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US Presidential Elections of 2016: 2015 part of the campaign

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News Two Party System as Polyarchy Recommended Books Recommended Links Donald Trump Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton Jeb Bush Bernie Sanders  
Myth about intelligent voter Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA Mayberry Machiavellians  Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Neoliberalism Neocons Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" The Deep State The Iron Law of Oligarchy
Media-Military-Industrial Complex  Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few American Exceptionalism Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair Totalitarian Decisionism & Human Rights: The Re-emergence of Nazi Law Resurgence of neo-fascism as reaction on neoliberalism Nation under attack meme Big Uncle is Watching You Pluralism as a myth
Principal-agent problem Corporatist Corruption Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Myth about intelligent voter Harvard Mafia "Fuck the EU": State Department neocons show EU its real place   Corporatism National Security State
Libertarian Philosophy     US Presidential Elections of 2016 US Presidential Elections of 2012 Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc

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[Aug 13, 2016] Hillary was a foreign policy disaster who killed thousands

Notable quotes:
"... BTW Pat Buchanan says that if the R establishment tries to coalesce around Rubio or Cruz then Trump will simply choose one of them as his running mate and end of story. That's assuming Trump does in fact maintain his poll lead with actual votes. ..."
"... It's our foreign policy that is fubar and it's been fubar for awhile. This idea that Clinton somehow was the worst Secretary of State is revisionism. Was she bad? Yes. Was she worse than Condeleeza "I ignored a memo that said AQ was determined to attack" Rice? That is incredibly debatable. ..."
"... I'm less for her being the fall guy for ME policies that have been a disaster for at least as long as I've been alive(and let's face it installing the Shah, trading hostages for arms, etc, etc there's been ALOT of mistakes there) ..."
"... As soon as one subordinates themselves, they become the agent to a principal, whether that principal be a natural person, a class, an identity group, or an old piece of paper with happy horse dung written all over it. Given the choice between downward mobility and schizophrenia, most choose compartmentalization as an imperfect but effective coping mechanism to help workers stay sane and maintain their identity in the ever more grueling workplace. ..."
"... Hmm. You're saying that split consciousness screws up principal-agent relationships, not metaphoricallly, but literally? That's a really interesting argument, a new way to think about elites ("know your enemy"). ..."
"... Does anybody really believe that the Clinton who takes off the Secretary of State hat and puts on the Clinton Foundation hat, or who takes off the Clinton Foundation hat and puts on the Campaign hat, is not the same Hillary Clinton? She'd have to be a sociopath to keep her mind and heart that compartmentalized, no? But if we accept the Clinton Dynasty's "attitude toward public service," as we put it, that's what we'd have to believe. I don't believe it. ..."
"... So, either Clinton is a sociopath (the "compartmentalization") or deeply corrupt. Which is it to be? ..."
"... If you're saying that split consciousness makes for split loyalties, I'd agree. It's part of what makes that compartmentalized "workaday me" role slightly corrosive to community and citizenship. ..."
"... According to people who were there it was Clinton who pushed for regime change in Libya while Obama was reluctant. The French were pushing for it as well but within the administration she was the advocate. She also favored regime change in Syria although US actions there are murkier. ..."
"... So Trump and Cruz were quite justified in what they said. She also favored the surge in Afghanistan while Biden opposed. She has compared Putin to Hitler and presumably fully supports the confrontation with Russia. ..."
"... Condi on the other hand was just a functionary for policies being made by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the neocons. It was a very different situation. ..."
"... Whatever one thinks of Trump it's quite possible he'd be a less dangerous choice than Hillary when it comes to foreign policy. The Dems don't see it this way because so many of them agree with her–particularly the Democrats' wealthy backers. ..."
www.nakedcapitalism.com
Carolinian

Cruz–Trump's mini-me–has apparently also been claiming lately that Hillary was a foreign policy disaster who killed thousands. This is what Sanders hasn't been saying forever. Libertarian Raimondo gives his take on the debate and says Rand Paul had a big night.

http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2015/12/16/gop-debate-triumph-isolationism/

BTW Pat Buchanan says that if the R establishment tries to coalesce around Rubio or Cruz then Trump will simply choose one of them as his running mate and end of story. That's assuming Trump does in fact maintain his poll lead with actual votes.

cwaltz

Sanders doesn't mention Hillary by name (probably because she isn't the primary problem. It wasn't like Condeleeza Rice was a stellar Secretary of State or there weren't indictments under the Reagan Secretary of State.) However, he has been saying that our foreign policy is part of the problem which is the REAL problem. Clinton is just a symptom.

Steven D.

I thought you were going pin the blame on Barry O since he was Hillary's boss. The system doesn't cut it as a target. It excuses the actors. Nobody has agency? Clinton had and has a lot of power. She has had options. She has chosen her path.

cwaltz

Clinton's behavior was similar to her predecessors which was similar to her predecessors and so on and so on.

It's our foreign policy that is fubar and it's been fubar for awhile. This idea that Clinton somehow was the worst Secretary of State is revisionism. Was she bad? Yes. Was she worse than Condeleeza "I ignored a memo that said AQ was determined to attack" Rice? That is incredibly debatable. I'm all for Hillary being held accountable.

I'm less for her being the fall guy for ME policies that have been a disaster for at least as long as I've been alive(and let's face it installing the Shah, trading hostages for arms, etc, etc there's been ALOT of mistakes there)

Steven D.

Who makes foreign policy? People do. There are institutional prerogatives but she didn't have to be so damned good at being so bad.

hunkerdown

As soon as one subordinates themselves, they become the agent to a principal, whether that principal be a natural person, a class, an identity group, or an old piece of paper with happy horse dung written all over it. Given the choice between downward mobility and schizophrenia, most choose compartmentalization as an imperfect but effective coping mechanism to help workers stay sane and maintain their identity in the ever more grueling workplace.

So who's the principal?

Lambert Strether Post author

Hmm. You're saying that split consciousness screws up principal-agent relationships, not metaphoricallly, but literally? That's a really interesting argument, a new way to think about elites ("know your enemy").

I said something similar - OK, "interesting" could mean confirming my priors - here:

Does anybody really believe that the Clinton who takes off the Secretary of State hat and puts on the Clinton Foundation hat, or who takes off the Clinton Foundation hat and puts on the Campaign hat, is not the same Hillary Clinton? She'd have to be a sociopath to keep her mind and heart that compartmentalized, no? But if we accept the Clinton Dynasty's "attitude toward public service," as we put it, that's what we'd have to believe. I don't believe it.

So, either Clinton is a sociopath (the "compartmentalization") or deeply corrupt. Which is it to be?

Nose- or rather brain-bleeds at the commanding heights….

different clue

Sociocorruptopath.

hunkerdown

Split attribution enables screwed-up principal-agent relationships. Think sex workers, used-car salesmen, fresh-out-of-Harvard Democratic strategists, other agents who loyally if resignedly carry out what the mainstream deems inhospitable and/or dirty work to the benefit of their principals, yet share no interest apart from the engaged work.

Cultivating a straw self-identity or group-identity, or maybe role, for the purpose of attribution is an effective though problematic way to keep the evil from sticking to one's self-definition.

If you're saying that split consciousness makes for split loyalties, I'd agree. It's part of what makes that compartmentalized "workaday me" role slightly corrosive to community and citizenship.

Carolinian

According to people who were there it was Clinton who pushed for regime change in Libya while Obama was reluctant. The French were pushing for it as well but within the administration she was the advocate. She also favored regime change in Syria although US actions there are murkier.

So Trump and Cruz were quite justified in what they said. She also favored the surge in Afghanistan while Biden opposed. She has compared Putin to Hitler and presumably fully supports the confrontation with Russia.

In Honduras she covertly supported the coup government at the urging of her crony Lanny Davis and the Honduran children who are fleeing to the United States can be chalked up as another of HIllary's little missteps. Whether or not she was the worst Sec State ever she's up there.

Condi on the other hand was just a functionary for policies being made by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the neocons. It was a very different situation.

Whatever one thinks of Trump it's quite possible he'd be a less dangerous choice than Hillary when it comes to foreign policy. The Dems don't see it this way because so many of them agree with her–particularly the Democrats' wealthy backers.

Lambert Strether Post author

Clinton really believes that stuff. She's not pandering. Well, I mean, she's pandering too, of course, but from a base of conviction, not political posturing.

Steven D.

You give her too much credit. Like Lyndon Johnson, she's afraid of the Republicans getting too much to her right on foreign policy. It's purely reactive. If she believes anything, it's probably that Democrats need to be hawkish to avoid being portrayed as pansies. A fruit of her McGovern experience in 1972.

different clue

Then she may be misreading that experience. My brain keeps circling back to Hunter S. Thompson's argument that McGovern didn't start falling badly until he was seen visibly seeking to appease the Establishment Democrats that his campaign had just beaten. If Thompson't analysis is correct, McGovern betrayed his own campaign and everyone who worked in it.

But of course the Clintons just saw "evil workers supporting Nixon against our beloved McGovern". I still wonder how much of Clinton's support for NAFTA was driven by a desire for revenge against the working class which voted against his beloved McGovern? Revenge being a dish best served cold, and so forth.

Carolinian

You are probably right, which just makes it worse. No dissuading a fanatic.Hillary doesn't seem like the type who is inclined to admit to mistakes.

Ted Rall says that for once Trump's "s-bombs" are justified.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/15/in-defense-of-trumps-name-calling/

Steven D.

The Honduran coup was a crime that disqualifies her.

[Dec 30, 2015] Krugman is irrelevant and his promostion of Hillary is disingenious

Notable quotes:
"... The big story he won't write about is that the Republicans wouldn't be such a threat if Team D was worth a damn. ..."
"... The spectacle of 2009-2010 cured me of any lingering desire to vote Democrat ever again – or to waste my time reading Krugman. ..."
"... Krugman is a collaborator. His wealth and prestige is built on his capacity for perpetuating falsehoods that have had vast and deadly consequences (Obama care, for instance). ..."
"... Not to mention he was a huge advocate of NAFTA. Something he never mentions. ..."
"... Krugman's defense of Obama care either indicates a lack of intellect, or in my view the more probable possibility, the inability to accept that the system is thoroughly corrupt, including most dems and economists… ..."
"... It's no excuse for someone who actually thinks and writes about public policy, but could it be that Krugman is like my fellow guests and just never had to think about the cost of his health insurance simply because he could always afford it. So, I mean, he's never done the math. He's just done the "responsible thing" and carried insurance his whole life. ..."
www.nakedcapitalism.com

Steven D.

Used to be an avid Krugman reader. But I get bored reading about how bad the Republicans are. Tell me something I don't know. The big story he won't write about is that the Republicans wouldn't be such a threat if Team D was worth a damn.

It's like they got the ball in 2009 with the field wide open for a touchdown. But since the game was fixed Team D just danced around their own 20-yard line looking for the feeble Republican defense to block them. Every time they have an opening for a good play they panic over the prospect of scoring big and contrive to fumble the ball. The most they ever want is field goals and to prevent the Republicans from running away with the game too much.

That's why Krugman can write about how scary the Republicans are. But so what? Everyone knows that. Why are they in such a position? That's the interesting story.

Barmitt O'Bamney

Indeed, and seconded: Kruggers is irrelevant. However correct his critique may be, as far as it goes, it never goes far enough since he has chosen to mutilate himself into playing the role of partisan hack. There is a beam in the Republicans' eye? Well, there is a beam in his eye, too.

The spectacle of 2009-2010 cured me of any lingering desire to vote Democrat ever again – or to waste my time reading Krugman. If my choice is between voting against my own interests on the one hand, and voting against my interests on the other, I'll just stay home or else make my vote a protest against the party that assumes it has an unconditional right to my vote. Reading about how the Republicans are always wrong, with nary a mention of how Democrats are right there with them in the latrine of wrongness isn't worth a minute more of my time – and my time isn't even very valuable.

Benedict@Large

The problem (that leads to the boredom) with reading Krugman is not that he's always talking about how bad the Republicans are. That after all is true. The problem with reading Krugman is that he's always picking on the lowest hanging fruit; the easy cases that require no special nuance or understanding. Krugman is a smart man, and he is better than this. We have all too many of us capable of picking apart the 4th grade thinking and analysis that is so common in the GOP. To add Krugman to that list is a waste of (his and our) time.

tongorad

Krugman is a smart man, and he is better than this.

Evidence, please.

Krugman is a collaborator. His wealth and prestige is built on his capacity for perpetuating falsehoods that have had vast and deadly consequences (Obama care, for instance).

hidflect

Not to mention he was a huge advocate of NAFTA. Something he never mentions.

fresno dan

Krugman's defense of Obama care either indicates a lack of intellect, or in my view the more probable possibility, the inability to accept that the system is thoroughly corrupt, including most dems and economists…

Ulysses

I think the most serious problem that Paul Krugman has, in accepting that the system is thoroughly corrupt, is his internalization of the meritocratic myth. The syllogism runs as follows:

1) I have "merit"

2)The system has lavished wealth and renown on me

3)Therefore, those who claim that our system "isn't really meritocratic" must themselves lack "merit," or be deluded from too much sentimentality, or too much attention to "exceptions that prove the rule."

Tom Allen

He's also prone to defending politicians and economists with whom he's personal friends - and there are a lot of them. That's human nature, but it tends to make one skeptical of his objectivity when, for example, Larry Summers or Ben Bernanke is involved.

NotTimothyGeithner

He's also preaching to the choir. Who is Krugthullu's audience? Outside of New Yorkers, it's largely people who fantasize about finishing the Sunday crossword despite not actually trying and love to have a simplified "liberal" world view reinforced. Given how Obots use to swarm, would he have survived not towing the company line? Without his column, Krugthullu is just another economics professor without the backing of a billionaire who keeps him around as a pet. Maybe Warren Buffet would put up a nice fence to keep Krugthullu in his yard, but he would likely have to spend time in Omaha.

The flip side is Krugthullu has likely burned too many bridges to regain his 2009 status. The Obots can't handle criticism, and it's rather late to join the Obama anonymous support group.

jrs

I mostly think they keep Krug around to justify "trade" agreements. That the little battles don't matter so much compared to "trade" agreements (and in fact they don't, on the issue of healthcare, "trade" agreements are a serious threat to even those countries with better medical systems. "Trade" agreements can override other political battles, even those where Krugs position might be decent).

jo6pac

Thanks for LOL, so true.

GlobalMisanthrope

Yeah, I am completely mystified by his defense of the ACA. My employers think of themselves as good liberals (although they do not provide health insurance but rather a health stipend to a handful of top managers that we can apply toward our purchase of insurance on the exchange) and have trotted out Krugman on occasion when I have argued against the Act.

I was at a dinner party before Christmas with a diverse group of professionals hosted by a friend who is a wine maker. There were several people from the food and beverage industry, a university professor and her law school administrator spouse, an obstetrical surgeon, a rancher and three others I never got a chance to learn anything about. The subject of "Obamacare" came up. I was truly astonished by the completely fact-free conversation that ensued. So much so that I stayed silent for a long time, really not knowing what to say.

My friend, the host, noticed my expression and asked me what I thought about Obamacare. So I described it as the boondoggle that it is and went into some detail debunking many of the claims made by the other guests. Honestly, I mean they were more or less polite, but they didn't think I knew what I was talking about. What can account for this?

Well, one of the things that came out was that I was, by some distance, the lowest paid person at the table.

It's no excuse for someone who actually thinks and writes about public policy, but could it be that Krugman is like my fellow guests and just never had to think about the cost of his health insurance simply because he could always afford it. So, I mean, he's never done the math. He's just done the "responsible thing" and carried insurance his whole life.

Anyway, it was a cold shower to realize how intractable their belief in the system is. As I find myself saying a lot lately, I was not heartened.

flora

The whole ACA thing reminds me of the urban renewal projects of the 50s and 60s. Those were supposedly progressive projects to replace blighted areas with modern housing. In fact it was political snake oil that didn't help the poor so much as help large cities fill their coffers. It replaced poor dwellings with middle class dwellings that increased the cities' tax revenues. The poor were left to fend for themselves as their poor but stable neighborhoods were destroyed. The designers of the projects thought they were doing good.

I wonder how many people sitting around the table with you tried to buy their mandated insurance on the ACA web portal or on the open market? ACA sounds good in theory.

Lexington

It's no excuse for someone who actually thinks and writes about public policy, but could it be that Krugman is like my fellow guests and just never had to think about the cost of his health insurance simply because he could always afford it. So, I mean, he's never done the math. He's just done the "responsible thing" and carried insurance his whole life.

Yup.

I have my frustrations with Krugman too, but I think progressives need to cut the guy some slack: he's a professor at Princeton, a Nobel laureate, and has a trophy case full of professional honours and twenty books plus a couple of hundred articles under his belt. He's in the sanctum sanctorum of the elite.

If he never penned another op ed or blog post or participated in another public debate it wouldn't make the slightest difference to his legacy. Yet there he is, the very model of a public intellectual, actually inviting non specialists to engage in a discussion about economics and public policy, and fighting the good fight for liberalism. You can be sure he isn't doing it to win plaudits from his peers. ...

[Dec 30, 2015] Trumps Bill Clinton misogyny barbs are hypocrisy. His base wont care

It is interesting the Guardian support this warmonger neocon. Another proof the it is Blairite "Third Way" propagandist. A neoliberal, moderate, right wing newspaper now.
Notable quotes:
"... Good luck with that ..."
"... Trump is waging political war the way that Patriots coach Bill Belichick wins football games: take away the opponent's best weapon, then play to your strengths. ..."
"... On Monday, Trump tweeted : "If Hillary thinks she can unleash her husband, with his terrible record of women abuse, while playing the women's card on me, she's wrong!" ..."
"... really like ..."
"... Hillary Clinton – be it her demeanor in front of a crowd or the manufactured scandals and mischaracterizations by conservative media and officials – just doesn't connect with audiences ..."
"... Yes he does and his wife is the hypocrite for her stance on womens rights and enlisting the support of her husband who has the deserved label of being a womanizer ..."
www.theguardian.com

the first reaction to ... Donald Trump criticizing Bill Clinton's scuzzy personal record with women should be, Good luck with that. But Trump is waging political war the way that Patriots coach Bill Belichick wins football games: take away the opponent's best weapon, then play to your strengths.

It just happens that playing to Trump's strengths involves sounding like an abusive comment thread with the long-term memory of a mosquito.

On Monday, Trump tweeted: "If Hillary thinks she can unleash her husband, with his terrible record of women abuse, while playing the women's card on me, she's wrong!" It's more pointed than his general, aimless displays of boorishness and chauvinism but, like using Megyn Kelly's alleged menses to explain her justifiably holding him to account in the first Republican debate, Trump was taking a tactical approach.

The Clinton campaign does plans to "unleash" Bill Clinton on the stump, and people really like Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton – be it her demeanor in front of a crowd or the manufactured scandals and mischaracterizations by conservative media and officials – just doesn't connect with audiences as well as Bill does; but then, Bill's probably the most charismatic politician of the last two generations.

Mihai Filip, 30 Dec 2015 23:43

I don't have a dog in this fight, nevertheless I've read on Breitbart the accusations for wich Bill Clinton settled out of court for 850k and that lady claimed he came on to her with his errect penis asking her to kiss it. I think the liberal media must start planning some sort of retreat on this issue before going on the suicidal path shown in this article, because this becomes an indefensible political position. Bill knew that already, that's why he paid the 850.000 dollars.

Martin Joseph -> lefthalfback2, 30 Dec 2015 23:56

You forgot to mention her corruption. Which makes her the perfect Clinton candidate.

Todd Owens, 30 Dec 2015 19:02

This article is peak identity politics. However negatively you feel about Trump the simple fact of the matter is President Clinton has a horrible record with women.

SemperTi Todd Owens, 30 Dec 2015 19:11

Yes he does and his wife is the hypocrite for her stance on women's rights and enlisting the support of her husband who has the deserved label of being a womanizer and when outed directly or indirectly attacked those women in the press.

[Dec 29, 2015] Not a bad bumper sticker: Hillary for Endless War

Notable quotes:
"... Not a bad bumper sticker: Hillary for Endless War ..."
www.nakedcapitalism.com
nycTerrierist

Not a bad bumper sticker: Hillary for Endless War

tongorad

It seems that some racism-botherers are not that concerned about Hilary's perpetual war against social services, either. Priorities, priorities.

[Dec 29, 2015] The Fed and Financial Reform – Reflections on Sen. Sanders op-Ed

Notable quotes:
"... The obvious candidate for this dark force [correlation between (rising) inequality and (low) growth] is crony capitalism. When a country succumbs to cronyism, friends of the rulers are able to appropriate large amounts of wealth for themselves -- for example, by being awarded government-protected monopolies over certain markets, as in Russia after the fall of communism. That will obviously lead to inequality of income and wealth. It will also make the economy inefficient, since money is flowing to unproductive cronies. Cronyism may also reduce growth by allowing the wealthy to exert greater influence on political policy, creating inefficient subsidies for themselves and unfair penalties for their rivals. ..."
"... The real problem is that money does not go to where it should go, as we see for example in the United States. The money does not flow into the real economy, because the transmission mechanism is broken. That is why we have a bubble in the financial system. The answer is not to tighten monetary policy, but to reform monetary policy so as to ensure that the money gets to the right place... ..."
"... As Stiglitz notes, the transmission mechanisms are broken. Economists trickle down monetary policy might work in theory, but not in practice, as we have seen for the last seven years, when low rates dont trickle down and were wasted instead on asset speculation by the 1%. ..."
"... Reform of the Fed, and the end of cronyism are essential to making sure that the stimulus of low rates gets to Main Street, to ordinary people, and not primarily to asset speculators. ..."
"... The recent decision by the Fed to raise interest rates is the latest example of the rigged economic system. Big bankers and their supporters in Congress have been telling us for years that runaway inflation is just around the corner. They have been dead wrong each time. Raising interest rates now is a disaster for small business owners who need loans to hire more workers and Americans who need more jobs and higher wages. As a rule, the Fed should not raise interest rates until unemployment is lower than 4 percent. Raising rates must be done only as a last resort - not to fight phantom inflation. ..."
"... And in one sentence Summers illustrates exactly why we dodged a bullet in not appointing Summers to be Fed Chair. Preserving the power of the Fed is not the most important policy. Changing the Fed composition so that it is more consumer friendly and not dominated by Wall Street interests is the most important policy change needed. ..."
"... the Balkanized character of US banking regulation is indefensible and would be ended. The worst regulatory idea of the 20th century-the dual banking system-persists into the 21st. The idea is that we have two systems one regulated by the States and the Fed and the other regulated by the OCC so banks have choice. With ambitious regulators eager to expand their reach, the inevitable result is a race to the bottom. ..."
"... Summers is also calling for higher capital requirements. Excellent stuff! ..."
Dec 29, 2015 | Economist's View

'The Fed and Financial Reform – Reflections on Sen. Sanders op-Ed'

This is the beginning of a long response from Larry Summers to an op-ed by Bernie Sanders:
The Fed and Financial Reform – Reflections on Sen. Sanders op-Ed : Bernie Sanders had an op Ed in the New York Times on Fed reform last week that provides an opportunity to reflect on the Fed and financial reform more generally. I think that Sanders is right in his central point that financial policy is overly influenced by financial interests to its detriment and that it is essential that this be repaired.

At the same time, reform requires careful reflection if it is not to be counterproductive. And it is important in approaching issues of reform not to give ammunition to right wing critics of the Fed who would deny it the capacity to engage in the kind of crisis responses that have judged in their totality been successful in responding to the financial crisis.

The most important policy priority with respect to the Fed is protecting it from stone age monetary ideas like a return to the gold standard, or turning policymaking over to a formula, or removing the dual mandate commanding the Fed to worry about unemployment as well as inflation. ...

JohnH said...
Disagree!!! There is more to this than just interest rates. There is the matter of how the policy gets implemented--who gets low rates. Currently the low rates serve mostly the 1%, who profit enormously from them. Case in point: Mort Zuckerberg's 1% mortgage!

"The obvious candidate for this dark force [correlation between (rising) inequality and (low) growth] is crony capitalism. When a country succumbs to cronyism, friends of the rulers are able to appropriate large amounts of wealth for themselves -- for example, by being awarded government-protected monopolies over certain markets, as in Russia after the fall of communism. That will obviously lead to inequality of income and wealth. It will also make the economy inefficient, since money is flowing to unproductive cronies. Cronyism may also reduce growth by allowing the wealthy to exert greater influence on political policy, creating inefficient subsidies for themselves and unfair penalties for their rivals."

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-12-24/cronyism-causes-the-worst-kind-of-inequality

As we know (although most here steadfastly ignore it) the Fed is rife with crony capitalism. As Bernie pointed out, 4 of the regional governors are from Goldman Sachs. Other examples are abundant. Quite simply, the system is rigged to benefit the few, minimizing any potential trickle down.

If a broad economic recovery is the goal, ending cronyism at the Fed is likely to be far more effective that low interest rates channeled only to the 1%.

JohnH said in reply to JohnH...
Stiglitz:

The real problem is that money does not go to where it should go, as we see for example in the United States. The money does not flow into the real economy, because the transmission mechanism is broken. That is why we have a bubble in the financial system. The answer is not to tighten monetary policy, but to reform monetary policy so as to ensure that the money gets to the right place...

Small and medium enterprises cannot borrow money at zero interest rates - not even a private person, I wish I could do that (laughs). I'm more worried about the loan interest rates, which are still too high. Access for small and medium enterprises to credit is too expensive. That's why it is so important that the transmission mechanism work..."
http://www.cash.ch/news/alle/stiglitz-billiggeld-lost-kein-problem-3393853-448

And let's not forget consumer credit rates, which barely dropped during the Great Recession and are still well above 10%. Even mortgage lending, which primarily benefits the affluent, have been stagnant for years despite historically low rates.

As Stiglitz notes, the transmission mechanisms are broken. Economists' trickle down monetary policy might work in theory, but not in practice, as we have seen for the last seven years, when low rates don't trickle down and were wasted instead on asset speculation by the 1%.

Reform of the Fed, and the end of cronyism are essential to making sure that the stimulus of low rates gets to Main Street, to ordinary people, and not primarily to asset speculators.

Peter K. said in reply to JohnH...

Bernie Sanders:

"The recent decision by the Fed to raise interest rates is the latest example of the rigged economic system. Big bankers and their supporters in Congress have been telling us for years that runaway inflation is just around the corner. They have been dead wrong each time. Raising interest rates now is a disaster for small business owners who need loans to hire more workers and Americans who need more jobs and higher wages. As a rule, the Fed should not raise interest rates until unemployment is lower than 4 percent. Raising rates must be done only as a last resort - not to fight phantom inflation. "

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/23/opinion/bernie-sanders-to-rein-in-wall-street-fix-the-fed.html

EMichael said in reply to Peter K....

It is hilarious.

"He's right! But his policies are wrong!"

You couldn't make this up......

JF said...
The financial system reform legislation in 2017 will also need to include these matters:

1. Licensure fees and higher and more differential income taxation rates based on the type of financial trading ratios the entities have (in order to direct more emphasis to real-economy lending and away from speculative and leveraged positions used in the financial asset trading marketplaces, so hedge funds probably would face the highest rates in income taxation). For a certain period after enactment these added taxes would be payable by the banks using their excess reserves, which will simply be eliminated until the reserve accounts return to the historically normal period when excess reserves were very small (there would no longer be a need for IOER, as the excess would be eliminated by operation of the taxation statutes). Attaching added ways & means statutes to all the financial service entities also serves to 'cover' some more of huge financial risk held by society and produced by them while the success of this huge sector actually contributes to the financing of self-government - which is also an indirect way to attach high Net Worth being used).

2. New statutory provisions need to reach any and all entities in the financial community regardless of definitions based on the functions they serve or provide (or the way they are named - so yes, the prior separation for deposit-management banking from investing activities can still happen, but this only helps to define which of the differential provisions apply, not help the entity escape them). Perhaps as a result Bank Holding Companies and other large entities won't use a complex network of hundreds of subsidiaries as these would not then serve as a way to avoid taxation, regulatory standards on what are prudent expectations, or supervision; or be used simply to obfuscate -- so investors and regulators can't see the truth of matters.

3. The newly named central bank needs to hold the discretion to buy Treasury bonds directly from the Treasury. This would discipline these fundamental asset-trading marketplaces and the huge primary dealer group of entities, and weaken the fox-and-hen-house influence on public finance.

4. New accounting approaches for the central bank would clarify what happens should the Congress direct redemption amounts or asset sales for the public's purposes. A good portion of the current FRB's book of owned assets can be redeemed or sold without affecting the 'power' of the central bank, and the proceeds used then, for example, to lower payroll taxes via a direct transfer to the social security trust fund's set of accounts).

Senator Sanders, good stuff. Bring out the vote, let us get others in Congress with whom you can work.

BillB said...
Summers: "The most important policy priority with respect to the Fed is protecting it from stone age monetary ideas like a return to the gold standard, or turning policymaking over to a formula, or removing the dual mandate commanding the Fed to worry about unemployment as well as inflation."

And in one sentence Summers illustrates exactly why we dodged a bullet in not appointing Summers to be Fed Chair. Preserving the power of the Fed is not the most important policy. Changing the Fed composition so that it is more consumer friendly and not dominated by Wall Street interests is the most important policy change needed.

Summers argument is the same we always hear from so-called "centrists." "You hippies should shut up because you are helping the opposition."

You hear the same sort of argument with respect to Black Lives Matter.

pgl said in reply to pgl...

On financial regulation - Summers is spot on here:

"the Balkanized character of US banking regulation is indefensible and would be ended. The worst regulatory idea of the 20th century-the dual banking system-persists into the 21st. The idea is that we have two systems one regulated by the States and the Fed and the other regulated by the OCC so banks have choice. With ambitious regulators eager to expand their reach, the inevitable result is a race to the bottom."

It is called regulatory capture.

Summers is also calling for higher capital requirements. Excellent stuff!

[Dec 29, 2015] Trump vs Bernie

...The Donald is running to the left of Hillary on economic policy, fiscal policy and foreign policy. She ran to the right so fast she may have tripped over herself to get there.

Notable quotes:
"... I love ya Bernie, but if you think Clinton wants to defeat right-wing extremism in this country - rather than use it as an excuse why during her term she couldn't get all those progressive things she said she favored in order to win the primary while further lining the pockets of her benefactors - we disagree about the nature of the threat. ..."
"... "But at the end of the day, the DNC, Hillary Clinton and myself - we want to defeat right-wing extremism in this country." ..."
"... I was hoping against hope that this dude might even be a slight approximation of the real McCoy – but this comment is the tell. Bernie is a clown. ..."
"... "That would be almost 19 percent of our pretax income." ..."
"... Another Atlantic article, the Great Republican Revolt, which analyzes the failure of the republican elites to present an acceptable presidential candidate to their base. For the most part, I think the author is accurate in his analysis of the factors in play. I would love to see this same sort of article on the Democratic party elites. I believe they are just as clueless and just as vulnerable to a Trump like candidate. ..."
"... http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/01/the-great-republican-revolt/419118/ ..."
"... Otherwise, why in the world would we be constantly force fed Mrs. Clinton over just about anybody else, by not only the MSM, which barely covers the Democratic contest anyway, being too busy with the Klown Kar, but the so-called "bloggerverse" which also seems totally in the bag for Clinton? ..."
"... This tendency many have to transform all apparent kicking down into an allegedly real desire to kick up, strikes me as wishful thinking at best. When I think back on the kiss up, kick down people I've encountered in my own life and times–and one in particular stands out here– they most certainly were not kicking me because what they really wanted to do was kick the person above them in the hierarchy. Oh, no. ..."
www.nakedcapitalism.com
edmondo

Bernie Sanders: Why Trump voters should back me

The more likely scenario might be the reverse since I doubt Bernie will be around after March 1st.
As abhorrent as his immigration policies are, The Donald is running to the left of Hillary on economic policy, fiscal policy and foreign policy. She ran to the right so fast she may have tripped over herself to get there.

craazyman

A /bernie_sanders.Trump ticket could win with 70% of the vote.

They have more in common than they realize. Or maybe Trump's Performance Art wouldn't let him be a VP. But this could be real! It doesn't have to be just in his imagination.

He could play VP and be VP. He could even criticize Sanders and get away with it. Oscar criticized Felix and they still shared an apartment. They even stayed roommates after Felix took Oscar to small claims court. That was the famous "When you assume, you make an "ass" out of "u" and "me" episode.

This is a critical moment and they can both see common ground and take a step toward the change we need. Not the change we believed in but never got. One small step for two men, a giant leap for mankind.

Brindle

I occasionally check in on Trump's twitter–often entertaining. Here's one from a few hours ago where he hits at the bi-partisan economy:

-"Many of the great jobs that the people of our country want are long gone, shipped to other countries. We now are part time, sad! I WILL FIX!"-

I hope Trump is the GOP nominee, could not stay awake if it is the somnabulant Jeb Bush

MyLessThanPrimeBeef

My guess is he is going after all the different single-issue voters who can block out whatever they don't like about Trump, because, for each, he has that one single issue they care about.

Nigelk

"We have had our differences of opinions with the DNC," he said. "But at the end of the day, the DNC, Hillary Clinton and myself - we want to defeat right-wing extremism in this country."

I love ya Bernie, but if you think Clinton wants to defeat right-wing extremism in this country - rather than use it as an excuse why during her term she couldn't get all those progressive things she said she favored in order to win the primary while further lining the pockets of her benefactors - we disagree about the nature of the threat.

3.14e-9

It seems like that, doesn't it? Many of us want him to hit back harder. But I'm wondering whether the lawsuit got them thinking real hard about their split voter base. How likely is it that either of them will win the general election without a substantial number of the other's supporters? Sure, Bernie said he would support Hillary if he lost the primary, but many of his followers are making it clear they won't vote for her under any circumstances.

There's already talk of organizing a campaign to write him in, which could be disastrous for her. If he wins, he may or may not be able to defeat the Republican candidate without a good number of Hillary's base, so he can't risk p-ssing them off by beating up on her. I'm starting to think that the limited number of debates might not be such a disadvantage for him after all.

tongorad

"But at the end of the day, the DNC, Hillary Clinton and myself - we want to defeat right-wing extremism in this country."

I was hoping against hope that this dude might even be a slight approximation of the real McCoy – but this comment is the tell. Bernie is a clown.

Carolinian

But according to Dem shills like Krugman Obiecare is going to "nudge" us along towards a better system. Just be patient. Or don't read Krugman.

Katniss Everdeen

Forgot to note that the "healthcare" insurance company "Oscar," mentioned in the article, was started by Joshua Kushner, Ivanka Trump's brother-in-law.

I don't know what that means, but it sounds like it might be important.

Donald Trump "used" to be a single payer supporter.

Synoia

"That would be almost 19 percent of our pretax income."

That is certainly proportional to the Medical Industry's share of GDP. Seems fair to me /s.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef

That's just the premium portion.

To receive actual health care and obtain prescription drugs, they will have to fork over more of their pretax income.

Synoia

True. But Profit!!!

Jagger

Another Atlantic article, the Great Republican Revolt, which analyzes the failure of the republican elites to present an acceptable presidential candidate to their base. For the most part, I think the author is accurate in his analysis of the factors in play. I would love to see this same sort of article on the Democratic party elites. I believe they are just as clueless and just as vulnerable to a Trump like candidate.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/01/the-great-republican-revolt/419118/

flora

Very good read. Thanks for the link. GOP pundits express bewilderment about Trump's appeal to the base. Said pundits should read this article.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef

Base to pundits: Come check out the base(ment) of the Metropolis Hotel.

PQS

"I believe they are just as clueless and just as vulnerable to a Trump like candidate."

This.

Otherwise, why in the world would we be constantly force fed Mrs. Clinton over just about anybody else, by not only the MSM, which barely covers the Democratic contest anyway, being too busy with the Klown Kar, but the so-called "bloggerverse" which also seems totally in the bag for Clinton?

JTFaraday

re: Pitch: "If you really want to tick off the elites, elect a Socialist!"

This tendency many have to transform all apparent kicking down into an allegedly real desire to kick up, strikes me as wishful thinking at best. When I think back on the kiss up, kick down people I've encountered in my own life and times–and one in particular stands out here– they most certainly were not kicking me because what they really wanted to do was kick the person above them in the hierarchy. Oh, no.

They're kicking exactly who they want to kick. I'm waiting for someone to ask if Trump is really going to be their willing tool. That was the real question.

Synoia

Trump is really going to be their willing tool

Not a chance. For his friends, yes. However, I'm willing to bet Trump has a private enemies list, and I'd not want to feature upon that list.

hunkerdown

That's only because they're not used to being kicked back from below. Every manager knows that's just a training problem.

Synoia

CITE: The $1 billion city that nobody calls home CNN.

Ah a perfect model of a mid 1950s American city, with 35,000 residents. What a predictor of the future.

No high rises, completely walk able, no pesky historic homes, and a WalMart.

Wow, that's so forward looking.

Now what else could we do with $1 Billion? Take a bite out of homelessness?

Jack Parsons

"Others have suggested, half in jest, that should Trump win the nomination, the GOP might have to go third party - against its own nominee."

They already did that to Ron Paul in 2012. Ain't no new thang!

[Dec 27, 2015] All GOP prez wannabees have tax plans featuring drastically lower top-tier rates (except for Rubio), much lower corporate rates, and some appealing breaks for the middle class

economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs said... December 26, 2015 at 07:53 PM
(All GOP prez wannabees have tax plans featuring drastically lower top-tier rates (except for Rubio), much lower corporate rates, and some appealing breaks for the middle class.

Also jacking up deficits & nat'l debt yet again.)

The GOP Candidates' Tax Plans - WSJ - Nov 9
http://graphics.wsj.com/elections/2016/gop-candidates-tax-plans/

PolitiFact's guide to the Republican tax plans (so far) - Nov 5
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2015/nov/05/politifacts-guide-republican-tax-plans-so-far/ Reply Saturday, December 26, 2015 at 07:53 PM

pgl -> Fred C. Dobbs...
"Calls for a single-rate system based on Biblical principle of tithing." - Carson is a lunatic.

Then there's CARLY and her 3 page tax code. What a dope.

Reply Sunday, December 27, 2015 at 01:53 AM

Fred C. Dobbs -> pgl...
Rubio & Cruz offer nothing less crazy.

Marco Rubio's Tax Plan Gives Top 1% An
Average Tax Cut of More than $220,000 a Year
http://ctj.org/ctjreports/2015/11/marco_rubios_tax_plan_gives_top_1_an_average_tax_cut_of_more_than_220000_a_year.php

Ted Cruz's 'crazy' tax plan would
cost US at least $16 trillion: analysts http://www.rawstory.com/2015/11/ted-cruzs-crazy-tax-plan-would-cost-us-at-least-16-trillion-analysts/

Kasich?

John Kasich unveils tax plan, vows to balance budget within eight years http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/john-kasich-tax-plan_561fce63e4b028dd7ea6ee15 via @HuffPostPol

NASHUA, N.H. (AP) - Republican presidential candidate John Kasich vowed Thursday to balance the federal budget within eight years as part of a domestic agenda led by broad tax cuts and a yearslong freeze on all spending except the military.

The Ohio governor's budget framework would focus tax cuts on businesses and the wealthy - though at least one provision is aimed at lower-income people - and dramatically scale back the federal government's role in administering education and transportation funding. It's an agenda for the first 100 days that is not as aggressive of some of his more conservative rivals, but one he predicts will prompt criticism from opponents in both parties.

"I will immediately put us on a path to a balanced budget and I will get it done within eight years," Kasich said Thursday at Nashua Community College. "It starts by setting your priorities and then having the courage to make choices that might be unpopular."

The policy rollout comes as Kasich fights to stand out in a packed 2016 GOP field. In an election season celebrating political outsiders, the 63-year-old Republican has an insider resume that includes 18 years in Congress and two terms as governor in one of the nation's key swing states. Yet his blunt style resonates with some voters, particularly in New Hampshire, the unofficial staging ground for his campaign.

Kasich called for broad tax cuts that would grow the budget deficit in the first few years, according to projections his campaign shared with The Associated Press. His advisers predict that economic growth sparked by the tax cuts, backed by cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and an eight-year freeze on all non-defense discretionary spending, would eventually offset lost tax revenue to balance the federal budget for the first time since Bill Clinton was president.

Kasich's tax plan would lower the top individual tax rate from 39.6 percent to 28 percent, reduce long-term capital gains tax rates to 15 percent and eliminate the estate tax, lower the top business tax rates from 35 percent to 25 percent and double the research and development tax credit for small businesses.

"This looks like a pretty big tax cut for the top end and a little bit at the bottom," said Robertson Williams, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. "There's not much going to the middle class."

While most of the cuts benefit the wealthy, Kasich would increases by 10 percent the earned income tax credit, a measure designed to help lower-income taxpayers.

"If you are a person that thinks you ought to pound the rich into submission, I guess you won't like the plan," Kasich said in an AP interview before the speech. ...

Reply Sunday, December 27, 2015 at 06:28 AM

Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs...
As for Christie, he's still polling
ok in NH, in the 2nd tier, but hasn't
said much about tax schemes lately?

Reply Sunday, December 27, 2015 at 06:48 AM

pgl -> Fred C. Dobbs...
Christie as governor of NJ has a fiscal track record. A really bad one. He claims he has balanced the budget but the Volcker report says NJ's fiscal situation is worse than ever. And this is mainly because he rewards his rich buddies as he screws the compensation packages of public employees. He has underfunded the department of transportation so NJ's roads and bridges are crumbling even as he steals money from the Port Authority.

But hey Christie yells a lot so he must be a great guy.

Reply Sunday, December 27, 2015 at 09:09 AM

Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs...
(!Trump)

A Trillion Here or There: The Details Aren't What
Matter in Trump's Tax Plan http://nyti.ms/1ObzPAo via @UpshotNYT
NYT - Josh Barro- Dec 23

On Tuesday, another think tank issued another analysis of Donald Trump's tax plan, which calls for a very large tax cut that mostly benefits the wealthiest Americans. The new report, from the Tax Policy Center, found the plan would lose $9.5 trillion in revenue over a decade.

(AN ANALYSIS OF DONALD TRUMP'S TAX PLAN
Tax Policy Center - December 22, 2015
http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/UploadedPDF/2000560-an-analysis-of-donald-trumps-tax-plan.pdf )

That's $2.5 trillion less than two other think tanks estimated in the fall. In some sense, $2.5 trillion is a lot of money. But in this case, the difference between $9.5 trillion and $12 trillion doesn't really matter - and the reason it doesn't matter has implications for how we think about candidates' "tax plans," especially when they come from a candidate who invents Civil War battles and whose own book promotes the virtue of "truthful hyperbole," a practice known to normal people as "exaggerating."

Mr. Trump's plan is purely theoretical. Even if he is elected president, the plan will never become law in its current form, whatever that current form is. Estimates of the plan's effects are therefore useful only as broad statements of his intentions about taxes - and a proposal for a $9.5 trillion tax cut makes essentially the same broad statement as a proposal for a $12 trillion tax cut. ...

Analysis of Donald Trump Tax Plan Sees
a Boon for Wealthy and Trillions in Debt http://nyti.ms/1OlD4at via @NYTPolitics
NYT - Alan Rappeport - Dec 22

Reply Sunday, December 27, 2015 at 07:58 AM

pgl -> Fred C. Dobbs...
Tax Policy Center scored Trump's plan. Big tax cuts for rich people and less government spending for the rest of us.

Reply Sunday, December 27, 2015 at 09:53 AM

pgl said...
W and the clowns believes only the little people pay taxes.

Reply Sunday, December 27, 2015 at 01:53 AM

ilsm -> pgl...
Tax cuts and trillions of bucks for carpet bombing extreme Islamists in Terroristan*.

There is no limit to the suffering required to assure the billionaires' security.

*Bloom County comics. http://www.gocomics.com/bloom-county/2015/12/23

[Dec 27, 2015] 4 Reasons Why The Wall Street Journal's Attack on Bernie is Bogus

Notable quotes:
"... Bernie's proposals would cost less than what we'd spend without them. Most of the "cost" the Journal comes up with-$15 trillion-would pay for opening Medicare to everyone. ..."
"... The savings from Medicare-for-all would more than cover the costs of the rest of Bernie's agenda-tuition-free education at public colleges, expanded Social Security benefits, improved infrastructure, and a fund to help cover paid family leave – and still leave us $2 trillion to cut federal deficits for the next ten years. ..."
"... Many of these other "costs would also otherwise be paid by individuals and families – for example, in college tuition and private insurance. So they shouldn't be considered added costs for the country as a whole, and may well save us money. ..."
"... Finally, Bernie's proposed spending on education and infrastructure aren't really "spending" at all, but investments in the nation's future productivity. If we don't make them, we're all poorer. ... ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs said... December 27, 2015 at 06:32 AM

One suspects that the GOPsters are astonished by what they hear from Bernie Sanders & to a slightly lesser extent Hillary, and are assuming that this presents great opportunities for a GOP victory in 2016.

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...

Price tag of Bernie Sanders's proposals: $18 trillion http://on.wsj.com/1UQtsaK
via @WSJ - Sept. 14, 2015

WASHINGTON-Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose liberal call to action has propelled his long-shot presidential campaign, is proposing an array of new programs that would amount to the largest peacetime expansion of government in modern American history.

In all, he backs at least $18 trillion in new spending over a decade, according to a tally by The Wall Street Journal, a sum that alarms conservatives and gives even many Democrats pause. Mr. Sanders sees the money as going to essential government services at a time of increasing strain on the middle class.

His agenda includes an estimated $15 trillion for a government-run health-care program that covers every American, plus large sums to rebuild roads and bridges, expand Social Security and make tuition free at public colleges.

To pay for it, Mr. Sanders, a Vermont independent running for the Democratic nomination, has so far detailed tax increases that could bring in as much as $6.5 trillion over 10 years, according to his staff. ...

Bernie Sanders just slammed a report that claimed his proposals would cost a monstrous $18 trillion http://read.bi/1JazBlK via @Business Insider

Peter K. said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... December 27, 2015 at 07:46 AM

"In all, he backs at least $18 trillion in new spending over a decade, according to a tally by The Wall Street Journal, a sum that alarms conservatives and gives even many Democrats pause."

Fred is repeating the Republican-Hillary lie. Maybe if we hear it enough we'll think it's true.

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/bernie-sanders-and-the-wall-street-journal-s-18-trillion

Bernie Sanders and the Wall Street Journal's $18 Trillion
by Dean Baker
Published: 16 September 2015

The Wall Street Journal decided to take Senator Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign seriously enough to calculate the cost of the programs that he proposed. Their price tag was $18 trillion over the next decade. This is presumably supposed to scare people because, let's face it $18 trillion is a really big number.

Much of the fright factor disappears when we realize that $15 trillion of this $18 trillion comes from the WSJ's estimate of the cost of Sanders' universal Medicare program. That is a considerable chunk of change, but as Kevin Drum and others have pointed out this will not be new money out of people's pockets. For the most part this is money that employers are now paying for their workers' health care insurance. Instead, under a universal Medicare system the government would get this money in tax revenue. Since Canada and the other wealthy countries with universal Medicare-type systems all have much lower per capita health care costs than the United States (the average is less than half the cost), in all probability we would be paying less for our health care under the Sanders' system than we do now.

This still leaves $3 trillion for us to get frightened over, and this still looks like a really big number. As a point of reference, GDP over the next decade is projected at roughly $240 trillion. This makes the cost of the rest of Sanders' plans equal to less than 1.3 percent of GDP.

Should we worry about that? The increase in annual military spending from 2000 to the peaks of Iraq/Afghanistan wars was roughly 1.8 percent of GDP. This was also the size of military buildup that took place under President Reagan. Jeb Bush is proposing to cut taxes by roughly this amount if he gets elected.

In short, the additional spending that Senator Sanders has proposed is not trivial, but we have seen comparable increases in the past for other purposes. We can clearly afford the tab, the question is whether free college, rebuilding the infrastructure, early childhood education and the other items on the list are worth the price.

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Peter K.... December 27, 2015 at 08:10 AM

'Fred is repeating the Republican-Hillary lie. Maybe if we hear it enough we'll think it's true.'

My only interest is in suggesting how GOPsters are thinking & strategizing.

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Peter K....

Robert Reich - 4 Reasons Why The Wall Street Journal's Attack on Bernie is Bogus - Sep 17
http://robertreich.org/post/129306966350

... The Journal's number is entirely bogus, designed to frighten the public. Please spread the truth:

1. Bernie's proposals would cost less than what we'd spend without them. Most of the "cost" the Journal comes up with-$15 trillion-would pay for opening Medicare to everyone.

This would be cheaper than relying on our current system of for-profit private health insurers that charge you and me huge administrative costs, advertising, marketing, bloated executive salaries, and high pharmaceutical prices.

Gerald Friedman, an economist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, whom the Journal relies on for some of its data, actually estimates a Medicare-for-all system would actually save all of us $10 trillion over 10 years.

(An Open Letter to the Wall Street
Journal on Its Bernie Sanders Hit Piece http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gerald-friedman/the-wall-street-journal-k_b_8143062.html
via @HuffPostPol)

2. The savings from Medicare-for-all would more than cover the costs of the rest of Bernie's agenda-tuition-free education at public colleges, expanded Social Security benefits, improved infrastructure, and a fund to help cover paid family leave – and still leave us $2 trillion to cut federal deficits for the next ten years.

3. Many of these other "costs" would also otherwise be paid by individuals and families – for example, in college tuition and private insurance. So they shouldn't be considered added costs for the country as a whole, and may well save us money.

4. Finally, Bernie's proposed spending on education and infrastructure aren't really "spending" at all, but investments in the nation's future productivity. If we don't make them, we're all poorer. ...

[Dec 27, 2015] Trumpenfreude

Notable quotes:
"... Anyway, as I've said, the prediction markets basically distill conventional wisdom; and what they're now saying must be striking terror into the hearts of the orthodox conservative movement. ... ..."
"... Ted Cruz Agrees With Donald Trump: It's Turning Into a Two-Man Race ..."
"... Noting Mr. Trump's comments on Sunday, when he said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the Republican primary contest "looks like a two-person race because everyone else is way behind," Mr. Cruz did not hesitate to endorse the idea. ..."
"... "I did think it was interesting Donald said a couple of days ago that he thought that the Republican race could come down to just him and me," Mr. Cruz told reporters after a rally here. "And I think he may well be right." ... ..."
"... Theres definitely an element of Trumpenfreude here, but mostly I just think itll happen. He defies the playbook. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs said... December 27, 2015 at 09:08 AM
'a term for being entertained by Trump when you know you shouldn't be?'

Today in Trumpenfreude http://nyti.ms/1V8JMA1
via @NytimesKrugman - Dec 23

You know what I'm talking about, of course - that feeling of glee mixed with fear as one watches the cynical race-baiting of the Republican establishment finally come home to roost, confirming that you were right to be shrill (and the centrists were naive), but with the slight admixture of panic because one of these guys might actually become president.

Anyway, as I've said, the prediction markets basically distill conventional wisdom; and what they're now saying must be striking terror into the hearts of the orthodox conservative movement. ...

Who will win the 2016 Republican presidential nomination? https://shar.es/1GB3CB (December 27)

(Cruz, 33%; Rubio 32%; Trump 28%; Others, 8% or less. Rubio trending down slightly.)

---

Ted Cruz Agrees With Donald Trump: It's Turning Into a Two-Man Race http://nyti.ms/1OmjNWh via @NYTPolitics
NYT - Matt Flegenheimer - Dec 22

NASHVILLE - Senator Ted Cruz said Tuesday that Donald J. Trump "may well be right that this is turning more and more into a two-man race" - delivering an unsubtle elbow to Senator Marco Rubio, trails the two men in most polls, without naming him.

Noting Mr. Trump's comments on Sunday, when he said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the Republican primary contest "looks like a two-person race because everyone else is way behind," Mr. Cruz did not hesitate to endorse the idea.

"I did think it was interesting Donald said a couple of days ago that he thought that the Republican race could come down to just him and me," Mr. Cruz told reporters after a rally here. "And I think he may well be right." ...

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...
Matt Taibbi... (Tweet - Aug 10)

There's definitely an element of Trumpenfreude here, but mostly I just think it'll happen. He defies the playbook.

[Dec 24, 2015] A big hint about why so many people support Donald Trump might come from Germany

An interesting and plausible hypothesis: Trump as a candidate who answers voters frustration with neoliberalism.
Notable quotes:
"... The data suggest theres some kind of connection. According to polls, whites with a high school degree or less disproportionately favor Trump. These are the same people who have seen their economic opportunities decline the most in recent years. This group also disproportionately favors tough restrictions on immigration. ..."
"... A new study released this week showed that in Germany, the economic frustrations of trade nudged many people into becoming right-wing extremists over the past two decades - throwing their support behind the country's neo-Nazi parties. ..."
"... Still, these far-right parties have consistently earned a percentage point or two of the German national vote. And the economists found that they have been particularly popular with people who have been negatively impacted by trade. ..."
"... using German data on elections, employment, and commerce, they showed that places where trade caused the most pain also had the largest increases in support for far-right parties. Over the past 20 years, Germanys exports and imports have both skyrocketed, first thanks to the fall of the Iron Curtain, then due to Chinas rise as a major manufacturer. ..."
"... Workers whose industries were hurt by trade were were more likely to say they would start voting for one of the extreme right parties. Even workers whose own industries were unaffected by trade were more likely to support a neo-Nazi political party if they lived in a region hurt by trade. ..."
"... Christian Dippel, one of the authors of the study, says it's also important to look at the context in each country. The neo-Nazi parties happen to be the voice of anti-globalization in Germany. But in Spain, for instance, these views are the trademark of Podemos, a far-left party "known for its rants against globalization and the tyranny of markets," according to Foreign Affairs. ..."
"... The larger lesson, Dippel says, is that globalization creates a class of angry voters who will reward whoever can tap into their frustrations. These are usually extremist parties, because the mainstream tends to recognize the overall benefits of trade. "When the mainstream parties are all, in a loose sense, pro-globalization, there's room for fringe groups to latch onto this anti-globalization sentiment and profit from it," he says. ..."
"... Author has shown that in America, recent trends in trade have hurt low-wage workers the most. With his co-authors David Dorn, Gordon Hanson and Jae Song, he published a widely-cited 2014 paper measuring the negative impacts of manufacturing imports from China, America's largest trading partner. Most of those ill-effects - like unemployment and lower earnings - were borne by the workers with the lowest wages. ..."
"... "Immigration always seems to be the most tangible evidence of the impingement of others on your economic turf," Author adds. ..."
"... "In Germany, these three things get bundled up in these far-right platforms in a way that's very difficult to unpack," he says. "It could be that you're bundling these ideas together for a reason. It could be that you're bundling together what's really happening with an idea that's more tangible, that you could sell more easily to angry voters." ..."
The Washington Post

A popular theory for Donald Trump's success emphasizes the economic anxiety of less-educated whites, who have struggled badly over the past few decades.

Hit hard by factory closings and jobs moving abroad to China and other places, the story goes, blue-collar voters are channeling their anger at immigrants, who have out-competed them for what jobs remain. Trump, with his remarks about Mexicans being rapists, has ridden this discontent to the top of the polls.

The data suggest there's some kind of connection. According to polls, whites with a high school degree or less disproportionately favor Trump. These are the same people who have seen their economic opportunities decline the most in recent years. This group also disproportionately favors tough restrictions on immigration.

But just because there appears to be a connection doesn't mean there is one. Has globalization pushed working-class voters to the right? Nobody has proven that globalization has in fact pushed working-class voters to the right or made them more extreme, at least not in the United States, where the right kind of data aren't being collected. But unique records from Germany have allowed economists to show how free trade trade changes people's political opinions.

A new study released this week showed that in Germany, the economic frustrations of trade nudged many people into becoming right-wing extremists over the past two decades - throwing their support behind the country's neo-Nazi parties. Written by economists Christian Dippel, of University of California, Los Angeles, Stephan Heblich, of the University of Bristol, and Robert Gold of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, the paper was released by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Germany's far-right politicians, it should be noted, are not garden-variety nationalists. German intelligence keeps tabs on these people, who frequently use racist and anti-Semitic language. They say things like: "Europe is the continent of white people and it should remain that way." Many believe in a global Jewish conspiracy. They are much more radical than, say, Marine Le Pen's National Front party in France.

Still, these far-right parties have consistently earned a percentage point or two of the German national vote. And the economists found that they have been particularly popular with people who have been negatively impacted by trade.

How they measured the radicalizing power of trade

The economists took two different approaches to measure the connection between globalization and right-wing extremism.

First, using German data on elections, employment, and commerce, they showed that places where trade caused the most pain also had the largest increases in support for far-right parties. Over the past 20 years, Germany's exports and imports have both skyrocketed, first thanks to the fall of the Iron Curtain, then due to China's rise as a major manufacturer.

The researchers looked individually at Germany's 408 local districts, which are roughly equivalent to counties in the United States. Each of these places was affected by increasing trade in different ways. Areas that specialized in high-end cars, for instance, saw a happy boost from expanded exports. Areas that specialized in, say, textiles, were stomped on by cheap Chinese and Eastern European imports.

This map shows changes in imports (bad!) compared to exports (good!). The dark blue regions are places where imports increased a lot more than exports. These are the places where trade made things worse, where people lost jobs and factories were shuttered.

These also happen to be the places where far-right parties made the most gains, on average. This is true after controlling for demographics in each county, the size of the manufacturing sector, and what part of the country the county was in.

The researchers argue that this relationship is more than just a correlation. To prove that trade caused far-right radicalization, they only look at changes to the German economy inflicted by external forces - say, a sudden increase in Chinese manufacturing capacity.

(Also, to get around the problem of German reunification, which happened in 1990, the researchers split up the analysis into two time periods. From 1987 to 1998, they only looked at West Germany. From 1998 to 2009, they looked at both regions.)

This evidence from patterns of trade and voting records is convincing, but there is one major hole. The turmoil from trade caused certain counties to become friendlier to extremist parties - but was it because the people living there became radicalized? Or did all the moderate voters flee those places, leaving behind only the crusty xenophobes?

So, to follow up, the researchers used a special German survey that has been interviewing some of the same people every year since the 1980s. This is a massively expensive project - the U.S. doesn't have anything quite like it - and it allowed the researchers to actually observe people changing their minds.

Workers whose industries were hurt by trade were were more likely to say they would start voting for one of the extreme right parties. Even workers whose own industries were unaffected by trade were more likely to support a neo-Nazi political party if they lived in a region hurt by trade.

In part this is because trade affects more than just the people who lose their jobs when the shoe factory closes. Those assembly line workers need to find new jobs, and they put pressure on people in similar occupations, say, at the garment factory or the tweezer factory.

What this means for the U.S.

All in all, the power of trade to radicalize people was rather small, measured in changes of a fraction of a percent. This makes makes sense, because, again, Germany's far-right parties are way out there. It takes a lot of economic suffering to cause someone to start voting with these neo-Nazis.

Christian Dippel, one of the authors of the study, says it's also important to look at the context in each country. The neo-Nazi parties happen to be the voice of anti-globalization in Germany. But in Spain, for instance, these views are the trademark of Podemos, a far-left party "known for its rants against globalization and the tyranny of markets," according to Foreign Affairs.

The larger lesson, Dippel says, is that globalization creates a class of angry voters who will reward whoever can tap into their frustrations. These are usually extremist parties, because the mainstream tends to recognize the overall benefits of trade. "When the mainstream parties are all, in a loose sense, pro-globalization, there's room for fringe groups to latch onto this anti-globalization sentiment and profit from it," he says.


But is there an analogy between the far-right radicals in Germany and the wider group of disaffected working class Americans who, say, support Donald Trump or the tea party? Certainly leaders on the left also capitalize on anti-trade sentiment, but they usually use less harsh rhetoric or seldom attack immigration.

David Autor, a labor economist at MIT, has been working to address the question of whether the same dynamics are at play in the U.S. But it's a tough one, he says.

"What [Dippel and his colleagues] are doing is totally sensible, and I think the results are plausible as well - that these trade shocks lead to activity on the extreme right, that they bring about ultranationalism," Autor says.

"We actually started on this hypothesis years ago for the U.S. to see if it could help to explain the rise of angry white non-college males," he said. "But so far, we just don't have the right kind of data."

Author has shown that in America, recent trends in trade have hurt low-wage workers the most. With his co-authors David Dorn, Gordon Hanson and Jae Song, he published a widely-cited 2014 paper measuring the negative impacts of manufacturing imports from China, America's largest trading partner. Most of those ill-effects - like unemployment and lower earnings - were borne by the workers with the lowest wages.

The higher-paid (and probably higher-skilled workers) were able to find new jobs when their companies went bust. Often, they found jobs outside of the manufacturing industry. (An accountant, for instance, can work anywhere.) But the lower-paid workers were trapped, doomed to fight over the ever-dwindling supply of stateside manufacturing jobs.

China, of course, has been in Trump's crosshairs. He accuses the country of being a "currency manipulator," which may have once been true, but not any more. He has threatened to impose a 25 percent tax on Chinese imports to punish China.

But Trump has attracted the most attention for his disparaging remarks about immigrants - which is something of puzzle. While it's true that non-college workers are increasingly competing with immigrants for the same construction or manufacturing jobs, Author points out that there's little evidence that immigrants are responsible for the woes of the working class.

"There's an amazing discrepancy between the data and the perception that I still find very hard to reconcile," he says. "The data do not strongly support the view that immigration has had big effects [on non-college workers], but I don't think that's how people perceive it."

"Immigration always seems to be the most tangible evidence of the impingement of others on your economic turf," Author adds.

Dippel says that conflating these ideas could be a political strategy. He makes a distinction between three different kinds of globalization - there's the worldwide movement of capital, goods, and people.

"In Germany, these three things get bundled up in these far-right platforms in a way that's very difficult to unpack," he says. "It could be that you're bundling these ideas together for a reason. It could be that you're bundling together what's really happening with an idea that's more tangible, that you could sell more easily to angry voters."

Jeff Guo is a reporter covering economics, domestic policy, and everything empirical. He's from Maryland, but outside the Beltway. Follow him on Twitter: @_jeffguo.

[Dec 22, 2015] Oil's worst behind us

finance.yahoo.com

John LaForge, Co-Head of Real Assets, Wells Fargo, looks at crude oil around $34 and whether it can still head lower.

[Dec 22, 2015] Clinton calls Trumps degrading language on 2008 loss an insult to all women

www.theguardian.com

Trump is currently the overwhelming favorite in national polls for the Republican nomination and leading in the key early states of New Hampshire and South Carolina.

[Dec 20, 2015] Bernie Sanders starts the Democratic debate by apologizing to everyone for the data breach and Hillary Clinton accepted the apology

economistsview.typepad.com
pgl said... December 20, 2015 at 03:14 AM
Bernie Sanders starts the Democratic debate by apologizing to everyone for the data breach and Hillary Clinton accepted the apology:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/sanders-apologizes-to-clinton-on-data-breach

Then the Democrats had an adult debate. Not something you'd see from those Republican clowns.

ilsm said in reply to pgl...

Why no one talks regime change in Egypt?

Silary went all GW lies for selling regime change in Syria. Her foreign policy advisors are all PNAC, Cheney, Wolfowitz....

Wants to work with Sunnis, she thinks like W that Iran and Shi'a are the axis of evil.

She blames Maliki for Sunni treason and defecting en masse to ISIS in Iraq and sees Iran as the enemy. Must have had a crush on the Shah.

No fly zones so Assad cannot drop fearsome drums of napalm!! Drone strike and all indeed! And with Russia deploying a theater air defense it is up to Putin!

Then Hizbolah are THE big terrorists, only to her AIPAC sponsors.

While she knows how many Syrians are dead in the civil war she ignores 2000 Gaza Arabs killed by IDF in 10 days.

Bernie: US is not policeman.

Martin: Gotta go away from cold war.

Both said you 'gotta look at what you have after you break Syria like Libya'!

She had nothing to say about what Syria would look like when she gave to to the less extremist Sunnis terrorists and how many Shi'a and other non Sunnis would be slaughtered.

Feel the Bern!

ilsm said in reply to ilsm...
Silary laid out the entire thuggee regimen for the middle east without drooling over carpet bombing or screeching she would be tougher than Obomber.
ken melvin said in reply to ilsm...
First, the Neocons will go with the republicans.
Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to ken melvin...
Not necessarily.

Are Neocons Getting Ready to Ally With Hillary Clinton? http://nyti.ms/1qJ4eLN
NYT - July 5

... It's not as outlandish as it may sound. Consider the historian Robert Kagan, the author of a recent, roundly praised article in The New Republic that amounted to a neo-neocon manifesto. He has not only avoided the vitriolic tone that has afflicted some of his intellectual brethren but also co-founded an influential bipartisan advisory group during Mrs. Clinton's time at the State Department. ...

Superpowers Don't Get to Retire
https://newrepublic.com/article/117859/allure-normalcy-what-america-still-owes-world

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to ilsm...
(There's always !Trump, who maybe is on the Right Side in the Middle East?)

Donald Trump's bromance with Vladimir Putin
http://www.wmur.com/politics/donald-trumps-bromance-with-vladimir-putin/37036676 via @wmur9

... For months, Trump has embraced Putin as a world leader he would "get along very well with," a relationship that would be rooted in the two men's similar outlook, personas and, in some cases, overlapping policy goals. It's an international bromance that's driving GOP establishment figures to call out Trump's ideological incompatibility with the Republican Party in yet another arena.

After Putin praised Trump on Thursday as "bright and talented" and "the absolute leader of the presidential race," the billionaire trumpeted Putin's praise as a "great honor" and even shrugged off widespread allegations that the Russian president has ordered the killing of journalists and political dissidents.

"He's running his country and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country," Trump said Friday morning on MSNBC. "I think our country does plenty of killing also." ...

John Kasich's campaign went so far as to release a mock press release Saturday announcing that Trump named Putin as his running mate, dubbing the two a "dictatorial duo." ...

[Dec 18, 2015] Putin Trump is a very bright and talented man

POLITICO

...According to an Interfax report of his annual year-end news conference, Putin called the Republican presidential candidate "a very bright and talented man," as well as an "absolute leader" in the race for the presidency. (Another account, from Reuters, translated Putin as saying Trump is "a very flamboyant man.")

"He says that he wants to move to another level of relations, to a deeper level of relations with Russia. How can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome it," Putin said, according to Reuters' report.

The Russian president also said that it is none of his business "to assess tricks Donald Trump [is] using to boost his popularity," according to Interfax.

Trump has repeatedly praised the Russian leader's toughness and said he would be able to cut deals with him.

"He does not like Obama at all. He doesn't respect Obama at all. And I'm sure that Obama doesn't like him very much," Trump said of Putin in October. "But I think that I would probably get along with him very well. And I don't think you'd be having the kind of problems that you're having right now."

Trump has also backed Russia's intervention in Syria, which Putin has said is aimed at eradicating the Islamic State. "And as far as him attacking ISIS, I'm all for it," he told CBS News' John Dickerson. "If he wants to be bombing the hell out of ISIS, which he's starting to do, if he wants to be bombing ISIS, let him bomb them, John. Let him bomb them. I think we probably work together much more so than right now."

[Dec 17, 2015] The First Five Rules of Trump - The New Yorker

It's not a deep analyses and actually looks like attack on Trump, but the first rule is interesting.
Notable quotes:
"... He calibrates his actions with a subtle sense of the consequences. ..."
Dec 15, 2015 | newyorker.com

Descriptions of Donald J. Trump tend to emphasize his unpredictability-he's an impetuous rogue, an unguided missile, and so on. But careful students of Trump often discover that he is noticeably deliberate in his choices. He calibrates his actions with a subtle sense of the consequences. Years ago, explaining his decorating aesthetic to my colleague Mark Singer, Trump noted that residential buildings call for a specific level of pomp: "I sometimes use flash, which is a level below glitz."

As a man of idiosyncratic discipline, Trump is consistent enough in his tweets and his comments to allow us to identify the first five rules of Trump communication.

Trump Rule No. 1:

Manage expectations. Casino owners know the importance of loss aversion: we value our losses more heavily, psychologically, than we value our gains. For Trump, that means it's vital to prevent people from pricing a gain into his image, in case he fails to achieve it. In the days before Time revealed its Person of the Year, Trump was telling crowds, "Even if I deserve it, they can't do it." (They did not do it.)

Hours before the fourth Republican debate, he tweeted:

'I wonder if @megynkelly and her flunkies have written their scripts yet about my debate performance tonight. No matter how well I do – bad!' ...

Evan Osnos joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2008, and covers politics and foreign affairs.

[Dec 17, 2015] Jeb Bush, Sensing Momentum After Debate, Zeroes In on Donald Trump

Notable quotes:
"... But after much discussion, the Bush team has decided, at least for now, that the most effective way to convince voters of Mr. Bush's seriousness is to highlight his barrage against Mr. Trump, a billionaire real estate magnate, whom he repeatedly assailed during the debate in Las Vegas. ..."
"... My impression is that Trump might well be a less dangerous choice than Hillary when it comes to foreign policy. Hillary is more or less a clone of Bush II when it comes to foreign policy. In other words she was and is a neocon. Did not she compare Putin to Hitler. Thats the level of the art of diplomacy few diplomats ever achieve. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to im1dc... December 17, 2015 at 04:41 PM
(Oh that Jeb!)

(Possible evidence of ESP in candidate Bush?)

Jeb Bush, Sensing Momentum After Debate, Zeroes
In on Donald Trump http://nyti.ms/1PbPuAr
NYT - ASHLEY PARKER - DEC. 17, 2015

Buoyed by an aggressive performance in Tuesday's Republican debate, Jeb Bush is intensifying his strategy of attacking Donald J. Trump's fitness for the presidency, which his aides believe is setting him apart from the sprawling field just as voters begin to make up their minds in early voting states.

This plan has significant risks given how low Mr. Bush, a former Florida governor, has fallen in polls and the fact that several other rivals, especially Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, are running ahead of him in early states. Some analysts believe he would be better served trying to dispatch them.

But after much discussion, the Bush team has decided, at least for now, that the most effective way to convince voters of Mr. Bush's seriousness is to highlight his barrage against Mr. Trump, a billionaire real estate magnate, whom he repeatedly assailed during the debate in Las Vegas.

More viscerally, they believe it will show a quality not always associated with the somewhat patrician Bush family: guts.

"Going after Trump is tactically brilliant for Jeb," said Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist and CNN commentator who supports Mr. Bush. "There are others on that stage who don't agree with what Trump says or how he says it, but don't have the guts to lay a glove on the guy for fear of antagonizing his supporters and incurring his wrath. Jeb has the lane all to himself." ...

Mr. Bush plans to make New Hampshire, the first primary state, his second home as the holidays approach, and to spend more than half his time there in the seven weeks before the Feb. 9 primary. ... his aides believe he must place in the top three in New Hampshire to convince his donors and supporters that his campaign is still viable. That means finishing ahead of, or at least tied with, Mr. Christie, Mr. Rubio and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio. ...

im1dc said...
The Donald is a clone of George W. Bush who looked into Putin's eyes and saw his soul

2016 US elections - 1h ago

"Donald Trump on Russia's Putin comments: 'Great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond... I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect' - @stevebruskCNN"

likbez said in reply to im1dc...
"The Donald is a clone of George W. Bush who looked into Putin's eyes and saw his soul"

I am no so sure. My impression is that Trump might well be a less dangerous choice than Hillary when it comes to foreign policy. Hillary is more or less a clone of Bush II when it comes to foreign policy. In other words she was and is a neocon. Did not she compare Putin to Hitler. That's the level of the art of diplomacy few diplomats ever achieve.

And her protégé Victoria Nuland came directly from Cheney inner circle.

[Dec 17, 2015] The Rubes are mad at the state of the economy and blame Obama first but also believe that the GOP establishment has sold them down river

Notable quotes:
"... The Rubes are mad at the state of the economy and blame Obama first but also believe that the GOP establishment has sold them down river. The squishy economy has caused the GOP elites to lose out to Trump and his antiestablishment we are not winning pitchfork toting mob. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
bakho said in reply to pgl, December 16, 2015 at 06:06 PM
Could have been worse. Could have been shutdown or new round of austerity. GOP intransigence is coming back to bite them. The Rubes are mad at the state of the economy and blame Obama first but also believe that the GOP establishment has sold them down river. The squishy economy has caused the GOP elites to lose out to Trump and his antiestablishment "we are not winning" pitchfork toting mob.

The Dems need to get in front of this parade before the General.

Billy Joe said...

I am hearing, adding on to Bakho's point above, this was a 2 way deal. The Fed begins its modest tightening schedule with Congress beginning a modest fiscal loosening.

This is not a accident. It comes from a second hand source related to a Republican Congressmen. Basically, Yellen told Congress, if they loosen fiscal policy, they will raise rates. That is what happened.......on a small scale.

Ben Bernanke was and is a big supporter.

[Dec 17, 2015] Once friends, Cruz and Rubio now on the attack

Notable quotes:
"... Their collisions on defense, immigration and other issues formed one of the main story lines at Tuesday's Republican debate. The two have emerged as perhaps the leading alternatives to Donald J. Trump. ... ..."
"... The most interesting fight brewing in the Republican primary isn't between Donald J. Trump and the rest of the world, but between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, wunderkind vs. wunderkind. One is ruthless in his appeals to the Republican base, poised to ride its anger to victory, as Tea Party candidates did before him; the other is attractive to the establishment wing of the party, with the potential to draw in moderate voters, but who is sputtering in early primary states. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com

Fred C. Dobbs said... December 17, 2015 at 07:31 AM

(Cruzin' with Orubio.)

Once friends, Cruz and Rubio now on the attack http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2015/12/16/once-friends-ted-cruz-and-marco-rubio-now-attack/a8dfJkFn9wrUaSS8M2MGCP/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe
Matt Viser and Jim O'Sullivan - December 17, 2015

WASHINGTON - It seemed they were the best of friends. Ted Cruz stood on the floor of the Senate and effusively praised his Republican colleague Marco Rubio.

"Senator Rubio is inspiring. Senator Marco Rubio is a critical national leader," Cruz said, filling time during a 20-hour filibuster in which he also praised Rubio's life story and his political acumen.

"I don't know if there is anyone more effective, more articulate, or a more persuasive voice for conservative principles than my friend Marco Rubio."

But that was two years ago. Now, a rivalry in the Republican presidential primary contest that had been simmering for weeks has burst into public view. Each is competing to take on the role of the best alternative to the front-runner, business and entertainment mogul Donald Trump, and whatever camaraderie they once enjoyed has evaporated.

Cruz and Rubio, who share a Cuban-American heritage, engaged in some of the most heated exchanges of Tuesday night's GOP debate, a battle that brimmed with intensity and displayed flashes of venom like a sibling rivalry gone sour.

The brawl, which continued into Wednesday, was a preview of what is likely to be a drawnout competition over the next seven weeks, leading up to the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary, as the two freshman senators try to prove their conservative credentials. ...

----

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz Diverge in Approach to
Their Hispanic Identity http://nyti.ms/1T22jwz
NYT - LIZETTE ALVAREZ and MANNY FERNANDEZ - DEC. 16

MIAMI - One candidate, Marco Rubio, nurtured by the sprawling Cuban-American community here, bounces effortlessly between two cultures - fritas and hamburgers, Spanish and English - in a city so comfortably bilingual that news conferences pivot between the languages.

The other, Ted Cruz, is partial to cowboy boots, oversize belt buckles, hard-right politics and the fire-and-brimstone style of the Baptist church. Mr. Cruz, a rare Cuban-American outlier in a state where Hispanic usually means Mexican-American, attended overwhelmingly white Christian schools in Houston and prefers Spanglish to Spanish.

Together, Senators Rubio and Cruz, of Florida and Texas, represent a watershed moment in American politics: two Hispanics running as top-tier candidates for president, and increasingly gunning for each other, in what one Latino conservative has dubbed "the yuca primary," referring to the popular Cuban staple and an acronym for young urban Cuban-American. Their collisions on defense, immigration and other issues formed one of the main story lines at Tuesday's Republican debate. The two have emerged as perhaps the leading alternatives to Donald J. Trump. ...

----

Is It Ted Cruz's Party - Or Marco Rubio's? http://nyti.ms/1Z9G3V3
NYT - Emma Roller - DEC. 15

The most interesting fight brewing in the Republican primary isn't between Donald J. Trump and the rest of the world, but between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, wunderkind vs. wunderkind. One is ruthless in his appeals to the Republican base, poised to ride its anger to victory, as Tea Party candidates did before him; the other is attractive to the establishment wing of the party, with the potential to draw in moderate voters, but who is sputtering in early primary states. ...

ilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs...

Rubio and Cruz make Hillary look like the guardian of "sensitive" insecurity data.

[Dec 17, 2015] Donald Trump anti-Muslim rhetoric harmful to GOP

Christine Todd Whitman fear mongering serves one purpose -- to support establishment candidates. I do not remember her condemning Bush go killing million of Iraqis. She was actually a part of this clique. So she should shut up and sit quietly (as any person belong to criminal Bush II administration should)
POLITICO Magazine

The parallels are chilling. In pre-WWII Germany, the economy was in ruins, people were scared, and they wanted someone to blame. Today we find ourselves with a nation of people who feel under attack both physically and economically and are fearful. The middle class has never fully recovered economically from the Great Recession. Income disparity is growing

...Language shapes behavior. Hateful language gives susceptible people permission to act on their fears. Preying on the marginalized who are scared of the future is the time-honored tactic of bullies and dictators. When times are difficult, people always look for someone to blame: It is easy to pick out a target

Christine Todd Whitman is a former governor of New Jersey and former head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

[Dec 17, 2015] The Big Differences Between Bernie and Hillary

December 15, 2015 |

Robert Reich's Facebook Page

"I don't see much difference between Bernie and Hillary," a friend said this morning over breakfast.

"Wrong," said my other friend, also at breakfast. She then went through the list:

"See?" she said. "The difference is huge. Bernie is leading a movement for fundamental change. That's why he's generating so much enthusiasm, and why he'll win the primaries."

"Wrong" he said. "Bernie's too radical. He doesn't stand a chance."

What do you think?

[Dec 17, 2015] On Mideast, GOP Rivals Offer Simple Answer: Bombs

Notable quotes:
"... The argument began with Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, alone among the candidates a consistent voice against American intervention in the Mideast, who said the "majority" of his competitors for the nomination "want to topple Assad. And then there will be chaos, and I think ISIS will then be in charge." ..."
"... Mr. Cruz made the case for keeping dictators like Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt close. "Qaddafi was a bad man," he said., "Mubarak had a terrible human rights record. But they were assisting us" in the cause of "fighting radical Islamic terrorists." He argued that this was far better than "being a Woodrow Wilson democracy promoter." ..."
"... Mr. Cruz's argument was meant to differentiate him from Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who had supported the ouster of Mr. Qaddafi and Mr. Mubarak, and whose campaign has attracted some veterans of the George W. Bush White House. But along the way it exposed a significant rift in Republican thinking, and puts him in a much different place than where his party was a decade ago. ..."
"... Hizbolah is only a terrorist to IDF when they enter Lebanon, the Israelis cannot do in South Lebanon what they get way with in Gaza and the West Bank. Too many GOP playing for AIPAC. ..."
"... If you dont like Assad why do you like al Sisi? Aside from the Egyptian military dictator has promised not to use the $3B annual bribe from the US to attack Israel...... ..."
"... While Rubio wants to arm al Qaeda so they can run Syria to do more 9/11s. ..."
"... Trump is right the media lies all the time and his thuggee opponents take them up on their lies. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com

Fred C. Dobbs, December 16, 2015 at 09:57 AM

On Mideast, GOP Rivals Offer Simple Answer: Bombs

The candidates took strong positions on the need to use force, but at times seemed uncertain about America's past military and diplomatic interventions in the region.

At Republican Debate, Straying Into Mideast,
and Getting Lost http://nyti.ms/1m7DUuE
NYT - DAVID E. SANGER - DEC. 16

WASHINGTON - In a surprisingly substantive debate on foreign policy Tuesday night, the upheaval in the Middle East gave Republican presidential candidates a chance to show off alternatives to what they portrayed as President Obama's failed approach, but at many moments, the politics and history of the region eluded them as they tried to demonstrate their skills at analysis and leadership.

At times during the two-hour debate, several of the candidates seemed uncertain about America's past military and diplomatic interventions in the region, and did not acknowledge Mr. Obama's continuing attempts to negotiate a cease-fire in Syria. And for most of them – Jeb Bush seemed an exception – the strategy to defeat the Islamic State largely seemed to boil down to this: Drop your bombs first and figure out the diplomacy later, if at all.

In their efforts to show that they were skilled at realpolitik, putting national interests ahead of ideals, almost all of them dismissed the stated goal of Mr. Bush's brother, the last Republican president. It was George W. Bush who declared in his second inaugural address that "the calling of our time" was to support "the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

But to some in this generation of Republicans, democracy building is out; supporting dictators, perhaps including Bashar al-Assad of Syria, who are willing to fight the Islamic State, is in.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the debate was long on the need to use military force, and short on the question of how one gets at the roots of radical Muslim jihadism – or engages the Muslim community in the United States and abroad in that effort. That discussion began with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas defending, and expanding on, his recent vow to carpet-bomb the Islamic State, wherever it may be.

"What it means is using overwhelming air power to utterly and completely destroy ISIS," said Mr. Cruz, using an acronym for the Islamic State. He argued that in "the first Persian Gulf War, we launched roughly 1,100 air attacks a day. We carpet-bombed them for 36 days, saturation bombing," and then sent in troops to mop up "what was left of the Iraqi army."

In fact, the Persian Gulf war was the first big testing ground for precision-guided munitions. The last big "carpet bombing" was in the Vietnam War; military officials, including Britain's defense minister, have noted recently that any such technique used in Syria would kill thousands of innocent civilians living in places like Raqqa, the Islamic State's de facto capital.

But Mr. Cruz pressed on when challenged by Wolf Blitzer of CNN, the moderator. "The object isn't to level a city," he said. "The object is to kill the ISIS terrorists." He never said how that is possible without tremendous civilian casualties, which is why carpet bombing is often considered a war crime.

In some ways the debate was remarkable for the fact that it delved into the politics of the Middle East at all; many of the candidates on the stage Tuesday night in Las Vegas did not appear interested in that discussion even a few months ago. But the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino left them no choice: They had to pass the commander-in-chief test, and the first step in that process is to be able piece together something that sounds like a strategy.

The result was that a few of them were testing out their thinking about longtime questions like regime-change – and whether it is better to press for democracy, even if it creates chaos and openings for terrorist groups, or to back reliable dictators.

Syria poses the most urgent test, and there was disagreement over whether Mr. Assad had to go first, or whether the United States and its partners should focus first on defeating the Islamic State, even if that means leaving in power a dictator under whom upward of a quarter-of-a-million of his own people have been killed.

The argument began with Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, alone among the candidates a consistent voice against American intervention in the Mideast, who said the "majority" of his competitors for the nomination "want to topple Assad. And then there will be chaos, and I think ISIS will then be in charge."

Though administration officials will not say so in public, they largely agree – which is why getting rid of Mr. Assad has been pushed down the road, though Secretary of State John Kerry says Mr. Assad's removal must be the eventual outcome if Sunni rebel groups are going to be enticed into fighting the Islamic State.

Mr. Cruz made the case for keeping dictators like Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt close. "Qaddafi was a bad man," he said., "Mubarak had a terrible human rights record. But they were assisting us" in the cause of "fighting radical Islamic terrorists." He argued that this was far better than "being a Woodrow Wilson democracy promoter."

Mr. Cruz's argument was meant to differentiate him from Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who had supported the ouster of Mr. Qaddafi and Mr. Mubarak, and whose campaign has attracted some veterans of the George W. Bush White House. But along the way it exposed a significant rift in Republican thinking, and puts him in a much different place than where his party was a decade ago. ...

ilsm said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...
Thuggee debates:

If your bombing (questionable whether it worked in WW II, utter failure against VC/NVA) is failing eliminating "rules of engagement" and increasing civilian casualties is not going to change the outcome. If the Germans had won WW II Bomber Harris would have been hanged, and for Japan Le May would have been beheaded.

Hizbolah is only a "terrorist" to IDF when they enter Lebanon, the Israelis cannot do in South Lebanon what they get way with in Gaza and the West Bank. Too many GOP playing for AIPAC.

Replacing a brutal dictator with a bunch of terrorists is insanity, the GOP has no other answer. The mess in Lebanon and Iraq was caused by Reagan and worsened by GW.

If you don't like Assad why do you like al Sisi? Aside from the Egyptian military dictator has promised not to use the $3B annual bribe from the US to attack Israel......

While Rubio wants to arm al Qaeda so they can run Syria to do more 9/11's.

Trump is right the media lies all the time and his thuggee opponents take them up on their lies.

[Dec 16, 2015] Bernie says his campaign has received 2003243 individual contributions

Notable quotes:
"... Bernie says his campaign has received 2,003,243 individual contributions as of 8:38 pm Dec. 16, 2015. For reference, President Obama's historic campaign in 2008 only reached one million contributions on the day of the Iowa caucuses. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com

RGC said..., December 16, 2015 at 05:55 PM

Bernie says his campaign has received 2,003,243 individual contributions as of 8:38 pm Dec. 16, 2015. For reference, President Obama's historic campaign in 2008 only reached one million contributions on the day of the Iowa caucuses.

anne said in reply to RGC...

Bernie says his campaign has received 2,003,243 individual contributions as of 8:38 pm Dec. 16, 2015.

[ Wonderful and remarkable considering the stark and dismaying absence of network news coverage of the Sanders campaign. ]

anne said in reply to RGC...
http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/12/11/abc-world-news-tonight-has-devoted-less-than-on/207428

December 11m 2015

ABC World News Tonight Has Devoted 81 Minutes To Trump, One Minute To Sanders
By ERIC BOEHLERT

Does that ratio seem out of whack? That's the ratio of TV airtime that ABC World News Tonight has devoted to Donald Trump's campaign (81 minutes) versus the amount of TV time World News Tonight has devoted to Bernie Sanders' campaign this year. And even that one minute for Sanders is misleading because the actual number is closer to 20 seconds.

For the entire year.

That's the rather stunning revelation from the Tyndall Report, which tracks the various flagship nightly news programs on NBC, CBS and ABC. The Report's campaign findings cover the network evening newscasts from January 1 through the end of November....

[Dec 16, 2015] Can Trump survive the current media onslaght

Notable quotes:
"... the majority of Republican voters actually support Trump's policy positions. After all, he's just saying outright what mainstream candidates have implied through innuendo; how are voters supposed to know that this isn't what you do? ..."
"... at this point Trump has been the front-runner for long enough that it's very hard to imagine his supporters suddenly losing faith, because it would be too embarrassing. ..."
"... Bear in mind that embarrassment, and the desire to avoid it, are enormously important sources of motivation... ..."
"... On CNN this AM, I am on the road and seeing TV, a talking head said US governments prime role is empire, protected by dumping Assad and installing the 9/11 terrorists!. A few minutes later Trump on the stump said the media always lies . Trump is right and the talking heads on CNN prove him as much as the blitherers on Faux News. Trump is only divisive to the PNAC, neocon, and sympathetic dems. ..."
"... Tax cuts for everyone and large defense budgets - the pathway to a banana republic indeed. ..."
"... It is not inequality that drives innovation and economic growth -- it is the attempt to escape the leveling forces of capitalism.... ..."
economistsview.typepad.com

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said... December 15, 2015 at 09:33 AM

[THANKS to Anne from today's links thread.]

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/12/15/the-donald-and-the-chump-factor/

December 15, 2015

The Donald and the Chump Factor
By Paul Krugman


"...One answer - probably the most important - is what Greg Sargent * has been emphasizing: the majority of Republican voters actually support Trump's policy positions. After all, he's just saying outright what mainstream candidates have implied through innuendo; how are voters supposed to know that this isn't what you do?

I would, however, add a casual observation: at this point Trump has been the front-runner for long enough that it's very hard to imagine his supporters suddenly losing faith, because it would be too embarrassing.

Bear in mind that embarrassment, and the desire to avoid it, are enormously important sources of motivation..."

[Divisiveness is what politicians do. So, Trump is nothing new except that he threw away the dog whistle and whistled out loud and called to them by name. If we are not divided then we would have political solidarity. There is no profit for elites in that.

Martin Luther King in his final year or so wanted to end divisiveness and unite the wage class. Given the facts one cannot say that is what got him killed, but it still is not off the table either as increased fear of broad desegregation or as an incentive for security to break down. The two party system as it has always existed in the US lives and breathes by divisiveness. The problem now is that one party holds Congress and the other party has no idea what to do about it.]

ilsm -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...
On CNN this AM, I am on the road and seeing TV, a talking head said US government's prime role is empire, protected by dumping Assad and installing the 9/11 terrorists!. A few minutes later Trump on the stump said the "media always lies". Trump is right and the talking heads on CNN prove him as much as the blitherers on Faux News. Trump is only divisive to the PNAC, neocon, and sympathetic dems.
RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Sandwichman...
"Trump is... a stalking horse for Cruz..."

"...Why would the Donald want to be second banana?"

[Yup. That kind of rhymes with Donald Trump is not a serious candidate. OTOH, Trump has been a serious stealth bomber. The bar has been lowered for enough for Ted Cruz to cross.

My only question was whether this was the Donald's plan all along or was it just a game for him and this is how it turned out?]

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...
OK, stealth was a poor choice of words when it comes to Trump. What is the opposite of stealth and how would that make any sense as an adjective to modify bomber? Mad bomber maybe?
Sandwichman -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...
Good question. I suspect it started out as a publicity stunt but it exceeded expectations.
Sandwichman -> Sandwichman...
tee-hee... second banana Republican.
Lord said...
Welcome to the Republican party.
Sandwichman -> Lord...
The Second Banana Republican Party.
pgl -> Sandwichman...
Tax cuts for everyone and large defense budgets - the pathway to a banana republic indeed.
ilsm -> pgl...
GOP thuggee murder cult and Rubio wants to arm the progeny of 9/11 terrorists to make Syria a training base! Which Bush did in Anbar to keep them quiet while the US withdrew and all went over to ISIS.
anne said...
It is not inequality that drives innovation and economic growth -- it is the attempt to escape the leveling forces of capitalism....

-- Mark Thoma

[ A terrific insight. ]

[Dec 16, 2015] The Billionaires Pick How Marco Rubio Became The Preferred Puppet Of GOP Oligarchs

Notable quotes:
"... Personally, I don't think Rubio is even capable of all that much independent thought in the first place, but even if he was, the guy will do anything for campaign money. If you tried to create the perfect puppet in a test-tube, what would likely emerge is something very close to Marco Rubio. ..."
"... A man who consistently talks about small government and free markets, but who will fight to protect cronyism and oligarchy whenever somebody hangs a fresh dollar bill in front of his face. And all the smartest GOP billionaires know it. ..."
"... Israeli-Neocons are the existential danger to America. ..."
"... Bill Kristol is a most amazing beast. He has managed to make a living for decades as a supposed pundit without ever having been right about anything ever. ..."
"... Guys, please stop the anti-Jewish shit, OK? You see, if you are serious, this kind of stuff turns off the arguments you make among rational and intelligent people, almost all of whom have Jewish friends who are not the evil people you think you know? ..."
"... Here's the good part. At least half the sheeple seemed to think he was articulate, capable, a real young gun, new blood , yada yada yada, (I admit, he was articulate, .... and his hair was nicely cut and parted). ..."
"... Never mind that he had offered no way of paying for the (among other things) trillion dollar NEW subsidy he proposed going to families, or the increased Military spending. Because, after all, it's for the children, families, keeping everyone safe by ensuring that the u.s. spends more on it's military than the next 10 other countries COMBINED ..."
"... Real logic or practicality need not apply here I guess. Note he did not advocate cutting from anywhere to cover this new expenditure. No cutting CIA/NSA, or cutting S.S./Medicare nor anything/anywhere really. NOPE, just good 'ol NEW DEBT (to be paid for -- plus the bankster usury of course -- by future generations, the vaunted children that he apparently thinks so highly of). ..."
"... Mike Krieger must really be in love with Hillary Clinton. She's the most corrupt, the sleaziest, the most bribed and the most evil politician in the United States, if not the entire world. ..."
"... Get the irony here? The companies seek to evade paying prevailing wages to workers, while they themselves use every trick in the book to evade U.S. taxation on their earnings. It's the very height of hypocrisy. And Rubio is their spokesman. Yes Marco Rubio, articulate, nicely parted hair, pro family Rubio. ..."
Dec 16, 2015 | Zero Hedge

...A man so incapable of free-thought, he becomes the ideal target for billionaires looking to craft the perfect puppet. Forget Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio is now the establishment GOP's pick, and they will do everything in their power to get him the nomination.

There are three billionaire oligarchs in particular who seem to really love Rubio. They are Sheldon Adelson, Paul Singer and Ken Griffin. Let's look at the evidence so far.

Although Adelson hasn't officially endorsed Rubio, it's likely just a matter of time. See the following excerpt from yesterday's Miami Herald:

As GOP presidential candidates take the debate stage Tuesday at an extravagant Las Vegas hotel, they will once again compete for voters in an increasingly unpredictable race. But they are also vying for the attention of the man who owns the building - and no candidate has worked harder than Florida's Marco Rubio.

The U.S. senator has avidly courted casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, sitting down with him privately numerous times, including a dinner in Washington weeks before launching his campaign in April, and checking in regularly by phone to talk about Israel and the campaign.

All told, Adelson and his Israeli-born wife spent $93 million that cycle [2008], the No. 1 individual donors, by far.

This time, Adelson, whose worth is valued at somewhere between $20 billion and $30 billion, reportedly wants to throw his weight behind a more electable candidate and he's prepared to spend even more. "I don't cry when I lose," he told the Wall Street Journal in 2012. "There's always a new hand coming up."

Rubio has benefited from an outside group that has run TV ads featuring his hawkish foreign policy views, including a vow to tear up the Iran nuclear deal, which Adelson loathes. Rubio is also backing legislation Adelson is pushing to crush an expansion of online gambling, which threatens his global casino empire.

Much of Rubio's supposed favor has been conveyed by people who are close to Adelson, not Adelson himself, who rarely talks to the media.

Adelson is a critic of unions but moderate on social issues and supports stem-cell research and immigration reform.

Adelson does have business interests, and earlier this year Rubio attracted attention when he signed onto a bill that Adelson is trying to get through Congress that aims to curtail online gambling in states, a threat to his casino empire.

Though Rubio has talked about states' rights and avoiding picking "winners and losers," he has attributed his support for the bill to a feeling that the Internet has fewer safeguards to protect people from fraud and addiction.

"Rubio calls and says, 'Hey, did you see this speech? Did you see my floor statement on Iran? What do you think I should do about this issue?' " a September New York magazine story quoted an unnamed Adelson friend as saying. "It's impressive. Rubio is persistent."

For more on Adelson, see:

Sheldon Adelson – The Dangerous American Oligarch Behind Benjamin Netanyahu

Inside the Mind of an Oligarch – Sheldon Adelson Proclaims "I Don't Like Journalism"

Moving along, Rubio already has the official support of hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer. CNBC reports:

Marco Rubio got some great news on with backing from influential hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, who was heavily courted by multiple GOP presidential candidates, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

But Singer's backing - while a huge positive for Rubio in the money race - does not come without some risks for the Florida senator. Singer is distrusted in the conservative base of the GOP both for his support of same-sex marriage and his support of Rubio's immigration reform efforts in the Senate. According to a person close to Singer, the hedge fund billionaire gave $100,000 to support immigration reform, which the right widely regards as "amnesty" for undocumented immigrants.

Singer's backing encapsulates a major potential problem for the Rubio candidacy. The senator wants and needs the vast piles of money the GOP's Wall Street establishment is capable of pushing his way. Nobody organizes and directs that money better than Singer.

But there's far more to Singer's support than ideology. From the Huffington Post:

All that is music to Singer's ears, but Rubio's "work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee" is about something else altogether: his political support for Singer's efforts to drain more than $1.5 billion dollars from Argentina in payments on old bonds that lost most of their value after the country defaulted in 2001.

Singer's Elliott Management bought that debt several years ago for less than $50 million, and then successfully sued in U.S. court to demand full recovery of the face amount - in the face of opposition from the Obama administration, most other bondholders, and, above all, Argentina's government, led by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

Last year, another member of Congress got in on the act: Senator Marco Rubio. While grilling President Obama's nominee as U.S. ambassador to Argentina, Rubio complained that Buenos Aires "doesn't pay bondholders, doesn't work with our security operations… These aren't the actions of an ally."

This May, Rubio introduced a resolution in the Senate suggesting that Kirchner conspiried to "cover up Iranian involvement in the 1994 terrorist bombing." Rubio declared that the issues in the case "extend well beyond Argentina and involve the international community, and more importantly, U.S. national security."

As Eli Clifton noted, "It turns out that Singer's hedge fund, Elliott Management, was Rubio's second largest source of campaign contributions between 2009 and 2014, providing the presidential hopeful with $122,620, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics."

Next up, we have the billionaire CEO of hedge fund Citadel, Ken Griffin, also thought to be the richest man in Illinois. He recently endorsed Rubio. From CNBC:

Ken Griffin, the billionaire hedge-fund manager who has become a major Republican Party donor in recent years, is throwing his support behind Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for president.

"I'm really excited to be supporting Marco Rubio," Griffin, who is the founder and chief executive of the Chicago firm Citadel, said in an exclusive interview with CNBC. "He will be the next president of the United States."

With a net worth estimated by Forbes to be $7 billion, Griffin is thought to be the richest person in Illinois, so depending on the level of financial support he provides, he could be crucial to a Rubio candidacy. In 2014, for instance, Griffin helped secure a gubernatorial victory for private-equity executive Bruce Rauner in Illinois by contributing $5.5 million and reportedly offering the use of his private plane.

In the telephone interview Thursday, Griffin said he would play an active role in raising money for Rubio from his own network of associates. He also said he would contribute "several million dollars" to Rubio's PAC starting "imminently."

Which brings us to Rubio's latest squirmy tactic, in which he sacrifices individual choice in favor of protecting mega corporations. From the Intercept:

Rubio, who is raising campaign cash from the telecom industry for his presidential campaign, fired off a letter to the Federal Communications Commission asking the agency to allow states to block municipal broadband services.

The letter was the latest salvo in a long-running effort by the major telecom companies to outlaw municipal broadband programs that have taken off in cities such as Lafayette, Louisiana, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, because they pose a threat to a business model that calls for slow, expensive internet access without competition.

In Chattanooga, for instance, city officials set up a service known as "The Gig," a municipal broadband network that provides data transfers at one gigabit per second for less than $70 a month - a rate that is 50 times faster than the average speed American customers have available through private broadband networks.

AT&T, Cox Communications, Comcast, and other broadband providers, fearing competition, have used their influence in state government to make an end-run around local municipalities. Through surrogates like the American Legislative Exchange Council, the industry gets states to pass laws that ban municipal broadband networks, despite the obvious benefits to both the municipalities and their residents.

That's why the FCC has become involved. The agency stepped in to prevent states from crushing municipal broadband and released a rule this year that allows local cities to make the decision on their own.

As a result, telecom companies are furiously lobbying the FCC, litigating the rule in court, and leaning on GOP lawmakers to pressure the agency to back down.

Naturally, Marco Rubio is leading the charge.

Personally, I don't think Rubio is even capable of all that much independent thought in the first place, but even if he was, the guy will do anything for campaign money. If you tried to create the perfect puppet in a test-tube, what would likely emerge is something very close to Marco Rubio.

A man who consistently talks about small government and free markets, but who will fight to protect cronyism and oligarchy whenever somebody hangs a fresh dollar bill in front of his face. And all the smartest GOP billionaires know it.

Demdere

Yes, dynamic game theory, play after play, generation after generation. You have to have that perspective, or they trap you with mindgames. Lots of conspiracies, lots of mindgames, and we fall into 2 choices, every time. Everyone plays their role, the biggest players are the ones with the most money, and they collude, and trade, and are so rarely sentimental in any way. Colde-blooeded "How to get MY way?" thinking. Seeing which way the wind blows, the various dependencies follow along in the general direction, most of the time.

"We ain't in it".

This whole thing has to be building up to war, because what else can the Israeli-Neocons threaten us with? The next False Flag has to be big and bad to justify what they wnat, a state authoritarian enough to keep our current propaganda ministers in control, lest we decide to hang them. But our current propaganda outlets are failing, have you noticed? And the country is near maximum power, because it won't be able to borrow money and nobody will loan a broke country anything, as the USSR of late fame last discovered about the world of finance.

So they are losing control of the agenda and losing here in realty, poor people rarely view their rulers with much favor, the economy is failing. Maximum danger, they can't lose, they hang.

What do you predict happens next?

Israeli-Neocons are the existential danger to America.

Larry Dallas

Rubio is broke. Will be pro-Israel on anything to get Sheldon's money. Can you imagine the optics for Jews of Rubio going to a Las Vegas Casino to ask for money?

Never trust anyone who is broke. They can never be trusted to do what they say they are going to do.

Exhibit 1: Hillary.


Usurious

he was prolly washing down bill kristol's semen.........

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hv2lPVtG02E

Redneck Hippy

Bill Kristol is a most amazing beast. He has managed to make a living for decades as a supposed pundit without ever having been right about anything ever.

Demdere

Guys, please stop the anti-Jewish shit, OK? You see, if you are serious, this kind of stuff turns off the arguments you make among rational and intelligent people, almost all of whom have Jewish friends who are not the evil people you think you know?

And of course, the other motivation for you doing that would be to tar your arguments with that bad one? so discrediting both argument and you, depending on whether people were already fans or foes? There cna't be any win in that for a real position, associating it with racism, and most people are fully-able to tell it apart.

False flags happen in the world of ideas, noticed?

So rational minds, given certain fantasy-ideologies would better leave them unsaid other than to communicate past the next-possible tier of minds. Going past that generates opposition, and successful perversions of governments take many years, if your name might be dung to very many rational people at all, keeping quite is the best thing to do. No seriously-deviant population ahs ever achieved power by being loudmouths, as I recall.

So, you see, either you are dumb as dug or you are hasbara of some variety.

But my argument gets better with repetition, while you don't appear to grow smarter at all. must be a handicap, having to conform to even so hazy a reality as drive-by snide of endless variety.

The rest of you consider what kind of person votes this down? hasbara-intent if not hasbara. Who cares?

will ling

pedal to the metal trump.

Miss Expectations

REVEALED: Marco Rubio's brother-in-law was the 'front man for an international drug-smuggling ring led by leopard-loving "cocaine cowboy" kingpin whose mansion was filled with big cats and a giraffe'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3358281/Marco-Rubio-s-brother-law-man-international-drug-smuggling-ring-led-leopard-loving-cocaine-cowboy-kingpin-mansion-filled-big-cats-giraffe.html#ixzz3uRP29AxY

L Bean

The New Mafia, the same as the Old Mafia. Who could've predicted?


where_is the_nuke

I personally think Rubio is the second dumbest republican runner after Carson. A perfect puppet material.

essence

Last GOP debate I had enough Internet bandwidth to watch ( a rarity for me)

After the debate the network went to an ancillary offering, a focus group in New Hampshire.

Maybe 12-15 people, mostly white (can't recall exactly ...but then, it's NH, what would one expect).

Most were 50+, all were overweight, Hey, not attempting to overtly characterize, nevertheless, the observation did not elude me. And yeah, that included the network guy conducting the interview.

Rubio got some favorable reviews. From 50-60 % of the group. (Cruz too, but more to Rubio).

Here's the "good" part. At least half the sheeple seemed to think he was articulate, capable, a real "young gun,"new blood", yada yada yada, (I admit, he was articulate, .... and his hair was nicely cut and parted).

Never mind that he had offered no way of paying for the (among other things) trillion dollar NEW subsidy he proposed going to families, or the increased Military spending. Because, after all, it's for the children, families, keeping everyone safe by ensuring that the u.s. spends more on it's military than the next 10 other countries COMBINED

Real logic or practicality need not apply here I guess. Note he did not advocate cutting from anywhere to cover this new expenditure. No cutting CIA/NSA, or cutting S.S./Medicare nor anything/anywhere really. NOPE, just good 'ol NEW DEBT (to be paid for -- plus the bankster usury of course -- by future generations, the vaunted "children" that he apparently thinks so highly of).

gregga777

Mike Krieger must really be in love with Hillary Clinton. She's the most corrupt, the sleaziest, the most bribed and the most evil politician in the United States, if not the entire world. She was responsible for the murder of Kibya's Muamar Qadafi and our ambassador to Libya in Benghazi. She's also responsible for the Middle Eastern refugee crisis sweeping through Europe because Qadafi had an agreement with the European Union to block refugee transit through Libya. But, curiously Mr. Krieger can only find fault with Marco Rubio and Donald Trump. Mike Krieger must really be in love with Hillary Clinton.

-----

Rubio is supported by a few billionaires. Jewish (oops, that observation apparently is not in vogue these days. Well Fuck you, if you wish to wear blinders then go ahead, I don't wish to so handicap myself). Rubio has supported the HB-1 visas (that's where U.S. corporations fig-leaf offshore themselves to avoid taxation) .... press for non-U.S. citizens be given working visa's to their remaining U.S. located operations.

Not talking farm workers here, this is corporations hiring & importing Indians (or whomever) expressly for lower wages than U.S. citizens current prevailing wages.

Get the irony here? The companies seek to evade paying prevailing wages to workers, while they themselves use every trick in the book to evade U.S. taxation on their earnings. It's the very height of hypocrisy. And Rubio is their spokesman. Yes Marco Rubio, articulate, nicely parted hair, "pro family" Rubio.

[Dec 15, 2015] Ilargi Marine Le Pen Will Reap What The EU Has Sown

Notable quotes:
"... Since Reagan and Thatcher, it is very hard for elites anywhere to think of "the national interest" as anything more than the bottom lines of the larger banks, brokerage houses, and corporations based in their respective countries. Where the statement made in 1959 that what was good for General Motors is good for America was met with disdain or distrust, today it is an unshakeable article of faith for almost all national politicians in the major Western countries (substituting Mitsui, or Deutsche Bank, or AXA, or Royal Dutch Shell for GM). The axiom is if you take care of the corporations, they will take care of the economy, and that it turn will take care of the people. ..."
"... Thus we have the corporate neoliberal state. The fact that millions are unsure of that formula, or simply dismiss it out of hand as self-serving on the part of both the corporations and the politicians who suck at their teats, is dismissed as naïve or irrational by the elites and their intellectual shills (virtually everyone being educated at elite institutions). ..."
"... By the way, one of the first rules of diplomacy (and any interactions really, even with animals) is don't force anyone into a corner; it doesn't end well. That's basically what the EU did to the European populations by not ever letting them say no to expansions. (As an addendum, one could easily draw parallels here with Trump.) ..."
"... And that's before you get to the fact that the European elites have so deeply drunken the neoliberal Kool Aid that it doubtful they'd be willing to take aggressive enough action even if they weren't hemmed in by Germany and Brussels. As one wag put it, "They have changed their minds, but they have not changed their hearts." ..."
naked capitalism

Many people are cheering now that yesterday Marine Le Pen and her Front National (FN) party didn't get to take over government in any regions in the France regional elections. They should think again. FN did get a lot more votes than the last time around, and, though she will be a little disappointed after last weekend's results, it's exactly as Le Pen herself said: "Nothing can stop us".

And instead of bemoaning this, or even not believing it, it might be much better to try and understand why she's right. And that has little to do with any comparisons to Donald Trump. Or perhaps it does, in that in the same way that Trump profits from -people's perception of- the systemic failures of Washington, Le Pen is being helped into the saddle by Brussels.

The only -remaining- politicians in Europe who are critical of the EU are on the -extreme- right wing. The entire spectrum of politics other than them don't even question Brussels anymore. Which is at least a little strange, because support for the EU on the street is not nearly as strong as among politicians, as referendum after referendum keeps on showing.

James Levy, December 15, 2015 at 8:25 am

Since Reagan and Thatcher, it is very hard for elites anywhere to think of "the national interest" as anything more than the bottom lines of the larger banks, brokerage houses, and corporations based in their respective countries. Where the statement made in 1959 that what was good for General Motors is good for America was met with disdain or distrust, today it is an unshakeable article of faith for almost all national politicians in the major Western countries (substituting Mitsui, or Deutsche Bank, or AXA, or Royal Dutch Shell for GM). The axiom is if you take care of the corporations, they will take care of the economy, and that it turn will take care of the people.

Thus we have the corporate neoliberal state. The fact that millions are unsure of that formula, or simply dismiss it out of hand as self-serving on the part of both the corporations and the politicians who suck at their teats, is dismissed as naïve or irrational by the elites and their intellectual shills (virtually everyone being educated at elite institutions).

This leads to the societal disconnect you so ably set before us in your post. I see no way the two sides can stop talking past one another and wallowing in their mutual contempt. In the end, one side will win and one will lose, or the system will collapse and both will be thrown into the darkness. My money is on the last of those options.


lylo, December 15, 2015 at 9:27 am

I agree about the pull rightward being basically the fault of the europhiles filling every other party. The really sad part is how many of them are ostensibly more nationalist while campaigning. No one is ever put in office promising to put Brussels first, yet they all seem to once elected. As put so succinctly, what choice is left?

By the way, one of the first rules of diplomacy (and any interactions really, even with animals) is don't force anyone into a corner; it doesn't end well. That's basically what the EU did to the European populations by not ever letting them say no to expansions. (As an addendum, one could easily draw parallels here with Trump.)

But I do have to mention, as it often comes up in these discussions, my issue with the article's take on the Euro. I agree completely, by the way, and think most here would say it goes without even saying. Right?

Now, what about the poor Southern US? Isn't it actually all so-and-so's fault or if only they weren't so dumb or had instituted such-and-such policy or whatever the complaint is today?

It couldn't possibly be that it's a huge geographic area with different industries and culture than the Northern US and always ends up with the short side of the currency stick as the decision makers are all decidedly northern…

Taken in this context, doesn't that reasoning sound an awful lot like the crazies in Germany sipping champagne complaining about the lazy Mediterraneans, and how it's all their fault?

Yeah–that is what it actually sounds like to southerners, fyi. Please remember that next time you hear an anti-Southern diatribe. (Also, bear in mind the first point about forcing people to pick crazy and how it may relate.)


samhill, December 15, 2015 at 9:41 am

And that's before you get to the fact that the European elites have so deeply drunken the neoliberal Kool Aid that it doubtful they'd be willing to take aggressive enough action even if they weren't hemmed in by Germany and Brussels. As one wag put it, "They have changed their minds, but they have not changed their hearts."

We should be so lucky if it was simply a Germany plus heart vs mind battle, which would offer some chance for some switch in consciousness of leaders. Unfortunately the politicians in charge across the EU are lightweight halfwits. The real power elites that run them don't want statesmen of whatever ilk, no more Churhills, de Gaulles, Adenauers, etc, even mafiosi like Andreotti, people you can suggest to but can't simply command. Saddest truth possible is that people like Cameron, Holland, Renzi etc are put there exclusively to not cause any trouble, right or left, and any expectations of any sort are a delusion like expecting a chimp to start driving a car. There is no heart/mind struggle, there just a low IQ resonate drone like a bad fluorescent light in the room.

The only -remaining- politicians in Europe who are critical of the EU are on the -extreme- right wing.

Not true, to Italy's surprising credit and to Beppe Grillo's foresight (since 2009) M5S has managed to channel a good part of the dissatisfaction in Italy to the left denying the right a monopoly on the discourse like in more virtuously democratic France. So far M5S has managed to keep an open, honest, intelligent anti-EU discourse going, about all that can be asked for given the relentless and monolithic media mud machine they face, not to mention the envious, bristling hatred of the traditional tribal left, and they have pretty much managed to keep a solid hold on ~20% of the vote. They are completely nonexistent in the anglophone press and commentariat (Grillo's a clown in as much as Lenny Bruce or George Carlin were) but they are the are the only significant leftist block outside the mainstream left in a significant country giving voice to the no global, occupy, mmt movement in the EU.

[Dec 15, 2015] Charting Trump's rise through the decline of the middle class

Notable quotes:
"... There's little doubt that what has happened to America's middle class has helped to create the climate that has fueled Trump's sudden rise. ..."
"... Those living in middle-class households no longer make up a majority of the population. ..."
"... The report is not entirely gloomy. Every category gained in income between 1970 and 2014. Those in the top strata saw incomes rise by 47 percent. Middle-income Americans saw theirs rise by 34 percent. Those at the bottom saw the most modest increases, at 28 percent. ..."
"... But the share of income accounted for by the middle class has plummeted over the past 4 1 / 2 decades. In 1970, middle-class households accounted for 62 percent of income; by 2014, it was just 43 percent. Meanwhile, the share held by those in upper-income households rose from 29 percent to 49 percent, eclipsing the middle class's share. ..."
"... For most families, the two recessions have wiped out previous gains and widened the wealth and income gap between the wealthiest and all others. "The losses were so large that only upper-income families realized notable gains in wealth over the span of 30 years from 1983 to 2013," according to the Pew study. ..."
"... Until the recession of 2007-2009, middle-income earners saw a significant rise in their overall wealth, but the economic calamity mostly wiped away those gains. Today, the median net worth of families in the middle (in 2014 dollars) is barely higher than it was in 1983. Those at the top have weathered the recession far better and, despite losses, have seen a doubling of their net worth over that same period. ..."
"... Politicians in both parties have sought for some time to appeal to middle-class voters who are economically stressed. President Obama made his 2012 reelection campaign about appealing to the middle class and casting Republican nominee Mitt Romney as out of touch and insensitive to their concerns. ..."
"... Trump, however, has tapped a vein of frustration and resentment among those who have suffered most from the economic maladies of the past decade and a half, and he has ridden it to the top of the GOP polls. He has done it by eschewing political correctness. ..."
"... Trump draws strong support from the kinds of voters who see illegal immigration as eroding the values of the country and who might worry that their jobs are threatened by the influx. About half of those Republicans who favor deporting immigrants who are here illegally back Trump for the party's nomination. ..."
"... Trump's campaign slogan is not just "Make America Great" but "Make America Great Again." He summons a time when the middle class was prosperous and incomes were rising. This was a time when the lack of a college degree was not the impediment to a more economically secure life that it has become - and a time when white people made up a higher share of the population. ..."
"... Whatever happens to Trump's candidacy over the coming months, the conditions that have helped make him the front-runner for the GOP nomination will still exist, a focal point in a divisive debate about the future of the country. ..."
"... He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you whos to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections ..."
"... Their replies were striking. Where merely affluent Americans are more likely to identify as Democrats than as Republicans, the ultrawealthy overwhelmingly leaned right. They are far more likely to raise money for politicians and to have access to them; nearly half had personally contacted one of Illinois's two United States senators. ..."
"... Probably the biggest single area of disconnect has to do with social welfare programs," said Benjamin I. Page, a political scientist at Northwestern University and a co-author of the study. "The other big area has to do with paying for those programs, particularly taxes on high-income and wealthy people. ..."
"... Where the general public overwhelmingly supports a high minimum wage, the one percent are broadly opposed. ..."
"... Where merely affluent Americans are more likely to identify as Democrats than as Republicans, the ultrawealthy overwhelmingly leaned right. ..."
"... That would explain the survey results discussed yesterday showing Clinton to be the preferred candidate among millionaires -- a category almost as factually broad and ambiguous as the middle class . The merely affluent -- AKA the liberal elite -- would be the Clinton supporters, whereas the ultrawealthy would support Rubio (or whatever other candidate they were sponsoring). ..."
"... it is not necessarily an endorsement of Trump but a relative statement - that he resonates with people more than the other contenders. This kind of thing (people rallying around alpha-type strongmen with supremacist narratives) has reliably happened anywhere and anytime there was a bad economy and serious lack of positive outlook. ..."
"... Trump 24%, Cruz 16% in South Carolina Poll ..."
"... Five Reasons Congress Hates Ted Cruz http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2015/09/30/Five-Reasons-Congre ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. said in reply to Peter K.... December 13, 2015 at 07:01 AM
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/charting-trumps-rise-in-the-decline-of-the-middle-class/2015/12/12/0f5df1d8-a037-11e5-8728-1af6af208198_story.html?tid=pm_politics_pop_b

Charting Trump's rise through the decline of the middle class

By Dan Balz December 12 at 10:59 AM

For anyone trying to understand the emergence of Donald Trump as a force in this pre-election year, the Pew Research Center this past week provided some valuable insight. There's little doubt that what has happened to America's middle class has helped to create the climate that has fueled Trump's sudden rise.

The Pew study charts the steady decline of the middle class over the past four decades. It is a phenomenon often discussed and analyzed, but the new findings highlight a tipping point: Those living in middle-class households no longer make up a majority of the population.

There has been a "hollowing out" of the middle class, as the study puts it. In 1971, the middle class accounted for 61 percent of the nation's population. Today, there are slightly more people in the upper and lower economic tiers combined than in the middle class.

The report is not entirely gloomy. Every category gained in income between 1970 and 2014. Those in the top strata saw incomes rise by 47 percent. Middle-income Americans saw theirs rise by 34 percent. Those at the bottom saw the most modest increases, at 28 percent.

But the share of income accounted for by the middle class has plummeted over the past 4 1 / 2 decades. In 1970, middle-class households accounted for 62 percent of income; by 2014, it was just 43 percent. Meanwhile, the share held by those in upper-income households rose from 29 percent to 49 percent, eclipsing the middle class's share.

The past 15 years have been particularly hard on wealth and income because of the recession of 2001 and the Great Recession of 2007-2009. For all groups, incomes rose from 1970 to 2000. In the next decade, incomes for all groups declined. During the past four years, incomes rose 3 percent for the wealthiest, 1 percent for middle-income Americans, and not at all for those with the lowest incomes. For those in the middle, the median income in 2014 was 4 percent lower than in 2000, according to the study.

For most families, the two recessions have wiped out previous gains and widened the wealth and income gap between the wealthiest and all others. "The losses were so large that only upper-income families realized notable gains in wealth over the span of 30 years from 1983 to 2013," according to the Pew study.

Until the recession of 2007-2009, middle-income earners saw a significant rise in their overall wealth, but the economic calamity mostly wiped away those gains. Today, the median net worth of families in the middle (in 2014 dollars) is barely higher than it was in 1983. Those at the top have weathered the recession far better and, despite losses, have seen a doubling of their net worth over that same period.

Within the overall trends of the middle class, there are winners and losers, according to the Pew study. Winners included people older than 65, whose overall economic standing has increased sharply over the past four decades. In 1971, more than half of all Americans ages 65 and older were in the lowest income tier. Today, nearly half qualify as middle-income.

Those with college degrees have remained fairly stable in terms of their percentages in the lower-, middle- and upper-income tiers. Then comes this telling finding from the Pew study: "Those without a bachelor's degree tumbled down the income tiers, however. Among the various demographic groups examined, adults with no more than a high school diploma lost the most ground economically."

This is where the report connects directly to what's happened politically this year. Pair those last findings from the Pew study with what recent polling shows about who supports Trump.

A recent Washington Post-ABC News survey found Trump leading his rivals overall, with 32 percent support among registered Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Among white people with college degrees, he was at 23 percent and led his nearest rival by only four percentage points. Among white people without a college degree, however, his support ballooned to 41 percent - double that of Ben Carson, who was second at 20 percent, and five times the support of Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Tex.), who were tied for third.

Those without college educations have regressed economically. The Pew study shows that many who have either a high school degree or at most two years of college have fallen out of the middle class over the past four decades. Among those with high school degrees, the percentage in the lowest-income tier has risen from 17 percent in 1971 to 36 percent in 2015. A similar pattern exists for those with some college education but not a four-year degree.

Politicians in both parties have sought for some time to appeal to middle-class voters who are economically stressed. President Obama made his 2012 reelection campaign about appealing to the middle class and casting Republican nominee Mitt Romney as out of touch and insensitive to their concerns.

In the absence of progress during Obama's presidency, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, and her principal challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), have made issues of inequality and wage stagnation central to their appeals. Clinton's team long has believed that the election will turn on issues of middle-class economics.

Trump, however, has tapped a vein of frustration and resentment among those who have suffered most from the economic maladies of the past decade and a half, and he has ridden it to the top of the GOP polls. He has done it by eschewing political correctness.

Trump draws strong support from the kinds of voters who see illegal immigration as eroding the values of the country and who might worry that their jobs are threatened by the influx. About half of those Republicans who favor deporting immigrants who are here illegally back Trump for the party's nomination. These are also the kinds of voters who agree most with Trump's call to ban the entry of Muslims into the United States until security concerns are laid to rest.

Trump's campaign slogan is not just "Make America Great" but "Make America Great Again." He summons a time when the middle class was prosperous and incomes were rising. This was a time when the lack of a college degree was not the impediment to a more economically secure life that it has become - and a time when white people made up a higher share of the population.

Whatever happens to Trump's candidacy over the coming months, the conditions that have helped make him the front-runner for the GOP nomination will still exist, a focal point in a divisive debate about the future of the country.

EMichael said in reply to Peter K....
Baker was too kind to Balz.

Amazing that appeals to racist imbeciles are considered to be appeals to middle class America. Over two decades ago, Trump's platform(if you can call it that) was accurately described in The American President:

"I've known Bob Rumson for years, and I've been operating under the assumption that the reason Bob devotes so much time and energy to shouting at the rain was that he simply didn't get it. Well, I was wrong. Bob's problem isn't that he doesn't get it. Bob's problem is that he can't sell it! We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections."

Peter K. said in reply to EMichael...
Also the corporate media refuses to focus on the one percent.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/30/us/politics/illinois-campaign-money-bruce-rauner.html?_r=0

"The rich families remaking Illinois are among a small group around the country who have channeled their extraordinary wealth into political power, taking advantage of regulatory, legal and cultural shifts that have carved new paths for infusing money into campaigns. Economic winners in an age of rising inequality, operating largely out of public view, they are reshaping government with fortunes so large as to defy the ordinary financial scale of politics. In the 2016 presidential race, a New York Times analysis found last month, just 158 families had provided nearly half of the early campaign money.

...

Around the same time that Mr. Rauner began running for governor, a group of researchers based at Northwestern University published findings from the country's first-ever representative survey of the richest one percent of Americans. The study, known as the Survey of Economically Successful Americans and the Common Good, canvassed a sample of the wealthy from the Chicago area. Those canvassed were granted anonymity to discuss their views candidly.

Their replies were striking. Where merely affluent Americans are more likely to identify as Democrats than as Republicans, the ultrawealthy overwhelmingly leaned right. They are far more likely to raise money for politicians and to have access to them; nearly half had personally contacted one of Illinois's two United States senators.

Where the general public overwhelmingly supports a high minimum wage, the one percent are broadly opposed. A majority of Americans supported expanding safety-net and retirement programs, while most of the very wealthy opposed them. And while Americans are not enthusiastic about higher taxes generally, they feel strongly that the rich should pay more than they do, and more than everyone else pays.

"Probably the biggest single area of disconnect has to do with social welfare programs," said Benjamin I. Page, a political scientist at Northwestern University and a co-author of the study. "The other big area has to do with paying for those programs, particularly taxes on high-income and wealthy people.""

EMichael said in reply to Peter K....
"Where the general public overwhelmingly supports a high minimum wage, the one percent are broadly opposed."

Yep

So what they do is to distract people from the need to increase wages by altering the minimum wage and make low wages the responsibility of illegal immigrants.

Plausible(if not true) story made believable if you are a racist.

ken melvin said in reply to Peter K....
I remember seeing this display at the Bancroft:

http://www.dailycal.org/2015/11/12/bancroft-library-acquires-documents-from-local-disability-rights-advocate/

Syaloch said in reply to Peter K....
"Where merely affluent Americans are more likely to identify as Democrats than as Republicans, the ultrawealthy overwhelmingly leaned right."

That would explain the survey results discussed yesterday showing Clinton to be the preferred candidate among "millionaires" -- a category almost as factually broad and ambiguous as "the middle class". The merely affluent -- AKA the "liberal elite" -- would be the Clinton supporters, whereas the ultrawealthy would support Rubio (or whatever other candidate they were sponsoring).

cm said in reply to EMichael...
"Amazing that appeals to racist imbeciles are considered to be appeals to middle class America." etc.

Are you suggesting the survey percentages are not accurate? One can suspect a significant sampling error, but if the numbers were off let's say 5-10 percentage points, would it really make much of a difference in quality?

Also it is not necessarily an endorsement of Trump but a relative statement - that he resonates with people more than the other contenders. This kind of thing (people rallying around alpha-type strongmen with supremacist narratives) has reliably happened anywhere and anytime there was a bad economy and serious lack of positive outlook.

Fred C. Dobbs said...
(Cruzin' on the !Trump watch.)

Trump calls Cruz 'a bit of a maniac' following poll
shakeup http://on.msnbc.com/1TJvl3Y via @msnbc

The competition between GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz heated up Sunday, with Trump calling Cruz "a bit of a maniac."

Appearing on "FOX News Sunday," Trump said the Texas senator was not qualified to be president because he doesn't have the right temperament and judgement to get things done.

"Look at the way he's dealt with the Senate, where he goes in there like a - you know, frankly like a little bit of a maniac," Trump said. "You can't walk into the Senate, and scream, and call people liars, and not be able to cajole and get along with people." ...

Previously: Ted Cruz Questions Donald Trump's 'Judgment' to
Be President http://nyti.ms/1XZ3RxD via @NYTPolitics - Dec 10

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...
Trump 24%, Cruz 16% in South Carolina Poll
http://bloom.bg/1OT8DHm via @Bloomberg - Dec 10
Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...
The Iowa poll shakeup:

Cruz opens up 10-point lead on Trump in Iowa
@CNNPolitics http://cnn.it/1J3rI3l - Dec 13

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...
Five Reasons Congress Hates Ted Cruz http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2015/09/30/Five-Reasons-Congress-Hates-Ted-Cruz
Fiscal Times - Sep 8

(Have anything to do with making them listen to 'Green Eggs & Ham'?)

[Dec 13, 2015] Hillary Clinton Is Whitewashing 2008 Financial Collapse

Notable quotes:
"... Can you list all of the pro- or anti- Wall Street reforms and actions Bill Clinton performed as President including nominating Alan Greenspan as head regulator? Cutting the capital gains tax? Are you aware of Greenspan's record? ..."
"... The Tax Policy Center estimated that a 0.1 percent tax on stock trades, scaled with lower taxes on other assets, would raise $50 billion a year in tax revenue. The implied reduction in trading revenue was even larger. Senator Sanders has proposed a tax of 0.5 percent on equities (also with a scaled tax on other assets). This would lead to an even larger reduction in revenue for the financial industry. ..."
"... Great to see Bakers acknowledgement that an updated Glass-Steagall is just one component of the progressive wings plan to rein in Wall Street, not the sum total of it. Besides, if Wall Street types dont think restoring Glass-Steagall will have any meaningful effects, why do they expend so much energy to disparage it? Methinks they doth protest too much. ..."
"... Yes thats a good way to look it. Wall Street gave the Democrats and Clinton a lot of campaign cash so that they would dismantle Glass-Steagall. ..."
"... Slippery slope. Ya gotta find me a business of any type that does not protest any kind of regulation on their business. ..."
"... Yeah, but usually because of all the bad things they say will happen because of the regulation. The question is, what do they think of Clintons plan? Ive heard surprisingly little about that, and what I have heard is along these lines: http://money.cnn.com/2015/10/08/investing/hillary-clinton-wall-street-plan/ ..."
"... Hillary Clinton unveiled her big plan to curb the worst of Wall Streets excesses on Thursday. The reaction from the banking community was a shrug, if not relief. ..."
"... There is absolutely NO question Bernie is for real. Wall Street does not want Bernie. So theyll let Hillary talk as big as she needs to . Why should we believe her when an honest guy like Barry caved once in power ..."
"... Perhaps too often we look at Wall Street as monolithic whether consciously or not. Obviously we know its no monolithic: there are serious differences ..."
"... This all coiled change if Bernie surges. How that happens depends crucially on New Hampshire. Not Iowa ..."
"... I believe Hillary will be to liberal causes after she is elected as LBJ was to peace in Vietnam. Like Bill and Obomber. ..."
Dec 12, 2015 | Economist's View

RGC said...

Hillary Clinton Is Whitewashing the Financial Catastrophe

She has a plan that she claims will reform Wall Street-but she's deflecting responsibility from old friends and donors in the industry.

By William Greider
Yesterday 3:11 pm

Hillary Clinton's recent op-ed in The New York Times, "How I'd Rein In Wall Street," was intended to reassure nervous Democrats who fear she is still in thrall to those mega-bankers of New York who crashed the American economy. Clinton's brisk recital of plausible reform ideas might convince wishful thinkers who are not familiar with the complexities of banking. But informed skeptics, myself included, see a disturbing message in her argument that ought to alarm innocent supporters.

Candidate Clinton is essentially whitewashing the financial catastrophe. She has produced a clumsy rewrite of what caused the 2008 collapse, one that conveniently leaves her husband out of the story. He was the president who legislated the predicate for Wall Street's meltdown. Hillary Clinton's redefinition of the reform problem deflects the blame from Wall Street's most powerful institutions, like JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, and instead fingers less celebrated players that failed. In roundabout fashion, Hillary Clinton sounds like she is assuring old friends and donors in the financial sector that, if she becomes president, she will not come after them.

The seminal event that sowed financial disaster was the repeal of the New Deal's Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which had separated banking into different realms: investment banks, which organize capital investors for risk-taking ventures; and deposit-holding banks, which serve people as borrowers and lenders. That law's repeal, a great victory for Wall Street, was delivered by Bill Clinton in 1999, assisted by the Federal Reserve and the financial sector's armies of lobbyists. The "universal banking model" was saluted as a modernizing reform that liberated traditional banks to participate directly and indirectly in long-prohibited and vastly more profitable risk-taking.

Exotic financial instruments like derivatives and credit-default swaps flourished, enabling old-line bankers to share in the fun and profit on an awesome scale. The banks invented "guarantees" against loss and sold them to both companies and market players. The fast-expanding financial sector claimed a larger and larger share of the economy (and still does) at the expense of the real economy of producers and consumers. The interconnectedness across market sectors created the illusion of safety. When illusions failed, these connected guarantees became the dragnet that drove panic in every direction. Ultimately, the federal government had to rescue everyone, foreign and domestic, to stop the bleeding.

Yet Hillary Clinton asserts in her Times op-ed that repeal of Glass-Steagall had nothing to do with it. She claims that Glass-Steagall would not have limited the reckless behavior of institutions like Lehman Brothers or insurance giant AIG, which were not traditional banks. Her argument amounts to facile evasion that ignores the interconnected exposures. The Federal Reserve spent $180 billion bailing out AIG so AIG could pay back Goldman Sachs and other banks. If the Fed hadn't acted and had allowed AIG to fail, the banks would have gone down too.

These sound like esoteric questions of bank regulation (and they are), but the consequences of pretending they do not matter are enormous. The federal government and Federal Reserve would remain on the hook for rescuing losers in a future crisis. The largest and most adventurous banks would remain free to experiment, inventing fictitious guarantees and selling them to eager suckers. If things go wrong, Uncle Sam cleans up the mess.

Senator Elizabeth Warren and other reformers are pushing a simpler remedy-restore the Glass-Steagall principles and give citizens a safe, government-insured place to store their money. "Banking should be boring," Warren explains (her co-sponsor is GOP Senator John McCain).
That's a hard sell in politics, given the banking sector's bear hug of Congress and the White House, its callous manipulation of both political parties. Of course, it is more complicated than that. But recreating a safe, stable banking system-a place where ordinary people can keep their money-ought to be the first benchmark for Democrats who claim to be reformers.

Actually, the most compelling witnesses for Senator Warren's argument are the two bankers who introduced this adventure in "universal banking" back in the 1990s. They used their political savvy and relentless muscle to seduce Bill Clinton and his so-called New Democrats. John Reed was CEO of Citicorp and led the charge. He has since apologized to the nation. Sandy Weill was chairman of the board and a brilliant financier who envisioned the possibilities of a single, all-purpose financial house, freed of government's narrow-minded regulations. They won politically, but at staggering cost to the country.

Weill confessed error back in 2012: "What we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking. Have banks do something that's not going to risk the taxpayer dollars, that's not going to be too big to fail."

John Reed's confession explained explicitly why their modernizing crusade failed for two fundamental business reasons. "One was the belief that combining all types of finance into one institution would drive costs down-and the larger institution the more efficient it would be," Reed wrote in the Financial Times in November. Reed said, "We now know that there are very few cost efficiencies that come from the merger of functions-indeed, there may be none at all. It is possible that combining so much in a single bank makes services more expensive than if they were instead offered by smaller, specialised players."

The second grave error, Reed said, was trying to mix the two conflicting cultures in banking-bankers who are pulling in opposite directions. That tension helps explain the competitive greed displayed by the modernized banking system. This disorder speaks to the current political crisis in ways that neither Dems nor Republicans wish to confront. It would require the politicians to critique the bankers (often their funders) in terms of human failure.

"Mixing incompatible cultures is a problem all by itself," Reed wrote. "It makes the entire finance industry more fragile…. As is now clear, traditional banking attracts one kind of talent, which is entirely different from the kinds drawn towards investment banking and trading. Traditional bankers tend to be extroverts, sociable people who are focused on longer term relationships. They are, in many important respects, risk averse. Investment bankers and their traders are more short termist. They are comfortable with, and many even seek out, risk and are more focused on immediate reward."

Reed concludes, "As I have reflected about the years since 1999, I think the lessons of Glass-Steagall and its repeal suggest that the universal banking model is inherently unstable and unworkable. No amount of restructuring, management change or regulation is ever likely to change that."

This might sound hopelessly naive, but the Democratic Party might do better in politics if it told more of the truth more often: what they tried do and why it failed, and what they think they may have gotten wrong. People already know they haven't gotten a straight story from politicians. They might be favorably impressed by a little more candor in the plain-spoken manner of John Reed.

Of course it's unfair to pick on the Dems. Republicans have been lying about their big stuff for so long and so relentlessly that their voters are now staging a wrathful rebellion. Who knows, maybe a little honest talk might lead to honest debate. Think about it. Do the people want to hear the truth about our national condition? Could they stand it?

http://www.thenation.com/article/hillary-clinton-is-whitewashing-the-financial-catastrophe/

Peter K. said in reply to EMichael...
Can you list all of the pro- or anti- Wall Street "reforms" and actions Bill Clinton performed as President including nominating Alan Greenspan as head regulator? Cutting the capital gains tax? Are you aware of Greenspan's record?

Yes Hillary isn't Bill but she hasn't criticized her husband specifically about his record and seems to want to have her cake and eat it too.

Of course Hillary is much better than the Republicans, pace Rustbucket and the Green Lantern Lefty club. Still, critics have a point.

I won't be surprised if she doesn't do much to rein in Wall Street besides some window dressing.

sanjait said in reply to Peter K....
"Can you list all of the pro- or anti- Wall Street "reforms" and actions Bill Clinton performed..."

That, right there, is what's wrong with Bernie and his fans. They measure everything by whether it is "pro- or anti- Wall Street". Glass Steagall is anti-Wall Street. A financial transactions tax is anti-Wall Street. But neither has any hope of controlling systemic financial risk in this country. None.

You guys want to punish Wall Street but not even bother trying to think of how to achieve useful policy goals. Some people, like Paine here, are actually open about this vacuity, as if the only thing that were important were winning a power struggle.

Hillary's plan is flat out better. It's more comprehensive and more effective at reining in the financial system to limit systemic risk. Period.

You guys want to make this a character melodrama rather than a policy debate, and I fear the result of that will be that the candidate who actually has the best plan won't get to enact it.

likbez said in reply to sanjait...

"You guys want to make this a character melodrama rather than a policy debate, and I fear the result of that will be that the candidate who actually has the best plan won't get to enact it."

You are misrepresenting the positions. It's actually pro-neoliberalism crowd vs anti-neoliberalism crowd. In no way anti-neoliberalism commenters here view this is a character melodrama, although psychologically Hillary probably does has certain problems as her reaction to the death of Gadhafi attests.

The key problem with anti-neoliberalism crowd is the question "What is a realistic alternative?" That's where differences and policy debate starts.

RGC said in reply to EMichael...
"Her argument amounts to facile evasion"

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to RGC...

'The majority favors policies
to the left of Hillary.'

Nah. I don't think so.

No, Liberals Don't Control the Democratic Party http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/02/no-liberals-dont-control-the-democratic-party/283653/
The Atlantic - Feb 7, 2014

... The Democrats' liberal faction has been greatly overestimated by pundits who mistake noisiness for clout or assume that the left functions like the right. In fact, liberals hold nowhere near the power in the Democratic Party that conservatives hold in the Republican Party. And while they may well be gaining, they're still far from being in charge. ...

Paine said in reply to RGC...

What's not confronted ? Suggest what a System like the pre repeal system would have done in the 00's. My guess we'd have ended in a crisis anyway. Yes we can segregate the depository system. But credit is elastic enough to build bubbles without the depository system involved

Peter K. said...

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-and-cracking-down-on-wall-street

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Cracking Down on Wall Street
by Dean Baker

Published: 12 December 2015

The New Yorker ran a rather confused piece on Gary Sernovitz, a managing director at the investment firm Lime Rock Partners, on whether Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton would be more effective in reining in Wall Street. The piece assures us that Secretary Clinton has a better understanding of Wall Street and that her plan would be more effective in cracking down on the industry. The piece is bizarre both because it essentially dismisses the concern with too big to fail banks and completely ignores Sanders' proposal for a financial transactions tax which is by far the most important mechanism for reining in the financial industry.

The piece assures us that too big to fail banks are no longer a problem, noting their drop in profitability from bubble peaks and telling readers:

"not only are Sanders's bogeybanks just one part of Wall Street but they are getting less powerful and less problematic by the year."

This argument is strange for a couple of reasons. First, the peak of the subprime bubble frenzy is hardly a good base of comparison. The real question is should we anticipate declining profits going forward. That hardly seems clear. For example, Citigroup recently reported surging profits, while Wells Fargo's third quarter profits were up 8 percent from 2014 levels.

If Sernovitz is predicting that the big banks are about to shrivel up to nothingness, the market does not agree with him. Citigroup has a market capitalization of $152 billion, JPMorgan has a market cap of $236 billion, and Bank of America has a market cap of $174 billion. Clearly investors agree with Sanders in thinking that these huge banks will have sizable profits for some time to come.

The real question on too big to fail is whether the government would sit by and let a Goldman Sachs or Citigroup go bankrupt. Perhaps some people think that it is now the case, but I've never met anyone in that group.

Sernovitz is also dismissive on Sanders call for bringing back the Glass-Steagall separation between commercial banking and investment banking. He makes the comparison to the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline, which is actually quite appropriate. The Keystone battle did take on exaggerated importance in the climate debate. There was never a zero/one proposition in which no tar sands oil would be pumped without the pipeline, while all of it would be pumped if the pipeline was constructed. Nonetheless, if the Obama administration was committed to restricting greenhouse gas emissions, it is difficult to see why it would support the building of a pipeline that would facilitate bringing some of the world's dirtiest oil to market.

In the same vein, Sernovitz is right that it is difficult to see how anything about the growth of the housing bubble and its subsequent collapse would have been very different if Glass-Steagall were still in place. And, it is possible in principle to regulate bank's risky practices without Glass-Steagall, as the Volcker rule is doing. However, enforcement tends to weaken over time under industry pressure, which is a reason why the clear lines of Glass-Steagall can be beneficial. Furthermore, as with Keystone, if we want to restrict banks' power, what is the advantage of letting them get bigger and more complex?

The repeal of Glass-Steagall was sold in large part by boasting of the potential synergies from combining investment and commercial banking under one roof. But if the operations are kept completely separate, as is supposed to be the case, where are the synergies?

But the strangest part of Sernovitz's story is that he leaves out Sanders' financial transactions tax (FTT) altogether. This is bizarre, because the FTT is essentially a hatchet blow to the waste and exorbitant salaries in the industry.

Most research shows that trading volume is very responsive to the cost of trading, with most estimates putting the elasticity close to one. This means that if trading costs rise by 50 percent, then trading volume declines by 50 percent. (In its recent analysis of FTTs, the Tax Policy Center assumed that the elasticity was 1.5, meaning that trading volume decline by 150 percent of the increase in trading costs.) The implication of this finding is that the financial industry would pay the full cost of a financial transactions tax in the form of reduced trading revenue.

The Tax Policy Center estimated that a 0.1 percent tax on stock trades, scaled with lower taxes on other assets, would raise $50 billion a year in tax revenue. The implied reduction in trading revenue was even larger. Senator Sanders has proposed a tax of 0.5 percent on equities (also with a scaled tax on other assets). This would lead to an even larger reduction in revenue for the financial industry.

It is incredible that Sernovitz would ignore a policy with such enormous consequences for the financial sector in his assessment of which candidate would be tougher on Wall Street. Sanders FTT would almost certainly do more to change behavior on Wall Street then everything that Clinton has proposed taken together by a rather large margin. It's sort of like evaluating the New England Patriots' Super Bowl prospects without discussing their quarterback.

Syaloch said in reply to Peter K....

Great to see Baker's acknowledgement that an updated Glass-Steagall is just one component of the progressive wing's plan to rein in Wall Street, not the sum total of it. Besides, if Wall Street types don't think restoring Glass-Steagall will have any meaningful effects, why do they expend so much energy to disparage it? Methinks they doth protest too much.

Peter K. said in reply to Syaloch...

Yes that's a good way to look it. Wall Street gave the Democrats and Clinton a lot of campaign cash so that they would dismantle Glass-Steagall. If they want it done, it's probably not a good idea.

EMichael said in reply to Syaloch...

Slippery slope. Ya' gotta find me a business of any type that does not protest any kind of regulation on their business.

Syaloch said in reply to EMichael...

Yeah, but usually because of all the bad things they say will happen because of the regulation. The question is, what do they think of Clinton's plan? I've heard surprisingly little about that, and what I have heard is along these lines: http://money.cnn.com/2015/10/08/investing/hillary-clinton-wall-street-plan/

"Hillary Clinton unveiled her big plan to curb the worst of Wall Street's excesses on Thursday. The reaction from the banking community was a shrug, if not relief."

pgl said in reply to Syaloch...

Two excellent points!!!

sanjait said in reply to Syaloch...

"Besides, if Wall Street types don't think restoring Glass-Steagall will have any meaningful effects, why do they expend so much energy to disparage it? Methinks they doth protest too much."

It has an effect of shrinking the size of a few firms, and that has a detrimental effect on the top managers of those firms, who get paid more money if they have larger firms to manage. But it has little to no meaningful effect on systemic risk.

So if your main policy goal is to shrink the compensation for a small number of powerful Wall Street managers, G-S is great. But if you actually want to accomplish something useful to the American people, like limiting systemic risk in the financial sector, then a plan like Hillary's is much much better. She explained this fairly well in her recent NYT piece.

Paine said in reply to Peter K....

There is absolutely NO question Bernie is for real. Wall Street does not want Bernie. So they'll let Hillary talk as big as she needs to . Why should we believe her when an honest guy like Barry caved once in power

Paine said in reply to Paine ...

Bernie has been anti Wall Street his whole career . He's on a crusade. Hillary is pulling a sham bola

Paine said in reply to Paine ...

Perhaps too often we look at Wall Street as monolithic whether consciously or not. Obviously we know it's no monolithic: there are serious differences

When the street is riding high especially. Right now the street is probably not united but too cautious to display profound differences in public. They're sitting on their hands waiting to see how high the anti Wall Street tide runs this election cycle. Trump gives them cover and I really fear secretly Hillary gives them comfort

This all coiled change if Bernie surges. How that happens depends crucially on New Hampshire. Not Iowa

EMichael said in reply to Paine ...

If Bernie surges and wins the nomination, we will all get to watch the death of the Progressive movement for a decade or two. Congress will become more GOP dominated, and we will have a President in office who will make Hoover look like a Socialist.

Syaloch said in reply to EMichael...

Of course. In politics, as they say in the service, one must always choose the lesser of two evils. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4PzpxOj5Cc

pgl said in reply to EMichael...

You should like the moderate Democrats after George McGovern ran in 1972. I'm hoping we have another 1964 with Bernie leading a united Democratic Congress.

EMichael said in reply to pgl...

Not a chance in the world. And I like Sanders much more than anyone else. It just simply cannot, and will not, happen. He is a communist. Not to me, not to you, but to the vast majority of American voters.

pgl said in reply to EMichael...

He is not a communist. But I agree - Hillary is winning the Democratic nomination. I have only one vote and in New York, I'm badly outnumbered.

ilsm said in reply to Paine ...

I believe Hillary will be to liberal causes after she is elected as LBJ was to peace in Vietnam. Like Bill and Obomber.

pgl said in reply to ilsm...

By 1968, LBJ finally realized it was time to end that stupid war. But it seems certain members in the State Department undermined his efforts in a cynical ploy to get Nixon to be President. The Republican Party has had more slime than substance of most of my life time.

pgl said in reply to Peter K....

Gary Sernovitz, a managing director at the investment firm Lime Rock Partners? Why are we listening to this guy too. It's like letting the fox guard the hen house.

[Dec 12, 2015] Hillary Clinton is a rubinite neoliberal

Notable quotes:
"... If memory serves me correctly the last time CNBC did a millionaires poll Hillary won. She is not a populist, barely a liberal. Two political parties, zero candidates I can vote for. Yuck. ..."
"... Rubinite neo liberal. She is also popular with PNAC and the Kagan's neocon favorite she would hire Wolfowitz ... Management in big war profiteer firms is not afraid of Hillary as they suspect the Donald. ..."
"... Rubinite neoliberal is a very good definition of what Hillary actually represent politically. Third Way is another term close in meaning to your Rubinite neoliberal term. ..."
"... But unlike the Third Way term your term captures an additional important quality of Hillary as a politician: On foreign policy issues she is a typical neocon and would feel pretty comfortable with most of Republican candidates foreign policy platforms. Her protégé in the Department of State Victoria Nuland was a close associate of Dick Cheney. ..."
"... Very true. Brad has been moving left for a couple years or more. It's now obvious. He lets krugman lead the way but he follows. Notice Summers too has moved left . Is this for real or just to cut the wind out of Bernie sails ? ..."
"... One thing is certain: the old Rubinite toxic line is no longer dominant in the. big D party top circles. We can call that progress if we need to ..."
"... Is this for real or just to cut the wind out of Bernie sails ? Even if it's the second, it legitimates Bernie's views and critique. Also DeLong here is criticizing Brookings and other centrist organizations specifically for working with AEI. ..."
"... Can you list all of the pro- or anti- Wall Street reforms and actions Bill Clinton performed as President including nominating Alan Greenspan as head regulator? Cutting the capital gains tax? Are you aware of Greenspan's record? ..."
"... I won't be surprised if she doesn't do much to rein in Wall Street besides some window dressing. ..."
Economist's View

Links for 12-12-15

Tom aka Rusty -> Peter K....

If memory serves me correctly the last time CNBC did a "millionaires poll" Hillary won. She is not a populist, barely a liberal. Two political parties, zero candidates I can vote for. Yuck.

Syaloch -> Tom aka Rusty...

Your memory serves you correctly:

http://www.cnbc.com/2015/12/10/marco-rubio-the-top-gop-choice-among-rich-cnbc-survey.html

(Rubio was the top GOP choice, but Clinton still beat Rubio by a 21% margin.)

Syaloch -> EMichael...

Well, here are the issues millionaires indicated as being most important to them, and presumably candidates of choice are based on their positions on these issues. Make of it what you will.

http://dwc.cnbc.com/eXucl/index.html

Fred C. Dobbs -> Tom aka Rusty...

HRC proclaims herself a progressive occasionally, but when pressed states she is a moderate/centrist.

Clinton Finally Admits She Is A Moderate-Centrist! https://youtu.be/LTL767hKxHo - Sep 11

Since she intends to be the Dem nominee, progressives expect she must be one of them. Only when necessary. As someone has said, 'Run from
the left, rule from the center.' Always, always, run from the left.

ilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs...

Rubinite neo liberal.

She is also popular with PNAC and "the Kagan's" neocon favorite she would hire Wolfowitz and spend more trillions protecting the Saudis from their rising victims.

Clinton has said: Iran is the enemy.

She will keep fighting Iran while Sunni terrorists fund ISIS!

Trump is merely less nuanced in insanity.

Management in big war profiteer firms is not afraid of Hillary as they suspect the Donald.

likbez -> ilsm...
"Rubinite neo liberal. She is also popular with PNAC and "the Kagan's" neocon favorite she would hire Wolfowitz ... Management in big war profiteer firms is not afraid of Hillary as they suspect the Donald."

Exactly --

"Rubinite neoliberal" is a very good definition of what Hillary actually represent politically. Third Way is another term close in meaning to your "Rubinite neoliberal" term.

But unlike the "Third Way" term your term captures an additional important quality of Hillary as a politician: On foreign policy issues she is a typical neocon and would feel pretty comfortable with most of Republican candidates foreign policy platforms. Her protégé in the Department of State Victoria Nuland was a close associate of Dick Cheney.

She is probably more warmongering candidate then Jeb! and a couple of other republican candidates.

But at the same time she does not look like completely out of place as an establishment candidate from Dems, which are actually are "Democrats only by name" -- a typical "Third Way" party. From Wikipedia

=== quote ===

In politics, the Third Way is a position akin to centrism that tries to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of right-wing economic and left-wing social policies.[1][2] The Third Way was created as a serious re-evaluation of political policies within various centre-left progressive movements in response to international doubt regarding the economic viability of the state; economic interventionist policies that had previously been popularized by Keynesianism and contrasted with the corresponding rise of popularity for economic liberalism and the New Right.[3] The Third Way is promoted by some social democratic and social liberal movements.[4]

Major Third Way social democratic proponent Tony Blair claimed that the socialism he advocated was different from traditional conceptions of socialism. Blair said "My kind of socialism is a set of values based around notions of social justice ... Socialism as a rigid form of economic determinism has ended, and rightly".[5] Blair referred to it as "social-ism" that involves politics that recognized individuals as socially interdependent, and advocated social justice, social cohesion, equal worth of each citizen, and equal opportunity.[6] Third Way social democratic theorist Anthony Giddens has said that the Third Way rejects the traditional conception of socialism, and instead accepts the conception of socialism as conceived of by Anthony Crosland as an ethical doctrine that views social democratic governments as having achieved a viable ethical socialism by removing the unjust elements of capitalism by providing social welfare and other policies, and that contemporary socialism has outgrown the Marxian claim for the need of the abolition of capitalism.[7] Blair in 2009 publicly declared support for a "new capitalism".[8]

It supports the pursuit of greater egalitarianism in society through action to increase the distribution of skills, capacities, and productive endowments, while rejecting income redistribution as the means to achieve this.[9] It emphasizes commitment to balanced budgets, providing equal opportunity combined with an emphasis on personal responsibility, decentralization of government power to the lowest level possible, encouragement of public-private partnerships, improving labour supply, investment in human development, protection of social capital, and protection of the environment.[10]
=== end of quote ===

ilsm -> likbez...

H. Clinton is as likely to keep US out of the wrong quagmire as LBJ in 1964. Except, LBJ may have actually changed his mind after he was elected.

Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs...

(Yes, There Will Be Triangulating. This is not a great example of it.)

Hillary Is Already Triangulating Against Liberals
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/11/hillary_clinton_triangulates_against_bernie_sanders.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_tw_top
via @slate - Nov 18

The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign has begun using an odd new line of attack against upstart Democratic primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders: He's too liberal on taxes and universal health insurance. Why is she doing this? After returning to the position in which she entered the race-as the near-certain nominee-she seems to be setting herself up for the general election. But it's strange to see her now, after the previously shaky ship has been steadied, attacking a candidate whose supporters she'll need in any general election campaign over an issue that his supporters care about very deeply.

Triangulating against Sanders (and, by proxy, the left wing of the Democratic Party) with conservative attacks does make some sense. For one, she is a Clinton, and this is what they do.

At issue is Sanders' support for a single-payer universal health care system, which he and others brand as "Medicare for all." A single-payer bill he introduced in 2013 would have levied a 2.2 percent tax on individuals making up to $200,000 or couples making up to $250,000, and progressively increased that rate to 5.2 percent for income beyond $600,000. It also would have tacked an extra 6.7 percent payroll tax on the employer side, at least some of which employers would likely pass on to workers.

The Clinton campaign is suddenly quite upset about that proposal and wants everyone to know. She has committed to the same (policy-constricting) pledge that President Obama took in 2008 and 2012, ruling out tax increases on individuals making less than $200,000 per year or joint filers making less than $250,000. This neatly positions her camp to say, by contrast, that the bug-eyed socialist Bernie Sanders wants to take all of your money. ...

(Where HRC will get a lot of votes & contributions will be among those in the $250K & below set, so no need to antagonize THEM. Not when she can
practically smell the nomination.)

Paine -> Peter K....

Very true. Brad has been moving left for a couple years or more. It's now obvious. He lets krugman lead the way but he follows. Notice Summers too has moved left . Is this for real or just to cut the wind out of Bernie sails ?

One thing is certain: the old Rubinite toxic line is no longer dominant in the. big D party top circles. We can call that progress if we need to

Peter K. -> Paine ...

"Is this for real or just to cut the wind out of Bernie sails ?" Even if it's the second, it legitimates Bernie's views and critique. Also DeLong here is criticizing Brookings and other "centrist" organizations specifically for working with AEI.

Syaloch -> Paine ...

Just as the revolution within the Republican party was the result of the undue influence of an out-of-touch elite, the Democratic coalition has been threatened by the influence of the Brookings-Third Way wing which seems, for example, to imagine that they can sell to the base cuts to Social Security, an elite priority that has nothing to do with the reasons working-class people vote Democrat.

http://www.thirdway.org/case-study/entitlement-reform

"We supported and helped pass into law the Simpson-Bowles commission that came close to securing the bipartisan grand bargain budget agreement for which we fought. We proposed our own Social Security fix plan that combined tax increases on upper income earners with benefit cuts on well-to-do seniors and benefit increases to poor seniors. We first proposed then brought Democrats and Republicans together on a Social Security Commission plan that remains the only bipartisan legislation to fix Social Security. We became the lead center-left organization to promote chain weighted CPI and eventually counted President Obama as one of our supporters."

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/198815-obama-abandons-cut-to-social-security

"Yielding to pressure from congressional Democrats, President Obama is abandoning a proposed cut to Social Security benefits in his election-year budget...

"Democrats on Capitol Hill had pleaded with Obama to reverse course on the chained consumer price index (CPI), fearing it could become a liability for the party in the upcoming midterm elections, which typically bring high turnout among older voters.

"More than 100 House Democrats wrote to Obama on Wednesday urging him to drop the chained CPI proposal, following a similar letter from 16 Senate Democrats that was led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)."

RGC said...
Hillary Clinton Is Whitewashing the Financial Catastrophe

She has a plan that she claims will reform Wall Street-but she's deflecting responsibility from old friends and donors in the industry.

By William Greider
Yesterday 3:11 pm

Hillary Clinton's recent op-ed in The New York Times, "How I'd Rein In Wall Street," was intended to reassure nervous Democrats who fear she is still in thrall to those mega-bankers of New York who crashed the American economy. Clinton's brisk recital of plausible reform ideas might convince wishful thinkers who are not familiar with the complexities of banking. But informed skeptics, myself included, see a disturbing message in her argument that ought to alarm innocent supporters.

Candidate Clinton is essentially whitewashing the financial catastrophe. She has produced a clumsy rewrite of what caused the 2008 collapse, one that conveniently leaves her husband out of the story. He was the president who legislated the predicate for Wall Street's meltdown. Hillary Clinton's redefinition of the reform problem deflects the blame from Wall Street's most powerful institutions, like JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, and instead fingers less celebrated players that failed. In roundabout fashion, Hillary Clinton sounds like she is assuring old friends and donors in the financial sector that, if she becomes president, she will not come after them.

The seminal event that sowed financial disaster was the repeal of the New Deal's Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which had separated banking into different realms: investment banks, which organize capital investors for risk-taking ventures; and deposit-holding banks, which serve people as borrowers and lenders. That law's repeal, a great victory for Wall Street, was delivered by Bill Clinton in 1999, assisted by the Federal Reserve and the financial sector's armies of lobbyists. The "universal banking model" was saluted as a modernizing reform that liberated traditional banks to participate directly and indirectly in long-prohibited and vastly more profitable risk-taking.

Exotic financial instruments like derivatives and credit-default swaps flourished, enabling old-line bankers to share in the fun and profit on an awesome scale. The banks invented "guarantees" against loss and sold them to both companies and market players. The fast-expanding financial sector claimed a larger and larger share of the economy (and still does) at the expense of the real economy of producers and consumers. The interconnectedness across market sectors created the illusion of safety. When illusions failed, these connected guarantees became the dragnet that drove panic in every direction. Ultimately, the federal government had to rescue everyone, foreign and domestic, to stop the bleeding.

Yet Hillary Clinton asserts in her Times op-ed that repeal of Glass-Steagall had nothing to do with it. She claims that Glass-Steagall would not have limited the reckless behavior of institutions like Lehman Brothers or insurance giant AIG, which were not traditional banks. Her argument amounts to facile evasion that ignores the interconnected exposures. The Federal Reserve spent $180 billion bailing out AIG so AIG could pay back Goldman Sachs and other banks. If the Fed hadn't acted and had allowed AIG to fail, the banks would have gone down too.

These sound like esoteric questions of bank regulation (and they are), but the consequences of pretending they do not matter are enormous. The federal government and Federal Reserve would remain on the hook for rescuing losers in a future crisis. The largest and most adventurous banks would remain free to experiment, inventing fictitious guarantees and selling them to eager suckers. If things go wrong, Uncle Sam cleans up the mess.

Senator Elizabeth Warren and other reformers are pushing a simpler remedy-restore the Glass-Steagall principles and give citizens a safe, government-insured place to store their money. "Banking should be boring," Warren explains (her co-sponsor is GOP Senator John McCain).
That's a hard sell in politics, given the banking sector's bear hug of Congress and the White House, its callous manipulation of both political parties. Of course, it is more complicated than that. But recreating a safe, stable banking system-a place where ordinary people can keep their money-ought to be the first benchmark for Democrats who claim to be reformers.

Actually, the most compelling witnesses for Senator Warren's argument are the two bankers who introduced this adventure in "universal banking" back in the 1990s. They used their political savvy and relentless muscle to seduce Bill Clinton and his so-called New Democrats. John Reed was CEO of Citicorp and led the charge. He has since apologized to the nation. Sandy Weill was chairman of the board and a brilliant financier who envisioned the possibilities of a single, all-purpose financial house, freed of government's narrow-minded regulations. They won politically, but at staggering cost to the country.

Weill confessed error back in 2012: "What we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking. Have banks do something that's not going to risk the taxpayer dollars, that's not going to be too big to fail."

John Reed's confession explained explicitly why their modernizing crusade failed for two fundamental business reasons. "One was the belief that combining all types of finance into one institution would drive costs down-and the larger institution the more efficient it would be," Reed wrote in the Financial Times in November. Reed said, "We now know that there are very few cost efficiencies that come from the merger of functions-indeed, there may be none at all. It is possible that combining so much in a single bank makes services more expensive than if they were instead offered by smaller, specialised players."

The second grave error, Reed said, was trying to mix the two conflicting cultures in banking-bankers who are pulling in opposite directions. That tension helps explain the competitive greed displayed by the modernized banking system. This disorder speaks to the current political crisis in ways that neither Dems nor Republicans wish to confront. It would require the politicians to critique the bankers (often their funders) in terms of human failure.

"Mixing incompatible cultures is a problem all by itself," Reed wrote. "It makes the entire finance industry more fragile…. As is now clear, traditional banking attracts one kind of talent, which is entirely different from the kinds drawn towards investment banking and trading. Traditional bankers tend to be extroverts, sociable people who are focused on longer term relationships. They are, in many important respects, risk averse. Investment bankers and their traders are more short termist. They are comfortable with, and many even seek out, risk and are more focused on immediate reward."

Reed concludes, "As I have reflected about the years since 1999, I think the lessons of Glass-Steagall and its repeal suggest that the universal banking model is inherently unstable and unworkable. No amount of restructuring, management change or regulation is ever likely to change that."

This might sound hopelessly naive, but the Democratic Party might do better in politics if it told more of the truth more often: what they tried do and why it failed, and what they think they may have gotten wrong. People already know they haven't gotten a straight story from politicians. They might be favorably impressed by a little more candor in the plain-spoken manner of John Reed.

Of course it's unfair to pick on the Dems. Republicans have been lying about their big stuff for so long and so relentlessly that their voters are now staging a wrathful rebellion. Who knows, maybe a little honest talk might lead to honest debate. Think about it. Do the people want to hear the truth about our national condition? Could they stand it?

http://www.thenation.com/article/hillary-clinton-is-whitewashing-the-financial-catastrophe/

EMichael -> RGC...
"She claims that Glass-Steagall would not have limited the reckless behavior of institutions like Lehman Brothers or insurance giant AIG, which were not traditional banks."

Of course this claim is absolutely true. Just like GS would not have affected the other investment banks, whatever their name was. And just like we would have had to bail out those other banks whatever their name was.

Peter K. -> EMichael...
Can you list all of the pro- or anti- Wall Street "reforms" and actions Bill Clinton performed as President including nominating Alan Greenspan as head regulator? Cutting the capital gains tax? Are you aware of Greenspan's record?

Yes Hillary isn't Bill but she hasn't criticized her husband specifically about his record and seems to want to have her cake and eat it too.

Of course Hillary is much better than the Republicans, pace Rustbucket and the Green Lantern Lefty club. Still, critics have a point.

I won't be surprised if she doesn't do much to rein in Wall Street besides some window dressing.

[Dec 11, 2015] The Constitution requires inequality

Notable quotes:
"... Sanders says he is for "having a government which represents all people, rather than just the wealthiest people, which is most often the case right now in this country." But what that misses is the extent to which that has always been the case, and not by happenstance. ..."
"... Mortified by the threat to their wealth and power, the elite sought to reconfigure the government more to their liking, and to ensure that such an outburst of popular sentiment couldn't happen again. ..."
"... The main purpose of the new Constitution, then, was to preserve inequalities among individuals and the inequalities in the distribution of property among them. "Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society," Madison observes. Ever had it been, and ever under the Constitution would it be. The division of wealth and political power, between the haves and the have-nots, between (as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan has put it) the makers and the takers, was to be carefully maintained. For Madison, in Federalist No. 10, the question was how to do so while at least nominally "preserv[ing] the spirit and the form of popular government." ... ..."
December 13, 2015 | bostonglobe.com

Conventional political wisdom says that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, however popular in certain corners, can't possibly win election to the White House. Too radical, goes the thinking. Inspiring, common-sense ideas, perhaps, but come Election Day, a majority of American voters won't back the redistribution of wealth implicit in his proposals. Why is that?

Believe it or not, one place to look for an answer is the Constitution, crafted by the richest and most powerful Americans of their day to perpetuate their own control over the government and economy.

Sanders says he is for "having a government which represents all people, rather than just the wealthiest people, which is most often the case right now in this country." But what that misses is the extent to which that has always been the case, and not by happenstance.

In late 1786, a farmer and veteran of the Revolution named Daniel Shays led an armed insurrection of debtors and veterans in the hills of Western Massachusetts. Objecting to an onerous regime of taxes and confiscations the state imposed to pay its creditors, the rebels marched through the countryside, threatening the new federal arsenal at Springfield and shutting down courthouses to stop foreclosure proceedings. Bankers and merchants in Boston - the same parties who owned the state's debt - lent Massachusetts more money to put the insurrection down.

In October of that year, General Henry Knox, secretary of war, summarized the rebels' philosophy: "Their creed is 'That the property of the United States has been protected from the confiscations of Britain by the joint exertions of all, and therefore ought to be the common property of all. And he that attempts opposition to this creed is an enemy to equity and justice, and ought to be swept off the face of the earth.' "

Mortified by the threat to their wealth and power, the elite sought to reconfigure the government more to their liking, and to ensure that such an outburst of popular sentiment couldn't happen again.

As schoolchildren learn - and adults often forget - the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was only tasked with amending the Articles of Confederation, the document that had governed the breakaway Colonies since 1781. The convention wasn't supposed to rewrite them entirely. The progressive historian Charles Beard, whose influential "An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution" was the first work to reveal the class-based nature of our founding charter, stated the matter plainly when he called it a coup d'etat.

Contrary to what many assume, the Constitution was never subjected to a popular referendum, but to the votes of state ratifying conventions that were themselves largely elected by only white propertied males; indeed, only about 150,000 Americans elected delegates, out of a population of some 4 million. With the goal of persuading New Yorkers to elect pro-Constitution delegates to the state's convention, James Madison, with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, wrote a series of 85 essays under the pseudonym Publius that were published in local papers between November 1787 and August 1788 under the title, The Federalist. Madison's most famous contribution, Federalist No. 10, is widely acclaimed for its idea that factions of citizens with disparate interests should be balanced against one another in order to create a republic that would neither succumb to what John Adams called "tyranny of the majority" nor lose its responsiveness to the people as it grew larger in stature and scale.

Yet despite the attention Federalist No. 10 has received from political scientists, it ought to be much better known among all who favor a more equal distribution of wealth, because it explains how our political system, often described as rigged, has in fact been rigged from the start.

"Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens," Madison writes near the beginning of the essay, gesturing, as he does throughout The Federalist, to the fallout from Shays' Rebellion, "that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority."

That majority, it slowly becomes clear, are the debtors and small landowners, those more recently designated the 99 percent. "The diversity in the faculties of men," Madison explains, leads to different "rights of property," and this difference represents "an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests" in the political community. "The protection of these faculties is the first object of government," he adds.

The main purpose of the new Constitution, then, was to preserve inequalities among individuals and the inequalities in the distribution of property among them. "Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society," Madison observes. Ever had it been, and ever under the Constitution would it be. The division of wealth and political power, between the haves and the have-nots, between (as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan has put it) the makers and the takers, was to be carefully maintained. For Madison, in Federalist No. 10, the question was how to do so while at least nominally "preserv[ing] the spirit and the form of popular government." ...

(Richard Kreitner is the archivist of the The Nation magazine.)

[Dec 11, 2015] The Trump Effect Begins to Hit Congress

Dec 11, 2015 | Bloomberg

Some Republicans are now worrying that Donald Trump could cost them the Senate -- or even put their seemingly solid House majority in danger.

Republicans have long known they were vulnerable in the Senate in 2016. They currently hold a 54-46 majority, but far more Republican seats are up in this cycle than Democratic seats, and several of those are in tough states for Republicans to hold (such as Wisconsin and Illinois). In the House, Democrats stand to gain here and there because Republicans won so many competitive seats in 2014, but few analysts have considered the GOP's majority at risk.

If Trump actually wins the Republican nomination, the question would be the scale of the disaster for the party. The best-case possibility is that Trump tones things down enough to be able to run as a mainstream conservative Republican and the party can unite behind him. If that's the case, the party would still likely do unusually badly with the groups Trump has insulted so far, but the losses might be contained. Trump might have little chance to win but he wouldn't excessively drag down Republicans in races down the ballot. Democrats would likely make modest gains in the House and Senate.

Let's suppose, however, that Trump wins the nomination while still proving unacceptable to many Republican elected officials and other party actors. Then, yes, huge GOP losses in Congress, state legislatures and other races are quite plausible. If high-visibility Republicans denounce their own nominee, plenty of GOP voters will wind up staying home in November. Some might even cross party lines at the top of the ballot and vote for Hillary Clinton, and won't cross back to vote Republican for other contests. Republican candidates will face a choice of pledging loyalty to a damaging nominee or risk adding to the chaos in their party. ...

One potentially significant indirect effect, however, is possible. Important decisions in House elections are being made right now. Suppose disgust with the party or fear that 2016 will be a Republican debacle pushes some House Republicans into retirement or hurts Republican recruitment for quality candidates for seats that are open or currently held by weak Democrats. The Trump factor could also be affecting Democratic decisions today as well, possibly encouraging better candidates to jump into congressional races.

The upshot of all this is that Republican politicians and all those who care about continuing Republican control of Congress have strong incentives to ramp up their efforts to defeat Trump. ...

'If high-visibility Republicans denounce their own nominee, plenty of GOP voters will wind up staying home in November.'

[Dec 11, 2015] Donald Trump beats Marco Rubio in a head-to-head matchup among Republicans

www.vox.com

One way of downplaying Trump's persistent dominance in the polls is to suggest his 20-30 percent is a ceiling, not a floor. Nate Silver, for instance, wrote that Trump "has 25 to 30 percent of the vote in polls among the roughly 25 percent of Americans who identify as Republican. (That's something like 6 to 8 percent of the electorate overall, or about the same share of people who think the Apollo moon landings were faked.)"

The idea here is that Trump's lead represents a fractured field: As weaker candidates drop out and the establishment consolidates around a single anti-Trump, that candidate will pass Trump in support even if Trump holds his current numbers.

But in a head-to-head matchup among Republican voters, Trump beats Rubio 57-43. That suggests that Trump's ceiling, at least among Republicans, is far above his current 25 to 30 percent, and he may well benefit as weaker candidates drop out.

One response to this might be that voters will, in the coming months, learn something about Trump that will change their minds and vault Rubio ahead in this competition - that has happened, after all, to many other frontrunners. But while that's clearly possible, it's also getting harder and harder to imagine what it is voters could learn about Trump at this point that would shock them.

Meanwhile, there are things Republican voters might learn about Rubio - like his immigration record or his reliance on dark money - that could undermine support for him, too.

[Dec 10, 2015] Rubio is so far right that he would make Goldwater nervous

hoocoodanode.org
sum_luk, December 8, 2015

merchantsofmenace

So why would he hand Hillary the job as prez by going independent?

Faced with the rising clown shows of Donald Trump and Ben Carson, the implosion of Jeb! Bush, and the fact that everyone except his immediate family fates Ted Cruz, the GOP establishment and the media tried very hard to give Rubio a boost. The calculus makes sense: Rubio against iether Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would make a nice "young vs. old" storyline for the 2016 election while giving the Republicans a chance to dump the image of the party of old, racist white fogies, This despite glaring evidence that Rubio's policy positions are so far to the right, they might make Barry Goldwater nervous.

source: https://twitter.com/ritholtz/status/674232964474085378 2

[Dec 10, 2015] Christopher Hitchens -- Speaking Honestly About Hillary Clinton

Notable quotes:
"... life simply because she was married to a President like he would like us to believe. If that was the case there would've been more first ladies running for office. She was a political animal from the start and was involved in every political decision her husband made and shaped his policies dating back to Arkansas. She came in as first lady and immediately announced she was not going to be like other first ladies. I think Hitchens is sort of being lazy with his analysis on how the Clintons attain power and how they've cultivated the path to their success in the political arena ..."
"... I'm sure Hitch would have some very colourful remarks to make about Mrs. Clinton's e-mail shenanigans were he still with us. ..."
"... The woman is remarkably despicable and I hate to have such a jaded view of the average American voter but I'm afraid she is going to get the Presidency based in large part because of the potential for the first female President. ..."
YouTube

nomibe2911 2 weeks ago

What he failed to realize is how is she reaching these platforms to try and reach the highest office in the land. Did she get where she is in life simply because she was married to a President like he would like us to believe. If that was the case there would've been more first ladies running for office. She was a political animal from the start and was involved in every political decision her husband made and shaped his policies dating back to Arkansas. She came in as first lady and immediately announced she was not going to be like other first ladies. I think Hitchens is sort of being lazy with his analysis on how the Clintons attain power and how they've cultivated the path to their success in the political arena

juicer67 2 months ago

I'm sure Hitch would have some very colourful remarks to make about Mrs. Clinton's e-mail shenanigans were he still with us. He was irreplaceable.

michael davis 1 month ago

+juicer67 And a lot more to say about Benghazi as well. The woman is remarkably despicable and I hate to have such a jaded view of the average American voter but I'm afraid she is going to get the Presidency based in large part because of the potential for the first female President. From my experience with chatting with people before the 2008 election, many were voting for Obama in large part because he had a chance to be the first black President - people were excited about that regardless of his stances. I'm afraid the same will happen with Clinton and she likely knows it too. Its sad that people vote in that way.

[Dec 10, 2015] Hillary Clinton can't be that bad, can she Well...

Notable quotes:
"... But never mind us - how does she manage? When you and your husband have banked $125 million in speaking fees from the odious malefactors of wealth, and you insist that you feel the pain of the middle class. How do you maintain the deadpan after you've cashed $300,000 for a half-hour speech at a state university - which fee comes from student dues - and then declaim against crippling student loans? ..."
"... Small lies are often more revealing, especially when there was no need for them. Claiming, say, that you were named after Sir Edmund Hillary when you were born six years before he became a household name; or that you sought to enlist in the US Marines after years of protesting against the Vietnam War, graduating from Yale Law School and working on the campaigns of Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern; or that you dodged sniper fire on the tarmac in Bosnia, when TV footage shows you strolling across it, smiling. ..."
"... There's the Iraq War vote flip-flop; the gay marriage flip-flop; the Keystone Pipeline flip-flop; the legalising marijuana flip-flop; and most recently, the Trans-Pacific Partnership flip-flop. ..."
"... 'The case against Hillary Clinton for president is open-and-shut. Of course, against all these considerations you might prefer the newly fashionable and more media-weighty notion that if you don't show her enough appreciation, and after all she's done for us, she may cry.' Christopher, thou shouldst be living at this hour. ..."
"... She is a self-obsessed, me me me first totally political greaseball. ..."
The Spectator

The presidential campaign here in the land hymned by one of its earliest immigrants as a shining 'city on a hill' looks more and more likely to boil down to electing Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

It is of course possible that the party of Lincoln and Reagan will not go completely off its meds and nominate Mr Trump. It's possible, too, that the wretched FBI agents tasked with reading Mrs Clinton's 55,000 private emails will experience a Howard Carter/King Tut's tomb moment and find one instructing Sidney Blumenthal to offer Putin another 20 per cent of US uranium production in return for another $2.5 million donation to the Clinton Foundation, plus another $500,000 speech in Moscow. Absent such, Mrs Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. As we say here: deal with it.

Only last summer, her goose seemed all but cooked. Every day she offered another Hillary-ous explanation for why as Secretary of State she required two Blackberries linked to unclassified servers. Eventually this babbling brook of prevarication became so tedious that even her Marxist challenger, Comrade Bernie Sanders of the Vermont Soviet, was moved to thump the debate podium and proclaim: 'I'm sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!' (He has since backtracked, declaring himself now deeply interested in her damn emails.)

... ... ...

But never mind us - how does she manage? When you and your husband have banked $125 million in speaking fees from the odious malefactors of wealth, and you insist that you feel the pain of the middle class. How do you maintain the deadpan after you've cashed $300,000 for a half-hour speech at a state university - which fee comes from student dues - and then declaim against crippling student loans?

Small lies are often more revealing, especially when there was no need for them. Claiming, say, that you were named after Sir Edmund Hillary when you were born six years before he became a household name; or that you sought to enlist in the US Marines after years of protesting against the Vietnam War, graduating from Yale Law School and working on the campaigns of Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern; or that you dodged sniper fire on the tarmac in Bosnia, when TV footage shows you strolling across it, smiling.

... ... ...

Changing one's position on an issue isn't the same as lying, but along with the 'Which lie did I tell?' thought bubble permanently hovering over Mrs Clinton's head, one sees too the licked finger held aloft. The American lingo for this is 'flip-flop,' as in the rubber sandal thingies you wear on the beach before going inside to give a $200,000 speech to Goldman Sachs.

Mrs Clinton's flip-flop closet has reached Imelda Marcos levels. There's the Iraq War vote flip-flop; the gay marriage flip-flop; the Keystone Pipeline flip-flop; the legalising marijuana flip-flop; and most recently, the Trans-Pacific Partnership flip-flop.

And yet, as you work your way down this bill of attainder you feel like an old village scold. Another member of the 'vast right-wing conspiracy'. A tiresome ancient mariner, banging on at the wedding.

There's nothing new there. It's all been gone into, again and again. This election isn't about the past. It's about the future.

And before you know it, you too, like Comrade Bernie - the prior version, anyway - are sick and tired of hearing yourself whinge. Because it has all been gone into before. It's all 'damn' stuff now. Mrs and Mr Clinton have been with us since 1992, our political lares et penates - and after all this time, less than half the electorate think she's honest.

During one of the 2008 Democratic debates, the moderator asked her about the, er, 'likeability factor'. It was a cringey moment. One's heart (I say this sincerely) went out to the lady. The shellac deadpan mask melted. She smiled bravely, tears forming, and answered demurely with a hurt, girlish smile and said: 'Well, that hurts my feelings.'

Whereupon candidate Obama interjected, with the hauteur and sneer of cold command that we've come to know so well: 'You're likable enough, Hillary.'

The nervous laughter in the auditorium quickly curdled into chill disdain. How could he! But, lest we slip into sentimentality, let me quote Christopher Hitchens on this anniversary of his death, who in 2008 wrote: 'The case against Hillary Clinton for president is open-and-shut. Of course, against all these considerations you might prefer the newly fashionable and more media-weighty notion that if you don't show her enough appreciation, and after all she's done for us, she may cry.' Christopher, thou shouldst be living at this hour.

When the latest version of Hillary was rolled out like a new product by her campaign apparatus, she was rebranded as a doting granny. What's more 'likeable' than a granny? Unfortunately for her, the meme didn't stick. But then it's hard to look like a cooing old sweetie when you're swatting away snarling congressmen on Benghazi and explaining that you're suddenly against a trade treaty you promoted for years. None of this does much for the likeability or honesty factor.

Mrs Clinton has her champions to be sure, but it's been a long slog for them, too, with an awful lot of heavy lifting. When her choir cranks up to sing her praise, one detects the note of obbligato, not genuine ardour.

If it does come down next November to Trump vs Clinton we will - all of us - be presented with a choice even the great Hobson could not have imagined. And those of us who would sooner leap into an active, bubbling volcano than vote for Mr Trump will have to try to convince ourselves that really, she's not that bad. Is she?

... ... ...

Christopher Buckley is an American novelist, essayist and critic, and a former speechwriter to George H.W. Bush.

Jack Rocks • 19 minutes ago

What a coincidence. I was just watching Christopher Hitchens talk about Hilary Clinton

watch-v=qE8PG2mpo58

(no, he's not been resurrected, these are clips from a while ago).

sidor

Someone once placed Cherie Blair in between lady Macbeth and madam Clinton. I wonder if in this linearly ordered sequence Cherie was meant to be a nicer person than Hillary?

George > Toy Pupanbai

Considering Trump is the only candidate who has signaled any sort of desire to depart from the accelerating march toward globalist corporate totalitarianism, the vote is between Trump and Everyone Else.

Terry Field

She is a self-obsessed, me me me first totally political greaseball. Trump is uncouth, loud, but lacks smoothness as he TELLS IT AS IT BLUDDEE WELL IS. There IS a massive local Muslim worry and that is evidenced by the gore that ran through the transport system of London courtesy of home grown muslim (NOT islamist) killlers.

He SHOULD get the GOP nomination, since the rest are gutless and dissembling.

He could well win against that dreadful woman. Clinton supported Morsi in Egypt. Blood on her hands.

James Morgan

Ah yes. Christopher Hitchens. I do miss that man.

Randal > James Morgan

Yes, because yet another ageing neocon warmonger and "former communist" idiot is just what we are missing around here these days.

freddiethegreat

Just as Goofy would have been better than Obama, even Lady Macbeth would be better than Hilary

[Dec 10, 2015] What Democrats Really Think Of Hillary Clinton

Notable quotes:
"... Via CNN's latest poll: ..."
"... Clinton is also increasingly seen as the least honest in the field, with 46% of likely Democratic primary voters now saying she is least honest out of the three remaining candidates. ..."
www.zerohedge.com

Via CNN's latest poll:

Clinton is also increasingly seen as the least honest in the field, with 46% of likely Democratic primary voters now saying she is least honest out of the three remaining candidates.

That's up from 33% in September and 28% back in June.

[Dec 08, 2015] I sometimes wish that Bernie Sanders would have said I am an FDR Democrat

Notable quotes:
"... Democratic Socialism. I sometimes wish that Bernie Sanders would have said I am an FDR Democrat , it would have been easier. ..."
"... There is an unnatural unfitness in an aristocracy to be legislators for a nation. Their ideas of distributive justice are corrupted at the very source. They begin life trampling on all their younger brothers and sisters, and relations of every kind, and are taught and educated so to do. With what ideas of justice or honor can that man enter a house of legislation, who absorbs in his own person the inheritance of a whole family of children, or metes out some pitiful portion with the insolence of a gift? ..."
"... Great point. I am not big believer in two party system as an example of democracy as typically the party oligarchy gets the candidate they want, but still in case when society goes downhill such outsiders as Sanders (like previously FDR) might have a chance. ..."
"... Thats actually would make Hillary camp (the party establishment) attacks on him slightly more difficult as implicitly they would be attacking FDR position on particular subject. Just repeating one of famous FDR speeches would have in the current economic conditions a great mobilizing effect on the electorate. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
Mr. Bill said... December 08, 2015 at 05:20 PM<
Democratic Socialism. I sometimes wish that Bernie Sanders would have said "I am an FDR Democrat" , it would have been easier.

There is not one thing in Bernie's programs that are not an honest, intelligent expression of his life researching and quantifying the path of freedom in America.

Mr. Bill said...

Thomas Paine said:

"There is an unnatural unfitness in an aristocracy to be legislators for a nation. Their ideas of distributive justice are corrupted at the very source. They begin life trampling on all their younger brothers and sisters, and relations of every kind, and are taught and educated so to do. With what ideas of justice or honor can that man enter a house of legislation, who absorbs in his own person the inheritance of a whole family of children, or metes out some pitiful portion with the insolence of a gift?

likbez said...

"I sometimes wish that Bernie Sanders would have said "I am an FDR Democrat" , it would have been easier."

Great point. I am not big believer in two party system as an example of democracy as typically the party oligarchy gets the candidate they want, but still in case when society goes downhill such outsiders as Sanders (like previously FDR) might have a chance.

That's actually would make Hillary camp (the party establishment) attacks on him slightly more difficult as implicitly they would be attacking FDR position on particular subject. Just repeating one of famous FDR speeches would have in the current economic conditions a great mobilizing effect on the electorate.

For example, the 1941 State of the Union address https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Freedoms

[Dec 08, 2015] Cruz is a pathological liar, with no real belief system at all

Notable quotes:
"... Cruz doesn't have two faces ... he has infinity. Because Cruz is a pathological liar, with no real belief system at all. ..."
"... Cruz doesn't have this problem. He can say whatever he wants whenever he wants. He doesn't believe anything he says. His whole persona is an act. He wears the same smirk on his face that Glenn Beck wears, because he has the same business model as Beck: pretending to be an ideologue to try to maximize his appeal to the rubes. ..."
"... Nonethless his question to Yellen was correct. The Fed passively tightened during the financial panic over fears of inflation. ..."
"... For weeks, polls have shown Mr. Cruz climbing both nationally and, more decisively, in Iowa, where a Monmouth University survey on Monday placed him first, with 24 percent support among likely Republican caucusgoers. Donald J. Trump was second at 19 percent. (Another poll, by CNN, gave Mr. Trump a solid lead, despite gains by Mr. Cruz.) ..."
"... "He is a product of this paradigm shift," said Steve Deace, an influential Iowa radio host who supports Mr. Cruz. "He recognizes the direction the party is going in because if it wasn't moving in that direction, he wouldn't be one of 100 senators in the country at this moment." ..."
"... what mattered was not the current growth of the economy but cumulative growth or, more to the point, the depth of the cumulative recession. One year of contraction was not enough to significantly boost extremism, in other words, but a depression that persisted for years was. ..."
"... This column suggests that the danger of political polarisation and extremism is greatest in countries with relatively recent histories of democracy, with existing right-wing extremist parties, and with electoral systems that create low hurdles to parliamentary representation of new parties. But above all, it is greatest where depressed economic conditions are allowed to persist. ..."
Dec 08, 2015 | Economist's View\

Links for 12-08-15

sanjait said in reply to pgl...

Calling Cruz two-faced or a gold bug is a discredit to Cruz.

Cruz doesn't have two faces ... he has infinity. Because Cruz is a pathological liar, with no real belief system at all.

A lot of people become ideologues because they strongly desire ideological consistency. Most of these people come to believe the things they say, because even though they know they lie sometimes, it's too hard for them to exist in the world perceiving themselves to be liars.

Cruz doesn't have this problem. He can say whatever he wants whenever he wants. He doesn't believe anything he says. His whole persona is an act. He wears the same smirk on his face that Glenn Beck wears, because he has the same business model as Beck: pretending to be an ideologue to try to maximize his appeal to the rubes.

Maybe somewhere deep inside Cruz believes something. Maybe he even believes in the gold standard. But just because he's talked about that issue at length in the past, I don't think it's safe to assume he has any sincere belief thereof. He's not the kind of guy who actually believes in things.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to sanjait...

The short hand for saying all that is that Ted Cruz and Glenn Beck are pathological liars.

DrDick said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

Actually, with these two, I am not sure how much is lying and how much is totally delusional. They both really seem to believe a lot of this BS. It doese not make them any less dangerous (it possibly makes them more so), but it does matter.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to DrDick...

I just do not know enough about Ted Cruz to say. Glenn Beck is a different matter and well documented. The article at the link below clearly shows that Beck's issues are in his personality (disorder) more than his ideology.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

http://www.salon.com/2009/09/22/glenn_beck_two/

Paine said in reply to Peter K....

One can be a gold bug and fully recognize the consequences [of] a system that magnifies unequal outcomes and accumulations. Cruz is a demagogic hand maiden of the wealthy. Useful in times of potential popular unrest

Peter K. said in reply to Paine ...

We all know what Cruz is. He even looks like Joseph McCarthy.

http://econospeak.blogspot.com/2015/10/tailgunner-ted.html

Nonethless his question to Yellen was correct. The Fed passively tightened during the financial panic over fears of inflation.

http://macro marketmusings.blogspot.com/2015/12/yes-fed-passively-tightened-in-fall-of.html

Fred C.Dobbs said...

(Cruzin'.)

After Months of Lying in Wait and Watching Rivals,
Ted Cruz Sees Payoff in Polls http://nyti.ms/1YVqqjT
NYT - MATT FLEGENHEIMER and NICK CORASANITI - DEC. 7, 2015

Hours after Ted Cruz announced his presidential candidacy last March at an evangelical university, his team openly cheered his meager position in the polls, where his support registered at around 5 percent. "You have to own a base in the Republican primary," the campaign manager, Jeff Roe, said then. "If you own the base, then you can grow it."

Less than nine months later - many of them spent drafting behind his rivals, lying in wait - Mr. Cruz's base of support has swelled, forcing his foes to grapple with the central premise of Mr. Cruz's bid, a bet many had long dismissed: that he could emerge as the first far-right conservative in recent political history with the strength to withstand a bruising primary.

For weeks, polls have shown Mr. Cruz climbing both nationally and, more decisively, in Iowa, where a Monmouth University survey on Monday placed him first, with 24 percent support among likely Republican caucusgoers. Donald J. Trump was second at 19 percent. (Another poll, by CNN, gave Mr. Trump a solid lead, despite gains by Mr. Cruz.)

Mr. Cruz, who had more cash on hand than any other campaign as of Sept. 30, boasts on the trail that the traditional primary script has been flipped: While many evangelicals and Tea Party supporters are uniting behind him, he says, several establishment figures are "fighting like cats and dogs" for their share of the electorate.

He has channeled much of the same voter frustration fueling Mr. Trump, positioning himself as an outsider with the Washington battle scars to effect conservative change, while remaining deferential enough to Mr. Trump to avoid his broadsides. (Mr. Cruz distanced himself, politely, from Mr. Trump's calls on Monday to bar Muslims from entering the United States.)

And while many rivals in the race, including Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, were elected in the Tea Party wave, no lawmaker has better internalized the Republican Party's mood under President Obama, placing conservative ideological purity above all else.

"He is a product of this paradigm shift," said Steve Deace, an influential Iowa radio host who supports Mr. Cruz. "He recognizes the direction the party is going in because if it wasn't moving in that direction, he wouldn't be one of 100 senators in the country at this moment."

Obstacles abound. Mr. Cruz, widely detested by the Republican establishment...

anne said...

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/12/07/that-30s-show/

December 7, 2015

That 30s Show
By Paul Krugman

A few years ago de Bromhead, Eichengreen, and O'Rourke looked at the determinants of right-wing extremism * in the 1930s. They found that economic factors mattered a lot; specifically,

"what mattered was not the current growth of the economy but cumulative growth or, more to the point, the depth of the cumulative recession. One year of contraction was not enough to significantly boost extremism, in other words, but a depression that persisted for years was."

How's Europe doing on that basis?

[Graph]

And now the National Front has scored a first-place finish in regional elections, ** and will probably take a couple of regions in the second round. Economics isn't the only factor; immigration, refugees, and terrorism play into the mix. But Europe's underperformance is slowly eroding the legitimacy, not just of the European project, but of the open society itself.

* http://www.voxeu.org/article/right-wing-political-extremism-great-depression

** http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/07/world/europe/frances-far-right-national-front-gains-in-regional-elections.html

anne said in reply to anne...

http://www.voxeu.org/article/right-wing-political-extremism-great-depression

February 27, 2012

Right-wing political extremism in the Great Depression
By Alan de Bromhead, Barry Eichengreen, and Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke

The enduring global crisis is giving rise to fears that economic hard times will feed political extremism, as it did in the 1930s. This column suggests that the danger of political polarisation and extremism is greatest in countries with relatively recent histories of democracy, with existing right-wing extremist parties, and with electoral systems that create low hurdles to parliamentary representation of new parties. But above all, it is greatest where depressed economic conditions are allowed to persist.

anne said in reply to anne...

With more subtlety and contemporary relevance to political responses in the wake of crises, there is "The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein. That economists are unwilling to examine and credit the ideas of Klein, who is a sociologist, is a limitation on relevant analyses of economists.

im1dc said...

Ted latest attempt to be more disgusting than The Donald

European migrant crisis - 1h ago

"Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, says he introduced bill to let states reject refugees - @ReutersPolitics"

Read more on reuters.com

pgl said in reply to im1dc...

Isn't Cruz Canadian? Can we pass a law sending him back to Canada and never letting him pass south of the 49th parallel?

[Dec 07, 2015] Hillary Clinton How I'd Rein In Wall Street

Notable quotes:
"... I am all for restoring separation of commercial and investment banking but regulating investment banking and investment funds is even more important although I would gladly go along with nationalizing the whole mess. At any rate I agree completely with you and pgl on this. The firewall between commercial and investment banks just makes it a cleaner process to reconcile, including liquidation if necessary, when regulation has proved insufficient, unenforced, or somehow circumvented. ..."
"... I still agree with the greater need for regulation. The commercial banking firewall from other financial activities had been just one little detail mostly important when resolution authority gets involved. ..."
"... You on the right track, but there is more than one slip twixt the cup and the lip. When oversight is applied unevenly, regulation morphs into more upon more of sitting on the small time hoods but free reign to the *big time operators*. Remember the robo-signing ? ..."
"... Well, call me cynical, but maybe its because the relatively small constituency that *does* strongly oppose the reinstatement of Glass Steagall consists of very powerful and wealthy people who are among the largest donors to her campaign. ..."
"... HRC has the best think-tankers money can buy, and will always succeed in positioning herself in what she regards as the sensible middle of American politics. She keeps he finger in the wind, and moves where she thinks the consensus of the powerful is moving. ..."
"... A tax on high frequency trading would be interesting. A single penny in sales tax per trade wouldnt affect the average person at all, and would raise billions per year at current volumes. Though I imagine someone who knows better than I can tell me some negative effects. ..."
"... Mid-day, after Hillary Clintons op-ed on how she will rein in Wall Street, the New York Times reported that if Elizabeth Warren says Hillary Clinton is right on Dodd-Frank, that Elizabeth Warren is saying that Hillary Clinton is right on whats needed to rein in Wall Street, period. ..."
"... As Joseph Schumpeter noted, capitalism is not a steady-state system. It is unstable system in which population constantly experience and then try to overcome one crisis after another. Joseph Schumpeter naively assumed that the net result is reimaging itself via so called "creative destruction . But what we observe now it uncreative destruction . In other words casino capitalism is devouring the host, the US society. ..."
"... So all those Hillary statements are for plebs consumption only (another attempt to play change we can believe in trick). Just a hot air designed to get elected. Both Clintons are in the pocket of financial oligarchy and will never be able to get out of it alive. ..."
"... Hilary is a fraud; her daughter worked at a Hedge fund where she met her husband Marc Mezvinsky, who is now a money manager at the Eaglevale fund. Oddly many of the Eaglevale investors are investors in the Clinton Foundation and have also given money to Hilarys campaign. The Clinton Foundation gets boat loads of money from Hedge funds and will not raise taxes on such a rich source of funding. ..."
Economist's View

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> sanjait...

I am all for restoring separation of commercial and investment banking but regulating investment banking and investment funds is even more important although I would gladly go along with nationalizing the whole mess. At any rate I agree completely with you and pgl on this. The firewall between commercial and investment banks just makes it a cleaner process to reconcile, including liquidation if necessary, when regulation has proved insufficient, unenforced, or somehow circumvented.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> sanjait...

You might want to look a little deeper into AIG and Citi. AIG had just been an insurance company until Glass Steagal was repealed. Citi had just been a commercial bank until it merged with Travelers on a waiver of GS. By 2007 both had become much more. Traditional insurance was highly regulated, but credit default swaps were not. The combination of GLBA and CFMA was deadlier than either one by itself.

I still agree with the greater need for regulation. The commercial banking firewall from other financial activities had been just one little detail mostly important when resolution authority gets involved.

sanjait -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

AIG is the one case where I can see, maybe, it made a difference.

Though I'm still skeptical of even that, acknowledging I'm not knowledgeable enough about the regulatory environment to know for certain. Seems to me that AIG was one of many issuers of CDS at the epicenter of the crisis. But what did it matter that AIG also had a big commercial insurance arm? Maybe that large firm size led to reduced borrowing costs for AIG, but that kind of risk management calculation is one of many kinds of risk management calculation firms were making that led to the crisis. Is that really it? I haven't yet heard a coherent explanation for why it mattered that AIG was big.

As for Citi, they were a bit player. Sure, they needed a good size bailout (which they ultimately paid back in full and more). But they were mostly along for the ride in the crash rather than an epicenter like AIG.

Peter K. -> sanjait...

I believe it was you who made the excellent point about about the mish-mash alphabet soup of regulatory agencies where corporations could go shopping for the easiest regulator.

pgl -> sanjait...

Regulatory capture is a serious problem. Of course our patch works laws set this up as a problem.

Deflationary Vacuum -> sanjait...

" "shadow banking" sector, including certain activities of hedge funds, investment banks and other non-bank institutions. My plan would strengthen oversight
"
~~sanjait~

You on the right track, but there is more than one slip 'twixt the cup and the lip. When oversight is applied unevenly, regulation morphs into more upon more of sitting on the small time hoods but free reign to the *big time operators*. Remember the "robo-signing"?

Hell! Had they caught a street corner hood at it, he would now be rotting in State Penn for forgery. All regulation is pointed in the wrong direction. Trash it all for my money! Hillary wants to clean up the devious financial sector? Who would be left to finance her run for the White House? You want to clean it all up?

... ... ...

Dan Kervick -> sanjait..

I agree that the Glass Steagall tends to be overemphasized. It's only one contributing piece of the puzzle. We didn't have a commercial bank run in 2008, so I don't know why measures aimed at fixing the causes of the *previous* depression have become so popular following the more recent one. Unfortunately, I think too much of the populist ire is directed against the injustice of The Bailout when it should be focused on preventing economic catastrophe in the first place, and then recovering from it.

The questions I ask are:

1. Why were so many bad debts and bad financial assets generated in the first place? A rational financial system isn't supposed to work that way.

2. Why did the very thing that was supposed to be the genius innovation that enabled our economy to take on higher overall liability loads - namely, the dispersal of risk through derivative instruments - become the very thing that led to the kind of systemic financial failure not seen since the Great Depression. Obviously the new system failed massively.

3. How do we prevent financial crises and the subsequent necessary deleveraging from metastasizing further via a cascade of business failures, layoffs and mass unemployment and suffering?

My tentative feelings about the right approach are that we need (i) more direct hands-on regulation of asset origination ("microprudential" regulation?), and (ii) profound restrictions on the size of financial sector salaries, bonuses and other compensation. We're just too casual about flim-flam, stupidity and predatory behavior - and we've crated a system that incentives it. Too many people originating these loans and derivative instruments, and then buying and selling them in the market, don't seem to have had a big enough piece of their own butts on the line. I agree with Sanjait about the need for higher margin requirements. But I'm not sure if that entirely addresses the problem of control failure, which can't be addressed at the firm level, but has to do with the way people are connected to their firms. If a person can make tens of millions, hundreds of millions or a billion dollars fairly quickly, and then cash out of the system, then they are not personally invested in the long term success of whatever financial project made the money for them. If dominant players in whole firms fall into these categories, then enhancing the accountability of the firm won't necessarily get down to the level of enhancing the accountability of the people running the firm.

In the long run, I'd like to see more of the financial sector run as a public utility, with only modest levels of competition and differential incentives among different branch "franchises" within a public system to encourage innovation, diligence and quality - but with much, much lower salaries. The fact that financial players need to move large fortunes around the economy with intelligence doesn't mean we need to pay them fortunes to do the moving.

As far as the economic recovery goes, I think the solution is a permanent federal jobs program to move discarded private sector workers into newly created federal jobs fast. No American who is willing and able to work should be without a job - ever. This isn't juts about money - it's about dignity, self-respect and social participation. The only exception should be people who have voluntarily chosen temporary unemployment in order to look for something better.

And to make that system work, and make the federal jobs backstop effective, we need to do something about the enormous differences among incomes. The federal job won't help much with mitigating the deflationary damage if it involves many people taking a 75%, 80% or 90% pay cut. When there are many people flying very high, then the demand shock is much greater when a bunch of them fall to earth.

Dan Kervick -> sanjait...

"why the hell would Hillary decide to pick up such a technocratic issue with no constituency of support unless she meant it?"

Well, call me cynical, but maybe it's because the relatively small constituency that *does* strongly oppose the reinstatement of Glass Steagall consists of very powerful and wealthy people who are among the largest donors to her campaign.

It seems to me the right approach is this. Even if Glass Steagall reinstatement is overrated, the question is whether a really positive case can be made for *not* reinstating it. If not, then reinstating it should be supported.

likbez -> sanjait...

"Hey, progressives, take note: This woman's plan is head and shoulders above those of her peers."

Taking at face value Hillary statements in view of her history as a politician and her current problems due to existence of Bernie Sanders campaign and a large set of supporters is extremely naïve.

EMichael -> likbez...

Can you give me an example of HRC's career as a politician that gives any credence to your thought?

In case you do not know, she served in the Senate.

likbez -> EMichael...

"In case you do not know, she served in the Senate."

You have a point. I would agree that voting for Iraq war disqualifies her from public service.

Dan Kervick -> likbez...

HRC has the best think-tankers money can buy, and will always succeed in positioning herself in what she regards as the sensible middle of American politics. She keeps he finger in the wind, and moves where she thinks the consensus of the powerful is moving.

But the American economic system is evil, and the middle - the people who are mainly interested in just holding it all together - are collaborators and supporters of evil.

Here's what much of America is: many millions of people stuffed into prisons, trailer parks, slums and bombed out remnants of formerly thriving towns and cities; addicted to substances, dying of despair, citizens of a pseudo-"society" organized around nothing so important as the mindless consumption of nihilistic junk - if they are lucky enough to even afford the junk - at the mercy of whimsical and sociopathic bosses - if they are lucky enough even to have a boss.

The contemporary American system is a blight on the moral record of humanity. It needs abolition and radical overhaul, not minor adjustments.

William said...

While I'm glad to hear one or two concrete proposals, pardon me if I don't get enthusiastic about increasing the statute of limitations for financial crimes to a whopping 10 years. (Which will be conveniently just barely short enough to protect all of Hillary's campaign contributors from their crimes during the financial crisis after her election).

Likewise, if she considers Dodd-Frank to be "tough rules" then I hate to see what her infrastructure proposals will look like. Maybe we'll all get gingerbread houses from the government this time next year.

A tax on high frequency trading would be interesting. A single penny in sales tax per trade wouldn't affect the average person at all, and would raise billions per year at current volumes. Though I imagine someone who knows better than I can tell me some negative effects.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Elizabeth Warren Shows Support for Hillary Clinton's Wall Street Plan http://nyti.ms/1SJrPGt via @NYTPolitics

Hillary Clinton, hearing criticism for her ties to the financial industry, received the critical support of Senator Elizabeth Warren on Monday for her proposal to expand the Dodd-Frank regulatory structure and urging of President Obama to veto any legislation that would weaken Wall Street regulation.

"Secretary Clinton is right to fight back against Republicans trying to sneak Wall Street giveaways into the must-pass government funding bill," Ms. Warren, the liberal senator from Massachusetts, wrote on Facebook after Mrs. Clinton published an Op-Ed article in The New York Times with her proposals to regulate Wall Street. ...

-----

HRC: 'I would ... veto any legislation that would weaken financial reform' ...

Probably we should hear lots more about what she can do without Congressional majorities.

JaaaaayCeeeee said...

Mid-day, after Hillary Clinton's op-ed on how she will rein in Wall Street, the New York Times reported that if Elizabeth Warren says Hillary Clinton is right on Dodd-Frank, that Elizabeth Warren is saying that Hillary Clinton is right on what's needed to rein in Wall Street, period.

http://www.nytimes.com/pages/politics/index.html

Even if Nyt is right, that Elizabeth Warren meant exactly that which Elizabeth Warren so carefully did not say, the problem I have is that nobody dares talk about whether there is any chance that what Hillary Clinton claims is enough to (her terms) "rein in Wall Street" is enough to make Wall Street work the way it is supposed to.

  1. One question isn't whether Glass Steagall was necessary to prevent 2008 including AIG. Is what Hillary Clinton says isn't needed really not needed for the future? Is protecting Wall Street as is the way to rein in Wall Street?
  2. Would a gameable or unworkable high speed trading risk fee accomplish what Hillary Clinton promises?
  3. What would a financial transaction tax accomplish, which Hillary Clinton thinks we don't need? Beyond making our economy work better, being fairer to other sectors and raising revenue, wouldn't a financial transaction tax make it more likely that government could regulate Wall Street, instead of the other way around as today?
  4. How can Hillary Clinton claim that closing the carried interest loophole without other corporate and personal income tax reform affecting Wall Street do the job she promises, of reining in Wall Street?
  5. Aren't ISDN and TISA also important to reining in Wall Street?

likbez said...

When capital became unable of reaping large and fairly secure profits from manufacturing it like water tries to find other ways. It starts with semi-criminalizing finance -- that's the origin of the term "casino capitalism" (aka neoliberalism). I see casino capitalism as a set of semi-criminal ways of maintaining the rate of profits.

The key prerequisite here is corruption of regulators. So laws on the book does not matter much if regulators do not enforce them.

As Joseph Schumpeter noted, capitalism is not a steady-state system. It is unstable system in which population constantly experience and then try to overcome one crisis after another. Joseph Schumpeter naively assumed that the net result is reimaging itself via so called "creative destruction". But what we observe now it "uncreative destruction". In other words casino capitalism is devouring the host, the US society.

So all those Hillary statements are for plebs consumption only (another attempt to play "change we can believe in" trick). Just a hot air designed to get elected. Both Clintons are in the pocket of financial oligarchy and will never be able to get out of it alive.

Paine -> likbez...

Sensibly restrained presentation. I should try that myself. Yes in the hip pocket to be precise. Right in there with Cruz and huckabee

Paine -> Paine ...

Casino capitalism can be told in one profile: Mitt -- From. Venture to vulture in two easy steps. Vulturism has incentives no rational agent can resist

GeorgeK said...

I believe I'm the only one on this blog that has actually traded bonds, done swaps and hedged bank portfolios with futures contracts. Sooo I kinda know something about this topic.

Hilary is a fraud; her daughter worked at a Hedge fund where she met her husband Marc Mezvinsky, who is now a money manager at the Eaglevale fund. Oddly many of the Eaglevale investors are investors in the Clinton Foundation and have also given money to Hilary's campaign. The Clinton Foundation gets boat loads of money from Hedge funds and will not raise taxes on such a rich source of funding.

The grooms mother is Marjory Margolies (ex)Mezvinsky, she cast the final vote giving Clinton the winning vote to raise taxes. She subsequently lost her run for reelection to congress, then her husband was convicted of fraud and they divorced.

This speech is an attempt to pry people away from Bernie, it won't work with primary voters but might with what's left of rational Republicans in the general election.

likbez said...
If results of French elections is any indication of the growing dissatisfaction with globalism/neoliberalism/multiculturalism/immigration, Hillary chances for election need to be downgraded and chances of Trump upgraded. IMHO.

That does not mean that I endorse Trump ;-)

Still the shadow of Barak Obama now is hanging over her and now this fact should be viewed as a disadvantage in this race.

Here are a couple of comments from Guardian about the results:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/07/marine-le-pen-front-national-france-cowardly-elite

===

viscount_jellicoe, 7 Dec 2015 21:39
Contrary to what we are told by the transnational business-political-media elite, there is nothing inevitable about ever-increasing 'globalisation'. It is simply a race to the bottom for ever-cheaper labour and erasure of sovereign national obstructions to corporate profit.

===

Andu68, 7 Dec 2015 21:49
Why exactly is the FN far right? The only controversial position they have is their belief there is an urgent need to restrict immigration, yet this is a position held by the majority of European's public opinion, though not by mainstream politicians and certainly not by members of the left intellectual elite like Miss Nougareyde.

===
elliot2511, 7 Dec 2015 20:49
If mainstream liberal and conservative parties will not listen to the citizenry's very real and very legitimate concerns about immigration and Islam, that citizenry will hold their collective nose and vote for right wing populists who will.

What we saw in France is being repeated in Sweden, the Netherlands and much of Eastern Europe. It is fueling Donald Trumps presidential run and Nigel Faranges parliamentary ambitions.

===
Quiller -> Dave Beardsly, 7 Dec 2015 21:29
Globalisation depends on no borders - Factories and production have moved to avail of cheaper production. Shareholders and investment funds have benefited. Many, many citizens of sovereign nations have not. Now some European politicians and institutions have determined that immigration and multiculturalism is the new agenda anyway. There is to be no consultation by the political elite or the media with the people of the sovereign nations of Europe - It is to be forced on people whether they like it or not.
... ... ...

[Dec 07, 2015] Even Bernie would have a chance against these bozos

hoocoodanode.org
Dilbert_Dohfen

Found a new word to share with HCN
"My friend, a former Republican member of Congress, phoned me this morning.
HE: We're crumped.

ME: Crumped?
HE: Cruz and Trump. They're in the lead. Worse yet, the crazies in the
Party are now talking about putting them together on one ticket -- a
"super-conservative" duo. My god. Trump is a bigoted moron. Cruz is
almost as nuts.

ME: Can they be stopped?
HE: Been on the phone for days with folk who are going to run ads against each of them.
But it maybe too late. Everyone I know is apoplectic. Lots of are
talking about voting for Hillary. Even Bernie would have a chance
against these bozos.

ME: You think they'd affect congressional races?
HE: Sure. Put an asshole at the head of the ticket and the shit falls everywhere.

ME: This isn't bad news for the Democrats.
HE: It will be if one of these jerks becomes president. Then we're all crumped."

Enjoy!!!

[Dec 06, 2015] Young Sanders was a great sportsman

www.nakedcapitalism.com
EndOfTheWorld,

I read an article on the internet somewhere where some businessman said he spent a lot of his time during high school looking at the rear end of Bernie Sanders because Bernie was the best high school distance runner in NYC. That's all I know. I don't know exactly how good Bernie was, but I'd like to find out.

John Wright,

Some searching had Sanders at 4:37 for the mile while the high school record was 4:12.

Here's a quote attributed to him:

SANDERS: I came in third in my junior year in the New York City public school one mile. I think my best was 4:37, which is not superstar, but it's pretty good. http://www.cnbc.com/id/102694365.

This would be around 1958.

Note that Louis Zamperini (Unbroken) held the HS mile record for many years at 4:21.2 set in 1934.

I tend to discount the character building aspect of athletics. An Olympic Athlete I took a college class from mentioned that the pressure to take PED (performance enhancing drugs) is tremendous if one is #2.

Very much like politics, looking for a victory margin.

And one of the best middle distance runners I ever saw (Jim Ryun running the 1500 meter 3:33.1 record in 1967 in the LA Coliseum, a record that lasted until 1974) proved to be a less than successful conservative Republican US house rep from Kansas.

I still have the ticket stub from the 1967 meet.

[Dec 06, 2015] Trump Takes His Biggest Lead Yet in the Polls

finance.yahoo.com

As for the rest of the field, it is beginning to look somewhat grim:

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson continues to lose ground with 14 percent of the Republican vote. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who still must be considered an up and comer, is at 12 percent. All other candidates currently have the support of less than 5 percent of the Republican electorate, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

[Dec 06, 2015] Public and Private Sector Payroll Jobs Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama

hoocoodanode.org

merchantsofmenace

Here's a link to Horowitz's article "Left-wing Fascism":
http://www.google.com/books?id=Au_Ktn22RxEC&pg=PA209&dq=%22left-wing+fascism%22

Here's a link to Bale's article on "'Left-wing' Fascism":
http://www.google.com/books?id=kne26UnE1wQC&pg=PA267&dq=%22left-wing+fascism%22+bale

Here's an article about the phenomenon called "Rebranding Fascism" (although the term "left-wing fascism is not used):
http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v23n4/rebranding_fascism.html
The basic concept is that neo-fascist groups (who are extreme right-wing) disguise themselves as leftists, e.g., they say they are anti-zionist when they are anti-semitic.

Here's a link to Richard Wolin's chapter on "Left Fascism":
http://www.google.com/books?id=4H4BeyiYBuEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Seduction+of+Unreason:+The+Intellectual+Romance+with+Fascism+:+from+Nietzsche+to+Postmodernism#PPA153,M1

[Dec 06, 2015] Clinton and Rubio or Cruz would all be disasters – war war war all the time

marknesop.wordpress.com

ucgsblog, December 4, 2015 at 1:28 pm

And in other news, Trump is favored to beat Clinton for the presidency via the Electoral College. Clinton still has the popular votes, but as Gore found out, popular vote doesn't mean a thing in US presidential elections.
cartman, December 4, 2015 at 2:36 pm
Clinton and Rubio or Cruz would all be disasters – war war war all the time
marknesop, December 4, 2015 at 3:08 pm
I still don't think there is the slightest chance Trump is going to be President – he's just too much of a loose cannon and too uncoupled from the political inside track. My money is still on Rubio. I'm not surprised that Trump could beat Hillary, though. Even if she were not a warhag nutjob, Barack Obama has poisoned the well for the Democrats for this election, and quite possibly the next as well depending on how the Republicans play their first term.

[Dec 06, 2015] Gauis Publius Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton Americas Endless War

Notable quotes:
"... No candidate, including Sanders, is going to confess that endless U.S. interventionism in the middle east serves the Lobby's objective of keeping Israel's enemies divided and destabilized. ..."
"... Of course, the fact that a nominated Sanders would not only drag the national dialog left, but almost certainly win the Presidency, is strong motivation for the corporate world to intervene vigorously in all the different ways it can. A Sanders candidacy frightens them far more than narcissistic neoliberal Trump who would have little to no chance of winning against a hyena and only slightly better prospects of winning against HIllary. A Sanders' nomination might even frighten them more than winning the Presidency itself, since the nomination would have the effect of opening the flood gates to actual alternatives to the status quo. Once opened, those would be very hard to close. ..."
"... Now where there may still be a choice is in the American colonies. How long could Washington's endless wars last without the support of the Quisling leadership of its allies? I'm talking about a leader saying: "you stop attacking other countries or we impose a trade embargo." Maybe that's unrealistic but any moral leader of a western country would make this stand. Too bad we only vote in psychopaths. But, unlike America where it is too late, other countries still have the possibility of electing anti-war leaders – like the UK Labour Party. ..."
"... My one cynical add is that just because the 'law' says the president can do this or that, doesn't mean Bernie will be able to. Most of the democratic party will be against him. And an immediate impeachment process could very easily happen against him. No, he doesn't have to die in a plane crash, or be (JKF was not )assassinated by the CIA …the powers that run this country could just impeach him. ..."
"... Still, I really want him to win. My hate is pure for the neo liberal democrats. My compromise ideologically is easy for me to stomach. Go Bernie. Meanwhile, lets organize for a better world, outside of the corrupt political machine. ..."
"... Speeches, schmeeches. Words are wind. Look at the record. Hillary Clinton is a monster. The issue is not Bernie vs. Hillary. The issue is how could any sane American even consider voting for Hillary Clinton, against any candidate, even Trump (yes really). ..."
"... Just because Sanders has pledged to support the Democratic candidate in the general election doesn't mean that his supporters are obligated to do so. If Sanders is not the Democratic nominee, I will very likely vote Third Party, as I did in 2012. And you can do the same. ..."
"... I don't think his pledge to support the nominee undermines his candidacy at all. First, it's pro forma and carries no force. Besides, it was also absolutely required to even join the contest at a high level. If he wanted to have any impact on this election cycle, he had very literally no choice about it. To think otherwise seems more than a little naive, which seems to be an ongoing problem generally with the American left. ..."
"... Sanders is *almost* everything one could realistically ever hope for in a legacy party candidate with a real shot, and yet a significant portion of the left inevitably goes straight into the back corner of the drawer looking for reasons not to support him–or even to go further and declare him unfit. Worse yet, those saying this stuff offer no viable plans or alternatives at all. It's really astonishing to me and perhaps explains why the left is ever so easy to marginalize and push around. ..."
"... Bernie Sanders was the first senator to announce that he would boycott Netanyahu's speech in Congress, and he is the only senator who does not take any money from the pro-Israel lobby. He was one of a small majority in the Senate who did not sign the resolution last summer to approve of Israel's bombing of Gaza - and he didn't vote for it (there was no vote) or otherwise agree to it. The "unanimous consent" thing that Chris Hedges jumps up and down about and others parrot as "proof" that Sanders is pro-Israel is a procedural rule in the Senate, and there was no way to "object" to it, other than not signing the resolution in the first place. That's what he did, even though more than three-fourths of this colleagues signed on. And he has criticized Israel. You'd just never know it by reading Hedges and the CounterPunch crowd. ..."
"... To be fair, there's the sheepdog scenario (again, a terrible metaphor, put about by the Greens, which implies conscious collusion by Sanders, for which there's very little evidence). If that comes true, is that so bad? No, because we're not any worse off than we were before, and see #4 and #5 above. ..."
"... I just don't see how Sanders running is anything other than a net positive. The left really does need to figure out how to take yes for an answer. ..."
"... It seems to me like the major sovereignty-violating actions of the US Gov't happen with the approval of the executive branch. The military and intelligence services generally don't speak out or publicly act against the president's policies. They do leak a bunch of shit everywhere (the mysterious "high-ranking anonymous Obama official" who seems to pop up whenever the president's policies need to be opposed), but that you can live with. It is a real problem, one that makes me nervous. We know exactly where corporations go when their iron grip on democracy loosens: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Plot ..."
naked capitalism
I mentioned near the end of a piece called "Blowback, Money & the Washington War Party" that I would compare Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton with respect to its main subject, America and its wars. For context, I'd like to repeat the start of that piece:

In a provocative piece called, "Blowback - the Washington War Party's Folly Comes Home to Roost," David Stockman asks, in effect - "Does America have the wars it seeks and deserves?"

Whatever your answer might be, or mine, I think Stockman's answer is Yes, and he details that answer in an excellent looking-back and looking-forward essay about the U.S. and its Middle East "involvement." I have excerpted several sections below, but the whole is worth a full top-to-bottom read.

Before we turn to Stockman's points, though, I just want to highlight two semi-hidden ideas in his essay. One is about money. What Stockman calls the "War Party" in Washington is really the bipartisan Money Party, since the largest-by-far pile of cash looted from the federal budget (in other words, from taxpayers) goes to fund our military and its suppliers and enablers. Which means that most of it is stolen and diverted in some way. Which means that those who do the stealing have a lot of "skin in the game" - the game that keeps the money flowing in the first place.

Recall that what's now called the Money Party was what Gore Vidal called the "Property Party": "There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat."

Which means the Washington War Party is a bipartisan gig. Thus our bipartisan wars, which for Stockman answers the first part of the imputed question above. Yes, America does have the wars it seeks. …

It concludes with this:

How Will This End?

It's easy to see that this ends in either of two ways. It will end when we stop sending money and arms into the region - i.e., when we impoverish our wealth-drunk arms industry and starve the fighting - or it will not end.

Which means, it will lead to continuous tears, American ones. And when, again, you factor in the continuing spiral toward chaos guaranteed by continuing global warming, we may look back and say, "Paris was our generation's Sarajevo." It's hard to stop a war when only a nation's people don't want it. It's almost impossible to stop a war when the people unite with the wealthy to promote it.

Which brings me to Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, war, and speeches each gave recently. But that's for later. …

Later is now. I'm providing this context because I don't want to leave the impression this piece is about Sanders and Clinton. It's not. This piece is about us, our future, and that of our children … the future of all of us, in other words, who may choose to live in Washington's endless war-profiteering environment - until that war comes home with a vengeance.

Do we have I choice? I believe we do, for now. I don't think that choice will persist, will be available forever.

Sanders, Clinton & America's Endless War

In a piece by Tom Cahill in usuncut.com, which starts with a report of Bernie Sanders' "socialism" speech, we find this near the middle, a comparison of the foreign policy statements in Sanders' speech with a speech given at nearly the same time by Hillary Clinton.

First, about Sanders, Cahill writes:

Sanders Acknowledges Error of CIA-Sponsored Coups

Sanders' [socialism] speech also surprised many viewers with exhaustive foreign policy proposals aimed at reaching peace in the Middle East, while letting Muslim countries lead the fight against ISIS. the Vermont senator cautioned against using the military to force regime change, citing past CIA-sponsored coups in Latin America and the Middle East as examples of forced regime change gone wrong.

"Our response must begin with an understanding of past mistakes and missteps in our previous approaches to foreign policy," Sanders said. "It begins with the reflection that the failed policy decisions of the past – rushing to war, regime change in Iraq, or toppling Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, or Guatemalan President Árbenz in 1954, Brazilian President Goulart in 1964, Chilean President Allende in 1973. These are the sorts of policies do not work, do not make us safer, and must not be repeated."

To defeat ISIS, Sanders urged the US to form a new NATO-like coalition with Russia and enemies of ISIS in the Middle East, and force Muslim countries to lead the fight with support from the West. …

"Saudi Arabia has the 3rd largest defense budget in the world, yet instead of fighting ISIS they have focused more on a campaign to oust Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen," Sanders said. "Kuwait, a country whose ruling family was restored to power by U.S. troops after the first Gulf War, has been a well-known source of financing for ISIS and other violent extremists. It has been reported that Qatar will spend $200 billion on the 2022 World Cup, including the construction of an enormous number of facilities to host that event – $200 billion on hosting a soccer event, yet very little to fight against ISIS."

"All of this has got to change. Wealthy and powerful Muslim nations in the region can no longer sit on the sidelines and expect the United States to do their work for them," Sanders continued.

Not perfect if you're strongly pro-peace, but this would nonetheless represent a major shift in both policy and spending, if implemented - something that can be done, I remind you, by our commander-in-chief, acting alone. It may take Congress, or the illusion of congressional approval, to make war. It doesn't require a single Republican (or war-making Democratic) vote to make peace.

Now about Clinton, from the same piece (my emphasis):

Hillary Clinton: U.S. Should Lead War on ISIS

Sanders' Georgetown address was a stark contrast to Hillary Clinton's speech at the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York[.]

The former Secretary of State outlined her proposal to fight ISIS, which primarily consisted of the US military taking and maintaining a leading role for an undetermined period of time.

"It is time to begin a new phase and intensify and broaden our efforts to smash the would-be caliphate and deny ISIS control of territory in Iraq and Syria," Clinton said early in the speech. "That starts with a more effective coalition air campaign, with more allied planes, more strikes, and a broader target set."

"The Iraqi national army has struggled. It is going to take more work to get it up to fighting shape," Clinton continued. "As part of that process, we may have to give our own troops advising and training the Iraqis greater freedom of movement and flexibility, including embedding in local units and helping target airstrikes."

Clinton's entire speech (about 30 minutes) is above.

Endless War or a Move Toward Peace - Last Chance to Decide?

I'm not suggesting to you what to want. If you really want to enrich billionaire arms manufacturers and their enablers in and out of office, that's up to you. If you want to give a well-organized foreign fighting force yet more reason to encourage the same acts in the U.S. as their local sympathizers perform in Europe, that's also up to you. If you want to remove American fingerprints - and national entanglement - from foreign feuds, that's also your choice as well.

I merely want to point out that for once, there is a choice, and you can make that choice by choosing between these two candidates, just as you can choose, using these two candidates, whether to aggressively reign in carbon use or continue to serve the wealthy who serve up global warming.

Withdraw from foreign wars, or expand into them? Sanders or Clinton? The day is coming soon when this will have mattered, and not just on late-night comedy shows. It's entirely likely that within the term of the next president, our foreign policy chickens will come home to roost.

Me, I'd prefer those chickens not be armed.

(Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for President. If you'd like to help him, click here. This page also lists every progressive incumbent and candidate who has endorsed him. You can adjust the split in any way you wish.)

Jim Haygood, December 5, 2015 at 2:59 pm

'Sanders urged the US to form a new NATO-like coalition with Russia and enemies of ISIS in the Middle East, and force Muslim countries to lead the fight with support from the West.'

*yawn* Same old, same old yankee interventionism.

The sole reason for supporting Sanders is not for his tired old interventionist shtick, but to deprive the Sheldon Adelson Republiclown Party of across-the-board control of Kongress and the presidency (a disturbingly likely prospect).

No candidate, including Sanders, is going to confess that endless U.S. interventionism in the middle east serves the Lobby's objective of keeping Israel's enemies divided and destabilized.

susan the other, December 5, 2015 at 3:51 pm

When, why, and how did the brand of globalism we have now (supra national corporatism) become an article of faith for the global economy? Why can't we have a different form of globalism, not one based on profiteering which is just war in a different uniform, a suit and tie? The environment could unite us, Naomi Klein style. Equality could too because a global effort against inequality would eventually have to end the looting and aggression of international corporatism and feudalism. Isn't it an irony that all the great corporations and capitalist geniuses pretending to manage the world can't fix the mess they made without taxpayers?

And consumers? If citizens in every country stopped buying things we'd win the planet back in a month. The only thing we need besides dedication is local survival safety nets.

Brooklin Bridge, December 5, 2015 at 11:28 am

Agreed. It's one thing to observe -factually- that Sanders' momentum has halted, by some mix of his own devices and those of an antithetical MSM and a traitorous corporate centric DNC, it's another thing not to at least try to get him nominated. If that were to happen, no matter how unlikely, the national discussion would virtually have to deal with Sander's platform and it is hard to even imagine just how healthy that would be.

Of course, the fact that a nominated Sanders would not only drag the national dialog left, but almost certainly win the Presidency, is strong motivation for the corporate world to intervene vigorously in all the different ways it can. A Sanders candidacy frightens them far more than narcissistic neoliberal Trump who would have little to no chance of winning against a hyena and only slightly better prospects of winning against HIllary. A Sanders' nomination might even frighten them more than winning the Presidency itself, since the nomination would have the effect of opening the flood gates to actual alternatives to the status quo. Once opened, those would be very hard to close.

Lambert Strether, December 5, 2015 at 11:00 pm

FWIW, I think Sanders numbers have plateaued for a very simple reason: He's not reaching enough voters. We'll see how that goes when we are nearer the caucuses, and after the Sanders campaign has made more attempts to peel away from some of Clinton's constituencies (which it's trying hard to do).

Again, my litmus test is this: Sanders has said it will take a movement to get his platform accomplished. So where is it? A movement implies staff, branding, events, etc. And professionals know how it's done; Dean 2004 and Obama 2008. So where is it?

Carla, December 5, 2015 at 1:30 pm

The Democrat Party will not nominate Bernie Sanders. Period. Not gonna happen so quit holding your breath.

In my state, we declare party membership by requesting a ballot of our chosen party in the primary. Obama cured me of ever - EVER - asking for a Democrat ballot again. I'm Green and clean for life - thanks, Barry!

Vatch, December 5, 2015 at 4:14 pm

If the Green party has a primary in your state, I understand why you wouldn't want to vote in the Democratic primary. But the Greens don't have primaries, so you're missing a chance to to have a very small influence over the choice of the Democratic candidate (or the Republican candidate). If enough leftists decide that it's not possible for the Democrats to choose Sanders, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

In 2008 I voted for Obama (a mistake, of course, but a vote for McCain would also have been a mistake). In 2012, I changed my ways, first by voting in the Republican primary, mostly so I could have a say in the nomination of candidates for some lesser offices. I voted for Huntsman in the primary, because he wasn't a total lunatic like Santorum. In the general election I voted for Green candidate Stein. In 2016, I will vote in the Democratic primary, and then I'll wait to see who's been nominated by the various parties.

Lambert Strether, December 5, 2015 at 11:00 pm

Then if Sanders is strong enough, the party will split. That's a good thing.

Lambert Strether, December 5, 2015 at 11:07 pm

Sanders:

To defeat ISIS, Sanders urged the US to form a new NATO-like coalition with Russia and enemies of ISIS in the Middle East, and force Muslim countries to lead the fight with support from the West. …

If one accepts America's imperial role, that's a reasonable play. (If one imagines that our ruling class is long conflict investment, then all that matters is conflict, period; there's no policy reason for the conflict needed, except as window dressing.)

Of course, I don't accept that. Clinton v. Sanders reminds me of Freud's comment about psychotherapy turning hysterical misery into ordinary unhappiness. But even so, there's a lot of unhappiness to go around, and on a global, grandiose scale.

BEWARE: I may have to start moderating for outright endorsements. (Readers will note neither Yves nor I have endorsed anybody). I've seen blogs torn apart by battles over candidates, and I don't want that to happen to Naked Capitalism.

EoinW, December 5, 2015 at 8:32 am

Given the Obama experience, I'm not so sure there is a true choice. More like the illusion of a choice. heck even if Rand Paul became President I'd expect him to go against his promises, as Obama did and Sanders will do.

Now where there may still be a choice is in the American colonies. How long could Washington's endless wars last without the support of the Quisling leadership of its allies? I'm talking about a leader saying: "you stop attacking other countries or we impose a trade embargo." Maybe that's unrealistic but any moral leader of a western country would make this stand. Too bad we only vote in psychopaths. But, unlike America where it is too late, other countries still have the possibility of electing anti-war leaders – like the UK Labour Party.

This in my opinion is the last chance to stop Washington democratically. An aggressive anti-American stance which creates costs that even the War Party can't sustain. After all, those who have started these wars going back to Yugoslavia have paid zero cost. Even in 2008 I thought that Obama's election would be a blow for peace chances. Bush and the Republicans were making it difficult for other leaders to obediently follow the Empire. Eight years of McCain might have succeeded in finally isolating Washington. Instead we got Obama and the illusion of change. That gave our Quislings the politcal cover to run back to the Empire. it's been full steam ahead ever since then.

tommy strange, December 5, 2015 at 9:11 am

Well written thoughtful piece. I do hope Bernie gets through the fixed primary, cuz he can win the general easily, especially since the economy is going to tank even deeper by then. I do know that the only real change can happen through a bottom up libertarian mass force (anarchist, democratic con federalist, etc), but we are NOT doing that now, and I am aghast we are not even organizing for 'it'…and so…. Clinton has the record of a completely right wing arrogant fool that would still even bomb Iran. Just imagine that one obvious possibility and what that would cause.

My one cynical add is that just because the 'law' says the president can do this or that, doesn't mean Bernie will be able to. Most of the democratic party will be against him. And an immediate impeachment process could very easily happen against him. No, he doesn't have to die in a plane crash, or be (JKF was not )assassinated by the CIA …the powers that run this country could just impeach him.

Still, I really want him to win. My hate is pure for the neo liberal democrats. My compromise ideologically is easy for me to stomach. Go Bernie. Meanwhile, lets organize for a better world, outside of the corrupt political machine.

JTMcPhee, December 5, 2015 at 10:11 am

The body– all the organs, fluids, nerves, hormones, etc. - of a person when some of whose cells have turned on the whole, gone destructively rogue and metastatic - well, even as those cells link and proliferate and multiply and trick the dying carcass into growing ever more and larger conduits to deliver blood to the tumors, the "person" searches for treatments and maintains hope and a grim determination and positive mental attitude, hoping for a cure that will restore homeostasis and return the tissues to their proper function. Bear in mind that cancers are cells that have shucked off the restraints on and regulation of growth, in favor of SIMPLY MORE, unconcerned about the death of the body that feeds them. And those cells usually have figured out how to hide from the body's regulatory processes. In the Actual World Battlespace, aircraft and "units" carry devices that let them (nominally) Interrogate Friend or Foe, so they won't or are at least less likely to be killed by "friendly fire." Somatic cells get identified a similar way, and the immune system cuts the psychopathic cells out and recycles them. "The Military" of course employs the same spoofing and fraud tricks that cancer cells use, in addition to the ever-growing diversion of life resources into tumor growth, so the immune system is suckered into thinking they are benign. The related disease processes, corporatization and financialization, have pulled the same trick. (Cancerous livers and pancreases and pituitaries keep sort of functioning, putting out hormones and converting nutrients and filtering and stuff, until they don't, or they die with the rest of the body as some other essential-to-life function fails and stops.)

There's what, maybe half a million "Troops" invested in the Imperial Project overseas and at home. Their expertise is in killing, destabilization, raising up Sepoy armies and "national police forces," on the idiotic assumption that the latter two will be under the orders of the High Command. Even if these sh_ts did not just "bowstring" a Bernie Sanders, a hugely brave man imo, if "we," whoever that is, speaking of agency, somehow arrange to "disengage" and demobilize, these creatures that exist at all levels of the chain of command will then do what? Get good paying jobs back home, become good citizens? Or go join up with the Eric Princes and other private mercenary or "national" armies, to keep a paycheck and benefits and keep doing what so many of the get off on? Let alone the other tumors like the rest of the Imperial and other-nation state security types? And of course the Elites that rule us and happily will kill us because "Apres nous le deluge…"

Yah, "We" as agents have to try, to "reform" the aberrant cells. But looking at the patient's chart, the electrolytes are way out of whack, cachexia is well advanced, and the tumors are pressing on and colonizing the vital organs… I personally don't think "we" can do better, but who knows?

TG, December 5, 2015 at 10:30 am

Speeches, schmeeches. Words are wind. Look at the record. Hillary Clinton is a monster. The issue is not Bernie vs. Hillary. The issue is how could any sane American even consider voting for Hillary Clinton, against any candidate, even Trump (yes really).

As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton made America de-facto allies of extremist groups including Al Qaeda. You know, the guys that blew up the trade center towers on 9/11? Yes really. No it's not in her speeches – she just actually did it. And here was Libya, and it's leader wasn't a saint, but he mostly did good for his people – highest standard of living in Africa! – and he'd made nice with US the last few years, and helped against terrorism etc. And Hillary allied with extremist jihadist nut jobs and trashed the place, and now it's like something out of a Mad Max movie and the average Libyan sorely misses Gaddafi, and ISIS is spreading, and refugees are spilling out all over and there is no end in sight etc.

Somehow we have to get past the notion that anyone treated as 'serious' by the New York Times is actually serious, and look at their record. Press releases are not reality. Trump may be an arrogant loudmouth, and Bernie not a saint, etc., but Hillary should be beyond the pale.

roadrider, December 5, 2015 at 10:56 am

Yeah, Sanders sounds more reasonable but he's still endorsing the "War on Terrah!" and making it sound like we're engaged in some kind of noble effort but being undermined by our so-called allies. The part about being undermined is true but his overall stance ignores the elephant in the room – not only did our our military/covert paramilitary misadventures lead to the emergence of Al-Qaeda an ISIS but our continued association with the repressive, oligarchic petro-states in the Gulf fuel the growth of Islamic extremism and sectarian violence in that region. Sanders recognizes part of that problem but his prescription is far from a cure.

This post encourages support for Sanders but count me out. I get that Sanders is better than Clinton on many issues but I can't support him in the primary because 1) I'm no longer a Democrat and can't vote in the primary even if I were so inclined (and no, I'm not going to re-register as a Democrat just to do that) and 2) Sanders has already endorsed Clinton (he'll support her if she wins the primary) so how seriously should we take their policy differences?

Carla, December 5, 2015 at 1:55 pm

I agree. The fact that Sanders has pledged to support Clinton fatally undermines his candidacy. Here in Ohio, arguably the most "progressive" member of the U.S. Senate, Sherrod Brown, endorsed Clinton several weeks ago.

I'm telling ya, the Democrats will never allow a Sanders win. Votes don't matter.

Lambert Strether, December 5, 2015 at 11:23 pm

Again, there's no way to win running as a Democrat without pledging to support the Democratic candidate. There just isn't. (And nobody said the support couldn't turn out to be nothing more than a ritual pledge, right?)

And what's the better option? Creating a third party is not on*, and the Greens have their own candidate (and the Greens have also been ill-treated by star candidates parachuting in; if I were a Green, I don't think I'd support Sanders).

So IMNSHO the whole "ZOMG!!!! He pledged to support Clinton!!!!" is a test of ritual purity, nothing more. It has no relevance to electoral politics at all.

The more important issue is whether Sanders is building up a parallel structure to the Democrats. The small donations says yes. A real movement (my litmus test) would shout yes.

That would bypass the whole endorse/not endorse discussion, and totally f2ck the Democrats, too, a consummation devoutly to be wished.

* Start with ballot access.

Vatch, December 5, 2015 at 7:40 pm

Sanders has already endorsed Clinton (he'll support her if she wins the primary)

Bernie Sanders has been in the Congress for more than 2 decades as an Independent. This year, he suddenly starts campaigning in the Democratic primaries for the Presidency. Some Democrats, especially life long Democrats, view this with suspicion. "What's this carpet bagger doing in our primaries?", they think. To alleviate their fears of an outsider poaching on their territory, he pledges to support the ultimate Democratic candidate for President. This allows undecided Democratic primary voters to feel a little more comfortable about voting for Sanders. If he manages to win the nomination, the Clinton supporters will be more likely to vote for him in the general election.

Just because Sanders has pledged to support the Democratic candidate in the general election doesn't mean that his supporters are obligated to do so. If Sanders is not the Democratic nominee, I will very likely vote Third Party, as I did in 2012. And you can do the same.

Kurt Sperry, December 5, 2015 at 9:08 pm

I don't think his pledge to support the nominee undermines his candidacy at all. First, it's pro forma and carries no force. Besides, it was also absolutely required to even join the contest at a high level. If he wanted to have any impact on this election cycle, he had very literally no choice about it. To think otherwise seems more than a little naive, which seems to be an ongoing problem generally with the American left.

Sanders is *almost* everything one could realistically ever hope for in a legacy party candidate with a real shot, and yet a significant portion of the left inevitably goes straight into the back corner of the drawer looking for reasons not to support him–or even to go further and declare him unfit. Worse yet, those saying this stuff offer no viable plans or alternatives at all. It's really astonishing to me and perhaps explains why the left is ever so easy to marginalize and push around.

TedWa, December 5, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Since Bernie has voted against pretty much all our involvement in the ME, I wonder if what he's saying is that if the ME doesn't care enough to get rid of ISIL, then why should we? For those doubting his character, please do read up on him more. He's not there for show, he gets things done and does it for the people. What more could you ask for than a candidate that refuses to take Wall St money and dark money fomr Super-Pacs? I mean, really – what more could you ask? If he wins out goes citizens united. The TBTF banks will be broken up. SS will be solid for a 100 years and the things that matter to the people the most – will be his goal. He's no phony and he's no psychopath like the past 2 Presidents or his adversary in this run up. I see no guile in the man. When he says he's going to do something he gets it done. No one in Congress has been able to cross party lines and get things done for "we the people" like Bernie Sanders. Look up his record.

I support Bernie on a monthly basis and will continue to do so. I voted Jill Stein last time and while that was a vote with a clear conscience, I knew there was no chance. Here we the people have a chance. Come on now, NO SUPER-PAC MONEY OR MONEY FROM WALL ST !! What does that say? Is he for you or against you? I'd say it screams that he is on our side. Jill Stein? Great. But there's no way she can win. The media and TPTB won't cover her and won't let her debate. I can vote for Bernie with a clear conscience because I took the time to see what the man is about.

3.14e-9, December 5, 2015 at 6:37 pm

Bernie Sanders was the first senator to announce that he would boycott Netanyahu's speech in Congress, and he is the only senator who does not take any money from the pro-Israel lobby. He was one of a small majority in the Senate who did not sign the resolution last summer to approve of Israel's bombing of Gaza - and he didn't vote for it (there was no vote) or otherwise agree to it. The "unanimous consent" thing that Chris Hedges jumps up and down about and others parrot as "proof" that Sanders is pro-Israel is a procedural rule in the Senate, and there was no way to "object" to it, other than not signing the resolution in the first place. That's what he did, even though more than three-fourths of this colleagues signed on. And he has criticized Israel. You'd just never know it by reading Hedges and the CounterPunch crowd.

As for endorsing Hillary, that remains to be seen. He said that in the beginning when he and everyone else thought maybe he'd get a few votes from the fringe. Circumstances have changed dramatically, and he's got millions of supporters who have said they will not vote for Clinton, period. So we'll see whether he sticks with the party - which, goddess knows, has done everything in its power to block him and to which he owes nothing - or whether he'll find another alternative.


Lambert Strether, December 5, 2015 at 11:39 pm

Of course Obama and the Democrats have consistently betrayed their voters. Heck, go back to Pelosi in 2006 taking impeachment off the table, or the Democrats in 2000 rolling over when Bush was selected in Bush v. Gore. I mean, water is wet.

I just don't see any downside in Sanders running as a Democrat. No downside at all.

1) Sanders wins the nomination. Is that so bad?

2) The regulars screw Sanders over so badly that the Democrats split. Is that so bad?

3) Sanders actually starts a movement. Is that so bad?

4) Sanders puts single payer and free college on the national agenda. Socialism gets on the national agenda.* Is that so bad?

5) Sanders runs on small contributions ONLY, with no SuperPAC money, achieving unheard of success totally against conventional wisdom. Is that so bad?

To be fair, there's the sheepdog scenario (again, a terrible metaphor, put about by the Greens, which implies conscious collusion by Sanders, for which there's very little evidence). If that comes true, is that so bad? No, because we're not any worse off than we were before, and see #4 and #5 above.

I just don't see how Sanders running is anything other than a net positive. The left really does need to figure out how to take yes for an answer.

* Please name another politician who has or could have achieved this.

GlassHammer, December 5, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Are we assuming that the Pentagon, DoD, etc… are just going to accept new guidance from the top? (That sounds like wishful thinking to me.)

And if they (Pentagon, DoD, etc…) resist new guidance, what is going to be done about it? Curretly more Americans trust the military than any institution or politician. I highly doubt anyone could swing public opinion against the Deep State at this point in time.

Daryl, December 5, 2015 at 2:55 pm

It seems to me like the major sovereignty-violating actions of the US Gov't happen with the approval of the executive branch. The military and intelligence services generally don't speak out or publicly act against the president's policies. They do leak a bunch of shit everywhere (the mysterious "high-ranking anonymous Obama official" who seems to pop up whenever the president's policies need to be opposed), but that you can live with. It is a real problem, one that makes me nervous. We know exactly where corporations go when their iron grip on democracy loosens: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Plot

McPhee, December 5, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Any Agent of Actual Change has to fear the "bowstring…"

http://www.allempires.com/article/index.php?q=fate_of_roman_emperors

EndOfTheWorld, December 5, 2015 at 2:10 pm

I wonder if there is a real chance Jesse Ventura will be nominated by the Libertarian Party at their convention in May or June and put him on the ballot in about 48 states. He says he's interested and he's got my vote. I agree Bernie has no chance to win, partly because he's just too humble and polite. He was a great athlete in high school, but he never talks about it. That would get him some support in sports-minded Iowa.

[Dec 04, 2015] Trump's two talking points on Clinton

Notable quotes:
"... "One thing with Hillary, she doesn't have the strength or the stamina to be president. She doesn't have it," Trump said at a Wednesday-night campaign rally in Manassas, Virginia. ..."
"... "Hillary shouldn't be allowed to run because what she did is illegal. What she did is illegal," Trump asserted Thursday. ..."
"... I don't know if Clinton privatizing her email server is illegal. I do know it's corrupt to the bone . ..."
"... However, the one line of attack that is substantial, and that she's had the most trouble dispelling, is her closeness to Wall Street . So is there anything Clinton can do to rid herself of the Wall Street albatross? Of course there is. She should say that if elected president, she'd subject the Wall Streeters to a higher tax rate than anyone else. (I'd exclude venture capitalists from this penalty, since they primarily fund innovation.) ..."
naked capitalism
Policy

"Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Thursday lashed out at Donald Trump's comments suggesting that Israel should offer 'sacrifices' to win a peace deal, telling a prominent Republican Jewish group that conflict is the Middle East amounts to more than "a real estate deal."" [The Hill]. Trump outflanks Clinton on Israel to the left. Hilarity ensues.

The Voters

Trump: "Think of it. Obama, your African-American youth - 51 percent unemployment, right? You guys our age, they have unemployment that's double or triple what other people have. What the hell has he done for the African-Americans? He's done nothing. He's done nothing. I don't think he cares about them. He's done nothing. It's all talk, it's all words with this guy" [The Hill]. Sadly, Trump is correct, on both counts. And he forgot to mention the foreclosure crisis, which disproportionately affected Blacks.

"73% of Republican voters say Trump would win the general [Quinippiac]. Rubio: 63%; Cruz: 59%; Carson: 55%. So, not only a gigantic upraised middle finger to their own party establishment and the entire political class, but pragmatic, too.

The Trail

"Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, broke with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday and called for a federal probe of the city police department following the release of a video last week showing the death of a black teen, who was shot by a white police officer" [Wall Street Journal, "Hillary Clinton Calls for Federal Probe of Chicago Police Department"]. Say, who is this "Rahm" character, anyhow? He just seemed to pop up one day, and now he's all over the news. What gives? Where the heck did he come from?

"In a seven-page confidential memo that imagines Trump as the party's presidential nominee, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee urges candidates to adopt many of Trump's tactics, issues and approaches - right down to adjusting the way they dress and how they use Twitter" [WaPo].

Trump's two talking points on Clinton [Business Insider].

"One thing with Hillary, she doesn't have the strength or the stamina to be president. She doesn't have it," Trump said at a Wednesday-night campaign rally in Manassas, Virginia.

Trump's other lines that Clinton shouldn't even be "allowed" to run for president because of her controversial email practices at the State Department. The FBI has said it is investigating whether any material was mishandled in connection to Clinton's email account, which was run using a private server in her home.

"Hillary shouldn't be allowed to run because what she did is illegal. What she did is illegal," Trump asserted Thursday.

I don't know if Clinton privatizing her email server is illegal. I do know it's corrupt to the bone.

"How Hillary Clinton can shake the one charge that sticks to her" [Harold Meyerson, WaPo].

However, the one line of attack that is substantial, and that she's had the most trouble dispelling, is her closeness to Wall Street.

So is there anything Clinton can do to rid herself of the Wall Street albatross? Of course there is. She should say that if elected president, she'd subject the Wall Streeters to a higher tax rate than anyone else. (I'd exclude venture capitalists from this penalty, since they primarily fund innovation.)

Oh, "innovation." Ka-ching.

[Dec 02, 2015] Hillary infrastructure plan

Notable quotes:
"... One issue that is raised by Samwicks piece is the degree to which infrastructure spending should be connected with countercyclical policy. Certainly, it makes sense to have mechanisms available for dialing infrastructure spending up in response to slumps. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
bakho
Samwick points out that Hillary's infrastructure plan is a good start but too small.
The media portrays it as a bank buster.
Progressives need to start criticizing the Hillary plan as being too small, which it is. We should aim for a much larger plan and maybe we could get what Hillary has suggested. It's a problem if that is the starting point in the negotiation.
pgl said in reply to bakho...
I suggested the other day she should make it bigger. Andrew Samwick is one of the few honest Republican economists.
pgl said in reply to bakho...
"It was almost eight years ago that I started writing about spending on infrastructure as a means of countercyclical fiscal policy. There was an op-ed in The Washington Post, followed by an essay in The Ripon Forum, as the Great Recession was beginning. I returned to it occasionally as the weak recovery and inelegant policy discussions of economic stimulus continued the need for a sensible plan to boost economic activity. This op-ed at U.S. News Economic Intelligence blog is a good example."

I used to read Andrew's blog regularly but then I stopped. Too bad as he has been all over the need for fiscal stimulus via infrastructure from the beginning. And Andrew is generally considered right of center. So liberal and conservative economists have both been making this argument.

Of course our resident gold bug troll JohnH insists that economists have not been calling for such stimulus. OK - JohnH is not one to read Andrew's blog as Andrew writes some really high quality posts which will not show up in JohnH's Google for Really Dumb Stuff program.

pgl said in reply to bakho...
Check out this from Kevin Drum:

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/12/congress-has-agreed-highway-bill

Seems Congress has passed a highway bill financed by gimmicks rather than raising the gasoline tax. Speaker Ryan's dishonesty at its finest!

Peter K. said in reply to pgl...
I agree with Drum's main point.

However as I understand it Ryan had to pass this with votes from Democrats and some Republicans. His supporters are framing it as continuing Boehner's parting deal to disgruntled Tea Partiers who won't vote for anything.

Drum writes:

""Among other things, the measure would raise revenue by selling oil from the nation's emergency stockpile and taking money from a Federal Reserve surplus account that works as a sort of cushion to help the bank pay for potential losses."
...
On the other hand, the revenue sources they're tapping in order to pass this bill are probably pretty ill considered. "

The Fed can print up money so I don't understand why it has a "rainy day" fund. Sounds like a budgetary gimmick which Drum glosses over.

From the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/02/us/politics/bipartisan-talks-yield-dollar300-billion-highway-bill.html

Bipartisan Talks Yield $300 Billion Highway Bill

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
DEC. 1, 2015

...

Some of the money will come from the Federal Reserve. The bill cuts the Fed's annual dividend payments to large commercial banks, redirecting that money to highway construction. It also drains money from the Fed's rainy-day fund.

The banking industry opposed the dividend cut, but won only a partial victory. The Senate voted to replace the current 6 percent dividend with a 1.5 percent dividend. The final version instead ties the dividend to the interest rate on 10-year Treasury bonds, currently 2.2 percent, up to a maximum of 6 percent.

The bill also requires the Fed to fork over $19 billion from a rainy-day fund that has ballooned to $29 billion in recent years. The size of the rainy-day fund also would be limited to $10 billion.

A Fed spokesman declined to comment, but Fed officials have previously criticized both the dividend cut and the draining of the rainy-day fund, arguing Congress should not use Fed funds to bankroll specific programs.
...."

Peter K. said in reply to Peter K....
It's slightly ironic that Paul Ryan and John Taylor wrote an op-ed criticizing the Fed for "easing the pressure" on fiscal policy with monetary policy, when that's exactly what the highway bill does.

Do all of these lefty critics of monetary policy not want it to "ease the pressure" of fiscal policy either?

anne said in reply to bakho...
http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/11/30/hillary-clinton-unveils-sprawling-and-expensive-infrastructure-investment-plan/

November 30, 2015

Hillary Clinton Unveils $275 Billion Infrastructure Investment Plan
By Amy Chozick

Evoking the investment in American infrastructure by Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, Hillary Clinton on Monday unveiled the most sprawling - and costliest - government program of her campaign to date.

Mrs. Clinton said her five-year, $275-billion federal infrastructure program was aimed at creating middle-class jobs while investing heavily in improving the country's highways, airports and ports....

[ That would be $275 / 5 = $55 billion per year spending on infrastructure.

That comes to $55 / $18,065 = .3% of GDP infrastructure spending. ]

pgl said in reply to anne...
Then let's double her proposal to make it 0.6% of GDP! Dean Baker would love this calculation.
bakho said in reply to pgl...
I say multiply it by 10 and let the GOP win by whittling away 80%.

It is worth quoting Donald Trump on this:
""I'm going to put this plan in front of lots of different people. It's going to go through lots of scrutiny. There's room to negotiate. I'm a negotiator. There's room to negotiate.

Other people don't have any room to negotiate. But there's always going to be room to negotiate. When I put something forward, I always have to leave something on the table, and if we have things on the table. We can give up certain things.

ilsm said in reply to anne...
The pentagon is diverting $1,000B is resources into nuclear bombs to destroy the world.

How about less militarist Keynesianism and some for the people?

anne said in reply to ilsm...
http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTableHtml.cfm?reqid=9&step=3&isuri=1&904=2007&903=5&906=q&905=2015&910=x&911=0

January 15, 2015

Defense spending was 60.3% of federal government consumption and investment in July through September 2015.

(Billions of dollars)

$738.3 / $1,224.4 = 60.3%

Defense spending was 23.1% of all government consumption and investment in July through September 2015.

$738.3 / $3,200.4 = 23.1%

Defense spending was 4.1% of Gross Domestic Product in July through September 2015.

$738.3 / $18,064.7 = 4.1%

anne said in reply to anne...
Reference link to GDP and government spending:

http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTableHtml.cfm?reqid=9&step=3&isuri=1&904=2007&903=5&906=q&905=2015&910=x&911=0

bakho said in reply to anne...
"unveiled the most sprawling - and costliest - government program of her campaign to date"

[notice how a proposal that is too small gets treated by our media elites.]

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to bakho...
Is Hillary Clinton's infrastructure proposal too modest?
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/12/hillary-clintons-modest-infrastructure-proposal/418068/
The Atlantic - Russell Berman - Dec 1, 2015

It's hard to call a plan that spends $275 billion in taxpayer dollars over five years "modest" and keep a straight face. But that may be the best way to describe the proposal Hillary Clinton unveiled on Monday to upgrade the nation's ailing infrastructure.

Clinton's blueprint is certainly broad in scope: It aims to bolster not only roads and bridges but also public transit, freight rail, airports, broadband Internet, and water systems. It's the most expensive domestic policy proposal she's made to date. And when added to the nearly $300 billion Congress is poised to authorize in a new highway bill, the Clinton plan tops the $478 billion that President Obama sought for infrastructure earlier this year.

Yet the reaction from advocates of more robust infrastructure spending has been less than enthusiastic, a nod to the fact that the size of the Clinton plan falls well short of what studies have shown the country needs. "Secretary Clinton is exactly right to call her plan a 'down payment,'" said Damon Silvers, the AFL-CIO's director of public policy. "The reality of our infrastructure deficit is in the trillions, not billions."

Specifically, that deficit has been pegged at $1.6 trillion-the amount of additional money governments at all levels would have to spend by 2020 to bring the nation's infrastructure up to date, according to a widely-cited report issued two years ago by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Even Bernie Sanders didn't make it that high, but he came a lot closer than Clinton by introducing legislation to spend $1 trillion over the next five years on infrastructure.

The Clinton campaign has tagged the Sanders agenda as overly expensive, requiring either a dramatic increase in the deficit or tax increases that hit not only the nation's wealthiest but millions of middle-class families as well. Politically, the Sanders plan is only achievable with the kind of the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate that Obama enjoyed briefly in 2009. Clinton's proposal, by contrast, is pegged to the reality that barring an electoral tsunami in 2016, she would have to work with at least one chamber of Congress controlled by Republicans, and maybe two. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to bakho...
(It could be larger if there were to be some aggressive financing, meaning not 'just' closing corporate loopholes, taxing offshore cash, etc. Like the suggested income tax increase on the top 3%. Unfortunately ALL of this is unlikely unless both House and Senate come under Dem control.)

Clinton Wants $275 Billion for Infrastructure,
but How Will She Pay for It? http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2015/11/30/Clinton-Wants-275-Billion-Infrastructure-How-Will-She-Pay-It
FT - Eric Pianin - November 30, 2015

Hillary Clinton previewed her $275 billion infrastructure plan during a campaign event in Boston on Sunday with construction workers, labor leaders and Democratic Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who endorsed her candidacy. "Investing in infrastructure makes our economy more productive and competitive across the board," she said in kicking off a week of appearances and announcements geared to creating new jobs.

Clinton's proposal is two-pronged: It would rely on $250 billion of direct federal expenditures for highways, bridges, tunnels and other major projects, and $25 billion more for a national infrastructure bank designed to leverage public and private investments into billions of dollars of fresh low-interest loans and other incentives for construction projects.

The lion's share of this additional federal spending on infrastructure would be offset by closing pricey corporate tax loopholes, including tax inversion provisions that allow major corporations to avoid high U.S. tax rates by moving their headquarters overseas while retaining their material operations in this country. The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced last week that it was doing just that in a planned merger with Allergan to take advantage of much lower corporate taxes in Ireland.

The remainder of the financing for Clinton's infrastructure proposal would come from a new infrastructure bank that would put up federal dollars to attract private investments to help bankroll highway, bridge, mass transit and other construction projects to spur economic growth. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...
Any such proposal from Dems is seen as a gift to union labor, and calls from labor leaders to enlarge it only makes that seem more obvious.

This is entirely the wrong way to sell such a plan.

But a larger (Trump-scale!) plan would raise further ire from GOPsters. So, must go with the timid version.

This could be a very dubious strategy, unless one is *extremely* confident of victory in Nov.

Dan Kervick said in reply to bakho...
One issue that is raised by Samwick's piece is the degree to which infrastructure spending should be connected with countercyclical policy. Certainly, it makes sense to have mechanisms available for dialing infrastructure spending up in response to slumps. But it may be a mistake to build too close a political connection between infrastructure goals and macroeconomic stabilization goals.

If the main pitch the public hears is is that we need to build infrastructure to boost the economy, then when the economy is no longer in need of a boost, the political pressure for infrastructure spending will flag. But it doesn't have to be that way at all - and shouldn't be that way. We are very far behind where we need to be as a nation in our public works, as is shown by that civil engineers scorecard. The various components of the infrastructure agenda need to be part of a long-term plan for national development. When the economy improves and revenues flow in to government coffers, great. The government then has more money to build stuff. The fact that the next president and congress needs to get really busy re-developing our country has little to do with whether job growth has "crested" or whether we will or will not be in a more of a slump in 2017.

Another potential drawback of yoking infrastructure policy too closely to countercyclical policy is that it risks casting the infrastructure development movement as economic ambulance chasers, secretly pining for recessions so they can push through the infrastructure spending, and constantly proclaiming recessions so they can trigger the countercyclical policy.

The infrastructure development agenda should be part of a broader agenda of re-commitment to goals for national development, national excellence or national greatness. People who read a lot about economic conditions - like the folks here - know how far America has slipped. But I think many Americans are still amazingly in the dark about how far the US has fallen behind in many standard measures of national prosperity and success. Politicians still don't have the nerve to tell the people that we ain't what we used to be.

[Nov 29, 2015] The Lesson Of Trump Is You Should Argue With Your Own Team

Notable quotes:
"... The temptation to ignore or downplay wrongness on your own side is obvious. In fact it's a bit of a prisoners dilemma. Reasonable people on both sides of the aisle would be better off if all reasonable people spent more time arguing with unreasonable ideological allies. However, unreasonable ideological allies are useful fools because they share an enemy with you, and sling mud and win skirmishes for "your side". ..."
"... Rush Limbaugh has long been a popular source of misinformation, foolishness, and insanity on the right. And let's not forget Glenn Beck. But it does represent the continued growth of a know-nothing right-wing media and subculture. ..."
Forbes
Trump's success is a coat of many colors, arising from a patchwork of economic, social, political, and cultural conditions. Not to mention the part attributable to the extraordinary nature of Trump himself. But I do think one piece of the blame lies with conservatives lack of willingness to argue with themselves. This is a not a unique problem to conservatives, but it is having disastrous consequences there more than anywhere else right now.

The temptation to ignore or downplay wrongness on your own side is obvious. In fact it's a bit of a prisoners dilemma. Reasonable people on both sides of the aisle would be better off if all reasonable people spent more time arguing with unreasonable ideological allies. However, unreasonable ideological allies are useful fools because they share an enemy with you, and sling mud and win skirmishes for "your side". This is why among all ideologies and parties, almost nobody spend enough effort and time arguing among themselves.

Breitbart news, Sarah Palin, and other Trump defenders are not a new phenomenon. Rush Limbaugh has long been a popular source of misinformation, foolishness, and insanity on the right. And let's not forget Glenn Beck. But it does represent the continued growth of a know-nothing right-wing media and subculture. Until the rise of Trump though, it was too rare that smart conservatives would argue against this with the fervor, effort, and rhetorical seriousness that they reserve for Democrats.

[Nov 28, 2015] Trump almost got it right Some people were arrested for celebrating 9-11 - but they were Israeli

www.rawstory.com

As Donald Trump continues to insist that he saw "thousands" of Muslims cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center - let's pause to remember that several Israelis were arrested and eventually deported for acting suspiciously on 9/11.

Trump has said he personally witnessed large numbers of Muslims holding "tailgate parties" in New Jersey on Sept. 11, 2001, and his campaign manager suggested that "special interests" who control the media have conspired to bury video footage to back the Republican candidate's claims.

The GOP frontrunner has dug himself in so deep defending those claims - which are not supported by law enforcement or media accounts - that he mocked a disabled reporter who questioned his recollection.

Police detained, questioned and eventually released a number of Muslims in the New York City area who were accused of behaving suspiciously following the terrorist attacks - but investigators found most of those claims to be unfounded.

A New Jersey woman, however, reported some suspicious men she saw recording video from a moving van that actually did result in arrests.

The woman, identified by police and news reports only as Maria, said she spotted three men kneeling on the roof of a white van outside her New Jersey apartment building as she watched the towers burn through binoculars.

She called police, who arrested five men - identified as Sivan Kurzberg, Paul Kurzberg, Oded Ellner, Omer Marmari and Yaron Shmuel - later that day near Giants Stadium while driving in a van registered to Urban Moving.

Although it's never been confirmed, the company and the men are widely believed to have been part of an undercover operation set up by Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad, and they have been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories about the terrorist attacks.

Their case was transferred out of the FBI's Criminal Division and into its Foreign Counterintelligence Section shortly after the men were jailed, and they were held ostensibly for overstaying their tourist visas.

An immigration judge ordered them deported two weeks later, but ABC News reported that FBI and CIA officials put a hold on their case.

The men were held in detention for more than two months and given multiple lie detector tests, and at least one of them spent 40 days in solitary confinement.

Intelligence experts suspect the men may have been conducting surveillance on radical Islamists in the U.S., but Israeli officials have denied the men were involved at all in intelligence operations.

Investigators determined the men had no advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks, and they were eventually sent back to Israel after 71 days.

One of the men denied Maria's claims that they had been laughing as they recorded video of the doomed World Trade Center towers.

"The fact of the matter is we are coming from a country that experiences terror daily," the man told investigators. "Our purpose was to document the event."

A lawyer for the men suggested at the time that Maria had exaggerated her claims because she mistook the men for Muslims.

"One of the neighbors who saw them called the police and claimed they were posing, dancing and laughing, against the background of the burning towers," said attorney Steve Gordon. "The five denied dancing. I presume the neighbor was not near them and does not understand Hebrew. Furthermore, the neighbor complained that the cheerful gang on the roof spoke Arabic."

[Nov 27, 2015] Republican groups aim to bring down Donald Trump

Notable quotes:
"... Establishment Republicans, after initially dismissing Trump's appeal to the party base, have grown increasingly concerned with the durability his campaign has demonstrated. Trump has repeatedly issued the types of public statements that have been deemed gaffes, and proved fatal, in past campaigns. ..."
"... But he continues to enjoy a healthy lead both in New Hampshire and in national polling. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
Fred C. Dobbs, November 25, 2015 at 06:06 AM

Republican groups aim to bring down Donald Trump
http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2015/11/24/gop-establishment-fears-donald-trump-could-permanently-tarnish-republican-party-image/EbCIEyJlbD1xF74eXe1LfP/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe
Tracy Jan and Annie Linskey - November 25, 2015

WASHINGTON - Donald Trump has proven to be the GOP's summer fling gone awry: fun at first, when there was no expectation of a commitment. But he's stuck around - long after the party establishment wishes he were gone.

Now, concerned about lasting damage to the party's image, some in the Republican establishment are plotting a full-scale attempt to torpedo his candidacy.

Fergus Cullen, former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, on Monday filed a formal complaint with the New Hampshire secretary of state challenging Trump's place on the first-in-the-nation primary ballot, arguing in vain that the billionaire reality TV star did not provide proof he's a Republican.

Some Republican consultants are forming a group - Trump Card LLC - with the explicit goal of taking out the brash-talking political neophyte. And the conservative Club for Growth has run anti-Trump ads in Iowa.

"This is no longer a joke," said Cullen, who lost his bid before the state Ballot Law Commission to knock Trump off the ballot. "Donald Trump is a dangerous demagogue. He's doing damage to the Republican brand that will prevent us from running a competitive national election next year."

With less than three months before the nominating process begins, Trump is still leading in state and national polls, seeming to gain strength from his divisive rhetoric, rather than collapsing under it.

The concern, party leaders and strategists say, is not just winning the general election and reclaiming the White House. In a year when the GOP is hoping to maintain control of the Senate, party leaders are increasingly worried about the impact Trump's campaign could have on down-ballot candidates in purple states such as the reelection bids by Senators Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Rob Portman of Ohio.

"Kelly Ayotte is losing votes every day because of Donald Trump," Cullen said. "It's not like Passover where voters make a distinction between good Republicans and bad Republicans. They will throw them all out. Or they will reasonably ask, 'Why didn't you stand up to him? Was your silence consent?' " ...

Trump leads among GOP presidential candidates in Mass.
http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2015/11/24/trump-leads-among-gop-presidential-candidates-mass-poll-finds/KeYzyVCy21ceBQCq2fTyFM/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe

Donald Trump's popularity in New Hampshire seems to be seeping into Massachusetts, according to a new poll.

Thirty two percent of likely Republican primary voters in the state called Trump their first choice in the race for the GOP nomination for president, according to the survey by Suffolk University.

Eighteen percent picked Senator Marco Rubio in the poll. Senator Ted Cruz earned 10 percent, followed by former Florida governor Jeb Bush at 7 percent, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 5 percent, and Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina both at 4 percent.

No other GOP candidate drew significant support ...

Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs... November 25, 2015 at 06:15 AM

Former state GOP chairman tries, fails to kick Trump off NH ballot http://fw.to/I4okFoh

Donald Trump supporters can exhale: their man will be on the ballot in New Hampshire's Feb. 9 presidential primary.

Not that Trump supporters were holding their breath. A challenge by former state Republican chairman Fergus Cullen to Trump's eligibility was quickly thrown out Tuesday by the New Hampshire Ballot Commission.

Cullen had filed a complaint Monday arguing Trump was ineligible to be on the Republican ballot because his views are inconsistent with the Republican party platform. The complaint, filed on behalf of GOP presidential candidate John Kasich's super PAC, A New Day for America, claimed the real estate mogul had previously supported Democrats and therefore should not be allowed on the Republican ballot. ...

(Is this what will be cited as 'unfair
treatment' by future independent candidate
Trump, or just a silly maneuver by pissant Kasich?)

ilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs... November 25, 2015 at 11:40 AM

Kelly Ayotte is losing votes like John Ellis is losing votes.

NH don't want anyone who put Netanyahu first.

Fred C. Dobbs -> ilsm... November 25, 2015 at 01:10 PM

(But *who*?)

Now is the perfect time for Ayotte to endorse http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2015/11/04/groundgame/XLoeGrGj4SffMxzZVekRhJ/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe - Nov 4

... While Donald Trump continues to hang onto the first-place spot, everyone else continues to shift positions. In the last two months, the second-place spot has belonged to Ben Carson, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Ohio Governor John Kasich and US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

But the battle for second place isn't even the GOP's most interesting contest. Republicans want to know who will emerge among Rubio, Kasich, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as the moderate/establishment choice (Some Republicans also include Fiorina in this camp).

That question is anyone's guess. Ayotte is the only one who can provide the answer.

But to be sure, her decision is complicated.

Rubio ran television ads in her defense when she voted against the Manchin-Toomey amendment on background checks for guns. As chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Christie spent millions of dollars attacking Ayotte's foe, Governor Maggie Hassan, in her reelection bid last year (even then, Republicans expected Hassan would challenge Ayotte in 2016).

However, endorsing Bush would give Ayotte access to his national fundraising base -- something she will need for her own race. Kasich also seems like a safe bet: His Ohio background could mean he is the most electable in a general election. What's more, Fiorina on top of the ballot could blunt any energy female voters have to elect Democrat Hillary Clinton as the first female president, which could have implications for Ayotte's own race.

Last but not least, Ayotte has a personal friendship with US Senator Lindsey Graham, with whom she watches movies with her children.

The easiest thing for Ayotte is to not endorse. It is something of a New Hampshire tradition to cheer from the sidelines when facing a major election in the upcoming year to avoid upsetting members in their own party. ...

(It is likely that outgoing NH Dem governor Maggie Hassan, who plans to run against Kelly Ayotte in 2016 would be swept in by a HRC landslide in NH.)

ilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs... November 25, 2015 at 01:53 PM

Hassan is bleating with the rest of the sheep [governors who would inter George Takei for their political creds] against letting refugees in..

Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs... November 25, 2015 at 12:49 PM

(NH GOP chair in state of deep denial.)

NH GOP chair doubts Donald Trump can win
http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/11/25/new-hampshire-gop-chair-doubts-donald-trump-can-win/YdaiaY0O0I7xRAdiecS7uK/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe
Jim O'Sullivan - November 25, 2015

Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the New Hampshire Republican primary, which is less than three months away.

But the state party's chairwoman doesn't think the developer and television personality will ultimately prevail there, calling his political style a poor fit for the first state to host a primary.

"Shallow campaigns that depend on bombast and divisive rhetoric do not succeed in New Hampshire, and I don't expect that they will now," state GOP chair Jennifer Horn said Wednesday in a phone interview, when asked about Trump's candidacy.

Establishment Republicans, after initially dismissing Trump's appeal to the party base, have grown increasingly concerned with the durability his campaign has demonstrated. Trump has repeatedly issued the types of public statements that have been deemed gaffes, and proved fatal, in past campaigns.

But he continues to enjoy a healthy lead both in New Hampshire and in national polling.

"In New Hampshire, historically, the truth is, people really don't make their final decisions until very, very close until Election Day," Horn said, noting that US Senator Marco Rubio has been climbing in state polls.

"People are probably underestimating [New Jersey Governor] Chris Christie. And, certainly, [former Florida governor Jeb] Bush is working very, very hard in New Hampshire," she added. ...

Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs... November 25, 2015 at 12:56 PM

(This should totally do the trick for Marc. Am totally looking forward to more GOP TV ads, maybe displacing Jeb! & Kasich. !Trump is not advertising?)

Marco Rubio plans advertising blitz in NH http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2015/11/17/marco-rubio-plans-new-hampshire-blitz-that-will-challenge-jeb-bush-for-airwaves-dominance/ItjGyoRzdQkQ84UIOrIRZI/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe

WASHINGTON - Senator Marco Rubio is preparing a New Hampshire advertising blitz in the final weeks before the first-in-the-nation presidential primary, challenging rival Republican Jeb Bush for airwaves dominance and highlighting the Granite State's importance to his nomination hopes.

Rubio and an outside group supporting him have already reserved more than 1,900 spots - representing $2.8 million worth of television ads - on Manchester-based WMUR-TV, the state's dominant television station ...

ilsm -> Fred C. Dobbs...

Someone is dumping Carson road signs all over the NH place.

[Nov 26, 2015] The U.S. Is the Most Unequal Developed Economy Outside Southern Europe

Notable quotes:
"... And yet Hillary mocked Bernie Sanders for wanting the U.S. to be more like Denmark. ..."
"... Excellent example of her opportunism, unprincipled ambition and revolting sense of superiority ..."
Bloomberg Business

Fred C. Dobbs said... November 25, 2015 at 10:50 AM

US Is the Most Unequal Developed Economy Outside
Southern Europe http://bloom.bg/1NrQVeT via @Bloomberg
Kasia Klimasinska - November 25, 2015

The developed world's most unequal economies are in struggling southern Europe, closely followed by the U.S.

That's according to a new report from Morgan Stanley, where analysts looked at indicators including the gender pay gap, involuntary part-time employment and Internet access. The bank also found that the rise of economies such as China and India has helped drive down inequality between countries, even though inequality within many individual has grown. Since the mid-1980s, income inequality has risen the most in Sweden when looking at developed economies. Even after that increase, Sweden (along with the rest of Scandinavia) still had the lowest levels of inequality. ...

Peter K. said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...

And yet Hillary mocked Bernie Sanders for wanting the U.S. to be more like Denmark.

PPaine said in reply to Peter K....

Excellent example of her opportunism, unprincipled ambition and revolting sense of superiority

Among her peers those dangerous broiled creatures of middle class strivers domestic brimstone

She makes fellow victim turned brute [to the extent that] Dick Nixon look sympathetic

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... November 25, 2015 at 08:33 AM

BTW, there IS an unpostable link to the Morgan Stanley report in
the Bloomberg article

[Nov 23, 2015] For Bernie Sanders, it's New Hampshire or bust

Notable quotes:
"... With less than 12 weeks to go before the New Hampshire primary, all Bernie Sanders has is New Hampshire. ..."
"... In Iowa, Hillary Clinton leads him by 18 points. In South Carolina, Clinton is ahead of Sanders by 54 points. Nationally, the latest poll had Clinton's lead at 33 percentage points. ..."
"... Over the past month it has become clear that New Hampshire is no longer Bernie Sanders's firewall, but it remains the only reason he has an argument that there is a contest at all. Should Clinton ever take a double-digit lead in the Granite State, there will be nothing for anyone to talk about in terms of the Democratic contest. ..."
"... A substantial lead in the polls could prompt any candidate to look beyond the primary to try to get a head start on the general election, but in Mrs. Clinton's case, gazing past Mr. Sanders to next November is part of the intensified strategy to defeat him. ..."
"... "They are running on the same economic policies that have failed us before," Mrs. Clinton said at a rally in Memphis on Friday. She did not mention Mr. Sanders, but his stances on wealth and income have seemed to influence his rival's populist tone. "Trickledown economics, cut taxes on the wealthy, get out of the way of big corporations," she said. "Well, we know how that story ends, don't we?" ..."
"... Mr. Sanders's campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said Mrs. Clinton's obsession with the Republican Party is a tactic to diminish her main Democratic primary opponent, whose economic message has attracted enormous crowds and enthusiasm. ..."
"... "We are much closer to Secretary Clinton today than Senator Obama was in 2008," Mr. Weaver said. "I don't think they think this is locked up." ..."
"... Among Democrats, Mrs. Clinton holds a 25 percentage point lead against Mr. Sanders nationally, according to a Bloomberg Politics poll released on Friday, compared with a nine percentage point advantage in the same poll conducted in September that also included Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who later said he would not seek the nomination. ..."
"... The primary is by no means determined. Polls in Iowa, in particular, tend to undercount Mr. Sanders's young supporters who do not have landline phones, his aides say. And he continues to lead in some polls in New Hampshire, a state that was supposed to be a stronghold for Mrs. Clinton. ..."
"... Even as Mrs. Clinton focuses firmly on the Republicans, her campaign is increasing its indirect, if aggressive, moves to squeeze Mr. Sanders. She has secured the backing of major labor unions, including most recently the Service Employees International Union, which has two million members. Her campaign has emphasized Mrs. Clinton's commitment to gun control, an issue that Mr. Sanders, as a senator from a hunting state, has been less vehement about, and she delivered a major foreign policy speech on Thursday in New York, the same day Mr. Sanders delivered a speech about Democratic socialism in Washington. ("Ah, the attempted bigfoot," Mr. Weaver said of the timing of the two speeches. The Clinton campaign announced its speech a day earlier than the Sanders team.) ..."
"... Hillary Clintons speech on ISIS to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) showed clearly what to expect in a Clinton presidency: more of the same. In her speech, Clinton doubled down on the existing, failed U.S. approach in the Middle East, the one she pursued as Secretary of State. ..."
"... The CIA-led policy in the Middle East works like this. If a regime is deemed to be unfriendly to the U.S., topple it. If a competitor like the Soviet Union or Russia has a foothold in the region, try to push it out. If this means arming violent insurgencies, including Sunni jihadists, and thereby creating mayhem: so be it. And if the result is terrorist blowback around the world by the forces created by the US, then double down on bombing and regime change. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com

Fred C. Dobbs said... Monday, November 23, 2015 at 08:21 AM

(Feel the Bern!)

For Bernie Sanders, it's New Hampshire or bust
http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2015/11/20/for-bernie-sanders-new-hampshire-bust/U3TtOEsDMlJiDkthJ1CzOM/story.html?event=event25
via @BostonGlobe - James Pindell - November 20, 2015

With less than 12 weeks to go before the New Hampshire primary, all Bernie Sanders has is New Hampshire.

In Iowa, Hillary Clinton leads him by 18 points. In South Carolina, Clinton is ahead of Sanders by 54 points. Nationally, the latest poll had Clinton's lead at 33 percentage points.

But in New Hampshire a poll this week showed the race tied. And last night, the state's largest union decided to endorse him, bucking the national union which announced it was with Clinton.

Over the past month it has become clear that New Hampshire is no longer Bernie Sanders's firewall, but it remains the only reason he has an argument that there is a contest at all. Should Clinton ever take a double-digit lead in the Granite State, there will be nothing for anyone to talk about in terms of the Democratic contest.

But so far Sanders is hanging on, even if there are some growing pains amid his campaign's quick attempt to scale up with new campaign cash. Sanders now has more than 60 staffers, and he opened his 14th campaign office, this one in Laconia, this week. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...
There is also a chance that Dems will go with the First Secular Jewish Major Party Candidate, if The Donald has his say.

http://feelthebern.org/bernie-sanders-on-religion-and-beliefs/

Peter K. said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/24/us/politics/hillary-clinton-looks-past-primaries-in-strategy-to-defeat-bernie-sanders.html

Hillary Clinton Looks Past Primaries in Strategy to Defeat Bernie Sanders

By AMY CHOZICK
NOV. 23, 2015

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - "Whenever Republicans get into the White House, they mess it up. They mess it up, folks," Hillary Rodham Clinton told a crowd gathered in a field lined with trees covered in Spanish moss here on Saturday.

At rallies these days, Mrs. Clinton criticizes the Republican presidential candidates for their economic policies ("Our economy does better with a Democrat in the White House"); she knocks their foreign policy approaches and says their positions on immigration and women's issues would set the country "backwards instead of forwards."

What she does not do is mention her main Democratic primary opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Mrs. Clinton has regained her footing in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, and she has locked in the support of major labor unions and over half the Democratic Party's superdelegates, party leaders and elected officials, needed to secure the nomination. She is now acting as if she were no longer running against one rival, Mr. Sanders, but 14: the Republicans who are still preoccupied with cutting down one another.

A substantial lead in the polls could prompt any candidate to look beyond the primary to try to get a head start on the general election, but in Mrs. Clinton's case, gazing past Mr. Sanders to next November is part of the intensified strategy to defeat him.

Even voters who support Mr. Sanders often say that Mrs. Clinton appears more electable when compared with a Republican nominee. And while her economic message, considering her ties to Wall Street and the "super PAC" supporting her, can seem muddled when contrasted with Mr. Sanders's, it sounds more forceful to Democratic voters compared with Republican proposals. And, as a campaign aide points out, the Republican candidates consistently criticize Mrs. Clinton, so it makes sense for her to punch back.

"I love Bernie, and I feel he'd get something done about the lopsided distribution of wealth in this country," said Siobhan Hansen, 58, an undecided voter in Charleston. "But," she added, "I hate to admit it but I just think Hillary has a better chance in the general election."

Even as Mrs. Clinton's campaign has invested heavily in Iowa and New Hampshire and her schedule revolves around visiting states with early primaries, her message has become a broader rejoinder reminding voters of the 2008 financial crisis and linking the Republican candidates to the foreclosures and joblessness that President Obama inherited. It is a strategy her campaign believes will be effective in a general election contest after having a dry run before the primaries.

"They are running on the same economic policies that have failed us before," Mrs. Clinton said at a rally in Memphis on Friday. She did not mention Mr. Sanders, but his stances on wealth and income have seemed to influence his rival's populist tone. "Trickledown economics, cut taxes on the wealthy, get out of the way of big corporations," she said. "Well, we know how that story ends, don't we?"

At a town-hall-style event in Grinnell, Iowa, this month, Mrs. Clinton, talking about the importance of voter participation, even seemed to forget, albeit briefly, that the short-term goal was to win the Iowa caucuses. "If not me, I hope you caucus for somebody," she said. She paused. "I hope more of you caucus for me."

Mrs. Clinton is focused on capturing the nomination and has been contrasting herself with the Republicans since she announced her candidacy in April, the campaign aide said.

Mr. Sanders's campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said Mrs. Clinton's obsession with the Republican Party is a tactic to diminish her main Democratic primary opponent, whose economic message has attracted enormous crowds and enthusiasm.

As Mr. Sanders delivered his standard speech about inequality here on Saturday, Mr. Weaver closely watched the voters in the front row who wore blue "H" T-shirts, indicating their support for Mrs. Clinton, as they cheered for Mr. Sanders several times.

"We are much closer to Secretary Clinton today than Senator Obama was in 2008," Mr. Weaver said. "I don't think they think this is locked up."

Mrs. Clinton may have been helped by the campaign's shift to foreign policy, where Mr. Sanders is seen as weaker, in the aftermath of the Nov. 13 terrorist attack in Paris. Mrs. Clinton said in a speech in New York on Thursday that the Republicans' approach to fighting the Islamic State, compared with her own, amounted to "a choice between fear and resolve." She derided as un-American the Republicans who said they would either bar Syrian refugees from resettling in the United States or allow only Christian refugees.

"There are forces no candidate can control, and they can be detrimental," Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, said when asked about the newfound focus on defeating the Islamic State. "I believe in this case third-party forces are working in her favor."

Among Democrats, Mrs. Clinton holds a 25 percentage point lead against Mr. Sanders nationally, according to a Bloomberg Politics poll released on Friday, compared with a nine percentage point advantage in the same poll conducted in September that also included Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who later said he would not seek the nomination.

"By turning up the heat on Republicans, going after Trump, that's all part of the essence of saying, 'I am the leader of the Democratic Party,' " said Robert Shrum, a strategist for Democratic presidential candidates including John Kerry and Al Gore.

The primary is by no means determined. Polls in Iowa, in particular, tend to undercount Mr. Sanders's young supporters who do not have landline phones, his aides say. And he continues to lead in some polls in New Hampshire, a state that was supposed to be a stronghold for Mrs. Clinton.

Even as Mrs. Clinton focuses firmly on the Republicans, her campaign is increasing its indirect, if aggressive, moves to squeeze Mr. Sanders.

She has secured the backing of major labor unions, including most recently the Service Employees International Union, which has two million members. Her campaign has emphasized Mrs. Clinton's commitment to gun control, an issue that Mr. Sanders, as a senator from a hunting state, has been less vehement about, and she delivered a major foreign policy speech on Thursday in New York, the same day Mr. Sanders delivered a speech about Democratic socialism in Washington. ("Ah, the attempted bigfoot," Mr. Weaver said of the timing of the two speeches. The Clinton campaign announced its speech a day earlier than the Sanders team.)

Mrs. Clinton has also started to imply that Mr. Sanders's single-payer "Medicare for All" health care plan would amount to a middle-class tax increase.

In recent days, she has unveiled a plan to give Americans with unexpected medical costs a tax credit of $2,500 for an individual or $5,000 for a family. On Sunday in Iowa, she introduced another tax credit to cover up to $6,000 of medical expenses for middle-class families caring for ailing parents or grandparents. "I believe you deserve a raise, not a tax increase," she said in Memphis.

The Sanders campaign said that his plan would save the average family $5,000 a year through the elimination of premiums, deductibles and co-payments, and it called Mrs. Clinton's plan "Republican-lite" because it proposed short-term tax cuts over long-term benefits.

Mrs. Clinton's opponents point out that there is no more precarious place for her to be than when she seems inevitable, as she did in the early months of the 2008 Democratic primary before she finished third in the Iowa caucuses behind Senators Barack Obama and John Edwards.

This month, just after Mrs. Clinton had officially put her name on the ballot in New Hampshire, she sat down to take some questions from the local reporters who gathered around her in a cramped room at the State House in Concord. The first question: "How does it feel to once again be inevitable?"

Mrs. Clinton said she had put her name on the ballot in that very room in 2007. "I'm back again," she said. "I intend to do everything I can to work as hard as possible to be successful this time."

anne said...
http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/11/23/hillary-clinton-and-isis-mess

November 23, 2015

Hillary Clinton and the ISIS Mess
By Jeffrey D. Sachs

Hillary Clinton's speech on ISIS to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) showed clearly what to expect in a Clinton presidency: more of the same. In her speech, Clinton doubled down on the existing, failed U.S. approach in the Middle East, the one she pursued as Secretary of State.

The CIA-led policy in the Middle East works like this. If a regime is deemed to be unfriendly to the U.S., topple it. If a competitor like the Soviet Union or Russia has a foothold in the region, try to push it out. If this means arming violent insurgencies, including Sunni jihadists, and thereby creating mayhem: so be it. And if the result is terrorist blowback around the world by the forces created by the US, then double down on bombing and regime change.

In rare cases, great presidents learn to stand up to the CIA and the rest of the military-industrial-intelligence complex. JFK became one of the greatest presidents in American history when he came to realize the awful truth that his own military and CIA advisors had contributed to the onset of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The CIA-led Bay of Pigs fiasco and other CIA blunders had provoked a terrifying response from the Soviet Union. Recognizing that the U.S. approach had contributed to bringing the world to the brink, Kennedy bravely and successfully stood up to the warmongering pushed by so many of his advisors and pursued peace, both during and after the Cuban Missile Crisis. He thereby saved the world from nuclear annihilation and halted the unchecked proliferation of nuclear arms.

Clinton's speech shows that she and her advisors are good loyalists of the military-industrial-intelligence complex. Her speech included an impressive number of tactical elements: who should do the bombing and who should be the foot soldiers. Yet all of this tactical precision is nothing more than business as usual. Would Clinton ever have the courage and vision to push back against the U.S. security establishment, as did JFK, and thereby restore global diplomacy and reverse the upward spiral of war and terror?

Just as the CIA contributed to the downward slide to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and just as many of JFK's security chiefs urged war rather than negotiation during that crisis, so too today's Middle East terrorism, wars, and refugee crises have been stoked by misguided CIA-led interventions. Starting in 1979, the CIA began to build the modern Sunni jihadist movement, then known as the Mujahedeen, to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The CIA recruited young Sunni Muslim men to fight the Soviet infidel, and the CIA provided training, arms, and financing. Yet soon enough, this US-created jihadist army turned on the US, a classic and typical case of blowback.

The anti-U.S. and anti-Western blowback started with the first Gulf War in 1990, when the U.S. stationed troops throughout the region. It continued with the Second Gulf War, when the U.S. toppled a Sunni regime in Iraq and replaced it with a puppet Shia regime. In the process, it dismantled Saddam's Sunni-led army, which then regrouped as a core part of ISIS in Iraq.

Next the U.S. teamed up with Saudi Arabia to harass, and then to try to topple Bashir al-Assad. His main crime from the perspective of the U.S. and Saudi Arabia: being too close to Iran. Once again, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia turned to Sunni jihadists with arms and financing, and part of that fighting force morphed into ISIS in Syria. The evidence is that the covert U.S. actions against Assad pre-date the overt U.S. calls for Assad's overthrow in 2011 by at least a couple of years.

In a similar vein, the U.S. teamed up with France and the UK to bomb Libya and kill Muammar Qaddafi. The result has been an ongoing Libyan civil war, and the unleashing of violent jihadists across the African Sahel, including Mali, which suffered the terrorist blow last week at the hands of such marauders.

Thanks to America's misguided policies, we now have wars and violence raging across a 5,000-mile stretch from Bamako, Mali to Kabul, Afghanistan, with a U.S. hand in starting and stoking the violence. Libya, Sudan, the Sinai, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan are all cases where the U.S. has directly intervened with very adverse results. Mali, Chad, Central African Republic, Somalia are some of the many other countries indirectly caught up in turmoil unleashed by U.S. covert and overt operations....


Jeffrey D. Sachs is the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

pgl said in reply to anne...
Jeff Sachs is right to praise Kennedy for not falling in line with the anti Castro nutcases. But he just skipped over Kennedy's blunder re Vietnam. It was the dumbest thing we had ever done. But then came March 2003 and Iraq. Hillary Clinton may be too eager for regime change but the Republicans want to redo the Crusades.
ilsm said in reply to pgl...
Lodge etc. were being lied to by the pentagon reps in RVN, but JFK kept the lid on advisors.

The big mistake on Vietnam was LBJ assuming Goldwater was right.

That said JFK helped usher in the concept of "flexible response" which moved US closer to fitting out US forces for the past 50 years' quagmires.

Keenan's containment strategy was ruined by NSC 68 which put pentagon responses senior to State.

pgl said in reply to ilsm...
The big mistake on Vietnam was listening to Dean Rusk and Robert McNamara. The Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld of the 1960's.
RGC said in reply to anne...
A Timeline of CIA Atrocities

By Steve Kangas

The following timeline describes just a few of the hundreds of atrocities and crimes committed by the CIA (1)

CIA operations follow the same recurring script. First, American business interests abroad are threatened by a popular or democratically elected leader. The people support their leader because he intends to conduct land reform, strengthen unions, redistribute wealth, nationalize foreign-owned industry, and regulate business to protect workers, consumers and the environment. So, on behalf of American business, and often with their help, the CIA mobilizes the opposition. First it identifies right-wing groups within the country (usually the military), and offers them a deal: "We'll put you in power if you maintain a favorable business climate for us." The Agency then hires, trains and works with them to overthrow the existing government (usually a democracy). It uses every trick in the book: propaganda, stuffed ballot boxes, purchased elections, extortion, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping, beating, torture, intimidation, economic sabotage, death squads and even assassination. These efforts culminate in a military coup, which installs a right-wing dictator. The CIA trains the dictator's security apparatus to crack down on the traditional enemies of big business, using interrogation, torture and murder. The victims are said to be "communists," but almost always they are just peasants, liberals, moderates, labor union leaders, political opponents and advocates of free speech and democracy. Widespread human rights abuses follow.

This scenario has been repeated so many times that the CIA actually teaches it in a special school, the notorious "School of the Americas." (It opened in Panama but later moved to Fort Benning, Georgia.) Critics have nicknamed it the "School of the Dictators" and "School of the Assassins." Here, the CIA trains Latin American military officers how to conduct coups, including the use of interrogation, torture and murder.

The Association for Responsible Dissent estimates that by 1987, 6 million people had died as a result of CIA covert operations. (2) Former State Department official William Blum correctly calls this an "American Holocaust."

The CIA justifies these actions as part of its war against communism. But most coups do not involve a communist threat. Unlucky nations are targeted for a wide variety of reasons: not only threats to American business interests abroad, but also liberal or even moderate social reforms, political instability, the unwillingness of a leader to carry out Washington's dictates, and declarations of neutrality in the Cold War. Indeed, nothing has infuriated CIA Directors quite like a nation's desire to stay out of the Cold War.

The ironic thing about all this intervention is that it frequently fails to achieve American objectives. Often the newly installed dictator grows comfortable with the security apparatus the CIA has built for him. He becomes an expert at running a police state. And because the dictator knows he cannot be overthrown, he becomes independent and defiant of Washington's will. The CIA then finds it cannot overthrow him, because the police and military are under the dictator's control, afraid to cooperate with American spies for fear of torture and execution. The only two options for the U.S at this point are impotence or war. Examples of this "boomerang effect" include the Shah of Iran, General Noriega and Saddam Hussein. The boomerang effect also explains why the CIA has proven highly successful at overthrowing democracies, but a wretched failure at overthrowing dictatorships.

The following timeline should confirm that the CIA as we know it should be abolished and replaced by a true information-gathering and analysis organization. The CIA cannot be reformed - it is institutionally and culturally corrupt.

1929

The culture we lost - Secretary of State Henry Stimson refuses to endorse a code-breaking operation, saying, "Gentlemen do not read each other's mail."

1941

COI created - In preparation for World War II, President Roosevelt creates the Office of Coordinator of Information (COI). General William "Wild Bill" Donovan heads the new intelligence service.

1942

OSS created - Roosevelt restructures COI into something more suitable for covert action, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Donovan recruits so many of the nation's rich and powerful that eventually people joke that "OSS" stands for "Oh, so social!" or "Oh, such snobs!"

1943

Italy - Donovan recruits the Catholic Church in Rome to be the center of Anglo-American spy operations in Fascist Italy. This would prove to be one of America's most enduring intelligence alliances in the Cold War.

1945

OSS is abolished - The remaining American information agencies cease covert actions and return to harmless information gathering and analysis.

Operation PAPERCLIP – While other American agencies are hunting down Nazi war criminals for arrest, the U.S. intelligence community is smuggling them into America, unpunished, for their use against the Soviets. The most important of these is Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler's master spy who had built up an intelligence network in the Soviet Union. With full U.S. blessing, he creates the "Gehlen Organization," a band of refugee Nazi spies who reactivate their networks in Russia. These include SS intelligence officers Alfred Six and Emil Augsburg (who massacred Jews in the Holocaust), Klaus Barbie (the "Butcher of Lyon"), Otto von Bolschwing (the Holocaust mastermind who worked with Eichmann) and SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny (a personal friend of Hitler's). The Gehlen Organization supplies the U.S. with its only intelligence on the Soviet Union for the next ten years, serving as a bridge between the abolishment of the OSS and the creation of the CIA However, much of the "intelligence" the former Nazis provide is bogus. Gehlen inflates Soviet military capabilities at a time when Russia is still rebuilding its devastated society, in order to inflate his own importance to the Americans (who might otherwise punish him). In 1948, Gehlen almost convinces the Americans that war is imminent, and the West should make a preemptive strike. In the 50s he produces a fictitious "missile gap." To make matters worse, the Russians have thoroughly penetrated the Gehlen Organization with double agents, undermining the very American security that Gehlen was supposed to protect.

1947

Greece - President Truman requests military aid to Greece to support right-wing forces fighting communist rebels. For the rest of the Cold War, Washington and the CIA will back notorious Greek leaders with deplorable human rights records.

CIA created - President Truman signs the National Security Act of 1947, creating the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Council. The CIA is accountable to the president through the NSC - there is no democratic or congressional oversight. Its charter allows the CIA to "perform such other functions and duties… as the National Security Council may from time to time direct." This loophole opens the door to covert action and dirty tricks.

1948

Covert-action wing created - The CIA recreates a covert action wing, innocuously called the Office of Policy Coordination, led by Wall Street lawyer Frank Wisner. According to its secret charter, its responsibilities include "propaganda, economic warfare, preventive direct action, including sabotage, antisabotage, demolition and evacuation procedures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world."

Italy - The CIA corrupts democratic elections in Italy, where Italian communists threaten to win the elections. The CIA buys votes, broadcasts propaganda, threatens and beats up opposition leaders, and infiltrates and disrupts their organizations. It works -- the communists are defeated.

1949

Radio Free Europe - The CIA creates its first major propaganda outlet, Radio Free Europe. Over the next several decades, its broadcasts are so blatantly false that for a time it is considered illegal to publish transcripts of them in the U.S.

Late 40s

Operation MOCKINGBIRD - The CIA begins recruiting American news organizations and journalists to become spies and disseminators of propaganda. The effort is headed by Frank Wisner, Allan Dulles, Richard Helms and Philip Graham. Graham is publisher of The Washington Post, which becomes a major CIA player. Eventually, the CIA's media assets will include ABC, NBC, CBS, Time, Newsweek, Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Copley News Service and more. By the CIA's own admission, at least 25 organizations and 400 journalists will become CIA assets.

1953

Iran – CIA overthrows the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh in a military coup, after he threatened to nationalize British oil. The CIA replaces him with a dictator, the Shah of Iran, whose secret police, SAVAK, is as brutal as the Gestapo.

Operation MK-ULTRA - Inspired by North Korea's brainwashing program, the CIA begins experiments on mind control. The most notorious part of this project involves giving LSD and other drugs to American subjects without their knowledge or against their will, causing several to commit suicide. However, the operation involves far more than this. Funded in part by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations, research includes propaganda, brainwashing, public relations, advertising, hypnosis, and other forms of suggestion.

1954

Guatemala - CIA overthrows the democratically elected Jacob Arbenz in a military coup. Arbenz has threatened to nationalize the Rockefeller-owned United Fruit Company, in which CIA Director Allen Dulles also owns stock. Arbenz is replaced with a series of right-wing dictators whose bloodthirsty policies will kill over 100,000 Guatemalans in the next 40 years.

1954-1958

North Vietnam - CIA officer Edward Lansdale spends four years trying to overthrow the communist government of North Vietnam, using all the usual dirty tricks. The CIA also attempts to legitimize a tyrannical puppet regime in South Vietnam, headed by Ngo Dinh Diem. These efforts fail to win the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese because the Diem government is opposed to true democracy, land reform and poverty reduction measures. The CIA's continuing failure results in escalating American intervention, culminating in the Vietnam War.

1956

Hungary - Radio Free Europe incites Hungary to revolt by broadcasting Khruschev's Secret Speech, in which he denounced Stalin. It also hints that American aid will help the Hungarians fight. This aid fails to materialize as Hungarians launch a doomed armed revolt, which only invites a major Soviet invasion. The conflict kills 7,000 Soviets and 30,000 Hungarians.

1957-1973

Laos - The CIA carries out approximately one coup per year trying to nullify Laos' democratic elections. The problem is the Pathet Lao, a leftist group with enough popular support to be a member of any coalition government. In the late 50s, the CIA even creates an "Armee Clandestine" of Asian mercenaries to attack the Pathet Lao. After the CIA's army suffers numerous defeats, the U.S. starts bombing, dropping more bombs on Laos than all the U.S. bombs dropped in World War II. A quarter of all Laotians will eventually become refugees, many living in caves.

1959

Haiti - The U.S. military helps "Papa Doc" Duvalier become dictator of Haiti. He creates his own private police force, the "Tonton Macoutes," who terrorize the population with machetes. They will kill over 100,000 during the Duvalier family reign. The U.S. does not protest their dismal human rights record.

1961

The Bay of Pigs - The CIA sends 1,500 Cuban exiles to invade Castro's Cuba. But "Operation Mongoose" fails, due to poor planning, security and backing. The planners had imagined that the invasion will spark a popular uprising against Castro -– which never happens. A promised American air strike also never occurs. This is the CIA's first public setback, causing President Kennedy to fire CIA Director Allen Dulles.

Dominican Republic - The CIA assassinates Rafael Trujillo, a murderous dictator Washington has supported since 1930. Trujillo's business interests have grown so large (about 60 percent of the economy) that they have begun competing with American business interests.

Ecuador - The CIA-backed military forces the democratically elected President Jose Velasco to resign. Vice President Carlos Arosemana replaces him; the CIA fills the now vacant vice presidency with its own man.

Congo (Zaire) - The CIA assassinates the democratically elected Patrice Lumumba. However, public support for Lumumba's politics runs so high that the CIA cannot clearly install his opponents in power. Four years of political turmoil follow.

1963

Dominican Republic - The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Juan Bosch in a military coup. The CIA installs a repressive, right-wing junta.

Ecuador - A CIA-backed military coup overthrows President Arosemana, whose independent (not socialist) policies have become unacceptable to Washington. A military junta assumes command, cancels the 1964 elections, and begins abusing human rights.

1964

Brazil - A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the democratically elected government of Joao Goulart. The junta that replaces it will, in the next two decades, become one of the most bloodthirsty in history. General Castelo Branco will create Latin America's first death squads, or bands of secret police who hunt down "communists" for torture, interrogation and murder. Often these "communists" are no more than Branco's political opponents. Later it is revealed that the CIA trains the death squads.

1965

Indonesia - The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Sukarno with a military coup. The CIA has been trying to eliminate Sukarno since 1957, using everything from attempted assassination to sexual intrigue, for nothing more than his declaring neutrality in the Cold War. His successor, General Suharto, will massacre between 500,000 to 1 million civilians accused of being "communist." The CIA supplies the names of countless suspects.

Dominican Republic - A popular rebellion breaks out, promising to reinstall Juan Bosch as the country's elected leader. The revolution is crushed when U.S. Marines land to uphold the military regime by force. The CIA directs everything behind the scenes.

Greece - With the CIA's backing, the king removes George Papandreous as prime minister. Papandreous has failed to vigorously support U.S. interests in Greece.

Congo (Zaire) - A CIA-backed military coup installs Mobutu Sese Seko as dictator. The hated and repressive Mobutu exploits his desperately poor country for billions.

1966

The Ramparts Affair - The radical magazine Ramparts begins a series of unprecedented anti-CIA articles. Among their scoops: the CIA has paid the University of Michigan $25 million dollars to hire "professors" to train South Vietnamese students in covert police methods. MIT and other universities have received similar payments. Ramparts also reveals that the National Students' Association is a CIA front. Students are sometimes recruited through blackmail and bribery, including draft deferments.

1967

Greece - A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the government two days before the elections. The favorite to win was George Papandreous, the liberal candidate. During the next six years, the "reign of the colonels" - backed by the CIA - will usher in the widespread use of torture and murder against political opponents. When a Greek ambassador objects to President Johnson about U.S. plans for Cypress, Johnson tells him: "Fuck your parliament and your constitution."

Operation PHEONIX - The CIA helps South Vietnamese agents identify and then murder alleged Viet Cong leaders operating in South Vietnamese villages. According to a 1971 congressional report, this operation killed about 20,000 "Viet Cong."

1968

Operation CHAOS - The CIA has been illegally spying on American citizens since 1959, but with Operation CHAOS, President Johnson dramatically boosts the effort. CIA agents go undercover as student radicals to spy on and disrupt campus organizations protesting the Vietnam War. They are searching for Russian instigators, which they never find. CHAOS will eventually spy on 7,000 individuals and 1,000 organizations.

Bolivia - A CIA-organized military operation captures legendary guerilla Che Guevara. The CIA wants to keep him alive for interrogation, but the Bolivian government executes him to prevent worldwide calls for clemency.

1969

Uruguay - The notorious CIA torturer Dan Mitrione arrives in Uruguay, a country torn with political strife. Whereas right-wing forces previously used torture only as a last resort, Mitrione convinces them to use it as a routine, widespread practice. "The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect," is his motto. The torture techniques he teaches to the death squads rival the Nazis'. He eventually becomes so feared that revolutionaries will kidnap and murder him a year later.

1970

Cambodia - The CIA overthrows Prince Sahounek, who is highly popular among Cambodians for keeping them out of the Vietnam War. He is replaced by CIA puppet Lon Nol, who immediately throws Cambodian troops into battle. This unpopular move strengthens once minor opposition parties like the Khmer Rouge, which achieves power in 1975 and massacres millions of its own people.

1971

Bolivia - After half a decade of CIA-inspired political turmoil, a CIA-backed military coup overthrows the leftist President Juan Torres. In the next two years, dictator Hugo Banzer will have over 2,000 political opponents arrested without trial, then tortured, raped and executed.

Haiti - "Papa Doc" Duvalier dies, leaving his 19-year old son "Baby Doc" Duvalier the dictator of Haiti. His son continues his bloody reign with full knowledge of the CIA

1972

The Case-Zablocki Act - Congress passes an act requiring congressional review of executive agreements. In theory, this should make CIA operations more accountable. In fact, it is only marginally effective.

Cambodia - Congress votes to cut off CIA funds for its secret war in Cambodia.

Wagergate Break-in - President Nixon sends in a team of burglars to wiretap Democratic offices at Watergate. The team members have extensive CIA histories, including James McCord, E. Howard Hunt and five of the Cuban burglars. They work for the Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP), which does dirty work like disrupting Democratic campaigns and laundering Nixon's illegal campaign contributions. CREEP's activities are funded and organized by another CIA front, the Mullen Company.

1973

Chile - The CIA overthrows and assassinates Salvador Allende, Latin America's first democratically elected socialist leader. The problems begin when Allende nationalizes American-owned firms in Chile. ITT offers the CIA $1 million for a coup (reportedly refused). The CIA replaces Allende with General Augusto Pinochet, who will torture and murder thousands of his own countrymen in a crackdown on labor leaders and the political left.

CIA begins internal investigations - William Colby, the Deputy Director for Operations, orders all CIA personnel to report any and all illegal activities they know about. This information is later reported to Congress.

Watergate Scandal - The CIA's main collaborating newspaper in America, The Washington Post, reports Nixon's crimes long before any other newspaper takes up the subject. The two reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, make almost no mention of the CIA's many fingerprints all over the scandal. It is later revealed that Woodward was a Naval intelligence briefer to the White House, and knows many important intelligence figures, including General Alexander Haig. His main source, "Deep Throat," is probably one of those.

CIA Director Helms Fired - President Nixon fires CIA Director Richard Helms for failing to help cover up the Watergate scandal. Helms and Nixon have always disliked each other. The new CIA director is William Colby, who is relatively more open to CIA reform.

1974

CHAOS exposed - Pulitzer prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh publishes a story about Operation CHAOS, the domestic surveillance and infiltration of anti-war and civil rights groups in the U.S. The story sparks national outrage.

Angleton fired - Congress holds hearings on the illegal domestic spying efforts of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA's chief of counterintelligence. His efforts included mail-opening campaigns and secret surveillance of war protesters. The hearings result in his dismissal from the CIA

House clears CIA in Watergate - The House of Representatives clears the CIA of any complicity in Nixon's Watergate break-in.

The Hughes Ryan Act - Congress passes an amendment requiring the president to report nonintelligence CIA operations to the relevant congressional committees in a timely fashion.

1975

Australia - The CIA helps topple the democratically elected, left-leaning government of Prime Minister Edward Whitlam. The CIA does this by giving an ultimatum to its Governor-General, John Kerr. Kerr, a longtime CIA collaborator, exercises his constitutional right to dissolve the Whitlam government. The Governor-General is a largely ceremonial position appointed by the Queen; the Prime Minister is democratically elected. The use of this archaic and never-used law stuns the nation.

Angola - Eager to demonstrate American military resolve after its defeat in Vietnam, Henry Kissinger launches a CIA-backed war in Angola. Contrary to Kissinger's assertions, Angola is a country of little strategic importance and not seriously threatened by communism. The CIA backs the brutal leader of UNITAS, Jonas Savimbi. This polarizes Angolan politics and drives his opponents into the arms of Cuba and the Soviet Union for survival. Congress will cut off funds in 1976, but the CIA is able to run the war off the books until 1984, when funding is legalized again. This entirely pointless war kills over 300,000 Angolans.

"The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence" - Victor Marchetti and John Marks publish this whistle-blowing history of CIA crimes and abuses. Marchetti has spent 14 years in the CIA, eventually becoming an executive assistant to the Deputy Director of Intelligence. Marks has spent five years as an intelligence official in the State Department.

"Inside the Company" - Philip Agee publishes a diary of his life inside the CIA Agee has worked in covert operations in Latin America during the 60s, and details the crimes in which he took part.

Congress investigates CIA wrong-doing - Public outrage compels Congress to hold hearings on CIA crimes. Senator Frank Church heads the Senate investigation ("The Church Committee"), and Representative Otis Pike heads the House investigation. (Despite a 98 percent incumbency reelection rate, both Church and Pike are defeated in the next elections.) The investigations lead to a number of reforms intended to increase the CIA's accountability to Congress, including the creation of a standing Senate committee on intelligence. However, the reforms prove ineffective, as the Iran/Contra scandal will show. It turns out the CIA can control, deal with or sidestep Congress with ease.

The Rockefeller Commission - In an attempt to reduce the damage done by the Church Committee, President Ford creates the "Rockefeller Commission" to whitewash CIA history and propose toothless reforms. The commission's namesake, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, is himself a major CIA figure. Five of the commission's eight members are also members of the Council on Foreign Relations, a CIA-dominated organization.

1979

Iran - The CIA fails to predict the fall of the Shah of Iran, a longtime CIA puppet, and the rise of Muslim fundamentalists who are furious at the CIA's backing of SAVAK, the Shah's bloodthirsty secret police. In revenge, the Muslims take 52 Americans hostage in the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

Afghanistan - The Soviets invade Afghanistan. The CIA immediately begins supplying arms to any faction willing to fight the occupying Soviets. Such indiscriminate arming means that when the Soviets leave Afghanistan, civil war will erupt. Also, fanatical Muslim extremists now possess state-of-the-art weaponry. One of these is Sheik Abdel Rahman, who will become involved in the World Trade Center bombing in New York.

El Salvador - An idealistic group of young military officers, repulsed by the massacre of the poor, overthrows the right-wing government. However, the U.S. compels the inexperienced officers to include many of the old guard in key positions in their new government. Soon, things are back to "normal" - the military government is repressing and killing poor civilian protesters. Many of the young military and civilian reformers, finding themselves powerless, resign in disgust.

Nicaragua - Anastasios Samoza II, the CIA-backed dictator, falls. The Marxist Sandinistas take over government, and they are initially popular because of their commitment to land and anti-poverty reform. Samoza had a murderous and hated personal army called the National Guard. Remnants of the Guard will become the Contras, who fight a CIA-backed guerilla war against the Sandinista government throughout the 1980s.

1980

El Salvador - The Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, pleads with President Carter "Christian to Christian" to stop aiding the military government slaughtering his people. Carter refuses. Shortly afterwards, right-wing leader Roberto D'Aubuisson has Romero shot through the heart while saying Mass. The country soon dissolves into civil war, with the peasants in the hills fighting against the military government. The CIA and U.S. Armed Forces supply the government with overwhelming military and intelligence superiority. CIA-trained death squads roam the countryside, committing atrocities like that of El Mazote in 1982, where they massacre between 700 and 1000 men, women and children. By 1992, some 63,000 Salvadorans will be killed.

1981

Iran/Contra Begins - The CIA begins selling arms to Iran at high prices, using the profits to arm the Contras fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. President Reagan vows that the Sandinistas will be "pressured" until "they say 'uncle.'" The CIA's Freedom Fighter's Manual disbursed to the Contras includes instruction on economic sabotage, propaganda, extortion, bribery, blackmail, interrogation, torture, murder and political assassination.

1983

Honduras - The CIA gives Honduran military officers the Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual – 1983, which teaches how to torture people. Honduras' notorious "Battalion 316" then uses these techniques, with the CIA's full knowledge, on thousands of leftist dissidents. At least 184 are murdered.

1984

The Boland Amendment - The last of a series of Boland Amendments is passed. These amendments have reduced CIA aid to the Contras; the last one cuts it off completely. However, CIA Director William Casey is already prepared to "hand off" the operation to Colonel Oliver North, who illegally continues supplying the Contras through the CIA's informal, secret, and self-financing network. This includes "humanitarian aid" donated by Adolph Coors and William Simon, and military aid funded by Iranian arms sales.

1986

Eugene Hasenfus - Nicaragua shoots down a C-123 transport plane carrying military supplies to the Contras. The lone survivor, Eugene Hasenfus, turns out to be a CIA employee, as are the two dead pilots. The airplane belongs to Southern Air Transport, a CIA front. The incident makes a mockery of President Reagan's claims that the CIA is not illegally arming the Contras.

Iran/Contra Scandal - Although the details have long been known, the Iran/Contra scandal finally captures the media's attention in 1986. Congress holds hearings, and several key figures (like Oliver North) lie under oath to protect the intelligence community. CIA Director William Casey dies of brain cancer before Congress can question him. All reforms enacted by Congress after the scandal are purely cosmetic.

Haiti - Rising popular revolt in Haiti means that "Baby Doc" Duvalier will remain "President for Life" only if he has a short one. The U.S., which hates instability in a puppet country, flies the despotic Duvalier to the South of France for a comfortable retirement. The CIA then rigs the upcoming elections in favor of another right-wing military strongman. However, violence keeps the country in political turmoil for another four years. The CIA tries to strengthen the military by creating the National Intelligence Service (SIN), which suppresses popular revolt through torture and assassination.

1989

Panama - The U.S. invades Panama to overthrow a dictator of its own making, General Manuel Noriega. Noriega has been on the CIA's payroll since 1966, and has been transporting drugs with the CIA's knowledge since 1972. By the late 80s, Noriega's growing independence and intransigence have angered Washington… so out he goes.

1990

Haiti - Competing against 10 comparatively wealthy candidates, leftist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide captures 68 percent of the vote. After only eight months in power, however, the CIA-backed military deposes him. More military dictators brutalize the country, as thousands of Haitian refugees escape the turmoil in barely seaworthy boats. As popular opinion calls for Aristide's return, the CIA begins a disinformation campaign painting the courageous priest as mentally unstable.

1991

The Gulf War - The U.S. liberates Kuwait from Iraq. But Iraq's dictator, Saddam Hussein, is another creature of the CIA With U.S. encouragement, Hussein invaded Iran in 1980. During this costly eight-year war, the CIA built up Hussein's forces with sophisticated arms, intelligence, training and financial backing. This cemented Hussein's power at home, allowing him to crush the many internal rebellions that erupted from time to time, sometimes with poison gas. It also gave him all the military might he needed to conduct further adventurism - in Kuwait, for example.

The Fall of the Soviet Union - The CIA fails to predict this most important event of the Cold War. This suggests that it has been so busy undermining governments that it hasn't been doing its primary job: gathering and analyzing information. The fall of the Soviet Union also robs the CIA of its reason for existence: fighting communism. This leads some to accuse the CIA of intentionally failing to predict the downfall of the Soviet Union. Curiously, the intelligence community's budget is not significantly reduced after the demise of communism.

1992

Economic Espionage - In the years following the end of the Cold War, the CIA is increasingly used for economic espionage. This involves stealing the technological secrets of competing foreign companies and giving them to American ones. Given the CIA's clear preference for dirty tricks over mere information gathering, the possibility of serious criminal behavior is very great indeed.

1993

Haiti - The chaos in Haiti grows so bad that President Clinton has no choice but to remove the Haitian military dictator, Raoul Cedras, on threat of U.S. invasion. The U.S. occupiers do not arrest Haiti's military leaders for crimes against humanity, but instead ensure their safety and rich retirements. Aristide is returned to power only after being forced to accept an agenda favorable to the country's ruling class.

EPILOGUE

In a speech before the CIA celebrating its 50th anniversary, President Clinton said: "By necessity, the American people will never know the full story of your courage."

Clinton's is a common defense of the CIA: namely, the American people should stop criticizing the CIA because they don't know what it really does. This, of course, is the heart of the problem in the first place. An agency that is above criticism is also above moral behavior and reform. Its secrecy and lack of accountability allows its corruption to grow unchecked.

Furthermore, Clinton's statement is simply untrue. The history of the agency is growing painfully clear, especially with the declassification of historical CIA documents. We may not know the details of specific operations, but we do know, quite well, the general behavior of the CIA These facts began emerging nearly two decades ago at an ever-quickening pace. Today we have a remarkably accurate and consistent picture, repeated in country after country, and verified from countless different directions.

The CIA's response to this growing knowledge and criticism follows a typical historical pattern. (Indeed, there are remarkable parallels to the Medieval Church's fight against the Scientific Revolution.) The first journalists and writers to reveal the CIA's criminal behavior were harassed and censored if they were American writers, and tortured and murdered if they were foreigners. (See Philip Agee's On the Run for an example of early harassment.) However, over the last two decades the tide of evidence has become overwhelming, and the CIA has found that it does not have enough fingers to plug every hole in the dike. This is especially true in the age of the Internet, where information flows freely among millions of people. Since censorship is impossible, the Agency must now defend itself with apologetics. Clinton's "Americans will never know" defense is a prime example.

Another common apologetic is that "the world is filled with unsavory characters, and we must deal with them if we are to protect American interests at all." There are two things wrong with this. First, it ignores the fact that the CIA has regularly spurned alliances with defenders of democracy, free speech and human rights, preferring the company of military dictators and tyrants. The CIA had moral options available to them, but did not take them.

Second, this argument begs several questions. The first is: "Which American interests?" The CIA has courted right-wing dictators because they allow wealthy Americans to exploit the country's cheap labor and resources. But poor and middle-class Americans pay the price whenever they fight the wars that stem from CIA actions, from Vietnam to the Gulf War to Panama. The second begged question is: "Why should American interests come at the expense of other peoples' human rights?"

The CIA should be abolished, its leadership dismissed and its relevant members tried for crimes against humanity. Our intelligence community should be rebuilt from the ground up, with the goal of collecting and analyzing information. As for covert action, there are two moral options. The first one is to eliminate covert action completely. But this gives jitters to people worried about the Adolf Hitlers of the world. So a second option is that we can place covert action under extensive and true democratic oversight. For example, a bipartisan Congressional Committee of 40 members could review and veto all aspects of CIA operations upon a majority or super-majority vote. Which of these two options is best may be the subject of debate, but one thing is clear: like dictatorship, like monarchy, unaccountable covert operations should die like the dinosaurs they are.

http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/CIAtimeline.html

pgl said in reply to RGC...
Wow - that's a list. My focus:

"1954-1958

North Vietnam - CIA officer Edward Lansdale spends four years trying to overthrow the communist government of North Vietnam, using all the usual dirty tricks. The CIA also attempts to legitimize a tyrannical puppet regime in South Vietnam, headed by Ngo Dinh Diem. These efforts fail to win the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese because the Diem government is opposed to true democracy, land reform and poverty reduction measures. The CIA's continuing failure results in escalating American intervention, culminating in the Vietnam War."

We should have let the elections of 1956 go forward. Had we - we could have avoided the entire Vietnam disaster.

RGC said in reply to pgl...
When you look at that list and you realize that it was done in our name and we were funding it, it might piss you off a little.
Fred C. Dobbs said...
'Thinking About the Trumpthinkable' - Paul Krugman

Alan Abramowitz reads the latest WaPo poll and emails:

'Read these results and tell me how Trump doesn't win the Republican nomination? I've been very skeptical about this all along, but I'm starting to change my mind. I think there's at least a pretty decent chance that Trump will be the nominee.' ...

Related:

Is Hillary Clinton Any Good at Running for President? http://nym.ag/1DwluuR via @NYmag - Jazon Zengerle - April 5

... The election model that's most in vogue - that scored the highest when applied to presidential elections since World War II, correctly predicting every outcome since 1992 - is one created by Emory political scientist Alan Abramowitz called "Time for a Change." Abramowitz argues that the fundamentals in a presidential election are bedevilingly simple: the incumbent president's approval rating in late June or early July, the rate of real GDP growth in the second quarter, and how many terms the party has been in the White House.

In 2012, for instance, Obama's relatively lopsided victory may have shocked Republicans on Election Night, but by Abramowitz's reckoning it was practically preordained. Although second-quarter real GDP growth was a relatively unimpressive 1.5 percent and Obama's approval rating was a good-but-not-great 46 percent that June, he was seeking reelection, and, according to Abramowitz, "first-term incumbents rarely lose." In fact, he believes that being a first-term incumbent is worth 4 percentage points. There was nothing in the Abramowitz model that looked good for John McCain in 2008 (bad economy, bad approval ratings of a second-term president from McCain's party). In 1988, by contrast, George H.W. Bush was also running to give his party a third term, but Q2 real GDP growth that year was a booming 5.24 percent and Ronald Reagan's approval rating was above 50 percent.

Sound familiar? "If Obama's approval rating is close to 50 percent and the economy is growing at a decent rate in the fall of 2016 - both of which seem quite possible, maybe even likely - then I think Hillary Clinton would have a decent chance of winning," Abramowitz says. But then there's the "Time for a Change" factor and those four extra points Obama enjoyed in 2012 that Hillary won't have this time around. In other words, it would be an extremely close race.

Which brings us full circle. "What determines the outcome in 2016," Abramowitz says, "could very well be the quality of the candidates." ...

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...
Tweet: @AlanIAbramowitz
Trump exploits a crack
in the GOP's foundation
http://wpo.st/ZHHn0

Fareed Zakaria - Washington Post - November 12

Today's conventional wisdom is that Donald Trump's best days are behind him and that his poll numbers will soon descend. Maybe. But Trump has come to represent something fundamental about the Republican Party: the growing gap between its leaders and its political constituency. Even if he disappears, this gap is reshaping the GOP.

At the start, Trump's campaign was based largely on his personality. On the issues, he had a grab bag of positions and lacked coherence and consistency. But like a good businessman, he seems to have studied his customers - the Republican electorate - and decided to give them what they want. And what they want is not what their party leaders stand for. ...

pgl said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs...
"On the issues, he had a grab bag of positions and lacked coherence and consistency. But like a good businessman, he seems to have studied his customers - the Republican electorate - and decided to give them what they want. And what they want is not what their party leaders stand for"

What his customers want is racism. And guess what - the alleged party leaders are racing to the front to see who can be the most racist. This party has become a dysfunctional disgrace.

[Nov 23, 2015] Wall St. Ties Linger as Image Issue for Hillary Clinton

Notable quotes:
"... Mrs. Clinton's windfalls from Wall Street banks and other financial services firms - $3 million in paid speeches and $17 million in campaign contributions over the years - have become a major vulnerability in states with early nomination contests. ..."
"... In the primaries, Mrs. Clinton's advisers privately concede that she will lose some votes over her Wall Street connections. They declined to share specific findings from internal polls, but predicted the issue could resonate in Democratic contests in Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Michigan, where many have lost homes and businesses to bank foreclosu ..."
"... Mr. Sanders zeros in on Wall Street donations to Mrs. Clinton in an aggressive new television commercial that started running in Iowa and New Hampshire on Saturday: The truth is, you can't change a corrupt system by taking its money, he warns. ..."
"... One of Mrs. Clinton's most prominent supporters in Ohio, former State Senator Nina Turner, defected to Mr. Sanders this month in part, she said, because she felt he would be tougher on special interests. And some Democratic superdelegates, whose backing is crucial, said Mrs. Clinton's ties to big banks, and her invocation of 9/11 to defend her ties to Wall Street at the Nov. 14 debate, only made them further question her independence from the financial industry. ..."
"... My parents had a saying in Spanish - 'Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres' - which means, 'Tell me who you're hanging with and I'll tell you who you are,' said Alma R. Gonzalez, an uncommitted superdelegate from Florida. A lot of my Democratic friends feel that way about Hillary and Wall Street. ..."
"... Will she be another President Clinton who appoints a Treasury secretary from Wall Street? These are major concerns. ..."
"... Indeed, Mr. Clinton's close relationships with Wall Street executives like Robert E. Rubin of Goldman Sachs, whom he named his Treasury secretary, and his support for undoing parts of Glass-Steagall have contributed to misgivings about Mrs. Clinton. ..."
"... While Mr. Sanders and another candidate for the Democratic nomination, former Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland, have argued that big donors inevitably had influence with her, her campaign has pushed back against suggestions that the financial services industry has bankrolled her campaign. Her aides also said ads by a new group, Future 45, attacking Mrs. Clinton would only underscore her independence, because the group's major donors include Wall Street magnates like Paul Singer. ..."
"... Bashing Wall Street is not an automatic win for Mr. Sanders, however. Ms. Gonzalez, the Florida superdelegate, and some other undecided Democrats said they viewed Mr. Sanders as too hostile to banks and corporations and too divisive in his remarks about American wealth. ..."
"... Ms. Turner, the former Ohio lawmaker, said the blocks of foreclosed homes in Cleveland were a painful reminder that banks prioritize their own corporate interests. Mr. Sanders has been criticizing the corrupt economy symbolized by Wall Street greed for decades, she said. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com

RGC said... November 23, 2015 at 07:52 AM

Wall St. Ties Linger as Image Issue for Hillary Clinton

By Patrick Healy
Saturday, 21 Nov 2015 | 2:52 PM ET
The New York Times

John Wittneben simmered as he listened to Hillary Rodham Clinton defend her ties to Wall Street during last weekend's Democratic debate. He lost 40 percent of his savings in individual retirement accounts during the Great Recession, while Mrs. Clinton has received millions of dollars from the kinds of executives he believes should be in jail.


"People knew what they were doing back then, because of greed, and it caused me harm," said Mr. Wittneben, the Democratic chairman in Emmet County, Iowa. "We were raised a certain way here. Fairness is a big deal."

The next day he endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders in the presidential race.

Mrs. Clinton's windfalls from Wall Street banks and other financial services firms - $3 million in paid speeches and $17 million in campaign contributions over the years - have become a major vulnerability in states with early nomination contests. Some party officials who remain undecided in the 2016 presidential race see her as overly cozy with big banks and other special interests. At a time when liberals are ascendant in the party, many Democrats believe her merely having "represented Wall Street as a senator from New York," as Mrs. Clinton reminded viewers in an October debate, is bad enough.

It is an image problem that she cannot seem to shake.

Though she criticizes the American economy as being "rigged" for the rich, Mrs. Clinton has lost some support recently from party members who think she would go easy on Wall Street excess if elected. Even as she promises greater regulation of hedge funds and private equity firms, liberals deride her for refusing to support reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act, a law that separated commercial and investment banks until its repeal under President Bill Clinton. (Mr. Sanders favors its restoration.) And for many Democrats, her strong support from wealthy donors and a big-money "super PAC" undercuts her increasingly progressive rhetoric on free trade and other economic issues.

Her advisers say most Democrats like her economic policies and believe she would fight for middle-class and low-income Americans. Most opinion polls put Mrs. Clinton well ahead of Mr. Sanders nationally and in Iowa, and they are running even in New Hampshire, but she fares worse than him on questions about taking on Wall Street and special interests. And even if Mrs. Clinton sews up the nomination quickly, subdued enthusiasm among the party's liberal base could complicate efforts to energize Democratic turnout for the general election.

In the primaries, Mrs. Clinton's advisers privately concede that she will lose some votes over her Wall Street connections. They declined to share specific findings from internal polls, but predicted the issue could resonate in Democratic contests in Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Michigan, where many have lost homes and businesses to bank foreclosures.

Mr. Sanders zeros in on Wall Street donations to Mrs. Clinton in an aggressive new television commercial that started running in Iowa and New Hampshire on Saturday: "The truth is, you can't change a corrupt system by taking its money," he warns.

One of Mrs. Clinton's most prominent supporters in Ohio, former State Senator Nina Turner, defected to Mr. Sanders this month in part, she said, because she felt he would be tougher on special interests. And some Democratic superdelegates, whose backing is crucial, said Mrs. Clinton's ties to big banks, and her invocation of 9/11 to defend her ties to Wall Street at the Nov. 14 debate, only made them further question her independence from the financial industry.

"My parents had a saying in Spanish - 'Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres' - which means, 'Tell me who you're hanging with and I'll tell you who you are,'" said Alma R. Gonzalez, an uncommitted superdelegate from Florida. "A lot of my Democratic friends feel that way about Hillary and Wall Street.

"Are the working people in this country going to be able to count on hard decisions being made by President Hillary Clinton with regard to her Wall Street chums?" Ms. Gonzalez continued. "Will she be another President Clinton who appoints a Treasury secretary from Wall Street? These are major concerns."

Indeed, Mr. Clinton's close relationships with Wall Street executives like Robert E. Rubin of Goldman Sachs, whom he named his Treasury secretary, and his support for undoing parts of Glass-Steagall have contributed to misgivings about Mrs. Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton has proposed imposing risk fees on unwieldy big banks and empowering regulators to break them up if necessary - though this is not the wholesale breakup that Mr. Sanders favors under a return of Glass-Steagall. She also proposes to make sure fines for corporate wrongdoing hit executive bonuses, and to pursue criminal prosecutions when justified.

Yet even though she has taken tough stands in the past, such as chastising banks for widespread foreclosures in 2007 and 2008, some Democrats are skeptical that she would ever crack down hard on the executives in her social circles in Manhattan, the Hamptons and Washington.

Jake Quinn, an uncommitted Democratic superdelegate from North Carolina, said he was concerned about Mrs. Clinton's willingness to clamp down on Wall Street malfeasance. "The financial sector's ongoing relative lack of accountability makes me suspicious of any candidate who sources it for significant support," he said.

Mrs. Clinton's advisers say that she has advanced the strongest regulatory proposals of any candidate, putting the lie to claims that she would protect Wall Street's interests as president. Any political harm resulting from her Wall Street ties would be minimal, they maintain, because she never took action in exchange for donations. They also play down the possibility that Mrs. Clinton will face voter turnout and enthusiasm problems if she wins the nomination.

While Mr. Sanders and another candidate for the Democratic nomination, former Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland, have argued that big donors inevitably had influence with her, her campaign has pushed back against suggestions that the financial services industry has bankrolled her campaign. Her aides also said ads by a new group, Future 45, attacking Mrs. Clinton would only underscore her independence, because the group's major donors include Wall Street magnates like Paul Singer.

"When billionaire hedge fund managers are forming super PACs to run ads attacking her, it's clear they fear she will take action as president to crack down on the industry's abuses," said Brian Fallon, a Clinton campaign spokesman.

Bashing Wall Street is not an automatic win for Mr. Sanders, however. Ms. Gonzalez, the Florida superdelegate, and some other undecided Democrats said they viewed Mr. Sanders as too hostile to banks and corporations and too divisive in his remarks about American wealth.

But others said they were more concerned that Mrs. Clinton had not broken with Wall Street in a clear way, noting the lengths she went to at the debate to explain the relationship.

"She was waving the bloody shirt of 9/11 to defend herself, which we're accustomed to seeing with demagogues on the right, and it just didn't feel quite right," said Kurt Meyer, a co-chairman of the Mitchell County Democrats in Iowa, who has not endorsed a candidate. "She connected two things, 9/11 and her ties to Wall Street, that I didn't like her sewing together."

Ms. Turner, the former Ohio lawmaker, said the blocks of foreclosed homes in Cleveland were a painful reminder that banks prioritize their own corporate interests. Mr. Sanders has been criticizing "the corrupt economy symbolized by Wall Street greed" for decades, she said.

"He shows righteous indignation and speaks for the common woman and man in saying they have a right to be outraged at Wall Street," Ms. Turner said. "He doesn't just talk the talk. He walks the talk."

And Mrs. Clinton? "Her ties are her ties," Ms. Turner said.

http://www.cnbc.com/2015/11/21/new-york-times-digital-wall-st-ties-linger-as-image-issue-for-hillary-clinton.html

[Nov 21, 2015] Hillary Clinton Appeal to 9-11 to Defend Wall Street Donations Was Bad, But This Was Worse

Notable quotes:
"... Come on people, what is the point of wasting energy and time talking about the two political parties participating in the charade that is called Democracy in the US? In reality there is only one political party ..."
"... Hellary or Chump- do you really believe the choice of figurehead will change the machinery of permanent warfare or diversion of wealth to the favored few? ..."
"... IMO she "put the last nail in her coffin", so to speak, when she brought up AIG Lehman, showing her ignorance to what really happened. (Or was she just "playing dumb" in an attempt to distance herself from her big contributors on Wall St?) ..."
"... Yeah, that 9/11 rift was bad, but the "60% of my contributors are women" was worse. I'd love to see this claim fact checked. What a tidy number. Not too big to make her campaign a women's movement, but big enough to throw the guys off their game and make her nomination a foregone conclusion. Meanwhile, corporations make up probably 90% of her actual contributions. ..."
"... WaPo fact checked Hillary Clinton's claim that most of her donors are small donors. Only 17% donated less than $200 ..."
"... So corporations have genders now? ..."
"... We had one neoliberal Trojan horse get elected twice and if you questioned his policies you were at best a "bad Democrat" and at worst some version of racist…why not try it again? Anyone who questions her bought-and-paid for corruption will be painted as a card-carrying member of the he-man woman-haters club. ..."
"... Some of us, however, just dislike her since she's an enemy of the working class: http://mattbruenig.com/2015/11/06/my-beef-with-hillary-is-mainly-that-she-is-an-enemy-of-the-poor/ ..."
"... I agree that the remark was cynical and false and typical of Clinton's disdain for both facts and the intelligence of the voters. ..."
"... I loved that Bernie Sanders was willing to drop the "F-bomb" (fraud) on Wall Street but he needs to swing much harder at Clinton. Clinton was quick to zing O'Malley as a hypocrite by noting he appointed a former hedge-fund manager to some state regulatory position when given the chance, but yet neither Sanders or O'Malley hit back with the fact that her only child and Clinton Foundation board member, Chelsea Clinton, worked for the hedge fund of a Clinton family pal and mega-donor in 2006. ..."
"... I thought O'Malley had one of the best lines of the night when he said "I think it may be time for us to quit taking advice from economists" but it seemed to go mostly unnoticed and unappreciated. ..."
"... Sanders did a relatively good job of deflecting and not getting zinged by the 'gotcha' question but a full-frontal assault would have been much better. Stronger, more Presidential and with the added bonus of giving neo-liberal economists under the pay of plutocrats a black eye. Another missed opportunity. The questioner set it up perfectly for him. I would have loved to see the expression on her corn-fed face when Bernie turned her 'gotcha' question that she had spent so much time and thought crafting into the home-run answer of the evening. Perhaps it could happen in a debate in the near future. ..."
"... The GOP engages in phony baloney food fights much to the tingling excitement of their base. I'd like to see some REAL debate from the Dems. Not just make nice phony baloney bullshit. ..."
"... Again, I've never expected Sanders to be anything more than someone who'll sound populist and then tell his followers to vote for Clinton… as he's already SAID anyway. ..."
"... Yeah maybe, but I believe that was the price of admission to the Clinton / Wasserman-Shultz ball for a life-long socialist who sometimes caucuses with Democrats. The more damage Sanders inflicts on Clinton in the primaries the less sincere and effective any possible Sanders endorsement of Clinton will be later. ..."
"... Sanders has the right message, the right record and popular support on his side in a year when people are fed-up with the entire Washington establishment and sick of pedigreed, legacy politicians like Clinton. ..."
"... If there's ever been a moment when Bernie Sanders could win the nomination this is it. If you really think Sanders is the "pick of liter" as you say perhaps you could stop calling him things like "window dressing" and "a distraction". While it may protect your feelings from future disappointment to speak confidently of Clinton as the inevitable nominee it clearly helps her campaign objectives, so…. maybe just try tempering your cynicism just a wee bit unless you are out to help Hillary win the nomination. ..."
"... Bernie's campaign never in a million years thought he would get this far. In the beginning, it was calculated to draw attention to income inequality, big money in politics, and other issues that likely would get ignored if the coronation went ahead unopposed. ..."
"... As you point out, Sanders is a senator. He never expected to get this far. He won't win the nomination. He has to think of his post-2016 career. If he goes after Clinton hammer and tongs, he will be (more of) a pariah in the Senate, effectively ruining any chance for him to accomplish anything. ..."
"... Honestly I can see the Democrats collapsing before the Republicans. The South and Midwest are just batshit crazy and they'll stick with the Republicans as long as the evangelicals dominate their culture. Does anyone here know anything about previous "great awakenings" in American culture? ..."
"... For all her vomit-inducing disingenuousness about how she would be the toughest on the financial industry as a whole (really, how does she say that with a straight face?), and her basically sounding like a smarter, saner business as usual neocon on the middle east, I thought her worst moment by far was when she tried to describe single payer as "dismantling" Medicare, Medicaid, etc ..."
"... I'm at a complete loss to understand why Dems, the media, and in fact anyone with two brain cells to rub together, can fail to see or acknowledge that HRC is a liar, a crook, and a generally mean-spirited individual who's only in it for herself and will do and say anything and accept money from anyone as long as it helps her to win. ..."
"... Sadly, the only difference between Hillary and Obama, is that Barack is a better shape-shifter and, when he lies, he can do so with greater eloquence and charm. Hillary can never manage to completely hide her forked tongue and her poisonous lizard personality. ..."
"... After Obama's behavior, and the documentation of Gilens Page, can anyone believe that campaign speeches have anything to do with post-electoral policies? The nomination process is beyond dysfunctional: everyone knows Hillarity's positions are synthetic, yet she successfully campaigns with the grossest political impunity and she is taken seriously enough for analysis. I don't understand why. The only political power remaining to democracy is resistance, either by voting for a third party, or else by total abstinence. I personally prefer the former, as it's a bit harder to sweep under the media carpet. This keeps me outside the grasp of helplessness. ..."
"... Family Guy *exactly* predicted Hillary's 9/11 tragedy-distraction strategy way back in 2008: Life imitating art: http://youtu.be/Rm3d43HLyTI ..."
November 16, 2015 | naked capitalism
RedHope November 16, 2015 at 3:20 am

She will say anything to win and not care about meaning bc she knows the Democratic base will accept anything.

If you read, at least anecdotally, about the responses of base voters, it seems to be similar to what the GOP does: brush off the discussion as boring, irrelevant, a conspiracy or some combo.

The Democratic base is solely focused on Denial, delusion and hating the Republicans. She will survive this and will likely win with people defending her bat shit extremism.

crittermom November 16, 2015 at 6:34 am

I completely agree with you in that she will say anything to win. Like a pinball, she will take to whatever side necessary to keep from falling into that hole of defeat.

But please, please let's not give any energy toward thoughts of her winning!

She showed her true colors during the debate, & I still wanna believe–despite being continuously proven wrong, that most folks are smarter than that & were able to see through her. (Probably the only transparency in this current govt?)

oho, November 16, 2015 at 8:53 am

she knows the Democratic base will accept anything.

If you read, at least anecdotally, about the responses of base voters, it seems to be similar to what the GOP does: brush off the discussion as boring, irrelevant, a conspiracy or some combo.

just because the GOP 'accept anything' doesn't make it right if the 'good guys' are dogmatic too.

and my hunch is that right now everyone on in the Democratic Beltway is feeling smug cuz of the GOP clown car. But my gut is that in 2016 if HRC wins the nomination, HRC's load of manure is gonna stink a lot more than the GOP clown car's.

on election night I'll be sitting at home cheering on the makers of humble pie.

Crazy Horse, November 16, 2015 at 11:40 am

Come on people, what is the point of wasting energy and time talking about the two political parties participating in the charade that is called Democracy in the US? In reality there is only one political party - the Oligarch Fascist Party - and the National Election Circus is played out to keep people who mistake it for democracy divided and confused.

Hellary or Chump- do you really believe the choice of figurehead will change the machinery of permanent warfare or diversion of wealth to the favored few?

Malcolm MacLeod, MD , November 16, 2015 at 7:21 pm

Crazy Horse: You speak the unvarnished truth, which is always rather confusing in this day and age.

jgordon , November 16, 2015 at 4:29 am

Any serious analysis of the central drivers of the crisis necessarily lead you to the largest banks as the focal point for the interconnection and risk buildup.

Well if we're concerned about serious analysis it seems a bit odd that we aren't starting with the largest bank of all: the Federal Reserve. If not for the deliberate policy of the Fed to inflate the housing bubble in the early 2000s after the dotcom crash, certainly 2007/2008 wouldn't have been such a mess. Though admittedly government corruption (and for all intents and purposes the Fed is a government appendage) certainly played a part.

The main problem is that there are just way too many zombies and criminals infesting the financial system right now, and they are all being lovingly coddled by the Fed with ZIRP and QE. The only way to slay these undead legions is to end the ceaseless Fed-facilitated blood transfusions from the exhausted living to the dead parasites.

Well I suppose one could claim that its thanks to the zombies that our economy is able to function at all. But come on, is it really a good idea to live in a world ruled by zombies? They eat brains you know.

crittermom, November 16, 2015 at 6:01 am

Excellent article. I watched the debate. I found it very telling that when Wall St was mentioned, the only thing she could seem to equate to it was 9/11.
I found it disgusting that she even brought up 9/11 in an obvious attempt to steer the debate away from the corruption by 'her friends' on Wall St while trying to encourage the voters to give her a pat on the back for 'all she did' after 9/11. Pathetic, cheap, transparent tactic IMO.

I found it sad, however, as mentioned in the article "Only when mentioned by a Twitter user later in the debate did the full recognition of the strangeness of that comment shine through." Far too many "trained seals" outside the convention center, as well?

IMO she "put the last nail in her coffin", so to speak, when she brought up AIG & Lehman, showing her ignorance to what really happened. (Or was she just "playing dumb" in an attempt to distance herself from her big contributors on Wall St?)

fresno dan, November 16, 2015 at 8:42 am

I agree. The tendentious quibbling about the definition of "banks" when everyone uses that as shorthand for "excessively large under regulated, corrupt, and stupid financial institutions who have completed co-opted the regulators and politicians who are suppose to oversee them and enforce the rules, regulations and laws" is just deflection from the real issue.

As Bernie said in response: NOT GOOD ENOUGH

dk, November 16, 2015 at 9:05 am

I think you underestimate "most" voters. Don't mistake them for the political media echo chamber that pretends to articulate their subconscious (via absurd polling). Except for the extremes, voters tend to be a taciturn bunch, it's true. One ends up having to pick from an imperfect selection, that's representative democracy; a fact of the circumstance, and voters know it. They play along, don't kid yourself that they actually like it that much.

Comforting stories play well for the comfortable, and when no other stories are being told. The wage disparity issue was almost non-existent in 2008 and got small play in 2012. The BLM narrative is in part a counter-shock to the (granted, naive) assumption that having a black president would have (or indicated) a significant impact on day-to-day racism. The street-level economy has kept sputtering for too many years for that to be passed off as "normal". Too many cats got out of the bag this time around.

Take a look here:
http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/graphics/2015-october-fec-filings/charts/

In the last quarter, Hillary collected 5.19 mil from under-$200 donors, Bernie collected 20.19 mil. That's just shy of four times as much money, and arguably on the order of four times as many people. Whether Hillary is changing these people's minds at any appreciable rate remains to be seen, but this many people backing a Dem candidate in this way is a new thing (not so new for the Tea Party brand).

Not saying Bernie is a slam dunk by any means, but numerically, in dollars and voters, he can't be dismissed as an impossibility (see also, Corbyn). Political media hacks hate voters, they still can't predict them (and they know it too). Sometimes elections occur in a near vacuum of clear indicators and issues (2012), sometimes the indicators and issues are bigger than even a "big" candidate (2008, Obama would not have won without the financial collapse, which suppressed and fractured Rep voting).

Voters aren't smarter than anybody else, but they're not dumber either. What they are is shy (especially the Dems). But think of Bernie's small donor base as a bunch of wallflowers reacting to something they haven't seen before. That wasn't in anybody's narrative.

Ulysses, November 16, 2015 at 9:09 am

You provide a very astute description, of how the MSM Wurlitzer works to concoct narratives that disempower people. Yet I think that Chris Hedges is also on to something when he observes:

"The frustration, mounting across the country, is bringing with it a new radicalism."

http://www.truthdig.com/report/page2/pray_with_your_feet_20151115

We teeter on a knife's edge, close to societal collapse. My hope is that we will shake off our chains and begin to replace systematic oppression and exploitation with a more humane society. My fear is that the people, who currently benefit from the status quo, will go full-bore totalitarian/repressive in a desperate attempt to cling to their ill-gotten wealth and power.

RUKidding, November 16, 2015 at 12:00 pm

I'm afraid that the impetus is more towards the latter than the former. The PTB haven't spent decades/centuries brainwashing the masses to be good little authoritarians wanting Big Daddy/Momma to "take care" of them for nothing.

Dino Reno, November 16, 2015 at 8:18 am

Yeah, that 9/11 rift was bad, but the "60% of my contributors are women" was worse. I'd love to see this claim fact checked. What a tidy number. Not too big to make her campaign a women's movement, but big enough to throw the guys off their game and make her nomination a foregone conclusion. Meanwhile, corporations make up probably 90% of her actual contributions.

JaaaaayCeeeee, November 16, 2015 at 11:52 am

WaPo fact checked Hillary Clinton's claim that most of her donors are small donors. Only 17% donated less than $200 (she did donation drives asking for a dollar even to get to 17% and most of her donations from women were big donations, too):

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/11/15/fact-checking-the-second-democratic-debate/

Code Name D, November 16, 2015 at 12:41 pm

So corporations have genders now?

nigelk, November 16, 2015 at 1:49 pm

We had one neoliberal Trojan horse get elected twice and if you questioned his policies you were at best a "bad Democrat" and at worst some version of racist…why not try it again? Anyone who questions her bought-and-paid for corruption will be painted as a card-carrying member of the he-man woman-haters club.

Some of us, however, just dislike her since she's an enemy of the working class: http://mattbruenig.com/2015/11/06/my-beef-with-hillary-is-mainly-that-she-is-an-enemy-of-the-poor/

Pat, November 16, 2015 at 9:47 am

I agree that the remark was cynical and false and typical of Clinton's disdain for both facts and the intelligence of the voters. (And knowledgable in that she knew she would not get fact checked on this in any manner that would make her look like Ben Carson talking about pyramids.) I truly do not think it is as important as you do, as she had already lost that battle.

The people know the great never ending bank bailout of 2008 did not translate to bailing out the economy. There are still foreclosed homes in neighborhoods across America rotting. If they didn't lose a job and are still looking for a decent one they have a parent, a kid, another family member, or multiple friends who are still un or underemployed. They know their bills are going up but their paychecks aren't. And they get to hear about Jamie Dimon becoming a billionaire. They may not know which bank he heads, but they know a whole lot of those billions came from their taxes while they are still struggling. None of this may get into the details of what happened or what went wrong, but they know they got taken. And her response tells them she would take them again. The only people who don't hear that, are the ones who think 60% of my donations are from women makes Clinton a feminist and tribal loyalists. You know the Democratic equivalent of the Bush supporters who never wavered.

Trying to understand the ins and outs of the financial industry shenanigans is deep, dense, and takes way too much time for most folk. I happened to be out on workmen's comp when it went down. This is not my area, I read and read and read and got deeply angry. I still don't understand it all, and I have more facts at my fingertips then probably at least 75% of the population. My point on this, is that sometimes you don't need to know the details to smell the bullshit. And it reeked of manure.

Vatch November 16, 2015 at 10:10 am

Today is November 16, which is a deadline for the Clinton Foundation to refile some documents, according to this article to which Water Cooler linked on Oct. 28:

https://100r.org/2015/10/clinton-foundation-faces-revisions-and-possible-reckoning/

Here's an article published today about this, although nothing has been resolved yet:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2015/11/16/tracking-hillarys-speech-fees-clinton-foundation-or-pocket/

Still, the Clintons have not defined how they decide to designate their speaking fees as income versus charity work. Earlier this year, the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation admitted collecting $26.4 million in previously unreported speaking fees from foreign governments and foreign and U.S. corporations. For tax purposes, who should be treated as the recipient of that money? It is not a silly question.

Jerry Denim, November 16, 2015 at 11:46 am

I couldn't believe my eyes and ears during the debate when Sanders impugned Clinton's integrity for taking Wall Street super PAC money and she seemed to successfully deflect the accusation by going full-bore star-spangled sparkle eagle. She played the vagina card then quickly blurted out "9/11 New York" for applause while attempting conflate aiding and abetting Wall Street with the 9/11 attacks and patriotism. I couldn't believe people were clapping and I couldn't believe Clinton had the audacity to pull such a illogical and juvenile stunt on live television, but yet CBS reported her highest approval scores of the debate were registered during her confusing but emotionally rousing (for some people apparently) "vagina, 9/11" defense.

I loved that Bernie Sanders was willing to drop the "F-bomb" (fraud) on Wall Street but he needs to swing much harder at Clinton. Clinton was quick to zing O'Malley as a hypocrite by noting he appointed a former hedge-fund manager to some state regulatory position when given the chance, but yet neither Sanders or O'Malley hit back with the fact that her only child and Clinton Foundation board member, Chelsea Clinton, worked for the hedge fund of a Clinton family pal and mega-donor in 2006. Neither candidate mentioned that her son-in-law and the father of her grandchild who she is so fond of mentioning, just so happens to be an extremely rich hedge fund manager who benefits handsomely from the Clinton's political connections and prestige. This isn't mud, this is extremely germane, factual material already on the public record. It gets to the core of who Hillary is and where her loyalties lie. Hillary herself chose to identify unregulated derivatives and the repeal of Glass-Steagall as the primary causes of the financial crisis. She either claimed directly or insinuated that she would address these issues as President, but surprisingly no one pointed out that it was her husband's administration that blocked Brooksley Born from regulating derivatives in the 1990's and it was her husband's administration that effectively repealed Glass-Steagal with the signing of Gramm-Leach-Billey act in 1999. It's not a stretch to say the Clinton's deregulation of Wall Street paved the way for the crisis of 2008 and the extreme income inequality of today. Wall Street is deeply unpopular and Bernie Sanders has built a candidacy on two main issues: attacking Wall Street and addressing income inequality. These are punches he can't afford not to throw at his rival when she holds a commanding lead in the polls plus the support of the DNC and media establishment. Clinton is deeply corrupt and beholden to Wall Street. She needs to be beaten with this stick hard and often. Attempting to deflect this very accurate, very damaging criticism by wrapping herself in the flag and invoking feminism is a cheap stunt that will only work so many times before people notice what she is doing. Bernie needs to swing harder and keep at it, he already has the right message and Clinton is highly vulnerable on his pet topics.

I thought O'Malley had one of the best lines of the night when he said "I think it may be time for us to quit taking advice from economists" but it seemed to go mostly unnoticed and unappreciated. I would have loved a frontal assault on the validity and integrity of economists when the bespectacled lady in blue attempted to nail down Sanders with a 'gotcha' question implying raising the minimum wage would be catastrophic for the economy because "such-and-such economist" said so. There is so much disdain for science and academic credentials in the heartland right now, it seems crazy not to harness this anti-academic populist energy and redirect it to a deserving target like neo-liberal economists instead of climate scientists. " How's that Laffer curve working out for ya Iowa? Are you feeling the prosperity 'trickle down' yet?" Sanders did a relatively good job of deflecting and not getting zinged by the 'gotcha' question but a full-frontal assault would have been much better. Stronger, more Presidential and with the added bonus of giving neo-liberal economists under the pay of plutocrats a black eye. Another missed opportunity. The questioner set it up perfectly for him. I would have loved to see the expression on her corn-fed face when Bernie turned her 'gotcha' question that she had spent so much time and thought crafting into the home-run answer of the evening. Perhaps it could happen in a debate in the near future.

RUKidding, November 16, 2015 at 11:58 am

I think what happened there is that Bernie is showing his true colors, unfortunately. While I'm more than OK with Bernie's attitude towards Benghazi & the emails, he really does not confront HRC on her egregious attitudes towards unfettered War, Inc, and most esp not on Wall St and the Banks.

I have no serious expectations of Sanders, however, and never did.

Jerry Denim, November 16, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Perhaps you are correct but Sanders did say Wall Street's business model is greed and fraud. Strong language for a Presidential candidate and unmistakably clear terms. When it comes to attacking Clinton I feel like something is holding Sanders back. Maybe it's his campaign advisors because he's been told his anger scares voters and people don't like negative attacks. Maybe the DNC and Clinton are holding some threat over his head regarding ballot access, debate cancellation or some other punishment if he doesn't play by certain rules. Perhaps he's been warned certain topics are off limits during debates. Seems fishy to me, but maybe it's just as simple as you say.

RUKidding, November 16, 2015 at 1:27 pm

Yes, Sanders has been outspoken about Wall St, greed, fraud and tightening up regulations, etc. That's why it's disappointing and beyond annoying when he clams up vis Clinton and her relationship with and money from Wall St.

The GOP engages in phony baloney food fights much to the tingling excitement of their base. I'd like to see some REAL debate from the Dems. Not just make nice phony baloney bullshit.

Again, I've never expected Sanders to be anything more than someone who'll sound populist and then tell his followers to vote for Clinton… as he's already SAID anyway.

We're told allegedly that "poll after poll" shows Clinton in a double digit lead. I really question that, as well, but clearly no one's showing me the factual data. It is what is. HRC is the anointed one, so get used to it.

To me, Sanders is just window dressing & a distraction, even though, clearly, he's the pick of "both" (or the combined, if you will) litters. Whatever…

JerryDenim, November 16, 2015 at 2:51 pm

"Again, I've never expected Sanders to be anything more than someone who'll sound populist and then tell his followers to vote for Clinton… as he's already SAID anyway"

Yeah maybe, but I believe that was the price of admission to the Clinton / Wasserman-Shultz ball for a life-long socialist who sometimes caucuses with Democrats. The more damage Sanders inflicts on Clinton in the primaries the less sincere and effective any possible Sanders endorsement of Clinton will be later. I too share your distrust of polls and given that distrust it's hard for me to write off a guy who has had every disadvantage in his Presidential bid but is still polling pretty darn well against a extremely well-known political juggernaut early in the primary season.

Sanders has the right message, the right record and popular support on his side in a year when people are fed-up with the entire Washington establishment and sick of pedigreed, legacy politicians like Clinton. Look at how poorly Bush has fared so far against outsider, blow-hard Donald Trump and unknown-nobody Ben Carson. Even conservatives are sick of dynasties.

If there's ever been a moment when Bernie Sanders could win the nomination this is it. If you really think Sanders is the "pick of liter" as you say perhaps you could stop calling him things like "window dressing" and "a distraction". While it may protect your feelings from future disappointment to speak confidently of Clinton as the inevitable nominee it clearly helps her campaign objectives, so…. maybe just try tempering your cynicism just a wee bit unless you are out to help Hillary win the nomination. If you are out to help Hillary then carry on, you're doing a fine job of tarring and feathering Sanders as a loser on behalf of her campaign.

3.14e-9, November 16, 2015 at 2:53 pm

Bernie's campaign never in a million years thought he would get this far. In the beginning, it was calculated to draw attention to income inequality, big money in politics, and other issues that likely would get ignored if the coronation went ahead unopposed. Within that context, it would have been very easy for him to promise the few votes he thought he would get to Clinton.

I have a feeling that his campaign is regretting he ever said that as much as we are. He has a huge number of supporters who, like jgordon above, would write in "Dog Turd" before voting for Hillary (although I don't know why we couldn't write in Bernie). These people are going to be extremely angry if he throws his support behind her, and they have demonstrated well already that they are very vocal. I've commented on NC before that I think there will be hell to pay if and when that happens.

I also suspect that the DNC didn't make a big fuss about his running as a Democrat because no one there thought he'd get this far, either, and they probably thought he would be useful. For all we know, he agreed to that. And then, suddenly, all the unexpected crowds.

Sanders is the ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee, which means he definitely could challenge Clinton on economic issues, and competently. So I agree that something has to be holding him back. Yet another consideration is that he might be keeping the most damaging counts against her until later in the campaign. If he showed his hand now, the Clinton machine would kick into gear overtime, get her off the hook, and drag him down into the mud.

Cassandra, November 16, 2015 at 4:10 pm

No need to think of conspiracies, etc. As you point out, Sanders is a senator. He never expected to get this far. He won't win the nomination. He has to think of his post-2016 career. If he goes after Clinton hammer and tongs, he will be (more of) a pariah in the Senate, effectively ruining any chance for him to accomplish anything. As he said in the debate, the VA bill wasn't all he wanted, but it was something. Many think incrementalism is a fool's game, but I believe Sanders is willing to fight for crumbs.

Lambert Strether, November 16, 2015 at 4:14 pm

I think Sanders did pretty well, especially considering the primaries haven't started. He pushed Clinton into two horrible responses, at least: (1) 9/11 and Wall Street and (2) Sanders single payer vs. ObamaCare. Both will be gifts that keep on giving. My thought would is that the opportunity cost of spending a lot of time reverse engineering whatever number of dimensions of chess Sanders is playing failing to use the very powerful ammo he gave - both of which are about policy.

RUKidding, November 16, 2015 at 4:17 pm

I'm willing to be wrong about Sanders, and in fact, hope I am. Time will tell. I agree that he's done better than the odds called for. Willing to listen to him but wish he'd speak up more about HRC's bs. But he is a politician after all and is playing a long game.

3.14e-9, November 16, 2015 at 6:14 pm

Well, he has to be very careful about that. Clinton's people immediately jump on the least bit of truth from Sanders as "negative campaigning" and then call up their friends in the MSM to back them up:

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2015/11/05/clinton-campaign-fires-back-at-bernie-/bernie_sanders.

Anyway, thanks for being open.

Jim Haygood, November 16, 2015 at 12:10 pm

'AIG's largest counter-party was Goldman Sachs.'

Thus, the Federal Reserve's "Sunday night special" waiver of the 30-day application period for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to become bank holding companies, and to get their sticky mitts (or tentacles, as the case may be) into "free money" at the discount window. News story from 22 Sep 2008:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/26828495

Having essentially zero consumer deposit-taking business, then or now, these two investment banks resemble ordinary commercial banks like mangy wolves dressed in ill-fitting sheep costumes.

Investment banking is a high-risk, high-reward business with some of the most highly compensated employees in the country. Subsidizing GS and MS with Federal Reserve free money is a rank disgrace. It vexeth me greatly, comrades. But changing it is not even on the menu.

TimmyB, November 16, 2015 at 12:35 pm

What really hasn't been discussed is Sander's motivation for breaking up too big to fail financial institutions. Sanders on his website states he wants to break them up because they have too much economic and political power. Sanders says that breaking them up, in and by itself, will provide a benefit.

So when Clinton starts discussing how her plan will be more effective in preventing another financial collapse, she has changed the subject from how breaking up our banks will benefit our democratcy to whether or not breaking them up will prevent another 2008 crisis.

What Sanders needs to do is bring the discussion on breaking up TBTF banks back around to their having too much economic and political power. For example, he could say he wants to break them up because they have too much power and that Clinton want them to continue to hold that power. Clinton has no real response to that claim.

Michael, November 17, 2015 at 11:44 am

Bernie is not running to win. I'm not sure why he is running. If he does not start to hit Hillary then I think it is primarily to keep the left wing of the Democratic Party inside the party instead of seeking a new home elsewhere. The Justice Party is interesting but a third party has no chance unless the Democrats implode.

Honestly I can see the Democrats collapsing before the Republicans. The South and Midwest are just batshit crazy and they'll stick with the Republicans as long as the evangelicals dominate their culture. Does anyone here know anything about previous "great awakenings" in American culture?

MojaveWolf , November 16, 2015 at 1:01 pm

For all her vomit-inducing disingenuousness about how she would be the toughest on the financial industry as a whole (really, how does she say that with a straight face?), and her basically sounding like a smarter, saner business as usual neocon on the middle east, I thought her worst moment by far was when she tried to describe single payer as "dismantling" Medicare, Medicaid, etc and letting Republican administrations decide who gets health care, and playing up that the ACA as better and more comprehensive. She is not stupid. She is one of the smartest people in politics from a pure short term IQ standpoint. And she has studied and once advocated for single payer so she KNOWS what it does. Think about this for a minute.

Hillary KNOWS single payer EXPANDS on what Medicaid and Medicare provide.

Hillary KNOWS Bernie's single payer plan would not allow states to opt out, unlike the ACA she is touting, while she was claiming the exact opposite. She knowingly bald-faced lied on national TV & radio (I was driving and listening, not watching) in a way to equal anything Dick Cheney or Mitch McConnell or Newt Gingrich ever did, and she lied about a matter she KNOWS will result in millions of people NOT getting adequate medical care with ripple effects ranging from constant illness and misery to job performance to not seeking treatment until emergency to actual death. People can't pay 3k or 5k deductibles. We already have news reports of people not going for this reason. We paid the penalty on our taxes last year because the only affordable plans that were actually usable required us to make a 2 hr one way drive (over 90% hwy, this is a long way) to the closest hospital/doctor that was included in it. One of my acquaintances who is covered took a taxi to what was supposedly the only local doctor who took her plan (after calling everyone in town), waited over an hr, and was told that whoever she spoke to on the phone made a mistake and she is not covered, and they have no idea where she should go, plus she's out the time and a r/t taxi ride. You think Hillary hasn't studied this and doesn't know things like this happen? You think she doesn't know Bernie's single payer plan (and probably all single payer plans) wouldn't prevent these sorts of situations?

She KNOWS we could cut out the insurance companies, have free single payer, pay for it by taxing the most well off, and people on the whole would get much better service, with much better outcomes, and without having to freak out if the ambulance took them to a hospital outside of their plan or a visiting specialist at the hospital their plan said go to was outside the plan and billed them five or six figures or what have.

But she clearly doesn't care. She just cares about people donating money to her campaign and getting elected as a resume stuffer. She doesn't want to change how things are done more than minor tinkering, even when she KNOWS the changes will make everything better off. She will be the same on climate change, even tho she isn't stupid and knows both what we are doing now and what she is recommending are leading us to a planet of the jellyfish in the long run and a state of neverending crises and mass extinction in the short and medium run.

(I am not saying she knows the misery her foreign policy position has and will cause because I actually fear she might believe in what she's saying there; tho whether she believes it or not she clearly intends to continue the same policies that have led us to destabilize the middle east and are starting to destabilize the entire world; the only reason I'm not thinking this is her worst moment is because she was more hinting at than saying things, and I'm less sure of her actual positions)

She is willing to sacrifice millions of lives to get herself elected and continue enriching her already rich family who doesn't need any more money. She is, basically, a Republican on everything but social issues (yes, these matter, and good for her, tho past cowardly statements on abortion and votes on marriage equality should not be disregarded when compared with her opponents).

i guess people think nothing of this, just as they think nothing of her lies on regulating the financial industry, because they think that sort of flat out lie and distortion is just politics as usual, and more important to be good at lying than good on substance?

And that is why really do need a political revolution. Almost all of the current political class, including the political media, really need to go.

RUKidding, November 16, 2015 at 1:37 pm

AKA, there's very little difference bet HRC and whomever barking lunatic the GOP coughs up… other than HRC isn't such a barking lunatic. She's just mired in pure unfettered greed and imperialistic hubris.

Actually the GOP should be kissing the ground that HRC walks on bc she's probably the biggest War Hawk in the whole amalgamated group, and she's way more for BigIns getting their hugely giant sucking cut out of "health" insurance scams than almost any other candidate.

The GOP puts on a dog 'n pony show constantly wasting time and all taxpayer money on voting against ACA. They do that bc they know their phony baloney bills will never ever pass. The GOP doesn't want ACA to ever go away bc the politicians are getting rich rich rich off of it as much as the Dems are. They just have to play a Kabuki show to appease their utterly stupid base.

Such a waste of time all of this is. Such a monumental waste of money. ugh.

nothing will change. authoritarian USians like Big Daddy/Mommy too much to let ever let go of this system.

Vatch, November 16, 2015 at 3:33 pm

There are at least two advantages to breaking up the giant banks:

1. If one of the fragments gets into financial trouble, we won't have to fear a complete economic collapse.

2. Sure, the owners of the banks will continue to own as much as before (and some of their stock might even rise in value). But the CEOs of the big banks will lose influence, because they will suddenly be the bosses of much smaller corporations. Currently, people like Jamie Dimon have far too much power.

Bob Stapp, November 16, 2015 at 2:17 pm

I'm at a complete loss to understand why Dems, the media, and in fact anyone with two brain cells to rub together, can fail to see or acknowledge that HRC is a liar, a crook, and a generally mean-spirited individual who's only in it for herself and will do and say anything and accept money from anyone as long as it helps her to win.

Sadly, the only difference between Hillary and Obama, is that Barack is a better shape-shifter and, when he lies, he can do so with greater eloquence and charm. Hillary can never manage to completely hide her forked tongue and her poisonous lizard personality.

Our country and, in fact, the entire world is at a crossroads and yet there has never been such a lack of selfless, skilled leadership stepping up to help us get to some version of the common good. Meanwhile, Bernie Saunders and Jeremy Corbyn get pilloried daily for even suggesting that we are all in this together and had better get to fixing things right quick. I guess it's the fate of truth-tellers.

I plan to attend my state's caucus and when I say that if we insist on pursuing the political process as we have always done, we are condemning ourselves to disaster. Going out and working for a person, a personality, or a hoped-for savior, is merely repeating the same kind of insanity that has produced the rotten system we have today. Bernie's right. It's going to take all of us standing up together, not to get Bernie or anybody else elected, but for what we know is right. And we'd better do it soon. Then, when I'm shut down by the party operatives, I'll go home and continue to watch the slow-motion train-wreck.

Lambert Strether, November 16, 2015 at 3:21 pm

"It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'bank' is."

cassandra, November 16, 2015 at 7:11 pm

After Obama's behavior, and the documentation of Gilens & Page, can anyone believe that campaign speeches have anything to do with post-electoral policies? The nomination process is beyond dysfunctional: everyone knows Hillarity's positions are synthetic, yet she successfully campaigns with the grossest political impunity and she is taken seriously enough for analysis. I don't understand why. The only political power remaining to democracy is resistance, either by voting for a third party, or else by total abstinence. I personally prefer the former, as it's a bit harder to sweep under the media carpet. This keeps me outside the grasp of helplessness.

Telee, November 16, 2015 at 7:38 pm

The refusal of HRC to be for reinstating Glass-Steagall to separate investment banks and commercial banks is a sure sign that she will be a lap dog for the fraudsters on Wall Street. More of the same or worse.

Another point. My readings has lead me to believe that she played a large role in the destabilization o Libya. In her 11 hours before the Benghazi committee she was never asked why she was so hell-bent for a military solution when there were negotiations which would have led to a more peaceful solution.

1 kings, November 16, 2015 at 9:39 pm

"We came, we saw, he died". HRC

aliteralmind, November 16, 2015 at 10:21 pm

Family Guy *exactly* predicted Hillary's 9/11 tragedy-distraction strategy way back in 2008: Life imitating art: http://youtu.be/Rm3d43HLyTI

[Nov 21, 2015] US Congresswoman Introduces Bill To Stop Illegal War On Assad; Says CIA Ops Must Stop

"Any candidate who supports a safe no-fly zone in Syria, must admit that US/Coalition ground/air troops are need to enforce [it]
Nov 21, 2015 | Zero Hedge
Last month, US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard went on CNN and laid bare Washington's Syria strategy.

In a remarkably candid interview with Wolf Blitzer, Gabbard calls Washington's effort to oust Assad "counterproductive" and "illegal" before taking it a step further and accusing the CIA of arming the very same terrorists who The White House insists are "sworn enemies."

In short, Gabbard all but tells the American public that the government is lying to them and may end up inadvertently starting "World War III."

For those who missed it, here's the clip:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHkher6ceaA

[Nov 21, 2015] The REALLY ANNOYING Don't-Wanna-Subsidize-Wealthy-Kids'-College-Tuition Canard

Notable quotes:
"... Can anyone really imagine Bernie Sanders in the White House? , ..."
"... I said here yesterday that Clinton is running a Republican-style campaign. But it's not only its style–its tactics–that are Republican. Watch her edge ever closer on substance as well. Which is the way she began her campaign last spring and early summer, until it became clear that Sanders' campaign was catching on. ..."
November 20, 2015 | naked capitalism

Yves here. Readers know I have a weakness for righteous rants…

By Beverly Mann. Originally published at Angry Bear

Hillary Clinton's performance wasn't as clean or as crisp as her last one. Among other things, she invoked 9/11 in order to dodge a question about her campaign donors. But she effectively made the case that, though Sanders speaks about important questions, his solutions are ultimately simplistic and hers are better. Instead of railing about breaking up the big banks, focus on identifying and moderating the biggest risks to the financial system. Instead of making college free for everyone, increase access to those who need it and decline to subsidize wealthy kids' tuition.

Can anyone really imagine Bernie Sanders in the White House?, Stephen Stromberg, Washington Post, Nov. 15

Stromberg, a Washington Post editorial writer who also blogs there, is an all-but-official Clinton campaign mouthpiece who last month, in a blog post and (unforgivably) a Post editorial (i.e., commentary with no byline, published on behalf of the Post's editorial board) baldly misrepresented what Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon on Tuesday misrepresented about Sanders' single-payer healthcare insurance plan, but from a different angle: Stromberg said that the cost of the single-payer plan would be in addition to the cost of healthcare now. Actual healthcare, not just insurance premiums.

According to Stomberg and the Post's editorial board then, hospitals, physicians and other healthcare provides would receive full payment from private insurers and also full payment from the government. And employers, employees and individual-market policyholders would continue to pay premiums to private insurers while they also paid taxes to the federal government for single-payer-double-payer?-insurance.

A nice deal for some but not, let's say, for others. Also, a preposterous misrepresentation of Sanders' plan.

Fast-forward a month and Stromberg, this time speaking only for himself (as far as I know; I don't read all the Post's editorials) and for the Clinton campaign, picks up on Clinton's invocation of the horror of the public paying college tuition for Donald Trump's kids. But since he probably knows that Trump's kids no more went to public colleges than did Clinton's kid, he broadens it.

Instead of making college free for everyone, increase access to those who need it and decline to subsidize wealthy kids' tuition. Good line! At least for the ears of voters who are unaware that public universities, like private ones, quietly skew their admissions processes to favor the kids of parents who likely can pay full tuition simply by switching the funds from a CD or other savings account into a checking account at the beginning of each semester, thus removing the need for the school to dig into its endowment fund to provide financial assistance. Or to worry about whether the student will have that loan money ready at the beginning of each semester.

Which is why Jennifer Gratz, salutatorian at her working class Detroit suburb's high school, whose extracurriculars included cheerleading but probably not a summer in Honduras assisting the poor, was denied admission to the University of Michigan back in 1995. And why she sued the University in what eventually became a landmark Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality under the equal protection clause of UM's affirmative action program.

She did not challenge the constitutionality of the U's almost-certain, but unstated, admissions policy that would ensure that the freshman class had a substantial percentage of students from families wealthy enough to pay the full tuition.

Y'know, the ones wealthy enough to pay for SAT tutoring, SAT practice courts, and if necessary more than one SAT exam.

What especially angers me about this let's-not-subsidize-wealthy-kids'-college-tuition canard is that it uses disparities in ability to pay the tuition as a clever way to ensure the admissions status quo. Or something close to the status quo.

In her and her campaign spokesman's statements in the last several days-most notably her "Read My Lips; No New Taxes on the Middle Class, Even $1.35/wk to Pay for Family and Medical Leave" declaration, but other statements too-she's overtly declaring herself a triangulator. And some progressive political pundits are noticing it. Yes!* They!** Are!*** And Sanders needs to start quoting these articles, in speaking and in web and television ads.

I said here yesterday that Clinton is running a Republican-style campaign. But it's not only its style–its tactics–that are Republican. Watch her edge ever closer on substance as well. Which is the way she began her campaign last spring and early summer, until it became clear that Sanders' campaign was catching on.

[Nov 20, 2015] Hillarys Heavy Obligations to Wall Street Money and The Banks Favorite Candidates

jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
"The wealth of another region excites their greed; and if it is weak, their lust for power as well. Nothing from the rising to the setting of the sun is enough for them.

Among all others only they are compelled to attack the poor as well as the rich. Robbery, rape, and slaughter they falsely call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace."

Tacitus, Agricola

People are discouraged and disillusioned after almost thirty years of distorted governance, specially in the aftermath of the 'Hope and Change' which quickly became 'Vain Hope for Change.' Most cannot admit that their guys were in the pockets of Big Defense, Big Pharma, Big Energy, and Wall Street.

The real question about Hillary comes down to this. Can you trust her to do what she says she will do, the right things for her putative constituents and not her big money donors and paymasters, once she takes office?

Or will that poor family who left the White House 'broke' and then mysteriously obtained a fortune of over $100 million in the following years, thanks to enormous payments for 'speeches' from large financial firms and huge donations to their Trust once again take care of the hand that pays them the most?

This is not to say that there is a better alternative amongst the leading Republican candidates, who have been and are still under the same types of payment arrangements, only with different people signing the checks.

Or we could skip the middlemen entirely and just directly elect one of New York's most prominent of their narcissist class directly, instead of another witless stooge of big money, and hope for something different? And how will that likely work out for us?

It is an exceptionally hard time to be a human being in this great nation of ours.

And so what ought we to do? Wallow in cynicism and the sweet sickness of misanthropy and despair? Vote strictly on the hope of our own narrow self-interest no matter the broader and longer term consequences, and then face the inevitable blowback from injustice and repression?

Give up on our grandchildren and children because we are too tired and interested in our own short term comfort? Too filled with selfishness, anger and hate to see straight, and do anything but turn ourselves into mindless animals to escape the pain of being truly human? Do no thinking, and just follow orders? This latter impulse has taken whole nations of desperate people into the abyss.

Or do we stop wallowing in our specialness and self-pity, and 'stand on the shoulders of giants' and confront what virtually every generation and every individual has had to wrestle with since the beginning of recorded time?

Do we fall, finally stricken with grief in our blindness, on the road to Damascus and say at long last, 'Lord, what then wilt thou have me to do?'

This is the question that circumstance is posing to us. And hopefully we will we heed the answer that has been already given, to be 'steadfast, unshaken, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in Him our labor is not in vain.'

And the touchstone of the alloy of our actions is love.

And so we have before us what Franklin Roosevelt so aptly characterized as our own 'rendezvous with destiny.'


Related:
Wall Street Is Running the World's Central Banks
Wall Street's Favorite Presidential Candidates

[Nov 15, 2015] State Dept. not saying if Hillary Clinton signed separation agreement

From comments: "If in fact she did sign it, then why doesn't she just say YES? And if she didn't, then why doesn't she just say NO? Because, either way she broke the law. She's guilty if she did, and she's guilty if she didn't. When are the Billary fans going to realize, that she's the mistake by the lake. This is a Conniving, Scheming, Narcissistic, non Feeling or Caring poor excuse of a humanbeing. This is one nasty women, and I'm amazed that so many people don't see it. Don't let Oh-Bummer happen to us 3 times. "
Notable quotes:
"... In fact, did all of Hillarys staff sign this document? ..."
"... According to other stories on Yahoo today, the State Dept said she did not sign the form. ..."
finance.yahoo.com
David
They say they are for transparency. In 2013, President Obama boasted, "This is the most transparent administration in history." But watch what his administration does.

Today, it will issue new rules exempting a key administrative office that handles issues such as request for access to government email records from the Freedom of Information Act. That law is specifically designed to allow private parties to look at government documents that aren't privileged or involve national security.

Hillary and Obama are the most deceitful and dishonest people in America and neither of them should be in an office representing the United States of America.

cafe
My question is whether Huma Abedin had to sign the exit document specifying that she would ensure that all of her electronic documents were given to the State Department when she left her position at the same time that Hillary Clinton did.

In fact, did all of Hillary's staff sign this document? It has been shown that Huma and other staff members have email addresses on the Clinton email server which validates the measures to have that server turned into the government!!!!

All of them need to be served subpoenas and this server need turned in!

Bob from Cape Cod
According to other stories on Yahoo today, the State Dept said she did not sign the form. This speaks to the ineptness of this Administration.

What I'm thinking is: She did, but told Obama if it were released that she did sign it, she would spill the beans on all the inside B$ that would hurt Obama.

This way she gets to escape perjury charges and still keep the private server and keep deciding by herself what she will release and what she will not.

And her KoolAid drinking minions will accept everything she says.

Mister Karma
Hillary...In the news- Factual History

As a 27-year-old staffer, she was fired from the Watergate committee for fraud and unethical behavior. Her former boss, Jerry Zeifman, finally spoke out in 2008:
"Because she was a liar," Zeifman said in an interview last week. "She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.".....

From a June 2000 article in the Los Angeles Times:

There is "substantial evidence" that First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton lied under oath in denying that she played a role in the 1993 White House travel office firings, independent counsel Robert W. Ray reported Thursday....

On Sept. 11, 2012, Ambassador Chris Stevens and 3 other Americans were murdered by Islamic militants in Benghazi, Libya. Originally the attack was blamed on outrage due to an anti-Muslim You Tube video, and then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice made the rounds to all the Sunday shows to denounce the hate speech. For weeks, Hillary adamantly supported the ridiculous notion that these were "spontaneous demonstrations," despite overwhelming evidence that she knew from the beginning that this was simply false...
....... The truth is that Hillary has a long, checkered career, full of scandals and lies.

Terry
If in fact she did sign it, then why doesn't she just say YES? And if she didn't, then why doesn't she just say NO? Because, either way she broke the law. She's guilty if she did, and she's guilty if she didn't. When are the Billary fans going to realize, that she's the mistake by the lake. This is a Conniving, Scheming, Narcissistic, non Feeling or Caring poor excuse of a humanbeing. This is one nasty women, and I'm amazed that so many people don't see it. Don't let Oh-Bummer happen to us 3 times.
Justa Nobody
I'm so disappointed with our government. Isn't it time for voters from all parties to send a message that We The People want and expect open and transparent government.

[Nov 14, 2015] Where Feds Critics Got it Wrong in GOP Debate

Notable quotes:
"... Their low information voters like the idea of big bad gobinment agencies doing bad stuff to all of us and being responsible for whatever. The narratives always Trump reality. ..."
"... It all makes sense when the good of the few Trumps [means plundering of] the rest is considered a public good. When avarice meets reality it attacks with diverting ad hominem [e.g. brainwashed socialists, etc.] and ever worse logic fallacies. ..."
"... So you call it a successful policy...based on what? Stock prices are up? The wealthy have grabbed most of the income gains? ..."
"... [Net reductions in monthly mortgage expenses obtained from refinancing at low rates, consumer credit discounts for all variable rate interest lines of credit, short term small business cash flow balancing operating loans at prime rate. The wealthy got a little leverage trading done but only those that sold off stocks have made money from high stock prices. Those still holding shares may have nothing to gain except for losses.] ..."
"... A little?!? Take a look at the chart: Capitals share of national income. It has really taken off--well above the trend line of the last 40 years--since ZIRP and QE. ..."
"... But anyone with much experience in long term asset markets, such as the stock market or housing market, ought to realize that it is low inflation which tends to boost valuations for long term assets. The current very low inflation expectations are one of the main drivers behind high current US stock market valuations (using measures such as total market cap to GDP). ..."
"... As Krugman points out Murkan politics is dysfunctional, the GOP playing the Nazi role [from Weimars demise]. ..."
Nov 14, 2015 | Economist's View

DeDude said...

Their low information voters like the idea of big bad gobinment agencies doing bad stuff to all of us and being responsible for whatever. The narratives always Trump reality.

ilsm said in reply to DeDude...

It all makes sense when the good of the few Trumps [means plundering of] the rest is considered a public good.
When avarice meets reality it attacks with diverting ad hominem [e.g. brainwashed socialists, etc.] and ever worse logic fallacies.

Like Lacker's screed on inflation, actually selling deflation.

JohnH said in reply to ilsm...

So you call it a successful policy...based on what? Stock prices are up? The wealthy have grabbed most of the income gains?

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to JohnH...

"...based on what?..."

[Net reductions in monthly mortgage expenses obtained from refinancing at low rates, consumer credit discounts for all variable rate interest lines of credit, short term small business cash flow balancing operating loans at prime rate.

The wealthy got a little leverage trading done but only those that sold off stocks have made money from high stock prices. Those still holding shares may have nothing to gain except for losses.]

JohnH said in reply to RC AKA Darryl, Ron...

The wealthy got a little leverage...

A little?!? Take a look at the chart: Capital's share of national income. It has really taken off--well above the trend line of the last 40 years--since ZIRP and QE.

No, Fed policy didn't cause increased inequality but it exacerbated it.

Now, please explain how "Net reductions in monthly mortgage expenses obtained from refinancing at low rates"...blah...blah translated into higher real median income per household, etc. You know, common measure of economic performance.

acerimusdux said...

Another right wing myth worth addressing is the idea that low interest rates cause asset bubbles.

But anyone with much experience in long term asset markets, such as the stock market or housing market, ought to realize that it is low inflation which tends to boost valuations for long term assets. The current very low inflation expectations are one of the main drivers behind high current US stock market valuations (using measures such as total market cap to GDP).

Looser money, because it encourages more inflation, should be expected to limit bubbles. Too tight monetary policy should be expected to cause them.

Right wing economics seems to be primarily based on first either ignoring or not understanding the importance of natural rates, and so blaming the Fed any time nominal rates seem low (or even moderate), and then on blaming anything else in the economy that seems to be wrong at them moment on those "low" rates (without any regard to logic, reason, or consistency).

Sad to see that even some Fed board members seem to be ignoring the importance of inflation in determing monetary policy. There is no sign at all yet of even meeting the inflation target in the CPI, PCE, or ECI, while the PPI continues to show deflation. Meanwhile market based measures (such as the breakeven rates) show expectations that continue to fall, with the Fed not expected by markets to meet it's target even within a decade. And some are still talking about hiking in December?

Ben Groves said in reply to acerimusdux...

It is hard to have inflation when commodity deflation is lowering inputs and we are having a nasty price war between Brick/Mortar and e-Commerce. That sounds like a large CPI decline (which means real retail sales are better than usual) that started in the 3rd quarter may accelerate in the 4th quarter. I am seeing prices of some foods, the lowest in 10 years. Milk is down to 15 year lows at some of my regions stores.

I don't think central banks though, think that is a bad thing. They only care about wage growth and their own trimmed inflation figures that factor in wage growth. So the Fed/Republicans are on the same page. Anything more is dialectics.

ilsm said...

As Krugman points out Murkan politics is dysfunctional, the GOP playing the Nazi role [from Weimar's demise].

[Nov 04, 2015] Neoliberalism neofashism and feudalism

Notable quotes:
"... feudalism is a hierarchical system of distributed administration. A king is nominally in charge or "owns" a kingdom, but he has lords who administer its first primary division, the fiefdom. Lords in turn have vassals, who administer further subdivisions or, in the cases of smaller fiefs, different aspects of governance. Vassals may have their own captains and middle managers, typically knights but also clerks and priests, who in turn employ apprentices/novices/pages who train under them so as to one day move up to middle management. If this is starting to resemble modern corporate structure, then bonus points to you. ..."
"... Anyone in a position of vassalage was dependent upon the largess of his immediate patron/lord/whatever for both his status and nominal wealth. The lowest rungs of the administrative ladder were responsible for keeping the peasants, the pool of labor, in line either through force or through the very same system of dependence upon largess that frames the lord/vassal relationship. ..."
"... A CEO may resign in disgrace over some scandal, but that does little to challenge the underlings who carried out his orders. ..."
"... It's not that peasants can be vassals in the overall order so much as they are in the subject position, but without the attendant capacity to then lord it over someone beneath them. Lord/vassal in feudalism are also generic terms to describe members of a fixed relationship of patronage. It's confusing, because those terms are also used for levels of the overall hierarchy. ..."
"... I suspect that the similarity of medeavil fuedalism with the relationship between a large modern corporation and its employees is not properly appreciated because the latter, unlike the former, does not necessarily include direct control over living conditions (housing, land, rent), even though in the end there may be a similar degree of effective servitude (lack of mobility and alternatives, and so effective entrapment at low wages) . ..."
www.nakedcapitalism.com

Mussolini-Style Corporatism, aka Fascism, on the Rise in the US naked capitalism

Uahsenaa, November 3, 2015 at 11:26 am

I want to expand on the point about feudalism, since it's even more apt than the article lets on. It was not "rule by the rich," which implies an oligarchic class whose members are more or less free agents in cahoots with one another. Rather, feudalism is a hierarchical system of distributed administration. A king is nominally in charge or "owns" a kingdom, but he has lords who administer its first primary division, the fiefdom. Lords in turn have vassals, who administer further subdivisions or, in the cases of smaller fiefs, different aspects of governance. Vassals may have their own captains and middle managers, typically knights but also clerks and priests, who in turn employ apprentices/novices/pages who train under them so as to one day move up to middle management. If this is starting to resemble modern corporate structure, then bonus points to you.

This means feudalism found a way to render complicit in a larger system of administration people who had no direct and often no real stake in the produce of its mass mobilization of labor. Anyone in a position of vassalage was dependent upon the largess of his immediate patron/lord/whatever for both his status and nominal wealth. The lowest rungs of the administrative ladder were responsible for keeping the peasants, the pool of labor, in line either through force or through the very same system of dependence upon largess that frames the lord/vassal relationship. Occasionally, the peasants recognize that no one is below them in this pyramid scheme, and so they revolt, but for the most part they were resigned to the status quo, because there seemed to be no locus of power to topple. Sure, you could overthrow the king, but that would do nothing to deter the power of the lords. You could overthrow your local lord, but the king could just install a new one.

Transpose to the modern day. A CEO may resign in disgrace over some scandal, but that does little to challenge the underlings who carried out his orders. You might get your terrible boss fired for his tendency to sexually harass anyone who walks in the door, but what's to stop the regional manager from hiring someone who works you to the bone. Sometimes the peas–err, employees revolt and form a union, but we all know what means have been employed over the years to do away with that.

tl;dr – Feudalism: it's about the structure, not the classes


Lambert Strether, November 3, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Hmm. I don't think a serf can be a vassal. The vassals sound a lot like the 20%. The serfs would be the 80%. I'm guessing class is alive and well.

James Levy, November 3, 2015 at 2:38 pm

You wouldn't be a vassal (that was a very small percentage of the population) but you could have ties of patronage with the people above you, and in fact that was critical to all societies until the Victorians made nepotism a bad word and the ethic of meritocracy (however bastardized today) took shape. If you wanted your physical labor obligation converted into a money payment so you could spend more time and effort on your own holding, or you needed help in tough times, or the 99 year lease on your leasehold was coming due, or you wanted to get your son into the local priory, etc. you needed a friend or friends in higher places. The granting or refusal of favors counted for everything, and kept many on the straight and narrow, actively or passively supporting the system as it was.

Uahsenaa, November 3, 2015 at 2:39 pm

It's not that peasants can be vassals in the overall order so much as they are in the subject position, but without the attendant capacity to then lord it over someone beneath them. Lord/vassal in feudalism are also generic terms to describe members of a fixed relationship of patronage. It's confusing, because those terms are also used for levels of the overall hierarchy.

The true outliers here are the contemporaneous merchants, craftsmen, and freeholders (yeomen) who are necessary for things to run properly but are not satisfactorily accounted for by the overall system of governance, in part because it was land based. Merchants and craftsmen in particular tended not to be tied to any one place, since their services were often needed all over and only for limited periods of time. The primary administrative apparatus for craftsmen were the guilds. Merchants fell into any number of systems of organization and often into none at all, thus, according to the old Marxist genealogy, capitalism overthrows feudalism.

Peasants may have had something like a class consciousness on occasion, but I'm not entirely convinced it's useful to think of them in that way. In Japan, for instance, peasants were of a much higher social status than merchants and craftsmen, technically, yet their lives were substantially more miserable by any modern economic measure.

visitor, November 3, 2015 at 4:01 pm

I think that the article gets it seriously wrong about feudalism - an example of what Yves calls "stripping words of their meaning".

First of all, feudalism was actually an invention of an older, powerful, even more hierarchical organization: the Catholic Church.

The Church realized early on that imposing its ideal of a theocratic State ("city of God") led by the Pope upon the strong-headed barbarian chiefs (Lombards, Franks, Wisigoths and others) that set up various kingdoms in Europe was impossible.

Hence the second best approach, feudalism: a double hierarchy (worldly and spiritual). The populations of Europe were subject to two parallel hierarchical authorities with taxation, judicial and other economic powers (such as the right to determine when and for whom to work).

Second, there was a class of wealthy people which did not quite fit in the feudal hierarchy - in particular, they had no vassals, nor, despite their wealth, any fiefdom: merchants, financiers, the emerging burger class in cities. They were the ones actually lending money to feudal lords.

Third, the problem for underlings was never to overthrow the king (this was a hobby for princely families), and extremely rarely the local lord (which inevitably brought the full brunt of the feudal hierarchy to bear on the seditious populace).

Historically, what cities and rural communities struggled for was to be placed directly under the authority of the king or (Holy Roman Germanic) emperor. This entailed the rights to self-administration, freedom from most egregious taxes and corvées from feudal seigneurs, recognition of local laws and customs, and the possibility to render justice without deferring to local lords.

The king/emperor was happy to receive taxes directly from the city/community without them seeping away in the pockets of members of the inextricable feudal hierarchy; he would from time to time require troops for his host, hence reducing the dependency on troops from his vassal lords; and he would rarely be called to intervene in major legal disputes. Overall, he was way too busy to have time micromanaging those who swore direct allegiance to him - which was exactly what Basque communities, German towns and Swiss peasants wanted.

Therefore, an equivalence between feudalism and the current organizational make-up of society dominated by for-profit entities does not make sense.

Lambert Strether, November 3, 2015 at 4:11 pm

"the problem for underlings was never to overthrow the King"

Not even in the peasant revolts?

visitor, November 3, 2015 at 5:15 pm

If you look at this list, it appears that they were revolts directed against the local nobility (or church) because of its exorbitant taxation, oppressive judiciary, rampaging mercenaries and incompetent leadership in war against foreign invasions.

The French Jacquerie took place when there was no king - he had been taken prisoner by the English and the populace blamed the nobility for the military defeats and the massive tax increases that ensued.

During the Spanish Guerra de los Remensas, the revolted peasants actually appealed to the king and he in turn allied with them to fight the nobles.

During the Budai Nagy Antal revolt, the peasants actually asked the Hungarian king to arbitrate.

In other cases, even when the king/emperor/sultan ultimately intervened to squash the revolt, the insurrection was directed against some local elite.

Peasants revolts in 16th century Scandinavia were against the king's rule, but they were linked to reformation and took place when feudalism was on the wane and the evolution towards a centralized monarchical state well advanced.

Apparently, only the John and William Merfold's revolt explicitly called for the overthrow of the English king.

Jim Haygood, November 3, 2015 at 4:51 pm

'The populations of Europe were subject to two parallel hierarchical authorities with taxation, judicial and other economic powers (such as the right to determine when and for whom to work).'

Just as Americans are subject to two parallel hierarchical authorities with taxation and judicial powers, the states and the fedgov.

Before 1914, federal criminal laws were few, and direct federal income taxation of individuals was nonexistent. Today one needs federal authorization (E-verify) to get a job.

Now that the Fifth Amendment prohibition on double jeopardy has been interpreted away, notorious defendants face both federal and state prosecution. Thus the reason why America has the world's largest Gulag, with its slam-dunk conviction machine.


Uahsenaa, November 3, 2015 at 4:58 pm

Except, first off, there were non-Christian societies that made use of the system of warrior vassalage, and the manorial system that undergirded feudal distribution of land and resources, as least as far as Bloch is concerned, is a fairly clear outgrowth of the Roman villa system of the late empire. Insofar as the Late Roman empire was nominally–very nominally–Christian, I suppose your point stands, but according to Bloch, the earliest manorial structures were the result of the dissolution of the larger, older empire into smaller pieces, many of which were beyond meaningful administrative control by Rome itself. Second, bishoprics and monasteries, the primary land holdings of the clergy, were of the same order as manors, so they fit within the overall feudal system, not parallel to it.

If Bloch is not right about this, I'm open to reading other sources, but that's what my understanding was based on. Moreover, the basic system of patronage and fealty that made the manor economy function certainly seems to have survived the historical phenomenon we call feudalism, and that parallel was what I was trying to draw attention to. Lord/vassal relationships are fundamentally contractual, not just quid pro quo but organized around favors and reputation, and maybe the analogy is a bit strained, but it does point to the ways in which modern white collar work especially is about more than fixed pay for a fixed sum of labor output.

Thure Meyer, November 4, 2015 at 7:30 am

Isn't this rather off-topic?

This is not a discussion about the true and correct history of European feudalism or whether or not it applies to the situation at hand, but a dialogue about Global fascism and how it expresses itself in this Nation.

HarrySnapperOrgans, November 4, 2015 at 4:46 am

I suspect that the similarity of medeavil fuedalism with the relationship between a large modern corporation and its employees is not properly appreciated because the latter, unlike the former, does not necessarily include direct control over living conditions (housing, land, rent), even though in the end there may be a similar degree of effective servitude (lack of mobility and alternatives, and so effective entrapment at low wages) .

[Nov 04, 2015] Mussolini-Style Corporatism, aka Fascism, on the Rise in the US

Notable quotes:
"... The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name ..."
"... Similarly, even as authoritarianism is rapidly rising in the US and citizens are losing their rights (see a reminder from last weekend, a major New York Times story on how widespread use of arbitration clauses is stripping citizens of access to the court system *), one runs the risk of having one's hair on fire if one dares suggest that America is moving in a fascist, or perhaps more accurately, a Mussolini-style corporatist direction. Yet we used that very expression, "Mussolini-style corporatism," to describe the the post-crisis bank bailouts. Former chief economist of the IMF, Simon Johnson, was more stark in his choice of terms, famously calling the rescues a "quiet coup" by financial oligarchs. ..."
"... By Thom Hartmann, an author and nationally syndicated daily talk show host. His newest book is "The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America -- and What We Can Do to Stop It." Originally published at Alternet ..."
"... "The really dangerous American fascists," Wallace wrote, "are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. "With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power." ..."
"... If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government. ..."
"... If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. … They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead. ..."
"... "Fascism is a worldwide disease," Wallace further suggest that fascism's "greatest threat to the United States will come after the war" and will manifest "within the United States itself." ..."
"... It Can't Happen Here ..."
"... There are two [political] parties, the Corporate and those who don't belong to any party at all, and so, to use a common phrase, are just out of luck! ..."
"... Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after 'the present unpleasantness' ceases. ..."
"... Fascists have an agenda that is primarily economic. As the Free Dictionary ( www.thefreedictionary.com ) notes, fascism/corporatism is "an attempt to create a 'modern' version of feudalism by merging the 'corporate' interests with those of the state." ..."
"... Thus, the neo-feudal/fascistic rich get richer (and more powerful) on the backs of the poor and the middle class, an irony not lost on author Thomas Frank, who notes in his book What's The Matter With Kansas ..."
"... The businesses "going out of business" are, in fascist administrations, usually those of locally owned small and medium-sized companies. As Wallace wrote, some in big business "are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage." ..."
"... Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise [companies]. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up, some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself. ..."
"... The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. It may be shocking to some people in this country to realize that, without meaning to do so, they hold views in common with Hitler when they preach discrimination… ..."
"... But even at this, Wallace noted, American fascists would have to lie to the people in order to gain power. And, because they were in bed with the nation's largest corporations – who could gain control of newspapers and broadcast media -- they could promote their lies with ease. ..."
"... "The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact," Wallace wrote. "Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy." ..."
"... They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection. ..."
"... Franklin D. Roosevelt, said when he accepted his party's renomination in 1936 in Philadelphia, "…out of this modern civilization, economic royalists [have] carved new dynasties…. It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction…. And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man…." ..."
"... The Republican candidates' and their billionaire donors' behavior today eerily parallels that day in 1936 when Roosevelt said, "In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for." ..."
"... Amen -- I've always detested the weasel words "neoliberal" and "neoconservative". Lets just be honest enough to call ideologies and political behaviors by their proper name. ..."
"... Call Dems what they are – corrupt right wingers, ultra conservatives. ..."
"... Isn't it important to keep in mind that fascism, as it developed in Italy and Germany, were authentic mass based movements generating great popular enthusiasm and not merely a clever manipulation of of populist emotions by the reactionary Right or by capitalism in crisis. ..."
"... Authentic augmented by the generous application of force, I'd say. That I think is a very interesting discussion about just how freely fascism develops. I don't think Italy and especially Germany developed with a particularly genuine popular enthusiasm. ..."
"... Or to put it differently, I'd say the appearance of popular enthusiasm from a mass movement was the result of fascist control as much as the cause. That's what's so unnverving about the American context of 21st century fascism. It does not require a mass movement to implement this kind of totalitarianism. It merely requires the professional class to keep their heads down long enough for a critical mass to be reached by the power structure in hollowing out the back-office guts of democratic governance. ..."
"... Fascism was a counter revolution to Bolshevikism. The upper and upper-middle class was scared to death of what happen in Russia under Bolshevikism. They united with the military looking for someone to counter Bolshevikism and settled on Hitler and the Nazi's. The military thought they control him but they ended up being wrong. ..."
"... "Those who own America should govern it" ..."
"... Corporation in Italian has approximately the meaning of guild and has nothing to do with big enterprises ..."
"... Massinissa and lou strong are correct -- corporatism in Mussolini's Italy meant structuring the State and the legislative body around organizations representing specific professional or economic sectors. ..."
"... By the way: we should not forget another fascist State, Portugal, which during the entire Salazar regime officially defined itself as a "corporatist republic". ..."
"... besides for-profit corporations. ..."
"... elimination ..."
"... It is apparent that both corporate parties are increasingly incapable of properly deflecting and channeling the interests of the electorate. Whether you think of 2007-08 as simply another business cycle, one that was exacerbated by toxic assets, a product of increasing income and wealth disparity, etc. it seems that portions of the electorate have been shocked out of their confidence in the system and the steering capacity of economic and political elites. ..."
"... This might lead the parties, under the pressure of events, to might reformulate themselves as the political cover of a "government of national unity" that, depending on the extremity of the next downturn, impose a "solidarity from above," blocking the development of popular organizations in a variety of ways. I certainly see this as possible. But treating the parties, or the system itself, as fascist at this point in time is not only not helpful, it is fundamentally disorienting. ..."
"... Chamber of the Fascist Corporations ..."
"... My impression is that today Corporatism more closely represents the interests of multinational corporations and the people who hold executive leadership positions within those companies. What they have in common is a listing on NYSE. ..."
November 3, 2015 | nakedcapitalism.com

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name. Confucius

One of the distressing things about politics in the US is the way words have either been stripped of their meaning or become so contested as to undermine the ability to communicate and analyze. It's hard to get to a conversation when you and your interlocutors don't have the same understanding of basic terms.

And that is no accident. The muddying of meaning is a neo-Orwellian device to influence perceptions by redefining core concepts. And a major vector has been by targeting narrow interest groups on their hot-button topics. Thus, if you are an evangelical or otherwise strongly opposed to women having reproductive control, anyone who favors womens' rights in this area is in your vein of thinking, to the left of you, hence a "liberal". Allowing the Overton Window to be framed around pet interests, as opposed to a view of what societal norms are, has allowed for the media to depict the center of the political spectrum as being well to the right of where it actually is as measured by decades of polling, particularly on economic issues.

Another way of limiting discourse is to relegate certain terms or ideas to what Daniel Hallin called the "sphere of deviance." Thus, until roughly two years ago, calling an idea "Marxist" in the US was tantamount to deeming it to be the political equivalent of taboo. That shows how powerful the long shadow of the Communist purges of the McCarthy era were, more than a generation after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Similarly, even as authoritarianism is rapidly rising in the US and citizens are losing their rights (see a reminder from last weekend, a major New York Times story on how widespread use of arbitration clauses is stripping citizens of access to the court system*), one runs the risk of having one's hair on fire if one dares suggest that America is moving in a fascist, or perhaps more accurately, a Mussolini-style corporatist direction. Yet we used that very expression, "Mussolini-style corporatism," to describe the the post-crisis bank bailouts. Former chief economist of the IMF, Simon Johnson, was more stark in his choice of terms, famously calling the rescues a "quiet coup" by financial oligarchs.

Now admittedly, the new neoliberal economic order is not a replay of fascism, so there is reason not to apply the "f" word wholesale. Nevertheless, there is a remarkable amount of inhibition in calling out the similarities where they exist. For instance, the article by Thom Hartmann below, which we've reposted from Alternet, is bold enough to use the "fascist" word in the opening paragraph (but not the headline!). But it then retreats from making a hard-headed analysis by focusing on warnings about the risks of fascism in America from the 1940s. While historical analysis is always enlightening, you'll see the article only selectively interjects contemporary examples. Readers no doubt can help fill out, as well as qualify, this picture.

By Thom Hartmann, an author and nationally syndicated daily talk show host. His newest book is "The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America -- and What We Can Do to Stop It." Originally published at Alternet

Ben Carson's feeble attempt to equate Hitler and pro-gun control Democrats was short-lived, but along with the announcement that Marco Rubio has brought in his second big supporting billionaire, it brings to mind the first American vice-president to point out the "American fascists" among us.

Although most Americans remember that Harry Truman was Franklin D. Roosevelt's vice-president when Roosevelt died in 1945 (making Truman president), Roosevelt had two previous vice-presidents: John N. Garner (1933-1941) and Henry A. Wallace (1941-1945).

In early 1944, the New York Times asked Vice-President Henry Wallace to, as Wallace noted, "write a piece answering the following questions: What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they?"

Vice-President Wallace's answer to those questions was published in the New York Times on April 9, 1944, at the height of the war against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan.

"The really dangerous American fascists," Wallace wrote, "are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information.

"With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power."

In this, Wallace was using the classic definition of the word "fascist" -- the definition Mussolini had in mind when he claimed to have invented the word. (It was actually Italian philosopher Giovanni Gentile who wrote the entry in the Encyclopedia Italiana that said: "Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." Mussolini, however, affixed his name to the entry, and claimed credit for it.)

As the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is, "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."

Mussolini was quite straightforward about all this. In a 1923 pamphlet titled "The Doctrine of Fascism" he wrote, "If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government." But not a government of, by, and for We The People; instead, it would be a government of, by, and for the most powerful corporate interests in the nation.

In 1938, Mussolini brought his vision of fascism into full reality when he dissolved Parliament and replaced it with the Camera dei Fasci e delle Corporazioni -- the Chamber of the Fascist Corporations. Corporations were still privately owned, but now instead of having to sneak their money to folks like Tom DeLay and covertly write legislation, they were openly in charge of the government.

Vice-President Wallace bluntly laid out in his 1944 Times article his concern about the same happening here in America:

If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. … They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.

Nonetheless, at that time there were few corporate heads who'd run for political office, and in Wallace's view, most politicians still felt it was their obligation to represent We The People instead of corporate cartels.

"American fascism will not be really dangerous," he added in the next paragraph, "until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information…."

Noting that, "Fascism is a worldwide disease," Wallace further suggest that fascism's "greatest threat to the United States will come after the war" and will manifest "within the United States itself."

In Sinclair Lewis's 1935 novel It Can't Happen Here a conservative southern politician is helped to the presidency by a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. The politician, Buzz Windrip, runs his campaign on family values, the flag and patriotism. Windrip and the talk show host portray advocates of traditional American democracy as anti-American.

When Windrip becomes president, he opens a Guantanamo-style detention center, and the viewpoint character of the book, Vermont newspaper editor Doremus Jessup, flees to Canada to avoid prosecution under new "patriotic" laws that make it illegal to criticize the President.

As Lewis noted in his novel, "the President, with something of his former good-humor [said]: 'There are two [political] parties, the Corporate and those who don't belong to any party at all, and so, to use a common phrase, are just out of luck!' The idea of the Corporate or Corporative State, Secretary [of State] Sarason had more or less taken from Italy."

And, President "Windrip's partisans called themselves the Corporatists, or, familiarly, the 'Corpos,' which nickname was generally used."

Lewis, the first American writer to win a Nobel Prize, was world famous by 1944, as was his book. And several well-known and powerful Americans, including Prescott Bush, had lost businesses in the early 1940s because of charges by Roosevelt that they were doing business with Hitler.

These events all, no doubt, colored Vice-President Wallace's thinking when he wrote:

Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after 'the present unpleasantness' ceases.

Fascists have an agenda that is primarily economic. As the Free Dictionary (www.thefreedictionary.com) notes, fascism/corporatism is "an attempt to create a 'modern' version of feudalism by merging the 'corporate' interests with those of the state."

Feudalism, of course, is one of the most stable of the three historic tyrannies (kingdoms, theocracies, feudalism) that ruled nations prior to the rise of American republican democracy, and can be roughly defined as "rule by the rich."

Thus, the neo-feudal/fascistic rich get richer (and more powerful) on the backs of the poor and the middle class, an irony not lost on author Thomas Frank, who notes in his book What's The Matter With Kansas that, "You can see the paradox first-hand on nearly any Main Street in middle America -- 'going out of business' signs side by side with placards supporting George W. Bush."

The businesses "going out of business" are, in fascist administrations, usually those of locally owned small and medium-sized companies. As Wallace wrote, some in big business "are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage."

He added:

Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise [companies]. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up, some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself.

But American fascists who would want former CEOs as president, vice-president, House Majority Whip, and Senate Majority Leader, and write legislation with corporate interests in mind, don't generally talk to We The People about their real agenda, or the harm it does to small businesses and working people.

Instead, as Hitler did with the trade union leaders and the Jews, they point to a "them" to pin with blame and distract people from the harms of their economic policies.

In a comment prescient of Alabama's recent closing of every drivers' license office in every Alabama county with more than 75% black residents (while recently passing a law requiring a drivers' license or similar ID to vote), Wallace continued:

The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. It may be shocking to some people in this country to realize that, without meaning to do so, they hold views in common with Hitler when they preach discrimination…

But even at this, Wallace noted, American fascists would have to lie to the people in order to gain power. And, because they were in bed with the nation's largest corporations – who could gain control of newspapers and broadcast media -- they could promote their lies with ease.

"The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact," Wallace wrote. "Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy."

In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism, the vice-president of the United States saw rising in America, he added:

They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

This liberal vision of an egalitarian America in which very large businesses and media monopolies are broken up under the 1890 Sherman Anti-Trust Act (which Reagan stopped enforcing, leading to the mergers & acquisitions frenzy that continues to this day) was the driving vision of the New Deal (and of "Trust Buster" Teddy Roosevelt a generation earlier).

As Wallace's president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, said when he accepted his party's renomination in 1936 in Philadelphia, "…out of this modern civilization, economic royalists [have] carved new dynasties…. It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction…. And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man…."

Speaking indirectly of the fascists Wallace would directly name almost a decade later, Roosevelt brought the issue to its core:

These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power." But, he thundered, "Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power!

In the election of 2016, we again stand at the same crossroad Roosevelt and Wallace confronted during the Great Depression and World War II.

Fascism is again rising in America, this time calling itself "conservativism." The Republican candidates' and their billionaire donors' behavior today eerily parallels that day in 1936 when Roosevelt said, "In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for."

It's particularly ironic that the "big news" is which billionaire is supporting which Republican candidate. Like Eisenhower's farewell address, President Roosevelt and Vice-President Wallace's warnings are more urgent now than ever before.

_____
* In trying to find the New York Times story again, I simply Googled "arbitration," on the assumption that given that the article was both high traffic and recent that it would come up high in a search. Not only did the story not come up on the first page, although a reference to it in Consumerist did, but when I clicked on "in the news" link, it was again not in the first page in Google. If this isn't censorship, I don't know what is. The story was widely referenced on the Web and got far more traffic than the "news" story that Google gave preference (such as, of all things, a Cato study and "Arbitration Eligible Brewers

Brew Crew Ball-19 hours ago"). In fact, the NYT article does not appear on the first five pages of the Google news search, even though older and clearly lower traffic stories do. And when you find the first reference to the story on the news page, which is a Cato piece mentioning it, and you click through to the "explore in depth" page, again the New York Times story is not the prominent placement it warrants, and is listed fifth. Consider how many clicks it took to find it.

Crazy Horse, November 3, 2015 at 10:49 am

Amen -- I've always detested the weasel words "neoliberal" and "neoconservative". Lets just be honest enough to call ideologies and political behaviors by their proper name.

timbers, November 3, 2015 at 11:17 am

I agree!

Telling my friends Obama is "neoliberal" means nothing to 99% of them, they couldn't care less, it does not compute. So instead I tell them Obama is the most right wing President in history who's every bit un-hinged as Sarah Palin and at least as bat shit insame as John McCain, but you think that's totally OK because you're a Dem and Dems think that because Obama speaks with better grammar than Sarah Palin and is more temperate than John McCain. Them I tell them to vote Green instead of the utlra right wing Dems

Call Dems what they are – corrupt right wingers, ultra conservatives.

Barmitt O'Bamney, November 3, 2015 at 11:01 am

LOL. You get to take your pick between TWO fascist parties in 2016. Just like you did for the last several elections. I wonder if the outcome will be different this time – will Fascism grab the prize again, or will it be Fascism coming out ahead at the last minute to save the day?

David, November 3, 2015 at 11:04 am

Why didn't Wallace become President when Roosevelt died? From the St. Petersburg Times,

The Gallup Poll said 65 percent of the voting Democrats wanted Wallace and that 2 percent wanted Senator Truman. But the party bosses could not boss Wallace. They made a coalition with the Roosevelt-haters and skillfully and cynically mowed down the unorganized Wallace forces.

Take note Bernie fans.

washunate November 3, 2015 at 11:28 am

With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power

Such a concise and cogent explanation. The go-to policy advice of the fascist is to do moar of whatever he's selling.

susan the other November 3, 2015 at 12:18 pm

I was just going to say something like this too. There is a logical end to fascism and if it is blocked and prolonged then when it finally runs its course it ends in a huge mess. And even the fascists don't know what to do. Because everything they were doing becomes pure poison. Moar money and power have an Achilles Heel – there is an actual limit to their usefulness. So this is where we find ourselves today imo – not at the beginning of a fascist-feudal empire, but at the bitter and confused end. Our implosion took far longer than Germany's, but the writing was on the wall from 1970 on. And then toss in the wages of prolonged sin – neoliberalism's excesses, the planet, global warming.

TarheelDem November 3, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Yes. This.

One would think that Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the killing of 1000 people by cops would be a clue. As would an understanding of the counter-New Deal that began to unfold in 1944, gained power in 1946, and institutionalized itself as a military and secret government in 1947. Or the rush to war after every peace, the rush to debt after every surplus, and perpetual inability of the IRS to collect taxes from the wealthiest.

Maybe not even a Franco-level fascist state or a fascist state with a single dictator, more like the state capitalism of the Soviet Union and current China without the public infrastructure. Just the oligarchs.

And yet it is in a state of failure, and inability to do anything but feather then nests of those who rule, all those King Midases.

participant-observer-observed November 3, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Also, the increase of censorship (GMO labels or fracking chemicals), and persecution of whistleblowers and political prisoners, incarceration of whole swathes of black population, along w execution w no due process, continuous wars abroad w no apparent tbreat to domestic security and the state of the nation is apparent.

participant-observer-observed November 3, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Whoops, almost forgot to include: mass surveillance.

Jim November 3, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Isn't it important to keep in mind that fascism, as it developed in Italy and Germany, were authentic mass based movements generating great popular enthusiasm and not merely a clever manipulation of of populist emotions by the reactionary Right or by capitalism in crisis.

The orthodox left made this mistake in the 1920s and early 1930s and in 2015 still appears wedded to this erroneous assumption.

washunate November 3, 2015 at 8:17 pm

Authentic augmented by the generous application of force, I'd say. That I think is a very interesting discussion about just how freely fascism develops. I don't think Italy and especially Germany developed with a particularly genuine popular enthusiasm. Very early on, the national socialists were arresting internal political opposition through parallel courts with explicit references to things like state security. Dachau, for example, was originally for German political prisoners. Jews and foreign nationals came later.

And of course there's the ultimate in false flags, the Reichstag Fire Decree. The whole point of that and the Enabling Act was to circumvent the checks and balances of democratic governance; Hitler himself certainly did not trust the German people to maintain the power he wanted of their own accord and discernment.

Or to put it differently, I'd say the appearance of popular enthusiasm from a mass movement was the result of fascist control as much as the cause. That's what's so unnverving about the American context of 21st century fascism. It does not require a mass movement to implement this kind of totalitarianism. It merely requires the professional class to keep their heads down long enough for a critical mass to be reached by the power structure in hollowing out the back-office guts of democratic governance.

Ishmael November 3, 2015 at 8:47 pm

Fascism was a counter revolution to Bolshevikism. The upper and upper-middle class was scared to death of what happen in Russia under Bolshevikism. They united with the military looking for someone to counter Bolshevikism and settled on Hitler and the Nazi's. The military thought they control him but they ended up being wrong.

You have to understand that after WW1 the allies kept a sea blockade on Germany and that resulted in over a million Germans starving to death. Then came depression followed by hyperinflation. Then there was the fear of Bolsheviks. The Nazi's showed up and things started working again. The Bolsheviks were driven from the street. The Nazi's started borrowing tons of money (yes they issued bonds) and started work programs. The economy started recovering. People had work and food and soon the Nazi's were furnishing free health care. After you had gone through hell this was heaven.

MathandPhysics November 3, 2015 at 10:18 pm

It's strange but 9/11 and the 3 steel frame buildings collapse into dust in few seconds isn't recognized by the masses as false flag Hitler style, then what do you expect ? Massmedia did what it could to confuse them all, only math and physics can help you to see the truth.

Jim November 3, 2015 at 11:23 pm

It would, indeed, be an extremely worthwhile discussion to analyze how freely fascism developed in Italy and Germany.

As a first step in that directkion, Washunate, you might take a look at studies like "Elections, Parties, and Political Traditions: Social Foundations of German parties and party systems.

In the July 1932 elections the SPD (Socialist Party) received 21.6 percent of the vote and was replaced by the NSDAP (Nazi party) as the countries largest political party (with 37.3% of the vote). with the KPD (the communists) capturing 14.5%of the vote.

It was at that time that the Nazi party become a true "people's party" with a support base that was more equally distributed among social and demographic categories than any other major party of the Weimar republic.

Tone November 3, 2015 at 11:42 am

The thing that troubles me most is that there are no leaders like Roosevelt or Wallace today. Where are the POPULAR politicians (Roosevelt was elected 4 times!) calling it like it is and publicly refuting conservative/fascist dogma? Sanders? Maybe. But he's trailing Clinton and certainly he's not a force in the Democratic party like Roosevelt was. At least not yet.

I agree with the "quiet coup" assessment, and I keep waiting for the next Roosevelt, the next Lincoln, the next Founding Father, to appear on the political stage and fight the battle against corporatist/fascist forces. Sadly, it hasn't happened yet.

Masonboro November 3, 2015 at 11:50 am

Unfortunately the next Founding Father to appear (or has appeared) will be John Jay (first Chief Justice among other roles) who was quoted as having said :

"Those who own America should govern it"

Jim

TarheelDem November 3, 2015 at 1:07 pm

Hank Paulson and George W. Bush prevented the situation in 2008 from forcing a Rooseveltian Congress. And the Congress went along with them. Then it was so easy for the do-nothings to argue for less and continue the austerity. And as in Roosevelt's era, racism helped prevent full change, which allowed the post-war rollback.

participant-observer-observed November 3, 2015 at 1:52 pm

Even among the corporatists in govt or business, there are no distinctive shining exemplars of leadership or competence !

Massinissa November 3, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Founding fathers?

Who do you think put the basis of rule by the rich into practice in the first place? A series of 'popular movements' like Shays Rebellion was what forced the founding fathers to make voting rights not dependent on owning land, not because the Founding Fathers were really nice people who luvved 'Democracy'.

Oregoncharles November 4, 2015 at 1:57 am

We just might have to be that "leader" ourselves.

Masonboro November 3, 2015 at 11:46 am

"on the rise" or firmly entrenched ? We already have Homeland Security, Justice Thomas, Donald Trump ,Ted Cruz, and the Koch Brothers (who are running ads in NC extolling recently passed changes in the tax code to continue shifting from income to consumption taxes). What is missing?

Jim

susan the other November 3, 2015 at 12:32 pm

I always think of the Kochs when the word fascist is used. They are ostensibly great environmentalists. Never mind that they operate some of the filthiest industries on the planet. They sponsor NOVA; one brother is a raving environmentalist (that's fine with me) and the other two tone it down. But their brand of conservative politix is as pointless as it is ignorant. That's an interesting topic – the hypocrisy of rich corporatist environmentalists. They are living a contradiction that will tear them apart. But at least they are agonizing over the problem.

lou strong November 3, 2015 at 11:56 am

Maybe my English is too bad, but it seems there's a misunderstanding about "corporatism" meaning, which is unfortunately reflected, as it seems again, in some American dictionaries. Corporation in Italian has approximately the meaning of guild and has nothing to do with big enterprises.

So, while there is no doubt that fascists took power in Italy as the armed wing of big capital, big finance and big landholders against the unrests of the low classes, the idea of corporatist state for them meant the refusal of the principle of class war in favor of the principle of class (guilds, "corporations" :both for employers and employees/trade unions) collaboration , and all of them as subservients to the superior interest of the state.Fascism agenda wasn't primarily economic. There wasn't either a specific agenda : until '29 the regime acted as deeply "neoliberal" with privatizations, deflationary policies to fix a strong lira smashing labor rights and purchase power etc etc , after the crisis it nationalized the failed enterprises and introduced some welfare state elements.

So at least the regime got the property of the failed banks/enterprises, much unlike current situation , where we see the mere socialization of losses and privatization of profits .

Massinissa November 3, 2015 at 2:23 pm

You are correct, I have read this before.

But English speakers either dont know or dont care. Ive seen people talk about "Mussolini Corporatism" like this for what, five years, and they never get corrected.

I dont think theres anything we can do to get people to stop using that term as if it means what they think it means.

visitor November 3, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Massinissa and lou strong are correct -- corporatism in Mussolini's Italy meant structuring the State and the legislative body around organizations representing specific professional or economic sectors.

By the way: we should not forget another fascist State, Portugal, which during the entire Salazar regime officially defined itself as a "corporatist republic".

Barmitt O'Bamney November 3, 2015 at 4:21 pm

You can direct them to the Wikipedia entry for corporatism, which is extensive, or to Michael Lind's 2014 article on the multiple historical meanings and recent misuse of this term. But the term has currency and traction today for reason neither article quite puts a finger on. Under Italian Fascism, the traditional meanings of corporative representation and bargaining were invoked but fused tightly under the auspices -or control- of the nation state, which of course was a single party state. The theoretical representativeness of corporatism was as a facade for political control of all institutions of Italian life by the Fascist Party. In the present time, with unions and guilds a fading memory, regions homogenized and classes atomized, with churches that are little more than money making enterprises as transparent as any multilevel marketing scheme, there are few non-government institutions in western life with any weight besides for-profit corporations. When people struggle to describe what seems wrong to them with our political life, the subservience of our government – and therefore everything else – to profit seeking corporations, they need a term that reflects neatly what has happened and where we are. Democracy of course is defunct both as a term and in reality. We don't have a state of decayed democracy (passive, negative), we have a state of corporate diktat (active, positive). "Corporatism" is an attractive and convenient verbal handle for the masses to latch onto, no matter how much this disappoints the learned. In English, when enough people "misuse" a term for a sufficiently long time, what happens is that the OED adds a new sub-entry for it reflecting its current usage.

Vatch November 3, 2015 at 4:46 pm

I've tried to correct people's misunderstanding of corporazione, but it's probably a losing battle:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/03/neo-liberalism-expressed-simple-rules.html#comment-1919832

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/05/tpp-fascism-issue.html#comment-2439813

run75441 November 4, 2015 at 7:47 am

Try "corpocracy"

Les Swift November 3, 2015 at 12:09 pm

Corporatism is indeed an old idea, feudalism re-branded as "fascism." After Hitler ruined the term, fascism remained, but underground, until it reemerged in the 1960s as what George Ball termed the "world company," which is better known as the system of global corporations. The same general idea, but under a new marketing slogan. Today we have globalization, the raft of "trade" treaties, the Austrian/Libertarian ideology, all of which ultimately push the world toward yet another replay of feudalism. The box says "new and improved," but inside it's the same old crap.

kevinearick November 3, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Clone Dreams

"The more people that transact with one another, the greater the division of labour and knowledge, the greater the ability to develop comparative advantage and the greater the productivity gains."

What could possibly go wrong?

In any empire, virtual or otherwise, you are always surrounded by communist thieves that think they are going to control your output with a competitive advantage illusion, which conveniently ignores opportunity cost. Government is just a derivative piece of paper, the latest fashion for communists, all assuming that the planet is here for their convenience, to exploit. Well, the critters have blown right through 45/5000/.75, and Canada was supposed to be the proving ground for the Silicon Valley Method. Now what?

"Don't panic : world trade is down….Don't bet against the Fed….BTFD." Expect something other than demographic variability, financial implosion, and war.

The communists are always running head first over the cliff, expecting you to follow. Labor has no use for cars that determine when, where and how you will travel, and the communists can't fix anything, because the 'fix' is already inside, embedded as a feature. America is just the latest communist gang believing it has commandeered the steamroller, rolling over other communist gangs.

The Bear isn't coming down from the North, China isn't selling Treasuries, and families are not moving away from the city by accident. Only the latest and greatest, new-world-order communists, replacing themselves with computers, are surprised that technology is always the solution for the problem, technology. Facebook, LinkedIn and Google are only the future for communists, which is always the same, a dead end, with a different name.

Remember that Honda of mine? I told the head communist thief not to touch that car while I was gone, told his fellow thieves and their dependents that I told him so, and even gave him the advantage of telling him what the problem was. How many hours do you suppose the fools spent trying to control that car, and my wife with it?

I don't care whether the communists on the other side of the hill or the communists on this side of the hill think they are going to control Grace, and through her my wife, and through her me. And there are all kinds of communist groups using pieces of my work to advance their AI weapons development, on the assumption that my work will not find itself in the end. Grace will decide whether she wants to be an individual or a communist.

The only way the communists can predict and control the future is to control children. That's what financialization is all about. And all communism can do is train automatons to follow each other, which is a problem-solution addressed by the planet every three generations. You don't have to do anything for communism to collapse, but get out of the way.

Technology is just a temporary tool, discarded by labor for the communists to steal, and stealing a hammer doesn't make anyone a carpenter, much less a King, which is why the Queen always walks through the wreckage, to a worthless throne. The story of Jesus was in fact the story of a king, who had no use for a worldly kingdom, other than as a counterweight, always surrounded by communists, like pigs at a trough. Jesus was no more and no less a child of God than you are.

Labor loses every battle because it doesn't participate, leaving the communists to label each other as labour and knowledge. And if you look, you will see that all their knowledge is real estate inflation, baked into everything, with oil as grease. The name, Robert Reich, didn't give you a hint; of course he knew all along, and like a good communist, changes sides on a regular basis.

You can't pick your parents or your children, or make choices for them, but you can love them without pissing your life away. Navy hasn't disappeared just because the US Navy chose to be a sunk cost, at the beck and call of Wall Street, trying to defend the status quo of communism, for communists on the other side of the pond. A marine is not always a Marine, and a flattop can be turned on a dime.

"The Muses doe attend upon your Throne, With all the Artists at your becke and call…"

If you want to show up at WWIII with a communist and a dc computer as a weapon, that's your business, but I wouldn't recommend doing so. Labor can mobilize far quicker than the communists can imagine, which isn't saying much. Be about your business until the laws of physics have been overthrown, and that hasn't happened yet.

You can count on communists to be at an intersection, creating a traffic jam, building a bigger toll booth, and voting for more of the same, thinking that they are taking advantage of each other, doing the wrong thing at the wrong time at the wrong place. Any intersection of false assumptions will do.

alex morfesis November 3, 2015 at 1:12 pm

let the merry breezes blow synthetic winds…

his name was hanz…or so I was told…we had acquired a lease from the NYC HPD from a parking lot/marina that was at the very north edge of Harlem River Drive at Dyckman (pronounced dikeman)….there is a school there now…he "came" with the lease…years later I would find out he was working with Carlos Lehder and helping arrange for cash payments to conveniently amnesiastic police officers who used the hardly functioning marina to go fishing…in the east river & the hudson…go figure…the more I tried to get rid of him…the more "problems" occurred…my father begged me stop poking around and just "leave it alone"…I don't think he ever really knew what "hanz" was doing or who he was…oh well…might explain how we lost a billion dollars in real estate (ok…it was not worth a billion back then…but it had not debt other than real estate taxes…it was not lost for simply economic reasons)

we as a nation were "convinced" to allow 50 thousand former nazis to enter this country after ww2…under the foolish notion that "the russians" (who have never killed too many americans if my history serves me right) were a "new danger" and only the folks who LO$T to the russians had the knowledge needed to save us from those "evil communists"…(evil communists who helped the Koch Family make their financial start…details details…)

those nazis, from my research have probably grown to a force of about 250 thousand who are the basic clowns (MIC…see you real soon…KEY…why, because we like you…) Ike was talking about in January of 1961…

but…as Ike mentioned when talking about the Koch dad and his John Birch nonsense…they are small and they are stupid…

the use of "coup" in the context of some of the strange happenings in our history these last 55 years is probably not a reasonable term…

I would say we have had "coupettes" where certain groups threatened MAD if they did not get their way or were not left alone…and then those wimps in power decided…better you than me…and turned a blind eye for 30 pieces of silver…coincidence and causality sometimes are not just mathematical anomalies…

there is no need to "take back" our country…it is ours and has always been ours…the reason "the clowns that be" worry so much is that for all the use of bernaze sause…they can hardly fake half the population into showing up to vote on "one of the chosen ones"…and that 50% that are not fully mesmerized are the fear factor for the clowns that be…

remember…try as "they" might…can "they" keep you watching the same tv show for ever…or get you to buy their useless "branded" product without coupons or advertising…

it is not as bad or scary as they would like you to believe…they would not be working this hard if they were comfortable in their socks…they do not sleep well at night…you are the "zombie apocalypse" they are afraid off…

pass the popcorn please…

and may our freedom

"bloom again" at "the end of the century"

(or sooner…)

happy trails…

Les Swift November 3, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Huh? Many of the things you brand as "communist" existed long before Communism was created. To blame it all on "communists" is a serious error which blinds you to much older evils, some of which Communism was at least nominally intended to correct. It is important to recognize that the "Red scares" have been used by forces in the West to bolster their own power. One can both disagree with Communism and disagree with the "Red menace" propaganda at the same time. The people who scare you with the threat of Communism are more of a threat than the Communists themselves.

kevinearick November 3, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Funny thing about words…under the law, they mean whatever the author intends them to mean.

kevinearick November 3, 2015 at 1:50 pm

not a big believer in evil, just stupid, willful ignorance, aggregated.

Gio Bruno November 3, 2015 at 10:37 pm

GWBush is evil and stupid. Dick Cheney is evil, stupid, and ignorant, aggregated.

Doug November 3, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Time to re-read The Moneysburg Address:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/07/the-moneysburg-address.html

Jim November 3, 2015 at 2:32 pm

When talking about the rise of fascism(especially if the US experiences another economic/financial meltdown in the next few years) it is so important to get the historical context as accurate as possible.

Mussolini began his political career as an exponent of a different type of socialism. One of his early followers was Antonio Gramsci and they both deplored the passivity of orthodox Marxists.

Mussolini was attracted to the theoretical framework of Sorel to offset traditional left passivity and the syndicalist focus on the importance of human will. He founded a journal in 1913 called Utopia and called for a revision of socialism in which he began referring to "the people" and not the proletariat, as well as stressing the importance of the nation. He attempted to bring nationalist and syndicalist streams of thought together.

After World War I Mussolini helped found a new political movement in Italy which brought together both nationalist and socialist themes. Its first program was anticapitalist, antimonarchical and called for an 8 hour day, minimum wages, the participation of workers' representatives in industrial management and a large progressive tax on capital.

By the early 1920s the Fasci of Mussolini gained a powerful base of support in rural Italian areas, advocating of program of peasant proprtietorship rather than endorsing the calls for the nationalization of property of the orthodox left.

By this time fascism presented itself as an opponent of "Bolshevism" and a guardian of private property while emphasizing the collective good and criticizing absentee landlords and "exploitative capitalists"

For an excellent discussion of the development of these ideas as well as the concrete steps toward corporatism that took place after 1922 see Sheri Berman "The Primacy of Politics"

A key point to keep in mind was that the fascism that eventually developed in Italy was willing to assert unconditionally the power of the state over the market.

participant-observer-observed November 3, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Relevant postbocer at Counterpunch too:

Not everybody just "wants what we have," as the common view here has it. In fact, from Bolivia, where the average person consumes perhaps 1/20th the total resources of her analogue in the US, comes the old-new idea of buen vivir (the good life): a life in which the health of your human community and its surrounding ecosystem are more important than the amount of money you make or things you own.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/11/03/the-browning-of-the-world-blame-the-greed-of-the-rich/

Jacob November 3, 2015 at 3:16 pm

"In this, Wallace was using the classic definition of the word fascist' -- the definition Mussolini had in mind when he claimed to have invented the word."

An Italian Jew by the name of Enrico Rocca is cited in "Roots of Hate: Anti-Semitism in Europe Before the Holocaust" as the founder of Roman fascism. This name is completely unknown in the U.S. A large number of Italian Jews were founders and members of the Italian fascist party prior to 1938 when anti-Semitism became official. "Among Mussolini's earliest financial backers were three Jews: Giuseppe Toeplitz of the Banca Commerciale Italiana, Elio Jona [?], and the industrialist Gino Olivetti. . . ." The banker Toeplitz was the main financier behind Mussolini's blackshirts, which served as union busters for big business and land owners (also see "Fascism and Big Business" by Daniel Guerin). Undermining organized labor in order to drive down wages was a central aim of fascism in Italy and later under Hitler in Germany. In 1933, roughly ten percent of Italian Jews were members of the fascist party. These facts are important to know because moderns are led to believe that fascism is inherently anti-semitic, but that wasn't the case in the early years of fascism in Italy, where it was founded.

Jim November 3, 2015 at 3:58 pm

It is also important to keep in mind, as Sheri Berman has argued, that social democracy, the fascism of Mussolini and National Socialism in Germany agree on a set of key assumptions.

1. All assume the primary importance of politics and cross-class cooperation. Edward Bermstein at the turn of the 20th century began attacking the main pillars of orthodox Marxism, historical materialism and class struggle while arguing for an alternative vision based on state control of markets–social democracy became the complete severing of socialism from Marxism.

2. For these same Social Democrats the primacy of the political meant using the democratic state to institutionalize policies and protect society from capitalism.

3. For fascists and national socialists using a tyrannical state to control markets was supposedly necessary–but, of course, this postion deteriorated into moves to ensure the hegemony of the modern State.

But is it the case, in 2015, taken the power of our contemporary Surveillance regime, that a democratic state still exists?

Do contemporary democratic socialists first have to first focus on how to restore democracy in the U.S. rather than assuming that the contemporary political structure just needs the right leadership–someone like Bernie Sanders–and the right credit policy– such as MMT?

hemeantwell November 3, 2015 at 4:31 pm

Hartmann draws from Mussolini the idea that the fascist state prioritizes and organizes corporate interests, but misses what Mussolini left out of his harmonistic definition, which was that in both Germany and Italy organized terror was to be used to destroy opposition to corporate interests. The systematic use of terror had major implications for the way the internal politics of the fascist state developed, for the weight given in its organizational structure and tactical options to the elimination of internal enemies. Along with this, both political orders were infused with a leadership ethos that, particularly in Nazi Germany, could attain strikingly absolute forms, demanding absolute obedience and sacrifice. This encouraged a strong tendency to subordinate any institution that might serve as a point of coalescence to interests opposed to the regime. The Fuhrer's picture had to be both on your wall and in your heart.

Hartmann misses this political knife edge of fascism and the leadership fascination that supports it. It is not wildly speculative to say that this is largely because the domestic enemies against which it was directed, primarily leftist trade unions, are not a threat in the US. No such organizations need to be wrecked, no such memberships need to be decimated, imprisoned, and dispersed. It is simply astonishing that Hartmann says nothing specifically about labor organizations as the prime instigating target of both fascists and the corporations who supported them. In this respect his analysis unwittingly incorporates the ideological suppression of the labor movement that mirrored the fascist onslaught.

It is also telling that although Hartmann references Wallace and Roosevelt he fails to note that they themselves have also been accused of corporatism, albeit one that involved the imposition of a Keynesian, welfarist orientation to capitalist interests that were, at least in some quarters, inclined to "liquidate, liquidate" their way into a revolution against themselves. Instead, he quotes Wallace and Roosevelt as they render fascism as a kind of power-hungry, antidemocratic urge on the part of some "royalists," thereby blurring out how the central issue was how to manage labor. He misses that Roosevelt offered the state as an organizer of conflict between capital and labor within a framework in which labor was guaranteed bargaining status. Roosevelt was thereby moved to attack capitalists who wanted to deny labor that status and risk both devastating hardship and insurrection. Hartmann falls for Roosevelt's broad democratic rhetoric against them, more exhortation than analysis, and so he himself ends up talking ethereally of threats to "freedom" and "American institutions."

We're not living under fascism and Hartmann, whose criticism is often very useful, is wrong in trying to use the term as a rallying orientation. I agree that the social order is corporatist, but its maintenance has not required the kind of direct oppression + totalitarian/personalized leadership cult that is a marker of fascism. Concepts the Frankfurt School have used such as "total administration" and the like are perhaps too anodyne, not to mention absolute in their own way, but they fit better with a situation in which explicit violence does not have to be generalized.

Robert Paxton's "The Anatomy of Fascism" is a useful backgrounder on this.

Jim November 3, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Heamtwell stated directly above that " We're not living under fascism…"

Some concepts/ questions which may begin to get at our potential propensity for moving in that direction might include the following:

Paxton, mentioned by Heamtwell above, isolated five stages of fascism.
(1) the initial creation of fascist movements
(2) their rooting as parties in a political system
(3) the acquisition of power
(4) the exercise of power
(5) their radicalization or entropy

Paxton has argued that Fascism can appear where democracy is sufficiently implanted to have aroused disillusion–a society must have known political liberty.

In regards to Paxtons first 2 stages and our situation in the US.

Are political fascists becoming rooted in political parties that represent major interests and feelings and wield major influence on our political scene?

Is our constitutional system in a state of blockage increasingly insoluble by existing authorities?

Is rapid political mobilization taking place in our society which threatens to escape the control of traditional elites to the point where they would be tempted to look for tough helpers in order to stay in charge?

hemeantwell November 3, 2015 at 7:16 pm

Is rapid political mobilization taking place in our society which threatens to escape the control of traditional elites to the point where they would be tempted to look for tough helpers in order to stay in charge?

I think that's the primary question, and it helps to define what we're facing with the current party system.

It is apparent that both corporate parties are increasingly incapable of properly deflecting and channeling the interests of the electorate. Whether you think of 2007-08 as simply another business cycle, one that was exacerbated by toxic assets, a product of increasing income and wealth disparity, etc. it seems that portions of the electorate have been shocked out of their confidence in the system and the steering capacity of economic and political elites.

This might lead the parties, under the pressure of events, to might reformulate themselves as the political cover of a "government of national unity" that, depending on the extremity of the next downturn, impose a "solidarity from above," blocking the development of popular organizations in a variety of ways. I certainly see this as possible. But treating the parties, or the system itself, as fascist at this point in time is not only not helpful, it is fundamentally disorienting.

Ron November 3, 2015 at 8:05 pm

F* is an ugly word as is all its close relatives, but your definitions are very interesting, and so maybe I've learned some things by reading them. However; by what contrivance did you manage to get any of these pages past the f* who own the internet? It seems I must suspend my disbelief to believe, Freunde von Grund

todde November 3, 2015 at 8:20 pm

I disagree.

In Fascism, corporations were subservient to the State. What we have is the State subservient to Corporations. Also Italian corporatism was more than just business, as a.corporation in Italy can have.non business functions.

tommy strange November 3, 2015 at 8:23 pm

Great post and great comments. Though I wonder why no one has brought up the only way to stop fascism. A militant class based libertarian left. Outside of the ballot box. If a liberal party still 'exists' they will then at least respond to the larger non party real left, just to nullify it's demands. Fascism has never been defeated by the ballot, only by a militant anarchist/socialist left. Or at the least, that 'left' fought back. Liberals rarely have fought back, and most often conceded. How do you do form such? Urban face to face organizing. With direct action and occupation and even organization towards workers' control of manufacturing.

Ishmael November 3, 2015 at 8:53 pm

tommy -Fascism has never been defeated by the ballot, only by a militant anarchist/socialist left.

I believe you should go re-look at history. Fascism has always defeated socialist left. Three examples -- Italy, Germany and Argentina. I welcome an example other wise and if it did how did it end.

visitor November 4, 2015 at 10:57 am

The paramount example is of course Spain, where all left-wing movements (communists, trotskists, anarchists, socialists) were ultimately defeated by fascists despite ferocious fighting.

Synoia November 3, 2015 at 9:48 pm

Mussolini-Style Corporatism, aka Fascism, on the Rise Well Established in the US

Set to Dominate World after TPP, TTIP and TISA ratified.

Keynesian November 3, 2015 at 11:03 pm

Much of Robert Paxton's work has focused on models and definition of fascism.

In his 1998 paper "The Five Stages of Fascism", he suggests that fascism cannot be defined solely by its ideology, since fascism is a complex political phenomenon rather than a relatively coherent body of doctrine like communism or socialism. Instead, he focuses on fascism's political context and functional development. The article identifies five paradigmatic stages of a fascist movement, although he notes that only Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy have progressed through all five:

1.Intellectual exploration, where disillusionment with popular democracy manifests itself in discussions of lost national vigor
2.Rooting, where a fascist movement, aided by political deadlock and polarization, becomes a player on the national stage
3.Arrival to power, where conservatives seeking to control rising leftist opposition invite the movement to share power
4.Exercise of power, where the movement and its charismatic leader control the state in balance with state institutions such as the police and traditional elites such as the clergy and business magnates.
5.Radicalization or entropy, where the state either becomes increasingly radical, as did Nazi Germany, or slips into traditional authoritarian rule, as did Fascist Italy.[4]

In his 2004 book The Anatomy of Fascism, Paxton refines his five-stage model and puts forward the following definition for fascism:

[quote]Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.[5][/quote]

Here is a more contemporary analysis of politics in America using Paxton's model.

[quote]Fascist America: Are We There Yet?
Friday, August 07, 2009 -- by Sara

In the second stage, fascist movements take root, turn into real political parties, and seize their seat at the table of power. Interestingly, in every case Paxton cites, the political base came from the rural, less-educated parts of the country; and almost all of them came to power very specifically by offering themselves as informal goon squads organized to intimidate farmworkers on behalf of the large landowners. The KKK disenfranchised black sharecroppers and set itself up as the enforcement wing of Jim Crow. The Italian Squadristi and the German Brownshirts made their bones breaking up farmers' strikes. And these days, GOP-sanctioned anti-immigrant groups make life hell for Hispanic agricultural workers in the US. As violence against random Hispanics (citizens and otherwise) increases, the right-wing goon squads are getting basic training that, if the pattern holds, they may eventually use to intimidate the rest of us.

Paxton wrote that succeeding at the second stage "depends on certain relatively precise conditions: the weakness of a liberal state, whose inadequacies condemn the nation to disorder, decline, or humiliation; and political deadlock because the Right, the heir to power but unable to continue to wield it alone, refuses to accept a growing Left as a legitimate governing partner." He further noted that Hitler and Mussolini both took power under these same circumstances: "deadlock of constitutional government (produced in part by the polarization that the fascists abetted); conservative leaders who felt threatened by the loss of their capacity to keep the population under control at a moment of massive popular mobilization; an advancing Left; and conservative leaders who refused to work with that Left and who felt unable to continue to govern against the Left without further reinforcement."

And more ominously: "The most important variables…are the conservative elites' willingness to work with the fascists (along with a reciprocal flexibility on the part of the fascist leaders) and the depth of the crisis that induces them to cooperate."[/quote]

hermes November 4, 2015 at 12:10 am

I think there is something missing from this analysis, having to do with the definition of corporatism itself. I think our contemporary definition of corporatism is rooted in neoliberalism and is actually a far cry from the definition used by the Fascists in forming the Chamber of the Fascist Corporations. Because to them corporatism wasn't simply business interests (which is how we know it today), but (from Wikipedia):

'[was] the sociopolitical organization of a society by major interest groups, or corporate groups, such as agricultural, business, ethnic, labour, military, patronage, or scientific affiliations, on the basis of common interests. It is theoretically based on the interpretation of a community as an organic body. The term corporatism is based on the Latin root word "corpus" (plural – "corpora") meaning "body".'

In other words, corporatism was not only made up of business interests, but all major (and competing) interests within society.

This is not to downplay the importance and absolute seriousness of confronting the increasing absolutism of ruling business interests. It is also not to downplay the historical truth of who ultimately held power in Fascist Italy. But I think it is also important to place Fascism in it's own historical context, and not try to blur historical lines where doing so may be misleading. When Fascists spoke of corporatism they had something else in mind, and it does not help us to blur the distinction.

hemeantwell November 4, 2015 at 8:35 am

Good point, and it raises this question: how can institutional organicity, with its ideological aura of community, partnership, and good old Volkishness, develop when we're talking about corporations that are multinational in scope as well as financialized and thereby even more rootless and and community indifferent? How can organicity develop in the sort of institutional setup foreshadowed by the TPP?

sd November 4, 2015 at 1:09 am

My impression is that today Corporatism more closely represents the interests of multinational corporations and the people who hold executive leadership positions within those companies. What they have in common is a listing on NYSE.

Oregoncharles November 4, 2015 at 1:09 am

Anyone heard from Naomi Wolf lately? She was the most prominent author calling out fascism during the Bush administration, got wide coverage at least on the left. She re-emerged during the Occupy movement, for a little while.

I ask that because, at the time, she said she'd go silent if it looked like people like her (that is, writers/journalists) were being persecuted. Haven't heard from her, at least on this topic, since Obama started prosecuting whistleblowers. Didn't see a farewell, either.

And that leads to a personal question: how safe are our bloggers feeling? Arguably, this site is an exercise in personal courage. Any ugly straws in the wind?

[Oct 29, 2015] Chris Hedges and Sheldon Wolin on Inverted Totalitarianism as a Threat to Democracy (4-8)

Sheldon Wolin RIP... This is part 4 of 8 of his interview with Chris Hedges made a year before his death...
Notable quotes:
"... Nietzsche understood the disintegration of liberal democracy and the liberal class, and also understood the rise of fundamentalist religion in an age of secularism and how dangerous that was. ..."
"... Nietzsche was trying to really retrieve a notion of the value, intrinsic value, of political life. And he found it, however, only comprehensible to him in terms of some kind of dichotomy between elite and mass. ..."
"... he simply could not conceive of a society that would be worthwhile in which elites were not given the most prominent and leading role. ..."
"... He had no great trust in the people, and he had come to distrust the elite. ..."
"... The demands of contemporary political decision-making, that is, actually having to decide things in legislation or executive action in a complex political society and economic society such as ours, in a complex political, economic society such as the world is, make reflection very difficult. They make it extremely difficult. And everybody's caught up in the demands of the moment, and understandably so. It becomes again a kind of game of preservation, of keeping the ship of state afloat, but not really trying seriously to change its direction, except maybe rhetorically. ..."
"... the kind of weaponry and resources available to every crank and nut in the world, makes it extremely difficult for governments to relax a moment and think about social order and the welfare of the citizens in some kind of way that's divorced from the security potential of the society. ..."
"... I see the kind of erosion of those institutions that you mention as so continuous that it won't take terribly long before the substance of them is completely hollowed out and that what you will get is institutions which do no longer play the role they were intended to, either role of lawmaking in an independent way or criticism or responsiveness to an electorate, so that I think the consequences are with us already. ..."
"... I think the beautiful example we have today, I just think, fraught with implications, is the Koch brothers' purchase of the Republican Party. They literally bought it. Literally. And they had a specific amount they paid, and now they've got it. There hasn't been anything like that in American history. ..."
"... It's now become a personal vehicle of two people. And God only knows what they're going to do with it, but I wouldn't hold my breath if you think constructive results are going to follow. ..."
"... Well, didn't Clinton just turn the Democratic Party into the Republican Party and force the Republican Party to come become insane? ..."
"... The Democrats –- I mean, it's not surprising, because as we've said many times, the Democrats are playing the same game as the Republicans and have a nuance and some historical baggage that compels them to be a little more to the left. ..."
"... given the declining role of America in world affairs, I think that there's every reason to believe that the cautionary attitude of the Democratic Party is emblematic of a new kind of politics where the room for maneuver and the room for staking out significant different positions is shrinking, shrinking very, very much. ..."
Oct 29, 2015 | naked capitalism
CHRIS HEDGES, PULITZER-PRIZE WINNING JOURNALIST: Welcome back to part four of our interview with Professor Sheldon Wolin, who taught politics for many years at Berkeley and later Princeton. He is the author of several seminal works on political philosophy, including Politics and Vision and Democracy Incorporated.

I wanted just to go through and I've taken notes from both of your books, Politics and Vision and Democracy Incorporated, of the characteristics of what you call inverted totalitarianism, which you use to describe the political system that we currently live under. You said it's only in part a state-centered phenomenon. What do you mean by that?

SHELDON WOLIN, PROF. EMERITUS POLITICS, PRINCETON: Well, I mean by that that one of the striking characteristics of our age is the extent to which so-called private institutions, like the media, for example, are able to work towards the same end of control, pacification, that the government is interested in, that the idea of genuine opposition is usually viewed as subversion, and so that criticism now is a category that we should really look at and examine, and to see whether it really amounts to anything more than a kind of mild rebuke at best, and at worst a way of sort of confirming the present system by showing its open-mindedness about self-criticism.

HEDGES: And you said that there's a kind of fusion now of–and you talk a lot about the internal dynamics of corporations themselves, the way they're completely hierarchical, even the extent to which people within corporate structures are made to identify with a corporation on a kind of personal level. Even–I mean, I speak as a former reporter for The New York Times–even we would get memos about the New York Times family, which is, of course, absurd. And you talk about how that value system or that structure of power, coupled with that type of propaganda, has just been transferred to the state, that the state now functions in exactly the same way, the same hierarchical way, that it uses the same forms of propaganda to get people at once to surrender their political rights and yet to identify themselves through nationalism, patriotism, and the lust for superpower itself, which we see now across the political landscape.

WOLIN: Yeah. No, I think that's a very strong element, in fact decisive element in our present situation. There's been a kind of conjuncture between the way that social and educational institutions have shaped a certain kind of mentality among students, among faculty, and so on, and the media itself, that are in lockstep with the requirements of the kind of political economic order that we have now, and that the basic question, I think, has been that we have seen the kind of absorption of politics and the political order into so many nonpolitical categories–of economics, sociology, even religion–that we sort of lost the whole, it seems to me, unique character of political institutions, which is that they're supposed to embody the kind of substantive hopes of ordinary people, in terms of the kind of present and future that they want. And that's what democracy is supposed to be about.

But instead we have it subordinated now to the so-called demands of economic growth, the so-called demands of a kind of economic class that's at home with the sort of scientific and technological advances that are being applied by industry, so that the kind of political element of the ruling groups now is being shaped and to a large extent, I think, incorporated into an ideology that is fundamentally unpolitical, or political in a sort of anti-political way. What I mean by that: it's a combination of forces that really wants to exploit the political without seeking to either strengthen it or reform it in a meaningful way or to rejuvenate it. It sees the political structure as opportunity. And the more porous it is, the better, because the dominant groups have such instrumentalities at their control now in order to do that exploitation–radio, television, newsprint, what have you–that it's the best possible world for them.

HEDGES: You actually cite Nietzsche, saying how prescient Nietzsche was. I think you may have said he was a better prophet than Marx, I think, if I remember correctly, in Politics and Vision, but how Nietzsche understood the disintegration of liberal democracy and the liberal class, and also understood the rise of fundamentalist religion in an age of secularism and how dangerous that was.

WOLIN: Yeah. I think that's–obviously, I think that's true of him, and I think it was very farseeing on his part. He, of course, was not a sympathizer with those development, but he wasn't an ordinary sympathizer, either, with the sort of historical elites, or even current elites, that were either capitalist or nationalistic, as in the case of Germany.

Nietzsche was trying to really retrieve a notion of the value, intrinsic value, of political life. And he found it, however, only comprehensible to him in terms of some kind of dichotomy between elite and mass. And that, I think, was the failing of Nietzsche, because he saw so much in terms of tendencies in our society and culture that would ruin us to democracy and needed to be reformed, but reformed in a way that would promote democracy, but which Nietzsche would inevitably try to turn into vehicles for celebrating or encouraging elite formations. And he simply could not conceive of a society that would be worthwhile in which elites were not given the most prominent and leading role. He just couldn't conceive it. He had the kind of 19th century sort of Hegelian notion that the masses were ignorant, they were intolerant, they were against progress, and all the rest of it. He simply, like so many very good writers in the 19th century, didn't know what to do with the, quote, people.

HEDGES: Including Marx.

WOLIN: No, no. They didn't. They tried to either neutralize them or tried to co-opt them, but they never really tried to understand them.

I think the best–the best political movement, I think, which did try to understand them in a significant way, strangely enough, was the American progressive movement, which was very much rooted in American history, in American institutions, but saw quite clearly the dangers that it was getting into and the need for really significant reform that required democratic means, not elitist means, for their solution, and above all required America to really think carefully about its role in international relations, because he saw that that was a trap and, as an aggressive, dominant role in economic relations, was a trap because of what it required, what it required of the population in terms of their outlook and education and culture, and what it required in the way of elites who could lead those kinds of formations. And I think for that reason he was literally a pessimist about what could happen and he had nowhere to go. He had no great trust in the people, and he had come to distrust the elite. I think in the end he took a kind of view that what elites should do is to hunker down and preserve culture, preserve it in its various manifestations–literature, philosophy, poetry, so on.

HEDGES: But he certainly understood what happened when the state divorced itself from religious authority,–

WOLIN: Oh, yeah.

HEDGES: –that you would see the rise of fundamentalist religious movements in fierce opposition to the secular state, number one; and number two, you would see a frantic effort on the part of the state to sacralize itself.

WOLIN: Yeah. Yeah, now, that's true. It did try to do that. It did that rather -- far less in the United States, but it certainly did it in Germany, and to some degree Italy, but not fully.

... ... ...

HEDGES: You said that in inverted totalitarianism, it is furthered by power holders and citizens who often seem unaware of the deeper consequences of their actions or inactions. What I find interesting about that statement is you say even the power holders don't understand their actions.

WOLIN: Yeah, I don't think they do. I think that's most–I think that's apparent not only in so-called conservative political officeholders, but liberal ones as well. And I think the reason for it isn't far to see. The demands of contemporary political decision-making, that is, actually having to decide things in legislation or executive action in a complex political society and economic society such as ours, in a complex political, economic society such as the world is, make reflection very difficult. They make it extremely difficult. And everybody's caught up in the demands of the moment, and understandably so. It becomes again a kind of game of preservation, of keeping the ship of state afloat, but not really trying seriously to change its direction, except maybe rhetorically.

Now, I think the demands of the world are such now and so dangerous, with the kind of weaponry and resources available to every crank and nut in the world, makes it extremely difficult for governments to relax a moment and think about social order and the welfare of the citizens in some kind of way that's divorced from the security potential of the society.

HEDGES: We'd spoke earlier about how because corporate forces have essentially taken over not only systems of media but systems of education, they've effectively destroyed the capacity within these institutions for critical thinking. And what they've done is educate generation–now probably a couple of generations of systems managers, people whose expertise, technical expertise, revolves around keeping the system, as it's constructed, viable and afloat, so that when there's a–in 2008, the global financial crisis, they immediately loot the U.S. Treasury to infuse a staggering $17 trillion worth of money back into the system. And what are the consequences? We'd spoken earlier about how even the power holders themselves don't often understand where they're headed. What are the consequences of now lacking the ability to critique the system or even understand it? What are the consequences environmentally, economically, in terms of democracy itself, of feeding and sustaining that system of corporate capitalism or inverted totalitarianism?

WOLIN: Well, I think the only question would be what kind of time span you're talking about. I mean, I see the kind of erosion of those institutions that you mention as so continuous that it won't take terribly long before the substance of them is completely hollowed out and that what you will get is institutions which do no longer play the role they were intended to, either role of lawmaking in an independent way or criticism or responsiveness to an electorate, so that I think the consequences are with us already. And of course the turnoff on the part of the voters is just one indication of it, but the level of public discourse is certainly another, so that I see it as a process which now is finding fewer and fewer dissident voices that have a genuine platform and mechanism for reaching people. I don't mean that there aren't people who disagree, but I'm talking about do they have ways of communicating, discussing what the disagreements are about and what can be said about the contemporary situation that needs to be addressed, so that the problem, I think, right now is the problem that the instruments of revitalization are just really in very bad disrepair. And I don't see any immediate prospect of it, because–.

HEDGES: You mean coming from within the system itself.

WOLIN: Coming from within. You know, years ago, say, in the 19th century, it was no ordinary occurrence that a new political party would be formed and that it would make maybe not a dominant effect, but it would certainly influence–as the Progressive Party did–influence affairs. That's no more possible now than the most outlandish scheme you can think of. Political parties are so expensive that I needn't detail the difficulties that would be faced by anyone who tried to organize one.

I think the beautiful example we have today, I just think, fraught with implications, is the Koch brothers' purchase of the Republican Party. They literally bought it. Literally. And they had a specific amount they paid, and now they've got it. There hasn't been anything like that in American history. To be sure, powerful economic interests have influenced political parties, especially the Republicans, but this kind of gross takeover, in which the party is put in the pocket of two individuals, is without precedent. And that means something serious. It means that, among other things, you no longer have a viable opposition party. And while however much many of us may disagree with the Republicans, there is still an important place for disagreement. And now it seems to me that's all gone. It's now become a personal vehicle of two people. And God only knows what they're going to do with it, but I wouldn't hold my breath if you think constructive results are going to follow.

HEDGES: Well, didn't Clinton just turn the Democratic Party into the Republican Party and force the Republican Party to come become insane?

WOLIN: Yeah, it's true. Yeah, I mean, it's true that beginning with the Clinton administration, the Democratic Party has kind of lost its way too.

But I still–maybe it's a hope more than a fact, but I still have the hope that the Democratic Party is still sufficiently loose and sufficiently uncoordinated that it's possible for dissidents to get their voices heard.

Now, it may not last very long, because in order to compete with the Republicans, there will be every temptation for the Democrats to emulate them. And that means less internal democracy, more reliance on corporate funding.

HEDGES: Wouldn't it be fair to say that after the nomination of George McGovern, the Democratic Party created institutional mechanisms by which no popular candidate would ever be nominated again?

WOLIN: Oh, I think that's true. The McGovern thing was a nightmare to the party, to the party officials. And I'm sure they vowed that there would never be anything like it again possible. And, of course, there never has been. And it also means that you lost with that the one thing that McGovern had done, which was to revitalize popular interest in government. And so the Democrats not only killed McGovern; they killed what he stood for, which was more important.

HEDGES: And you saw an echo of that in 2000 when Ralph Nader ran and engendered the same kind of grassroots enthusiasm.

WOLIN: Yeah, he did. He did.

HEDGES: And just as it was the Democratic establishment that virtually, during the presidential campaign, the Connolly Democrats conspired with the Republican Party to destroy, in essence, their own candidate, you saw it was the Democratic Party that destroyed the viability of Nader.

WOLIN: Yeah. Yeah, that's true. That's true. The Democrats –- I mean, it's not surprising, because as we've said many times, the Democrats are playing the same game as the Republicans and have a nuance and some historical baggage that compels them to be a little more to the left. But it seems to me that the conditions now in which political parties have to operate, conditions which involve large amounts of money, which involve huge stakes because of the character of the American economy now, which has to be very carefully dealt with, and very cautiously, and given the declining role of America in world affairs, I think that there's every reason to believe that the cautionary attitude of the Democratic Party is emblematic of a new kind of politics where the room for maneuver and the room for staking out significant different positions is shrinking, shrinking very, very much.

Thank you very much. Stay tuned for part five coming up of our interview with Professor Sheldon Wolin.

[Oct 29, 2015] Chris Hedges and Sheldon Wolin on Inverted Totalitarianism as a Threat to Democracy (4-8)

Sheldon Wolin RIP... This is part 4 of 8 of his interview with Chris Hedges made a year before his death...
Notable quotes:
"... Nietzsche understood the disintegration of liberal democracy and the liberal class, and also understood the rise of fundamentalist religion in an age of secularism and how dangerous that was. ..."
"... Nietzsche was trying to really retrieve a notion of the value, intrinsic value, of political life. And he found it, however, only comprehensible to him in terms of some kind of dichotomy between elite and mass. ..."
"... he simply could not conceive of a society that would be worthwhile in which elites were not given the most prominent and leading role. ..."
"... He had no great trust in the people, and he had come to distrust the elite. ..."
"... The demands of contemporary political decision-making, that is, actually having to decide things in legislation or executive action in a complex political society and economic society such as ours, in a complex political, economic society such as the world is, make reflection very difficult. They make it extremely difficult. And everybody's caught up in the demands of the moment, and understandably so. It becomes again a kind of game of preservation, of keeping the ship of state afloat, but not really trying seriously to change its direction, except maybe rhetorically. ..."
"... the kind of weaponry and resources available to every crank and nut in the world, makes it extremely difficult for governments to relax a moment and think about social order and the welfare of the citizens in some kind of way that's divorced from the security potential of the society. ..."
"... I see the kind of erosion of those institutions that you mention as so continuous that it won't take terribly long before the substance of them is completely hollowed out and that what you will get is institutions which do no longer play the role they were intended to, either role of lawmaking in an independent way or criticism or responsiveness to an electorate, so that I think the consequences are with us already. ..."
"... I think the beautiful example we have today, I just think, fraught with implications, is the Koch brothers' purchase of the Republican Party. They literally bought it. Literally. And they had a specific amount they paid, and now they've got it. There hasn't been anything like that in American history. ..."
"... It's now become a personal vehicle of two people. And God only knows what they're going to do with it, but I wouldn't hold my breath if you think constructive results are going to follow. ..."
"... Well, didn't Clinton just turn the Democratic Party into the Republican Party and force the Republican Party to come become insane? ..."
"... The Democrats –- I mean, it's not surprising, because as we've said many times, the Democrats are playing the same game as the Republicans and have a nuance and some historical baggage that compels them to be a little more to the left. ..."
"... given the declining role of America in world affairs, I think that there's every reason to believe that the cautionary attitude of the Democratic Party is emblematic of a new kind of politics where the room for maneuver and the room for staking out significant different positions is shrinking, shrinking very, very much. ..."
Oct 29, 2015 | naked capitalism
CHRIS HEDGES, PULITZER-PRIZE WINNING JOURNALIST: Welcome back to part four of our interview with Professor Sheldon Wolin, who taught politics for many years at Berkeley and later Princeton. He is the author of several seminal works on political philosophy, including Politics and Vision and Democracy Incorporated.

I wanted just to go through and I've taken notes from both of your books, Politics and Vision and Democracy Incorporated, of the characteristics of what you call inverted totalitarianism, which you use to describe the political system that we currently live under. You said it's only in part a state-centered phenomenon. What do you mean by that?

SHELDON WOLIN, PROF. EMERITUS POLITICS, PRINCETON: Well, I mean by that that one of the striking characteristics of our age is the extent to which so-called private institutions, like the media, for example, are able to work towards the same end of control, pacification, that the government is interested in, that the idea of genuine opposition is usually viewed as subversion, and so that criticism now is a category that we should really look at and examine, and to see whether it really amounts to anything more than a kind of mild rebuke at best, and at worst a way of sort of confirming the present system by showing its open-mindedness about self-criticism.

HEDGES: And you said that there's a kind of fusion now of–and you talk a lot about the internal dynamics of corporations themselves, the way they're completely hierarchical, even the extent to which people within corporate structures are made to identify with a corporation on a kind of personal level. Even–I mean, I speak as a former reporter for The New York Times–even we would get memos about the New York Times family, which is, of course, absurd. And you talk about how that value system or that structure of power, coupled with that type of propaganda, has just been transferred to the state, that the state now functions in exactly the same way, the same hierarchical way, that it uses the same forms of propaganda to get people at once to surrender their political rights and yet to identify themselves through nationalism, patriotism, and the lust for superpower itself, which we see now across the political landscape.

WOLIN: Yeah. No, I think that's a very strong element, in fact decisive element in our present situation. There's been a kind of conjuncture between the way that social and educational institutions have shaped a certain kind of mentality among students, among faculty, and so on, and the media itself, that are in lockstep with the requirements of the kind of political economic order that we have now, and that the basic question, I think, has been that we have seen the kind of absorption of politics and the political order into so many nonpolitical categories–of economics, sociology, even religion–that we sort of lost the whole, it seems to me, unique character of political institutions, which is that they're supposed to embody the kind of substantive hopes of ordinary people, in terms of the kind of present and future that they want. And that's what democracy is supposed to be about.

But instead we have it subordinated now to the so-called demands of economic growth, the so-called demands of a kind of economic class that's at home with the sort of scientific and technological advances that are being applied by industry, so that the kind of political element of the ruling groups now is being shaped and to a large extent, I think, incorporated into an ideology that is fundamentally unpolitical, or political in a sort of anti-political way. What I mean by that: it's a combination of forces that really wants to exploit the political without seeking to either strengthen it or reform it in a meaningful way or to rejuvenate it. It sees the political structure as opportunity. And the more porous it is, the better, because the dominant groups have such instrumentalities at their control now in order to do that exploitation–radio, television, newsprint, what have you–that it's the best possible world for them.

HEDGES: You actually cite Nietzsche, saying how prescient Nietzsche was. I think you may have said he was a better prophet than Marx, I think, if I remember correctly, in Politics and Vision, but how Nietzsche understood the disintegration of liberal democracy and the liberal class, and also understood the rise of fundamentalist religion in an age of secularism and how dangerous that was.

WOLIN: Yeah. I think that's–obviously, I think that's true of him, and I think it was very farseeing on his part. He, of course, was not a sympathizer with those development, but he wasn't an ordinary sympathizer, either, with the sort of historical elites, or even current elites, that were either capitalist or nationalistic, as in the case of Germany.

Nietzsche was trying to really retrieve a notion of the value, intrinsic value, of political life. And he found it, however, only comprehensible to him in terms of some kind of dichotomy between elite and mass. And that, I think, was the failing of Nietzsche, because he saw so much in terms of tendencies in our society and culture that would ruin us to democracy and needed to be reformed, but reformed in a way that would promote democracy, but which Nietzsche would inevitably try to turn into vehicles for celebrating or encouraging elite formations. And he simply could not conceive of a society that would be worthwhile in which elites were not given the most prominent and leading role. He just couldn't conceive it. He had the kind of 19th century sort of Hegelian notion that the masses were ignorant, they were intolerant, they were against progress, and all the rest of it. He simply, like so many very good writers in the 19th century, didn't know what to do with the, quote, people.

HEDGES: Including Marx.

WOLIN: No, no. They didn't. They tried to either neutralize them or tried to co-opt them, but they never really tried to understand them.

I think the best–the best political movement, I think, which did try to understand them in a significant way, strangely enough, was the American progressive movement, which was very much rooted in American history, in American institutions, but saw quite clearly the dangers that it was getting into and the need for really significant reform that required democratic means, not elitist means, for their solution, and above all required America to really think carefully about its role in international relations, because he saw that that was a trap and, as an aggressive, dominant role in economic relations, was a trap because of what it required, what it required of the population in terms of their outlook and education and culture, and what it required in the way of elites who could lead those kinds of formations. And I think for that reason he was literally a pessimist about what could happen and he had nowhere to go. He had no great trust in the people, and he had come to distrust the elite. I think in the end he took a kind of view that what elites should do is to hunker down and preserve culture, preserve it in its various manifestations–literature, philosophy, poetry, so on.

HEDGES: But he certainly understood what happened when the state divorced itself from religious authority,–

WOLIN: Oh, yeah.

HEDGES: –that you would see the rise of fundamentalist religious movements in fierce opposition to the secular state, number one; and number two, you would see a frantic effort on the part of the state to sacralize itself.

WOLIN: Yeah. Yeah, now, that's true. It did try to do that. It did that rather -- far less in the United States, but it certainly did it in Germany, and to some degree Italy, but not fully.

... ... ...

HEDGES: You said that in inverted totalitarianism, it is furthered by power holders and citizens who often seem unaware of the deeper consequences of their actions or inactions. What I find interesting about that statement is you say even the power holders don't understand their actions.

WOLIN: Yeah, I don't think they do. I think that's most–I think that's apparent not only in so-called conservative political officeholders, but liberal ones as well. And I think the reason for it isn't far to see. The demands of contemporary political decision-making, that is, actually having to decide things in legislation or executive action in a complex political society and economic society such as ours, in a complex political, economic society such as the world is, make reflection very difficult. They make it extremely difficult. And everybody's caught up in the demands of the moment, and understandably so. It becomes again a kind of game of preservation, of keeping the ship of state afloat, but not really trying seriously to change its direction, except maybe rhetorically.

Now, I think the demands of the world are such now and so dangerous, with the kind of weaponry and resources available to every crank and nut in the world, makes it extremely difficult for governments to relax a moment and think about social order and the welfare of the citizens in some kind of way that's divorced from the security potential of the society.

HEDGES: We'd spoke earlier about how because corporate forces have essentially taken over not only systems of media but systems of education, they've effectively destroyed the capacity within these institutions for critical thinking. And what they've done is educate generation–now probably a couple of generations of systems managers, people whose expertise, technical expertise, revolves around keeping the system, as it's constructed, viable and afloat, so that when there's a–in 2008, the global financial crisis, they immediately loot the U.S. Treasury to infuse a staggering $17 trillion worth of money back into the system. And what are the consequences? We'd spoken earlier about how even the power holders themselves don't often understand where they're headed. What are the consequences of now lacking the ability to critique the system or even understand it? What are the consequences environmentally, economically, in terms of democracy itself, of feeding and sustaining that system of corporate capitalism or inverted totalitarianism?

WOLIN: Well, I think the only question would be what kind of time span you're talking about. I mean, I see the kind of erosion of those institutions that you mention as so continuous that it won't take terribly long before the substance of them is completely hollowed out and that what you will get is institutions which do no longer play the role they were intended to, either role of lawmaking in an independent way or criticism or responsiveness to an electorate, so that I think the consequences are with us already. And of course the turnoff on the part of the voters is just one indication of it, but the level of public discourse is certainly another, so that I see it as a process which now is finding fewer and fewer dissident voices that have a genuine platform and mechanism for reaching people. I don't mean that there aren't people who disagree, but I'm talking about do they have ways of communicating, discussing what the disagreements are about and what can be said about the contemporary situation that needs to be addressed, so that the problem, I think, right now is the problem that the instruments of revitalization are just really in very bad disrepair. And I don't see any immediate prospect of it, because–.

HEDGES: You mean coming from within the system itself.

WOLIN: Coming from within. You know, years ago, say, in the 19th century, it was no ordinary occurrence that a new political party would be formed and that it would make maybe not a dominant effect, but it would certainly influence–as the Progressive Party did–influence affairs. That's no more possible now than the most outlandish scheme you can think of. Political parties are so expensive that I needn't detail the difficulties that would be faced by anyone who tried to organize one.

I think the beautiful example we have today, I just think, fraught with implications, is the Koch brothers' purchase of the Republican Party. They literally bought it. Literally. And they had a specific amount they paid, and now they've got it. There hasn't been anything like that in American history. To be sure, powerful economic interests have influenced political parties, especially the Republicans, but this kind of gross takeover, in which the party is put in the pocket of two individuals, is without precedent. And that means something serious. It means that, among other things, you no longer have a viable opposition party. And while however much many of us may disagree with the Republicans, there is still an important place for disagreement. And now it seems to me that's all gone. It's now become a personal vehicle of two people. And God only knows what they're going to do with it, but I wouldn't hold my breath if you think constructive results are going to follow.

HEDGES: Well, didn't Clinton just turn the Democratic Party into the Republican Party and force the Republican Party to come become insane?

WOLIN: Yeah, it's true. Yeah, I mean, it's true that beginning with the Clinton administration, the Democratic Party has kind of lost its way too.

But I still–maybe it's a hope more than a fact, but I still have the hope that the Democratic Party is still sufficiently loose and sufficiently uncoordinated that it's possible for dissidents to get their voices heard.

Now, it may not last very long, because in order to compete with the Republicans, there will be every temptation for the Democrats to emulate them. And that means less internal democracy, more reliance on corporate funding.

HEDGES: Wouldn't it be fair to say that after the nomination of George McGovern, the Democratic Party created institutional mechanisms by which no popular candidate would ever be nominated again?

WOLIN: Oh, I think that's true. The McGovern thing was a nightmare to the party, to the party officials. And I'm sure they vowed that there would never be anything like it again possible. And, of course, there never has been. And it also means that you lost with that the one thing that McGovern had done, which was to revitalize popular interest in government. And so the Democrats not only killed McGovern; they killed what he stood for, which was more important.

HEDGES: And you saw an echo of that in 2000 when Ralph Nader ran and engendered the same kind of grassroots enthusiasm.

WOLIN: Yeah, he did. He did.

HEDGES: And just as it was the Democratic establishment that virtually, during the presidential campaign, the Connolly Democrats conspired with the Republican Party to destroy, in essence, their own candidate, you saw it was the Democratic Party that destroyed the viability of Nader.

WOLIN: Yeah. Yeah, that's true. That's true. The Democrats –- I mean, it's not surprising, because as we've said many times, the Democrats are playing the same game as the Republicans and have a nuance and some historical baggage that compels them to be a little more to the left. But it seems to me that the conditions now in which political parties have to operate, conditions which involve large amounts of money, which involve huge stakes because of the character of the American economy now, which has to be very carefully dealt with, and very cautiously, and given the declining role of America in world affairs, I think that there's every reason to believe that the cautionary attitude of the Democratic Party is emblematic of a new kind of politics where the room for maneuver and the room for staking out significant different positions is shrinking, shrinking very, very much.

Thank you very much. Stay tuned for part five coming up of our interview with Professor Sheldon Wolin.

[Oct 29, 2015] Sheldon Wolin's the reason I began drinking coffee

Sheldon Wolin RIP -- Wolin's Politics and Vision, which remains to this day the single best book on Western political theory
Notable quotes:
"... In classic totalitarianism, thinking here now about the Nazis and the fascists, and also even about the communists, the economy is viewed as a tool which the powers that be manipulate and utilize in accordance with what they conceive to be the political requirements of ruling. ..."
"... Now, in inverted totalitarianism, the imagery is that of a populace which is enshrined as the leadership group but which in fact doesn't rule, but which is turned upside down in the sense that the people are enshrined at the top but don't rule. ..."
"... democracy, I think, from the beginning never quite managed to make the kind of case for an economic order that would sustain and help to develop democracy rather than being a kind of constant threat to the egalitarianism and popular rule that democracy stands for. ..."
"... Capitalism is destructive because it has to eliminate the kind of custom, mores, political values, even institutions that present any kind of credible threat to the autonomy of the economy. And it's that–that's where the battle lies. Capitalism wants an autonomous economy. They want a political order subservient to the needs of the economy. ..."
Oct 28, 2015 | coreyrobin.com

Sheldon Wolin's the reason I began drinking coffee.

I was a freshman at Princeton. It was the fall of 1985. I signed up to take a course called "Modern Political Theory." It was scheduled for Mondays and Wednesdays at 9 am. I had no idea what I was doing. I stumbled into class, and there was a man with white hair and a trim white beard, lecturing on Machiavelli. I was transfixed.

There was just one problem: I was-still am-most definitely not a morning person. Even though the lectures were riveting, I had to fight my tendency to fall asleep. Even worse, I had to fight my tendency to sleep in.

So I started-- drinking coffee. I'd show up for class fully caffeinated. And proceeded to work my way through the canon-Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, along with some texts you don't often get in intro theory courses (the Putney Debates, Montesquieu's Persian Letters, and for a last hurrah: Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations)-under the guidance of one of the great readers of the twentieth century.

More than anything else, that's what Sheldon Wolin was: a reader of texts. He approached The Prince as if it were a novel, identifying its narrative voice, analyzing the literary construction of the characters who populated the text (new prince, customary prince, centaur, the people), examining the structural tensions in the narrative (How does a Machiavellian adviser advise a non-Machiavellian prince?), and so on. It was exhilarating.

And then after class I'd head straight for Firestone Library; read whatever we were reading that week in class; follow along, chapter by chapter, with Wolin's Politics and Vision, which remains to this day the single best book on Western political theory that I know of (even though lots of the texts we were talking about in class don't appear there, or appear there with very different interpretations from the ones Wolin was offering in class: the man never stood still, intellectually); and get my second cup of coffee.

This is all a long wind-up to the fact that this morning, my friend Antonio Vazquez-Arroyo, sent me a two-part interview that Chris Hedges conducted with Wolin, who's living out in Salem, Oregon now. From his Wikipedia page, I gather that Wolin's 92. He looks exactly the same as he did in 1985. And sounds the same. Though it seems from the video as if he may now be losing his sight. Which is devastating when I think about the opening passages of Politics and Vision, about how vision is so critical to the political theorist and the practice of theoria.

Anyway, here he is, talking to Hedges about his thesis of "inverted totalitarianism":

In classic totalitarianism, thinking here now about the Nazis and the fascists, and also even about the communists, the economy is viewed as a tool which the powers that be manipulate and utilize in accordance with what they conceive to be the political requirements of ruling. And they will take whatever steps are needed in the economy in order to ensure the long-run sustainability of the political order. In other words, the sort of arrows of political power flow from top to bottom.

Now, in inverted totalitarianism, the imagery is that of a populace which is enshrined as the leadership group but which in fact doesn't rule, but which is turned upside down in the sense that the people are enshrined at the top but don't rule. And minority rule is usually treated as something to be abhorred but is in fact what we have. And it's the problem has to do, I think, with the historical relationship between political orders and economic orders. And democracy, I think, from the beginning never quite managed to make the kind of case for an economic order that would sustain and help to develop democracy rather than being a kind of constant threat to the egalitarianism and popular rule that democracy stands for.

… ... ...

Capitalism is destructive because it has to eliminate the kind of custom, mores, political values, even institutions that present any kind of credible threat to the autonomy of the economy. And it's that–that's where the battle lies. Capitalism wants an autonomous economy. They want a political order subservient to the needs of the economy. And their notion of an economy, while it's broadly based in the sense of a capitalism in which there can be relatively free entrance and property is relatively widely dispersed it's also a capitalism which, in the last analysis, is [as] elitist as any aristocratic system ever was.

Have a listen and a watch. Part 1 and then Part 2.

Pt 1-8 Hedges & Wolin Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist

Pt 2:

see also

[Oct 28, 2015] Guest Post Inequality Undermines Democracy

There is a strong evidence to suggest that representative democracy is not compatible with deep economic inequality. As a recent study found, "politicians in OECD countries maximize the happiness of the economic elite." However, it was not always that way: In the past, left parties represented the poor, the center and the middle class. Now all the parties benefit the richest 1& of earners. As FDR warned, "Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob."
Notable quotes:
"... politicians in OECD countries maximize the happiness of the economic elite ..."
"... In the past, left parties represented the poor, the center and the middle class. Now all the parties benefit the richest 1 percent of earners, Jimenez reports. ..."
"... politician's bias toward the rich has reduced real social spending per capita by 28 percent on average ..."
"... the rich are more likely to oppose spending increases, support budget cuts and reject promoting the welfare state - the idea that the government should ensure a decent standard of living. ..."
"... What f*cking democracy in the land of the free? Its a fascist, police state run by a troika of the MIC, Wall Street and Spooks. ..."
"... The secret collaboration of the military, the intelligence and national security agencies, and gigantic corporations in the systematic and illegal surveillance of the American people reveals the true wielders of power in the United States. ..."
"... The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media. -- William Colby, former CIA Director ..."
"... Paul Craig Roberts had a great take on this a while back. He pointed out that unions used to have significant political influence because of their financial resources. Democrats by and large sought their backing, and had to toe the line. Now, not so much. So, he observed, both parties began seeking out contributions from the same oligarchs. Even if you hate unions, it is a valid observation. ..."
Zero Hedge

Guest Post: Inequality Undermines Democracy

Authored by Sean McElwee, originallyu posted at AlJazeera.com,

In recent years, several academic researchers have argued that rising inequality erodes democracy. But the lack of international data has made it difficult to show whether inequality in fact exacerbates the apparent lack of political responsiveness to popular sentiment. Even scholars concerned about economic inequality, such as sociologist Lane Kenworthy, often hesitate to argue that economic inequality might bleed into the political sphere. New cross-national research, however, suggests that higher inequality does indeed limit political representation.

In a 2014 study on political representation, political scientists Jan Rosset, Nathalie Giger and Julian Bernauer concluded, "In economically more unequal societies, the party system represents the preferences of relatively poor citizens worse than in more equal societies." Similarly, political scientists Michael Donnelly and Zoe Lefkofridi found in a working paper that in Europe, "Changes in overall attitudes toward redistribution have very little effect on redistributive policies. Changes in socio-cultural policies are driven largely by change in the attitudes of the affluent, and only weakly (if at all) by the middle class or poor." They find that when the people get what they want, it's typically because their views correspond with the affluent, rather than policymakers directly responding to their concerns.

In another study of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, researcher Pablo Torija Jimenez looked at data in 24 countries over 30 years. He examined how different governmental structures influence happiness across income groups and found that today "politicians in OECD countries maximize the happiness of the economic elite." However, it was not always that way: In the past, left parties represented the poor, the center and the middle class. Now all the parties benefit the richest 1 percent of earners, Jimenez reports.

In a recent working paper, political scientist Larry Bartels finds the effect of politician's bias toward the rich has reduced real social spending per capita by 28 percent on average. Studying 23 OECD countries, Bartels finds that the rich are more likely to oppose spending increases, support budget cuts and reject promoting the welfare state - the idea that the government should ensure a decent standard of living.

JustObserving

What f*cking democracy in the land of the free? It's a fascist, police state run by a troika of the MIC, Wall Street and Spooks.

JustObserving

Who rules America?

The secret collaboration of the military, the intelligence and national security agencies, and gigantic corporations in the systematic and illegal surveillance of the American people reveals the true wielders of power in the United States. Telecommunications giants such as AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, and Internet companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter, provide the military and the FBI and CIA with access to data on hundreds of millions of people that these state agencies have no legal right to possess.

Congress and both of the major political parties serve as rubber stamps for the confluence of the military, the intelligence apparatus and Wall Street that really runs the country. The so-called "Fourth Estate"-the mass media-functions shamelessly as an arm of this ruling troika.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/06/10/pers-j10.html

Snowden's documents revealed that the NSA spies on everyone:

The most extraordinary passage in the memo requires that the Israeli spooks "destroy upon recognition" any communication provided by the NSA "that is either to or from an official of the US government."

It goes on to spell out that this includes "officials of the Executive Branch (including the White House, Cabinet Departments, and independent agencies); the US House of Representatives and Senate (members and staff); and the US Federal Court System (including, but not limited to, the Supreme Court)."

The stunning implication of this passage is that NSA spying targets not only ordinary American citizens, but also Supreme Court justices, members of Congress and the White House itself. One could hardly ask for a more naked exposure of a police state.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/13/surv-s13.html

"The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media." -- William Colby, former CIA Director

LetThemEatRand

Paul Craig Roberts had a great take on this a while back. He pointed out that unions used to have significant political influence because of their financial resources. Democrats by and large sought their backing, and had to toe the line. Now, not so much. So, he observed, both parties began seeking out contributions from the same oligarchs. Even if you hate unions, it is a valid observation.

LetThemEatRand
I get your point and I'm not your downvote, but in my view the MSM has hijacked the issue of "inequality." The real issue is the oligarch class that has more wealth than half the country. We were a successful, functioning society when we had a middle class. There were rich people, poor people, and a whole lot in between. And it's the whole lot in between that matters. The minimum wage is a distraction. The two big issues are loss of manufacturing base and offshoring in general, and financialization of the economy (in large part due to Fed policy).

LetThemEatRand

...A big part of the "inequality" discussion is equal application of law. I recall when TARP was floated during the W administration, the public of all persuasions was against it. Congress passed it anyway, because of Too Big to Fail. TBTF should not be a liberal or conservative issue. Likewise, the idea that no bankers went to jail is an issue of "inequality." The laws do not apply equally to bankers. And the same with Lois Lerner. She intentionally sent the IRS to harass political groups based upon ideology. She got off scott free. Inequality again.

MASTER OF UNIVERSE

Inequality does not undermine democracy because democracy does not really exist. Faux democracy is actually Totalitarianism under the guise of 'democracy'. In brief, democracy is just a word that has been neutered, and bastardized too many times to count as anything real, or imagined.

They should name a new ice cream DEMOCRACY just for FUN.

[Oct 24, 2015] Snowden NSA, GCHQ Using Your Phone to Spy on Others (and You)

If your phone is in the case microphone will not pick up much. Same for camera. Only your GPS location is available. If phone is switched off then even this is not reality available. I think thw whole ability to listen from the pocket is overblown. Too much noise. I think just metadata are enough to feel that you are the constant surveillance.
Notable quotes:
"... the most part intelligence agencies are not really looking to monitor your private phone communications per se. They are actually taking over full control of the phone to take photos or record ongoing conversations within earshot. ..."
"... According to Snowden, the UK's spy agency, the Government Communications Headquarters, uses NSA technology to develop software tools to control almost anyone's smartphone. He notes that all it takes is sending an encrypted text message to get into virtually any smartphone. Moreover, the message will not be seen by the user, making it almost impossible to stop the attack. ..."
"... Reprinted with permission from WeMeantWell.com . ..."
Oct 15, 2015 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity
You are a tool of the state, according to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The NSA in the U.S., and its equivalent in the UK, GCHQ, are taking control of your phone not just to spy on you as needed, but also to use your device as a way to spy on others around you. You are a walking microphone, camera and GPS for spies.

Snowden, in a BBC interview, explained that for the most part intelligence agencies are not really looking to monitor your private phone communications per se. They are actually taking over full control of the phone to take photos or record ongoing conversations within earshot.

According to Snowden, the UK's spy agency, the Government Communications Headquarters, uses NSA technology to develop software tools to control almost anyone's smartphone. He notes that all it takes is sending an encrypted text message to get into virtually any smartphone. Moreover, the message will not be seen by the user, making it almost impossible to stop the attack.

GCHQ calls these smartphone hacking tools the "Smurf Suite." The suite includes:

Snowden said the NSA has spent close to $1 billion to develop these smartphone hacking programs.

Reprinted with permission from WeMeantWell.com.

[Oct 22, 2015] Energy Crash - 97% of Fracking Now Operating at a Loss at Current Oil Prices

This is an old article (from Jan 2015), but most observations look quite current...
Notable quotes:
"... Some will point out correctly that oil sales from production is sold months or years ahead of time, so a temporary drop, no matter how steep, doesnt have an immediate effect. That statement is true, but it comes with two big caveats. First of all, there is no way of knowing when those oil futures were agreed to. They could expire tomorrow, or three years from now. The other caveat is specific to the geology of fracking. Unlike traditional oil drilling, shale oil taps out very quickly . That is simple geology. ..."
"... the average decline of the worlds conventional oil fields is about 5 percent per year. By comparison, the average decline of oil wells in North Dakotas booming Bakken shale oil field is 44 percent per year. Individual wells can see production declines of 70 percent or more in the first year. ..."
"... The IEA states that the shale oil business needs to bring 2,500 new wells into production every year just to sustain production, and these shale fields will increasingly become more expensive to drill , a rising percentage of supplies…require a higher breakeven price. ..."
"... With the current price of oil, almost none of the frackers will be sinking new wells. So if oil prices stay down, most of the frackers will simply be out of business in a year because they will have stopped producing enough oil for their business model. This is a big reason why the Saudis, with their conventional oil production can wait out the frackers. ..."
"... Of course, there is another factor that needs to be considered when it comes to the fracking industry, and that is high-yield debt . ..."
January 6, 2015 | Alternet
The majority of Texas energy production is still by conventional means. North Dakota, on the other hand, relies heavily on fracking, so they are looking at hard times. Already oil rigs are being shut down at the fastest pace in six years.
"At $50 oil, half the U.S. rig count is at risk," R.T. Dukes, an upstream analyst at Wood Mackenzie Ltd., said by telephone from Houston. "What happened in the last quarter foreshadows what's going to be a tough year for operators. It's looking worse and worse by the day."
Employment in the support services for oil and gas operations has risen 70% since mid-2009. Employment in oil and gas extraction has risen 34% over the same time period. The thing to remember is that most job creation in the fracking industry comes up-front, so job losses will hit long before production falls.
The most labor-intensive aspect of the oil-field industry is the construction and completion process for new wells, which requires the bulk of investment and provides the most income to the local economy.
He predicts ramifications of the oil slide to show up in three to six months, because companies will complete works in progress according to contract.
The price began crashing a couple months ago so the layoffs notices will really pick up on the oil patches any day. The Dallas Federal Reserve projects Texas will lose 125,000 jobs by the middle of this year. This slowdown is already projected to effect the state budgets of Texas, Wyoming, Louisiana, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Alaska.

Some will point out correctly that oil sales from production is sold months or years ahead of time, so a temporary drop, no matter how steep, doesn't have an immediate effect. That statement is true, but it comes with two big caveats. First of all, there is no way of knowing when those oil futures were agreed to. They could expire tomorrow, or three years from now. The other caveat is specific to the geology of fracking. Unlike traditional oil drilling, shale oil taps out very quickly. That is simple geology.

the average decline of the world's conventional oil fields is about 5 percent per year. By comparison, the average decline of oil wells in North Dakota's booming Bakken shale oil field is 44 percent per year. Individual wells can see production declines of 70 percent or more in the first year.

Shale gas wells face similarly swift depletion rates, so drillers need to keep plumbing new wells to make up for the shortfall at those that have gone anemic.

The IEA states that the shale oil business needs to bring 2,500 new wells into production every year just to sustain production, and these shale fields will increasingly become more expensive to drill, "a rising percentage of supplies…require a higher breakeven price."

With the current price of oil, almost none of the frackers will be sinking new wells. So if oil prices stay down, most of the frackers will simply be out of business in a year because they will have stopped producing enough oil for their business model. This is a big reason why the Saudis, with their conventional oil production can wait out the frackers.

Of course, there is another factor that needs to be considered when it comes to the fracking industry, and that is high-yield debt.

[Oct 09, 2015] Hillary Clintons Lame Wall Street Reform Plan by James Kwak

Oct 09, 2015 | The Baseline Scenario
Hillary Clinton is competing for the nomination of a party whose progressive base thinks, with considerable justification, that her husband is to blame for letting Wall Street run amok-and that Barack Obama, under whom she served, did too little to rein in the bankers who torpedoed the global economy. On top of that, she faces a competitor who says what the people actually think: that the system is rigged, that big banks should be restrained, and that people should go to jail.

So she has no choice but to try to appear tough on Wall Street-but she has to do that without simply jettisoning twenty-five years of "New Democrat" friendliness to business and without alienating the financial industry donors she is counting on. So the "plan" she announced yesterday has two messages. On the one hand, she wants to show that she has the right approach to taming Wall Street. Unfortunately, it's just more of the same: another two dozen or so regulatory tweaks, mainly of the arcane variety, that will produce more of the massive, loophole-ridden rules that Dodd-Frank gave us.

Or, that could be the point. Her second message is a promise to the financial industry that, instead of real structural reforms, she will continue the technocratic incrementalism of the Geithner era-which has left the megabanks more or less the way they were on the eve of the financial crisis. Maybe, for her base, that's a feature, not a bug.

For more, see my latest column for The Atlantic.

  1. BRUCE E. WOYCH | October 9, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    http://michael-hudson.com/
    http://michael-hudson.com/2015/09/killing-the-host-the-book/
    The Table of Contents is as follows:

    Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy

    Introduction: The Twelve Themes of this Book

    The Parasite, the Host, and Control of the Economy's Brain

    I. From the Enlightenment to Neo-Rentier Economies

    1. The Financial Sector's Rise to Power
    2. The Long Fight to Free Economies from Feudalism's Rentier Legacy
    3. The Critique and Defense of Economic Rent, from Locke to Mill
    4. The All-Devouring "Miracle of Compound Interest"
    5. How the 1% holds the 99% in Exponentially Deepening Debt
    6. Rentiers Sponsor Rent-Free National Income Statistics
    7. The Failed Attempt to Industrialize Banking

    II. Wall Street as Central Planner

    1. The Stock Market as a Predatory Arena
    2. From the Stock Market's Origins to Junk Bonding
    3. Finance vs. Industry: Two Opposite Sides of the Balance Sheet
    4. The Bubble Sequence: From Asset-Price Inflation to Debt Deflation
    5. The Bankers Saw It Coming, but Economists averted their Eyes
    6. The Bailout Coup of 2008: Saving Wall Street instead of the Economy
    7. The Giveaways get More Deeply Politicized and Corrupt
    8. Wall Street Pretends to Insure against the Crash
    9. Bailing out of Goldman via AIG
    10. Wall Street Takes Control and Blocks Debt Writedowns
    11. From Democracy to Oligarchy

    III. Austerity as a Privatization Grab

    1. Europe's Self-imposed Austerity
    2. The Neoliberal Conquest of Post-Soviet Latvia
    3. Creation of the Troika and its pro-Rentier Agenda
    4. High Finance turns Greek Democracy to "Junk"
    5. Installing Technocrats as Proconsuls
    6. The Troika's Road to Debt Serfdom
    7. Creditor Colonialism: U.S. Courts Block Debt Writedowns
    8. Financial Austerity or a Clean Slate?
    9. Finance as War
    10. Is the Mode of Parasitism overshadowing the Mode of Production?

    IV. There Is An Alternative

    1. The Fight for the 21st Century
  2. BRUCE E. WOYCH | October 9, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    William K. Black, author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One,…http://billmoyers.com/guest/william-k-black/
    He developed the concept of "control fraud"-frauds in which the CEO or head of state uses the entity as a "weapon,"