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Casino Capitalism: Neoliberalism in Western countries

"When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done"

John Maynard Keynes

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Financialization is a process whereby financial markets, financial institutions, and financial elites gain greater influence over economic policy and economic outcomes. Financialization transforms the functioning of economic systems at both the macro and micro levels.

Its principal impacts are to (1) elevate the significance of the financial sector relative to the real sector, (2) transfer income from the real sector to the financial sector, and (3) increase income inequality and contribute to wage stagnation. Additionally, there are reasons to believe that financialization may put the economy at risk of debt deflation and prolonged recession.

Financialization operates through three different conduits: changes in the structure and operation of financial markets, changes in the behavior of nonfinancial corporations, and changes in economic policy.

Countering financialization calls for a multifaceted agenda that (1) restores policy control over financial markets, (2) challenges the neoliberal economic policy paradigm encouraged by financialization, (3) makes corporations responsive to interests of stakeholders other than just financial markets, and (4) reforms the political process so as to diminish the influence of corporations and wealthy elites.

Thomas Palley, See http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_525.pdf

Speculation and gambling were always a part of Wall Street but since the 1930’s they were just a side-show, now they are the show.

Comment to Matt Taibbi article Fannie, Freddie, and the New Red and Blue t


Introduction

“The sense of responsibility in the financial community
for the community as a whole is not small. It is nearly nil.”

-- John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash of 1929

The term Casino Capitalism as a specific phase of neoliberal transformation of capitalism. Politically it was slow motion corporate coup d'état, which started in 70th and is now accomplished in the USA and other Western countries which buries social-democratic (New Deal style) model of capitalism.  It hypertrophied police functions of state (in the form of national-security state)  while completely avoiding economic sphere in ways other then enforcement of laws (with a notable exclusion from this top 1% -- Masters of the Universe). In this sense it is the opposite of communism (i.e. an entirely state-planned economy) and presupposed a deregulated economy (in a sense of the "law of jungle" as a business environment) , but with extremely strong militarized state, suppressing all the attempts to challenge the new "nomenklatura" (much like was the case in the USSR).  It is also called economic liberalism or neoliberalism

“Liberalism” can refer to political, economic, or even religious ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people as progressive compared to conservative or Right wing. Economic liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate “liberals” — meaning the political type — have no real problem with economic liberalism, including neoliberalism.

In other words this is a variant of neoliberal model of corporatism used in wealthy Western countries during the period of "cheap hydrocarbons".  The period that is probably near the end and which by some estimate can last only another 50 years or so.  The major crisis of casino capitalism in 2008 was connected both with financial excesses (caused by moving to semi-criminal ways of extracting return on capital, typical for casino capitalism),  but also with the rise of the price of oil and decrease of  Energy returned on energy invested (EROEI)In this sense the current low oil price period that started in late 2014 can be viewed as the "last hurrah" of the casino capitalism.

In understanding neoliberal transformation of the society since early 80th it is important to understanding of the key role of financialization in this process. When major services are privatized (education, healthcare, pension plans) financial institution insert themselves as intermediaries in this arrangement and make it the main source of their profits.  Also contrary to neoliberal propaganda this process is aided and abetted by state. State is used by neoliberalism as a tool of enforcing market relations even where they are not useless or even harmful (education). All this talk about irresolvable controversy between market and state is for gullible fools. In reality, being Trotskyism for rich, neoliberalism uses power of the state to enforce market relations  by force on reluctant population even in areas where this can do no good. That make really it close to Soviet Communism. As Marx noted "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."

A very good discussion of the role of Financialisation in entrenchment of neoliberalism in modern societies can be found in the book by Costas Lapavitsas. Some highlights are provided inhis Guardian article Finance's hold on our everyday life must be broken

This extraordinary public largesse towards private banks was matched by austerity and wage reductions for workers and households. As for restructuring finance, nothing fundamental has taken place. The behemoths that continue to dominate the global financial system operate in the knowledge that they enjoy an unspoken public guarantee. The unpalatable reality is that financialisation will persist, despite its costs for society.

Financialisation represents a historic and deep-seated transformation of mature capitalism. Big businesses have become "financialised" as they have ample profits to finance investment, rely less on banks for loans and play financial games with available funds. Big banks, in turn, have become more distant from big businesses, turning to profits from trading in open financial markets and from lending to households. Households have become "financialised" too, as public provision in housing, education, health, pensions and other vital areas has been partly replaced by private provision, access to which is mediated by the financial system. Not surprisingly, households have accumulated a tremendous volume of financial assets and liabilities over the past four decades.

The penetration of finance into the everyday life of households has not only created a range of dependencies on financial services, but also changed the outlook, mentality and even morality of daily life. Financial calculation evaluates everything in pennies and pounds, transforming the most basic goods – above all, housing – into "investments". Its logic has affected even the young, who have traditionally been idealistic and scornful of pecuniary calculation. Fertile ground has been created for neoliberal ideology to preach the putative merits of the market.

Financialisation has also created new forms of profit associated with financial markets and transactions. Financial profit can be made out of any income, or any sum of money that comes into contact with the financial sphere. Households, for example, generate profits for finance as debtors (mostly by paying interest on mortgages) but also as creditors (mostly by paying fees and charges on pension funds and insurance). Finance is not particular about how and where it makes its profits, and certainly does not limit itself to the sphere of production. It ranges far and wide, transforming every aspect of social life into a profit-making opportunity.

The traditional image of the person earning financial profits is the "rentier", the individual who invests funds in secure financial assets. In the contemporary financialised universe, however, those who earn vast returns are very different. They are often located within a financial institution, presumably work to provide financial services, and receive vast sums in the form of wages, or more often bonuses. Modern financial elites are prominent at the top of the income distribution, set trends in conspicuous consumption, shape the expensive end of the housing market, and transform the core of urban centres according to their own tastes.

Financialised capitalism is, thus, a deeply unequal system, prone to bubbles and crises – none greater than that of 2007-09. What can be done about it? The most important point in this respect is that financialisation does not represent an advance for humanity, and very little of it ought to be preserved. Financial markets are, for instance, able to mobilise advanced technology employing some of the best-trained physicists in the world to rebalance prices across the globe in milliseconds. This "progress" allows financiers to earn vast profits; but where is the commensurate benefit to society from committing such expensive resources to these tasks?

The term "casino capitalism" was coined by Susan Strange who used it as a title of her book Casino Capitalism published in 1986. She was one of the first who realized that

  1. "The roots of the world's economic disorder are monetary and financial";
  2. "The disorder has not come about by accident, but has in fact been nurtured and encouraged by a series of government decisions." (p. 60). In other words its was a counter-revolution of the part of ruling elite which lost its influence in 30th (dismantling New Deal from above in the USA (Reaganomics) or Thatcherism in the GB).

According to Susan Strange transformation of industrial capitalism into neoliberal capitalism ("casino capitalism") involved five trends. All of them increased the systemic instability of the system and the level of political corruption:

  1. Innovations in the way in which financial markets work due to introduction of computers;
  2. The sheer size of markets; (with the introduction of 401K the size of stock market multiplied, etc)
  3. Commercial banks turned into investment banks;
  4. The emergence of Asian nations as large players;
  5. The shift to self-regulation by banks (pp.9-10).

Now it is pretty much established fact that the conversion from "industrial capitalism" to neoliberal, completely financialialized "casino capitalism" is the natural logic of development of capitalism. In early and incomplete matter this trend was noticed at early 1990th by many thinkers. This is just the second iteration of the same trend which was interrupted by the Great Depression and subsequent WWII. So, in a way, replacement of industrial capitalism with financial capitalism in a natural tendency within the capitalism itself and corruption was contributing, but not decisive factor.  The same is true about globalization, especially about globalization of financial flows, typical for casino capitalism.

Also this conversion did not happen due to lack of oversight or as a folly. It was a couscous choice made by the US and GB elite, both of which faced deterioration of rates of return on capital. Also unlike "industrial capitalism" which was more-or-less stable system, able to outcompete the neo-theocratic system of the USSR, the financial capitalism is unstable in the same sense as radioactive elements are unstable.  And this instability tend to increase with time. So there is probably natural half-life period for neoliberalism as a social system. It might be already reached in 2008.  In we assume that global victory of neoliberalism happened in 1990. It is just 18 years.  If we think that it happened in late 60th, then it is closer to 50 years.

The global crisis of neoliberal capitalism which started from bursting the USA subprime housing bubble in 2008 undermined ideological legitimacy of its central claim that "free markets" lead to faster and more uniform economic development of all countries. While the peak of its "ideological" power might be over (much like the peak of attractiveness of "command socialism" was over after WWII), it will exist in a zombie state for a long time due to economic and military power of the USA and G7.  And as we know from Hollywood films, zombies can be especially bloodthirsty. It probably will remain the dominant force for at least the next two decades pursuing the same policy of "forceful" opening of energy rich  and resource countries for western multinationals intact using color revolutions and local wars.  But as Napoleon quipped "You can do anything with bayonets, you just can't sit on them".

Conversion to neoliberal capitalism was a reaction on stagnation of industrial production and as such it was nurtured and encouraged by a series of government decisions for the last 50 years. Stagnation of industrial production made expansion of financial sector of paramount importance for the ruling elite and by extension for Congress which represents this elite. House vote 377:4 for Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 is pretty telling in this respect.

There were also at least two important parallel developments.

Most respectable authors like Henry Giroux in his article in Counterpunch generally consider the term "casino capitalism" to be an equivalent to the term Neoliberalism. Here is a relevant quote from Henry Giroux's Authoritarian Politics in the Age of Casino Capitalism :

There is more at work here than simply a ramped up version of social Darwinism with its savagely cruel ethic of “reward the rich, penalize the poor, [and] let everyone fend for themselves,” [ii] there is also a full scale attack on the social contract, the welfare state, economic equality, and any viable vestige of moral and social responsibility. The Romney-Ryan appropriation of Ayn Rand’s ode to selfishness and self-interest is of particular importance because it offers a glimpse of a ruthless form of extreme capitalism in which the poor are considered “moochers,” viewed with contempt, and singled out to be punished. But this theocratic economic fundamentalist ideology does more. It destroys any viable notion of the and civic virtue in which the social contract and common good provide the basis for creating meaningful social bonds and instilling in citizens a sense of social and civic responsibility. The idea of public service is viewed with disdain just as the work of individuals, social groups, and institutions that benefit the citizenry at large are held in contempt.

As George Lakoff and Glenn W. Smith point out, casino capitalism creates a culture of cruelty: “its horrific effects on individuals-death, illness, suffering, greater poverty, and loss of opportunity, productive lives, and money.”[iii]

But it does more by crushing any viable notion of the common good and public life by destroying “the bonds that hold us together.”[iv] Under casino capitalism, the spaces, institutions, and values that constitute the public are now surrendered to powerful financial forces and viewed simply as another market to be commodified, privatized and surrendered to the demands of capital. With religious and market-driven zealots in charge, politics becomes an extension of war; greed and self-interest trump any concern for the well-being of others; reason is trumped by emotions rooted in absolutist certainty and militaristic aggression; and skepticism and dissent are viewed as the work of Satan.

If the Republican candidacy race of 2012 is any indication, then political discourse in the United States has not only moved to the right—it has been introducing totalitarian values and ideals into the mainstream of public life. Religious fanaticism, consumer culture, and the warfare state work in tandem with neoliberal economic forces to encourage privatization, corporate tax breaks, growing income and wealth inequality, and the further merging of the financial and military spheres in ways that diminish the authority and power of democratic governance.[v] Neoliberal interests in freeing markets from social constraints, fueling competitiveness, destroying education systems, producing atomized subjects, and loosening individuals from any sense of social responsibility prepare the populace for a slow embrace of social Darwinism, state terrorism, and the mentality of war — not least of all by destroying communal bonds, dehumanizing the other, and pitting individuals against the communities they inhabit.

Totalitarian temptations now saturate the media and larger culture in the language of austerity as political and economic orthodoxy. What we are witnessing in the United States is the normalization of a politics that exterminates not only the welfare state, and the truth, but all those others who bear the sins of the Enlightenment — that is, those who refuse a life free from doubt. Reason and freedom have become enemies not merely to be mocked, but to be destroyed. And this is a war whose totalitarian tendencies are evident in the assault on science, immigrants, women, the elderly, the poor, people of color, and youth.

What too often goes unsaid, particularly with the media’s focus on inflammatory rhetoric, is that those who dominate politics and policymaking, whether Democrats or Republicans, do so largely because of their disproportionate control of the nation’s income and wealth. Increasingly, it appears these political elite choose to act in ways that sustain their dominance through the systemic reproduction of an iniquitous social order. In other words, big money and corporate power rule while electoral politics are rigged. The secrecy of the voting booth becomes the ultimate expression of democracy, reducing politics to an individualized purchase—a crude form of economic action. Any form of politics willing to invest in such ritualistic pageantry only adds to the current dysfunctional nature of our social order, while reinforcing a profound failure of political imagination. The issue should no longer be how to work within the current electoral system, but how to dismantle it and construct a new political landscape that is capable of making a claim on equity, justice, and democracy for all of its inhabitants. Obama’s once inspiring call for hope has degenerated into a flight from responsibility.

The Obama administration has worked to extend the policies of the George W. Bush administration by legitimating a range of foreign and domestic policies that have shredded civil liberties, expanded the permanent warfare state, and increased the domestic reach of the punitive surveillance state. And if Romney and his ideological cohorts, now viewed as the most extremists faction of the Republican Party, come to power, surely the existing totalitarian and anti-democratic tendencies at work in the United States will be dangerously intensified.

History

Alternatively, we could have spent more time studying the work of Hyman Minsky. We could also have considered the possibility that, just as Keynes’s ideas were tested to destruction in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Milton Friedman’s ideas might suffer a similar fate in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. All gods fail, if one believes too much. Keynes said, of course, that "practical men … are usually the slaves of some defunct economist". So, of course, are economists, even if the defunct economists are sometimes still alive.

Martin Wolf

 


 

 

Casino capitalism  is a nickname for nailibelism. Probably more properly nickname would be  financial corporatism. While the key idea of corporatism: that political actors are not individual people, but some associations and first of all corporations (which are officially considered to be "persons" and have rights as well as trade unions and some other associations) remains intact, financial corporatism is different from classic corporatism in several major ways:

Historically corporatism in various modifications became dominant social system after WWII and defeated "command socialism" as was implemented in the USSR. Here is an instructive review of corporatism history (The Economic System of Corporatism):

In the last half of the 19th century people of the working class in Europe were beginning to show interest in the ideas of socialism and syndicalism. Some members of the intelligentsia, particularly the Catholic intelligentsia, decided to formulate an alternative to socialism which would emphasize social justice without the radical solution of the abolition of private property. The result was called Corporatism. The name had nothing to do with the notion of a business corporation except that both words are derived from the Latin word for body, corpus.

The basic idea of corporatism is that the society and economy of a country should be organized into major interest groups (sometimes called corporations) and representatives of those interest groups settle any problems through negotiation and joint agreement. In contrast to a market economy which operates through competition a corporate economic works through collective bargaining. The American president Lyndon Johnson had a favorite phrase that reflected the spirit of corporatism. He would gather the parties to some dispute and say, "Let us reason together."

Under corporatism the labor force and management in an industry belong to an industrial organization. The representatives of labor and management settle wage issues through collective negotiation. While this was the theory in practice the corporatist states were largely ruled according to the dictates of the supreme leader.

One early and important theorist of corporatism was Adam Müller, an advisor to Prince Metternich in what is now eastern Germany and Austria. Müller propounded his views as an antidote to the twin dangers of the egalitarianism of the French Revolution and the laissez faire economics of Adam Smith. In Germany and elsewhere there was a distinct aversion among rulers to allow markets to function without direction or control by the state. The general culture heritage of Europe from the medieval era was opposed to individual self-interest and the free operation of markets. Markets and private property were acceptable only as long as social regulation took precedence over such sinful motivations as greed.

Coupled with the anti-market sentiments of the medieval culture there was the notion that the rulers of the state had a vital role in promoting social justice. Thus corporatism was formulated as a system that emphasized the positive role of the state in guaranteeing social justice and suppressing the moral and social chaos of the population pursuing their own individual self-interests. And above all else, as a political economic philosophy corporatism was flexible. It could tolerate private enterprise within limits and justify major projects of the state. Corporatism has sometimes been labeled as a Third Way or a mixed economy, a synthesis of capitalism and socialism, but it is in fact a separate, distinctive political economic system.

Although rulers have probably operated according to the principles of corporatism from time immemorial it was only in the early twentieth century that regimes began to identify themselves as corporatist. The table below gives some of those explicitly corporatist regimes.

Corporatist Regimes of the Early Twentieth Century
System Name Country Period Leader
National Corporatism Italy 1922-1945 Benito Mussolini
Country, Religion, Monarchy Spain 1923-1930 Miguel Primo de Rivera
National Socialism Germany 1933-1945 Adolph Hitler
National Syndicalism Spain 1936-1973 Francisco Franco
New State Portugal 1932-1968 Antonio Salazar
New State Brazil 1933-1945 Getulio Vargas
New Deal United States 1933-1945 Franklin Roosevelt
Third Hellenic Civilization Greece 1936-1941 Ioannis Metaxas
Justice Party Argentina 1943-1955 Juan Peron

In the above table several of the regimes were brutal, totalitarian dictatorships, usually labeled fascist, but not all the regimes that had a corporatist foundation were fascist. In particular, the Roosevelt New Deal despite its many faults could not be described as fascist. But definitely the New Deal was corporatist. The architect for the initial New Deal program was General Hugh Johnson. Johnson had been the administrator of the military mobilization program for the U.S. under Woodrow Wilson during World War I. It was felt that he did a good job of managing the economy during that period and that is why he was given major responsibility for formulating an economic program to deal with the severe problems of the Depression. But between the end of World War I and 1933 Hugh Johnson had become an admirer of Mussolini's National Corporatist system in Italy and he drew upon the Italian experience in formulating the New Deal.

It should be noted that many elements of the early New Deal were later declared unconstitutional and abandoned, but some elements such as the National Labor Relations Act which promoted unionization of the American labor force are still in effect. One part of the New Deal was the development of the Tennessee River Valley under the public corporation called the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Some of the New Dealer saw TVA as more than a public power enterprise. They hoped to make TVA a model for the creation of regional political units which would replace state governments. Their goal was not realized. The model for TVA was the river development schemes carried out in Spain in the 1920's under the government of Miguel Primo de Rivera. Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the son of Miguel Primo de Rivera, was the founder of Franco's National Syndicalism.

Corporatist regime typically promote large governmental projects such as TVA on the basis that they are too large to be funded by private enterprise. In Brazil the Vargas regime created many public enterprises such as in iron and steel production which it felt were needed but private enterprise declined to create. It also created an organized labor movement that came to control those public enterprises and turned them into overstaffed, inefficient drains on the public budget.

Although the above locates the origin of corporatism in 19th century France it roots can be traced much further back in time. Sylvia Ann Hewlett in her book, The Cruel Dilemmas of Development: Twentieth Century Brazil, says,

Corporatism is based on a body of ideas that can be traced through Aristotle, Roman law, medieval social and legal structures, and into contemporary Catholic social philosophy. These ideas are based on the premise that man's nature can only be fulfilled within a political community.
..........
The central core of the corporatist vision is thus not the individual but the political community whose perfection allows the individual members to fulfill themselves and find happiness.
...............
The state in the corporatist tradition is thus clearly interventionist and powerful.

Corporatism is collectivist; it is a different version of collectivism than socialism but it is definitely collectivist. It places some importance on the fact that private property is not nationalized, but the control through regulation is just as real. It is de facto nationalization without being de jure nationalization.

Although Corporatism is not a familiar concept to the general public, most of the economies of the world are corporatist in nature. The categories of socialist and pure market economy are virtually empty. There are only corporatist economies of various flavors.

These flavors of corporatism include the social democratic regimes of Europe and the Americas, but also the East Asian and Islamic fundamentalist regimes such as Taiwan, Singapore and Iran. The Islamic socialist states such as Syria, Libya and Algeria are more corporatist than socialist, as was Iraq under Saddam Hussain. The formerly communist regimes such as Russia and China are now clearly corporatist in economic philosophy although not in name.

The concept of Quite Coup

Sine ira et studio

Tacitus, see Wikipedia

The term "Quiet coup" which means the hijacking of the political power in the USA by financial oligarchy was introduced by Simon H. Johnson, a British-American economist, who currently is the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. From March 2007 through the end of August 2008, he was Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund. The term was introduced in his article in Atlantic magazine, published in May 2009(The Quiet Coup - Simon Johnson - The Atlantic). Which opens with a revealing paragraph:

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government

The wealth of financial sector gave it unprecedented opportunities of simply buying the political power iether directly or indirectly (via revolving door mechanism):

Becoming a Banana Republic

In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (and only in emerging markets): South Korea (1997), Malaysia (1998), Russia and Argentina (time and again). In each of those cases, global investors, afraid that the country or its financial sector wouldn’t be able to pay off mountainous debt, suddenly stopped lending. And in each case, that fear became self-fulfilling, as banks that couldn’t roll over their debt did, in fact, become unable to pay. This is precisely what drove Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy on September 15, causing all sources of funding to the U.S. financial sector to dry up overnight. Just as in emerging-market crises, the weakness in the banking system has quickly rippled out into the rest of the economy, causing a severe economic contraction and hardship for millions of people.

But there’s a deeper and more disturbing similarity: elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.

Top investment bankers and government officials like to lay the blame for the current crisis on the lowering of U.S. interest rates after the dotcom bust or, even better—in a “buck stops somewhere else” sort of way—on the flow of savings out of China. Some on the right like to complain about Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or even about longer-standing efforts to promote broader homeownership. And, of course, it is axiomatic to everyone that the regulators responsible for “safety and soundness” were fast asleep at the wheel.

But these various policies — lightweight regulation, cheap money, the unwritten Chinese-American economic alliance, the promotion of homeownership—had something in common. Even though some are traditionally associated with Democrats and some with Republicans, they all benefited the financial sector. Policy changes that might have forestalled the crisis but would have limited the financial sector’s profits — such as Brooksley Born’s now-famous attempts to regulate credit-default swaps at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in 1998—were ignored or swept aside.

The financial industry has not always enjoyed such favored treatment. But for the past 25 years or so, finance has boomed, becoming ever more powerful. The boom began with the Reagan years, and it only gained strength with the deregulatory policies of the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Several other factors helped fuel the financial industry’s ascent. Paul Volcker’s monetary policy in the 1980s, and the increased volatility in interest rates that accompanied it, made bond trading much more lucrative. The invention of securitization, interest-rate swaps, and credit-default swaps greatly increased the volume of transactions that bankers could make money on. And an aging and increasingly wealthy population invested more and more money in securities, helped by the invention of the IRA and the 401(k) plan. Together, these developments vastly increased the profit opportunities in financial services.

Not surprisingly, Wall Street ran with these opportunities. From 1973 to 1985, the financial sector never earned more than 16 percent of domestic corporate profits. In 1986, that figure reached 19 percent. In the 1990s, it oscillated between 21 percent and 30 percent, higher than it had ever been in the postwar period. This decade, it reached 41 percent. Pay rose just as dramatically. From 1948 to 1982, average compensation in the financial sector ranged between 99 percent and 108 percent of the average for all domestic private industries. From 1983, it shot upward, reaching 181 percent in 2007.

The great wealth that the financial sector created and concentrated gave bankers enormous political weight — a weight not seen in the U.S. since the era of J.P. Morgan (the man). In that period, the banking panic of 1907 could be stopped only by coordination among private-sector bankers: no government entity was able to offer an effective response. But that first age of banking oligarchs came to an end with the passage of significant banking regulation in response to the Great Depression; the reemergence of an American financial oligarchy is quite recent.

He further researched this theme in his book 2010 book 13 Bankers The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown  (ISBN 978-0307379054), coauthored with James Kwak. They also founded and regularly contributes to the economics blog The Baseline Scenario. See also History of Casino Capitalism

The net effect of the ideological counter-revolution based on market fundamentalism ideology was that it restored the power of financial oligarchy typical for Gilded Age. As Simon Johnson argues that was partially done by subverting regulators and that oversize institutions always disproportionately influence public policy:

The second problem the U.S. faces—the power of the oligarchy—is just as important as the immediate crisis of lending. And the advice from the IMF on this front would again be simple: break the oligarchy.

Oversize institutions disproportionately influence public policy; the major banks we have today draw much of their power from being too big to fail. Nationalization and re-privatization would not change that; while the replacement of the bank executives who got us into this crisis would be just and sensible, ultimately, the swapping-out of one set of powerful managers for another would change only the names of the oligarchs.

Ideally, big banks should be sold in medium-size pieces, divided regionally or by type of business. Where this proves impractical—since we’ll want to sell the banks quickly—they could be sold whole, but with the requirement of being broken up within a short time. Banks that remain in private hands should also be subject to size limitations.

This may seem like a crude and arbitrary step, but it is the best way to limit the power of individual institutions in a sector that is essential to the economy as a whole. Of course, some people will complain about the "efficiency costs" of a more fragmented banking system, and these costs are real. But so are the costs when a bank that is too big to fail—a financial weapon of mass self-destruction—explodes. Anything that is too big to fail is too big to exist.

To ensure systematic bank breakup, and to prevent the eventual reemergence of dangerous behemoths, we also need to overhaul our antitrust legislation. Laws put in place more than 100years ago to combat industrial monopolies were not designed to address the problem we now face. The problem in the financial sector today is not that a given firm might have enough market share to influence prices; it is that one firm or a small set of interconnected firms, by failing, can bring down the economy. The Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus evokes FDR, but what we need to imitate here is Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting.

Caps on executive compensation, while redolent of populism, might help restore the political balance of power and deter the emergence of a new oligarchy. Wall Street’s main attraction—to the people who work there and to the government officials who were only too happy to bask in its reflected glory—has been the astounding amount of money that could be made. Limiting that money would reduce the allure of the financial sector and make it more like any other industry.

Still, outright pay caps are clumsy, especially in the long run. And most money is now made in largely unregulated private hedge funds and private-equity firms, so lowering pay would be complicated. Regulation and taxation should be part of the solution. Over time, though, the largest part may involve more transparency and competition, which would bring financial-industry fees down. To those who say this would drive financial activities to other countries, we can now safely say: fine.

Two Paths

To paraphrase Joseph Schumpeter, the early-20th-century economist, everyone has elites; the important thing is to change them from time to time. If the U.S. were just another country, coming to the IMF with hat in hand, I might be fairly optimistic about its future. Most of the emerging-market crises that I’ve mentioned ended relatively quickly, and gave way, for the most part, to relatively strong recoveries. But this, alas, brings us to the limit of the analogy between the U.S. and emerging markets.

Emerging-market countries have only a precarious hold on wealth, and are weaklings globally. When they get into trouble, they quite literally run out of money—or at least out of foreign currency, without which they cannot survive. They must make difficult decisions; ultimately, aggressive action is baked into the cake. But the U.S., of course, is the world’s most powerful nation, rich beyond measure, and blessed with the exorbitant privilege of paying its foreign debts in its own currency, which it can print. As a result, it could very well stumble along for years—as Japan did during its lost decade—never summoning the courage to do what it needs to do, and never really recovering. A clean break with the past—involving the takeover and cleanup of major banks—hardly looks like a sure thing right now. Certainly no one at the IMF can force it.

In my view, the U.S. faces two plausible scenarios. The first involves complicated bank-by-bank deals and a continual drumbeat of (repeated) bailouts, like the ones we saw in February with Citigroup and AIG. The administration will try to muddle through, and confusion will reign.

Boris Fyodorov, the late finance minister of Russia, struggled for much of the past 20 years against oligarchs, corruption, and abuse of authority in all its forms. He liked to say that confusion and chaos were very much in the interests of the powerful—letting them take things, legally and illegally, with impunity. When inflation is high, who can say what a piece of property is really worth? When the credit system is supported by byzantine government arrangements and backroom deals, how do you know that you aren’t being fleeced?

Our future could be one in which continued tumult feeds the looting of the financial system, and we talk more and more about exactly how our oligarchs became bandits and how the economy just can’t seem to get into gear.

The second scenario begins more bleakly, and might end that way too. But it does provide at least some hope that we’ll be shaken out of our torpor. It goes like this: the global economy continues to deteriorate, the banking system in east-central Europe collapses, and—because eastern Europe’s banks are mostly owned by western European banks—justifiable fears of government insolvency spread throughout the Continent. Creditors take further hits and confidence falls further. The Asian economies that export manufactured goods are devastated, and the commodity producers in Latin America and Africa are not much better off. A dramatic worsening of the global environment forces the U.S. economy, already staggering, down onto both knees. The baseline growth rates used in the administration’s current budget are increasingly seen as unrealistic, and the rosy "stress scenario" that the U.S. Treasury is currently using to evaluate banks’ balance sheets becomes a source of great embarrassment.

Under this kind of pressure, and faced with the prospect of a national and global collapse, minds may become more concentrated.

The conventional wisdom among the elite is still that the current slump "cannot be as bad as the Great Depression." This view is wrong. What we face now could, in fact, be worse than the Great Depression—because the world is now so much more interconnected and because the banking sector is now so big. We face a synchronized downturn in almost all countries, a weakening of confidence among individuals and firms, and major problems for government finances. If our leadership wakes up to the potential consequences, we may yet see dramatic action on the banking system and a breaking of the old elite. Let us hope it is not then too late.

It is pretty interesting to see how financial oligarchy filters information provided to the population to fit their biases. For example, the key facts about repeal of Glass-Steagall law  (BTW Joe Biden voted for it) mostly hidden from the public: 

Commodity Futures Trading Commission — under the leadership of Mr. Gramm’s wife, Wendy — had approved rules in 1989 and 1993 exempting some swaps and derivatives from regulation. In December 2000, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act was passed as part of a larger bill by unanimous consent after Senator Gramm dominated the Senate debate...

"He was the architect, advocate and the most knowledgeable person in Congress on these topics," Mr. Donovan said. "To me, Phil Gramm is the single most important reason for the current financial crisis."

"The virtually unregulated over-the-counter market in credit-default swaps has played a significant role in the credit crisis, including the now $167 billion taxpayer rescue of A.I.G.," Christopher Cox, the chairman of the S.E.C. and a former congressman, said Friday.

But you will never find discussion of flaws and adverse consequences Phil Gram (or Greenspan for a change) initiatives in Heritage Foundation and other right-wing think tanks publications.

Stages of transformation

So what we are experiencing is a the completion of the transformation of one phase of capitalism to another. It happened in stages:

  1. Manufacturing stagnated and can't provide the "decent" rate of growth. Competition from re-built Europe and Asian markets severely stressed the US manufacturing. due to competition return of capital dropped and in several industries became negative.

  2. Computers brought innovations into financial markets. They make possible real time trading of induces like S&P500, complex financial instruments like derivatives, etc. Later they enables superfast trading (HFT). All those instruments dramatically increased the possibilities of extracting the rent by financial institutions from the society.

  3. Globalization kicked in due to new opportunities offered by high speed global communications (Internet). And that is not limited to outsourcing. Due to globalization the sheer size of the financial markets increased to the extent that they started to represent a different, new transnational phenomena allowing new types of redistribution of wealth to be practiced. Integration of Russian elite (oligarchs) is just one example of this process. In case of pro-western oligarchs (fifth column) West went to significant length to protect them and their racket (Mikhail Khodorkovsky - Wikipedia,)

  4. Commercial banks turned into investment banks to exploit this opportunity.

  5. Financial sector completely corrupted academic science converting most economists to pay prostitutes which serve their interests.

  6. Collapse of the USSR provided the financial sector major shoot in the arm and a golden, once in century opportunity to finance new half-billion consumers and stole for a penny on a dollar huge industrial assets and natural resources as well as put most of those countries in the debt (Latin-Americanization of xUSSR space). Harvard Mafia (with some support from London) did the bidding of western banks in xUSSR space. As more becomes known about the laundering of Russian money in Western banks, many in the United States will likely try to hide behind stories of faraway organized crime. But U.S. policy toward Russia has contributed to that country's sorry conditions--with the Harvard Institute for International Development's Russia project (HIID) playing a major role (Harvard's 'Best and Brightest' Aided Russia's Economic Ruin ). Professor Jeffery Sacks provided a bogus idea of "shock therapy" to achieve spectacular for Western banks result. As a result all xUSSR space became new Latin America with typical for Latin America problems like huge level of inequality, prostitution, child poverty, and prominent role of organized crime.

  7. Banks became dominant political force on western societies with no real counterbalance from other parts of the elite. The first president completely subservient to banking elite was elected in the USA in 1992. Bill Clinton regime lasted eight years and along with economic rape of xUSSR space in best colonial powers tradition, it removed what was left of financial regulations after the flurry of deregulation of the early 1980s. And they behaved as an occupying force not only in xUSSR space but in the USA as well. They deprived workers out of their jobs, they abolished the US pension system as it impede playing with population money and replaced in with widely inadequate 401K plans. They deprived municipalities out of their revenues and assets, while municipalities became just a den of bond traders looking for then next mark which give them the ability to put municipalities deeper in debt.

  8. Newly acquired political power of financial elite speeded the shift to bank "self-regulation" created huge shadow banking system which dwarf "official" under the smoke screen of "free-market" propaganda and PR from a coterie of corrupts academics (Chicago Scholl, Harvard Mafia, etc) . It engaged in pursuit of short term profits and self-enrichment of top brass which became new elite by-and-large displacing not only the old one, but also the newly minted IT elite of dot-com boom. Using newly acquired power financial elite remove all regulations that hamper their interests. Glass-Steagall was repealed at the last days of Clinton presidency, financial derivatives became unregulated.

  9. Deindustrialization kicked in. As financial speculation proved to be much more profitable to other activities deindustrialization kicked in the USA as the financial center of the world. Outsourcing which first was limited to manufacturing jobs now extent its reach on IT and decimate previously profitable sector and its export potential.

  10. Externalities can no longer be suppressed and economics became unstable. Growth of inequality, job insecurity, as well as frequency of financial crises were natural consequences of financialization of the economy. They create huge imbalances, like bubble in residential real estate which was blown with the help and full support of the USA government as a way to overcome dot-com crisis consequences.

  11. Debt crisis strikes. Growth of debt became unsustainable and produces the financial crisis of enormous proportions. By their reckless policies and greed financial sector caused huge financial crisis of 2008 and now they are forcing national governments to auction off their cultural heritage to the highest bidder. Everything must go in fire sales at prices rigged by twenty-something largest banks, the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known.

  12. Devastating "local" wars became "new normal". Due to financial crisis, the overconsumption in western economies came under threat. Debt expansion which led to overconsumption within the western economies affected (or infected) by financialization. To sustain the current standard of living financial expansion became the necessity. It took the form of a competition for spheres of influence in the area of energy supplies, which we see in post USSR space, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. And central banks play critical role in financing wars. After all Banks of England was created with this exact purpose.

I think by 2008 when the second major financial crisis hit the USA, the transformation on the USA economy into casino capitalism, which is essentially implementation of neoliberal doctrine (or more correctly the US brand of corporatism) was by-and-large complete.

In short we are living in a new politico-economic system in which financial capital won victory over both labor and industrial capital. We might not like what we got, but financial elite is now a new ruling class and this fact is difficult to dispute. As a result. instead of the robber barons of the early 20th century (some of whom actually created/consolidated new industries), we have the top executives from investment banks, insurers and mortgage industry who represent a new Rentier class, much like old aristocracy.

They are living off parasitic monopolization of access to any (physical, financial, intellectual, etc.) kind of property and gaining significant amount of profit without contribution to society (see Rentier capitalism which is a very fuzzy term for neoliberal model of capitalism).

Casino Capitalism as a result of stagnation of industrial manufacturing

Stagnation of industrial manufacturing droved up financial speculation as the method to compensate for falling rate on return on capital. This stagnation became prominent during Reagan administration (which started the major shift toward neoliberalism), although signs of it were present from early 60th.

For example Chicago which was a manufacturing center since 1969 lost approximately 400K manufacturing jobs which were replaced mainly by FIRE-related jobs, In 1995 over 22% of those employed by FIRE industries (66K people) were working in executive and managerial positions. Another 17% are in marketing, sales and processional specialty occupations (computer system analysts, PR specialists, writer and editors).

Those changes in the structure of employment had several consequences:

  1. The stagnation of the underlying economy meant that capitalists were increasingly dependent on the growth of finance to preserve and enlarge their money capital.
  2. The financial superstructure of the capitalist economy could not expand independently of its base -- underlying productive economy — hence the bursting of speculative bubbles became a recurrent and growing problem.
  3. Financialization could never overcome stagnation of industrial production. It is just an opium for rich, not a structural adjustment of the stagnation-prone economy. But like addition to narcotics does to human body it does tremendous damage to real economy.
  4. Rapid increase in inequality is necessary to sustain the appetites of the elite in the system with fixed size of the pie. Politico-economic conditions might became even more unfavorable for labor. Stagnation of industrial production mean shrinking pie, which necessitates redistribution of wealth in favor of a new, all-powerful financial Rentier class. This redistribution resulted in partial wipe-out of large swats of middle class. For the past three decades, America has steadily converted itself into a nation of haves (as Bush II quipped "This is an impressive crowd -- the haves and the have mores! Some people call you the elite -- I call you my base". ) and have-nots. The cost of a college education rises rapidly at a time when wages for skilled labor stagnate, so access to college became against discriminated in favor of upper class of the society. Repressive apparatus and ideological brainwashing are too strong to mount effective resistance.

The key to understanding of Casino Capitalism is that it was a series of government decisions (or rather non-decisions) that converted the state into neoliberal model. In other words casino capitalism has distinct "Government property" mark. It was the USA elite, which refused to act responsibly in the face of changing economic conditions resulting from its own actions, and instead chose to try to perpetuate, by whatever means it had at its disposal, the institutional advantages of dollar as a reserve currency which it had vis-à-vis its main economic rivals and grab as large part of the world economic pie as it can. And this power grab was supported first of all by the role of dollar as currency in which oil is traded.

There might be some geo-strategically motives as well as the US elite in late 80th perceived that competitiveness is slipping out of the USA and the danger of deindustrialization is real. Many accuse Reagan with the desire to ride dollar status as a world reserve currency (exorbitant privilege) until the horse is dead. That's what real cowboys do in Hollywood movies... But the collapse of the main rival, the USSR vindicated this strategy and give a strong short in the arm to financialization of the economy. Actually for the next ten years can be called a triumphal ascend of financialization in the USA.

Dominance of FIRE industries clustered up and in recent years reached in the USA quite dramatic proportions. The old Bolsheviks saying "When we say Lenin we mean the Party and when we say the Party we mean Lenin" now can be reworded: "Now it we say US banks, we mean the US government and vise versa if we say US government we mean US banks".

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the FIRE sector was and is the biggest contributor to federal candidates in Washington. Companies cannot give directly, so they leave it to bundlers to solicit maximum contributions from employees and families. They might have been brought down to earth this year, but they’ve given like Gods: Goldman Sachs, $4.8 million; Citigroup, $3.7 million; J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., $3.6 million; Merrill Lynch, $2.3 million; Lehman Brothers, $2.1 million; Bank of America, $2.1 million. Some think the long-term effect of such contributions to individual candidates was clear in the roll-call votes for the bailout.

Take the controversial first House vote on bailout of major banks on Sept. 29, 2008. According to CRP, the "ayes" had received 53 percent more contributions from FIRE since 1989 than those who voted against the bill, which ultimately failed 228 to 205. The 140 House Democrats who voted for the bill got an average of $188,572 in this election cycle, while the 65 Republicans backing it got an average of $185,461 from FIRE—about 23 percent more than the bill’s opponents received. A tinkered bill was passed four days later, 263 to 171.

According to the article Fire Sale (The American Conservative) half of Obama’s top ten contributors, together giving him nearly $2.2 million, are FIREmen. The $13 million contributed by FIRE executives to Obama campaign is probably an undercount. Democratic committee leaders are also dependent of FIRE contributions. The list includes Sen. Dodd ( please look at Senator Dodd's top donors for 2007-8 on openSecrets.org ) and Sen. Chuck Schumer ($12 million from FIRE since 1989), Rep. Barney Frank ($2.5 million), and Rep. Charlie Rangel ($4 million, the top recipient in the House). All of them have been accused of taking truckloads of contributions while failing to act on the looming mortgage crisis. Dodd finally pushed mortgage reform last year but by then as his hometown paper, The Hartford Courant stated, "the damage was done."

Casino Capitalism and Financial Instability

At the same time rise of financial capital dramatically increased instability. An oversized financial sector produces instability due to multiple positive feedback loops. In this sense we can talk about Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy. The whole society became "House of cards", "Giant Enron" and "extension of Las Vegas". Reckless management, greed and out-right stupidity in playing derivatives games was natural consequence of the oversized financial sector, not just a human folly. In a way it was dramatic manifestation of the oversized financial sector negative influence of the economy. And in 2008 it did brought out economy to the brink of destruction. Peak oil added to suffocating effect on the economy of reckless gambling (and related debts) of financial sector producing the economic calamity that rivals Great Depression. Also, like Socialism, Casino Capitalism demands too much of its elite. And in reality, the financial elite much like Bolsheviks elite, is having its own interests above the interests of the society.

As Kevin Phillips noted "In the United States, political correctness, religious fundamentalism, and other inhibitions sometimes dumb down national debate". And the same statement is true for financial elite that became the center of power under the Casino Capitalism. Due to avalanche of greed the society became one giant Enron as money that are made from value addition in the form of manufacturing fade in significance to the volume of the money that is made from shuffling money around. In other was the Wall Street's locked USA in the situation from which there is no easy exit.

Self-reinforcing ‘positive’ feedback loops prevalent in Casino Capitalism trigger an accelerating creation of various debt instruments, interest of which at some point overwhelm the system carrying capacity. Ability to lend against good collateral is quickly exhausted. At some point apparently there is no good collateral against which lending freely was possible, even at high rates. This means that each new stage of financial innovation involves scam and fraud, on increasing scale. In other words Ponzi economy of "saving and loans" is replaced with Madoff economy.

Whether you shift the resulting huge private debt to public to increase confidence or not, the net result is of this development of events is a crisis and a huge debt that society needs to take. Actually the debt bubble in 2008 can only be compared to the debt bubble of 1933. The liquidation of Bear Sterns and Lehman was only a start of consolidation of finances and we need to find something that replace financial sector dominance in the national economy. It would be nice is some technological breakthrough happened which would lift the country out of this deep hole.

See Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy for more details.

Neoliberalism as the Ideology of Casino Capitalism

Like Bolshevism was marked by deification of teaching of Marx and Lenin, converting them into pseudo-religious doctrine, the Casino Capitalism has its own deified ideological doctrine. It is the ideology of Neoliberalism. The latter as an ideology and an agenda seeks to topple democratic capitalism and replace it with a de facto unaccountable autocratic government which serves as channel of a wealth transfer from the public to a rentier elite. In a way it is a spectacular example of a successful (in a very negative sense) pseudo-religious doctrine.

Addiction of the societies to disastrous politico-economical doctrines are similar to addictions to alcohol and drugs in individuals. It is not easy to recover and it takes a long, long time and a lot of misery. As dissolution of the USSR aptly demonstrated not all societies can make it. In this case the USSR elite (nomenklatura) simply shed the old ideology as it understood that it will be better off adopting ideology of neoliberal capitalism; so it was revolution from above.  this abrupt switch created chaos in economics (which was applauded by Washington which under Clinton administration adopted the stance the Carnage needs to be destroyed and facilitated the process), criminal privatization of major industries, and pushed into object poverty the 99% of population of those countries. For some period under "drunk Yeltsyn" Russia sees to exist as an independent country and became a vassal of Washington.

This also means that "society at large" did not had effective brakes to the assent of financial plutocracy (aka financial oligarchy).  I would add to this the computer revolution and internet that made many financial transaction qualitatively different and often dramatically cheaper that in previous history. Computers also enabled creation of new financial players like mutual funds (which created a shadow banking system with their bond funds) , hedge funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), as well as high-frequency trading and derivatives.

From the historical view Reaganomics also can be considered to be the US flavor of Lysenkoism with economics instead of genetics as a target. Here is how Reaganomics is defined in Wikipedia

Reaganomics (a portmanteau of "Reagan" and "economics") refers to the economic policies promoted by United States President Ronald Reagan. The four pillars of Reagan's economic policy were to:[1]
  1. reduce the growth of government spending,
  2. reduce marginal tax rates on income from labor and capital,
  3. reduce government regulation of the economy,
  4. control the money supply to reduce inflation.

In attempting to cut back on domestic spending while lowering taxes, Reagan's approach was a departure from his immediate predecessors.

Reagan became president during a period of high inflation and unemployment (commonly referred to as stagflation), which had largely abated by the time he left office.

Please not that the Number 1 idea ("reduce government spending") was essentially a scam, a smoke screen designed to attract Rednecks as a powerful voting block. In a way this was a trick similar to one played by Bolsheviks in Russia with its "worker and peasants rule" smokescreen which covered brutal dictatorship. In reality all administrations which preached Reagonomics (including Clinton's) expanded the role of state and government spending. The number two was applied by-and-large to top 1%. The number three means deregulation in the interests of financial oligarchy and dismantling all social program that hamper profit of the latter (including privatizing of Social Security). The number fours is a scam, in the same sense as number one. As soon as financial institutions get in trouble, money are printed as if there is no tomorrow.

While the essence of Reagonomics was financial deregulation, the other important element was restoring the Gilded Age level of power of financial oligarchy which influence was diminished by FDR reforms. In this sense we can say that Reagan revolution was essentially a counter-revolution: an attempt to reverse the New Deal restrictions on financial sector and restore its dominance in the society.

Like it was the case in Bolshevism the ideology was developed and forced upon the society by a very small group of players. The key ideas of Casino Capitalism were formulated and implemented by Reagan administration with some contribution by Nixon (the role of rednecks aka "moral majority", "silent majority" as an important part of republican political base, which can be attracted to detrimental to its economic position policies by the smoke screen of false "moral" promises).

It was supported by each president after Reagan (paradoxically with Clinton having the most accomplished record -- he was the best Republican President in a very perverted way). Like in case of Lysenkoism opponents were purged and economic departments of the country were captured by principless careerists ready to tow the party line for personal enrichment. Like in case of Bolshevism, many of those special breed of careerists rotated from Republican Party into Fed and other government structures. A classic example of compulsive careerists that were used by finance sector to promote its interests was Alan Greenspan.

One of the key ideas of Reaganomics was the rejection of the sound approach that there should be a balance between too much government regulation and too little and that government role is important for smooth functioning of the market. In this area Reagan and its followers can be called Anarchists and their idea of 'free market" is a misnomer that masks the idea of "anarchic market" (corporate welfare to be exact -- as it was implemented). Emergence of corporate welfare Queens such as GS, Citi, AIG, are quite natural consequence of Reaganomics.

Reaganomics was a the US flavor of Lysenkoism with economics instead of generics as a target... It can and should be called Economic Lysenkoism.

The most interesting part of Reaganomics was that the power of this ideology made it possible to conditioned "working class" and middle class to act against their own economic interests. It helped to ensure the stagnation of wages during the whole 25 years period, which is close to what Soviets managed to achieve with working class of the USSR, but with much more resentment. This makes it in many ways very similar to Bolshevism as a whole, not just Lysenkoism (extremes meet or in less flattering way: "history repeats, first as a tragedy, then as farce).

Along with the term Reaganimics which implicitly stresses the deregulation, the other close term "market fundamentalism" is often used. Here is how market fundamentalism is defined (Longview Institute):

Market Fundamentalism is the exaggerated faith that when markets are left to operate on their own, they can solve all economic and social problems. Market Fundamentalism has dominated public policy debates in the United States since the 1980's, serving to justify huge Federal tax cuts, dramatic reductions in government regulatory activity, and continued efforts to downsize the government’s civilian programs.

Some level of government coercion (explicit or implicit ) is necessary for proper labeling of any pseudo-scientific theory with the term Lysenkoism. This holds true for both Market Fundamentalism (after all Reagan revolution was "revolution from above" by financial oligarchy and for financial oligarchy and hired guns from academia just do what powers that be expected) and, especially, Supply side economic. The political genius of those ideas is evident. Supply-side economics transformed Republicans from a minority party into a majority party. It allowed them to promise lower taxes, lower deficits and, in effect, unchanged spending. Why should people not like this combination? Who does not like a free lunch?

In this sense the Republican Party played the role very similar to the Communist Party of the USSR.

For example supply side economics was too bizarre and would never survive without explicit government support. This notion is supported by many influential observers. For example, in the following comment for Krugman article (Was the Great Depression a monetary phenomenon):

Market fundamentalism (neoclassical counter-revolution — to be more academic) was more of a political construct than based on sound economic theory. However, it would take a while before its toxic legacy is purged from the economics departments. Indeed, in some universities this might never happen.

Extreme deregulation and extreme regulation (Brezhnev socialism) logically meets and both represent a variant of extremely corrupt society that cannot be sustained for long (using bayonets as in the case of USSR or using reserve currency and increasing leverage as is the case of the USA). In both cases the societies were economically and ideologically bankrupt at the end.

Actually, elements of market fundamentalism looks more like religious doctrine than political philosophy — and that bonds its even closer to Lysenkoism. In both cases critics were silenced with the help of the state. It is interesting to note that Reaganomics was wiped into frenzy after the dissolution of the USSR, the country which gave birth to the term of Lysenkoism. In a way the last act of the USSR was to stick a knife in the back of the USA. As a side note I would like to stress that contrary to critics the USSR was more of a neo-feudal society with elements of slavery under Stalin. Gulag population were essentially state slaves; paradoxically a somewhat similar status is typical for illegal immigrants in industrialized countries. From this point of view this category of "state slaves" is generally more numerous that gulag inmates. Prison population also can be counted along those lines.

It look like either implicitly or explicitly Reagan's bet was on restoration of gilded Age with its dominance of financial oligarchy, an attempt to convert the USA into new Switzerland on the "exorbitant privilege" of dollar status as the global fiat currency.

Casino Capitalism is characterized by political dominance of FIRE industries (finance, insurance, and real estate) and diminished role of other and first of all manufacturing industries. It was also accompanied by the drastic growth of inequality (New Gilded Age). Its defining feature is "the triumph of the trader in assets over the long-term producer" in Martin Wolf's words.

Voodoo economic theories

Attempts of theoretical justification of Economic Lysenkoism fall into several major categories:

Those can be called pillars, cornerstones of Economic Lysenkoism. Each of the deserves as separate article (see links above).

Historically especially important was Chicago school of market fundamentalism promoted pseudo-scientific theories of Milton Freedman (Chicago School) as well as supply side economics.

Collapse of the USSR as ideological justification of Casino Capitalism superiority

The huge boost of Casino Capitalism was given by the collapse of the USSR in 1991. That gave a second life to Reagan era. Collapse of the USSR was used as a vindication of market fundamentalism. After it New Deal regulations were systematically destroyed. Dumped down variants of Nietzsche philosophy like bastardatized variant promoted by Russian emigrant became fashionable with an individual "creative" entrepreneur as a new Übermensch, which stands above morality.

"The word Übermensch [designates] a type of supreme achievement, as opposed to 'modern' men, 'good' men, Christians, and other nihilists ... When I whispered into the ears of some people that they were better off looking for a Cesare Borgia than a Parsifal, they did not believe their ears."[9] Safranski argues that the combination of ruthless warrior pride and artistic brilliance that defined the Italian Renaissance embodied the sense of the Übermensch for Nietzsche. According to Safranski, Nietzsche intended the ultra-aristocratic figure of the Übermensch to serve as a Machiavellian bogeyman of the modern Western middle class and its pseudo-Christian egalitarian value system.[10]

Brainwashing

The instability and volatility of active markets can devalue the economic base of real lives, or in more macro-scenarios can lead to the collapse of national and regional economies. In a very interesting and grotesque way it also incorporates the key element of Brezhnev Socialism in everyday life: huge manipulation of reality by mass media to the extend that Pravda and the USSR First TV Channel look pretty objective in comparison with Fox news and Fox controlled newspapers. Complete poisoning of public discourse and relying on the most ignorant part of the population as the political base (pretty much reminiscent of how Bolsheviks played "Working Class Dictatorship" anti-intellectualism card; it can be called "Rednecks Dictatorship").

The "heroes" or transformation of US economy to casino capitalism model

While transformation to casino capitalism was an objective development, there were specific individuals who were instrumental in killing New Deal regulations. We would single out the following twelve figures:

  1. Ronald Reagan (although first steps toward casino capitalism were made under Carter).
  2. Milton Friedman
  3. Alan Greenspan
  4. Phil Gramm
  5. Robert Rubin
  6. Larry Summers
  7. Helicopter Ben
  8. Bush II
  9. Bill Clinton
  10. Sandy Weill
  11. Jeffrey Sachs with his "shock therapy" racket
  12. Martin Feldstein

There is no question that Reagan and most of his followers (Greenspan, Rubin, Phil Gramm, etc) were rabid radicals blinded by ideology. But they were radicals of quite different color then FDR with disastrous consequences for society. Here again the analogy with Bolsheviks looms strong. In a way, they can be called financial terrorists inflicting huge damage on the nation and I wonder if RICO can be use to prosecute at least some of them.

In Bailout Nation (Chapter 19) Barry Ritholtz tried to rank major players that led country into the current abyss:

1. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan
2. The Federal Reserve (in its role of setting monetary policy)
3. Senator Phil Gramm
4-6. Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings (rating agencies)
7. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
8-9. Mortgage originators and lending banks
10. Congress
11. The Federal Reserve again (in its role as bank regulator)
12. Borrowers and home buyers
13-17. The five biggest Wall Street firms (Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch,Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs) and their CEOs
18. President George W. Bush
19. President Bill Clinton
20. President Ronald Reagan
21-22. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson
23-24. Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers
25. FOMC Chief Ben Bernanke
26. Mortgage brokers
27. Appraisers (the dishonest ones)
28. Collateralized debt obligation (CDO) managers (who produced the junk)
29. Institutional investors (pensions, insurance firms, banks, etc.) for
buying the junk
30-31. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC); Office of Thrift
Supervision (OTS)
32. State regulatory agencies
33. Structured investment vehicles (SIVs)/hedge funds for buying the junk

Early Researchers of Casino Capitalism

Hyman Minsky

Hyman Minsky argued that a key mechanism that pushes an economy towards a crisis is the accumulation of debt and the fact the financial system represents a positive feedback loop that tend to destabilize the system, creating ossilations in the form of boom and bust cycles. . He identified 3 types of borrowers that contribute to the accumulation of insolvent debt: Hedge Borrowers; Speculative Borrowers; and Ponzi Borrowers. That corresponds to three stages of Casino Capitalism of increasing fragility:

Growth of debt and increased levarate at some point create predocition of the crash. The stage of business cycle at which those preconditions are met is called "Minsky moment":

A Minsky moment is the point in a credit cycle or business cycle when investors are starting to have cash flow problems due to spiraling debt they have incurred in order to finance speculative or Ponzy investments.

At this point, a major selloff begins due to the fact that no counterparty can be found to bid at the high asking prices previously quoted, leading to a sudden and precipitous collapse in market clearing asset prices and a sharp drop in market liquidity.[1]

After the collapse of the USSR there were a lot of chest thumping of the status of America as a hyper power (American exceptionalism) and the "end of history" where neoliberalism that displaced Brazhvev socialism (and wiped out the socialist camp) was supposed to reign supreme forever.

But this triumphal march of neoliberalism was short lived. The system proved to be self-destructive due to strong positive feedback look from the unregulated financial sector.

But in 2000 the first moment to pay the piper arrives. It was postponed by Iraq war and housing bubble, but reappeared in much more menacing form in 2008. In 2009 the USA experienced a classic Minsky moment with high unemployment rate and economy suppressed by (and taken hostage) by Ponzi finance institutions which threaten the very survival of the capitalist system and way of life. Huge injection freom the state halped to save the economy from disintration, but the price was very high. And  after 2009 the US economy entered the period prologed stagnation, called  the perios of "secular stagnation".

In events preceding 2008 the shift from speculative toward Ponzi finance was speed up by increased corruption of major players.  The drive to redistribute wealth up destroyed any remnants of the rule of the law in the USA. It became a neo-feudal two casts society with "Masters of the Universe" as the upper cast (top 1% ) and "despicables" (lower 80%) as the lower cast. With some comprador strata of professional in between (top 20% or so), who generally support the upper cast.

Loweer cast experienced deterioration of the standard of living, loss of well paying jobs to outsourcing and offshoring and in 2016 revolted electing Trump, who defeated Hillary Clinton, who became a real symbol of the corruption of neoliberal system. 

"As Minsky observed, capitalism is inherently unstable. As each crisis is successfully contained, it encourages greater speculation and risk taking in borrowing and lending. Financial innovation makes it easier to finance various schemes. To a large extent, borrowers and lenders operate on the basis of trial and error. If a behavior is rewarded, it will be repeated. Thus stable periods naturally lead to optimism, to booms, and to increasing fragility.

A financial crisis can lead to asset price deflation and repudiation of debt. A debt deflation, once started, is very difficult to stop. It may not end until balance sheets are largely purged of bad debts, at great loss in financial wealth to the creditors as well as the economy at large."

For more information see

Susan Strange

For Strange the speed at which computerized financial markets work combined with their much larger size and  near-universal pervasiveness is an important qualitative change, that changes the social system into what he called "casino capitalism".  She actually popularized the term "Casino Capitalism" with her important book Casino Capitalism  published in 1997.

One of the side effects of this change is that volatility extends globally. Approximately $1.5 trillion dollars are invested daily as foreign transactions. It is estimated that 98% of these transactions are speculative. In comparison with this casino Las Vegas looks like a aborigine village in comparison with Manhattan.

Notes:

Susan Strange (June 9, 1923 - October 25, 1998) was a British academic who was influential in the field of international political economy. Her most important publications include

For a quarter of a century, Susan Strange was the most influential figure in British international studies. She held a number of key academic posts in Britain, Italy and Japan. From 1978 to 1988, she was Montague Burton Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the first woman to hold this chair and a professorial position in international relations at the LSE. She was a major figure in the professional associations of both Britain and the US: she was an instrumental founding member and first Treasurer of the British International Studies Association (BISA) [1] and the first female President of the International Studies Association (ISA) in 1995.

It was predominantly as a creative scholar and a forceful personality that she exercised her influence. She was almost single-handedly responsible for creating ‘international political economy’ and turning it into one of the two or three central fields within international studies in Britain, and she defended her creation with such robustness, and made such strong claims on its behalf, that her influence was felt—albeit not always welcomed—in most other areas of the discipline. She was one of the earliest and most influential campaigners for the closer integration of the study of international politics and international economics in the English language scholarship.

In the later period of her career, alongside the financial analyses offered in Casino Capitalism (the analysis in which she felt was vindicated by the South-East Asian financial crisis) and Mad Money, Strange's contributions to the field include her characterisation of the four different areas (production, security, finance and knowledge) through which power might be exercised in International Relations. This understanding of what she termed "structural power", formed the basis of her argument against the theory of American Hegemonic Decline in the early eighties.

Her analysis particularly in States and Markets focused on what she called the ‘market-authority nexus’, the see-saw of power between the market and political authority. The overall argument of her work suggested that the global market had gained significant power relative to states since the 1970s.

This led her to dub the Westphalia system Westfailure. She argued that a ‘dangerous gap’ was emerging between territorially-bound nation states and weak or partial intergovernmental cooperation in which markets had a free hand which could be constructive or destructive.

John K. Galbraith

Among important early critiques of casino capitalism was John K. Galbraith. He promoted a pretty novel idea that the major economic function of Governments is to strengthen countervailing powers to achieve some kind of balance between capital and labor.

While unions are far from being perfect and tend to slide into corruption due to "iron law of oligarchy" when thier management stop representing interests of thwe worksers and start to reprreesnt interest of thier own narry strate of fat cats,  there were the only sizable countewailing power that made the New Seal possible.

His prediction proved to be wrong as government actually represent the capitalist class and is not that interested in creating this balance, which was convincingly demonstrated by Thatcher and Reagan.  Both Britain and the USA start sliding into a new form of corporations, called neoliberalism which actually does not allocate any space for uniot at the negotiation table and strive for their complete elimination and "atomization" of work force, when each invididual is up to himself to find employment and group solidarity is suppressed by instilling neoliberal ideology in schools and universitites as well as via MSM (which in the USA surprisingly never were allowed to use the work neoliberlaism, as if it represents some secret Masonic cult)

And it does not look like there is any renewed support of unions right  (including important right to organize) at the  post subprime/derivatives/shadow_banking crisis stage of neoliberalism, when neoliberal ideology became sufficiently discredited to allow rise of populist politicians such as Trump. 

Still John K. Galbraith critique of primitive market fundamentalism of Milton Freedman and the whole pseudoscience of neoclassical economics which like Marxist political economy is one of there pillars of neoliberalism (along with Randism as philosophy and Neoconservatism or "Trotskyism for the rich" in politics), still has its value today. As Joseph Stiglitz noted (CSMonitor, Dec 28, 2006):

...In many ways, Galbraith was a more critical observer of economic reality.

Driven to understand market realities

Galbraith's vivid depictions of the good, bad, and ugly of American capitalism remain a sorely needed reminder that all is not quite as perfect as the perfect market models – with their perfect competition, perfect information, and perfectly rational consumers – upon which so much of Friedman's analysis depended.

Galbraith, who cut his teeth studying agricultural economics, strove to understand the world as it was, with all the problems of unemployment and market power that simplistic models of competitive markets ignore. In those models, unemployment didn't exist. Galbraith knew that made them fatally flawed

... ... ...

In his early research, Galbraith attempted to explain what had brought on the Great Crash of 1929 – including the role of the stock market's speculative greed fed by (what would today be called) irrational exuberance. Friedman ignored speculation and the failure of the labor market as he focused on the failures of the Federal Reserve. To Friedman, government was the problem, not the solution.

What Galbraith understood, and what later researchers (including this author) have proved, is that Adam Smith's "invisible hand" – the notion that the individual pursuit of maximum profit guides capitalist markets to efficiency – is so invisible because, quite often, it's just not there. Unfettered markets often produce too much of some things, such as pollution, and too little of other things, such as basic research. As Bruce Greenwald and I have shown, whenever information is imperfect – that is, always – markets are inefficient; hence the need for government action.

Galbraith reminded us that what made the economy work so well was not an invisible hand but countervailing powers. He had the misfortune of articulating these ideas before the mathematical models of game theory were sufficiently developed to give them expression. The good news is that today, more attention is being devoted to developing models of these bargaining relationships, and to complex, dynamic models of economic fluctuations in which speculation may play a central role.

Government's role

While Friedman never really appreciated the limitations of the market, he was a forceful critic of government. Yet history shows that in every successful country, the government had played an important role. Yes, governments sometimes fail, but unfettered markets are a certain prescription for failure. Galbraith made this case better than most.

Galbraith knew, too, that people aren't just rational economic actors, but consumers, contending with advertising, political persuasion, and social pressures. It was because of his close touch with reality that he had such influence on economic policymaking, especially during the Kennedy-Johnson years.

Galbraith's penetrating insights into the nature of capitalism – as it is lived, not as it is theorized in simplistic models – has enhanced our understanding of the market economy. He has left an intellectual legacy for generations to come. And he has left a gap in our intellectual life: Who will stand up against the economics establishment to articulate an economic vision that is both in touch with reality and comprehensible to ordinary citizens?

Galbraith was vindicated in his belief that the only economics possible is political economics and that government is always an agent of dominant class. As such it always pursue poklitics favorable to this class, just making marginal efforts to prevent the open revolt of lower classes.

In 2008 neoliberal economist such as Krugman and (to a lesse extent) Stiglitz both have eaten humble pie, because according to neoclassical economics the crises should not have happened. Both should now reread Galbraith's The Great Crash: 1929 (see also extracts).  Krugman also need to shred his previous writings with this mathiness execises of using differential equations to justify the dominance of financial oligarchy,  and eat them with borsch ;-)

BTW it is interesting that in 1996 neoliberal stooge Paul Krugman criticized limitations of Galbright vision in the following way:

To be both a liberal and a good economist you must have a certain sense of the tragic--that is, you must understand that not all goals can be attained, that life is a matter of painful tradeoffs. You must want to help the poor, but understand that welfare can encourage dependency. You must want to protect those who lose their jobs, but admit that generous unemployment benefits can raise the long-term rate of unemployment. You must be willing to tax the affluent to help those in need, but accept that too high a rate of taxation can discourage investment and innovation.

To the free-market conservative, these are all arguments for government to do nothing, to accept whatever level of poverty and insecurity the market happens to produce. A serious liberal does not reply to such conservatives by denying that there are any trade-offs at all; he insists, rather, that some trade-offs are worth making, that helping the poor and protecting the unlucky may have costs but will ultimately make for a better society.

The revelation one gets from reading John Kenneth Galbraith's The Good Society is that Galbraith--who is one of the world's most celebrated intellectuals, and whom one would expect to have a deeper appreciation of the complexity of the human condition than a mere technical economist would -- lacks this tragic sense. Galbraith's vision of the economy is one without shadows, in which what is good for social justice always turns out to have no unfavorable side effects. If this vision is typical of liberal intellectuals, the ineffectuality of the tribe is not an accident: It stems from a deep-seated unwillingness to face up to uncomfortable reality.

Similar limited understanding of Galbright is demonstrated in London Times (cited from comment to Economist's View blog) :

Some motifs of Galbraith’s work have entered popular consciousness. Galbraith wrote of private opulence amid public squalor, illustrating it with a memorable metaphor of a family that travels by extravagant private car to picnic by a polluted river.

Yet while arguing for increased public expenditure on welfare, Galbraith gave scant attention to the limits of that approach. His writings perpetuate a debilitating weakness of modern liberalism: a reluctance to acknowledge that resources are scarce.

In Galbraith’s scheme, said Herbert Stein, the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers: “The American people were only asked whether they wanted cleaner air and water . . . The answers to such questions seemed obvious — but they were not the right questions.”

Soros contribution to the understanding of growth of financial sector as source of new, global economic instability

This idea of "casino capitalism" as a driver of financial instability was developed further in the book The Crisis of Global Capitalism by prominent financial speculator and staunch neoliberal George Soros (1998), who after Minsky highlights the potential for disequilibrium in the financial system, and the inability of non-market sectors to regulate markets.

the latter is a prominant feature of Casino Capitalism, which can be defined as economic system were financial barons run amok.

Although the insights of the Soros critique of global capitalism are scarcely new, they were articulated with such candor and accuracy that the book made a significant impact. The following is a sampling of Soros' insights.
  1. Unregulated financial markets are inherently unstable. There is nothing new in this statement. It is just a repetition of what Keynes and Minsky said much more eloquently. But Soros made in important observation about the source of constant disequilibrium of markets under neoliberalism, the observation which permitted for him to achieve spectacular success as a financial speculator.  Soros observes that, contrary to conventional economic theory, financial markets are not driven toward a relatively stable and rational price by the objective value assessment of such things as the soundness of a company's management, products, or record of profitability. Rather they are constantly driven away from equilibrium by the momentum of self-fulfilling expectations -- a rising stock price attracts buyers who further raise the price-to the point of collapse. The recent massive inflation and subsequent collapse in the price of the shares of unprofitable dot-com companies illustrates Soros' point.

    Bank lending also contributes to the instability, because the price of real and financial assets is set in part by their collateral value. The higher their market price rises the larger the loans banks are willing to make to their buyers to bid up prices. When the bubble bursts, the value of the assets plummets below the amount of the money borrowed against them. This forces banks to call their loans and cut back on the lending, which depresses asset prices and dries up the money supply. The economy then tanks-until credit worthiness is restored and a new boom phase begins.

  2. Financial markets are amoral by definition. Following Napoleon Bonaparte ("Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain. "), Soros stressed that there is no meaningful place for individual moral behavior of financial oligarchy in the context of financial markets, because such behavior has no consequences for them other than to reduce the financial return of  a more  ethical actor.  In other words modern finance is breeding ground for ruthless sociopath, which we really observed during 2008.

    When I bought shares in Lockheed and Northrop after the managements were indicted for bribery, I helped sustain the price of their stocks. When I sold sterling short in 1992, the Bank of England was on the other side of my transactions, and I was in effect taking money out of the pockets of British taxpayers. But if I had tried to take social consequences into account, it would have thrown off my risk-reward calculation, and my profits would have been reduced.

    Soros argues that if he had not bought Lockheed and Northrop, then somebody else would have, and Britain would have devalued sterling no matter what he did. "Bringing my social conscience into the decision-making process would make no difference in the real world; but it may adversely affect my own results." One can challenge the Soros claim that such behavior is amoral rather than immoral, but his basic argument is accurate. His understanding that it is futile to look to individual morality as the solution to the excesses of financial markets is all too accurate.

  3. Corporate employees are duty-bound to serve only corporate financial interests. As such financial institution are closely related to organized crime and top layers of managers are essentially institualized criminals. Soros writes:

    Publicly owned companies are single-purpose organizations-their purpose is to make money. The tougher the competition, the less they can afford to deviate. Those in charge may be well-intentioned and upright citizens, but their room for maneuver is strictly circumscribed by the position they occupy.

     They are duty-bound to uphold the interests of the company. If they think that cigarettes are unhealthy or that fostering civil war to obtain mining concessions is unconscionable, they ought to quit their jobs. Their place will be taken by people who are willing to carry on.

    Though not specifically mentioned by Soros, this is why corporations were in the past (at least partially) excluded from the political processes (although it was never complete and it is well known fact that Crusades and Siege of Constantinople (1204) were financed by Genoese bankers upset by lack of access to the Byzantium markets). But at least formally other parts of the society can define their goals and the rules of the marketplace and suppress excessive appetities of banker, if nessesary by brute force.  Financial oligarchy is incapable of distinguishing between private corporate interests and broader public interests. And that situation became even worse with the the global dominance of corporatism in the form of neoliberalism.

  4. Financial markets are oblivious to externalities and are infected by "short-termism". Specifically the fact that a strategy or policy produces economic returns in the short-term does not mean the long-term results will be beneficial. The focus of financial markets is on short-term individual gain to the exclusion of both social and longer-term consequences. The fact that particular policies and strategies are effective in producing short-term financial returns does not mean they are more generally beneficial or desirable. Soros offers the example that running up a budget or trade deficit "feels good while it lasts, but there can be hell to pay later."

  5. The relationship between the center and the periphery of the capitalist system is profoundly unequal. The powerful countries at the center of the capitalist system are both wealthier and more stable than countries at the periphery because control of the financial system and ownership of productive assets allows them to shape economic and political affairs to their benefit.

    "Foreign ownership of capital deprives peripheral countries of autonomy and often hinders the development of democratic institutions. The international flow of capital is subject to catastrophic interruptions."

    In times of uncertainty financial capital tends to return to its country of origin, thus depriving countries at the periphery of the financial liquidity necessary to the function of monetized economies. "The center's most important feature is that it controls its own economic policies and holds in its hands the economic destinies of periphery countries."

  6. In the capitalist system greed (aka "monetary values") tend to displace social values in sectors where this is destructive to important public interests. Soros writes:

    Monetary values [under neoliberalism] have usurped the role of intrinsic values, and markets have come to dominate spheres of existence where they do not properly belong.

    Law and medicine, politics, education, science, the arts, even personal relations-achievements or qualities that ought to be valued for their own sake are converted into monetary terms; they are judged by the money they fetch rather than their intrinsic value."

    Because financial "capital is free to go where most rewarded, countries vie to attract and retain capital, and if they are to succeed they must give precedence to the requirements of international capital over other social objectives.

Ha-Joon Chang

One notable later researcher of casino capitalism, especially "free market" fundamentalism propaganda Cambridge University researcher Ha-Joon Chang. In 2011 he published a fascinating book 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism. Here is a Youtube lecture at LSE (23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism  ). We will reproduce  two Amazon reviews that shed some light at the key ideas of the book:

William Podmore

Ha-Joon Chang, Reader in the Political Economy of Development at Cambridge University, has written a fascinating book on capitalism's failings. He also wrote the brilliant Bad Samaritans. Martin Wolf of the Financial Times says he is `probably the world's most effective critic of globalization'.

Chang takes on the free-marketers' dogmas and proposes ideas like

He notes that the USA does not have the world's highest living standard. Norway, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden and the USA, in that order, had the highest incomes per head. On income per hours worked, the USA comes eighth, after Luxemburg, Norway, France, Ireland, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands. Japan, Switzerland, Singapore, Finland and Sweden have the highest industrial output per person.

Free-market politicians, economists and media have pushed policies of de-regulation and pursuit of short-term profits, causing less growth, more inequality, more job insecurity and more frequent crises. Britain's growth rate in income per person per year was 2.4 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.7 per cent 1990-2009. Rich countries grew by 3 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.4 per cent 1980-2009. Developing countries grew by 3 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 2.6 per cent 1980-2009. Latin America grew by 3.1 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.1 per cent 1980-2009, and Sub-Saharan Africa by 1.6 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 0.2 per cent 1990-2009. The world economy grew by 3.2 per cent in the 1960s-70s and 1.4 per cent 1990-2009.

So, across the world, countries did far better before Thatcher and Reagan's `free-market revolution'. Making the rich richer made the rest of us poorer, cutting economies' growth rates, and investment as a share of national output, in all the G7 countries.

Chang shows how free trade is not the way to grow and points out that the USA was the world's most protectionist country during its phase of ascendancy, from the 1830s to the 1940s, and that Britain was one of world's the most protectionist countries during its rise, from the 1720s to the 1850s.

He shows how immigration controls keep First World wages up; they determine wages more than any other factor. Weakening those controls, as the EU demands, lowers wages.

He challenges the conventional wisdom that we must cut spending to cut the deficit. Instead, we need controls capital, on mergers and acquisitions, and on financial products. We need the welfare state, industrial policy, and huge investment in industry, infrastructure, worker training and R&D.

As Chang points out, "Even though financial investments can drive growth for a while, such growth cannot be sustained, as those investments have to be ultimately backed up by viable long-term investments in real sector activities, as so vividly shown by the 2008 financial crisis."

This book is a commonsense, evidence-based approach to economic life, which we should urge all our friends and colleagues to read.

Loyd E. Eskildson

The 2008 'Great Recession' demands re-examination of prevailing economic thought - the dominant paradigm (post 1970's conservative free-market capitalism) not only failed to predict the crisis, but also said it couldn't occur in today's free markets, thanks to Adam Smith's 'invisible hand.' Ha-Joon Chang provides that re-examination in his "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism." Turns out that the reason Adam Smith's hand was not visible is that it wasn't there. Chang, economics professor at the University of Cambridge, is no enemy of capitalism, though he contends its current conservative version should be made better. Conventional wisdom tells us that left alone, markets produce the most efficient and just outcomes - 'efficient' because businesses and individuals know best how to utilize their resources, and 'just' because they are rewarded according to their productivity. Following this advice, countries have deregulated businesses, reduced taxes and welfare, and adopted free trade. The results, per Chang, has been the opposite of what was promised - slower growth and rising inequality, often masked by rising credit expansion and increased working hours. Alternatively, developing Asian countries that grew fast did so following a different version of capitalism, though to be fair China's version to-date has also produced much greater inequality. The following summarizes some of Chang's points:

  1. "There is no such thing as a free market" - we already have hygiene standards in restaurants, ban child labor, pollution, narcotics, bribery, and dangerous workplaces, require licenses for professions such as doctors, lawyers, and brokers, and limit immigration. In 2008, the U.S. used at least $700 billion of taxpayers' money to buy up toxic assets, justified by President Bush on the grounds that it was a necessary state intervention consistent with free-market capitalism. Chang's conclusion - free-marketers contending that a certain regulation should not be introduced because it would restrict market freedom are simply expressing political opinions, not economic facts or laws.
  2. "Companies should not be run in the interest of their owners." Shareholders are the most mobile of corporate stakeholders, often holding ownership for but a fraction of a second (high-frequency trading represents 70% of today's trading). Shareholders prefer corporate strategies that maximize short-term profits and dividends, usually at the cost of long-term investments. (This often also includes added leverage and risk, and reliance on socializing risk via 'too big to fail' status, and relying on 'the Greenspan put.') Chang adds that corporate limited liability, while a boon to capital accumulation and technological progress, when combined with professional managers instead of entrepreneurs owning a large chunk (e.g.. Ford, Edison, Carnegie) and public shares with smaller voting rights (typically limited to 10%), allows professional managers to maximize their own prestige via sales growth and prestige projects instead of maximizing profits. Another negative long-term outcome driven by shareholders is increased share buybacks (less than 5% of profits until the early 1980s, 90% in 2007, and 280% in 2008) - one economist estimates that had GM not spent $20.4 billion on buybacks between 1986 and 2002 it could have prevented its 2009 bankruptcy. Short-term stockholder perspectives have also brought large-scale layoffs from off-shoring. Governments of other countries encourage longer-term thinking by holding large shares in key enterprises (China Mobile, Renault, Volkswagen), providing greater worker representation (Germany's supervisory boards), and cross-shareholding among friendly companies (Japan's Toyota and its suppliers).
  3. "Free-market policies rarely make poor countries rich." With a few exceptions, all of today's rich countries, including Britain and the U.S., reached that status through protectionism, subsidies, and other policies that they and their IMF, WTO, and World Bank now advise developing nations not to adopt. Free-market economists usually respond that the U.S. succeeded despite, not because of, protectionism. The problem with that explanation is the number of other nations paralleling the early growth strategy of the U.S. and Britain (Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan), and the fact that apparent exceptions (Hong Kong, Switzerland, The Netherlands) did so by ignoring foreign patents (a free-market 'no-no'). Chang believes the 'official historians' of capitalism have been very successful re-writing its history, akin to someone trying to 'kick away the ladder' with which they had climbed to the top. He also points out that developing nations that stick to their Ricardian 'comparative advantage,' per the conservatives prescription, condemn themselves to their economic status quo.
  4. "We do not live in a post-industrial age." Most of the fall in manufacturing's share of total output is not due to a fall in the quantity of manufactured goods, but due to the fall in their prices relative to those for services, caused by their faster productivity growth. A small part of deindustrialization is due to outsourcing of some 'manufacturing' activities that used to be provided in-house - e.g.. catering and cleaning. Those advising the newly developing nations to skip manufacturing and go directly to providing services forget that many services mainly serve manufacturing firms (finance, R&D, design), and that since services are harder to export, such an approach will create balance-of-payment problems. (Chang's preceding points directly contradict David Ricardo's law of comparative advantage - a fundamental free market precept. Chang's example of how Korea built Pohang Steel into a strong economic producer, despite lacking experienced managers and natural resources, is another.)
  5. "The U.S. does not have the highest living standard in the world." True, the average U.S. citizen has greater command over goods and services than his counterpart in almost any other country, but this is due to higher immigration, poorer employment conditions, and working longer hours for many vs. their foreign counterparts. The U.S. also has poorer health indicators and worse crime statistics. We do have the world's second highest income per capita - Luxemburg's higher, but measured in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) the U.S. ranks eighth. (The U.S. doesn't have the fastest growing economy either - China is predicted to pass the U.S. in PPP this coming decade.) Chang's point here is that we should stop assuming the U.S. provides the best economic model. (This is already occurring - the World Bank's chief economist, Justin Lin, comes from China.)
  6. "Governments can pick winners." Chang cites examples of how the Korean government built world-class producers of steel (POSCO), shipbuilding (Hyundai), and electronics (LG), despite lacking raw materials or experience for those sectors. True, major government failures have occurred - Europe's Concorde, Indonesia's aircraft industry, Korea's promotion of aluminum smelting, and Japan's effort to have Nissan take over Honda; industry, however, has also failed - e.g.. the AOL-Time Warner merger, and the Daimler-Chrysler merger. Austria, China, Finland, France, Japan, Norway, Singapore (in numerous other areas), and Taiwan have also done quite well with government-picked winners. Another problem is that business and national interests sometimes clash - e.g.. American firms' massive outsourcing has undermined the national interest of maintaining full employment. (However, greater unbiased U.S. government involvement would be difficult due to the 10,000+ corporate lobbyists and billions in corporate campaign donations - $500 million alone from big oil in 2009-10.) Also interesting to Chang is how conservative free marketing bankers in the U.S. lined up for mammoth low-cost loans from the Federal Reserve at the beginning of the Great Recession. Government planning allows minimizing excess capacity, maximizing learning-curve economies and economies of scale and scope; operational performance is enhanced by also forcing government-owned or supported firms into international competition. Government intervention (loans, tariffs, subsidies, prohibiting exports of needed raw materials, building infrastructure) are necessary for emerging economies to move into more sophisticated sectors.
  7. "Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer." 'Trickle-down' economics is based on the belief that the poor maximize current consumption, while the rich, left to themselves, mostly invest. However, the years 1950-1973 saw the highest-ever growth rates in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, despite increased taxation of the rich. Before the 'Golden Age,' per capita income grew at 1-1.5%/year; during the Golden Age it grew at 2-3% in the U.S. Since then, tax cuts for the rich and financial deregulation have allowed greater paychecks for top managers and financiers, and between 1979 and 2006 the top 0.1% increased their share of national income from 3.5% to 11.6%. The result - investment as a ratio of national output has fallen in all rich economies and the pace at which the total economic pie grew decreased.
  8. "U.S. managers are over-priced." First, relative to their predecessors (about 10X those in the 1960s; now 300-400X the average worker), despite the latter having run companies more successfully, in relative terms. Second, compared to counterparts in other rich countries - up to 20X. (Third, compared to counterparts in developing nations - e.g.. JPMorgan Chase, world's 4th largest bank, paid its CEO $19.6 million in 2008, vs. the CEO of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world's largest, being paid $234,700. Read more ›

Willem Buiter and the idea of long term stagnation

Willem Buiter in his FT article After the Crisis Macro Imbalance, Credibility and Reserve-Currency suggested that after financial crisis of 2008 there might be very long a painful deleveraging period aka secular stagnation.  He was right.

In short each financial crisis make recovery longer and longer. That's why the US will most likely face a long period of stagnation: the digestion of huge excessive debt of the private sector might well take a decade:

Since the excess of debt is relative to income and GDP, the lower the rate of growth, the longer the required period of digestion. This explains for the paradox of trying to stimulate consumption when the economy faces a monumental crisis provoked exactly by excessive debt and excessive consumption. A cartoon line best captured the spirit of it: "country addicted to speculative bubbles desperately searches a new bubble to invest in. "

... ... ...

The roots of the crisis are major international macroeconomic imbalances. Despite the fact that the excesses of the financial system were instrumental to lead these imbalances further than otherwise possible, insufficient regulation should not be viewed as the main factor behind the crisis. The expenditure of central countries, spinned by all sort of financial innovations created by a globalized financial system, was the engine of world growth. When debt became clearly excessive in central countries and the debt-financed expenditure cycle came to an end, the ensuing crisis paralyzed the world economy. With the lesson of 1929 well assimilated, American monetary policy became aggressively expansionist. The Fed inundated the economy with money and credit, in the attempt to avoid a deep depression. Even if successful, the economies of the US and the other central countries, given the burden of excessive debt, are likely to remain stagnant under the threat of deflation for the coming years. The assumption of troubled assets by the public sector, in order to avoid the collapse of the financial system, might succeed, but at the cost of a major increase in public debt. Fiscal policy is not efficient to restart the economy when the private sector remains paralyzed by excessive debt. Even if a coordinated effort to increase public expenditure is successful, the central economies will remain stagnant for as long as the excessive indebtedness of the private sector persists. The period of digestion of excess debt will be longer than the usual recessive cycle. Since imports represent a drain in the effort to reanimate domestic demand through public expenditure, while exports, on the contrary, contribute to the recovery of internal demand, the temptation to central economies to also adopt a protectionist stance will be strong.

Willem Buiter also defined ‘cognitive regulatory capture’ which existed during the Greenspan years and when the Fed were just an arm of Wall Street.

This regulatory capture has resulted in an excess sensitivity of the Fed to financial market and financial sector concerns and fears and in an overestimation of the strength of the link between financial market turmoil and financial sector deleveraging and capital losses on the one hand, and the stability and prosperity of the wider economy on the other hand. The paper gives five examples of recent behavior by the Fed that are most readily rationalized with the assumption of regulatory capture. The abstract of the paper follows next. The latest version of the entire enchilada can be found here. Future revisions will also be found there.

Joseph Stiglitz on 5 steps to Casino Capitalism

Stiglitz is very unene and early Striglist was actually defender of neoliberalism (aka casino capitalism). Later he became a critic. In his 2008 Vanity Fair article Capitalist Fools Stiglitz identifies five key steps in transformation of American capitalism to Casino Capitalism (moments of failure as he called them):

No. 1: Reagan Fires Fed Chairman Volcker and Replaces Him With Greenspan in 1987:

Volcker also understood that financial markets need to be regulated. Reagan wanted someone who did not believe any such thing, and he found him in a devotee of the objectivist philosopher and free-market zealot Ayn Rand.

snip

If you appoint an anti-regulator as your enforcer, you know what kind of enforcement you’ll get. A flood of liquidity combined with the failed levees of regulation proved disastrous.

Greenspan presided over not one but two financial bubbles.

  1. Congress repealed the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 under Bill Clinton (Glass-Steagall was a depression-era reform that separated commercial and investment banks)

I had opposed repeal of Glass-Steagall. The proponents said, in effect, Trust us: we will create Chinese walls to make sure that the problems of the past do not recur. As an economist, I certainly possessed a healthy degree of trust, trust in the power of economic incentives to bend human behavior toward self-interest—toward short-term self-interest, at any rate, rather than Tocqueville’s "self interest rightly understood."

Stiglitz also refers to a 2004 decision by the SEC "to allow big investment banks to increase their debt-to-capital ratio (from 12:1 to 30:1, or higher) so that they could buy more mortgage-backed securities, inflating the housing bubble in the process."

Once more, it was deregulation run amuck, and few even noticed.

  1. The Bush tax cuts, both on income and capital gains

The Bush administration was providing an open invitation to excessive borrowing and lending—not that American consumers needed any more encouragement.

  1. Faking the Numbers

Here he refers to bad accounting, the failure to address problems with stock options, and the incentive structures of ratings agencies like Moodys that led them to give high ratings to toxic assets.

  1. Paulson and the Flawed Bailout

Valuable time was wasted as Paulson pushed his own plan, "cash for trash," buying up the bad assets and putting the risk onto American taxpayers. When he finally abandoned it, providing banks with money they needed, he did it in a way that not only cheated America’s taxpayers but failed to ensure that the banks would use the money to re-start lending. He even allowed the banks to pour out money to their shareholders as taxpayers were pouring money into the banks.

Stiglitz concludes:

The truth is most of the individual mistakes boil down to just one: a belief that markets are self-adjusting and that the role of government should be minimal. Looking back at that belief during hearings this fall on Capitol Hill, Alan Greenspan said out loud, "I have found a flaw." Congressman Henry Waxman pushed him, responding, "In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right; it was not working." "Absolutely, precisely," Greenspan said. The embrace by America—and much of the rest of the world—of this flawed economic philosophy made it inevitable that we would eventually arrive at the place we are today.

The flawed economic philosophy brought by Reagan, and embraced by so many, brought us to this day. Ideas have consequences, especially when we stop empirically testing them. Republican economics have created great pain to America and harmed our national interest.

The flaw that Greenspan found was always there: self-regulation does not work. As Stiglitz said:

As an economist, I certainly possessed a healthy degree of trust, trust in the power of economic incentives to bend human behavior toward self-interest — toward short-term self-interest

Yes, for all their claims to science, the premise conflicts with tendencies of people.

This is the real legacy of Ronald Reagan and Alan Greenspan:

The whole scheme was kick-started under Ronald Reagan. Between his tax cuts for the rich and the Greenspan Commission’s orchestrated Social Security heist, working Americans lost out in a generational wealth transfer shift now exceeding $1 trillion annually from 90 million working class households to for-profit corporations and the richest 1% of the population. It created an unprecedented wealth disparity that continues to grow, shames the nation and is destroying the bedrock middle class without which democracy can’t survive.

Greenspan helped orchestrate it with economist Ravi Batra calling his economics "Greenomics" in his 2005 book "Greenspan’s Fraud." It "turns out to be Greedomics" advocating anti-trust laws, regulations and social services be ended so "nothing....interfere(s) with business greed and the pursuit of profits."

 Conclusions: From Animal Farm To Animal House

Instead of conclusion I will reproduce the post from Sudden Debt (March 17, 2008):

In Orwell's Animal Farm all animals are equal - except that some are more equal than others. All in the spirit of law, order and the proper functioning of society, of course. Fittingly, the animals that have chosen this role by themselves and for themselves, are the pigs.

Cut to US financial markets today. After years of swinish behavior more reminiscent of Animal House than anything else, the pigs are threatening to destroy the entire farm. As if it wasn't enough that they devoured all the "free market" food available and inundated the world with their excreta, they now wish to be put on the public trough. Truly, some businessmen believe they are more equal than others.

But do not blame the pigs; they are expected to act as swine nature dictates. The fault lies entirely with the farmers, those authorities entrusted by the people to oversee the farm because they supposedly knew better. While the pigs were rampaging and tearing the place apart, they were assuring us all that farms function best when animals are free to do as they please, guided solely by invisible hooves. No regulation, no oversight, no common sense. Oh yes, and pigs fly..

So what is to be done now? Two things:

In other words, the focus from now on should be on adding value by means of work and savings (capital formation), instead of inflating assets and borrowing.

Furthermore, we should realize that in a world already inhabited by close to 7 billion people and beset by resource depletion and environmental degradation, defending growth for growth's sake is a losing proposition. The wheels are already wobbling on the Permagrowth model; pumping harder on the accelerator is not going to make it go any faster and will likely result in a fatal crash.

Debt, and finance in general, should be left to re-size downwards to a level that better reflects the carrying capacity of our world. The Fed's current actions are shortsighted and "conservative" in the worst interpretation of the words: they are designed to artificially maintain debt at levels that myopically projects growth as far as the eye can see.

What level of resizing may be necessary? I hope not as much as at Bear Stearns, which got itself bought by Morgan at buzz-saw prices: $2 per share represents a 98% discount from its $84 book value. What scares me, though, is the statement by Morgan's CFO, who said the price reflected the risk the firm was taking, even though he was comfortable with the valuation of assets in Bear's books. It "...gives us the flexibility and margin of error that's appropriate given the speed at which the transaction came together", he said.

If it takes a 98% discount and the explicit guarantee of the Fed for a large portion of assets to buy one of the largest investment banks in the world, where should all other financial firms be trading at? ....Hello? Anyone? Is that a great big silence I hear, or the sound of credit imploding into a vacuum?


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[Jun 19, 2018] How The Last Superpower Was Unchained by Tom Engelhardt

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... However, the truth – at least in retrospect – was that, in the Cold War years, the Soviets were actually doing Washington a strange, if unnoted, favor. Across much of the Eurasian continent, and other places from Cuba to the Middle East, Soviet power and the never-ending contest for influence and dominance that went with it always reminded American leaders that their own power had its limits. ..."
"... This, as the 21st century should have (but hasn't) made clear, was no small thing. It still seemed obvious then that American power could not be total. There were things it could not do, places it could not control, dreams its leaders simply couldn't have. Though no one ever thought of it that way, from 1945 to 1991, the United States, like the Soviet Union, was, after a fashion, "contained." ..."
"... In those years, the Russians were, in essence, saving Washington from itself. Soviet power was a tangible reminder to American political and military leaders that certain areas of the planet remained no-go zones (except in what, in those years, were called "the shadows"). ..."
"... The Soviet Union, in short, rescued Washington from both the fantasy and the hell of going it alone, even if Americans only grasped that reality at the most subliminal of levels. ..."
Jun 19, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Tom Engelhardt via The Asia Times,

Think of it as the all-American version of the human comedy: a great power that eternally knows what the world needs and offers copious advice with a tone deafness that would be humorous, if it weren't so grim.

If you look, you can find examples of this just about anywhere. Here, for instance, is a passage in The New York Times from a piece on the topsy-turvy Trumpian negotiations that preceded the Singapore summit. "The Americans and South Koreans," wrote reporter Motoko Rich, "want to persuade the North that continuing to funnel most of the country's resources into its military and nuclear programs shortchanges its citizens' economic well-being. But the North does not see the two as mutually exclusive."

Think about that for a moment. The US has, of course, embarked on a trillion-dollar-plus upgrade of its already massive nuclear arsenal (and that's before the cost overruns even begin). Its Congress and president have for years proved eager to sink at least a trillion dollars annually into the budget of the national security state (a figure that's still rising and outpaces by far that of any other power on the planet), while its own infrastructure sags and crumbles. And yet it finds the impoverished North Koreans puzzling when they, too, follow such an extreme path.

"Clueless" is not a word Americans ordinarily apply to themselves as a country, a people, or a government. Yet how applicable it is.

And when it comes to cluelessness, there's another, far stranger path the United States has been following since at least the George W Bush moment that couldn't be more consequential and yet somehow remains the least noticed of all. On this subject, Americans don't have a clue. In fact, if you could put the United States on a psychiatrist's couch, this might be the place to start.

America contained

In a way, it's the oldest story on Earth: the rise and fall of empires. And note the plural there. It was never – not until recently at least – "empire," always "empires." Since the 15th century, when the fleets of the first European imperial powers broke into the larger world with subjugation in mind, it was invariably a contest of many. There were at least three or sometimes significantly more imperial powers rising and contesting for dominance or slowly falling from it.

This was, by definition, the history of great powers on this planet: the challenging rise, the challenged decline. Think of it for so many centuries as the essential narrative of history, the story of how it all happened until at least 1945, when just two "superpowers," the United States and the Soviet Union, found themselves facing off on a global scale.

Of the two, the US was always stronger, more powerful, and far wealthier. It theoretically feared the Russian Bear, the Evil Empire , which it worked assiduously to " contain " behind that famed Iron Curtain and whose adherents in the US, always modest in number, were subjected to a mania of fear and suppression.

However, the truth – at least in retrospect – was that, in the Cold War years, the Soviets were actually doing Washington a strange, if unnoted, favor. Across much of the Eurasian continent, and other places from Cuba to the Middle East, Soviet power and the never-ending contest for influence and dominance that went with it always reminded American leaders that their own power had its limits.

This, as the 21st century should have (but hasn't) made clear, was no small thing. It still seemed obvious then that American power could not be total. There were things it could not do, places it could not control, dreams its leaders simply couldn't have. Though no one ever thought of it that way, from 1945 to 1991, the United States, like the Soviet Union, was, after a fashion, "contained."

In those years, the Russians were, in essence, saving Washington from itself. Soviet power was a tangible reminder to American political and military leaders that certain areas of the planet remained no-go zones (except in what, in those years, were called "the shadows").

The Soviet Union, in short, rescued Washington from both the fantasy and the hell of going it alone, even if Americans only grasped that reality at the most subliminal of levels.

That was the situation until December 1991 when, at the end of a centuries-long imperial race for power (and the never-ending arms race that went with it), there was just one gigantic power left standing on Planet Earth. It told you something about the thinking then that, when the Soviet Union imploded, the initial reaction in Washington wasn't triumphalism (though that came soon enough) but utter shock, a disbelieving sense that something no one had expected, predicted, or even imagined had nonetheless happened. To that very moment, Washington had continued to plan for a two-superpower world until the end of time.

America uncontained

Soon enough, though, the Washington elite came to see what happened as, in the phrase of the moment, " the end of history ." Given the wreckage of the Soviet Union, it seemed that an ultimate victory had been won by the very country its politicians would soon come to call "the last superpower," the " indispensable " nation, the " exceptional " state, a land great beyond imagining (until, at least, Donald Trump hit the campaign trail with a slogan that implied greatness wasn't all-American any more).

In reality, there were a variety of paths open to the "last superpower" at that moment. There was even, however briefly, talk of a "peace dividend" – of the possibility that, in a world without contesting superpowers, taxpayer dollars might once again be invested not in the sinews of war-making but of peacemaking (particularly in infrastructure and the well-being of the country's citizens).

Such talk, however, lasted only a year or two and always in a minor key before being relegated to Washington's attic. Instead, with only a few rickety "rogue" states left to deal with – like gulp North Korea, Iraq and Iran – that money never actually headed home, and neither did the thinking that went with it.

Consider it the good fortune of the geopolitical dreamers soon to take the reins in Washington that the first Gulf War of 1990-1991, which ended less than a year before the Soviet Union collapsed, prepared the way for quite a different style of thinking. That instant victory led to a new kind of militarized dreaming in which a highly tech-savvy military, like the one that had driven Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait in such short order, would be capable of doing anything on a planet without serious opposition.

And yet, from the beginning, there were signs suggesting a far grimmer future. To take but one infamous example, Americans still remember the Black Hawk Down moment of 1993 when the world's greatest military fell victim to a Somali warlord and local militias and found itself incapable of imposing its will on one of the least impressive not-quite-states on the planet (a place still frustrating that military a quarter-century later).

In that post-1991 world, however, few in Washington even considered that the 20th century had loosed another phenomenon on the world, that of insurgent national liberation movements, generally leftist rebellions, across what had been the colonial world – the very world of competing empires now being tucked into the history books – and it hadn't gone away. In the 21st century, such insurgent movements, now largely religious, or terror-based, or both, would turn out to offer a grim new version of containment to the last superpower.

Unchaining the indispensable nation

On September 11, 2001, a canny global jihadist by the name of Osama bin Laden sent his air force (four hijacked US passenger jets) and his precision weaponry (19 suicidal, mainly Saudi followers) against three iconic targets in the American pantheon: the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and undoubtedly the Capitol or the White House (neither of which was hit because one of those jets crashed in a field in Pennsylvania). In doing so, in a sense bin Laden not only loosed a literal hell on Earth, but unchained the last superpower.

William Shakespeare would have had a word for what followed: hubris. But give the top officials of the Bush administration (and the neocons who supported them) a break. There had never been a moment like it: a moment of one. A single great power left alone, triumphant, on planet Earth. Just one superpower – wealthy beyond compare, its increasingly high-tech military unmatched, its only true rival in a state of collapse – had now been challenged by a small jihadist group.

To president Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney, and the rest of their crew, it seemed like nothing short of a heaven-sent opportunity. As they came out of the shock of 9/11, of that " Pearl Harbor of the 21st century ," it was as if they had found a magic formula in the ruins of those iconic buildings for the ultimate control of the planet. As secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld would instruct an aide at the Pentagon that day, "Go massive. Sweep it up. Things related and not."

Within days, things related and not were indeed being swept up. The country was almost instantly said to be "at war," and soon that conflict even had a name, the Global War on Terror. Nor was that war to be against just al-Qaeda, or even one country, an Afghanistan largely ruled by the Taliban. More than 60 countries said to have "terror networks" of various sorts found themselves almost instantly in the administration's potential gunsights. And that was just to be the beginning of it all.

In October 2001, the invasion of Afghanistan was launched. In the spring of 2003, the invasion of Iraq followed, and those were only the initial steps in what was increasingly envisioned as the imposition of a Pax Americana on the Greater Middle East.

There could be no doubt, for instance, that Iran and Syria, too, would soon go the way of Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush's top officials had been nursing just such dreams since, in 1997, many of them formed a think-tank (the first ever to enter the White House) called the Project for the New American Century and began to write out what were then the fantasies of figures nowhere near power. By 2003, they were power itself and their dreams, if anything, had grown even more grandiose.

In addition to imagining a political Pax Republicana in the United States, they truly dreamed of a future planetary Pax Americana in which, for the first time in history, a single power would, in some fashion, control the whole works, the Earth itself.

And this wasn't to be a passing matter either. The Bush administration's "unilateralism" rested on a conviction that it could actually create a future in which no country or even bloc of countries would ever come close to matching or challenging US military power. The administration's National Security Strategy of 2002 put the matter bluntly: The US was to "build and maintain" a military, in the phrase of the moment, " beyond challenge ."

They had little doubt that, in the face of the most technologically advanced, bulked-up, destructive force on Earth, hostile states would be "shocked and awed" by a simple demonstration of its power, while friendly ones would have little choice but to come to heel as well. After all, as Bush said at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in 2007, the US military was "the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known."

Though there was much talk at the time about the "liberation" of Afghanistan and then Iraq, at least in their imaginations the true country being liberated was the planet's lone superpower. Although the Bush administration was officially considered a "conservative" one, its key officials were geopolitical dreamers of the first order and their vision of the world was the very opposite of conservative. It harkened back to nothing and looked forward to everything.

It was radical in ways that should have, but didn't, take the American public's breath away; radical in ways that had never been seen before.

Shock and awe for the last superpower

Think of what those officials did in the post-9/11 moment as the ultimate act of greed. They tried to swallow a whole planet. They were determined to make it a planet of one in a way that had never before been seriously imagined.

It was, to say the least, a vision of madness. Even in a moment when it truly did seem – to them at least – that all constraints had been taken off, an administration of genuine conservatives might have hesitated. Its top officials might, at least, have approached the post-Soviet situation with a modicum of caution and modesty.

But not George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and pals. In the face of what seemed like the ultimate in possibilities they proved clueless when it came to the possibility that anything on Earth might have a shot at containing them.

Even among their critics, who could have imagined then that, more than 16 years later, having faced only lightly armed enemies of various sorts, still wealthy beyond compare, still with a military funded in a way the next seven countries couldn't cumulatively match, the United States would have won literally nothing?

Who could have imagined that, unlike so many preceding imperial powers (including the US of the earlier Cold War era), it would have been able to establish control over nothing at all; that, instead, from Afghanistan to Syria, Iraq deep into Africa, it would find itself in a state of " infinite war " and utter frustration on a planet filled with ever more failed states , destroyed cities , displaced people , and right-wing "populist" governments, including the one in Washington?

Who could have imagined that, with a peace dividend no longer faintly conceivable, this country would have found itself not just in decline, but – a new term is needed to catch the essence of this curious moment – in what might be called self-decline?

Yes, a new power, China, is finally rising – and doing so on a planet that seems itself to be going down . Here, then, is a conclusion that might be drawn from the quarter-century-plus in which America was both unchained and largely alone.

The Earth is admittedly a small orb in a vast universe, but the history of this century so far suggests one reality about which America's rulers proved utterly clueless: After so many hundreds of years of imperial struggle, this planet still remains too big, too disparate, too ornery to be controlled by a single power. What the Bush administration did was simply take one gulp too many and the result has been a kind of national (and planetary) indigestion.

Despite what it looked like in Washington once upon a time, the disappearance of the Soviet Union proved to be no gift at all, but a disaster of the first order. It removed all sense of limits from America's political class and led to a tale of greed on a planetary scale. In the process, it also set the US on a path to self-decline.

The history of greed in our time has yet to be written, but what a story it will someday make. In it, the greed of those geopolitical dreamers will intersect with the greed of an ever wealthier, ever more gilded 1%, of the billionaires who were preparing to swallow whole the political system of that last superpower and grab so much of the wealth of the planet, leaving so little for others.

Whether you're talking about the urge to control the planet militarily or financially, what took place in these years could, in the end, result in ruin of a historic kind. To use a favored phrase from the Bush years, one of these days we Americans may be facing little short of "regime change" on a planetary scale. And what a piece of shock and awe that's likely to prove to be.

All of us, of course, now live on the planet Bush's boys tried to swallow whole. They left us in a world of infinite war, infinite harm, and in Donald Trump's America where cluelessness has been raised to a new power.

[Jun 19, 2018] Study Confirms Most Psychopaths Live in Washington DC by Joe Jarvis

Jun 19, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

by Joe Jarvis via The Daily Bell

Murphy also included the District of Columbia in his research, and found it had a psychopathy level far higher than any other state. But this finding is an outlier, as Murphy notes, as it's an entirely urban area and cannot be fairly compared with larger, more geographically diverse, US states. That said, as Murphy notes, "The presence of psychopaths in District of Columbia is consistent with the conjecture found in Murphy (2016) that psychopaths are likely to be effective in the political sphere."

Surprised? I didn't think so. But still, fun to get some scientific confirmation.

Psychos are drawn to power . It is not just that power corrupts, it is that already corrupt people seek power . Government is the best industry to be in for someone with no morals.

The study is called Psychopathy By State , conducted by Ryan Murphy . He surveyed samples from the lower 48 states and Washington D.C. to find the prevalence of personality traits which correspond to psychopathy.

The personality traits generally corresponding to psychopathy are low neuroticism, high extraversion, low agreeableness, and low conscientiousness.

Of course, D.C. came in first by far. But as he notes, that this is not exactly a fair comparison, as it is a city being compared to entire states. The study finds that urban areas, in general, correspond to more psychopathic personality traits.

Another interesting finding is that a higher concentration of lawyers predicts higher psychopathy prevalence. I kid you not.

So removing D.C. can you guess which states come in the top three? I bet you can.

  1. Connecticut
  2. California
  3. New Jersey

New York ties for the fourth highest concentration of psychopaths among U.S. states. Interestingly, it ties with Wyoming which I would not have expected. But the author notes there was a relatively small sample surveyed from Wyoming.

The least psychopathic states are :

  1. West Virginia
  2. Vermont
  3. Tennessee
  4. North Carolina
  5. New Mexico

And it should not be surprising that the main correlation was that state with the lowest percentage of people living in urban areas also had the lowest concentration of psychopaths.

Perhaps psychopaths need to be around more victims, or constantly switch out their friends and acquaintances as they become wise to their antisocial behaviors. Note that antisocial does not mean loner, it means lacking empathy, remorse, and behaving in a manipulative way that hurts others .

It is possible that psychopaths are more easily recognized and ostracized in smaller communities and rural settings. Since humans could speak, gossip has been a regulator of social behavior . This has its benefits and detriments of course.

But to be clear, the paper is not so much identifying where all the psychopaths live, as much as identifying general population traits which correspond to psychopathy.

This certainly leads to a higher frequency of psychiatrically identifiable true psychopaths. But it also means that a large percentage of the population behaves in a somewhat psychopathic manner.

While a very small percentage of individuals in any given state may actually be true psychopaths, the level of psychopathy present, on average, within an aggregate population (i.e., not simply the low percentages of psychopaths) is a distinct research question. While empirical operationalizations of psychopathy frequently treat it as a binary categorization, the Hare Psychopathy Checklist (Hare 1991) treats it as a spectrum. The operationalization of psychopathy found here is consistent with psychopathy as thought of as a spectrum.

The study concludes:

Areas of the United States that are measured to be most psychopathic are those in the Northeast and other similarly populated regions. The least psychopathic are predominantly rural areas. The District of Columbia is measured to be far more psychopathic than any individual state in the country, a fact that can be readily explained either by its very high population density or by the type of person who may be drawn [to] a literal seat of power (as in Murphy 2016).

Hailing originally from Massachusetts, I can attest to the highest corresponding personality trait being "Temperamental & Uninhibited." Where did you think the term Masshole came from.

If you aren't a psychopath when you enter the state, you soon become one from the traffic alone. And I wonder if just being in such close proximity to people makes it a necessary adaptation to care a little less about how your actions affect others.

There are just too many variables, so you become numb to the plight of others, and just need to get the hell out of this traffic jam before I go insane!

But if you feel held captive among psychopaths, maybe it is time to start on your two-year plan to free yourself.

You don't have to play by the rules of the corrupt politicians, manipulative media, and brainwashed peers.

When you subscribe to The Daily Bell, you also get a free guide:

How to Craft a Two Year Plan to Reclaim 3 Specific Freedoms.

This guide will show you exactly how to plan your next two years to build the free life of your dreams. It's not as hard as you think

Identify. Plan. Execute .

Yes, deliver THE DAILY BELL to my inbox!

[Jun 18, 2018] Second FBI Informant Tried To Entrap Trump Campaign With $2 Million Offer For Hillary Dirt Roger Stone Zero Hedge

Jun 18, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Trump campaign aides Roger Stone and Michael Caputo say that a meeting Stone took in late May, 2016 with a Russian appears to have been an " FBI sting operation " in hindsight, following bombshell reports in May that the DOJ/FBI used a longtime FBI/CIA asset, Cambridge professor Stefan Halper, to perform espionage on the Trump campaign.

When Stone arrived at the restaurant in Sunny Isles, he said, Greenberg was wearing a Make America Great Again T-shirt and hat. On his phone, Greenberg pulled up a photo of himself with Trump at a rally, Stone said.

The meeting went nowhere - ending after Stone told Greenberg " You don't understand Donald Trump... He doesn't pay for anything ." The Post independently confirmed this account with Greenberg.

Aftter the meeting, Stone received a text message from Caputo - a Trump campaign communications official who arranged the meeting after Greenberg approached Caputo's Russian-immigrant business partner.

" How crazy is the Russian? " Caputo wrote according to a text message reviewed by The Post. Noting that Greenberg wanted "big" money, Stone replied: "waste of time." - WaPo

Stone and Caputo now think the meeting was an FBI attempt to entrap the Trump administration - showing the Post evidence that Greenberg, who sometimes used the name Henry Oknyansky, " had provided information to the FBI for 17 years, " based on a 2015 court filing related to his immigration status.

He attached records showing that the government had granted him special permission to enter the United States because his presence represented a "significant public benefit."

Between 2008 and 2012, the records show, he repeatedly was extended permission to enter the United States under a so-called "significant public benefit parole." The documents list an FBI agent as a contact person. The agent declined to comment.

Greenberg did not respond to questions about his use of multiple names but said in a text that he had worked for the "federal government" for 17 years.

"I risked my life and put myself in danger to do so, as you can imagine," he said. - WaPo

"Wherever I was, from Iran to North Korea, I always send information to" the FBI, Greenberg told The Post . " I cooperated with the FBI for 17 years, often put my life in danger . Based on my information, there is so many arrests criminal from drugs and human trafficking, money laundering and insurance frauds ."

Stone and Caputo say it was a "sting operation" by the FBI:

" I didn't realize it was an FBI sting operation at the time, but it sure looks like one now ," said Stone.

"If you believe that [Greenberg] took time off from his long career as an FBI informant to reach out to us in his spare time, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I want to sell you," Caputo said in an interview.

Greenberg told WaPo he stopped working with the FBI "sometime after 2013."

In terms of the timeline , here's where the Greenberg meeting fits in:

April 26, 2016 - Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud allegedly tells Trump campaign aide George Paoadopoulos that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton

Papadopoulos' statement of offense also detailed his April 26, 2016, meeting with Mifsud at a London hotel. Over breakfast Mifsud told Papadopoulos "he had just returned from a trip to Moscow where he had met with high-level Russian governmental officials." Mifsud explained "that on that trip he (the Professor) learned that the Russians had obtained 'dirt' on then-candidate Clinton." Mifsud told Papadopoulos "the Russians had emails of Clinton." - The Federalist

May 10, 2016 - Papadopoulos tells former Australian Diplomat Alexander Downer during an alleged " drunken barroom admission " that the Russians had information which "could be damaging" to Hillary Clinton.

Late May, 2016 - Stone is approached by Greenberg with the $2 million offer for dirt on Clinton

July 2016 - FBI informant (spy) Stefan Halper meets with Trump campaign aide Carter Page for the first time, which would be one of many encounters.

July 31, 2016 - the FBI officially launches operation Crossfire Hurricane , the code name given to the counterintelligence operation against the Trump campaign.

September, 2016 - Halper invites Papadopoulos to London, paying him $3,000 to work on an energy policy paper while wining and dining him at a 200-year-old private London club on September 15.

Foggy memory

Stone and Caputo say they didn't mention the meeting during Congressional testimony because they forgot, chalking it up to unimportant "due diligence." Apparently random offers for political dirt in exchange for millions are so common in D.C. that one tends to forget.

Stone and Caputo said in separate interviews that they also did not disclose the Greenberg meeting during testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence because they had forgotten about an incident that Stone calls unimportant "due diligence" that would have been "political malpractice" not to explore . - WaPo

While Greenberg and Stone's account of the meeting mostly checked out (after Greenberg initially denied Stone's account), Greenberg said that a Ukrainian friend named "Alexi" who was fired by the Clinton Foundation attended as well, and was the one asking for the money - while Stone said Greenberg came alone to the meeting.

"We really want to help Trump," Stone recalled Greenberg saying during the brief encounter.

Greenberg says he sat at a nearby table while Alexei conducted the meeting. " Alexei talk to Mr. Stone, not me ," he wrote.

The Clinton Founation has denied ever employing anyone with the first name of Alexi.

Caputo's attorney on Friday sent a letter amending his House testimony, and he plans to present Caputo's account of the Greenberg incident to the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Justice, which has announced it is examining the FBI's use of informants during the Russia probe. Stone said his attorney has done the same. - WaPo

Second FBI informant

Caputo hinted at the interaction in late May when he said that there were multiple government informants who approached the Trump campaign:

"Let me tell you something that I know for a fact," Caputo said during a May 21 interview on Fox News. " This informant, this person [who] they tried to plant into the campaign he's not the only person who came into the campaign . And the FBI is not the only Obama agency who came into the campaign."

" I know because they came at me ," Caputo added. " And I'm looking for clearance from my attorney to reveal this to the public. This is just the beginning. "

https://www.youtube.com/embed/l8NO1uRTPAY

Stone told the Post that he may be indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and charged "with a crime unrelated to the election in order to silence him," and that he anticipates the meeting with Greenberg may be used to try and pressure him to testify against President Trump (leaving no Stone unturned), which he told the Post he would never do.


roadhazard Sun, 06/17/2018 - 13:06 Permalink

Roger Stone has his own problems. Great source for truth and credibility.

Cambridge Analytica folks now working for Trump 2020.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-2020-cambridge-analytica-data-propria-a8402656.html

gregga777 -> roadhazard Sun, 06/17/2018 - 13:17 Permalink

There were several times during the Roman Empire when the Praetorian Guard murdered the Emperor and then auctioned off the Emperor's position to the highest bidder. We're probably close to that point ourselves where the FBI and CIA just dispense with the pretense and murder the President and auction it off themselves to the highest bidder.

yrad Sun, 06/17/2018 - 13:06 Permalink

What a wicked web we weave...

NidStyles -> yrad Sun, 06/17/2018 - 13:15 Permalink

Indeed, trying to entrap a President.

Ms No Sun, 06/17/2018 - 13:08 Permalink

Greenberg.... another of a long list of coincidences.

[Jun 18, 2018] Obama had two groups to satisfy, the populace and the elite. The populace got empty words, the elite got what they wanted.

Notable quotes:
"... Then behind the scenes Obama did very little to back up his speeches with actions as he went with the flow. ..."
"... Obama had two groups to satisfy, the populace and the elite. The populace got empty words, the elite got what they wanted. ..."
Jun 18, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

John Wright , , June 17, 2018 at 10:54 am

You wrote:

> Unlike Obama who played up his anti-Iraq War vote.

Obama was not in the US Senate at the time to vote.

From https://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/obamas-war-stance-revisited/

"The rally featured a pointed anti-war speech from Obama, then a fairly anonymous state lawmaker, who deemed the impending Iraq engagement 'a dumb war.'"

The political entertainer Obama gave a number of speeches advocating transparency in government, advocating for financial reform and even mentioned "we tortured some folks" decrying torture.

Then behind the scenes Obama did very little to back up his speeches with actions as he went with the flow.

Obama's Illinois anti-war speech served him well, as he could milk this "anti-war" stance for years while running military actions as President.

Obama had two groups to satisfy, the populace and the elite. The populace got empty words, the elite got what they wanted.

Bernie Sanders actually DID vote against the Authorization to Use Military Force in Iraq

[Jun 17, 2018] Is Anti-War Fever Building in the US by Gaius Publius

Notable quotes:
"... It wasn't just bad intelligence, it was consistently purposeful bad intelligence. The consequences have been dire for the world, and our country as well. The Russians in that period never represented a serious military threat even to the continent of Europe, far less the US. ..."
"... You are correct. The forever wars are just one of the ways to bleed the Middle Class dry. The media propaganda and rule by the 10% can't let the suckers know what is really going on. There are always enough men to man the colonial wars but they are unwinnable unless the whole nation is involved. ..."
"... Then behind the scenes Obama did very little to back up his speeches with actions as he went with the flow. ..."
"... Obama had two groups to satisfy, the populace and the elite. The populace got empty words, the elite got what they wanted. ..."
"... The MSM is waging a propaganda campaign at every level completely obscuring the truth. And the politicians play the fear card at every level. I don't believe any of us is in "happy compliance" at the airport. I for one, grind my teeth and cuss out the crooked corporations (including that bastard "skull" Chertoff who personally benefited from the x-ray screening machines) that reap a bundle of money from the so called screening and invasive body searches. Travel has become something to dread. ..."
"... The officer corps might be an opponent but I think that America has been badly served by them due to how officers are selected & trained and who makes it to the top. The only time they balk is when some idiot in Washington pushes them to fight the Russians or the Chinese. And most people don't really care in any case so long as the US wins. Out of sight, out of mind as they say. ..."
"... It's harder and harder to sell these military actions to the public. What are we in Korea and Japan for? To contain China? If you ask most people, they'll probably tell you that China won, or at very least our bosses are in league with their bosses. ..."
"... The Borg moves without regard to public sentiment, so we have to replace politicians with those who'll bring it to heel. That's a death sentence, but I feel like enough people have the guts to try and make it happen. ..."
"... *sigh* someone please trot out that Goering quote again: To the extent that public opinion matters, public opinion is easy to arrange. ..."
"... I don't mean to suggest that there isn't a solid electoral reason to have nice vague policies, not least because a campaign against foreign wars would be an excellent way for the left to make common cause with some parts of the right, such as the paleoconservatives and isolationists. ..."
"... It did for Russia. There is now an ongoing civil war on its border in Ukraine. NATO went to war with Serbia in the later 1990's. The breakup of the Atlantic Alliance will splinter Europe. Humans being humans. The strong will try to steal from the weak. ..."
"... The old adage that our country rallies around a war president is no longer operative IMHO. In a nation tired of perpetual war, the commander-in-chief would get at best a short-term surge in public approval by opening up a new battle zone, before slipping precipitously in the polls. Why on earth have the Democrats eagerly embraced the role of the war party, while our country literally crumbles for lack of public investment? Could there be a more effective losing strategy? ..."
"... Why on earth have the Democrats eagerly embraced the role of the war party, while our country literally crumbles for lack of public investment? Could there be a more effective losing strategy? ..."
"... Those are their constituents: beltway bandits, private contractors, public/private partnerships, insurance companies, arms companies, private equity firms, military contractors, and whatever other combinations you want to come up with. ..."
"... I remember when Tim Kaine gleefully suggested that we needed an "intelligence surge" to protect the country. I almost gagged. It was a not so subtle message of "prepare for the handouts to the private military contractor industry". ..."
"... How does positioning 2,000 – 4,000 US troops in Syria fit into your "Trump is a peace-maker" narrative? How about the comment Wednesday that the US will attack Syrian forces if they attack Sunni jihadis (er "moderate rebels") in SW Syria? ..."
"... How about us aiding and abetting a famine in Yemen that could kills tens of thousands? ..."
"... I think you are attributing a sentiment to juliania that her comment does not actually contain. She doesn't say Trump is a peace-maker, she says he was far in front of Bernie in using "anti-war rhetoric as a strategy." The example of Nixon doing the same thing indicates that juliania is well aware that strategic rhetoric and actual decisions are not the same thing. ..."
"... I know a fair number of Trump voters, and my read is similar to juliania's: Trump's anti-war rhetoric was a big draw for a lot of people, and helped many be able to hold their nose and vote for him. Understanding this and commenting on it does not make one a Trump supporter, obviously, or indicate that one puts any credence in his dovish rhetoric. ..."
"... You might be correct and my apologies to juliania if I misread her post. I have heard so much of the "Trump is fighting [the deep state, Wall Street, the neocons]" on other blogs that I am a bit hypersensitive and go off on a rant when I see or perceive that argument. From my perspective, Trump is doing everything in his power to entrench Wall Street, the neocons, etc. ..."
"... The war in Yemen is to secure the Saudi monarchy and our interest in their vast reserves of oil and gas. ..."
"... Are militarism* and democracy compatible? I'm not so sure they are. ..."
"... A lot depends on how you define "democracy", "will of the people" etc.. What the role of "finance" in a context of "capitalism" and "democracy" should be, e.g., citizens united(note orwellian language) may be considered a " reason why they would not be compatible" and even antithetical. ..."
"... America itself is the most destabilizing force on the planet. i would love to see what America leaving the world to its' own devices would look like. Like Weimar/Nazi Germany, nothing good comes from these kind of "American Values." ..."
"... The military is A-ok with Trump and this is what seems to matter. The roar of hysteria from the media over Trump first 2-3 months in office died down considerably when he showed a willingness to engage in a show of force by striking Syria (remember when he was so concerned about the welfare of children?) ..."
"... Only a *faction" of the security establishment is anti-Trump because he is skeptical of *neoliberal* globalism. ..."
"... Meanwhile, the Prez who can't seem to enact *anything* to make lives better for the people who put him in office, is magically able to enact the agenda of the 1%. This repeat of the 1% 's manipulations is one I can do without. ..."
"... Regarding the question posed by this post I think there is very little evidence of an anti-war "fever" and even if there were, and if it were projected into the streets and/or ballot box, I am pessimistic that it could have any effect on the U.S. government of today. I don't think the U.S. government cares what the American people think or feel about anything -- except of course as those cares and feelings affect the mechanisms of control through the propaganda pushed through our media, the levels of surveillance and suppression, and the increased viciousness of our "laws" and their enforcement. ..."
"... I believe the U.S. government is run by several powerful and competing interests. So I think I'll ask a different question -- though in the same vein as that posed by the title of this post. Are those interests who compete with the interests of the MIC and Spook Industrial Complex (SIC) beginning to see the futility and stupidity of our endless wars? ..."
"... "Peaceniks are Kremlin stooges!" It's depressing when you can predict the media's response six months in advance. ..."
Jun 17, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Is anti-war fever building in the U.S.? One would not think so given all the signs -- apparent public apathy toward multiple military involvements, happy compliance with "security" at the increasingly painful airport, lack of protests and so on.

Yet there are two signs I'd like to put forward as indicating a growing willingness to forgo foreign "entanglements" (undeclared wars), springing either from a weariness with them, a nascent abhorrence of them, or a desire to focus U.S. dollars on U.S. domestic solutions, like the hugely popular Medicare for All . (Click to see just how popular Medicare for All, called "Medicare Buy-In" at the link, is across party lines.)

The first sign is Bernie Sanders, the most popular politician in America and by far its most popular senator, making statements like these in the speech linked and discussed in the video at the top of this piece. For example, at 9:00 in the clip, Sanders says (emphasis his):

SANDERS: In other words, what we have seen in time and time again, disasters occur when administrations, Democrat and Republican, mislead Congress and the American people. And when Congress fails to do its constitutional job in terms of asking the questions of whether or not we should be in a war. And I think we need to ask that very hard question today.

And here is the point that I hope the American people are asking themselves. Is the war on terror, a perpetual, never-ending war, necessary to keep us safe?

I personally believe we have become far too comfortable with the United States engaging in military interventions all over the world. We have now been in Afghanistan for 17 years. We have been in Iraq for 15 years. We are occupying a portion of Syria, and this administration has indicated that it may broaden that mission even more.

We are waging a secretive drone war in at least five countries. Our forces, right now, as we speak, are supporting a Saudi-led war in Yemen which has killed thousands of civilians and has created the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet today.

Talk like this is anathema in our militarized state, comments usually relegated to the fringes of public discourse. For Sanders to say this (and similarly anathemic remarks elsewhere in the speech) certainly denotes a shift, especially since Sanders during the campaign was not considered strong on foreign policy, especially progressive (non-orthodox) foreign policy.

As Jimmy Dore said in reply to the last sentence quoted above, "It's not Syria? Can you [say] "stop the butcher" is the worst? No. Turns out what we're doing is the 'worst humanitarian crisis in the world today,' committing siege warfare in Yemen, which is a war crime. And we're doing it, with Saudi Arabia."

Sanders also says we're "fighting terror" in 76 countries. Let that sink in, as Sanders wishes it to -- we're engaged in military conflict in 76 countries, almost a third of the nations in the world. I'm not sure many in the lay public appreciate the importance, or the likely consequences, of that surprising fact. (For one example of those consequences, consider that foreign wars often come home .)

Elsewhere in the video Dore asks, "Do you see Chuck Shumer saying our wars have had 'dire consequences'?" Sanders, it seems to me, is launching a toe-to-toe battle with what right-wingers have lately been calling the American "deep state" and I've been calling the security establishment.

The second sign comes from Donald Trump during the campaign. This isn't just Sanders going out on a limb -- taking a flier, as it were -- on a deeply unpopular position. Consider how often Donald Trump, the campaign version, made similar statements:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/H4ThZcq1oJQ

He also famously said this about NATO and its mission:

What I'm saying is NATO is obsolete. NATO is -- is obsolete and it's extremely expensive for the United States, disproportionately so. And we should readjust NATO.

If the U.S. security establishment is working to get rid of Trump, to take him out by whatever means necessary, campaign statements like that would be one of many reasons.

If Americans Could Vote Against the Forever War, Would They Do It?

I recently noted how different the outcomes are when the public indicates policy preferences with their votes versus polling data. DC politicians of both parties ignore polling with impunity. Votes, on the other hand, especially in party primaries, can force change -- witness the Trump nomination and the Sanders (stolen) near-nomination.

In some ways, small but not insignificant, the 2016 election was a test of the anti-war waters, with Trump asking questions about the need and mission of NATO, for example, that haven't been asked in over a generation, and Clinton, the proud choice of the neocon left and right, in strong disagreement .

It's too much or too early to say that Trump's public pullback from U.S. hegemony helped his election, though that's entirely possible. But it's certainly true that his anti-Forever War sentiments did not hurt him in any noticeable way.

I'll go further: If Sanders runs in 2020 and adds anti-war messaging to his program, we'll certainly see the title question tested.


Rob P , June 16, 2018 at 12:56 am

If the U.S. security establishment is working to get rid of Trump, to take him out by whatever means necessary, campaign statements like that would be one of many reasons.

Bernie had better watch his back then. Make sure no one associated with him has any contact with any Russians or Iranians or whatever.

JTMcPhee , June 16, 2018 at 8:42 am

The "security establishment/Blob" no coubt has already filled its supply chain with anti-Bernie Bernays-caliber ordnance, ready to deploy. I don't doubt that there are plenty of James Earl Rays out there, happy to be the ones who will "rid the Blob of this troublesome politician." Just remember that Bernie has a summer house, and his wife was president of a failed college, and he's a GD Socialist, for Jeebus' sake!

Any stick to beat a dog

cocomaan , June 16, 2018 at 12:14 pm

There's far less than six degrees of separation between any one person and someone who is Russian or Chinese or Iranian or whatever. Even two degrees of separation is enough for a headline these days.

Lambert Strether , June 16, 2018 at 1:56 am

Districts with military casualties correlate to Trump votes. I'd would be nice to see Sanders do a Town Hall on the empire, in six months or so when this speech has time to sink in, in one such district.

hemeantwell , June 16, 2018 at 9:11 am

Yes. Sanders is going to have to pull off a communicative high wire act bridging relatively acceptable criticism of "unnecessary and expensive foreign entanglements" to hinting at the idea that the US citizens have to understand the expansive pressures that flow from capitalism and the MIC. I've appreciated the regular links here to American Conservative and Unz articles. They are valuable reminders that some on the Right aren't in complete denial, at least about the MIC.

One scenario would see a revival of the terms of discussion that briefly saw daylight in at least the late 1940s, when state planners openly linked a "defensive" military posture with a need for markets. It would at least get the cards out on the table and assist in clarifying how world politics isn't just a matter of great and secondary powers inevitably pushing each other around. The idea of Realpolitik is a fundamental and fatal ground of reification.

johnnygl , June 16, 2018 at 10:48 am

Presidential ambitions aside, it would be a good idea to pressure trump's crew that are plotting to attack Iran. Plus, any chance to push back against the awful Dem leadership is also a positive. We need to see more grassroots pushback against that leadership. Sanders is the best around at generating that grassroots pushback.

Pookah Harvey , June 16, 2018 at 3:33 pm

Bernie makes many salient points on the Military Industrial Complex in a floor speech concerning the Defense Dept. budget bill. I especially like the part where he is trying to add an amendment that would limit the compensation of CEOs of defense contractors to no more than the Secretary of Defense ($205,000). This speech will not make him any friends among the military corporate contractors. (26 min.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psWHpTJ26lk

cocomaan , June 16, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Exactly. NATO is a suicide pact. It's absurd.

Lambert Strether , June 16, 2018 at 12:50 pm

We are in the world's most favorable geopolitical position. We have the Atlantic to the east, the Pacific to the West, Canada to the North, and Mexico to the South. We have enough nukes to blow up the world many times over. I don't know why we don't don't treat the entire imperial enterprise as a sunk cost and get out, starting with the Middle East (and by get out, I mean cut off all funding, too).

cocomaan , June 16, 2018 at 4:38 pm

Strangely, I think we're in a "Trump Peace". Yes, there are still brushfire wars raging, but this just happened:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-44507090

The Taliban announced the three-day halt to hostilities earlier this month, days after a unilateral ceasefire lasting until Wednesday was ordered by the government.

It is the Taliban's first ceasefire since the government they ran was toppled by the 2001 US-led invasion.

I don't know if it's Trump or it's just coincidence. But peace has broken out in Korea for hte first time in decades, and now peace has broken out in Afghanistan for the first time in decades.

I'm just happy it's happening.

Richard , June 16, 2018 at 2:59 am

You should take a look at The Threat by Andrew Cockburn. Fairly exhaustive detail about how Russian military might was inflated, in the 70s and 80s, in virtually every possible way. From badly coordinated civil defense, to the complete inreadiness of its airforce, to the caste system pervading the army that had reduced morale to almost nothing, the overall picture is pretty stunning, compared to the magnitude of the threat that was presented to the US public.

It wasn't just bad intelligence, it was consistently purposeful bad intelligence. The consequences have been dire for the world, and our country as well. The Russians in that period never represented a serious military threat even to the continent of Europe, far less the US. Nor do they now, spending less than a tenth on their military than the US. The 80 billion dollar incease in the US military budget this year was more than the entire Russian military budget. Meanwhile,our own bases encompass the globe, and we wage war and threaten genocide wherever we choose.

The facts are abundantly clear, that our own military represents by far the greatest threat to human life on this planet.

I want to tell you, that you and I and everyone in this damned country, we are not just the most lied to people in the world. We're arguably the most lied to people in history, at least if you consider the number and frequency of lies. It's a wonder we get anything right at all! I encourage you to read more, and read more widely, and to start at a position of distrust, with any foreign policy reporting that isn't based on first hand knowledge.

I am heartened by the position Bernie is taking, even as I disagree with him on the Russia hysteria and wonder at some of his qualifications like "blunder" to describe out and out imperialism. We need to start somewhere, and why not start with "let the people and the people's representatives decide when we use our military"?

Ashburn , June 16, 2018 at 9:52 am

I know many progressives on the left have questioned Bernie's foreign policy positions and for not going far enough in opposing our imperial wars. Personally, I think Bernie knows exactly how stupid, immoral, illegal, and costly our wars are, especially as it "crowds out spending" on his favored domestic policies. Bernie is also smart enough to know how he would be attacked by our right-wing corporate media and the Military-Industrial-Congressional complex if he were too outspoken. So, he tempers his statements, not just because his domestic agenda is most important to him, but also because he knows attacking our militarized foreign policy will not play well with the working class base he needs to appeal to. Unlike Obama who played up his anti-Iraq War vote, only to expand our wars across the Middle East and Africa (after collecting his Nobel Peace Prize), Bernie is holding his cards closer to the vest.

Lambert Strether , June 16, 2018 at 12:53 pm

> play well with the working class base he needs to appeal to

I think the working class in the flyover states is ready to hear that the endless war needs to end. It's tricky message to convey, because "Are you saying my child died in vain?" But Trump saying Iraq was a strategic blunder went over very well, and military casualties correlate with Trump votes . I think Sanders (or his as-yet-unknown successor) must deliver that message, but it's going to be tricky, if only because it will smash an enormous number of rice bowls in the national security and political classes (which overlap). Maybe we could move all the uniform-worshippers to an island, give them a few billion dollars, and let them play war games among themselves. Cheap at twice the price.

UPDATE I would bet "addiction" would work as a trope in the flyover states; "the war machine is a needle in America's arm" is the concept. Especially because veterans are prone to opioid addiction . Again, the rhetoric would be tricky to avoid blaming victims or "hating the troops," but I think there's good messaging to be found here. (People do horrid things when trapped in addictive systems. That's why they seek cure )

The Heretic , June 16, 2018 at 3:58 pm

Sanders needs to protect the people who are part of the 95% who work for the military industrial complex. He does this not by raising welfare (which Americans find humiliating), not by only giving extensive retraining benefits, (which in an opportunity starved country like America, will only lead to work stints at an Amazon Warehouse) but by repurposing the capitol and retraining the working people to issues that must be addressed for the future, such as energy sustainability or infrastructure that can resist increasingly severe climate chaos. Furthermore, he must announce and do both simultaneously, probably via an MMT program and raising Taxes on rhe elite 2% and via transaction taxes on all capitol outflow from the USA.

Stopping the war machine, but putting people out of work, will never be acceptable to those who work for the war machine or the friends and family of those people.

VietnamVet , June 16, 2018 at 5:52 pm

You are correct. The forever wars are just one of the ways to bleed the Middle Class dry. The media propaganda and rule by the 10% can't let the suckers know what is really going on. There are always enough men to man the colonial wars but they are unwinnable unless the whole nation is involved.

The Bolshevik Revolution and the Bonus Army were within living memory of WWII leaders. The new global aristocracy has lost all history and doesn't perceive the inevitable consequences of inequality. My personal opinion was that for Marshall and Truman one of the reasons for the use of atomic weapons on Japan was that they did not want millions of combat tested soldiers traveling across the USA by train with the ultimate destination a number of deadly invasions of the Japanese Islands. Each worse than Okinawa. They were afraid of what the soldiers would do. This is also the reason why these Vets got a generous GI Bill.

ArcadiaMommy , June 16, 2018 at 6:52 pm

You reminded me of Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq. She protesteted at the GWB TX compound if you recall and remains an activist to this day. I can't speak for her but it seems to me like she understands that her son should not have died to further this ugly, pointless war.

http://cindysheehanssoapbox.blogspot.com

I can't begin to understand the pain of losing a child, spouse, parent, etc., but I can wrap my head around it enough that I don't want anyone to experience it. And I have no doubt that facing the true causes of the war would make the pain worse. But every time I hear this nonsense about how some poor kid "didn't die in vain" in VietRaq, I want to scream "yes they did! Now what are we going to do to stop it from happening again???".

The tropes of "supporting the troops", yellow ribbons, "they are protecting us", etc. just keeps the propaganda ballon inflated. Here is how I support the troops: I'm against war.

The Heretic , June 16, 2018 at 7:42 pm

This reminds me of Forest Gump where some well meaning hippies call Forest Gump a baby killer. The peace activists must refrain from blaming and shaming soldiers as a group; specfic criminals (such as those who committed crimes at my lai) should investigated, shamed and punished, the whistleblowers should be greatly honoured, and soldiers ad a group should be respected and not blamed for going to war, as indeed many do not know the truth for why the war was fought. On the other hand, politicians, lobby groups, and venal media and intelligence agencies should be exorciated for the lies that they believe or spread, as indeed it should be their business to try to discern the truth.

Hence it was very admirable when members of the Mossad leaked out facts that Iran was not pursuing development of the Nuclear bomb, even while Netanyahoo was pursuing a media blitz to justify greater economic and ultimately military aggression against Iran

ArcadiaMommy , June 16, 2018 at 8:06 pm

Who is "blaming and shaming" anyone? I'm saying that I agree with this mother who lost her child that we should be extremely skeptical about the motivation for war of any kind. And the lack of skepticism (expressed or not) impedes any real movement away from war without end.
The Sheehans are real people who lost a son and brother. Forest Gump is just some character from a dumb movie. Good grief.

a different chris , June 17, 2018 at 9:19 am

Think Heretic was fleshing out your thoughts, not disagreeing?

ChrisPacific , June 17, 2018 at 11:22 pm

I think that you can respect the sacrifice and commitment of people who sign up to fight for their country while still criticizing the uses that leaders have chosen to put them to. In fact I think that makes the message stronger: the willingness of our friends, family, children etc. to sign up to fight and die for America places a duty and obligation on our leaders to ensure they are deployed wisely and for the betterment of America and the world. Those leaders – the ones we elected – have failed in that trust, and continue to fail. Our military friends and family haven't let us down – we've let them down, by not holding our government accountable. It's time we changed that!

John Wright , June 17, 2018 at 10:54 am

You wrote:

> Unlike Obama who played up his anti-Iraq War vote.

Obama was not in the US Senate at the time to vote.

From https://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/obamas-war-stance-revisited/

"The rally featured a pointed anti-war speech from Obama, then a fairly anonymous state lawmaker, who deemed the impending Iraq engagement 'a dumb war.'"

The political entertainer Obama gave a number of speeches advocating transparency in government, advocating for financial reform and even mentioned "we tortured some folks" decrying torture.

Then behind the scenes Obama did very little to back up his speeches with actions as he went with the flow.

Obama's Illinois anti-war speech served him well, as he could milk this "anti-war" stance for years while running military actions as President.

Obama had two groups to satisfy, the populace and the elite. The populace got empty words, the elite got what they wanted.

Bernie Sanders actually DID vote against the Authorization to Use Military Force in Iraq

Montanamaven , June 17, 2018 at 3:13 pm

Obama was not in the Senate until 2005. He could not vote against the Iraq war. He gave a speech in Chicago prior to the war.

Lambert Strether , June 17, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Sadly, there is no contemporaneous transcript* or recording . I remember the 2008 controversy vividly, because the Obama campaign released a campaign ad that purported to be Obama delivering the Chicago 2002 speech, but it quickly emerged that he had re-recorded it for the campaign (see the link).

This site purports to have a 2002 transcript, but the Wayback machines says the material was first posted in 2007 . So.

Adding, I can't even find a contemporaneous link to Obama's "dumb war" formulation , though with Google's crapification, who knows.

oh , June 16, 2018 at 10:40 am

I think we're more than being lied to. The MSM is waging a propaganda campaign at every level completely obscuring the truth. And the politicians play the fear card at every level. I don't believe any of us is in "happy compliance" at the airport. I for one, grind my teeth and cuss out the crooked corporations (including that bastard "skull" Chertoff who personally benefited from the x-ray screening machines) that reap a bundle of money from the so called screening and invasive body searches. Travel has become something to dread.

marku52 , June 16, 2018 at 2:55 pm

You can tell a lot about a country's intent by the design of the army they assemble. Here is a deep technical description about the new army the Russians are putting together. Hint: it is not designed to attack.

"The decision to create a tank army (armoured corps in Western terminology) is an indication that Russia really does fear attack from the west and is preparing to defend itself against it. In short, Russia has finally come to the conclusion that NATO's aggression means it has to prepare for a big war."

Interesting technical take on the whole thing. Worth a read.

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2016/04/russia-prepares-for-a-big-war-the-significance-of-a-tank-army.html#more

Lambert Strether , June 16, 2018 at 3:45 pm

That is a very good link, both parts one and two.

Oregoncharles , June 16, 2018 at 3:36 pm

The preventive for tank warfare isn't more tanks, it's effective anti-tank weapons, preferably at the foot soldier level.

Those exist; even Hezbollah has them. The disadvantage is that they're relatively cheap, compared to tanks, and much more defensive.

Plenue , June 17, 2018 at 2:28 pm

Well, Russia could probably triumph over the austerity-racked countries of the EU, with the possible exception of France. But it wouldn't be able to hold much for long if it had to occupy anything. And it would take a mauling in the process, a mauling that would be prohibitively expensive to repair. The modern Russian military simply isn't organized in a fashion that is conducive to large scale conquest. It has exactly one fully integrated, combined arms unit suitable for full-scale armored warfrare, the 1st Guards Tank Army, which was reactivated in 2014.

The nightmare visions of armor pouring through the Fulda Gap were basically always delusional. In 2018 they're downright laughable.

Kk , June 16, 2018 at 2:21 am

If the economic crisis of 2007 was the modern Depression then we are about due for a really big war.

The Rev Kev , June 16, 2018 at 3:48 am

I don't think that the US can stop at this point. As an example, the one time the people were asked if they wanted to bomb Syria the answer was a definite 'no' so the next time they never even bothered asking them. There is far too much money, power and prestige at stake too consider stopping.

The officer corps might be an opponent but I think that America has been badly served by them due to how officers are selected & trained and who makes it to the top. The only time they balk is when some idiot in Washington pushes them to fight the Russians or the Chinese. And most people don't really care in any case so long as the US wins. Out of sight, out of mind as they say.

America is more likely to get single-payer health than for the US armed forces to pull back as any suggestion of the later brings charges of being 'unpatriotic'. At least with single-payer health you only get charged with being a 'socialist'. Know a good place to start? The US Special Operations Command has about 70,000 people in it and they want more. The US would be better served by cutting this force in half and giving their jobs back to regular formations.

These are the people that want constant deployments in more and more countries hence cutting them back would be a good idea. I expect things to go along until one day the US armed forces will be sent into a war where they will take casualties not seen since the bad days on 'Nam. Then there will be the devil to pay and him out to lunch.

Pespi , June 16, 2018 at 4:18 am

It's harder and harder to sell these military actions to the public. What are we in Korea and Japan for? To contain China? If you ask most people, they'll probably tell you that China won, or at very least our bosses are in league with their bosses.

The Borg moves without regard to public sentiment, so we have to replace politicians with those who'll bring it to heel. That's a death sentence, but I feel like enough people have the guts to try and make it happen.

Sid_finster , June 16, 2018 at 3:38 pm

*sigh* someone please trot out that Goering quote again: To the extent that public opinion matters, public opinion is easy to arrange.

PlutoniumKun , June 16, 2018 at 5:37 am

One issue I have right now with 'anti-War' is that to be 'anti' is one thing, but to make serious arguments you have to be able to present arguments about what you are actually 'for'. For example, if the US were to suddenly withdraw from the eastern Pacific, the effect could be highly destabilising and could actually increase the chance of war. These are questions that need to be answered.

Just to take one example of I think a positive idea – there is research here which argues that the 'optimum' nuclear deterrent is less than 100 warheads. This is of course a difficult argument to put into political play, but its important I think to put the militarists on the back foot in order to make arguments for withdrawal from empire and peace mainstream.

kiwi , June 16, 2018 at 9:18 am

So who is calling for a sudden withdrawal?

Nice strawperson there.

The Rev Kev , June 16, 2018 at 9:35 am

It would be OK so long as it was not premature.

kiwi , June 16, 2018 at 9:27 am

I would bet that most people think that being anti-war encompasses the following:

-being for peace
-being for stability
-being for more social spending instead of military spending
-being for fewer civilians being killed
-being for fewer military deaths

Is that enough to meet your ridiculous threshold for 'serious arguments?'

tegnost , June 16, 2018 at 11:16 am

you're being cavalier. PK makes a great point, and your vague and oyerly broad "fors" remind me of many arguments regarding the 2016 election. The democrat side (Brock and CTR et al) couldn't say what they were for outside of abstract bernaysian generalities. If you want to convince people (and I have this difficulty, as do I'm sure most of the readers here, trying to get dems off of the russia russia russia putins bitch train)

You really need to focus on slow walking through complicated and dangerous waters, and just shut up sometimes when certain people are just not going to listen, but if you can get that one cogent, not hysterical argument into the minds of the people you want to convince, then you have a chance to stem the tide. Read some of the fantastic commentary regarding brexit from our european commenters as an example of what works in discourse, and how to puts facts on the ground in a way people can relate to.

Lambert Strether , June 16, 2018 at 1:04 pm

> You really need to focus on slow walking through complicated and dangerous waters . Read some of the fantastic commentary regarding brexit from our european commenters as an example of what works in discourse, and how to puts facts on the ground in a way people can relate to.

That's a cogent argument. I don't mean to imply in my comments that "getting out" will be easy. ("You must do it, Catullus, you must do it. You must do it whether it can be done or not.")

We might begin by renaming the "Department of Defense" to the "Department of War," just to be truthful, and then ask ourselves what kind of wars we want to fight. And I think most people would be very willing to cross anything that looked like Iraq off the list, followed (it is to be hoped) with a willingness to rethink self-licking ice cream cones as our industrial policy. In a way, the project would have the same feel as my hobbyhorse, gutting the administrative layers of the universities as not central to mission.

PlutoniumKun , June 16, 2018 at 1:33 pm

Thanks tegnost. I don't mean to suggest that there isn't a solid electoral reason to have nice vague policies, not least because a campaign against foreign wars would be an excellent way for the left to make common cause with some parts of the right, such as the paleoconservatives and isolationists.

The problem as I see it with policies 'against' something is that you end up a little like Five Star in Italy – having gotten into power on opposing everything bad about Italy, they are now facing a 'now what' moment, and are seemingly clueless about what to do. As usual, the right makes the running.

marku52 , June 16, 2018 at 2:58 pm

Yes, exactly, It is not enough to be against something. As HRC found out

kiwi , June 16, 2018 at 7:55 pm

Well, there is this.

https://caucus99percent.com/content/grassroots-anti-war-movement-gaining-traction

Maybe some on this site need to jump in and tell those people to get those white papers out ASAP.

diptherio , June 16, 2018 at 12:43 pm

The war-mongers will always find "serious arguments" for why we musn't end the American empire. Their arguments will be nuanced and filled with details that would take the average citizen months, if not years, to verify and analyze. When the best minds in the American empire can fail to forsee the fall of the Soviet Union or the response to their coup on Chavez, why should we put credence in their "serious" analyses?

Meanwhile, the case against war is a simple and easily verifiable. "My son is dead." "My friend came home a broken person." etc. Telling poor Americans that their family members need to keep dying because allowing them to come home would, maybe, make war more likely in a country they've only seen on a map is an argument not likely to find much traction. It is also, in my mind, ethically vapid -- an argument that presses for a guaranteed evil as a means of avoiding a possible evil.

Trying to forsee the outcome of major (or even minor) changes to a system as complex as the American empire is a sucker's game. Anyone who tells you otherwise is likely a sucker themselves. In situations of such complexity, the only way forward is the ontological one. All teleology is sheer fantasy. We should act, therefore, not on the basis of what we think will happen as a result of our actions, but rather on the basis of what the just thing to do is. You can't base your actions on ends (as in "the ends justify the means") because the situation is so complex that there is no way to credibly predict the ends that any action might lead to.

IMHO, the ethical policy is to bring 'em home. All of 'em. Let them protect our country, as they've sworn to do. Let us put them to work rebuilding our infrastructure, assisting those who need it, and making the country better than it is, rather than filling it up with more walking wounded from our endless imperial adventuring.

Ape , June 16, 2018 at 4:01 pm

Did the Soviet withdrawal destabilize eastern Europe? I think this is pseudo-strategizing.

VietnamVet , June 16, 2018 at 8:28 pm

It did for Russia. There is now an ongoing civil war on its border in Ukraine. NATO went to war with Serbia in the later 1990's. The breakup of the Atlantic Alliance will splinter Europe. Humans being humans. The strong will try to steal from the weak.

The question is how to restore the West's middle class. Without a middle class; revolts, religious and ethnic wars will inevitable break out all over. The unrest right now is due to democracy not being compatible with globalization.

Edward , June 16, 2018 at 7:53 am

It was not just Bush who told lies to justify an invasion of Iraq. Members of Congress and the press did as well. Sen. Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee then, would only allow pro-war people to testify to his committee. At the time a lobbyist told me that the leadership of the Democratic party had decided to promote this war. They felt this would remove this issue from the next election, which would then focus on economic issues that would play to their strength.

Carolinian , June 16, 2018 at 9:40 am

Thanks for this. Another reason to break up the MIC is all the money that would be freed up for health care, infrastructure and the country's many other needs. Perhaps Sanders now realizes that the balance in USG priorities needs to be restored and he is making an economic, and not just humanitarian argument.

As for Trump, it's just possible he meant what he said about NATO and all the rest. If one believes his real priorities are his family and business it's hard to see what he gets out of perpetual war. That's more Obama and Hillary's bag.

Which doesn't make the above true. But we should at least entertain the possibility that it could be true.

Newton Finn , June 16, 2018 at 11:48 am

As one who could never bring himself to vote for Trump (or for Clinton, for that matter), let me make a counter-intuitive prediction. If Trump allows the MIC to goad him into starting a new war with Iran, he will lose if he decides to run again.

If, on the other hand, he starts no new war against Iran or any other country that does not threaten us militarily, then he will be re-elected should he decide to go for another term.

The old adage that our country rallies around a war president is no longer operative IMHO. In a nation tired of perpetual war, the commander-in-chief would get at best a short-term surge in public approval by opening up a new battle zone, before slipping precipitously in the polls. Why on earth have the Democrats eagerly embraced the role of the war party, while our country literally crumbles for lack of public investment? Could there be a more effective losing strategy?

tegnost , June 16, 2018 at 11:52 am

Why on earth have the Democrats eagerly embraced the role of the war party, while our country literally crumbles for lack of public investment? Could there be a more effective losing strategy?

They do it for the money, pretty much everyone in congress is a millionaire, including the ones who were not millionaires when they got elected hmmmmmm .

cocomaan , June 16, 2018 at 12:30 pm

Those are their constituents: beltway bandits, private contractors, public/private partnerships, insurance companies, arms companies, private equity firms, military contractors, and whatever other combinations you want to come up with.

I remember when Tim Kaine gleefully suggested that we needed an "intelligence surge" to protect the country. I almost gagged. It was a not so subtle message of "prepare for the handouts to the private military contractor industry".

https://www.cnn.com/2016/10/06/politics/clinton-intelligence-surge-nsa-data/index.html

Lambert Strether , June 16, 2018 at 1:09 pm

> Another reason to break up the MIC is all the money that would be freed up for health care, infrastructure and the country's many other needs

Since Federal taxes don't fund Federal spending, the connection between gutting the MIC and more money for health care is not direct.

However, if you think in terms of real resources , the effect is as you say. (The same reasoning applies to finance, where enormous salaries sucked in the best talent that might otherwise have been put to non-parasitical purposes.)

John k , June 16, 2018 at 3:13 pm

Mt is not yet sellable to the public, will take years. Best story is that foreign wars strip resources from local spending and jobs, which is also what most pols seem to think. Bills should be presented as less for mil and mor for infra. Starve mic

juliania , June 16, 2018 at 11:13 am

You don't have to go back to the last campaign to see anti-war rhetoric as a strategy. Trump is already, in his meeting with Kim, starting the ball rolling. (Moon of Alabama.com has a good recent post on the subject). Sorry Bernie, you are late to the party, too late. Reminds me a bit of 1968. Nixon got in promising to end that war (which he didn't.) But it is good to see anti-war stuff going mainstream at last. May it bear fruit this time around!

And yes, Gaius Publius, anti-war statements Trump made during his first campaign DID make a huge difference. They won him the presidency, in my opinion.

Schmoe , June 16, 2018 at 11:49 am

How does positioning 2,000 – 4,000 US troops in Syria fit into your "Trump is a peace-maker" narrative? How about the comment Wednesday that the US will attack Syrian forces if they attack Sunni jihadis (er "moderate rebels") in SW Syria?

How about us aiding and abetting a famine in Yemen that could kills tens of thousands?

Is setting us on a potential course for war with Iran further evidence of your "dovish" Trump?

diptherio , June 16, 2018 at 12:53 pm

I think you are attributing a sentiment to juliania that her comment does not actually contain. She doesn't say Trump is a peace-maker, she says he was far in front of Bernie in using "anti-war rhetoric as a strategy." The example of Nixon doing the same thing indicates that juliania is well aware that strategic rhetoric and actual decisions are not the same thing.

I know a fair number of Trump voters, and my read is similar to juliania's: Trump's anti-war rhetoric was a big draw for a lot of people, and helped many be able to hold their nose and vote for him. Understanding this and commenting on it does not make one a Trump supporter, obviously, or indicate that one puts any credence in his dovish rhetoric.

Schmoe , June 16, 2018 at 1:14 pm

You might be correct and my apologies to juliania if I misread her post. I have heard so much of the "Trump is fighting [the deep state, Wall Street, the neocons]" on other blogs that I am a bit hypersensitive and go off on a rant when I see or perceive that argument. From my perspective, Trump is doing everything in his power to entrench Wall Street, the neocons, etc.

I was also receptive to the idea that Trump might be less hawkish than HRC (although I did not vote for him) but have now been thoroughly disabused of that notion.

Sid_finster , June 16, 2018 at 3:41 pm

Provide a link to the recent statement.

I believe you, just always looking for more ammunition to demolish "we're fighting ISIS" arguments.

Schmoe , June 16, 2018 at 5:36 pm

SW Syria does not have Kurds active, so these are Sunni jihadi-lites. They are however not HTS, which we re-branded from Al-Nusra and had been classified as an Al Qaeda affiliate at one time. Of course we are framing it as a de-escalation zone; others call it a jihadi base.

https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/US-says-will-take-firm-measures-against-Syria-violations-near-Israel-border-560057

Susan the other , June 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm

The war in Yemen is to secure the Saudi monarchy and our interest in their vast reserves of oil and gas. The war in Syria is to secure our preferred pipeline feeding the EU. Our entrenched position surrounding Iran is no accident – we are an existential threat to Iran and intend to remain that way. If China discovered a giant oil field under its western desert we'd be there too. One rationale for all this control freakery is that we think we can maintain our "capitalist" economy, our silly pretenses about a free market, etc. But Karma is the real truth-teller here: Free markets do not work. So it follows logically that privatization also does not work. And to continue, at some point, forced capitalism fails. Markets fail. Profit seeking could be the thing that brings it all down. It's a strangely comforting thought because it leaves us with a clear vision of what not to do anymore. Unfortunately, people are not angels. If we attempt to invoke the ghost of John Foster Dulles and not engage in little wars but just sell arms to every tin pot dictator it will be worse chaos than it is now. And worse still, chaos in a time of environmental devastation. The only good option is the Mr. Scrooge option. Instead of arms and WMD and fascist control for the sake of preventing uprisings, we should skip the fascist control part and directly mainline the resources to make civilization thrive. Since that's definitely not capitalism, we'll have to think up a new ism.

Lambert Strether , June 16, 2018 at 1:11 pm

> sell arms to every tin pot dictator

Yes, let's devote enormous real resources to fabricating bespoke military aircraft that catch fire on the runway. Meanwhile, we don't have any machine shops anymore .

Summer , June 16, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Yes, there is more anti-war sentiment. And will they or won't they (Congress) continue to legislate away their ability to authorize war/use of force?

I say they continue to absolve themselves of the responsibility. Bounding their own hads behind their backs, smirking at the concept of peace.

And it puts people more in taxation without representation territory.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , June 16, 2018 at 12:19 pm

I have the feeling that Sanders here is reacting to all the ex-CIA (but not 100% ex) candidates taking over the D Party.

Will the road to the White House in 2020 be journeyed through another vehicle?

Lambert Strether , June 16, 2018 at 1:17 pm

> I have the feeling that Sanders here is reacting to all the ex-CIA (but not 100% ex) candidates taking over the D Party.

That is an excellent point. (I don't think it's just CIA, though; it's CIA and military personnel generally.* That's why I voted against ranked Jared Golden low, because Golden (like Seth Moulton in MA) fits that template, which is vile.

UPDATE * "Professional authoritarians," we might call them. That would fit all this neatly into Thomas Frank's framework.

flora , June 16, 2018 at 1:33 pm

People ask if capitalism and democracy are compatible, and I think they are, at least I don't see any inherent reason why they would not be compatible.

Another question: Are militarism* and democracy compatible? I'm not so sure they are.

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militarism

Sid_finster , June 16, 2018 at 3:54 pm

Ancient Athens was on some level democratic, and the populist party typically favored war and expansion. E.g.Pericles and the peloponesian war come to mind. By contrast, the aristocratic parties were generally less in favor of military adventurism.

However, a constitutional republic is not compatible with empire.

Therein lies the problem.

Schmoe , June 16, 2018 at 5:57 pm

The link between populism and war featured prominently in "Electing to fight. Why emerging democracies go to war" This is a fairly obscure book (one review in Amazon), but – by a wide margin – the best book I have ever read about politics or political science. The last 100 pages are cliff notes versions of the politics underlying the start of many wars; the first 150 pages are a really dense read.

Sid_finster , June 16, 2018 at 6:10 pm

Thanks.

Alejandro , June 16, 2018 at 8:19 pm

A lot depends on how you define "democracy", "will of the people" etc.. What the role of "finance" in a context of "capitalism" and "democracy" should be, e.g., citizens united(note orwellian language) may be considered a " reason why they would not be compatible" and even antithetical. Noting that "militarism" depends on public funding, where should the power to influence this funding be? Neo-cons, dominated by militarists, and neo-liberals, dominated by de-regulated banksters, may not be the same but certainly seem like symbionts in the context of 326MM people.

Bernard , June 16, 2018 at 1:50 pm

America itself is the most destabilizing force on the planet. i would love to see what America leaving the world to its' own devices would look like. Like Weimar/Nazi Germany, nothing good comes from these kind of "American Values."

the Ugly American is what American Values signify, and mostly always have. America is the most destabilizing force i ever read of or heard of. Americans have just taken the Nazi theme of One People, One Land and One Leader on a Global scope. and it ain't good. Either do as America tells you, or we will bring American Democracy to your country.

Maybe there's hope, as Caitlyn Johnstone implies in her last essay, i sure doubt it, though, as long as America/the Empire continues to destabilize not just the Pacific but everywhere else in the world. Why does anything think the South/Central Americans come to America. The American Empire has screwed up the Western Hemisphere so badly, these "refugees hope to escape from the American made Plantations the Western Hemisphere has been carved into. These immigrants are just part of the blowback from the American Way.

also makes me wonder if the Europeans don't understand why there are refugees coming through Greece and via boats, primarily to Italy. dont they see it's America's Wars in MENA that are causing this "invasion." gosh, what a black and white cause and effect. Germany needs workers due to the low birth rate. so, open the doors to the chaos America has made in the Middle East, and voila, cheap labor and departure from an America made hell in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine, Algeria, the whole "New American Century" Project the Neocons have us in and paying for.

Doesn't the average European see how American and Apartheid Israeli support for forces like the Taliban, Al Queda, Wahabbism, and the ongoing media censored Yemeni/Palestinian Holocaust, wars of profit, i.e. created the refugess that are streaming into Europe. Maybe the Europeans are also stymied by the Rich who keep the wars going and the Media who profit off the death of the "deplorables" who no longer "matter."

i know in America most Americans are ignorant due to total control of the Media and the "narrative" that controls what can be said. Americans have no shame when it comes to getting what they want, politically. no enough blowback. no sense of connection between here and there or anywhere outside the Media Narrative.

as a bumper sticker from long ago said, "if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." The Empire will not give up until it can't go on.

Ape , June 16, 2018 at 4:12 pm

No most people with influence don't see how the system that gives them influence also is sending waves of refugees.

Bruce Walker , June 17, 2018 at 7:36 am

Every American should have to read your post twice a day, until maybe they get it. The best post I have read in ages, Thumbs Up Bernard.

grayslady , June 16, 2018 at 3:12 pm

Thanks for calling attention to this. I noticed the same thing immediately, and I gave the remainder of the article less credence because of it. A true leftie knows the difference between Improved Medicare for All and a Medicare buy-in program.

kiwi , June 16, 2018 at 2:50 pm

To me, making the argument that one must be 'for' something is simply a way to dismiss whatever the 'anti' side represents, whether or not PK meant to be dismissive.

And it reminds me of the efforts to impede and dismiss the anti-war or occupy-type movement outright – "what, you people don't have any policies (and nothing for us to analyze to death and criticize??) !!!! How dare you speak up about something!!! Go away until you go to Harvard and produce a few papers. Until then, your silly notions mean nothing to us!!" and the underlying elitism of the concept.

So, that is what I am reminded of, again, whether or not PK meant it that way.

tegnost , June 16, 2018 at 11:33 pm

you spoke up with a thought provoking comment, you want to make the next occupy movement succeed. Make a good argument is all.

Oregoncharles , June 16, 2018 at 3:28 pm

(Before reading the comments) "If Americans Could Vote Against the Forever War, Would They Do It?"

Sadly, I think the answer is no, mainly because Americans do not vote based on foreign policy unless it "comes home," eg in the form of body bags – a lot of them. The "wasted money" argument, which brings it home, might be the most effective; that's a pitfall of MMT. Of course, as a practical matter there's a POLITICAL choice between guns and butter, whether or not the economics is valid.

In those remarks, Sanders is filling in the gaping hole in his resume. It may be an indication that he plans to run in 2020.

Finally: I question whether the 2016 nomination was actually "stolen." Certainly there was a good deal of cheating by the party, but I'm not convinced it was decisive (there's no way to be sure). The actual votes ran about 47% for Sanders, and that's including Oregon and California. I think that reflects the actual nature of the Democratic Party.

The reason is that its membership has been falling, if not plummeting, at the same time that its policies have become more and more right-wing. Affiliation, which is a poll result, is down near 30%; I suspect registrations have fallen, too, but I haven't seen numbers. Given the variations in state law, registrations aren't very indicative. All that means that the remaining party members are a remnant that has been selected for conservatism. The primary vote reflects that. (This doesn't change the argument that the Dems knowingly chose their weaker candidate; it just means that the voters did, too.)

precariat , June 16, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Observations : Trump, scandals, security state

The military is A-ok with Trump and this is what seems to matter. The roar of hysteria from the media over Trump first 2-3 months in office died down considerably when he showed a willingness to engage in a show of force by striking Syria (remember when he was so concerned about the welfare of children?)

Only a *faction" of the security establishment is anti-Trump because he is skeptical of *neoliberal* globalism. However this faction is doing a great job of re-enacting the framework used to deny/disrupt/disable during the Clinton administration: scandals and selective corruption investigations. This serves a purpose: to martyr the Prez with the constituents who *should* be holding the Prez accountable on lack of follow through and betrayal of promises made on the camapign trail.

Trump voters can't make him hold himaccountable; they are too busy feeling he has been victimized -- and many Trump voters are victims, so the identification is real.

Meanwhile, the Prez who can't seem to enact *anything* to make lives better for the people who put him in office, is magically able to enact the agenda of the 1%. This repeat of the 1% 's manipulations is one I can do without.

precariat , June 16, 2018 at 3:40 pm

Sorry for the typos, jumping cursor! It occurs to me that what I have described is a recipe for info-ops or how to hijack a 'democracy.'

Jeremy Grimm , June 16, 2018 at 4:05 pm

Regarding the question posed by this post I think there is very little evidence of an anti-war "fever" and even if there were, and if it were projected into the streets and/or ballot box, I am pessimistic that it could have any effect on the U.S. government of today. I don't think the U.S. government cares what the American people think or feel about anything -- except of course as those cares and feelings affect the mechanisms of control through the propaganda pushed through our media, the levels of surveillance and suppression, and the increased viciousness of our "laws" and their enforcement.

I believe the U.S. government is run by several powerful and competing interests. So I think I'll ask a different question -- though in the same vein as that posed by the title of this post. Are those interests who compete with the interests of the MIC and Spook Industrial Complex (SIC) beginning to see the futility and stupidity of our endless wars? Are those interests growing anxious at enriching their share of the pie by shoving aside the budget gluttons feasting on war? Are any of those interests whose long-term, and often short-term interests are damaged by endless wars and their ongoing deconstruction of American Empire finally growing weary of how those wars undermine the American Empire? War may be a racket but the burning of bridges and collapse of Empire isn't a racket I would hope even the most clueless of our masters will continue to tolerate. Have the MIC and SIC assumed power?

WorkerPleb , June 16, 2018 at 9:09 pm

"Peaceniks are Kremlin stooges!" It's depressing when you can predict the media's response six months in advance.

Massinissa , June 17, 2018 at 3:18 am

The media already said that 40 years ago about the Hippies. Some things don't really change.

[Jun 17, 2018] The Necessity of a Trump-Putin Summit by Stephen F. Cohen

Highly recommended!
Decimation of anti-war forces and flourishing of Russophobia are two immanent features of the US neoliberalism. As long as the maintinace fo the US global neoliberal empire depends of weakening and, possibly, dismembering Russia it is naive to expect any change. Russian version of soft "national neoliberalism" is not that different, in principle form Trump version of hard "netional neoliberalism" so those leaders might have something to talk about. In other words as soon as the USA denounce neoliberal globalization that might be some openings.
Notable quotes:
"... The New York Times ..."
Jun 06, 2018 | www.thenation.com

Ten ways the new US-Russian Cold War is increasingly becoming more dangerous than the one we survived.

  1. The political epicenter of the new Cold War is not in far-away Berlin, as it was from the late 1940s on, but directly on Russia's borders, from the Baltic states and Ukraine to the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Each of these new Cold War fronts is, or has recently been, fraught with the possibly of hot war. US-Russian military relations are especially tense today in the Baltic region, where a large-scale NATO buildup is under way, and in Ukraine, where a US-Russian proxy war is intensifying. The "Soviet Bloc" that once served as a buffer between NATO and Russia no longer exists. And many imaginable incidents on the West's new Eastern Front, intentional or unintentional, could easily trigger actual war between the United States and Russia. What brought about this unprecedented situation on Russia's borders -- at least since the Nazi German invasion in 1941 -- was, of course, the exceedingly unwise decision, in the late 1990s, to expand NATO eastward. Done in the name of "security," it has made all the states involved only more insecure.

  2. Proxy wars were a feature of the old Cold War, but usually small ones in what was called the "Third World" -- in Africa, for example -- and they rarely involved many, if any, Soviet or American personnel, mostly only money and weapons. Today's US-Russian proxy wars are different, located in the center of geopolitics and accompanied by too many American and Russian trainers, minders, and possibly fighters. Two have already erupted: in Georgia in 2008, where Russian forces fought a Georgian army financed, trained, and minded by American funds and personnel; and in Syria, where in February scores of Russians were killed by US-backed anti-Assad forces . Moscow did not retaliate, but it has pledged to do so if there is "a next time," as there very well may be. If so, this would in effect be war directly between Russia and America. Meanwhile, the risk of such a direct conflict continues to grow in Ukraine, where the country's US-backed but politically failing President Petro Poroshenko seems increasingly tempted to launch another all-out military assault on rebel-controlled Donbass, backed by Moscow. If he does so, and the assault does not quickly fail as previous ones have, Russia will certainly intervene in eastern Ukraine with a truly tangible "invasion." Washington will then have to make a fateful war-or-peace decision. Having already reneged on its commitments to the Minsk Accords, which are the best hope for ending the four-year Ukrainian crisis peacefully, Kiev seems to have an unrelenting impulse to be a tail wagging the dog of war. Certainly, its capacity for provocations and disinformation are second to none, as evidenced again last week by the faked "assassination and resurrection" of the journalist Arkady Babchenko.

  3. The Western, but especially American, years-long demonization of the Kremlin leader, Putin, is also unprecedented. Too obvious to reiterate here, no Soviet leader, at least since Stalin, was ever subjected to such prolonged, baseless, crudely derogatory personal vilification. Whereas Soviet leaders were generally regarded as acceptable negotiating partners for American presidents, including at major summits, Putin has been made to seem to be an illegitimate national leader -- at best "a KGB thug," at worst a murderous "mafia boss."

  4. Still more, demonizing Putin has generated a widespread Russophobic vilification of Russia itself , or what The New York Times and other mainstream-media outlets have taken to calling " Vladimir Putin's Russia ." Yesterday's enemy was Soviet Communism. Today it is increasingly Russia, thereby also delegitimizing Russia as a great power with legitimate national interests. "The Parity Principle," as Cohen termed it during the preceding Cold War -- the principle that both sides had legitimate interests at home and abroad, which was the basis for diplomacy and negotiations, and symbolized by leadership summits -- no longer exists, at least on the American side. Nor does the acknowledgment that both sides were to blame, at least to some extent, for that Cold War. Among influential American observers who at least recognize the reality of the new Cold War , "Putin's Russia" alone is to blame. When there is no recognized parity and shared responsibility, there is little space for diplomacy -- only for increasingly militarized relations, as we are witnessing today.
  5. Meanwhile, most of the Cold War safeguards -- cooperative mechanisms and mutually observed rules of conduct that evolved over decades in order to prevent superpower hot war -- have been vaporized or badly frayed since the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, as the UN General Secretary António Guterres, almost alone, has recognized : "The Cold War is back -- with a vengeance but with a difference. The mechanisms and the safeguards to manage the risks of escalation that existed in the past no longer seem to be present." Trump's recent missile strike on Syria carefully avoided killing any Russians there, but here too Moscow has vowed to retaliate against US launchers or other forces involved if there is a "next time," as, again, there may be. Even the decades-long process of arms control may, we are told by an expert , be coming to an "end." If so, it will mean an unfettered new nuclear-arms race but also the termination of an ongoing diplomatic process that buffered US-Soviet relations during very bad political times. In short, if there are any new Cold War rules of conduct, they are yet to be formulated and mutually accepted. Nor does this semi-anarchy take into account the new warfare technology of cyber-attacks. What are its implications for the secure functioning of existential Russian and American nuclear command-and-control and early-warning systems that guard against an accidental launching of missiles still on high alert?

  6. Russiagate allegations that the American president has been compromised by -- or is even an agent of -- the Kremlin are also without precedent. These allegations have had profoundly dangerous consequences, among them the nonsensical but mantra-like warfare declaration that "Russia attacked America" during the 2016 presidential election; crippling assaults on President Trump every time he speaks with Putin in person or by phone; and making both Trump and Putin so toxic that even most politicians, journalists, and professors who understand the present-day dangers are reluctant to speak out against US contributions to the new Cold War.

  7. Mainstream-media outlets have, of course, played a woeful role in all of this. Unlike in the past, when pro-détente advocates had roughly equal access to mainstream media, today's new Cold War media enforce their orthodox narrative that Russia is solely to blame. They practice not diversity of opinion and reporting but "confirmation bias." Alternative voices (with, yes, alternative or opposing facts) rarely appear any longer in the most influential mainstream newspapers or on television or radio broadcasts. One alarming result is that "disinformation" generated by or pleasing to Washington and its allies has consequences before it can be corrected. The fake Babchenko assassination (allegedly ordered by Putin, of course) was quickly exposed, but not the alleged Skripal assassination attempt in the UK, which led to the largest US expulsion of Russian diplomats in history before London's official version of the story began to fall apart. This too is unprecedented: Cold War without debate, which in turn precludes the frequent rethinking and revising of US policy that characterized the preceding 40-year Cold War -- in effect, an enforced dogmatization of US policy that is both exceedingly dangerous and undemocratic.

  8. Equally unsurprising, and also very much unlike during the 40-year Cold War, there is virtually no significant opposition in the American mainstream to the US role in the new Cold War -- not in the media, not in Congress, not in the two major political parties, not in the universities, not at grassroots levels. This too is unprecedented, dangerous, and contrary to real democracy. Consider only the thunderous silence of scores of large US corporations that have been doing profitable business in post-Soviet Russia for years, from fast-food chains and automobile manufacturers to pharmaceutical and energy giants. And contrast their behavior to that of CEOs of PepsiCo, Control Data, IBM, and other major American corporations seeking entry to the Soviet market in the 1970s and 1980s, when they publicly supported and even funded pro-détente organizations and politicians. How to explain the silence of their counterparts today, who are usually so profit-motivated? Are they too fearful of being labeled "pro-Putin" or possibly "pro-Trump"? If so, will this Cold War continue to unfold with only very rare profiles of courage in any high places? 9. And then there is the widespread escalatory myth that today's Russia, unlike the Soviet Union, is too weak -- its economy too small and fragile, its leader too "isolated in international affairs" -- to wage a sustained Cold War, and that eventually Putin, who is "punching above his weight," as the cliché has it, will capitulate. This too is a dangerous delusion. As Cohen has shown previously , "Putin's Russia" is hardly isolated in world affairs, and is becoming even less so, even in Europe, where at least five governments are tilting away from Washington and Brussels and perhaps from their economic sanctions on Russia. Indeed, despite the sanctions, Russia's energy industry and agricultural exports are flourishing. Geopolitically, Moscow has many military and related advantages in regions where the new Cold War has unfolded. And no state with Russia's modern nuclear and other weapons is "punching above its weight." Above all, the great majority of Russian people have rallied behind Putin because t hey believe their country is under attack by the US-led West . Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Russia's history understands it is highly unlikely to capitulate under any circumstances.

  9. Finally (at least as of now), there is the growing war-like "hysteria" often commented on in both Washington and Moscow. It is driven by various factors, but television talk/"news" broadcasts, which are as common in Russia as in the United States, play a major role. Perhaps only an extensive quantitative study could discern which plays a more lamentable role in promoting this frenzy -- MSNBC and CNN or their Russian counterparts. For Cohen, the Russian dark witticism seems apt: "Both are worst" ( Oba khuzhe ). Again, some of this American broadcast extremism existed during the preceding Cold War, but almost always balanced, even offset, by truly informed, wiser opinions, which are now largely excluded.

Is this analysis of the dangers inherent in the new Cold War itself extremist or alarmist? Even SOME usually reticent specialists would seem to agree with Cohen's general assessment. Experts gathered by a centrist Washington think tank thought that on a scale of 1 to 10, there is a 5 to 7 chance of actual war with Russia. A former head of British M16 is reported as saying that "for the first time in living memory, there's a realistic chance of a superpower conflict." And a respected retired Russian general tells the same think tank that any military confrontation "will end up with the use of nuclear weapons between the United States and Russia."

In today's dire circumstances, one Trump-Putin summit cannot eliminate the new Cold War dangers. But US-Soviet summits traditionally served three corollary purposes. They created a kind of security partnership -- not a conspiracy -- that involved each leader's limited political capital at home, which the other should recognize and not heedlessly jeopardize. They sent a clear message to the two leaders' respective national-security bureaucracies, which often did not favor détente-like cooperation, that the "boss" was determined and that they must end their foot-dragging, even sabotage. And summits, with their exalted rituals and intense coverage, usually improved the media-political environment needed to enhance cooperation amid Cold War conflicts. If a Trump-Putin summit achieves even some of those purposes, it might result in a turning away from the precipice that now looms

[Jun 17, 2018] Mr. Trump Attacks Aluminum, Russia Attacks The Debt by Tom Luongo

Notable quotes:
"... The net result will be more of the aluminum market will flow through the Yuan rather than the dollar, neatly avoiding sanctions and any future threats. Because with the insanity caused by the overnight chaos in April, any aluminum supplier/consumer will be wary of another such edict from the naked Emperor in D.C. ..."
"... Rusal will be one of the main beneficiaries since Russian banks are already sanctioned. ..."
"... Abusing your customers is never a winning marketplace strategy and that's exactly what Trump's sanctions policy is doing, abusing customers of the dollar. Trust has been the dollar's strongest attribute for a long time now and it is the primary reason why it has dominated trade and reserves. ..."
"... But there is a limit to how much your customers will take. And Trump is pushing well beyond that limit. And when the benefits of using the dollar are eclipsed by the liabilities, people will naturally shift away from it. ..."
"... Putin has and will use future mini-crises like this to further clean up the rot left over from the Yeltsin years, like Deripaska, while building a Russia insulated from future attacks like this. ..."
"... The struggle for most Americans regarding this issue is the fact that the Ministry of Truth has always told us "Russia Bad!" while "US Good!". The Ole good guy vs bad guy paradigm. I grew up in the 80's and am very familiar with that paradigm. I am an American through and through but our government has become the most corrupt bunch of whoring thieves on the planet. ..."
"... True Americans have awakened to realize the power of our corrupt government lies in the dollar hegemony. True Americans hate it, and hate the power and control it wields in our own lives. We see it at work around the world. We see DC squeeze our lives to subsidize it's world empire. An empire is seeks to maintain for various reasons that are debated regularly. ..."
"... The USA is drunk on power with their dollar as they see it as invincible. It will be their own undoing. The world is eager and preparing to drop/run/destroy the dollar. One day they'll all lick their wounds take their losses and forget the dollar completely. ..."
"... The US will have to do one of the hardest things in the history of the nation. She'll have to stop LYING to herself! All those recommending weaponization of the petrodollar, are charlatans. The USA cannot get through restructuring via antagonism, that only tightens the economic noose. ..."
"... What is needed, is bankruptcy protection, via honest cooperation with the emergent economic powers in the East. This comes with a price, retrenchment of imperium. This in turn, requires sobriety that, the game while not completely lost, as in national decomposition, is nevertheless, unwinnable, as in rebuilding can only follow retrenchment. ..."
"... Exceptionalism Delenda Est!... ..."
Jun 17, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Tom Luongo,

Looking at the unfolding trade war between Donald Trump and the world the phrase that should come to mind is "One good turn deserves another."

In the case of the insane sanctions on Oleg Deripaska and Russian Aluminum giant, Rusal, back in April, we finally got some clarity as to how Russia can and will respond to future events.

In yesterday's Treasury International Capital (TIC) report, we saw clearly that Russia activated its nearly $100 billion in U.S. Treasury debt to buy dollars in April.

More than $47 billion in U.S. debt was dumped into the market to cover the chaos engendered by Trump's overnight diktat for the world to stop doing business with Rusal.

Also of note, U.S. ally Japan continues to shed Treasuries at around 8-10 billion per month. Ireland dumped $17 billion and Luxembourg nearly $8 billion.

While China dropped $5 billion this is noise, ultimately as its holdings of U.S. debt have been stable for over a year now. What is interesting is Belgium, the home of Euroclear, seeing a $12 billion inflow. Likely that's where some of the Russian-held debt was traded to.

The Russians likely sold from their balance on reserve with the Federal Reserve. Here's the latest iteration of the chart I keep for just such an occasion.

Rusal's shares and bonds went bidless but the damage wasn't contained there as major Russian banks like VTB and Sberbank were hit hard as well. So, while Rusal didn't have much in the way of dollar-denominated debt. It did have major dollar-related obligations as accounts receivable on its balance sheet because of the sheer size of its trade conducted in dollars.

And that's why there was such an outflow from Russia's stock of Treasuries. But, here's the thing. It didn't matter one whit. Why? It didn't undermine Russia's Foreign Exchange Reserves.

No Dip in Russia's Foreign Exchange Reserves During Rusal Crisis

Russia just sold Treasuries into the market, raised dollars and swapped out Rusal's bonds, holding them as collateral for a Repo.

The Bank of Russia Intervened to keep Rusal and Other Banks Solvent by Dumping U.S. Treasuries

This went on for most of the month and into May. Zerohedge's reporting on this leads the way.

This mass dumping of U.S. debt caused the long end of the U.S. yield curve to blow out past significant resistance points, like the 10 year pushing above 3.05% in sympathy with the Fed's policy to dry up dollar liquidity. If this first-order analysis by Zerohedge is correct, then we can assume Russia has been holding a lot of long-dated Treasuries versus say China which we know has shortened up the average maturity of their massive bond portfolio.

In times past we may have not seen such a massive dump of U.S. debt by Russia. They may have simply sold dollars directly or swapped euros or yuan for them. But, these are different times. Trump has taken the use of sanctions to a level that hasn't been seen before.

Putin is the master of parallel aggression. You take an action against Russia, he will generally hit you back along some other vector.

In this case it was a direct confrontation to Trump's bringing the full weight of U.S. financial dominance down on its rivals and allies, who are all heavily exposed to Rusal's market position.

Russia is not out of the water with this situation which is why Oleg Deripaska, the majority owner of Rusal and the one targeted by the Trump administration, is looking still to find ways to satisfy the U.S.'s demands on this issue.

Putin's Pivot

But, don't think this isn't working to Putin's advantage as Deripaska is not one of his supposed favored oligarchs. This report from Bloomberg spelled out the situation well back in April.

As for Deripaska, he will get help from the Russian government again. {which he did, see above} Rusal has warned that the sanctions might mean a default on a portion of its debt. That's most likely to happen to its more than $1 billion in dollar-denominated debt. But, as ever, the company's biggest creditors are Russian state banks, and the Kremlin will keep Rusal solvent one way or another as it reorients toward Asian markets. It won't be a huge headache for Putin: He's seen worse, including with Rusal during the financial crisis.

And that's the most important part.

Once the current positions are wound down and the aluminum market adjusts to the new reality of U.S. hyper-aggression to restart an industry we really don't need (smelting aluminum? really?) just to satisfy Trump's outdated views on trade (which they are MAGA-pedes) Rusal's business will not be so U.S.-centric.

And therefore the world will become less exposed, over time, to the depredations of U.S. financial attack. I told you before that China has responded to this by issuing new yuan-denominated futures contracts for industrial metals.

Why do you think they did that?

Will it create pain in the short-term? Yes. Europe will experience even more of this as will Asia.

Will a lot of companies fear being sanctioned and fined by the U.S. for doing business with Rusal? Yes. It's happening now. Will this exacerbate underlying economic conditions in Europe? Of course.

But, if Deripaska submits, like it looks like he will, then the aluminum market will calm down and Trump's sanctions will look silly.

Sanctions Bite Both Ways

The net result will be more of the aluminum market will flow through the Yuan rather than the dollar, neatly avoiding sanctions and any future threats. Because with the insanity caused by the overnight chaos in April, any aluminum supplier/consumer will be wary of another such edict from the naked Emperor in D.C.

And, as such, they will diversify the currencies they buy and sell aluminum in. It won't be a sea change overnight. Those least exposed will jump ship first. Rusal will be one of the main beneficiaries since Russian banks are already sanctioned.

But it will be a trend, that once started will gain steam.

China can and will tie convertibility of its futures contracts to gold through the Shanghai exchange to allay worries about getting money out of the country.

Abusing your customers is never a winning marketplace strategy and that's exactly what Trump's sanctions policy is doing, abusing customers of the dollar. Trust has been the dollar's strongest attribute for a long time now and it is the primary reason why it has dominated trade and reserves.

But there is a limit to how much your customers will take. And Trump is pushing well beyond that limit. And when the benefits of using the dollar are eclipsed by the liabilities, people will naturally shift away from it.

Look at the TIC chart above and note the total. This is a $6.3 trillion synthetic short position against the dollar. He's inviting countries to dump treasuries to defend their currencies as the dollar strengthens while shifting their primary materials buying to the biggest rival's currency.

This is why Russia continues to run a very tight financial ship while it leads the charge away from the dollar. It's inviting customers into the ruble with both a strong national balance sheet and relatively higher interest rates. This has the U.S. fuming.

Putin has and will use future mini-crises like this to further clean up the rot left over from the Yeltsin years, like Deripaska, while building a Russia insulated from future attacks like this.

Remember, even the U.S. has limits. It cannot sanction people for refusing to trade in dollars. Even the U.S. doesn't have that power. It can try but it will fail. New systems, new banks, new institutions can always be created.


PrayingMantis -> cowdiddly Sun, 06/17/2018 - 09:24 Permalink

... " ... in the case of the insane sanctions on Oleg Deripaska and Russian Aluminum giant, Rusal, back in April, we finally got some clarity as to how Russia can and will respond to future events .. . " ...

... most recently, Trump had been focusing on protecting steel and "aluminum" on world trading ... could there be an underlying reason behind these sanctions? ... who is Trump really protecting here? ...

... let's follow the money ... these links might let us connect the (((dots))) ...

... >>> http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/specials/MetalWarehousing.pdf (REUTERS/REUTERS STaff

Should the London Metal Exchange allow Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Glencore to own aluminium warehouses even as they trade the metal?
GOLDMAN'S NEW MONEY MACHINE: WAREHOUSES ) ...

... >>> http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20141120/NEWS01/141129992/senate-report-metro-detroit-warehouses-gave-goldman-sachs-influence

... (Senate report: Metro Detroit warehouses gave Goldman Sachs influence over aluminum pricing ) ...

... >>> https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/07/goldmans-secret-cash-cow-detroit-warehouses-full-metal/337401/ ... (Goldman's Secret Cash Cow: Detroit Warehouses Full of Metal ) ...

... >>> http://www.demos.org/blog/11/21/14/following-money-how-goldman-sachs-manipulates-commodity-prices ... (Following the Money: How Goldman Sachs Manipulates Commodity Prices ) ...

... why aluminum? ... why not any other commodities?

... ever wonder what Trump is up to now to please his talmudic Rothschild banksters overlords?

... you be the judge ....

bshirley1968 -> PrayingMantis Sun, 06/17/2018 - 10:21 Permalink

The struggle for most Americans regarding this issue is the fact that the Ministry of Truth has always told us "Russia Bad!" while "US Good!". The Ole good guy vs bad guy paradigm. I grew up in the 80's and am very familiar with that paradigm. I am an American through and through but our government has become the most corrupt bunch of whoring thieves on the planet.

True Americans have awakened to realize the power of our corrupt government lies in the dollar hegemony. True Americans hate it, and hate the power and control it wields in our own lives. We see it at work around the world. We see DC squeeze our lives to subsidize it's world empire. An empire is seeks to maintain for various reasons that are debated regularly.

The rub comes when we see that the only force capable of standing up to this corrupt empire is a country that we have been told all our lives is evil. Russia wasn't always the communist soviet union.....and is no longer that today. But in the minds of many Americans that is all that it will ever be. Russia has the resources, military, intelligence, and skill to control it's own destiny. It has everything it needs to tell the US empire, "No!" I respect that....admire that.....cheer that....and wish them success in their stand. For those of us looking for a way to bust the evil cabal now running our own country, Russia's rebellion of US dominance is a ray of hope. It's not that we don't love our own country or want to be Russians, but we don't care about supporting a world empire that requires wars, taxes, and a strategy that strip us of our individual sovereignty by contaminating our country with people that don't belong here and will never think like an American.

People need to put aside their "fan-boy" biases, drop the blind loyalty, and start dealing with reality. We are not rooting for Putin and Russia, rather we are rooting for the downfall of thus evil banking cartel that is slowly killing us all and taking more and more of our freedoms. To those of you that say that will cause pain and we STILL have the greatest country on earth, I say, somethings are worth the pain.....and we can be a lot better. We have got to change direction....and the sooner we get off this road of empire destruction, the better.

Raisin Hail -> PrayingMantis Sun, 06/17/2018 - 12:40 Permalink

Maybe it is because The Aluminum Company of America (formerly ALCOA now Arconic an others) is going broke. Check out their stock price for the last 10 years or so. Are they still part of the DOW Index? Bonehead move to include them years ago.

are we there yet -> Raisin Hail Sun, 06/17/2018 - 13:26 Permalink

If the US dollar weakens, then the US exports and jobs go up, while US imports go down.

Demologos -> Escrava Isaura Sun, 06/17/2018 - 10:04 Permalink

Trump is worth what, a couple of billion? And those assets are encumbered by a lot of debt held by US banks. That does not an oligarch make. When it comes to US oligarchs, Trump is a piker compared to the massive family trusts that can move markets and voting results.

... ... ...

PrivetHedge -> Demologos Sun, 06/17/2018 - 13:05 Permalink

Trump is worth exactly the debt that the Israeli Sheldon Adelson holds over him IIRC. Far from being independent he is owned by America's biggest parasite and enemy: Israel.

peopledontwanttruth -> 07564111 Sun, 06/17/2018 - 09:24 Permalink

The USA is drunk on power with their dollar as they see it as invincible. It will be their own undoing. The world is eager and preparing to drop/run/destroy the dollar. One day they'll all lick their wounds take their losses and forget the dollar completely.

The USA and Israel aka banksters will start WWIII to prove literally they will destroy the world if need be instead of lose their power over mankind

Scipio Africanuz -> Ambrose Bierce Sun, 06/17/2018 - 10:16 Permalink

The US will have to do one of the hardest things in the history of the nation. She'll have to stop LYING to herself! All those recommending weaponization of the petrodollar, are charlatans. The USA cannot get through restructuring via antagonism, that only tightens the economic noose.

What is needed, is bankruptcy protection, via honest cooperation with the emergent economic powers in the East. This comes with a price, retrenchment of imperium. This in turn, requires sobriety that, the game while not completely lost, as in national decomposition, is nevertheless, unwinnable, as in rebuilding can only follow retrenchment.

Now, US policy wonks must be imbibing some real potent hallucinogens, to be unable to see what's right in front of their noses that, no matter the strategy, if it's not one of cooperation, the game is forfeit! The only strategy that helps the US retain great power status, is one whereby clear eyed, hard nosed assessment of assets and liabilities, are carried out.

The East is helping the USA buy time, the exceptionalists are once again, squandering the opportunity, just like they did in 91. They somehow believe the US military can change the trajectory of events. This is not possible any longer except humanity signs up for civilizational extinction.

To cut a long story short, it's time to declare mea culpa, and request a recalibration of goals, objectives, tactics, and critically, strategy. The strategy going forward? Honest cooperation to resolve issues that are creating global tensions, foremost amongst them, the one where the West gets to live like kings, at the expense of billions. This is the major issue, and it cannot be resolved without humility on the part of the West, and indemnity on the part of victims.

Humanity will only move forward through forgiveness, which cannot be activated without contrition.

Exceptionalism Delenda Est!...

You Only Live Twice Sun, 06/17/2018 - 08:19 Permalink

If Russia is selling Treasuries, it may be ahead of the market selling to prevent losses down the road. There is a shift happening not just with Russia as the long-standing bankers like the Rothschilds, etc. have been also selling their UST holdings and moving the money to Asia as per their reports for the last year.

The other thing to watch is the Vienna OPEC meeting later this month. The Saudis and Russia have now setup a long-term partnership to control the Oil market, including speculation on the markets as of today's press, so a discussion of abandoning the Petrodollar may not be off the table as there are portions of that deal that have been announced as secretive and this may be part of the plan.

[Jun 17, 2018] Nomi Prins: The Central Banking Heist That Put The World At Risk by Liam Halligan

Jun 17, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Liam Halligan via Unherd.com,

"The 2008 financial crisis was the consequence of a loosely regulated banking system in which power was concentrated in the hands of too limited a cast of speculators, " Nomi Prins tell me. "And after the crisis, the way the US government and the Federal Reserve dealt with this corrupt and criminal banking system was to give them a subsidy."

Such strong, withering analysis is, perhaps, unexpected from someone who has held senior roles at Wall Street finance houses such as Bear Stearns and Goldman Sachs. But Prins is no ordinary former banker.

The US author and journalist left the financial services industry in 2001. She did so, in her own words, "partly because life was too short", and "partly out of disgust at how citizens everywhere had become collateral damage, and later hostages, to the banking system".

Since then, Prins has chronicled the closed and often confusing world of high finance through the 2008 crisis and beyond. Her writing combines deep insider knowledge with on-the-ground reporting with sharp, searing prose. Alongside countless articles for New York Times , Forbes and Fortune , she has produced six books – including Collusion: how central bankers rigged the world , which has just been published.

Her main target in the new work is "quantitative easing" – described by Prins as "a conjuring trick" in which "a central bank manufactures electronic money, then injects it into private banks and financial markets". Over the last decade, she tells me when we meet in London, "under the guise of QE, central bankers have massively overstepped their traditional mandates, directing the flow of epic sums of fabricated money, without any checks or balances, towards the private banking sector".

Since QE began, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, "the US Federal Reserve has produced a massive $4.5 trillion of conjured money, out of a worldwide QE total of around $21 trillion", says Prins. The combination of ultra-low interest rates and vast monetary expansion, she explains, has caused "speculation to rage... much as a global casino would be abuzz if everyone gambled using everyone else's money".

Much of this new spending power, though, has remained "inside the system", with banks shoring up their balance sheets. "So lending to ordinary firms and households has barely grown as a result of QE," says Prins, "nor have wages or prosperity for most of the world's population". Instead, "the banks have gone on an asset-buying spree", she explains, getting into her stride, "with the vast flow of QE cash from central banks to private banks ensuring endless opportunities for market manipulation and asset bubbles – driven by government support".

Prins describes "the power grab we've seen by the US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and other central banks". Using QE, she argues, "these illusionists have altered the nature of the financial system and orchestrated a de facto heist that has enabled the most dominant banks and central bankers to run the world".

She says all this looking me straight in the eye, with the deadpan delivery, supreme confidence and unflinching focus of the senior investment banker she was. But the words are those of an angry and committed activist – someone who is absolutely determined to do what she can to reform global finance, starting in her native country.

Nomi Prins deals in bold statements and fearless analysis. While often accused of hyperbole, her deep research, financial expertise and former 'insider status' means only a fool would dismiss her. She is just at home within academia as she is on the political front line – a regular on the university lecture circuit, Prins was also a member of Senator Bernie Sanders' team of economic experts, advising on central bank reform. Yet, such is her reputation that she commands a place among those she chides – and is regularly consulted, formally and informally, by senior officials at the Fed, the ECB and other major central banks.

Surveying the history of the response to the 2008 financial crisis, Prins tells me that explicit bank bailouts were only a small part of the story. "First, there was the $700bn package agreed in Congress to save the US banks that caused the crisis," she says. "But the real bailout was the trillions of dollars of QE produced by the Fed – a massive subsidy to banks and financial markets, that has created an enormous bubble, a subsidy agreed by unelected officials and barely debated or remarked upon."

After initiating QE in late 2008, the Fed then "exported the idea – and that required the collusion of other major central banks", Prins argues. She points out that even though the Fed and the Bank of England have currently stopped doing QE, new money amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars a month is still being pumped out by central banks elsewhere, not least the ECB and the Bank of Japan.

"When the asset bubble pops, the fragile financial system and the broader economic environment could be thrown into deep depression and turmoil," she says.

"That's why the QE baton has been passed from the US to other nations, and why the central banks are so desperate to collude."

I put to Prins the conventional wisdom: there was no alternative to QE, and without it, the global banking system would have collapsed in 2008, causing untold economic and political damage. While she accepts there was a need for immediate post-crisis action, she argues the time for emergency measures has now long since passed. "If financial markets so much as wobble, the world's leading central banks, between them, do more QE," she says. "The insiders maintain the status quo of subsidies to the financial system – but there is no world war, aliens are not invading our planet, this is totally unjustified."

Prins says that QE has been "a massive deceit and a huge factor in driving inequality – a dedicated effort by institutions with the ability to create money, deciding that it doesn't go to ordinary people". While it was sold "as a massive trickle-down programme, helping the incomes of regular households, the benefits have been focused at the very top".

Stock markets have benefitted, she acknowledges, "but a mere 10% of Americans own 85% of the market". Prins also argues that low interest rates have harmed most Americans. "We need to normalise the rate environment, so ordinary people get some kind of return on their pensions and savings," she says.

QE and low rates, says Prins, have also caused "a debt explosion" – as not only have governments taken on more borrowing but financial institutions have too, keen to boost the scale of their investments in QE-driven markets that look like a one-way bet. US government debt has soared from $9 trillion to over $20 trillion since the financial crisis, Prins observes. "And public and private debt combined amount to a staggering 225% of global GDP – much of it accumulated since the financial crisis," she says.

"The next financial crisis will be sparked by a debt failure somewhere – then this QE bubble will pop very quickly," Prins predicts. "And when the new crisis comes, rates are already low and we have little in the way of fiscal ammunition, so mitigation will be very tough – and it will be ordinary people who suffer the most".

In response to the financial crisis, Prins maintains it would have been far cheaper and more effective for the state to intervene directly, providing explicit assistance to cash-strapped householders struggling to service the distressed mortgages at the heart of the crisis. "There was half a trillion dollars of sub-prime mortgages across the US in 2008," she recalls. "You could have bought up these properties, or just temporarily covered the loans," she says. "That would have cost much less than half a trillion, and would also have helped the banks by turning their junk assets into performing loans."

Prins says the "banks and central banks together" instead concocted QE. "We've allowed a grotesque $21 trillion global subsidy which has seen the bankers not only avoid punishment for the huge mess they created, but then entrench their financial advantage even more."

What we need, she says, is "better regulation" – in particular, a return to the "Glass-Steagall environment where investment banks can't leverage their balance sheets by so much and rely on government support". Since the Depression-era separation between risky investment banking and run-of-the-mill commercial banking was repealed by the Clinton administration in 1997, "a financial crisis was unavoidable", she says. "As long as the deposits of ordinary people and companies can be used by investment bankers as fodder for reckless speculation, in the knowledge those deposits are backed by the state, the world is at risk."

Prins is dismayed at how easily on-going QE, continuing years after the financial crisis, has been accepted by the political and media classes. "There is joint approval across the middle of the left-right spectrum," she says. "The economics profession and almost all commentators don't seem to care that this money is completely unaccountable and untracked – and has caused an enormous bubble." The reason, she observes, is that contemplating the end of QE is too difficult. "The unwind will cause pain and could result in a meltdown, as the markets and the debt mountain collapse."

In Collusion , Prins takes us on a whistle-stop tour of global finance, describing how the leaders of the Banco de México tried to navigate their country's complicated relationship with the Fed and how Brazil has led the charge in challenging the dollar's all-important "reserve currency status". The book goes to China , where we learn how Beijing is using "dark money" to upend dollar-hegemony, helping to drive the country's ascent as a global superpower.

We read how Europe's response to the financial crisis has heightened tension between the ECB and Germany – fuelling intra-EU resentments that have fuelled populism and help explain Brexit. Prins describes how Japan "leverages the rivalry between the US and China", while embarking on "the most ambitious money-conjuring scheme to date".

But it is in the US where the bulk of the narrative is set and it is there the arguments Prins makes will be most keenly read. The Federal Reserve has just lifted interest rates by a quarter point, and signalled that two more increases are likely in 2018. As the world's most important central bank continues the long, gradual march away from emergency measures, and with the ECB also committed soon to ending QE, the warnings in this important book about extent of today's asset price bubbles, and the role central banks have played in causing them, are about to be severely tested.

"What we've witnessed, since 2008, is the unbridled ability of the so-called people at the top to implement socialism for the banks," Prins tells me. "If anyone had said we are going to give $21 trillion to the global banking sector, it would never have happened – so we've had a backdoor process instead, under the pretense it would help ordinary people."

Leaning forward for the first time, Prins ups the ante. "Well, real people don't believe that – and they'll believe it even less as and when we have another crash, a crash off the back of ten years of emergency measures that were supposed to fix the system."

"The issue isn't whether this money-conjuring game can continue," she says as she prepares to leave. "The issue is that central banks have no plan B in the event of another crisis – and that's going to create an even more massively negative view among ordinary people towards those who see themselves as elites."

Listen to Liam Halligan's interview with Nomi Prins here:

Tags Business Finance Banks - NEC Outdoor Advertising Brokerage Services Investment Banking Investment Banking & Brokerage Services - NEC

Comments Vote up! 26 Vote down! 0

Oldguy05 Sat, 06/16/2018 - 17:24 Permalink

I love you Nomi ;)

house biscuit -> Oldguy05 Sat, 06/16/2018 - 17:29 Permalink

If she's getting regularly published in the standard MSM rags, then she is leading you down the wrong path; full stop

TBT or not TBT -> house biscuit Sat, 06/16/2018 - 17:32 Permalink

Hers is an absolutely novel thesis, particularly here on ZH, where we think all is going for the best in the best of all possible worlds .

Blue Steel 309 -> house biscuit Sat, 06/16/2018 - 17:39 Permalink

One of her obfuscations is the concentrating on "asset bubbles" rather than the fact that these Banksters are obtaining ownership of the worlds real assets without having to pay for them. As if they didn't have enough power.

Ownership of corporations (and control of them), is one of the subjects carefully avoided by the Rotschild media machine.

There is only one group of people who it is illegal to question in a good number of ethnic European countries.

PhilofOz -> Blue Steel 309 Sat, 06/16/2018 - 18:13 Permalink

Prins describes "the power grab we've seen by the US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and other central banks".

Replace "....the US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and other central banks" with "....the Rothschild Crime Family" would be a more appropriate comment.

The Rothschild Crime Family own and control every central bank on the planet except three, Iran, North Korea and Cuba, lending money at interest to governments everywhere. Do you have debt, a home loan, a car loan, student debt, credit card debt?! What about the debt your Federal, State and Local governments have on behalf of you, your children and grand-children? Just imagine that over 50% of all that debt is owed and the interest continually paid to the Rothschild clan and their tight knit group of international bankers. Do you feel good about yourself still, being nothing more than a serf to them? Money makes money, and in this case the biggest crime syndicate that will ever exist, one that has the military of various countries continuing their protection racket for them as well as IRS type institutions doing their debt collecting, will never be satisfied until they have everything!

Jack Oliver -> house biscuit Sat, 06/16/2018 - 18:33 Permalink

Alternative thinking would suggest that Prins is spot on ! The reason she gets MSM 'coverage' is because she has not revealed the true enormity of it ! The scenario's she suggests have definitely played out !

Although, she is withholding the TRUE scale of it - it's MASSIVE !

There is NO plan B and there is NO way out !

Apart from WAR !!

TheSilentMajority -> Oldguy05 Sun, 06/17/2018 - 04:21 Permalink

Buy high, sell low, works every time!

GotAFriendInBen Sat, 06/16/2018 - 17:25 Permalink

Same things said here

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/secret-and-lies-of-the-bailo

Juggernaut x2 -> VolAnarchist Sat, 06/16/2018 - 17:46 Permalink

Absolute power corrupts absolutely and that is what the banks have- absolute power- "The banks run this place(Congress)"- Sen Dick Durbin(IL) 2008.

Not if_ But When Sat, 06/16/2018 - 17:48 Permalink

I just received her new book "Collusion: how the central bankers rigged the world" through special order with my library. She is by far the best writer on central banks and the financial crisis. Her "It Takes a Pillage" is superb and easily followed. The problem is, hardly anyone outside of the few who care (or know) read it.

Balance-Sheet Sat, 06/16/2018 - 18:30 Permalink

A 1950s outlook repeated for 6 books. We are not going anywhere near 20th Century anything and this is populist. Glass-Steagall is DEAD but promoting its return sells!

Now the money the Fed creates is "Outside Money" injected to the banking system which creates the "Inside Money" that usually finances the economy. The INTENTION of the "Outside Money" being injected into the banking system is to prevent the banking system from dying after which it would no longer be able to create the "Inside Money" you borrow.

The Fed is NOT going to send individual citizens their mortgage payments. This is also populist tripe.

If this were to be done Congress would have to legislate it and the Fed would assist in arranging the financing for such a deficit.

The Congress DOES send trillions to all the people through various transfer and entitlement programs and this coming year will be 2.8T from the federal level alone as well as arranging all the student and mortgage loans.

As long as it is taken to be entertainment any of this is fine. Oh yeah, NO GOLD Standard, Bimetal money, or any sort of commodity currency EVER again.

[Jun 17, 2018] Neoliberalism as socialism for the banks

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... I encountered a wonderful concept the other day on the Keiser Report, where they said in passing that the great irony of the Hegemon's position was that it couldn't use its massive financial power because whenever it did, it simply forced alternatives to arise. ..."
"... This is why every financial move by Trump is producing the opposite result. Another ZH article says that the Russian sell-off of US Treasuries was a move to cover Rusal and the sanctions placed on its former CEO, Deripaska. Mr. Trump Attacks Aluminum, Russia Attacks The Debt . ..."
"... Every time the US flaunts its Dollar supremacy, it pushes customers away from the Dollar. ..."
"... The US has power left in the financial sector, but can't use it. The US has no power left in the military area, and cannot show it. Syria, Korea, the theaters are growing where the US has had to step down. ..."
"... Even the fog of propaganda is wearing increasingly thin. The US State Department just issued a warning to its people about traveling to Russia. It's risky, they say. But ticket sales for the World Cup are up by 25% from the US, the largest foreign customer ..."
Jun 17, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

psychohistorian | Jun 17, 2018 12:47:46 PM | 2

I was impatient and put this up on last weeks Open Thread about an hour ago....

Nomi Prins: The Central Banking Heist That Put The World At Risk

The take away quote:
"
"What we've witnessed, since 2008, is the unbridled ability of the so-called people at the top to implement socialism for the banks," Prins tells me. "If anyone had said we are going to give $21 trillion to the global banking sector, it would never have happened – so we've had a backdoor process instead, under the pretense it would help ordinary people."

Grieved , Jun 17, 2018 3:26:39 PM | 8
@2 psychohistorian

Excellent article, thanks for the link. Nomi knows all this stuff, and she's right. And Liam Halligan, a financial journalist I greatly respect, wrote the article. Recommended.

~~

I encountered a wonderful concept the other day on the Keiser Report, where they said in passing that the great irony of the Hegemon's position was that it couldn't use its massive financial power because whenever it did, it simply forced alternatives to arise.

This is why every financial move by Trump is producing the opposite result. Another ZH article says that the Russian sell-off of US Treasuries was a move to cover Rusal and the sanctions placed on its former CEO, Deripaska. Mr. Trump Attacks Aluminum, Russia Attacks The Debt .

The tariffs on aluminum compelled the Chinese to create a Yuan-denominated futures contract on industrial metals - convertible to gold at Shanghai, of course. The instability of the overnight tariffs created a more enduring stability than before, resting on gold, which satisfies concerns about transfers between nations.

Every time the US flaunts its Dollar supremacy, it pushes customers away from the Dollar.

~~

But it's not just Trump, nor just the financial markets. It's every theater and every plane of activity. Every use of bullying, drives former allies away. Every posture of aggression runs the supreme risk that the US military will be exposed as ineffective, and if that happens, the Pentagon is finished, and the generals know it.

The US has power left in the financial sector, but can't use it. The US has no power left in the military area, and cannot show it. Syria, Korea, the theaters are growing where the US has had to step down.

Even the fog of propaganda is wearing increasingly thin. The US State Department just issued a warning to its people about traveling to Russia. It's risky, they say. But ticket sales for the World Cup are up by 25% from the US, the largest foreign customer.

I'll have to stop, but fortunately, the examples go on and on.

michael d , Jun 17, 2018 4:02:46 PM | 9
Mate would have got the idea from Stephen Cohen, Russia expert, Nation contributor and husband of the Nation editor. But Cohen has certainly got it from Alt-media - here or similar...

[Jun 17, 2018] HARPER HAPPY ANNIVERSARY GLASS STEAGALL--WE MISS YOU, COME BACK

Jun 17, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

HARPER: HAPPY ANNIVERSARY GLASS STEAGALL--WE MISS YOU, COME BACK Harp

Today, June 16, is the 85th anniversary of the signing of the Banking Act of 1933, otherwise known as the Glass Steagall Act. When President Franklin Roosevelt signed Glass Steagall into law, he set off a 66 year epoch of relatively sound banking, during which time there was no big financial crash, as occurred in 1929 and again, after Glass Steagall's repeal, in 2008. Under Glass Steagall, commercial depository banks were totally separated from investment banks. Later, insurance companies were also cut off from any ties to commercial banks. During the same wave of early New Deal legislation, the Federal Depositors Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was established, insuring commercial bank deposits and successfully deterring bank panics.

The repeal of Glass Steagall was a long-standing priority for Wall Street. In 1984, JP Morgan Bank launched an internal study on how to repeal Glass Steagall. That study, "Rethinking Glass Steagall," proposed a war of attrition against the principle of complete bank separation. The war was launched in 1987, with the appointment of Alan Greenspan as the new Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Greenspan had been a partner at JP Morgan and had chaired the study group which devised the war plan against Glass Steagall. As Fed Chairman, Greenspan used his discretionary powers to increase the amount that commercial banks to lend to investment institutions. By the mid-1990s, enforcement of Glass Steagall had eroded. Citibank at that point moved to purchase both an investment bank and an insurance company, in violation of Glass Steagall restrictions. That set the clock going to a two-year deadline. Citi had to either divest of the purchases or Glass Steagall had to be repealed.

Wall Street poured $300 million into a lobbying campaign to kill Glass Steagall. In 1999, both Houses of Congress passed the Gramm Leach Bliley bill, killing Glass Steagall. For the first time in 66 years, commercial banks could merge with investment banks and insurance companies. It was only a matter of time before the investment banking divisions devoured the commercial bank deposits and directed them into a speculative binge beyond all previous financial bubbles. When Lehman Brothers went under in 2008, the system crashedEnemies of Glass Steagall argued that Lehman Brothers was not a commercial bank and so the repeal of Glass Steagall had no causal relationship with the financial crisis. Not so. It was the repeal of Glass Steagall that allowed commercial banks to pour money into the gambling casino--including into Lehman BrothersAn article today in The Guardian by US correspondent Ganesh Sitaraman noted that there is renewed interest in Glass Steagall today--across the political spectrum. He noted that progressive Democrats have been pushing reinstating of Glass Steagall for years. It was included in the Republican Party platform in 2016. That is just the tip of the iceberg. There are bills to reinstate Glass Steagall in both Houses of Congress and they are bipartisan bills. Even candidate Donald Trump called for the reinstatement of Glass Steagall, before he was gagged by Wall Street cabinet officials like Steven Mnuchin and Gary CohenThe IMF, the Bank for International Settlements, the Federal Reserve and Bloomberg News are all warning that we are headed for another major financial "correction" sometime soon. They point to the consequences of a decade of post-2008 quantitative easing and zero interest rates, which led to a 63 percent jump in corporate bonds. The median bond rating today is BBB- just one rung above junk bond status, and S&P Global estimates that more than 25 percent of all corporations can be categorized as "zombies" because the amount they must spend servicing their corporate debt is greater than their cash flow.

There is a growing consensus that we are again headed for a big financial shock. Wouldn't it be wise to move to insulate the commercial banking sector from another fiasco before the next crisis? Are the White House and Congress ready to act or are we heading blindly to a replay of 2008?

[Jun 17, 2018] We Had Whistleblowers Nunes Reveals Good FBI Agents Tipped Off Congress About Comey Team

Jun 17, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) revealed that in late September 2016, "Good FBI agents" stepped forward as whistleblowers to tell them about additional Hillary Clinton emails "sitting" on Anthony Weiner's laptop.

"I've never actually said this before," said Nunes. " We had whistleblowers that came to us in late September of 2016 who talked to us about this laptop sitting up in New York that had additional emails on it." In other words, the New York FBI "rebelled" - as Rudy Giuliani puts it - which former FBI Director James Comey tried to quash, twice .

The FBI sat on the revelation that previously unknown emails from Hillary Clinton's private server were recovered on the laptop of sex-crimes convict Anthony Weiner for just under a month, according to a review by the Department of Justice's Inspector General.

The stated rationale was to prioritize the Russia investigation, which was a decision made by Peter Strzok, a top FBI agent involved in both investigations and who texted his lover that he would "stop" Donald Trump from becoming president . - Daily Caller

Appearing Friday on Fox and Friends , Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said that FBI agents in the New York office "rebelled" and "had a revolution" which Comey could not keep quiet - forcing him to reopen the Clinton email investigation.

" The agents in the NY office - we all know this, rebelled. They had a revolution. And Comey made two attempts to quiet them down and then realized "I can't do that, I'm gonna look terrible here. If she gets elected I'll look terrible, if she doesn't.." -Rudy Giuliani

https://www.youtube.com/embed/xsRThvUSsB0?start=235

Recall that the DOJ Inspector General found that Andrew McCabe lied about leaking a self-serving story to Devlin Barrett of the Wall Street Journal that he was not stalling (or "slow walking") the Hillary Clinton email investigation at a time in which McCabe had come under fire for his wife taking a $467,500 campaign contribution from Clinton proxy pal, Terry McAuliffe.

Last month we reported that "rank and file" FBI agents want Congress to subpoena them so that they can step forward and reveal dirt on Comey and McCabe , reports the Daily Caller , citing three active field agents and former federal prosecutor Joe DiGenova.

" There are agents all over this country who love the bureau and are sickened by [James] Comey's behavior and [Andrew] McCabe and [Eric] Holder and [Loretta] Lynch and the thugs like [John] Brennan –who despise the fact that the bureau was used as a tool of political intelligence by the Obama administration thugs," former federal prosecutor Joe DiGenova told The Daily Caller Tuesday.

" They are just waiting for a chance to come forward and testify ." -Joe diGenova

DiGenova - a veteran D.C. attorney who President Trump initially wanted to hire to represent him in the Mueller probe - only to have to step aside due to conflicts , has maintained contact with "rank and file" FBI agents as well as a counterintelligence consultant who interviewed an active special agent in the FBI's Washington Field Office (WFO) - producing a transcript reviewed by The Caller .

These agents prefer to be subpoenaed to becoming an official government whistleblower , since they fear political and professional backlash, the former Trump administration official explained to TheDC.

More than just Hillary's emails...

The FBI's whistleblowers didn't stop Weiner's laptop... In March of 2017, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that Rep. Nunes revealed to him that a "whistleblower type person" had stepped forward with information about the surveillance of the Trump campaign .

"He had told me that a whistleblower type person had given him some information that was new, that spoke to the last administration and part of this investigation," Ryan said in late March.

"What Chairman Nunes said was he came into possession of new information he thought was valuable to this investigation and he was going to go and inform people about it."

me title=

The week before Ryan made these statements, Nunes revealed that an unidentified source showed him evidence that the U.S. intelligence community "incidentally surveilled" Trump's transition team before inauguration day.

Of course, we now know it goes much, much deeper. As Rudy Giuliani also said on Friday:

Let's look at it this way ... Peter Strzok was running the Hillary investigation. That's a total fix . That's a closed-book now, total fix. Comey should go to jail for that. And Strzok. But then what does Comey do? He takes Strzok - who wanted to get Trump in any way possible - he puts him in charge of the Russia investigation .

How come they're not finding any evidence of collusion? Because the President didn't do anything wrong and he's being investigated corruptly.

A higher loyalty indeed... Vote up! 4 Vote down! 0


Scipio Africanuz -> VWAndy Sat, 06/16/2018 - 15:10 Permalink

This is what you get under imperium, under a Republic, it's almost impossible! Patriots will stand up, and answer to their pedigree but under imperium, integrity is the first virtue to wither, after that the other virtues quickly atrophy.

Let us my friends, determine with every fiber of our being, fight to RESTORE THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC!!!...

MK13 -> I woke up Sat, 06/16/2018 - 14:37 Permalink

US gov is trying to have a cake and it eat too - aka blow up certain parts of FIB/CIA without destroying credibility of US.gov.

It's a political comedy show, enjoy it.

oncemore1 Sat, 06/16/2018 - 14:07 Permalink

Drump is an idiot.

Why are those people still with DOJ and with FBI?

Stupid Trump.

MadHatt -> oncemore1 Sat, 06/16/2018 - 14:20 Permalink

Who?

James Comey? James Baker? Lisa Page? Mike Kortan? Josh Campbell? David Laufman? John Carlin? Sally Yates? Mary McCord? Rachel Brand? Andrew McCabe?

These cant be the people you are referring to, as they are no longer employed.

Assuming others are stupid and refusing to look up what you are talking about is ironically funny.

otschelnik Sat, 06/16/2018 - 14:07 Permalink

Looking retrospectively I always thought that it was uncanny how the Trump campaign parted with Carter Page and then Paul Manafort,brought in Kellyanne Conway. They seemed to be dodging bullets.

Pollygotacracker -> roadhazard Sat, 06/16/2018 - 14:10 Permalink

Nunes, Desantis, Jordan, and Gaetz are the only halfway decent guys in the Congress.

SergeA.Storms -> VWAndy Sat, 06/16/2018 - 18:53 Permalink

99% are not cops, most wouldn't even make it as a cop. They are lawyers, accountants, statisticians, analysts and scientists with a basic gun qualification. They have a lot of cool forensic things at their disposal and in some instances can be helpful in a major investigation. Real cops (like the NYPD investigators that caught the Weiner laptop fiasco and preserved the evidence) don't need the FBI other than to access some of their whiz-bang shit. They'll talk for hours over a two minute task. The rest in higher echelons is politics, dirty politics.

That said. My biggest complaint is the lack of action taken by the 'concerned agents'. Horseshit, cops get arrested 'in house' for stupid shit they've done and the info doesn't get printed because in local areas it can ruin families. This by no means infers light treatment, for example DUI (misdemeanor level in CA) will get you all the aspects of a first DUI that any citizen gets, plus 30-60 days off with no pay, a 'work improvement contract' for a year or two, and a stint in a dry out center. You will possibly keep your job. Repeat offense, fired. Embezzlement, fires, lying in an investigation, fired with a Brady Jacket. Domestic Violence, fired. The Thin Blue Line is just that, 'thin'. If you think the old days of saying nothing still exists or a partner will cover you, your not living in modern times. No one will risk their pension for your sorry ass. You'll be advised by old dogs, don't be a dumbass, dumbass.

[Jun 16, 2018] Neither party serves the people. Both parties serve only themselves. They have morphed into two sides of the same neoliberal coin.

Jun 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Cloud9.5 -> Bill of Rights Fri, 06/15/2018 - 18:24 Permalink

The Democratic Party was founded in 1828. The Republican Party was founded in 1854. Neither party serves the people. Both parties serve only themselves. They have morphed into two sides of the same neoliberal coin. The primary reason Trump won the election was the simple. Even though he ran on the Republican ticket, he was not a Republican. He was the best choice open to the populist. Whether he is a populist or not does not matter. What matters is that people want an America first, Populist Party. We are tired of the wars. We are tired of the government. And, we are tired of the neocons...

edotabin -> Bill of Rights Fri, 06/15/2018 - 16:31 Permalink

"Ha ha ha ha ha the party of losers and users is OVER"

Instead of worrying who will fill the void, they should focus on the void of their ways. As Nietzsche said, " And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you. " It's no wonder they are consuming themselves.

The people are starting to see through the lower end of their BS. Oddly enough, it's figuring out the low end stuff that will create the most rage. Zombie awakening.

As for Obama, I think he realizes what's going on and probably wants no part of it.

null Fri, 06/15/2018 - 15:33 Permalink

Debbie's DNC-cesspool member calling Clinton "toxic"?

The party is toxic ... literally corrosive to American People.

But not just toxic ... look how it infected the other party ... toxic and contagious ... LBJ would be sooooo proud.

momololo Fri, 06/15/2018 - 15:42 Permalink

Biggest rallies in US presidential history were for Bernie Sanders who ran as a Democrat. Dems don't want him because they don't want to get off the corporate lobbyist gravytrain. They would rather lose the presidency.

The republicans are the same. Crooks. All this bullshit on Zero Hedge comments about one being better than the other is simpleton thinking.

hooligan2009 -> momololo Fri, 06/15/2018 - 16:32 Permalink

its the lessor of two weevils.

the choice will always be between a douche and a turd sandwich.

the difference between trumps faults and clintons faults was a chasm.

if there ever was a leader for either party that halved the pentagon budget by making it "smart", eliminating waste, repatriating troops, closing overseas bases AND came up with a plan to make QUALITY portable and fungible across the country, AND found a way to educate rather than indoctrinate children AND found a way to repay the national debt whilst funding medicare/medicaid (both bankrupt) AND found a way to get the federal government completely out of the housing market (get rid of fraudie and funny and the FHA) and, etc etc.. the country would be back on track.

clinton wanted the opposite of all that, trump wants less of it and at least understands what a fucking pain in the ass federal involvement in anything actually is.

[Jun 16, 2018] There's Fking No One Else; DNC Strategist Laments Over Broken Party; Bill Clinton Toxic, Carter Too Old Zero Hedge

Jun 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Following a Monday report that President Obama is "secretly" meeting with top Democratic contenders for the 2020 election, The Hill notes that desperate Democrats beset with Clinton fatigue are freaking out over the fact that the much "blue wave" appears to be crashing on the rocks , and there's nobody around to salvage the party ahead of midterms and the 2020 election.

" There's f---ing no one else ," one frustrated Democratic strategist said. " Bill Clinton is toxic, [former President] Carter is too old, and there's no one else around for miles ." - The Hill

In the hopes of reinvigorating the DNC (of which up to 40 state chapters stand accused of funneling up to $84 million to the Clinton campaign), downtrodden dems are hoping that Obama will get off the sidelines and help rally support.

" He's been way too quiet ," said one longtime Obama bundler who rarely criticizes the former president, according to The Hill . " There are a lot of people who think he's played too little a role or almost no role in endorsing or fundraising and he's done jack shit in getting people to donate to the party. "

After the GOP made sweeping gains in the 2016 election, the DNC was left in disarray - and anyone who might be able to lead the party, be it Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren, may run in 2020. Bernie Sanders is of course out because he may run and he's not a Democrat.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was among five possible contenders for the Democratic crown attending the "We the People" conference in Washington on Wednesday. He received the loudest applause and heard chants of "Bernie."

But he can't play the elder role for the party, both because he may run for president and because he's not a Democrat.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), two other possibilities, have mass followings but also may join the 2020 race. - The Hill

That leaves the spotlight squarely on Barrack Hussein Obama - whose lack of endorsements during the primary season and general absence has frustrated Democrats.

Bill Clinton, who is more radioactive than ever after making ill-advised comments over "what you can do to somebody against their will," has endorsed several candidates since leaving office, yet Obama has declined to do the same thus far.

"You have all these people running for office, some of them against other Democrats, and his strategy has been to not endorse anyone and that's what's been so f---ing ridiculous because not only are you not helping them, you're hurting them ," said the bundler.

Former aides and Democratic strategists said Obama has sought to maintain a lower profile not only for his party to find new life, but also to avoid playing a foil to President Trump and Republicans.

A source close to Obama said the former president is looking forward to hitting the campaign trail, fundraising and issuing more endorsements closer to the midterms. But the source added that injecting himself into day-to-day politics would do the Democratic Party a disservice by making it more difficult for other Democratic voices to rise to prominence. - The Hill

Others say that Obama has remained the unofficial leader of the Democratic Party since leaving office.

"He always wanted to help, without a doubt. He cares tremendously about our country and our party. But I think he always intended to be a little more on the sidelines than he's been," said one former Obama aide. "I think he realizes he is needed and needed badly."

Former Obama aides say that the ex-President is unsettled by policies flowing from the Trump administration, along with the "tone and tenor" of the White House (but not enough to aggressively help active Democrats fight, apparently).

According to Democratic strategist David Wade: " It's certainly not the post-presidency he might've preferred. "

Maybe Obama is just having a good time hanging out?

Tags Politics

Comments
Vote up! 26 Vote down! 1

JimmyJones -> BandGap Fri, 06/15/2018 - 15:29 Permalink

The Neo-cons, excuse me Democrats better get moving. (its so hard to tell them apart these days) The clock is ticking, November is coming and more reports showing criminal behavior are on the way.

$60,000 dollars worth of "Succulent Hot dogs"

Theosebes Goodfellow -> TeamDepends Fri, 06/15/2018 - 16:36 Permalink

~"Many of you impatient homos are whining about no arrests or indictments have been made yet. When will it happen? I'll tell you: Early October."~

Bingo.

The dems have another problem and appear too stupid to focus on it. They apparently much rather worry about having a figurehead to lead them, but their real problem is much, much larger. Simply put, they have no message, save "Hate Trump!!!" What exactly do they promise voters these days? Trump impeachment as an economic program?

Also curious is the fact they want no part of Hillary. Do they admit she's as tainted as a leper?

crazzziecanuck -> TeamDepends Fri, 06/15/2018 - 16:46 Permalink

The problem with that will be people will see through it as cheap, partisan electioneering. The result will be an EASIER time to motivate Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts.

There's as much chance of an implosion of Democrats in 2018 as there were back in 2006 when the GOP was nearly blasted out of existence then too. Remember how all the predictions about the imminent doom of the GOP were front and centre?

Journalists are so lazy, they're just using Liquid Paper to erase "Republican" to "Democrat" and change the date from stuff they wrote back in 2006.

Doesn't matter if Republicans or Democrats win. In the end, everyone else simply loses. How much you lose is proportional to the distance from the party elite you actually are.

07564111 -> JimmyJones Fri, 06/15/2018 - 15:38 Permalink

Interesting shit. The world should now conclude that there are no qualified people left in the USA.

Is it that all are corrupt or none are corrupt enough. ??

[Jun 16, 2018] The hysterical US foreign policy in the last 10-15 years, with its mindless suicidal aggressiveness, is in fact death throes of an Empire that resents going down the drain

Rumors about the death of the US global neoliberal empire are probably slightly exaggerated. Trump did damaged it, but the neoliberal system proved to be really resilient in 2008 and might prove this again.
Notable quotes:
"... The overall educational level and the level of awareness of what's going on in the world in the US is dismal. Elites arranged that by maintaining pathetic education system and spreading lies via MSM; ignorant sheep are more likely to obey, and to approve of persecution of those "black sheep" who are less ignorant and don't buy the lies of the MSM. Did we see any protests against "Patriot Act" that trampled the very foundations of our Constitution? Sheep don't protest, they just follow the leader. ..."
"... However, we have to remember that clueless ignoramus in the US gets 5-10 times more than similarly clueless ignoramus in China or India. Bush junior was genuinely dumb, but would he become US President without his family's ill-gotten riches, or without his ex-CIA chief daddy becoming the President first? Of course not, most morons in the US never fly that high. The only reason for his "success" is the fact that he was born into an elite family. ..."
"... As far as Jews are concerned, this appears to be yet another red herring, like Russia-bashing. Are gentile Koch brothers or Walton family any better than the worst Jews in the US? They are just as selfish, greedy, and repulsive as George Soros or Sheldon Adelson. ..."
"... Elites are robbing Americans and foreigners alike. In fact, the US population gets some crumbs off elites' table, and enjoys higher living standards than it would have in fair global competition. ..."
Jun 16, 2018 | www.unz.com

AnonFromTN , June 14, 2018 at 9:03 pm GMT

@Rurik

Elites are robbing Americans and foreigners alike. In fact, the US population gets some crumbs off elites' table, and enjoys higher living standards than it would have in fair global competition.

The overall educational level and the level of awareness of what's going on in the world in the US is dismal. Elites arranged that by maintaining pathetic education system and spreading lies via MSM; ignorant sheep are more likely to obey, and to approve of persecution of those "black sheep" who are less ignorant and don't buy the lies of the MSM. Did we see any protests against "Patriot Act" that trampled the very foundations of our Constitution? Sheep don't protest, they just follow the leader.

However, we have to remember that clueless ignoramus in the US gets 5-10 times more than similarly clueless ignoramus in China or India. Bush junior was genuinely dumb, but would he become US President without his family's ill-gotten riches, or without his ex-CIA chief daddy becoming the President first? Of course not, most morons in the US never fly that high. The only reason for his "success" is the fact that he was born into an elite family.

As far as Jews are concerned, this appears to be yet another red herring, like Russia-bashing. Are gentile Koch brothers or Walton family any better than the worst Jews in the US? They are just as selfish, greedy, and repulsive as George Soros or Sheldon Adelson.

See comment 51:

The problem here and abroad are elites. Elites of any kind.

Rurik , June 14, 2018 at 10:43 pm GMT
@AnonFromTN

Elites are robbing Americans and foreigners alike. In fact, the US population gets some crumbs off elites' table, and enjoys higher living standards than it would have in fair global competition.

some perhaps, but the middle class is dying (literally in the case of middle aged white men), and the working class is languishing. It's true the 1% are gorging on a frenzy of corruption and graft, and a no doubt there are a few who prosper by serving that class, but the Main Streets of America are not, in any way, profiting off the exploitation of Africa or S. America or anywhere else. Indeed, it is them that are being exploited.

The overall educational level and the level of awareness of what's going on in the world in the US is dismal. Elites arranged that by maintaining pathetic education system and spreading lies via MSM; ignorant sheep are more likely to obey

no argument there!

However, we have to remember that clueless ignoramus in the US gets 5-10 times more than similarly clueless ignoramus in China or India.

India and China (and Ethiopia and Somalia and Mexico and Brazil and so many other places) are not poor due to the oppression of Americans. Sure, Goldman Sachs and a thousand other vultures and thieves have done a lot of damage, but no more that the leadership of those respective lands. Has India ever heard of birth control, (for God's sake!) Or Indonesia or a hundred other places, like Haiti, that overbreed their finite resources and limited space until their countries are reduced to shitholes.

If a coal miner in West Virginia is doing a little better than an Untouchable in India, then trust me when I tell you I'm not going to blame the miner (or janitor or mechanic) in America for the poverty in the corrupt and stupid third world.

As far as the suffering that the ZUSA has actually caused, and is causing in places like Syria and Yemen, none of that is being done on behalf of the American people, but rather the typical American is taxed to support these wars and atrocities on behalf of Israel or Saudi Arabia, respectively.

The only reason for his "success" is the fact that he was born into an elite family.

recently I was ranting on the terrible folly of this very thing.

As far as Jews are concerned, this appears to be yet another red herring, like Russia-bashing. Are gentile Koch brothers or Walton family any better than the worst Jews in the US? They are just as selfish, greedy, and repulsive as George Soros or Sheldon Adelson.

Yes, they're just as selfish and greedy, but they aren't as filled with genocidal hatred.

It's because of Zionist Jews that Americans were dragged into both world wars.

It's because of Zionist Jews (and assorted corrupt Gentiles) that Israel (with help from the CIA and ((media)), did 9/11, in order to plunge this century into horrors writ large like the last Zio-century.

That there are legions of corrupt and soulless Gentiles willing and eager to jump on that gravy train, is a shame and a sin, but it doesn't excuse the people who are the motivation behind the wars.

The Kochs (and Chamber of Commerce and other Gentile scum) want massive immigration out of pure, raw, insatiable greed.

Whereas the Jewish supremacist Zionists want it out of genocidal tribal hatreds.

The typical American middle and working class are ground into the dirt between these two pillars of Satanic iniquity.

I agree with much of what you're saying, and it's true about the elites in general. But the ZUSA is completely controlled by Zionist Jews, and I think that's pretty obvious.

This man knew that 9/11 was going to happen, if he wasn't part of the planning. And yet look at how they abase themselves

[Jun 16, 2018] I noticed the DNC created a tiny plaque above a crappy bike rack for him

Jun 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Vote up! 8 Vote down! 1


Ms No -> el buitre Fri, 06/15/2018 - 15:40 Permalink

Found an interesting article about some developments with Seth Rich. Hard to make sense of. I noticed the DNC created a tiny plaque above a crappy bike rack for him. They don't want anybody to remember him. Probably Hillary's idea.

https://www.sott.net/article/388293-Aaron-Rich-refusing-to-authorize-Wi

forexskin -> Ms No Fri, 06/15/2018 - 16:26 Permalink

this article merits wider play - interesting angle that the family won't authorize wikileaks to release their info.

Thought Processor -> Ms No Fri, 06/15/2018 - 16:30 Permalink

Seth uploaded the files into a DropBox (per Sy Hersh) and also may have given others the password to it. He was trying to make sure that the information got out. He very likely also asked that he never be named as the leaker, for obvious reasons.

His family could possibly confirm that he was the leaker if they knew at the time, though I'm sure that they were heavily pressured to do otherwise as soon as Seth Rich was murdered. They would have simply been given a choice along with some thinly veiled threats.

Thought Processor -> Four chan Fri, 06/15/2018 - 15:26 Permalink

Rumor is that Bernie is setting up his crew now for another run at it. Makes me wonder who the next Seth Rich will be.

pparalegal -> Thought Processor Fri, 06/15/2018 - 16:51 Permalink

Bernie sold his mooing cow followers out last time. The DNC will make him an offer he can't refuse. Biden is a tit grabbing corrupt cartoon. I say Crusty the clown has a good chance. Do it for the children!

[Jun 15, 2018] Libyan Oil Exports Impaired as Some in OPEC Seek More Supply

Jun 15, 2018 | www.msn.com

by Salma El Wardany (Bloomberg) Two of Libya's biggest oil ports stopped loading on Thursday after clashes erupted between rival forces for control of the country's economic lifeline, taking more barrels off the market just as OPEC debates whether to boost production.

Fighting at Es Sider and Ras Lanuf terminals led to the loss of about 240,000 barrels of Libya's daily oil production, state energy producer National Oil Corp. said in a statement Thursday. NOC evacuated staff from both terminals, which account for 40 percent of Libya's oil exports, and declared force majeure on shipments.

The disruptions come a week before OPEC nations hold key meetings in Vienna with other major producers including Russia to discuss if they should stick with a pact to restrain oil supply after prices topped $80 a barrel in May. Oil producers were already facing growing pressure, including from U.S. President Donald Trump, to boost supply to offset disruptions caused by the economic crisis in Venezuela and renewed American sanctions on Iran.

Libya's oil output has rebounded over the past two years, but remains well below the 1.8 million barrels a day the country pumped before the 2011 campaign to oust Muammar Qaddafi. That NATO-backed war gave way to years of fighting among rival Libyan groups in which the country's oil installations became prized targets.

[Jun 15, 2018] Libya Halts Sharara Oil Loadings as Biggest Field Shuts Down - Bloomberg

Jun 15, 2018 | www.bloomberg.com

[Jun 15, 2018] President Barack Obama gave Mueller original ten-year term a two-year extension, making him the longest-serving FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover ."

Jun 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

francis scott Fri, 06/15/2018 - 19:34 Permalink

...Robert Mueller, who was Director of the FBI from September 4, 2001 to September 4, 2013. In those 12 years as Director, he served as Obama's FBI Director for 5 years, from Jan. 2009 until Sept. 2013. "President Barack Obama gave his original ten-year term a two-year extension, making him the longest-serving FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover ."

He knows where every unconstitutional skeleton in both Baby Bush and Barack Obama's is buried...

[Jun 15, 2018] Tulsi Gabbard might be a viable candidate

Notable quotes:
"... Clinton turned the Democratic party into a Mafia organization ..."
Jun 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

trillion_dolla Fri, 06/15/2018 - 16:22 Permalink

They do have someone and her name is Tulsi Gabbard. But, shes not a raving neoliberal. So, the base ignores her.

hooligan2009 -> trillion_dolla Fri, 06/15/2018 - 16:59 Permalink

agreed - classy, smart lady.

if she ever goes "stateswoman like" by not bitching at opponents and just beingalways positive she would attract a lot of votes.

one of the few demoNrats i would enjoy having dinner or a drink with.

Chief Joesph Fri, 06/15/2018 - 17:10 Permalink

Democrats can lament all they want, but they did have a very good candidate that they allowed to be thrown under the bus. That was Bernie Sanders. Despite his "socialist" leanings, (for you conservatives), he was really fresh blood to the Democratic party. And even though Jimmy Carter is old, he has a very good working mind, better than all that are currently in the Democratic party. Clinton turned the Democratic party into a Mafia organization, taking orders from her, paving the way for her, knocking off anyone that looked like potential trouble, like Seth Rich, John Ashe, Joe Montano, Victor Thorn, and Shawn Lucas. All five of these guys died within 6 weeks of each other. Strange? Not if you are operating an old style mafia organization. Democrats need to resign the party, and form something new, that has fresh ideas, and people who are not there for self-coronations. The most honest democrat you have left is Jimmy Carter. Democrats are not honest today.

kudocast -> Chief Joesph Fri, 06/15/2018 - 17:31 Permalink

I would add Howard Dean and Elizabeth Warren to Jimmy Carter.

kudocast Fri, 06/15/2018 - 17:29 Permalink

They need to purge the leadership of the DNC - Perez, Clinton and the gang, they are the ones that shoved Hillary Clinton down Democrats throats instead letting Bernie Sanders, the real nominee, win the nomination. The DNC fucked over themselves, no one else is to blame.

Howard Dean is the one that got Obama elected the first time. From 2005 to 2009, he headed the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and successfully implemented the 50 State Strategy, which aimed for Democrats to be competitive in places considered Republican-dominated territory. As a result, during the midterms in 2006, Democrats won the House back and gained seats in the Senate. In 2008 Barack Obama also used the same strategy to win his presidential bid.

Just like the DNC and Democratic bourgeoise fucked over Bernie, they fucked over Howard Dean. Obama didn't select Howard Dean for his cabinet for Secretary of Health and Human Services - even though he was a successful governor, is a medical doctor, and was one of the main reasons Obama won in 2008.

Howard Dean should run as an Independent in 2020.

PrivetHedge Fri, 06/15/2018 - 17:46 Permalink

Funny, I thought they had a red-hot candidate called - err - Bernie Sanders.

Shame they sabotaged him and his political future, oh well.

bwdiii Fri, 06/15/2018 - 18:14 Permalink

Is that a $65,000 Chicago foot long the ex pres is busy with? Or just a hotdog?

3-fingered_chemist Fri, 06/15/2018 - 18:19 Permalink

Obama has always been about himself. I mean who publishes a memoir about yourself when you're just a nobody? Even Obama knows a loser when he sees one...the Democratic Party. He did more for the Republican Party than any Republican could ever do. One of the Greatest Presidents in my lifetime for the conservative movement.

NuYawkFrankie Fri, 06/15/2018 - 18:26 Permalink

DNC DOA

3-fingered_chemist Fri, 06/15/2018 - 18:26 Permalink

The Dems are caught between a rock and a hard place. The result of losing 1000s of seats nationwide since 2010 means you've got no farm system to develop politicians/leaders. It's no different than any sports franchise. The successful ones have a deep bench and prospects to knock off old, overpaid, underachieving veterans. If the Dems trot out Obama, he will be a death sentence for the Dems' chances in November. Guy is hated by almost everyone. Don't believe the approval ratings from CNN. He got more popular towards the end when people realized he was finally leaving.

ZazzOne Fri, 06/15/2018 - 20:26 Permalink

Obama and the Clinton's have DESTROYED the Democrat party!!! Leaders of the current Democratic party apparatchik, Schumer, Pelosi, Schiff, et al , are fucking idiots!!! I see a Red tsunami wave for the mid-term election!

[Jun 15, 2018] Ralph Peters as one of the nuttiest neocons around. But as far as Jews are concerned, this appears to be yet another red herring, like Russia-bashing. Are gentile Koch brothers or Walton family any better than the worst Jews in the US? They are just as selfish, greedy, and repulsive as George Soros or Sheldon Adelson

Notable quotes:
"... As far as Jews are concerned, this appears to be yet another red herring, like Russia-bashing. Are gentile Koch brothers or Walton family any better than the worst Jews in the US? They are just as selfish, greedy, and repulsive as George Soros or Sheldon Adelson. ..."
"... JRL promoted a recent Kirchick piece: http://russialist.org/newswatch-the-soviet-roots-of-invoking-fears-about-world-war-iii-brookings-james-kirchick/ The rant of a coddled establishment chickenhawk, who is quite overrated, relative to the positions accorded to him (Nasty people don't deserve kindness.) ..."
"... A suggestive dose of McCarthyism that simplistic references the Cold War period with present day realities, which include a subjectively inaccurate overview of what has transpired in Syria and Crimea. Put mildly, James Kirchick is quite ironic in his use of "lazy". ..."
"... As far as Jews are concerned, this appears to be yet another red herring, like Russia-bashing. Are gentile Koch brothers or Walton family any better than the worst Jews in the US? They are just as selfish, greedy, and repulsive as George Soros or Sheldon Adelson. ..."
"... Agree entirely--a wholesale dumbing down of masses and even "elites" (both intentional and not) is a direct result of neoliberalism as a whole. ..."
"... However mad Bolton might be, most card-carrying Russophobs and neocons are not crazy: they are cynical people without scruples working for money. ..."
"... Say, Hillary Clinton or Mike Pompeo are not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier, but they are not too mad or too stupid to understand the reality. They are simply greedy scum paid to do the hatched job. ..."
"... The same applies to most current politicians involved in the smear campaign against Russia. ..."
Jun 15, 2018 | www.g2mil.com
AnonFromTN , June 14, 2018 at 9:03 pm GMT
@Rurik

The US elites (neocons are just one type of servants they hired)

ah, so it was Dubya all along! What a clever little schemer he was! Pretending all that time to be dumb as a rock, and a tool of organized Zionism, while he was using the neocons to his own advantage! So while ((Wolfowitz and Feith and Pearl and Kristol)) were being schooled at the feet of ((Leo Strauss)), it was Dubya the college cheerleader all along who was the mastermind behind the Project for a New American Century and 9/11 !

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_KhlRzZj7HG8/SylVO1ygOeI/AAAAAAAAQ1s/2ms5qnctt4Y/s320/Dubya+phone.jpg

sure, Goldman Sachs and Hollywood get federal subsidies, but it's the (dying) American middle class that has been exploiting the world's poor!

The hysterical US foreign policy in the last 10-15 years, with its mindless suicidal aggressiveness, is in fact death throes of an Empire that resents going down the drain,
what's been going down the drain has been the blood and tears and future of working class Americans, forced to suit up their children to go slaughter innocent Arabs and others in a transparent and treasonous policy intended to bolster Israel - at the direct and catastrophic expense of America and the American people.

I wonder, as the American people are taxed to the tune of billions every year, to send to Israel as tribute, is that also a case of US elites using Israel to their own devices? As Americas roads and bridges crumble, and veterans are denied care?

Or, is it just possible, that the ((owners)) of the Federal Reserve Bank, have used that printing press as a weapon to consolidate absolute power over the institutions of the ZUSA?

Do you suppose that when France bombs Libya or menaces Syria, that they're doing it to benefit the French elite? And that Israel is their dupe, who give them a pretext for doing so? Or that the French (and British and Polish and Ukrainian, etc..) elite are getting their marching orders from Jewish supremacist Zionists who're hell bent on using Gentile Christians to slaughter Gentile Muslims while they laugh and count the shekels? Eh?

Elites are robbing Americans and foreigners alike. In fact, the US population gets some crumbs off elites' table, and enjoys higher living standards than it would have in fair global competition. The overall educational level and the level of awareness of what's going on in the world in the US is dismal. Elites arranged that by maintaining pathetic education system and spreading lies via MSM; ignorant sheep are more likely to obey, and to approve of persecution of those "black sheep" who are less ignorant and don't buy the lies of the MSM. Did we see any protests against "Patriot Act" that trampled the very foundations of our Constitution? Sheep don't protest, they just follow the leader.

However, we have to remember that clueless ignoramus in the US gets 5-10 times more than similarly clueless ignoramus in China or India. Bush junior was genuinely dumb, but would he become US President without his family's ill-gotten riches, or without his ex-CIA chief daddy becoming the President first? Of course not, most morons in the US never fly that high. The only reason for his "success" is the fact that he was born into an elite family.

As far as Jews are concerned, this appears to be yet another red herring, like Russia-bashing. Are gentile Koch brothers or Walton family any better than the worst Jews in the US? They are just as selfish, greedy, and repulsive as George Soros or Sheldon Adelson.

See comment 51:

The problem here and abroad are elites. Elites of any kind.

Carlton Meyer says: • Website June 14, 2018 at 4:50 am GMT

Ralph Peters is one of the nuttiest neocons around, and Fox was smart to dump him. I recall an article long ago where he suggested that the US Govt. should address the drug addition problem in the USA by assassinating drug dealers on the streets in the USA.

He lives off scraps from neocons by selling his soul for BS talking points and collects a monthly check from Uncle Sam after 20 years of sitting at a desk doing BS intel work, as I once did for a year. It seems he missed his chance at killing commies in Nam by touring Europe, as Fred Reed explained:

https://fredoneverything.org/dulce-et-decorum-est-if-someone-else-has-to-do-it/

Mikhail says: • Website June 14, 2018 at 6:18 am GMT
Nothing new in the above article. That such people are elevated to the stature of cushy mainstream propping and ridicule by some non-mainstream others is a tell all sign on what's wrong with the coverage.

Regarding this excerpt:

A prime example of this comes in a recent volume authored by prominent Neocon journalist and homosexual activist (yes, the two traits often seem to go together), James Kirchick: The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age, 2017). In his jumble of Neocon ideology and prejudice, Kirchick evaluates what for him seems to be happening ominously in Europe. He is deeply fearful of the efforts to "close borders" against Muslim immigrants from the Middle East. He blasts Marine Le Pen as a racist -- and most likely a subtle "holocaust denier!" -- and attacks the attempts in places like Hungary and Poland to reassert national traditions and Christian identity; for him these are nothing less than attempts to bring back "fascism."

Russia comes in for perhaps his harshest criticism, and the reason is unmistakable: Russia seems to be returning to its older national and pre-Communist heritage, to its age-old Orthodox Christian faith. Russians are returning by the millions to the church and the "old-time" religion. For Kirchick this can only mean one thing: the triumph of bigotry, anti-semitism, and "extreme right wing" ideology, and the failure of what he terms "liberal democracy and equality" (including, he would no doubt include, feminism, same sex marriage, across-the-board equality, and all those other "conservative values"!).

Kirchick's critique, shared by many of the leaders of the national Republican Party and dominating the pages of most establishment "conservative" publications and talk radio these days, joins him arm-in-arm with globalist George Soros in efforts to undermine the Russian state and its president all in the name of "democracy" and "equality." [See, "George Soros Aghast as Collapsing EU, while Russia Resurgent," January 19, 2018]

But, just what kind of "democracy" and what kind of "equality" do Kirchick and Soros defend?

JRL promoted a recent Kirchick piece: http://russialist.org/newswatch-the-soviet-roots-of-invoking-fears-about-world-war-iii-brookings-james-kirchick/ The rant of a coddled establishment chickenhawk, who is quite overrated, relative to the positions accorded to him (Nasty people don't deserve kindness.)

A suggestive dose of McCarthyism that simplistic references the Cold War period with present day realities, which include a subjectively inaccurate overview of what has transpired in Syria and Crimea. Put mildly, James Kirchick is quite ironic in his use of "lazy".

AnonFromTN , June 15, 2018 at 5:10 pm GMT • 100 Words
@Andrei Martyanov
As far as Jews are concerned, this appears to be yet another red herring, like Russia-bashing. Are gentile Koch brothers or Walton family any better than the worst Jews in the US? They are just as selfish, greedy, and repulsive as George Soros or Sheldon Adelson.
As I always say -- as repulsive and debilitating Jewish influence on US body politic is, this influence, now transformed in almost complete "intellectual" dominance, it wouldn't have been possible without willing accomplices from radical Christian Zionists and a massive corruption in the highest echelons of power.

Agree entirely--a wholesale dumbing down of masses and even "elites" (both intentional and not) is a direct result of neoliberalism as a whole. The crisis is systemic and Jews are only one, however important, part of that. In the end, Bolton is a practicing Lutheran but look at him -- the guy is completely mad. And I mean this in purely psychiatric terms -- he has some real serious demons haunting him and I even have suspicion about what some of those are. Just an example.

Yes, sick ideology often attracts nutcases. I know a guy in Ukraine with a history of mental illness who is a staunch supporter of current "president" Poroshenko.

However mad Bolton might be, most card-carrying Russophobs and neocons are not crazy: they are cynical people without scruples working for money.

Say, Hillary Clinton or Mike Pompeo are not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier, but they are not too mad or too stupid to understand the reality. They are simply greedy scum paid to do the hatched job.

The same applies to most current politicians involved in the smear campaign against Russia. The greatest sin of Russia and Putin is that they got in the way of thieves who wanted to loot the whole world but encountered resistance. Assad in Syria, Iran, North Korea, China, and Venezuela committed the same sin: got between the thieves and their intended loot.

[Jun 15, 2018] The future is bright for Neoliberal Democrats.

Jun 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

FredGSanford. Fri, 06/15/2018 - 16:22 Permalink

The democrats have a large stable of brilliant and formidable possible candidates any of which could lead the party to greatness

Hillary Clinton, Slick Willie, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Mark Zuckerburg, Anthony Weiner, Harvey Weinstein, Robert DeNiro, Oprah, Michelle Hussein Obama, Elizabeth ( Pococahontas)Warren , Madonna, Cher, Bernie Sanders , all the CNN and MSNBC personalities, Chris Matthews, Bruce Jenner, Colin Kapernic, Gov Jerry moonbeam Brown, and that's just to name a few. There is an abundance of talent , not to mention character and honesty.

The future is bright for Liberal Democrats.

[Jun 15, 2018] I'm ready.

Jun 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

vulcanraven Thu, 06/14/2018 - 19:28 Permalink

"Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support ...."

We have already SEEN these texts, when the fuck is something actually going to be DONE about it?

Or is the 2A the only answer to that question?

secretargentman -> vulcanraven Thu, 06/14/2018 - 19:30 Permalink

I'm ready.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7MoXPxA5LM

[Jun 15, 2018] And guess who did that redacting? Oh, that would be one Rod Rosenstein.

Jun 15, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

francis_the_wo -> JimmyJones Fri, 06/15/2018 - 22:09 Permalink

"The redacted material was just removed"

And guess who did that redacting? Oh, that would be one Rod Rosenstein.

The same Rod Rosenstein who is very much implicated of wrongdoing regarding his (illegal and unnecessary) appointment of a Special Counsel.

In other words, Rod's got a conflict of interest in redacting a document that implicates him in conflicts of interest.

You can't make this stuff up.....

[Jun 14, 2018] Turley Comey Can No Longer Hide Destruction Caused At FBI

Notable quotes:
"... Excellent piece, dexterously explaining the similarity between the IG's dilemma and Mueller's shot at obstruction. If Mueller claims Trump obstructed, and must be prosecuted, Comey must be prosecuted. ..."
Jun 14, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

James Comey once described his position in the Clinton investigation as being the victim of a "500-year flood." The point of the analogy was that he was unwittingly carried away by events rather than directly causing much of the damage to the FBI. His "500-year flood" just collided with the 500-page report of the Justice Department inspector general (IG) Michael Horowitz.

The IG sinks Comey's narrative with a finding that he "deviated" from Justice Department rules and acted in open insubordination.

Rather than portraying Comey as carried away by his biblical flood, the report finds that he was the destructive force behind the controversy. The import of the report can be summed up in Comeyesque terms as the distinction between flotsam and jetsam. Comey portrayed the broken rules as mere flotsam, or debris that floats away after a shipwreck. The IG report suggests that this was really a case of jetsam, or rules intentionally tossed over the side by Comey to lighten his load. Comey's jetsam included rules protecting the integrity and professionalism of his agency, as represented by his public comments on the Clinton investigation.

The IG report concludes, "While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey's part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice."

The report will leave many unsatisfied and undeterred. Comey went from a persona non grata to a patron saint for many Clinton supporters. Comey, who has made millions of dollars with a tell-all book portraying himself as the paragon of "ethical leadership," continues to maintain that he would take precisely the same actions again.

Ironically, Comey, fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe , former FBI agent Peter Strzok and others, by their actions, just made it more difficult for special counsel Robert Mueller to prosecute Trump for obstruction. There is now a comprehensive conclusion by career investigators that Comey violated core agency rules and undermined the integrity of the FBI. In other words, there was ample reason to fire James Comey.

Had Trump fired Comey immediately upon taking office, there would be little question about his conduct warranting such termination. Instead, Trump waited to fire him and proceeded to make damaging statements about how the Russian investigation was on his mind at the time, as well as telling Russian diplomats the day after that the firing took "pressure off" him. Nevertheless, Mueller will have to acknowledge that there were solid, if not overwhelming, grounds to fire Comey.

To use the Comey firing now in an obstruction case, Mueller will have to assume that the firing of an "insubordinate" official was done for the wrong reason. Horowitz faced precisely this same problem in his review and refused to make such assumptions about Comey and others. The IG report found additional emails showing a political bias against Trump and again featuring the relationship of Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page. In one exchange, Page again sought reassurance from Strzok, who was a critical player in the investigations of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump , that Trump is "not ever going to become president, right? Right?!" Strzok responded, "No. No he won't. We'll stop it."

The IG noted that some of these shocking emails occurred at that point in October 2016 when the FBI was dragging its feet on the Clinton email investigation and Strzok was a critical player in that investigation. The IG concluded that bias was reflected in that part of the investigation with regard to Strzok and his role. Notably, the IG was in the same position as Mueller: The IG admits that the Strzok-Page emails "potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations." This includes the decision by Strzok to prioritize the Russian investigation over the Clinton investigation. The IG states that "[w]e concluded that we did not have confidence that this decision by Strzok was free from bias."

However, rather than assume motivations, the IG concluded that it could not "find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative decisions." Thus, there was bias reflected in the statements of key investigatory figures like Strzok but there were also objective alternative reasons for the actions taken by the FBI. That is precisely the argument of Trump on the Comey firing. While he may have harbored animus toward Comey or made disconcerting statements, the act of firing Comey can be justified on Comey's own misconduct as opposed to assumptions about his motives.

Many of us who have criticized Comey in the past, including former Republican and Democratic Justice Department officials, have not alleged a political bias. As noted by the IG report, Comey's actions did not benefit the FBI or Justice Department but, rather, caused untold harm to those institutions. The actions benefited Comey as he tried to lighten his load in heading into a new administration. It was the same motive that led Comey to improperly remove FBI memos and then leak information to the media after he was fired by Trump. It was jetsam thrown overboard intentionally by Comey to save himself, not his agency.

The Horowitz report is characteristically balanced. It finds evidence of political bias among key FBI officials against Trump and criticizes officials in giving the investigation of Trump priority over the investigation of Clinton. However, it could not find conclusive evidence that such political bias was the sole reason for the actions taken in the investigation. The question is whether those supporting the inspector general in reaching such conclusions would support the same approach by the special counsel when the subject is not Comey but Trump.


GeezerGeek -> pc_babe Thu, 06/14/2018 - 21:20 Permalink

Comey is simply two-legged pond scum. He did what he thought would preserve his privileged position. No way a POS like him would go against the wishes of Barry, Loretta and Hillary. The question I have is this: were those three acting in concert to beat Trump or did Barry direct Jimmy to do in Hillary with that late-stage reopening of the inquiry? Barry would have hated to have Hillary replace him, because - if she actually lived through it - she would probably have reduced him to a minor historical footnote. His ego couldn't handle that. Heck, I wouldn't even exclude the possibility that Bubba's meeting with Loretta, perhaps including a phone call with Barry, was about keeping Hillary out of the White House. It might have cramped Bubba's style, being first dude and all and under close scrutiny.

Keyser -> GeezerGeek Thu, 06/14/2018 - 21:22 Permalink

Although damning in many respects, the IG's report falls short in identifying prosecutable actions on the part of FbI / DoJ officials... There may be some firings, but that's about it...

Comey will get to skate with the $$$ from his book tour / Trump bashing tour, Stroczk and Page sail off into the sunset and likely go to work for some Dim think tank, the rank and file all go back to work thinking, phew, that one was close...

McCabe is going to be the poster child that gets the stick, while at the same time the underlying bias in these two agencies will continue unabated...

Stan522 -> Handful of Dust Thu, 06/14/2018 - 23:07 Permalink

This report whitewashed the worst crimes.... The OIG reports recommendations and what they chose to ignore is reminiscing of Comey's now infamous indictment and exoneration of Hillary Clinton from that 2016 press conference.

The deep state is still calling the shots.....

MK ULTRA Alpha -> y3maxx Thu, 06/14/2018 - 22:09 Permalink

The FBI takes bribes from the media for secret insider information and used the media connections for disinformation to twist the narrative for Clinton. Hundreds of interactions with MSM, bribes being handed out. These jerks must feel their power to be the unnamed sources, looks like they've dug their own grave. Literally hundreds of contacts, recorded bribes and an extreme close relation with CNN and New York Times. This is the source of all the disinformation, lies, rumors and destruction to our nation. The FBI is the enemy with their unlawful alliance with communist and homosexuals in the media. I wonder how many FBI agents are communist and homosexuals?

The key in all this is the political slush fund of over a $100 billion which everyone ignores, the Clinton Foundation will make or break politicians for a corrupt elitist communist agenda for the next generation. It's being protected from investigation because of the previous crimes of Mueller, Comey, Rosenstein, and who knows how many others. The Clinton Foundation was bribed by foreigners for access, favors and the plan to use the money to take over the US government.

Uranium One is just one covert operation which ensnares all of these opportunist. The Haitian relief money, remember Bush II sat right next to Clinton stating the reason or his purpose was to prevent the Haitian money from being stolen. That was on national full throated MSM. Are there murders connected to the Clinton Foundation? Considering Congresswoman Wasserman Shultz most likely ordered an FBI agent to look into Seth Rich, Pakistanis infiltrating the highest level of leadership, Iranian cocaine smuggling network the FBI was prepared to take down stopped by Obama because it would interfere with the Iran nuke deal. None of this is being added to the equation, incredible FBI and overall government corruption.

It's worse than a swamp, it's an army aligned against us with no honor, decency or even allegiance to this nation, only their gang, allegiance to an organization, a gang covering up to continue to do the same. Each agency of the federal government is of this culture, the break down in this country is apart of every aspect of the government.

How can anyone say we have a country anymore?

LaugherNYC -> pc_babe Thu, 06/14/2018 - 21:24 Permalink

Excellent piece, dexterously explaining the similarity between the IG's dilemma and Mueller's shot at obstruction. If Mueller claims Trump obstructed, and must be prosecuted, Comey must be prosecuted.

Slow-walking an investigation resulting in no charges being filed despite clear evidence of multiple crimes -- I would call THAT clear obstruction. McCabe and Comey have conspired to try to dump this on Strzok. It would be funny if it weren't so despicable.

junction -> Captain Nemo d Thu, 06/14/2018 - 21:19 Permalink

What can you expect from Comey, paid $7 million a year by HSBC, the bank that laundered some $12 billion in narco trafficker (read CIA proxy) narcotic money? Lock him up in SuperMax in a narrow cell next to jewboy Rosenstein.i

Tarzan -> Zorba's idea Thu, 06/14/2018 - 22:19 Permalink

The thing is, Trump was his boss, and if he decided the Russia coup was a waste of FBI time, he has every right to fire the head of the FBI, for continuing to waist time and money, purposely trying to undermine the election.

Remember, this is before there was a special counsel, and if after a year of investigating there's no there there, there sure as shit wasn't anything back then to investigate!

There is nothing illegal about the President telling Comey to knock it off, or else.

He should tell the press what they want to here. Of course the phony Russia scam played a part in getting Comey fired, rightfully so. Then stand with his fist in the air shouting Fuck the Prestitutes!

For a year now, they've been in a search for something, anything, to investigate.

He should fire Sessions, Rosenstein, and Mueller, TODAY, and watch their heads explode!

Tarzan -> Captain Nemo d Thu, 06/14/2018 - 22:36 Permalink

There is an evil intent in all this, beyond the obvious.

Many believe WWG1WGA means, "Where we go one we go all".

A Ponzi always collapses the minute it stops growing, it's a 100% certainty. From the start, ~100 years ago, the Oligarchs who gathered on Jekyll Island knew that their debt money would grow right up to the day it suddenly collapsed, and planned it with all it's allure, hooks, and traps, to consume everything, before that day, so that all would be in the same boat when it collapses. They planned it to fail from the start. It's a mutual suicide Trap, set up to consume the world, consolidate power, then collapse all the Nation's currencies in one fail swoop!

For in a single hour such fabulous wealth has been destroyed!

They'll have their grand New World Order, and a knew single currency waiting in the wings, to rescue the useful idiots from the disaster they've planned.

They'll attempt to number us all, track everything, and dictate how you buy and sell - through them of course. But not just what you buy with, but what you buy, who you buy from, how much you buy, and how much you will pay!

That is their plan. How far they'll get nobody knows. I suspect they'll fail miserably, but the truth is, they're already a long way down this road.

Implied Violins -> Captain Nemo d Thu, 06/14/2018 - 21:58 Permalink

FUCK this "Q" bullshit. Anyone still bowing to this crap needs to read these articles and get their head on straight:

https://steemkr.com/qanon/@elizbethleavos/steemit-only-article-opinion-why-independent-media-voices-are-questioning-the-q-persona
https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2018/05/28/wikileaks-calls-qanon-a-likely-pied-piper-operation/

It's just fourth generation warfare, meant to keep our butts on the couch because "someone else is doing the work".

NOT.

swamp Thu, 06/14/2018 - 21:17 Permalink

It did not just impact perception. It factually altered the FBI protocol. Comey was high on power of co-running the deep state and subverting justice and the Constitution. This is high treason, covering high crimes and attempting to unseat Trump at every juncture.

Winston Churchill -> Joebloinvestor Thu, 06/14/2018 - 21:42 Permalink

The FBI isn't and you still think J.Edgar was an aberration ? The FBI is the swamps gamekeeper, nurturing the critters, weeding out the weak, until only the foulest and strongest they can be unleashed on us. Take two red pills and report back in the morning.

Cabreado Thu, 06/14/2018 - 21:44 Permalink

When Comey, Lynch, Clinton et al do not find their way to prison... the DOJ is still broken, as is Congress charged with oversight... and so then,

the Rule of Law is still broken. And so then what traitors and criminals are next... when half the People do not give a damn.

AsEasyAsPi Thu, 06/14/2018 - 22:06 Permalink

Fidelity: Strzock and Page

Bravery: Comey, "I was afwaid of Trump"

Integrity: Comey, Ohr, Strzock, McCabe, Page, Rosenstein, Mueller............

Yeeeeah right.

[Jun 14, 2018] A Closer Look At Extreme FBI Bias Revealed In OIG Report

Some reader are close: "It looks like Justice/FBI usurped the role of the vote by the electorate."
Notable quotes:
"... OK, so if Comey broke protocols and was insubordinate in the Clinton probe, then the "probe" and exoneration is bogus. She never really was investigated and cleared and It should be re-opened. Investigate and Prosecute Clinton for real. Make it a sting operation. Get wire tap and surveillance warrants for the entire DOJ, FBI, all courts and judges, heck the entire bureaucracy and all umpteen intelligence organizations, and all known Clinton associates. A dragnet for all the corruption and obstruction of justice by the deep state. Root out the corrupt Clinton crime organization once and for all. ..."
"... It looks like Justice/FBI usurped the role of the vote by the electorate. ..."
"... They live in a Matrix like false reality generated by the Fake media. ..."
"... The champagne is flowing -- they got off the hook. All of the FBI screwballs are probably well past the drunkard stage and well into the sleeping under the table and on park benches stage. ..."
"... This whole article is a one sided view of a complex situation. Nothing is mentioned about the OIG stating that Comey was insubordinate in disclosing that he is investigating Clinton, that too in a press conference. This is clearly against FBI policy and had the purpose of muddying up the race and giving Trump momentum. ..."
"... The government just got done investigating itself. It found after an exhaustive taxpayer funded audit that it made a few errors, but that it was generally well meaning. I mean, what did anyone really expect? ..."
"... These FBI weasels fell all over themselves to demonstrate fealty to te incoming Hillary Clinton administration and the Democratic National Committee's interests. If they hoped to get anywhere in the next 4-8 years they had to be clearly "friendly" to the people at the top. Then Trump won instead. Fuck!!! ..."
"... Carreer-minded weasels entrenched in the Washington Deep State will happily show support for whatever "winning side" comes along. Romney, McCain, Bush, Clinton, Obama, it doen't matter who wins to them so long as they consider you "friendly" to their ambitions. ..."
Jun 14, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

As we digest and unpack the DOJ Inspector General's 500-page report on the FBI's conduct during the Hillary Clinton email investigation " matter ," damning quotes from the OIG's findings have begun to circulate, leaving many to wonder exactly how Inspector General Michael Horowitz was able to conclude:

" We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative actions we reviewed"

We're sorry, that just doesn't comport with reality whatsoever. And it really feels like the OIG report may have had a different conclusion at some point. Just read IG Horowitz's own assessment that "These texts are " Indicative of a biased state of mind but even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the Presidential candidate's electoral prospects ."

Of course, today's crown jewel is a previously undisclosed exchange between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page in which Page asks " (Trump's) not ever going to become president, right? Right?!" to which Strzok replies " No. No he's not. We'll stop it. "

Nevermind the fact that the FBI Director, who used personal emails for work purposes, tasked Strzok, who used personal emails for work purposes, to investigate Hillary Clinton's use of personal emails for work purposes . Of course, we know it goes far deeper than that...

The Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel also had plenty to say in a Twitter thread:

1) Don't believe anyone who claims Horowitz didn't find bias. He very carefully says that he found no "documentary" evidence that bias produced "specific investigatory decisions." That's different

2) It means he didn't catch anyone doing anything so dumb as writing down that they took a specific step to aid a candidate. You know, like: "Let's give out this Combetta immunity deal so nothing comes out that will derail Hillary for President."

3) But he in fact finds bias everywhere. The examples are shocking and concerning, and he devotes entire sections to them. And he very specifically says in the summary that they "cast a cloud" on the entire "investigation's credibility." That's pretty damning.

4) Meanwhile this same cast of characters who the IG has now found to have made a hash of the Clinton investigation and who demonstrate such bias, seamlessly moved to the Trump investigation. And we're supposed to think they got that one right?

5) Also don't believe anyone who says this is just about Comey and his instances of insubordination. (Though they are bad enough.) This is an indictment broadly of an FBI culture that believes itself above the rules it imposes on others.

6) People failing to adhere to their recusals (Kadzik/McCabe). Lynch hanging with Bill. Staff helping Comey conceal details of presser from DOJ bosses. Use of personal email and laptops. Leaks. Accepting gifts from media. Agent affairs/relationships.

7) It also contains stunning examples of incompetence. Comey explains that he wasn't aware the Weiner laptop was big deal because he didn't know Weiner was married to Abedin? Then they sit on it a month, either cuz it fell through cracks (wow) or were more obsessed w/Trump

8) And I can still hear the echo of the howls from when Trump fired Comey. Still waiting to hear the apologies now that this report has backstopped the Rosenstein memo and the obvious grounds for dismissal.

So, let's review more of the exchanges which had no bearing on the "unbiased" report:

(h/t Robby Starbuck , Paul Sperry and others)

" OIG discovered texts and instant messages between employees on the investigative team, on FBI devices, expressing hostility toward then candidate Donald Trump and statements of support for then candidate Hillary Clinton. "

Viva le resistance!

In one shocking exchange between two unnamed FBI employees which we assume to be Strzok and Page, "Attorney 1" asks "Attorney 2" "Is it making you rethink your commitment to the Trump administration?" to which "Attorney 2" replied " Hell no ," adding " Viva le resistance ."

Some of Strzok and Page's greatest hits:

Strzok also refers to having "unfinished business" and a need to "fix it" - while also admitting that " there's no big there, there " presumably regarding the Trump-Russia investigation.

While there are many more damning revelations in the OIG report, one would think that given the above, there was more than enough evidence to, at minimum, launch a special counsel - especially when you consider the weak sauce used to justify Mueller's special counsel probe.

Oh, and Hillary's gloating now...


vulcanraven Thu, 06/14/2018 - 19:28 Permalink

"Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support ...."

We have already SEEN these texts, when the fuck is something actually going to be DONE about it?

Or is the 2A the only answer to that question?

secretargentman -> vulcanraven Thu, 06/14/2018 - 19:30 Permalink

I'm ready.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7MoXPxA5LM

ACP -> nope-1004 Thu, 06/14/2018 - 19:35 Permalink

Yup.

FBI management in offices around the world will be having their Friday poker and whiskey (this actually happens) and will lean back and their chairs and say, "Give it a couple months, it'll blow over," and back to business.

In fact, it's back to business right at this moment.

erkme73 -> ACP Thu, 06/14/2018 - 19:35 Permalink

Let's just hope that in their brilliant incompetence, the DOJ missed some real nuggets in those 500 pages. I'm hopeful (but doubtful) that we we will find some more bombshells that will prompt more outrage and uprising/waking of the sheep.

King of Ruperts Land -> erkme73 Thu, 06/14/2018 - 19:42 Permalink

OK, so if Comey broke protocols and was insubordinate in the Clinton probe, then the "probe" and exoneration is bogus. She never really was investigated and cleared and It should be re-opened. Investigate and Prosecute Clinton for real. Make it a sting operation. Get wire tap and surveillance warrants for the entire DOJ, FBI, all courts and judges, heck the entire bureaucracy and all umpteen intelligence organizations, and all known Clinton associates. A dragnet for all the corruption and obstruction of justice by the deep state. Root out the corrupt Clinton crime organization once and for all.

King of Ruperts Land -> King of Ruperts Land Thu, 06/14/2018 - 20:00 Permalink

It looks like Justice/FBI usurped the role of the vote by the electorate. I suggest the electorate go to DC and usurp the role of Justice/FBI and vote on who to hang.

nmewn -> Sanity Bear Thu, 06/14/2018 - 20:16 Permalink

From the report...I'm going to pull a ravolla-type spam ;-)

"Combetta was interviewed subject to the terms of the immunity agreement on May 3, 2016, by the same two FBI case agents, this time in the presence of the SSA, the CART examiner, all four line prosecutors, and Combetta's attorneys. According to the FD-302 and contemporaneous notes of the two agents and the CART Examiner, Combetta provided the FBI additional detail regarding his removal of emails from the culling laptops, stating that Mills had requested that he "securely delete the .pst files" in November or December 2014 but had not specifically requested that he use "deletion software." He told the FBI that he was the one who recommended the use of "BleachBit" because he had used it for other clients. He also acknowledged removing the HRC Archive mailbox from the PRN server between March 25, 2015, and March 31, 2015 , and using BleachBit to "shred" any remaining copies of Clinton's email on the server (Edit: To include certain emails to Chelsea of all people...lol...and the Egyptian Prime Minister about yoga classes & wedding invitations that happened the day before Sept 12 2012, no doubt)...

...despite his awareness of Congress's preservation order and his understanding that the order meant that "he should not disturb Clinton's email data on the PRN server."

So clearly no "obstruction"!

Addendum:

The May 22, 2015, letter from Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick F. to Clinton attorney Kendall reads in part:

I am writing in reference to the following e-mail that is among the approximately 55,000 pages that were identified as potential federal records and produced on behalf of former Secretary Clinton to the Depatment of State on December 5, 2014: E-mail forwarded by Jacob Sullivan to Secretary Clinton on November 18, 2012 at 8:44 pm (Subject: Fw: FYI- Report of arrests -possible Benghazi connection).

Please be advised that today the above referenced e-mail, which previously was unclassified , has been classified as "Secret" pursuant to Section 1.7(d) of Executive Order 13526 in connection with a review and release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In order to safeguard and protect the classified information, I ask – consistent with my letter to you dated March 23 2015 – that you, Secretary Clinton and others assisting her in responding to congressional and related inquiries coordinate in taking the steps set forth below. A copy of the document as redacted under the FOIA is attached to assist you in your search.

****

Once you have made the electronic copy of the documents for the Department, please locate any electronic copies of the above-referenced classified document in your possession. If you locate any electronic copies, please delete them. Additionally, once you have done that, please empty your "Deleted Items" folder.

Because it just wouldn't do to have Hillary's emails stating the obvious while Rice is out saying something else so, we've classified it!

//////

Resuming...

"The agents asked Bentel about allegations by two S/ES-IRM staff members that they had raised concerns about Clinton's use of personal email to him during separate meetings. According to the State IG report, one of the staff members told the State IG that Bentel told the staff member that "the mission of S/ES-IRM is to support the Secretary" and instructed the staff member to "never speak of the Secretary's personal email system again."94 . According to the FD-302 and agent notes, the agents showed Bentel documents that suggested that he was aware that Clinton had a private email server that she used for official business during their joint tenure. One of the agents explained that the purpose of asking Bentel about his knowledge of the server was to assess whether Clinton's use of the server was sanctioned by the State Department. However, Bentel maintained that he was unaware that Clinton used personal email to conduct official business until it was reported in the news and denied that anyone had raised concerns about it to him."

The staff are obviously lying Trumptards!

/////

"On April 9, 2016, Mills appeared with Wilkinson for a voluntary interview concerning Mills's tenure at State. According to a FBI memorandum ("Mills Interview Memorandum"), shortly before the interview Strzok advised the prosecutors and Laufman that the agent conducting the interview would be making a statement at the start of the interview "concerning the scope of [the] interview, the FBI's view of the importance of the email sorting process, and the expectation of a follow-up interview once legal issues had been resolved." Witnesses referred to this statement as "the preamble."

Comey told the OIG that he approved of the preamble but did not suggest it, and McCabe stated that he "authorized" the preamble. McCabe told us that he directed the FBI team not to discuss the preamble with the prosecutors before the day of the interview because he was "concerned that if we raised another issue with DOJ, we would spend another two weeks arguing over the drafting of the preamble to the interview, which I just was not prepared to do."

The prosecutors told us that they were surprised and upset because the preamble was inconsistent with their prior representations to Wilkinson and they believed it was strategically ill-advised. The Mills Interview Memorandum states that the prosecutors objected to the preamble but that they were told that "the FBI's position was not subject to further discussion." According to the Mills Interview Memorandum, the interviewing agents delivered the preamble at the outset of the interview as planned. Witnesses told us...

Footnote 100: Baker told us that he had known Wilkinson for many years, and documents show that she had previously reached out to him in Midyear as part of a broad effort to speak with senior Department and FBI officials, up to and including Attorney General Lynch. Lynch and other high level Department officials told us that they did not speak with Wilkinson during the course of the investigation.

...that Wilkinson was visibly angered by the preamble and that she and Mills stepped outside the interview room after the agent delivered it. The prosecutors stated that they convinced Wilkinson and Mills to return for the remainder of the scheduled interview concerning Mills's tenure. However, according to Prosecutor 1, Mills was "on edge the whole time."

Footnote 101: According to notes of the interview, the prosecutors told Wilkinson that they were "sandbagged" by the FBI and that they did not know in advance about the preamble. Additionally, according to the notes, Wilkinson