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[Jun 17, 2019] Matt Taibbi Exposes The Great College Loan Swindle

Notable quotes:
"... If you want to take the risk of going into debt to attend college, you better come out with skills that are in high demand. ..."
Nov 05, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Matt Taibbi via RollingStone.com,

How universities, banks and the government turned student debt into America's next financial black hole...

On a wind-swept, frigid night in February 2009, a 37-year-old schoolteacher named Scott Nailor parked his rusted '92 Toyota Tercel in the parking lot of a Fireside Inn in Auburn, Maine. He picked this spot to have a final reckoning with himself. He was going to end his life.

Beaten down after more than a decade of struggle with student debt, after years of taking false doors and slipping into various puddles of bureaucratic quicksand, he was giving up the fight. "This is it, I'm done," he remembers thinking. "I sat there and just sort of felt like I'm going to take my life. I'm going to find a way to park this car in the garage, with it running or whatever."

Nailor's problems began at 19 years old, when he borrowed for tuition so that he could pursue a bachelor's degree at the University of Southern Maine. He graduated summa cum laude four years later and immediately got a job in his field, as an English teacher.

Bu t he graduated with $35,000 in debt, a big hill to climb on a part-time teacher's $18,000 salary. He struggled with payments, and he and his wife then consolidated their student debt, which soon totaled more than $50,000. They declared bankruptcy and defaulted on the loans. From there he found himself in a loan "rehabilitation" program that added to his overall balance. "That's when the noose began to tighten," he says.

The collectors called day and night, at work and at home. "In the middle of class too, while I was teaching," he says. He ended up in another rehabilitation program that put him on a road toward an essentially endless cycle of rising payments. Today, he pays $471 a month toward "rehabilitation," and, like countless other borrowers, he pays nothing at all toward his real debt, which he now calculates would cost more than $100,000 to extinguish. "Not one dollar of it goes to principal," says Nailor. "I will never be able to pay it off. My only hope to escape from this crushing debt is to die."

After repeated phone calls with lending agencies about his ever-rising interest payments, Nailor now believes things will only get worse with time. "At this rate, I may easily break $1 million in debt before I retire from teaching," he says.

Nailor had more than once reached the stage in his thoughts where he was thinking about how to physically pull off his suicide. "I'd been there before, that just was the worst of it," he says. "It scared me, bad."

He had a young son and a younger daughter, but Nailor had been so broken by the experience of financial failure that he managed to convince himself they would be better off without him. What saved him is that he called his wife to say goodbye. "I don't know why I called my wife. I'm glad I did," he says. "I just wanted her or someone to tell me to pick it up, keep fighting, it's going to be all right. And she did."

From that moment, Nailor managed to focus on his family. Still, the core problem – the spiraling debt that has taken over his life, as it has for millions of other Americans – remains.

Horror stories about student debt are nothing new. But this school year marks a considerable worsening of a tale that ought to have been a national emergency years ago. The government in charge of regulating this mess is now filled with predatory monsters who have extensive ties to the exploitative for-profit education industry – from Donald Trump himself to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who sets much of the federal loan policy, to Julian Schmoke, onetime dean of the infamous DeVry University, whom Trump appointed to police fraud in education.

Americans don't understand the student-loan crisis because they've been trained to view the issue in terms of a series of separate, unrelated problems.

They will read in one place that as of the summer of 2017, a record 8.5 million Americans are in default on their student debt, with about $1.3 trillion in loans still outstanding.

In another place, voters will read that the cost of higher education is skyrocketing, soaring in a seemingly market-defying arc that for nearly a decade now has run almost double the rate of inflation. Tuition for a halfway decent school now frequently surpasses $50,000 a year. How, the average newsreader wonders, can any child not born in a yacht afford to go to school these days?

In a third place, that same reader will see some heartless monster, usually a Republican, threatening to cut federal student lending. The current bogeyman is Trump, who is threatening to slash the Pell Grant program by $3.9 billion, which would seem to put higher education even further out of reach for poor and middle-income families. This too seems appalling, and triggers a different kind of response, encouraging progressive voters to lobby for increased availability for educational lending.

But the separateness of these stories clouds the unifying issue underneath: The education industry as a whole is a con. In fact, since the mortgage business blew up in 2008, education and student debt is probably our reigning unexposed nation-wide scam.

It's a multiparty affair, what shakedown artists call a "big store scheme," like in the movie The Sting : a complex deception requiring a big cast to string the mark along every step of the way. In higher education, every party you meet, from the moment you first set foot on campus, is in on the game.

America as a country has evolved in recent decades into a confederacy of widescale industrial scams. The biggest slices of our economic pie – sectors like health care, military production, banking, even commercial and residential real estate – have become crude income-redistribution schemes, often untethered from the market by subsidies or bailouts, with the richest companies benefiting from gamed or denuded regulatory systems that make profits almost as assured as taxes. Guaranteed-profit scams – that's the last thing America makes with any level of consistent competence. In that light, Trump, among other things, the former head of a schlock diploma mill called Trump University, is a perfect president for these times. He's the scammer-in-chief in the Great American Ripoff Age, a time in which fleecing students is one of our signature achievements.

It starts with the sales pitch colleges make to kids. The thrust of it is usually that people who go to college make lots more money than the unfortunate dunces who don't. "A bachelor's degree is worth $2.8 million on average over a lifetime" is how Georgetown University put it. The Census Bureau tells us similarly that a master's degree is worth on average about $1.3 million more than a high school diploma.

But these stats say more about the increasing uselessness of a high school degree than they do about the value of a college diploma. Moreover, since virtually everyone at the very highest strata of society has a college degree, the stats are skewed by a handful of financial titans. A college degree has become a minimal status marker as much as anything else. "I'm sure people who take polo lessons or sailing lessons earn a lot more on average too," says Alan Collinge of Student Loan Justice, which advocates for debt forgiveness and other reforms. "Does that mean you should send your kids to sailing school?"

But the pitch works on everyone these days, especially since good jobs for Trump's beloved "poorly educated" are scarce to nonexistent. Going to college doesn't guarantee a good job, far from it, but the data show that not going dooms most young people to an increasingly shallow pool of the very crappiest, lowest-paying jobs. There's a lot of stick, but not much carrot, in the education game.

It's a vicious cycle. Since everyone feels obligated to go to college, most everyone who can go, does, creating a glut of graduates. And as that glut of degree recipients grows, the squeeze on the un-degreed grows tighter, increasing further that original negative incentive: Don't go to college, and you'll be standing on soup lines by age 25.

With that inducement in place, colleges can charge almost any amount, and kids will pay – so long as they can get the money. And here we run into problem number two: It's too easy to find that money.

Parents, not wanting their kids to fall behind, will pay every dollar they have. But if they don't have the cash, there is a virtually unlimited amount of credit available to young people. Proposed cuts to Pell Grants aside, the landscape is filled with public and private lending, and students gobble it up. Kids who walk into financial-aid offices are often not told what signing their names on the various aid forms will mean down the line. A lot of kids don't even understand the concept of interest or amortization tables – they think if they're borrowing $8,000, they're paying back $8,000.

Nailor certainly was unaware of what he was getting into when he was 19. "I had no idea [about interest]," he says. "I just remember thinking, 'I don't have to worry about it right now. I want to go to school.' " He pauses in disgust. "It's unsettling to remember how it was like, 'Here, just sign this and you're all set.' I wish I could take the time machine back and slap myself in the face."

The average amount of debt for a student leaving school is skyrocketing even faster than the rate of tuition increase.

In 2016, for instance, the average amount of debt for an exiting college graduate was a staggering $37,172. That's a rise of six percent over just the previous year. With the average undergraduate interest rate at about 3.7 percent, the interest alone costs around $115 per month, meaning anyone who can't afford to pay into the principal faces the prospect of $69,000 in payments over 50 years.

So here's the con so far.

You must go to college because you're screwed if you don't.

Costs are outrageously high, but you pay them because you have to, and because the system makes it easy to borrow massive amounts of money

The third part of the con is the worst: You can't get out of the debt.

Since government lenders in particular have virtually unlimited power to collect on student debt – preying on everything from salary to income-tax returns – even running is not an option. And since most young people find themselves unable to make their full payments early on, they often find themselves perpetually paying down interest only, never touching the principal. Our billionaire president can declare bankruptcy four times, but students are the one class of citizen that may not do it even once.

October 2017 was supposed to represent the first glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel. This month marks the 10th anniversary of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, one of the few avenues for wiping out student debt. The idea, launched by George W. Bush, was pretty simple: Students could pledge to work 10 years for the government or a nonprofit and have their debt forgiven. In order to qualify, borrowers had to make payments for 10 years using a complex formula. This month, then, was to start the first mass wipeouts of debt in the history of American student lending. But more than half of the 700,000 enrollees have already been expunged from the program for, among other things, failing to certify their incomes on time, one of many bureaucratic tricks employed to limit forgiveness eligibility. To date, fewer than 500 participants are scheduled to receive loan forgiveness in this first round.

Moreover, Trump has called for the program's elimination by 2018, meaning that any relief that begins this month is likely only temporary. The only thing that is guaranteed to remain real for the immediate future are the massive profits being generated on the backs of young people, who before long become old people who, all too often, remain ensnared until their last days in one of the country's most brilliant and devious moneymaking schemes.

Everybody wins in this madness, except students. Even though many of the loans are originated by the state, most of them are serviced by private or quasi-private companies like Navient – which until 2014 was the student-loan arm of Sallie Mae – or Nelnet, companies that reported a combined profit of around $1 billion last year (the U.S. government made a profit of $1.6 billion in 2016!). Debt-collector companies like Performant (which generated $141.4 million in revenues; the family of Betsy DeVos is a major investor), and most particularly the colleges and universities, get to prey on the desperation and terror of parents and young people, and in the process rake in vast sums virtually without fear of market consequence.

About that: Universities, especially public institutions, have successfully defended rising tuition in recent years by blaming the hikes on reduced support from states. But this explanation was blown to bits in large part due to a bizarre slip-up in the middle of a controversy over state support of the University of Wisconsin system a few years ago.

In that incident, UW raised tuition by 5.5 percent six years in a row after 2007. The school blamed stresses from the financial crisis and decreased state aid. But when pressed during a state committee hearing in 2013 about the university's finances, UW system president Kevin Reilly admitted they held $648 million in reserve, including $414 million in tuition payments. This was excess hidey-hole cash the school was sitting on, separate and distinct from, say, an endowment fund.

After the university was showered with criticism for hoarding cash at a time when it was gouging students with huge price increases every year, the school responded by saying, essentially, it only did what all the other kids were doing. UW released data showing that other major state-school systems across the country were similarly stashing huge amounts of cash. While Wisconsin's surplus was only 25 percent of its operating budget, for instance, Minnesota's was 29 percent, and Illinois maintained a whopping 34 percent reserve.

When Collinge, of Student Loan Justice, looked into it, he found that the phenomenon wasn't confined to state schools. Private schools, too, have been hoarding cash even as they plead poverty and jack up tuition fees. "They're all doing it," he says.

While universities sit on their stockpiles of cash and the loan industry generates record profits, the pain of living in debilitating debt for many lasts into retirement. Take Veronica Martish. She's a 68-year-old veteran, having served in the armed forces in the Vietnam era. She's also a grandmother who's never been in trouble and consid?ers herself a patriot. "The thing is, I tried to do everything right in my life," she says. "But this ruined my life."

This is an $8,000 student loan she took out in 1989, through Sallie Mae. She borrowed the money so she could take courses at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Connecticut. Five years later, after deaths in her family, she fell behind on her payments and entered a loan-rehabilitation program. "That's when my nightmare began," she says.

In rehabilitation, Martish's $8,000 loan, with fees and interest, ballooned into a $27,000 debt, which she has been carrying ever since. She says she's paid more than $63,000 to date and is nowhere near discharging the principal. "By the time I die," she says, "I will probably pay more than $200,000 toward an $8,000 loan." She pauses. "It's a scam, you see. Nothing ever comes off the loan. It's all interest and fees. And they chase you until you're old, like me. They never stop. Ever."

And that's the other thing about lending to students: It's the safest grift around.

There's probably no better symbol of the bankruptcy of the education industry than Trump University. The half-literate president's effort at higher learning drew in suckers with pathetic promises of great real-estate insights (for instance, that Trump "hand-picked" the instructors) and then charged them truckfuls of cash for get-rich-quick tutorials that students and faculty later described as "almost completely worthless" and a "total lie." That Trump got to settle a lawsuit on this matter for $25 million and still managed to be elected president is, ironically, a remarkable testament to the failure of our education system. About the only example that might be worse is DeVry University, which told students that 90 percent of graduates seeking jobs found them in their fields within six months of graduation. The FTC found those claims "false and unsubstantiated," and ordered $100 million in refunds and debt relief, but that was in 2016 – before Trump put DeVry chief Schmoke, of all people, in charge of rooting out education fraud. Like a lot of things connected to politics lately, it would be funny if it weren't somehow actually happening.?"Yeah, it's the fox guarding the henhouse," says Collinge. "You could probably find a worse analogy."

But the real problem with the student-loan story is that it's so poorly understood by people not living the nightmare. There's so much propaganda that blames the borrowers for taking on the debt in the first place that there's often little sympathy for people in hopeless situations. To make matters worse, band-aid programs that supposedly offer help hypnotize the public into thinking there are ways out, when the "help" is usually just another trick to add to the balance.

"That's part of the problem with the narrative," says Nailor, the schoolteacher. "People think that there's help, so what are you complaining about? All you got to do is apply for help."

But the help, he says, coming from a for-profit predatory system, often just makes things worse. "It did for me," he says. "It does for a lot of people."

jcaz -> ThirdWorldNut , Nov 5, 2017 7:36 PM

So..... This guy is working ONE job, part-time.... How does he fill the rest of his day?

Take away his student loan, he's still living on $18K/yr- you're still broke...

Moe Hamhead -> Escrava Isaura , Nov 5, 2017 8:05 PM

The real flaw is associating "higher" education with value. Get a job. Earn an income. Find an interest for your free time. Raise a family. Spare the four years of wasted time and money.

NoPension -> Grimaldus , Nov 5, 2017 9:10 PM

Colleges.....those bastions of conservatism.

WhackoWarner -> CunnyFunt , Nov 5, 2017 7:10 PM

Yeah there is a predatory lending story here...

Sizzurp , Nov 5, 2017 7:08 PM

If you want to take the risk of going into debt to attend college, you better come out with skills that are in high demand. Otherwise you are much better off going into the military, or going to trade school. BTW, thank the Clintons for making it impossible to get out of student debt through bankruptcy.

Krungle -> Sizzurp , Nov 5, 2017 7:14 PM

If you want to give out loans to kids then you should accept the risk that they might default on that debt and leave you with the tab. Let's stop the coddling the banker bullshit. They lobbied to make this loans extremely difficult to discharge in bankruptcy. They wanted all the profit and none of the risk. Let them assume risk and they'll stop handing out loans to unqualified borrowers.

Boxed Merlot -> Krungle , Nov 5, 2017 8:16 PM

Amen! If the money for an "education" is more difficult to obtain, that ought to be a clue as to the value of the information / training one is purchasing. The fact it's so easy to get is all one needs to know about the worth of what's being spewed by those dispensing their so-called knowledge / truth.

Allow the lawful discharge through bankruptcy and punish every single financial institution, (and especially their individual persons who oversaw the process), that has profited off of ballooning "principle" amounts that even come close to doubling an original amount with ties to any government official that voted to place these kind of loans in such a category.

This is madness! "Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees,..." Isaiah 10:1

jmo

t0mmyBerg -> Krungle , Nov 5, 2017 8:50 PM

Finally at least one person gets it. The inability to discharge student loan debt through the taint of bankruptcy is one of the greatest financial crimes of the last century. Entirely unAmerican. America used to be all about fresh starts. That is one reason our business life is more vibrant than say many places in Europe with less benign laws. Same goes for individuals. If you go through the pain of bankruptcy there is no reason you shouldnt get that debt discharged. Whomever voted for that law, whether Clintons or others should be beaten to death.

CunnyFunt -> Sizzurp , Nov 5, 2017 7:25 PM

Hobart's 38-week combo welder program costs $16,625. A trained kid willing to travel and work in the field would make more than an engineering graduate who paid a quarter-million for his degree.

ElwinCthulhu -> Sizzurp , Nov 5, 2017 7:35 PM

No mention made of the rats nest Social Justice program$ infesting college and university campuses across the country, at untold cost, worthless sullshit.

PrefabSprout -> Sizzurp , Nov 5, 2017 7:54 PM

But if you go into the military, you get poisoned and dehabilitated by bazillion vaccines, which you can't refuse.

Krungle , Nov 5, 2017 7:11 PM

Not that the student loan thing isn't another banker scam, but the lead story doesn't make sense.

Firstly, educators get loan forgiveness after a decade or two of public service. And there are income contingent repayment plans. And lawyers have, in fact, been able to get these things discharged. None of this changes the scam that is giving out high interest loans to kids to pursue an education. But you might want to start with a sob story that makes more sense. How about a pediatrician with 400k in loans and making 100k a year living in a coastal city? Or how about the art history majors at private liberal arts schools with 200k in debt making $10/hour as a barista? But teachers are one of the few groups that has an actual federal out.

JohnG -> Krungle , Nov 5, 2017 8:06 PM

Maybe. My wife is a teacher in a Title I, low income school, and had been for 13 years..... She also has about 13K remaining in student loans, originally federal direct and Perkins loans. With her over 10 years in title I schools, she should be able to get them forgiven, except that she consolidated these loans before I met her, and now they are "serviced" by AES, a private lender, and they are no longer eligible for discharge. This I call the "Consolidation Scam."

bluskyes , Nov 5, 2017 7:15 PM

Should have taken a math course first.

uhland62 -> bluskyes , Nov 5, 2017 7:27 PM

Pay off debt before you have children. There is no law that you must have children, if the debt makes it impossible. I would have liked a lot of tings but could not afford them.

dwboston , Nov 5, 2017 7:19 PM

Taibbi has some gall to blame Trump, DeVos and others for the student debt explosion, but not one word about Obama or the government's takeover of the student loan market as part of Obamacare? The student loan market was folded into the ACA as part of the fake accounting to make the ACA numbers "work". Every market the govenrment insinuates itself into - housing, health care, college tuition, etc. - gets distorted and costs explode. Taibbi's yet another dishonest liberal.

TheLastTrump -> dwboston , Nov 5, 2017 7:31 PM

Yikes- is this factual? If so fuck him. All name, no cattle.

Obama began his turn as destroyer in chief at the height of the Great Recession, everyone & their brother was running into the safety of college & student loans to pay the bills. I recall watching the local parking lots swell. :) So there's that.

But numbers are off the charts every year because younger millennials expect the govt to forgive all those loans at some point. That's how many thought 20 years ago & it's worse today.

dwboston -> TheLastTrump , Nov 5, 2017 9:11 PM

It is:

"The nexus between the student loan program and ObamaCare is purely opportunistic. As the Affordable Care Act was passing through Congress, its wheels greased by the wholly fraudulent assertion that it didn't need 60 votes to pass the Senate, the administration decided to put in a provision eliminating the private student loan industry, fully federalizing the program. What was not widely understood at the time was that it hoped to raid the funds paid by students to provide money for the bottomless pit known as ObamaCare"

http://thehill.com/opinion/columnists/dick-morris/302247-loans-subsidize...

allgoodmen , Nov 5, 2017 7:22 PM

Good article from Matt Taibbi, but you can count on this bolshevik to leave out Clinton complicity in the for-profit student loan scandals:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/09/06/bill_clinton_earned_milli...

TheLastTrump , Nov 5, 2017 7:26 PM

American college farm. Biggest swindle there is. Your education is an afterthought.

kenny500c , Nov 5, 2017 7:30 PM

No reason student debt should be treated differently from other debts, allow it to be written off in BK court.

[Apr 21, 2019] John Brennan's Police State USA

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Sadly, Brennan's propaganda coup only works on what the Bell Curve crowd up there would call the dumbest and most technologically helpless 1.2σ. Here is how people with half a brain interpret the latest CIA whoppers. ..."
"... Convincing Americans in Russia's influence or Russia collusion with Trump was only a tool that would create pressure on Trump that together with the fear of paralysis of his administration and impeachment would push Trump into the corner from which the only thing he could do was to worsen relations with Russia. What American people believe or not is really secondary. With firing of Gen. Flynn Trump acted exactly as they wanted him to act. This was the beginning of downward slope. ..."
"... Anyway, the mission was accomplished and the relations with Russia are worse now than during Obama administration. Trump can concentrate on Iran in which he will be supported by all sides and factions including the media. Even Larry David will approve not only the zionist harpies like Pam Geller, Rita Katz and Ilana Mercer. ..."
"... The only part that is absurd is that Russia posed a bona fide threat to the US. I'm fine with the idea that he ruined Brennen's plans in Syria. But thats just ego we shouldn't have been there anyway. ..."
"... No one really cares about Ukraine. And the European/Russian trade zone? No one cares. The Eurozone has its hands full with Greece and the rest of the old EU. I have a feeling they have already gone way too far and are more likely to shrink than expand in any meaningful way ..."
"... " ..factions within the state whose interests do not coincide with those of the American people." ..."
"... All the more powerfully put because of its recognisably comical. understatement. Thank you Mr Whitney. Brilliant article that would be all over the mainstream media were the US MSM an instrument of American rather than globalist interests. ..."
"... A sad story, how the USA always was a police state, where the two percent rich manipulated the 98% poor, to stay rich. When there were insurrections federal troops restored order. Also FDR put down strikes with troops. ..."
"... The elephant in the room is Israel and the neocons , this is the force that controls America and Americas foreign policy , Brennan and the 17 intel agencies are puppets of the mossad and Israel, that is the brutal fact of the matter. ..."
"... "The absence of evidence suggests that Russia hacking narrative is a sloppy and unprofessional disinformation campaign that was hastily slapped together by over confident Intelligence officials who believed that saturating the public airwaves with one absurd story after another would achieve the desired result " ..."
"... But it DID achieve the desired result! Trump folded under the pressure, and went full out neoliberal. Starting with his missile attack on Syria, he is now OK with spending trillions fighting pointless endless foreign wars on the other side of the world. ..."
"... I think maybe half the US population does believe the Russian hacking thing, but that's not really the issue. I think that the pre-Syrian attack media blitz was more a statement of brute power to Trump: WE are in charge here, and WE can take you down and impeach you, and facts don't matter! ..."
"... Sometimes propaganda is about persuading people. And sometimes, I think, it is about intimidating them. ..."
"... The Brit secret service, in effect, created and trained not merely the CIA but also the Mossad and Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Presidency. All four are defined by endless lies, endless acts of utterly amoral savagery. All 4 are at least as bad as the KGB ever was, and that means as bad as Hell itself. ..."
"... Traditional triumphalist American narrative history, as taught in schools up through the 60s or so, portrayed America as "wart-free." Since then, with Zinn's book playing a major role, it has increasingly been portrayed as "warts-only," which is of course at least equally flawed. I would say more so. ..."
"... Anyway, the mission was accomplished and the relations with Russia are worse now than during Obama administration. ..."
"... That pre-9/11 "cooperation" nearly destroyed Russia. Nobody in Russia (except, perhaps, for Pussy Riot) wants a return to the Yeltsin era. ..."
"... The CIA is the world largest criminal and terrorist organization. With Brennan the worst has come to the worst. The whole Russian meddling affair was initiated by the Obama/Clinton gang in cooperation with 95 percent of the media. Nothing will come out of it. ..."
"... [The key figures who had primary influence on both Trump's and Bush's Iran policies held views close to those of Israel's right-wing Likud Party. The main conduit for the Likudist line in the Trump White House is Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, primary foreign policy advisor, and longtime friend and supporter of Netanyahu. Kushner's parents are also long-time supporters of Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank. ..."
"... Another figure to whom the Trump White House has turned is John Bolton, undersecretary of state and a key policymaker on Iran in the Bush administration. Although Bolton was not appointed Trump's secretary of state, as he'd hoped, he suddenly reemerged as a player on Iran policy thanks to his relationship with Kushner. Politico reports that Bolton met with Kushner a few days before the final policy statement was released and urged a complete withdrawal from the deal in favor of his own plan for containing Iran. ..."
"... Putin's dream of Greater Europe is the death knell for the unipolar world order. It means the economic center of the world will shift to Central Asia where abundant resources and cheap labor of the east will be linked to the technological advances and the Capital the of the west eliminating the need to trade in dollars or recycle profits into US debt. The US economy will slip into irreversible decline, and the global hegemon will steadily lose its grip on power. That's why it is imperative for the US prevail in Ukraine– a critical land bridge connecting the two continents– and to topple Assad in Syria in order to control vital resources and pipeline corridors. Washington must be in a position where it can continue to force its trading partners to denominate their resources in dollars and recycle the proceeds into US Treasuries if it is to maintain its global primacy. The main problem is that Russia is blocking Uncle Sam's path to success which is roiling the political establishment in Washington. ..."
"... Second, Zakharova confirms that the western media is not an independent news gathering organization, but a propaganda organ for the foreign policy establishment who dictates what they can and can't say. ..."
"... Such a truthful portrait of reality ! The ruling elite is indeed massively corrupt, compromised, and controlled by dark forces. And the police state is already here. For most people, so far, in the form of massive collection of personal data and increasing number of mandatory regulations. But just one or two big false-flags away from progressing into something much worse. ..."
"... Clearly the CIA was making war on Syria. Is secret coercive covert action against sovereign nations Ok? Is it legal? When was the CIA designated a war making entity – what part of the constitution OK's that? Isn't the congress obliged by constitutional law to declare war? (These are NOT six month actions – they go on and on.) ..."
"... Syria is only one of many nations that the CIA is attacking – how many countries are we attacking with drones? Where is congress? ..."
"... Close the CIA – give the spying to the 16 other agencies. ..."
Oct 22, 2017 | www.unz.com

Fran Macadam , October 20, 2017 at 3:08 pm GMT

A credible reading of the diverse facts, Mike.
Kirk Elarbee , October 20, 2017 at 8:27 pm GMT
Sadly, Brennan's propaganda coup only works on what the Bell Curve crowd up there would call the dumbest and most technologically helpless 1.2σ. Here is how people with half a brain interpret the latest CIA whoppers.

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/10/everyone-hacked-everyone-hacked-everyone-spy-spin-fuels-anti-kaspersky-campaign.html

utu , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:18 am GMT
Again Mike Whitney does not get it. Though in the first part of the article I thought he would. He was almost getting there. The objective was to push new administration into the corner from which it could not improve relations with Russia as Trump indicated that he wanted to during the campaign.

Convincing Americans in Russia's influence or Russia collusion with Trump was only a tool that would create pressure on Trump that together with the fear of paralysis of his administration and impeachment would push Trump into the corner from which the only thing he could do was to worsen relations with Russia. What American people believe or not is really secondary. With firing of Gen. Flynn Trump acted exactly as they wanted him to act. This was the beginning of downward slope.

Anyway, the mission was accomplished and the relations with Russia are worse now than during Obama administration. Trump can concentrate on Iran in which he will be supported by all sides and factions including the media. Even Larry David will approve not only the zionist harpies like Pam Geller, Rita Katz and Ilana Mercer.

Pamela Geller: Thank You, Larry David

http://www.breitbart.com/big-hollywood/2017/10/19/pamela-geller-thank-larry-david/

anon , Disclaimer Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:54 am GMT
OK.

The only part that is absurd is that Russia posed a bona fide threat to the US. I'm fine with the idea that he ruined Brennen's plans in Syria. But thats just ego we shouldn't have been there anyway.

No one really cares about Ukraine. And the European/Russian trade zone? No one cares. The Eurozone has its hands full with Greece and the rest of the old EU. I have a feeling they have already gone way too far and are more likely to shrink than expand in any meaningful way

The one thing I am not positive about. If the elite really believe that Russia is a threat, then Americans have done psych ops on themselves.

The US was only interested in Ukraine because it was there. Next in line on a map. The rather shocking disinterest in investing money -- on both sides -- is inexplicable if it was really important. Most of it would be a waste -- but still. The US stupidly spent $5 billion on something -- getting duped by politicians and got theoretical regime change, but it was hell to pry even $1 billion for real economic aid.

ThereisaGod , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 6:37 am GMT
" ..factions within the state whose interests do not coincide with those of the American people."

All the more powerfully put because of its recognisably comical. understatement. Thank you Mr Whitney. Brilliant article that would be all over the mainstream media were the US MSM an instrument of American rather than globalist interests.

jilles dykstra , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 6:46 am GMT
I am reading Howard Zinn, A Peoples History of the USA, 1492 to the Present. A sad story, how the USA always was a police state, where the two percent rich manipulated the 98% poor, to stay rich. When there were insurrections federal troops restored order. Also FDR put down strikes with troops.
Logan , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 11:16 am GMT
@jilles dykstra

You should be aware that Zinn's book is not, IMO, an honest attempt at writing history. It is conscious propaganda intended to make Americans believe exactly what you are taking from it.

DESERT FOX , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 1:30 pm GMT
The elephant in the room is Israel and the neocons , this is the force that controls America and Americas foreign policy , Brennan and the 17 intel agencies are puppets of the mossad and Israel, that is the brutal fact of the matter.

Until that fact changes Americans will continue to fight and die for Israel.

TG , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 2:03 pm GMT
"The absence of evidence suggests that Russia hacking narrative is a sloppy and unprofessional disinformation campaign that was hastily slapped together by over confident Intelligence officials who believed that saturating the public airwaves with one absurd story after another would achieve the desired result "

But it DID achieve the desired result! Trump folded under the pressure, and went full out neoliberal. Starting with his missile attack on Syria, he is now OK with spending trillions fighting pointless endless foreign wars on the other side of the world.

I think maybe half the US population does believe the Russian hacking thing, but that's not really the issue. I think that the pre-Syrian attack media blitz was more a statement of brute power to Trump: WE are in charge here, and WE can take you down and impeach you, and facts don't matter!

Sometimes propaganda is about persuading people. And sometimes, I think, it is about intimidating them.

Anonymous , Disclaimer Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 2:05 pm GMT
Whitney is another author who declares the "Russians did it" narrative a psyop. He then devotes entire columns to the psyop, "naww Russia didn't do it". There could be plenty to write about – recent laws that do undercut liberty, but no, the Washington Post needs fake opposition to its fake news so you have guys like Whitney in the less-mainstream fake news media.

So Brennan wanted revenge? Well that's simple enough to understand, without being too stupid. But Whitney's whopper of a lie is what you're supposed to unquestionably believe. The US has "rival political parties". Did you miss it?

Jake , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 2:32 pm GMT
The US is doing nothing more than acting as the British Empire 2.0. WASP culture was born of a Judaizing heresy: Anglo-Saxon Puritanism. That meant that the WASP Elites of every are pro-Jewish, especially in order to wage war, physical and/or cultural, against the vast majority of white Christians they rule.

By the early 19th century, The Brit Empire's Elites also had a strong, and growing, dose of pro-Arabic/pro-Islamic philoSemitism. Most of that group became ardently pro-Sunni, and most of the pro-Sunni ones eventually coalescing around promotion of the House of Saud, which means being pro-Wahhabi and permanently desirous of killing or enslaving virtually all Shiite Mohammedans.

So, by the time of Victoria's high reign, the Brit WASP Elites were a strange brew of hardcoree pro-Jewish and hardcore pro-Arabic/islamic. The US foreign policy of today is an attempt to put those two together and force it on everyone and make it work.

The Brit secret service, in effect, created and trained not merely the CIA but also the Mossad and Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Presidency. All four are defined by endless lies, endless acts of utterly amoral savagery. All 4 are at least as bad as the KGB ever was, and that means as bad as Hell itself.

Logan , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:04 pm GMT
@Grandpa Charlie

Fair enough. I didn't know that about the foreword. If accurate, that's a reasonable approach for a book.

Here's the problem.

Back when O. Cromwell was the dictator of England, he retained an artist to paint him. The custom of the time was for artists to "clean up" their subjects, in a primitive form of photoshopping.

OC being a religious fanatic, he informed the artist he wished to be portrayed as God had made him, "warts and all." (Ollie had a bunch of unattractive facial warts.) Or the artist wouldn't be paid.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/nov/08/cromwell-portraitist-samuel-cooper-exhibition

Traditional triumphalist American narrative history, as taught in schools up through the 60s or so, portrayed America as "wart-free." Since then, with Zinn's book playing a major role, it has increasingly been portrayed as "warts-only," which is of course at least equally flawed. I would say more so.

All I am asking is that American (and other) history be written "warts and all." The triumphalist version is true, largely, and so is the Zinn version. Gone With the Wind and Roots both portray certain aspects of the pre-war south fairly accurately..

America has been, and is, both evil and good. As is/was true of every human institution and government in history. Personally, I believe America, net/net, has been one of the greatest forces for human good ever. But nobody will realize that if only the negative side of American history is taught.

Wally , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:16 pm GMT
@Michael Kenny

Hasbarist 'Kenny', you said:

"There must be something really dirty in Russigate that hasn't yet come out to generate this level of panic."

You continue to claim what you cannot prove.

But then you are a Jews First Zionist.

Russia-Gate Jumps the Shark
Russia-gate has jumped the shark with laughable new claims about a tiny number of "Russia-linked" social media ads, but the US mainstream media is determined to keep a straight face

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/10/robert-parry/jumping-the-shark/

Yet Another Major Russia Story Falls Apart. Is Skepticism Permissible Yet?

https://theintercept.com/2017/09/28/yet-another-major-russia-story-falls-apart-is-skepticism-permissible-yet/

+ review of other frauds

Logan , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:20 pm GMT
@Jake

Most of that group became ardently pro-Sunni, and most of the pro-Sunni ones eventually coalescing around promotion of the House of Saud, which means being pro-Wahhabi and permanently desirous of killing or enslaving virtually all Shiite Mohammedans.

Thanks for the laugh. During the 19th century, the Sauds were toothless, dirt-poor hicks from the deep desert of zero importance on the world stage.

The Brits were not Saudi proponents, in fact promoting the Husseins of Hejaz, the guys Lawrence of Arabia worked with. The Husseins, the Sharifs of Mecca and rulers of Hejaz, were the hereditary enemies of the Sauds of Nejd.

After WWI, the Brits installed Husseins as rulers of both Transjordan and Iraq, which with the Hejaz meant the Sauds were pretty much surrounded. The Sauds conquered the Hejaz in 1924, despite lukewarm British support for the Hejaz.

Nobody in the world cared much about the Saudis one way or another until massive oil fields were discovered, by Americans not Brits, starting in 1938. There was no reason they should. Prior to that Saudi prominence in world affairs was about equal to that of Chad today, and for much the same reason. Chad (and Saudi Arabia) had nothing anybody else wanted.

Grandpa Charlie , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:25 pm GMT
@Michael Kenny

'Putin stopped talking about the "Lisbon to Vladivostok" free trade area long ago" -- Michael Kenney

Putin was simply trying to sell Russia's application for EU membership with the catch-phrase "Lisbon to Vladivostok". He continued that until the issue was triply mooted (1) by implosion of EU growth and boosterism, (2) by NATO's aggressive stance, in effect taken by NATO in Ukraine events and in the Baltics, and, (3) Russia's alliance with China.

It is surely still true that Russians think of themselves, categorically, as Europeans. OTOH, we can easily imagine that Russians in Vladivostok look at things differently than do Russians in St. Petersburg. Then again, Vladivostok only goes back about a century and a half.

Seamus Padraig , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:39 pm GMT
@utu

Anyway, the mission was accomplished and the relations with Russia are worse now than during Obama administration.

I generally agree with your comment, but that part strikes me as a bit of an exaggeration. While relations with Russia certainly haven't improved, how have they really worsened? The second round of sanctions that Trump reluctantly approved have yet to be implemented by Europe, which was the goal. And apart from that, what of substance has changed?

Seamus Padraig , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:45 pm GMT
@Grandpa Charlie

That pre-9/11 "cooperation" nearly destroyed Russia. Nobody in Russia (except, perhaps, for Pussy Riot) wants a return to the Yeltsin era.

Ludwig Watzal , Website Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:46 pm GMT
It's not surprising that 57 percent of the American people believe in Russian meddling. Didn't two-thirds of the same crowd believe that Saddam was behind 9/11, too? The American public is being brainwashed 24 hours a day all year long.

The CIA is the world largest criminal and terrorist organization. With Brennan the worst has come to the worst. The whole Russian meddling affair was initiated by the Obama/Clinton gang in cooperation with 95 percent of the media. Nothing will come out of it.

This disinformation campaign might be the prelude to an upcoming war.
Right now, the US is run by jerks and idiots. Watch the video.

anonymous , Disclaimer Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 3:50 pm GMT
Only dumb people does not know that TRUMP IS NETANYAHU'S PUPPET.

The fifth column zionist jews are running the albino stooge and foreign policy in the Middle East to expand Israel's interest against American interest that is TREASON. One of these FIFTH COLUMNISTS is Jared Kushner. He should be arrested.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/donald-trumps-likudist-campaign-against-iran/5614264

[The key figures who had primary influence on both Trump's and Bush's Iran policies held views close to those of Israel's right-wing Likud Party. The main conduit for the Likudist line in the Trump White House is Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, primary foreign policy advisor, and longtime friend and supporter of Netanyahu. Kushner's parents are also long-time supporters of Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank.

Another figure to whom the Trump White House has turned is John Bolton, undersecretary of state and a key policymaker on Iran in the Bush administration. Although Bolton was not appointed Trump's secretary of state, as he'd hoped, he suddenly reemerged as a player on Iran policy thanks to his relationship with Kushner. Politico reports that Bolton met with Kushner a few days before the final policy statement was released and urged a complete withdrawal from the deal in favor of his own plan for containing Iran.

Bolton spoke with Trump by phone on Thursday about the paragraph in the deal that vowed it would be "terminated" if there was any renegotiation, according to Politico. He was calling Trump from Las Vegas, where he'd been meeting with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the third major figure behind Trump's shift towards Israeli issues. Adelson is a Likud supporter who has long been a close friend of Netanyahu's and has used his Israeli tabloid newspaper Israel Hayomto support Netanyahu's campaigns. He was Trump's main campaign contributor in 2016, donating $100 million. Adelson's real interest has been in supporting Israel's interests in Washington -- especially with regard to Iran.]

Miro23 , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 4:56 pm GMT
A great article with some excellent points:

Putin's dream of Greater Europe is the death knell for the unipolar world order. It means the economic center of the world will shift to Central Asia where abundant resources and cheap labor of the east will be linked to the technological advances and the Capital the of the west eliminating the need to trade in dollars or recycle profits into US debt. The US economy will slip into irreversible decline, and the global hegemon will steadily lose its grip on power. That's why it is imperative for the US prevail in Ukraine– a critical land bridge connecting the two continents– and to topple Assad in Syria in order to control vital resources and pipeline corridors. Washington must be in a position where it can continue to force its trading partners to denominate their resources in dollars and recycle the proceeds into US Treasuries if it is to maintain its global primacy. The main problem is that Russia is blocking Uncle Sam's path to success which is roiling the political establishment in Washington.

American dominance is very much tied to the dollar's role as the world's reserve currency, and the rest of the world no longer want to fund this bankrupt, warlike state – particularly the Chinese.

First, it confirms that the US did not want to see the jihadist extremists defeated by Russia. These mainly-Sunni militias served as Washington's proxy-army conducting an ambitious regime change operation which coincided with US strategic ambitions.

The CIA run US/Israeli/ISIS alliance.

Second, Zakharova confirms that the western media is not an independent news gathering organization, but a propaganda organ for the foreign policy establishment who dictates what they can and can't say.

They are given the political line and they broadcast it.

The loosening of rules governing the dissemination of domestic propaganda coupled with the extraordinary advances in surveillance technology, create the perfect conditions for the full implementation of an American police state. But what is more concerning, is that the primary levers of state power are no longer controlled by elected officials but by factions within the state whose interests do not coincide with those of the American people. That can only lead to trouble.

At some point Americans are going to get a "War on Domestic Terror" cheered along by the media. More or less the arrest and incarceration of any opposition following the Soviet Bolshevik model.

CanSpeccy , Website Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:11 pm GMT
@utu

On the plus side, everyone now knows that the Anglo-US media from the NY Times to the Economist, from WaPo to the Gruniard, and from the BBC to CNN, the CBC and Weinstein's Hollywood are a worthless bunch of depraved lying bastards.

Thales the Milesian , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:53 pm GMT
Brennan did this, CIA did that .

So what are you going to do about all this?

Continue to whine?

Continue to keep your head stuck in your ass?

So then continue with your blah, blah, blah, and eat sh*t.

You, disgusting self-elected democratic people/institutions!!!

AB_Anonymous , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 5:59 pm GMT
Such a truthful portrait of reality ! The ruling elite is indeed massively corrupt, compromised, and controlled by dark forces. And the police state is already here. For most people, so far, in the form of massive collection of personal data and increasing number of mandatory regulations. But just one or two big false-flags away from progressing into something much worse.

The thing is, no matter how thick the mental cages are, and how carefully they are maintained by the daily massive injections of "certified" truth (via MSM), along with neutralizing or compromising of "troublemakers", the presence of multiple alternative sources in the age of Internet makes people to slip out of these cages one by one, and as the last events show – with acceleration.

It means that there's a fast approaching tipping point after which it'd be impossible for those in power both to keep a nice "civilized" face and to control the "cage-free" population. So, no matter how the next war will be called, it will be the war against the free Internet and free people. That's probably why N. Korean leader has no fear to start one.

Art , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 6:18 pm GMT
An aside:

All government secrecy is a curse on mankind. Trump is releasing the JFK murder files to the public. Kudos! Let us hope he will follow up with a full 9/11 investigation.

Think Peace -- Art

Mr. Anon , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 7:07 pm GMT
@utu

The objective was to push new administration into the corner from which it could not improve relations with Russia as Trump indicated that he wanted to during the campaign.

Good point. That was probably one of the objectives (and from the point of view of the deep-state, perhaps the most important objective) of the "Russia hacked our democracy" narrative, in addition to the general deligitimization of the Trump administration.

Art , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 7:11 pm GMT
And, keep in mind, Washington's Sunni proxies were not a division of the Pentagon; they were entirely a CIA confection: CIA recruited, CIA-armed, CIA-funded and CIA-trained.

Clearly the CIA was making war on Syria. Is secret coercive covert action against sovereign nations Ok? Is it legal? When was the CIA designated a war making entity – what part of the constitution OK's that? Isn't the congress obliged by constitutional law to declare war? (These are NOT six month actions – they go on and on.)

Are committees of six congressman and six senators, who meet in secret, just avoiding the grave constitutional questions of war? We the People cannot even interrogate these politicians. (These politicians make big money in the secrecy swamp when they leave office.)

Syria is only one of many nations that the CIA is attacking – how many countries are we attacking with drones? Where is congress?

Spying is one thing – covert action is another – covert is wrong – it goes against world order. Every year after 9/11 they say things are worse – give them more money more power and they will make things safe. That is BS!

9/11 has opened the flood gates to the US government attacking at will, the various peoples of this Earth. That is NOT our prerogative.

We are being exceptionally arrogant.

Close the CIA – give the spying to the 16 other agencies.

Think Peace -- Art

Rurik , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 7:12 pm GMT
@Ben10

right at 1:47

when he says 'we can't move on as a country'

his butt hurt is so ruefully obvious, that I couldn't help notice a wry smile on my face

that bitch spent millions on the war sow, and now all that mullah won't even wipe his butt hurt

when I see ((guys)) like this raging their inner crybaby angst, I feel really, really good about President Trump

MAGA bitches!

Mr. Anon , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 7:15 pm GMT
@jilles dykstra

I am reading Howard Zinn, A Peoples History of the USA

A Peoples History of the USA? Which Peoples?

Tradecraft46 , Next New Comment October 21, 2017 at 8:04 pm GMT
I am SAIS 70 so know the drill and the article is on point.

Here is the dealio. Most reporters are dim and have no experience, and it is real easy to lead them by the nose with promises of better in the future.

[Apr 21, 2019] Mark Ames: The FBI Has No Legal Charter But Lots of Kompromat

Notable quotes:
"... Today, it seems, the best description of the FBI's main activity is corporate enforcer for the white-collar mafia known as Wall Street. There is an analogy to organized crime, where the most powerful mobsters settled disputes between other gangs of criminals. Similarly, if a criminal gang is robbed by one of its own members, the mafia would go after the guilty party; the FBI plays this role for Wall Street institutions targeted by con artists and fraudsters. Compare and contrast a pharmaceutical company making opiates which is targeted by thieves vs. a black market drug cartel targeted by thieves. In one case, the FBI investigates; in the other, a violent vendetta ensues (such as street murders in Mexico). ..."
"... The FBI executives are rewarded for this service with lucrative post-retirement careers within corporate America – Louis Freeh went to credit card fraudster, MBNA, Richard Mueller to a corporate Washington law firm, WilmerHale, and Comey, before Obama picked him as Director, worked for Lockheed Martin and HSBC (cleaning up after their $2 billion drug cartel marketing scandal) after leaving the FBI in 2005. ..."
"... Some say they have a key role to play in national security and terrorism – but their record on the 2001 anthrax attacks is incredibly shady and suspicious. The final suspect, Bruce Ivins, is clearly innocent of the crime, just as their previous suspect, Steven Hatfill was. Ivins, if still alive, could have won a similar multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against the FBI. All honest bioweapons experts know this to be true – the perpetrators of those anthrax letters are still at large, and may very well have had close associations with the Bush Administration itself. ..."
"... Comey's actions over the past year are certainly highly questionable, as well. Neglecting to investigate the Clinton Foundation ties to Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments and corporations, particularly things like State Department approval of various arms deals in which bribes may have been paid, is as much a dereliction of duty as neglecting to investigate Trump ties to Russian business interests – but then, Trump has a record of shady business dealings dating back to the 1970s, of strange bankruptcies and bailouts and government sales that the FBI never looked at either. ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Mark Ames, founding editor of the Moscow satirical paper The eXile and co-host of the Radio War Nerd podcast with Gary Brecher (aka John Dolan). Subscribe here . Originally published at The Exiled

I made the mistake of listening to NPR last week to find out what Conventional Wisdom had to say about Trump firing Comey, on the assumption that their standardized Mister-Rogers-on-Nyquil voice tones would rein in the hysteria pitch a little. And on the surface, it did-the NPR host and guests weren't directly shrieking "the world is ending! We're all gonna die SHEEPLE!" the way they were on CNN. But in a sense they were screaming "fire!", if you know how to distinguish the very minute pitch level differences in the standard NPR Nyquil voice.

The host of the daytime NPR program asked his guests how serious, and how "unprecedented" Trump's decision to fire his FBI chief was. The guests answers were strange: they spoke about "rule of law" and "violating the Constitution" but then switched to Trump "violating norms"-and back again, interchanging "norms" and "laws" as if they're synonyms. One of the guests admitted that Trump firing Comey was 100% legal, but that didn't seem to matter in this talk about Trump having abandoned rule-of-law for a Putinist dictatorship. These guys wouldn't pass a high school civics class, but there they were, garbling it all up. What mattered was the proper sense of panic and outrage-I'm not sure anyone really cared about the actual legality of the thing, or the legal, political or "normative" history of the FBI.

For starters, the FBI hardly belongs in the same set with concepts like "constitutional" or " rule of law." That's because the FBI was never established by a law. US Lawmakers refused to approve an FBI bureau over a century ago when it was first proposed by Teddy Roosevelt. So he ignored Congress, and went ahead and set it up by presidential fiat. That's one thing the civil liberties crowd hates discussing - how centralized US political power is in the executive branch, a feature in the constitutional system put there by the holy Founders.

In the late 1970s, at the tail end of our brief Glasnost, there was a lot of talk in Washington about finally creating a legal charter for the FBI -70 years after its founding. A lot of serious ink was spilled trying to transform the FBI from an extralegal secret police agency to something legal and defined. If you want to play archeologist to America's recent history, you can find this in the New York Times' archives, articles with headlines like "Draft of Charter for F.B.I. Limits Inquiry Methods" :

The Carter Administration will soon send to Congress the first governing charter for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The proposed charter imposes extensive but not absolute restrictions on the bureau's employment of controversial investigative techniques, .including the use of informers, undercover agents and covert criminal activity.

The charter also specifies the duties and powers of the bureau, setting precise standards and procedures for the initiation ,and conduct of investigations. It specifically requires the F.B.I. to observe constitutional rights and establishes safeguards against unchecked harassment, break‐ins and other abuses.

followed by the inevitable lament, like this editorial from the Christian Science Monitor a year later, "Don't Forget the FBI Charter". Which of course we did forget-that was Reagan's purpose and value for the post-Glasnost reaction: forgetting. As historian Athan Theoharis wrote , "After 1981, Congress never seriously considered again any of the FBI charter proposals."

The origins of the FBI have been obscured both because of its dubious legality and because of its original political purpose-to help the president battle the all-powerful American capitalists. It wasn't that Teddy Roosevelt was a radical leftist-he was a Progressive Republican, which sounds like an oxymoron today but which was mainstream and ascendant politics in his time. Roosevelt was probably the first president since Andrew Jackson to try to smash concentrated wealth-power, or at least some of it. He could be brutally anti-labor, but so were the powerful capitalists he fought, and all the structures of government power. He met little opposition pursuing his imperial Social Darwinist ambitions outside America's borders-but he had a much harder time fighting the powerful capitalists at home against Roosevelt's most honorable political obsession: preserving forests, parks and public lands from greedy capitalists. An early FBI memo to Hoover about the FBI's origins explains,

"Roosevelt, in his characteristic dynamic fashion, asserted that the plunderers of the public domain would be prosecuted and brought to justice."

According to New York Times reporter Tim Wiener's Enemies: A History of the FBI , it was the Oregon land fraud scandal of 1905-6 that put the idea of an FBI in TR's hyperactive mind. The scandal involved leading Oregon politicians helping railroad tycoon Edward Harriman illegally sell off pristine Oregon forest lands to timber interests, and it ended with an Oregon senator and the state's only two House representatives criminally charged and put on trial-along with dozens of other Oregonians. Basically, they were raping the state's public lands and forests like colonists stripping a foreign country-and that stuck in TR's craw.

TR wanted his attorney general-Charles Bonaparte (yes, he really was a descendant of that Bonaparte)-to make a full report to on the rampant land fraud scams that the robber barons were running to despoil the American West, and which threatened TR's vision of land and forest conservation and parks. Bonaparte created an investigative team from the US Secret Service, but TR thought their report was a "whitewash" and proposed a new separate federal investigative service within Bonaparte's Department of Justice that would report only to the Attorney General.

Until then, the US government had to rely on private contractors like the notorious, dreaded Pinkerton Agency, who were great at strikebreaking, clubbing workers and shooting organizers, but not so good at taking down down robber barons, who happened to also be important clients for the private detective agencies.

In early 1908, Attorney General Bonaparte wrote to Congress asking for the legal authority (and budget funds) to create a "permanent detective force" under the DOJ. Congress rebelled, denouncing it as a plan to create an American okhrana . Democrat Joseph Sherley wrote that "spying on men and prying into what would ordinarily be considered their private affairs" went against "American ideas of government"; Rep. George Waldo, a New York Republican, said the proposed FBI was a "great blow to freedom and to free institutions if there should arise in this country any such great central secret-service bureau as there is in Russia."

So Congress's response was the opposite, banning Bonaparte's DOJ from spending any funds at all on a proposed FBI. Another Congressman wrote another provision into the budget bill banning the DOJ from hiring Secret Service employees for any sort of FBI type agency. So Bonaparte waited until Congress took its summer recess, set aside some DOJ funds, recruited some Secret Service agents, and created a new federal detective bureau with 34 agents. This was how the FBI was born. Congress wasn't notified until the end of 1908, in a few lines in a standard report - "oh yeah, forgot to tell you-the executive branch went ahead and created an American okhrana because, well, the ol' joke about dogs licking their balls. Happy New Year!"

The sordid history of America's extralegal secret police-initially named the Bureau of Investigation, changed to the FBI ("Federal") in the 30's, is mostly a history of xenophobic panic-mongering, illegal domestic spying, mass roundups and plans for mass-roundups, false entrapment schemes, and planting what Russians call "kompromat"- compromising information about a target's sex life-to blackmail or destroy American political figures that the FBI didn't like.

The first political victim of J Edgar Hoover's kompromat was Louis Post, the assistant secretary of labor under Woodrow Wilson. Post's crime was releasing over 1,000 alleged Reds from detention facilities near the end of the FBI's Red Scare crackdown, when they jailed and deported untold thousands on suspicion of being Communists. The FBI's mass purge began with popular media support in 1919, but by the middle of 1920, some (not the FBI) were starting to get a little queasy. A legal challenge to the FBI's mass purges and exiles in Boston ended with a federal judge denouncing the FBI. After that ruling, assistant secretary Louis Post, a 71-year-old well-meaning progressive, reviewed the cases against the last 1500 detainees that the FBI wanted to deport, and found that there was absolutely nothing on at least 75 percent of the cases. Post's review threatened to undo thousands more FBI persecutions of alleged Moscow-controlled radicals.

So one of the FBI's most ambitious young agents, J Edgar Hoover, collected kompromat on Post and his alleged associations with other alleged Moscow-controlled leftists, and gave the file to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives-which promptly announced it would hold hearings to investigate Post as a left subversive. The House tried to impeach Post, but ultimately he defended himself. Post's lawyer compared his political persecutors to the okhrana (Russia, again!): "We in America have sunk to the level of the government of Russia under the Czarist regime," describing the FBI's smear campaign as "even lower in some of their methods than the old Russian officials."

Under Harding, the FBI had a new chief, William Burns, who made headlines blaming the terror bombing attack on Wall Street of 1920 that killed 34 people on a Kremlin-run conspiracy. The FBI claimed it had a highly reliable inside source who told them that Lenin sent $30,000 to the Soviets' diplomatic mission in New York, which was distributed to four local Communist agents who arranged the Wall Street bombing. The source claimed to have personally spoken with Lenin, who boasted that the bombing was so successful he'd ordered up more.

The only problem was that the FBI's reliable source, a Jewish-Polish petty criminal named Wolf Lindenfeld, turned out to be a bullshitter-nicknamed "Windy Linde"-who thought his fake confession about Lenin funding the bombing campaign would get him out of Poland's jails and set up in a comfortable new life in New York.

By 1923, the FBI had thoroughly destroyed America's communist and radical labor movements-allowing it to focus on its other favorite pastime: spying on and destroying political opponents. The FBI spied on US Senators who supported opening diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union: Idaho's William Borah, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee; Thomas Walsh of the Judiciary Committee, and Burton K Wheeler, the prairie Populist senator from Montana, who visited the Soviet Union and pushed for diplomatic relations. Harding's corrupt Attorney General Dougherty denounced Sen. Wheeler as "the Communist leader in the Senate" and "no more a Democrat than Stalin, his comrade in Moscow." Dougherty accused Sen. Wheeler of being part of a conspiracy "to capture, by deceit and design, as many members of the Senate as possible and to spread through Washington and the cloakrooms of Congress a poison gas as deadly as that which sapped and destroyed brave soldiers in the last war."

Hoover, now a top FBI official, quietly fed kompromat to journalists he cultivated, particularly an AP reporter named Richard Whitney, who published a popular book in 1924, "Reds In America" alleging Kremlin agents "had an all-pervasive influence over American institutions; they had infiltrated every corner of American life." Whitney named Charlie Chaplin as a Kremlin agent, along with Felix Frankfurter and members of the Senate pushing for recognition of the Soviet Union. That killed any hope for diplomatic recognition for the next decade.

Then the first Harding scandals broke-Teapot Dome, Veterans Affairs, bribery at the highest rungs. When Senators Wheeler and Walsh opened bribery investigations, the FBI sent agents to the senators' home state to drum up false bribery charges against Sen. Wheeler. The charges were clearly fake, and a jury dismissed the charges. But Attorney General Dougherty was indicted for fraud and forced to resign, as was his FBI chief Burns-but not Burns' underling Hoover, who stayed in the shadows.

"We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail This must stop."

With the Cold War, the FBI became obsessed with homosexuals as America's Fifth Column under Moscow's control. Homosexuals, the FBI believed, were susceptible to Kremlin kompromat-so the FBI collected and disseminated its own kompromat on alleged American homosexuals, supposedly to protect America from the Kremlin. In the early 1950s, Hoover launched the Sex Deviates Program to spy on American homosexuals and purge them from public life. The FBI built up 300,000 pages of files on suspected homosexuals and contacted their employers, local law enforcement and universities to "to drive homosexuals from every institution of government, higher learning, and law enforcement in the nation," according to Tim Weiner's book Enemies. No one but the FBI knows exactly how many Americans' lives and careers were destroyed by the FBI's Sex Deviants Program but Hoover-who never married, lived with his mother until he was 40, and traveled everywhere with his "friend" Clyde Tolson .

In the 1952 election, Hoover was so committed to helping the Republicans and Eisenhower win that he compiled and disseminated a 19-page kompromat file alleging that his Democratic Party rival Adlai Stevenson was gay. The FBI's file on Stevenson was kept in the Sex Deviants Program section-it included libelous gossip, claiming that Stevenson was one of Illinois' "best known homosexuals" who went by the name "Adeline" in gay cruising circles.

In the 1960s, Hoover and his FBI chiefs collected kompromat on the sex lives of JFK and Martin Luther King. Hoover presented some of his kompromat on JFK to Bobby Kennedy, in a concern-trollish way claiming to "warn" him that the president was opening himself up to blackmail. It was really a way for Hoover to let the despised Kennedy brothers know he could destroy them, should they try to Comey him out of his FBI office. Hoover's kompromat on MLK's sex life was a particular obsession of his-he now believed that African-Americans, not homosexuals, posed the greatest threat to become a Kremlin Fifth Column. The FBI wiretapped MLK's private life, collecting tapes of his affairs with other women, which a top FBI official then mailed to Martin Luther King's wife, along with a note urging King to commit suicide.

FBI letter anonymously mailed to Martin Luther King Jr's wife, along with kompromat sex tapes

After JFK was murdered, when Bobby Kennedy ran for the Senate in 1964, he recounted another disturbing FBI/kompromat story that President Johnson shared with him on the campaign trail. LBJ told Bobby about a stack of kompromat files - FBI reports "detailing the sexual debauchery of members of the Senate and House who consorted with prostitutes." LBJ asked RFK if the kompromat should be leaked selectively to destroy Republicans before the 1964 elections. Kennedy recalled,

"He told me he had spent all night sitting up and reading the files of the FBI on all these people. And Lyndon talks about that information and material so freely. Lyndon talks about everybody, you see, with everybody. And of course that's dangerous."

Kennedy had seen some of the same FBI kompromat files as attorney general, but he was totally opposed to releasing such unsubstantiated kompromat-such as, say, the Trump piss files-because doing so would "destroy the confidence that people in the United States had in their government and really make us a laughingstock around the world."

Imagine that.

Which brings me to the big analogy every hack threw around last week, calling Trump firing Comey "Nixonian." Actually, what Trump did was more like the very opposite of Nixon, who badly wanted to fire Hoover in 1971-2, but was too afraid of the kompromat Hoover might've had on him to make the move. Nixon fell out with his old friend and onetime mentor J Edgar Hoover in 1971, when the ailing old FBI chief refused to get sucked in to the Daniel Ellsberg/Pentagon Papers investigation, especially after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the New York Times. Part of the reason Nixon created his Plumbers team of black bag burglars was because Hoover had become a bit skittish in his last year on this planet-and that drove Nixon crazy.

Nixon called his chief of staff Haldeman:

Nixon: I talked to Hoover last night and Hoover is not going after this case [Ellsberg] as strong as I would like. There's something dragging him.

Haldeman: You don't have the feeling the FBI is really pursuing this?

Nixon: Yeah, particularly the conspiracy side. I want to go after everyone. I'm not so interested in Ellsberg, but we have to go after everybody who's a member of this conspiracy.

Hoover's ambitious deputies in the FBI were smelling blood, angling to replace him. His number 3, Bill Sullivan (who sent MLK the sex tapes and suicide note) was especially keen to get rid of Hoover and take his place. So as J Edgar was stonewalling the Daniel Ellsberg investigation, Sullivan showed up in a Department of Justice office with two suitcases packed full of transcripts and summaries of illegal wiretaps that Kissinger and Nixon had ordered on their own staff and on American journalists. The taps were ordered in Nixon's first months in the White House in 1969, to plug up the barrage of leaks, the likes of which no one had ever seen before. Sullivan took the leaks from J Edgar's possession and told the DOJ official that they needed to be hidden from Hoover, who planned to use them as kompromat to blackmail Nixon.

Nixon decided he was going to fire J Edgar the next day. This was in September, 1971. But the next day came, and Nixon got scared. So he tried to convince his attorney general John Mitchell to fire Hoover for him, but Mitchell said only the President could fire J Edgar Hoover. So Nixon met him for breakfast, and, well, he just didn't have the guts. Over breakfast, Hoover flattered Nixon and told him there was nothing more in the world he wanted than to see Nixon re-elected. Nixon caved; the next day, J Edgar Hoover unceremoniously fired his number 3 Bill Sullivan, locking him out of the building and out of his office so that he couldn't take anything with him. Sullivan was done.

The lesson here, I suppose, is that if an FBI director doesn't want to be fired, it's best to keep your kompromat a little closer to your chest, as a gun to hold to your boss's head. Comey's crew already released the piss tapes kompromat on Trump-the damage was done. What was left to hold back Trump from firing Comey? "Laws"? The FBI isn't even legal. "Norms" would be the real reason. Which pretty much sums up everything Trump has been doing so far. We've learned the past two decades that we're hardly a nation of laws, at least not when it comes to the plutocratic ruling class. What does bind them are "norms"-and while those norms may mean everything to the ruling class, it's an open question how much these norms mean to a lot of Americans outside that club.

Huey Long , May 16, 2017 at 2:33 am

Wow, and this whole time I thought the NSA had a kompromat monopoly as they have everybody's porn site search terms and viewing habits on file.

I had no idea the FBI practically invented it!

3.14e-9 , May 16, 2017 at 3:04 am

The Native tribes don't have a great history with the FBI, either.

https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/culture/thing-about-skins/comey-fbi-destructive-history-native-people/

voteforno6 , May 16, 2017 at 6:06 am

Has anyone ever used the FBI's lack of a charter as a defense in court?

Disturbed Voter , May 16, 2017 at 6:42 am

The USA doesn't have a legal basis either, it is a revolting crown colony of the British Empire. Treason and heresy all the way down. Maybe the British need to burn Washington DC again?

Synoia , May 16, 2017 at 9:46 pm

Britain burning DC, and the so call ed "war" of 1812, got no mention in my History Books. Napoleon on the other hand, featured greatly

In 1812 Napoleon was busy going to Russia. That went well.

Ignim Brites , May 16, 2017 at 7:55 am

Wondered how Comey thought he could get away with his conviction and pardon of Sec Clinton. Seems like part of the culture of FBI is a "above and beyond" the law mentality.

Watt4Bob , May 16, 2017 at 7:56 am

Back in the early 1970s a high school friend moved to Alabama because his father was transferred by his employer.

My friend sent a post card describing among other things the fact that Alabama had done away with the requirement of a math class to graduate high school, and substituted a required class called "The Evils of Communism" complete with a text-book written by J. Edgar Hoover; Masters of Deceit.

JMarco , May 16, 2017 at 2:52 pm

In Dallas,Texas my 1959 Civics class had to read the same book. We all were given paperback copies of it to take home and read. It was required reading enacted by Texas legislature.

Watt4Bob , May 16, 2017 at 4:47 pm

So I'd guess you weren't fooled by any of those commie plots of the sixties, like the campaigns for civil rights or against the Vietnamese war.

I can't really brag, I didn't stop worrying about the Red Menace until 1970 or so, that's when I started running into returning vets who mostly had no patience for that stuff.

Carolinian , May 16, 2017 at 8:35 am

We've learned the past two decades that we're hardly a nation of laws, at least not when it comes to the plutocratic ruling class. What does bind them are "norms"

Or as David Broder put it (re Bill Clinton): he came in and trashed the place and it wasn't his place.

It was David Broder's place. Of course the media play a key role with all that kompromat since they are the ones needed to convey it to the public. The tragedy is that even many of the sensible in their ranks such as Bill Moyers have been sucked into the kompromat due to their hysteria over Trump. Ames is surely on point in this great article. The mistake was allowing secret police agencies like the FBI and CIA to be created in the first place.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 8:37 am

Sorry, my initial reaction was that people who don't know the difference between "rein" and "reign" are not to be trusted to provide reliable information. Recognizing that as petty, I kept reading, and presently found the statement that Congress was not informed of the founding of the FBI until a century after the fact, which seems implausible. If in fact the author meant the end of 1908 it was quite an achievement to write 2008.

Interesting to the extent it may be true, but with few sources, no footnotes, and little evidence of critical editing who knows what that may be?

Carolinian , May 16, 2017 at 9:12 am

Do you even know who Mark Ames is?

Petty .yes.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:08 am

Who he is is irrelevant. I don't take things on faith because "the Pope said" or because Mark Ames said. People who expect their information to be taken seriously should substantiate it.

Bill Smith , May 16, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Yeah, in the first sentence

Interesting article though.

Fiery Hunt , May 16, 2017 at 9:21 am

Yeah, Kathatine, you're right .very petty.

And completely missed the point.

Or worse, you got the point and your best rejection of that point was pointing out a typo.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:13 am

I neither missed the point nor rejected it. I reserved judgment, as I thought was apparent from my comment.

sid_finster , May 16, 2017 at 10:50 am

But Trump is bad. Very Bad.

So anything the FBI does to get rid of him must by definition be ok! Besides, surely our civic-minded IC would never use their power on the Good Guys™!

Right?

JTMcPhee , May 16, 2017 at 9:21 am

Ah yes, the voice of "caution." And such attention to the lack of footnotes, in this day when the curious can so easily cut and paste a bit of salient text into a search engine and pull up a feast of parse-able writings and video, from which they can "judiciously assess" claims and statements. If they care to spend the time, which is in such short supply among those who are struggling to keep up with the horrors and revelations people of good will confront every blinking day

Classic impeachment indeed. All from the height of "academic rigor" and "caution." Especially the "apologetic" bit about "reign" vs "rein." Typos destroy credibility, don't they? And the coup de grass (sic), the unrebuttable "plausibility" claim.

One wonders at the nature of the author's curriculum vitae. One also marvels at the yawning gulf between the Very Serious Stuff I was taught in grade and high school civics and history, back in the late '50s and the '60s, about the Fundamental Nature Of Our Great Nation and its founding fathers and the Beautiful Documents they wrote, on the one hand, and what we mopes learn, through a drip-drip-drip process punctuated occasionally by Major Revelations, about the real nature of the Empire and our fellow creatures

PS: My earliest memory of television viewing was a day at a friend's house - his middle-class parents had the first "set" in the neighborhood, I think an RCA, in a massive sideboard cabinet where the picture tube pointed up and you viewed the "content" in a mirror mounted to the underside of the lid. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5onSwx7_Cn0 The family was watching a hearing of Joe McCarthy's kangaroo court, complete with announcements of the latest number in the "list of known Communists in the State Department" and how Commyanism was spreading like an unstoppable epidemic mortal disease through the Great US Body Politic and its Heroic Institutions of Democracy. I was maybe 6 years old, but that grainy black and white "reality TV" content had me asking "WTF?" at a very early age. And I'd say it's on the commentor to show that the "2008" claim is wrong, by something other than "implausible" as drive-by impeachment. Given the content of the original post, and what people paying attention to all this stuff have a pretty good idea is the general contours of a vast corruption and manipulation.

"Have you stopped beating your wife? Yes or no."

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:19 am

It is the author's job to substantiate information, not the reader's. If he thinks his work is so important, why does he not make a better job of it?

Edward , May 16, 2017 at 9:22 pm

I think the MLK blackmail scheme is well-established. Much of the article seems to be based on Tim Wiener's "Enemies: A History of the FBI".

nonsense factory , May 16, 2017 at 11:16 am

Interesting article on the history of the FBI, although the post-Hoover era doesn't get any treatment. The Church Committee hearings on the CIA and FBI, after the exposure of notably Operation CHAOS (early 60s to early 70s) by the CIA and COINTELPRO(late 1950s to early 1970s) by the FBI, didn't really get to the bottom of the issue although some reforms were initiated.

Today, it seems, the best description of the FBI's main activity is corporate enforcer for the white-collar mafia known as Wall Street. There is an analogy to organized crime, where the most powerful mobsters settled disputes between other gangs of criminals. Similarly, if a criminal gang is robbed by one of its own members, the mafia would go after the guilty party; the FBI plays this role for Wall Street institutions targeted by con artists and fraudsters. Compare and contrast a pharmaceutical company making opiates which is targeted by thieves vs. a black market drug cartel targeted by thieves. In one case, the FBI investigates; in the other, a violent vendetta ensues (such as street murders in Mexico).

The FBI executives are rewarded for this service with lucrative post-retirement careers within corporate America – Louis Freeh went to credit card fraudster, MBNA, Richard Mueller to a corporate Washington law firm, WilmerHale, and Comey, before Obama picked him as Director, worked for Lockheed Martin and HSBC (cleaning up after their $2 billion drug cartel marketing scandal) after leaving the FBI in 2005.

Maybe this is legitimate, but this only applies to their protection of the interests of large corporations – as the 2008 economic collapse and aftermath showed, they don't prosecute corporate executives who rip off poor people and middle-class homeowners. Banks who rob people, they aren't investigated or prosecuted; that's just for people who rob banks.

When it comes to political issues and national security, however, the FBI has such a terrible record on so many issues over the years that anything they claim has to be taken with a grain or two of salt. Consider domestic political activity: from the McCarthyite 'Red Scare' of the 1950s to COINTELPRO in the 1960s and 1970s to targeting of environmental groups in the 1980s and 1990s to targeting anti-war protesters under GW Bush to their obsession with domestic mass surveillance under Obama, it's not a record that should inspire any confidence.

Some say they have a key role to play in national security and terrorism – but their record on the 2001 anthrax attacks is incredibly shady and suspicious. The final suspect, Bruce Ivins, is clearly innocent of the crime, just as their previous suspect, Steven Hatfill was. Ivins, if still alive, could have won a similar multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against the FBI. All honest bioweapons experts know this to be true – the perpetrators of those anthrax letters are still at large, and may very well have had close associations with the Bush Administration itself.

As far as terrorist activities? Many of their low-level agents did seem concerned about the Saudis and bin Laden in the late 1990s and pre-9/11 – but Saudi investigations were considered politically problematic due to "geostrategic relationships with our Saudi allies" – hence people like John O'Neil and Coleen Rowley were sidelined and ignored, with disastrous consequences. The Saudi intelligence agency role in 9/11 was buried for over a decade, as well. Since 9/11, most of the FBI investigations seem to have involved recruiting mentally disabled young Islamic men in sting operations in which the FBI provides everything needed. You could probably get any number of mentally ill homeless people across the U.S., regardless of race or religion, to play this role.

Comey's actions over the past year are certainly highly questionable, as well. Neglecting to investigate the Clinton Foundation ties to Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments and corporations, particularly things like State Department approval of various arms deals in which bribes may have been paid, is as much a dereliction of duty as neglecting to investigate Trump ties to Russian business interests – but then, Trump has a record of shady business dealings dating back to the 1970s, of strange bankruptcies and bailouts and government sales that the FBI never looked at either.

Ultimately, this is because FBI executives are paid off not to investigate Wall Street criminality, nor shady U.S. government activity, with lucrative positions as corporate board members and so on after their 'retirements'. I don't doubt that many of their junior members mean well and are dedicated to their jobs – but the fish rots from the head down.

Andrew Watts , May 16, 2017 at 3:58 pm

As far as terrorist activities? Many of their low-level agents did seem concerned about the Saudis and bin Laden in the late 1990s and pre-9/11 – but Saudi investigations were considered politically problematic due to "geostrategic relationships with our Saudi allies" – hence people like John O'Neil and Coleen Rowley were sidelined and ignored, with disastrous consequences.

The Clinton Administration had other priorities. You know, I think I'll let ex-FBI Director Freeh explain what happened when the FBI tried to get the Saudis to cooperate with their investigation into the bombing of the Khobar Towers.

"That September, Crown Prince Abdullah and his entourage took over the entire 143-room Hay-Adams Hotel, just across from Lafayette Park from the White House, for six days. The visit, I figured, was pretty much our last chance. Again, we prepared talking points for the president. Again, I contacted Prince Bandar and asked him to soften up the crown prince for the moment when Clinton, -- or Al Gore I didn't care who -- would raise the matter and start to exert the necessary pressure."

"The story that came back to me, from "usually reliable sources," as they say in Washington, was that Bill Clinton briefly raised the subject only to tell the Crown Prince that he certainly understood the Saudis; reluctance to cooperate. Then, according to my sources, he hit Abdullah up for a contribution to the still-to-be-built Clinton presidential library. Gore, who was supposed to press hardest of all in his meeting with the crown Prince, barely mentioned the matter, I was told." -Louis J. Freeh, My FBI (2005)

In my defense I picked the book up to see if there was any dirt on the DNC's electoral funding scandal in 1996. I'm actually glad I did. The best part of the book is when Freeh recounts running into a veteran of the Lincoln Brigade and listens to how Hoover's FBI ruined his life despite having broken no laws. As if a little thing like laws mattered to Hoover. The commies were after our precious bodily fluids!

verifyfirst , May 16, 2017 at 12:53 pm

I'm not sure there are many functioning norms left within the national political leadership. Seemed to me Gingrich started blowing those up and it just got worse from there. McConnell not allowing Garland to be considered comes to mind

lyman alpha blob , May 16, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Great article – thanks for this. I had no idea the FBI never had a legal charter – very enlightening.

JMarco , May 16, 2017 at 2:59 pm

Thanks to Mark Ames now we know what Pres. Trump meant when he tweeted about his tapes with AG Comey. Not some taped conversation between Pres. Trump & AG Comey but bunch of kompromat tapes that AG Comey has provided Pres. Trump that might not make departing AG Comey looked so clean.

[Feb 26, 2019] Neoliberalism by Julie Wilson

Highly recommended!
The book adhere to "classic" line of critique of neoliberalism as a new "secular religion" ( the author thinking is along the lines of Gramsci idea of "cultural hegemony"; Gramsci did not use the term 'secular religion" at all, but this close enough concept) that deified the market. It stress the role of the state in enforcing the neoliberalism.
Oct 09, 2017 | www.amazon.com

skeptic on October 8, 2017

A solid book on neoliberal ideology and neoliberal rationality. Highly recommended

The book adhere to "classic" line of critique of neoliberalism as a new "secular religion" ( the author thinking is along the lines of Gramsci idea of "cultural hegemony"; Gramsci did not use the term 'secular religion" at all, but this is close enough concept) that deified the market. It stresses the role of the state in enforcing the neoliberal ideology much like was the case with Bolsheviks in the USSR:

Gramsci's question is still pressing: How and why do ordinary working folks come to accept a system where wealth is produced by their collective labors and energies but appropriated individually by only a few at the top? The theory of hegemony suggests that the answer to this question is not simply a matter of direct exploitation and control by the capitalist class. Rather, hegemony posits that power is maintained through ongoing, ever-shifting cultural processes of winning the consent of the governed, that is, ordinary people like you and me.

According to Gramsci, there was not one ruling class, but rather a historical bloc, "a moving equilibrium" of class interests and values. Hegemony names a cultural struggle for moral, social, economic, and political leadership; in this struggle, a field -- or assemblage -- of practices, discourses, values, and beliefs come to be dominant. While this field is powerful and firmly entrenched, it is also open to contestation. In other words, hegemonic power is always on the move; it has to keep winning our consent to survive, and sometimes it fails to do so.
Through the lens of hegemony, we can think about the rise of neoliberalism as an ongoing political project -- and class struggle -- to shift society's political equilibrium and create a new dominant field. Specifically, we are going to trace the shift from liberal to neoliberal hegemony. This shift is represented in the two images below.

Previous versions of liberal hegemony imagined society to be divided into distinct public and private spheres. The public sphere was the purview of the state, and its role was to ensure the formal rights and freedoms of citizens through the rule of law. The private sphere included the economy and the domestic sphere of home and family.

For the most part, liberal hegemony was animated by a commitment to limited government, as the goal was to allow for as much freedom in trade, associations, and civil society as possible, while preserving social order and individual rights. Politics took shape largely around the line between public and private; more precisely, it was a struggle over where and how to draw the line. In other words, within the field of liberal hegemony, politics was a question of how to define the uses and limits of the state and its public function in a capitalist society. Of course, political parties often disagreed passionately about where and how to draw that line. As we'll see below, many advocated for laissez-faire capitalism, while others argued for a greater public role in ensuring the health, happiness, and rights of citizens. What's crucial though is that everyone agreed that there was a line to be drawn, and that there was a public function for the state.

As Figure 1.1 shows, neoliberal hegemony works to erase this line between public and private and to create an entire society -- in fact, an entire world -- based on private, market competition. In this way, neoliberalism represents a radical reinvention of liberalism and thus of the horizons of hegemonic struggle. Crucially, within neoliberalism, the state's function does not go away; rather, it is deconstructed and reconstructed toward the new' end of expanding private markets.

This view correlates well with the analysis of Professor Wendy Brown book "Undoing the Demos" and her paper "Neoliberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy" (pdf is freely available)

In this sense neoliberalism are just "Trotskyism for the rich" with the same utopian dream of global neoliberal revolution, but much more sinister motives. And is as ruthless in achieving its goals, if necessary bring neoliberal "regime change" on the tips of bayonets, or via 'cultural revolutions".

If we follow the line of thinking put forward by Professor Philip Mirowski's in his book "Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown," we can say that neoliberals essentially "reverse-engineered" Bolsheviks methods of acquiring and maintaining political power, replacing "dictatorship of proletariat" with the "dictatorship of financial oligarchy".

I would say more: The "professional revolutionary" cadre that were the core of Bolshevik's Party were replaced with well paid, talented intellectual prostitutes at specially created neoliberal think tanks. And later "infiltrated" in economic departments (kind of stealth coup d'état in academia financed by usual financial players).

Which eventually created a critical mass of ideas which were able to depose New Deal Capitalism ideology, putting forward the set of remedies that restore the power the financial oligarchy enjoyed in 1920th. Technological changes such as invention of computers and telecommunication revolution also helped greatly.

At the same time unlike Bolsheviks, neoliberals are carefully hiding their agenda. Funny, neoliberalism is the only known to me major ideology which the US MSM are prohibited to mention by name ;-)

The role of state under neoliberalism is very close to the role of state under Bolsheviks' "dictatorship of proletariats". It no way this still a liberal democracy -- this is what Sheldon Wolin called "inverted totalitarism". Less brutal then Bolsheviks' regime, but still far from real democracy. Under neoliberalism the state is a powerful agent needed to enforce markets on unsuspecting population in all spheres of life, whether they want it or not (supported by 12" guns of neoliberal MSM battleships):

As Figure 1.1 shows, neoliberal hegemony works to erase this line between public and private and to create an entire society -- in fact, an entire world -- based on private, market competition. In this way, neoliberalism represents a radical reinvention of liberalism and thus of the horizons of hegemonic struggle. Crucially, within neoliberalism, the state's function does not go away; rather, it is deconstructed and reconstructed toward the new' end of expanding private markets. Consequently, contemporary politics take shape around questions of how best to promote competition. For the most part, politics on both the left and right have been subsumed by neoliberal hegemony. For example, while neoliberalism made its debut in Western politics with the right-wing administrations of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, leaders associated with the left have worked to further neoliberal hegemony in stunning ways. As we will explore in more depth below and in die coming chapters, both U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have governed to create a privatized, market society. In other words, there is both a left and a right hegemonic horizon of neoliberalism. Thus, moving beyond neoliberalism will ultimately require a whole new field of politics.

One of the most interesting part of the book is the brief analysis of the recent elections (with very precise characterization of Hillary Clinton defeat as the defeat of the "neoliberal status quo"). The author claims that Trump supporters were mainly representatives of the strata of the US society which were sick-and-tied of neoliberalism (note the percentage of Spanish speaking electorate who voted for Trump), but they were taken for a ride, as instead of rejection of globalism and free movement of labor, Trump actually represented more right wing, more bastardized version of "hard neoliberalism".

In the period which followed the elections Trump_vs_deep_state emerged as a kind of "neoliberalism in one country" -- much like Stalin's "socialism in one country". It and did not care one bit about those who voted for him during election . As in classic "The Moor has done his duty, the Moor can go."

So in a way Trump represents the mirror image of Obama who in the same way betrayed his votes (twice) acting from "soft neoliberalism" position, while Trump is acting from "hard neoliberalism" position.

On the other hand, we saw' the rise of the Tea Party, a right-wing response to the crisis. While the Tea Party was critical of status-quo neoliberalism -- especially its cosmopolitanism and embrace of globalization and diversity, which was perfectly embodied by Obama's election and presidency -- it was not exactly anti-neoliberal. Rather, it was anti-left neoliberalism-, it represented a more authoritarian, right [wing] version of neoliberalism.

Within the context of the 2016 election, Clinton embodied the neoliberal center that could no longer hold. Inequality. Suffering. Collapsing infrastructures. Perpetual war. Anger. Disaffected consent. There were just too many fissures and fault lines in the glossy, cosmopolitan world of left neoliberalism and marketized equality. Indeed, while Clinton ran on status-quo stories of good governance and neoliberal feminism, confident that demographics and diversity would be enough to win the election, Trump effectively tapped into the unfolding conjunctural crisis by exacerbating the cracks in the system of marketized equality, channeling political anger into his celebrity brand that had been built on saying "f*** you" to the culture of left neoliberalism (corporate diversity, political correctness, etc.) In fact, much like Clinton's challenger in the Democratic primary, Benie Sanders, Trump was a crisis candidate.
... ... ...

In other words, Trump supporters may not have explicitly voted for neoliberalism, but that's what they got. In fact, as Rottenberg argues, they got a version of right neoliberalism "on steroids" -- a mix of blatant plutocracy and authoritarianism that has many concerned about the rise of U.S. fascism.

We can't know what would have happened had Sanders run against Trump, but we can think seriously about Trump, right and left neoliberalism, and the crisis of neoliberal hegemony. In other words, we can think about where and how we go from here. As I suggested in the previous chapter, if we want to construct a new world, we are going to have to abandon the entangled politics of both right and left neoliberalism; we have to reject the hegemonic frontiers of both disposability and marketized equality. After all, as political philosopher Nancy Fraser argues, what was rejected in the election of 2016 was progressive, left neoliberalism.

While the rise of hyper-right neoliberalism is certainly nothing to celebrate, it does present an opportunity for breaking with neoliberal hegemony. We have to proceed, as Gary Younge reminds us, with the realization that people "have not rejected the chance of a better world. They have not yet been offered one."'

[Jan 07, 2018] Seymour Hirsh has been forced to get his stories published in Europe because the US and UK media have conspired to ban his exposes of their fake news

This article is one year old but still looks like it was written yesterday...
Notable quotes:
"... Some American military and intelligence officials were especially distressed by the president's determination to ignore the evidence. ..."
"... "None of this makes any sense," one officer told colleagues upon learning of the decision to bomb. "We KNOW that there was no chemical attack ... the Russians are furious. Claiming we have the real Intel and know the truth ... I guess it didn't matter whether we elected Clinton or Trump." ..."
"... Hersh's investigations have not only undermined evidence-free claims being promoted in the west to destabilise Assad's goverment but threatened a wider US policy seeking to "remake the Middle East". His work has challenged a political and corporate media consensus that portrays Russia's Vladimir Putin, Assad's main ally against the extremist Islamic forces fighting in Syria, as another dangerous monster the West needs to bring into line. ..."
"... For all these reasons, Hersh has found himself increasingly friendless. The New Yorker refused to publish his Syria investigations. Instead, he had to cross the Atlantic to find a home at the prestigious but far less prominent London Review of Books. ..."
Jun 27, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

RGC, June 27, 2017 at 07:27 AM

On April 6, United States President Donald Trump authorized an early morning Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat Air Base in central Syria in retaliation for what he said was a deadly nerve agent attack carried out by the Syrian government two days earlier in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun.

Trump issued the order despite having been warned by the U.S. intelligence community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon.

The available intelligence made clear that the Syrians had targeted a jihadist meeting site on April 4 using a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives.

Details of the attack, including information on its so-called high-value targets, had been provided by the Russians days in advance to American and allied military officials in Doha, whose mission is to coordinate all U.S., allied, Syrian and Russian Air Force operations in the region.

Some American military and intelligence officials were especially distressed by the president's determination to ignore the evidence.

"None of this makes any sense," one officer told colleagues upon learning of the decision to bomb. "We KNOW that there was no chemical attack ... the Russians are furious. Claiming we have the real Intel and know the truth ... I guess it didn't matter whether we elected Clinton or Trump."

Within hours of the April 4 bombing, the world's media was saturated with photographs and videos from Khan Sheikhoun. Pictures of dead and dying victims, allegedly suffering from the symptoms of nerve gas poisoning, were uploaded to social media by local activists, including the White Helmets, a first responder group known for its close association with the Syrian opposition.
........................
https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article165905578/Trump-s-Red-Line.html

RGC -> RGC... , June 27, 2017 at 07:33 AM
June 27, 2017

Hersh's New Syria Revelations Buried From View

by Jonathan Cook

.................

Hersh's investigations have not only undermined evidence-free claims being promoted in the west to destabilise Assad's goverment but threatened a wider US policy seeking to "remake the Middle East". His work has challenged a political and corporate media consensus that portrays Russia's Vladimir Putin, Assad's main ally against the extremist Islamic forces fighting in Syria, as another dangerous monster the West needs to bring into line.

For all these reasons, Hersh has found himself increasingly friendless. The New Yorker refused to publish his Syria investigations. Instead, he had to cross the Atlantic to find a home at the prestigious but far less prominent London Review of Books.
................
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/06/27/hershs-new-syria-revelations-buried-from-view/

RGC -> RGC... , June 27, 2017 at 07:37 AM
White House Says It Will Fake "Chemical Weapon Attack" In Syria

The White House claims that the Syrian government is preparing "chemical weapon attacks". This is clearly not the case. Syria is winning the war against the country. Any such attack would clearly be to its disadvantage.

The White House announcement must thereby be understood as preparation for another U.S. attack on Syria in "retaliation" for an upcoming staged "chemical weapon attack" which will be blamed on the Syrian government.
.................
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/06/white-house-says-it-will-fake-chemical-weapon-attacks-in-syria.html#more

JohnH -> RGC... , June 27, 2017 at 07:38 AM
When the going gets tough, the US fakes a chemical weapons attack...
JohnH -> RGC... , June 27, 2017 at 07:37 AM
Seymour Hirsh has been forced to get his stories published in Europe because the US and UK media have conspired to ban his exposes of their fake news.

Hirsh has been a thorn in the side of the national security state ever since his expose of the My Lai massacre in 1969...and they're doing their best to shut him up.

[Jan 07, 2018] Neoliberal MSM want to control the narrative

"Controlling the narrative" is politically correct term for censorship.
Notable quotes:
"... I suspect most of the people who write all that furious invective on the Internet, professional polemicists and semiliterate commenters alike, are lashing out because they've been hurt -- their sense of fairness or decency has been outraged, or they feel personally wounded or threatened. ..."
"... "controlling the narrative" by neoliberal MSM is the key of facilitating the neoliberal "groupthink". Much like was in the USSR with "communist" groupthink. This is a step in the direction of the theocratic society (which the USSR definitely was). ..."
"... In other words "controlling the narrative" is the major form of neoliberal MSM "war on reality" as the neoliberal ideology is now completely discredited and can be sustained only by cult-style methods. ..."
Jan 30, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova -> Fred C. Dobbs... January 29, 2017 at 08:31 AM , 2017 at 08:31 AM
Neoliberal MSM want to control the narrative.

That's why "alternative facts" should be called an "alternative narrative".

https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/06/09/controlling-the-narrative/?_r=0

== quote ==

Maybe this is the same kind of clinical detachment doctors have to cultivate, a way of distancing oneself from the subject, protecting yourself against a crippling empathy. I won't say that writers or artists are more sensitive than other people, but it may be that they're less able to handle their own emotions.

It may be that art, like drugs, is a way of dulling or controlling pain. Eloquently articulating a feeling is one way to avoid actually experiencing it.

Words are only symbols, noises or marks on paper, and turning the messy, ugly stuff of life into language renders it inert and manageable for the author, even as it intensifies it for the reader.

It's a nerdy, sensitive kid's way of turning suffering into something safely abstract, an object of contemplation.

I suspect most of the people who write all that furious invective on the Internet, professional polemicists and semiliterate commenters alike, are lashing out because they've been hurt -- their sense of fairness or decency has been outraged, or they feel personally wounded or threatened.

libezkova -> libezkova... , January 29, 2017 at 09:24 AM
"controlling the narrative" by neoliberal MSM is the key of facilitating the neoliberal "groupthink". Much like was in the USSR with "communist" groupthink. This is a step in the direction of the theocratic society (which the USSR definitely was).

In other words "controlling the narrative" is the major form of neoliberal MSM "war on reality" as the neoliberal ideology is now completely discredited and can be sustained only by cult-style methods.

They want to invoke your emotions in the necessary direction and those emotions serve as a powerful filter, a firewall which will prevents you from seeing any alternative facts which taken as whole form an "alternative narrative".

It also creates certain taboo, such as "don't publish anything from RT", or you automatically become "Putin's stooge." But some incoherent blabbing of a crazy neocon in Boston Globe is OK.

This is an old and a very dirty game, a variation of method used for centuries by high demand cults:

"Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece.

Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood.

But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

– Hermann Goering (as told to Gustav Gilbert during the Nuremberg trials)

You need to be able to decipher this "suggested" set of emotions and detach it from the set of facts provided by neoliberal MSM. It might help to view things "Sine ira et studio" ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sine_ira_et_studio )

That helps to destroy the official neoliberal narrative.

Here skepticism (whether natural or acquired) can be of great help in fighting groupthink pushed by neoliberal MSM.

We are all guilty of this one sidedness, but I think that we need to put some efforts to move in direction of higher level of skepticism toward our own views and probably provide at least links to alternative views.

[Dec 31, 2017] Is [neo]Liberalism a Dying Faith by Pat Buchanan

Highly recommended!
Nationalism really represent a growing threat to neoliberalism. It is clear the the rise of nationalism was caused by the triumph of neoliberalism all over the globe. As neoliberal ideology collapsed in 2008, thing became really interesting now. Looks like 1920th-1940th will be replayed on a new level with the USA neoliberal empire under stress from new challengers instead of British empire.
Rumor about the death of neoliberalism are slightly exaggerated ;-). This social system still has a lot of staying power. you need some external shock like the need of cheap oil (defined as sustainable price of oil over $100 per barrel) to shake it again. Of some financial crisis similar to the crisis of 2008. Currently there is still no alternative social order that can replace it. Collapse of the USSR discredited both socialism even of different flavors then was practiced in the USSR. National socialism would be a step back from neoliberalism.
Notable quotes:
"... The retreat of [neo]liberalism is very visible in Asia. All Southeast Asian states have turned their backs on liberal democracy, especially Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar in the last decade. This NYT article notes that liberalism has essentially died in Japan, and that all political contests are now between what the west would consider conservatives: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/15/opinion/liberalism-japan-election.html ..."
"... What is today called "Liberalism" and "Conservatism" both are simply corrupted labels applied to the same top-down corporate-fascistic elite rule that I think Mr. Buchanan once referred to as "two wings of the same bird of prey." ..."
"... Nobody at the top cares about 'diversity.' They care about the easy profits that come from ever cheaper labor. 'Diversity' is not suicide but rather murder: instigated by a small number of very powerful people who have decided that the long-term health of their nations and civilization is less important than short-term profits and power. ..."
"... Hillary and Obama are to the right of the President that Buchanan served in his White House. Richard Nixon was to the Left of both Hillary and Obama. I can't even imagine Hillary accepting and signing into law a 'Clean Water Act' or enacting Price Controls to fight inflation. No way. Heck would freeze over before Hillary would do something so against her Banker Backers. ..."
"... It's sure that financial (neo)liberalism was in a growth phase prior to year 2000 (under Greenspan, the "Maestro") with a general belief that the economy could be "fine tuned" with risk eliminated using sophisticated financial instruments, monetary policy etc. ..."
"... If [neo] Liberalism is a package, then two heavy financial blows that shook the whole foundation were the collapse of the dot.com bubble (2000) and the mortgage bubble (2008). ..."
"... And, other (self-serving) neoliberal stories are now seen as false. For example, that the US is an "advanced post-industrial service economy", that out-sourcing would "free up Americans for higher skilled/higher wage employment" or that "the US would always gain from tariff free trade". ..."
"... The basic divide is surely Nationalism (America First) vs. Globalism (Neo-Liberalism), as shown by the last US Presidential election. ..."
"... Neoliberalism, of which the Clintons are acolytes, supports Free Trade and Open Borders. Although it claims to support World Government, in actual fact it supports corporatism. This is explicit in the TPPA Trump vetoed. Under the corporate state, the state controls the corporations, as Don Benito did in Italy. Under corporatism, the corporations tell the state what to do, as has been the case in America since at least the Clinton Presidency. ..."
"... But I recall that Pat B also said neoconservatism was on its way out a few years after Iraq war II and yet it's stronger than ever and its adherents are firmly ensconced in the joint chiefs of staff, the pentagon, Congress and the White House. It's also spawned a close cousin in liberal interventionism. ..."
Oct 01, 2002 | www.unz.com

Asked to name the defining attributes of the America we wish to become, many liberals would answer that we must realize our manifest destiny since 1776, by becoming more equal, more diverse and more democratic -- and the model for mankind's future.

Equality, diversity, democracy -- this is the holy trinity of the post-Christian secular state at whose altars Liberal Man worships.

But the congregation worshiping these gods is shrinking. And even Europe seems to be rejecting what America has on offer.

In a retreat from diversity, Catalonia just voted to separate from Spain. The Basque and Galician peoples of Spain are following the Catalan secession crisis with great interest.

The right-wing People's Party and far-right Freedom Party just swept 60 percent of Austria's vote, delivering the nation to 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz, whose anti-immigrant platform was plagiarized from the Freedom Party. Summarized it is: Austria for the Austrians!

Lombardy, whose capital is Milan, and Veneto will vote Sunday for greater autonomy from Rome.

South Tyrol (Alto Adige), severed from Austria and ceded to Italy at Versailles, written off by Hitler to appease Mussolini after his Anschluss, is astir anew with secessionism. Even the Sicilians are talking of separation.

By Sunday, the Czech Republic may have a new leader, billionaire Andrej Babis. Writes The Washington Post, Babis "makes a sport of attacking the European Union and says NATO's mission is outdated."

Platform Promise: Keep the Muslim masses out of the motherland.

To ethnonationalists, their countrymen are not equal to all others, but superior in rights. Many may nod at Thomas Jefferson's line that "All men are created equal," but they no more practice that in their own nations than did Jefferson in his

... ... ...

European peoples and parties are today using democratic means to achieve "illiberal" ends. And it is hard to see what halts the drift away from liberal democracy toward the restrictive right. For in virtually every nation, there is a major party in opposition, or a party in power, that holds deeply nationalist views.

European elites may denounce these new parties as "illiberal" or fascist, but it is becoming apparent that it may be liberalism itself that belongs to yesterday. For more and more Europeans see the invasion of the continent along the routes whence the invaders came centuries ago, not as a manageable problem but an existential crisis.

To many Europeans, it portends an irreversible alteration in the character of the countries their grandchildren will inherit, and possibly an end to their civilization. And they are not going to be deterred from voting their fears by being called names that long ago lost their toxicity from overuse.

And as Europeans decline to celebrate the racial, ethnic, creedal and cultural diversity extolled by American elites, they also seem to reject the idea that foreigners should be treated equally in nations created for their own kind.

Europeans seem to admire more, and model their nations more, along the lines of the less diverse America of the Eisenhower era, than on the polyglot America of 2017.

And Europe seems to be moving toward immigration polices more like the McCarran-Walter Act of 1950 than the open borders bill that Sen. Edward Kennedy shepherded through the Senate in 1965.

Kennedy promised that the racial and ethnic composition of the America of the 1960s would not be overturned, and he questioned the morality and motives of any who implied that it would.

Jason Liu , October 20, 2017 at 12:02 pm GMT
Yes. Fuck yes.

Liberalism is the naivete of 18th century elites, no different than today. Modernity as you know it is unsustainable, mostly because equality isn't real, identity has value for most humans, pluralism is by definition fractious, and deep down most people wish to follow a wise strongman leader who represents their interests first and not a vague set of universalist values.

Blind devotion to liberal democracy is another one of those times when white people take an abstract concept to weird extremes. It is short-sighted and autistically narrow minded. Just because you have an oppressive king doesn't mean everyone should be equals. Just because there was slavery/genocide doesn't mean diversity is good.

The retreat of [neo]liberalism is very visible in Asia. All Southeast Asian states have turned their backs on liberal democracy, especially Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar in the last decade. This NYT article notes that liberalism has essentially died in Japan, and that all political contests are now between what the west would consider conservatives: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/15/opinion/liberalism-japan-election.html

Good riddance. The idea that egalitarianism is more advanced than hierarchy has always been false, and flies against the long arc of history. Time for nationalists around the world to smash liberal democracy and build a new modernity based on actual humanism, with respect to hierarchies and the primacy of majorities instead of guilt and pathological compassion dressed up as political ideology.

TG , October 20, 2017 at 1:10 pm GMT
"Liberalism" is not dying. "Liberalism" is dead, and has been since at least 1970.

What is today called "Liberalism" and "Conservatism" both are simply corrupted labels applied to the same top-down corporate-fascistic elite rule that I think Mr. Buchanan once referred to as "two wings of the same bird of prey."

Nobody at the top cares about 'diversity.' They care about the easy profits that come from ever cheaper labor. 'Diversity' is not suicide but rather murder: instigated by a small number of very powerful people who have decided that the long-term health of their nations and civilization is less important than short-term profits and power.

Paul's Ghost , October 20, 2017 at 6:08 pm GMT
Its been dead for nearly 20 years now. Liberalism has long been the Monty Python parrot nailed to its perch. At this point, the term is mainly kept alive in right-wing attacks by people who lack the imagination to change their habitual targets for so long.

To my eye, the last 'liberal' politician died in a susupicious plane crash in 2000 as the Bush Republicans were taking the White House by their famous 5-4 vote/coup and also needed to claim control of the Senate. So, the last authentic 'liberal' Senator, Paul Wellstone of MN was killed in a suspicious plane crash that was never properly explained.

Hillary and Obama are to the right of the President that Buchanan served in his White House. Richard Nixon was to the Left of both Hillary and Obama. I can't even imagine Hillary accepting and signing into law a 'Clean Water Act' or enacting Price Controls to fight inflation. No way. Heck would freeze over before Hillary would do something so against her Banker Backers.

And, at the root, that is the key. The 'Liberals' that the right now rails against are strongly backed and supported by the Wall Street Banks and other corporate leaders. The 'Liberals' have pushed for a government Of the Bankers, By the Bankers and For the Bankers. The 'Liberals' now are in favor of Endless Unconstitutional War around the world.

Which can only mean that the term 'Liberal' has been so completely morphed away from its original meanings to be completely worthless.

The last true Liberal in American politics was Paul Wellstone. And even by the time he died for his sins, he was calling himself a "progressive" because after the Clintons and the Gores had so distorted the term Liberal it was meaningless. Or it had come to mean a society ruled by bankers, a society at constant war and throwing money constantly at a gigantic war machine, a society of censorship where the government needed to control all music lyrics, the same corrupt government where money could by anything from a night in the Lincoln Bedroom to a Presidential Pardon or any other government favor.

Thus, 'Liberals' were a dead movement even by 2000, when the people who actually believed in the American People over the profits of bankers were calling themselves Progressives in disgust at the misuse of the term Liberal. And now, Obama and Hillary have trashed and distorted even the term Progressive into bombing the world 365 days a year and still constantly throwing money at the military machine and the problems it invents.

So, Liberalism is so long dead that if you exumed the grave you'd only find dust. And Pat must be getting senile and just throwing back out the same lines he once wrote as a speechwriter for the last Great Lefty President Richard Nixon.

Miro23 , October 20, 2017 at 6:17 pm GMT

Is Liberalism a Dying Faith?

Another question is whether this is wishful thinking from Pat or some kind of reality.

I think that he's right, that Liberalism is a dying faith, and it's interesting to check the decline.

It's sure that financial (neo)liberalism was in a growth phase prior to year 2000 (under Greenspan, the "Maestro") with a general belief that the economy could be "fine tuned" with risk eliminated using sophisticated financial instruments, monetary policy etc.

If [neo] Liberalism is a package, then two heavy financial blows that shook the whole foundation were the collapse of the dot.com bubble (2000) and the mortgage bubble (2008).

And, other (self-serving) neoliberal stories are now seen as false. For example, that the US is an "advanced post-industrial service economy", that out-sourcing would "free up Americans for higher skilled/higher wage employment" or that "the US would always gain from tariff free trade".

In fact, the borderless global "world is flat" dogma is now seen as enabling a rootless hyper-rich global elite to draw on a sea of globalized serf labour with little or no identity, while their media and SWJ activists operate a scorched earth defense against any sign of opposition.

The basic divide is surely Nationalism (America First) vs. Globalism (Neo-Liberalism), as shown by the last US Presidential election.

reiner Tor , October 20, 2017 at 6:39 pm GMT
@Randal

A useful analogy might be Viktor Orbán. He started out as a leader of a liberal party, Fidesz, but then over time started moving to the right. It is often speculated that he started it for cynical reasons, like seeing how the right was divided and that there was essentially a vacuum there for a strong conservative party, but there's little doubt he totally internalized it. There's also little doubt (and at the time he and a lot of his fellow party leaders talked about it a lot) that as he (they) started a family and having children, they started to realize how conservatism kinda made more sense than liberalism.

With Kurz, there's the possibility for this path. However, he'd need to start a family soon for that to happen. At that age Orbán was already married with children

Verymuchalive , October 20, 2017 at 10:10 pm GMT
@Paul's Ghost

Liberalism ( large L) is indeed long dead.

Neoliberalism, of which the Clintons are acolytes, supports Free Trade and Open Borders. Although it claims to support World Government, in actual fact it supports corporatism. This is explicit in the TPPA Trump vetoed. Under the corporate state, the state controls the corporations, as Don Benito did in Italy. Under corporatism, the corporations tell the state what to do, as has been the case in America since at least the Clinton Presidency.

Richard Nixon was a capitalist, not a corporatist. He was a supporter of proper competition laws, unlike any President since Clinton. Socially, he was interventionist, though this may have been to lessen criticism of his Vietnam policies. Anyway, his bussing and desegregation policies were a long-term failure.

Price Control was quickly dropped, as it was in other Western countries. Long term Price Control, as in present day Venezuela, is economically disastrous.

KenH , October 21, 2017 at 1:51 pm GMT
Let's hope liberalism is a dying faith and that is passes from the Western world. If not it will destroy the West, so if it doesn't die a natural death then we must euthanize it. For the evidence is in and it has begat feminism, anti-white racism, demographic winter, mass third world immigration and everything else that ails the West and has made it the sick and dying man of the world.

But I recall that Pat B also said neoconservatism was on its way out a few years after Iraq war II and yet it's stronger than ever and its adherents are firmly ensconced in the joint chiefs of staff, the pentagon, Congress and the White House. It's also spawned a close cousin in liberal interventionism.

What Pat refers to as "liberalism" is now left wing totalitarianism and anti-white hatred and it's fanatically trying to remain relevant by lashing out and blacklisting, deplatforming, demonetizing, and physically assaulting all of its enemies on the right who are gaining strength much to their chagrin. They resort to these methods because they can't win an honest debate and in a true free marketplace of ideas they lose.

[Dec 31, 2017] Truth-Killing as a Meta-Issue

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... What we know, first and foremost, is that it hardly matters what Trump says because what he says is as likely as not to have no relationship to the truth, no relationship to what he said last year during the campaign or even what he said last week. ..."
May 05, 2017 | nationalinterest.org
One of the best summary observations in this regard is from Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein , who writes on business and financial matters but whose conclusions could apply as well to Trump's handling of a wide range of foreign and domestic matters: " What we know, first and foremost, is that it hardly matters what Trump says because what he says is as likely as not to have no relationship to the truth, no relationship to what he said last year during the campaign or even what he said last week. What he says bears no relationship to any consistent political or policy ideology or world-view. What he says is also likely to bear no relationship to what his top advisers or appointees have said or believe, making them unreliable interlocutors even if they agreed among themselves, which they don't. This lack of clear policy is compounded by the fact that the president, despite his boasts to the contrary, knows very little about the topics at hand and isn't particularly interested in learning. In other words, he's still making it up as he goes along."

Many elements of dismay can follow from the fact of having this kind of president. We are apt to get a better idea of which specific things are most worthy of dismay as the rest of this presidency unfolds. I suggest, however, that a prime, overarching reason to worry is Trump's utter disregard for the truth. Not just a disregard, actually, but a determination to crush the truth and to instill falsehood in the minds of as many people as possible. The Post 's fact checker, Glenn Kessler , summarizes the situation by noting that "the pace and volume of the president's misstatements" are so great that he and other fact checkers "cannot possibly keep up."

Kessler also observes how Trump's handling of falsehoods is qualitatively as well as quantitatively different from the garden variety of lying in which many politicians indulge: "Many will drop a false claim after it has been deemed false. But Trump just repeats the claim over and over." It is a technique reminiscent of the Big Lie that totalitarian regimes have used, in which the repetition and brazenness of a lie help lead to its acceptance.

The problem is fundamental, and relates to a broad spectrum of policy issues both foreign and domestic, because truth-factual reality -- is a necessary foundation to consider and evaluate and debate policy on any subject. Crushing the truth means not just our having to endure any one misdirected policy; it means losing the ability even to address policy intelligently. To the extent that falsehood is successfully instilled in the minds of enough people, the political system loses what would otherwise be its ability to provide a check on policy that is bad policy because it is inconsistent with factual reality.

[Dec 31, 2017] Truth-Killing as a Meta-Issue

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... What we know, first and foremost, is that it hardly matters what Trump says because what he says is as likely as not to have no relationship to the truth, no relationship to what he said last year during the campaign or even what he said last week. ..."
May 05, 2017 | nationalinterest.org
One of the best summary observations in this regard is from Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein , who writes on business and financial matters but whose conclusions could apply as well to Trump's handling of a wide range of foreign and domestic matters: " What we know, first and foremost, is that it hardly matters what Trump says because what he says is as likely as not to have no relationship to the truth, no relationship to what he said last year during the campaign or even what he said last week. What he says bears no relationship to any consistent political or policy ideology or world-view. What he says is also likely to bear no relationship to what his top advisers or appointees have said or believe, making them unreliable interlocutors even if they agreed among themselves, which they don't. This lack of clear policy is compounded by the fact that the president, despite his boasts to the contrary, knows very little about the topics at hand and isn't particularly interested in learning. In other words, he's still making it up as he goes along."

Many elements of dismay can follow from the fact of having this kind of president. We are apt to get a better idea of which specific things are most worthy of dismay as the rest of this presidency unfolds. I suggest, however, that a prime, overarching reason to worry is Trump's utter disregard for the truth. Not just a disregard, actually, but a determination to crush the truth and to instill falsehood in the minds of as many people as possible. The Post 's fact checker, Glenn Kessler , summarizes the situation by noting that "the pace and volume of the president's misstatements" are so great that he and other fact checkers "cannot possibly keep up."

Kessler also observes how Trump's handling of falsehoods is qualitatively as well as quantitatively different from the garden variety of lying in which many politicians indulge: "Many will drop a false claim after it has been deemed false. But Trump just repeats the claim over and over." It is a technique reminiscent of the Big Lie that totalitarian regimes have used, in which the repetition and brazenness of a lie help lead to its acceptance.

The problem is fundamental, and relates to a broad spectrum of policy issues both foreign and domestic, because truth-factual reality -- is a necessary foundation to consider and evaluate and debate policy on any subject. Crushing the truth means not just our having to endure any one misdirected policy; it means losing the ability even to address policy intelligently. To the extent that falsehood is successfully instilled in the minds of enough people, the political system loses what would otherwise be its ability to provide a check on policy that is bad policy because it is inconsistent with factual reality.

[Dec 30, 2017] The Gas Fight Between Ukraine and Russia is Finally Settled - Who Really Won

The key here is whether Russia will stop transit of gas via Ukraine or not.
Notable quotes:
"... A more far-reaching result from the Stockholm proceedings was the intention to void the traditional (Gazprom) formula for gas prices which is based on a linkage to the price of oil. Instead, the price of gas will be tied directly to the spot gas market such as the European hub. ..."
"... In traditional Gazprom contracts, the price of gas depends on the price of oil, and only up to 15% of the price is a spot gas component. For decades, this contractual linkage of the price of gas to oil was largely accepted as being open and fair. ..."
"... the Stockholm arbitration declared that Naftogaz must honor their contract, and buy from Gazprom 5 billion cubic meters of gas annually. As it turns out the "take or pay" clause remains in force, but the volume has been significantly reduced. ..."
"... The irony is that while this is a loss of face for Kiev politically, economically it benefits the Ukrainian consumer. To date, Ukraine's purchases of "reverse gas" from Europe has been far more expensive than that which was contracted reliably over the years by Gazprom. ..."
Dec 30, 2017 | russia-insider.com

After 2014, Ukraine claimed that it was being overcharged, and therefore Naftogaz refused to pay Gazprom their contracted price for gas. Instead, it paid unilaterally a different amount that it subjectively considered "fair."

Gazprom, in keeping with mutually contracted terms and conditions, could only issue an invoice for the resulting underpayment, and after Naftogaz still refused to pay (a debt of approx. $2 billion), made any further deliveries of gas contingent on prepayment.

The arbitration additionally upheld Gazprom's position and denied Naftogaz any right to a refund for gas priced between May 2011 and April 2014 or collect any of the claimed "overcharged gas" totaling approximately $14 billion for that period. In sum, the price Kiev claimed was "inflated" was judged as in Stockholm as baseless.

Therefore, the question of who is accountable and responsible for settling debt has been clarified in Stockholm. Naftogaz must pay Gazprom $2 billion plus a fine calculated at 0.03% per day for each day this debt remains unpaid. This fine has already reached $3 million since the court decision on December 22nd, and if it not paid can reach an annualized figure of $216 million and still keep growing daily.

Like any political and economic story, there is quite a bit that does not make the flashy headlines, but plays a role in contributing to the noise surrounding an issue. Naftogaz takes satisfaction in that the settlement allowed that the gas price for the second quarter of 2014 was to be reduced from $485 to $352 per 1000 cubic meters, or 27%, thereby "saving" Ukraine about $ 1.8 billion for 2014-2015. The price of $485 was in fact fixed for that one quarter, and it was higher than the market price. The reason was that the March referendum and subsequent reunification of Crimea within the Russian Federation happened then. Up until that time, Russia had given Ukraine a discount of $100 per one thousand cubic meters of gas as payment for renting the Crimean base for the Black Sea fleet. The Kharkov treaty with Ukraine which dealt with the naval base was therefore canceled, as Crimea was once again Russia. Without this discount, the price increased by that same discounted $100 in the contracted quarterly price fix.

Key is Stockholm's recognition that the Russian gas price for Ukraine in 2011-2014 was fair, which is much more important than the price fixed in that second quarter in question. It is worth noting in the next third quarter of 2014 Gazprom was prepared to provide Ukraine with a market price for gas again. However, as we all know today, since June 2014 Naftogaz has refused to buy gas from Russia for political reasons and calling it an "aggressor nation."

A more far-reaching result from the Stockholm proceedings was the intention to void the traditional (Gazprom) formula for gas prices which is based on a linkage to the price of oil. Instead, the price of gas will be tied directly to the spot gas market such as the European hub. Should this occur, then the future gas price for Ukraine will be linked to the cost of fuel in the European hub. This would be a major departure from the traditional pricing Gazprom has used for decades, and might set a precedent for other buyers of Russian gas, who might also want to change their price formulation. In traditional Gazprom contracts, the price of gas depends on the price of oil, and only up to 15% of the price is a spot gas component. For decades, this contractual linkage of the price of gas to oil was largely accepted as being open and fair.

Since 2014, Ukraine has been buying reverse gas from Europe at such European spot hub prices, and it has so far been more expensive than the traditional Gazprom contract. It is also worth noting that spot prices are far more volatile, are seasonally demand-affected, and as winter is a peak consumption season the prices can and do increase dramatically.

Why did Gazprom take their initial large claims to court knowing beforehand that it would be impossible to get the tens of billions of dollars from Naftogaz or Ukraine without ruining both through default? The first reason is that a "take or pay" clause was a key and mutually agreed covenant of the contractual relationship, not a point to be discarded unilaterally by any single party. The second reason was as a response to Naftogaz multi-billion lawsuit on the transit of gas from Russia through Ukraine to Europe. The Ukrainian side believes that Gazprom should pay them extra for not sending 110 billion cubic meters of gas through pipelines annually across Ukraine. In the transit contract, there is no obligation for any such volumes to be transited through Ukraine's pipelines.

To sum up this drama, the Stockholm arbitration declared that Naftogaz must honor their contract, and buy from Gazprom 5 billion cubic meters of gas annually. As it turns out the "take or pay" clause remains in force, but the volume has been significantly reduced. How this volume of 5 billion cubic meters was arrived at remains a mystery, but one which will surely become clear over time. The political spin, however, will be interesting to observe since Ukraine must now buy (and pay for) this Russian gas. How will Kiev explain now having to buy Russian gas when since 2014 it stridently proclaimed it shall never buy fuel from "that aggressor nation."

The irony is that while this is a loss of face for Kiev politically, economically it benefits the Ukrainian consumer. To date, Ukraine's purchases of "reverse gas" from Europe has been far more expensive than that which was contracted reliably over the years by Gazprom. Now Kiev will have to find the funds to pay for Gazprom's gas, settle their debt and ever-growing fines, plus meet the rest of their energy needs by purchasing expensive reverse gas from Europe. It will take spin that is a lot more imaginative from Kiev to package this settlement into a believable political victory, and very creative accounting to get the money to pay for it.

[Dec 30, 2017] The Gas Fight Between Ukraine and Russia is Finally Settled - Who Really Won

The key here is whether Russia will stop transit of gas via Ukraine or not.
Notable quotes:
"... A more far-reaching result from the Stockholm proceedings was the intention to void the traditional (Gazprom) formula for gas prices which is based on a linkage to the price of oil. Instead, the price of gas will be tied directly to the spot gas market such as the European hub. ..."
"... In traditional Gazprom contracts, the price of gas depends on the price of oil, and only up to 15% of the price is a spot gas component. For decades, this contractual linkage of the price of gas to oil was largely accepted as being open and fair. ..."
"... the Stockholm arbitration declared that Naftogaz must honor their contract, and buy from Gazprom 5 billion cubic meters of gas annually. As it turns out the "take or pay" clause remains in force, but the volume has been significantly reduced. ..."
"... The irony is that while this is a loss of face for Kiev politically, economically it benefits the Ukrainian consumer. To date, Ukraine's purchases of "reverse gas" from Europe has been far more expensive than that which was contracted reliably over the years by Gazprom. ..."
Dec 30, 2017 | russia-insider.com

After 2014, Ukraine claimed that it was being overcharged, and therefore Naftogaz refused to pay Gazprom their contracted price for gas. Instead, it paid unilaterally a different amount that it subjectively considered "fair."

Gazprom, in keeping with mutually contracted terms and conditions, could only issue an invoice for the resulting underpayment, and after Naftogaz still refused to pay (a debt of approx. $2 billion), made any further deliveries of gas contingent on prepayment.

The arbitration additionally upheld Gazprom's position and denied Naftogaz any right to a refund for gas priced between May 2011 and April 2014 or collect any of the claimed "overcharged gas" totaling approximately $14 billion for that period. In sum, the price Kiev claimed was "inflated" was judged as in Stockholm as baseless.

Therefore, the question of who is accountable and responsible for settling debt has been clarified in Stockholm. Naftogaz must pay Gazprom $2 billion plus a fine calculated at 0.03% per day for each day this debt remains unpaid. This fine has already reached $3 million since the court decision on December 22nd, and if it not paid can reach an annualized figure of $216 million and still keep growing daily.

Like any political and economic story, there is quite a bit that does not make the flashy headlines, but plays a role in contributing to the noise surrounding an issue. Naftogaz takes satisfaction in that the settlement allowed that the gas price for the second quarter of 2014 was to be reduced from $485 to $352 per 1000 cubic meters, or 27%, thereby "saving" Ukraine about $ 1.8 billion for 2014-2015. The price of $485 was in fact fixed for that one quarter, and it was higher than the market price. The reason was that the March referendum and subsequent reunification of Crimea within the Russian Federation happened then. Up until that time, Russia had given Ukraine a discount of $100 per one thousand cubic meters of gas as payment for renting the Crimean base for the Black Sea fleet. The Kharkov treaty with Ukraine which dealt with the naval base was therefore canceled, as Crimea was once again Russia. Without this discount, the price increased by that same discounted $100 in the contracted quarterly price fix.

Key is Stockholm's recognition that the Russian gas price for Ukraine in 2011-2014 was fair, which is much more important than the price fixed in that second quarter in question. It is worth noting in the next third quarter of 2014 Gazprom was prepared to provide Ukraine with a market price for gas again. However, as we all know today, since June 2014 Naftogaz has refused to buy gas from Russia for political reasons and calling it an "aggressor nation."

A more far-reaching result from the Stockholm proceedings was the intention to void the traditional (Gazprom) formula for gas prices which is based on a linkage to the price of oil. Instead, the price of gas will be tied directly to the spot gas market such as the European hub. Should this occur, then the future gas price for Ukraine will be linked to the cost of fuel in the European hub. This would be a major departure from the traditional pricing Gazprom has used for decades, and might set a precedent for other buyers of Russian gas, who might also want to change their price formulation. In traditional Gazprom contracts, the price of gas depends on the price of oil, and only up to 15% of the price is a spot gas component. For decades, this contractual linkage of the price of gas to oil was largely accepted as being open and fair.

Since 2014, Ukraine has been buying reverse gas from Europe at such European spot hub prices, and it has so far been more expensive than the traditional Gazprom contract. It is also worth noting that spot prices are far more volatile, are seasonally demand-affected, and as winter is a peak consumption season the prices can and do increase dramatically.

Why did Gazprom take their initial large claims to court knowing beforehand that it would be impossible to get the tens of billions of dollars from Naftogaz or Ukraine without ruining both through default? The first reason is that a "take or pay" clause was a key and mutually agreed covenant of the contractual relationship, not a point to be discarded unilaterally by any single party. The second reason was as a response to Naftogaz multi-billion lawsuit on the transit of gas from Russia through Ukraine to Europe. The Ukrainian side believes that Gazprom should pay them extra for not sending 110 billion cubic meters of gas through pipelines annually across Ukraine. In the transit contract, there is no obligation for any such volumes to be transited through Ukraine's pipelines.

To sum up this drama, the Stockholm arbitration declared that Naftogaz must honor their contract, and buy from Gazprom 5 billion cubic meters of gas annually. As it turns out the "take or pay" clause remains in force, but the volume has been significantly reduced. How this volume of 5 billion cubic meters was arrived at remains a mystery, but one which will surely become clear over time. The political spin, however, will be interesting to observe since Ukraine must now buy (and pay for) this Russian gas. How will Kiev explain now having to buy Russian gas when since 2014 it stridently proclaimed it shall never buy fuel from "that aggressor nation."

The irony is that while this is a loss of face for Kiev politically, economically it benefits the Ukrainian consumer. To date, Ukraine's purchases of "reverse gas" from Europe has been far more expensive than that which was contracted reliably over the years by Gazprom. Now Kiev will have to find the funds to pay for Gazprom's gas, settle their debt and ever-growing fines, plus meet the rest of their energy needs by purchasing expensive reverse gas from Europe. It will take spin that is a lot more imaginative from Kiev to package this settlement into a believable political victory, and very creative accounting to get the money to pay for it.

[Dec 29, 2017] As former CIA Director William Casey allegedly once said: "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false."

Notable quotes:
"... Russiagate and corporate media scapegoating Putin's trolls are information operations to keep the little people misinformed. The Ukraine Putsch and the MH-17 shoot down were handled poorly by Russia. They've come back in Syria. Russian intelligence wouldn't be doing their job if they weren't surveilling the West. ..."
"... What got western oligarchs upset is the disclosure of the truth; the system is rigged. Obama voters in mid-America voted for Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton's loss triggered a witch hunt rather than addressing the root causes of her defeat. A group of oligarchs want the upstart NY casino boss gone. The only question is what will be the collateral damage from the mob war. ..."
"... As former CIA Director William Casey allegedly once said: "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." His error here was saying Americans were the target and not the global population as well, but at least as far as America goes I think its pretty much a thumbs up. Mission Accomplished. ..."
"... Media and social media tycoons - all could be taken down very fast if they did not toe the CIA line, though for most, it seems their work with CIA is voluntary and enthusiastic. ..."
"... I guess you don't get that rich by having ethics or scruples. ..."
Dec 29, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

VietnamVet , Dec 26, 2017 3:40:43 PM | 30

Russiagate and corporate media scapegoating Putin's trolls are information operations to keep the little people misinformed. The Ukraine Putsch and the MH-17 shoot down were handled poorly by Russia. They've come back in Syria. Russian intelligence wouldn't be doing their job if they weren't surveilling the West.

Victoria Nuland's EU rant was released. Vladimir Putin preferred Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.

What got western oligarchs upset is the disclosure of the truth; the system is rigged. Obama voters in mid-America voted for Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton's loss triggered a witch hunt rather than addressing the root causes of her defeat. A group of oligarchs want the upstart NY casino boss gone. The only question is what will be the collateral damage from the mob war.

NemesisCalling , Dec 26, 2017 4:39:00 PM | 36 karlof1 , Dec 26, 2017 4:42:57 PM | 37
Name of Me | Dec 26, 2017 12:13:28 PM | 2

The US Government was controlling media well before the CIA's creation. Please take a little time to learn about George Seldes whose 1929 book You Can't Print That!: The Truth Behind the News, 1918–1928 is vastly informative with original copies easy to find under $15, or even online through this link . Indeed, numerous works of his are digitized. I.F. Stone followed in Seldes's footsteps, and the website with his collected writings is here . Perhaps one of the least known episodes of US Government media manipulation was related to the atomic bomb crimes, an event nearly 100% airbrushed from history books, and of course the ongoing attempt to cover up one of the biggest crimes of all time.

My mention of media manipulation by the US Government wouldn't be complete without including the 100% blackout that was to apply to the discussions in Philadelphia that led to the 1787 Constitution -- the document that elevated the "natural aristocracy" into the catbird seat ensuring their control of the federal government until it's overthrown via revolution.

Fortunately, Madison and others kept copious notes that were eventually published long after the fate of Commoners was sealed, so we know that Aristocracy viewed its contemporary deplorables no differently than how HRC and today's 1% view them/us.

Pft , Dec 26, 2017 7:09:07 PM | 43
Americans and much of the rest of the world are the target of an immense psyop . Propaganda techniques going back to Bernay and WWI have been expanded on and perfected. Infiltration and control is lot limited to the print media and TV news stations but also , hollywood movies/TV shows , academia (history, economics, etc) , book publishing, blogs and social media. The last few bastions of truth will be eliminated with the end of net neutrality.

As former CIA Director William Casey allegedly once said: "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." His error here was saying Americans were the target and not the global population as well, but at least as far as America goes I think its pretty much a thumbs up. Mission Accomplished.

Peter AU 1 , Dec 26, 2017 7:58:27 PM | 49
"We do not know what the billionaires get for their service. The CIA surely has many ways to let them gain information on their competition or to influence business regulations in foreign countries. One hand will wash the other."

Something I have often thought about. Media and social media tycoons - all could be taken down very fast if they did not toe the CIA line, though for most, it seems their work with CIA is voluntary and enthusiastic.

I guess you don't get that rich by having ethics or scruples.

[Dec 26, 2017] Angry Bear " Why Would Anybody Invest When Capacity Utilization is This Low

Images removed.
Dec 26, 2017 | angrybearblog.com

A central selling point of the tax bill is that it will encourage investment. But that assumes that high tax rates were the primary reason why business wasn't investing. Instead, the data says business investment is weak because the U.S. has a ton of spare capacity.

First, let's look total capacity utilization: It has peaked at lower levels in each of the last three expansions.

Let's break the data down into durable and non-durable CU:

Both categories of production have ample spare capacity, with non-durable production having greater capacity.

Finally, let's look at crude, intermediate and final stages of production: All three have plenty of spare capacity to bring online if needed.

So, will we see a huge wave of investment as a result of the changed tax bill? The data says no.

rjs , December 22, 2017 11:59 am

adding capacity hasn't been about need for years companies have been adding plant and equipment that they didn't need for years because of incentives included in the code, such as the investment tax credit and accelerated depreciation, so it's really hard to say when that will stop..

spencer , December 22, 2017 1:30 pm

Rather than using the Fed estimate of capacity maybe it would be better to use a trend line for capacity utilization and compare that to reported capacity utilization. I think that would give a more realistic measure of economic slack as the trend line shows a long run trend of slower capacity growth.

Lyle , December 22, 2017 11:46 pm

The main investment might be made to automate things, replacing expensive human workers with cheaper automatic workers who don't need benefits and an HR department.

[Dec 26, 2017] BotCoin: Bitcoins are pure speculative assets which enable people to gamble. by Robert Waldmann

Notable quotes:
"... They have behaved badly with an unstable value of bitcoin (huge unpredictable Bitcoin deflation damages any use of bitcoin as a means of exchange as much as huge inflation would). ..."
"... Now no one is really interested in cryptocurrency except as a way to gamble and take money from fools. But if anyone were, linking the blockchain program to prices on an exchange would make it more nearly possible to use the cryptocurrency as a means of exchange. ..."
"... The system is vulnerable to a tacit agreement to trade only on unofficial exchanges. It is necessary that the problem is also made easier if daily trading volume on the official exchange is zero. The problem is the price could shoot up on unofficial exchanges, but this would not affect the price on the official exchange if there were no transactions on the official exchange. ..."
"... The basis was and remains to remove any and all national gov'ts across he globe from any influences on values of currencies, thus pure laissez-faire in the extreme .. as you say libertarian chaos. ..."
"... There is a much more severe problem with bitcoin. As the number mined asymptotically approaches the pre-determined maximum, the cost of mining approaches infinity. As miners are the ones who validate coins, what will happen to the reliability of bitcoin when it becomes uneconomical for anyone to participate in mining? ..."
Dec 25, 2017 | angrybearblog.com

I am going to make a fool of myself by suggesting that a cryptocurrency might actually be useful. Bitcoin et al have negative social utility. They are pure speculative assets which enable people to gamble. Also bitcoin miners use as much electricity as Denmark. The problem is exactly the aspect which has made bitcoin famous and which bitcoin enthusiasts consider a strength -- the enormous increase in the dollar price of bitcoin. This increase, and the recent sharp decline, make bitcoin useless as a means of exchange. Most firms don't want to gamble.

So I (semi-seriously this time) propose botcoin which might have a more stable dollar exchange rate. The idea is to link the blockchain verification program to an official exchange.

Backing up, there are two very different sorts of web-servers related to bitcoin. One set, the bitcoin miners, implements the original idea using the Bitcoin shareware. They keep a copy of the ledger of all bitcoin transactions -- the blockchain, race to create new blocks, and evaluate new blocks and add valid new blocks to the chain. The other servers are bitcoin exchanges in which bitcoin is traded for regular currency. They are not part of the original plan in which bitcoin would be traded for goods and services and function as a means of exchange. They have behaved badly with an unstable value of bitcoin (huge unpredictable Bitcoin deflation damages any use of bitcoin as a means of exchange as much as huge inflation would).

I propose linking the blockchain program to an exchange. So there would be an official botcoin exchange (this means it isn't entirely free-entry shareware libertarian anarchism). If anyone were interested in a new cryptocurrency designed so that speculators can't become rich (and pigs fly) there would be other unofficial exchanges.

The bitcoin program regulates the frequency of creation of new blocks to roughly one every six minutes. It does this by adjusting the difficulty of the pointless arithmetic problem which must be solved to make a new valid block. The idea was to limit the total amount of bitcoin which will ever be created (to 21 million for some reason). This was supposed to make bitcoin valuable. So far it has succeeded all too well (I am confident that in the end bitcoin will have price 0).

It is possible to make the supply of botcoin flexible so the dollar price doesn't shoot up. I would aim at a price of, say, 1 botcoin = $1000. The idea is to make the pointless problem which must be solved to add a block easier if the dollar price of botcoin exceeds the target, and harder if it falls below the target. This should stabilize the price.

Now no one is really interested in cryptocurrency except as a way to gamble and take money from fools. But if anyone were, linking the blockchain program to prices on an exchange would make it more nearly possible to use the cryptocurrency as a means of exchange.

The system is vulnerable to a tacit agreement to trade only on unofficial exchanges. It is necessary that the problem is also made easier if daily trading volume on the official exchange is zero. The problem is the price could shoot up on unofficial exchanges, but this would not affect the price on the official exchange if there were no transactions on the official exchange.

Lyle , December 25, 2017 11:22 pm

Of course Goldman Sachs and its competitors are doing just this building an options and futures exchange. (it is not really that much different than any other futures and options business)

Longtooth , December 26, 2017 5:01 am

But Robert,

then the entire foundation for Bitcoin's purpose disappears entirely, so what advantage remains?

The basis was and remains to remove any and all national gov'ts across he globe from any influences on values of currencies, thus pure laissez-faire in the extreme .. as you say libertarian chaos.

By making crypto-currency values subject to national currency exchange rates they cease to have any reason to exist at all.

We / globally in fact already use crypto exchange via electronic transactions .. adding block chain to it would be a benefit but a separate cryptocurrency is a worthless redundancy if it is subject to valuation by exchange rates of national currencies.

What am I missing?.

likbez , December 26, 2017 5:27 am

Great Article !!! I wish I can write about this topic on the same level. Thank you very much. P.S. Happy New Year for everybody !

rick shapiro , December 26, 2017 10:26 am

There is a much more severe problem with bitcoin. As the number mined asymptotically approaches the pre-determined maximum, the cost of mining approaches infinity. As miners are the ones who validate coins, what will happen to the reliability of bitcoin when it becomes uneconomical for anyone to participate in mining?

[Dec 26, 2017] What is the GOP goal A return to the "gilded age" (or worse) by Linda Beale

Notable quotes:
"... The tone deafness of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and, much of the time, Hillary Clinton, meant that ordinary people didn't understand that Trump is merely a blowhard capitalist who doesn't care if he cheats or lies or exploits other people so long as he gets notoriety and money, while the Democrats have been the party working for a decent sustainable economy, environmental protection and preservation, protection from pollution and diseases, and working wages for ordinary folk. ..."
Dec 26, 2017 | angrybearblog.com

run75441 , December 24, 2017 3:10 pm

Linda:

I believe this to be mostly correct;

Indeed, having an able, sympathetic messenger who can translate the issues that truly matter into terms that make sense to ordinary people is something the Democratic Party lacked in the last election. The tone deafness of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and, much of the time, Hillary Clinton, meant that ordinary people didn't understand that Trump is merely a blowhard capitalist who doesn't care if he cheats or lies or exploits other people so long as he gets notoriety and money, while the Democrats have been the party working for a decent sustainable economy, environmental protection and preservation, protection from pollution and diseases, and working wages for ordinary folk.

Dems have done us a disservice in not being able to communicate in terms many people could understand, relate to, and embrace.

Lyle , December 24, 2017 6:28 pm

Yet the Gilded age was one where the average person was better off in 1900 than in 1870. It was the period of the great deflation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Deflation which meant the cost of everything was in general dropping 2% per year in the us.

A large part of this at least for folks in larger cities was the integration of the US into essentially 1 market from several markets as most larger cities had at least 2 railroad groups serving them. I recall reading that in general estate inventories in 1900 show more goods than those in 1870. Just a bit outside this time frame My grandparents bought a farm in 1910 and build a new house.

The house on the property was a 2 room house that was turned into a coal shed and wash house. The new house had 6 rooms plus a root cellar. (Still off grid of course because this was in the country) this period was one of both rapid adoption of technologies developed in the first 1/2 of the 19th century, (railroad, telegraph, steamship) and the development and implementation of new technologies (auto, telephone, electricity, etc) See Creating the 20th century by Smil for details.

Of course some folks lost because they could no longer compete with imported goods, One example I have read is that up to 1869 a lot of furniture was built in Utah because it was so hard to get stuff there, The Union Pacific solved the problem and the local furniture makers found a new line of work.
So in general life was better in the US in 1900 than 1870 and things did at least then trickle down.

This was the period of the great deflation where the cost of living was declining about 2% a year: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Deflation And this document from the department of labor from 1898 listing wages shows roughly flat wages over that time (depending on the field although some went up (locomotive engineers went up 25% in this period for example) https://fraser.stlouisfed.org/scribd/?toc_id=498267&filepath=/files/docs/publications/bls/bls_v03_0018_1898.pdf&start_page=10

So it appears that if you look at unbiased statistics of the time a rising tide back then did lift all boats, even as a few got extremely rich, and as a result inequality increased.

likbez , December 26, 2017 5:55 am

Neoliberalism actually means restoration of Gilded Age on a new level. So the return to Gilded Age commenced not now, but with the election of Reagan, or slightly earlier. Trump actually professed "bastard neoliberalism" (neoliberalism without neoliberal globalizations).

Election of Trump IMHO signified the deep crisis of neoliberalism and loss of legitimacy of neoliberal elite in the USA. That's why Trump was elected and Hillary was not.

The fact that Trump quickly betrayed all his election promises does not change this. We saw such tricks before. He just proved that he is Republican Obama. Much less slick in that, but still belonging to the same brand of "change we can believe in" snake oil salesmen.

The key problem here is that as the neoliberal elite feels less and less secure at home it tries to suppress dissent with rampant jingoism (look at Trumps National security strategy) and Russophobia:

== quote ==
"China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity. They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence. At the same time, the dictatorships of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran are determined to destabilize regions, threaten Americans and our allies, and brutalize their own people."
=== end of quote ===

That's why we have the current neo-McCarthyism campaign. The goal is to both to rally the nation around the flag rather than turning against the government, and to suppress the growing dissent by conflating it with pro-Russian sentiments. Turing the majority of US public and public opinion against Russian government. Along with the attempt to swipe Hillary Clinton fiasco and the corruption of DNC (and now the corruption of FBI which suppressed "emailgate") which pushed Sanders under the bus by illegal means. .

My impression is that while there is no clear alternative to neoliberalism as a social system, the growth and success of far-right movement both in Europe and the USA means that people badly want an alternative, whatever it can be. Even if this is far right nationalism.

[Dec 25, 2017] The USA as neocons occupied country

Apr 28, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
XXX, April 28, 2017 at 06:29 PM
Sanjait,

"Hillary Clinton, following a long tradition of mainstream Democrats, had a grab bag of proposals that, if enacted, would collectively make a huge difference in the lives of working people. "

I think you are wrong here.

Hillary was/is a neoliberal, and as such is hostile to the interests of working people and middle class in general. Like most neoliberals she is a Machiavellian elitist. Her election promises are pure demagogy, much like Trump or Obama election promised (immortalized in the slogan "change we can believe in" which now became the synonym of election fraud)

Also she was/is hell-bent of preserving/expanding the US neoliberal empire and the wars for neoliberal dominance (in ME mainly for the benefit of Israel and Saudis). War are pretty costly ventures and they are financed at the expense of working class and lower middle class, never at the expense of "fat cats" from Wall Street.

All-in-all I think the role of POTUS is greatly "misunderestimated" in your line of thinking. As we can see differences between Trump and Hillary in foreign policy are marginal. Why are you assuming that the differences in domestic economic policies would be greater ?

In reality there are other powerful factors in play that diminish the importance of POTUS:

  1. The US Presidential Elections are no longer an instrument for change. They are completely corrupted and are mostly of "bread and circuses" type of events, where two gladiators preselected by financial elite fight for the coveted position, using all kind of dirty tricks for US public entertainment.
  2. While the appearance of democracy remains, in reality the current system represents that rule of "deep state". In the classic form of "National security state". In the National Security State, the US people no longer have the any chances to change the policies.
  3. Political emasculation of US voters has led to frustration, depression and rage. It feeds radical right movement including neo-fascists, which embrace more extreme remedies to the current problems because they correctly feel that the traditional parties no longer represent the will of the people.
  4. Insulated and partially degenerated US elite have grown more obtuse and is essentially a hostage for neocons. They chose to ignore the seething anger that lies just below the surface of brainwashed Us electorate.
  5. The "American Dream" is officially dead. People at a and below lower middle class level see little hope for themselves, their children or the country. The chasm between top 1% (or let's say top 20%) and the rest continues to fuel populist anger.
  6. While Trump proved to be "yet another turncoat" like Barak Obama (who just got his first silver coin in the form of the $400K one hour speech) Trump's election signify a broad rejection of the country's neoliberal elite, including neoliberal MSM, neocon foreign policy as well as neoliberal economic system (and first of all neoliberal globalization).
  7. The country foreign policy remains hijacked by neocons (this time in the form of fiends of Paul Wolfowitz among the military brass appointed by Trump to top positions in his administration) and that might spell major conflict or even WWIII.

The level of subservience to neocon agenda in Trump administration might well be higher then in previous administration. And "make America first" was already transformed into "full spectrum dominance" == "America uber alles". http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/deutschland-uber-alles-and-america-first-in-song

8. We can now talk about the USA as "neocon occupied country" (NOC), because the neocons policies contradict the USA national interests and put heavy burden of taxpayers, especially in lower income categories. Due to neglect in maintaining infrastructure, in some areas the USA already looks like third word country. Still we finance Israel and several other countries to the tune of $40 billion dollars in military aid alone (that that's in case of Israel just the tip of the iceberg; real figure is probably double of that) https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

Since Bill Clinton POTUS is more or less a marionette of financial oligarchy (which Obama -- as a person without the past (or with a very fuzzy past) - symbolizes all too well).

[Dec 25, 2017] American Carnage by Brad Griffin

Notable quotes:
"... It tells me that the bottom line is that Christmas has become a harder season for White families. We are worse off because of BOTH social and economic liberalism which has only benefited an elite few. The bottom half of the White population is now in total disarray – drug addiction, demoralization, divorce, suicide, abortion, atomization, stagnant wages, declining household income and investments – and this dysfunction is creeping up the social ladder. The worst thing we can do is step on the accelerator. ..."
Dec 24, 2017 | www.unz.com

As we move into 2018, I am swinging away from the Republicans. I don't support the Paul Ryan "Better Way" agenda. I don't support neoliberal economics. I think we have been going in the wrong direction since the 1970s and don't want to continue going down this road.

  1. Opioid Deaths: As we all know, the opioid epidemic has become a national crisis and the White working class has been hit the hardest by it. It is a "sea of despair" out there.
  2. White Mortality: As the family crumbles, religion recedes in his life, and his job prospects dwindle, the middle aged White working class man is turning to drugs, alcohol and suicide: The White suicide rate has soared since 2000:
  3. Median Household Income: The average household in the United States is poorer in 2017 than it was in 1997:
  4. Real GDP: Since the late 1990s, real GDP and real median household income have parted ways:
  5. Productivity and Real Wages: Since the 1970s, the minimum wage has parted ways with productivity gains in the US economy:
  6. Stock Market: Since 2000, the stock market has soared, but 10% of Americans own 80% of stocks. The top 1% owns 38% of stocks. In 2007, 3/4th of middle class households were invested in the stock market, but now only 50% are investors. Overall, 52% of Americans now own stocks, which is down from 65%. The average American has less than $1,000 in their combined checking and savings accounts.

Do you know what this tells me?

It tells me that the bottom line is that Christmas has become a harder season for White families. We are worse off because of BOTH social and economic liberalism which has only benefited an elite few. The bottom half of the White population is now in total disarray – drug addiction, demoralization, divorce, suicide, abortion, atomization, stagnant wages, declining household income and investments – and this dysfunction is creeping up the social ladder. The worst thing we can do is step on the accelerator.

Paul Ryan and his fellow conservatives look at this and conclude we need MORE freedom. We need lower taxes, more free trade, more deregulation, weaker unions, more immigration and less social safety net spending. He wants to follow up tax reform with entitlement reform in 2018. I can't but see how this is going to make an already bad situation for the White working class even worse.

I'm not rightwing in the sense that these people are. I think their policies are harmful to the nation. I don't think they feel any sense of duty and obligation to the working class like we do. They believe in liberal abstractions and make an Ayn Rand fetish out of freedom whereas we feel a sense of solidarity with them grounded in race, ethnicity and culture which tempers class division. We recoil at the evisceration of the social fabric whereas conservatives celebrate this blind march toward plutocracy.

Do the wealthy need to own a greater share of the stock market? Do they need to own a greater share of our national wealth? Do we need to loosen up morals and the labor market? Do we need more White children growing up in financially stressed, broken homes on Christmas? Is the greatest problem facing the nation spending on anti-poverty programs? Paul Ryan and the True Cons think so.

Yeah, I don't think so. I also think it is a good thing right now that we aren't associated with the mainstream Right. In the long run, I bet this will pay off for us. I predict this platform they have been standing on for decades now, which they call the conservative base, is going to implode on them. Donald Trump was only the first sign that Atlas is about to shrug.

(Republished from Occidental Dissent by permission of author or representative)

[Dec 25, 2017] Ukraine loses gas dispute to Russia; ordered to pay $2 billion to Gazprom by by Alexander Mercouris

Notable quotes:
"... By contrast the reduction in the gas price Naftogaz refers to from $485/tcm to $352 tcm which Naftogaz makes much of in its statement appears to apply only to gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom in the second quarter of 2014 and still sets the price of gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom higher than was demanded by Ukraine during this period. ..."
"... Ukraine recently borrowed $3 billion on the international financial markets at very high interest almost certainly in order to pay the $3 billion the High Court in London has ordered it to pay Russia. Whilst the $2 billion is technically a debt owed by Naftogaz not Ukraine and its non-payment would does not place Ukraine in a state of sovereign default, Gazprom is in a position to enforce the debt agai