic. Any criticism of His Presidency is racism by the ignorant. Of course in reality the man had sold out to Wall Street from the start and America may as well have elected Bill Clinton for 2 more terms.
Trump is of course the business man and deal maker who will turn America around. This cult relies heavily on the right-wing propaganda that business is superior to government and that Trump is a capable businessman. In reality, Trump inherited his wealth, went bankrupt several times, and I have read underperformed compared to an index fund. He also has a history of abusing the people he does business with and apparently women too.
Hillary Clinton proved unable to fool people in her cult. She is apparently a selfless experienced politician who will break glass ceilings. The reality? Her economic policies are little more than the typical neoliberalism, which will create ceilings for working and middle class Americans, outright kicking the poor down. She loves going to war. She is not charismatic at all. Her supporters tried to portray all criticism of Clinton as sexism unsuccessfully. The lesson here is that if you want any personality cult, it has to be believable and your candidate has to be likeable.
I think that like Rome, the US is going to come apart. Let's face the reality. It is largely an empire. It relies on its military dominance to get its way and enrich its already obscenely wealthy. Much like Rome or the USSR, internal contradictions could bring it down.
An example, the US claims that it is the land of opportunity, yet social mobility is better in Canada, Australia, and the Nordic Nations which have far more egalitarian cultures. It claims to be number 1 at everything, yet when you look at standards of living, it usually is a competition between the Nordic nations. There are other nations that do well. Japanese women for example have very long life expectancies. Healthcare is said to be the top, yet other nations spend less and live longer. I could go on, but the point is that propaganda can only go so far.
Yet it is the costs of war and the greed of the rich that will eventually bring these contradictions to an end. How this will end, I don't know. I think that it could end up like the Soviet Union. We have am elite class that is literally looting everything from the rest of us. The only question is, can we avoid a total collapse like the Romans?Procopius , June 19, 2017 at 1:35 am
I would like to take a sentence from your Hillary Clinton paragraph, revise it and add it to your Obama paragraph: His supporters tried to portray all criticism of Obama as racism.Norb , June 17, 2017 at 11:52 am
The "Roman collapse" wasn't actually a sudden event that you can pin down. It was a million collapses and failures and successes by new people and strangers moving in next door and somebody you never heard of being elected to the town council.
The Eastern Empire lasted until Crusaders conquered Constantinople in 1204, and arguably made a partial comeback in 1261 until the Turks captured the city in 1453.
Even in the Western Empire some of the forms were still followed, legal precedents were followed, the ancient taxes were still collected. I think the collapse of the American Empire is going to be more spectacular, but you could argue, I think, that America actually "fell" when we entered World War I.rps , June 18, 2017 at 12:09 pm
Goebbels had at least one thing right. Understanding the human psyche is key in shaping human society. Too bad for us all that current leaders have such limited visions of what human society could be. Or should that be shame on us all for allowing such a condition to arise in the first place. It seems a negative approach is always used to exploit human weakness. The reigning morality is find a weakness and exploit it.
What human society SHOULD be has always been the problem faced by the left. The history of human societies has always been the balance of what is and what should be. These are moral questions that find no place for discussion in a modern world busy consuming the planet.
Somehow, we need to stop consuming and find the strength to reconsider the relationship and bonds we have formed with one another and the rest of the world. It is an approach understanding the fragility of the human psyche and attempting to strengthen that weakness instead of exploiting it.
Propaganda is devoid of morality. It is just the roadmap to where you would like to go. All the talk of fake news, the sharing economy, public/private enterprises, privatization, fighting terrorism, the Russian menace, and TINA are attempts to obfuscate the fact that the morality brought about by capitalism no longer functions.
Deciding what is right and wrong bring about revolutions.OffgassingWaddler , June 18, 2017 at 11:19 am
Propaganda and ideology are one in the same, they are belief systems. Neither can be found in the physical world; rather, they reside in our chosen identities. Thus, the ideologues must persuade each of us to willingly submit our personal power to them and become their compliant subject. The ideologues are not 'in' power but 'hold' the collectives' power until the individual chooses to break away and regain their individual power.
Louis Althusser's "Ideological State Apparatuses" is a good read. For Althusser, ideology was not a passive relation between the economic base and superstructure, but a pervasive set of dynamic conditions suffusing the institutional apparatus of the state and shaping not just the idea of the person as subject, but clarifying in structural terms the idea of a subject position; wherein, political and psychological forces converge to define possibilities of action and forces of constraint and repression.
Religion is one example in the mechanisms of ideology, explaining how the subject is "called" or "hailed", known as interpellation, which has been transferred to the political domain. In Althusser's thesis, ideology has no history since it is carried in the material, institutional forms of social life, and is always submerged back into them (reification).
The analytical problem is to preserve a critical focus on the moment of "calling," as the interpellated subject is both created as a subject by being called, and subsumed by the very acknowledgement that, as he puts it, "It is I" who is being called. In this sense, one is always dealing with ideologies, and not a monolithic doctrine, that may be applied in any arena of social life including: family, schools, churches, political parties, governments, and so forth.
By reading Marx expansively, Althusser had recontextualized Marxist theories by releasing it from the dogmas of doctrine or limitations of subject matter through the next step up of connecting the ranking of the subject to the institutional apparatus that at once sustains and vexes identity. One characteristic of his analytical approach lies in the fact that it does not insist on a barrier between the political and the psychoanalytic, instead, pointing the way to the praxis of ideology within one's identity and participation.Oguk , June 17, 2017 at 1:23 pm
A relevant "quote"
Ariel: You ever heard of the Masada? For two years, 900 Jews held their own against 15,000 Roman soldiers. They chose death before enslavement. The Romans? Where are they now?
Tony Soprano: You're looking at them, a–hole.Alan , June 17, 2017 at 1:33 pm
Wondering if people are familiar with Jacques Ellul's book Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes (1962)? I read it a long time ago. My take from it was: (1) propaganda is everywhere, is almost the same as what we might call culture; (2) the case that propaganda is not as much about spreading falsehoods as the selective use of truth, and (3) propaganda is an essential technique of mass politics and the modern state. He traces modern propaganda to the French Revolution, where it was essential to mobilize large parts of the population on behalf of the revolution.
Personality cults seem to me like a vary narrow understanding of propaganda.Procopius , June 19, 2017 at 1:49 am
The Roman Senate was nominally responsible for paying soldiers but by the time the republic was in it's waning days the coinage had become debased and devalued. The Roman soldier then looked to his individual commander as his meal ticket.
A competent and generous general commanded loyalty above that of the state itself because it was upon his generalship and good fortune his soldiers depended. Caesar, apart from being the Michael Jordan of his day, was exceedingly generous in doling out plunder to his victorious legionnaires.
Caesar's rivals also put their faces on coins, of course vanity played a role but it was much more that that. Troops could often be seduced into transferring allegiance if they believed they could get a better deal. Octavian (Augustus) while a competent general himself did not possess anything close to the skill of Caesar and ultimately owes his success to the tenth legion, Caesar's most loyal and skilled troops.
These men transferred their allegiance to Octavian instead of Marc Antony because Octavian manipulated his men's aversion to what they perceived as the weakness and effeminacy of the East (Antony's relationship with Cleopatra and his subsequent appropriation of Eastern dress and manners). So this then was the beginning of propaganda, Augustus portrayed himself as fighting for traditional Roman virtue against that of the soft and corruptible East. Augustus made a point to always appear in public dressed in humble garb and forbade conspicuous consumption among Rome's patrician class. He further enshrined this commitment to Roman modesty by commissioning Virgil to compose an epic myth of Rome's founding, which masterfully echoed many of the themes Augustus sought to reinforce.arte , June 17, 2017 at 1:47 pm
Do you have a reference for the claim that Roman coinage was debased and devalued? I understood that under the Republic generals were always responsible for distributing their pay to the troops. In fact, as I understood it, Caesar was deeply in debt, to the point where he had to cross the Rubicon and prevail in a civil war or have his head chopped off (I think the actual punishment was to be thrown into the Tiber River, but would need to look it up). Anyway, that was a systemic problem throughout the Empire, as well. I don't think that debasement of coinage can actually be demonstrated, although I know it's a favorite claim of far right wing gold bugs (the Roman monetary system was based on silver, not gold - originally based on iron, but that goes way back).JTMcPhee , June 17, 2017 at 2:06 pm
Apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?VietnamVet , June 17, 2017 at 7:57 pm
Some pretty good models from the Romans, for big effing standing armies, and looting colonies, and marking a very few very rich, and a whole lot of lesser people very very dead It's called "civilization
Raised with the fear of The Big Lie, what is interesting today is corporate media's propaganda omissions. The 20% decline in the number of middle class families. Earlier deaths. The transfer of enormous wealth to a very few very rich families.
The fall of the Soviet Union is recent enough that those who lived through it to say to us that the reason for the collapse was USSR's propaganda didn't match reality. When Boris Yeltsin's counter coup took place, Russians didn't take to the streets to defend the Communist Party and the economic system. Perhaps 5% of Americans are doing well servicing the oligarchs. That is far too few to defend predatory capitalism when the global economy crashes; which it will, due to spreading wars, climate change, fading democracy and social unrest. Survivors will say good riddance to the Hamptons. They had it coming.
Jun 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
JohnH, June 19, 2017 at 06:48 AMRepublicans are embarrassing Democrats by showing them how legislation gets passed with a bare majority...when Democrats could barely get anything done with a filibuster proof majority!libezkova, June 19, 2017 at 06:40 PM
Moral of the story? Democrats under Obama didn't really want to get much done. Rather, they preferred to do nothing and blame Republicans instead. Worse, now that Republicans want to destroy what precious little Democrats managed to accomplish, Democrats are just standing around, frozen like deer in the headlights, clueless as to how to use their 48 votes.
How pathetic can Democrats get?"Republicans are embarrassing Democrats by showing them how legislation gets passed with a bare majority...when Democrats could barely get anything done with a filibuster proof majority!"
Not only that.
Neoliberal stooges like Krugman now shed crocodile tears after pushing Sanders under the bus.
They essentially gave us Trump and now have an audacity to complain. What a miserable hypocritical twerp this Nobel laureate is!
Where is the DemoRats "Resistance" now? Are they fighting against the war in Syria on behave of Israel and Gulf states? Protesting sanctions against Cuba? Complaining about the record arms sale with Saudi Arabia (with its possible 9/11 links ?)
No, they are all on MSNBC or CNN dragging out a stupid investigation all the while pushing Russia to war. And congratulating themselves with the latest Russian sanctions designed to block supplies of Russian gas to Western Europe...
I want to repeat this again: Neoliberal Democrats created Trump and brought him to the victory in the recent Presidential elections.
Jun 15, 2017 | www.truth-out.org
...Trump cannot be trusted because he not only infects political discourse with a language of hate, bigotry and lies, but also because he has allowed an ideology built on the use of disinformation to take over the White House. Under the Trump administration, the truth is distorted for ideological, political and commercial reasons. Lying has become an industry and tool of power. All administrations and governments lie, but under Trump lying has become normalized. It is a calling card for corruption and lawlessness, one that provides the foundation for authoritarianism.
Trump is a salesman and a bully. He constantly assumes the macho swagger of a used car salesman from a TV commercial while at the same time, as Rebecca Solnit observes, he bullies facts and truths as well as friends and acquaintances. He is obsessed with power and prides himself on the language of command, loyalty and humiliation. He appears fixated on the fear that the United States could still act on the memory, if not the ghosts, of a real democracy.
... ... ...
A democracy cannot exist without informed citizens and public spheres and educational apparatuses that uphold standards of truth, honesty, evidence, facts and justice. Under Trump, disinformation masquerading as news -- often via his Twitter account -- has become a weapon for legitimating ignorance and civic illiteracy. Not only has Trump lied repeatedly, he has also attacked the critical media, claimed journalists are enemies of the American people and argued that the media is the opposition party. There is more at stake here than the threat of censorship or the normalization of lying; there is also an attack on long-valued sources of information and the public spheres that produce them. Trump's government has become a powerful disimagination machine in which the distinction between fact and fiction, reality and fantasy are erased.
... ... ...
Berkowitz's piece is worth citing at length. He writes :
The reason fact-checking is ineffective today -- at least in convincing those who are members of movements -- is that the mobilized members of a movement are confounded by a world resistant to their wishes and prefer the promise of a consistent alternate world to reality. When Donald Trump says he's going to build a wall to protect our borders, he is not making a factual statement that an actual wall will actually protect our borders; he is signaling a politically incorrect willingness to put America first. When he says that there was massive voter fraud or boasts about the size of his inauguration crowd, he is not speaking about actual facts, but is insisting that his election was legitimate. 'What convinces masses are not facts, and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system of which they are presumably part.' Leaders of these mass totalitarian movements do not need to believe in the truth of their lies and ideological clichés. The point of their fabrications is not to establish facts, but to create a coherent fictional reality. What a movement demands of its leaders is the articulation of a consistent narrative combined with the ability to abolish the capacity for distinguishing between truth and falsehood, between reality and fiction.
As important as the Trump-Comey affair is, it runs the risk of both exacerbating the transformation of politics into theater and reinforcing what Todd Gitlin refers to as Trump's support for an "apocalyptic nationalism, the point of which is to belong, not to believe. You belong by affirming. To win, you don't need reasons anymore, only power." Trump values loyalty over integrity. He lies, in part, to test the loyalty of those who both follow him and align themselves with his power. The Trump-Comey affair must be understood within a broader attack on the fundamentals of education, critical modes of agency and democracy itself.
This is especially important at a time when the United States is no longer a functioning democracy and is in the presence of what Zygmunt Bauman and Leonidas Donskis refer to in their book Liquid Evil as "the emergence of modern barbarity." Trump's discourse of lies, misrepresentations and fakery makes it all the more urgent for us to acknowledge that education is at the center of politics because it is crucial in the struggle over consciousness, values, identity and agency. Ignorance in the service of education targets the darkness and reinforces and thrives on civic illiteracy. Trump's disinformation machine is about more than lying. It is about using all of the tools and resources for education to create a dystopia in which authoritarianism exercises the raw power of ignorance and control.
Artists, educators, young people, journalists and others need to make the virtue of truth-telling visible again. We need to connect democracy with a notion of truth-telling and consciousness that is on the side of economic and political justice, and democracy itself. If we are all going to fight for and with the most marginalized people, there must be a broader understanding of their needs. We need to create narratives and platforms in which those who have been deemed disposable can identify themselves and the conditions through which power and oppression bear down on their lives.
This is not an easy task, but nothing less than justice, democracy and the planet itself are at risk.
Note: This is an expanded version of a piece that originally appeared on Ragazine . Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission of the author.
Henry A. Giroux Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and the Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His most recent books are America's Addiction to Terrorism (Monthly Review Press, 2016) and America at War with Itself (City Lights, 2017). He is also a contributing editor to a number of journals, including Tikkun, the Journal of Wild Culture and Ragazine. Giroux is also a member of Truthout's Board of Directors. His website is www.henryagiroux.com .
Jun 17, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
As Lambert pointed out via e-mail:
There's so much bad history that's been normalized we become numb, and this is an impressive parade of horribles.
By George Washington. Originally published at his website
The New York Times characterizes special prosecutor Robert Mueller as being independent and fair:
Robert S. Mueller III managed in a dozen years as F.B.I. director to stay above the partisan fray, carefully cultivating a rare reputation for independence and fairness.
Let's fact-check the Times
Mueller presided over the incredibly flawed anthrax investigation.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office says the FBI's investigation was "flawed and inaccurate" . The investigation was so bogus that a senator called for an "independent review and assessment of how the FBI handled its investigation in the anthrax case."
The head of the FBI's anthrax investigation says the whole thing was a sham . He says that the FBI higher-ups "greatly obstructed and impeded the investigation", that there were "politically motivated communication embargos from FBI Headquarters".
Moreover, the anthrax investigation head said that the FBI framed scientist Bruce Ivins. On July 6, 2006, the FBI's anthrax investigation FBI Plaintiff provided a whistleblower report of mismanagement to the FBI's Deputy Director pursuant to Title 5, United States Code, Section 2303, which noted:
(j) the FBI's fingering of Bruce Ivins as the anthrax mailer ; and, (k) the FBI's subsequent efforts to railroad the prosecution of Ivins in the face of daunting exculpatory evidence .
Following the announcement of its circumstantial case against Ivins, Defendants DOJ and FBI crafted an elaborate perception management campaign to bolster their assertion of Ivins' guilt . These efforts included press conferences and highly selective evidentiary presentations which were replete with material omissions .
In other words, Mueller presided over the attempt to frame an innocent man (and see this ).
Unsure About Assassination of U.S. Citizens Living On U.S. Soil
Rather than saying "of course not!", Mueller said that he wasn't sure whether Obama had the right to assassinate Americans living on American soil . Constitutional expert Jonathan Turley commented at the time:
One would hope that the FBI Director would have a handle on a few details guiding his responsibilities, including whether he can kill citizens without a charge or court order.
He appeared unclear whether he had the power under the Obama Kill Doctrine or, in the very least, was unwilling to discuss that power. For civil libertarians, the answer should be easy: "Of course, I do not have that power under the Constitution."
Spying on Americans
Mueller participated in one of the greatest expansions of mass surveillance in human history. As we noted in 2013:
NBC News reports :
NBC News has learned that under the post-9/11 Patriot Act, the government has been collecting records on every phone call made in the U.S.
On March 2011, FBI Director Robert Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee:Remember, the FBI – unlike the CIA – deals with internal matters within the borders of the United States.
We put in place technological improvements relating to the capabilities of a database to pull together past emails and future ones as they come in so that it does not require an individualized search .
On May 1st of this year, former FBI agent Tim Clemente told CNN's Erin Burnett that all present and past phone calls were recorded :
BURNETT: Tim, is there any way, obviously, there is a voice mail they can try to get the phone companies to give that up at this point. It's not a voice mail. It's just a conversation. There's no way they actually can find out what happened, right, unless she tells them?
CLEMENTE: "No, there is a way. We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation . It's not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the ainvestigation and/or lead to questioning of her. We certainly can find that out.
BURNETT: "So they can actually get that? People are saying, look, that is incredible.
CLEMENTE: "No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not ."
The next day, Clemente again appeared on CNN, this time with host Carol Costello, and she asked him about those remarks. He reiterated what he said the night before but added expressly that "all digital communications in the past" are recorded and stored :
NSA whistleblowers say that this means that the NSA collects "word for word" all of our communications .
FBI special agent – and a 2002 Time Person of the Year – Colleen Rowley writes :
Mueller's FBI was also severely criticized by Department of Justice Inspector Generals finding the FBI overstepped the lhttp://www.washingtonsblog.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=68066&action=editaw improperly serving hundreds of thousands of "national security letters" to obtain private (and irrelevant) metadata on citizens, and for infiltrating nonviolent anti-war groups under the guise of investigating "terrorism."
FBI special agent Colleen Rowley points out :
Mueller was even okay with the CIA conducting torture programs after his own agents warned against participation. Agents were simply instructed not to document such torture, and any "war crimes files" were made to disappear. Not only did "collect it all" surveillance and torture programs continue, but Mueller's (and then Comey's) FBI later worked to prosecute NSA and CIA whistleblowers who revealed these illegalities.
Rowley notes :
When you had the lead-up to the Iraq War Mueller and, of course, the CIA and all the other directors, saluted smartly and went along with what Bush wanted, which was to gin up the intelligence to make a pretext for the Iraq War. For instance, in the case of the FBI, they actually had a receipt, and other documentary proof, that one of the hijackers, Mohamed Atta, had not been in Prague, as Dick Cheney was alleging. And yet those directors more or less kept quiet. That included CIA, FBI, Mueller, and it included also the deputy attorney general at the time, James Comey.
Post 9/11 Round-Up
FBI special agent Rowley also notes :
Beyond ignoring politicized intelligence, Mueller bent to other political pressures. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Mueller directed the " post 9/11 round-up " of about 1,000 immigrants who mostly happened to be in the wrong place (the New York City area) at the wrong time. FBI Headquarters encouraged more and more detentions for what seemed to be essentially P.R. purposes. Field offices were required to report daily the number of detentions in order to supply grist for FBI press releases about FBI "progress" in fighting terrorism. Consequently, some of the detainees were brutalized and jailed for up to a year despite the fact that none turned out to be terrorists .
9/11 Cover Up
Rowley points out :
The FBI and all the other officials claimed that there were no clues, that they had no warning [about 9/11] etc., and that was not the case. There had been all kinds of memos and intelligence coming in. I actually had a chance to meet Director Mueller personally the night before I testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee [he was] trying to get us on his side, on the FBI side, so that we wouldn't say anything terribly embarrassing.
But overwhelming evidence shows that 9/11 was foreseeable . Indeed, Al Qaeda crashing planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was itself foreseeable . Even the chair of the 9/11 Commission said that the attack was preventable .
Rowley also said says :
TIME Magazine would probably have not called my own disclosures a " bombshell memo " to the Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry in May 2002 if it had not been for Mueller's having so misled everyone after 9/11.
In addition, Rowley says that the FBI sent Soviet-style "minders" to her interviews with the Joint Intelligence Committee investigation of 9/11, to make sure that she didn't say anything the FBI didn't like. The chairs of both the 9/11 Commission and the Official Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 confirmed that government "minders" obstructed the investigation into 9/11 by intimidating witnesses (and see this ).
Mueller's FBI also obstructed the 9/11 investigation in many other ways. For example, an FBI informant hosted and rented a room to two hijackers in 2000. Specifically, investigators for the Congressional Joint Inquiry discovered that an FBI informant had hosted and even rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an unknown location . And see this .
And Kristen Breitweiser – one of the four 9/11 widows instrumental in forcing the government to form the 9/11 Commission to investigate the 2001 attacks – points out :
Mueller and other FBI officials had purposely tried to keep any incriminating information specifically surrounding the Saudis out of the Inquiry's investigative hands. To repeat, there was a concerted effort by the FBI and the Bush Administration to keep incriminating Saudi evidence out of the Inquiry's investigation. And for the exception of the 29 full pages, they succeeded in their effort.
Rather than being "above the fray", Mueller is an authoritarian and water-carrier for the status quo and the powers-that-be.
As Coleen Rowley puts it :
It seems clear that based on his history and close "partnership" with Comey, called "one of the closest working relationships the top ranks of the Justice Department have ever seen," Mueller was chosen as Special Counsel not because he has integrity but because he will do what the powerful want him to do.
Mueller didn't speak the truth about a war he knew to be unjustified. He didn't speak out against torture. He didn't speak out against unconstitutional surveillance. And he didn't tell the truth about 9/11. He is just "their man."
Furzy , June 17, 2017 at 10:26 amUserFriendly , June 17, 2017 at 4:02 am
Excellent run down of the 9/11 coverup:
15 Years Later: Never Forget 9/11 crimes were never thoroughly investigated
Published on Aug 30, 2016
After 15 years of meticulous research and analysis into the events and theories surrounding 9/11, this is a collection of all the best facts and evidence proving who had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crimes we witnessed on September 11th, and who ought to be investigated if we ever hope to get to the bottom of it.
People & Blogs
Standard YouTube Licenseinteger , June 17, 2017 at 4:43 am
Well of course he's an evil SOB who has done horrible things in the name of this country, but he has done them for both parties; hence the 'above the partisan fray' line. You can't be a partisan hack if you are hacking up dead bodies for both sides.Yves Smith Post author , June 17, 2017 at 6:35 am
Sigh. Yet another of the empire's eunuchs steps up to the plate. Trump will prevail.johnnygl , June 17, 2017 at 7:41 am
I would not bet on that. The play seems to be to bait him into obstruction of justice or pressure him into a health crisis.RenoDino , June 17, 2017 at 10:44 am
One of the lessons of the Brazilian soft coup is that you don't need the prez to commit a crime or even evidence of one. Just drive down popularity until the public finds it palatable. Dilma Rouseff lost her base and then was toast.
As you've pointed out, yves, trump MUST hold his base to survive.Art Eclectic , June 17, 2017 at 12:14 pm
Driving down his popularity per se won't harm him. Even the elites who want him out could care less about the vox populi. They need to remind congressional Republicans there is only one party, the governing class, and supporting Trump makes them guilty by association of colluding with Russia and obstructing justice. The end game is making Republicans fall in line with the establishment thus making way for impeachment. It's their only hope and a long shot because the Republicans will be committing suicide.RenoDino , June 17, 2017 at 1:00 pm
Republicans are on a Bataan Death March either way. They either embrace the alt-right and make that the new party standard or the alt-right destroys them. Trumps campaign was about burning down the governing class without respect for party. Not that he will be allowed to do any such thing on a grand scale, there's too much money at stake from donors who bought the governing apparatus fair and square.
Forcing the Republicans to engage in internecine warfare is destroying them. Democrats are doing the job on their own without much help from Trump's team. Both parties are under siege, which is not a bad thing. The bad thing is the destruction of education, energy, environmental, and financial policy. Instead of draining the swamp Trump has introduced swamp sharks to the predator mix.Waking Up , June 17, 2017 at 1:25 pm
Totally agree and I like introduction of swamp sharks as a new predator class. I envision them as a football with fins. The policies you mentioned were already bad to begin with. Trump's tampering may make them worse at the margins.Arizona Slim , June 17, 2017 at 8:58 am
The One party, governing class of Democrats/Republicans made itself well known when it voted 97 to 2 in the Senate for S. 722. Statement of Purpose: To impose sanctions with respect to the Russian Federation and to combat terrorism and illicit financing.
New sanctions on Russia is a highly bipartisan, one governing class result.Lambert Strether , June 17, 2017 at 7:01 am
Pressure him into a health crisis? Hmmm, where have we seen that one before?
Point of history: A few months after he left office (in disgrace), Nixon had a phlebitis attack and nearly died.
And he wasn't in the best of shape before he left the White House.Lambert Strether , June 17, 2017 at 2:00 pm
It would be nice if the country learned the lesson that running a country* is nothing like running a business (something shallow concept of "leadership" you read about in airport bookstores - and does it remind us of something? - erases).
It's going to be an expensive lesson though, and the political class might even double down on it; what we need is a virtuous CEO; like Zuckerberg, for example.
* I suppose the counter-argument would be Bloomberg. Perhaps there's a scale issue.EndOfTheWorld , June 17, 2017 at 5:14 am
> Zuckerberg or bloomberg are virtuous? I hope you are joking or being sarcastic.
I ladle my irony out with a shovel these days. It's the only way to cope.Carolinian , June 17, 2017 at 8:53 am
When I voted for Trump, I thought he would be a fighter. I was wrong. He's not fighting for anything. Maybe his highest priority is simply avoiding assassination.
Sometimes he will get on Twitter and say some belligerent stuff, but doesn't he realize that he has the authority to hire and fire who he wants?EndOfTheWorld , June 17, 2017 at 9:22 am
I don't think any of us knew what Trump would be. But while he certainly hasn't helped himself with the tweets and pettish behavior you can really blame him for failing to drain a swamp that also includes lots of members of his own administration (Pence, Haley etc). The elite groupthink on foreign policy in particular is overwhelming. So where would he find subordinates to enact a change of course? And on domestic matters a well bribed Congress is determined to maintain failed GOP Reaganomics.
Trump's only real accomplishment may be the defeat of Clinton which has shaken the political world. Now they are seeking to undo that as well. It's the ongoing soft coup that must be resisted or we will turn into Brazil.edmondo , June 17, 2017 at 10:59 am
Right, when he selected Pence as veep you could already see he was giving in to the establishment. But he had to: otherwise they would never have let him leave the convention with the nomination.
I would have preferred to see him select somebody like Jesse Ventura or Nomi Prins or Alex Jones as veep and let the chips fall where they may. It's not like he needs the job anyway.EndOfTheWorld , June 17, 2017 at 12:34 pm
" when he selected Pence as veep you could already see he was giving in to the establishment.".
No one else wanted the slot. It was considered political suicide. Haley turned him down. Joni Ernst turned him down. Ted Cruz said no. Pence only relented because he thought it would give him some national exposure when he sought the presidential nomination in 2020.Kim Kaufman , June 17, 2017 at 6:11 pm
They turned him down only because they believed he had no chance of winning. But he had to choose somebody entrenched with the Republican establishment, because as it was he barely made it out of Cleveland still the nominee.
There were a lot of Republicans like Romney and Kasich who went to Cleveland but did not attend the convention. Obviously hoping for some kind of coup which would kick out The Donald.Disturbed Voter , June 17, 2017 at 6:41 am
Chris Christie would have done it in a heartbeat. The establishment did sort of force or trick Trump into Pence as I recall.RRH , June 17, 2017 at 7:46 am
People who want to be liked/loved are insecure demagogues. People who obey illegal orders or who initiate them, are no friend of the People. And yes, the real Deep State is bipartisan. Partisanship we see is kabuki.
And most coverups aren't Bourne Identity, they are just an incompetent bureaucracy covering its tracks.cocomaan , June 17, 2017 at 8:15 am
"Hope" is not "You Will" when it comes to Flynn.
Asking organizations that knew there was no connection to make it public is not "obstruction of justice," it is exposing the deep state's intense effort to keep the level of the swamp high. Telling Comey to get on with the investigation is not obstruction, but an effort to expedite the witch hunt to it's logical conclusion so that the Administration can get on with it's agenda. Deep state's leaks are all against Trump. Statistically impossible.Katniss Everdeen , June 17, 2017 at 9:14 am
Good god, had no idea Mueller was the one in charge of the anthrax investigation. That was one of the most ham-handed idiotic things I've ever read about.
Good to see George Washington around these parts again, there's few people as passionate about politics as him!Alex Morfesis , June 17, 2017 at 3:37 pm
Here's an interesting run through of mueller's handling of the anthrax investigation, among other things. A fun bit:
So what evidence did the FBI have against Hatfill? There was none, so the agency did a Hail Mary, importing two bloodhounds from California whose handlers claimed could sniff the scent of the killer on the anthrax-tainted letters. These dogs were shown to Hatfill, who promptly petted them. When the dogs responded favorably, their handlers told the FBI that they'd "alerted" on Hatfill and that he must be the killer.
You'd think that any good FBI agent would have kicked these quacks in the fanny and found their dogs a good home. Or at least checked news accounts of criminal cases in California where these same dogs had been used against defendants who'd been convicted - and later exonerated. As Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times investigative reporter David Willman detailed in his authoritative book on the case, a California judge who'd tossed out a murder conviction based on these sketchy canines called the prosecution's dog handler "as biased as any witness that this court has ever seen."
Instead, Mueller, who micromanaged the anthrax case and fell in love with the dubious dog evidence, personally assured Ashcroft and presumably George W. Bush that in Steven Hatfill the bureau had its man. Comey, in turn, was asked by a skeptical Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz if Hatfill was another Richard Jewell - the security guard wrongly accused of the Atlanta Olympics bombing. Comey replied that he was "absolutely certain" they weren't making a mistake.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the fix is in. BTW, Hatfill got $5+ million in taxpayer money thanks to mueller / comey's dogged yet severely flawed pursuit of truth, justice and the american way.teejay , June 17, 2017 at 8:59 am
Hold on had to open another roll to triple layer my tf hat there that's better
If hatfill might lead to others, one has to work hard to create the legend and backstory to divert attention
Mueller is the typical insider designed to insure only the unwashed and uninitiated are thrown into the grinder to keep the news folks busy with filling the hole between the ads
Hatfill might not have been the direct person, but the south afrikans and boeremag around and associated with him
And those wondrous apartheidistas were allowed to keep their toys after most of them had their "matter" dismissed
Mueller is there to keep trump in check the investigation will go on and on and on feeding tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to a group of "approved" insiders who will occasionally on a late friday, burp out some pdf report before some major sporting event or just after some massive news story on a thursday
"Bungling" a case is the best way to cover it up when it might lead to unexpected further investigation
Back to the funny papers yellow kid strikes againlyman alpha blob , June 17, 2017 at 10:52 am
Washington Blog forgot to mention Mueller slow walking the BCCI investigation.
http://www.blacklistednews.com/?news_id=4304Charles Yaker , June 17, 2017 at 9:59 am
Good catch – thanks for pointing that out.
Mueller was also head of the FBI when post 9-11 it began framing impressionable young men by handing them phony weapons and then arresting them as 'terrorists' in an attempt to make it look like the spooks were keeping the country safe or some such nonsense.
I would imagine Trump can expect the same treatment.David Carl Grimes , June 17, 2017 at 10:33 am
Just for the record Trump is being Trump just like Obama did what Obama wanted despite Progressive self denial.Yves Smith Post author , June 17, 2017 at 12:34 pm
Does the obstruction of justice issue have any merit? I thought it was a nothingburger according to posts here in the NCLambert Strether , June 17, 2017 at 1:55 pm
Of all people, Alan Dershowitz says no because in the US the DoJ and the FBI report to the President. He can fire anyone he wants to. According to Dershowitz, he can also tell them to stop an investigation. He can also pardon anyone, including himself! The idea that they are independent is a canard the media has been selling and civics-challenged Americans have been buying.
This is also not at all comparable to Watergate. There was an actual crime, as opposed to a protracted "Trump won when he shouldn't have! Evil Rooskies must have engineered it! And on top of that, they must have a secret handshake with Trump!" that has yet to do anything beyond hyperventilate about Trump officials knowing and meeting some Russians. And the reason firing the Watergate special prosecutor was obstruction of justice was that that that investigator, Archibald Cox, had been appointed by Congress and therefore really was independent.
To my simple mind, the charge of obstruction of justice implies that there is justice