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Two Party System as Polyarchy and anti-Democratic mechanisms of "first past the post" elections

Version 2.4 (Nov  21, 2016)

The USA looks more and more like a single party state -- it is governed by  Neoliberal party with two factions
 "soft neoliberals" (Democratic Party) and "hard neoliberals"(Republican Party)

News Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few Recommended Books Recommended Links Crisis of legitimacy of neoliberal elite  Demexit Do the US intelligence agencies attempt to influence the US Presidential elections ? The Deep State Predator state
The Iron Law of Oligarchy Neocons foreign policy is a disaster for the USA Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite New American Militarism Electoral College Hillary Clinton email scandal: Timeline and summary Hillary "Warmonger" Clinton Demexit Myth about intelligent voter
Neocons Obama: a yet another Neocon Resurgence of neo-fascism as reaction on neoliberalism Media-Military-Industrial Complex Neoliberalism Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism Protestant church on danger of neoliberalism
Donald Trump Anti-Russian hysteria in connection emailgate and DNC leak DNC emails leak: switfboating Bernie Sanders and blaming Vladimir Putin National Security State  American Exceptionalism Libertarian Philosophy Nation under attack meme  Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" Pluralism as a myth
Principal-agent problem Corporatist Corruption Paleoconservatism Corporatism Ethno-linguistic Nationalism Non-Interventionism "Clinton Cash" Scandal: Hillary Clinton links to foreign donors and financial industry  Hillary role in Syria bloodbath Hillary Clinton and Obama created ISIS
Bernie Sanders Superdelegates at Democratic National Convention Jeb "Wolfowitz Stooge" Bush US Presidential Elections of 2012  Mayberry Machiavellians Politically Incorrect Humor Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc
"There is one political party in this country, and that is the party of money. It has two branches, the Republicans and the Democrats, the chief difference between which is that the Democrats are better at concealing their scorn for the average man."

-- Gore Vidal

“The Democrats are the foxes, and the Republicans are the wolves – and they both want to devour you.” So what does that make Libertarians? Avian flu viruses?”

-- Leonard Pinkney

The race is no contest when you own both horses. That is why no matter which political party is in power nothing really changes other than the packaging. The puppets who drink at the champagne fountains of the powerful do the bidding of their masters. The people are superfluous to the process.

-- Daniel Estulin

Due to the side an introduction was moved to the separate page Polyarchy, Authoritarianism and Deep State

Summary

I subscribe to Kantian idea of the dignity in human, the idea that everyone is entitled to survival as well as thriving beyond survival. But does everybody is entitled to equal participation in ruling of the state ?  Or  in election of state leaders? Which is what democracy means. Is the democracy possible, if elections use "the first after the post" rule?  Another important question is "democracy for whom". There are always part of society living under the dictatorship and excluded from the democratic process.

My impression is that the Communist Party of the USSR made a grave mistake by not adopting "the first after the post" election system. In reality it would just legitimize the permanent Communist Party rule, as two factions of the CPSU competing for power (let's call them "Democratic Communists" and "Republican Communists") would exclude any real challenge for the one party rule that was practiced in the USSR under so called "one party" system. Which, while providing the same results,  looks more undemocratic then "first after the post" system, and thus  less safe for the rule of oligarchy as it generates resentment of the population.  

The "first after the post" system provides a very effective suppression of any third party, preventing any chance of maturing such a political force.  No less effective the Societ one party rule, but more subtle and more acceptable to the population. Which is all what is needed to continuation of the rule of the oligarchy.  The same is true for the parties themselves. Iron law of olgarchy was actualy discovered by observing the evolution of the party leadership.

Revolutionary situation after 2008 is connected with discreditation of neoliberal ideology

The situation when the current ruling elite (or in less politically correct term oligarchy) experienced difficulties with the continuation of its rule and the existing methods of suppression and indoctrination of the lower part population stop working is called  "revolutionary situation". Some signs of this situation were observable in the USA in 2016 which led to the election of what was essentially an independent candidate -- Donald Trump.  It was clear that there is a widespread feeling that the current system is wrong and unjust. And when the people do not wont to live under the current system, and the ruling oligarchy can't continue to rule using the same methods and its brainwashing/propaganda does not work anymore " a rare moment when "the change we can believe in" becomes possible. Not the con that the king of "bait and switch" maneuver Obama sold to the US lemmings twice, but the "real" change; which can be for the good or bad. Stability of the society has its great value. As Chinese curse state it succinctly "May you live in interesting times".

 In such cases, often the ruling elite decides to unleash a foreign war and use "rally around the flag" effect  to suppress dissent and to restore the control (that's the real meaning of Samuel Johnson quote "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"). The pitch level of anti-Russian propaganda in 2016 in neoliberal MSM suggest that some part of the US elite is not totally hostile to this solution even in nuclear age. As John Kenneth Galbraith noted “People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.”

In 2016 we saw an attempt by oligarchy to rig the elections despite growing populism, at all cost. Even by promoting a deeply criminal and candidate with serious health problems. The level of propaganda displayed in 2015-2016 election cycle by neoliberal MSM might well outdo the level achieved by communist propagandists in best days of the USSR.  And that happened because this time there is a slight chance that the election are not about choosing "soft neoliberal" vs. "hard neoliberal" but "soft neoliberal"  vs. (at least partially) "paleoconservative", who rejects the idea of neoliberal globalization and by extension the necessity of fighting constant wars for the expansion of the US led global neoliberal empire.   This heresy is not acceptable in the corridors of Washington deep state, and the hissy fit in neoliberal media and the just of intelligence agencies on an "avanscena" of political process (hackingate") were to be expected.

There is also an interesting question what kind of democracy the competition  of "Democratic Neoliberals" ("soft neoliberal/closet neocons) and "Republican Neoliberals: ("hard core" neoliberal/open neocons) in the USA demonstrates. And not only "democratcy for who" -- it is clera tha thtis is democracy for the top 1% or at best top 20% of population.

Also interesting were the methods of indoctrination of population which were borrowed by the USA neoliberals from the Soviet experience. They use university course in economics in the same (or more correctly slightly more subtle; using mathematics as smoke screen for indoctrination into neoliberal ideology)  way Soviet universities use the course of philosophy. In the USSR the courses of philosophy and political economy were obligatory for all university students and people did read both Marx and Lenin; but there were problem here -- as Marx famously said he was not a Marxist.  The same to a certain extent is true for Lenin, who was essentially a bridge between Marxism and national socialism.  This problem was solved by carefully pre-selecting "classics" works to only a subset that felt in like with Bolshevism.

But deteriorating economy and stagnation make this propaganda less effective, much like happened with neoliberal propganda in the USA in 2016. And people were listening to BBC and Voice of America at night, despite jamming.  Similar things happened inthe USA after 2008. Eventhoroughly brainwashed the USA population, who like member of high demand cult now internalized postulates of neoliberalism like dogmas of some civil religion, started to have doubts.  And like Soviet population resorted to the alternative sources of information (for example Guardian, RT, Asia Times, to name a few).

But still the general level  political education of US votes leave much to be desired and is much lower then it was in the USSR (due to obsessive emphasis on the works of Marxs and Lenin much like modern incarnations of Jesus Christ in Soviet state). Let's honestly ask yourselves  what percentage of US voters can list key proposition of paleoconservative political platform vs neoliberal platform. Or define what the term "neoliberal" means. It is difficult also because the terms "neoliberalism" and "Paleoconservatism" are expunged from MSM. Like Trotsky writings were in the USSR. Assuming that this might well be the key difference between two frontrunner in the last Presidential race, this is really unfortunate.

The myth about intelligent voters

That means the hypothesis that majority of voters under "popular democracy" regime (where all citizens have a right to vote) understand what they are voting for ("informed voters" hypothesis)  is open to review (see Myth about intelligent voter).  Otherwise identity politics would not be so successful in the USA, despite being a primitive variation of classic "divide and conquer" strategy. In any democracy, how can voters make an important decision unless they are well informed?  But what percentage of US votes can be considered well informed?  And taking into account popularity of Fox News what percentage is brainwashed or do not what to think about the issues involved and operate based on emotions and prejudices? And when serious discussion of issues that nation faces are deliberately and systematically replaced by "infotainment" voters became just pawns in the game of factions of elite, which sometimes leaks information to sway public opinion, but do it very selectively. All MSM represent the views of large corporations which own them. No exception are allowed. Important information is suppressed or swiped under the carpet to fifth page in NYT to prevent any meaningful discussion. For example, ask several of your friends if they ever heard about Damascus, AR.

In any case one amazing fact happened during this election: republican voters abandoned Republican brass and flocked to Trump, while Democratic voters abandoned Democratic neoliberals and flocked to Sanders (although DNC managed to fix primaries, and then engaged in anti-Russian hysteria to hide this criminal fact).  See Trump vs. The REAL Nuts for an informed discussion of this phenomenon.

Mr. Trump’s great historical role was to reveal to the Republican Party what half of its own base really thinks about the big issues. The party’s leaders didn’t know! They were shocked, so much that they indulged in sheer denial and made believe it wasn’t happening.

The party’s leaders accept more or less open borders and like big trade deals. Half the base does not! It is longtime GOP doctrine to cut entitlement spending. Half the base doesn’t want to, not right now! Republican leaders have what might be called assertive foreign-policy impulses. When Mr. Trump insulted George W. Bush and nation-building and said he’d opposed the Iraq invasion, the crowds, taking him at his word, cheered. He was, as they say, declaring that he didn’t want to invade the world and invite the world. Not only did half the base cheer him, at least half the remaining half joined in when the primaries ended.

But at the same time the struggle for political equality which is often associative with the word "democracy" is a vital human struggle, even if democracy itself is an unachievable and unrealistic ideal (see The Iron Law of Oligarchy).  In some sense too much talk about Democracy is very suspect and just characterize the speaker as a hypocrite with probably evil intentions, who probably is trying to mask some pretty insidious plans with "democracy promotion" smokescreen.

The same is true for countries.  Especially for those which use  "export of democracy" efforts to mask their imperial ambitions. As in the efforts to expand and sustain the global neoliberal empire led by the USA.  See color revolutions for details.  Actually that makes the USA very similar the USSR with its leaders dream about global Communist empire led from Moscow. Both in the USA and the USSR there was too much talk about democracy, while actually practice was decidedly undemocratic. It was oligarchic rule in both cases. In the USA the situation is further complicated by amazing level of brainwashing of population via MSM, which definitely exceed the level achieved by nomenklatura in Soviet Union outside of "Stalinism" period.  Can you imagine the situation in the USSR when members of the ruling communist party were prohibited to show their affiliation and the words "communist" and "communism" was "discouraged" and their usage is suppressed  in MSM including leading newspapers Pravda and Izvestia (roughly analogical to WaPo and NYT).   That's the situation we have in the USA now.

The term "neoliberalism" is effectively prohibited from usage in major US MSM and all political discussion is forcefully turned into "infotainment" -- the clash of  personalizes. In other words discussion of key issues facing the country (politics in real sense of this word)  was replaced under neoliberal regime by "infotainment" with slick and often psychically beautiful "presstitutes" instead of olitical analysts.   But like was the case in the USSR neoliberal brainwashing gradually lost its effectiveness because it contradicts the reality. and neoliberalism failed to deliver promises of "rising tide lifting all board", or trickle down economy which justified tremendous enrichment of top 0.1%. 

Neoliberalism divides the society in  two classes like in old, good Marxism

Politically neoliberalism. like Marxism in the past, operates with the same two classes: "entrepreneurs" (modern name for capitalists and financial oligarchy) and debt slaves (proletarians under Marxism) who work for them. Under neoliberalism only former considered first class citizens ("one dollar -- one vote"). Debt slaves are second class of citizens and are prevented from political self-organization, which by-and-large deprives them of any form of political participation. In best Roman tradition it is substituted with the participation in political shows ("Bread and circuses") See Empire of Illusion The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges.  In this sense the role of the election is not election of the candidate of people want but legitimizing the candidate the oligarchy pre-selected. . They  helps to provide legitimacy for the ruling elite. 

The two party system invented by the elite of Great Britain proved to be perfect for neoliberal regimes, which practice what Sheldon Wolin called inverted totalitarism. The latter is the regime in which all political power belongs to the financial oligarchy which rules via the deep state mechanisms, and where traditional political institutions including POTUS are downgraded to instruments of providing political legitimacy of the ruling elite. Population is discouraged from political activity. "Go shopping" as famously recommended Bush II to US citizens after 9/11.

But at the same time the struggle for political equality which is often associative with the word "democracy" is a vital human struggle, even if democracy itself is an unachievable and unrealistic ideal (see The Iron Law of Oligarchy).  In some sense too much talk about Democracy is very suspect and just characterize the speaker as a hypocrite with probably evil intentions, who probably is trying to mask some pretty insidious plans with "democracy promotion" smokescreen. The same is true for countries.  Especially for those which use  "export of democracy" efforts to mask their pretty much imperial ambitions. The efforts to expand and sustain the global neoliberal empire led by the USA.  See color revolutions for details.  Actually that makes the USA very similar the USSR with its leaders dream about global Communist empire led from Moscow. Both in the USA and the USSR there was too much talk about democracy, while actually practice was decidedly undemocratic. It was oligarchic rule in both cases. In the USA the situation is further complicated by amazing level of brainwashing of population via MSM, which definitely exceed the level achieve by nomenklatura in Soviet Union. Can you imagine the situation in the USSR when members of the ruling communist party were prohibited to show their affiliation and the words "communist" and "communism" was "discouraged" and their usage is suppressed  in MSM including leading newspapers Pravda and Izvestia (roughly analogical to WaPo and NYT).   That's the situation we have in the USA now.

Corporation as the role model for government under neoliberalism excludes the possibility of democracy

Everything should be organized like corporation under neoliberalism, including government, medicine, education, even military. And everybody is not a citizen but a shareholder  (or more correctly stakeholder), so any conflict should be resolved via discussion of the main stakeholders. Naturally lower 99% are not among them.

The great propaganda mantra of neoliberal governance is "wealth maximization". Which proved to be very seductive for society as a whole in reality is applied very selectively and never to the bottom 60% or 80%, or eve 99% of population.  In essence, it means a form of welfare economics for financial oligarchy while at the same time a useful smokescreen for keeping debt-slaves obedient by removing any remnants of job security mechanisms that were instituted during the New Deal. As the great American jurist and Supreme Court associate justice Louis Brandeis once said: “We can have huge wealth in the hands of a relatively few people or we can have a democracy. But we can’t have both.”

As under neoliberalism extreme wealth is the goal of the social system, there can be no democracy under neoliberalism. And this mean that pretentions of the USA elite that the USA is a bastion of democracy is plain vanilla British ruling elite style hypocrisy.  Brutal suppression of any move to challenge dominance of financial oligarchy (even such feeble as Occupy movement)  shows that all too well.

Like in case of communist regimes before, under neoliberalism we now face a regime completely opposite to democracy: we have complete, forceful atomization of public, acute suppression of any countervailing political forces (similar to the suppression of dissidents in the USSR in its effectiveness and brutality, but done in "velvet gloves" without resort to physical violence). That includes decimation of  labor unions and other forms of self-organization for the lower 80%, or even 99% of population.  Neoliberalism tries to present any individual, any citizen, as a market actor within some abstract market (everything is the market under neoliberalism). Instead of fight for political  and economic equality neoliberalism provides a slick slogan of "wealth maximization" which is in essence a "bait and switch" for redistribution of wealth up to the top 1% (which is the stated goal of neoliberalism aka "casino capitalism"). It was working in tandem with "shareholder value" mantra which is a disguise of looting of the corporations to enrich its top brass via outsize bonuses (IBM is a nice example where such an approach leads) and sending thousands of white-collar workers to the street. Previously it was mainly blue-collar workers that were affected. Times changed. 

The difference between democrats and republicans as (at least partially) the difference in the level of authoritarianism of two factions of the same "Grand neoliberal Party of the USA"

Both Democratic Party and Republican arty in the USA are neoliberal parties. So effectively we have one-party system skillfully masked as duopoly ;-). Communists could use the same trick, by having the part Socialist internationalists worker-peasants party of the USSR and Democratic internationalists peasant-worker party of the USSR, with leaders wet kissing each other behind the curtain as is the case in the USA. In the USA we have Cola/Pepsi duopoly that is sold as the shining example of democracy, although just the rule "the first after the post" prevents democracy from functioning as it eliminates minorities from governance. 

Political atmosphere at the USA since Reagan, when Republican drifted right and Democrats were bought by Wall Street really reminds me the USSR.  But still those parties reflect two different strata of the US population, which according to Marc J. Hetherington and Jonathan D. Weiler book Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics in the level of authoritarianism (for example, as measured by F-scale.). Many Republican politicians can be classified as Double High Authoritarians.

If we assume that this is true, the the large part of "verge issues" that so skillfully played in each election, and using which allow the elite to avoid addressing any fundamental issues facing the nation, such as race, gay marriage, illegal immigration, and the use of force to resolve security problems -- reflect differences in individuals' levels of authoritarianism. This makes authoritarianism an especially compelling explanation of contemporary American politics.

Events and strategic political decisions have conspired to make all these considerations more salient. While the authors acknowledge that authoritarianism is not the only factor determining how people vote, it does offer a an important perspective : a large part (at least white Americans) flock to the particular party based on proximity to their own level authoritarianism and corresponding worldview of the party.  In other words  the percentage of authoritarian/non-authoritarian personality in the population allow to predict, at least in part,  voting behavior of the the USA "white block" electorate.


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[Mar 22, 2017] The decline of neoliberalism is emphatically not the decline of capitalism, so what does it mean to say neoliberalism is past its sell-by date

Mar 22, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

"The decline of neoliberalism is emphatically not the decline of capitalism, so what does it mean to say neoliberalism is past its sell-by date? Neoliberalism is not, after all, just a set of policies that can be discontinued and replaced with something else - neoliberal capitalism has birthed a complex global economy that isn't going to change overnight. Moreover, neoliberalism is also an encompassing set of orienting ideas that pervades all spheres of life; its core ethos of faith in private enterprise, ever-expanding commodification, and bootstrap individualism remains robust" [ Jacobin ], "The politics that prevail in America will determine whether the transition from neoliberal capitalism to something else is a step forward or a descent into hell." Yep.

[Mar 20, 2017] As French Election Nears, Le Pen Targets Voters Her Party Once Repelled

Notable quotes:
"... "There's been a real evolution," Philippe Renault-Guillemet, the retired head of a small manufacturing company, said as he handed out National Front leaflets in the market on a recent day. "A few years ago, they would insult us. It's changed ..."
"... With a month to go, the signs are mixed. Many voters, particularly affluent ones, at markets here and farther up the coast betray a traditional distaste for the far-right party. Yet others once repelled by a party with a heritage rooted in France's darkest political traditions - anti-Semitism, xenophobia and a penchant for the fist - are considering it. ..."
"... French politics are particularly volatile this election season. Traditional power centers - the governing Socialists and the center-right Republicans - are in turmoil. Ms. Le Pen's chief rival, Emmanuel Macron, is a youthful and untested politician running at the head of a new party. ..."
"... Those uncertainties - and a nagging sense that mainstream parties have failed to offer solutions to France's economic anemia - have left the National Front better positioned than at any time in its 45-year history. ..."
"... Frédéric Boccaletti, the party's leader in the Var, knows exactly what needs to be done. Last week, he and his fellow National Front activists gathered for an evening planning session in La Seyne-Sur-Mer, a working-class port town devastated by the closing of centuries-old naval shipyards nearly 20 years ago. Mr. Boccaletti, who is running for Parliament, keeps his headquarters here. ..."
"... It is not unlike the strategy that President Trump applied in the United States by campaigning in blue-collar, Democratic strongholds in rust-belt Ohio. No one thought he stood a chance there. Yet he won. ..."
"... "Now, we've got doctors, lawyers, the liberal professions with us," Mr. Boccaletti said. "Since the election of Marine" to the party's presidency in 2011, "it's all changed. ..."
"... The backlash against neoliberal globalization creates very strange alliances indeed. That was already visible during the last Presidential elections. When a considerable part of lower middle class professionals (including women) voted against Hillary. ..."
"... As Fred noted today (Why did so many white women vote for Donald Trump http://for.tn/2f51y7s ) there were many Trump supporters among white women with the college degree, for which Democrats identity politics prescribed voting for Hillary. ..."
"... I think this tendency might only became stronger in the next elections: neoliberal globalization is now viewed as something detrimental to the country future and current economic prosperity by many, usually not allied, segments of population. ..."
Mar 20, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. : March 20, 2017 at 09:23 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/19/world/europe/french-election-marine-le-pen-national-front.html

As French Election Nears, Le Pen Targets Voters Her Party Once Repelled

By ADAM NOSSITER

MARCH 19, 2017

SANARY-SUR-MER, France - The National Front's leafleteers are no longer spat upon. Its local candidate's headquarters sit defiantly in a fraying Muslim neighborhood. And last week, Marine Le Pen, the party's leader, packed thousands into a steamy meeting hall nearby for a pugnacious speech mocking "the system" and vowing victory in this spring's French presidential election.

"There's been a real evolution," Philippe Renault-Guillemet, the retired head of a small manufacturing company, said as he handed out National Front leaflets in the market on a recent day. "A few years ago, they would insult us. It's changed."

It has long been accepted wisdom that Ms. Le Pen and her far-right party can make it through the first round of the presidential voting on April 23, when she and four other candidates will be on the ballot, but that she will never capture the majority needed to win in a runoff in May.

But a visit to this southeastern National Front stronghold suggests that Ms. Le Pen may be succeeding in broadening her appeal to the point where a victory is more plausible, even if the odds are still stacked against her.

With a month to go, the signs are mixed. Many voters, particularly affluent ones, at markets here and farther up the coast betray a traditional distaste for the far-right party. Yet others once repelled by a party with a heritage rooted in France's darkest political traditions - anti-Semitism, xenophobia and a penchant for the fist - are considering it.

"I've said several times I would do it, but I've never had the courage," Christian Pignol, a vendor of plants and vegetables at the Bandol market, said about voting for the National Front. "This time may be the good one."

"It's the fear of the unknown," he continued, as several fellow vendors nodded. "People would like to try it, but they are afraid. But maybe it's the solution. We've tried everything for 30, 40 years. We'd like to try it, but we're also afraid."

French politics are particularly volatile this election season. Traditional power centers - the governing Socialists and the center-right Republicans - are in turmoil. Ms. Le Pen's chief rival, Emmanuel Macron, is a youthful and untested politician running at the head of a new party.

Those uncertainties - and a nagging sense that mainstream parties have failed to offer solutions to France's economic anemia - have left the National Front better positioned than at any time in its 45-year history.

But if it is to win nationally, the party must do much better than even the 49 percent support it won in this conservative Var department, home to three National Front mayors, in elections in 2015. More critically, it must turn once-hostile areas of the country in Ms. Le Pen's favor and attract new kinds of voters - professionals and the upper and middle classes. Political analysts are skeptical.

Frédéric Boccaletti, the party's leader in the Var, knows exactly what needs to be done. Last week, he and his fellow National Front activists gathered for an evening planning session in La Seyne-Sur-Mer, a working-class port town devastated by the closing of centuries-old naval shipyards nearly 20 years ago. Mr. Boccaletti, who is running for Parliament, keeps his headquarters here.

"I'm telling you, you've got to go to the difficult neighborhoods - it's not what you think," Mr. Boccaletti told them, laughing slyly. "Our work has got to be in the areas that have resisted us most" - meaning the coast's more affluent areas.

It is not unlike the strategy that President Trump applied in the United States by campaigning in blue-collar, Democratic strongholds in rust-belt Ohio. No one thought he stood a chance there. Yet he won.

"Now, we've got doctors, lawyers, the liberal professions with us," Mr. Boccaletti said. "Since the election of Marine" to the party's presidency in 2011, "it's all changed."

...

libezkova -> Peter K.... March 20, 2017 at 11:05 AM

The backlash against neoliberal globalization creates very strange alliances indeed. That was already visible during the last Presidential elections. When a considerable part of lower middle class professionals (including women) voted against Hillary.

As Fred noted today (Why did so many white women vote for Donald Trump http://for.tn/2f51y7s ) there were many Trump supporters among white women with the college degree, for which Democrats identity politics prescribed voting for Hillary.

I think this tendency might only became stronger in the next elections: neoliberal globalization is now viewed as something detrimental to the country future and current economic prosperity by many, usually not allied, segments of population.

[Mar 20, 2017] Any answer to right-wing populism requires left-wing economics

Notable quotes:
"... [Arzheimer] found that the stronger the welfare state, the bigger the gains for far-right parties among the working class. The top third of countries - that is, the ones with the largest welfare states - saw roughly four times the rate of far-right support among the working class as the countries in the bottom third did. ..."
"... Welfare state policies are the link between economic crisis, unemployment and far right party support. Welfare cuts have increased the insecurity of the European middle classes that are being hit by the economic crisis. This matters because of the implications it has for policy. By reversing austerity, which results in welfare cuts and increases insecurity, we can limit the appeal of right-wing extremism. ..."
"... The typical model for how social democratic politics would defeat far-right reactionaries rests on the belief that "universal benefits enable a solidarity mindset" while "means-tested [benefits] enable resentment," as Ryan Cooper of The Week has argued. So one would expect that citizens living under social democratic welfare regimes would be more sympathetic to immigrants than those living under Christian democratic or liberal welfare regimes would. ..."
"... This suggests that less diverging lifestyles between the rich and the poor lead to more understanding towards (potential) immigrant welfare recipients among majority populations. Put differently, in more unequal societies the rich are more likely to consider minority groups deviant, and therefore less entitled to welfare. [Emphasis added] ..."
"... A 2014 study by Antonio Martín-Artiles, a professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, and Guglielmo Meardi, a professor at the University of Warwick, meanwhile, found that "social protection expenditure and unemployment benefits are correlated with a reduction in social inequality and the risk of poverty, ultimately contributing to the formation of attitudes favourable to immigration." ..."
Mar 20, 2017 | medium.com

https://medium.com/@eshhou/any-answer-to-right-wing-populism-requires-left-wing-economics-545e9e214f76#.mohjenx2x

by eshhou

Why Zack Beauchamp's piece arguing otherwise is wrong

Zack Beauchamp of Vox has written an article entitled "No easy answers: why left-wing economics is not the answer to right-wing populism." In this piece, he argues that "tacking to the left on economics won't give Democrats a silver bullet to use against the racial resentment powering Trump's success [and] could actually wind up [making] Trump [stronger.]" Matt Bruenig has written about the piece's odd moral implications; I want to discuss some of the evidence Beauchamp provides, and why I don't find it all that convincing.

There's plenty of evidence suggesting strong welfare states can blunt the far-right

"A legion of commentators and politicians," Beauchamp writes, "have argued that center-left parties must shift further to the left in order to fight off right-wing populists such as [Donald] Trump and France's Marine Le Pen."

Supporters of these leaders[, these commentators and politicians] argue, are motivated by a sense of economic insecurity in an increasingly unequal world; promise them a stronger welfare state, one better equipped to address their fundamental needs, and they will flock to the left.

Against these claims, Beauchamp contends that:

[A] lot of data suggests that countries with more robust welfare states tend to have stronger far-right movements. Providing white voters with higher levels of economic security does not tamp down their anxieties about race and immigration - or, more precisely, it doesn't do it powerfully enough. For some, it frees them to worry less about what it's in their wallet and more about who may be moving into their neighborhoods or competing with them for jobs.

His main evidence for this claim consists of a study from Kai Arzheimer, a professor at the University of Mainz, looking at "data on working-class voters, the traditional base of social democratic parties, between 1980 and 2002."

[Arzheimer] found that the stronger the welfare state, the bigger the gains for far-right parties among the working class. The top third of countries - that is, the ones with the largest welfare states - saw roughly four times the rate of far-right support among the working class as the countries in the bottom third did.

There are plenty that conclude just the opposite. A 2003 study by Duane Swank of Marquette University and Hans-Georg Betz of the University of Zurich, for example, based on an "empirical analysis of national elections in 16 European [countries] from 1981 to 1998" found that "the universal welfare state directly depresse[d] the vote for radical right-wing populist parties." Furthermore, a 2015 study by Daphne Halikiopoulou and Tim Vlandas of the University of Reading looking at the link between unemployment benefit levels and far-right party success in the 2014 European parliament elections found that across countries "[u]nemployment benefits have a strongly negative and statistically significant association with far-right support." Based off of this, they write in The Huffington Post that:

Welfare state policies are the link between economic crisis, unemployment and far right party support. Welfare cuts have increased the insecurity of the European middle classes that are being hit by the economic crisis. This matters because of the implications it has for policy. By reversing austerity, which results in welfare cuts and increases insecurity, we can limit the appeal of right-wing extremism.

Anti-immigrant sentiment and the welfare state

Anti-immigrant sentiment (which Beauchamp argues is the true driver of far-right support), has also been shown to be ameliorated by stronger welfare states.

In his 1990 book The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, Gøsta Esping-Andersen, a professor at Pompeu Fabra University in Spain, divided the welfare states of developed countries into three types: liberal, Christian democratic, and social democratic. The liberal category ("liberal" being used in the classical, European sense) includes the US, as well as Britain and Australia (among others)- countries that have relatively small and highly targeted welfare states. The Christian democratic category, on the other hand, is typified by the welfare regimes that exist in Germany and Austria. Falling in the middle between liberal type welfare states and social democratic type welfare states in generosity, the Christian democratic welfare state tends to make less use of means-tested benefits than the liberal welfare state does, but places more emphasis on preserving traditional family structures through benefit design than the social democratic welfare state tends to. Lastly, there is the social democratic category, typified by the welfare regimes that exist in the Nordic countries, which is the most generous and universalistic of the three welfare regimes.

The typical model for how social democratic politics would defeat far-right reactionaries rests on the belief that "universal benefits enable a solidarity mindset" while "means-tested [benefits] enable resentment," as Ryan Cooper of The Week has argued. So one would expect that citizens living under social democratic welfare regimes would be more sympathetic to immigrants than those living under Christian democratic or liberal welfare regimes would.

And indeed, a study by Jeroen Van Der Waal and Willem De Koster of Erasmus University Rotterdam and Wim Van Oorschot of KU Leuven finds that the "native[-born] populations of liberal and [Christian democratic] welfare regimes are more reluctant to entitle immigrants to welfare than those living under social-democratic regimes." They conclude that the reason why "the native populations in social-democratic welfare regimes consider immigrants most entitled to welfare [is] because of the low levels of income inequality" as "higher levels of income inequality go hand in hand with higher levels of welfare chauvinism." They then continue:

This suggests that less diverging lifestyles between the rich and the poor lead to more understanding towards (potential) immigrant welfare recipients among majority populations. Put differently, in more unequal societies the rich are more likely to consider minority groups deviant, and therefore less entitled to welfare. [Emphasis added]

This point is especially significant given Beauchamp's accurate observation that "[r]ight-wing populists typically have gotten their best results in wealthier areas of countries - that is, with voters who experience the least amounts of economic insecurity."

"Our results" Van Der Waal, De Koster, and Van Oorschot write, "indicate that strengthening policies and institutions aimed at reducing income inequality can be utilized" to "help in fighting" against "exclusionary sentiments".

A 2014 study by Antonio Martín-Artiles, a professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, and Guglielmo Meardi, a professor at the University of Warwick, meanwhile, found that "social protection expenditure and unemployment benefits are correlated with a reduction in social inequality and the risk of poverty, ultimately contributing to the formation of attitudes favourable to immigration."

Additionally, Markus Crepaz and Regan Damron of the University of Georgia found in 2012 that "the more comprehensive the welfare state is, the more tolerant native[-born citizens] are of immigrants," while a 2009 study by Xavier Escandell of the University of Iowa and Alin Ceobanu of the University of Florida, looking at "Anti-immigrant Sentiment and Welfare State Regimes in Europe" found "mean levels of anti-immigrant sentiment" to be "lower in those countries with high levels of public spending in social protection programs." They therefore conclude that "investments in social protection systems seem to have a strong payoff when it comes to reducing prejudice towards immigrants."

...

[Mar 19, 2017] Why Trumpism Is a Global Phenomenon

Notable quotes:
"... various European countries have seen a significant rise in votes for populist parties (on the right and left) and a decline in center-left "mainstream" parties. ..."
"... As a result, most Americans are in debt, most Americans' wages have not increased above inflation, and most of the gains of the past 30 years of America's economic growth have gone to the top 1% of income earners. (And the same trends are true for other Western democracies.) ..."
"... Blyth points out the famous Elephant Chart by economist Branko Milanovic, which shows the change in real income between 1988 and 2008 for all people in the world: basically, during the past 30 years, everyone in the world has seen a real increase in their income except for the Western world's middle class. ..."
"... Mark Blyth poses the example of a hypothetical man named Gary who lives in Gary, Indiana, who is emblematic of a typical Midwestern white working-class Trump voter. In 1989, Gary had 10 years in the union at age 30 and was a line supervisor making $30 an hour (real dollars, adjusted for inflation). In 1993, after a few years of losing factory jobs to Southern states, the U.S. passed NAFTA and his town lost a lot of jobs. The town took a huge economic hit. Tax base declines, schools get worse. Gary wound up getting a job in a call center for $15 an hour. 5 years later, the call center moved from Indiana to India. Now at age 58, Gary works for $11.67 per hour at Walmart. ..."
"... The only person who actually seems to articulate anything that Gary gives a shit about is Trump. And Gary knows that Trump's a buffoon, he knows he's a reality TV star. But Gary has seen politician after politician every four years saying 'vote for me, better jobs! vote for me, more security!' and Gary's life has gotten crappier and crappier. So he has no reason whatsoever to believe a word that they say. So he has a liar on one side, and a bullshit artist on the other. Which one gives you more possibilities?" ..."
"... However: a sizable portion of Trump's vote-just like Brexit and just like the rise of other populist parties in the UK and Europe-was more of a despairing protest vote, a way to send a message to the political establishment and mainstream media: we don't like what you're doing, this system you've built is not working for us, we don't like the way you talk down to us, and we're gonna throw a brick through your window. ..."
Mar 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. -> Peter K.... March 17, 2017 at 09:32 AM

, 2017 at 09:32 AM
https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/01/trump-is-not-a-fluke-why-trumpism-is-a-global-phen.html

Trump Is Not a Fluke: Why "Trumpism" Is a Global Phenomenon

By Ben Gran | January 31, 2017 | 4:25pm

Where did Trump come from? Is the rise of Trump a fluke, a problem unique to America, born of American reality TV culture, combining 20th century American xenophobia with the worst aspects of 21st century social media into an ominous new post-truth world? Are American Trump voters uniquely racist and stupid and self-sabotaging? Or is Trump part of a broader global trend in politics, where voters throughout the industrialized world are revolting against the established political, economic and social order?

There was a great lecture (from before the election) by Mark Blyth, Brown University professor of international political economy, about global Trumpism where he discusses how the same factors that are playing out in America are also happening in lots of other Western democracies, driven by populism (both right-wing and left-wing), racism, xenophobia, and authoritarianism. For example, various European countries have seen a significant rise in votes for populist parties (on the right and left) and a decline in center-left "mainstream" parties. One particularly powerful example was the unexpected success of the Brexit vote for the UK to leave the European Union; despite the pleas of the political establishment and most members of the media, a small majority of UK voters decided to leave the EU even though it was widely described as an economically damaging, self-sabotaging, xenophobia-driven, unthinkable decision. Sound familiar?

Blyth explores the economic factors and argues that Trump's victory should not be seen as an isolated, local "America-only" event; instead, Trump's victory is part of a broader trend where the post-World War II neoliberal global order is breaking down. What will replace it? No one knows. But it's worth listening to Mark Blyth for perspectives on how we ended up with Trump, and how to understand the broader political and economic forces that made Trump possible.

Here are a few of Mark Blyth's key points on what "global Trumpism" means and how it happened:

A Brief History of the Post World War II Economic Order

Ever since World War II, the governments and financial institutions of "the West" (U.S., UK, Europe) have focused their national economic policy on two broad targets-from 1945 to 1975, broadly speaking, the goal was to achieve "full employment." This is part of why the 1950s-60s are looked back upon as a kind of Golden Age for the middle class, especially for people who worked in manufacturing at union jobs with good wages and benefits. And broadly speaking, this policy was successful! But full employment led to inflation-and by 1975, inflation had gotten so bad that creditor classes within these countries (investors, banks, wealthy people) started to revolt, and put in politicians like Reagan and Thatcher who focused on strong anti-inflation policies, and who changed the way that everyday people thought about the economy by appealing to voters' interests as consumers ("low-priced products from China are good! High-paid union labor is bad!") instead of their interests as workers or union members. All of this was good for creditors and consumers, even if it was bad for borrowers and workers. That's where we've been ever since 1975: central banks have fought inflation, interest rates have been low, labor unions have been weak-to-nonexistent, and life has gotten better for creditors and worse for debtors.

As a result, most Americans are in debt, most Americans' wages have not increased above inflation, and most of the gains of the past 30 years of America's economic growth have gone to the top 1% of income earners. (And the same trends are true for other Western democracies.)

Meanwhile, during that time, the center-left parties (Clinton's New Democrats, Tony Blair's New Labour, and Germany's Social Democratic Party) have moved away from their traditional working-class base and have become more comfortable hob-nobbing with bankers and tech CEOs and other corporate interests. So where are working class voters supposed to go? This is where left-wing populists like Bernie Sanders and right-wing nationalists like Trump are filling the void in the political marketplace.

The Elephant Chart

Blyth points out the famous Elephant Chart by economist Branko Milanovic, which shows the change in real income between 1988 and 2008 for all people in the world: basically, during the past 30 years, everyone in the world has seen a real increase in their income except for the Western world's middle class.

This is why so many former factory workers in the Midwest are upset about globalization: they haven't seen their lives get better from it; if anything, globalization has made their lives worse. So when Trump promises to "bring jobs back" and raise taxes on companies that export products to the U.S., that message resonates in the Rust Belt states in a way that "the wife of the guy who passed NAFTA" just never would.

Gary, from Gary

Mark Blyth poses the example of a hypothetical man named Gary who lives in Gary, Indiana, who is emblematic of a typical Midwestern white working-class Trump voter. In 1989, Gary had 10 years in the union at age 30 and was a line supervisor making $30 an hour (real dollars, adjusted for inflation). In 1993, after a few years of losing factory jobs to Southern states, the U.S. passed NAFTA and his town lost a lot of jobs. The town took a huge economic hit. Tax base declines, schools get worse. Gary wound up getting a job in a call center for $15 an hour. 5 years later, the call center moved from Indiana to India. Now at age 58, Gary works for $11.67 per hour at Walmart.

As Blyth describes in his lecture, speaking from the point of view of "Gary:" " The only person who actually seems to articulate anything that Gary gives a shit about is Trump. And Gary knows that Trump's a buffoon, he knows he's a reality TV star. But Gary has seen politician after politician every four years saying 'vote for me, better jobs! vote for me, more security!' and Gary's life has gotten crappier and crappier. So he has no reason whatsoever to believe a word that they say. So he has a liar on one side, and a bullshit artist on the other. Which one gives you more possibilities?"

Trump's Victory was an Anti-Elite Vote

Yes, Trump's a racist and a misogynist. Yes, he's horrible. Yes, lots of people voted for him out of racist or sexist hostility and wanting to raise a middle finger at Muslims and black people and Mexican immigrants.

However: a sizable portion of Trump's vote-just like Brexit and just like the rise of other populist parties in the UK and Europe-was more of a despairing protest vote, a way to send a message to the political establishment and mainstream media: we don't like what you're doing, this system you've built is not working for us, we don't like the way you talk down to us, and we're gonna throw a brick through your window.

But Trump Voters are all Racist ... Right?

By all means, condemn Trump's racism and sexism. Resist his retrograde agenda every step of the way. But liberals need to be open to the possibility that Trump won not just because of racism and sexism (those voters weren't turning out for the Democrats anyway), but because-especially in a few key Upper Midwest states-Trump was offering a message of aggressive economic populism that the Democrats were not delivering, that was embraced by just enough voters in just the right states (who otherwise might have voted for the Democrat) to give him a victory.

Trump didn't just happen in America; the political forces he represents are happening all over the Western democratic world. Other countries like Greece and Spain have elected left-wing "Trumpists" but America didn't have one of those choices on the ballot in November.

If the only lesson that liberals take away from this election is: "48% of America's voters are irredeemably racist and sexist," they're not really understanding the nature of Trump's appeal within this broader context of "global Trumpism." And they'll lose to him again in 2020.

What's Next?

Mark Blyth is oddly optimistic about America in the age of Trumpism, especially compared to Europe. He says that America has an advantage over Europe because Europe is bound by the Euro currency, which Blyth says is a "disaster" because individual countries within the Eurozone (such as Greece vs. Germany) have different conflicting political agendas that cannot be addressed by monetary policy. Trump might turn out to be a flash in the pan, a Black Swan event brought on by a one-time bizarre confluence of events and a bad matchup with the Democratic nominee.

Trump might even have some positive effects, in Blyth's view, because the U.S. would benefit from a more isolationist foreign policy with fewer costly, unending military interventions in other countries. As Blyth says in this discussion on the 2016 election results, if Europe is left to pay more for their own national defense and find their own accommodation with Russia, without relying on American military power, that would not be a bad thing for the U.S. Blyth is skeptical that Trump will actually enact any of his trade protectionist promises, since U.S. voters won't want to see higher prices for their iPhones (imported from China). It's possible that Trump's presidency will be less frighteningly radical than many liberals have feared.

Aside from Trump's immediate outrages, the broader challenge for America, and the world, is that the neoliberal political order of the past 30 years in the Western democracies is breaking down. We've elected a president who campaigned as a populist, but who's likely going to govern as a traditional Reagan-style "trickle-down economics" Republican. Those Upper Midwest swing voters who voted based on economic populism and "bringing jobs back" are not remotely going to get the populist politics that Trump promised; so the question is, can the Democrats deliver a real populist alternative instead? Will the American Left be defeated by Trumpism, or can they co-opt Trump's appeal to the middle-class and working-class, and create a new politics that truly speaks to the concerns of the people who have been left behind by globalization and our new era of wealth inequality?

sanjait -> Peter K.... , March 17, 2017 at 09:54 AM
tl:dr.
Peter K. -> sanjait... , March 17, 2017 at 01:03 PM
the short version is that the failure of neoliberalists such as yourself to provide an economy with shared prosperity has led to the rise of the populist right across the globe.

You really need to go back and study the 1920s and 1930s. History is repeating itself.

[Mar 19, 2017] The Great Recession clearly gave rise to right-wing populism

Mar 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. : March 18, 2017 at 06:49 AM , 2017 at 06:49 AM
Sanjait says it was social media.

http://theweek.com/articles/685813/great-recession-clearly-gave-rise-rightwing-populism

March 15, 2017

The Great Recession clearly gave rise to right-wing populism

by Ryan Cooper

at's to blame for the resurgence of racist right-wing populism? Since the election of President Trump, the American left has been consumed with this question, with leftists blaming the failures of neoliberal economic policy and liberals leaning more on cultural explanations.

Over at Vox, Zack Beauchamp has an entry in this debate on the latter side. He argues that left-wing economic policy actually causes people to be more racist, largely because welfare states tend to disproportionately benefit poor minorities and immigrants, and hence raise resentment among whites. But his account of economics is jarringly incomplete - in particular, skipping almost entirely over the financial collapse of 2008, the ensuing plague of austerity, and the ongoing eurozone currency crisis. And this provides by far the strongest evidence for the leftist case.

Let's review. In 2008, the whole world was convulsed by a financial crisis, leading to mass unemployment in the United States and Europe. The initial response was fairly similar in both places, featuring immense public bailouts of ailing banks. But after that, there was a sharp divergence: America generally tried large fiscal and monetary stimulus, while Europe did the opposite with spending cuts and tax increases - that is, austerity - and tight money.

Though the U.S. stimulus was inadequate, the worst was avoided, and economic conditions improved slowly, surpassing its pre-crisis GDP by 2011. In Europe - and especially within the eurozone, where the common currency became a gold standard-esque economic straitjacket - the result was disaster. So much austerity was forced on debtor nations that they fell into full-blown depression. Greece's economy is worse than that of America in the 1930s - and the eurozone as a whole only matched its pre-crisis GDP in April of last year.

Mass unemployment is electoral poison, and about every party that happened to be holding power during the worst of it - generally either center-right (Fianna Fáil in Ireland, People of Freedom in Italy) or center-left (the Socialist Party in France, the Democrats in America) - suffered serious setbacks in subsequent elections. Radical parties on both the left and right gained as establishment parties were badly discredited. New fascist parties (Golden Dawn in Greece) sprung to prominence, and older fascist-lite ones (National Front in France) gained strength.

But Beauchamp barely even references this history, restricting his argument almost entirely to welfare policy. He assembles reasonably convincing evidence and expert testimony to the effect that welfare states increase racist resentment in both the United States and Europe. But he does not mention mass unemployment, austerity, or the eurozone. These are yawning absences in an article purporting to deal with the social effects of economic policy.

Welfare is one chapter of leftist economic policy, but the first and most important one is full employment. That is the major route by which leftist economic policy can deflate right-wing nativism. Center-left parties often claim to support full employment, but they have manifestly failed to do so over the last eight years, and arguably long before that. (President Obama was plumping for austerity in February of 2010, with unemployment at 9.8 percent.) Fascists organize best in the chaos and misery of depression, as people lose faith in traditional solutions and root around for scapegoats. Is it really a coincidence that the Nazi electoral high tide came at a time of nearly 30 percent unemployment?

Now, politics is a chaotic process. It takes a lot of ideological spadework to convince people that austerity is the problem, and a lot of time and effort to build a political coalition dedicated to an anti-austerity platform. And sometimes it doesn't work well, as Beauchamp's detailed discussion of the U.K. Labour Party's difficulties since losing the elections of 2015 (on a pro-austerity platform, mind you). But savage infighting within the party is likely just as much to blame for Labour's collapse as leader Jeremy Corbyn's left-wing views. Sometimes political coalitions fracture over personality and internal struggles for dominance.

What's more, Beauchamp doesn't mention other cases where organizing has been more successful, such as Greece or Spain, where parties that didn't even exist before the crisis have leaped to the front rank of politics. In Greece, the center-left PASOK has all but ceased to exist, while the left-wing Syriza actually won in 2015 very obviously because of their anti-austerity platform (the fact that they later were prevented from implementing it at economic knifepoint by eurozone elites notwithstanding). Now, the fascists are the only credible anti-austerity party left in that beleaguered country.

It's perfectly plausible - obvious even - to say that immigration or more welfare can lead to a racist backlash, especially if you means-test benefit policy to restrict it to disproportionately minority poor people only, as American liberals tend to do. But it simply beggars belief to argue that running on full employment and an end to austerity in a time of depression is a guaranteed loser.

[Mar 18, 2017] The Role of Experts in Public Debate

Notable quotes:
"... Economist James K. Galbraith disputes these claims of the benefit of comparative advantage. He states that "free trade has attained the status of a god" and that ". . . none of the world's most successful trading regions, including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and now mainland China, reached their current status by adopting neoliberal trading rules." He argues that ". . . comparative advantage is based upon the concept of constant returns: the idea that you can double or triple the output of any good simply by doubling or tripling the inputs. But this is not generally the case. For manufactured products, increasing returns, learning, and technical change are the rule, not the exception; the cost of production falls with experience. With increasing returns, the lowest cost will be incurred by the country that starts earliest and moves fastest on any particular line. Potential competitors have to protect their own industries if they wish them to survive long enough to achieve competitive scale."[42] ..."
"... Galbraith, as always, is very succinct and readable. I well remember sitting in an economics lecture in the 1980's when the Professor mentioned Galbraith and described him as with distain someone 'who's ideas were more popular with the public than with economists'. The snigger of agreement that ran around the students in the hall made me realise just how ingrained the ideology of economics was as I'm pretty sure I was the only one of the students who'd actually read any Galbraith. ..."
"... I'd also recommend Ha-Joon Chang as someone who is very readable on the topic of the many weaknesses of conventional ideas on comparative advantage. ..."
"... "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." ..."
"... I've noticed many experts are especially bad at verbosity. Maybe they think somehow that quantity of words is a form of potency. Maybe that's it. Also individuals with a grievance who write posts about their grievance. I know when I have a grievance it's hard to shut up. I'm just being honest. I'll keep rambling and rambling, repeating myelf and fulminating. Thankfully I know better than to write like that. ..."
"... Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer. Trickle down economics doesn't work because wealth doesn't trickle down. It trickles up, which is why the rich are the rich in the first place ..."
"... Thing 23: Good economic policy does not require good economists. Most of the really important economic issues, the ones that decide whether nations sink or swim, are within the intellectual reach of intelligent non-economists. Academic Economics with a capital "E" has remarkably little to say about the things that really matter. Concerned citizens need to stop being intimidated by the experts here. ..."
"... Although Ha Joon Chang is an excellent economist, I would also strongly recommend Michael Hudson, Michael Perelman, Steve Keen and E. Ray Canterbery - they are really great, along with Samir Amin of Senegal. ..."
"... A major issue is that those incapable politicians do rely upon experts, but they have consistently selected experts not on their track record (such as how good economists were at predicting the evolution of the economy, or how good political scientists were at predicting the evolution of communist or Arab societies), but on whether pronouncements of experts corresponded to their ideological preconceptions and justified their intended policies. ..."
"... A bit like rejecting physicians' diagnoses when they do not suit you and preferring the cure of a quack. ..."
"... This is not restricted to economists, it pervasive in science in general. I can't remember how many times I got a paper for peer review where I couldn't figure out what the person was trying to say because they layered the jargon ten levels deep. ..."
"... I think it is as simple as: if you create something that justifies the behaviors of the rich and powerful, you have something to sell and willing buyers. If you create something that delegitimizes the behaviors of the rich and powerful, you not only have no willing patrons but you have made powerful enemies. ..."
"... It is the law of supply and demand for pretentious bullshit. ..."
"... Leave workers exposed to starvation long enough and they'll work for next- to-nothing. The solution to James O'Connor's Fiscal Crisis of the State is to clean house in a big way, a very big way. Put everyone out on the street and start all over again. (Everyone but the 1% of course.) ..."
"... It's Andrew Mellon's advice for getting out of the Depression: "liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate it will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up from less competent people." ..."
"... The Reserve Army of Labor saves the Capitalist Day, once again. (Except for the little problem that the 1% won't accept their own liquidation, so Goldman Sachs and the rest must be exempted from the purging–which means that the purging can't work.) ..."
"... Not too long before he died, Paul Samuelson said: "Maybe I was wrong on the subject of jobs offshoring." (I.e., maybe offshoring all the jobs and dismantling the US economy wasn't so intelligent after all!) ..."
"... C. Wright Mills called them "crackpot realists." ..."
"... It's all a part and parcel of the meritocracy. If you don't have a degree in Econ, your opinion doesn't matter about why your job moved to China. If you don't have a degree in Urban Planning, you don't get to comment on how the city wants to tear down the park and put up condos. ..."
"... Their advice helped lead to this 2008 Financial Crisis. The promise of neoliberalism was faster growth. It did not happen. Quite the opposite. It gave the rich intellectual cover to loot society. That"s what this was always about. ..."
"... Then there's the matter of the Iraq War. Another example. Many foreign policy "experts", particularly affiliated with the neoconservative assured the American people that invading Iraq would be easy to do and lead to lots of long term benefits. Others insisted, despite evidence to the contrary, that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction. Now look at where we are. No WMDs, long and cost war, with no long-term solutions. Many of said "experts" later endorsed Clinton. ..."
"... We do not need pro-Establishment experts who sell themselves out to enrich themselves. We need experts who act in the public interest. ..."
Mar 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Sandwichman. Originally published at Angry Bear

Jonathan Portes asks, " What's the role of experts in the public debate? " He assumes it is his prerogative, as an expert, to define that role:

I think we have three really important functions.

First, to explain our basic concepts and most important insights in plain English. Famously, Paul Samuelson, the founder of modern macroeconomics, was asked whether economics told us anything that was true but not obvious. It took him a couple of years, but eventually he gave an excellent and topical example – simply the theory of comparative advantage.

Similarly, I often say that the most useful thing I did in my 6 years as Chief Economist at DWP was to explain the lump of labour fallacy – that there isn't a fixed number of jobs in the economy, and increased immigration or more women working adds to both labour demand and labour supply – to six successive Secretaries of State. So that's the first.

Second is to call bullshit.

O.K. I call bullshit. What Portes explained "to six successive Secretaries of State" was a figment of the imagination of a late 18th century Lancashire magistrate, a self-styled " friend to the poor " who couldn't understand why poor people got so upset about having their wages cut or losing their jobs - to the extent they would go around throwing rocks through windows, breaking machines and burning down factories - when it was obvious to him that it was all for the best and in the long run we would all be better off or else dead.

I call bullshit because what Portes explained to six successive Secretaries of State was simply the return of the repressed - the obverse of "Say's Law" (which was neither Say's nor a Law) that "supply creates its own demand," which John Maynard Keynes demolished in The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money and that John Kenneth Galbraith subsequently declared " sank without trace " in the wake of Keynes's demolition of it.

I call bullshit because when Paul Samuelson resurrected the defunct fallacy claim that Portes explained to six successive Secretaries of State, he did so on the condition that governments pursued the sorts of "Keynesian" job-creating policies that the discredited principle of "supply creates its own demand" insisted were both unnecessary and counter-productive.

But the lump of labor argument implies that there is only so much useful remunerative work to be done in any economic system, and that is indeed a fallacy . If proper and sound monetary, fiscal, and pricing policies are being vigorously promulgated , we need not resign ourselves to mass unemployment. And although technological unemployment is not to be shrugged off lightly, its optimal solution lies in offsetting policies that create adequate job opportunities and new skills.

[Incidentally, as Robert Schiller has noted, the promised prevention of mass unemployment by vigorous policy intervention did not imply the preservation of wage levels. Schiller cited the following passage from the Samuelson textbook, " a decrease in the demand for a particular kind of labor because of technological shifts in an industry can he adapted to - lower relative wages and migration of labor and capital will eventually provide new jobs for the displaced workers."]

I call bullshit because what Portes explained to six successive Secretaries of State was not even Paul Samuelson's policy-animated zombie lump-of-labour fallacy but a supply-side, anti-inflationary retrofit cobbled together by Richard Layard and associates and touted by Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder as the Third Way " new supply-side agenda for the left. " Central to that agenda were tax cuts to promote economic growth and "active labour market policies" to foster non-inflationary expansion of employment by making conditions more "flexible" and lower-waged:

Part-time work and low-paid work are better than no work because they ease the transition from unemployment to jobs.

Encourage employers to offer 'entry' jobs to the labour market by lowering the burden of tax and social security contributions on low-paid jobs.

Adjustment will be the easier, the more labour and product markets are working properly. Barriers to employment in relatively low productivity sectors need to be lowered if employees displaced by the productivity gains that are an inherent feature of structural change are to find jobs elsewhere. The labour market needs a low-wage sector in order to make low-skill jobs available.

I call bullshit because in defending the outcomes of supply-side labour policies, Portes soft-pedaled the stated low-wage objectives of the Third Way agenda. In a London Review of Books review, Portes admitted that "it may drive down wages for the low-skilled, but the effect is small compared to that of other factors (technological change, the national minimum wage and so on)." In the Third Way supply-side agenda, however, a low-wage sector was promoted as a desirable feature - making more low-skill jobs available - not a trivial bug to be brushed aside. In other words, in "driving down wages for the low skilled" the policy was achieving exactly what it was intended to but Portes was "too discreet" to admit that was the stated objectives of the policy.

dk , March 18, 2017 at 4:47 am

I found this helpful in better understanding the economics discussed:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_advantage#Criticism

Economist James K. Galbraith disputes these claims of the benefit of comparative advantage. He states that "free trade has attained the status of a god" and that ". . . none of the world's most successful trading regions, including Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and now mainland China, reached their current status by adopting neoliberal trading rules." He argues that ". . . comparative advantage is based upon the concept of constant returns: the idea that you can double or triple the output of any good simply by doubling or tripling the inputs. But this is not generally the case. For manufactured products, increasing returns, learning, and technical change are the rule, not the exception; the cost of production falls with experience. With increasing returns, the lowest cost will be incurred by the country that starts earliest and moves fastest on any particular line. Potential competitors have to protect their own industries if they wish them to survive long enough to achieve competitive scale."[42]

Galbraith also contends that "For most other commodities, where land or ecology places limits on the expansion of capacity, the opposite condition – diminishing returns – is the rule. In this situation, there can be no guarantee that an advantage of relative cost will persist once specialization and the resultant expansion of production take place. A classic and tragic example, studied by Erik Reinert, is transitional Mongolia, a vast grassland with a tiny population and no industry that could compete on world markets. To the World Bank, Mongolia seemed a classic case of comparative advantage in animal husbandry, which in Mongolia consisted of vast herds of cattle, camels, sheep, and goats. Opening of industrial markets collapsed domestic industry, while privatization of the herds prompted the herders to increase their size. This led, within just a few years in the early 1990s, to overgrazing and permanent desertification of the subarctic steppe and, with a slightly colder than normal winter, a massive famine in the herds."

PlutoniumKun , March 18, 2017 at 5:45 am

Galbraith, as always, is very succinct and readable. I well remember sitting in an economics lecture in the 1980's when the Professor mentioned Galbraith and described him as with distain someone 'who's ideas were more popular with the public than with economists'. The snigger of agreement that ran around the students in the hall made me realise just how ingrained the ideology of economics was as I'm pretty sure I was the only one of the students who'd actually read any Galbraith.

I'd also recommend Ha-Joon Chang as someone who is very readable on the topic of the many weaknesses of conventional ideas on comparative advantage.

/L , March 18, 2017 at 6:39 am

James K Galbraith is the son of the famous New Deal economist John K Galbraith.

John K G:

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

"In the case of economics there are no important propositions that cannot be stated in plain language."

/L , March 18, 2017 at 7:10 am

John K G on The Art of Good Writing

"I was an editor of Fortune under Henry Luce, the founder of Time, Inc., who was one of the most ruthless editors that I have ever known, that anyone has ever known. Henry could look over a sheet of copy and say, "This can go, and this can go, and this can go," and you would be left with eight to ten lines which said everything that you had said in twenty lines before.

And I can still, to this day, not write a page without the feeling that Henry Luce is looking over my shoulder and saying, "That can go." That illuminate one "problem" in our age of internet, unlimited space to be verbose and no editors that de-obscure the writers "thoughts".

JEHR , March 18, 2017 at 8:24 am

/L–This site is just wonderful! Anything you want to know about knowing seems to be here. Thanks for the great link.

sgt_doom , March 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Recommendation: Wealth, Power and the Crisis of Laissez-Faire Capitalism , by Donald Gibson

Norb , March 18, 2017 at 8:54 am

I wonder if this phenomenon – the desirability succinct communication -- was a holdover of earlier times, when accurate communication made the difference between life and death. Settling and developing a continent would place a high value on such purposeful human exchanges.

Today, we are awash in branding and marketing intended to maintain the current order. The language is used to obfuscate, not clarify experience or goals.

An expert in any field that has the ability to communicate in a general , popular mode, is of great value to society. Truth and understanding is its main function. Knowledge, or insight that cannot be shared is more often than not just an excuse to hide methods of control and exploitation.

If citizens can't get the generalities right, the specifics will be impossible to comprehend.

craazyman , March 18, 2017 at 5:23 pm

Almost everything can go. I remember seeing a video of the photographer William Klein saying a master photographer is remembered for just a handfull of images. Maybe 10 or 15, tops. Out of probably at least 100,000 serious photos.

Of course what goes is necessary fertilizer for what doesn't go. You can't avoid it. Hahahah. But you have to let it go anyway. Or your editor has to be williing to cut.

I've noticed lots and lots of posts here could be a lot better if the post author had said the same thing in half as many words. Most wouldn't lose any persuasion, if they had any to begin with. And they'd gain reader attention for the pruning.

I've noticed many experts are especially bad at verbosity. Maybe they think somehow that quantity of words is a form of potency. Maybe that's it. Also individuals with a grievance who write posts about their grievance. I know when I have a grievance it's hard to shut up. I'm just being honest. I'll keep rambling and rambling, repeating myelf and fulminating. Thankfully I know better than to write like that.

Having saidd all that, Say was rite. If the supply of labor increases, that createes its own demand for jobs! How is that not completely obvious.

PlutoniumKun , March 18, 2017 at 9:18 am

Ah yeah, sorry, getting my JK's mixed up. Both are good.

fresno dan , March 18, 2017 at 7:03 am

PlutoniumKun
March 18, 2017 at 5:45 am

Huffington Post review has a synopsis of the Ha-Joon Change book. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ian-fletcher/a-review-of-ha-joon-chang_b_840417.html
My favorite:
Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer. Trickle down economics doesn't work because wealth doesn't trickle down. It trickles up, which is why the rich are the rich in the first place

shinola , March 18, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Thanks for the tip PK & thank you fd for the link to the review. I'm going to check this fellow out; sounds like he has some interesting things to say. One of the "things" that may apply to the above article:

Thing 23: Good economic policy does not require good economists. Most of the really important economic issues, the ones that decide whether nations sink or swim, are within the intellectual reach of intelligent non-economists. Academic Economics with a capital "E" has remarkably little to say about the things that really matter. Concerned citizens need to stop being intimidated by the experts here.

sgt_doom , March 18, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Although Ha Joon Chang is an excellent economist, I would also strongly recommend Michael Hudson, Michael Perelman, Steve Keen and E. Ray Canterbery - they are really great, along with Samir Amin of Senegal.

Anonymous2 , March 18, 2017 at 8:10 am

A word of warning from the UK. Denigrate experts too much and you end up like us with government by people who really are inexpert. That is not an improvement.

Mael Colium , March 18, 2017 at 8:39 am

Ha! I think an anti brexiter just rolled the white eye.

Strange that the awful things that the experts told us all would happen haven't and don't look like happening since the people called bullshit on the EU mess. Britain with or without those blokes in dresses up north will do just fine as they steer themselves out of the EU quagmire. I'll take the people anytime anonymous – they have more common sense than the experts. Didn't you read the article?

Anonymous2 , March 18, 2017 at 9:51 am

If you are referring to economic forecasters, they, by definition, are not experts.

sgt_doom , March 18, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Thank you!!!

I remember back in the 1980s, when so-called "experts" were prattling about such nonsense as . . .

"Computers don't make mistakes, humans make mistakes !"

Which was surely untrue as anyone with any real IT expertise back then would have explained that 97% or more of hardware crashes generate software problems (for obvious reasons).

visitor , March 18, 2017 at 9:16 am

A major issue is that those incapable politicians do rely upon experts, but they have consistently selected experts not on their track record (such as how good economists were at predicting the evolution of the economy, or how good political scientists were at predicting the evolution of communist or Arab societies), but on whether pronouncements of experts corresponded to their ideological preconceptions and justified their intended policies.

A bit like rejecting physicians' diagnoses when they do not suit you and preferring the cure of a quack.

voislav , March 18, 2017 at 8:28 am

This is not restricted to economists, it pervasive in science in general. I can't remember how many times I got a paper for peer review where I couldn't figure out what the person was trying to say because they layered the jargon ten levels deep. This is in chemistry, so things are typically straightforward, no need for convoluted explanations and massaging of the data.

But people still do it because that's the culture that they've been educated in, a scientific paper has to be high-brow, using obscure words and complicated sentences.

Steve Ruis , March 18, 2017 at 8:55 am

I think it is as simple as: if you create something that justifies the behaviors of the rich and powerful, you have something to sell and willing buyers. If you create something that delegitimizes the behaviors of the rich and powerful, you not only have no willing patrons but you have made powerful enemies.

It is the law of supply and demand for pretentious bullshit.

Paul Hirschman , March 18, 2017 at 9:03 am

So in the end, we wind up with Say's Law anyway, since creating a "low wages" sector is exactly how Say's Law functions–supply creates its own demand because declining wages means investment spending can increase, which keeps aggregate demand where it needs to be for full employment.

This is the solution, we are told, to Keynes "sticky prices." Jim Grant makes this very argument in his book about the "short-lived" crisis of the early 1920s. Leave workers exposed to starvation long enough and they'll work for next- to-nothing. The solution to James O'Connor's Fiscal Crisis of the State is to clean house in a big way, a very big way. Put everyone out on the street and start all over again. (Everyone but the 1% of course.)

It's Andrew Mellon's advice for getting out of the Depression: "liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate it will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up from less competent people."

The Reserve Army of Labor saves the Capitalist Day, once again. (Except for the little problem that the 1% won't accept their own liquidation, so Goldman Sachs and the rest must be exempted from the purging–which means that the purging can't work.)

Back to managing stagnation.

Paul Hirschman , March 18, 2017 at 9:09 am

Managing stagnation is what we have "experts" for in the first place.

sgt_doom , March 18, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Not too long before he died, Paul Samuelson said: "Maybe I was wrong on the subject of jobs offshoring." (I.e., maybe offshoring all the jobs and dismantling the US economy wasn't so intelligent after all!)

Just finished a book called, The Death of Expertise , by a professor of national security (oh give me a frigging break!!!!), Tom Nichols.

Biggest pile of crapola I have ever read! The author was also yearning for the days when "experts" were blindly followed!

Sandwichman , March 18, 2017 at 2:38 pm

C. Wright Mills called them "crackpot realists."

marku52 , March 18, 2017 at 3:25 pm

It's all a part and parcel of the meritocracy. If you don't have a degree in Econ, your opinion doesn't matter about why your job moved to China. If you don't have a degree in Urban Planning, you don't get to comment on how the city wants to tear down the park and put up condos.

Altandmain , March 18, 2017 at 5:00 pm

The answer is that said "experts" have failed the general public miserably.

Their advice helped lead to this 2008 Financial Crisis. The promise of neoliberalism was faster growth. It did not happen. Quite the opposite. It gave the rich intellectual cover to loot society. That"s what this was always about.

Now people wonder, why they don't trust "experts"?

Then there's the matter of the Iraq War. Another example. Many foreign policy "experts", particularly affiliated with the neoconservative assured the American people that invading Iraq would be easy to do and lead to lots of long term benefits. Others insisted, despite evidence to the contrary, that Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction. Now look at where we are. No WMDs, long and cost war, with no long-term solutions. Many of said "experts" later endorsed Clinton.

We do not need pro-Establishment experts who sell themselves out to enrich themselves. We need experts who act in the public interest.

[Mar 17, 2017] Costco is now carrying Orwell famouns novell 1984 And this is not a joke

Mar 11, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by James Holbrooks via TheAntiMedia.org,

"Next time you're at Costco, you can pick up a jumbo bag of Cheetos and a copy of '1984.' Doubleplus good!"

That's how the Washington Post opened its quick little entry on Wednesday. Continuing, Ron Charles, editor of Book World for the Post , wrote:

"The discount store is now stocking Orwell's classic novel along with its usual selection of current bestsellers."

If the significance of the fact that a dystopian masterwork can now be purchased alongside a three-ton bag of cheese puffs instantly strikes you, it should. Strangely, though, Charles and the Post don't seem to see it.

In fact, it seemed to be a joke to them. The entry closed in the manner it opened. With humor:

"Appropriately, Costco is offering a reprint of the 2003 edition of '1984,' which has a forward by Thomas Pynchon. That reclusive satirist must love the idea of hawking Orwell's dystopian novel alongside towers of discounted toilet paper and radial tires. SHOPPING IS SAVING."

In the one and only instance Charles even approached something that could be considered commentary, he linked the surge in the book's sales to "alternative" news items :

"Last month, amid talk of 'alternative facts' from the Trump administration, Signet Classics announced that it had reprinted 500,000 copies, about twice the novel's total sales in 2016."

Note Charles was certain to use the word "alternative" when mentioning Trump. Why? Very clearly, "fake news" is the man's go-to phrase when speaking of the media. So why go with "alternative" instead? Hell, the Post itself was the driving force behind the "fake news" frenzy in the first place.

I could go on about how this is the Washington Post , corporate media juggernaut, attempting, rather pathetically, to poison the notion of "alternative" in the minds of its readers - or, I should say, what's left of them - but that's not really what this is about.

What it's really about is journalism. The fact that "1984" is being sold at Costco, the fact that demand for the classic tale has skyrocketed , is significant. It's societal. And journalists are supposed to write about things like that.

And what does the Post do? They make a joke of it.

This is an organization that, as recently as January, has been busted publishing false news stories. You would think that with its credibility among a growing division of society hanging on by a thread - at best - the Post would turn an event like this into social commentary. This was an opportunity to speak about a changing world.

But instead, the Post went for laughs.

Let it sink in, friends. George Orwell's "1984," a dystopian tale about a society being crushed under the boot of authoritarian regime, is, once again, flying off bookshelves. To the extent that you can now get it at Costco. Let the significance of that truly dig in deep.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post is talking about Cheetos and toilet paper.

LetThemEatRand , Mar 10, 2017 9:56 PM

It is truly Orwellian that the sheep only take interest in Orwell when someone challenges Big Brother. If I had a Facebook account, I'd post this article straight away.

LetThemEatRand , Mar 10, 2017 9:56 PM

It is truly Orwellian that the sheep only take interest in Orwell when someone challenges Big Brother. If I had a Facebook account, I'd post this article straight away.

xythras -> Luc X. Ifer , Mar 10, 2017 11:56 PM

Well, after all the shit is going down, White House is definitely in distress. Trump gets a taste of his own medicine as he's grabbed by the pussy from all intelligence agencies directions.

And Spicer just proved it today:

White House in Distress? Sean Spicer's Upside Down Flag Pin Unleashes Twitter Frenzy

http://dailywesterner.com/news/2017-03-10/white-house-in-distress-sean-s...

Luc X. Ifer -> Twee Surgeon , Mar 11, 2017 12:46 AM

Read 'Little Heroes' by Norman Spinrad. It's like the dude had a trip to the future which is our present, a completly broken society dominated by corporations exploiting the masses of hedonist mindless snowflakes. In my humble oppinion perfect companion to Orwell's 84.

[...

  • In the future the class divide between capitalist and worker will have widened to become a virtually unbridgeable chasm. In HG Wells' The Time Machine (1895) this division has become so extreme that humanity had split into two species.
  • The way to keep the underclass under control is to feed them mass-produced pseudo-culture. If - as in Orwell's 1984 (1949) - the technocratic ruling class can get some kind of computer or machine to generate this product, so much the better.
  • In the future, 20th century entertainment forms like TV and movies will have been superseded by more direct experiences that, ideally, feed directly into the brain or, at least - as with the 'feelies' in Huxley's Brave New World (1932) - stimulate more senses than simply the visual and auditory.
  • And now, here's a book that uses all these themes in one hit, and builds on these classic foundations by adding rock & roll to the mix.

    Set in the early years of the 21st century, it shows us an America decimated by devaluation, where unemployment is commonplace and rock music is firmly in the grip of accountants and electro-nerds producing synthesized superstars to keep the proles contented.

    ...]

    http://www.trashfiction.co.uk/little_heroes.html

    Latina Lover -> Luc X. Ifer , Mar 11, 2017 7:16 AM

    Washington Post = CIA produced fake news.

    peddling-fiction , Mar 10, 2017 9:59 PM

    Please read Philip K. Dick's most recent works for a more accurate description of our dystopian reality.

    RIP Philip.

    LetThemEatRand -> indygo55 , Mar 10, 2017 10:05 PM

    "Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then." P.K.D.

    Row Well Number 41 -> LetThemEatRand , Mar 10, 2017 10:09 PM

    Once they notice you, Jason realized, they never completely close the file. You can never get back your anonymity. It is vital not to be noticed in the first place. -- Philip K Dick

    PodissNM -> Row Well Number 41 , Mar 10, 2017 11:27 PM

    "The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words."

    P.K.D., How To Build A Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later

    AlaricBalth -> peddling-fiction , Mar 11, 2017 12:13 AM

    Philip was spot on decades before the advent of the CIA's infestation of cell phones and other electronic devices.

    "There will come a time when it isn't 'They're spying on me through my phone' anymore. Eventually, it will be 'My phone is spying on me'." Philip K. Dick

    AlaricBalth -> indygo55 , Mar 11, 2017 12:30 AM

    Here is a free copy of 1984.

    https://ia800201.us.archive.org/8/items/NINETEENEIGHTY-FOUR1984ByGeorgeO...

    "The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live-did live, from habit that became instinct-in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."

    napples -> indygo55 , Mar 11, 2017 2:37 AM

    The irony never fails to amuse:

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/07/18/amazon_removes_1984_from_kindle/

    bruno_the -> BeanusCountus , Mar 10, 2017 11:31 PM

    Sure. Read it again...

    As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience. The little sandy-haired woman gave a squeak of mingled fear and disgust. Goldstein was the renegade and backslider who once, long ago (how long ago, nobody quite remembered), had been one of the leading figures of the Party, almost on a level with Big Brother himself, and then had engaged in counter-revolutionary activities, had been condemned to death, and had mysteriously escaped and disappeared.

    Free

    https://wikispooks.com/w/images/f/fc/1984.pdf

    Mini-Me , Mar 10, 2017 10:01 PM

    1984 was supposed to be a warning, not a user's guide.

    Twox2 -> Mini-Me , Mar 10, 2017 10:17 PM

    Too late...

    skinwalker -> Mini-Me , Mar 10, 2017 11:35 PM

    Orwell and Huxley were close to the fabians, so they knew what was coming down the pike.

    The difference is Orwell grew a conscience and tried to warn everybody.

    He probably would have titled it 2036, but 1984 was the 100th anniversary of the Fabian society.

    koan , Mar 10, 2017 10:01 PM

    WaPo is fake news, owned by a stereotypical bald headed villain. (Bezos)

    Ignorance is bliss -> aloha_snakbar , Mar 10, 2017 10:09 PM

    Maybe Orwell meant 2084. That sounds like a scary year to me...

    Anon2017 , Mar 10, 2017 10:08 PM

    You could also download "1984" for free to your computer or Kindle device. Do a Google search.

    Ms No -> Anon2017 , Mar 10, 2017 11:05 PM

    That's actually a waste of time at this point. If anything read Anthony Suttons Wall Street series for free on the internet, or stay here. You already know more than Orwell will teach you at this point. Unless your a mouth breather or blind from herpes of the eyeball. Apparently that is something contracted at birth.

    All wars are bankers wars. You can sum 1984 up to that. Actually they didn't even cover that. They just covered mechanisms. Actually they didn't even cover that, just symptoms.

    http://modernhistoryproject.org/mhp?Article=BolshevikRev&C=4.0

    http://modernhistoryproject.org/mhp?Article=WallStHitler

    http://modernhistoryproject.org/mhp?Entity=BrzezinskiZ

    SgtShaftoe -> Wee_littte_dogee , Mar 10, 2017 10:17 PM

    You're fine. Their lists don't have enough enforcers to do jack shit. By the time the first raid occurs, all hell would break loose and they'll all die.

    Ms No -> SgtShaftoe , Mar 10, 2017 10:57 PM

    In order to break that down we have to figure who their enforcers are.

    Intelligence agencies. That's a big one.

    Some unknown number of police agency staff. Quite a few in many places, like Texas. They obviously have strategic coroners, emergency room staff, etc.

    Some unknown quantitity of narco-terrorists out of Mexico/fast and furious funded types.

    Some unknown number of our military. They have been purging for decades.

    A smaller but unknown number of funded terrorist groups/ ISIS types.

    A very large number of our congress, etc.

    Probably 2/3 of our Supreme Court

    The entire media system and publishing

    The easiest way to narrow it down is who do they not have? I give up already. Remember JFK was a long time ago.

    SgtShaftoe -> Ms No , Mar 11, 2017 9:10 AM

    The ones most relevant in my mind are the logistics and support as well as the "action" guys (using that term very loosely).

    The military, the CIA and a few other agencies have trained combat arms types that are effective. The rest are at various stages of competency. In any event, they still don't have enough competent troops by a long shot. The logistics tail is also very wide and vulnerable.

    [Mar 17, 2017] The Never-Ending War in Afghanistan

    Permanent war for permanent peace
    Notable quotes:
    "... What are we to make of the chasm between effort expended and results achieved? Why on those increasingly infrequent occasions when Afghanistan attracts notice do half-truths and pettifoggery prevail, rather than hard-nosed assessments? Why has Washington ceased to care about the Afghan war? ..."
    "... The answer, it seems to me, is this: As with budget deficits or cost overruns on weapons purchases, members of the national security apparatus - elected and appointed officials, senior military officers and other policy insiders - accept war as a normal condition. ..."
    "... Once, the avoidance of war figured as a national priority. On those occasions when war proved unavoidable, the idea was to end the conflict as expeditiously as possible on favorable terms. ..."
    "... These precepts no longer apply.... ..."
    "... As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016). To this total should be added the approximately $65 billion in dedicated war spending the Department of Defense and State Department have requested for the next fiscal year, 2017, along with an additional nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, and estimated spending on veterans in future years. When those are included, the total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion. ..."
    "... When was the last time you saw a major economist...or a prominent Democrat complain about wasteful 'defense' spending? ..."
    Mar 14, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

    anne : March 13, 2017 at 05:04 AM , 2017 at 05:04 AM

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/13/opinion/the-never-ending-war-in-afghanistan.html

    March 12, 2017

    The Never-Ending War in Afghanistan
    By ANDREW J. BACEVICH

    BOSTON - Remember Afghanistan? The longest war in American history? Ever?

    When it comes to wars, we Americans have a selective memory. The Afghan war, dating from October 2001, has earned the distinction of having been forgotten while still underway.

    President Trump's Inaugural Address included no mention of Afghanistan. Nor did his remarks last month at a joint session of Congress. For the new commander in chief, the war there qualifies at best as an afterthought - assuming, that is, he has thought about it all.

    A similar attitude prevails on Capitol Hill. Congressional oversight has become pro forma. Last week Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of Central Command, told Congress that the Pentagon would probably need more troops in Afghanistan, a statement that seemed to catch politicians and reporters by surprise - but that was old news to anyone who's been paying attention to the conflict.

    And that's the problem. It doesn't seem that anyone is. At the Senate hearings on the nomination of James Mattis as defense secretary, Afghanistan barely came up.

    To be fair, Mr. Mattis did acknowledge that "our country is still at war in Afghanistan," albeit without assessing the war's prospects. In response to a comment by Senator John McCain, the Armed Services Committee chairman, that "we are in serious trouble in Afghanistan," Mr. Mattis merely allowed that the Taliban had "eroded some of our successes."

    That was it. No further follow up. Other members of the committee, Republican and Democratic, focused on more pressing concerns like seeking to induce Mr. Mattis to endorse military programs and installations in their home state.

    The military brass deserves some of the blame. Soon after Mr. Mattis's hearing, Gen. John Nicholson, the latest in a long line of American commanders to have presided over the Afghan mission, arrived in Washington to report on its progress. While conceding that the conflict is stalemated, General Nicholson doggedly insisted that it is a "stalemate where the equilibrium favors the government." Carefully avoiding terms like "victory" or "win," he described his strategy as "hold-fight-disrupt." He ventured no guess on when the war might end.

    All of this flies in the face of what the conflict in Afghanistan has become, a reality made clear in a recent report from the Defense Department's special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.

    Despite appropriating over three-quarters of a trillion dollars on Afghanistan since 2001, Afghan security forces continue to be plagued by the problem of inflated rolls, with local commanders pocketing American-supplied funds to pay for nonexistent soldiers; according to the report, "The number of troops fighting alongside 'ghost soldiers' is a fraction of the men required for the fight."

    Large-scale corruption persists, with Afghanistan third from the bottom in international rankings, ahead of only Somalia and North Korea. Adjusted for inflation, American spending to reconstruct Afghanistan now exceeds the total expended to rebuild all of Western Europe under the Marshall Plan; yet to have any hope of surviving, the Afghan government will for the foreseeable future remain almost completely dependent on outside support.

    And things are getting worse. Although the United States has invested $70 billion in rebuilding Afghan security forces, only 63 percent of the country's districts are under government control, with significant territory lost to the Taliban over the past year. Though the United States has spent $8.5 billion to battle narcotics in Afghanistan, opium production there has reached an all-time high.

    For this, over the past 15 years, nearly 2,400 American soldiers have died, and 20,000 more have been wounded.

    What are we to make of the chasm between effort expended and results achieved? Why on those increasingly infrequent occasions when Afghanistan attracts notice do half-truths and pettifoggery prevail, rather than hard-nosed assessments? Why has Washington ceased to care about the Afghan war?

    The answer, it seems to me, is this: As with budget deficits or cost overruns on weapons purchases, members of the national security apparatus - elected and appointed officials, senior military officers and other policy insiders - accept war as a normal condition.

    Once, the avoidance of war figured as a national priority. On those occasions when war proved unavoidable, the idea was to end the conflict as expeditiously as possible on favorable terms.

    These precepts no longer apply....

    anne -> anne... , March 13, 2017 at 05:06 AM
    http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2016/Costs%20of%20War%20through%202016%20FINAL%20final%20v2.pdf

    September, 2016

    US Budgetary Costs of Wars through 2016: $4.79 Trillion and Counting
    Summary of Costs of the US Wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan and Homeland Security

    By Neta C. Crawford

    Summary

    Wars cost money before, during and after they occur - as governments prepare for, wage, and recover from them by replacing equipment, caring for the wounded and repairing the infrastructure destroyed in the fighting. Although it is rare to have a precise accounting of the costs of war - especially of long wars - one can get a sense of the rough scale of the costs by surveying the major categories of spending.

    As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016). To this total should be added the approximately $65 billion in dedicated war spending the Department of Defense and State Department have requested for the next fiscal year, 2017, along with an additional nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, and estimated spending on veterans in future years. When those are included, the total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion.

    But of course, a full accounting of any war's burdens cannot be placed in columns on a ledger. From the civilians harmed or displaced by violence, to the soldiers killed and wounded, to the children who play years later on roads and fields sown with improvised explosive devices and cluster bombs, no set of numbers can convey the human toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or how they have spilled into the neighboring states of Syria and Pakistan, and come home to the US and its allies in the form of wounded veterans and contractors. Yet, the expenditures noted on government ledgers are necessary to apprehend, even as they are so large as to be almost incomprehensible....

    JohnH -> anne... , March 13, 2017 at 08:05 AM
    Thanks, anne. Seems that most economists turn a blind eye when it comes to 'defense' spending and its crowding out of spending for social programs.

    When was the last time you saw a major economist...or a prominent Democrat complain about wasteful 'defense' spending?

    [Mar 17, 2017] Chickenhawks from Kagan family

    Notable quotes:
    "... "The Warrior Kagan Family", that must have been Greenwald's big joke, I hope. Those people give a meaning to the name chickenhawks, they would not know from which end a gun fires, but they certainly know how to get millions killed by others. ..."
    "... Their money ensures that their aggressive writings still get published in the usual Deep State media. I particularly liked a touch of light humor by Mr Parry: "There was also hope that a President Hillary Clinton would recognize how sympatico the liberal hawks and the neocons were by promoting Robert Kagan's neocon wife, Victoria Nuland, to Secretary of State." ..."
    "... What is troublesome is with the Kagan's screaming out, 'watch the Russians, beware of the Russians' and with the 24/7 MSM alarm bells going off over Russia, will the Trump Adminstration need to craft their foreign policy around the likes of these Russia Haters? ..."
    "... The common denominator is profit and increased market share fueled by greed ..Part of the blame can be laid at the feet of the average USA investor who fuels the stock market looking for the best return on his/her money. ..."
    "... After finding this early warning essay by Cartalucci I have often wondered that if our MSM were to have scooped this kind of news regarding the travels of Senator John McCain would the tragedy of Benghazi have never happened. ..."
    "... http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2012/03/john-mccain-founding-father-of.html ..."
    "... Plus this article adds insight to how the Deep State operates. McCain should be the one held for high treason, but as things are that will never happen. The more you may learn the more you may find that Donald Trump seems to be less of a problem than we all know. Now that isn't an endorsement of Trump, as much as it is a heads up to notice who all is behind the curtain. ..."
    "... I recommend reading the latest blog by Moon of Alabama and enlightened comments. You will get further details on what the Kagans' plans are – what they would have done for sure under their L'Amour Toujours, Clinton as President. ..."
    "... I read that moonofalabama, b is always right on. In fact b and Robert Parry are excellent examples of how 'small' is good. http://journal-neo.org/2017/03/15/us-expands-defacto-syrian-invasion/ The above article by Tony Cartalucci is along the same lines as moonofalabama. ..."
    "... Excellent point – how to quickly recognise psychopaths: "psychopathy is the habit of using emotionally loaded language in tones which betray no actual connection to the content". A large proportion of our politicians fit the description. ..."
    "... "I noted two years ago in an article entitled "A Family Business of Perpetual War": "Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats. This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks." ..."
    "... "the so-called "#Resistance" to Trump's presidency and President Obama's unprecedented use of his intelligence agencies to paint Trump as a Russian "Manchurian candidate" gave new hope to the neocons and their agenda. It has taken them a few months to reorganize and regroup but they now see hope in pressuring Trump so hard regarding Russia that he will have little choice but to buy into their belligerent schemes. As often is the case, the Family Kagan has charted the course of action – batter Republicans into joining the all-out Russia-bashing and then persuade a softened Trump to launch a full-scale invasion of Syria. In this endeavor, the Kagans have Democrats and liberals as the foot soldiers." ..."
    "... For instance, Robert's brother Frederick works at the American Enterprise Institute, which has long benefited from the largesse of the Military-Industrial Complex, and his wife Kimberly runs her own think tank called the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). ..."
    "... Andrew Bacevich referred to Kagan as "the chief neoconservative foreign-policy theorist" in reviewing Kagan's book The Return of history and the end of dreams.[21] ..."
    "... Here's Andrew Bacevich's 2014 piece on the Kagans: https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/duplicity-ideologues ..."
    "... But Mr Parry, I think it will also be interesting to examine the 'Vault 7' disclosure with regards to this Russia bashing. If the CIA has the ability to put out any email or documentation without a trail as to its origin, the Kagans could be shown as the charlatans they are if it was the CIA who meddled with the US election. ..."
    "... "The US military will try to take Raqqa from ISIS with the help of the Kurds in coordination with Syrian government forces. The Syrian government will also destroy al Qaeda in Idleb. The chance that Trump will pick up on any of these neo-con plans is practically zero. But who knows?" ..."
    "... On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show, Friedman demanded that the Russia hacking allegations be treated as a casus belli: "That was a 9/11 scale event. They attacked the core of our democracy. That was a Pearl Harbor scale event." Both Pearl Harbor and 9/11 led to wars. ..."
    "... It's just reported on Global Research that Russia has absorbed 2.5 million Ukrainian refugees since the US 2014 coup and Europe 900,000 more, according to a Kremlin parliamentarian in February. Thanks to Victoria Nuland! ..."
    "... Far too much money which MIC wants play with. ..and as Admiral Thomas Moorer commented, " No American President can stand up to Israel " ..."
    "... the virulent fixation on Russia is out of control. ..."
    Mar 17, 2017 | consortiumnews.com
    Bart in Virginia March 15, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    It's not the Family Kagan, but rather as Glenn Greenwald dubbed them, The Warrior Kagan Family with a trade mark sign as suffix.

    I'll bet Victoria resigned from State, seeing her future there granting visas in Baku.

    Thanks, Robert, I haven't had a Kagan fix in quite a while!

    Kiza , March 15, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    "The Warrior Kagan Family", that must have been Greenwald's big joke, I hope. Those people give a meaning to the name chickenhawks, they would not know from which end a gun fires, but they certainly know how to get millions killed by others.

    As to Mr Parry, calling them the American neocon royalty, it certainly is some foul-mouth royalty, telling another Zio servant EU to get f'ed.

    Thank you Robert Parry for a great article, just like Bart I was wondering what happened to the cookie distributing "royalty" after the Clinton fail. It is not surprising that they are now learning to manipulate outcomes from the opposition. Their money ensures that their aggressive writings still get published in the usual Deep State media. I particularly liked a touch of light humor by Mr Parry: "There was also hope that a President Hillary Clinton would recognize how sympatico the liberal hawks and the neocons were by promoting Robert Kagan's neocon wife, Victoria Nuland, to Secretary of State."

    Between the Clinton liberals and the Ziocons C'est une Affaire d'Amour Toujours , as Pepé Le Pew likes to say.

    Skip Edwards , March 15, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    "The Warrior Kagan Family", that must have been Greenwald's big joke, I hope. Those people give a meaning to the name chickenhawks, they would not know from which end a gun fires, but they certainly know how to get millions killed by others.

    I learned how to laugh again; and, at the expense of all those despicable Kagen's.

    Joe Tedesky , March 15, 2017 at 11:49 pm

    KIza there is good news inside Robert Parry's article if you look for it. One good thing is that Hillary isn't the president, and if she were one could only imagine what her and the Kagan's would be up to right now. The other piece of good news, is that the Kagan's are writing op-eds and not working for the Trump Adminstration.

    Now I have read somewhere where the U.S. is working with Russia, and that for the most part for now has to be done on the low key. Of course with news being 'fake' and all of that, who's to know?

    What is troublesome is with the Kagan's screaming out, 'watch the Russians, beware of the Russians' and with the 24/7 MSM alarm bells going off over Russia, will the Trump Adminstration need to craft their foreign policy around the likes of these Russia Haters?

    Cheney and Rumsfeld developed 'the Continuity of Government Program' and I'm wondering if that cast of characters could seep into the mix of things? Plus don't forget the ever reliable CIA. So with all of that working against you, one could only wonder if Ghandi and Jesus could do much better up against this evil array of villains.

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 12:10 am

    Here is something worth reading Tony Cartalucci explains the Deep State, and goes on to talk about how it may be defeated. Here's a hint, the world will not be run by the New World Order.

    http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2017/03/exposing-real-deep-state.html

    John , March 16, 2017 at 11:28 am

    Very good link, Joe!! The common denominator is profit and increased market share fueled by greed ..Part of the blame can be laid at the feet of the average USA investor who fuels the stock market looking for the best return on his/her money. I would not look for much altruistic behavioral changes in human nature Greed is still the preferred method of operation .and firmly in control ..

    Common Tater , March 16, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Joe T.
    Excellent article, thanks!

    D5-5 , March 16, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Joe, many thanks for this powerful link on the deep state, and its explanation of the multi-polar conditions needed, and as happening, plus the link you supplied below related to what's going on in Syria, also clear and helpful.

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    I'm glad that you all found the link to be informative. I am posting another link to a Tony Cartalucci article that got my attention of his work a few years ago, and ever since I look forward to reading his reporting.

    This link is interesting for the fact that the original article was published March 2012 which was somewhere in the neighborhood of six months before the deadly attack took place in Benghazi. After finding this early warning essay by Cartalucci I have often wondered that if our MSM were to have scooped this kind of news regarding the travels of Senator John McCain would the tragedy of Benghazi have never happened.

    http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2012/03/john-mccain-founding-father-of.html

    Plus this article adds insight to how the Deep State operates. McCain should be the one held for high treason, but as things are that will never happen. The more you may learn the more you may find that Donald Trump seems to be less of a problem than we all know. Now that isn't an endorsement of Trump, as much as it is a heads up to notice who all is behind the curtain.

    Curious , March 16, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Thanks for the two links Joe. I didn't think it was possible for me to dislike McCain more than I already did, but I was wrong. I did like Senator Pauls' comment about McCain today however. He basically said McCain is a perfect example of why we should have term limits in the Senate, which is so true.

    Kiza , March 16, 2017 at 12:24 am

    Oh no, I did not mean that it is bad news this is why I wrote that the Kagans are learning to spew hate from the opposition not from the government. Like D5-5, I recommend reading the latest blog by Moon of Alabama and enlightened comments. You will get further details on what the Kagans' plans are – what they would have done for sure under their L'Amour Toujours, Clinton as President.

    As to Jesus, he self-sacrificed himself to show the way out of human predicament. Jesus was fighting against such ideologues of hate and moneychangers as the Kagans, who are an exemplar of the mad-gleaming-eye-greedy-finger types so well known in the old Europe. Just observe the first photo to the article: she looks like she would murder just about any baby in the world to take her sweet candy.

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 1:08 am

    I read that moonofalabama, b is always right on. In fact b and Robert Parry are excellent examples of how 'small' is good.

    http://journal-neo.org/2017/03/15/us-expands-defacto-syrian-invasion/

    The above article by Tony Cartalucci is along the same lines as moonofalabama.

    At this stage of the game the best that I can put forward with, is we got to take one day at a time, in order to make sense of whatever the real news is going on inside Syria. From one article to another it's hard to tell who's fighting, or going to fight who. With the atmosphere here in America I'm waiting for an arrest to be made if you talk favorably about Russia, or Putin. Seriously, our MSM cable news networks are going hells bells on this Russian hacking, Russian tampering with our democracy, Russia has a puppet in the White House, Russia _______fill in the blank. We have gone totally nuts this time, and it looks like we are going to stay that way for awhile.

    I always like to ponder the politics that would have prevailed during the time of Jesus. If you get a grasp on that then Jesus really stands out better for what he was preaching too, and preaching against. I'm sure Herod or Ceasar had their Kagan's around in their day, and who knows how discreetly those ancient Kagan's could have whispered vile and nasty ideas of war and conquest into their leaders head. When it's all about power and money it's easy to lose ones head, or so they say. Let's all hope the Kagan's amount to be nothing more than sore losers.

    Peter Loeb , March 16, 2017 at 6:13 am

    WITH MCCAIN AS HELPER

    A good comment Joe Tedesky.

    As to Syria, we already have invaded and already plan more (see Defense Appropriation). Of interest would be Putin's response on the ground.

    (When Netanyahu went to Moskow to ask for help in getting Syria to reign in Iran, he was referred to the sovereign government of Syria! Is the current (and future) US invasion of the sovereign state of Syria at the invitation of the Syrian Government??

    Ans: No! See UN Charter on aggression, I think it is Article 4(2) if memory serves. Besides the current administration wants to make all its sins of commission such as drones done by the CIA. Which is to say covert and not accountable to anyone (such as DOD, White House etc.).Our invasion will evidently be
    accountable to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

    I am certain Moscow has a plan, a response (diplomatic or otherwise).

    Donald Trump likes war and being "Commander-in-Chief". All countries involved in war are always absolutely persuaded that their victory will be quick, easy etc.It also helps(??) the US economy as all wars have for hundreds of years. No one will oppose more money for defense. I have already contacted my Mass. Senators in regard to funds for the invasion of Syria as well as my Congressional Representative. (I expect little support. All lawgivers are dependent on AIPAC support )

    --Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Except for Desert Storm every war has lasted long past it's end date, and even one could argue over Desert Storm if you add in the time of occupation or establishing no fly zones to how long we have been there.

    I'm not all that sure yet that Trump likes war. There are times he stresses peace, after he rally's the people around a powerful military speech. Now, what I do worry about is the people around him. NIkki Haley just recently in a NBC interview said how we should never trust Russia. Wow, and she is our UN ambassador. So much for statesmanship and diplomacy.

    As far as our CIA goes they are going to get everyone on this planet killed. It's long overdue to crunch the CIA down to being an information gatherer and stop with the convert intrigue. If we factor in stability and the quality of human life, then tell me about the one CIA operation which has been a success. The CIA's interference, and trashing of foreign government sovereignty is a disgrace, and should I add be prosecuted as a war crime in the highest order. If Trump could shred the CIA into a thousand pieces then I say, do it Mr President.

    The real problem we face while attempting to establish the Yinon Plan, is that we will finally either partner with Russia somehow over something, or end up fighting Russia and possibly not fight them through proxies. I don't see either Russia or the U.S. using nukes on each other at first, but I would be praying for the poor souls in places such as Iran, Yemen, or places like that. And while we are at it North and South Korea, and once again Japan would most likely be countries well inside the lines of being in jeopardy.

    Russia, and China, should be our natural allies, but there's nothing natural about our country's foreign policy when world hegemony overrides man's human nature to life in peace.

    John , March 16, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Joe,

    The other piece of good news is that they are actually starting to walk back the Russia hacked the election an we can prove it nonsense. Read Glenn Greenwald's latest piece at The Intercept. At long last sir have they actually some human decency? Nah!!!

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks John I will be sure to read Greenwald's article, but you know we in America need a bogey man .so if not Russia then who?

    Dominic Pukallus , March 16, 2017 at 4:43 am

    Concerning the foul-mouthing, I was disturbed to hear such strong talk (at least to this earthy soul) in such a delicate voice. To me a sign of psychopathy is the habit of using emotionally loaded language in tones which betray no actual connection to the content. Another is causing the killing of no small amount of people with a large amount of apparent unconcern, but then again that's a net which would drag an alarming amount of people from corridors of power. Perhaps the majority of these have mastered the art of matching tone and content in their requirement to at least appear Human to their subjects.

    Kiza , March 16, 2017 at 6:00 am

    Excellent point – how to quickly recognise psychopaths: "psychopathy is the habit of using emotionally loaded language in tones which betray no actual connection to the content". A large proportion of our politicians fit the description. Thank you.

    Nastarana , March 16, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Kiza, Please don't forget that is a "sign of psychopathy". There are other kinds of derangement in which the unfortunate sufferers are prone to the use of inappropriate body language and verbal tone, but are not necessarily a danger to others. As for the Kagans, I consider them to be criminals, plain and simple.

    Anon , March 16, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    I am waiting to see the male ballerina "foot soldiers" demanding transgender bathrooms in the trenches.

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Anon in 1919 Max Sennett was way ahead of you. You might get a kick out of watching Sennett's movie called 'Yankee Doodle in Berlin'. It is a story about an American soldier dressed as a woman going behind enemy lines to entice the Kaiser. Also notice the slanted propaganda of the way American Hollywood film producers were characterizing the Germans. We are all but a product of who came before us I'm sad to say .but hey enjoy the silent flick anyway.

    https://archive.org/details/YankeeDoodleInBerlin

    Oh and with all due respect let's at least give a salute to Chelsea Manning.

    BART GRUZALSKI PROF. EMERITUS , March 16, 2017 at 9:26 am

    BART IN VIRGINIA!!

    Are you really "Bart" as in short for "Bartholomew"!!!!

    Parry, thank you for a GREAT article.

    Early on you pegged them:

    "Back pontificating on prominent op-ed pages, the Family Kagan now is pushing for an expanded U.S. military invasion of Syria and baiting Republicans for not joining more enthusiastically in the anti-Russian witch hunt over Moscow's alleged help in electing Donald Trump."

    Then skillfully reminding us: "I noted two years ago in an article entitled "A Family Business of Perpetual War": "Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats. This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks."

    Your conclusion is actually overly optimistic:

    "the so-called "#Resistance" to Trump's presidency and President Obama's unprecedented use of his intelligence agencies to paint Trump as a Russian "Manchurian candidate" gave new hope to the neocons and their agenda. It has taken them a few months to reorganize and regroup but they now see hope in pressuring Trump so hard regarding Russia that he will have little choice but to buy into their belligerent schemes. As often is the case, the Family Kagan has charted the course of action – batter Republicans into joining the all-out Russia-bashing and then persuade a softened Trump to launch a full-scale invasion of Syria. In this endeavor, the Kagans have Democrats and liberals as the foot soldiers."

    Instead, the Deep State is preparing to begin getting rid of Trump on June 1st:

    http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/video-on-june-1st-the-deep-state-will-move-to-overthrow-trump-there-is-a-secret-agenda-to-allow-a-crisis-and-get-rid-of-the-president_03142017

    IF you the reader haven't read my "The Deep State Versus President Trump" it is time (on Amazon for only $12.95 or less).

    Parry, I will immediately post this EXCELLENT article on Facebook. Because my wife and I are living "by the skin of our teeth" on social security, I can't make a donation, but I will send in an article on why the Deep State wants Trump gone as a pro bono contribution. Hope you think it is worthy of publication.

    Dr. Bart Gruzalski, Professor Emeritus, Philosophy (ethics, public policy) and Religion (books: "On the Buddha": "On Gandhi"; and "Why Christians and World-Peace Advocates Voted for President Donald Trump"), Northeastern University, Boston, MA-and the only Ph.D. in philosophy among the thousands that I and my mentor Professor Samuel Gorovitz know who voted for and supports Trump [no, Sam was and is opposed to our POTUS].

    dineesh , March 15, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Who is behind them rascals?

    evelync , March 15, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Good question! And I don't know the answer, but I googled the question and FWIW depending on the reliability of the writers of the articles, here's what I found:

    "A Family Business

    There's also a family-business aspect to these wars and confrontations, since the Kagans collectively serve not just to start conflicts but to profit from grateful military contractors who kick back a share of the money to the think tanks that employ the Kagans.

    For instance, Robert's brother Frederick works at the American Enterprise Institute, which has long benefited from the largesse of the Military-Industrial Complex, and his wife Kimberly runs her own think tank called the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

    According to ISW's annual reports, its original supporters were mostly right-wing foundations, such as the Smith-Richardson Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, but it was later backed by a host of national security contractors, including major ones like General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and CACI, as well as lesser-known firms such as DynCorp International, which provided training for Afghan police, and Palantir, a technology company founded with the backing of the CIA's venture-capital arm, In-Q-Tel. Palantir supplied software to US military intelligence in Afghanistan.

    Since its founding in 2007, ISW has focused mostly on wars in the Middle East, especially Iraq and Afghanistan, including closely cooperating with Gen. David Petraeus when he commanded US forces in those countries. However, more recently, ISW has begun reporting extensively on the civil war in Ukraine. [See "Neocons Guided Petraeus on Afghan War."]

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-07-26/meet-kagans-seeking-war-end-world

    from wikipedia:

    "In 1983, Robert Kagan was foreign policy advisor to New York Republican Representative Jack Kemp. From 1984–86, under the administration of Ronald Reagan, he was a speechwriter for Secretary of State George P. Shultz and a member of the United States Department of State Policy Planning Staff. From 1986–1988 he served in the State Department Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.[10]

    In 1997, Kagan co-founded the now-defunct neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century with William Kristol.[3][5][11] Through the work of the PNAC, Kagan was a strong advocate of the Iraq war.

    From 1998 until August, 2010, Kagan was a Senior Associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He was appointed senior fellow in the Center on United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution in September 2010.[12][13][14][15] He is also a member of the board of directors for the neoconservative think tank The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI).[16]

    During the 2008 presidential campaign he served as foreign policy advisor to John McCain, the Republican Party's nominee for President of the United States in the 2008 election.[17][18]

    Since 2011, Kagan has also served on the 25-member State Department's Foreign Affairs Policy Board under Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton[19] and John Kerry.[20]

    Andrew Bacevich referred to Kagan as "the chief neoconservative foreign-policy theorist" in reviewing Kagan's book The Return of history and the end of dreams.[21]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Kagan

    also check out the footnotes from the wiki article ..

    Here's Andrew Bacevich's 2014 piece on the Kagans: https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/duplicity-ideologues

    Bottom line, though, it seems like the Kagans have been at the center of Washington policy think for decades and decades and therefore fit neatly within the comfort zone of powerful people who carry out U.S. foreign policy – Republicans and Democrats.
    That's who we are, apparently ..
    I recently saw Wally Shawn's play in NYC – 'Evening at the Talk House', an amazing play about who we are – or have become .
    https://www.timeout.com/newyork/blog/theater-review-evening-at-the-talk-house-is-wallace-shawns-political-party-trick-021617
    http://www.vulture.com/2017/02/theater-evening-at-the-talk-house-and-escaped-alone.html

    Bill Bodden , March 15, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    Thank you for your research and report

    jaycee , March 15, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    It's not too difficult to identify the think-tanks the Kagans belong to or run. These organizations have web sites, and the web sites usually list who the funders are. That's the information you seek.

    For example, the Institute for the Study of War is supported by the likes of General Dynamics, CACI, Microsoft, Centerra, Capital Bank, etc.

    Diana , March 16, 2017 at 7:02 am

    Robbie Martin has produced a three-part documentary on them rascals called "A Very Heavy Agenda." It's well worth watching, but it's expensive the box set of the three DVDs costs $50.00. I opted for the Vimeo version, where each part can be purchased for $6.99 or rented for $2.99. You can watch the trailers and learn more at http://averyheavyagenda.com .

    Diana , March 16, 2017 at 8:10 am

    You can find the Vimeo versions at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/averyheavyagenda . Watch the trailer for Part 3 and you will see that it refers to Robert Parry's "Family Kagan" article.

    Sam , March 16, 2017 at 7:03 am

    The ME warmongers are largely zionist Jews, including the Kagan/Nulands and the 2003 Iraq War II sponsors SecDef Wolfowitz and his Israeli spy operatives Perl, Feith, and Wurmser installed at CIA/DIA/NSA offices to select known-bad "intelligence" to incite war. The Kochs are of course complicit. Any who aren't zionist Jews are after their stolen US funds to Israel, fed to stink tanks and political bribe donations.

    The war in Iraq was such a success that the US was forced out having ensured the pro-Iran government it most feared, having built AlQaeda from a CIA proxy to a regional and then a worldwide enemy, and having guaranteed the violent Sunni uprising now called IS. Read Bamford's Pretext for War. Don't we need more of those wars.

    BART GRUZALSKI PROF. EMERITUS , March 16, 2017 at 9:29 am

    dineesh,

    This is a reply to your (lost in the undergrowth): MORE RASCALS, in fact, THE ENTIRE DEEP STATE.

    dineesh's question: Who is behind those rascals.

    D5-5 , March 15, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    Take a look at Moon of Alabama on this Kagan rehash. The comments in response to the analysis also recommended. Posted today.

    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/03/third-times-the-charm-the-neocons-want-another-sunni-insurgency.html

    Sally Snyder , March 15, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    As shown in this article, the United States is using ammunition in Syria that is adding to the already significant problems that Syrians are facing:

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.ca/2017/02/the-united-states-and-cancer-of-warfare.html

    Apparently, the lessons taught in Iraq have been forgotten.

    Scott , March 15, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    A lesson can be had only by those willing to learn. Democrats just lost over 900 seats across state and federal offices and even that proved not to be a teachable moment.

    Curious , March 15, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    What a disturbing headline. I had hoped they would have been neutered after the Hillary defeat.

    But Mr Parry, I think it will also be interesting to examine the 'Vault 7' disclosure with regards to this Russia bashing. If the CIA has the ability to put out any email or documentation without a trail as to its origin, the Kagans could be shown as the charlatans they are if it was the CIA who meddled with the US election. It would shake their entire platform of blaming Russia to the core. It is difficult enough as it is to tell the originator of many internal docs leaked to the public, so the blame game is false as it is. I would welcome more release of the CIA vault 7 if only to show how often the CIA is involved in internal US politics and "homeland" situations. This meddling is supposedly against the law.

    One could only hope.

    Tannenhouser , March 15, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    Not only that .A 'democrats' views are so symbiotic to a kagans shows they play for the same team while occasionally wearing different color jersey's. Curious indeed . I share your hope.

    Jonathan , March 16, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    In connection with the legality of CIA meddling in internal affairs, and the Trump wire-tapping charge, Scott Ritter has made what seems to be a rather good point in a recent article published in Truthdig. The article digs a little deeper into the matter and comes up with a surprising and quite optimistic conclusion.
    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/trumps_wiretapping_charge_could_contain_some_explosive_truth_20170314

    D5-5 , March 15, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    As b says, analyst at Moon of Alabama (he's German by the way) on this topic, "The US military will try to take Raqqa from ISIS with the help of the Kurds in coordination with Syrian government forces. The Syrian government will also destroy al Qaeda in Idleb. The chance that Trump will pick up on any of these neo-con plans is practically zero. But who knows?"

    He also finds the Kaganista notions on a THIRD try at raising "the moderates" to get rid of Assad "drinking the kool aid."

    My question is how does this troop infusion, made problematical as Assad has not okayed it, calling it illegal, and which includes 2500 "tip of the spear" paratroopers in Kuwait, move the situation on, additional to (or beyond) the goal of cleaning out ISIS? To what, why? Suppose ISIS defeated (replaced in how long by another ISIS unless the political/economic situation changes for the sunnis) then what? Trump does an Obama and the US leaves again? Or cuts a deal with the neocons on pipeline projects etc?

    LJ , March 15, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    I read that article. The Qatar Turkey Pipeline was one of the hoped for outcomes of the Regime Change in Syria . This was problematic for Russia and will remain so. If the USA>NATO>EU thought that they could bring Turkey into the fold with this pipeline it might make sense but right now this is very unlikely.

    Personally I do not think Trump and Tillerson would go for World War .Do not forget that China is allied with Russia on this and they see Syria as very important to the completion of One Belt One Road'. Israel's role in the region and in Syria should not be forgotten ever. They are anxious about the Golan and Russia and they always want the USA to attack Iran. So does Saudi Arabia and you may have noticed the Saudi Foreign Minister dropping a comment a couple days ago that this planned action against Hezbollah and Iran is very much on the table.

    There are many heads on the chopping block right now not just Assad's, enemies and allies also. The Planners cannot control the outcome in Turkey (We played our card already), in Iraq, in Syria or in Lebanon. WE are not liked. All the USA can do at this point is destroy, we can never win hearts and minds in the Middle East.. Can of Worms.

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 1:23 am

    I think the biggest worry is to hope that whoever loses can bear the cost of loss. This Syrian war I don't think at this point is as much about ISIS as it is about land. Land for pipelines mostly, but land for a whole host of other reasons as well. Sunni, Shia, and Kurds, are the predominant people who are fighting for space, but so are countries like Turkey, Saudi's, and the Israeli's in the Golan Heights. So stretching pipelines, and building new one road infrastrutures need land oh and let's not forget the Shia Crescent and Iran. This area is so messed up I'm not that sure even the winner will have won much more than a big headache.

    Enjoyed reading both of your comments, and thought I'd make some noise to accompany your conversation.

    MEexpert , March 16, 2017 at 2:41 am

    Joe, both the Syrian and Iraq wars now have two purposes. First is to prevent the dreaded "Shia Crescent," and the second is to protect Israel. The latest surge in Iraq and Syria by the US forces is to keep the perpetual wars going by creating "Sunni" zones in Iraq and Syria. When the Iraqi Army and the Shia militias were battling the ISIS, there were no US boots on the ground. Same thing in Syria. Consider the timing of this surge. ISIS is almost routed in Iraq and Syria and all of a sudden Trump sends ground forces to help mop up the remnants of ISIS.

    The real purpose is not to clean up ISIS but to prevent the government forces to establish rule in Mosul. Saudi Arabia wants that part to remain Sunni. This way Iran doesn't win. The US wants to divide Iraq in three parts, Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish, as has been her plan all along. Similarly, in Syria, if Assad wins the whole of Syria is under his rule. By inserting herself in the war, the US wants to set up a Sunni section on behalf of Saudi Arabia and Israel, to be a thorn in Assad's side and a Kurdish side to punish Erdogan for his behavior and keep him occupied. The wars will continue in the Middle East, the Military-Industrial Complex will continue to sell weapons and Israel will be worry free.

    What I don't understand is why is US so against the Shias. I can understand Israel's position. Israel got her rear end kicked twice by a tiny Hezbollah force but why US. It can't be just to please Israel or is it? So much bloodshed just for that.

    Sam , March 16, 2017 at 7:13 am

    The US is involved solely to get political campaign funds from Israel stolen from US "aid".

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Going back to the old communist days and Nassar the U.S. sided with Israel. That was back at a time when we Americans were exposed to the propaganda that Israeli's were like us Americans, and all Arabs were crazy. We were fine with Iran as long as we had the Shad there to protect our interest. The Iran Hostage event was excellent PR to demonize Iran for over a forty year period, and life goes on.

    You and I along with many others here believe now is a great time to hit the Middle East reset button .now how do we convince our country's leadership to do that, is the question.

    John P , March 16, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    Good article and I think you hit the nails on the heads MEexpert. Your final paragraph, I think the U.S. wants a stable ally in the region and they believe Israel fills that roll, even though I see little common interest in eithers ambitions, one for stability the other for annexations. Perhaps the U.S. politicians hold their noses and hope.

    Sam , March 16, 2017 at 7:21 am

    The Qatar-Turkey pipeline concept tried to break the "Shiite crescent" of Iran/Iraq/Syria/Lebanon and compete with the southern Russia-Turkey pipeline; otherwise they would not be seeking war near pipelines that could more easily have coexisted.

    MEexpert , March 16, 2017 at 2:57 am

    "Suppose ISIS defeated (replaced in how long by another ISIS unless the political/economic situation changes for the sunnis) then what?"

    Why such concern about the Sunnis? In Iraq only 20% population is Sunni. Yet Saddam, a Sunni, ruled more that 60% Shias for 35 years and other Sunni rulers before that. There was no concern for their feelings or their safety by Papa Bush in 1991 or after that when Saddam gassed the Shias and the Kurds. Bahrain, on the other hand, at one time was 90% Shia with a Sunni ruler, thanks to the British. The Emir of Bahrain has been systematically stripping the Shias of their citizenship and importing Sunnis from other countries and giving them Citizenship by recruiting them into the Bahraini Armed Forces. Even when the uprising started in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia moved in there to put the uprising down, all US did was to send down the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs to reassure the Emir of Bahrain and to make sure that the 5th fleet was safe.

    D5-5 , March 16, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    @ ME Expert:

    Thank you for your comments! I'm looking at the above responses, including the additional link on Syria from Joe, which provides historical perspective also, in terms of US establishing a presence in eastern Syria to be "a thorn in Assad's side" as you say, and continue to push for regional control allied with Israel and Saudi Arabia, et al.

    On your question why such concern about the Sunnis, here's my impression, which could be too simple.

    With the conquest of Iraq and Bremer's releasing the 400,000 military, a highly Shia favored sort of revenge government program fell into place, favoring Shias and leading to problems for Sunnis (including high unemployment) that led on to the creation of ISIS. If similar economic and political problems are not dealt with, wiping out this iteration of ISIS could lead to another version of it. I also have the impression the potential number of these dissatisfied, as potential recruits, could number in many millions (not sure how many). I don't intend to take a position favoring Sunnis, but am trying to understand the complexity of the grievances of whomever. As part of this, my understanding is that many members of ISIS are not head-chopping maniacs but joined as ISIS was the only available opposing force.

    On your question why is the US so against the Shias, my impression is they haven't been against the Shias in Iraq, while simultaneously (and shortsightedly) exercising no influence on fair governance of Iraq following the 03 invasion, and this favoritism favored the Shias there and stirred Sunni resistance. But, I'm thinking, the animosity toward Shias elsewhere is related to alignments in the region, toward dominating the entire region, including taking down Syria and Iran. So it's not so much animosity toward Shias per se as it is to regime change uncooperative rulers, whether in Lebanon, Syria, or Iran, with their Shia populations (and lately of course throw in Russia). At stake is pipelines of various sorts, and water rights, and overall in terms of globalism and full spectrum dominance taking over the entire middle east region.

    I welcome being straightened out on where I'm correct or too simplistic. Thanks again.

    D5-5 , March 16, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    Meant to say INcorrect or too simplistic!

    LJ , March 16, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    The politics of divide and conquer can create strange bedfellows. There is deep routed historical enmity between the Sunnis and Shiites to begin with. Search Twelver. The US has allies and enemies, Bottom line, Saudi Arabia has a lot of oil and Israel has a lot of political power through it's representatives in the USA especially but also in Britain and France. The Iranians were our friends too after the USA overthrow their Democratic Government in 1953 and installed the Shah and the CIA set up ZAVAK to protect him. It worked until he got weak. . Iran's enmity with the USA and Israel is well supported by facts . So is Hezbollah's enmity as is the enmity of Palestinians living in camps in stateless exile in Lebanon and elsewhere. . We don't necessarily hate Shias. It's policy. A fun fact to know and tell is that the Saudis pump oil from under the feet of the Shia minority in Saudi Arabia. who have live near the Persian Gulf since they were Persians and Zoroastrians. Also The US 5th Fleet is stationed in Bahrain courtesy of a treaty with the Sunni Rulers of the 90% Shiite nation. Yemen in the same story. Policy is a reason why during the Bush years the USA began referring to the Persian Gulf as the Arabian Gulf. So too, When I was young Yemen was not unified. It will never be. Houthis are being oppressed in a genocidal manner right now with US backing because House of Saud sits on the Thrown of Damocles . That is why the King of Saudi Arabia is on a worldwide tour shaking hands with Xi in China yesterday. etc.,,,, ad nauseum

    Joe Tedesky , March 16, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    I wouldn't argue with any of you who are commenting here on this thread, because I agree with all of you. I would like to point out that when Iraq fell the Shia (Shiites) became the popular ruling segment of Iraq, and then came General David Petraeus. The Sunni Awakening has had profound ramifications on what we are up against now, if we should be up against anything at all since most of what we are dealing with is U.S. inspired. The ultimate goal was to descale Iraq away from Iranian influence, and this social engineering by the U.S. could not have been a bigger mistake than what it's turned out to be. Now we are turning Yemen into our new Cambodia, and this will also turn out to be an even bigger mistake unless better minds prevail inside of our White House (if the Oval Office even has the deciding decision on this). Take a look at a map and see where Iran is, and then see where we are positioning ourselves. My thoughts are that Iran is the final goal, and until Iran is brought down, done of us will get a good nights sleep hoping to wake up to a peaceful world. Also don't take that last sentence of mine to be an endorsement to attack Iran. I am more than happy to let Iran be Iran.

    https://warontherocks.com/2016/11/waking-up-to-the-truth-about-the-sunni-awakening/

    If we wish to end war, then let's quit fighting them!

    MEexpert , March 16, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    I agree Iran is the real target. The Afghan and Iraq wars were less against Al-Qaeda, since there was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq, but more against Iran. George Bush wanted to establish bases around Iran. In addition to these two countries, he wanted to establish one more in Turkmenistan. US already had a base in Turkey. Turkmenistan refused to allow any US base. Turkey refused the use of Turkish base to launch an attack on Iran. US got bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq. So the attack on Iran never came. Mind you, the largest US base in Iraq is near the Iran border.

    The dismantling of the Iraqi army wasn't the only thing Paul Bremer did wrong. He gave veto power to the minority Kurds and Sunnis. That is the reason for the non-functional Iraqi government. Nothing gets done. The Kurds are taking advantage of this situation and with the help of US are consolidating their territorial position. Saudi Arabia doesn't want another Shia government as its neighbor and so keeps the sectarian war going adding to the instability of the government.

    D5-5 , March 16, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    I keep trying to post a link to The Saker for Feb 7 this year, and it keeps disappearing. Easy to find, however. His analysis on what war with Iran would mean is excellent. "US vs Iran a war of apples vs. oranges."

    LJ , March 15, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Pence seems to be on board already as are McCain and Graham.I agree we can't can't on the Pelosi, Feinstein, Schumer's Liberal wing of the Democrats here. Maybe the Trump's Generals will save us? Yeah right. The House of Representatives ? Not likely . Strange days indeed .,

    CitizenOne , March 15, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    I was not aware of the Kagan's role and I thank you for doing the due diligence on outlining how this family is intertwined with recent misadventures. But also it is kind of picking at Nits. This is a smallish operation. It does not compare to the decades long operation of Cheney to privatize the DOD, teach his corporate buddies a Halliburton how to cash in, dream of further cashing in himself with PNAC and the Carlyle Group, gin up a war, destabilize the middle east and get a pass from the media. Cheney and Bush ignored all of the warnings from the FBI and the CIA that Saudi terrorists were planning an attack which would instantly make the Carlyle Group the wealthiest private equity firm on the planet.

    I agree it is all planned. Planned well in advance. The goal is to become rich by creating a war or wars.

    I realize it is aimed at a microscopic part of the picture but fails to connect the dots of Kagan and PNAC and 9/11. Cheney's own admission that short of "A New Pearl Harbor" Americans would not likely go along with his dreams of launching preemptive wars reveal a naked desire to become rich along with his buddies over at the Carlyle Group which snatched up defense stocks when the Berlin Wall fell and the USSR was disintegrating. While the rest of the World was celebrating the possibility of future peace with Russia, The PNAC folks were buying up stock in the defense industry and were dreaming of a war. which they created by ignoring all of the signs that 9/11 was underway. I get that they felt some future democratic branch of the government would botch an opportunity to create a fake enemy in Iraq and would fail to launch a war.

    But the facts are the whole thing was avoidable and was pushed with a mountain of lies which the major media simply regurgitated leading us to war.

    It doesn't end there. While we are now busy banning millions of people from coming to America because they might be terrorists, the real terrorists from abroad and here at home with Islamic ties were all known by the authorities. Yet they did nothing to stop them and instead have used their failures as excuses to create chaos which they hope will lead to more violence.

    How does a guy who went to the FBI and confessed was delusional and heard voices in his head trying to convert him to an ISIS terrorist then be allowed to board an airplane with a gun?

    How was the underpants bomber allowed on a plane when his parents called the US Consulate to inform US officials that their son was getting on that plane with a bomb. Yet we let this person on a plane. Why has the media never investigated this failure?

    It is failure after failure with gross incompetence from federal authorities charged with our security that has led to terrorist acts and not the failure to keep millions of people from traveling here.

    The Boston Marathon bombers were singled out to US intelligence agencies by none other than the Russians that they were terrorists but we let them in. No investigation of that but banning entire nations is an option we have now tried twice. What about the failure of intelligence to flag two people who were singled out as terrorists?

    There is a much bigger story here.

    The US government and intelligence agencies have obviously allowed terrorist attacks to happen. This has happened time and time again and yet the media focuses on the terrorists time and time again while ignoring and under reporting the backstory of how we just let it happen.

    It can be rationalized by a reasoned argument that we must allow some attacks to focus our efforts on thwarting even bigger attacks like nuclear attacks but there has been no action by the government to actually improve security so what is the point.

    The meaningless act of taking ones shoes off at an airport is only not copied by forcing us to all strip down to our underpants based on a similar event to the shoe bomber because people would not tolerate being forced to take off all their clothes.

    Now since an FAA test of airport security revealed that guns were not detected 95% of the time we are all preparing for pat downs. Nobody is examining the reason that 95% of the time somebody with a gun in their baggage gets through security which is supposedly equipped with machines that can spot guns. Where is the investigation of the machines since they fail so often?

    There are all sorts of similar stories which all conclude that we are faced with a rational reason that our government needs to allow some terrorist action to happen which in turn turns our state increasingly toward a militaristic police state.

    What I have a problem with is that we are more likely to be attacked by known terrorists and that nobody seems to be concerned with. I guess that allowing terrorist attacks provides the political concurrence to launch trillion dollar wars against other nations all for profit and put spy cupcakes in our refrigerators. Watch out! There's a camera just below the icing on the cupcake! Don't eat it!

    We can't just ignore home grown terrorists like the shooters in California who, while on a watch list, were allowed to purchase weapons or the crazy guy who told FBI ISIS was inside his head to board an airplane with a gun and do nothing to investigate these intelligence failures and instead use them to seek Apple to grant access to all our information on smartphones and order travel bans for millions of people while justifying turning our TVs into Big Brother.

    We can't ignore the obvious windfalls of Cheney and his pals at the Carlyle group to grow rich by allowing terrorists to kill thousands of people.

    If we are going to spill blood in preparation for war, then we need to make sure we are doing everything in our power to prevent it and especially not to seek to become rich from it. We also need to protect our privacy.

    So now it comes down to making Russia the new enemy. We have to reinvent an old enemy to justify further reasons for keeping America strong. But we spend ten times the money on our National Defense than the Russians do. Where does that line up with weakness? How do we just invent some myth that there are liberators working abroad in Ukraine and Syria to justify military spending just like we invented Vietnam? Has Vietnam attacked us recently? I think not. Is Syria a serious player in the international terrorism game? I think not.

    Here is a suggestion. Apply all that money used to create advanced defensive capability into an industry aimed at real security.

    Destabilizing the whole World to get rich is a bad idea. Getting rich by providing the means of nonmilitary industry aimed at enhancing security is a good idea. Easy money is a crime. Earning it the hard way is an honest living.

    Time for the easy money folks to be sidelined and for the people interested in long term survival to hold power.

    Bruce Walker , March 16, 2017 at 9:36 am

    Anyone in the USA who can say they are not aware of the Kagan clan no nothing and should not be writing such a long comment. Go back to sleep.

    CitizenOne , March 16, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    That would be spelled: knows nothing
    Perhaps you should wake up, learn to spell, and spend more than a lazy moment trolling me. If you have something intelligent to say we are all waiting with baited breath.

    CitizenOne , March 16, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    Well I guess I have to forgive Bruce Walker for not being a very good speller.

    That would be : bated breath.

    My bad.

    geoff , March 15, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    kagans never fail to excite. a package of madness on my monitor and how the hell did they get to screw things up. oh!! scuse me yes, hillary whatsaname!!!

    Brad N , March 15, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    The picture painted here is actually rather dismal when one considers the long term consequences of having such nonsense going on. Trump as possible savior from a war with Russia is a really hard pill to swallow. Very hard indeed, it is worth repeating. I have no confidence in his consistency at all. As for this article, I wish I could find fault with the analysis presented here. Sadly, I cannot.

    Chris Jonsson , March 15, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    War, Inc. A family owned and operated corporation.

    TheSkepticalCynic , March 15, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    Fuck the Kagans

    LJ , March 15, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    But they might multiply!

    Fran Macadam , March 15, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    "Despite his overall unfitness for the presidency, Trump defeated Clinton,"

    I greatly appreciate Mr. Parry's reporting and insights. However, I believe that the determination of fitness for the Presidency is determined by the voters and democracy determines who is qualified.

    Sam , March 16, 2017 at 7:35 am

    If only we had a democracy, Fran. But in fact elections and mass media are controlled by money, and our Constitution has no protection of these tools of democracy from money power, because there were no businesses then larger than plantations and small ships that would be small businesses today. We do not have a democracy now.

    Bill Bodden , March 15, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show, Friedman demanded that the Russia hacking allegations be treated as a casus belli: "That was a 9/11 scale event. They attacked the core of our democracy. That was a Pearl Harbor scale event." Both Pearl Harbor and 9/11 led to wars.

    This quote suggests it is time to send a team of men with a strait-jacket into the New York Times to cart this nutcase off to the loony bin. Come to think of it, maybe they should take several strait-jackets with them and clean out the editorial staff.

    Gregory Herr , March 16, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    It's absolutely asinine isn't it?! I'll have to take a look, but I'll bet there wasn't a snicker or even a raised eyebrow when Friedman (the oh-so-serious-in-the-know hushed-toned Friedman who reveled in promoting the Iraq killing field) spittled his brain drool. He really should be referred. At the very least, he should have been called out for his absurdity before being excused at the next commercial break.

    It's amazing how people like Kagan & Friedman can straight-face their farcical musings about Russian "interference". It's funny too how they can go on about the integrity and reliability of democratic processes when it is precisely the compromise of such that Wikileaks revealed. As noted by Mr. Parry:

    " by all accounts, the WikiLeaks-released emails were real and revealed wrongdoing by leading Democrats, such as the Democratic National Committee's tilting of the primaries against Sen. Bernie Sanders and in favor of Clinton. The emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta disclosed the contents of Clinton's paid speeches to Wall Street, which she was trying to hide from voters, as well as some pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation. In other words, the WikiLeaks' releases helped inform American voters about abuses to the U.S. democratic process. The emails were not "disinformation" or "fake news." They were real news."

    So much for real news in this country. And my God Mr. Kagan, Trump doesn't necessarily have faith in the findings or motives of the "intelligence community". I wonder why.

    I hope the Kagans find their karma. Oh, and that weasel Friedman too.

    Bill Bodden , March 15, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    Given the wars the Kagans have helped promote and the consequences of these wars, surely there is some crime they could be charged with.

    MEexpert , March 16, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    We wish.

    F. G. Sanford , March 15, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    The desperation with which neocons are baiting for a new Cold War suggests that there is something much bigger than "election hacking" that needs covering up. Profit motives aside, the cost-benefit ratio looks more like a ploy to stay out of jail. Not that anyone in the "deep state" ever faces penalties for High Crimes and Misdemeanors, but it must be a nagging thought to anyone familiar with Julius Streicher and Alfred Rosenberg.

    Jessica K , March 16, 2017 at 12:11 am

    Institute for the Study of War, that says it all! I remember when Dennis Kucinich as Representative from Ohio introduced a bill to create a Department of Peace. It didn't go very far.

    I also did not know about Frederick and Kimberly Kagan. How many more of these Kagans can be spawned?

    Thanks for a good warning, Robert Parry. These people must dream of war at night. I hope Trump and Tillerson are wary of them.

    Eric Bischoff , March 16, 2017 at 9:11 am

    "How many more of these Kagans can be spawned?"

    Yes and how many more Devos and Princes can we afford as well. Or how many Bushes, Clintons or Trumps!

    Sr. Gibbonk , March 16, 2017 at 1:10 am

    Ah yes, The Project for a New American Century manifesto: primary authors Robert Kagan and William Kristol on behalf of the neocon cabal and the European colonial Zionist project. Another demonstration that narrow, selfish interests, greed and the thirst for power drive this world. And all the while there are two great storms brewing on the horizon, each capable of driving our's and the majority of this earth's species to extinction. One, perhaps the most imminent, is the very real possibility of nuclear annihilation which is being spearheaded by the reckless ideologues and predatory capitalist deep state demagogues in their quest for Full Spectrum Dominance of global affairs. Even if the dire specter of nuclear holocaust is somehow avoided the global corporate world's avaricious, boundless appetite for short term profits, especially through fossil fuel extraction, will make the worst predictions of climate change inevitable: ecological collapse and along with it the collapse not only of nation states but of the human capacity to reason. How will the great nuclear powers, flailing like dinosaurs during the Permian-Triassic extinction - also known as The Great Dying - not then Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds?

    Stygg , March 16, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    FWIW, dinosaurs did not yet exist by the end of the Permian.

    Eric Downey , March 16, 2017 at 3:15 am

    Robert Parry thank you, and please continue your hard work. Our best hope for peace lies with Trump, Bannon, Tillerson and the Generals. It sounds crazy (and it is!) but they are well suited because they are aligned with a good chunk of the vocal electorate. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) proposed a bill Stop Arming Terrorists Act, and it has a companion in the Senate, sponsored by Rand Paul:
    https://www.mintpressnews.com/rand-paul-joins-tulsi-gabbard-calling-congress-stop-funding-isis-al-qaeda/225868/

    This is an informed electorate taking action. Parry is doing his job by informing us. Our job is to support H.R.608 and S.532.

    Gary , March 16, 2017 at 5:05 am

    There are so many in Washington who deserve to be tried for crimes against humanity that it is difficult to know where one would start. Actually, come to think of it, the Kagan family would be a great place to start! Then of course we'd have to move on to Bill and Hillary and another highly deserving couple Samantha Powers and hubby Cass Sustien of "cognitive infiltration" fame. Apparently psychopaths do find each other quite attractive, though who knows how many homicidal fantasies these particular spouses might actually harbor toward each other??

    Seema Gillani , March 16, 2017 at 7:00 am

    Trump has been neutralised to become a puppet of deep state. The world should expect the war business as usual.

    Geoffrey de Galles , March 16, 2017 at 7:44 am

    If I were the Kagans with as loaded an agenda as they share in the worldwide assertion of American exceptionalism, then I would consider the POTUS's Achilles heel to be Jared Kushner and his wife; and, in a more or less gentle and subtle way, would endeavour first to establish a relationship with them as a means of gradually bringing the pater familias around to my bellicose and imperialistic way of thinking. Myself, I consider the Kagans (among many others) to be the true enemy of the people. But that's my concern - viz., with trying to anticipate and out-think the enemy. So best watch out in that direction.

    fudmier , March 16, 2017 at 8:00 am

    The problem here is lack of ideal structure to for the concerned to become involved with
    No one has outlined the ideal America as seen from the point of everyday Americans..
    these 340,000,000 millions have no idea what to be for and against because they have
    no structure and no purpose .. seems to me developing that structure (culture, education,
    health care, voting rights, financial security, infra structure, and the like).
    Developing the structure is a first step to mounting the support Trump needs to make the right decisions..
    Trump himself lacks that structure.. Once the structure becomes a household word everyone knows the
    right decision they might agree to disagree on its implementation but the result intended is in plain view.

    Bryan Hemming , March 16, 2017 at 8:17 am

    Why would the Russians need to undermine democracy in the United States when the Democratic and Republican party machines are doing such a marvellous job of it by themselves?

    Del Spurlock , March 16, 2017 at 8:51 am

    EXCEPTIONAL

    Donald Kagan
    Spawned a tribe
    Of tinhorn
    Warriors

    Practice war he
    Said to them
    Make men
    Sacrifice
    Their reason and
    Their rectitude
    Their dreams of paradise.

    Make them fear
    The empty space
    Filled with conjured devils
    Make them sacrifice their young
    To save god's holy settlers.

    Make Obama toe their line
    Add John Lewis too
    Watch Black leaders
    Act so dumb
    And crap on King to Boot.

    Roberto , March 16, 2017 at 9:01 am

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXspsfoPX50

    Roberto , March 16, 2017 at 8:57 am

    The title should be, "How To Turn Unemployment Into A Great Day At The Gallows."

    Eric Bischoff , March 16, 2017 at 9:08 am

    Aren't there laws that the Kagan family are breaking? Seems to me we should start with them and arrest them for the lies that took the Bush regime into the Middle East wars and definitely for the Ukraine coup. They are financing and spreading terrorism therefore the money and the financiers behind these war think tanks are also guilty. This goes all the way to the Koch Brothers and they should be arrested as well! Why are we, the peace crusaders, on the defensive. We need to go on the offensive. Enough already!

    Dan Kuhn , March 16, 2017 at 10:17 am

    As P T barnum said " Theres a sucker born every minute". The real question is ; Are the American people going to get suckered into a war with Russia and or China? Given their past record of seriously questioning the propaganda put out by the Kagans et all i am not too hopeful over this present push to what will be a catastrophic war.

    LJ , March 16, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    It's all talk. We can't beat the Taliban or the Viet Cong or the Mexican and Central American drug Gangs on the ground if it comes to that. Russia? China? That's funny. This is to justify perpetuation of the status quo in this nation. We the People can't be allowed to pick up our heads and gaze at reality. We need to be preoccupied with the BS. Political Correctness has done it's job now we have to spend a bunch of money on imaginary threats so billionaires and bankers can get richer and we can all pretend that they matter and that this is fair and justified and Democracy in action , We need idiotic Generals in charge and tough talking politicians too. Obfuscation, whatever word or combination of words you like . It's fascistic crap. We the People didn't want more war in Syria under Obama . Nothing has changed , next time it won't matter if 90% of calls to Congressional offices are against a war. This is what Eisenhower said would happen back in 1958 though the entrenchment of the Military Industrial Financial Cyber Intelligence Complex.

    exiled off mainstreet , March 16, 2017 at 10:26 am

    Rather than being extolled and given mainstream platforms to exercise their baleful interests, the Kagans should face some sort of legal accountability as professional war criminals.

    Stiv , March 16, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Jesus Christ. Yea yea yea. Same old same old. In searching for a sign of light after the elections, the best I was able to do is " well at least Nuland won't be Secretary of State". But to go on and on and on

    Isn't there more important stuff going on? How about the "Hard diplomacy" Trumpistas are spouting about?

    It's been funny .in a sick way to see Trump and administration figures using the same language as Parry and his hangers on. "McCarthyism", "Deep State" are used every other paragraph.

    It's been noted a marked shift towards the Trump administration talking points in commentary here at Consortium "news". Even the "fake news" debacle is furthered here.

    And not in the right direction.

    My question .When does the news start, Robert?

    D5-5 , March 16, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    You know it's possible you're so angry you're not really paying attention. It you think there's been a "marked shift towards Trump administration talking points in commentary here" you're not really reading what's here, just swiftly glancing and stamping your foot with irritation. Why don't you provide a little news yourself instead of your same old same old bitching all the time?

    MEexpert , March 16, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    Here is that link to Saker's article:

    http://www.unz.com/tsaker/u-s-against-iran-a-war-of-apples-vs-oranges/

    Gregory Herr , March 16, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    So your grasp of what has "importance" is not aligned with CN and the thrust of its commentary. I think you've made that clear on several ad nauseam occasions.
    I should think that if this site was about reiterating Trump Administration talking points, we'd have the "hard diplomacy" thing covered by now. If you are concerned about what Mr. Parry publishes, submit articles on what you think is important. If you are concerned about the level or direction of commentary here, contribute with something substantive.

    LJ , March 16, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    Well, the Trump team players even Donald himself need to defend themselves for their own reasons. I think most commenters here are a little worried and rightly so for their own reasons, I personally do not like the vilification of all things Russian and the obvious McCarthy like tactics that have been going on calling for a witch hunt, a special prosecutor on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations. Democrats aren't calling out for justice they want to geld Trump but Pense would be even worse. Maybe it's time tobelieve in Democracy at some level.

    John , March 16, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    The Kagans are simply supplying a strategy to further a growing agenda ..The average USA citizen's strategy is complacency and their agenda is simply to do nothing ..This is why the 1% rule over the 99% ..

    Jessica K , March 16, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Tony Cartaluccu's article on The Deep State is excellent, thank you, Joe. The multipolar world he speaks of, which Putin often refers to, is what the neocon imperialists such as the Kagans don't want, but they're getting it, anyway. Since the days of the Iraq War, many great alternative journalists, such as this website, have exposed and continue to expose the facts behind deep state propaganda so these folks can't dominate as they used to. The USA doesn't look so good to a lot of nations after the disasters created by the regime change proxy wars. Despite the badmouthing of Putin and Russia in the US, many other countries aren't signing on to that attitude, from what I've read. I have just read that China wants to help rebuild Syria, since Syria is an important geographic route on their One Belt, One Road project. If the US can't recognize it can't remain top dog forever and that it's a multipolar world, it might find itself isolated.

    Dag , March 16, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    The Kagans should be in prison for all the crimes they've enabled, all the lives they've destroyed.

    Airman Sparky , March 16, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Robert Parry & Glenn Greenwald are at the top of my short list of real-life, courageous, truth-telling heroes but, for today, Kiza reigns supreme with her tour de force:"Between the Clinton liberals and the Ziocons C'est une Affaire d'Amour Toujours, as Pepé Le Pew likes to say."
    Massive props, Zika, for referencing Pepe, HRC, & neocons in a single sentence

    Ted , March 16, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    OK, I get it about the Kagans, but I still don't trust Putin.

    Jessica K , March 16, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    So then, Ted, why don't you move to Russia so that you can do an objective evaluation of the country and under Putin? Of course, Russian is not an easy language to learn! It's just reported on Global Research that Russia has absorbed 2.5 million Ukrainian refugees since the US 2014 coup and Europe 900,000 more, according to a Kremlin parliamentarian in February. Thanks to Victoria Nuland!

    Ted , March 16, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Hmm that's a response I would expect at TheBlaze – knee-jerk and black-and-white. Perhaps I should learn Russian. Are you offering to teach me, comrade?

    J'hon Doe II , March 16, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    UK/US is the Last Empire and Trump is an 'angel-of-death'.
    Nothing good can or will from his spurious administration .

    http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2016/11/09/20161111_trump1.jpg

    Brad Isherwood , March 16, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    The PNAC psychopaths did their part in 911. The conquer 7 Nations in 5 years for Israel has been delayed.

    The MIC has Al qeada,ISIS. ..even Muslim Brotherhood, ..all over the place, to give the MIC years and years. ..even another decade or more war pleasuring. Trump kicked huge gift to the Military. ..before the Ides of March arrived.

    The Saudi/Qatar block have invested multi millions in regime change Assad. The trained Mercs forces, logistics, weapons. posture against Iran, and the dream of Pipelines.

    Erdogan the Mad Caliph is the receiver of the Terrorists from Saudi or Libya and other, the reciever of the pipelines.
    Israel will not give back the Golan .wants Hezbollah gone from near its Safe Zone.

    Far too much money which MIC wants play with. ..and as Admiral Thomas Moorer commented, " No American President can stand up to Israel "

    US boots going back into Afghanistan, in Yemen, in Iraq, going into Syria, media bleating about US needs go back to Libya and fix that mess.

    Trump is where on his supposed non intervention promises? The John McCain and Deep State media rush against Russia with lies like WMD Iraq. Is this Deja Vu

    Jessica K , March 16, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    Ted, my comment was sarcastic because you did not back up your opinion with any facts. The situation is getting very sticky with now Canada's Foreign Minister getting into the smearfest. Freeland just pulled out the Crimean Tatars as being victims of Russian aggression, and I, knowing nothing about the issue, had to start digging, which began with US articles supporting brutalization by Russia, some from 2016. Digging out further are some articles that this is not the case, Tatars supported going with Russia as Crimeans voted. All which supports that propaganda is rife, is there a free press anymore, and the virulent fixation on Russia is out of control. And my position is that some politicians are willing to take us to extinction to get their way, while we have a planet with many problems we should be addressing.

    [Mar 17, 2017] The Kagans Are Back; Wars to Follow

    Notable quotes:
    "... The Kagan family, America's neoconservative aristocracy, has reemerged having recovered from the letdown over not gaining its expected influence from the election of Hillary Clinton and from its loss of official power at the start of the Trump presidency. ..."
    "... "Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats. ..."
    "... "This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks. ..."
    "... the Ukraine putsch led to the secession of Crimea and a bloody civil war in eastern Ukraine with ethnic Russians, events that the State Department and the mainstream Western media deemed "Russian aggression" or a "Russian invasion." ..."
    "... Yet, the so-called "#Resistance" to Trump's presidency and President Obama's unprecedented use of his intelligence agencies to paint Trump as a Russian "Manchurian candidate" gave new hope to the neocons and their agenda. ..."
    "... It has taken them a few months to reorganize and regroup but they now see hope in pressuring Trump so hard regarding Russia that he will have little choice but to buy into their belligerent schemes. ..."
    "... As often is the case, the Family Kagan has charted the course of action – batter Republicans into joining the all-out Russia-bashing and then persuade a softened Trump to launch a full-scale invasion of Syria. In this endeavor, the Kagans have Democrats and liberals as the foot soldiers. ..."
    "... America's Stolen Narrative, ..."
    Mar 15, 2017 | consortiumnews.com

    Exclusive: The neocon royalty Kagans are counting on Democrats and liberals to be the foot soldiers in the new neocon campaign to push Republicans and President Trump into more "regime change" wars, reports Robert Parry.

    The Kagan family, America's neoconservative aristocracy, has reemerged having recovered from the letdown over not gaining its expected influence from the election of Hillary Clinton and from its loss of official power at the start of the Trump presidency.

    Back pontificating on prominent op-ed pages, the Family Kagan now is pushing for an expanded U.S. military invasion of Syria and baiting Republicans for not joining more enthusiastically in the anti-Russian witch hunt over Moscow's alleged help in electing Donald Trump.

    In a Washington Post op-ed on March 7, Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and a key architect of the Iraq War, jabbed at Republicans for serving as "Russia's accomplices after the fact" by not investigating more aggressively.

    Then, Frederick Kagan, director of the Critical Threats Project at the neocon American Enterprise Institute, and his wife, Kimberly Kagan, president of her own think tank, Institute for the Study of War, touted the idea of a bigger U.S. invasion of Syria in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on March 15.

    Yet, as much standing as the Kagans retain in Official Washington's world of think tanks and op-ed placements, they remain mostly outside the new Trump-era power centers looking in, although they seem to have detected a door being forced open.

    Still, a year ago, their prospects looked much brighter. They could pick from a large field of neocon-oriented Republican presidential contenders or – like Robert Kagan – they could support the establishment Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, whose "liberal interventionism" matched closely with neoconservatism, differing only slightly in the rationalizations used for justifying wars and more wars.

    There was also hope that a President Hillary Clinton would recognize how sympatico the liberal hawks and the neocons were by promoting Robert Kagan's neocon wife, Victoria Nuland, from Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs to Secretary of State.

    Then, there would have been a powerful momentum for both increasing the U.S. military intervention in Syria and escalating the New Cold War with Russia, putting "regime change" back on the agenda for those two countries. So, early last year, the possibilities seemed endless for the Family Kagan to flex their muscles and make lots of money.

    A Family Business

    As I noted two years ago in an article entitled " A Family Business of Perpetual War ": "Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats.

    "This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks.

    "Not only does the broader community of neoconservatives stand to benefit but so do other members of the Kagan clan, including Robert's brother Frederick at the American Enterprise Institute and his wife Kimberly, who runs her own shop called the Institute for the Study of War."

    But things didn't quite turn out as the Kagans had drawn them up. The neocon Republicans stumbled through the GOP primaries losing out to Donald Trump and then – after Hillary Clinton muscled aside Sen. Bernie Sanders to claim the Democratic nomination – she fumbled away the general election to Trump.

    After his surprising victory, Trump – for all his many shortcomings – recognized that the neocons were not his friends and mostly left them out in the cold. Nuland not only lost her politically appointed job as Assistant Secretary but resigned from the Foreign Service, too.

    With Trump in the White House, Official Washington's neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment was down but far from out. The neocons were tossed a lifeline by Democrats and liberals who detested Trump so much that they were happy to pick up Nuland's fallen banner of the New Cold War with Russia. As part of a dubious scheme to drive Trump from office, Democrats and liberals hyped evidence-free allegations that Russia had colluded with Trump's team to rig the U.S. election.

    New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman spoke for many of this group when he compared Russia's alleged "meddling" to Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor and Al Qaeda's 9/11 terror attacks.

    On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show, Friedman demanded that the Russia hacking allegations be treated as a casus belli: "That was a 9/11 scale event. They attacked the core of our democracy. That was a Pearl Harbor scale event." Both Pearl Harbor and 9/11 led to wars.

    So, with many liberals blinded by their hatred of Trump, the path was open for neocons to reassert themselves.

    Baiting Republicans

    Robert Kagan took to the high-profile op-ed page of The Washington Post to bait key Republicans, such as Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who was pictured above the Post article and its headline, "Running interference for Russia."

    Gen. David Petraeus posing before the U.S. Capitol with Kimberly Kagan, founder and president of the Institute for the Study of War. (Photo credit: ISW's 2011 Annual Report)

    Kagan wrote: "It would have been impossible to imagine a year ago that the Republican Party's leaders would be effectively serving as enablers of Russian interference in this country's political system. Yet, astonishingly, that is the role the Republican Party is playing."

    Kagan then reprised Official Washington's groupthink that accepted without skepticism the claims from President Obama's outgoing intelligence chiefs that Russia had "hacked" Democratic emails and released them via WikiLeaks to embarrass the Clinton campaign.

    Though Obama's intelligence officials offered no verifiable evidence to support the claims – and WikiLeaks denied getting the two batches of emails from the Russians – the allegations were widely accepted across Official Washington as grounds for discrediting Trump and possibly seeking his removal from office.

    Ignoring the political conflict of interest for Obama's appointees, Kagan judged that "given the significance of this particular finding [about Russian meddling], the evidence must be compelling" and justified "a serious, wide-ranging and open investigation."

    But Kagan also must have recognized the potential for the neocons to claw their way back to power behind the smokescreen of a New Cold War with Russia.

    He declared: "The most important question concerns Russia's ability to manipulate U.S. elections. That is not a political issue. It is a national security issue. If the Russian government did interfere in the United States' electoral processes last year, then it has the capacity to do so in every election going forward. This is a powerful and dangerous weapon, more than warships or tanks or bombers.

    "Neither Russia nor any potential adversary has the power to damage the U.S. political system with weapons of war. But by creating doubts about the validity, integrity and reliability of U.S. elections, it can shake that system to its foundations."

    A Different Reality

    As alarmist as Kagan's op-ed was, the reality was far different. Even if the Russians did hack the Democratic emails and somehow slipped the information to WikiLeaks – an unsubstantiated and disputed contention – those two rounds of email disclosures were not that significant to the election's outcome.

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders. (NBC photo)

    Hillary Clinton blamed her surprise defeat on FBI Director James Comey briefly reopening the investigation into her use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State.

    Further, by all accounts, the WikiLeaks-released emails were real and revealed wrongdoing by leading Democrats, such as the Democratic National Committee's tilting of the primaries against Sen. Bernie Sanders and in favor of Clinton. The emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta disclosed the contents of Clinton's paid speeches to Wall Street, which she was trying to hide from voters, as well as some pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation.

    In other words, the WikiLeaks' releases helped inform American voters about abuses to the U.S. democratic process. The emails were not "disinformation" or "fake news." They were real news.

    A similar disclosure occurred both before the election and this week when someone leaked details about Trump's tax returns, which are protected by law. However, except for the Trump camp, almost no one thought that this illegal act of releasing a citizen's tax returns was somehow a threat to American democracy.

    The general feeling was that Americans have a right to know such details about someone seeking the White House. I agree, but doesn't it equally follow that we had a right to know about the DNC abusing its power to grease the skids for Clinton's nomination, about the contents of Clinton's speeches to Wall Street bankers, and about foreign governments seeking pay-to-play influence by contributing to the Clinton Foundation?

    Yet, because Obama's political appointees in the U.S. intelligence community "assess" that Russia was the source of the WikiLeaks emails, the assault on U.S. democracy is a reason for World War III.

    More Loose Talk

    But Kagan was not satisfied with unsubstantiated accusations regarding Russia undermining U.S. democracy. He asserted as "fact" – although again without presenting evidence – that Russia is "interfering in the coming elections in France and Germany, and it has already interfered in Italy's recent referendum and in numerous other elections across Europe. Russia is deploying this weapon against as many democracies as it can to sap public confidence in democratic institutions."

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, flanked by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria "Toria" Nuland, addresses Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on July 14, 2016. [State Department Photo]

    There's been a lot of handwringing in Official Washington and across the Mainstream Media about the "post-truth" era, but these supposed avatars for truth are as guilty as anyone, acting as if constantly repeating a fact-free claim is the same as proving it.

    But it's clear what Kagan and other neocons have in mind, an escalation of hostilities with Russia and a substantial increase in spending on U.S. military hardware and on Western propaganda to "counter" what is deemed "Russian propaganda."

    Kagan recognizes that he already has many key Democrats and liberals on his side. So he is taking aim at Republicans to force them to join in the full-throated Russia-bashing, writing:

    "But it is the Republicans who are covering up. The party's current leader, the president, questions the intelligence community's findings, motives and integrity. Republican leaders in Congress have opposed the creation of any special investigating committee, either inside or outside Congress. They have insisted that inquiries be conducted by the two intelligence committees.

    "Yet the Republican chairman of the committee in the House has indicated that he sees no great urgency to the investigation and has even questioned the seriousness and validity of the accusations. The Republican chairman of the committee in the Senate has approached the task grudgingly.

    "The result is that the investigations seem destined to move slowly, produce little information and provide even less to the public. It is hard not to conclude that this is precisely the intent of the Republican Party's leadership, both in the White House and Congress.

    "When Republicans stand in the way of thorough, open and immediate investigations, they become Russia's accomplices after the fact."

    Lying with the Neocons

    Many Democrats and liberals may find it encouraging that a leading neocon who helped pave the road to war in Iraq is now by their side in running down Republicans for not enthusiastically joining the latest Russian witch hunt. But they also might pause to ask themselves how they let their hatred of Trump get them into an alliance with the neocons.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, following his address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

    On Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, Robert Kagan's brother Frederick and his wife Kimberly dropped the other shoe, laying out the neocons' long-held dream of a full-scale U.S. invasion of Syria, a project that was put on hold in 2004 because of U.S. military reversals in Iraq.

    But the neocons have long lusted for "regime change" in Syria and were not satisfied with Obama's arming of anti-government rebels and the limited infiltration of U.S. Special Forces into northern Syria to assist in the retaking of the Islamic State's "capital" of Raqqa.

    In the Journal op-ed, Frederick and Kimberly Kagan call for opening a new military front in southeastern Syria:

    "American military forces will be necessary. But the U.S. can recruit new Sunni Arab partners by fighting alongside them in their land. The goal in the beginning must be against ISIS because it controls the last areas in Syria where the U.S. can reasonably hope to find Sunni allies not yet under the influence of al Qaeda. But the aim after evicting ISIS must be to raise a Sunni Arab army that can ultimately defeat al Qaeda and help negotiate a settlement of the war.

    "The U.S. will have to pressure the Assad regime, Iran and Russia to end the conflict on terms that the Sunni Arabs will accept. That will be easier to do with the independence and leverage of a secure base inside Syria. President Trump should break through the flawed logic and poor planning that he inherited from his predecessor. He can transform this struggle, but only by transforming America's approach to it."

    A New Scheme on Syria

    In other words, the neocons are back to their clever word games and their strategic maneuverings to entice the U.S. military into a "regime change" project in Syria.

    The neocons thought they had almost pulled off that goal by pinning a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, on the Syrian government and mousetrapping Obama into launching a major U.S. air assault on the Syrian military.

    But Russian President Vladimir Putin stepped in to arrange for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to surrender all his chemical weapons even as Assad continued to deny any role in the sarin attack.

    Putin's interference in thwarting the neocons' dream of a Syrian "regime change" war moved Putin to the top of their enemies' list. Soon key neocons, such as National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman, were taking aim at Ukraine, which Gershman deemed "the biggest prize" and a steppingstone toward eventually ousting Putin in Moscow.

    It fell to Assistant Secretary Victoria "Toria" Nuland to oversee the "regime change" in Ukraine. She was caught on an unsecured phone line in late January or early February 2014 discussing with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt how "to glue" or "to midwife" a change in Ukraine's elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych.

    Several weeks later, neo-Nazi and ultranationalist street fighters spearheaded a violent assault on government buildings forcing Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives, with the U.S. government quickly hailing the coup regime as "legitimate."

    But the Ukraine putsch led to the secession of Crimea and a bloody civil war in eastern Ukraine with ethnic Russians, events that the State Department and the mainstream Western media deemed "Russian aggression" or a "Russian invasion."

    So, by the last years of the Obama administration, the stage was set for the neocons and the Family Kagan to lead the next stage of the strategy of cornering Russia and instituting a "regime change" in Syria.

    All that was needed was for Hillary Clinton to be elected president. But these best-laid plans surprisingly went astray. Despite his overall unfitness for the presidency, Trump defeated Clinton, a bitter disappointment for the neocons and their liberal interventionist sidekicks.

    Yet, the so-called "#Resistance" to Trump's presidency and President Obama's unprecedented use of his intelligence agencies to paint Trump as a Russian "Manchurian candidate" gave new hope to the neocons and their agenda.

    It has taken them a few months to reorganize and regroup but they now see hope in pressuring Trump so hard regarding Russia that he will have little choice but to buy into their belligerent schemes.

    As often is the case, the Family Kagan has charted the course of action – batter Republicans into joining the all-out Russia-bashing and then persuade a softened Trump to launch a full-scale invasion of Syria. In this endeavor, the Kagans have Democrats and liberals as the foot soldiers.

    Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com ).

    [Mar 16, 2017] New Oil Price War Looms As The OPEC Deal Falls Short naked capitalism

    Mar 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    nonsense factory , March 14, 2017 at 11:46 am

    The writing on the wall for the oil industry is pretty clear: (1) high oil prices are needed to finance recovery of the remaining dirty, hard-to-get oil, but (2) high oil prices drive a collapse in demand as consumers respond by turning to efficient technologies and renewable energy.

    The oil industry, from multinationals like Exxon to state actors like OPEC members, is thus trying to keep prices in a narrow band that is just high enough to make things like fracking and shale oil profitable, but not so high as to accelerate demand collapse. The highest-cost dirtiest oil is being abandoned, for example Exxon just wrote off tar sand oil holdings:

    The company said Wednesday in its annual 10-K filing to the Securities and Exchanges Commission that it has cut its estimate of recoverable reserves by a net 3.3 billion barrels of oil equivalent (or "bboe"), to just under 20 billion, a result of low crude prices that have made some of its investments in high-cost oil uneconomic to extract. Specifically, the company de-booked its entire pro rata 3.5 billion barrels of reserves in a Canadian oil sands project.

    Clearly the long-term picture is a shift to highly efficient vehicles (Toyota's 133-mpg Prius just came out), electric vehicles, low-pollution fuels like natural gas for the trucking industry, etc. – meaning that gasoline and diesel are heading the same way as coal, slowly but surely. Smart investors should be unwinding their oil holdings as fast as possible.

    yamahog , March 14, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Toyota's Prius Prime isn't rated at 133 mpg on gas – it's closer to 50-60 mpg and the Prius Prime is more expensive than the conventional prius. The primary benefit of the prius prime is that it has bigger batteries and 'plug in' capabilities. It goes 133 miles on the electricity equivalent of 1 gallon of gas but its batteries are so small that it can only go about 20 miles on electricity until it switches over to gas.

    Meanwhile, Toyota's Camry (a 30 mpg car) is losing its sales volume to the Rav4 (a 24 mpg SUV). America's desire for SUVs and AWD has resulted in a pretty constant fleet mpg average over the past two decades with gains in efficiency offset by gains in vehicle mass and capability.

    voislav , March 14, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    I recently talked to somebody from Toyota and he mentioned that their production mix in North America is skewed compared to their demand. Their production mix 45:55 passenger cars to trucks/SUV's right now, but the demand is 40:60 and it's shifting further to the heavy side, they expect this year to be 35:65.

    This is despite heavy promotions and discounts they are doing on smaller vehicles to try to get them off the lot. On the truck side, they sell them as soon as they are out of the factory. Cheap oil is driving the demand for larger vehicles and killing the hybrid/electric sales.

    photosymbiosis , March 14, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    The basic issue is that electric motors approach 99% efficiency at converting stored electric charge to power, while gasoline and diesel internal combustion engines tend to operate at 15-25% efficiency when converting gasoline or diesel to power. At current fuel & electricity prices, costs per-mile are at least 3 times higher for fossil fueled vehicles vs. electric vehicles.

    Hence, if oil prices rise to a level that makes production of the remaining oil profitable, fuel prices will also rise, driving that cost differential even higher in favor of electric vehicles. This is a fairly slow process, sure, but the trend is clear:
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-03/electric-cars-could-take-an-opec-sized-bite-from-oil-demand

    What effect would a 10% drop in demand for gasoline and diesel have on crude oil prices? And at those low prices, what would be the effect on investment in exploration and production of oil? That's the downward death spiral for the fossil fuel industry.

    nikbez , March 14, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    "The basic issue is that electric motors approach 99% efficiency at converting stored electric charge to power,"

    This is not true. Electric motor in cars works via transmission, not directly because they rotate at higher speeds then is necessary to rotate the wheels.

    Which impose at least 20% losses.

    Battery also impose 10% losses as it has internal impedance and conversion of chemical energy into electrical and vise versa in not 100% efficient.

    Efficiency of the battery drops with age and three year battery is even less efficient. Another 5% losses are in charging devices and transmission.

    Add to this that electrical car needs to heat cabin with 5 KW heater or cool it with 3 KW air conditioner and outside California hybrids beat electrical vehicle to the punch in all important technological parameters.

    That means that electrical car right now is more of a status symbol, then a practical solution for regular folks.

    TOM , March 14, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Electricity is still mostly being produced by fossil fuel. If you factor in distribution loss and the much higher energy cost for producing batteries electric cars are less efficient. That is unless you take to producing electrity from renewables. But the renewables are not always on line and therefore you need to have the same amount of legacy power stations as before. You need to find a way to store energy but we are still very far from that and I personally don´t think we will ever return to the days when one unit of energy yields 100 units of energy in oil. Renewables will never provide these kinds of yields. And it isn´t at all clear to me why one had to move one ton of iron to get somebody from A to B. It is all in the mind .

    FluffytheObeseCat , March 14, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Quite a bit of the enduring switch to larger, lower mpg vehicles seems to be fueled by lending practices that favor big-ticket big machines. Absent this market-distorting 'push' from car manufacturers' affiliated finance arms .. this preference might disappear. From the user perspective there are benefits to owning larger vehicles, but on our increasingly congested roads there are obvious drawbacks as well.

    You are – implicitly – claiming consumers naturally prefer the big vehicles that are pushed on them by financing gimmicks. I see the almighty consumer as being gamed on this matter.

    tongorad , March 14, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    You are – implicitly – claiming consumers naturally prefer the big vehicles that are pushed on them by financing gimmicks.

    Where I live in TX, a mega-truck seems to an entree into machismo-ville, duck-dynasty utopia or somesuch. Amerika's car culture looms large.

    johnnygl , March 14, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    There are definitely regional and cultural differences that you are correct to point out, and status symbols corresponding.

    I think there are generational differences, also. Young people are much less into cars than the older crowd. Plus they prefer cities more, where cars become more of a hassle.

    With rising default rates and rising interest rates, the auto lending sector looks set to take a bath in the next year or two.

    Code Name D , March 14, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    If you are going to be stuck in trafic for hours on end, with the kids in the back seat, would you rather be in a closterfobic combac or a spatious SUV?

    nick , March 14, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    In MA I see a ton of shiny, otherwise normal looking pickups with commercial plates. I've always assumed it was tradesmen or plowers who could plausibly claim a tax break for these vehicles.

    RenoDino , March 14, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Peak oil consumption equals stranded resource. The race is on to pump as much as possible before demand dries up even more and prices collapse to $10 p/b. There is so much debt leverage against oil in the ground that pumping must be ramped to pay it off making a price collapse even more certain.

    likbez , March 14, 2017 at 5:06 pm
    I wish we live in such a comfortable Universe as you describe. But this is a Utopia. In reality:

    1. There no peak oil consumption on the horizon world wide. Mankind adds around one million barrels per day in consumption each year. China and India consumption is growing and probably will continue to grow for at least a decade. Consumption in other Africa and Asian countries is growing too.

    2. There are very few oil fields were you can profitably extract oil at prices below $50 per barrel. And those fields are old and are closer and closer to depletion (those fields are mainly KSA, Iraq and other Gulf fields). Neither US shale nor Canadian oil sands belong to this category. But with oil prices above 60 or 70 the US economy will stagnate, unless supported by printing money. See nonsense factory post above. This is a new Catch 22 but will pretty menacing implications.

    3. Junk bonds generated by shale companies in the USA is a bubble (or Ponzi finance in Minsky classification, if you like) that will eventually collapse/deflate. Few bondholders will ever be paid.

    [Mar 14, 2017] United States of Secrets William Binney - YouTube

    Mar 14, 2017 | www.youtube.com

    [Mar 11, 2017] When 'democratic' elections are required, elites can't preserve their monopoly on power unless the electorate gets split on issues besides economic ones. Therefore, identity issues and two party system

    Notable quotes:
    "... These are all the product of a shared suppressing of actual wage class majority WCM " best interests". The WCM must be fragmented for elites to attach Non rational handles to them. And port them around as voting pawns in elite tussles ..."
    "... Yep. That is what makes identity politics so appealing. You get all the triangulation necessary to fragment the WCM at NO COST to corporate or wealthy economic interests. Who said there was no such thing as a free lunch? ..."
    "... "fragment the WCM at NO COST to corporate or wealthy economic interests." Now I understand why two parties are necessary instead of just one. ..."
    "... When 'democratic' elections are required, elites can't preserve their monopoly on power unless the electorate gets split on issues besides economic ones. Therefore, identity issues. ..."
    "... Exactly! Also, when stuff goes real badly the party in power at the time gets deposed and its alternate elected into office, so that there is no further political retribution by the electorate. We become vindicated and satisfied by our only plausible response. We can just flip flop back and forth between the two parties amusing ourselves endlessly while the same elite class controls everything except which political surrogates will be their front men at any given point in time. ..."
    Mar 11, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
    ilsm -> ken melvin... March 11, 2017 at 04:38 AM , 2017 at 04:38 AM
    "Rational, reasoning person"s have been absent the past 8 years; anyone disagreeing with Obama was racist or wanted the evil doers to win, and in the past year [aided by deep state surveillance of the political opposition] anyone opposing Clinton is for Russians taking over and anti woman.......
    Paine -> ilsm... , March 11, 2017 at 07:35 AM
    When naked class interests have to be disguised
    When choices are not what they appear to be
    When outcomes rely on non rational non empirical convictions

    These are all the product of a shared suppressing of actual wage class majority WCM " best interests". The WCM must be fragmented for elites to attach Non rational handles to them. And port them around as voting pawns in elite tussles

    RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> Paine... , March 11, 2017 at 07:44 AM
    Yep. That is what makes identity politics so appealing. You get all the triangulation necessary to fragment the WCM at NO COST to corporate or wealthy economic interests. Who said there was no such thing as a free lunch?
    JohnH -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , March 11, 2017 at 08:36 AM
    "fragment the WCM at NO COST to corporate or wealthy economic interests." Now I understand why two parties are necessary instead of just one.

    When 'democratic' elections are required, elites can't preserve their monopoly on power unless the electorate gets split on issues besides economic ones. Therefore, identity issues.

    If there was just one party, unity against elites would most likely coalesce around economic issues, which would become the common denominator of opposition ala French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, etc., etc.

    RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> JohnH... , March 11, 2017 at 09:00 AM
    Exactly! Also, when stuff goes real badly the party in power at the time gets deposed and its alternate elected into office, so that there is no further political retribution by the electorate. We become vindicated and satisfied by our only plausible response. We can just flip flop back and forth between the two parties amusing ourselves endlessly while the same elite class controls everything except which political surrogates will be their front men at any given point in time.
    RGC -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , March 11, 2017 at 09:33 AM
    An excellent insight.

    [Mar 11, 2017] John Helmer: Australian Government Trips Up Ukrainian Court Claim of MH17 as Terrorism

    Notable quotes:
    "... By John Helmer , the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears ..."
    "... The Australian Government refuses to declare the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 a terrorist act, and is withholding state payments of $75,000 to each of the families of the 38 Australian nationals or residents killed when the plane was shot down in eastern Ukraine on July 14, 2014. ..."
    "... In public Turnbull said on Monday: "Vladimir Putin's Russia is subject to international sanctions, to which Australia is a part, because of his conduct in shooting down the MH17 airliner in which 38 Australians were killed. Let's not forget that. That was a shocking international crime." ..."
    "... Why were successive Australian officials so quick to designate the Nairobi and Brussels incidents as terrorism, before the local police and courts had time to investigate and prosecute, and why have the Australian officials spent two years and eight months refusing to designate the Ukrainian incident? Canberra sources believe the answer is that there is no legal basis in the Australian Criminal Code for doing so because the evidence of terrorism in the MH17 case isn't there. ..."
    "... Only a bloody fool would suggest that Putin has anything to gain by shooting down a civilian airliner. If Turnbull really believes this he should issue a travel advisory on all Australian airlines crossing Russian airspace. Whan I first heard of this it appeared that the rebels had shot the plane down thinking it was some kind of Ukranian plane. The Ukranian went full court with this to brand Russia a terrorist state, things went downhill from there. The Ukraine bears culpability for allowing transit flights over a disturbed area, thus they can't really press for a neutral judgement. ..."
    "... There was one KH-11 (USA-161) (2001-044A) that provides optical imagery in position at that time that might have had chance to image the area. However it might no longer have been functioning as it was deorbited a few months later. ..."
    "... On that day several radar imaging satellite / systems made passes over the area. Lacrosse 5 (2005-016A), FIA Radar 1, 2 and 3 (2010-046A, 2012-014A and 2013-072A), the SAR-Lupe satellites, the Hélios system and IGS. These are operated by the US, Germany, France and Japan. ..."
    "... My understanding is that the SBIRS saw the missile launch. Likely others 'saw' something. But likely, nothing any one satellite 'saw' is going to 'prove' anything. It would take the assembly of a number of things that were 'seen' to provide a weighted conclusion. Also a number of those satellites would have been looking at the Middle East instead of the Ukraine when they made those passes. ..."
    "... This sounds like another sleazy compromise. Maybe the secret is that the Russians have cold hard evidence against Nato and Ukraine on this. Perhaps evidence that the Netherlands also compromised its notorious caution and allowed somebody to let MH17 fly over a war zone. So with this obfuscation about lack of intent both Russia and Ukraine have won. ..."
    "... You make me think John Helmer. Yes, if Russian citizens, Putin or otherwise, are directly responsible for supplying the Buk that allegedly shot down flight MH17 to anyone in Ukraine or actually committed such an act, why are the Netherlands, USA, Australia, all countries of the world, especially those of Anglo-American persuasion, allowing their commercial aircraft to overfly Russian and Ukrainian territory? Why? Because they don't believe the story themselves, see Australia's stance, for instance. What a bunch of flaming hypocrites. The dead are dead so why not makt the best of them use them as an unprincipled excuse to achieve political ends. ..."
    "... This whole MH17 incident stinks to high heaven and I cannot believe how much of our media here in Oz is uncritically accepting the official story. What is worse is knowing that all those deaths are being used as a convenient political football, the truth be damned. I can think of a dozen things that set of my BS Indicator here with MH17 such as the Ukrainians absolutely refusing to release the ground control comms to the downed airliner or that, unlike the Russians, the US has refused to release detailed radar and radio intercepts for that day. They did reference a nice YouTube clip of a moving truck though ..."
    "... How many people know that the Ukrainians had their own BUK missiles in the area because they were shit-scared of the Russian Air Force maybe paying them a visit. Or that they had previously shot down an airliner – and had refused to accept responsibility? I think that Turnbull does not want the crash labelled a terrorist incident as when the full truth comes out (and it always does in the end) it would open up all sorts of legal liabilities and it could be him left swinging in the wind. ..."
    "... If you asked people in Australia if it was a good idea to ship uranium to a semi-failed state in the middle of a civil war that has made indications that they would like to acquire nuclear weapons most of them would say no way. And yet last year we signed an agreement to do precisely that with Ukraine. ..."
    "... As a former combat veteran, I can attest that the "smoking gun" in the MH17 case is the clearly identifiable circular holes in the fuselage which could only have been caused by the cannons of a fighter aircraft and not from shrapnel produced from an exploding missile. Shrapnel does not produce perfectly circular and consistent holes. MH17 was most likely brought down by the fighter jet following it in eyewitness accounts. ..."
    Mar 11, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Posted on March 11, 2017 by Yves Smith By John Helmer , the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

    The Australian Government refuses to declare the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 a terrorist act, and is withholding state payments of $75,000 to each of the families of the 38 Australian nationals or residents killed when the plane was shot down in eastern Ukraine on July 14, 2014.

    The Australian Attorney-General, George Brandis, has written to advise Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (lead image, left; right image, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko) there is insufficient evidence of what and who caused the MH17 crash to meet the Australian statutory test of a terrorist act. Because the Attorney-General's legal opinion flatly contradicts Turnbull's public opinions, Brandis's advice is top-secret; he refuses to answer questions about the analysis of the MH17 incident which he and his subordinates, along with Australian intelligence agencies and the Australian Federal Police, have been conducting for more than two years.

    In public Turnbull said on Monday: "Vladimir Putin's Russia is subject to international sanctions, to which Australia is a part, because of his conduct in shooting down the MH17 airliner in which 38 Australians were killed. Let's not forget that. That was a shocking international crime."

    On Wednesday Turnbull was asked to explain why, after so long, the Prime Minister, on the advice of the Attorney-General, refuses to designate the MH17 incident as criminal terrorism according to the provisions of the Supporting Australian Victims of Terrorism Overseas Act. Turnbull replied through a spokesman that he is still investigating. "The criminal investigation of MH17 is ongoing. The outcomes of this investigation could be relevant in determining whether this incident should be declared for the purposes of the Australian Victims of Terrorism Overseas Payment scheme."

    Brandis was asked to explain the reason for the legal opinion Canberra sources confirm he has sent to the prime ministry denying the MH17 incident was terrorism. That he has provided the advice on AVTOP is confirmed by a source in Turnbull's office.

    AVTOP is the Canberra acronym for Australian Victims of Terrorism Overseas Payment. This is how the AVTOP scheme operates, and how eligibility is decided, according to the Australian social security ministry. It records that the last terrorism incident for which Australians qualify for AVTOP compensation was the Westgate shopping mall killings in Nairobi on September 21, 2013. There were 67 fatal casualties in that incident, and more than double that number of wounded. One Australian was killed. On October 6, 2013, two weeks after the incident, the Australian prime minister issued a formal designation of the terrorist incident for AVTOP compensation. That commenced on October 21, one month after the incident, according to the statutory filing in the Australian parliament.


    Source: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2013L01799/Explanatory%20Statement/Text

    The prime minister then was Tony Abbott; his attorney-general was Eric Abetz.

    In March 2016 Turnbull had replaced Abbott as prime minister; the attorney-general was Brandis. They agreed to designate three bombing attacks in Brussels, at the airport and at a city train station, as terrorist incidents for AVTOP. The date of the incidents was March 22 (pictured below). The date of the Turnbull-Landis designation was May 6 – 45 days later.

    There are press reports that Australians were in Brussels, and were anxious; there are no reports of Australians being killed or wounded in the attacks.

    Why were successive Australian officials so quick to designate the Nairobi and Brussels incidents as terrorism, before the local police and courts had time to investigate and prosecute, and why have the Australian officials spent two years and eight months refusing to designate the Ukrainian incident? Canberra sources believe the answer is that there is no legal basis in the Australian Criminal Code for doing so because the evidence of terrorism in the MH17 case isn't there.

    The 2013 and 2016 designations, along with the Canberra sources, identify a terrorist incident according to the Australian Criminal Code. Officials working under Brandis and Turnbull must satisfy the Attorney-General and Prime Minister that the incident comes under the Code's sub-section 100.1(1). This says a terrorist act "means an action or threat of action where: (b) the action is done or the threat is made with the intention of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause; and (c) the action is done or the threat is made with the intention of: (i) coercing, or influencing by intimidation, the government of the Commonwealth or a State, Territory or foreign country, or of part of a State, Territory or foreign country; or (ii) intimidating the public or a section of the public."

    For background on the debate among government officials, police and lawyers about the impact of Australian law on the MH17 incident, read this .

    Canberra sources explain that even if Brandis had told Turnbull there was enough evidence to certify the MH17 shoot-down as a terrorist incident, according to the criminal code provisions, the prime minister still has a broad discretion in deciding whether or not to make a declaration regarding a particular incident.

    That Turnbull hasn't done so for the MH17 carnage means he doesn't want to do so - and not only because of his attorney-general's advice. Turnbull was also behind press leaks that as a cabinet minister under Prime Minister Abbott in August 2014, he opposed a scheme of Abbott's to send 3,000 Australian troops to join Dutch and other NATO forces in a US-backed military operation in eastern Ukraine. Abbott and NATO had prepared the justification for the military operation as Russian state terrorism in downing the MH17. Turnbull arranged for his son-in-law to reveal the cabinet papers and intelligence reports from the time, and to record his assessment that Abbott was foolhardy. For that story, click here .

    Australian sources who know Turnbull don't agree in their interpretation of what he is now saying and doing. Some sources believe that with his political mouth Turnbull is backing the US position against Russia and protecting himself from opposition party attacks that he is "soft" on the Kremlin. With his legal mind Turnbull knows there is no admissible evidence and no prospect of prosecuting terrorism in the MH17 case.

    The Australians haven't realized that their decision that the MH17 is not a terrorist act undermines this month's proceedings in The Netherlands, where the Ukrainian government has applied to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to convict Russia of financing, arming and aiding terrorist acts, including the destruction of MH17. The lawyers engaged this week at The Hague haven't realized either.

    The 45-page Ukrainian claim against Moscow to the ICJ is dated January 16, 2017, and can be read here . The US law firm Covington & Burling is defending the Kiev government; the advocates for the Russian side include British and French lawyers.

    Advocates for Kiev at the ICJ this week: left US lawyer Marney Cheek; right, Olena Zerkal, Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine

    According to the Ukrainian claim, the destruction of MH17 was an act of terrorism. "When the Russian Federation delivered this deadly surface-to-air missile system to the DPR, it knew precisely the type of organization it was aiding The Russian government knew or should have known that their proxies would use these powerful antiaircraft weapons in a manner consistent with their previous pattern of disregard for civilian life."

    "By the early summer of 2014, the Russian Federation was well aware that its proxies operating on Ukrainian territory were engaged in a pattern and practice of terrorizing civilians. Yet rather than intervening to abate those actions, the Russian Federation's response was to substantially increase these groups' firepower by supplying them with powerful weapons. An early result of this decision was the attack on Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. In July 2014, as part of this escalation of arms supplies and other support, the Russian Federation delivered a Buk surface-to-air missile system to DPR-associated forces. Those illegal armed groups used the Buk system to commit a devastating surface-to-air attack, destroying a civilian airliner transiting Ukrainian airspace and murdering the 298 individuals on board These perpetrators committed this terrorist attack with the direct support of the Russian government There is no evidence that the Russian Federation has taken any responsibility before the peoples of the world for supporting this horrific terrorist act."

    "Ukraine respectfully requests the Court to adjudge and declare that the Russian Federation bears international responsibility, by virtue of its sponsorship of terrorism and failure to prevent the financing of terrorism under the Convention, for the acts of terrorism committed by its proxies in Ukraine, including: a.The shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17."

    The Russian presentations in open court so far can be read here . Ilya Rogachev, Director of the Department of New Challenges and Threats at the Russian Foreign Ministry, testified in front of 16 judges of the court on March 7. Rogachev was followed for the Russian side by London Queens Counsel, Samuel Wordsworth.

    According to Rogachev, "it should be noted that during the summer of 2014 the Ukrainian Army's anti-aircraft missile regiment No. 156, equipped with 'BUK-M1' missile systems, was stationed in the zone of conflict. The regiment's headquarters and its first division were located in Avdiivka near Donestk, its second division in Mariupol and its third in Lugansk. In total the regiment was armed with 17 BUK-M1 SAMs, identical to the one identified by the JIT."

    He went on to argue that whether the Ukrainian forces fired the BUK missile, or whether the separatists did, there is no evidence that either force intended to do so. "It is enough to note," said Rogachev, "that neither the DSB [Dutch Safety Board] nor the JIT [Joint Investigation Team] appear to be concluding that the civil airliner was shot down with malicious intent or, which is what matters most for today, that the equipment allegedly used was provided for that specific purpose."

    The JIT, according to Turnbull's spokesman in Canberra this week, includes Australia,Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine. The spokesman said they "remain committed to ensuring those responsible for the downing of MH17 are held to account." On the other hand, the evidence so far produced by the JIT hasn't satisfied the admissibility and prosecution tests of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers on the JIT staff. The AFP's Commissioner Andrew Colvin reports to the Australian Justice Minister and he, as well as the AFP , are part of the portfolio of Attorney- General Brandis.

    In two Australian coroners court hearings, the AFP has revealed serious reservations about the Dutch evidence and Ukrainian claims in the MH17 investigation; for details read this and this .

    Turnbull adds through his spokesman an additional qualification. "The outcomes of this investigation could be relevant" in determining whether the downing of MH17 was a terrorist act. In Australian law and in the Prime Minister's judgement, could means not now – and not at the International Court.

    "For the action to fall under the Montreal Convention," Rogachev testified this week in The Hague, referring to the principal international treaty covering compensation for aircraft incidents, "the intention must have been to shoot down a civilian aircraft "

    Wordsworth told the ICJ judges that for every act alleged in the court papers by the Kiev regime, "there is a separate requirement of specific intent. So far as concerns Ukraine's allegations with respect to Flight MH17, Article 2.1 (a) incorporates the offences under the Montreal Convention, which comprise the unlawful and intentional destruction of a civilian aircraft. So far as concerns the other allegations of Ukraine, there is a requirement of both specific intent and purpose. Article 2 (1) (b) refers to: "(b) Any other act intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian, or to any other person not taking an active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed conflict, when the purpose of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act."

    Wordsworth was repeating in open court what the Australian Attorney-General has already advised the Australian Prime Minister. Because the Australians have decided there is no case for a terrorist act to justify compensating their own citizens, the Ukrainians have already lost their case.

    Ivan , March 11, 2017 at 2:20 am

    Only a bloody fool would suggest that Putin has anything to gain by shooting down a civilian airliner. If Turnbull really believes this he should issue a travel advisory on all Australian airlines crossing Russian airspace. Whan I first heard of this it appeared that the rebels had shot the plane down thinking it was some kind of Ukranian plane. The Ukranian went full court with this to brand Russia a terrorist state, things went downhill from there. The Ukraine bears culpability for allowing transit flights over a disturbed area, thus they can't really press for a neutral judgement.

    hemeantwell , March 11, 2017 at 7:49 am

    I'll add the usual point that the charge is all the more incredible because none of the US' radar and satellite coverage at the time has been brought to bear to "prove" Russian complicity. Ukraine air space 7/24/14, unplugged?

    Bill Smith , March 11, 2017 at 9:12 am

    There was one KH-11 (USA-161) (2001-044A) that provides optical imagery in position at that time that might have had chance to image the area. However it might no longer have been functioning as it was deorbited a few months later.

    There were also a number of commercial imaging satellites that passed through the area that day.

    On that day several radar imaging satellite / systems made passes over the area. Lacrosse 5 (2005-016A), FIA Radar 1, 2 and 3 (2010-046A, 2012-014A and 2013-072A), the SAR-Lupe satellites, the Hélios system and IGS. These are operated by the US, Germany, France and Japan.

    There were numerous (too many to list) SIGNIT satellites operated by a number of countries from LEO to HEO (SBIRS).

    My understanding is that the SBIRS saw the missile launch. Likely others 'saw' something. But likely, nothing any one satellite 'saw' is going to 'prove' anything. It would take the assembly of a number of things that were 'seen' to provide a weighted conclusion. Also a number of those satellites would have been looking at the Middle East instead of the Ukraine when they made those passes.

    But what do you mean by 'prove'?

    susan the other , March 11, 2017 at 10:48 am

    This sounds like another sleazy compromise. Maybe the secret is that the Russians have cold hard evidence against Nato and Ukraine on this. Perhaps evidence that the Netherlands also compromised its notorious caution and allowed somebody to let MH17 fly over a war zone. So with this obfuscation about lack of intent both Russia and Ukraine have won.

    If intent cannot be proven against the Russians, it can't be proven against the Ukrainian army either because the evidence presented eliminated all the above top secret details. So now the whole thing was an "accident". When, if all the evidence were reviewed, a case for intent falls against Nato and Ukraine – they intended to frame Russia for the incident to gain support for their cause. And as such it does meet the definition of terrorism. At least Turnbull refused to call it Russian terrorism.

    rkka , March 11, 2017 at 2:38 am

    What I want to know is why the Ukrainian air traffic control system directed this flight over a zone of active hostilities, where the Ukrainian Air Force had previously had a good many military aircraft shot out of the sky.

    Bill Smith , March 11, 2017 at 9:19 am

    The answer to the first part of your question is that countries get paid for over flights. The second part of your question is that all the Ukrainian Air Force planes that had been shot down were flying much, much lower and it was assumed the equipment being used to do it couldn't go as high as the commercial airliners were flying.

    You, know sort of like the Soviets couldn't reach the U-2.

    tgs , March 11, 2017 at 9:29 am

    And of course the tapes from the control tower have simply disappeared.

    Here is a another Australian lawyer who outlines why the investigation was compromised from the beginning.

    MH17 and the JIT: A Flawed Investigation

    dcrane , March 11, 2017 at 4:32 am

    Indeed – even if they had no reason to believe that a capability to shoot down airliners at 30,000 feet plus (i.e., a weapon like the Buk-M1) was present on the ground at that point, commerical airliners are sometimes required to descend rapidly to much lower altitudes (e.g., by pressure emergencies) so it makes no sense to rely on an assumption that hostile weapons can't reach the usual cruising altitude. It is a fair question what the airline ops people were thinking as well.

    Agreed that this has always seemed more likely to be a reckless screwup by the people running the BUK than a deliberate terrorist act. (Then again, I think the host nations do make money from these flyovers.)

    Bill Smith , March 11, 2017 at 9:16 am

    I agree with your conclusion that it was a total screw up. Only part of the system was present and that cut down the ability to see the entire picture (or better see the entire picture).

    martanus , March 11, 2017 at 5:20 am

    interesting study of accident MH17

    https://mh17web.wordpress.com/

    Barry Fay , March 11, 2017 at 10:05 am

    What a great article! Must read!

    Quentin , March 11, 2017 at 6:32 am

    You make me think John Helmer. Yes, if Russian citizens, Putin or otherwise, are directly responsible for supplying the Buk that allegedly shot down flight MH17 to anyone in Ukraine or actually committed such an act, why are the Netherlands, USA, Australia, all countries of the world, especially those of Anglo-American persuasion, allowing their commercial aircraft to overfly Russian and Ukrainian territory? Why? Because they don't believe the story themselves, see Australia's stance, for instance. What a bunch of flaming hypocrites. The dead are dead so why not makt the best of them use them as an unprincipled excuse to achieve political ends.

    The Rev Kev , March 11, 2017 at 7:39 am

    This whole MH17 incident stinks to high heaven and I cannot believe how much of our media here in Oz is uncritically accepting the official story. What is worse is knowing that all those deaths are being used as a convenient political football, the truth be damned. I can think of a dozen things that set of my BS Indicator here with MH17 such as the Ukrainians absolutely refusing to release the ground control comms to the downed airliner or that, unlike the Russians, the US has refused to release detailed radar and radio intercepts for that day. They did reference a nice YouTube clip of a moving truck though.

    How many people know that the Ukrainians had their own BUK missiles in the area because they were shit-scared of the Russian Air Force maybe paying them a visit. Or that they had previously shot down an airliner – and had refused to accept responsibility? I think that Turnbull does not want the crash labelled a terrorist incident as when the full truth comes out (and it always does in the end) it would open up all sorts of legal liabilities and it could be him left swinging in the wind.

    Following American policy for this area, of which Australia has no connection, has led to all sorts of weird repercussions. Tony Abbott wanted to send a brigade of our troops to eastern Ukraine as part of a NATO force. That would of worked out well! If you asked people in Australia if it was a good idea to ship uranium to a semi-failed state in the middle of a civil war that has made indications that they would like to acquire nuclear weapons most of them would say no way. And yet last year we signed an agreement to do precisely that with Ukraine.

    andyb , March 11, 2017 at 8:23 am

    As a former combat veteran, I can attest that the "smoking gun" in the MH17 case is the clearly identifiable circular holes in the fuselage which could only have been caused by the cannons of a fighter aircraft and not from shrapnel produced from an exploding missile. Shrapnel does not produce perfectly circular and consistent holes. MH17 was most likely brought down by the fighter jet following it in eyewitness accounts.

    Persona au gratin , March 11, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Agreed. This would not be an issue at all were it not for the propaganda smoke screen the western MSM was ordered to throw up to protect those who must never be named.

    originalone , March 11, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Perhaps I'm wrong here, but I remember reading that Putin was traveling back to Russia and his flight path was changed prior to the shoot down of MH17, which was on the same flight path, but wasn't altered. A mistake by the Ukrainians who didn't get the word? As for the silence of the U.S., seems to go with the territory considering who is/was at center stage in the overthrow revolution.

    [Mar 10, 2017] The campaign to frame up and discredit Trump and his associates is characteristic of how a police state routinely operates

    Notable quotes:
    "... The campaign to frame up and discredit Trump and his associates is characteristic of how a police state routinely operates. A national security apparatus that vacuums up all our communications and stores them for later retrieval has been utilized by political operatives to go after their enemies – and not even the President of the United States is immune. This is something that one might expect to occur in, say, Turkey, or China: that it is happening here, to the cheers of much of the media and the Democratic party, is beyond frightening. ..."
    "... We hear all the time that what's needed is an open and impartial "investigation" of Trump's alleged "ties" to Russia. This is dangerous nonsense: does every wild-eyed accusation from embittered losers deserve a congressional committee armed with subpoena power bent on conducting an inquisition? Certainly not. ..."
    "... What must be investigated is the incubation of a clandestine political police force inside the national security apparatus, one that has been unleashed against Trump – and could be deployed against anyone. ..."
    "... This isn't about Donald Trump. It's about preserving what's left of our old republic. ..."
    Mar 10, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    Stormcrow , , March 9, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Here is Raimondo's take: Spygate http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2017/03/07/spygate-americas-political-police-vs-donald-j-trump/

    The campaign to frame up and discredit Trump and his associates is characteristic of how a police state routinely operates. A national security apparatus that vacuums up all our communications and stores them for later retrieval has been utilized by political operatives to go after their enemies – and not even the President of the United States is immune. This is something that one might expect to occur in, say, Turkey, or China: that it is happening here, to the cheers of much of the media and the Democratic party, is beyond frightening.

    The irony is that the existence of this dangerous apparatus – which civil libertarians have warned could and probably would be used for political purposes – has been hailed by Trump and his team as a necessary and proper function of government. Indeed, Trump has called for the execution of the person who revealed the existence of this sinister engine of oppression – Edward Snowden. Absent Snowden's revelations, we would still be in the dark as to the existence and vast scope of the NSA's surveillance.

    And now the monster Trump embraced in the name of "national security" has come back to bite him.

    We hear all the time that what's needed is an open and impartial "investigation" of Trump's alleged "ties" to Russia. This is dangerous nonsense: does every wild-eyed accusation from embittered losers deserve a congressional committee armed with subpoena power bent on conducting an inquisition? Certainly not.

    What must be investigated is the incubation of a clandestine political police force inside the national security apparatus, one that has been unleashed against Trump – and could be deployed against anyone.

    This isn't about Donald Trump. It's about preserving what's left of our old republic.

    Perhaps overstated but well worth pondering.

    [Mar 10, 2017] As Joan Robinson said you should study economics to protect yourself from the lies of economists

    That's not so much about Eurocentric modernism as America-centric neoliberalism
    Notable quotes:
    "... He first caught the scent that something was off as an economics student in India, wondering why, despite his mastery of the mathematics and technology of the discipline, the logic always escaped him. Then one day he had an epiphany: the whole thing was "cockeyed from start to finish." To his amazement, his best teachers agreed. "Then why are we studying economics?" demanded the pupil. "To protect ourselves from the lies of economists," replied the great economist Joan Robinson. ..."
    "... Kanth realized that people are not at all like Adam Smith's homo economicus , a narrowly self-interested agent trucking and bartering through life. Smith had turned the human race - a species capable of wondrous caring, creativity, and conviviality - into a nasty horde of instinctive materialists: a society of hustlers. ..."
    "... how this way of thinking took hold of us, and how it delivered a society which is essentially asocial - one in which everybody sees everybody else as a means to their own private ends. ..."
    "... he argues, consigned us to an endless and exhausting Hobbesian competition. For every expansion of the market, we found our social space shrunk and our natural environment spoiled. For every benefit we received, there came a new way to pit us against each other. Have the costs become too high? ..."
    "... "That's our big dream," says Kanth. "Everyone and everything is a stepping stone to our personal glorification." When others get in our way, we end up with a grim take on life described succinctly by Jean Paul Sartre: "Hell is other people." ..."
    "... Mr. Kanth makes some valid points, but his criticism of the European Enlightenment is mistaken. Many of the horrors of modernity had their origins in the Counter-Enlightenment and in the Church Inquisitions, not the Enlightenment. The modern police state is a refinement of and a descendant of the struggles against heresy. ..."
    "... Agreed. Parramore's phrase 'history of a set of bad ideas' does seem a bit harsh for a description of the Enlightenment. ..."
    "... Like most big ideas, the problem isn't with the original idea so much as the corruption of it over the years as it's put into practice. Massive reform is necessary for sure but I'll take the Enlightenment over nasty, brutish, and short any day. ..."
    "... I read somewhere that some Native Americans looking down on the ruins of San Fransisco after the great quake of 1906, thought that at last the crazy white people would realize the folly of their ways, and become normal humans. ..."
    "... So they were amazed that before the ruins even stopped smoking, the crazy white people, ignoring the obvious displeasure of the Great Spirit, were busy rebuilding the same mess that had just been destroyed. ..."
    "... I have a strong suspicion that evil empires do not come to their senses, rather, one way or another, they get flattened. ..."
    "... I can remember arguing over this in my philosophy classes way back in the 80's – that Objectivism and the Enlightenment were two sides of the same coin, and that those Enlightenment writers were writing tomes to justify their own greed and prejudices, while cloaking their greed and prejudices in "morality". ..."
    "... At the time (I was young) it seemed to me that the Enlightenment was an attempt to destroy the basis of Jesus's and Buddha's philosophy – that the most moral position of humanity was to care for its members, just as clans, tribes, families, and other human societies did. ..."
    "... "They didn't accomplish much" meaning they lost militarily to cultures with more aggression and better weapons. ..."
    "... It seems to me that humans, as hierarchical mammals, really do have a desire to compete with each other for status and respect. The trouble is in organizing all of society around this one struggle, forcing everyone into explicit competition and making the stakes too high. When the losers can't afford to buy food, when they and their little children live on the street and die in the cold, when their kids can never compete on an equal field to improve their own status, things have gone too far. And in addition to material needs, humans also have a need for independence, an escape from being constantly ordered around by the winners and under someone else's thumb. ..."
    "... Note, as an aside, how granting economic rights to outgroups like women and Blacks brought them into the same market competition. Well, a lot of men don't want to compete with women for status. They want to compete with each other. The more competitors you add the harder it is to win. But when all resources ..."
    "... I think you're right about that and if we do ever manage to abolish capitalism and develop a less violent and more egalitarian society, there will need to be an outlet for that innate desire. I propose hockey. Beats starting a war . ..."
    "... When President Trump defeated his rival in the last election, among the many ways in which the event was captured was a representation of the President as Perseus carrying the head of Medusa (Clinton) in his outstretched left hand. Medusa was a monster gorgon of the Greek mythology; a representation in this case by Clinton (a woman) who dared to take real power in this essentially male world and silenced for trying to participate in the public discourse (election). ..."
    "... The point is that what passes as Modernism has never entered modern life. In support of my proposition I cite an encounter between a journalist and Mahatma Gandhi in 1930s: The journalist asked Gandhi, "Mr. Gandhi, what is your opinion of the western civilization?" Gandhi replied instantaneously "It would be a good idea". ..."
    "... I think he's right about Eurocentric modernism being incompatible with human civilization. But it can't be just an evolutionary accident that civilization is so aggressive. It served a purpose. We refer to it as 'survival'. I used to tell my daughter not to make fun of those 'dorky little boys' too much because they all had a way of growing up to be very nice men. And I told her women are the reason we have all survived, but men have made it so much easier! And etc. ..."
    "... I believe that one element of modern life that should be removed forever is the infinite search for maximizing profits. ..."
    "... On more than one occasion I've compared the rent-seeking profit mongers to Molocks that cultivate us milder Eloi and cannabalize us. ..."
    "... But the economics profession's problem isn't "blind faith in science." It's a massive failure to apply the scientific method, combined with an expectation that we all put our blind faith in THEM anyway. ..."
    "... Essentially a post-modern critique of modernism without all the jargon of p-m critical theory (yay!!). I don't think we have enough data from the pre-modern huddling societies to determine if that's how we want to live. Yes, my boss at work exploits me, but on the other hand, I can walk into an air-conditioned supermarket and survey row after row of steaks that I can afford to buy. I love to drive cars. The cinema is enchanting. Dying of a plague is a very remote possibility. We could give it all up, but there's no guarantee our lives would be richer or fuller–just different, at best. ..."
    "... Just how dark were the Dark Ages? Or, to borrow Churchill's phrase, how dark would a NEW Dark Age be? ..."
    "... Two possibles: the cargo cult children of Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome, or the society depicted in Aldous Huxley's Ape and Essence. At least the Church in Rome and Constantinople provided some kind of lifeline of civilization during the collapse of the Roman Empire. What similar institution have we now? ..."
    "... Sounds like bog-standard post-modernist tosh to me, just without the obscure ProfSpeak jargon that usually accompanies it. I fail to see how this is helpful. ..."
    "... The only thing missing in this post is Bambi. Of course the Bushmen would kill Bambi dead with spears and roast her flesh over a fire. So would we, actually. hmmmm. ..."
    "... I agree dude is right that the values now unraveling (democracy, pluralism, individualism, free speech, international-ism (in both the good and bad ways)) go all the way back to that time. ..."
    "... But this article is a perfect example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Surely none of the third world cultures he praises got where they are by totally throwing out previous systems, the good parts and bad, every time they faced a crisis. ..."
    "... IMO the problem is enlightenment values have been hollowed out, narrowed to only those superficial aspects of those values which benefit the marketplace. Like how real food got turned into Mosanto fast-food so gradually, nobody noticed that the nutrients are missing. ..."
    "... Adam Smith had some good points that have been lost along the way, namely penalizing rent seeking. ..."
    "... Smith has been seriously misrepresented. The Theory of Moral Sentiments shows a very different side to that presented by those who selectively quote from The Wealth of Nations. ..."
    "... It's hard to tell from the rather incoherent summary of what looks like an incoherent argument, but the "everything went wrong after the Enlightenment" meme has been circulating for ages. It was speared pretty effectively by Domenico Losurdo in "War and Revolution" some years ago. The author seems to be jumbling all sorts of arguments together, some valid and some not, but the valid arguments are in general criticisms of liberalism, which is not the same of the Enlightenment. ..."
    "... This is a very good point, as the Enlightenment was not merely a straight line connection to the blight of NeoLiberalism ..."
    "... The naked embrace of selfishness, while never absent over these centuries, did have countervailing currents and forces with which to contend that were sometimes able to at least minimize the damage. But more recently, with supposedly scientific NeoLiberal economic thought sweeping the field throughout much of the first world, and with the overall decline of religious and moral systems as a counterpoise, things have reached an unlovely pass. ..."
    "... homo economicus ..."
    "... For further reading, I strongly recommend John Ralston Saul's "Voltaire's Bastards". ..."
    "... I think that people who are interested in how the Enlightenment may or may not have contributed to the problems of modernity would do well to read Enemies of the Enlightenment: The French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity , by Darrin McMahon. Another book of value is The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters , by Anthony Pagden. ..."
    "... I should have mentioned that the full title is "Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West". ..."
    Mar 10, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

    By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

    Across the globe, a collective freak-out spanning the whole political system is picking up steam with every new "surprise" election, rush of tormented souls across borders, and tweet from the star of America's great unreality show, Donald Trump.

    But what exactly is the force that seems to be pushing us towards Armageddon? Is it capitalism gone wild? Globalization? Political corruption? Techno-nightmares?

    Rajani Kanth, a political economist, social thinker, and poet , goes beyond any of these explanations for the answer. In his view, what's throwing most of us off kilter - whether we think of ourselves as on the left or right, capitalist or socialist -was birthed 400 years ago during the period of the Enlightenment. It's a set of assumptions, a particular way of looking at the world that pushed out previous modes of existence, many quite ancient and time-tested, and eventually rose to dominate the world in its Anglo-American form.

    We're taught to think of the Enlightenment as the blessed end to the Dark Ages, a splendid blossoming of human reason. But what if instead of bringing us to a better world, some of this period's key ideas ended up producing something even darker?

    Kanth argues that this framework, which he calls Eurocentric modernism, is collapsing, and unless we understand why and how it has distorted our reality, we might just end up burnt to a crisp as this misanthropic Death Star starts to bulge and blaze in its dying throes.

    A Mass Incarceration of Humanity

    Kanth's latest book, Farewell to Modernism: On Human Devolution in the Twenty-First Century , tells the history of a set of bad ideas. He first caught the scent that something was off as an economics student in India, wondering why, despite his mastery of the mathematics and technology of the discipline, the logic always escaped him. Then one day he had an epiphany: the whole thing was "cockeyed from start to finish." To his amazement, his best teachers agreed. "Then why are we studying economics?" demanded the pupil. "To protect ourselves from the lies of economists," replied the great economist Joan Robinson.

    Kanth realized that people are not at all like Adam Smith's homo economicus , a narrowly self-interested agent trucking and bartering through life. Smith had turned the human race - a species capable of wondrous caring, creativity, and conviviality - into a nasty horde of instinctive materialists: a society of hustlers.

    Using his training in history and cultural theory, Kanth dedicated himself to investigating how this way of thinking took hold of us, and how it delivered a society which is essentially asocial - one in which everybody sees everybody else as a means to their own private ends. Eurocentric modernism, he argues, consigned us to an endless and exhausting Hobbesian competition. For every expansion of the market, we found our social space shrunk and our natural environment spoiled. For every benefit we received, there came a new way to pit us against each other. Have the costs become too high?

    The Creed of Capture

    The Eurocentric modernist program, according to Kanth, has four planks: a blind faith in science; a self-serving belief in progress; rampant materialism; and a penchant for using state violence to achieve its ends. In a nutshell, it's a habit of placing individual self-interest above the welfare of community and society.

    To illustrate one of its signature follies, Kanth refers to that great Hollywood ode to the Western spirit, "The Sound of Music." Early in the film, the Mother Superior bursts into song, calling on the nun Maria to "climb every mountain, ford every stream."

    Sounds exhilarating, but to what end? Why exactly do we need to ford every stream? From the Eurocentric modernist viewpoint, Kanth says, the answer is not so innocent: we secretly do it so that we can say to ourselves, "Look, I achieved something that's beyond the reach of somebody else." Hooray for me!

    "That's our big dream," says Kanth. "Everyone and everything is a stepping stone to our personal glorification." When others get in our way, we end up with a grim take on life described succinctly by Jean Paul Sartre: "Hell is other people."

    Sounds bad, but didn't Eurocentric modernism also give us our great democratic ideals of equality and liberty to elevate and protect us?

    Maybe these notions are not really our salvation, suggests Kanth. He notes that when we replace the vital ties of kinship and community with abstract contractual relations, or when we find that the only sanctioned paths in life are that of consumer or producer, we become alienated and depressed in spirit. Abstract rights like liberty and equality turn out to be rather cold comfort. These ideas, however lofty, may not get at the most basic human wants and needs. .

    ... ... ...

    Kanth, like many, senses that a global financial crisis, or some other equivalent catastrophe, like war or natural disaster, may soon produce painful and seismic economic and political disruptions. Perhaps only then will human nature reassert itself as we come to rediscover the crucial nexus of reciprocities that is our real heritage. That's what will enable us to survive.

    ... ... ...

    DJG , March 10, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Oh?

    "The Eurocentric modernist program, according to Kanth, has four planks: a blind faith in science; a self-serving belief in progress; rampant materialism; and a penchant for using state violence to achieve its ends. In a nutshell, it's a habit of placing individual self-interest above the welfare of community and society."

    Kanth hasn't dealt much with the wild skepticism of Enlightenment and modernist thinkers: That would put a strain on such simplistic thinking. He's never heard of Kant or Rousseau? Pascal? He's never even read Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach"? Dickens? A speech by Abraham Lincoln? The novels of Jane Austen? Maybe some articles by Antonio Gramsci? The Leopard by Tomasi di Lampedusa? Anything about Einstein? Or even Freud for that matter? Looked at a painting or etching or work in ceramic by Picasso?

    Just because economics has devolved into looting and excuse-making for looting isn't a critique of the cultural and scientific flowering that were part of the Enlightenment and Modernism. Are we really supposed to think that Milton Friedman and his delusions have destroyed all aspects of the enormous changes since 1600 or so? And I, for one, don't want to backslide into the Baroque–when states used their power for religious wars so virulent that Silesia and Alsace were depopulated.

    kgw , March 10, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Alienation is not the name of a river in Egypt BTW, Did any of your examples lead to anything other than this?
    The sum of individuals adds up to the bizarre creature we call "culture." A flower in the air, to be sure.

    craazyman , March 10, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    They didn't even have food delivery! This post isn't the best evah in the history of NC - I mean it shouldn't be censored or taken down or anything and everybody has a right to an opinion, but "Oy Vey what a shock to a reader's delicate intellectual sensibilities."

    You wonder if it's Beer Goggles that are being looked through or if this is a case of transference and projection. The fact that the post author is a poet raises suspicion, since they aren't the most reliable sources when it come so sober factual analysis.

    Vatch , March 10, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Mr. Kanth makes some valid points, but his criticism of the European Enlightenment is mistaken. Many of the horrors of modernity had their origins in the Counter-Enlightenment and in the Church Inquisitions, not the Enlightenment. The modern police state is a refinement of and a descendant of the struggles against heresy.

    If one is going to criticize societies for lacking "moral economies", it's not just the European (and American) based societies that need to be targeted. Other societies have deep failures that extend back for millennia, such as the caste system of India.

    lyman alpha blob , March 10, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Agreed. Parramore's phrase 'history of a set of bad ideas' does seem a bit harsh for a description of the Enlightenment.

    Been a while since I read Candide , but the end where he meets the world famous sage and asks for the secret of happiness in a terrible world only to be told 'Tend your own garden' and then having the gate slammed in his face has always stuck with me.

    You could interpret that to mean isolate yourself from your fellow human beings and just look out for yourself, but I don't think that's what Voltaire was getting at.

    Like most big ideas, the problem isn't with the original idea so much as the corruption of it over the years as it's put into practice. Massive reform is necessary for sure but I'll take the Enlightenment over nasty, brutish, and short any day.

    Mark P. , March 10, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    http://www.kashgar.com.au/articles/life-in-india-the-practice-of-sati-or-widow-burning

    Widow-burning - a wonderful holistic Indian practice that those evil post-enlightenment European imperialists obstructed.

    steelhead23 , March 10, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Perhaps, beyond anthropology, there are lessons in evolutionary biology. Individual humans are fairly weak animals. Our ancestors were obligated to "huddle" to survive, or as Richard Dawkins might suggest, huddling, banding together in families and groups, was an evolutionarily successful strategy. Those well adapted to communal living were more likely to survive, so that tendency was selected for. However, "cheaters" can also survive. That is, it is not uncommon in the natural world to find individuals and groups of individuals who cheat the group – expend less energy to reproduce, such as male sunfish that display the secondary sexual characteristics of females, so are not driven off by nest building males, make a mad dash in to fertilize eggs when a real female shows up, but provides no protection for the young – the adult male does that. In human culture, there are also cheaters, those who provide little to the larger society, yet reap a disproportionate level of resources.

    So, learning more of our cultural roots and adopting positive measures for social cohesion is a good idea, but much like Jesus' view that the poor will always be with us, cheaters, from banksters to dictators, will too.

    MtnLife , March 10, 2017 at 10:43 am

    As Kanth sees it, most of our utopian visions carry on the errors and limitations born of a misguided view of human nature. That's why communism, as it was practiced in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, projected a materialist perspective on progress while ignoring the natural human instinct for autonomy- the ability to decide for ourselves where to go and what to say and create. On flip side, capitalism runs against our instinct to trust and take care of each other.

    I think this paragraph speaks volumes for transitioning to a society with a BGI with libertarian socialist leanings. Let people be free to create what they are passionate about while allowing humans to express their innate desire to care for one another without it signifying weakness or at their time own personal expense. I don't think this approach necessarily precludes rockets to Mars either. The engineers who are passionate will still get together and build one. It may take a little longer if they can't convince others to help but hopefully this will foster more cooperative approaches and less viewing of other humans as consumables.

    Great post. Thanks for sharing.

    JTMcPhee , March 10, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    And where does "libertarian socialism" end up taking us? Hmmm http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/11/journey-into-a-libertarian-future-part-i-%e2%80%93the-vision.html

    No thanks. We're pretty well there already.

    MtnLife , March 10, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Libertarianism and libertarian socialism are two different things. Libertarianism is a less authoritative conservatism while libertarian socialism is a less authoritative social democracy. Think Chomsky, not Ron Paul. Or think of it as a more relaxed Bernie who thinks things should be done on a smaller, more local scale.

    Watt4Bob , March 10, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Kanth, like many, senses that a global financial crisis, or some other equivalent catastrophe, like war or natural disaster, may soon produce painful and seismic economic and political disruptions. Perhaps only then will human nature reassert itself as we come to rediscover the crucial nexus of reciprocities that is our real heritage. That's what will enable us to survive.

    I read somewhere that some Native Americans looking down on the ruins of San Fransisco after the great quake of 1906, thought that at last the crazy white people would realize the folly of their ways, and become normal humans.

    So they were amazed that before the ruins even stopped smoking, the crazy white people, ignoring the obvious displeasure of the Great Spirit, were busy rebuilding the same mess that had just been destroyed.

    I have a strong suspicion that evil empires do not come to their senses, rather, one way or another, they get flattened.

    justanotherprogressive , March 10, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Yes, yes, yes! THIS!

    I can remember arguing over this in my philosophy classes way back in the 80's – that Objectivism and the Enlightenment were two sides of the same coin, and that those Enlightenment writers were writing tomes to justify their own greed and prejudices, while cloaking their greed and prejudices in "morality".

    At the time (I was young) it seemed to me that the Enlightenment was an attempt to destroy the basis of Jesus's and Buddha's philosophy – that the most moral position of humanity was to care for its members, just as clans, tribes, families, and other human societies did.

    The most frequent response from professors and classmates to my thesis? But those clans, tribes, families, etc., didn't accomplish much, did they? As if the only reason for humanity's existence was to compete against itself

    Needless to say, I didn't stick with Philosophy ..

    Darius , March 10, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    And we need new syntheses, at which this is an attempt.

    It's not a stretch to say the trend since the renaissance has been to exalt the individual. Kanth is aiming for a communitarian philosophy. An interesting departure point for discussion. I don't see what people find so offensive.

    reslez , March 10, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    "They didn't accomplish much" meaning they lost militarily to cultures with more aggression and better weapons.

    It seems to me that humans, as hierarchical mammals, really do have a desire to compete with each other for status and respect. The trouble is in organizing all of society around this one struggle, forcing everyone into explicit competition and making the stakes too high. When the losers can't afford to buy food, when they and their little children live on the street and die in the cold, when their kids can never compete on an equal field to improve their own status, things have gone too far. And in addition to material needs, humans also have a need for independence, an escape from being constantly ordered around by the winners and under someone else's thumb.

    Capitalism made the stakes too high. But it was designed by the winners.

    You might argue that there were plenty of "hopeless losers" in the systems that preceded capitalism - the orphans, elderly crones, and beggars without livelihoods who used to wander the hedgerows in medieval times. We have more resources now which also means no excuses.

    Note, as an aside, how granting economic rights to outgroups like women and Blacks brought them into the same market competition. Well, a lot of men don't want to compete with women for status. They want to compete with each other. The more competitors you add the harder it is to win. But when all resources are restricted to the market, it's unjust to exclude any group from access. Once again the stakes are too high. Social democracies are better places to live for exactly this reason.

    lyman alpha blob , March 10, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    It seems to me that humans, as hierarchical mammals, really do have a desire to compete with each other for status and respect.

    I think you're right about that and if we do ever manage to abolish capitalism and develop a less violent and more egalitarian society, there will need to be an outlet for that innate desire. I propose hockey. Beats starting a war .

    Hemang , March 10, 2017 at 10:50 am

    When President Trump defeated his rival in the last election, among the many ways in which the event was captured was a representation of the President as Perseus carrying the head of Medusa (Clinton) in his outstretched left hand. Medusa was a monster gorgon of the Greek mythology; a representation in this case by Clinton (a woman) who dared to take real power in this essentially male world and silenced for trying to participate in the public discourse (election).

    I take this example to point out that both Lynn Parramore and Rajni Kanth declaring in a version of mumbo-jumbo are sadly wrong-modernism has always been skin-deep excepting in accommodating the technological element in the tone of life. Voltaire and Rousseau aside, both Kanth and Parramore know which side of the mumbo-jumbo bread is their butter; even bemoaning the collapsing supposed ruins of modernism they do not fail to take advantage! "Eurocentric modernism has unhinged us from our human nature" asserts Kanth in his "book" but I would like to bluntly ask him: Please define your "us" and "our" in that proposition and clarify if poor Indians like Yours Truly find a dot in that set.

    The point is that what passes as Modernism has never entered modern life. In support of my proposition I cite an encounter between a journalist and Mahatma Gandhi in 1930s: The journalist asked Gandhi, "Mr. Gandhi, what is your opinion of the western civilization?" Gandhi replied instantaneously "It would be a good idea".

    Stephanie , March 10, 2017 at 11:04 am

    "The Eurocentric modernist program, according to Kanth, has a penchant for using state violence to achieve its ends."

    I'm not entirely sure how this differentiates Eurocentric modernism from any other civilization.

    Hemang , March 10, 2017 at 11:45 am

    It does not at all. This is the price one pays as an innocent reader by reading social science mumbo jumbo which is so irksome. It lacks the grace of the real mumbo jumbo too. Kanth is bluffing; the author misunderstands his stupid linguistic constructions of Kanth and incomprehension and chaos follow. The whole article seems to be a bluff about a bluff(the book).

    susan the other , March 10, 2017 at 11:15 am

    I think he's right about Eurocentric modernism being incompatible with human civilization. But it can't be just an evolutionary accident that civilization is so aggressive. It served a purpose. We refer to it as 'survival'. I used to tell my daughter not to make fun of those 'dorky little boys' too much because they all had a way of growing up to be very nice men. And I told her women are the reason we have all survived, but men have made it so much easier! And etc.

    We have been very successful as a species; surviving all of our own inquisitions, pogroms, hallucinations and yes, this is a serious situation we are in. We might even try to guide ourselves out of it, using science and technology, as we huddle.

    JEHR , March 10, 2017 at 11:18 am

    I believe that one element of modern life that should be removed forever is the infinite search for maximizing profits.

    Art Eclectic , March 10, 2017 at 11:34 am

    On more than one occasion I've compared the rent-seeking profit mongers to Molocks that cultivate us milder Eloi and cannabalize us.

    readerOfTeaLeaves , March 10, 2017 at 11:56 am

    I suspect there was a fatal error long, long ago: you lend me your ram so my ewe can have offspring. If there are twins, we each get one; if not, we agree upon future breeding rights and grazing areas. After generations of this sort of breeding activity, I have in my mind the notion that there is a 'natural increase' from lending or swapping.

    Along comes a scribe with a tablet, whom I have now hired to list the number of my flocks (wealth on the hoof); I lend you forms of wealth (rams, ewes, oxen, axes, boats) , and the scribe assumes there must be some 'natural increase' as the outcome of this lending and swapping. Consequently, the scribe carves cuneiform markings to represent what we might call 'compound interest' that result from lending and swapping of non-biological resources - despite the fact that if you sit two clay tablets in the sun, they do not (and never will!) create an additional clay tablet. Ditto heaps of dollar bills; it's not the money that creates increase; it's the assumption of 'increase' (originating in breeding activity of flocks and herds) that makes the money generate surplus - not any property of those scraps of paper themselves.

    BTW: FWIW, double entry bookkeeping seems to trace the earliest period of modernism, which IMVHO adds heft to Kanth's argument about something shifting probably earlier than 400 years ago.

    It's possible that Michael Hudson has covered this; if so, I've not had time to read it yet. I hope to in future. David Graeber's work on redemption ('buying back' someone enslaved or indentured) and his anthropological findings also lend heft to Kanth's analysis.

    Karen , March 10, 2017 at 11:28 am

    I certainly agree with this:

    "He first caught the scent that something was off as an economics student in India, wondering why, despite his mastery of the mathematics and technology of the discipline, the logic always escaped him. Then one day he had an epiphany: the whole thing was "cockeyed from start to finish.""

    But the economics profession's problem isn't "blind faith in science." It's a massive failure to apply the scientific method, combined with an expectation that we all put our blind faith in THEM anyway.

    I think our problems do not stem from any theories or ideologies, they are the predictable result of human nature – specifically of the fact that the balance between the loving side of human nature and the aggressive side is not evenly distributed among individuals. It is precisely the most aggressive among us who most desire, and work the hardest, to dominate and control others.

    jrs , March 10, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    I had the same experience as he had with economics with law, ok I only studied it when studying business and that does not a lawyer make, but it made no sense for me. But I do think I maybe just have the wrong kind of brain for it, expect a logic that isn't there.

    Phil in KC , March 10, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Essentially a post-modern critique of modernism without all the jargon of p-m critical theory (yay!!). I don't think we have enough data from the pre-modern huddling societies to determine if that's how we want to live. Yes, my boss at work exploits me, but on the other hand, I can walk into an air-conditioned supermarket and survey row after row of steaks that I can afford to buy. I love to drive cars. The cinema is enchanting. Dying of a plague is a very remote possibility. We could give it all up, but there's no guarantee our lives would be richer or fuller–just different, at best.

    Just how dark were the Dark Ages? Or, to borrow Churchill's phrase, how dark would a NEW Dark Age be? I don't think you can get rid of Modernism very easily, for certain parts would survive. Science and tech, for example. Ideas of surveillance and control. But along with this, new prejudices, new superstitions, perhaps? What perverse new form of religion or philosophy might arise from the ashes of our civilization?

    Two possibles: the cargo cult children of Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome, or the society depicted in Aldous Huxley's Ape and Essence. At least the Church in Rome and Constantinople provided some kind of lifeline of civilization during the collapse of the Roman Empire. What similar institution have we now?

    Anonymous , March 10, 2017 at 11:58 am

    Sounds like bog-standard post-modernist tosh to me, just without the obscure ProfSpeak jargon that usually accompanies it. I fail to see how this is helpful.

    craazyman , March 10, 2017 at 11:38 am

    The only thing missing in this post is Bambi. Of course the Bushmen would kill Bambi dead with spears and roast her flesh over a fire. So would we, actually. hmmmm.

    Ivy , March 10, 2017 at 11:38 am

    To illustrate one of its signature follies, Kanth refers to that great Hollywood ode to the Western spirit, "The Sound of Music." Early in the film, the Mother Superior bursts into song, calling on the nun Maria to "climb every mountain, ford every stream."

    Sounds exhilarating, but to what end? Why exactly do we need to ford every stream? From the Eurocentric modernist viewpoint, Kanth says, the answer is not so innocent: we secretly do it so that we can say to ourselves, "Look, I achieved something that's beyond the reach of somebody else." Hooray for me!

    Many would part company with Kanth over the above characterization. There are many reasons why people climb mountains and ford streams that do not include, or even consider, that element of exclusive personal achievement. Some might even aver that climbing and fording and so many other human activities are done "because it is there", while others appreciate a spiritual or other inspirational aspect.

    Will we climbers and forders be told that we are selfish or otherwise deficient or on the wrong side of history or whatever the mal du jour is because we like a little bit of hygge or Gemütlichkeit as we live our lives?

    windsock , March 10, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Quite that is indeed the point where I stopped reading and started skimming someone who mistakes metaphors in a musical for physical actions is not going to enlighten my world (no matter how much I dislike the film).

    jrs , March 10, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    climbing every mountain and fording every stream is probably impossible in the literal sense (aren't there way too many streams for this? and mountains probably too), and certainly it is impossible in the metaphoric one.

    So mostly it's completely unrealistic bilge.

    Musicismath , March 10, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    I don't see why poor Julie Andrews, of all people, has to be singled out here as exemplifying malign post-Enlightenment discourses of proprietorship and exploitation. That's just mean . Surely those ideologies are better examined through a close reading of the Shamen's inexcusable '90s electro hit "Move Every Mountain"?

    schultzzz , March 10, 2017 at 11:45 am

    I agree dude is right that the values now unraveling (democracy, pluralism, individualism, free speech, international-ism (in both the good and bad ways)) go all the way back to that time.

    But this article is a perfect example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Surely none of the third world cultures he praises got where they are by totally throwing out previous systems, the good parts and bad, every time they faced a crisis.

    IMO the problem is enlightenment values have been hollowed out, narrowed to only those superficial aspects of those values which benefit the marketplace. Like how real food got turned into Mosanto fast-food so gradually, nobody noticed that the nutrients are missing.

    PKMKII , March 10, 2017 at 11:47 am

    While it's obvious how this thesis deflates modern capitalism, it would also appear to me that the idea of refocusing on "kinship and community" would present a challenge to the "global solidarity" mentality underlying most leftist thinking as well. You cannot simultaneously have an emphasis on the huddled community, while also arguing that workers worldwide have a deeper and more important connection than the business owner and his or her employees (assuming both are from within the same community, natch). Either you assume humans have a universal commonness, which effectively obliterates the notion of community, or you accept humans tend towards tribalism, which both discounts any notion of creating a global, uniform leftist economics, but also suggests a troubling tendency towards xenophobia.

    cojo , March 10, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    Good point, "kinship and community" are analogous to tribalism and nationalism on a larger scale unless you rephrase it to mean kinship with your family and neighbors on the local level, and with humanity on a national/global level. Unfortunately, some of our current liberal globalists seem to be forgetting the part about local kinship and community while embracing global humanity. I dunno, may have something to do with cheaper labor abroad.

    PKMKII , March 10, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Partly, but there's also an association in the minds of many liberals and leftists of localized control and thinking equating with oppression, historically. Things like segregation, discrimination, violations of the separation of church and state, anti-labor employment & worksite laws, etc.

    cojo , March 10, 2017 at 11:48 am

    I think Kanth is quick to criticize materialism and scientific progress for all our ills while seeming to have missed the horrid standards of living in his anthropological studies prior to scientific progress with enlightenment principles over theocracy. I'd like to know what the longevity of per-enlightenment citizens was compared to today. In fact, longevity in this country around 1900 was still in the mid 40's for most.

    What I find would have been a better argument is to focus his critique not on scientific progress, but on how there always seems to be a certain small minority of the population which seems to have an out sized voice in how we choose to self govern. What we seem to be losing today is the silent majority of voices who are for universal health care, not eroding further entitlements, bodily security as well as economic security while still being able to encourage those who chose to take risks and put themselves through more work and strain to be fairly rewarded.

    The problem as I see it today, is that the pendulum, both politically, and socially, has swung too far towards the selfish individualist.

    PKMKII , March 10, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    The problem with how science is seen in a modernist context is two-fold. The "blind faith" leads people to see it as all-encompassing, all-powerful, and not recognizing its scope and where that scope ends. Ergo, anything that is successfully sold to the public and TPTB as "science" gets said treatment and is viewed as being unquestionable (like, say, neoclassical economics).

    Don Midwest USA , March 10, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Bruno Latour has been on this for decades in 1991 the book "We Have Never Been Modern" This has been followed by many other books, prizes, invited lectures, and thought exhibition called Reset Modernity. The book, published last year, is related to the exhibition with that title. Published by MIT press with 60 authors.

    Reset Modernity

    Reset Modernity!
    Edited by Bruno Latour and Christophe Leclerc

    Overview
    Modernity has had so many meanings and tries to combine so many contradictory sets of attitudes and values that it has become impossible to use it to define the future. It has ended up crashing like an overloaded computer. Hence the idea is that modernity might need a sort of reset. Not a clean break, not a "tabula rasa," not another iconoclastic gesture, but rather a restart of the complicated programs that have been accumulated, over the course of history, in what is often called the "modernist project." This operation has become all the more urgent now that the ecological mutation is forcing us to reorient ourselves toward an experience of the material world for which we don't seem to have good recording devices.

    Reset Modernity! is organized around six procedures that might induce the readers to reset some of those instruments. Once this reset has been completed, readers might be better prepared for a series of new encounters with other cultures. After having been thrown into the modernist maelstrom, those cultures have difficulties that are just as grave as ours in orienting themselves within the notion of modernity. It is not impossible that the course of those encounters might be altered after modernizers have reset their own way of recording their experience of the world.

    At the intersection of art, philosophy, and anthropology, Reset Modernity! has assembled close to sixty authors, most of whom have participated, in one way or another, in the Inquiry into Modes of Existence initiated by Bruno Latour. Together they try to see whether such a reset and such encounters have any practicality. Much like the two exhibitions Iconoclash and Making Things Public, this book documents and completes what could be called a "thought exhibition:" Reset Modernity! held at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe from April to August 2016. Like the two others, this book, generously illustrated, includes contributions, excerpts, and works from many authors and artists.

    Sam , March 10, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Seems to me that the insight into the relevancy of anthropology vis a vis economics is a product of science. And Adam Smith had some good points that have been lost along the way, namely penalizing rent seeking.

    Anonymous2 , March 10, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Smith has been seriously misrepresented. The Theory of Moral Sentiments shows a very different side to that presented by those who selectively quote from The Wealth of Nations.

    David , March 10, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    It's hard to tell from the rather incoherent summary of what looks like an incoherent argument, but the "everything went wrong after the Enlightenment" meme has been circulating for ages. It was speared pretty effectively by Domenico Losurdo in "War and Revolution" some years ago. The author seems to be jumbling all sorts of arguments together, some valid and some not, but the valid arguments are in general criticisms of liberalism, which is not the same of the Enlightenment.

    JerseyJeffersonian , March 10, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    This is a very good point, as the Enlightenment was not merely a straight line connection to the blight of NeoLiberalism. Rather, there were those, such as Burke, or some of our "Founding Fathers" who were students of history, and while discriminating observers of the deleterious elements of human nature, they were also cognizant of the more helpful elements of that same human nature.

    They, however, tended toward the view that those helpful elements required deliberate nurturance in order to come to the fore. Some of this nurturance could be achieved by partially neutralizing the deleterious elements by balancing interests (you weren't going to get rid of the propensities, but you could limit the scope of their play by pitting societal forces one against the other in political structures, vide the doctrine of separation of powers), while nurturance could also be achieved through perpetuation of those societal institutions that address the individual conscience and behaviors like religious doctrine and examples.

    The naked embrace of selfishness, while never absent over these centuries, did have countervailing currents and forces with which to contend that were sometimes able to at least minimize the damage. But more recently, with supposedly scientific NeoLiberal economic thought sweeping the field throughout much of the first world, and with the overall decline of religious and moral systems as a counterpoise, things have reached an unlovely pass.

    But it would be incorrect to solely blame Enlightenment themes for where we are today. Much of what was presumed to be necessary to the proper, humane functioning of the ideal Enlightenment society has been pushed aside in favor of the degraded every-man-for-himself, homo economicus scourge that holds sway.

    Fox Blew , March 10, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    Great post. For further reading, I strongly recommend John Ralston Saul's "Voltaire's Bastards".

    Vatch , March 10, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Joseph de Maistre, the conservative critic of Enlightenment values, deserves far more blame for the horrors of modernity than do Voltaire or his like minded colleagues. And I can't even find de Maistre mentioned in the index of Saul's book.

    Since I haven't read Saul's book, I won't advise people against reading it. But I think that people who are interested in how the Enlightenment may or may not have contributed to the problems of modernity would do well to read Enemies of the Enlightenment: The French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity , by Darrin McMahon. Another book of value is The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters , by Anthony Pagden.

    Fox Blew , March 10, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Thanks for mentioning Joseph de Maistre. I have never heard of him. I think you'd enjoy this book, nonetheless. Saul doesn't actually "blame" Voltaire. He blames those who came after Voltaire. For that matter, the bulk of the book is about the 20th century's (mis)interpretation of the Enlightment project. I should have mentioned that the full title is "Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West".

    David , March 10, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Strongly recommend MacMahon's book – it's excellent.

    Susan , March 10, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    echoes: Marilyn Waring per his comment on women.
    the book If Women Counted
    the documentary: Who's Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics

    Interesting story Waring told when I heard her speak in Toronto – As she boarded a bus at the airport to travel to her hotel, and a young man (20s) recognized her because the film is shown to high school students throughout Canada.

    And Capital Institute's John Fullerton FIELD GUIDE TO A REGENERATIVE ECONOMY Primarily due to reading George Monbiot's inane rejection of the work of Allan Savory and Capital Institute's work with Grasslands LLC. Brought to me this morning by Nicole Foss and the Guardian.

    And for farmer's and lovers of the land, I couldn't help but hear Wendell Berry, "It all turns on affection."

    Interesting to have these things intersect with this morning's coffee. Thank you.

    [Mar 10, 2017] Michael Hudson: Retirement? What Social Obligation?

    Notable quotes:
    "... This was Alan Greenspan's trick that he pulled in the 1980s as head of the Greenspan Commission. He said that what was needed in America was to traumatize the workers – to squeeze them so much that they won't have the courage to strike. Not have the courage to ask for better working conditions. He recognized that the best way to really squeeze wage earners is to sharply increase their taxes. He didn't call FICA wage withholding a tax, but of course it is. His trick was to say that it's not really a tax, but a contribution to Social Security. And now it siphons off 15.4% of everybody's pay check, right off the top. ..."
    "... The effect of what Greenspan did was more than just to make wage earners pay this FICA rake-off out of their paycheck every month. The charge was set so high that the Social Security fund lent its surplus to the government. Now, with all this huge surplus that we're squeezing out of the wage earners, there's a cut-off point: around $120,000. The richest people don't have to pay for Social Security funding, only the wage-earner class has to. Their forced savings are lent to the government to enable it to claim that it has so much extra money in the budget pouring in from social security that now it can afford to cut taxes on the rich. ..."
    "... So the sharp increase in Social Security tax for wage earners went hand-in-hand with sharp reductions in taxes on real estate, finance for the top One Percent – the people who live on economic rent, not by working, not by producing goods and services but by making money on their real estate, stocks and bonds "in their sleep." That's how the five percent have basically been able to make their money. ..."
    "... The Federal Reserve has just published statistics saying the average American family, 55 and 60 years old, only has about $14,000 worth of savings. This isn't nearly enough to retire on. There's also been a vast looting of pension funds, largely by Wall Street. That's why the investment banks have had to pay tens of billions of dollars of penalties for cheating pension funds and other investors. The current risk-free rate of return is 0.1% on government bonds, so the pension funds don't have enough money to pay pensions at the rate that their junk economics advisors forecast. The money that people thought was going to be available for their retirement, all of a sudden isn't. The pretense is that nobody could have forecast this! ..."
    "... In Chile, the Chicago Boys really developed this strategy. University of Chicago economists made it possible, by privatizing and corporatizing the Social Security system. Their ploy was to set aside a pension fund managed by the company, mostly to invest in its own stock. The company would then set up an affiliate that would actually own the company under an umbrella, and then leave the company with its pension fund to go bankrupt – having already emptied out the pension fund by loaning it to the corporate shell. ..."
    "... We have the highest healthcare costs in the world, so out of your paycheck – which is not increasing – you're going to have to pay more and more for FICA withholding for Social Security, more and more for healthcare, for the pharmaceutical monopoly and the health insurance monopoly. You'll also have to pay more and more to use public services for transportation to get to work, because the state is not funding that anymore. We're cutting taxes on the rich, so we don't have the money to do what social democracies are supposed to do. You're going to privatize the roads, so that now you're going to have to pay to use the road to drive to work, if you don't have public transportation. ..."
    "... "Classical and neo-classical economics, as dominant today, has used the deductive methodology: Untested axioms and unrealistic assumptions are the basis for the formulation of theoretical dream worlds that are used to present particular 'results'. As discussed in Werner (2005), this methodology is particularly suited to deriving and justifying preconceived ideas and conclusions, through a process of working backwards from the desired 'conclusions', to establish the kind of model that can deliver them, and then formulating the kind of framework that could justify this model by choosing suitable assumptions and 'axioms'. In other words, the deductive methodology is uniquely suited for manipulation by being based on axioms and assumptions that can be picked at will in order to obtain pre-determined desired outcomes and justify favoured policy recommendations. It can be said that the deductive methodology is useful for producing arguments that may give a scientific appearance, but are merely presenting a pre-determined opinion." ..."
    "... "Progress in economics and finance research would require researchers to build on the correct insights derived by economists at least since the 19th century (such as Macleod, 1856). The overview of the literature on how banks function, in this paper and in Werner (2014b), has revealed that economics and finance as research disciplines have on this topic failed to progress in the 20th century. The movement from the accurate credit creation theory to the misleading, inconsistent and incorrect fractional reserve theory to today's dominant, yet wholly implausible and blatantly wrong financial intermediation theory indicates that economists and finance researchers have not progressed, but instead regressed throughout the past century. That was already Schumpeter's (1954) assessment, and things have since further moved away from the credit creation theory." ..."
    "... "Although commercial banks create money through lending, they cannot do so freely without limit. Banks are limited in how much they can lend if they are to remain profitable in a competitive banking system." ..."
    "... it insults the intelligence of the audience, ..."
    "... we would now call ..."
    "... totally insupportable on its face. ..."
    "... as a corporate, spiritually mandated obligation, ..."
    "... You're going to privatize the roads, so that now you're going to have to pay to use the road to drive to work, if you don't have public transportation. ..."
    "... Henry Ford II: Walter, how are you going to get those robots to pay your union dues? Walter Reuther: Henry, how are you going to get them to buy your cars? ..."
    "... "You're turning the economy into what used to be called feudalism. Except that we don't have outright serfdom, because people can live wherever they want. But they all have to pay to this new hereditary 'financial/real estate/public enterprise' class that is transforming the economy." ..."
    "... "The industrial capitalists, these new potentates, had on their part not only to displace the guild masters of handicrafts, but also the feudal lords, the possessors of the sources of wealth. In this respect, their conquest of social power appears as the fruit of a victorious struggle both against feudal lordship and its revolting prerogatives, and against the guilds and the fetters they laid on the free development of production and the free exploitation of man by man. The chevaliers d'industrie, however, only succeeded in supplanting the chevaliers of the sword by making use of events of which they themselves were wholly innocent. They have risen by means as vile as those by which the Roman freedman once on a time made himself the master of his patronus. ..."
    "... The starting point of the development that gave rise to the wage labourer as well as to the capitalist, was the servitude of the labourer. The advance consisted in a change of form of this servitude, in the transformation of feudal exploitation into capitalist exploitation. " ..."
    Mar 10, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Posted on March 9, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. This Real News Network interview is from a multi-part series about Michael Hudson's new book, J is for Junk Economics. And after a lively discussion by readers of the economic necessity of many to become expats to get their living costs down to a viable level, a discussion of the disingenuous political messaging around retirement seemed likely. Among the people in my age cohort, the ones that managed to attach themselves to capital (being in finance long enough at a senior enough level, working in Corporate America and stock or stock options) are generally set to have an adequate to very comfortable retirement. The ones who didn't (and these include people I know who are very well paid professionals but for various reasons, like health problems or periods of unemployment that drained savings, haven't put much away) will either have to continue working well past a normal retirement age (even charitably assuming they can find adequately compensated work) or face a struggle or even poverty.

    https://www.youtube.com/embed/cdv9EvWxkdc

    SHARMINI PERIES: It's The Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore. I'm speaking with Michael Hudson about his new book J Is For Junk Economics: A Guide to Reality in the Age of Deception.

    Thanks for joining me again, Michael.

    MICHAEL HUDSON: Good to be here.

    SHARMINI PERIES: So, Michael, on page 260 of your book you deal with the issue of Social Security and it's a myth that Social Security should be pre-funded by its beneficiaries, or that progressive taxes should be abolished in favor of a flat tax. Just one tax rate for everyone you criticize. We talked about this earlier, but let's apply what this actually means when it comes to Social Security.

    MICHAEL HUDSON: The mythology aims to convince people that if they're the beneficiaries of Social Security, they should be responsible for saving up to pre-fund it. That's like saying that you're the beneficiary of public education, so you have to pay for the schooling. You're the beneficiary of healthcare, you have to save up to pay for that. You're the beneficiary of America's military spending that keeps us from being invaded next week by Russia, you have to spend for all that – in advance, and lend the money to the government for when it's needed.

    Where do you draw the line? Nobody anticipated in the 19th century that people would have to pay for their own retirement. That was viewed as an obligation of society. You had the first public pension (social security) program in Germany under Bismarck. The whole idea is that this is a public obligation. There are certain rights of citizens, and among these rights is that after your working life you deserve to live in retirement. That means that you have to be able to afford this retirement, and not have to beg in the street for money. The wool that's been pulled over people's eyes is to imagine that because they're the beneficiaries of Social Security, they have to actually pay for it.

    This was Alan Greenspan's trick that he pulled in the 1980s as head of the Greenspan Commission. He said that what was needed in America was to traumatize the workers – to squeeze them so much that they won't have the courage to strike. Not have the courage to ask for better working conditions. He recognized that the best way to really squeeze wage earners is to sharply increase their taxes. He didn't call FICA wage withholding a tax, but of course it is. His trick was to say that it's not really a tax, but a contribution to Social Security. And now it siphons off 15.4% of everybody's pay check, right off the top.

    The effect of what Greenspan did was more than just to make wage earners pay this FICA rake-off out of their paycheck every month. The charge was set so high that the Social Security fund lent its surplus to the government. Now, with all this huge surplus that we're squeezing out of the wage earners, there's a cut-off point: around $120,000. The richest people don't have to pay for Social Security funding, only the wage-earner class has to. Their forced savings are lent to the government to enable it to claim that it has so much extra money in the budget pouring in from social security that now it can afford to cut taxes on the rich.

    So the sharp increase in Social Security tax for wage earners went hand-in-hand with sharp reductions in taxes on real estate, finance for the top One Percent – the people who live on economic rent, not by working, not by producing goods and services but by making money on their real estate, stocks and bonds "in their sleep." That's how the five percent have basically been able to make their money.

    The idea that Social Security has to be funded by its beneficiaries has been a setup for the wealthy to claim that the government budget doesn't have enough money to keep paying. Social Security may begin to run a budget deficit. After having run a surplus since 1933, for 70 years, now we have to begin paying some of this savings out. That's called a deficit, as if it's a disaster and we have to begin cutting back Social Security. The implication is that wage earners will have to starve in the street after they retire.

    The Federal Reserve has just published statistics saying the average American family, 55 and 60 years old, only has about $14,000 worth of savings. This isn't nearly enough to retire on. There's also been a vast looting of pension funds, largely by Wall Street. That's why the investment banks have had to pay tens of billions of dollars of penalties for cheating pension funds and other investors. The current risk-free rate of return is 0.1% on government bonds, so the pension funds don't have enough money to pay pensions at the rate that their junk economics advisors forecast. The money that people thought was going to be available for their retirement, all of a sudden isn't. The pretense is that nobody could have forecast this!

    There are so many corporate pension funds that are going bankrupt that the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation doesn't have enough money to bail them out. The PBGC is in deficit. If you're going to be a corporate raider, if you're going to be a Governor Romney or whatever and you take over a company, you do what Sam Zell did with the Chicago Tribune: You loot the pension fund, you empty it out to pay the bondholders that have lent you the money to buy out the company. You then tell the workers, "I'm sorry there is nothing there. It's wiped out." Half of the employee stock ownership programs go bankrupt. That was already a critique made in the 1950s and '60s.

    In Chile, the Chicago Boys really developed this strategy. University of Chicago economists made it possible, by privatizing and corporatizing the Social Security system. Their ploy was to set aside a pension fund managed by the company, mostly to invest in its own stock. The company would then set up an affiliate that would actually own the company under an umbrella, and then leave the company with its pension fund to go bankrupt – having already emptied out the pension fund by loaning it to the corporate shell.

    So it's become a shell game. There's really no Social Security problem. Of course the government has enough tax revenue to pay Social Security. That's what the tax system is all about. Just look at our military spending. But if you do what Donald Trump does, and say that you're not going to tax the rich; and if you do what Alan Greenspan did and not make higher-income individuals contribute to the Social Security system, then of course it's going to show a deficit. It's supposed to show a deficit when more people retire. It was always intended to show a deficit. But now that the government actually isn't using Social Security surpluses to pretend that it can afford to cut taxes on the rich, they're baiting and switching. This is basically part of the shell game. Explaining its myth is partly what I try to do in my book.

    SHARMINI PERIES: If the rich people don't have to contribute to the Social Security base, are they able to draw on it?

    MICHAEL HUDSON: They will draw Social Security up to the given wage that they didn't pay Social Security on, which is up to $120,000 these days. So yes, they will get that little bit. But what people make over $120,000 is completely exempt from the Social Security system. These are the rich people who run corporations and give themselves golden parachutes.

    Even for companies that have engaged in massive financial fraud, the large banks, City Bank, Wells Fargo – all these have golden parachutes. They still are getting enormous pensions for the rest of their lives. And they're talking as if, well, corporate pensions are in deficit, but for the leading officers, arrangements are quite different from the pensions to the blue collar workers and the wage earners as a whole. So there's a whole array of fictitious economic statistics.

    I describe this in my dictionary as "mathiness." The idea that if you can put a number on something, it somehow is scientific. But the number really is the product of corporate accountants and lobbyists reclassifying income in a way that it doesn't appear to be taxable income.

    Taking money out and giving it to the richest 5%, while making it appear as if all this deficit is the problem of the 95%, is "blame the victim" economics. You could say that's the way the economic accounts are being presented by Congress to the American people. The aim is to popularize a "blame the victim" economics. As if it's your fault that Social Security's going bankrupt. This is a mythology saying that we should not treat retirement as a public obligation. It's becoming the same as treating healthcare as not being a public obligation.

    We have the highest healthcare costs in the world, so out of your paycheck – which is not increasing – you're going to have to pay more and more for FICA withholding for Social Security, more and more for healthcare, for the pharmaceutical monopoly and the health insurance monopoly. You'll also have to pay more and more to use public services for transportation to get to work, because the state is not funding that anymore. We're cutting taxes on the rich, so we don't have the money to do what social democracies are supposed to do. You're going to privatize the roads, so that now you're going to have to pay to use the road to drive to work, if you don't have public transportation.

    You're turning the economy into what used to be called feudalism. Except that we don't have outright serfdom, because people can live wherever they want. But they all have to pay to this new hereditary "financial/real estate/public enterprise" class that is transforming the economy.

    SHARMINI PERIES All right, Michael. Many, many, many things to learn from your great book, J Is For Junk Economics: A Guide to Reality in the Age of Deception. Michael is actually on the road promoting the book. So if you have an opportunity to see him at one of the places he's going to be speaking, you should check out his website, michael-hudson.com

    So I thank you so much for joining us today, Michael. And as most of you know, Michael Hudson is a regular guest on The Real News Network. We'll be unpacking his book and some of the concepts in it on an ongoing basis. So please stay tuned for those interviews.

    Thank you so much for joining us today, Michael.

    craazyman , March 9, 2017 at 10:10 am

    It's 10 bagger time for sure. A house in the tropics with servants at your beck and call. Breakfast on the veranda. Lunch at the club. An afternoon sail. Dinner at the house of a famous author. Or some native woman who cooks spicy food and is hotter than the sun. No shuffleboard and pills! You need to stay buff if you wanna live like this. You can't be flabby and short of breath.

    j84ustin , March 9, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Thanks for this.

    flora , March 9, 2017 at 11:47 am

    +1. Yes. Great post. Very clear explanation of Greenspan's SocSec bait-and-switch.

    PhilM , March 9, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Yves's remark on retirement by sector is apt. I laugh bitter tears when I see that a financial CEO contract always includes a "pension," as if the tens of millions of dollars in salary and bonuses weren't enough.

    A "pension" is for those who, broken by a life of hard physical labor, finally can't work any more for their crust of bread. It's not another revenue line-item that's barely enough to refuel the yacht.

    There was a time when people "saved for retirement." With real rates of return being negative, and all assets priced arbitrarily at the whim of the central bank's policy du jour, I am perfectly frank when people ask "what should they invest in": nothing. Pay down your debt, and spend whatever you have beyond an emergency cushion right now, while you can enjoy it. Savings will inevitably be wasted, by inflation, the "health-care system," or financial-sector scammers. Do not ask for whom the bell tolls; if you have to ask, you can't afford it.

    This is all in the context of the Federal Government already spending 20% of GDP, a number that was never designed to happen. It is the States that were supposed to be in charge of the people's welfare, not the national authority. So the argument that we should increase Federal taxes to somehow redistribute wealth is also wrong, because that wealth will simply be wasted, spent by people who are responsible to no one.

    At moments like this there are no good choices. Most Europeans have long learned to live with governments that were hostile to them, and that is where we stand now.

    Tocqueville's Democracy In America is tough going in spots, but my gosh, what a beautiful world he depicts, when the average Pennsylvanian's tax liability beyond his township was $4 a year.

    a different chris , March 9, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    I won't argue too hard about your "Federal vs State" argument, but note that if the state is in charge of most taxation then Richy Rich can live in a low tax state next door and employ the well-educated, healthy (single-payer) people in your state.

    Sound of the Suburbs , March 9, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Just got my copy of "J is for Junk Economics"

    Other people are on the same wavelength.

    Professor Werner moving from reality to fantasy:

    "Classical and neo-classical economics, as dominant today, has used the deductive methodology: Untested axioms and unrealistic assumptions are the basis for the formulation of theoretical dream worlds that are used to present particular 'results'. As discussed in Werner (2005), this methodology is particularly suited to deriving and justifying preconceived ideas and conclusions, through a process of working backwards from the desired 'conclusions', to establish the kind of model that can deliver them, and then formulating the kind of framework that could justify this model by choosing suitable assumptions and 'axioms'. In other words, the deductive methodology is uniquely suited for manipulation by being based on axioms and assumptions that can be picked at will in order to obtain pre-determined desired outcomes and justify favoured policy recommendations. It can be said that the deductive methodology is useful for producing arguments that may give a scientific appearance, but are merely presenting a pre-determined opinion."

    "Progress in economics and finance research would require researchers to build on the correct insights derived by economists at least since the 19th century (such as Macleod, 1856). The overview of the literature on how banks function, in this paper and in Werner (2014b), has revealed that economics and finance as research disciplines have on this topic failed to progress in the 20th century. The movement from the accurate credit creation theory to the misleading, inconsistent and incorrect fractional reserve theory to today's dominant, yet wholly implausible and blatantly wrong financial intermediation theory indicates that economists and finance researchers have not progressed, but instead regressed throughout the past century. That was already Schumpeter's (1954) assessment, and things have since further moved away from the credit creation theory."

    "A lost century in economics: Three theories of banking and the conclusive evidence" Richard A. Werner

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1057521915001477

    Even the BoE has quietly come clean about money.

    http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Documents/quarterlybulletin/2014/qb14q1prereleasemoneycreation.pdf

    Leaving Paul Krugman looking rather foolish

    " banks make their profits by taking in deposits and lending the funds out at a higher rate of interest" Paul Krugman, 2015.

    No, it doesn't work like that Paul.

    Sound of the Suburbs , March 9, 2017 at 10:46 am

    The facts tell all.

    Francis Fukuyama talked of the "end of history" and "liberal democracy" in 1989.

    Capitalism had conquered all and was the one remaining system left that had stood the test of time.

    With such a successful track record, everything was being changed to a new neo-liberal ideology and globalization was used to test this new ideology everywhere.

    The Great Moderation seemed to indicate that the new ideology was a great success.

    "Seemed" is the operative word here.

    A "black swan" arrives in 2008 and nothing is the same again, the Central Bankers pump in trillions to maintain the new normal of secular stagnation.

    Sovereign debt crises erupt, the Euro-zone starts to disintegrate, austerity becomes the norm., no one knows how to restore growth and the populists rise.

    A new ideology comes in that is rolled out globally and seems to work before 2008.

    What happened in 2008?

    This is the build up to 2008 that can be seen in the money supply (money = debt):

    http://www.whichwayhome.com/skin/frontend/default/wwgcomcatalogarticles/images/articles/whichwayhomes/US-money-supply.jpg

    Everything is reflected in the money supply.

    The money supply is flat in the recession of the early 1990s.

    Then it really starts to take off as the dot.com boom gets going which rapidly morphs into the US housing boom, courtesy of Alan Greenspan's loose monetary policy.

    When M3 gets closer to the vertical, the black swan is coming and you have an out of control credit bubble on your hands (money = debt).

    The theory.

    Irving Fisher produced the theory of debt deflation in the 1930s.

    Hyman Minsky carried on with his work and came up with the "Financial instability Hypothesis" in 1974.
    Steve Keen carried on with their work and spotted 2008 coming in 2005.

    You can see what Steve Keen saw in the graph above, it's impossible to miss when you know what you are looking for but no one in the mainstream did.

    The hidden secret of money.

    Money = Debt

    From the BoE:
    http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Documents/quarterlybulletin/2014/qb14q1prereleasemoneycreation.pdf

    If you paid off all the debt there would be no money.

    Money and debt are opposite side of the same coin, matter and anti-matter.

    The money supply reflects debt/credit bubbles.

    Monetary theory has been regressing for over 100 years to today's abysmal theory where banks act as intermediaries and don't create and destroy money.

    The success of earlier years was mainly due to money creation from new debt (mainly in housing booms) globally feeding into economies leaving a terrible debt over-hang.

    Jam today, penury tomorrow.

    This is how debt works.

    Twelve people were officially recognised by Bezemer in 2009 as having seen 2008 coming, announcing it publicly beforehand and having good reasoning behind their predictions (Michael Hudson and Steve Keen are on the list of 12).

    They all saw the problem being excessive debt with debt being used to inflate asset prices (US housing).

    The Euro's periphery nations had unbelievably low interest rates with the Euro, the risks were now based on common debt service. Mass borrowing and spending occurs at the periphery with the associated money creation causing positive feedback.

    Years later, it was found the common debt service didn't actually exist and interest rates correct for the new reality.

    Jam today, penury tomorrow.

    Why doesn't austerity work? (although it has been used nearly everywhere)

    You need to understand money, debt, money creation and destruction on bank balance sheets and its effect on the money supply. Almost no one does.

    Richard Koo does:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YTyJzmiHGk

    Ben Bernanke read Richard Koo's book and stopped the US going over the fiscal cliff by cutting government spending.

    Sound of the Suburbs , March 9, 2017 at 11:20 am

    Alternative and I would say much more accurate realities:

    1) Michael Hudson "Killing the Host", "J is for Junk Economics"

    The knowledge of economic history and the classical economists that has been lost and the problems this is causing. Ancient Sumer had more enlightened views on debt than we have today.

    2) Steve Keen "De-bunking Economics"

    His work is based on that of Hyman Minsky and looks into the effects of private debt on the economy and the inflation of asset bubbles with debt.

    3) Richard Werner "Where does money come from?"

    The only book generally available that tells the truth about money, I don't think there are any other modern books that do and certainly not in economics textbooks

    4) Richard Koo's study on the Great Depression and Japan after 1989 showing the only way out of debt deflation/balance sheet recessions.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YTyJzmiHGk

    Sound of the Suburbs , March 9, 2017 at 11:55 am

    The BoE:

    http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Documents/quarterlybulletin/2014/qb14q1prereleasemoneycreation.pdf

    The BoE have made a mistake.

    "Although commercial banks create money through lending, they cannot do so freely without limit. Banks are limited in how much they can lend if they are to remain profitable in a competitive banking system."

    The limit for money creation holds true when banks keep the debt they issue on their own books.

    The BoE's statement was true, but is not true now as banks can securitize bad loans and get them off their books.

    Before 2008, banks were securitising all the garbage sub-prime mortgages, e.g. NINJA mortgages, and getting them off their books.

    Money is being created freely and without limit, M3 is going exponential before 2008.

    Dead Dog , March 9, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Thanks SOS, agree. We're at that 08 point now, in fact it's worse.

    Pensions should just be a click of the computer, no borrowings, savings or taxes needed and they need to be sufficient to live on.

    No, we aren't 'winning'

    In Australia, we used to give people the 'aged' at 60 for women and 65 for men. Now its 67 for both, the woman's aged cut in was raised for 'equality' reasons, and it going up to 70 for my kids.

    Politicians, judges, CEOs and the c-class, all those 'shiny bums', they can often work well into their 60s. The rest of us experience age discrimination in a tight job market and are forced into menial jobs just when society should be funding their well earned retirement.

    diogenes , March 9, 2017 at 10:41 am

    The whole "there aren't enough workers to support retirees" meme is risible.

    Example: Jane funds an IRA for 30 years. For those 30 years, there is one person paying in, and zero taking out. When Jane retires, the IRA flips to one person taking out, and zero paying in.

    Disaster, or working as advertised?

    That Serious Thinkers, elected officials and the SSA themselves advance this trope to explain why SS is hopeless is proof of willful mendacity.

    Now if these folks admit, well yuh, you paid in over all of these years, but the money ain't there no more, then first, that's an admission of mismanagement (unsurprising), and second, bail us the fuck out like you did Wall Street.

    inhibi , March 9, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Most every purported "help" by the government is the exact opposite: your paying into a black hole.

    Look around you. What around you was paid for by the government? The answer is none of it was. Taxes are a way to keep the bureaucratic structure afloat. What is very clear is that once government reaches a certain size it begins to massively leach off of those that work and gives it to those that "manage".

    Look at any industry today and you will find, in the private sector, declining or stagnant wages for the "drones". Then look at the public sector: expanding, better benefits, better wages, less work etc. Thinking about it makes my blood boil. I see truckers making less now then 10 years ago, yet, the industry keeps crying that they "don't have enough workers". Yeah, sorry no one wants to work 25/8 driving around in the day time, sleeping in a truck at night, getting tracked through GPS & get penalized for going above speed limits when they can work for the DMV, make the same amount, and sit at a desk for 7 hours a day with plenty of benefits and vacation time.

    Its about time for this system to implode. I see globalization and government expansion as a huge force that will eventually cause a revolution in the States.

    Art Eclectic , March 9, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Globalization and the government are simply red herrings meant to distract Trump voters while shareholder value driven corporate overlords continue looting.

    a different chris , March 9, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Look around you . The government employs less people than pretty much for my whole life. Please get informed before you go off on a multi-paragraph rant.

    http://historyinpieces.com/research/federal-personnel-numbers-1962

    If you want a job join the military. Do you think that's a good option?

    jrs , March 9, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    maybe noone should work in trucking, freight trains are much more energy efficient as far as a means of transporting goods over long distances. Nah I'm not faulting truckers, just saying it makes no societal sense is all except maybe for the last few miles, but then neither do a lot of things. I doubt many people want to work at the DMV, but then maybe the benefits are enough to make a distasteful job seem worth it.

    Arizona Slim , March 9, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    ISTR reading that the creators of the 401k saying that they never intended it to be a replacement for a pension.

    PhilM , March 9, 2017 at 11:05 am

    As usual, the abuse of history is the outstanding credibility-buster in this piece. When an author says this,

    Nobody anticipated in the 19th century that people would have to pay for their own retirement. That was viewed as an obligation of society.

    why should I believe anything else that he has to say?

    The sole instance given is of Bismarck's Germany, actually ground-breaking in its social welfare policies, which came only in the last part of the 19th century.

    For most of the 19th century, just about everywhere, nobody who worked for a living expected to live long enough to retire.

    Indeed, retirement in past centuries had a different denotation. Its common use was among the aristocracy, when one of that number determined to remove himself from active (urban) social or political life and withdraw (hence the etymology, "re-tirer"), usually to the country.

    Haygood had to resuscitate "rusticate" for the other day, to achieve a modern equivalent of that.

    All of this is common knowledge. In case you don't think so, spend five minutes with any book of demographics or social history; and that's just for Europe. Don't let's even ask what "nobody expected to pay for their retirement" meant in early nineteenth-century Alabama.

    By the way, Hudson does this all the time. When I can fact-check offhand, from my fund of common knowledge, he is often casually abusing the truth. I can be pretty sure that the rest of what he says is just as unreliable.

    Arizona Slim , March 9, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Didn't Bismarck create those social welfare programs in order to prevent unrest in a recently unified Germany?

    MBC , March 9, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    You may be correct about the 19th century, but it is 2017. And his points about the US tax system, the banks, the wealthiest 1% and our gov't deceiving the middle and lower class are solid. A very basic retirement and healthcare should be provided to all in any decent marginally successful society. Not to mention a supposedly "great" one.

    Rick Zhang , March 9, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    I think this is where some progressive get tripped up and don't understand why their policies aren't more popular to the wide swaths of America outside of their bubble.

    Often times, these people (I use this term loosely to include working class whites in Appalachia as well as Silicon Valley libertarians) like to provide a fair and wide safety net. However, most policies that are advanced are strictly means tested. This causes significant resentment among those just outside of the cutoff lines. Think: Social Security has essentially blanket coverage. Yes, there's some redistribution going on behind the scenes, but if I pay in for 30 years I will get most of my money back. It's wildly popular, while welfare programs are not.

    The same applies for health care – Medicare is popular and Medicaid is not. If I pay in for a government program, I want to be able to take advantage of it. Save me the crap about not wanting to subsidize the lifestyles of the 1%; they pay in far more than they would take out of the program. It's a small price to pay to have universal coverage and buy in from all segments of society. So extending Medicare down to everyone is a better political strategy than extending Medicaid upwards to encompass higher income levels.

    More reading: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/07/business/economy/trump-budget-entitlements-working-class.html

    Rick Zhang @ Millennial Lifehacker

    Hans Suter , March 9, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    why don't try to educate yourself, you may start here https://eh.net/encyclopedia/economic-history-of-retirement-in-the-united-states/

    a different chris , March 9, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    You read a great deal into a statement that you didn't at all prove was untrue. Not impressive.

    The question is, did society believe that it had a responsibility of care for people that got too old to work? You didn't even address that. Yes we know life was "nasty, brutish and (most often) short. That doesn't invalidate what he said.

    Dead Dog , March 9, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    PhilM 'I can be pretty sure that the rest of what he says is just as unreliable.'

    No mate, he speaks truth and may have exaggerated, but the point remains that here, the UK, most of Europe – then the state funds your pension if you need one. It is now a social obligation. Only in the US, do you have this class of people (the working class) who don't deserve retirement and must fund their own meagre pensions, and if the 'pool which funds the pensions' becomes insufficient, well you know the rest.

    Taxes see, they fund things, or more often don't, because it's a widely accepted lie to keep the private bank money creation bullshit going forever.

    PhilM , March 9, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    That's the problem, Dog, I generally agree with his point, and with the responders to my comment, on policy grounds. My point is that leading with something that is provably false, and even probably false to common knowledge, is not a winning tactic; some would say it insults the intelligence of the audience, even.

    To me this site, if it's about anything, is about filtering out the BS that is used by people with an agenda to "enhance" their arguments. Lambert does this with a Lancelot-sized skewer. And part of the beauty is the crowd-sourced fact-checking from an extraordinarily informed, and sceptical, community.

    I may not have much to add to their expertise, but one thing I do know is some European history, and it drives me berzerk to see people just misuse history as if it strengthens their argument. If they don't know that what they are saying is true, they should not say it. And by "know it is true," I mean, know the source, and the source of the source, and be able to judge its reliability. That is what scholarship is all about: seeing how far down the turtles go.

    So when someone just tosses out an assertion about "what the past thought was right," as if that created a moral obligation or not in 2017 (which as MBC quite rightly observed it does not, at least not without a clearer argument), they should be critiqued. When their assertion is based on sloppy cherry-picked facts and wrongly generalized, they should be called out as either uninformed or malicious, in hopes they will be less so in the future.

    That's all I was saying; I did not have a point to make about pensions, because I agree with Hudson's viewpoints almost all the time, which is why it is so sad to see him turn out to be so cheesy, so often.

    My personal experience of pensions is this: they are a total scam to lock people into exploitive, nearly intolerable working conditions on the flimsiest of promises in the private sector; and in the public sector, they are a way of adding to the debt burden of generations yet to come without the assent of the people: taxation without representation, in effect.

    I have seen professionals crumble morally thanks to the force of the pension. It is despicable corporate oppression at the subtle level, because it looks as if they are doing a good thing, which of course they are not. It's more subtle than their obvious screaming cruelties to people and animals and the land, which, it must also be said, nobody does anything about either.

    Dead Dog , March 9, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Thanks for replying Phil. Good points.

    Yes pension systems aren't perfect, but some people don't have family or money to fall back on when they get old. I am seeing more and more of my own friends in their 60s struggling to earn money through work. They want to stop, but can't afford to.

    And, I am dismayed and disheartened of seeing people on the sidewalks that could be my parents. Or, shit, me

    Rick Zhang , March 9, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    I have no sympathy for these people. Read Hillbilly Elegy and see the perspective from the white working class. More often than not, people who are "struggling" in mid life are those who made bad choices. They abused drugs, had kids out of wedlock, or didn't make a career for themselves. Often, they spend poorly – on luxury items and consuming excessively.

    I live now just like how I did when I was a poor student – with a carefully limited budget and spending within my means (more on experiences than products). I save 80% of my income and plan to retire early. More people can do the same.

    My mentor/hero bought a fixer upper house that she repaired by herself. She bikes to work every day in the snow, and buys her clothes from thrift stores. She makes a six figure salary.

    Save for an uncertain future, folks, and you won't find yourself in dire straits later on in life.

    – Rick Zhang @ Millennial Lifehacker

    Moneta , March 9, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    If everyone saved like you did, the economy would be smaller so there would be even more unemployment and no money for savings

    Rick Zhang , March 9, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    Tragedy of the commons, eh?

    If everyone saved more, we'd reach a happier and more balanced equilibrium. Plus, money that's saved is recycled into the economy through lending.

    Or maybe you're arguing that the poor should save more and the wealthy should consume more and keep the economy humming.

    – Rick Zhang @ Millennial Lifehacker

    Jagger , March 9, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    For most of the 19th century, just about everywhere, nobody who worked for a living expected to live long enough to retire.

    I suspect your children or your extended family, were your retirement if you lived long enough pre-20th century times. Also I cannot imagine there was any sort of defined retirement prior to 20th century for the masses. People simply did whatever they could within their families until they couldn't. Work loads probably just decreased with the fragility of old age.

    Also many people did live long lives. IIRC, heavy mortality was primarily concentrated in children and childbirth and maybe the occasional mass epidemic or bloody war. Dodge those and you could probably live a fairly long life.

    PhilM , March 9, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Quite right; there was a bimodal or multimodal curve, which is why mean averages of life expectancy are not all that enlightening. But the fact is that most people who worked or fought, worked or fought their whole lives, until they were incapacitated; then there was their family, or the Church, or the poorhouse, or starvation, usually leading to mortal illness, if it had not done so before then.

    The other side of that story is that the old folk were there as part of the social and economic unit: helping to pick the harvest with the very youngest; sharing skills and knowledge across four or five generations, century after century-rather than being shuffled off to die in some wretched cubby, doing "retirement" things. There's a terrific little book, Peter Laslett's The World We Have Lost, that gives a well-sourced and interesting picture of pre-industrial family life that pushes people to overcome some of their self-satisfaction about this kind of thing.

    watermelonpunch , March 9, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    I remember reading where they found a Neanderthal remains that showed that this guy was definitely disabled to the point where he couldn't have survived alone. Which means someone else helped him live longer.
    That's what humans have always done pretty much, before money. People paid in by being part of society, and then their community helped them later. Social insurance is just the money big civilization version of it isn't it?

    I'm just thinking of the people with aging parents and children with parent cosigned student loans And what if they were responsible for paying the $90,000+ / year nursing home payment and all the medical bills, instead of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid On top of trying to help their kids get through college.

    The whole scenario is a bad joke and getting worse.

    Moneta , March 9, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    There wasn't 15-20% of the population expecting to live 30 years in retirement and the next generations to pay for their still mortgaged McMansions and trips to the tropics.

    I have no issues paying for retirees. I have issues with asking the younger generations to pay for lifestyles that are bigger than theirs. The Western retirement lifestyle is too energy and resource intensive.

    jrs , March 9, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    I don't think most people collecting a social security check actually have a big lifestyle, much less trips to the tropics, that's a Charles Schwab commercial, not a reality for most people. What Social Security has done is mostly reduce the number of old people living in poverty. Ok so young and middle age people are still living in poverty, making everyone live in poverty including people that are old and frail and sick is not an improvement. Are retired people's lifestyles actually shown to be more energy intensive, I think in many ways they would be less so, ie not making that long commute to the office everyday anymore etc..

    polecat , March 9, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    This ! Without adequate resources and, most importantly, energy, there are no pensions ! indeed, there is no middle class as well !!

    Anonymouse , March 9, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Sorry, but your comment is delusional. It is impossible for someone retired on only Social Security to "pay for their still mortgaged McMansions and trips to the tropics". In what universe is that possible on a MAXIMUM annual income of less than $32,000? Googling "maximum social security benefits" generates the following info:
    "The maximum monthly Social Security benefit payment for a person retiring in 2016 at full retirement age is $2,639. However, the maximum allowable benefit amount is only payable to those who had the maximum taxable earnings for at least 35 working years. Depending on when you retire and how much you made while working, your benefits may be considerably less. The estimated average monthly benefit for "all retired workers" in 2016 is $1,341."

    jrs , March 9, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    I suspect a lot of people (younger than boomers) might be still mortgaged to a small degree when they retire as housing costs have gone up so that people can't afford a mortgage when they are young, so if they buy real estate at all it's at middle age, buy the first home in their 30s or 40s or 50, for a 30 year mortgage. But McMansions have nothing to do with that.

    Moneta , March 9, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    First of all I did specify that a 15-20% group is doing quite well.

    – Debt in retirement is increasing
    http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/1012/boomers-staying-in-debt-to-retire-in-comfort.aspx

    -Average/median square footage house 1973 vs. 2010. https://www.census.gov/const/C25Ann/sftotalmedavgsqft.pdf

    -Social Security represents half of retirement income for half of retirees. https://www.fool.com/investing/general/2016/02/28/how-much-of-my-income-will-social-security-replace.aspx

    -Income distribution (see page 9)
    https://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/bulletin/2014/pdf/scf14.pdf

    ************

    The income distribution table shows that the younger retirees 65-75 are not suffering when compared to the working population they seem to have a good thing going for them

    Merging all these data points, it becomes quite apparent that there is a large percentage of retirees who still carry debt while collecting social security.

    Increasing social security to some group means making another group pay

    PlutoniumKun , March 9, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    As usual, the abuse of history is the outstanding credibility-buster in this piece. When an author says this,

    Nobody anticipated in the 19th century that people would have to pay for their own retirement. That was viewed as an obligation of society.

    why should I believe anything else that he has to say?

    The sole instance given is of Bismarck's Germany, actually ground-breaking in its social welfare policies, which came only in the last part of the 19th century.

    For most of the 19th century, just about everywhere, nobody who worked for a living expected to live long enough to retire.

    Indeed, retirement in past centuries had a different denotation. Its common use was among the aristocracy, when one of that number determined to remove himself from active (urban) social or political life and withdraw (hence the etymology, "re-tirer"), usually to the country.

    Historically, he is right and you are entirely wrong, which is not surprising as Michael Hudson is originally a philologist and historian and has specialised in economic history.

    The modern conception of retirement is mostly a 20th Century invention, but throughout history, there are many versions of 'retirement', and they were almost always paid out of current expenditures. Roman soldiers were paid lump sums and frequently given land on reaching retirement age through the Aerarium Militare. Militaries throughout ancient and medieval history had similar schemes, and not just for officers, but again, these were rarely if ever paid out of a contribution scheme – it was considered an obligation of the State.

    In many, if not most societies, it was accepted that aristocratic employers and governments had obligations to elderly staff – for example, fuedal workers would keep their homes when they were no longer capable of working, and this extended well into the 19th Century. Organised religions would almost always have systems for looking after retired religious members, again, always paid out of current revenues, not some sort of investment fund. The concept of a fixed retirement age (outside of the military) is a relatively modern one, but the concept of 'retirement' is not modern at all.

    PhilM , March 9, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    This is the worst strawmanning bull**** I have seen in a while; it is simply infuriating. I don't have the time to put all of what follows into perfect order, but here's what I can tap out in a minute or two.

    If, PK, you are trying to prove that some people in the past have stopped work and still gotten paid, as part of their lifetime compensation for the work they have done, and that this is, de facto, compensation during what we would now call "retirement," you win. Straw man knocked over.

    So let me again quote what Hudson says, just so your argument can be demonstrated as the pointless distraction that it is:

    "Nobody anticipated in the 19th century that people would have to pay for their own retirement. That was viewed as an obligation of society."

    That couldn't be clearer. "Nobody anticipated," as in "nobody." Meaning it was a generally accepted social value that . what follows. What follows is "people," as in "people"; not just soldiers, or priests, or servants; "people," ie, Gesellschaft; and then, "their own retirement," (which can only imply a period when they were old enough still to do something productive that earned money, but chose not to, instead; because otherwise it would be called "disability," right?). "That was viewed as an obligation of society," meaning, it was a right, not a privilege or gift or compensation, and it was universal, because it applied to "people," and "nobody" thought otherwise.

    There is just nothing there that is justifiable in any way based on the history of the nineteenth century. The only exception is Bismarck's Germany, which is adduced as proof of the statement, which is totally insupportable on its face.

    If you stand by that, and are trying to suggest that "retirees," meaning as a group everyone in society beyond a pre-defined age, as opposed to the disabled, were ever perceived as having a societally based right to welfare support before the very late nineteenth or early twentieth century, and that only in a very few, very advanced places, you fail three times over.

    You do this in classically ahistorical ways: you conflate Gesellschaft with Gemeinschaft; you adduce the military of the ancient world, which is just hilariously anachronistic, but even those prove you wrong when examined closely; you completely misconstrue the rules of the corporately organized ancien regime, which by the way was ancient history as far as the post-Dickensian industrializing Europe that Hudson speaks of; you adduce the military and the priesthood as if they were representatives of "society" as a whole, which they were not–they were adherents of the body that made the rules, and liked to keeps its friends close, and could reward them. The same, while you are at it, was true of some different varieties of public servants–but not many, and again, not before the late nineteenth century, and certainly not in the US:

    "Like military pensions, pensions for loyal civil servants date back centuries. Prior to the nineteenth century, however, these pensions were typically handed out on a case-by-case basis; except for the military, there were few if any retirement plans or systems with well-defined rules for qualification, contributions, funding, and so forth. Most European countries maintained some type of formal pension system for their public sector workers by the late nineteenth century. Although a few U.S. municipalities offered plans prior to 1900, most public sector workers were not offered pensions until the first decades of the twentieth century. Teachers, firefighters, and police officers were typically the first non-military workers to receive a retirement plan as part of their compensation."

    https://eh.net/encyclopedia/public-sector-pensions-in-the-united-states/

    Your ad hominem appeal to Hudson's authority as a historian is amusing: it is actually not surprising that Hudson is wrong, and I am right; because he is an economic historian, with a special faculty, apparently, for conducting contemporary policy polemics; and I would be happy to give you my professional authority, except that this is the internet, so appeals to professional authority don't mean anything at all, but I'll just put it to you that it is more than sufficient; but leaving that aside, I am without a polemical agenda, except just this one: that the past needs to be respected in its totality, and that even when being used to score points in contemporary policy arguments. I know which of us has more credibility here just by reading Hudson's sentences, which are devoid of historical meaning or sensitivity; and I know that I, as a historian, would never knowingly misuse the past to make a point about the present, because that is being a bad, bad doctor.

    You bring up three cases: military, clergy, and servants. Those are exactly not what Hudson is talking about when he mentions Bismarck, or the nineteenth century, or retirement and its old age provisions as a whole, so you basically proved my point just by failing to address the actual argument. What Hudson is referring to-because he says so with his one example-is the Bismarckian "Gesellschaft" obligation to what had in previous centuries been called the the third estate in generic terms. Not, mind you, the first and second estates and their servants and adherents. If Hudson were talking about pensions for the military, he would have said so, and his argument would have ended there, in a paragraph, because they are fully protected in that regard and have been, at least more than the average citizen, since the GI Bill. Pensions for the military is not part of some kind of "social obligation" for retirees; it is a reward for long service, and therefore not some kind of "right of social welfare," but a kind of compensation, and it was not much, at that, in the 19th century.

    The regular clergy, which made up most of the clergy until the dissolutions, did not retire: their jobs were for life, because they lived a life of prayer, and that was not something that ever ended. The Church supported all clergy as a corporate, spiritually mandated obligation, not as a generalized "social obligation" like social security, or what Bismarck instituted. If your point is that certain corporate groups took care of their privileged members when they no longer worked, that is one thing; if your point is that "retirement" as a condition that merited social welfare, in general, the clergy don't make that for you. They were exceptions to the general rule that people had to fend for themselves, a rule that applied to the entire third estate by definition from time immemorial.

    Lastly, servants: those who "retired" in the nineteenth century very often did not have the same treatments as servants in the ancien regime, many of whom died in harness in any case. But, if their employing families did continue to provide for them, they did so not out of a sense they were meeting the "obligation of society to the retired," but as a matter of family or community duty, noblesse oblige. It was completely at the mercy and discretion of the family involved. It was a matter of personal honor, and still is, when servants have been your friends and companions and have prepared and eaten the same food you have, and cleaned your mess and watched your back and brushed your horses and trained you to ride, and seen your youthful foolishness, sometimes for generations. Those are not "obligations of society"; they are personal and family and moral obligations. So Cato the Elder took some heat for his recommendations on discarding old and broken down slaves, but nobody suggested it was up to the Republic to pay for them instead. Since you're going to the ancient world, you might better have used that example than that of the soldiers.

    And so all that is what Hudson is not talking about. He's talking about Bismarck's social security as a moral precedent, reflecting a widely held belief in the popular right to a social safety net after a certain age.

    So of course some people were "pensioned." They were called "pensioners," and many of them were not at all "retired," but had gone on to work at other things, like soldiers who opened up fish-and-chips shops (q.v.). That does not mean that there was ever a Gesellschaft-like concept of "retirement" as a condition that brought the right to support by the commonwealth; not before Bismarck. That's what Hudson's reference tries to imply, that such a concept was common in the 19th century, at a widespread societal level in Western Civilization, and it is provably, demonstrably, obviously wrong. If it weren't, why would the Old-Age Pensions Act 1908 have ever been passed?

    "Nobody anticipated in the 19th century that people would have to pay for their own retirement. That was viewed as an obligation of society."

    You simply cannot construe that to have any truth, given the facts of the century. You can straw-man me about the concept of "retirement" all you like, although you are still wrong there, because the groups you name aren't people who "work for a living," which is the third estate; they are the first and second estates, and their adherents: those who fight for a living, and pray for a living, and those who obey them.

    So the fact remains that Hudson's statement was just polemical fluff, and no historian worth the name should have uttered it. I guess I'll sit here and wait for his response, because yours, well .

    fresno dan , March 9, 2017 at 11:05 am

    "He didn't call FICA wage withholding a tax, but of course it is."

    This just drives me to apoplexy. 1, that it is not called a tax, and 2, that wage taxes are never ever reduced.
    Incessant yammering about "incentives" – but doesn't a wage tax disincentivise both employers and employees with regard to wage work? – – Endless talk about how CEO's can't do ANYTHING unless their taxes are REDUCED!!!!!!! But somehow .that just goes out the window when it comes to wages – TAXES MUST GO UP.
    Cheney – deficits don't matter .except apparently with regard to social security ..

    The other scam about FICA and its "separate" funding is that social security being in balance is OH SO IMPORTANT – deficits will be the death of it. Yet the general fund is in deficit (see Mish today for a bunch of stuff on the hypocrisy of repubs on the deficit) and ever more deficit and nobody seriously cares about it or worries about it. MONEY can always be found for invading for Iraq, and paying for invading anybody is NEVER a problem. Feeding old folks, on the other hand, sure strains the resources
    Its like it is as important to keep a reserve army of the impoverished as it is to keep the empire.

    Dead Dog , March 9, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    FD -'This just drives me to apoplexy' Breathe, buddy.

    Yes, mate, feeding old folks – looking after the oldies so they have health care, decent food and a home.

    How well each country does it reflects their views on whether it's a social obligation. For many countries, there is no safety net and families provide the care, if they can.

    It's becoming that way in the west too. I don't see many governments increasing welfare for our poorest people, benefits are being gutted and those that did save for retirement are seeing their funds looted and zero interest paid

    Hemang , March 9, 2017 at 11:17 am

    Life in Indian joint family is great- no retirement work- food for life for a member- great lack of boredoms and lonely depressions- life, life ,- exquisite vegetarian food fit for Gods- low tech human scale towns- GREAT TO BE ALIVE ON 3 dollars a day! This talk of retirement and working and senior junior savings is so pathetic that my sex drive just evaporated into thin air reading it! Get a life.

    Disturbed Voter , March 9, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Destruction of the family by public and private corporations, with the assistance of disruption by multiple industrial revolutions is key.

    Sluggeaux , March 9, 2017 at 11:25 am

    It's good to read Michael Hudson's call-out of FICA as a mechanism to crush workers and transfer wealth to the already rich.

    FICA is indeed the worse sort of deductive reasoning. It is based on the premise that the rich are entitled to be rich, and that the masses want to take their money from them. In America in particular, wealth has historically been based on grants from the sovereign to loot the commons (timber, agriculture, mineral extraction, railroads, military procurement, data mining, etc.). These grants to loot the commons have nearly always been based on corrupt practices of cronyism and bribery. Alchemists like Greenspan simply provide theo-classical mumbo-jumbo after-the-fact justification for their piracy.

    Ironically, I was just reading about impending failure of the Oroville Dam, a prime example of America as the seat of greed. It was well-known that the spillways were inadequate and crumbling due to 50 years of use. However, the Reagan-ites of Southern California refused to tax themselves in order to save Oroville and Yuba City, 450 miles away.

    It's sad that everyone, especially the rich, think that they can blow-up the United States and then fly to their bolt-hole in New Zealand or Australia - or if you're not so rich to a shack in Panama or Thailand. I suspect that we will soon find ourselves to be unwelcome pariahs in those places.

    Arizona Slim , March 9, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    And, if you're a freelancer like I am, you get to pay both sides of the FICA tax, employee and employer. Fun, fun!

    Dead Dog , March 9, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    They may be unwelcome by the masses, but money still talks and, if you haven't got any, well you just stay right where you are.

    mk , March 9, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    200,000 people (even if they all voted) is not a political threat to the state and feds.

    Rick Zhang , March 9, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    How is FICA a redistribution to the wealthy? If anything, what you pay in buys you a share of the distributions when you retire. That means the output is roughly proportional to the input you contribute. The wealthy stop contributing after roughly the $120,000 limit, but that doesn't mean they take an outsized distribution. They take home exactly the same (pre-tax) as someone who only made $120,000 per year.

    If anything there's a bit of redistribution behind the scenes that favours the poor. See my earlier post. If you make too many changes to Social Security such that it becomes another welfare program, it will lose its popular backing and eventually get axed.

    – Rick Zhang @ Millennial Lifehacker

    MMT is the Key , March 9, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Neoliberalism is OUT-DATED. Rather, for the past four decades, it's been fiat currency for the .01% and gold standard straitjacket ideology for everyone else.

    "The mainstream view is no longer valid for countries issuing their own non-convertible currencies and only has meaning for those operating under fixed exchange rate regimes,

    'The two monetary systems are very different. You cannot apply the economics of the gold standard (or USD convertibility) to the modern monetary system. Unfortunately, most commentators and professors and politicians continue to use the old logic when discussing the current policy options. It is a basic fallacy and prevents us from having a sensible discussion about what the government should be doing. All the fear-mongering about the size of the deficit and the size of the borrowings (and the logic of borrowing in the first place) are all based on the old paradigm. They are totally inapplicable to the fiat monetary system' (Mitchell, 2009).

    We might now consider the opportunity afforded by the new monetary reality, effectively modelled by MMT. A new socio-political reality is possible which throws off the shackles of the old. The government can now act as a currency issuer and pursue public purpose. Functional finance is now the order of the day. For most nations, issuing their own fiat currency under floating exchange rates the situation is different to the days of fixed exchange rates. Since the gold window closed a different core reality exists – one which, potentially at least, provides governments with significantly more scope to enact policies which benefit society.

    However, the political layer, in the way it interacts with monetary reality, has a detrimental effect on the power of democratic governments to pursue public purpose. In the new monetary reality political arrangements that sprang up under the old regimes are no longer necessary or beneficial. They can largely be considered as self-imposed constraints on the system; in short the political layer contains elements which are out-of-date, ideologically biased and unnecessary. However, mainstream economists have not grasped this situation – or perhaps they cannot allow themselves to- because of the vice-like grip that their ethics and 'traditional' training has on them.

    MMT provides the best monetary models out there and highlights the existence of additional policy space acquired by sovereign states since Nixon closed the gold window and most nations adopted floating exchange rates. We just need to encourage the use of the space to enhance the living standards of ordinary people."

    Heterodox Views of Money and Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) by Phil Armstrong (York College) 2015

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d57M6ATPZIE

    PhilM , March 9, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Hear, hear!

    A new socio-political reality is possible which throws off the shackles of the old. The government can now act as a currency issuer and pursue public purpose. Functional finance is now the order of the day. For most nations, issuing their own fiat currency under floating exchange rates the situation is different to the days of fixed exchange rates. Since the gold window closed a different core reality exists – one which, potentially at least, provides governments with significantly more scope to enact policies which benefit society.

    What I especially like about your post is that it finally takes the mask off and openly admits what everyone who tries to learn about MMT has realized at once: that for all of its utility in understanding money systems, it is designed and propounded with an agenda: to undermine the mores underlying centuries of private-property-based liberal capitalism. Those mores, which remain more than illusions despite the encroachments of central banks, are the last barrier to prevent state capitalism from becoming completely authoritarian, because as long as "taxation" is, at least theoretically, the limit on state spending and therefore power, then "representation" actually means something, and so representative democracy and property rights, which are the keys to a functioning productive civil society and underlie all human progress for eight hundred years, can survive a bit longer.

    The very real and useful core of MMT, which describes what we see happening since the gold standard fell, and is therefore unimpeachable from a certain objective turn of mind, is Janus-faced. On the one hand, it acknowledges what the Framers knew intuitively when they gave the Federal government the power of issuing money: the sovereign makes the money. On the other, as often used here, and especially in your comment, it is a rationale for a government unrestrained by property rights and representative constraints on its power of expenditure. That will not end well, simply because it will not last long, and it will end in a military despotism or landed aristocracy (if you're lucky). Because it always has, and you are not going to change that, are you?

    Jim , March 9, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    In one of the recently discovered lectures (1940) by Karl Polanyi, in referring to post-war Europe (post 1918) he argued:

    "The alternative was between an integration of society through political power on a democratic basis, or if democracy proved too weak, integration on an authoritarian basis in a totalitarian society, at the price of the sacrifice of democracy."

    It is still the same issue today which PhilM nicely illuminates when he states: "..What I especially like about your post is that it finally takes the mask off and openly admits what everyone who tries to learn about MMT has realized at once: that for all of its utility in understanding money systems, it is designed and propounded with an agenda to undermine the mores underlying centuries of private-property-based liberal capitalism. These mores, which remain more than illusions despite the encroachments of central banks, are the last barrier to prevent state capitalism from becoming completely authoritarian, because as long as "taxation" is, at least theoretically, the limit on state spending and therefore power, then "representation" actually means something "

    The national security state already has a potentially totalitarian hold on us and in the future the MMT scenario "as a rationale for a government unrestrained by property rights and representative constraints on its powers of expenditure" might nicely finish us off.

    It would no longer be the neo-liberal present where the whole of society must be subordinated to the needs of the market system, but the other extreme, where the whole of society must be subordinated to the needs of the state supposedly working in the "public interest."

    PhilM , March 9, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Thank you for your reply. You said it better than I did, especially with the citation of Polanyi, one of my personal heroes.

    Grebo , March 9, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    it is designed and propounded with an agenda: to undermine the mores underlying centuries of private-property-based liberal capitalism.

    You say that like it's a bad thing :-)

    the last barrier to prevent state capitalism from becoming completely authoritarian

    State capitalism? If this is supposed to be a topical reference I don't get it.

    as long as "taxation" is, at least theoretically, the limit on state spending and therefore power, then "representation" actually means something

    How so? Did "taxation" restrain Bush from spending trillions on invasions? Can't you have representation without taxation?

    representative democracy and property rights, which are the keys to a functioning productive civil society and underlie all human progress for eight hundred years

    I thought that was the Catholic Church
    "Property rights"-the private monopolisation of the gifts of nature-at least in their traditional form, seem to me to be the third fundamental flaw in our political economy, along with Capitalism (narrowly defined) and our bogus monetary ludibrium. We need a new Church.

    Allegorio , March 9, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    MMT: great stuff. With you 100%. The issue is corruption and this culture of privilege and corruption we live in. You better believe the government will be issuing currency for other than the public interest. The fact is we live in an MMT economy now, it's just that the currency created by the government is being passed out to the ethnically privileged .001%. The talk of deficits and national debt is all a smoke screen to cover up this fact. It is way past time to educate the masses on this theme, kudos to Michael Hudson & Steve Keen.

    Katy , March 9, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    J is for Junk Economics: Amazon's "#1 New Release in Business & Professional Humor." Facepalm.

    Sluggeaux , March 9, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    OMFG, you're not making this up!

    Bezos really is a contraction of Beelzebub

    Disturbed Voter , March 9, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    One part of society parasitical on the productive part .. starts small. $1 per $1000, then $10 per $1000 until it gets to $1000 per $1000. Neither bought politicians, nor bought citizens, stays bought.

    Of course we shouldn't expect women and children to work that is destructive of reproduction and child raising. Some women should work some children should work but only a few. Otherwise obvious system dynamics will reduce the net population in quality and quantity.

    djrichard , March 9, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    You're going to privatize the roads, so that now you're going to have to pay to use the road to drive to work, if you don't have public transportation.

    This is a zero-sum game for the elite. They're already soaking us. If they soak us on tolls, they'll have to take less money soaking us another way.

    In contrast, Fed Gov reducing spending is not a zero-sum game for the elite. That means less money to be soaked up from the public. Unless of course, the public compensates by taking out more private debt. In which case, ka ching for the elite again.

    That said, I don't think the mind-set really is to reduce Fed Gov spending. Rather, the mind-set is to reduce entitlements so that other Fed Gov spending can be increased, namely on defense, intelligence communities, etc. And I really don't think the elite have much of a dog in that fight. After all, the elite suck up all the money regardless of how it's spent by the Fed Gov. So my guess is that this campaign to reduce entitlement spending is being waged by the other agencies in the Fed Gov and the eco-system that feeds off them.

    susan the other , March 9, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    In the 1980s Greenspan pushed for massive increases in FICA. And Reagan spent it on Star Wars. Recently I've read that that wasn't really a missile shield project but a cyber technology project. Today we read that the CIA has disseminated all this accumulated and obsolete technology; leased it out to private contractors; or variously bribed the Europeans with it. Etc. Fast-back to the 1930s and FDR took the same SS money for WW2. In the 60s, JFK agonized about the budget and the value of the dollar and could see no reason to go into Vietnam, but oops. LBJ bulldozed through Congress our Medicare plan, which upped SS contributions, and he went promptly into Vietnam, spending it all and stuffing the retirement funds with treasuries. Shouldn't we all be looking at how transitory these achievements (or disasters) have been. Maybe nothing more than boosting the economy for a few years every other decade or so. Money could achieve much more than this if we accepted as fact the fleeting benefits of misspending it and instead concentrated on a steady economy benefiting all. Hubris rules, but it doesn't ever make things better.

    Jim Haygood , March 9, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    'it's a myth that Social Security should be pre-funded by its beneficiaries' - Sharmini Peries

    If it's a myth, it's one that's incorporated in the Social Security Act of 1935, as well as (for private pensions) the ERISA Act of 1974.

    After about a century of experimentation, we know how to fund pensions securely: estimate the present value of the future liability using an appropriate discount rate, and then keep it funded on a current basis.

    Social Security grossly violates this model in three respects. First, it is only about 20 percent funded, headed for zero in 2034 according to its own trustees.

    Second, because Social Security does not avail itself of the Capital Asset Pricing Model developed in the 1960s, it invests in low-return Treasuries, which causes required contributions to be cruelly high. Had Soc Sec been invested in a 60/40 mix of stocks and bonds, FICA taxes could have been half their current level and funded higher benefits.

    Third and finally, Social Security is treated as an off balance sheet obligation in the Financial Report of the United States. Unlike the legally enforceable obligation of private pension sponsors to make good on their promises, the government refuses to take responsibility and put itself on the hook. The Supreme Court has ruled that Social Security essentially is a welfare program, which Congress can cut back or cancel at will. So much for "security" - there isn't any.

    Social Security is part of a general pattern of government taking a sleazy, second-rate approach to its social promises, by exempting itself from well-established prudential rules mandating best practices. Frank Roosevelt wanted his constituents to be forever dependent on the kindness of perfidious politicians. He got his wish.

    a different chris , March 9, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    >we know how to fund pensions securely: estimate the

    C'mon Jim you can do better than that. Here is dictionary.com, do you see the problem with your statement?

    know:
    verb (used with object), knew, known, knowing.
    1. to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to apprehend clearly and with certainty:

    estimate
    verb (used with object), estimated, estimating.
    1.to form an approximate judgment or opinion regarding the worth, amount, size, weight, etc., of; calculate approximately:

    ajea , March 9, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    If it's a myth, it's one that's incorporated in the Social Security Act of 1935, as well as (for private pensions) the ERISA Act of 1974.

    You're incorrect.

    Read Luther Gulick's memo to FDR. Read to the end:
    https://www.ssa.gov/history/Gulick.html

    Jim A , March 9, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    When you lend money to the profligate, they are happy. When you ask to be repaid, they are furious. It turns out that is just as true when workers who payroll taxes on their whole income "lend money" to the wealthy by paying excess amounts to the SS trust fund which in turn, enabled tax cuts for the wealthy. The wealthy are incensed that the SS trust fund, which has "lent" trillions to the treasury is now demanding to be "repaid" with interest.

    Tim , March 9, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    That's the trick about S.S. that gets me. You cannot pay in 15% of your income with some amount of reasonable compounding interest for your entire career and not have a massive nest egg at the end. But the math is done straight up such that there never was interest on the payments, so we are entitled to very little, despite every other form of investing on the planet returning some kind of interest.

    It's one of the reasons I argue for a Sovereign Wealth Fund to retain and manage all SS recepts, so at least the contributions and return on investment are accounted for in plain sight, so nobody can bait and switch.

    And heaven forbid the Sovereign wealth fund could also be used as government bank that loans (our) money direct to citizens, without private banks getting a cut.

    It ain't utopia, but it is a way of playing their game and still winning results and the pr war even in the face of the most anti-sociailst conservative.

    Tim , March 9, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    We need to keep up with the Feudalism 2.0 Moniker.

    We continue to refine society towards only 4 classes of people:
    Warlords/Politicians
    Productivity Owners
    Rent Extractors
    The Oppressed

    Over the last 35 years the productivity owners have been making a run, vacuuming up all the productivity improvements leaving everybody else stagnant, before considering inflation, but with the robotic age coming, they are just getting warmed up.

    a different chris , March 9, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    >but with the robotic age coming, they are just getting warmed up.

    Hmmm.

    Henry Ford II: Walter, how are you going to get those robots to pay your union dues?
    Walter Reuther: Henry, how are you going to get them to buy your cars?

    Apparently not an actual quote, but one Reuther certainly endorsed.

    You know "they" are just planning to kill 2/3 of us off, don't you? The elite are evil and sure many of them are stupid, but far from all of them.

    ChrisAtRU , March 9, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    "You're turning the economy into what used to be called feudalism. Except that we don't have outright serfdom, because people can live wherever they want. But they all have to pay to this new hereditary 'financial/real estate/public enterprise' class that is transforming the economy."

    Spot.On.

    From Marx's "Capital", Chapter 26 (The Secret of Primitive Accumulation):

    "The industrial capitalists, these new potentates, had on their part not only to displace the guild masters of handicrafts, but also the feudal lords, the possessors of the sources of wealth. In this respect, their conquest of social power appears as the fruit of a victorious struggle both against feudal lordship and its revolting prerogatives, and against the guilds and the fetters they laid on the free development of production and the free exploitation of man by man. The chevaliers d'industrie, however, only succeeded in supplanting the chevaliers of the sword by making use of events of which they themselves were wholly innocent. They have risen by means as vile as those by which the Roman freedman once on a time made himself the master of his patronus.

    The starting point of the development that gave rise to the wage labourer as well as to the capitalist, was the servitude of the labourer. The advance consisted in a change of form of this servitude, in the transformation of feudal exploitation into capitalist exploitation. "

    [Mar 10, 2017] Why the Russia Story Is a Minefield for Democrats and the Media

    Notable quotes:
    "... At that link, Taibbi goes astray by trusting CNN; I hate to cite a source with the John Birch society on its blogroll, but when they're right, they're right, and CNN sexed up the transcript. ..."
    "... Back to Taibbi. I think this is exactly right, and in today's vicious atmosphere, courageous: ..."
    "... Similarly, Democrats in congress have been littering their Russia speeches with caveats like, "We do not know all the facts," and, "More information may well surface." They repeatedly refer to what they don't know as a way of talking about what they hope to find out. ..."
    "... Reporters should always be nervous when intelligence sources sell them stories. Spooks don't normally need the press. Their usual audiences are other agency heads, and the executive. They can bring about action just by convincing other people within the government to take it. ..."
    "... In the extant case, whether the investigation involved a potential Logan Act violation, or election fraud, or whatever, the CIA, FBI, and NSA had the ability to act both before and after Donald Trump was elected. But they didn't, and we know why, because James Clapper just told us – they didn't have evidence to go on. ..."
    Mar 10, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Trump Transition

    "Why the Russia Story Is a Minefield for Democrats and the Media" [Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone ]. Well worth a read. "There is a lot of smoke in the Russia story . Moreover, the case that the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee now appears fairly solid. Even Donald Trump thinks so ."

    At that link, Taibbi goes astray by trusting CNN; I hate to cite a source with the John Birch society on its blogroll, but when they're right, they're right, and CNN sexed up the transcript. Here's the CNN quote: "'I think it was Russia, [1] but I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people. ' Trump said. Putin '[2]should not be doing it. He won't be doing it. Russia will have much greater respect for our country when I am leading it than when other people have led it.'" From the full transcript , [1] shows what CNN deleted, and [2] comes 45 minutes later, in response to a very qualified question. Trump doesn't do nuance well, but I think he was trying to do it here.

    Back to Taibbi. I think this is exactly right, and in today's vicious atmosphere, courageous:

    [T]he manner in which these stories are being reported is becoming a story in its own right. Russia has become an obsession, cultural shorthand for a vast range of suspicions about Donald Trump.

    The notion that the president is either an agent or a useful idiot of the Russian state is so freely accepted in some quarters that Beck Bennett's shirtless representation of Putin palling with Alec Baldwin's Trump is already a no-questions-asked yuks routine for the urban smart set .

    We can't afford to bolster [Trump's] accusations of establishment bias and overreach by using the techniques of conspiracy theorists to push this Russia story. Unfortunately, that is happening.

    One could list the more ridiculous examples, like the Washington Post's infamous "PropOrNot" story identifying hundreds of alternative media sites as fellow travellers aiding Russia, or the Post's faceplant over a report about a hacked utility in Vermont.

    Setting all of that aside, look at the techniques involved within the more "legitimate" reports. Many are framed in terms of what they might mean, should other information surface.

    There are inevitably uses of phrases like "so far," "to date" and "as yet." These make visible the outline of a future story that isn't currently reportable, further heightening expectations.

    Similarly, Democrats in congress have been littering their Russia speeches with caveats like, "We do not know all the facts," and, "More information may well surface." They repeatedly refer to what they don't know as a way of talking about what they hope to find out.

    Reporters should always be nervous when intelligence sources sell them stories. Spooks don't normally need the press. Their usual audiences are other agency heads, and the executive. They can bring about action just by convincing other people within the government to take it.

    In the extant case, whether the investigation involved a potential Logan Act violation, or election fraud, or whatever, the CIA, FBI, and NSA had the ability to act both before and after Donald Trump was elected. But they didn't, and we know why, because James Clapper just told us – they didn't have evidence to go on.

    Thus we are now witnessing the extremely unusual development of intelligence sources that normally wouldn't tell a reporter the time of day litigating a matter of supreme importance in the media. What does this mean?

    [Mar 09, 2017] Gaius Publius: Explosive WikiLeaks Release Exposes Massive, Aggressive CIA Cyber Spying, Hacking Capability

    Notable quotes:
    "... Donald Trump is deep in the world of spooks now, the world of spies, agents and operatives. He and his inner circle have a nest of friends, but an even larger, more varied nest of enemies. As John Sevigny writes below, his enemies include not only the intel and counter-intel people, but also "Republican lawmakers, journalists, the Clintons, the Bush family, Barack Obama, the ACLU, every living Democrat and even Rand Paul." ..."
    "... A total of 8,761 documents have been published as part of 'Year Zero', the first in a series of leaks the whistleblower organization has dubbed 'Vault 7.' WikiLeaks said that 'Year Zero' revealed details of the CIA's "global covert hacking program," including "weaponized exploits" used against company products including " Apple's iPhone , Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows and even Samsung TVs , which are turned into covert microphones." ..."
    "... According to the statement from WikiLeaks, government hackers can penetrate Android phones and collect "audio and message traffic before encryption is applied." ..."
    "... "CIA turned every Microsoft Windows PC in the world into spyware. Can activate backdoors on demand, including via Windows update "[.] ..."
    "... Do you still trust Windows Update? ..."
    "... As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. ..."
    "... "Richard Clarke, the counterterrorism chief under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, told the Huffington Post that Hastings's crash looked consistent with a car cyber attack.'" Full and fascinating article here . ..."
    "... Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized "zero day" exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive. ..."
    "... Since 2001 the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force - its own substantial fleet of hackers. The agency's hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA's hacking capacities. ..."
    "... By the end of 2016, the CIA's hacking division, which formally falls under the agency's Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other "weaponized" malware. Such is the scale of the CIA's undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its "own NSA" with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified. ..."
    "... I learned this when I was in my 20s. The Catholic Church was funding my early critique of American foreign aid as being imperialist. I asked whether they thought I should go into politics. They said, "No, you'd never make it". And I said, "Why?" and they said, "Well, nobody has a police record or any other dirt on you." I asked what they meant. They said, "Unless they have something over you to blackmail you with, you're not going to be able to get campaign funding. Because they believe that you might do something surprising," in other words, something they haven't asked you to do. So basically throughout politics, on both sides of the spectrum, voters have candidates who are funded by backers who have enough over them that they can always blackmail. ..."
    "... The campaign to frame up and discredit Trump and his associates is characteristic of how a police state routinely operates. A national security apparatus that vacuums up all our communications and stores them for later retrieval has been utilized by political operatives to go after their enemies – and not even the President of the United States is immune. This is something that one might expect to occur in, say, Turkey, or China: that it is happening here, to the cheers of much of the media and the Democratic party, is beyond frightening. ..."
    "... 4th impressions – I went looking for the "juicy bits" of interest to me – SOHO routers, small routers – sadly its just a table documenting routers sold around the world, and whether these guys have put the firmware in their Stash Repository. Original firmware, not hacked one. But the repository isn't in the vault dump, AFAIK. ..."
    "... The WikiLeaks docs show that CIA has developed means to use all personal digital device microphones and cameras even when they are "off," and to send all of your files and personal data to themselves, and to send your private messages to themselves before they are encrypted. They have installed these spyware in the released version of Windows 10, and can easily install them on all common systems and devices. ..."
    "... So we have a zillion ways to spy and hack and deceive and assassinate, but no control. I think this is what the military refers to as "being overtaken by events." ..."
    "... My godfather was in the CIA in the late sixties and early seventies, and he said that outside of the President's pet projects there was no way to sift through and bring important information to decision makers before it made the Washington Post (he is aware of the irony) and hit the President's breakfast table. ..."
    "... To what extent do these hacks represent the CIA operating within the US? To what extent is that illegal? With the democrats worshipping the IC, will anyone in an official position dare to speak out? ..."
    "... Schumer said that as he understands, intelligence officials are "very upset with how [Trump] has treated them and talked about them ..."
    "... The CIA's internal security is crap, too. Really a lot of people should be fired over that, as well as over Snowden's release. We didn't hear of it happening in the NSA, though I'm not sure we would have. Given Gaius's description of Trump's situation, it seems unlikely it will happen this time, either. One of my hopes for a Trump administration, as long as we're stuck with it, was a thorough cleanout of the upper echelons in the IC. It's obviously long overdue, and Obama wasn't up to it. But I used the past tense because I don't think it's going to happen. Trump seems more interested in sucking up to them, presumably so they won't kill him or his family. That being one of their options. ..."
    "... "The CIA had created, in effect, its "own NSA" with even less accountability ." [My emphasis]. It seems to characterize an organization that operates outside of any control and oversight – and one that is intentionally structuring itself that way. That worries me. ..."
    "... It's a dangerous world out there and only our brave IC can protect us from it. Come on. Stop blaming the victim and place the blame where it belongs–our IC and MIC. I say stop feeding the beast with your loyalty to a government that has ceased to be yours. ..."
    "... "These CIA revelations in conjunction with those of the NSA paints a pretty dark future for privacy and freedom. Edward Snowden made us aware of the NSA's program XKEYSCORE and PRISM which are utilized to monitor and bulk collect information from virtually any electronic device on the planet and put it into a searchable database. Now Wikileaks has published what appears to be additional Big Brother techniques used by a competing agency. Say what you want about the method of discovery, but Pandora's box has been opened." ..."
    Mar 09, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    March 9, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. The first release of the Wikileaks Vault 7 trove has curiously gone from being a MSM lead story yesterday to a handwave today. On the one hand, anyone who was half awake during the Edward Snowden revelations knows that the NSA is in full spectrum surveillance and data storage mode, and members of the Five Eyes back-scratch each other to evade pesky domestic curbs on snooping. So the idea that the CIA (and presumably the NSA) found a way to circumvent encryption tools on smartphones, or are trying to figure out how to control cars remotely, should hardly come as a surprise.

    However, at a minimum, reminding the generally complacent public that they are being spied on any time they use the Web, and increasingly the times in between, makes the officialdom Not Happy.

    And if this Wikileaks claim is even halfway true, its Vault 7 publication is a big deal:

    Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized "zero day" exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

    This is an indictment of the model of having the intelligence services rely heavily on outside contractors. It is far more difficult to control information when you have multiple organizations involved. In addition, neolibearlism posits that workers are free agents who have no loyalties save to their own bottom lines (or for oddballs, their own sense of ethics). Let us not forget that Snowden planned his career job moves , which included a stint at NSA contractor Dell, before executing his information haul at a Booz Allen site that he had targeted.

    Admittedly, there are no doubt many individuals who are very dedicated to the agencies for which they work and aspire to spend most it not all of their woking lives there. But I would assume that they are a minority.

    The reason outsiders can attempt to pooh-pooh the Wikileaks release is that the organization redacted sensitive information like the names of targets and attack machines. The CIA staffers who have access to the full versions of these documents as well as other major components in the hacking toolkit will be the ones who can judge how large and serious the breach really is. 1 And their incentives are to minimize it no matter what.

    By Gaius Publius , a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius , Tumblr and Facebook . GP article archive here . Originally published at DownWithTyranny

    CIA org chart from the WikiLeaks cache (click to enlarge). "The organizational chart corresponds to the material published by WikiLeaks so far. Since the organizational structure of the CIA below the level of Directorates is not public, the placement of the EDG [Engineering Development Group]and its branches is reconstructed from information contained in the documents released so far. It is intended to be used as a rough outline of the internal organization; please be aware that the reconstructed org chart is incomplete and that internal reorganizations occur frequently."

    * * *

    "O brave new world, that has such people in it."

    Bottom line first. As you read what's below, consider:

    Now the story.

    WikiLeaks just dropped a huge cache of documents (the first of several promised releases), leaked from a person or people associated with the CIA in one or more capacities (examples, employee, contractor), which shows an agency out-of-control in its spying and hacking overreach. Read through to the end. If you're like me, you'll be stunned, not just about what they can do, but that they would want to do it, in some cases in direct violation of President Obama's orders. This story is bigger than anything you can imagine.

    Consider this piece just an introduction, to make sure the story stays on your radar as it unfolds - and to help you identify those media figures who will try to minimize or bury it. (Unless I missed it, on MSNBC last night, for example, the first mention of this story was not Chris Hayes, not Maddow, but the Lawrence O'Donnell show, and then only to support his guest's "Russia gave us Trump" narrative. If anything, this leak suggests a much muddier picture, which I'll explore in a later piece.)

    So I'll start with just a taste, a few of its many revelations, to give you, without too much time spent, the scope of the problem. Then I'll add some longer bullet-point detail, to indicate just how much of American life this revelation touches.

    While the cache of documents has been vetted and redacted , it hasn't been fully explored for implications. I'll follow this story as bits and piece are added from the crowd sourced research done on the cache of information. If you wish to play along at home, the WikiLeaks torrent file is here . The torrent's passphrase is here . WikiLeaks press release is here (also reproduced below). Their FAQ is here .

    Note that this release covers the years 2013–2016. As WikiLeaks says in its FAQ, "The series is the largest intelligence publication in history."

    Preface - Trump and Our "Brave New World"

    But first, this preface, consisting of one idea only. Donald Trump is deep in the world of spooks now, the world of spies, agents and operatives. He and his inner circle have a nest of friends, but an even larger, more varied nest of enemies. As John Sevigny writes below, his enemies include not only the intel and counter-intel people, but also "Republican lawmakers, journalists, the Clintons, the Bush family, Barack Obama, the ACLU, every living Democrat and even Rand Paul." Plus Vladimir Putin, whose relationship with Trump is just "business," an alliance of convenience, if you will.

    I have zero sympathy for Donald Trump. But his world is now our world, and with both of his feet firmly planted in spook world, ours are too. He's in it to his neck, in fact, and what happens in that world will affect every one of us. He's so impossibly erratic, so impossibly unfit for his office, that everyone on the list above wants to remove him. Many of them are allied, but if they are, it's also only for convenience.

    How do spooks remove the inconvenient and unfit? I leave that to your imagination;they have their ways. Whatever method they choose, however, it must be one without fingerprints - or more accurately, without their fingerprints - on it.

    Which suggests two more questions. One, who will help them do it, take him down? Clearly, anyone and everyone on the list. Second, how do you bring down the president, using extra-electoral, extra-constitutional means, without bringing down the Republic? I have no answer for that.

    Here's a brief look at "spook world" (my phrase, not the author's) from " The Fox Hunt " by John Sevigny:

    Several times in my life – as a journalist and rambling, independent photographer - I've ended up rubbing shoulders with spooks. Long before that was a racist term, it was a catch-all to describe intelligence community people, counter intel types, and everyone working for or against them. I don't have any special insight into the current situation with Donald Trump and his battle with the IC as the intelligence community calls itself, but I can offer a few first hand observations about the labyrinth of shadows, light, reflections, paranoia, perceptions and misperceptions through which he finds himself wandering, blindly. More baffling and scary is the thought he may have no idea his ankles are already bound together in a cluster of quadruple gordian knots, the likes of which very few people ever escape.

    Criminal underworlds, of which the Trump administration is just one, are terrifying and confusing places. They become far more complicated once they've been penetrated by authorities and faux-authorities who often represent competing interests, but are nearly always in it for themselves.

    One big complication - and I've written about this before - is that you never know who's working for whom . Another problem is that the hierarchy of handlers, informants, assets and sources is never defined. People who believe, for example, they are CIA assets are really just being used by people who are perhaps not in the CIA at all but depend on controlling the dupe in question. It is very simple - and I have seen this happen - for the subject of an international investigation to claim that he is part of that operation. [emphasis added]

    Which leads Sevigny to this observation about Trump, which I partially quoted above: "Donald Trump may be crazy, stupid, evil or all three but he knows the knives are being sharpened and there are now too many blades for him to count. The intel people are against him, as are the counter intel people. His phone conversations were almost certainly recorded by one organization or another, legal or quasi legal. His enemies include Republican lawmakers, journalists, the Clintons, the Bush family, Barack Obama, the ACLU, every living Democrat and even Rand Paul. Putin is not on his side - that's a business matter and not an alliance."

    Again, this is not to defend Trump, or even to generate sympathy for him - I personally have none. It's to characterize where he is, and we are, at in this pivotal moment. Pivotal not for what they're doing, the broad intelligence community. But pivotal for what we're finding out, the extent and blatancy of the violations.

    All of this creates an incredibly complex story, with only a tenth or less being covered by anything like the mainstream press. For example, the Trump-Putin tale is much more likely to be part of a much broader "international mobster" story, whose participants include not only Trump and Putin, but Wall Street (think HSBC) and major international banks, sovereign wealth funds, major hedge funds, venture capital (vulture capital) firms, international drug and other trafficking cartels, corrupt dictators and presidents around the world and much of the highest reaches of the "Davos crowd."

    Much of the highest reaches of the .01 percent, in other words, all served, supported and "curated" by the various, often competing elements of the first-world military and intelligence communities. What a stew of competing and aligned interests, of marriages and divorces of convenience, all for the common currencies of money and power, all of them dealing in death .

    What this new WikiLeaks revelation shows us is what just one arm of that community, the CIA, has been up to. Again, the breadth of the spying and hacking capability is beyond imagination. This is where we've come to as a nation.

    What the CIA Is Up To - A Brief Sample

    Now about those CIA spooks and their surprising capabilities. A number of other outlets have written up the story, but this from Zero Hedge has managed to capture the essence as well as the breadth in not too many words (emphasis mine throughout):

    WikiLeaks has published what it claims is the largest ever release of confidential documents on the CIA. It includes more than 8,000 documents as part of 'Vault 7', a series of leaks on the agency, which have allegedly emerged from the CIA's Center For Cyber Intelligence in Langley , and which can be seen on the org chart below, which Wikileaks also released : [org chart reproduced above]

    A total of 8,761 documents have been published as part of 'Year Zero', the first in a series of leaks the whistleblower organization has dubbed 'Vault 7.' WikiLeaks said that 'Year Zero' revealed details of the CIA's "global covert hacking program," including "weaponized exploits" used against company products including " Apple's iPhone , Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows and even Samsung TVs , which are turned into covert microphones."

    WikiLeaks tweeted the leak, which it claims came from a network inside the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia.

    Among the more notable disclosures which, if confirmed, " would rock the technology world ", the CIA had managed to bypass encryption on popular phone and messaging services such as Signal, WhatsApp and Telegram. According to the statement from WikiLeaks, government hackers can penetrate Android phones and collect "audio and message traffic before encryption is applied."

    With respect to hacked devices like you smart phone, smart TV and computer, consider the concept of putting these devices in "fake-off" mode:

    Among the various techniques profiled by WikiLeaks is "Weeping Angel", developed by the CIA's Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs , transforming them into covert microphones. After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a 'Fake-Off' mode , so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In 'Fake-Off' mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.

    As Kim Dotcom chimed in on Twitter, "CIA turns Smart TVs, iPhones, gaming consoles and many other consumer gadgets into open microphones" and added "CIA turned every Microsoft Windows PC in the world into spyware. Can activate backdoors on demand, including via Windows update "[.]

    Do you still trust Windows Update?

    About "Russia did it"

    Adding to the "Russia did it" story, note this:

    Another profound revelation is that the CIA can engage in "false flag" cyberattacks which portray Russia as the assailant . Discussing the CIA's Remote Devices Branch's UMBRAGE group, Wikileaks' source notes that it "collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques 'stolen' from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.["]

    As Kim Dotcom summarizes this finding, " CIA uses techniques to make cyber attacks look like they originated from enemy state ."

    This doesn't prove that Russia didn't do it ("it" meaning actually hacking the presidency for Trump, as opposed to providing much influence in that direction), but again, we're in spook world, with all the phrase implies. The CIA can clearly put anyone's fingerprints on any weapon they wish, and I can't imagine they're alone in that capability.

    Hacking Presidential Devices?

    If I were a president, I'd be concerned about this, from the WikiLeaks " Analysis " portion of the Press Release (emphasis added):

    "Year Zero" documents show that the CIA breached the Obama administration's commitments [that the intelligence community would reveal to device manufacturers whatever vulnerabilities it discovered]. Many of the vulnerabilities used in the CIA's cyber arsenal are pervasive [across devices and device types] and some may already have been found by rival intelligence agencies or cyber criminals.

    As an example, specific CIA malware revealed in "Year Zero" [that it] is able to penetrate, infest and control both the Android phone and iPhone software that runs or has run presidential Twitter accounts . The CIA attacks this software by using undisclosed security vulnerabilities ("zero days") possessed by the CIA[,] but if the CIA can hack these phones then so can everyone else who has obtained or discovered the vulnerability. As long as the CIA keeps these vulnerabilities concealed from Apple and Google (who make the phones) they will not be fixed, and the phones will remain hackable.

    Does or did the CIA do this (hack presidential devices), or is it just capable of it? The second paragraph implies the latter. That's a discussion for another day, but I can say now that both Lawrence Wilkerson, aide to Colin Powell and a non-partisan (though an admitted Republican) expert in these matters, and William Binney, one of the triumvirate of major pre-Snowden leakers, think emphatically yes. (See Wilkerson's comments here . See Binney's comments here .)

    Whether or not you believe Wilkerson and Binney, do you doubt that if our intelligence people can do something, they would balk at the deed itself, in this world of "collect it all "? If nothing else, imagine the power this kind of bugging would confer on those who do it.

    The Breadth of the CIA Cyber-Hacking Scheme

    But there is so much more in this Wikileaks release than suggested by the brief summary above. Here's a bullet-point overview of what we've learned so far, again via Zero Hedge:

    Key Highlights from the Vault 7 release so far:

    Also this scary possibility:

    Journalist Michael Hastings, who in 2010 destroyed the career of General Stanley McChrystal and was hated by the military for it, was killed in 2013 in an inexplicably out-of-control car. This isn't to suggest the CIA, specifically, caused his death. It's to ask that, if these capabilities existed in 2013, what would prevent their use by elements of the military, which is, after all a death-delivery organization?

    And lest you consider this last speculation just crazy talk, Richard Clarke (that Richard Clarke ) agrees: "Richard Clarke, the counterterrorism chief under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, told the Huffington Post that Hastings's crash looked consistent with a car cyber attack.'" Full and fascinating article here .

    WiliLeaks Press Release

    Here's what WikiLeaks itself says about this first document cache (again, emphasis mine):

    Press Release

    Today, Tuesday 7 March 2017, WikiLeaks begins its new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named "Vault 7" by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.

    The first full part of the series, "Year Zero", comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina. It follows an introductory disclosure last month of CIA targeting French political parties and candidates in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election .

    Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized "zero day" exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

    "Year Zero" introduces the scope and direction of the CIA's global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of "zero day" weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.

    Since 2001 the CIA has gained political and budgetary preeminence over the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The CIA found itself building not just its now infamous drone fleet, but a very different type of covert, globe-spanning force - its own substantial fleet of hackers. The agency's hacking division freed it from having to disclose its often controversial operations to the NSA (its primary bureaucratic rival) in order to draw on the NSA's hacking capacities.

    By the end of 2016, the CIA's hacking division, which formally falls under the agency's Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other "weaponized" malware. Such is the scale of the CIA's undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook. The CIA had created, in effect, its "own NSA" with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.

    In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public , including whether the CIA's hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency. The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.

    Once a single cyber 'weapon' is 'loose' it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.

    Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor stated that "There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber 'weapons'. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such 'weapons', which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of "Year Zero" goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective."

    Wikileaks has carefully reviewed the "Year Zero" disclosure and published substantive CIA documentation while avoiding the distribution of 'armed' cyberweapons until a consensus emerges on the technical and political nature of the CIA's program and how such 'weapons' should analyzed, disarmed and published.

    Wikileaks has also decided to redact and anonymise some identifying information in "Year Zero" for in depth analysis. These redactions include ten of thousands of CIA targets and attack machines throughout Latin America, Europe and the United States. While we are aware of the imperfect results of any approach chosen, we remain committed to our publishing model and note that the quantity of published pages in "Vault 7" part one ("Year Zero") already eclipses the total number of pages published over the first three years of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks.

    Be sure to click through for the Analysis, Examples and FAQ sections as well.

    "O brave new world," someone once wrote . Indeed. Brave new world, that only the brave can live in.

    ____

    1 Mind you, the leakers may have had a comprehensive enough view to be making an accurate call. But the real point is there are no actors who will be allowed to make an independent assessment.

    34 0 42 1 0 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Guest Post , Legal , Politics , Surveillance state , Technology and innovation on March 9, 2017 by Yves Smith .
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    Subscribe to Post Comments 64 comments Code Name D , March 9, 2017 at 2:38 am

    That's all I needed.
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/10/fbi-chief-given-dossier-by-john-mccain-alleging-secret-trump-russia-contacts

    Senator John McCain passed documents to the FBI director, James Comey, last month alleging secret contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow and that Russian intelligence had personally compromising material on the president-elect himself.

    The material, which has been seen by the Guardian, is a series of reports on Trump's relationship with Moscow. They were drawn up by a former western counter-intelligence official, now working as a private consultant. BuzzFeed on Tuesday published the documents, which it said were "unverified and potentially unverifiable".

    The Guardian has not been able to confirm the veracity of the documents' contents,

    Emphases mine. I had been sitting on this link trying to make sense of this part. Clearly, the Trump Whitehouse has some major leaks, which the MSM is exploiting. But the start of this article suggests that para-intelligence (is that a word? Eh, it is now) was the source of the allegedly damaging info.

    This is no longer about the deep-state, but a rouge state, possibly guns for higher, each having fealty to specific political interests. The CIA arsenal wasn't leaked. It was delivered.

    salvo , March 9, 2017 at 3:13 am

    hmm.. as far as I can see, noone seems to care here in Germany anymore about being spied on by our US friends, apart from a few alternative sources which are being accused of spreading fake news, of being anti-american, russian trolls, the matter is widely ignored

    visitor , March 9, 2017 at 3:40 am

    I have read a few articles about the Vault 7 leak that typically raise a few alarms I would like to comment on.

    1) The fact that the

    CIA had managed to bypass encryption on popular phone and messaging services

    does not mean that it has broken encryption, just that it has a way to install a program at a lower level, close to the operating system, that will read messages before they are encrypted and sent by the messaging app, or just after they have been decrypted by it.

    As a side note: banks have now largely introduced two-factor authentication when accessing online services. One enters username (or account number) and password; the bank site returns a code; the user must then enter this code into a smartphone app or a tiny specialized device, which computes and returns a value out of it; the user enters this last value into the entry form as a throw-away additional password, and gains access to the bank website.

    I have always refused to use such methods on a smartphone and insist on getting the specialized "single-use password computer", precisely because the smartphone platform can be subverted.

    2) The fact that

    "Weeping Angel", developed by the CIA's Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), [ ] infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones.

    is possible largely because smart TVs are designed by their manufacturers to serve as spying devices. "Weeping Angel" is not some kind of virus that turns normal devices into zombies, but a tool to take control of existing zombie devices.

    The fact that smart TVs from Vizio , Samsung or LG constitute an outrageous intrusion into the privacy of their owners has been a known topic for years already.

    3) The

    CIA [ ] also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks

    is not a "scary possibility" either; various demonstrations of such feats on Tesla , Nissan , or Chrysler vehicles have been demonstrated in the past few years.

    And the consequences have already been suggested (killing people by disabling their car controls on the highway for instance).

    My take on this is that we should seriously look askance not just at the shenanigans of the CIA, but at the entire "innovative technology" that is imposed upon (computerized cars) or joyfully adopted by (smartphones) consumers. Of course, most NC readers are aware of the pitfalls already, but alas not the majority of the population.

    4) Finally this:

    He's so impossibly erratic, so impossibly unfit for his office,

    Trump is arguably unfit for office, does not have a clue about many things (such as foreign relations), but by taxing him of being "erratic" Gaius Publius shows that he still does not "get" the Donald.

    Trump has a completely different modus operandi than career politicians, formed by his experience as a real-estate mogul and media star. His world has been one where one makes outrageous offers to try anchoring the negotiation before reducing one's claims - even significantly, or abruptly exiting just before an agreement to strike a deal with another party that has been lured to concessions through negotiations with the first one. NC once included a video of Trump doing an interactive A/B testing of his slogans during a campaign meeting; while changing one's slogans on the spot might seem "erratic", it is actually a very systematic market probing technique.

    So stop asserting that Trump is "unpredictable" or "irrational"; this is underestimating him (a dangerous fault), as he is very consistent, though in an uncommon fashion amongst political pundits.

    Yves Smith Post author , March 9, 2017 at 5:53 am

    While I agree that it's worth pointing out that the CIA has not broken any of the major encryption tools, even Snowden regards being able to circumvent them as worse, since people using encryption are presumably those who feel particularly at risk and will get a false sense of security and say things or keep data on their devices that they never never would if they thought they were insecure.

    Re Gaius on Trump, I agree the lady doth protest too much. But I said repeatedly that Trump would not want to be President if he understood the job. It is not like being the CEO of a private company. Trump has vastly more control over his smaller terrain in his past life than he does as President.

    And Trump is no longer campaigning. No more a/b testing.

    The fact is that he still does not have effective control of the Executive branch. He has lots of open positions in the political appointee slots (largely due to not having even submitted candidates!) plus has rebellion in some organizations (like folks in the EPA storing data outside the agency to prevent its destruction).

    You cannot pretend that Trump's former MO is working at all well for him. And he isn't showing an ability to adapt or learn (not surprising at his age). For instance, he should have figured out by now that DC is run by lawyers, yet his team has hardly any on it. This is continuing to be a source of major self inflicted wounds.

    His erraticness may be keeping his opponents off base, but it is also keeping him from advancing any of his goals.

    visitor , March 9, 2017 at 6:59 am

    I believe we are in agreement.

    Yes, not breaking encryption is devious, as it gives a false sense of security - this is precisely why I refuse to use those supposedly secure e-banking login apps on smartphones whose system software can be subverted, and prefer those non-connected, non-reprogrammable, special-purpose password generating devices.

    As for Trump being incompetent for his job, and his skills in wheeling-dealing do not carrying over usefully to conducting high political offices, that much is clear. But he is not "erratic", rather he is out of place and out of his depth.

    RBHoughton , March 9, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    I am writing this in the shower with a paper bag over my head and my iPhone in the microwave.

    I have for years had a password-protected document on computer with all my important numbers and passwords. I have today deleted that document and reverted to a paper record.

    Ivy , March 9, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Please tell readers more about the following for our benefit:

    "single-use password computer"

    visitor , March 9, 2017 at 11:34 am

    That is an example of the sort of thing I am talking about.

    PhilM , March 9, 2017 at 11:35 am

    I think he means a machine dedicated to high-security operations like anything financial or bill-pay. Something that is not exposed to email or web-browsing operations that happen on a casual-use computer that can easily compromise. That's not a bad way to go; it's cheaper in terms of time than the labor-intensive approaches I use, but those are a hobby more than anything else. It depends on how much you have at stake if they get your bank account or brokerage service password.

    I take a few basic security measures, which would not impress the IT crowd I hang out with elsewhere, but at least would not make me a laughingstock. I run Linux and use only open-source software; run ad-blockers and script blockers; confine risky operations, which means any non-corporate or non-mainstream website to a virtual machine that is reset after each use; use separate browsers with different cookie storage policies and different accounts for different purposes. I keep a well-maintained pfSense router with a proxy server and an intrusion detection system, allowing me to segregate my secure network, home servers, guest networks, audiovisual streaming and entertainment devices, and IoT devices each on their own VLANs with appropriate ACLs between them. No device on the more-secured network is allowed out to any port without permission, and similar rules are there for the IoT devices, and the VoIP tools.

    The hardware to do all of that costs at least $700, but the real expense is in the time to learn the systems properly. Of course if you use Linux, you could save that on software in a year if you are too cheap to send a contribution to the developers.

    It's not perfect, because I still have computers turned on :) , but I feel a bit safer this way.

    That said, absolutely nothing that I have here would last 30 milliseconds against anything the "hats" could use, if they wanted in. It would be over before it began. If I had anything to hide, really, I would have something to fear; so guess I'm OK.

    jrs , March 9, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    open source software often has a lot of bugs to be exploioted. Wouldn't it be easier to just do banking in person?

    visitor , March 9, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Banks discourage that by

    a) charging extortionate fees for "in-person" operations at the counter;

    b) closing subsidiaries, thus making it tedious and time-consuming to visit a branch to perform banking operations in person;

    c) eliminating the possibility to perform some or even all usual operations in any other form than online (see the advent of "Internet only" banks).

    In theoretical terms, all this is called "nudging".

    cfraenkel , March 9, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    They're key fobs handed to you by your IT dept. The code displayed changes every couple of minutes. The plus is there's nothing sent over the air. The minus is the fobs are subject to theft, and are only good for connecting to 'home'. And since they have a cost, and need to be physically handed to you, they're not good fit for most two factor login applications (ie logging into your bank account).

    see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSA_SecurID

    meme , March 9, 2017 at 3:53 am

    I watched (fast forwarded through, really) Morning Joe yesterday to see what they would have to say about Wikileaks. The show mostly revolved around the health care bill and Trump's lying and tweeting about Obama wiretapping him. They gave Tim Kaine plenty of time to discuss his recent trip to London talking to "some of our allies there" saying that they are concerned that "all the intelligence agencies" say the Rooskies "cyber hacked" our election, and since it looks like we aren't doing anything when we are attacked, they KNOW we won't do anything when they are attacked. (more red baiting)

    The only two mentions I saw was about Wikileaks were, first, a question asked of David Cohen, ex Deputy Director of the CIA, who refused to confirm the Wikileaks were authentic, saying whatever tools and techniques the CIA had were used against foreign persons overseas, so there is no reason to worry that your TV is looking at you. And second, Senator Tom Cotton, who didn't want to comment on the contents of Wikileaks, only saying that the CIA is a foreign intelligence service, collecting evidence on foreign targets to keep our country safe, and it does not do intelligence work domestically.

    So that appears to be their story, the CIA doesn't spy on us, and they are sticking with it, probably hoping the whole Wikileaks thing just cycles out of the news.

    Direction , March 9, 2017 at 4:23 am

    Thanks for mentioning Hastings. His death has always been more than suspicious.

    skippy , March 9, 2017 at 5:46 am

    Elite risk management reduction tool goes walkabout inverting its potential ..

    disheveled . love it when a plan comes together ..

    james wordsworth , March 9, 2017 at 5:50 am

    The unwillingness of the main stream media (so far) to really cover the Wikileaks reveal is perhaps the bigger story. This should be ongoing front page stuff .. but it is not.

    As for using ZeroHedge as a source for anything, can we give that a rest. That site has become a cesspool of insanity. It used to have some good stuff. Now it is just unreadable. SAD

    And yes I know the hypocrisy of slamming ZH and the MSM at the same time we live in interesting times.

    Yves Smith Post author , March 9, 2017 at 7:52 am

    Your remarks on ZH are an ad hominem attack and therefore a violation of site policies. The onus is on you to say what ZH got wrong and not engage in an ungrounded smear. The mainstream media often cites ZH.

    NC more than just about any other finance site is loath to link to ZH precisely because it is off base or hyperventilating a not acceptably high percent of the time, and is generally wrong about the Fed (as in governance and how money works). We don't want to encourage readers to see it as reliable. However, it is good on trader gossip and mining Bloomberg data.

    And I read through its summary of the Wikileaks material as used by Gaius and there was nothing wrong with it. It was careful about attributing certain claims to Wikileaks as opposed to depicting them as true.

    3urypteris , March 9, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    My rules for reading ZH:
    1- Skip every article with no picture
    2- Skip every article where the picture is a graph
    3- Skip every article where the picture is of a single person's face
    4- Skip every afticle where the picture is a cartoon
    5- Skip every article about gold, BitCoin, or high-frequency trading
    6- Skip all the "Guest Posts"
    7- ALWAYS click through to the source
    8- NEVER read the comments

    It is in my opinion a very high noise-to-signal source, but there is some there there.

    sunny129 , March 9, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    Finding the TRUTH is NOT that easy.

    Discerning a 'news from noise' is NEVER that easy b/c it is an art, developed by years of shifting through ever increasing 'DATA information' load. This again has to be filtered and tested against one's own 'critical' thinking or reasoning! You have to give ZH, deserved credit, when they are right!

    There is no longer a Black or white there, even at ZH! But it is one of the few, willing to challenge the main stream narrative 'kool aid'

    TheCatSaid , March 9, 2017 at 6:14 am

    In addition to the "para-intelligence" community (hat tip Code named D) there are multiple enterprises with unique areas of expertise that interface closely with the CIA. The long-exposed operations, which include entrapment and blackmailing of key actors to guarantee complicity, "loyalty" and/or sealed lips, infect businesses, NGOs, law enforcement agencies, judges, politicians, and other government agencies. Equal opportunity employment for those with strong stomachs and a weak moral compass.

    Romancing The Loan , March 9, 2017 at 8:43 am

    Yes I can't remember where I read it but it was a tale passed around supposedly by an FBI guy that had, along with his colleagues, the job of vetting candidates for political office. They'd do their background research and pass on either a thick or thin folder full of all the compromising dirt on each potential appointee. Over time he said he was perturbed to notice a persistent pattern where the thickest folders were always the ones who got in.

    nobody , March 9, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Michael Hudson :

    I learned this when I was in my 20s. The Catholic Church was funding my early critique of American foreign aid as being imperialist. I asked whether they thought I should go into politics. They said, "No, you'd never make it". And I said, "Why?" and they said, "Well, nobody has a police record or any other dirt on you." I asked what they meant. They said, "Unless they have something over you to blackmail you with, you're not going to be able to get campaign funding. Because they believe that you might do something surprising," in other words, something they haven't asked you to do. So basically throughout politics, on both sides of the spectrum, voters have candidates who are funded by backers who have enough over them that they can always blackmail.

    craazyboy , March 9, 2017 at 8:20 am

    I find the notion that my consumer electronics may be CIA microphones somewhat irritating, but my imagination quickly runs off to far worse scenarios. (although the popular phase, "You're tax dollars at work." keeps running thru my head like a earworm. And whenever I hear "conservatives" speak of their desire for "small government", usually when topics of health care, Medicare and social security come up, I can only manage a snort of incredulousness anymore)

    One being malware penetrating our nuke power plants and shutting down the cooling system. Then the reactor slowly overheats over the next 3 days, goes critical, and blows the surrounding area to high heaven. We have plants all around the coast of the country and also around the Great Lakes Region – our largest fresh water store in a drought threatened future.

    Then the same happening in our offensive nuke missile systems.

    Some other inconvenient truths – the stuxnet virus has been redesigned. Kaspersky – premier anti malware software maker – had a variant on their corporate network for months before finally discovering it. What chance have we?

    In China, hacking is becoming a consumer service industry. There are companies building high power data centers with a host of hacking tools. Anyone, including high school script kiddies, can rent time to use the sophisticated hacking tools, web search bots, and whatever, all hosted on powerful servers with high speed internet bandwidth.

    Being a bit "spooked" by all this, I began to worry about my humble home computer and decided to research whatever products I could get to at least ward off annoying vandalism. Among other things, I did sign up for a VPN service. I'm looking at the control app for my VPN connection here and I see that with a simple checkbox mouse click I can make my IP address appear to be located in my choice of 40 some countries around the world. Romania is on the list!

    flora , March 9, 2017 at 11:11 am

    "my consumer electronics may be CIA microphones "

    I haven't tested this, so can't confirm it works, but it sounds reasonable.
    http://www.komando.com/tips/390304/secure-your-webcam-and-microphone-from-hackers

    craazyboy , March 9, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    Actually, I very much doubt that does work. The mic "pickup" would feed its analog output to a DAC (digital to analog converter) which would convert the signal to digital. This then goes to something similar to a virtual com port in the operating system. Here is where a malware program would pick it up and either create a audio file to be sent to an internet address, or stream it directly there.

    The article is just plugging in a microphone at the output jack. The malware got the data long before it goes thru another DAC and analog amp to get to the speakers or output jack.

    craazyboy , March 9, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    s/b "plugging in a earbud at the output jack". They're confusing me too.

    flora , March 9, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    ah. thanks for vetting.

    Stephen Gardner , March 9, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    It's actually a input/output jack or, if you will, a mic/headphone jack.

    Stephen Gardner , March 9, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    It depends on how it is hooked up internally. Old fashioned amateur radio headphones would disable the speakers when plugged in because the physical insertion of the plug pushed open the connection to the speakers. The jack that you plug the ear buds into might do the same, disconnecting the path between the built-in microphone and the ADC (actually it is an ADC not a DAC). The only way to know is to take it apart and see how it is connected.

    Pat , March 9, 2017 at 8:27 am

    The CIA is not allowed to operate in the US is also the panacea for the public. And some are buying it. Along with everyone knows they can do this is fueling the NOTHING to see here keep walking weak practically non existent coverage.

    Eureka Springs , March 9, 2017 at 8:31 am

    At what point do people quit negotiating in terrorism and errorism? For this is what the police, the very State itself has long been. Far beyond being illegitimate, illegal, immoral, this is a clear and ever present danger to not just it's own people, but the rule of law itself. Blanket statements like we all know this just makes the dangerously absurd normal I'll never understand that part of human nature. But hey, the TSA literally just keeps probing further each and every year. Bend over!

    Trump may not be the one for the task but we the people desperately need people 'unfit', for it is the many fit who brought us to this point. His unfit nature is as refreshing on these matters in its chaotic honest disbelief as Snowden and Wiki revelations. Refreshing because it's all we've got. One doesn't have to like Trump to still see missed opportunity so many should be telling him he could be the greatest pres ever if (for two examples) he fought tirelessly for single payer and to bring down this police state rather than the EPA or public education.

    This cannot stand on so many levels. Not only is the fourth amendment rendered utterly void, but even if it weren't it falls far short of the protections we deserve.

    No enemy could possibly be as bad as who we are and what we allow/do among ourselves. If an election can be hacked (not saying it was by Russia).. as these and other files prove anything can and will be hacked then our system is to blame, not someone else.

    What amazes me is that the spooks haven't manufactured proof needed to take Trump out of office Bonfire of The Vanities style. I'd like to think the people have moved beyond the point they would believe manufactured evidence but the Russia thing proves otherwise.

    These people foment world war while probing our every move and we do nothing!

    If we wait for someone fit nothing will ever change because we wait for the police/media/oligarch state to tell us who is fit.

    Anon , March 9, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    being "unfit" does not automatically make someone a savior.

    Stephen Gardner , March 9, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    But being fit by the standards of our ruling class, the "real owners" as Carlin called them is, in my book, an automatic proof that they are up to no good. Trump is not my cup of tea as a president but no one we have had in a while wasn't clearly compromised by those who fund them. Did you ever wonder why we have never had a president or even a powerful member of congress that was not totally in the tank for that little country on the Eastern Mediterranean? Or the Gulf Monarchies? Do you think that is by accident? Do you think money isn't involved? Talk about hacked elections! We should be so lucky as to have ONLY Russians attempting to affect our elections. Money is what hacks US elections and never forget that. To me it is laughable to discuss hacking the elections without discussing the real way our "democracy" is subverted–money not document leaks or voting machine hacks. It's money.

    Why isn't Saudi Arabia on Trump's list? Iran that has never been involved in a terrorist act on US soil is but not Saudi Arabia? How many 911 hijackers came from Iran? If anything saves Trump from destruction by the real owners of our democracy it is his devotion to the aforementioned countries.

    Allegorio , March 9, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    The point again is not to remove him from office but to control him. With Trump's past you better believe the surveillance state has more than enough to remove him from office. Notice the change in his rhetoric since inauguration? More and more he is towing the establishment Republican line. Of course this depends on whether you believe Trump is a break with the past or just the best liar out there. A very unpopular establishment would be clever in promoting their agent by pretending to be against him.

    Anyone who still believes that the US is a democratic republic and not a mafia state needs to stick their heads deeper into the sands. When will the low information voters and police forces on whom a real revolution depends realize this is anyone's guess. The day is getting closer especially for the younger generation. The meme among the masses is that government has always been corrupt and that this is nothing new. I do believe the level of immorality among the credentialed classes is indeed very new and has become the new normal. Generations of every man for himself capitalist philosophy undermining any sense of morality or community has finally done its work.

    HBE , March 9, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Go take a jaunt over to huffpo, at the time of this post there was not a single mention of vault 7 on the front page. Just a long series of anti trump administration articles.

    Glad to know for sure who the true warmongers were all along.

    Arizona Slim , March 9, 2017 at 8:50 am

    We need another Church Commission.

    Eureka Springs , March 9, 2017 at 8:59 am

    No.. The Church commission was a sweep it under the rug operation. It got us FISA courts. More carte blanche secrecy, not less. The commission nor the rest of the system didn't even hold violators of the time accountable.

    We have files like Vault 7. Commissions rarely get in secret what we have right here before our eyes.

    Arizona Slim , March 9, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    Well, how about a Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

    Foppe , March 9, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Cute but the ANC lost the war by acceding to WTO entry (which "forbade" distributive politics, land/resource redistribution, nationalizations, etc.).

    River , March 9, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Need Langley surrounded and fired upon by tanks at this point.

    Err on the side of caution.

    DJG , March 9, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    River: Interesting historic parallel? I believe that the Ottomans got rid of the Janissaries that way, after the Janissaries had become a state within a state, by using cannons on their HQ

    From Wiki entry, Janissaries:

    The corps was abolished by Sultan Mahmud II in 1826 in the Auspicious Incident in which 6,000 or more were executed.[8]

    polecat , March 9, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    "Nuke it from orbit it's the only way to be sure . "

    knowbuddhau , March 9, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Took less than a minute to download the 513.33MB file. The passphrase is what JFK said he'd like to do to CIA: SplinterItIntoAThousandPiecesAndScatterItIntoTheWinds.

    "The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer." Henry Kissinger, 1975.

    Stormcrow , March 9, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Here is Raimondo's take:
    Spygate
    http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2017/03/07/spygate-americas-political-police-vs-donald-j-trump/

    The campaign to frame up and discredit Trump and his associates is characteristic of how a police state routinely operates. A national security apparatus that vacuums up all our communications and stores them for later retrieval has been utilized by political operatives to go after their enemies – and not even the President of the United States is immune. This is something that one might expect to occur in, say, Turkey, or China: that it is happening here, to the cheers of much of the media and the Democratic party, is beyond frightening.

    The irony is that the existence of this dangerous apparatus – which civil libertarians have warned could and probably would be used for political purposes – has been hailed by Trump and his team as a necessary and proper function of government. Indeed, Trump has called for the execution of the person who revealed the existence of this sinister engine of oppression – Edward Snowden. Absent Snowden's revelations, we would still be in the dark as to the existence and vast scope of the NSA's surveillance.

    And now the monster Trump embraced in the name of "national security" has come back to bite him.

    We hear all the time that what's needed is an open and impartial "investigation" of Trump's alleged "ties" to Russia. This is dangerous nonsense: does every wild-eyed accusation from embittered losers deserve a congressional committee armed with subpoena power bent on conducting an inquisition? Certainly not.

    What must be investigated is the incubation of a clandestine political police force inside the national security apparatus, one that has been unleashed against Trump – and could be deployed against anyone.

    This isn't about Donald Trump. It's about preserving what's left of our old republic.

    Perhapps overstated but well worth pondering.

    SplinterItIntoAThousandPiecesAndScatterItIntoTheWinds. , March 9, 2017 at 10:06 am

    Yeah I downloaded it the day it came out and spent an hour or so looking at it last night. First impressions – "heyyy this is like a Hackers Guide – the sort I used in the 80s, or DerEngel's Cable Modem Hacking" of the 00s.

    2nd impressions – wow it really gives foundational stuff – like "Enable Debug on PolarSSL".

    3rd impressions – "I could spend hours going thru this happily ".

    4th impressions – I went looking for the "juicy bits" of interest to me – SOHO routers, small routers – sadly its just a table documenting routers sold around the world, and whether these guys have put the firmware in their Stash Repository. Original firmware, not hacked one. But the repository isn't in the vault dump, AFAIK.

    Its quite fascinating. But trying to find the "juicy stuff" is going to be tedious. One can spend hours and hours going thru it. To speed up going thru it, I'm going to need some tech sites to say "where to go".

    flora , March 9, 2017 at 11:21 am

    It seems clear that Wikileaks has not and will not release actual ongoing method "how-to" info or hacking scripts. They are releasing the "whats", not the tech level detailed "hows". This seems like a sane approach to releasing the data. The release appears to be for political discussion, not for spreading the hacking tools. So I wouldn't look for "juicy bits" about detailed methodology. Just my guess.

    That said, love what you're doing digging into this stuff. I look forward to a more detailed report in future. Thanks.

    Sam F , March 9, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Yves, I think that you much underestimate the extremity of these exposed violations of the security of freedom of expression, and of the security of private records. The WikiLeaks docs show that CIA has developed means to use all personal digital device microphones and cameras even when they are "off," and to send all of your files and personal data to themselves, and to send your private messages to themselves before they are encrypted. They have installed these spyware in the released version of Windows 10, and can easily install them on all common systems and devices.

    This goes far beyond the kind of snooping that required specialized devices installed near the target, which could be controlled by warrant process. There is no control over this extreme spying. It is totalitarianism now.

    This is probably the most extreme violation of the rights of citizens by a government in all of history. It is far worse than the "turnkey tyranny" against which Snowden warned, on the interception of private messages. It is tyranny itself, the death of democracy.

    Outis Philalithopoulos , March 9, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Your first sentence is a bit difficult to understand. If you read Yves' remarks introducing the post, she says that the revelations are "a big deal" "if the Wikileaks claim is even halfway true," while coming down hard on the MSM and others for "pooh-pooh[ing]" the story. Did you want her to add more exclamation points?

    susan the other , March 9, 2017 at 10:59 am

    So we have a zillion ways to spy and hack and deceive and assassinate, but no control. I think this is what the military refers to as "being overtaken by events."

    It's easy to gather information; not so easy to analyze it, and somehow impossible to act on it in good faith. With all this ability to know stuff and surveil people the big question is, Why does everything seem so beyond our ability to control it?

    We should know well in advance that banks will fail catastrophically; that we will indeed have sea level rise; that resources will run out; that water will be undrinkable; that people will be impossible to manipulate when panic hits – but what do we do? We play dirty tricks, spy on each other like voyeurs, and ignore the inevitable. Like the Stasi, we clearly know what happened, what is happening and what is going to happen. But we have no control.

    NotTimothyGeithner , March 9, 2017 at 11:34 am

    My godfather was in the CIA in the late sixties and early seventies, and he said that outside of the President's pet projects there was no way to sift through and bring important information to decision makers before it made the Washington Post (he is aware of the irony) and hit the President's breakfast table.

    Arizona Slim , March 9, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Do you mean to say that the CIA leaked like a sieve? That's my understanding of your post.

    Old Jake , March 9, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    AS, I would interpret it as saying that there was so much coming in it was like trying to classify snowflakes in a snowstorm. They could pick a few subject areas to look at closely but the rest just went into the files.

    Leaking like a sieve is also likely, but perhaps not the main point.

    Andrew , March 9, 2017 at 11:14 am

    The archive appears to have been circulated among government hackers and contractors in a authorized manner

    There, that looks the more likely framing considering CIA & DNI on behalf of the whole US IC seemingly fostered wide dissimilation of these tools, information. Demonstration of media control an added plus.

    Cheers Yves

    Stormcrow , March 9, 2017 at 11:20 am

    The Empire Strikes Back

    WikiLeaks Has Joined the Trump Administration
    Max Boot
    Foreign Policy magazine

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/03/08/wikileaks-has-joined-the-trump-administration/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=New+Campaign&utm_term=%2AEditors+Picks

    I guess we can only expect more of this.

    Todd Pierce , on the other hand, nails it. (From his Facebook page.)
    The East German Stasi could only dream of the sort of surveillance the NSA and CIA do now, with just as nefarious of purposes.

    lyman alpha blob , March 9, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Perhaps the scare quotes around "international mobster" aren't really necessary.

    In all this talk about the various factions aligned with and against Trump, that's one I haven't heard brought up by anybody. With all the cement poured in Trump's name over the years, it would be naive to think his businesses had not brushed up against organized crime at some point. Question is, whose side are they on?

    JTMcPhee , March 9, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Like all the other players, the "side" they are on is them-effing-selves. And isn't that the whole problem with our misbegotten species, writ large?

    Then there's this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1Hzds9aGdA Maybe these people will be around and still eating after us urban insects and rodents are long gone? Or will our rulers decide no one should survive if they don't?

    Skip Intro , March 9, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    To what extent do these hacks represent the CIA operating within the US? To what extent is that illegal? With the democrats worshipping the IC, will anyone in an official position dare to speak out?

    tegnost , March 9, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Well we know chuckie won't speak out..

    http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/312605-schumer-trump-being-really-dumb-by-going-after-intelligence-community

    FTA "Schumer said that as he understands, intelligence officials are "very upset with how [Trump] has treated them and talked about them.""

    Oregoncharles , March 9, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    I've long thought that the reason Snowden was pursued so passionately was that he exposed the biggest, most embarrassing secret: that the National "Security" Agency's INTERNAL security was crap.

    And here it is: "Wikileaks claims that the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal "

    The CIA's internal security is crap, too. Really a lot of people should be fired over that, as well as over Snowden's release. We didn't hear of it happening in the NSA, though I'm not sure we would have. Given Gaius's description of Trump's situation, it seems unlikely it will happen this time, either. One of my hopes for a Trump administration, as long as we're stuck with it, was a thorough cleanout of the upper echelons in the IC. It's obviously long overdue, and Obama wasn't up to it. But I used the past tense because I don't think it's going to happen. Trump seems more interested in sucking up to them, presumably so they won't kill him or his family. That being one of their options.

    Stephen Gardner , March 9, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Ah, that's the beauty of contracting it out. No one gets fired. Did anyone get fired because of Snowden? It was officially a contractor problem and since there are only a small number of contractors capable of doing the work, well you know. We can't get new ones.

    tiebie66 , March 9, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    What I find by far the most distressing is this: "The CIA had created, in effect, its "own NSA" with even less accountability ." [My emphasis]. It seems to characterize an organization that operates outside of any control and oversight – and one that is intentionally structuring itself that way. That worries me.

    It is becoming increasingly clear that the Republic is lost because we didn't stand guard for it. Blaming others don't cut it either – we let it happen. And like the Germans about the Nazi atrocities, we will say that we didn't know about it.

    JTMcPhee , March 9, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    Hey, I didn't let it happen. Stuff that spooks and sh!tes do behind the Lycra ™ curtain happens because it is, what is the big word again, "ineluctable." Is my neighbor to blame for having his house half eaten by both kinds of termites, where the construction is such that the infestation and damage are invisible until the vast damage is done?

    Stephen Gardner , March 9, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    And just how were we supposed to stand guard against a secret and unaccountable organization that protected itself with a shield of lies? And every time some poor misfit complained about it they were told that they just didn't know the facts. If they only knew what our IC knows they would not complain.

    It's a dangerous world out there and only our brave IC can protect us from it. Come on. Stop blaming the victim and place the blame where it belongs–our IC and MIC. I say stop feeding the beast with your loyalty to a government that has ceased to be yours.

    Studiously avoid any military celebrations. Worship of the military is part of the problem. Remember, the people you thank for "their service" are as much victims as you are. Sadly they don't realize that their service is to a rotten empire that is not worthy of their sacrifice but every time we perform the obligatory ritual of thankfulness we participate in the lie that the service is to a democratic country instead of an undemocratic empire.

    It's clearly a case of Wilfred Owen's classic "Dulce et Decorum Est". Read the poem, google it and read it. It is instructive: " you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori." Make no mistake. It is a lie and it can only be undone if we all cease to tell it.

    nonsense factory , March 9, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    Here's a pretty decent review of the various CIA programs revealed by Wikileaks:

    http://www.libertyforjoe.com/2017/03/what-is-vault-7.html

    "These CIA revelations in conjunction with those of the NSA paints a pretty dark future for privacy and freedom. Edward Snowden made us aware of the NSA's program XKEYSCORE and PRISM which are utilized to monitor and bulk collect information from virtually any electronic device on the planet and put it into a searchable database. Now Wikileaks has published what appears to be additional Big Brother techniques used by a competing agency. Say what you want about the method of discovery, but Pandora's box has been opened."

    [Mar 09, 2017] Empire in Decay as Trump Spying Allegations Fly

    Notable quotes:
    "... which legalized warrantless surveillance on domestic soil so long as the target is a foreigner abroad, even when the target is communicating with an American ..."
    "... Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism! Is it legal for a sitting President to be "wire tapping" a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW! I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election! How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy! ..."
    "... Introduction page viii ..."
    Mar 09, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Posted on March 8, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. I find this Real News Network interview with Colin Powell's former chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, to be astonishing. He effectively says that Trump may not be wrong in his claims that he was spied on.

    At the 50,000 foot level, Trump's claim is trivial. Anyone who paid attention to the Edward Snowden revelations knows that the NSA is in a total data acquisition mode, hoovering up information from smart devices and able to use computers and tablets as monitoring devices. But Trump used the word "wiretapping," which gave his opponents a huge out, since that means a judge gave a warrant to allow for monitoring. And pinning surveillance on Obama personally was another huge stretch. In other words, Trump took what could have been an almost certain statement of fact, and by larding it up with dodgy particulars, pushed it well into crazypants terrain.

    What made Trump look bad was the FBI making clear it was not snooping on Trump, when the FBI would have been involved in a wiretap. Lambert and I discussed that it wasn't hard to come up with scenarios that weren't wiretaps by which Trump could have been spied upon while keeping Obama Administration hands clean. The most obvious was to have another member of the Five Eyes do the dirty work.

    What is therefore striking about this report is that Wilkerson, who is no fan of Trump, nevertheless is defending him in this matter. That is a sign that he regards the campaign against Trump as dangerous from an institutional perspective. And he states that the idea that Lambert and I had casually bandied about, that a foreign spy organization like the GCHQ, did Trump dirty work for the US government, is seen as a real possibility in the intelligence community.

    PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay. Welcome to another edition of the Wilkerson Report.

    Of course the accusations are flying in every direction in D.C.. The latest Donald Trump saying that President Obama spied on him, ordered the listening of his telephone conversations. Now joining us to talk about these allegations is Larry Wilkerson.

    Larry joins us from Falls Church, Virginia. Larry was the former Chief of Staff for U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. Currently an Adjunct Professor of Goverment at the College of Willam and Mary and a regular contributor to The Real News Network.

    (discussion)

    PAUL JAY: So, Larry what do you make of these allegations? Most of the media seems to be saying Trump is alleging this in order to distract from the real controversy, which they say his and his administration's connections to Putin and Russia. What do you make of Trump's allegations?

    LARRY WILKERSON: Well, I'm certainly not one, Paul, to defend HMS Trump and that whole entourage of people, but I will paint you a hypothetical here. There are a number of events that have occurred in the last 96 hours or so that lead me to believe that maybe even the Democratic party, whatever element of it, approached John Brennan at the CIA, maybe even the former president of the United States. And John Brennan, not wanting his fingerprints to be on anything, went to his colleague in London GCHQ, MI6 and essentially said, "Give me anything you've got." And he got something and he turned it over to the DNC or to someone like that. And what he got was GHCQ MI6's tapes of conversations of the Trump administration perhaps, even the President himself. It's really kind of strange, at least to me, they let the head of that organization go, fired him about the same time this was brewing up. So I'm not one to defend Trump, but in this case he might be right. It's just that it wasn't the FBI. Comey's right, he wasn't wire-tapping anybody, it was John Brennan, at the CIA. And you say, "What would be John Brennan's motivation?" Well, clearly he wanted to remain Director of the CIA for Hillary Clinton when she was elected President of the United States, which he had every reason to believe, as did lots of us, that she would be.

    PAUL JAY: Now, Larry, do we have any evidence of this? Is this like a theory or is there some evidence?

    LARRY WILKERSON: Well, it's a theory that's making its way around some in the intelligence community right now because they know about the relationship between the CIA and the same sort of capabilities, maybe not quite as vast as the NSA has, but still good capabilities that exist in London. I mean, otherwise the president just came out and said something was patently false. Generally speaking, you know, I would agree with that, with regard to this particular individual, but not in this case.

    PAUL JAY: Now why would the British go along with this?

    LARRY WILKERSON: Well, you have to understand this is a real problem, Paul, it's been a problem for a long time. Only certain governments have national technical means that feature $5 billion satellites orbiting the United States and the rest of the globe and providing intricate national means of looking at other people 24/7. Even streaming video and so forth. There are only so many people who can afford that. We're the biggest guy on the block so when we sidle up to France or we sidle up to Germany or Japan or anybody else, they have two choices, either cooperate with us and share in that treasure trove from time to time or they don't cooperate with us and I'll tell you what we do, we cut them off. So this is a very incestuous relationship. I saw this up close and personal when we were saying there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and we had Paris and Tel Aviv and Berlin and London and everybody agreeing with us. I now know why they agreed with us, more recetively(?) (sound difficulties – 00:04:45 – 00:05:05) You still there?

    PAUL JAY: Yeah.

    LARRY WILKERSON: Well, they agree with us because they don't have any choice. Their choices are stark. They agree with us and hope it doesn't rebound to their discredit or hurt them or they don't agree with us and we cut them off.

    PAUL JAY: Okay, now let's go back to Trump's allegations. Trump does not seem to be shy about just making stuff up from whole cloth without any basis at all. Why would one thing this isn't just another fabrication?

    LARRY WILKERSON: Paul, I'm no fan of Donald Trump, but I'm not so sure you're right in that–

    PAUL JAY: I'm not saying it is. I'm just asking, is there any reason to think that we know that he's not making this up?

    LARRY WILKERSON: No, except that the series of events that occurred lead me to believe that John Brennan was, in fact, working with London and perhaps something came out of that, that might have assured John Brennan of a continuation of his role at the CIA with a new administration headed by Hillary Clinton. That makes every bit of sense to me when I think about it. And remember, I've been there and I've seen this stuff.

    PAUL JAY: Okay. We'll have to wait over the next few days or hours and see if more hard evidence follows out. But let's go look a little further, if you're right, Brennan's helping Clinton, you have different sections of the intelligence community helping various players. Some of them seem to be turning on Trump, some are feeding Trump, some are supporting him, it's like you got little fiefdoms in the intelligence community all with their own agendas here.

    LARRY WILKERSON: This is very disturbing. It's happened in the past, of course, when we politicized intelligence. It happened when Bill Casey and Ronald Reagan when Bill Casey made the case for a Soviet buildup so Reagan could justify his arms buildup in the U.S.. The Soviets were not involved in a buildup at all. That was all fabricated intelligence. It's happened with Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon from time to time. But this is a new level of 17 different heavily funded intelligence agencies and groups, headed by the DNI and the CIA all apparently playing their own little games within various segments of a political community in this country and leaking accordingly. And I don't eliminate the FBI from that either. Why else would Comey come out, for example, just prior to the elections and say he had other e-mails and imply that they might be damning of one of the candidates? It's everyone playing in this game and it's an extremely dangerous game.

    PAUL JAY: Is part of what's going on here, is that all of these institutions whether it's CIA or FBI or NSA and on and on with all the alphabet, that their first priority, their deepest interest is their own agency. Their existence, their funding, their own jobs, that this is really - it's not about some supposed national interest to start with it starts with just who these guys are and they become entities unto themselves.

    LARRY WILKERSON: Absolutely. Hoover, take Hoover at the FBI, during World War II, it can be proven, it can be analytically demonstrated that Hoover spent more man hours and more money trying to look at his own administration, trying to gain power over elements of that administration than he did looking at the Nazis. I mean, this is not anything new, it's just come to a depth and a profundity of action that is scary and dangerous.

    When you have your entire intelligence community more interested in its own survival and its own power, and therefore, playing in politics to the degree that we have it doing so today, you've got a real problem. And I'm not talking about the people beavering away in the trenches who are trying their best to do a good job, I'm talking about these leaders, these people at the top and the second tier level, who are participating in this political game in a way that they should not be, but they've been doing for some time and now they've brought it to a crescendo.

    PAUL JAY: Is part of what's happening here an overall decay, if you will, of the state itself, of the American government? Which is a reflection of what's going on in the economy. You have so much of Wall Street is about pure parasitical investment. There's more money being invested in derivative gambling and billionaires gambling against billionaires and shorting, kind of manupulating commodity markets and so on, more money in the parasitical activity than there is investment in productive activity. And these are the guys that are financing political campaigns even electing presidents, in the case of Robert Mercer, who 's the billionaire who backed Trump and Bannon. Bannon worked for Mercer. The whole state and the upper echelons in the economy they seem to be into such practically mafioso short-sightedness. Like, "What can we do today for ourselves and damn what happens later?"

    LARRY WILKERSON: The decay of (sound difficulties) empire hat on and I will tell you, yes. You're right. This empire is decaying at a rapid rate. And it is not just reflected in the fact that we can't govern ourselves, the fact that we have a congress that can't even see the nation for the trees. My political party, Paul, right now thinks that it's going to achieve its full agenda or at least a good portion of it while this buffoon in the White House twiddles his thumbs. They don't see the country. They don't care about the country. All they want to do is achieve their agenda; social, economic and otherwise. This country, in all of its components, whether it's government or it's finance, economics or whatever, is falling apart.

    PAUL JAY: Thanks very much for joining us, Larry.

    LARRY WILKERSON: Thanks for having me, Paul.

    PAUL JAY: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

    0 0 44 1 0 This entry was posted in Banana republic , Politics , Surveillance state on March 8, 2017 by Yves Smith . Subscribe to Post Comments 50 comments none , March 8, 2017 at 4:44 am

    This comment (warning: it's from one of the less reputable political sections on reddit) has some interesting info and MSM links. I haven't had a chance to read it carefully yet or check the citations, but had bookmarked it to look at it later. I'm posting it here in case anyone else wants to check it out, but disclaimer: it might be total crap, I don't have an opinion on that yet.

    sleepy , March 8, 2017 at 6:33 am

    I took a glance at the article and read one of its links to the NYTimes article which confirms that three Trump associates were the subject of surveillance and "wiretapping" and that the information was shared with Obama.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/us/politics/trump-russia-associates-investigation.html?_r=1

    Even without digging into the story, the fact that Trump's claim is viewed with such disdain by the MSM has always struck me as incredulous. I have generally assumed that most communications among people in power is monitored whether legally or not.

    fresno dan , March 8, 2017 at 7:57 am

    sleepy
    March 8, 2017 at 6:33 am

    The media has to acknowledge that what they report is mere rumor AND most likely incorrect, and should never ever be used for anything serious cough, cough, coughs lung out – Franken quoting CNN at Sessions hearing ..

    fresno dan , March 8, 2017 at 8:15 am

    none
    March 8, 2017 at 4:44 am

    I've read most of those. The problem is that the important thing – was a FISA warrant issued – not been confirmed by the government to my knowledge. Apparently it is secret by law so it is one of those things that the government will neither confirm nor deny – and I am SURE Trump is being advised not to tip over the apple cart and let everybody know who was RIGHT – we're all monitored all the time. And that's the rub.

    The other thing about the articles is the incredible amount of contradiction (assuming the government officials aren't being misquoted there are a LOT of things that just don't square).
    I think comes down to this – very simply the government/intelligence community (IC) does not really want to admit how many people's conversations it actually listens to or CAN listen to. Nobody can look at this and say that the 4th amendment is meaningful .

    In this case, a U.S. general, working on behalf of the president elect (or was this before Trump was elected?), was monitored by the IC and removed from office because of illegal leaks. We don't REALLY know why – but the idea that the IC has a veto over the president's appointees should give everyone pause.

    Bill Smith , March 8, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Would a warrant actually be needed?

    In the New York Time article on January 12, 2017 they say:

    After Congress enacted the FISA Amendments Act - which legalized warrantless surveillance on domestic soil so long as the target is a foreigner abroad, even when the target is communicating with an American - the court permitted raw sharing of emails acquired under that program, too.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/12/us/politics/nsa-gets-more-latitude-to-share-intercepted-communications.html

    So any of Trump's associates talking to a 'Russian' from the Trump Tower which was his campaign headquarters would qualify according to his tweet.

    fresno dan , March 8, 2017 at 10:24 am

    Bill Smith
    March 8, 2017 at 9:06 am

    The way I understand it (gleaned from a National Review article written by a former justice department lawyer Andrew McCarthy – I excerpted quite a bit of it, but it is now in skynet heaven )
    is that Russki subjects of interest (or any nationality) are always monitored. This means that Americans will occasionally get MONITORED if in communication with such individuals as well and those communications are STORED (monitored and stored ARE NOT THE SAME AS LISTENED TO). Now, to actually listen to the Americans in these conversation is what supposedly requires the FISA warrant – it is suppose to be based on something that the person is acting as an AGENT of a foreign power.

    Or the FBI could have been doing just a regular financial fraud investigation between Trump companies and Russia found nothing (OR found something and IS still investigation), and than passed it over as an intelligence matter. I can't do justice to the article without being skynetted, so you will have to read the article for yourself if interested.

    Bill Smith , March 8, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    If that is true then what was the basis for Flynn's phone calls being listened to?

    So I'm not sure the point about monitored / stored / listened to is the case anymore. The NYT article I referenced is all about the old privacy rules being removed.

    In addition the part of the article I quoted seems to say that isn't the case anymore.

    Flynn did a lot of work during the transition from Trump Tower. We know some of his calls where intercepted and not just the one from the beach.

    Evidently Paul Manafort lived in Trump Tower for a while. From the news articles his phone calls where also intercepted.

    I did look up a bunch of McCarthy's articles in National Review. Thanks for the pointer.

    fresno dan , March 8, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Bill Smith
    March 8, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    "If that is true then what was the basis for Flynn's phone calls being listened to?"
    The way I understand it, any conversation with the Russian ambassador in it is monitored (and stored) – Flynn talks to the ambassador, he is being monitored. Supposedly, Flynn should know this.
    My theory is that Flynn was talking policy – albeit SENSITIVE policy – and PERHAPS the intelligence community didn't like the change in policy and decided by leaking to make Flynn look like a dirty commie – Or Flynn is a turncoat (so why isn't he being prosecuted???)

    The issue from the NR article is, as I understand it, is that Flynn should not be listened to unless there was some REAL suspicion that he was an agent and there was a FISA warrant (a former US general is really suspected of being a Russian agent???). So one can know that Flynn had a conversation with the ambassador (from monitoring) but not the substance unless there was a FISA warrant – if I am understanding this correctly.

    If he wasn't proven to be an agent than that conversation is suppose to go into the "vault" and never be released or acknowledged.
    So there are just a lot of things that don't add up.
    I'm thinking like the meme "fake news" that the people who started this whole think may regret looking into whether Trump was improperly monitored after all. BUT I DON"T KNOW – maybe Trump is guilty of something

    Ptolemy Philopater , March 8, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Does anybody really believe that these people feel bound by law? This is raw power politics. Getting "stuff" on people so that they can be manipulated is par for the course. Have we forgotten about J. Edgar Hoover. Does anybody really believe that the Democrats and the "deep state" don't already have enough "on Trump" to remove him from office given his mafia connections, not to mention Roy Cohn? It's not about removing anyone from office but to get them to do your bidding. Likewise it is a big distraction from the ongoing fraud and corruption consuming this nation. Men like Wilkerson are finally realizing how far along our Mafia culture has come to complete and utter collapse. Next time the music stops will there be any chairs left?

    Kukulkan , March 8, 2017 at 4:45 am

    Could Trump's use of "Obama" just have been a metonym for the previous administration?

    I mean that's how the names of presidents and other leaders are frequently used. Journalists, historians, and people in general will often say "Bush did this" or "Thatcher did that" or "Stalin did something else" when it's clear that the named individuals didn't and couldn't have personally performed the action, rather functionaries of the regimes they headed did the action.

    As an example, I've seen a number news articles saying Kim Jong-un killed Kim Jong-nam, even though, as far as I can tell, Kim Jong-un has an airtight alibi, having been in a different country at the time. Most people understand such claims to mean that functionaries of the North Korean government headed by Kim Jong-un are responsible for the killing and Kim Jong-un is just used as a metonym for that government.

    Same thing with "wiretap". Trump is of a generation where wiretap was a generic term used to refer to any sort of bugging.

    Reading them as specific references comes across as a particularly pedantic and uncharitable interpretation.

    Kukulkan , March 8, 2017 at 4:52 am

    Actually, checking the tweet, I see Trump wrote "tapp", an even more generic term for using electronic devices to listen in on other people's private conversations.

    Yves Smith Post author , March 8, 2017 at 7:01 am

    Wow, that is an important catch! Shame on me for missing it and way bigger shame on the MSM for misrepresenting it.

    Bill Smith , March 8, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Actually it was "wires tapped" with Trump having put the quotes in. So yeah, very generic term. And it says Trump Tower. Doesn't he own Trump Tower? All that stuff in the Trump Tower is 'his'. So the claim is even more generic.

    There were numerous reports that people associated with the campaign (headquarters in Trump Tower) had their phone conversations intercepted. I assume it was when they were talking to a 'Russian'.

    The first thing I thought when I heard this was "Hey, Trump finally attended an intelligence briefing."

    jrs , March 8, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    If the NSA really is listening to everything, can anyone answer why the powers that be would even bother with an actual wiretap anymore? Isn't it something anachronistic, like owning a beeper or something?

    fresno dan , March 8, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Kukulkan
    March 8, 2017 at 4:45 am
    &
    Kukulkan
    March 8, 2017 at 4:52 am

    Agree 1000% – I am so glad you brought it up!!!! – it sure seems to me there is ALL OF A SUDDEN all this tremendous specificity with regard to "Obama" meaning ONLY one individual, instead of it being a generic term for the Obama "administration." I sure don't remember any wailing about attributing to Bush what Cheney did .

    And thanks for the catch about "tapp" – I did not know that!
    thank you again!

    Steve H. , March 8, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Kukulkan, I didn't know and can't find an indication. Is that an insider term, or is there an online source to point to?

    Katniss Everdeen , March 8, 2017 at 8:02 am

    This is exactly the way I took it–with "obama" and "wiretap" being generic terms. Funnily enough, it made all the furor over the tweet initially hard to understand. Now it makes the literal parsing look desperate and deliberately obfuscatory.

    fresno dan , March 8, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Katniss Everdeen
    March 8, 2017 at 8:02 am

    I find it impossible to believe that the MSM does not know that wiretap = any kind of monitoring/surveillance and that "Obama" = white house, and/or Obama administration.
    There is nothing wrong about doing a story about the nuances of surveillance, but to go on and on and ON about there is no wiretapping is absurd. And the MSM professes to wonder why people find them unreliable

    It is deliberate obtuseness to advance an agenda.

    Katniss Everdeen , March 8, 2017 at 9:28 am

    I may be "mis-remembering" here, but it reminded me of a time when ben bernanke was testifying in front of some congressional committee or other. A member of the panel referenced the fed "printing" money. bernanke replied that the fed doesn't "print" money. They enter it onto a computer.

    A textbook distinction without a difference.

    fresno dan , March 8, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Katniss Everdeen
    March 8, 2017 at 9:28 am

    OH EXACTLY RIGHT!!! To go off on a tangent – to not say that money is "loaned" into existence and as much as you need can be obtained from the either, just would beg the question of why Goldman Sachs, somebody who managed to lose trillions is deserving of more loans, but a borrower who was scammed into some mortgage with some skyrocketing interest rate proviso is not. And the unpalatable answer – the FED is to protect the rich and f*ck the poor .

    nobody , March 8, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Trump's language was very clear (at least to my ear) in attributing personal involvement to Obama (calling him a "bad (or sick) guy"). But with "wiretap" note the use of quotation marks. When I first heard about these tweets the morning after, the first thing I did was to go to Trump's twitter feed to have a look for myself. For me the quotation marks scanned as scare quotes and I instinctively interpreted "wiretap" in its generic sense.

    Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!

    Is it legal for a sitting President to be "wire tapping" a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!

    I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!

    How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!

    Michael Fiorillo , March 8, 2017 at 6:23 am

    In his autobiography "Memoirs of a Revolutionist," Peter Kropotkin describes being interrogated by a member of the Okhrana, the Tsar's secret police, after his arrest.

    In the course of the interview, Kropotkin expresses amazement that the secret police had so deeply infiltrated his revolutionary cell. His interrogator expressed smug satisfaction, and then informed him that such surveillance was commonplace, and that in fact no one in the entire empire was more closely surveilled than the Tsar himself.

    I've always operated under the assumption that the intelligence agencies devote ample resources to keeping the Executive under close observation, and that he likely has no more secrets than the rest of us.

    The difference now is that the agencies are not just monitoring executive goings-on, but becoming active political players. Needless to say, clueless, hopeless Democrats are cheering them on.

    Colonel Smithers , March 8, 2017 at 6:32 am

    Thank you, Michael. It's not just Democrats cheering. There are cheerleaders overseas, too, vide the UK MSM.

    p7b , March 8, 2017 at 6:42 am

    Whoa. Wilkerson looks on edge, usually very cool in these pieces.

    Yves Smith Post author , March 8, 2017 at 6:58 am

    I have the impression he can't contain himself on the subject of Brennan. Is that your take?

    Colonel Smithers , March 8, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Thank you, Yves, for posting.

    Your title of "Empire In Decay" reminded me of my last two years at school (late 1980s) and the emphasis on Tudors and Stuarts, Bourbons and Habsburgs in history classes. The school organised lectures from history professors like Henry Kamen and Paul Kennedy. Kennedy had just written the book on the rise and fall of empires and been on the airwaves. Kamen is an expert on imperial Spain. One rarely sees that sort of expertise in the MSM. We get the likes of McCain, Miss Lindsey, David Brooks, Bernard-Henri Levy, Simon Schama (sic) et al masquerading as experts.

    Disturbed Voter , March 8, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Paul Kennedy knew his stuff. Read his book back in the day, cover to cover. That is the level of state-craft these people are thinking about. One dinky national election is mere detail. I am sure all the agencies have read the Club of Rome report and what came after it. It isn't just Global Warming time. Chess end games, all the way down, until checkmate.

    Colonel Smithers , March 8, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Thank you, DV. Me, too. I still have the book.

    It's appalling, isn't. Just the same talking heads going around studios and obsessing over trivia and sound bites.

    I remember the Sunday lunchtime and evening shows in the UK thirty years ago, featuring academics and journalists who had been in a country for years and got to know the country well. The advent of 24 hour and international news seems to have destroyed what was good coverage / analysis.

    FWIW, one of my friends and also son of immigrants from a former French and British colony works at the UK mission to the EU. He is a professional historian and studied at LSE and Cambridge. He hopes to return to Cambridge by the end of the decade and teach, but will also write about how Brexit panned out from a ring side seat.

    It would be great if Yves could get historians of the calibre of Kamen, Kennedy, Howard, Scarisbrick and Sauvigny to contribute.

    skippy , March 8, 2017 at 7:02 am

    Rational self interest meets its inevitable outcome .

    PH , March 8, 2017 at 7:14 am

    Do we assume that Trump expected to be surveiled?

    And acted cautiously as a result?

    What are the motives of the various players?

    who are the most important and somewhat important players?

    In the fog, everyone seems to see the shapes that they expect to see

    PH , March 8, 2017 at 7:15 am

    Do we assume that Trump expected to be surveiled?

    And acted cautiously as a result?

    What are the motives of the various players?

    who are the most important and somewhat important players?

    In the fog, everyone seems to see the shapes that they expect to see

    AbateMagicThinking but Not money , March 8, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Gore Vidal was telling the world about the National Security State years ago seemingly without any impact on the wider public mindset.

    Only when the legitimacy of leaders is seriously in question does this stuff pique the public interest. Isn't there something called positive vetting? But then, there are no qualifications required for becoming a politician – seemingly every other job nowadays needs a certificate but not that.

    I'm just hoping that when I accidentally delete something important I can type a cry for help into Firefox and GCHQ will get it all back for me.

    AbateMagicThinking but Not money , March 8, 2017 at 8:19 am

    Dan Rather! It must be really serious. Ooo eee!

    Campaign in fantasy, govern in paranoia. Am I paraphrasing Mario Cuomo or someone else?

    Eureka Springs , March 8, 2017 at 8:28 am

    If these things are true then there is little reason to think we aren't far, far beyond decay.. we are the festering maggot laden puss spreading more toxic virulent dangers far and wide.

    Little can explain those who circle the wagon in deference to, even in favor of the surveillance state unless they are afraid, blackmailed etc.

    Chaotic unpredictable Trump (who must be clean as a whistle to survive this long) may have grabbed this Shock Doctoring chaotic beast by the tail. Will he be willing or able to bring it down? If so, he may be the greatest thing that's ever happened to this country. He's already survived more than I ever dared imagine an individual could. I mean we have long been way past stay out of any and all airplanes territory here.

    The irony is just too rich a man in favor of ever increasing military, more torture, more drones just isn't enough for the intel state.

    dontknowitall , March 8, 2017 at 8:32 am

    A long while back a post Snowden revelation was that there exists a rule and mechanisms in the NSA to make sure that politicians are put on a list that specifically excludes their communications from being vacuumed with everyone else's. To bypass the list requires authorization at the highest levels in the agencies involved (and maybe even presidential authority). That is how Congress protects itself and why it so easily gives all kinds of spying authorities to the agencies. This is not czarist Russia in other words.

    On whose authorities were the protections bypassed in the Trump case ? Comey has already come out to say he didn't do it. Devin Nunes, the Chairman the House Intelligence committee seems to not have been informed of any surveillance op involving Trump so the committees maybe out of the loop. This implies either CIA/NSA or GCHQ as I don't see Canada getting involved in it or NZ. Was the flimflam Russian bs crapped out by GCHQ and CIA to gain such legal authorities and dredge opposition on Trump to prevent his election or to soft coup him out ? That the Russian 'intel' came from an ex British spy seems suspicious.

    Michael Fiorillo , March 8, 2017 at 10:22 am

    The history of the FBI under Hoover makes me question your claim that members of Congress are exempt from surveillance. Are we really supposed to believe that, the technology being what it is, the intelligence agencies would show such admirable self-restraint? That's a bet I wouldn't take.

    Eureka Springs , March 8, 2017 at 10:45 am

    If Obama would "approve" the following and intels would do it, why wouldn't he/they go after Trump?

    https://shadowproof.com/2015/01/16/white-house-approved-cia-hacking-of-senate-computers/

    dontknowitall , March 8, 2017 at 10:55 am

    Yes I know and agree it would be foolish to rely on it. In practical terms they might do it anyway specially if safe in Obama's approval, tacit or otherwise, but the rule exists anyway, if only to be a cudgel if the congress is feeling ornery. If I remember correctly, it was discussed in Emptywheel's website in the context of the hacking of Angela Merkel.

    Eureka Springs below mentions the senate hack. The hacking of the senate computers was a CIA screwup and the agencies don't like to be in the spotlight that way but CIA seems to mind it less than the others. This is another reason I think CIA may be behind the Trump tapp.

    jefemt , March 8, 2017 at 8:53 am

    What strikes me is that this is NOT astounding, and should really come as no surprise. Think of the subterfuge and intrigue back in the ancient empires of China, Greece, Rome. It's part of our human DNA. What cracks me up is the strength of the kool-aid the innocence and starry-eyed conviction that we are exceptional. The concept of America spun in elementary school is indeed exceptional- even exceptionally virtuous. But in fact, with our convenient lives, preoccupation with debt service and preoccupation with Dancing with the Master Chefs, misdirection has kept us from the ugly reality that we are right in there amongst the best, if not the most aggressive, in our dominant empire phase.
    Think about the outrage when it was determined we were monitoring Merkle's phone. Empire in decline, indeed! Seems to me Homo sapiens is really heading out toward the end of their dead branch on the tree of life: RIP Too much head, not enough heart.

    Steve , March 8, 2017 at 9:20 am

    A reason that I don't completely ignore Trump's claim (I do not like Trump!) is that it is beginning to look as if the entire Obama Presidency had a few real primary objectives. Firstly was to protect Wall Street from any prosecution but one of the other primary longterm goals was the TTP. Obama's desire to get the TTP through at any cost makes the act of listening in on Trump (who said he would kill it) very plausible.

    jrs , March 8, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    your forgot one: bail out the insurance companies (ACA) – not that I even imagine the average person benefiting from the new Republican plans.

    DJG , March 8, 2017 at 9:36 am

    I believe that Cocomaan asked about a new Church committee in yesterday's comments. And the entire post above gives the reasons why not. There is no one in Congress of the caliber of Frank Church. (Even if McCain has fantasies ) No one will take on a multinational intelligence system, deliberately interlocked to avoid accountability. And when was the last congressional investigation that produced results and legal proceedings?

    The "Five Eyes" always remind me of V for Vendetta. (Which is not just a great graphic novel, but an unfolding prophecy.)

    White-collar America, triumphant: Love means never having to say you're sorry.

    cm , March 8, 2017 at 10:14 am

    I agree. Ron Wyden is perhaps the only one possible, but the fact that Clapper was never humiliated for lying to Congress shows that we don't have anyone up to the task.

    ChrisFromGeorgia , March 8, 2017 at 9:44 am

    A nice interview and a good example of why I keep coming back to this blog. You don't get this kind of analysis anywhere else.

    While all this infighting and spy vs. spy skulduggery goes on, one thing is for certain – the neo-cons and "deep state" are too distracted by operation "take down the Donald" to pay much attention to their usual work.

    The creation of failed states appears to be badly behind schedule now; Syria may actually be restored by the Russians and Iran back to a functional state, and there appears to be a gutting of the State Department in progress which will make future "color revolutions" difficult.

    Is it any wonder there are so many powerful interests screaming that Russia "hacked" the election?

    "methinks the lady doth protest too much."

    Hamlet

    McWatt , March 8, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Having just read "Sleepwalkers" and the new Rasputin biography and reading how everyone of any note
    in political circles was monitored in Europe and Russia over 100 years ago these modern revelations come as no surprise. In those days they did it by opening mail, intercepting telegrams and having people followed 24 hours a day.

    It reminded me of when the Chaplain was arrested by the CID men because Yossarian signed the chaplain's name or Washington Irving's or Irving Washington's name as he censored soldiers letters home while staying in the hospital.

    RUKidding , March 8, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Thanks for this very important post. Nothing that Wilkerson said is a surprise – at all – to me. In fact, it's what I've figured has been happening since well, at least since Hoover, as Wilkerson indicates.

    As others have pointed out, though, this type of spying has gone on in many forms over the eons of time. None of it is new. The only sort of newsworthy aspect of it is that people in positions of some power and knowledge of behind the scenes stuff, like Wilkerson, are coming out and saying it.

    I always figured, esp since the Snowden reveal, that ALL politicians of any major impact/level would be spied on – or at least the data is gathered and available to be perused on an as needed basis.

    I read somewhere that Trump allegedly was steamingly angry about this. I want to say: SO? What did you expect? THIS is the way things work. Sometimes you're going like that Intel and sometimes you won't.

    I'm not that convinced whether it makes a difference if there was an actual wire tap or the info was gathered by spy satellite or some other method. But I could be wrong in that regard.

    So it seems to me that Trump is naive, albeit I also get it that he's hitting out at his enemies and using his tool of choice: twitter. So he makes his short tweets and expresses his anger against his enemies to shore up the defences of his supporters. I can only hope that Trump was NOT naive enough to not realize that he wouldn't be spied on. Trump can hate Obama all he wants – and I don't like Obama much either – but this kind of spying has be de rigueur for a long long time and no doubt, will continue to be so for a long long time.

    Will Trump be able to "tame" the Spooks? Good luck. JFK tried that, and we all witnessed how that turned out.

    flora , March 8, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Thanks for this post. My guess is Wilkerson is right that intel agencies care most about their own turf and budgets. What's interesting is, judging by the Chicken Little flailing after the election, imo the CIA and other agencies never saw a Trump win coming, or really even possible. So, what are these agencies doing with all their big data? Did they simply use Google/Ada for their election probabilities intel? /s

    Pookah Harvey , March 8, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Sorry about length but I think this puts together some interesting info.

    According to the BBC (from a Jan 13 report) FISA warrants were issued:

    On 15 October, the US secret intelligence court issued a warrant to investigate two Russian banks. This news was given to me by several sources and corroborated by someone I will identify only as a senior member of the US intelligence community. He would never volunteer anything – giving up classified information would be illegal – but he would confirm or deny what I had heard from other sources.

    "I'm going to write a story that says " I would say. "I don't have a problem with that," he would reply, if my information was accurate. He confirmed the sequence of events below.

    Last April, the CIA director was shown intelligence that worried him. It was – allegedly – a tape recording of a conversation about money from the Kremlin going into the US presidential campaign.

    It was passed to the US by an intelligence agency of one of the Baltic States. The CIA cannot act domestically against American citizens so a joint counter-intelligence taskforce was created.

    The taskforce included six agencies or departments of government. Dealing with the domestic, US, side of the inquiry, were the FBI, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Justice. For the foreign and intelligence aspects of the investigation, there were another three agencies: the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency, responsible for electronic spying.

    Lawyers from the National Security Division in the Department of Justice then drew up an application. They took it to the secret US court that deals with intelligence, the Fisa court, named after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They wanted permission to intercept the electronic records from two Russian banks.

    Their first application, in June, was rejected outright by the judge. They returned with a more narrowly drawn order in July and were rejected again. Finally, before a new judge, the order was granted, on 15 October, three weeks before election day.

    Neither Mr Trump nor his associates are named in the Fisa order, which would only cover foreign citizens or foreign entities – in this case the Russian banks. But ultimately, the investigation is looking for transfers of money from Russia to the United States, each one, if proved, a felony offence.

    A lawyer- outside the Department of Justice but familiar with the case – told me that three of Mr Trump's associates were the subject of the inquiry. "But it's clear this is about Trump," he said.

    I spoke to all three of those identified by this source. All of them emphatically denied any wrongdoing. "Hogwash," said one. "Bullshit," said another. Of the two Russian banks, one denied any wrongdoing, while the other did not respond to a request for comment.

    The investigation was active going into the election. During that period, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid, wrote to the director of the FBI, accusing him of holding back "explosive information" about Mr Trump.

    Mr Reid sent his letter after getting an intelligence briefing, along with other senior figures in Congress. Only eight people were present: the chairs and ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, and the leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties in Congress, the "gang of eight" as they are sometimes called. Normally, senior staff attend "gang of eight" intelligence briefings, but not this time. The Congressional leaders were not even allowed to take notes.

    Wilkerson's supposition was pre-dated by ex-CIA Larry Johnson in A RT interview

    RT: What do you make of the accusations made by Donald Trump? How big of a deal is this?

    Larry Johnson: I think it's a huge deal. The problem is Trump probably should not have done this via Twitter because to call it a "wiretap" is technically inaccurate. And the denials by the Obama people – like Bill Clinton asking what the meaning of "is" is with respect to "was oral sex a sexual act."

    In this case I understand from very good friends that what happened was both Jim Clapper and John Brennan at CIA were intimately involved in trying to derail the candidacy of Donald Trump. That there was some collusion overseas with Britain's own GHCQ [Government Communications Headquarters]. That information that was gathered from GHCQ was actually passed to John Brennan and it was disseminated within the US government. This dissemination was illegal.

    Donald Trump is in essence correct that the intelligence agencies, and some in the law enforcement community on the side of the FBI, were in fact illegally trying to access, monitor his communications with his aides and with other people. All of this with an end to try and destroy and discredit his presidency. I don't think there can be any doubt of that. I think it's worth noting that the head of the National Security Agency, an Admiral [Michael] Rogers, made a journey to the Trump Tower shortly after Trump had won. And in the immediate aftermath of his visit, Jim Clapper and others in the intelligence community called for him to be fired . Why did Rodgers go to Trump Tower? My understanding is that it was to cover himself, because he was aware that the NSA authorities had been misused and abused with respect to Donald Trump.

    Another piece of evidence that Wikerson alludes to ( March 1, 2017 ) :

    The American media is ignoring a story from London about the abrupt resignation of Robert Hannigan, the head of Britain's highly secretive Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), which is the code breaking equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). Hannigan's resignation on January 23 surprised everyone, with only a few hours' notice provided to his staff. He claimed in a press release that he wanted to spend more time with his family, which reportedly includes a sick wife and elderly parents. Given the abruptness of the decision, it seems likely to be a cover story.

    Putting it altogether and there seems like a lot of smoke, will the MSM look for the fire?

    wild west , March 8, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    If we ignore the noise that comes from all sides 24/7 we should ask ourselves what is the worst consequence of this election cycle. I think that the fact that hatred became acceptable and normal is by far the worst. Will take a long time, if ever, to heal that.
    From the book The Damned Yard by Ivo Andric

    The success with which the politicians were able to pursue their campaign of division and mutual antagonism depended to a very large extend on the power of language to create a reality people are ready to believe in without reference to fact. Introduction page viii

    "It can happen, as you know," wrote Brother Mato, "that some of our people watching the Vizier destroy the Turks and their "prominent people" would comment on how some good would come of it for the rayah, for our fools think that another's trouble must do them good. You can tell them straight, so that they know now at least what they refused to see before: that nothing will come of it. Page 11

    Such was their capacity for hatred! And when the hatred of the bazaar attaches itself to an object, it never lets go, but focuses increasingly on it, gradually altering its shape and meaning, superseding it completely and becoming an end in itself. Then the object becomes secondary, only its name remains, and the hatred crystallizes, grows out of itself, according to its own laws and needs, and becomes powerful, inventive and enthralling, like a kind of inverted love; it finds new fuel and impetus, and itself creates motives for ever greater hatred. Page 19

    susan the other , March 8, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Well this time Wilkerson did look upset. Just last week he looked tired but not so upset in his RNN interview. The topic this time is of course Trump being tapped and Wilkerson clearly doesn't like it. But did anybody else notice that Wilkerson is wearing the exact same clothes as in the most previous interview? And the time of day is very similar by the lighting behind him on the ceiling and on his face as he speaks down into his computer. So that's odd. Because it indicates to me that they were getting ready to debunk "Trump is crazy" talk even before Trump's claim hit the news. Or at least as soon as it did; they were ready with this interview. I get the feeling they waited a few days to make it look spontaneous. Makes me think there is almost a civil war going on. But regardless of these tactics, it's annoying that the DNC pulled this clumsy crap via the UK.

    [Mar 08, 2017] The OECD Penalizes Developing Countries for Trying to Tackle Tax Avoidance naked capitalism

    Notable quotes:
    "... Originally published at Tax Justice Network ..."
    Mar 08, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
    The OECD Penalizes Developing Countries for Trying to Tackle Tax Avoidance Posted on March 8, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. Don't be put off by the geeky acronyms at the top of this article. The point is not hard to grasp: the OECD is insisting on an indefensible secrecy regime for multinational tax reporting, which works to their advantage at the expense of developing economies.

    Originally published at Tax Justice Network

    The OECD's new terms of reference to assess the implementation by countries of BEPS Action 13 related to Country-by-Country Reports (CbCR) may penalise countries, especially developing ones, that try to obtain by their own means the CbCR's valuable data needed to tackle multinational tax avoidance.

    Country-by-Country Reports (CbCR) (to be prepared by multinationals with group revenues over EUR 750 million) will offer information on multinational economic activity, profits and tax paid broken down for each country where they operate. This CbCR "map" will reveal any misalignments between the location of real activity, and where profits are ultimately declared to hold both multinationals and tax havens to account.

    We have long advocated that this CbCR map should be publicly available, so that all tax authorities, civil society and journalists may have access to them. Our suggestion is that multinational companies publish their CbCR maps on their webpages.

    But the OECD, which is, after all, a club dominated by the interests of rich countries, disagrees. It wants this map's information to be fully confidential and to be obtained by authorities only via bilateral automatic exchange of information, in the same way as banking information.

    Banking information should be confidential and it makes sense to exchange it bilaterally, as the OECD's Common Reporting Standard or CRS requires. After all, information on bank accounts held by say, Zambians in German banks is only relevant for Zambia, but no other country could make use of it.

    But with CbCR "maps", the opposite is true. Not only should they be public (because they contain no confidential or sensitive information), but if they are to remain confidential, at least their dissemination to foreign authorities should be as easy as possible.

    Once a multinational prepares their CbCR map, that same CbCR map is relevant for every country where the multinational operates. There was thus no need to create a new international legal framework and have countries sign new treaties for automatic exchange of CbCR maps among authorities. Multinationals should have been required to disseminate their CbCR maps to all of their subsidiaries for them to locally submit the CbCR to every tax authority.

    But the OECD wanted the complex framework precisely to limit access to CbCR, not only by the general public, but also by developing countries' authorities. Responding to the OECD's approach, TJN's last report advised countries, especially developing countries, not to follow the OECD's complicated framework enshrined in the Model Legislation that all countries are required to adopt (see the figure below, left side). Since CbCR maps are so relevant to tackle tax avoidance, countries should make sure that they will obtain them one way or another. If any country is unable to receive the CbCR automatically from another country for whatever reason (regardless of the reasons that the OECD legislation contemplates), they should ask for the CbCR map from any local subsidiary resident in their country ("local filing") as the figure below shows, right side. Otherwise, they may never access the CbCR at all (see text in red in the figure below). Also, for a fuller explanation graphic on CbCR see here .

    The OECD approach, based on automatic exchange of information, uses a complex framework that depends on developing countries being able to convince a developed country to sign an international agreement with them. Not only is it complex, but it leads to situations (in red) where the developing country will not access CbCR information they need. TJN's improved OECD-proposal, while not as ideal as having multinationals publish CBCR information on their websites, at least simplifies the framework and ensures that developing countries obtain the CbCR one way or another.

    The new OECD's Terms of Reference for peer reviews on CbCR however, will penalise countries that do not abide by the OECD's Model legislation that focuses on restricting "local filing" by subsidiaries. The OECD allows local filing of CbCR maps, only if, among other things, the interested country already has an international agreement to exchange information with the country where the multinational company is headquartered, very likely a wealthy country. Local filing is allowed only when a second international agreement is not in force:

    "(c) Limitation on local filing obligation:

    ( ) iv. that no local filing of a CbC report relating to a particular fiscal year can be required unless one or more of the following conditions have been met with respect to that fiscal year:

    ( ) b) the jurisdiction in which the Ultimate Parent Entity is resident for tax purposes has a current International Agreement to which the given jurisdiction is a party but does not have a Qualifying Competent Authority Agreement in effect to which this jurisdiction is a party by the time for filing the Country-by-Country Report" (Terms of Reference, page 13; emphasis added)

    If the wealthy country (where the multinational is headquartered) does not want to sign the first agreement with the developing country interested in receiving the CbCR map, what happens then? Well, the developing country pays the price: it will not be able to obtain the CbCR at all.

    The OECD does say that all jurisdictions should sign agreements with all relevant countries, but it also acknowledges that this takes time 1 – and that means time paid for by the country interested in receiving the CbCR map. In the meantime, if the developing country tries to require the CbCR from a local subsidiary, the OECD may penalise it with a bad peer review.

    It is clear to us that the OECD does not want local filing (the easier way to access CbCR), and that not only will it give a bad review to those countries that do not respect the Model legislation framework, but the OECD also explicitly welcomes countries not requiring local filing at all:

    "Local filing is not required to be introduced in order to meet the minimum standard and the absence of local filing requirements will not affect the outcome of the peer review on CbC reporting" (Terms of Reference, page 18).

    The OECD does not seem to welcome civil society involvement either:

    "Because peer review is an intergovernmental process, business and civil society groups' participation in the formal evaluation process and, in particular, the evaluation exercise and the discussions in the CbC Reporting Group is not specifically solicited" (ibid., page 22).

    As for developing countries, the only provisions in their favour is that if they cannot implement CbCR provisions or expect to receive the CbCR , they will not be penalised (as long as they prove that none of their multinationals would be covered by CbCR provisions):

    "It is recognised that developing countries may face capacity challenges in implementing CbC reporting ( ). Many developing countries are interested in receiving CbC reports, and as such will introduce CbC reporting obligations even if they do not have any MNE Groups headquartered in their jurisdiction that would be subject to CbC reporting. This is because introducing domestic legislation for CbC reporting is a precondition in order to receive CbC reports. However, it is possible that there are developing countries that do not have any MNE Groups headquartered in their jurisdiction that would be subject to CbC reporting, and that are not yet ready to receive CbC reports . In such cases, rather than find such developing countries to have failed to implement CbC reporting, the peer review will instead require a certification process whereby the jurisdiction could confirm that there are no MNE Groups within scope that are headquartered in the country and documenting how that fact is known for the year in question" (ibid. page 18; emphasis added).

    To sum up, given the OECD's opposition to public CbCR, developing countries will be on the safe side with regard to blacklists if they do not expect to access the CbCR. If they want to access it, they will have to depend on the discretion of rich countries on whether they will deign to sign an international agreement with them. If a developing country cannot convince a developed country (where most major multinationals are headquartered) to sign an international agreement, and decides to require it from a local subsidiary, it may be given a bad review by the OECD, with the potential of being blacklisted.

    The worst part is that developing countries have a greater need to access CbCR to try and address tax avoidance by multinationals, and this information is so general that it should be considered public, so that civil society, researchers and journalists have access to it as well.

    1 End note 11 on page 18 of the Terms of Reference Report reads: "It is acknowledged that jurisdictions may not have exchange of information instruments in place with all members of the Inclusive Framework. Jurisdictions are encouraged to expand the coverage of their international agreements for exchange of information. However, as this can take time, for the purposes of the peer reviews, jurisdictions will be assessed on their compliance with the minimum standard in respect of the exchange of information network in effect for the year of the particular annual review".

    TheCatSaid , March 8, 2017 at 6:56 am

    What are the practical implications for a country being blacklisted by the OECD? Would the downside really outweigh the potential advantage of going after tax revenue due?

    What countries are currently on the OECD blacklist and who cares?

    If a developing country has corrupt leaders that might be getting bribes from MNEs to not go after taxes, wouldn't this whole question be moot at the practical level?

    Ignacio , March 8, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Important. Thanks for posting this. Apparently the European Commission wants the CbCreports to be publicly available disagreeing with the OECD.

    Matthew G. Saroff ,